Seven ordered by court to mediate Amber Harrison case

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Seven West Media has been ordered to mediate a possible resolution to a workplace lawsuit by a former employee who had an affair with the company’s CEO.
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Amber Harrison in March launched Federal Court action alleging Seven had contravened the Fair Work Act by prejudicing her workplace rights and engaging in adverse action.

Counsel for Seven on Friday told the court it opposed Ms Harrison’s request for mediation, but Justice Mordecai Bromberg said “mediations can often resolve proceedings, despite the resistance of one of the parties”.

A spokesman for Seven said orders for mediation were not unusual.

Ms Harrison, a former executive assistant at the media company, has been locked in a bitter court battle with Seven since she revealed embarrassing details of her affair with Seven West CEO Tim Worner in December.

The NSW Supreme Court imposed a temporary gag order in February preventing her speaking publicly about the relationship or the company, and Seven will push for a permanent order at a four-day hearing starting on July 10.

“We will continue the actions in the NSW Supreme Court to a final outcome before taking any further step in these proceedings,” Seven’s spokesman said.

“We also note the orders made by His Honour to engage in mediation with Ms Harrison which as the Judge indicated are routinely made in Fair Work Act matters.”

He added that Justice Bromberg’s decision to “defer the Fair Work claims until after the final Supreme Court decision is sensible”.

The Fair Work claim stem from Ms Harrison returning fire in March with a cross-claim alleging Seven breached an implied term of her employment contract to keep and maintain a safe system of work.

with AAP

Gregory John Thompson accused of stabbing murder of Michael Moad at Cessnock

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CAUGHT: Police surround Gregory John Thompson’s car outside Michael Moad’s house in Cessnock on March 1, 2015. This week, Mr Thompson pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter over Mr Moad’s stabbing. THERE were years of psychological abuse. Harassing phone calls, hundreds of text messages.
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Constant manipulative and controlling behaviour, intimidation, blackmail and nuisance complaints to police.

Then there were the threats. The threats of suicide, to kill his ex-wife, Karen Thompson, tokill anyone she had a relationship with, “to destroy anything that made her happy”.

Then in February, 2015, as his obsessive behaviour escalated to frightening new levels, Gregory John Thompson was arrested twice in two days for harassing his ex-wife and then stalking her and her new boyfriend, Michael Moad.

But it was during his second visit to Cessnock police station – for breaching an apprehended violence order that had only been in place a matter of hours – that he learned something, Newcastle District Court heard this week.

“[Mr Thompson] was arrested… [and] as a part of that he learned the name of the deceased and of the connection between the deceased and Karen Thompson,” Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell told a jury on Wednesday.

“Within 24 hours of learning Michael Moad’s name, Michael Moad was dead.”

Mr Thompson, 52, of Nulkaba,was arraigned before a jury panel on Wednesday morning, pleading not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter over the death of Mr Moad, who was stabbed 10 times in the laundry of his Cessnock home in the early hours of March 1, 2015.

During his opening address, defence barrister John Fitzgeraldraiseda partial defence of substantial impairment by way of “abnormality of the mind”.

With much of the grislydetails of the killing and the years of abhorrent conduct towards his ex-wifeunchallenged, the jury heard the key issue in the trial will be whether or not Mr Thompson’s capacity toeither understand events, judge right from wrong or control himself was “substantially impaired” by an abnormality of mindarising from a pre-existing condition.

During a detailed opening address, Mr Campbell outlined the events leading up to Mr Moad’s death.

“There had been a deterioration in the marriage, leading to the divorce, which wasfinalised on February 28, 2015,” Mr Campbell said.

“Thatdeterioration waspunctuated by threats and controlling, intimidating and manipulativeconduct, including threats to kill himself andspecifically threats to kill her boyfriend when he finds him.

“And the threat to destroy anything thatmade her happy.

“By the end of February Karen Thompson had in fact got the divorce, she had also obtained an apprehended violence orderagainst him.

“The accused had been charged twice onconsecutive days and he had been given the name Michael Moad.”

Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell.

After he was released on bail on the morning of February 28, Mr Thompson went to Bunnings and bought torches, hose clamps and a length of pipe.

He then bought alcohol.

“The Crown alleges that the accused has done something else, that he must have looked up Michael Moad’s address,” Mr Campbell said.

