Why deny US-style Fair Use copyright laws to Australians?

Copyright reform needed: LaborWhy did we gain the restrictions of US copyright law but not the rights?After an 18-month review, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has backed calls to bring Australia’s copyright laws into the modern age with “Fair Use” exemptions. The change would streamline our current hotch-potch copyright laws, which aren’t designed to cope with the rapid pace of technological change.  Australia’s current copyright laws need to be rewritten to account for every new technology, an approach which saw everyone breaking the law for almost thirty years until we gained the right to record free-to-air television in 2007. The ALRC’s “Copyright and the Digital Economy” report wants to replace this with proactive Fair Use laws which use four technologically-neutral “fairness factors” to determine whether an act of copying is within the law.Federal Attorney-General George Brandis agrees that copyright laws need an overhaul, describing them as “overly long, unnecessarily complex, often comically outdated and all too often, in its administration, pointlessly bureaucratic”. That sounds promising, until Brandis keeps talking and you realise he wants to focus all his attention on filtering the internet and chasing movie downloaders, rather than forging balanced copyright laws. Brandis has already signalled his reluctance to embrace Fair Use law due to the supposed uncertainty it would create for copyright holders. This of course conveniently ignores the fact that the United States – one of the world’s major content creators – has had similar Fair Use laws in place for decades.The ALRC report anticipated this kind of response from the likes of Brandis, and addressed it head on in the summary report:”The standard recommended by the ALRC is not novel or untested. Fair use builds on Australia’s fair dealing exceptions, it has been applied in US courts for decades, and it is built on common law copyright principles that date back to the 18th century.””If fair use is uncertain, this does not seem to have greatly inhibited the creation of films, music, books and other material in the world’s largest exporter of cultural goods, the United States.”Fair Use laws obviously aren’t creating too much uncertainty in the US, but our current laws are definitely creating uncertainty in Australia. The Optus TV Now and IceTV cases are two high profile examples where businesses were dragged through the courts even though they felt they were on the right side of the law – and so did the courts in some circumstances. Fair Use rules will create more certainty for copyright owners and businesses contemplating new services based on their content. What’s really frustrating is that Australians didn’t inherit Fair Use rights under the 2005 US Free Trade Agreement, in a text-book example of “do as we say, not as we do”. The agreement saw Australia adopt many of the restrictions of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, such as a ban on circumventing Digital Rights Management even if you’re exercising your rights under copyright law. Even if Australians are granted Fair Use exemptions for acts such as format-shifting our DVD libraries, these digital rights management (DRM) laws will stand in the way.If Fair Use does get up in Australia, it will be interesting to see if other services and copyright holders introduce token DRM protection just so they can neutralise Fair Use exemptions. Other agreements such as the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership also seem heavily weighted in favour of protecting copyright holders and at the expense of our rights under law.The ALRC clearly states that Fair Use does not include piracy, but some people are happy to muddy the water to ensure we get more copyright responsibilities without the corresponding rights. If Fair Use copyright laws are good enough for the US, why aren’t they good enough for Australia? Where do you think the balance lies? 
Shanghai night field

Read More

Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest pockets $103m as Fortescue joins dividend rush

Andrew Forrest at his iron ore mine at Cloudbreak. Photo: Quentin JonesFortescue Metals Group has joined in the dividend bonanza sweeping the Australian market, announcing a higher than expected half-year payout that will see close to $103 million flow to its biggest shareholder, billionaire rich-lister Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest.
Shanghai night field

The 10¢ per share dividend is equal to the dividend that came with full year profit announced by the company in 2013.

The dividend came as Fortescue reported a $US1.71 billion net profit for first half, which was slightly lower than the $US1.77 billion that a consensus of analysts were expecting.

But it was better than the $US1.67 billion that UBS was expecting.

The result is a stunning 259 per cent higher than the first half of 2013, and reflects the huge rise in production that is underway at the iron ore miner.

Fortescue has also benefited from higher than expected iron ore prices over the past six months.

Fortescue has kept its full year export guidance at 127 million tonnes, despite weather challenges over the past seven weeks.

