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CEOs urge Dan Andrews to let people go back to work


The bosses of seven of Australia’s biggest companies have pleaded with Daniel Andrews to let Victorians return to work in order to “urgently” kick start the state’s languishing economy.

The open letter, sent to the Victorian Premier late on Wednesday, was signed by the heads Wesfarmers, Coca-Cola Amatil, BHP, the Commonwealth Bank, Orica, Newcrest Mining and Incitec Pivot.

In it, they praised medical staff and emergency services workers and thanked Victorians for their “resilience and ingenuity” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also congratulated Mr Andrews for getting the state’s deadly second wave under control, but warned harsh lockdown measures were taking a dark toll.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” the CEOs wrote in the letter.

“Victorians are hurting badly, personally and economically. Medical experts have warned of the devastating effects the restrictions are having on health and mental wellbeing.”

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The powerful group said Victoria was facing “social and economic challenges of an unprecedented scale, and which will take many years to resolve”.

“All this raises serious questions about how we will attract future talent to Victoria,” the letter continued.

“We urgently need to kick start our economy, and as leaders of some of Victoria’s biggest businesses we want to do our bit.”

Mr Andrews has said retail and hospitality businesses can reopen from November 1 if they have a COVID-safe plan, but that could be brought forward if case numbers remained low.

But the business chiefs said now was the time for a staged reopening of workplaces, starting with offices and small businesses.

“Safely opening up more Victorian workplaces, based on medical advice and guidance, and enabling the collaboration and creativity that will result, is critical to our State’s economic future,” the bosses said, adding their own companies were spending millions of dollars on COVID-safe workplace plans.

“Our businesses have chosen Melbourne because of this great city’s ability to nurture and attract great people capable of doing great things, supported by the small businesses that make Melbourne one of the most liveable places on earth,” they said.

“With Victoria having made such progress against the virus, it is time now to provide more Victorians with the ability to return to their workplaces in a safe and staged manner.”

The letter was signed by Wesfarmers’ Rob Scott, Coca-Cola Amatil’s Alison Watkins, BHP’s Mike Henry, CBA’s Matt Comyn, Orica’s Alberto Calderon, Newcrest Mining’s Sandeep Biswas and Incitec Pivot’s Jeanne Johns.

About 800 Victorian businesses a day are signing up to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, the Herald Sun reports.



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Local News - Victoria

George Calombaris sells Toorak mansion


The price has also been kept under wraps. George and his wife, Natalie, paid $4.75 million for the pad in 2013 – a deal sealed at the height of the souvlaki and chips with feta boom.

An expression of interest sign was first placed outside the five-bedroom French provincial-style home on February 10, the same day corporate undertakers KordaMentha were appointed to pick over the carcass of Made.

The collapse forced the closure of 12 venues, including the souvlaki chain Jimmy Grants and three Hellenic Republic Greek restaurants. At the time, the company employed 364 permanent and casual staff. Meanwhile, former Swisse vitamins boss Radek Sali, Made’s sole director, did his dough to the tune of $11.5 million.

Various bits of the business have been flogged off since. Part of the Jimmy Grants went to the owners of Melbourne Greek institution Stalactites, while the Yo-Chi frozen yoghurt stores ended up in the hands of the sons of Boost Juice founder Janine Allis.

That sale was completed to satisfy Made’s largest creditor, the Commonwealth Bank, which was owed $8.5 million.

Prominent immigration agent Lily Ong handled the deal. On Tuesday, the agent and solicitor said she was representing the new owner, but was coy when contacted by CBD, noting that the house is not in Calombaris’ name (it’s in the name of his wife).

“Other than that I can’t comment,” she said.

LEFT RIGHT OUT

Liberal numbers man Adam Wojtonis is facing a grilling from some parts of the party over a submission he put together on a federal electoral redistribution in Victoria.

As this column revealed on Monday, the Libs’ submission for Kevin Andrews’ seat of Menzies proposed to cut a slice out of the electorate which just happened to include the home of Andrews’ main challenger for pre-selection, barrister Keith Wolahan.

Party burghers maintain it’s just a coincidence and that the submission had nothing to do with factional politics or an attempt to put Wolahan on the back foot by making him campaign as an “outsider”. Party sources said the rationale behind the submission was to account for the creation of a new seat in Melbourne’s inner north.

And besides, Kevin Andrews himself doesn’t even live in the electorate.

Party administrative sources confirmed on Tuesday that Andrews has lived in Ivanhoe which is part of the Labor-held electorate of Jagajaga. Andrews did live in Menzies before but was cut out of the electorate in a federal redistribution more than two decades ago.