At about midnight, Ms Thompson was in the toilet when she heard yelling.

She went into the laundry and could see Mr Thompson fighting with Mr Moad.

Mr Moad was shouting “get help, get help”, the court heard.

Then Mrs Thompson realised her ex-husband had two knives and was stabbing Mr Moad.

Mr Campbell said Mr Thompson, covered in blood, came towards her and she fled into the house and out a door.

Nearby neighbours will tell the court they heard her screaming: “help help call the police myboyfriend is beingstabbed by my ex”, Mr Campbell said.

Two of the men armed themselves and yelled into the house for Thompson to come out, the court heard.

Mr Thompson appeared at the front door, locked it and fled back into the house.

A short time later Mr Moad lost consciousness and died.

As police and other emergency services raced to the scene, Mr Thompson fled down a back alley to his car. About two hours after the first triple-zero call, Mr Thompson’s car rolled towards the police tape around Mr Moad’s house.

He was alone inside, covered in blood and feeling the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning due to thepipe attached to his exhaust that had been fed in through the back seat

Inside his wallet they found a piece of paper with Mr Moad’s mobile number scrawled on it.

Mr Fitzgerald told the juryMr Thompson’s guilty plea to the manslaughter charge made clear his position and said expert psychiatricevidence will form the “crux of the trial”.

“Mr Thompson admits it was his actions that caused the death of Michael Moad,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The real issue in this case, I expect, will be the mental state of Gregory Thompson at March 1, 2015, and perhaps in the days before.”

The trial, before Justice Peter Hamill, is expected to run for about three weeks.

The best TV shows of 2017 (so far)

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If you’re guided by genres then finding the best scripted comedies and dramas hasn’t been easy so far this year.
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The shows that have stood out to date have readily crossed both styles and boundaries:Big Little Lies, for example, appeared to be a soapy murder mystery, but it soon distinguished itself as powerful, fascinating drama about the choices women are compelled to make.

Add alternate histories and comic book labyrinths, not to mention Jude Law as the head of the Catholic Church, and you have a top 10 that will keep you both guessing and engrossed

Atlanta (SBS on Demand)Communitystar Donald Glover painted a funny, fraught vision of his home town that both sends up cliches about African-American communities and deepens the true underpinnings. Powered by the beats, verbal dexterity and attitudes of hip-hop, with Glover’s Ern as a college dropout managing his rapper cousin,Atlantahad a street corner specific authenticity and a yen for formal experimentation – one episode was a talk show parody with sharp edges.

Billions (Stan) Damian Lewis as Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in Billions. Photo: Jeff Neumann

The pairing of Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, as a hedge fund mogul and a powerful USattorney respectively, continues to flourish on this pungently enjoyable drama where the two adversaries don’t so much prosper as secretly battle to maintain their privileged seat at the table. The second season added twists and new characters, but it continues to make the exercising of power a dangerous and much more humanly flawed occurrence than other shows about the 1 per cent.

Big Little Lies (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime) Reece Witherspoon (left), Shailene Woodley and Nicole Kidman star in Big Little Lies.

Transplanted from Sydney’s suburbs to the Californian coastline, Liane Moriarty’s novel took radical, revealing shape on the screen, giving Reese Witherspoon and particularly Nicole Kidman, as an abused wife in a seemingly perfect marriage, drawcard roles. A whodunit where the who wasn’t known until the finale, the series was defined by both tart, combative exchanges and school pick-up intrigue that dug down to reveal feminine conflict and bonds.

Chewing Gum (Netflix)Like its debut season, the second go around for this unpredictable British comedy clocked in a succinct six half-hour episodes, but that was more than enough to confirm the gifts of the show’s young creator, writer and star, Michaela Coel. Playing Tracy Gordon, an outlier in a deeply religious family trying to make sense of society’s supposed norms (and lose her virginity), Coel brought an absurdist glee to her depiction of life on a London council estate.

Creator, writer and star Michaela Coel in Chewing Gum. Photo: Mark Johnson

Girls (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime)Just concluded, the sixth and final season of Lena Dunham’s brash, bittersweet sitcom went out on the same terms it arrived in 2012: unafraid of its characters’ flaws, astutely directed, and both funnier and more emotionally genuine that its persistent detractors imagined it to be. The show’s four 20-something female protagonists were rarely in the same scene – or state of mind – which spoke to its refusal to neatly sum up anything about their generation, except the idea that it’s easy to be misunderstood.