Fortescue chief executive Nev Power warned last month that heavy rainfall was persisting through January and could interrupt production and shipments.

The wet weather has continued since then, and UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock noted this week that one year’s worth of average rainfall in the Pilbara had fallen in January alone.

That prompted Mr Lawcock to lower his export estimate to 125 million tonnes, but the company is so far holding its guidance at 127 million tonnes.

Fortescue was initially forecasting that exports would range between 127 million tonnes and 133 million tonnes in the 2014 financial year, but changed that in January to 127 million tonnes exactly.

Fortescue wants to gradually increase its dividends until it hits a consistent dividend payout ratio of between 30 and 40 per cent.

But the company will need to pay down more of its debt before it hits that level.

The dividend paid out by Fortescue was almost double the 5.3¢ dividend analysts had been expecting.

Read More

‘Dairy wars’ not over as Bega Cheese positions for battle

Bega Cheese’s factory on the NSW south coast. Photo: Orlando ChiodoNSW-based Bega Cheese has hinted the dairy wars are not over, saying the company is well-positioned for further consolidation and the battle for milk supply as it reported an 18 per cent jump in first half profit to $18.7 million.
Shanghai night field

The cheese company, which listed on the ASX in 2011, recently lost out to Canadian giant Saputo in the dramatic three-way takeover battle for Victorian dairy group Warrnambool Cheese & Butter.

But Bega said it has reaped $98.9 million, before tax and costs, for its 18.8 per cent stake in WCB and expects to report an after-tax profit of $44 million in its full-year accounts.

“The recent battle for control of WCB was a demonstration of both the value of dairy assets in Australia and Bega Cheese’s positioning as a key player in the ongoing rationalisation of the Australian dairy industry,” Bega said.

“Bega Cheese has a very strong balance sheet and is well-positioned to participate in the ongoing opportunities in the Australian dairy industry.”

The comment comes just days after the banker who led Saputo to victory in the $530 million battle for Warrnambool said he expects dairy deals to keep flowing.

“There’s a trend of bringing global companies like Saputo to the Australian market and helping them build out their position,”Rothschild managing director Sam Prentice said.

“Private equity firms are all looking at their portfolios and which of their investee companies are suitable for IPOs.”

Announcing its first-half profit, Bega said there are a number of organic growth opportunities it intends to pursue in further value-adding its whey and dairy nutritionals products.

“The group expects to consider a number of investment and corporate opportunities in the short to medium term.”

Adverse weather and competition for milk supply drove an 8 per cent drop in milk intake to 336 million litres, but group revenue rose 4 per cent to $510.6 million and earnings before interest and tax jumped 15 per cent to $30.2 million.

Near-record dairy commodity prices and the recent decline in the Australian dollar underpinned the growth in earnings.

Bega said the outlook for dairy commodities is positive primarily due to the insatiable demand from China for whole milk powders and whey powders.

The company said a key focus going forward will be on providing incentives to grow its existing milk pool and procure new supply, suggesting it is ready for a battle to win farmers from rivals like new entrant Saputo.

“A number of new entrants in milk supply procurement, strong competition amongst existing players and increased returns from international markets will continue to create a highly competitive market for milk,” Bega said.

Bega declared a full-franked interim dividend of 3.5¢, matching the dividend paid in the prior period.

Read More

Harry and Meghan thrill Sydney royal fans

Duchess of Sussex Meghan greets Daphne outside the Opera House in Sydney on October 16, 2018. Picture: pool Photo/ Dominic Lorrimer/ Fairfax MediaAfter hours of waiting, royal fans were finally able to meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Sydney Opera House. And they weren’t left disappointed.

杭州桑拿

Prince Harry and Meghan descended the stairs of the Opera House holding hands as thousands of fans erupted in delight.

The royal couple briefly parted ways to shake hands and warmly embrace some of those who had been waiting since early on Tuesday morning.

After Harry bent down for a young boy and waved to another group of girls they were left beaming and yelled out “we love you Harry”.

