NEWCASTLE-HUNTER BANK VICTIMS ENCOURAGED TO TELL THEIR STORIES

Victims of immoral or illegal conduct by financial services institutions are invited to tell their stories at a banking roundtable in Newcastle on Friday.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said she called the roundtable to shine a light on how the misconduct of banks and big finance is affecting people in the Newcastle-Hunter region.

“I’m aware of a number of shocking cases of misconduct that have had dire impacts on people and their families in our community,” Ms Claydon said.

“The roundtable will bring together banking victims and representatives from community organisations who see the impacts of banking misconduct in their work every day.”

Ms Claydon said she expected stories from the roundtable would help support the case for the Banking Royal Commission to visit regional communities like Newcastle.

“The Banking Royal Commission is doing great work bringing shocking evidence of appalling misconduct to light – from fees for no service, to predatory lending, contempt for regulators and straight-up breaches of the law,” Ms Claydon said.

“But the Commission has only been able to hear evidence from 27 victims, despite receiving over 9,000 submissions. This isn’t good enough. Australians right across the country deserve their chance to be heard.”

Ms Claydon said Morrison Government had repeatedly tried to block or diminish the scope of the Banking Royal Commission.

“Scott Morrison never wanted this Royal Commission. He ran a protection racket for the big banks for 600 days and voted against it 26 times. He called it a ‘populist whinge’ and a ‘reckless distraction’. And then he spent his last year as Treasurer trying to reward the big banks with a $17 billion tax cut.

“Labor called for this Royal Commission, Labor fought for this Royal Commission, Labor will allow victims to have their say, and Labor will work day and night to protect Australian businesses and consumers from this appalling misconduct.”

LABOR REINTRODUCES HIGH SPEED RAIL LEGISLATION

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has seconded Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese’s push to again get high speed rail off the ground.

Ms Claydon said Newcastle was one of the cities that stood to benefit the most from an east coast high speed rail connection.

“High speed rail has the potential to be an absolute game changer for Newcastle,” Ms Claydon said.

“It will revolutionise travel, create a wealth of jobs and turbocharge the local economy.”

Ms Claydon said it is the fifth time Labor has introduced the Bill to the Parliament because the Government refused to schedule previous bills for debate.

“This Bill would re-establish the High Speed Rail Authority so it can get on with the critical work of planning and securing the land for the rail corridor before it’s built out by urban sprawl,” Ms Claydon said.

“A study done by the former Labor Government showed that high speed rail would return $2.50 for every $1 invested, but we need to get moving on it quickly.”

Ms Claydon said the Abbott Government scrapped the High Speed Rail Planning Authority when it came to power, and no progress has been made under Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison.

“To date, the Liberals have shown a staggering lack of vision about Australia’s future infrastructure needs,” Ms Claydon said.

“The Government says it supports high speed rail but blocks any actual opportunity for progress, but this legislation offers a chance to turn things around.

“We need to heed Infrastructure Australia’s warning about moving fast or we’ll add hundreds of millions to the cost of securing the corridor.

“The Government is on notice. It’s time they stepped up to put the national interest above their own internal chaos.”

Officers assaulted; wanted teenager charged – Weston

Two officers were allegedly assaulted after arresting a teenager who was wanted on an outstanding warrant in the Hunter region overnight.

About 12.45am (Tuesday 23 October 2018), police from Hunter Valley Police District attended a home on Fourth Street, Weston, after reports a teenager wanted on an outstanding warrant was at the property.

On arrival, they found a 16-year-old boy inside, who attempted to flee.

It’s alleged two senior constables stopped him and as they attempted to arrest him, a struggle ensued.

Neighbouring residents intervened, and it’s alleged both officers were assaulted – one was struck several times in the head and body.

As police attempted to restrain the teenager, he was tasered and OC spray was deployed.

It’s further alleged residents continued to intervene and one of the senior constables drew his taser until additional police arrived at the scene.

The boy was taken to Cessnock Police Station and charged with the outstanding warrant, resist officer in execution of duty, assault police officer in execution of duty cause aggravated bodily harm, possess prohibited drug, and possession of equipment for administering prohibited drugs.