Girls creator and star Lena Dunham and Matthew Rhys in the standout season six episode American Bitch. Photo: Craig Blankenhorn

Homeland (Ten)Moving around the Sunday night schedule, much like one of its fugitive characters, the sixth season of this age of terror thriller finally brought Claire Danes’ former CIA agent, Carrie Mathison, back to America. While the show didn’t call the USelection result – the fictional president-elect is female – the plot points of a deep security state and the growing manipulation of public opinion through the internet is very much on trend. Characters such as Carrie and Rupert Friend’s Quinn are operating from positions of vulnerability, andHomelandhas become about where your loyalty lies: country, friends, or just yourself?

Claire Danes in season six of the high-stakes thriller Homeland. Photo: Network Ten

Legion (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime)​An antidote to the blockbuster culture of the comic book movie,Legionwas a strange sideways step into a corner of the X-Men universe, where the concepts of mutants with special powers and mental illness coalesced on a show where the visual motifs and distinct, often deliberately repetitive, rhythms, were full of unexpected allusions as the life of David Haller (a terrific Dan Stevens, formerly ofDownton Abbey) was interrogated. BetweenLegionandFargo, creator Noah Hawley has revealed himself as one of television’s signature auteurs.

Dan Stevens (left), Rachel Keller and Aubrey Plaza in Legion. Photo: Chris Large

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime Video)Plainly suiting the times, or at least our heightened fears, this alternate history set in a 1960s where the Allies lost World War II and the world is controlled by now rival totalitarian states in the form of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan struck a delicious, destiny-laden balance in its second season. The evocative drama matched the otherworldly mystery of parallel realities to a potent depiction of how life may – or may not – change when freedom is deposed.

Rufus Sewell (left), Alexa Davalos and Rupert Evans, stars of the Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle. Photo: Charles Sykes/AP

Shots Fired (Showcase)An examination of America’s racial divide that is currently airing on Foxtel’s Showcase channel,Shots Firedinverts expectations to reveal the underlying issues. Here the unarmed motorist shot during a police stop is white, while the officer who pulled the trigger is black. Gina Prince-Blythewood and Reggie Rock Blythewood’s drama takes in political angling, media ricochets, and the personal loss that can reveal where a community truly stands. It’s a smart, investigatory and self-aware series.

Stephan James and Sanaa Lathan in Shots Fired. Photo: Supplied

The Young Pope (SBS and SBS on Demand)Further proof that television is a rewarding destination for filmmakers with a personal vision, this European co-production is the obvious work of leading Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino. Like his previous features, it tells the story of a newly elected and chaos-causing American Pope, played with charismatic anger by Jude Law, with offbeat tableaus, a fascination with flawed faith, and moments whose weirdness is nonetheless illuminating.

“An odious, if uncomfortably attractive, anti-hero”: Jude Law in The Young Pope.

And still to come in 2017:The Americans(Showcase): Get your wigs ready – the fifth season of the Cold War espionage drama returns to Foxtel on May 11.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt(Netflix): Season three of the comic whirlwind about Ellie Kemper’s gone and come back girl debuts May 19.

Twin Peaks(Stan): The first episodes in 26 years of David Lynch’s cryptic mystery begin streaming on May 22.

Game of Thrones(Showcase): July 17 brings the seventh – and second last – season of the fantasy blockbuster. Expert tip: more characters will die gruesome deaths.

Pulse(ABC): Currently undated, this new ABC drama stars Claire van der Boom (Rush) as a financial analyst who takes up medicine after a life-saving kidney transplant.

Sydney FC showed their potential, says Arnold

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After every one of their previous 20 wins this season, Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said his players still hadn’t displayed a complete performance. On Saturday night against Perth Glory in the A-League preliminary final, he says they finally showed their potential.
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The Sky Blues clinched a first home grand final in 12 years following a commanding 3-0 win over Perth which Arnold says was as close to the Sky Blues playing to “one hundred-percent” of their capacity.

The result was clinched by half-time and on another night, they could have hit the back of the net three or four more times, but settled for a scoreline that perhaps flattered Perth.

