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Border closure decision hated by 20 million Aussies


Of all the rules that Australia’s states and territories have introduced since the COVID-19 pandemic struck seven months ago, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hard border closure has been one of the most contentious.

From breakfast television hosts and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Ms Palaszczuk’s NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, a barrage of criticism has been flung at the Sunshine State’s call to keep its southern neighbours locked out for the better part of 2020.

Ms Palaszczuk, who will seek her third term as Premier on October 31, has been dubbed the “Queensland version of Donald Trump … building the wall keeping all of the Mexicans out from down south”, destroying jobs and the economy by maintaining her “silly” and “cruel” stance.

“It’s not evidence-based. It’s simply I think off the back of her election. She wants to look tough for Queensland residents,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said earlier this month.

“If she keeps this up and we don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have a treatment, this could go on for years. This is a silly game you shouldn’t be playing. She’s playing with people’s lives.”

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Despite the rest of Australia hating the rule, Queenslanders have come out in support of the closure – which won’t be going anywhere, even if Ms Palaszczuk isn’t re-elected.

The latest Newspoll, conducted for The Australianin mid-September, found that 53 per cent of voters found the border controls “about right” – compared with 37 per cent, who said the restrictions were “too strict”.

Under the rule, Queensland won’t reopen to NSW or Victoria until the states have gone 28 days straight without any cases of community transmission.

When asked last week if she thought that was “achievable”, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said her party would follow the health advice.

“The health advice is that it is 28 days … we accept that advice,” Ms Frecklington told reporters in Townsville.

RELATED: Key deadline approaches for Qld

RELATED: You can’t travel right now, but you can take our travel quiz

However, Ms Frecklington said while she accepts the guideline, her stance on the borders was different.

“I have always said it can’t be set and forget … I’ve always said that borders shouldn’t be closed for a day longer than they need to be,” she said.

“But that is current health advice and we accept that.”

She chimed in on Mr Hazzard’s calls that Ms Palaszczuk was “playing politics with the border and playing politics with the pandemic”.

“With me as premier, you would have a premier that would make decisions with compassion, consistency and common sense,” she said.

The PM said yesterday that while Ms Palaszczuk’s hard border closure had decimated Queensland’s tourism and hospitality industries, Ms Frecklington “has a plan to get Queenslanders working again”.

“The real difference I think is whether someone’s actually got a plan to get Queenslanders back into jobs,” he told reporters.

“(Deb has) thought very carefully about the way that Queensland can grow back out of this COVID-19 recession.”

RELATED: Palaszczuk’s ‘cruel’ move a stroke of genius

Queensland was pegged to at last reopen to NSW on November 1 – the day after the election – but a growing number of cases of community transmission in the latter state could throw the decision into jeopardy.

The Courier Mailreports that the chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young will make the call the week before the slated reopening, based on the latest information.

Dr Young told reporters last Friday that while NSW had made “extremely good” progress in tracing the latest clusters, “we need to wait a bit longer (to decide) whether or not we need to change the plan to open to NSW. At the moment, it’s planned for November 1.”

“We will continue to monitor … although they are finding the contacts … they are getting continuing cases. So we will have to watch and see what happens,” she said.



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Classique Legend wins The Everest at Royal Randwick, earning $6.2 million in the richest race in Australia


Classique Legend has won the richest race in Australia, the $15 million The Everest at Royal Randwick.

Trained by Les Bridge, the grey picked up the $6.2 million winner’s cheque, with jockey Kerrin McEvoy winning the big race for a third time, ahead of Bivouac in second place.

More to come.



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Traditional owners claim Fortescue holding $1.9 million ransom for mine lease approvals


”In our experience FMG comply with our agreement when it suits them. Our agreement is not working and there is limited opportunity to change it.”

Fortescue was contacted for comment.

The claims come a day after the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation (PKKP) lashed the miner for applying for a mining lease in September for land about 10 kilometres from the Juukan rock shelters which were destroyed in May. The blasting of the ancient rock shelters attracted global condemnation and cost the jobs of three top Rio Tinto executives.

On September 27 Fortescue applied for a mining licence on the land because its prospecting licence, granted in 2012, was due to expire. The PKKP expressed concerns over FMG’s application in an area the group believed was subject to a development moratorium and also criticised the company for lack of communication.

“We weren’t told of this, we found it out ourselves … we’re very worried,” PKKP cultural heritage manager Heather Builth told the inquiry.

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Fortescue Metals Group boss Elizabeth Gaines strongly refuted the “surprising comments.

Ms Gaines said applying for mining leases on expiring prospecting leases was a normal practice and was adamant the company had told the PKKP about the applications verbally in a meeting on September 10.