Meghan, whose pregnancy was announced on Monday night, wore a beige trench coat over a tight-fitting cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee that revealed a barely-there baby bump.

Many fans who started lining up outside the Opera House at 7am were rewarded with a royal greeting, including 98-year-old war widow Daphne Dunne, who has met Harry twice before and asked him to introduce her to his new wife.

“Oh my goodness, is this Daphne?” Meghan asked.

“She’s said she had heard all about me, she’s so beautiful,” Mrs Dunne told AAP.

“I wished them well with the baby on the way and said this is what Harry has been waiting for for so long.”

NSW Central Coast woman Megan Jones lined up early in the hope of catching a glimpse of Harry and Meghan.

Ms Jones was nine-years-old when she met Harry’s mother Diana during her trip to Sydney in 1983.

“I went up to her and shook her hand … She had a beautiful energy about her,” Ms Jones told AAP outside the Opera House.

Ms Jones says she sees the same energy in Prince Harry and Meghan.

Craig Gill had been waiting at since 6am in eager anticipation to see the loved up couple.

Mr Gill, wearing a cap signed by Prince William, says the duke and duchess represent something new for the royals

“They’ve lifted the game and turned it around … they’re an exciting new thing to happen,” he told AAP.

The walkabout is the first opportunity for the public to interact with the couple – and to be the first to congratulate them after Kensington Palace announced Meghan’s pregnancy.

Australian fags were flapping furiously in the wind as people waved them in anticipation, brandishing signs with affectionate messages, one young girl declaring “Evie [?]s Harry” on her sign.

Evie Treacy, 6, and her seven-year-old sister Dempsey had stayed up until 1am making their brightly coloured banner.

They had been waiting for nearly five hours to hand the royal couple a teddy bear each as an early gift for their baby.

“We hope the baby turns out just as pretty,” Dempsey told AAP.

The duke and duchess were plied with gifts from well wishers which included koala teddy bears, flowers, T-shirts and CDs.

Patricia Handy and her six-year-old daughter Whata were also lucky enough to brush shoulders with the royals and were both screaming with joy after Meghan shook their hands.

“I can’t even remember what she said … I’m trembling from excitement,” Ms Handy told AAP.

“That’s what you call a real princess.”

Read More

Small business tax cuts pass first hurdle

Fast-tracked company tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses have passed the lower house, bringing the plan closer to reality.

杭州桑拿

Draft laws enacting the Morrison government’s proposed tax relief measures are set for the Senate after clearing the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Companies with turnover under $50 million will receive a tax rate of 25 per cent five years earlier than initially planned under the proposal.

“We believe in the more than three million small and medium businesses in Australia, employing seven million workers,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said as he introduced the draft law.

“Reducing their taxes will allow them to invest, grow and hire more Australians.”

Such businesses will have their tax rate dropped to 26 per cent rate in 2020/21, then to 25 per cent the following year.

The legislation sailed through the lower house with Labor’s support, while independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt attempted to delay the inevitable on Tuesday evening.

Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said the opposition were happy to facilitate the change in tax policy.

“They (businesses) deserve the certainty to know these tax cuts are locked in,” he said.

However, Mr Bowen says the Morrison government had only shifted to tax cuts for small and medium businesses after its plan for relief for large companies suffered defeat in the Senate in August.

Greens MP Adam Bandt says the looming federal election has resulted in the tax cuts being rushed through parliament to avoid scrutiny.

Mr Bandt said other matters, such as the mental health of refugee children on Nauru, were more important than clearing the parliamentary schedule for business tax cuts.

Read More

Tenders called for artificial reef installation off Blacksmiths Beach

Tenders have been called for the design and construction of an artificial reef off Blacksmiths Beach.

杭州桑拿

The artificial reef, to be situated in about 28 metres of water, is designed to promote marine biodiversity off the Hunter’s coastline.

The type of artificial planned to be installed of Blacksmiths Beach.

“The site for Newcastle’s first artificial reef was selected after a detailed environmental assessment and stakeholder consultation process,” Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said.

