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AVO application against Labor’s Jamie Clements withdrawn

Labor powerbroker Jamie Clements, pictured with former premier Bob Carr last year. Photo: James AlcockNSW Labor powerbroker accused by stafferPolice decline to charge ALP bossJones resists ‘fishing expedition’
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An application for an apprehended violence order against Labor powerbroker Jamie Clements – based on allegations he tried to kiss a female staffer – has been dropped.

Stefanie Jones, a former staff member in the office of Campbelltown Labor MP Greg Warren, reported in early August that Mr Clements had tried to kiss her in a room at NSW Parliament House on June 23 last year.

Ms Jones arrived at Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday morning, accompanied by her barrister, former Liberal attorney-general Greg Smith, SC.

Police had sought the AVO on Ms Jones’ behalf, but told magistrate Robert Williams the application was now withdrawn.

Mr Clements, the state Labor Party’s general secretary, agreed to several undertakings on a no-admissions basis.

He has agreed not to contact Ms Jones, not to make derogatory comments about her, not to approach her, not to speak to her at Labor events, and only to enter Parliament House using a visitor’s pass.

Mr Clements was never charged with an offence, and disputed the allegations.

In a statement released after the short court appearance, Mr Clements said he welcomed the decision to drop the proceedings,” he said..

“I have co-operated fully through this process and am pleased it has reached a resolution which allows all involved to move forward.

“I have always contested the version of events which has been publicly reported and the agreement reached today is without admission on my part.

“Having had discussions with my family and colleagues, I have decided this is the best way to move forward and focus on the challenges of 2016.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Where the coolest of customers go to chill

IT has been a strange oldsummer so far. One day it’s beach weather, the next it’ssoup weather. But with sunshine on the radar and just over a week to gountil the kids return to school, it’s handy to know where to grab an icy coldtreat on ahot day.
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Adults: yes, there is always a watering hole with a sea breeze beckoning but that’s not always child-friendly. Ice-cream, frozen yoghurts and gelato are the way to go. And the young’uns will love you for it.

The new kid on the block is Monella. Seriously cool, the music is loud and the mouth-watering selection is a rainbow of ever-changing colours. Monella prides itself on beingexperimental when it comes to flavours. (149 Darby Street, Cooks Hill)

For something unique that willsatisfy your inner geek, there’sNic’s Nitro Wonderland at Stockland Jesmond. They use liquid nitrogen to create works ofart right in front of your eyes and, by side-stepping thelengthy churning process and avoiding the formation of large ice crystals, their ice-cream is wonderfully smooth.

The Hood Milk Bar is calling January “the summer of gelato”, and their range is impressive.They also offerice-cream, frozen yoghurt, smoothies and milkshakes –and a distinctly vintage vibe. (188 Union Street, The Junction)

A more traditional approach to gelato is favoured at G&G Gelato in the city centre.Made on site and offered alongside ice-cream, frozen yoghurt and Italian fare, the tiny cafe is frequentedby inner-city workers and tourists. (67 Hunter Street, Newcastle)

Yogurtland allows you to create your own masterpiece from the 15 kinds of fruit and 45 toppings available. (Shop 36, Stockland Supercentre, Glendale; and Shop 12, Marketown, Newcastle West)

Movenpick Ice Cream uses rich Swiss cream, fruit, creamy yoghurt and spices and flavours to create itsice-cream, gelato and frozen yoghurt. Also on Honeysuckle Drive in Newcastle isCold Rock, whereyou can mix anything fromGummi Bears to fresh fruit into your chosen icy cold base.

Blue Door Kiosk is the home of CocoWhip, a bio-fermented coconut soft serve, and also offers ice-cream,gelato and frozen yoghurt. (John Parade,Merewether).Estabar prides itself on its gelato (61 Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle), as does Espresso Gelato at Wests Cardiff.

Heavenly: Tilly Eyre at Monella Gelato Bar on Darby Street, one of many fun and refreshing venues in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil

Warners Bay is a must. There’s Kiwi Waffle n Cones opposite the lake and its picturesque bicycle track, and a couple of doors down is Dippin Dots. Kids love the small,frozen balls of cream that melt in your mouth, turning into traditional ice-cream.

And let’s not forget the ever reliableBaskin Robbins, Wendys and Boost Juice.