BURY THE HATCHET

It’s been an icy four years for the Victorian Liberal Party and it’s main funding arm, the Cormack Foundation. But it appears the two outfits have struck a peace deal of sorts.

The Cormack Foundation has agreed to hand the Victorian Liberals $600,000 to fund the creation of a new membership database and record-keeping system. And at a time when KordaMentha auditors are combing the political party’s records as part of an investigation into branch stacking allegations, it seems the investment couldn’t come soon enough.

State director Sam McQuestin confirmed the deal on Tuesday, saying it was the result of “a lot of work done to repair the relationship” between the party and the privately controlled funding arm, by “president [Robert Clark] and those around him”.

“It’s just a really good sign of goodwill,” he added.

No kidding. After all, it was less than two years ago that the Liberal Party blew away more than $1 million taking the Cormack Foundation directors to Victoria’s Federal Court, alleging that the party was entitled to more seats on the board, and a bigger share of the $70 million it had under management. Justice Jonathan Beach found that the Liberals were entitled to 25 per cent of the funding body, but critically, found that this stake didn’t guarantee the party seats on the board. In the wake of the case, the Cormack directors, which include Rupert Murdoch’s brother-in-law, John Calvert-Jones, and former Business Council of Australia president Hugh Morgan, admitted two Liberal representatives to the board – former PM John Howard and former senator Richard Alston.

Since then, relations have remained tense, in part due to a claim from some Liberals that the foundation owes the party millions in maintenance payments. The foundation has said that it has stopped handing out cash so it can grow funds under its management. It seems this week’s deal might be a compromise for both camps.

BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE

Credit:John Shakespeare

Australian Parliament’s very first Speakers’ Chair is available to buy as part of businessman Trevor Kennedy’s private collection which will be put for auction at the end of the month.

Kennedy sold almost half of the collection of Australiana-themed furniture, curios and collectibles earlier this year to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The chair – which is regarded as the most valuable item of the lot – was the subject of negotiations between the museum and the businessman which ultimately went nowhere.

It’s now been put to auction with a price guide of $300,000 to $500,000. Perhaps that’s the reason why the museum baulked. However, the historic item has attracted interest from Aussie buyers based in the UK and the US according to Leonard Joel auctioneer Hamish Clark.

Of course, the upholstered chair has seen a bit in its time. It was first used at the opening ceremony for the Parliament of a federated Australia, which took place in the Melbourne Exhibition Building on May 9, 1900.

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Local News - Victoria

Private schools relax rules on lockdown locks


“A lot of boys have currently got fairly long hair, I haven’t had my hair cut since July,” he said. “The school hasn’t told me off because they are understanding given the situation.”

Tom said the relaxed standards had given him a chance to revel in his less serious side.

“It allows my personality to show, I do like to express myself and have a bit of fun.”

De La Salle College principal Peter Houlihan said students’ welfare, not their hair length, was the school’s biggest concern in term four.

“We made a decision last week to relax those restrictions. The boys have enough going on,” Mr Houlihan said.

“We’re pretty strict like most boys’ schools about hair on or above the collar. But we’ve just had the year 12 English trial exam this morning, which means that virtually every year 12 boy is in, and there are a lot of wayward haircuts,” he said.

“A couple of boys have got outstanding mullets, we’ve had a lighthearted crack at them; said the minute the barber shop opens you’re back in there.”

Whitefriars College principal Mark Murphy said he would worry about haircut standards again in 2021.

“We’ve been very lenient, not made a big deal of it,” he said. “A lot of boys have come back with very different sorts of hair cuts.

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“Some people were saying maybe it might look as if we are dropping standards, we don’t think we are. Our community knows what the expectation is and they also know that this is a very different time.”

Across town in Braybrook, teachers at coeducational Caroline Chisholm Catholic College have also accepted some of the more wild barnets on display.

“I’ve been amazed at the many different hairstyles among our students,” principal Marco Di Cesare said.

“Some have been lucky enough to have someone at home who is handy with the clippers, others have opted, like so many of us, to grow it out.”

Terry Blizzard, principal of Christian Brothers College St Kilda, said schoolboys weren’t the only ones missing hairdressers.

“I think everyone in Melbourne is keen for a proper haircut and our boys and staff are no different.”