“The offshore reef will be accessible from Newcastle, Swansea and Norah Head, and is designed to support a large variety of fish species – especially bottom-dwelling and pelagic fish species that are popular with recreational fishers.”

READ MORE:

Hunter site chosen for artificial reefSwansea ocean reef promised as part of Newcastle to WollongongThe Newcastle reef follows the installation of reefs offSydney’s South Head, Shoalhaven Heads, Port Macquarie and southern Sydney.

“On the state’s five other artificial reefs, Department of Primary Industries research monitoring has already identified over 50 different fish species on previously deployed offshore reefs including Yellowtail Kingfish, Bonito, Blue Mackerel, Snapper, Mulloway, Trevally and many more,” Mr MacDonald said.

“The Newcastle reef will offer new, high quality fishing opportunities for recreational fishers and is a great example of how the NSW Government is reinvesting fees from recreational fishing licences back into the community.”

The reef will use large steel “Pinnacle Reef” towers with a vertical profile up to 12 metres high to deflect currents and create upwellings, whilst also providing shelter for fish amongst the large base structure with its various shapes and crevasses

The reef is expected to be completed in 2019 and community stakeholders will be kept updated during the tender process.

Read More

Lock Jones rejoins Super Rugby’s Rebels

Luke Jones played 72 games for the Melbourne Rebels in five Super Rugby seasons.Melbourne remain tight-lipped about securing Queensland Reds discard Quade Cooper but have formally announced that lock Luke Jones is returning to the Super Rugby club.

杭州桑拿

Jones was granted an early release from French club Bordeaux last month to return to the Rebels, who he left in 2016, but the contract was only finalised this week.

While the lock/flanker won’t arrive at the Rebels until the start of 2019 on a two-year deal, he’s immediately eligible to play for the Wallabies.

Playmaker Cooper has been strongly linked to the Rebels after failing to play a Super Rugby game for the Reds this year, but Melbourne had no comment on his likely signing.

Jones was a foundation Melbourne player and spent five years with the club making 72 appearances.

He won three Test caps before his move to France.

With his eye on next year’s World Cup, the 27-year-old said he wanted to return to Australia and was impressed by the Rebels’ recent growth.

“Having observed the transformation of the club over the last year, it’s obvious the Rebels have taken massive steps forward on and off the field and I want to be a part of that,” Jones said in a statement.

“I wanted to find a world class rugby program that would help take my game to the next level and speaking with (coach) David Wessels and a few of my former teammates and looking at the quality of the list at the Rebels, it’s going to be a great challenge for me week to week to earn my spot.”

Jones’s return is timely after the departures of Lopeti Timani, Amanaki Mafi and Geoff Parling.

“Luke left Melbourne as a very good player and his game has developed further over in Europe,” Rebels general manager of rugby Nick Ryan said.

Meanwhile, the Rebels are set to lose their major sponsor Legacy Property and Investment Group.

The financially-troubled business is facing prospective strike-off action by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), which is set to cut short their two-year sponsorship.

Melbourne said it would not have any material impact on their own viability.

Read More

Meet the men behind the headlines breaking the news as we know itBetoota Advocate Roadshow

ON THE ROAD: Betoota Advocate editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell are coming to Newcastle. Picture: Nic WalkerFor an outback Queensland newspaper that prides itself on being “arguably Australia’s oldest”, The Betoota Advocate has a remarkably astute grasp of the modern media world.

杭州桑拿

Overseen by editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell, the publication’s 2014 transition to a digital format has appealed to an online audience tired of mainstream news. The pairare hitting the road to share theirstories and will stop off at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on November 13. Tickets are on sale now.

It was 9.20am when Weekender called and Overell was “just starting to tap into the news cycle for the day”. Kind of late for a daily publication with its finger allegedly on the pulse, but OK.

What do you say to critics who reckon the Advocate’s a bit of a joke?We just say, it depends where you get your news from nowadays.Most people recognise what we are. A lot of people enjoy tuning in to a more regional perspective.