“Yeah look I think we showed that tonight. A little bit disappointed not to get a goal or two [in the] second half. The aim at half-time was to go for the fourth and the fifth. Perth are always the dangerous side,” Arnold said.

“Outstanding performance, especially on that pitch. I thought we could have had at least another four goals. Reddy made a couple of good saves. We hit the post and the crossbar a couple of times but it was a total dominant performance.”

Of all of Diego Castro’s 13 goals and seven assists this season, none have come at the expense of Sydney FC, and the Sky Blues continued to keep the Spanish star quiet at Allianz Stadium. Throughout their five competitive games against Perth this season, Castro has been unable to inflict any pain on Sydney and Arnold says their tactics were to double-up in marking Castro.

“Every time we play them we have a plan for Castro, how to stop him and we did it again tonight. Once you take his creativity out of the game it makes it tougher for them,” Arnold said.

Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe expects Sydney FC to go on and win the title after being eliminated by the premiers on Saturday night.

“We’ve been beaten by a better side tonight and we can’t hide from that,” Lowe said.

“They’re focused, they’re driven. Albeit we went toe-to-toe for the first 20 [minutes] but I think they look the real deal.”

Meanwhile, Arnold believes Bernie Ibini will be fit and available to play in the grand final despite limping from the field in their preliminary final victory over Perth.

Sydney’s winger was looked to have suffered a hamstring injury late on at Allianz Stadium, but Arnold says his withdrawal was only as a precaution.

Arnold was tight-lipped about Ibini’s situation when asked after the match but says he hasn’t suffered a serious injury.

“Good. Yeah, he’ll be fine,” Arnold said.”[Ibini] felt his hamstring.”

Roxy Jacenko keeps people guessing about relationship with Oliver Curtis

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It was third time lucky for Roxy Jacenko when she took to the stage for her In Conversation With… business seminar on Friday alongside Seven’s Sally Obermeder as emcee.

Sydney’s “PR Queen” managed to avoid any mishaps this time around, after she discharged herself from hospital on her first outing in July 2015 because of an infected rhinoplasty, while coincidently on the same day as her second seminar in June 2016, her husband Oliver Curtis’ sentencing hearing was held for conspiracy to commit insider trading.

Reminiscing about that day, she said: “I slipped into a sombre dress [after I held the talk] and off I went to court, you can never think life is too hard.”

On previous occasions she opened up about her curious, almost soap-like private life, but this time Jacenko mostly stuck to the script, save for a few glimmers into her private life.

She touched on speculation surrounding her marriage, joking that she wished she had got Justin Bieber’s number when he recently dined at Chargrill Charlie’s, which is one of her clients.

“I do have some available time as you may have read,” she laughed.

Checking her emails intermittently, Jacenko also discussed her decision to forgo a social life so she can focus on her businesses and her children, Pixie, 5, and Hunter, 2.

“I don’t like to go out, I only network with Pixie and Hunter,” she said.

After surviving breast cancer last year, she said her outlet is the gym three times a week. “Nothing feels as good as being skinny,” she laughed again.

More than 600 people were in attendance at The Westin, Sydney, to hear the Sweaty Betty boss’s tips and tricks on how to run a successful PR empire, with one lucky guest going home with a $13,800 3.13 carat Nicholas Haywood diamond ring.

Eman Sharobeem returns to Egypt ahead of ICAC hearings, seeks to renew ID card

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Former n of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem??? recently returned to her native Egypt and has been making enquiries in Cairo to renew her national identity card, a prerequisite for seeking work in the country.
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Two senior officials at Egypt’s National Council of Women confirmed that Ms Sharobeem, who has lived in for 30 years, was at their offices in the upmarket suburb of Nasr City in Cairo about two months ago, requesting a letter that states she had worked for the government body, in order to renew her national identification card.

The revelation comes just a day before ICAC is due to begin public hearings into allegations Ms Sharobeem, the former CEO of two publicly funded community health organisations, misused credit cards, submitted false invoices, spent money on personal items and used public money to renovate a property she owned.