He was refused bail to appear at a children’s court today (Tuesday 23 October 2018), where he was refused bail again to reappear at the same court on Tuesday 13 November 2018.

Man charged with multiple offences following alleged assault – Newcastle City

A man has been charged with a number of offences including assault after police were called to a hotel in Wickham yesterday.

About 7.35pm (Monday 22 October 2018), officers from Newcastle City were called to a hotel on Maitland Road following reports of an assault.

On arrival officers were told a 47-year-old man allegedly threatened a female staff member after he was asked to leave due to his level of intoxication.

It’s alleged the man punched a male patron before throwing a schooner glass towards him causing it to smash on the ground.

The patron suffered minor injuries – not from the glass – and didn’t require medical treatment.

Police arrested the man and during a search officers allegedly located a large amount of money and a billiard ball wrapped within a sock.

The man was taken to Newcastle Police Station where he was charged with intimidation, common assault, goods in custody suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained and custody of an offensive implement in a public place.

He was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court today (Tuesday 23 October 2018).

Adam Bandt Says the Government’s plan to bring down Energy prices is a con

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today slammed the government’s latest attempt at an energy plan, saying the price ‘safety net’ was a con and the coal slush-fund an irresponsible use of public money that will make global warming worse.

“This price ‘safety net’ move is an absolute con,” said Mr Bandt.

“When you read the fine print, the so-called ‘cap’ won’t apply to 80-90% of customers.

“And the CEO of Energy Australia has even threatened to put up the prices of the 80-90% of customers to make up for their lost profits if the government forces the power bills of 10-20% of customers down.

“The government’s so-called safety net has holes so big that most people will fall through them.

“The government’s energy plan is also to pay polluters to keep on polluting through a coal-slush fund.

“While the Greens want to make the polluters pay, the Liberals want to pay the polluters to keep on polluting.

“The government’s latest appalling move is to strip money from schools and hospitals and give it to coal-fired power stations.

“It’s like taking money from the health budget and giving it to an asbestos business.

“Scientists are telling us to shut down one coal-fired power station per year between now and 2030 but instead the Liberals want to build more.

“If the government takes public money and gives it to coal, they’re toast. They won’t survive the next election and I’ll be glad to see the back of them.”

Greens say Corrupting Influence of the Gun Lobby Out to Water Down Gun Control Laws

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Gun Control, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Greens spokesperson for Democracy, Senator Larissa Waters, have reacted to today’s reports that the gun lobby is trying to weaken Australia’s gun laws and that pro-gun groups have used Ministerial Advisory Panels to lobby against greater gun controls.

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Gun Control, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, said:

“Federal and State Governments have dropped the ball on gun control. No Australian State or Territory has fully complied with the National Firearms Agreement which is absolutely appalling. We need to rekindle the kind of political courage we saw after the Port Arthur Massacre and push back against any move to weaken our gun laws.

“We should be tightening restrictions on guns, not entertaining militaristic fantasies or the weapons industry which simply want to sell more guns.

“The scourge of gun violence in the United States is directly related to the power and money the gun lobby has there. We don’t need a corporate lobby pushing to roll back our gun laws,” she concluded.

Greens spokesperson for Democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“A major overhaul of political donation laws in this country is long overdue, but any watering down of gun laws puts public safety at immediate risk making it even more important for the corrupting influence of the gun lobby to be eliminated from our democracy urgently.

“Firearm interest groups have donated at least $500,000 to political parties including the LNP, Labor and The Katter Party. How can Australians have any faith that these political parties are acting in their best interests on gun laws rather than the interests of their donors and their corporate profits?

“If we have any hope of restoring trust in our democracy we need to ban donations from vested interests and end the revolving door between lobbyists and politicians and we cannot allow the power wielded by weapons manufacturers over political parties to go unchecked.”

NSW Waratahs latest major sporting team coming to Newcastle

City of Newcastle has secured the NSW Waratahs first ever official Super Rugby match at McDonald Jones Stadium in March next year.

The announcement breaks new ground for both the 2014 Super Rugby champions and City of Newcastle, with Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes confirming next year’s fixture would be the first time the State team has taken a home game to a destination outside of Sydney.