Your emblem is a lyrebird. Is there any particular reason you have chosen this bird to represent The Betoota Advocate? It’s native to the shire. And it’s theBetoota Bitter logo …it’s one of those things, in Perth they bang on about the swan, and in Queenslandthey bang on about broncos.

Who covers your sporting news?Tracy Bandinger. She’s an ex-rugby league prop. Female sports journalists are great because when they’re writing, they can do so without having to bring their glory days into it. I find that so refreshing. Any ex-player turned reporter, there’s usually a bit of “what could have been”.

It also removes all-too-frequent references to “the boys”?Yes [laughs]. Fitzsimons eat your heart out. Actually we were talking the other day about how the Newcastle Herald broke maybe one of the greatest stories of the ’90s. It was when that American bloke came out and tricked theKnights into thinking he played for the NFL. Greg Smith is hisname, and he fooled everyone. They pushed him in over Timana Tahu to start with the Knights. It was pre-internet so you can’t look this stuff up, but it was a big sting by you guys.

A lot of your health stories are about alcohol and other drugs. Do your writers speak from experience?No, no, that is honestly by keeping our ears to the ground. Young people these daysdon’t really know what’s right or wrong. You’ve got to wonder about some of the people tagging their mates in those stories.

How has The Betoota Advocatemanaged to survive without a paywall?We’re trying to see how we go without. In this day and age media consumers need to be conditioned to pay for it.

Do you think you will ever win a Walkley Award?Well, wedidn’t know you had to nominate yourself for a Walkely. We spent 100 years wondering why we’d never got one. We did go in 2016 and they put us on the table with the cartoonists. Maybe one daythey will bump us up to a table with our peers, like you.

Read More

Should we avoid getting so angry? You bet

HANG ON: Why all the anger about the promotion of The Everest on the Sydney Opera House sails when it’s been done before? Picture: AAP Image/Brendan EspositoSatirist Ambrose Bierce once said:“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

杭州桑拿

Without a doubt, my favourite superhero is the Incredible Hulk.

He’s such a paradox.You’ve got to respect someone who can turn a vice like anger into a virtue, and even a superpower!

Still, anger is a vice and an ugly vice that, if not checked, can lead to dreadful consequences.

How many murders have been committed out of anger?Most, maybe almost all.

I have many vices … see, I’ve just displayed one – lying.

However, I have been blessed with a gentle nature. Even so, I lose my temper sometimes, for there is no person who never gets angry.

However, the better person – which is what we are all striving to be, I hope– keepstheir cool, for we all respect someone who can keep their cool, especially in a crisis.

People with a bad temper often blame their parents.

“I inherited my mother’s bad temper!”No, you’re choosing to copy her bad example.

Or worse,they blame Jesus: “Jesus lost his temper in the temple at those people selling cattle,” they’ll say.

Jesus did this to emphasise the loss of sacred space,which I think is always the first sign and place a society’s peace is slipping away.

But this action of Jesus was an extremely rare situation and his predominant personality trait was gentleness.

Jesus said of himself: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.”

Moses, perhaps the greatest figure in the Jewish faith, also lost his temper and said things that were rash.

Again, this was a rare occurrence and the Jewish scriptures state:“Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”

It’s over now, so I hope people have calmed down, but look at the public outpouring of anger over the advertising of The Everest horse race on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

This event showed just how paradoxical anger can become.

I would have thought that in Australia – where we are proud of having the reputation around the world of betting on two flies crawling up a wall – that we would take pride in having the world’s richest horse race on turf in our backyard.

“Yeah, but not on the sails of the Sydney Opera House,” some might say.

Well, there’s a problem there. In 2015, it was OK to advertise the Australian Wallabies across every sail of the Opera House during the Rugby World Cup.

And there was nothing but pride earlier this year when the sails were lit up in rainbow colours to advertise the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Perhaps the greatest paradox in all this anger towards the advertising of gambling across the sails of the Opera House is that gambling indeed gave birth to the Opera House.

Have we forgotten that the $102 million cost to build the Sydney Opera House was mostly paid for by a state lottery?

The paradox of anger was also recently revealed in the protests against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a judge on the USSupreme Court.

