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$2 million number plate worth more than luxury cars


One driver had a journey to remember when he spotted a car with a coveted number plate in front of him and quickly snapped a picture of it.

It shows the number plate, with the single number ‘1’ on a Mercedes AMG, which is stopped and waiting for a light to turn green.

Hailing from Victoria, the number plate is estimated to be worth between $2 and $2.5 million, while the luxury Mercedes retails for around $200,000.

The last person reported to have owned the number plate was Peter Bartels, the former CEO of Coles and Foster’s Group, although it isn’t clear if he was driving the silver Mercedes sedan at the time.

He has reportedly been offered $1.5 million for the plate in the past but rejected it.

The number plate was released in 1932, but was locked in a vault at the Motor Registration Board for more than 50 years after the police commissioner, premier and governor argued about who should keep it, according to legend.

In 1984, Victoria’s ‘1’ plate made its debut at auction and was snapped up by a retired Ballarat mechanic who allegedly paid $165,000.

It went on the change hands a number of times including Izzy Herzog, who slapped them on a company car when he owned City Saab, before being used as a prize for a Channel Ten telethon.

Later, it ended up with Carlton & United Breweries — then owner of Fosters — in 1991 for a reportedly bargain price of $100,000. Mr Bartels negotiated the plates to be included as part of his severance package.

The record prize for a number plate is in NSW, where a vintage registration plate ‘4’ sold for $2.45 million at auction in 2017.



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Chinese cops bust fake wine operation worth $26 million


An Australian winery had its luxury product counterfeited by Chinese fraudsters who sold cheap wine in fancy-looking bottles, the company said.

Chinese cops busted the operation, which used bottles made to look like they were genuine Penfolds products, according to a Treasury Wine Estates spokeswoman.

It is believed the scheme was operating for three years and made $26 million.

Penfolds, one of Australia’s oldest and largest wineries, has been the target of Chinese scammers in the past.

But the recent bust was one of the largest ever.

Workshops were raided in Guandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, as well as Shanghai, after a long-running investigation.

“Treasury Wine Estates works closely with authorities on any investigations like this,” the spokeswoman said.

The counterfeiting crackdown comes amid a trade dispute between Australia and China that has included the Asian superpower slapping harsh tariffs on wine from down under.

China has attempted to justify the levies with claims an investigation found exporters were ‘dumping’ cheap wine – below the cost of production – into its domestic market.

Treasury Wine Estates recently said in a fact sheet submitted to the Australian Securities Exchange the entire Chinese wine market was worth $12.9 billion.

Treasury Wine Estates said in late November it was diverting wine to other markets as a result of the Chinese tariffs.

“We are extremely disappointed to find our business, our partners’ businesses and the Australian wine industry in this position,” chief executive Tim Ford said.

“There is no doubt this will have a significant impact on many across the industry, costing jobs and hurting regional communities and economies which are the lifeblood of the wine sector.”



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Woolworths supermarket manager Marty Murtagh gets Thanks A Million nomination after saving a life


What began as a typical workday for Melbourne man Marty Murtagh ultimately resulted in the father-of-two saving a life.

Last November, the Preston Woolworths store manager was called to assist an unconscious man who had gone into cardiac arrest in the supermarket’s car park.

“I was with working with my customer service manager when we got word that our store’s defibrillator was required in the car park,” Mr Murtagh said.

Along with other members of staff, Mr Murtagh rushed to the man’s aid and began to perform CPR, helping to stabilise his condition.

“We dialled triple-0 and followed the defibrillator’s guidelines and our training protocol, rotating CPR until the first ambulance arrived on the scene,” Mr Murtagh said.

“The feedback we were given from emergency services was that early intervention of CPR and using the defibrillator helped improve his condition immensely, which was nice to hear.”

The man, who was placed in an induced coma at the Alfred Hospital, has since recovered, with Mr Murtagh’s selfless act earning him a Thanks a Million nomination.

“I’ve worked in retail for more than 20 years now and have always put my hand up for CPR courses,” the store manager said.

“As a father of two young girls, I wanted to ensure that I would know how to respond if anything was to ever happen to my loved ones.”

It’s been a demanding period for Mr Murtagh and the Preston Woolworths team, with supermarkets relied upon more than ever during the pandemic.