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NSW Waratahs Assistant Coach Chris Whitaker and CEO Andrew Hore with Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at McDonald Jones Stadium

“This is a major coup for Newcastle so to be standing here at McDonald Jones Stadium today to welcome this foundation State team to our city is just incredible,” the Lord Mayor said after the City secured the NSW Waratahs’ historic game as part of a joint bid with Venues NSW.

“We’re proud to be the inaugural beneficiaries of the NSW Waratahs’ first foray outside of Sydney, particularly for a competition which has now achieved true international status with the addition of Japanese and Argentinean teams.”
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The NSW Waratahs have played pre-season matches outside of Sydney, but the 29 March fixture against the Japan Sunwolves will be the first home game ever staged outside of the harbour city during the regular season.

“Securing the NSW Waratahs is just the latest major sporting team or event Newcastle has secured over the past year,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve just had the Australian netball team play a test against England. The Matildas game vs Chile is early next month, and of course final preparations are under way for November’s Supercars race. Next month we will learn if Newcastle will be the 2021 host city for the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

“Our ability to continually attract some of the country’s best live sporting and entertainment events shows just how committed we are to making our city the best it can possibly be.

“We look forward to working with the NSW Waratahs, Venues NSW and McDonald Jones Stadium to host this event next year in the hope that it will become a permanent fixture from 2020 onwards.”

NSW Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes at McDonald Jones Stadium

Smart City events to attract start-up businesses to Newcastle

Budding innovators and entrepreneurs can upload their own forward-thinking into Newcastle’s future economy through a series of upcoming Smart City engagement activities.

Part of Smart Move Newcastle and a collaboration between Eighteen04 and the City of Newcastle, a series of events aim to encourage local innovation and nurture future industries.

City of Newcastle is encouraging start-ups and tech innovators to:

  • Come and hang out in the City for three days and join our Urban Internet of Things* (IoT) Hackathon, between 25-27 October to help develop solutions to common safety, waste and amenity concerns in urban environments; and
  • Be a part of our Online Mobility Challenge – 27 September to 27 November – to generate new ideas around using data to encourage electric vehicle usage and other transport options.

“Scores of start-ups, emerging businesses and student ventures in Newcastle will take part in and benefit from a variety of competitive innovation challenges,” Chair of Eighteen04 Gunilla Burrowes said.

“The events will also provide a great opportunity to showcase Newcastle’s excellent smart city infrastructure and platforms to a national and international audience.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the start-up engagement program would further confirm Newcastle as a smart city leader.

“Our vision is to be a smart, liveable and sustainable global city by 2030,” the Lord Mayor said.

“While we talk a lot about smart technology and infrastructure, smart cities are first and foremost about people.

“These fantastic hands-on engagement challenges will nurture innovation locally and show how innovation and technology can help solve urban problems and make life easier.”

“With integrated smart poles, sensor networks and data analytics platforms coming on line, we have an exceptional environment for entrepreneurial businesses large and small,” the Lord Mayor added.

“We have the capacity and are attracting the talent to develop the next generation of Smart City solutions right here in Newcastle to address challenges that many cities are facing.”

The program is part of the $13m Smart Moves Newcastle project, which received $5m through the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs program last year.

Through Smart Moves Newcastle, the City is partnering with a consortium of technology businesses to provide an integrated network for transport, energy and digital infrastructure to transform the city into a ‘living lab’.

An Energy Demonstration Project in December will also showcase emerging energy-saving and monitoring technologies in the retail market, with more details to come.

LNP Say we will now Get A Fair Deal on Energy

Australian families and businesses will save hundreds of dollars a year off their power bills, thanks to action being taken today by the Morrison Government.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will start work on a “price safety net” today.

This will stop big power companies ripping off loyal customers who don’t have time to shop around for a better deal.

However it will still allow retailers to offer more competitively-priced market offers.

The price safety net is consistent with the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry.

The Australian Energy Market Commission found that customers on standing offers could be paying up to $832 per year more than the cheapest market offer in some regions. Small businesses could be paying up to $3,457 per year in higher electricity costs.

The AER has been tasked with introducing default prices by 30 April 2019 with savings being passed through to families and small businesses by 1 July 2019.