With Anna Prytz

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Business

After ousting Alexander, Crown’s Coonan makes desperate pitch to save her own job


Alexander’s plank walking exercise was richly rewarded with a $3.5 million pay package for a year’s work – more generous even than Barton’s salary. The announcement didn’t expressly say Alexander would leave in the year but anyone that made inquiries was made aware that was the deal.

Coonan’s take on January’s management and board upheaval was that it was a nod to non-Packer shareholders who were looking for a more conventional governance strategy. Anyone that has followed the Crown inquiry over the past few months will find that concept jarring/gobsmacking and even laughable.

Important information and decisions about the operation of the business were ring-fenced inside an inner sanctum – a handful of Crown executives and Packer operatives. Thus normal reporting lines were bypassed.

The removal of Alexander and the creation of a chairman’s role distinct from the chief executive role feels largely cosmetic when seen against the bigger problems within Crown.

Helen Coonan’s time in the witness box these past days is tantamount to her application to remain as chairman – her pitch being she will become a change agent for an organisation in desperate need of an overhaul.

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She told the inquiry she was “invested” in Crown’s future. It remains to be seen whether she will have the opportunity to make a return on that investment.

Her pitch was certainly not helped by her admission that she may have known about an AUSTRAC investigation, announced by Crown on Monday, but had failed to mention it during her first day of giving evidence on Friday.

Coonan’s was a desperate attempt to argue that Crown 2.0 will emerge as a more conventional company with a proper structure, a raft of new management, and new compliance operatives having hired a swath of external consultants to write reports on what went wrong and how it can be avoided in future.

That’s the “go forward” piece. And it’s up to Bergin whether she will take this on faith.

If she doesn’t Crown risks having to postpone the opening of its Sydney casino – and that isn’t the worst outcome. It is possible Bergin will recommend that Crown loses its NSW licence.

The tricky part for all the Crown directors that have filed into the virtual witness box – many of whom want to retain their seats on the board – is that they sat aloft in this organisation with a duty to oversee the company’s risk, governance, compliance with anti-money laundering laws. All this during periods where the company failed in each area.

All tried to walk the delicate balance between acknowledging Crown’s failings, defending some of them and justifying their role.

It was clear from Commissioner Patricia Bergin’s comments and questions that she needs to be comfortable that the current Crown regime can oversee its massive cultural overhaul. She appears equally interested in whether the current casino regulatory regime is fit for purpose.

The independent directors relied heavily on the fact that they were unaware of the problems within Crown because they were deprived of information from management. It is a defence that only goes so far.

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While the inquiry was partly initiated on the back of a series of reports in 2019 from this masthead and 60 Minutes, there have been numerous media exposés about Crown’s association with junket operators with links to organised crime.

Some directors – bizarrely – admitted to not having been aware of them. Some were not aware of the Chinese government’s crackdown on foreign casinos – an issue well canvassed in the media. Most directors admitted to having no real knowledge or skills around anti-money laundering.

The one thing most directors had in common was some kind of prior dealings or relationship with James Packer. Coonan’s history with the Packers goes back to her time as federal Communications Minister when the Packers were heavily involved in the media industry.

And if Packer is ultimately required to sell or sell down his stake in Crown it is difficult to see how any or all can survive without his support. Indeed Packer indicated in his evidence that changes to the board are needed alongside independence.

It has already become clear that large minority shareholders are planning to vote against three directors up for re-election at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.

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FIFA begins process of selecting Australian, New Zealand host cities for 2023 Women’s World Cup


FIFA has began conducting virtual workshops with the 12 Australian and New Zealand candidate cities hoping to host matches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has described the workshops, which will be held over the next two weeks, as a “significant milestone” following FIFA’s decision to award Australia and New Zealand hosting rights for the tournament.

FIFA, along with FFA and New Zealand Football, will detail the selection process, with bid cities to have the opportunity to present their latest legacy and logistical plans.

The Australian cities hoping to be selected are Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.

New Zealand cities in the running are Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington.

The last Women’s World Cup, held in France in 2019, was staged across nine cities, although since that tournament the number of competing nations has expanded from 24 to 32.

US women's soccer team celebrate winning 2019 world cup
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will host more nations than the 2019 edition, won by the US.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

FFA’s Women’s World Cup 2023 head Jane Fernandez said FIFA would be looking closely at several items in the selection process.

“They’ll make the decision based on all the work that is being done now, to analyse all of the stadiums, all of the infrastructure, the costs, and things like this, and that will determine the (final) number of stadiums,” she told The Ticket.

“The virtual workshops will include not only each city telling their story about the infrastructure, but definitely they also need to explain what the legacy will be to their city by hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2023.