Chris, not if you were the last man on Earth

OUT OF LINE: Chris Gayle’s behaviour towards Mel McLaughlin does not qualify as flirting, says reader Maree Raftos.
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IT WOULDappear that Bill Dennis (“Masculinity or absurdity”,Letters11/1), fears that ‘masculinity’(whatever that is) is under attackgiven the reaction to the recent spate of crass behaviour and comments by politicians Jamie Briggs and Peter Dutton and the cricketer, Chris Gayle.

Mr Dennis writes that these episodes [and the reactions to them] “… highlight the feminisation permeating our society”.

I’m not really sure what he means by this but if he means that women have infiltrated the examples he gives (politics, sporting clubs, volunteer organisations, churches, the workplace, homes) and that they are no longer willing to quietly acquiesce to being treated badly by (some) men, I say, good and it’s about time.

Mr Dennis claims that “flirting is an interaction that should be enjoyed by almost everyone”.

The example he gives is of Chris Gayle saying to a female journalist going about her job, “I’ll interview you for a date later”. Sorry, but that doesn’t meet my definition of flirting.

He claims that the journalist and/or her editor could’ve cut that comment but chose not to.

Why would they edit the comment, Mr Dennis? To protect the cricketer?

This smacks of victim blaming along with previousletterwriters who’ve suggested that the reporter’s TV makeup and pony tail almost invited such crass behaviour by the cricketer.

This is 2016,not 1956.Such crass behaviour and outdated attitudes are no longer acceptable.

As for your comment that it is “the woman’s place [sic] to draw the line”, I wholeheartedly agree.My retort would be “Not if you were the last man on earth”.

Maree Raftos,NewcastleA DIFFERENT SPINTO Bill Dennis (Letters, 11/1) andall the men who say Mel McLaughlin was just being flirted with andthat the onus is on the woman to monitor andtemper the man’s behaviour –how differently would this Chris Gayle episode be (and that ofJamie Briggs)if all the parties involvedwere men.

A male politician commenting on the attractiveness of his colleague andfollowing that up with a smooch on the neck. Or a cricketer leering at a male reporter, inviting him out after the game androunding off with “don’t blush baby”.I believe the reaction by the public would be totally different if it was male hitting on male.

Whatever your sexuality, the fact remainsthat this is not acceptable in the workplace.

Suzanne Weller,IslingtonInto the crystal ballJUST a few predictions for 2016.

Nathan Brown is sacked after Knights fail to win the Auckland Nines.The Knights, however, win first prize in the ‘tackiest jersey’competition.

The Jets finally put the ball in the net; at the wrong end but a goal is a goal, eh?

Save Our Rail uses the last of its fighting funds to have a statue of Mike Baird made and a trail of breadcrumbs laidso the pigeons can’t miss it.

Scott Hillard makes a positive statement regarding Bill Shorten and calls for more welfare spending.

Barney Ward calls for Malcolm Turnbull to be Australian of the Year and suggests that Tony Abbott be knighted, or at least something involving a sword.

Finally, after 15 years of writing the most informative and eruditeletters the Newcastle Herald has ever received,Mike Sargent wins a pen.Fat chance. All the best for 2016 all youletterwriters.

Mike Sargent, Raymond TerraceRespect your eldersTHAT elderly people arestruggling to live on the pension is a sad indictment on government policy.

We should be recognizing thatthese are the people who made Australia what it is today. Hardworking men and women who earned, in many cases,minimum wages to support their families.These were people who knew what a budget was and how to live within their means. There was no such thing as superannuation.

At the end of their lives, they need our support for some dignity.I have travelled to many places in the world and I’ve seen the respect many cultures have for their elderly.

Ann Ellis,MerewetherCommunity concernINITIALLY, I had a casual view on the proposed movement of people with disabilities from institutions into home-like accommodation within the community.But this changed to a more focused view.

This is due to an incident prior to Christmas when I was brushed asideat my front door by a man who wandered through the house until he found a toilet in the bathroom. He was followed seconds later by a second man who apologised for the intrusion and mentioned he was a carer and the other man was a patient from the Stockton centre.

Eventually, the patient was coaxed from the house and I was left a little bewildered by the experience and a bathroom to clean after the patient had defecated on the toilet seat and a bath towel.

The situation could have been far more alarming if children werepresent.There has been no response from the Stockton centre which is a concern if these incidents are reported.The government must take steps to ensure the safety and privacy of residents is upheld in areas where patients will be relocated into their community housing.