“Ultimately we became essential workers and I think for the team and myself, we’re really proud to have worked and served the community when they needed us the most,” Mr Murtagh said.

The Thanks A Million Pride of Australia awards recognise those who have gone above and beyond to help their fellow Australians through the challenges of 2020.

Nominate someone at thanksamillion.net.au and they could receive a $200 Woolworths Gift Card.

Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions, visit thanksamillion.net.au



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Powerball rises to $8 million prize


A life changing amount of money is up for grabs as the Powerball offers a division one prize of $8 million for Thursday’s draw.

If someone takes out tonight’s prize, they will be the first Powerball winner to scoop up the prize this year.

In 2020, the Powerball jackpot sat at $8 million 14 times.

It was most recently won on New Year’s Eve by a Wagga Wagga woman who discovered the news shortly after midnight.

“I was with some friends after midnight, and I was just trying to find something in my bag. I saw my ticket and thought maybe the results were out,” she said.

RELATED: The 16-year-old making more than $100k

“I checked the ticket on the app but initially didn’t (know) how much I’d won. I had to get my friend to check. It’s just unbelievable.”

Bronwyn Spencer, The Lott spokeswoman, said the winner from regional NSW wouldn’t be the only one kicking off 2021 with a bang if someone took out tonight’s division one prize.

“It’s not too late for your 2021 plans to change if you score $8 million in tonight’s Powerball draw,” she said

“While it has been an interesting year already for many, there is no doubt that an extra few zeros in your bank account would make it bigger and brighter than ever.”



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$1 million for clues on Ballarat grandmother’s murder


Police are releasing a $1 million reward in exchange for clues about the 1987 murder of Ballarat grandmother Kathleen Severino.

She was last seen alive outside her Drummond Street property about 7.55pm on December 31.

The next morning, Ms Severino’s family discovered the 70-year-old woman dead in her bedroom.

Homicide squad detectives say she had been savagely assaulted and suffered fatal head injuries.

Her home appeared to have been ransacked, but nothing had been stolen.

Investigators believe Ms Severino was murdered sometime between the hours of 10.30pm and 11.30pm that New Year’s Eve.

A witness reported seeing a man and woman in the area of Ms Severino’s home at the time.

In July 1990, a then 19-year-old man was charged with Ms Severino’s murder, but the charges were dropped before the matter went to trial after a witness revoked their evidence.

The man who had been previously charged then died in 2017 as a result of a medical incident.

Victoria Police say the man and one of his former associates remain persons of interest in the investigation.

Detectives also believe it is possible those responsible for Ms Severino’s death may yet to have been identified and are appealing for public to help shed some light on the grandmother’s mysterious death.

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said while 34 years had passed, it wasn’t too late for Ms Severino’s family to get justice.

“We know people who commit or are part of horrific crimes such as these will often disclose their actions to someone,” he said.

“For that reason, detectives are putting a $1 million reward on the table for information that allows us to identify, arrest and convict those responsible for the murder of Kathleen Severino.

“Police will not stop until we get closure for Kathleen’s family, which can only be achieved by holding the individual or persons responsible for the brutal death of a much loved grandmother to account.”

Inspector Stamper and Ms Severino’s daughter Glenda will address the media later on Wednesday at 10.30am.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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Toyota to return $18 million in Jobkeeper payments after huge car sales


In a surprising windfall for the Australian government, Toyota has made moves to hand back more than $18 million worth of JobKeeper payments.

The car manufacturer had qualified for JobKeeper in mid 2020 when its revenue fell more than 50 per cent as the COVID-19 pandemic hit resulting in lockdowns and restrictions across the nation.

But Australia’s number one car brand bounced back from financial uncertainty with more than 66,000 vehicles sold in the fourth quarter, an increase of almost 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Toyota president and CEO, Matthew Callachor, said the company approached the Australian Taxation Office in December to arrange the JobKeeper repayment.

“Like most businesses, Toyota faced an extremely uncertain future when the COVID-19 health crisis developed into an economic crisis that even led to dealerships closing for extended periods in Victoria and Tasmania,” he said.

“We claimed JobKeeper payments to help support the job security of almost 1,400 Toyota employees around Australia.”