After perhaps one of the most wicked smear campaigns you are ever likely to witness –and no less than six FBI background investigations into his private life – Kavanaugh came out squeaky clean.

Even so, the angry mobs claimed he was still unworthy of his nomination.

Why? Because he understandably lost his temper at his hearing when his good life and family were being publicly dragged through the mud.

It may beold fashioned, but for a very long timeperhaps the best compliment that you could give a woman was to say that she was a lady, and the best compliment you could give a man was to say that he was a gentleman.

I think this belief is still not too far from people’s hearts.

Nothing can destroy this faster than a good old fashioned meltdown.

Twitter: @fatherbrendanelee

Read More

Nothing fake about the power of journalism

It is difficult not to see the irony in the hunt for the apparent killers of outspoken Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi being spearheaded by the man to whom such people are capable of delivering nothing but “fake news”.

杭州桑拿

In the blinkered world of US President Donald Trump, journalists appear to exist at about the same level as burglars.

No opportunity is missed to call them out, often by name, even when theirwork turns out to be anything but fake.

It is the same culture of the bully as practised by the likes of shock jock Alan Jones when confronted bypoliter females merely trying to uphold long-standing charters, or maverick federal MP Bob Katter responding to legitimate questions about his Lebanon-born grandfather.

The policy that attack is the best form of defence is not limited to the England soccer team that found itself 3-0 up away to Spain on Tuesday.

President Trump said this week that he had called Saudi Arabia’sleader, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to ask aboutthe disappearance of Khashoggi, whoTurkish officials believe was murdered by Saudi agents two weeks ago.

Trump fighting the cause for journalists is like Japan leading the global investigation into illegal whaling.

American leaders have nurtured a healthy fear of journalists since the heyday ofBob Woodward andCarl Bernstein –theWashington Post reporters whose investigation brought down Richard Nixon, but who recently agreed that the incumbent US president’s numerous misdemeanours out-Trump even Watergate.

Those who foretell the death of journalism will be the first to complain if corruption goes unchecked.

If it was not forWoodward and Bernstein, Nixon’s presidency would have continued well beyond August 9, 1974, and his dubious practices may never have been exposed.

If it was not for Irishman David Walsh, of The Sunday Times, Lance Armstrong would still be a revered seven-time Tour de France winner.

And if it was not for Scottish journalist and author Andrew Jennings, Sepp Blatter would still be ruling over a world soccer landscape blighted by backroom deals, back-handers and back-stabbers.

The medium for journalism may be undergoing a period of change, but the need for it remains as strong as ever.

The platform upon which journalists’ work is consumed is in the process of changing from a piece of paper the size of a towel to a phone screen the size of a banknote, but the power of their words remains the same.

Rob Shaw is a Fairfax journalist.

Read More

Ex-MP Urban avoids arrest, faces WA court

Better late than never – tardy former West Australian MP Barry Urban has appeared in court.Disgraced former West Australian Labor MP MP Barry Urban was almost arrested again – this time for failing to appear in court on 12 fraud charges – but his lawyer took the blame for being “tardy”.

杭州桑拿

Urban, 49, has been charged with five counts of uttering a forged record, and one count each of attempted fraud and forging a record related to information allegedly provided in WA Police Force applications.

He also faces five counts of giving false evidence before a parliamentary committee.

The offences relate to information Urban allegedly provided about a University of Leeds degree, a University of Portsmouth certificate of higher education, a WA Local Government Association diploma and his claim that he was part of an international police taskforce in 1998 that was investigating atrocities in the Balkans.

He is also accused of trying to gain a benefit of more than $100 a fortnight for working as a detective in 2007.

“I’m here, guys,” Urban told the waiting media pack outside Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday, but refused to answer questions before going inside.

Less than half an hour earlier, magistrate Joe Randazzo had issued a warrant for Urban’s arrest under the instruction to only execute the order after 10.30am.

Urban made it to court about 9.30am and his lawyer Mark Andrews apologised to the magistrate for his “tardiness”, explaining he thought the matter was listed for 10am rather than 9am.