Richard Jenkins, StocktonTIME FOR PENSIONER PARTYTHERE is little doubt that aged pensioners who rely upon the pension to survivelive below the poverty line andgenerally theydo not make much noise when more and more “benefits”are strippedaway.

In our Senate, we have a motoring enthusiastsenator representing, various independents and the Palmer crowd – and others like the shooters, sex and marijuana Parties waiting in the wings.

But who represents the hundreds of thousands of aged pensioners in this country?I wrote recently to the peak body representing the interests of aged pensioners and asked them what they were doing to put the case for a better deal for those who had contributed to this country for so long and the reply was that they ‘lobby’ the political parties. News flash –no-one is listening.We need pensioners to unite and work towards seats in the Senate. They will listen then.

Peter Smith,Thornton

30,000 petition to save Australian toddler

Fatoumata Binta Conteh, who has fled from relatives with her mother, Fatoumata Diarriou Bah. Photo: Supplied The letter from a Victorian girl addressed to the government. Photo: Supplied
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Australian toddler fleeing genital mutilationGovernment helps girl fleeing mutilationAustralians support toddler fleeing mutilation

​For a child it’s impossible to understand why anyone would harm Fatoumata Binta the way her family wants to.

When an eight-year-old Victorian girl saw a photograph of the toddler in the newspaper just before Christmas, she asked her mum who the “cute girl” in the picture was.

The child was told how the Australian-African three-year-old had run away from people trying to hurt her: how she has spent months hiding from them; and how, although she has the right to come to Australia, her mother does not.

She wasn’t told about female genital mutilation, the barbaric procedure the young girl’s family are trying to force on her. But she was still troubled by the story.

In a letter to the federal government, the child asks that Fatoumata Binta and her mother be brought to “our country”. She offers to share her toys and she promises to be nice.

“I have lots of toys, CDs and clothes that I can share, and I have a big bed and Fatoumata can sleep with me and her mum can sleep with my mum,” she writes.

“I promise that I will be so nice to them and my grandma is a relly [sic] nice cooker and they must be hungry and grandma can make food for them straight away.”

Pressure is mounting on the federal government to do more to help Fatoumata Binta, who remains in limbo in Africa with her mother, seven weeks after officials were told of their struggle.

Almost 30,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition calling on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to urgently bring the pair to Australia.

It follows Labor and the Green’s calls for immediate action and a statement from the Australian Human Rights Commission detailing the government’s responsibility under international treaties to do everything in its power to protect children at risk of female genital mutilation.

As revealed by The Age in November, the mother and daughter crossed the border from Guinea to Sierra Leone after escaping from relatives who tried to kidnap the toddler and force her to undergo the ancient ritual.

They were initially put up in safe house organised by the Australian government, but it is now unknown what action officials are taking to assist the young mother and her child. The government said it was “continuing to provide consular assistance” but refuses to give any details about the case.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop said DFAT was working with the family to “address a number of issues”.

Fatoumata Binta is an Australian citizen by descent on her father’s side but it is understood there are complications because her mother, who is also a victim and has few rights after fleeing from her family, does not have a visa.

Last week they left Freetown and travelled to another African nation, where they remain in hiding. The cost of their flights and accommodation were paid for with money raised through a crowd-funding campaign launched in Australia.

Paula Ferrari, co-founder of No FGM Australia, said the family was being kept in a “holding pattern” and questioned the reasons for the delay in providing assistance. “It’s pretty appalling, really,” she said. “It should not be taking this long to get this little Australian girl to safety and back to Australia.”

Ms Bah’s brother Ibrahima, who lives in China and has been trying to raise awareness about the case, said his sister had met with Australian officials but had not been told whether they would be given assistance or how much longer they would be forced to wait.

“We are just still waiting to hear from them [the government],” he said.

Advocates have been inundated with calls pledging support for the family, with offers of food, furniture, clothing and accommodation if they are brought to Australia.