RELATED: Treasurer’s huge Jobkeeper blow

RELATED: Electric power for Aussie icon

But a plan to overcome the challenges and reignite business worked, Mr Callachor added, with Aussies keen to buy comfortable cars for local holidays.

With almost a quarter of a million cars sold in 2020, Toyota was the best-selling brand for the 18th consecutive year, said the company.

Total sales in 2020 added up to almost 204,801 vehicles, which were 975 short of the previous year.

“In the end, we were very fortunate to weather the storm better than most, so our management and board decided that returning JobKeeper payments was the right thing to do as a responsible corporate citizen,” Mr Callachor said.



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1.6 million Aussies’ payments cut today


About 1.6 million Australians will be hit by cuts to the JobKeeper wage subsidy today.

The two-tier payment received by businesses will from Monday fall from $1200 to $1000 a fortnight for people working more than 20 hours a week.

Workers on less than 20 hours will have their payment slashed from $750 to $650 a fortnight.

The final reduction in the Morrison government wage subsidy comes ahead of the scheme’s end on March 28.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said many Australians would know “no different” in their pay packets because the wage subsidy was helping businesses top up employees pay.

“We are transitioning away from the emergency supports that JobKeeper was, and now we’re making sure our focus, as a federal government, is putting in place job creation initiatives,” Senator Ruston said.

“We will continue to monitor the economy to make sure that the supports we are providing Australians are appropriate.”

But the cuts to the rate of JobKeeper for thousands of businesses during border closures and new coronavirus outbreaks has angered the opposition.

“Today’s cuts to JobKeeper ignore the increased stress on many businesses over the holiday period, particularly in parts of Sydney and surrounding tourist regions,” Labor finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher said.

“Many business owners are seeing holiday bookings cancelled or empty tables in their cafes and restaurants at what is usually their busiest time of the year.”

Senator Gallagher said the government should urgently consider extending financial support to parts of the economy hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Labor has repeatedly accused the Morrison government of lacking a jobs plan, with 90,000 more people expected to join the jobless queues come March.

But the government has repeatedly dismissed calls to extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy beyond its March cut-off in an effort to prevent further job losses.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said there were “no plans for any change” to the support measures.



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Bob Hawke childhood home bought by WA govt for $1.45 million


The Western Australian government has purchased the historic family home of Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister for $1.45 million.

Bob Hawke’s West Leederville house has had just one owner since his parents sold it in 1981, before the WA government officially declared it had bought it and would maintain the home as a state asset.

The brick and tile, inter-war suburban cottage was home to Mr Hawke for much of his childhood years.

He first moved to the Tate Street address at the age of nine, and lived there with his family while attending Perth Modern School.

He went on to study at The University of Western Australia before attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Mr Hawke first entered federal parliament in 1980, leading the Australian Labor Party to victory in 1983 and winning a further three terms of government.

He was Australia’s 23rd prime minister. He died in May 2019.

The three-bedroom property was under residential lease and will be owned and maintained by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage on behalf of the Western Australian community.

The property is likely to be of cultural heritage value at the state level under the Heritage Act 2018, according to the Heritage Council of Western Australia.

It will now be assessed for entry onto the State Register of Heritage Places.

WA Premier Mark McGowan described the purchase as “momentous and humbling”.

“Bob Hawke was a giant on the political stage; not just in Australia, but globally,” he said.

“He led our country through watershed reforms that changed our whole landscape forever, both figuratively – such as by pioneering Medicare – and literally by initiating and funding nationwide Landcare programs.

“It is highly probable that family time spent in this house in West Leederville would have shaped his views and been instrumental in giving him both the deep principles and the ‘loveable larrikin’ character that he will always be remembered for.”

The $1.45m selling price was almost double what the federal government indicated they would pay after Mr Hawke’s funeral last year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government would spend $750,000 to purchase and renovate the home, saying it was an important part of Australia‘s democratic history.

“Bob Hawke made an extraordinary contribution to Australian life and holds a special place in the hearts of Australians,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

“His childhood home is a significant part of our national story and preserving it will enable current and future generations to celebrate his life, achievements and substantial role in our democratic history.”

Mr McGowan said the “unremarkable suburban home” was a reminder how a “seemingly ordinary childhood” could lead to extraordinary achievements.