With Ms Sharobeem due to give evidence over two days in the second week of hearings, it is unclear if she remains in Egypt or has returned to . Her lawyer Mark Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

On Friday, the ICAC revealed it had called Ms Sharobeem’s entire family to give evidence – her sons, Richard and Charlie, as well as her husband, Haiman Hammo. Ms Sharobeem ran the Immigrant Women’s Health Services organisation for 11 years until 2015 and the Non-English Speaking Housing group. It’s understood Richard Sharobeem had a role with the housing group and concerns were raised about the purchase of a car.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the Egyptian NCW rejected Ms Sharobeem’s request for confirmation of previous work, with sources telling Fairfax Media “she was never employed with us and was a trainee for about three months. We had no formal ties with her whatsoever”.

The comments are a fresh blow to Ms Sharobeem’s unravelling life story, contradicting her claims to have worked for the NCW as an external relations manager, an organisation that was headed by Susan Mubarak, wife of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

In February, Fairfax Media revealed that the powerful NSW Crime Commission had sought and won an asset freeze in the NSW Supreme Court covering four Sydney properties, her car and her bank accounts.

In Egypt, the two NCW officials reiterated that the job listed on the national ID card should have never listed her affiliation with the council.

“She came here around two months ago saying ‘I need an official letter from the council stating that I worked here back in 2002’, we told her ‘no’ straight away,” the most senior official told Fairfax Media.

“If she really thinks she’s that clever in fooling people to believe she worked for us then she should show us the written evidence.”

When presented with media records from 2002 in the state newspaper Al Ahram and the Kuwaiti News Agency that listed her position as external relations manager for the council, both were visibly upset at how Ms Sharobeem had misled journalists.

“She had no relation with us in an official capacity,” another senior official reiterated. “She was just a trainee and I am astounded that she managed to mislead so many people with such ease.”

A third official in the National Council of Women recalled that Sharobeem was a good networker in the formative years of the council.

“We were only about 20 in the office. She was a trainee who was good at networking with various members, going from one person to the next of the newly formed council because there weren’t so many of us, but she was far from the manager of external relations that she claimed to be. She was never employed.”

Amongst witnesses due to give evidence in the first week of the ICAC hearings are committee members of the IWHS who worked with Ms Sharobeem as well as the auditor who qualified the organisation’s 2015 accounts, revealing Ms Sharobeem owed at least $100,000 in wrongly claimed reimbursements for that year alone.

Ms Sharobeem rose to prominence on the back of an inspiring life story in which she says she was forced to marry her first cousin as a teenager, escaping a violent marriage, before he died. She emigrated from Egypt and says she earned two PhDs, one in psychology and another in business administration. Those claims are now the subject of ICAC inquiries.

Fairfax Media has previously reported that Ms Sharobeem is not registered with the national health practitioner regulator, despite having publicly claimed to be a psychologist.

She earned numerous appointments to federal and state government boards, including the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board, the n of the Year advisory council and the Settlement Services Advisory Council. She has since resigned from them all.

Ms Sharobeem was hired last year by broadcaster SBS as its community engagement manager. She resigned, citing ill health, around the time of the asset freeze.

In a judgment freezing her assets, Justice David Davies noted the maximum penalty for the alleged fraud was five years in jail.

Lessons from the rise and fall of Leyland Brothers

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NCH WK END MAG. Pic shows legendary traveller Mal Leyland, from the Leyland Brothers television program, who has written a new book called Still Travelling. Pictured outside the old post office in Newcastle. 10th March 2015. NCH. NEWCASTLE. Pic by MAX MASON-HUBERS MMH Photo: Max Mason-HubersFor those who grew up on television in the 1970s and ’80s, the n travel show Ask the Leyland Brothers was ubiquitous. At its peak, the show had a 40 per cent audience share.
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It was created by brothers, Mike and Mal Leyland, who merrily visited outback locations at the request of viewers, with their respective wives and kids in tow.

They proved to be canny businessmen, as while their shows had a home movie feel and the depiction of life on the road was basic, they quietly amassed a significant fortune, with their personal estate in the late ’80s exceeding $6.5 million.

Sadly, the ill-fated development of the Leyland Brothers theme park, with its 1/40 scale replica of Uluru near Newcastle in 1990 cost them everything – including their relationship with each other. In the words of their friend, and fellow millionaire, Dick Smith “they’d gone from being very, very wealthy, being multimillionaires, in a period of about 15 years to being close to destitute”.