Follow Beau on Twitter

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Oil price slump: Let’s face it, nobody knows what the hell is going on

Hilarious forecasts from the past show that no-one can predict the oil market Photo: Jessica ShapiroRisks point to potential for oil falling to $US10, says StanChart​Oil stocks at the mercy of forecasts: UBS and CitiMichael Pascoe: The RBS ‘sell everything’ call grabs headlines, but the end of the world is not nigh
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Here are some forecasts from respected people for the direction of oil prices from the not too distant past:  In 2008, analysts from investment bank Goldman Sachs said crude oil prices could hit $US200 per barrel in the “not too distant future”. That never happened. (In fact, just a few months after this prediction, the global financial system imploded, sending the world economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression, and the oil price tumbling with that). This time last year, famed economist Jim O’Neill, the man who coined the term BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China) said ” all the indications are that [the oil price] will rebound this year” and oil prices “are likely to finish the year higher than where they began.” That didn’t happen either. The oil price fell more than 30 per cent last year. In March last year, not a single economist surveyed by the Wall Street Journal saw oil prices below $US50 per barrel in 2016. Wrong as well. 

Overnight, crude oil prices sank below $US30 per barrel, their lowest level since late 2003. And now people are saying they could fall further, to as low as $US10 per barrel, according to one bank (Standard Chartered).

Since very few people can say, hand on heart, they predicted oil’s current slump, predictions like this should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

Forecasting asset prices is difficult enough, and economists have a notoriously terrible track record at that. But the convoluted geopolitics and opaque dynamics of the oil market are on another level altogether. Let’s face it, nobody really knows what the hell is going on.

Few predicted the impact of the US shale oil revolution would be so significant; even fewer saw that OPEC, the cartel that dominates the oil market, would respond by actually increasing production. And that this would come into play just as the Chinese economy began to seriously wobble.

A lower oil price is in theory, great news for consumers. But before you get too excited, remember that the current weakness reflects weak global growth. And it doesn’t seem to have delivered as much of a boost to the biggest developed economies as in the past.

Interesting chart.Suggests the boost to G7 growth from lower oil prices is yet to come. Note the contrast v 2008-09 pic.twitter南京夜网/D9LZ7OOYAY— Shane Oliver (@ShaneOliverAMP) January 12, 2016

It’s a similar story here in Australia.

Lower crude oil prices typically translate into lower fuel prices for drivers. And that has been happening. They are also good news for airlines such as Qantas, but don’t necessarily translate into cheaper airline tickets.

But they are terrible for Australia’s energy sector (a big driver of investment spending in the country). Shares in beleaguered oil and gas company Santos, for example, are trading at their lowest level in two decades.

On balance, weaker oil prices “have a positive effect on overall growth of the Australian economy,” the RBA said last year. They could even leave room for the RBA to cut interest rates later this year (which at least one big bank thinks might happen). 

The problem is, given the hilariously bad forecasts of the past, nobody really knows how long the slump will last. And so the blindfold rollercoaster ride continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

CIMIC makes $256m hostile takeover bid for Queensland’s Sedgman

CIMIC chief executive Marcelino Fernandez Verdes has been seizing control of subsidiaries. Photo: Rob HomerSpanish-led construction group CIMIC has made a $256 million hostile takeover bid for Sedgman after the Queensland engineering group rejected demands to shrink its board.
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CIMIC, which already owns 37 per cent of Sedgman, is offering $1.07 per share in cash for the Queensland group, a 35 per cent premium to its closing share price of 79¢ on Tuesday.

Sedgman shares soared 28¢ on Wednesday to close at $1.07. CIMIC has already started buying Sedgman shares, appointing Credit Suisse Equities to buy any stock offered at or below $1.07.

The Spanish-controlled CIMIC, formerly known as Leighton Holdings, released its bidder’s statement on Wednesday and said the offer was final.

Sedgman, which has appointed Citi as its financial advisor, told investors to take no action on the takeover bid until its board hired an independent expert to review the offer and released a recommendation. Under takeover laws, CIMIC must keep its bid open for at least 30 days.

Sedgman, which had a market capitalisation of $179 million before the takeover bid emerged, has performed well under its current management team, with the company’s shares rising 58 percent over the past 12 months.  More control

But CIMIC wants to exert more control over its subsidiaries. It has also been trying to seize full ownership of residential property developer Devine.

CIMIC’s parent company, Grupo ACS, sent Spanish executives to Australia to run the group after wresting control from its Australian management team in early 2014.

Ben Brownette, analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, said ACS had been successful at turning around parts of CIMIC as well as its controlling shareholder, Germany’s Hochtief.

“There appears logic in the view that Devine and Sedgman could also be improved,” Mr Brownette said, adding that CIMIC could also target mining-related businesses such as Barminco and Ausdrill.