“In owning this national asset, we as Western Australians own the narrative that great leaders can emerge from modest places, and the world can be changed for the better,” he said.



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Mum gets bail offering $3 million home


A Sydney mother accused of repeatedly stabbing her son with a 12-inch knife has been granted bail on strict conditions, including a ban on alcohol, and after offering her multimillion-dollar home as security.

Samantha Palmer, 55, has been charged with wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (domestic violence-related) after she allegedly stabbed her 22-year-old son Hugo Ball in the early hours of November 21.

Emergency services were called to the sprawling home on Drumalbyn Rd in Bellevue Hill.

Police documents tendered in court and seen by news.com.au allege Ms Palmer wounded Mr Ball in a brief window of time between 1.30am and 1.40am.

According to property records, the family home is less than one kilometre from the elite private school Scots College, formerly attended by Mr Ball, and has views of Sydney Harbour.

It last sold in 2012 for $3.15 million.

Ms Palmer was previously remanded in custody until next year however she appeared via video link for a bail application in Central Local Court on Thursday, wearing a black T-shirt and with her hair slicked in a bun.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kerry-Ann McKinnon said Mr Ball is yet to provide a statement but a discharge summary from St Vincent’s Hospital indicates he “was treated under major trauma”.

“With multiple stab wounds to his back and shoulders which resulted in two litres of blood loss at the scene,” she told Magistrate Philip Stewart.

“There’s also reference to a 12-inch blade being responsible for the injuries that he sustained and suffered two litres of blood loss.”

She said there was no evidence “anybody else responsible for the infliction of the wounds” sustained by Ms Palmer’s son.

“No court could entertain an argument in relation to self defence considering almost all of the stab wounds are to the back of the complainant‘s body,” Sergeant McKinnon said.

Mr Ball was also wounded in the posterior of his neck however the parties agreed he had no injury to his skull or the bone.

The court heard a version of events was obtained from him at the scene and the notes related to the conversation are in a detective’s handbook.

The prosecution opposed bail, citing the unacceptable risks of failure to appear, endangering the safety of the alleged victim and interfering with evidence.

“We say this was an unprovoked attack on her own son,” Sergeant McKinnon said.

“Alcohol certainly played a role in her offending on this particular night and we say that no bail conditions would mitigate any concerns of further offending.”

The police prosecutor submitted there was a “strong likelihood and serious concern” of collusion given Ms Palmer would be released to live in the home she shares with her husband.

She added: “We accept to date the accused comes before you with no criminal history and we also accept there’s a substantial amount of security that’s being offered.”

Asked by the magistrate what was being offered, Ms Palmer’s lawyer Justin Wong said they were “willing to offer the entire amount that is suitable to the court”.

“It’s all on offer,” he said. “The family has offered all of that security, that is the home they have lived in for eight years.”

Mr Wong acknowledged the lack of a statement from Mr Ball and that there were no eyewitnesses to the alleged attack.

The court heard Ms Palmer’s husband, James Tilley, and her daughter were present after the alleged stabbing.

He said his client has “very strong ties to the community”, having been in Sydney since 2006 where her children grew up and went to school, and recently being “involved in the care of (the) elderly and frail”.

“Her references speak of how highly regarded she is,” Mr Wong said.

“Even on the police case, (this is) totally inconsistent with her observed behaviour by many people over many years.”

Mr Stewart granted bail on conditions including that Ms Palmer must reside at the Bellevue Hill home, a “no exceptions” curfew between 9pm and 6am, daily reporting to Waverley police and no consumption of alcohol.

He said the suggestion Ms Palmer may interfere with evidence was “somewhat weakened” by the fact her husband and daughter have already provided statements, or their “version” of events, to police.

“According to the facts, they were not directly present when the stabbing occurred,” Mr Stewart said.

“They heard certain things being called out by the defendant at the time which establishes that they were not eyewitnesses.”

In regards to security, he asked Ms Palmer and her husband as an “acceptable person” to deposit a combined $200,000, to be forfeited upon failure to comply with bail.

The matter was adjourned to Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on January 21.

sarah.mcphee@news.com.au



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$1 million reward offered after bikie Nick Martin’s final words revealed


A reward of up to $1 million is being offered for information that helps solve the assassination of Rebels bikie president Nick Martin, who was shot during a drag racing event in Perth.