There are some lessons in their experience for us all. Stick to what you know

When the popularity of their TV show began to wane, rather than pursuing a complementary business activity in the areas about which they were passionate, travel and film, the Leyland Brothers strayed into the almost completely unrelated field of tourism and hospitality management.

This is a common mistake, particularly as people approach retirement. There are plenty of examples of successful professionals who lose the lot reinvesting themselves as property developers or restaurateurs.

It is admirable to follow your dreams and once you have the financial capability to try new things, it’s appropriate to take some risks. However, just because you are successful in one field does not mean you will automatically be successful in another. It often takes years of training and practice honing the skills to run a good business. If you are thinking of taking the leap to something new, take the time to do an actual or metaphorical apprenticeship, ensuring that you enjoy and have the skills for your new venture. Don’t bet the house

In a recent n Story episode Mal Leyland admits his deepest regret is pressuring his wife Laraine to mortgage their house to pay for Leyland Brothers World.

Big dreams are often capital intensive and many entrepreneurs are successful precisely because they made sacrifices that others would not. For example, Boost Juice founder Janine Allis sold her house and rented with her young family for many years so she could invest the proceeds in her business.

As you become successful, look to build a pool of safety assets, which are unrelated to your business or professional earnings that will start to do an increasing proportion of the wealth creation for you. It might be your house or investment assets, but generally the most financially successful are those who understand risk and who don’t bet everything on one idea. Don’t mix family and money

Hearing Mal talk about the relationship with his brother Mike (who died of Parkinson’s disease in 2009), it is tragic to hear how their relationship soured over money. Mike was suspicious that Mal was funding personal travel from the business, and Mal resented Mike retaining a stronger financial position after their bankruptcies.

It can seem like a great idea to pool resources with a sibling. However too often financial relationships between family members lack sufficient formality, leading to misunderstandings and conflict. Judgment can also be clouded by emotion and what seemed like a great idea can turn into a nightmare, as it did for the Leyland Brothers.

The happy ending to the story is that Mike and Mal had a reconciliation of sorts shortly before Mike’s death, with the twinkle returning to Mike’s eye as he wished he could do just one more trip with his brother.

Mal and Laraine Leyland are also a testament to resilience and perseverance. They have stayed together and survived their financial troubles with the help of their friends. They have gone back to what they love – travelling and movie making and are now educating a new generation about the wonders of and the benefits of sustainable living.

Catherine Robson is an award-winning financial planner with Affinity Private. Twitter:@CatherineAtAff.

Chinese billionaire in battle with local council to develop bushland

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Wealthy Chinese property developer Phillip Dong Fang Lee is either an environmental vandal hell-bent on destroying hundreds of hectares of once pristine bushland and marine sanctuary in Port Stephens, or the hapless victim of council red tape.
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It all depends on who you talk to in the North Arm Cove community, where Mr Lee bought his 400 hectares adjoining Myall Lakes National Park for $8.8 million in 2006.

On the one side is Mr Lee, known in China for his city-sized developments, who has brought his know-how to and now lives in a $39.9 million mansion in Point Piper known as Mandalay. He has plans to build an already approved 11-bedroom mansion set to cost $15 million as a weekender atop Fame Mountain on his Port Stephens property.

Marring Mr Lee’s progress on those holiday home plans are previous fines, in 2009 for almost $200,000 when sediment-polluted water flowed into North Arm Cove after a dam wall failed during excavation work, and in 2014 there was a fine of $8000 after a section of bushland was cleared and the felled trees left in a protected marine sanctuary.

Now taking up his cause to develop the property is former long-time council investigations and prosecutions co-ordinator Greg Pevitt, who resigned from council early last year and six months later took up a role as advisor to Mr Lee. “In all my 28 years working on council I have never seen any developer pursued the way Mr Lee has been,” said Mr Pevitt.

Then there’s the local action group and Mr Lee’s immediate neighbours, who accuse him of illegally logging trees and dumping them in the marine sanctuary, and cutting through rock to build an unauthorised road. And now the state government has been dragged into the debate by locals who fear council can not afford to fund the protracted legal battle.