Mr Randazzo accepted the apology and cancelled the warrant.

The charges were read to Urban and he acknowledged he understood them, but he was not required to enter pleas.

The police prosecutor flagged an application would be made for some of the charges to be heard in the WA District Court.

Urban also had his bail conditions tweaked so he could go to Perth Airport for work purposes, but he has previously surrendered both his English and Australian passports.

His bail includes a $20,000 personal undertaking and $20,000 surety.

Urban again refused to speak to reporters as he left court. He is due back in court on November 14.

If convicted, he could face up to seven years imprisonment.

Urban quit the Labor party in December and sat as an independent MP until May.

He resigned as the member for Darling Range after a parliamentary committee found he repeatedly lied about his education and work history.

The committee had made the unprecedented recommendation Urban be expelled for committing a “gross and aggravated contempt of parliament”.

Read More

First look inside Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct ahead of Thursday opening

First look inside Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct ahead of Thursday opening New: Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct. Pictures: Simone De Peak

杭州桑拿

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Kate Murphy said the next 24 hours would be a “flurry of activity” with hundreds of workers and retailers on site at Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Kate Murphy said centre staff were checking in with retailers “every hour on the hour” to monitor progress at Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Artist Scott Marsh has painted a mural inside Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct of a bird of paradise – the centre’s logo from when it was known as Garden City. Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebook Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De Peak+15Westfield Kotara’s new youth and urban precinct . Pictures: Simone De PeakfacebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappMORE GALLERIES

123456789101112131415 – HUNTER staff at the 30 new and relocated retailersopening at Westfield Kotara this week will be working around the clock to stock shelves before they welcome shoppers from 9am on Thursday.

Centre manager Kate Murphy said she expected between 80,000 and 100,000 shoppers to visit during four days of festivities – including live music, entertainment, pop-up bars and giveaways – to celebratethe opening of its 7000-square-metreyouth and urban precinct on level two.

It’s the start of a $160 million transformation.

Related:Westfield Kotara adds skate halfpipe, kids’ play centre to redevelopment plan

“We’ve tried to pay homage to the surf, skate and lifestyle culture that we have here in the Hunter,” Ms Murphy said.

“It’s about evolution from being a shopping centre to a living centre where we can provide something for everyone.

“We want to be a community hub, a meeting place.”

Related:The Hunter’s mall war sees $1.1 billion since 2010 spent on redevelopments

Ms Murphy said the centre “absolutely” wanted to gain an advantage over rival Charlestown Square.

“We look to be the Hunter’s premium fashion and lifestyle destination and Ibelieve this … will help deliver that.”

Retailers include a combined EB Games and Zing Pop Culture store, a JB Hi-Fi with an area to trial new games, a Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski with a surfboard shaping bay and architectural elements paying tribute to Mark Richards, plusthe region’s first W Hair Bar and Mr & Mrs Jones.

Related:New Zara store and H&M on the cards for Westfield Kotara as part of $160 million expansion

Parrey Skate will open as a pop up for the festivities before a full opening in late November.

Shoe store Billiniwill open in the carpet mall.

The precinct also hasspace setaside for Kmart –which does not yet have a confirmedopening date – Everything Football, which will open before Christmas, and another yet-to-be announced retailer.

Artist Scott Marsh has painted a mural of a bird of paradise –the centre’s logo from when it was known as Garden City – which will be printed onto staff scarves.

The centre will introduce ticketless parking on Thursday that relies onlicence plate recognition technology,as well as reopen more than 380 car spaces spread across level one and 2M.

The extension of the level three dining and entertainment precinct The Rooftop will open from November 15.

Gorman, The Academy Brand and Savant Apothecary will open in the carpet mall before Christmas.

Zara will openacrossthe former Country Road, Seed and Bardot Junior space in coming months.

The centre opened H&M, Shieke and Lotus Express earlier this month.

Work started on the centre’s redevelopment on October 4 last year.