CIMIC voted against Sedgman’s remuneration report at the engineering company’s 2015 annual meeting, as well as the election of three independent directors.

It demanded Sedgman appoint a second CIMIC-nominated director (CIMIC already has one director on the board), reduce the size of its board from six to five, and have direct involvement in the engineering group’s decision making Demands rejected

Sedgman’s board, led by chairman Rob McDonald, rejected CIMIC’s demands.

Analysts at RBC Morgans said a competing bid for Sedgman could emerge given the company had $109 million of cash on its balance sheet and strong intellectual property, but acknowledged CIMIC’s 37 per cent stake would make it difficult for another bidder to succeed.

“Sedgman has built up a strong balance sheet and continued to improve its pipeline of opportunities,” RBC Morgans said.

CIMIC said on Wednesday it wanted to increase its holdings in Sedgman so it could “better support the future direction” of the Queensland company.

It planned to change Sedgman’s board, review its dividend and capital management policies, but continue its existing plans to increase “market and commodity diversification”.

Sedgman, which designs and builds commodity-related infrastructure such as coal handling plants and gold processing facilities, has been trying to diversify away from the coal industry and expand internationally.

CIMIC will also consider delisting Sedgman from the Australian Securities Exchange.

CIMIC’s offer has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board and will be funded from the construction group’s existing funds and debt facilities.

The $256 million takeover bid includes 12.1 million Sedgman performance rights that can be converted into shares and sold into the offer.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Thanks lads, you’re heroes

DON’T MENTION IT: Jackson Rickford, Michael Zechel, Elijah Startin and Jereme Wann with Alwyne Watkins. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.ALWYNE Watkins is certain ofwhatwould have happenedtheday a six-metre sinkhole opened up beneath the wheels ofhis mobility scooterhadfour teenagersnotrushedto his aid.
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“I wouldn’t be here,” Mr Watkins, of Wallsend, said.

“They saved my life. The four of them are heroes in my eyes.”

Jackson Rickford, Michael Zechel andElijah Startin, all 17, and 16-year-old Jereme Wannwere kicking a soccer ball around atWallsend’s George Farley Oval two days before Christmas when they sawMr Watkins approaching on hisscooter.

He stopped in the middle of a path about 100 metres from the boys, then seemed to vanish.

Mr Zechel was first to react.

“I sprintedover and jumped the fencebecause I thought he’d had a fall,” he said.

“Then I looked under my feet and I could see all the way down. It scared the hell out of me.”

Mr Zechelliftedthe scooter with one hand and fought until he hadlifted Mr Watkins, 90, out fromthe craterof the hole where he had been pinned.

At one point, the only thingstopping Mr Watkins from falling into the six-metre hole was having Mr Zechel’s legs wrapped around him.

The other three boysrushed over to find a shaken, gratefulman and his rescuer, their mate.

Mr Startindialedtriple-0 and handed hisphone to a neighbourand paramedics, police and contractors from the Mine Subsidence Board soon arrived.

Mr Watkins was taken to John Hunter Hospital, but hisphysical injuries were limited toa chipped elbow,cracked rib and a cut to his leg that neededstitches.

Part of his gratitude to the boys, he said, stems from the fact that he has grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

“Thanks to the boys, Iget to have a bitmore time with them,” Mr Watkins said.

Sinkholesor not,neither Mr Watkins nor his rescuers will be put off walking, playing or riding inthe park.

The four mates said on Wednesdaytheyhad been back for a kick around, and Mr Watkins haddriven by to wave from his new scooter.

‘Worse than Game of Thrones red wedding’: Liberal MPs face axe before federal election

John Alexander, the member for Bennelong, pictured with former PM Tony Abbott and local newspaper proprietor John Booth, who was awarded a ”matehood”. Photo: Nick Moir Philip Ruddock is the party’s longest-serving MP. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Stalwart and non-factional Senator Bill Heffernan is also in factional sights. Photo: Andrew Meares

Comment: The seven things to hate most about elections

A radical factional hitlist has been drawn up that would see more than half-a-dozen high profile federal MPs in NSW face preselection challenges before this year’s election.

“It’s threatening to put the Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding scene in the shade,” said one senior member of the NSW party.

Sources from all three factions of the NSW Liberal party have confirmed plans are underway for widespread challenges from the party’s dominant left faction and its centre-right. MPs including John Alexander (Bennelong), Senator Bill Heffernan and Philip Ruddock (Berowra) are in the sights of challengers.