FFA head of game development and retired Australian international, Sarah Walsh, said participation was at the foundation of the legacy framework.

“It’s fair to say it’s (participation) one of the most supported (legacy components) by FIFA,” she said.

“They’re really keen to see how we’re going to boost participation, which means building capabilities in the current system and the 2,000-plus clubs … and on top of that it’s delivering modified products like ‘soccer mums’ and social programs that create more flexibility in the offering for women of all ages.”

FFA wants to cater for women ‘of all backgrounds’

FFA also hopes the removal of barriers for women in other areas of the game will be one of the lasting positives.

Walsh said creating pathways for women to take up roles in areas such as communications, media, coaching, refereeing, and administration — particularly in decision-making roles — was crucial.

She said it was important to build support programs, and mentoring and leadership programs, and to also “think about whether we look at quotas and putting that into our coaching courses”.

“We want to make sure our game is accessible to women of all backgrounds,” Walsh said.

“So there’s an Indigenous element in there, there’s CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities and [people of] all abilities.”

FIFA is hoping the 2023 Women’s World Cup — the first to be co-hosted by two confederations (Asia and Oceania) — will drive growth in the South Pacific and in the world’s most populous countries, China and India.

“This is something that FIFA are very interested in,” Walsh said.

“Because obviously hosting a World Cup between Australia and New Zealand is great for our two countries but how can we utilise this to build a platform for other countries and deliver some of our programs into Asia and Oceania?”

Fernandez said the final cost of the World Cup would be determined once decisions were made around the number of stadiums and host cities.

“Whilst I’m sure FIFA has a number of different budgets being prepared, the final number won’t be known until the selection has been completed,” she said.

“But we know that the Australian (federal and state) governments have committed up to $94.4 million … a significant investment, and it shows the value governments place on hosting the tournament.”

FFA chief executive James Johnson said the Women’s World Cup was a key component of his organisation’s “XI Principles”, the title given to its plan for the future of the game in Australia.

“Australia’s co-hosting of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup ensures that we continue to be a globally-minded organisation, and will play a significant role in ensuring Australia becomes the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said in an FFA statement.

FIFA delegates will visit each of the candidate cities once COVID-19 restrictions have eased. The successful bid cities are expected to be announced by March next year.



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ex top staffer sues for unfair dismissal


Senator Jacqui Lambie’s infamous comments about liking men who are rich, silent and have “a package between their legs” were the starting point of her alleged office misconduct, including workplace bullying, constant profanity, sexual references and a glib attitude to safety, her former top staffer has told a court.

The unexpected remarks in mid-2014 came three weeks after Ms Lambie had entered parliament, and catapulted the new Tasmanian senator into the spotlight.

Her chief of staff at the time, Rob Messenger, did not find them funny, the Federal Court heard on Tuesday.

He and his wife, Fern Messenger, who also worked for Ms Lambie, have taken the senator and the Commonwealth to court for unfair dismissal.

They allege they were sacked in 2017 as reprisal for their numerous complaints about Ms Lambie’s conduct.

The Messengers claim her inappropriate office behaviour included swearing, sexual references, drinking alcohol, not taking safety concerns seriously and expecting unreasonable workloads from staff.

Ms Lambie, now a Senate powerbroker, is defending the proceedings and expected to give evidence during the two-week hearing.

It all started with the radio segment on July 22, 2014, Mr Messenger told the court.

During the interview with Kim and Dave on Heart FM, Ms Lambie said her ideal man “must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs, let’s be honest … and I don’t need them to speak.”

She then asked a listener who had called in: “Are you well-hung?”

Mr Messenger told the court: “She made sensational comments about her sex life and her personal hygiene. That’s probably the nicest way of putting it.”

After the comments, Ms Lambie’s office staff faced a deluge of abusive calls from “angry Tasmanians”, he told the court.

Mr Messenger said he told Ms Lambie the comments were a problem for staff and suggested she apologise, but she told him she was “proud” of her comments and would not retract them.

“It was basically from that point onwards where Senator Lambie started exhibiting wild mood behaviours that affected myself, my wife, and other staff,” he said.

He made complaints to the senator on a daily or weekly basis after that incident, he claims.

Mr Messenger also accused Ms Lambie and the Commonwealth of delivering a “negligent” response to the Burnie electorate office after they received a targeted death threat that referenced Islamic State and appeared to be a response to the senator’s comments on Islam.

Calls for bulletproof glass and a “properly functioning” door went unheeded, leaving staff in the office “very fearful”, Mr Messenger claims.