Acting as arbitrator to it all is the Land and Environment Court, which last year slapped stop-work and clean-up orders on Mr Lee’s company LDF Enterprises amid concerns to threatened species, unauthorised land clearing and road works to his yet-to-be-built mansion. Earlier this month an injunction extended those stop-work orders.

As the court case has dragged on, lawyers for council and Mr Lee have held conciliatory meetings in a bid to resolve the matter outside court, prompting the Fame Cove Resident Association to this week call on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to bring the state’s “considerable powers and resources” to back the council’s current efforts.

“Unfortunately, the court action is an expensive exercise that council is struggling to fund. It desperately needs NSW government support, especially given the owner’s significant wealth,” the association wrote to Ms Berejiklian.

Council’s interim general manager Glenn Handford denied the meetings were a bid to avoid the most costly legal process in court but confirmed that more such meetings are expected to take place.

Local Labor MP Kate Washington has weighed in, saying: “This is a state significant site on which there has been a cost shift onto local council to prosecute state laws.

“Council have done a really good job to oversee the developing DAs but having been to the site I’ve seen some of the atrocities there and it’s horrifying,” Ms Washington said.

A spokesman from the Department of Premier and Cabinet declined to comment as to whether the state government would intervene in the matter because it is currently before the courts, instead issuing a one-line statement: “A number of penalty infringement notices have been issued to the developer. The developer has also been asked to provide a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the site.”

“This is all a re-education process for Mr Lee,” said Mr Pevitt.

“Mr Lee is not the bad guy he’s been made out to be. In China if you have a development job you just get it done, and Mr Lee has built whole cities to house 1.3 million people. But here he’s frustrated by all the red tape and bureaucracy from council for the most minor development.”

But Len Yearsley, vice-president of the Fame Cove Resident Association, said: “It’s not red tape. These are laws to protect the environment.

“We just want those laws upheld, but Mr Lee’s thinking seems to be that once you buy a property you have the right to do whatever you like to it. All we’re asking for is that Mr Lee abide by the DA he’s been issued.”

Fame Cove is a renowned boating haven that was hoped to become national park when Boral offered it to the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the late 1990s for $1.1 million, but when the money couldn’t be raised it was instead sold into private hands.

In 2005 that bid to have 90 per cent of it designated national park in exchange for an eco-village on 40 hectares also failed, and a year later it was sold to Mr Lee.

There are local claims that Mr Lee has let deer loose on the land to denude the bushland but these are rejected by Mr Pevitt, who said it was a previous owner who released 200 goats and 200 deer on the property.

There are currently a few dozen cattle and 11 donkeys grazing on the site’s pastureland.

‘Highly medicated’ Grant Denyer on his second ‘close call’

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Grant Denyer’s main accessory at this year’s Logies was an inflatable ring cushion after breaking his coccyx in a near-fatal rally crash last month.

The pint-sized Family Feud host told Fairfax Media he was “very highly medicated” and in “some pain” as he attended n television’s night of nights where he was nominated for a coveted Gold Logie (won by Samuel Johnson). The father-of-two was accompanied by wife Cheryl, who said she would not ask him to quit motor sports, despite his two near misses.

“I have left that decision up to him. He loves racing more than he loves TV … but he will be much more measured in what risks he’ll take from now on,” she said.

Describing the moment that she found out about the incident in which the car he was driving slammed into a tree during the Lake Mountain Sprint in Marysville, Victoria, on March 26, Cheryl said: “My heart stopped and I panicked … Then I just went into survival mode, trying to keep a happy face for the kids.”

Grant added: “It was a close call. I was really lucky to walk away from that one, in all seriousness they are the accidents that kill people.”

When it was put to him that it might be high time to retire, he said he would instead “reassess the type” of racing he does, but has no plans to quit.

“I have been racing all my life. I’ve only been in hospital twice in 300 races, so it’s not a bad average, even though the last one did nearly kill me,” he said.

The pair have been through their ups and downs. In 2008, he crashed while driving a 7.5 tonne monster truck that left him with a vertebral compression fracture.

In 2013, he left Seven after almost 10 years following “erratic” behaviour.

In 2014, Woman’s Day reported that he and his wife were treated in a Thai rehab for six weeks over the Christmas and New Year period for a $200,000-a-year meth addiction. They both deny the claims and threatened to sue. They never have. In 2015, Denyer said he had moved on from his anger about the article, and the couple kissed and made up with the glossy magazine by appearing in an exclusive on the birth of their baby daughter

Despite the notoriously booze-filled and fancy-free Logies after-parties where a number of his counterparts hit the tiles, the pair had no plans to join them.