Party sources said it appeared increasingly likely party elders Heffernan and Ruddock would retire rather than face challenges.

A senior Liberal source said the party’s Left was now eyeing the seat of Bennelong, won back from Labor by Mr Alexander in 2010. A source on the Right, which would likely back Mr Alexander, questioned whether it would succeed but said it appeared moves against the MP were being made.

Mr Alexander is not aligned to either faction.

“I am not a candidate,” said local left winger and councillor Craig Chung. “I don’t know who is saying that [but] I suspect are others are trying to cover their own challenge”.

The party is also alive with rumours that NSW factional boss Jai Rowell is backing an audacious bid to depose mooted future leader Angus Taylor in the southern NSW seat of Hume by installing Russell Matheson.

“Oh, he [Rowell] is gunning for him,” said one Liberal federal MP. “They [the party’s state executive] are even looking at [changing deadlines] so he can’t escape [to the Upper house] if challenged”.

Mr Matheson is the federal MP for Macarthur, a seat with a margin likely to be severely eroded by a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Mr Rowell’s wife, Belinda, works in the MP’s office.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells also appears vulnerable to a challenge from the party’s left wing, according to members of her own conservative right faction.

A source said Mr Rowell, as the state MP, had created six branches in the electorate with Mr Taylor’s sign-off before rumours began he would turn the numbers against him.

NSW MP Mr Rowell has moved between factional groupings with fluidity. He recently declared himself a leader of the Liberals’ right wing before taking his numbers to its dominant left faction shortly after being demoted from Premier Mike Baird’s ministry.

The looming plans will be a test for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s political authority and the desire to present an image of a stable party and enjoy the benefits of incumbency in his first election.

“It’s clear that the ‘NSW disease’ is now bi-partisan,” said one federal Liberal MP. “Malcolm has to step up and defend his front-bencher [Senator Fierravanti-Wells]. This spiteful take no prisoners approach is eroding all collegiality in the parliamentary party”.

Mr Turnbull recently told a NSW party meeting that the Liberals, unlike Labor, were not run by factions. He was met with hoots of laughter.

The Herald has already revealed Craig Kelly and Bronwyn Bishop appear likely to face challenges.

Many of the replacements will see older MPs less rigid in their factional alignment replaced by young and loyal operatives.

Senator Heffernan, who would turn 80 at the expiration of the next Senate term, is not aligned to any faction, while Mr Ruddock, while widely seen to be of the party’s Left, is not a formal member of its grouping.

Ironically, the woman set to replace Mr Heffernan is his former employee Hollie Hughes, a former lobbyist and member of the centre-right faction.

Julian Leeser, also from the centre-right, has long been seen as Mr Ruddock’s inevitable successor and works for the Australian Catholic University in government relations.

Insurance industry lobbyist and left-faction member Richard Shields appears the most likely candidate to depose Senator Fierravanti-Wells.

The “red wedding” episode of the fantasy TV show Game of Thrones, featured the particularly graphic murder of a number of popular characters.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

No more excuses for assaulting women

A crime: No more excuses for a crime that kills one woman a week.PROFESSIONAL boxer Kyron Dryden’s excuse for entering another man’s houseand assaulting his former girlfriend, nearly two months after their relationship ended, is apparent in the short film posted on social media after the incident on September 1 last year.
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The film shows Dryden and his brother in a car outside the house, and then in the bedroom, with Dryden saying: “Here’s my missus cheatin’ on me. In her house, in the f…in’ bedroom. Stupid slut.”

In other words, she deserved it.

An ugly social media campaign against Dryden’s former girlfriend Tori-Lee Hillery, who was grabbed by the throat and slammed into a mirror before being “choke-slammed” to the ground, was well underway the following day when one post decided Ms Hillery was a “slut” whoneeded “a good smack in the mouth”. Others were far worse.

In Newcastle Local Court on Monday Dryden and Ms Hillery gave evidence and were cross-examined before magistrate Alan Railton. Dryden denied the assault and stuck to the story about his “missus cheatin’ on” him, despite the fact the relationship had ended –on his version, on his call.

Mr Railton found the assault had occurred, and reduced the matter to a single pithy point –one person was telling the truth and the other was lying through their teeth.