“One of the comments the staff made that resonated with me was that we were like sitting ducks,” he said.

“I think we joked about it in a dark humour sort of way, that one shot could take out four people because of the seating arrangements.”

He told the court he felt unsafe and like Ms Lambie’s “de facto bodyguard” during a visit to a Melbourne high school in which students became “tense, angry and abusive” during the senator’s speech.

Mr Messenger claims he and his wife eventually wrote to then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017 following an “absolutely terrifying” altercation Ms Messenger had with Ms Lambie.

Ms Messenger cried as her husband recounted the incident during the remote hearing.

“We felt that the only option left to us to ensure that our complaints were properly actioned was to prepare a document that in a very detailed manner informed the prime minister and other appropriate high office holders of Australia that there was some serious issues going on,” he said.

The couple are representing themselves in court.

Mr Messenger was reminded on several occasions by Justice John Snaden to testify about the complaints he made about Ms Lambie, not about her alleged behaviour.

“I’m in 100 states of confusion at the moment about what it is you say you complained about and when,“ the judge said at one point.

The remote hearing was initially marred by technical difficulties.

Mr Messenger told Justice Snaden he and his wife had experienced a power outage at their home and were relying on a generator, which may run out of fuel.

At one point the couple had to hold up a piece of paper that said “TRYING TO UNMUTE” on it to the camera.

The hearing continues.



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Cox Plate owners, connections allowed to attend Melbourne races with COVID-safe precautions


Crowds will return to Melbourne horse racing for the first time in months this weekend, for the running of the 100th Cox Plate.

The Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) has struck a deal with the Victorian Government allowing up to 500 owners and connections to attend Friday night’s Manikato Stakes, and the same number for the Cox Plate the following day.

In a statement, the Victorian Government said measures in the COVID-safe plan approved for the events included a cap on numbers, staggered arrivals, time limits and temperature checks.

In total, there will be a maximum cap of 1,250 people on the course for each race meeting including jockeys, club operations staff, security, COVID-safe marshals and media.

“No more than 1,000 people will be permitted on course at any one time — in normal times, the venue can host 38,000 people,” the statement said.

Food and beverage service would be takeaway only and a limit on the length of time owners could attend on race days was still being finalised, the statement said.

No deal has been reached for crowds to attend the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 3, but the statement suggested owners and connections may also be allowed to attend the city’s iconic race.

“Changes to directions from the Chief Health Officer that allow persons with a business need to attend race meetings mean that connections will be able to attend metropolitan tracks that have COVID-safe plans in place ongoing, under set conditions,” the statement said.

Racing club welcomes ‘fantastic outcome’ for industry

“It’s fantastic news. It’s been a long time since we’ve welcomed owners onto the track here at the valley,” MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said.

“What better way to do it than the Cox Plate carnival.”

Officials were resigned to having no crowds at the race when in early September the Government announced its initial roadmap for easing restrictions.

But subsequent changes to that plan opened the door for an agreement to be reached.

“There have been a few curve balls thrown our way throughout this whole process,” Mr Browell said.

“We’ve worked diligently over the past week to 10 days to finalise these plans and to get the support from the Government and the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services).

“It’s a fantastic outcome for the club, but also for the industry.”

Australia’s premier weight-for-age horse race has the added challenge of being scheduled on the same day as the AFL grand final this year.

“We can work hand in glove here. It can be complementary. We take the afternoon and then the night-time grand final,” Mr Browell said.

“We’re just glad that racing can take centre stage in an historic weekend of Australian sport.”



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Cox Plate 2020 | Win for connections of Cox Plate runners with up to 1250 people to attend Moonee Valley


The government plan for the race meets include take-away food and beverage and time limits on how long owners and connections can watch the races.

“The change has been closely considered by health officials, who will monitor the implementation of the plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone involved,” said Minister Pakula.

“This will give connections the chance to see their horses compete under strict health protocols.”

Moonee Valley Racecourse CEO Michael Browell said his club was “delighted” by the arrangement.

“Under our COVID-safe plan, attendance times will be limited, permitted owners will remain outside and socially distanced at all times, and there will be no seated dining in line with government regulations,” he said.

He told ABC Radio Melbourne that owners and connections would be allowed into the venue 30 minutes before the race in which their horse is running, and would be escorted half an hour after the race ends.

“[Owners] have a role to play in managing their asset or their investment so it’s not as if the club is opening up and people will be drinking champagne in the grandstands,” he said.