Martin received a single gunshot wound to his torso while watching the Outlaw Nitro Challenge at Perth Motorplex in Kwinana at 8.40pm on Saturday with his family.

WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts described the shooting as an “incredibly disturbing incident” and said there might be an opportunity for immunity from prosecution provided the person was not directly responsible for the homicide.

“We want no stone to be left unturned,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s an unprecedented reward for a crime of this nature.

“This is a crime that cannot go unpunished.”

Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce admitted a reward was being offered earlier than usual in a police investigation, but said it was critical in this case.

“We don’t want to take forever working painfully through every forensic opportunity if there’s someone sitting out there that may just be looking for an opportunity to come forward,” he said.

Martin’s wife Amanda was with him at the time of the shooting and told The West Australian she heard a sound, but could not be sure if it was a gunshot or a car backfiring.

She recalled feeling her husband’s hand graze her cheek as he collapsed to the ground before saying: “Babe, I’ve been shot.”

“I picked him up and I just held him up. I kept telling him just to stay with me,” Ms Martin said before explaining that she screamed for help.

“No one knew he’d been shot because … the noise, the cars … they didn’t know.”

She said bystanders thought Martin had suffered a heart attack, but her hands were covered in blood.

“I was kissing him and I was trying to give him CPR, but he never opened his eyes again – he was already gone,” she said.

Martin, 51, appears to have been shot by a sniper in front of horrified innocent bystanders, including young families.

A five-year-old boy was grazed by the bullet but did not need to go to hospital.

Former Bandidos bikie Ricky Chapman, 31, the partner of Martin’s stepdaughter Stacey Schoppe, was also wounded and had fragments of the bullet removed from his arm during surgery.

Ms Schoppe said suggestions Chapman was a Rebels member were false and he was no longer a bikie.

The hunt for the gunman continues, with authorities not ruling out the possibility the shooter flew into Perth to commit the crime.

Officers and recruits scoured the perimeter of the venue on Tuesday.

A Rebels meeting at their Bibra Lake clubhouse was intercepted by police officers overnight.

Officers set up a vehicle control point nearby, stopping members and associates for identification checks.

Separately, a 20-year-old Rebels nominee was allegedly found in possession of three guns, meth and police clothing in Gosnells.

The Kenwick man has been charged with six offences. He is not a suspect in Martin’s shooting.

On Monday, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told 6PR radio that Martin did not have “good standing” with the Rebels before his death and had been “under some pressure”.

Police suggested Martin had recently stood down from the leadership, but his family insist that is not true.

Following the shooting, police raids were conducted at the Mongols and Hells Angels clubhouses, and at a Shoalwater home linked to an alleged bikie associate.

A 33-year-old Mongols member was charged with possessing cocaine with intent to sell/supply, and a 30-year-old man was charged with breaching a post-sentence supervision order.

Weapons and prescription medications were allegedly found during a search of the Hells Angels clubhouse.

A 71-year-old Mongols associate has been charged with several offences after cannabis plants, a shotgun, four rifles, two firearm silencers and ammunition were allegedly found at the Shoalwater property.

There are fears Martin’s death may spark an all-out bikie war and Mr Royce says police are “taking the fight back to the gangs”.

More than 100 officers have been assigned so far to Operation Ravello.

Meanwhile, tributes have flowed for Martin, with former Rebels national president Alex Vella sharing his outrage.

“To be taken so cowardly in front of his wife, children and grandchildren is absolutely abhorrent,” Mr Vella wrote.

“Nick will always be remembered for being straight up forward not backward member of our great club.”

Martin’s daughter Tia, who recently gave birth to his first grandchild, posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “I love you forever and always.”

A friend of Martin said the “world lost a good person”.

“I meet Nick in the early 2000s when we worked together … we became friends (and) I had the privilege of meeting his parents, daughter and sister. The public image is not the real man. He was a kind generous person,” he wrote.

Martin’s death comes just two weeks after he was bashed at a Scarborough bar, allegedly by Hells Angels boss Dayne Brajkovich.

CCTV showed the pair greeting each other with an amicable handshake before a violent clash broke out.

Martin was allegedly hit to the ground before getting to his feet.

NCA NewsWire is not suggesting Brajkovich played any part in Saturday night’s shooting.



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