It’s worth noting thatDryden pleaded guilty to breaching apprehended violence orders four times after he was charged with the assault. The orders required him not to make contact with Ms Hillery. Repeatedly breaching theorders showedDryden not only had little or no respect for his former girlfriend, but no respect for orders backed by the NSW justice system.

Dryden is 22. After his conviction on Monday, and before he is sentenced in March, he was back on social media protesting his innocence, saying he was “unfazed and carefree about the situation”, and “sadly the truth that I know hasn’t came (sic) out yet”.

That is now the line being put forward by his supporters, on social media and elsewhere, including one of his sponsorswho posted a photo of Dryden and himself with the words: “Just letting you know that “I’ve got ya back” Brother …if only everyone new (sic) the FULL story.”

That is the excuse someone like Dryden uses after he’sconvicted. The justice system has failed. How, exactly, isn’t stated. As long as you stick to the line that the“full story” hasn’t been aired, you can pretend you aren’t what a court has determined you are –a convicted criminal.

Dryden doesn’t need denialists around him right now. He doesn’t need people willing to accept excuses for his criminal behaviour –when he decided he had the right to keep intruding himself into the life of a young woman after their relationship had ended, assault her, and be complicit in the subsequent vilification of her.

Dryden and his supporters need to hear this. People who blamethe victims of certain crimes–domestic violence, assault orsexual assault, and whether the victims are men or women –need to hear this. No more excuses.

No matter how angry you feel at a partner or former partner, or how aggrieved, the second you take that step into violence you have crossed a line. It’s not just your partner or former partner you’re dealing with, but the laws of this country. You’ve committed a crime, and there are no excuses.

Dryden is a young man who needs supportbefore he’s sentenced, but not the kind he appears to be getting. Like assault itself, the consequences of an assault conviction can be a shock, and devastating.

Wild weather

I wasn’t the only one bemoaning the wild weather that hit the coast the first week of January. The timing was almost comical. Pretty much as soon as the esky was unpacked, the beds made, the outdoor furniture installed, and the beach towels folded at the door of the family holiday house at Hawks Nest, the rain started. Andit was not just a shower or two, but three days of driving gale force squall.
Nanjing Night Net

WHITEWATER: A swimmer braves the elements during the recent storms. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

I exaggerate a little, not about the squall, but the bemoaning. I love wild weather, even days of it, and (like most of my ‘holidays’) I was still writing, so could catch up with work without feeling like I was missing out. The floor to ceiling windows afforded a wide view of the changing shape of the rainstorms. They were waves of another kind, the cycles of fierce lashings softened by bubbles of soft drizzle. I watched the tops of gum trees twist and turn like dancers.

At least once a day I would enter the fray. Umbrella useless, I would surrender to the weather, to the sense of being tossed around as in whitewater, enlivened to be part of the storm rather than safely buffered against it.

I felt for the hardy campers who remained battened down under tarps and canvas at the end of day three of unrelenting rain, cooped up kids yelling and knocking about.

After what felt like a week the sun finally came out, and so too did the hoards of holidaymakers from beneath the shells under which they had been hiding, only to find the beach closed due to large swell.

A small crowd gathered to watch the few crazy surfers negotiate the tubes. Right beside me, one overweight and clearly inexperienced surfer knelt down with a groan to attach his leg rope.

“Are you sure you want to go out?” I asked incredulously, to which he grunted in the affirmative.I regretted letting him go when 10minutes later we watched a hardy swimmer risk his life to his rescue.

His face was in my mind the following day when I approached the beach in the late afternoon to find another crowd gathered alongside police. To the backdrop of a dark Cabbage Tree Island, a police rescue boat ominously trawled behind the breakers. My heart sank, knowing before I asked, that a swimmer had not returned to shore that day.

The following day the choppy swell had returned to an innocuous glassy calm, like a child quickly forgotten his misdemeanour and cherub-faced again.

There was a subdued air about the other beach walkers too, the water rescue boat now resigned to sweeping the rocky coastline at the base of Yacaaba headland. A sun-glassed family huddled down the beach from the throng in silent contemplation of the sea. His family, I guessed, imagining also the dreadful images in their minds as they watched the waves roll in.

Crossing the track to the bay, storm flotsam and jetsam littered the shore – soft corals and seagrass, scores of barnacles torn off rocks, small crabs dismembered and rotting under the now clear and sunny sky.

Claire Dunnis the author of My Year Without Matches