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Moonee Valley will also not be selling any tickets to the events for members, and food and drink would be prepacked Mr Browell said.

“We’re not here to make a dollar out of what’s been announced today,” he said.

The change brings metropolitan racetracks into line with regional Victoria, where owners were able to return to meetings earlier this month.

Tuesday marked Victoria’s first potential day of no new COVID-19 cases, but Premier Daniel Andrews said social restrictions would not be wound back before the AFL grand final on Saturday.

“We’ve been very clear that we want to look at numbers as they unfold this week,” he told reporters.

“I’ll stand here on Sunday and hopefully be able to confirm for Victorians that when it comes to retail, pubs, restaurants, cafes, bars – as well as a number of other settings – that we can have what’s been termed ‘a dark opening’ for, say, the first one or two days of next week and then we can be up and running from then.

“It’s not appropriate for us to try and bring that forward.”

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Hotelier Julian Gerner’s coronavirus challenge rushed to High Court hearing


A Victorian hotelier’s bid to challenge to the state’s coronavirus lockdown policy has been rushed to the nation’s highest court.

Mornington Peninsula restaurant owner Julian Gerner is challenging the lockdown conditions including the now defunct 5km travel restriction, stay at home orders and essential worker permits.

“This recognises its importance to the people of Victoria, who are currently enduring the curtailment of their basic freedoms and suffering greatly during this horrendous lockdown,” Mr Gerner said in a statement on Tuesday.

The expedited hearing has been set down for November 6.

He claims the lockdown violates an implied right to freedom of movement in the Constitution.

The owner of Morgan’s Sorrento restaurant and bar said his mental health and business suffered under the measures the Andrews government brought in to tackle the virus.

The $250,000 his restaurant made in April 2019 dived to just $25,000 in April this year, according to a writ filed in the High Court.

Victoria’s Solicitor-General Kristen Walker QC told the High Court last week the government was still deciding if it would file a defence, demur, or do both.

A demurrer is a type of objection to the other party’s case that does not dispute the facts of the matter but says their legal argument cannot hold.

Victoria recorded one new case of COVID-19 and no deaths on Tuesday.



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Brisbane Broncos NRLW skipper Ali Brigginshaw wins Dally M female player of the year



Brisbane Broncos lock Ali Brigginshaw has received the highest individual accolade in the women’s game, named as the female player of the year at the Dally M awards.

Brigginshaw captained Brisbane to back-to-back NRLW premierships in 2018 and 2019.

She scored the game-sealing try in the Broncos’ win over the Roosters last weekend, and she and her team will attempt to complete a hat-trick when they face the Roosters again in Sunday’s grand final.

The skipper changed over from half-back to a forward role this season, and she polled 16 votes to win the Dally M medal for female player of the year.

Brigginshaw won by two votes from another Bronco, full-back Tamika Upton.

Roosters second-rower Hannah Southwell, who will face Brisbane in the grand final, came third with 13 votes.

Brigginshaw became the second Brisbane Broncos player — after Brittany Breayley in 2018 — to win the award.

She told ABC Newsradio she had not expected to win.

“I knew we had to stay for dinner, and the cross to the Dallys (Dally M Awards), but I thought it was just a chat regarding the (grand) final on Sunday,” she said.

“It (the award) took me by surprise, I still can’t believe it. It was very awkward having to do it (via) live cross.

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Brigginshaw was keen to credit the mentoring she had received from senior players early on in her career.

“I think it’s the girls I’ve been around from a young age — they’ve taught me a lot of things to take on to the field.

“How to be calm, or how to get the girls ready without overcomplicating things.

“The Karen Murphys and Nat Dwyers, those girls that were there before me when I was a young girl, that brought me up. Now it’s my turn to be that old girl on the field”.

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The Ipswich native took up the game when she was 10.

“Some of those guys are my best mates, or [they] message me before I go out and play.

“Being the only girl there were a couple of boys who really took me under their wing and guided me through, I think it taught me a lot of toughness and resilience to play the game.

“There were lots of negative comments when I was playing the game, and I had to overcome them.

As the Broncos get set to try for a third title in as many years, Brigginshaw said her team had some advantages but she expected a fierce challenge from the Roosters.

“Some of those [Brisbane] girls have been there and experienced that before [at grand finals] and I think that might help on the day, but it’s all about preparation,” she said.

“We’ve got to prepare well. We can’t go in there thinking it’s going to be a win. The Roosters have done really well this year and they truly deserve to be there, and they’re a very tough side so it’ll be a big game.”



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