“Definitely not a wild, boozy night,” Cheryl laughed. “Grant cannot even sit for very long.”

While Cheryl was helping take care of Grant’s broken behind, he was on “boob watch” to keep her custom made, yellow Mary Ionnaidis ballgown in check.

“We are a team,” he laughed. Dale & I can’t thank u enough 4 all the wonderful messages of support. It’s really lifted our spirits. V sore but okA post shared by Grant Denyer (@grantdenyer) on Mar 27, 2017 at 6:09pm PDTA post shared by Grant Denyer (@grantdenyer) on Apr 9, 2017 at 10:30pm PDT

Long day care is oversupplied in Sydney: childcare industry

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The childcare industry says there is an oversupply of childcare in the inner-city and middle-ring suburbs of Sydney, in news that will surprise parents stuck on waiting lists for the hours they need.
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The claim is in stark contrast to warnings from the federal Opposition which says the population boom is driving a national childcare shortage set to worsen over the next three years.

But the peak body for private long day care, the n Childcare Alliance, says the oversupply is both real and widespread.

It has surprised early childhood education advocates by declaring that a competitive market approach does not work, and called for the government to manage supply by centrally planning the location of childcare centres the way it does for schools and aged care facilities.

The alliance crunched the numbers of childcare places in existing long day care centres and new ones opening soon under approved DAs, comparing supply with projected population growth.

It found that 16 NSW council areas are already over-supplied, including Lane Cove, Randwick, Ryde, Sutherland, Sydney, Warringah, Willoughby, Woollahra, Ashfield and Auburn; and that a further 12 are at risk of oversupply in the near future.

But it concedes there are shortages in “discrete minority areas”, specifically Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Parramatta and Penrith.

Alliance CEO Chiang Lim said operators were squeezed by over-regulation on the one hand around high staffing ratios and National Quality Framework requirements, and an overly free-market approach to where centres can locate, on the other.

“If the government is going to allow the market to take its course there will be a lot of new services that will be opened but it will be a lose-lose. The new services will open under-capacity straight away, thereby threatening their financial capacity from day one; and the existing services will also lose because they will have children go to the new services,” he said.

He said there were centres already struggling to be viable where capacity was under 80 per cent, and that some had closed, but he could not name them.

In some places where parents experience shortages, that might be driven by their choice of days, he said.

“What we’re seeing is parents are asking for one day or two days, everyone is trying to compete for those popular days,” Mr Lim said. “But as a business you have to structure for a five-day operation.”

Ironically it was the alliance that initially lobbied the NSW government to overhaul planning laws around childcare centres to cut development application approval times of up to 53 weeks.

That led the government to develop the Draft State Environmental Planning Policy (Educational Establishments and Childcare Facilities) 2017, to speed up the delivery of new services. It would streamline planning rules and scrap local council’s proximity rules that prevent new centres opening up close to existing ones.

But the alliance fears the draft law would be “too successful” in promoting supply, without paying sufficient attention to demand.

The childcare services industry made almost $1 billion in profit in 2015-16, according to IBISWorld, more than one-eighth of what n taxpayers paid in fee subsidies. There are big corporate operators, but the alliance says 83 per cent of approved providers operate only one service, and they are the ones that would be squeezed out by the new planning laws.

Carol Burgess from Early Childhood , a national not-for-profit advocacy group, said a competitive market approach was not delivering and the NSW government’s plans would make that worse.

“Ideally every child and family in NSW should have easy access to quality affordable early childhood education. Currently in NSW provision of childcare and early learning is based on a competitive market which unfortunately has resulted in uneven distribution with some areas over-supplied and others under-supplied,” she said.

“Unfortunately the proposed ‘streamlining process’ does not address this uneven supply of childcare places.”

A planning department spokeswoman said the government was considering all submissions before the policy was finalised.

“As Sydney is experiencing growth, there is increasing demand for new and upgraded schools and child care centres in Sydney and across NSW. The draft SEPP aims to facilitate development to meet this demand while providing high-quality educational facilities.”