Read More

Sanook Thai celebrates 20 years of success in Port Stephens

Long stayers: Long-serving waitress Mrs. Muangklang and chef Prakob Bunjaroen with owner Sumalee Omnondha (middle).This month Sumalee Omnondha marked 20 years of business since she opened Sanook Thai Restaurant in Corlette at Port Stephens, a good measure of success in any restaurateur’s book.

杭州桑拿

The restaurant celebrated with a fund-raiser for drought-stricken farmers on October 5, donating more than $2000 to the Buy-a-Bale campaign.

Mrs Omnondha took the time to answer a few questions about her business recipe for success.

Have you always been in the same location?

I have always been running this restaurant from this location. Three months after I migrated to Australia, I got a job in this restaurant’s kitchen because my sister was the head chef. A year later, I purchased the business from the previous owner and opened it as my own restaurant on October 5, 1998.

How did you get into the restaurant business?

I learned cooking from my mum, in Thailand. I remember cooking with my mum since I was 7 or 8 years old, running around the kitchen to help her cook and serve a family of 10, before I was allowed to go and play with friends. I have a degree in Marketing from Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University but I have taught myself all of the skills necessary to run the business.

Do you cook in the restaurant, too?

I do cook in the restaurant, and I also help the kitchen staff and front staff whenever I am not cooking. I find it best to work dynamically, wherever help is needed to ensure smooth restaurant operation.

What are the most popular dishes on the menu?

One of the biggest sellers on our menu is our massaman curry. It is a traditional Thai dish, and generally considered the dish to try to gauge the quality of a Thai restaurant. Ours is widely regarded as exceptional, so a large proportion of customers get it. Our traditional Thai green curry follows at a close second. Our food does reflect a mostly traditional Thai style, I keep it very authentic and the restaurant prides itself on that. It is a fresh change from other, more westernized Thai restaurants in the area.

Do you change the menu very often?

The menu does not generally change much or often at all, but we do put specials on from time to time as seasons and purchasing allow.

Are there any staff who have been with you for all 20 years?

We have no full-term workers, but our longest-working veteran is 14 years, held by Mrs. Manida Harris, who is a waitress, followed by the seven-year service of our cook Mrs. Muangklang and our head chef Mr. Prakob Bunjaroen (3 years). We have around 10 staff in total.

Are there any distinct trends in dining at your restaurant?

Our restaurant tries to retain a casual atmosphere, whilst whisking customers away to Thailand for the duration of their stay.

What is your clientele like?

Our clientele are generally families or couples, as the mood of the restaurant is a bit more intimate. Return visitors would make up a large percentage of our clientele, as we are the favourite restaurant of a lot of patrons. Similarly, locals make up a large proportion of our customers (except during summer holidays, but that is more due to the population of the area tripling in that time). On a busy summer night we may do up to 300 meals. Bookings are only required during long weekends but are not too difficult to get.

You pride yourself on fresh produce. Do you use locally-caught fish? Who are your seafood suppliers? Are there other local suppliers who have been with you over the long term?

Yes, we purchase our fish from the largest local fish market in the area. Newcastle Seafood Market and Port Stephens Eggs have both been with us a very long time.

Do you have family involved in the business?

I have one child, who used to help with the business until he moved on to further his career opportunities.

You mentioned you are raising funds for drought-stricken farmers – what are you doing and where will the funds go?

The charity we are supporting is Buy-A-Bale, a charity formed to purchase much needed hay bales for feeding livestock in drought-stricken areas of country Australia. All proceeds from our major events go to charitable causes, primarily Buy-A-Bale.

What is your business philosophy? What is the key to your success?

My key to success is keeping my cooking very authentic but also original-following my mum’s recipes. Also we only use the freshest ingredients we can get, and do take options off the menu if they are not seasonally available. I work around 42 hours a week on average, and I take very occasional holidays.

Where in Thailand is your family from?

I was born in and grew up in Nonthiburi Province in Thailand, around 50-100kilometres south-east of Bangkok. I was raised in a fruit plantation where my family worked.

What is your favourite meal when you eat out or at home?

My favourite meal is seafood, in Asian styles. And spicy! What else would it be!

.

Read More