Other measures announced today by the Morrison Government that will bring prices down and increase reliability are:

  • Stopping price gouging by the big energy companies. This includes banning sneaky late payment penalties and making energy retailers pass on savings in wholesale prices to customers. It will increase regulator’s power to crack down on dodgy, anti-competitive practices – through fines, penalties, enforceable undertakings, structural separation and divestiture. We have already seen prices come down in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales on 1 July 2018, and we have directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor electricity prices until 2025 to ensure prices are fairer for consumers.
  • Backing investment in new power generators to improve competition. Underwriting new electricity generation will attract investment in the electricity market, increasing supply and reducing wholesale electricity prices. The Government will consult on the Underwriting New Generation Investments program, with submissions open until 9 November 2018. Based on feedback from the consultation, the Government will release initial program guidelines and invite proponents to nominate projects through an expression of interest process open from December 2018 to January 2019.
  • Supporting reliable power by requiring energy companies to sign contracts guaranteeing enough energy to meet demand. We will work with state and territory governments through the COAG Energy Council to ensure these contracts are signed.

The package of measures announced today builds on the ACCC’s July report, Restoring electricity affordability and Australia’s competitive advantage.

The report found that the National Energy Market is not operating in the best interests of consumers and needs reform, in particular around competition and affordability.

Our plan will lower power prices, supporting Australians struggling with the cost of living, and back small businesses so they can take advantage of new opportunities and employ more people.

The Government is also developing legislation to implement a strong regime to monitor electricity prices including:

  • empowering the ACCC to recommend a range of enforcement remedies;
  • empowering the Treasurer to order the divestiture of assets on advice from the ACCC; and
  • supporting the COAG Energy Council agenda through Commonwealth legislation if required.

We will also propose an ambitious agenda for the COAG Energy Council including:

  • introducing a market cap on generation ownership;
  • increasing transparency in the wholesale contract market;
  • introducing higher penalties for breaches of the National Electricity Law and related laws, of up to $10 million; and
  • increasing the AER’s powers to investigate market manipulation and impose appropriate remedies.

SINGLETON’S CODY HEFFERNAN NABS PBR DUBBO INVITATIONAL TITLE WITH ROUSING FINAL RIDE OF THE NIGHT

Saturday evening’s Professional Bull Riders ( PBR) Monster Energy Tour: Dubbo Invitational, concluded in dramatic fashion, coming down to the wire as current Australian #4 Cody Heffernan clinched victory with a rousing 89-point ride on the final buck off of the night.

Taking place at Dubbo Showgrounds in PBR’s new state-of-the-art mobile stadium before a capacity crowd, the event attracted 22 of the nation’s top riders, including the top five riders on the current Australian Standings.

Heffernan’s picture perfect final ride upon TNR’s Call Me Joe saw him narrowly pip current Australian #1 Aaron Kleier to the Dubbo Invitational title – solidifying Heffernan as a serious 2018  title contender with only one event left until the PBR Australia Grand Finals in Townsville on November 23 & 24.

The Dubbo Invitational also attracted some of the best bulls in the sport, with superstar bovines wowing local audiences including the likes of TnR’s ‘Call Me Joe’, John Gill and Sons’ ‘High Flying Akubra’, Hempenstall’s ‘Doorman’ and Kasper’s ‘Villain’.

With the win, Singleton (NSW)-born Heffernan sent this year’s title race into overdrive. The slimmest of margins now separates Heffernan and Rankings #3 Fraser Babbington, with both riders also within striking distance of #1 Aaron Kleier  and #2 Cliff Richardson.

The PBRA now heads to Tamworth for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Tour: Iron Cowboy on November 17, before the PBR Grand Finals in Townsville on November 23-24.

Nineteen years after the PBR began staging events in Townsville, the Grand Finals will bring twenty-two of the country’s best bull riders, along with international stars and champion bulls, to Townsville for a head-to-head battle that will decide the National Champion and Stock Contractor of the Year titles.

“As with previous years, we’re expecting the 2018 title battle to attract diehard PBR fans from all over Australia.It is anybody’s title this year, and with four more events to go, and the bonus points on offer at the Grand Finals, fans can expect a very tight battle,” says PBR Australia General Manager, Glen Young.