“Contrary to what has been said, unfortunately, we did actually advise them that we planned to apply for that mining lease because the prospecting licence was coming to its expiry,” she told reporters at the Diggers and Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie on Tuesday.

“We’re not planning to mine there but that was expiring so it’s usual practice to convert an exploring prospecting licence into a mining lease and we did advise them and they didn’t ask us not to.”

Ms Gaines said FMG was proud of its Aboriginal cultural heritage management practices and avoided sensitive sites.

She said the Rio Tinto Juukan Gorge situation would not happen with Fortescue because it was a Perth-based company, which was a major criticism levelled at Rio Tinto’s London-focused board and head office.

“I think what the biggest difference is we are all headquartered in Perth and so I was aware of all these matters before Juukan Gorge, of our native title relationships,” she said.

“This is something that we regularly talk about, we report to our board regularly on heritage management, I’m across it.

“We are based in Perth so we can go and meet with our native title partners as well. I’d have to say I think we are probably far closer to those matters than perhaps you would be if you were based somewhere else in the world.”

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Hunt to find Sydneysider who won $1.2 million


One lucky Sydneysider has won $1.2 million over the weekend, but they have no idea.

There were five division 1 winners in Saturday night’s Lotto draw – three from NSW and two from WA, with each winner earning a cool $1,292,740.18.

Two NSW winners have come forward, but the third is still yet to check their ticket days after the draw.

A The Lott spokesman said the ticket was purchased from Engadine Central Newsagency, with the winning numbers 34, 12, 37, 24, 5 and 26.

One of the other winning tickets was purchased by an airport worker from Bexley who had been forced to work reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When he was told of his win, the man was overjoyed, telling lottery workers, “This is really, really good news!

“I work at the airport, and since COVID-19 I’ve only been able to work one or two days a week, which has been hard.

“I’ll be able to pay off the mortgage and not have to stress about work while I wait for things to get back to normal.

“It’s so good! Such a relief!”

The third NSW winner was a Cabramatta man, who said he would use the prize money to accelerate his retirement plans and help his family get a leg-up.

“I’m nearly at the point of retiring, but I’m definitely going to retire now,” he said.

“I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with my prize, but I know it will be a great feeling to be able to help my children buy a house.”



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Champion lawn bowler wins $1 million lawsuit against own club



A former champion lawn bowls player will be paid out more than $1 million by his own club after he “severely” burnt his hand whilst operating the club’s barbeque.

Kraig Anthony Dann was working as a volunteer on a “barefoot bowlers” night at the Port Sorell Bowls Club in Tasmania’s north-west five years ago when he was asked to “cook a large quantity of sausages”.

The club’s gas barbecue was described in court documents as “an unsophisticated four-burner barbeque”, with the club using “a makeshift method” to collect fat.

This method involved hiding a ceramic mug out of sight, underneath the barbeque plate.

When Mr Dann began cooking the sausages, the mug overflowed and caught on fire. He turned off the gas, but the mug remained alight.

He became concerned that the ceramic mug might explode, saying to another man: “I don’t know why someone has put a ceramic cup under there because … something like this can explode.”

He had earlier told the court he and the other man agreed that it could result in “hot fat and glass shards” going everywhere, and with lots of children at the barbeque, they became quite worried.

When Mr Dann then attempted to remove the mug, it got caught on the upturned sides of the tray and, as he started to “wiggle it out”, it fell over, spilling hot fat across his right hand, severely burning it.

Court documents show that the burn injury “required extensive medical treatment” and Mr Dann has been left with “scarring and restriction of movement, and his working capacity is impaired”.

Mr Dann sued the Port Sorell Bowls Club claiming it was negligent and breached its duty of care to him.

Plaintiff ‘took the path of the lesser of two evils’

In the Supreme Court in Hobart on Friday, Justice Helen Wood found in favour of Mr Dann, ruling the club had breached its duty.

“The club breached its duty by failing to ensure that a suitable container placed in a safe position was used, and that the receptacle [the mug] was empty before it was used,” she wrote.

“It failed to provide adequate instructions in this regard to the volunteers working on the barbeque and people responsible for setting it up.

“The Club ought to have made provision for a fat fire by providing an oven mitt or heat-proof gloves as part of the cooking equipment.”

She further wrote that the club failed to provide adequate instructions in the case of a fat fire.

“If instructed that, in the event of a fire, he was to evacuate the area then I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that he would have followed that instruction too.”

She did however find that Mr Dann had “misjudged the situation” in failing to notice the turned-up corners of the tray that the mug got caught on.

“The plaintiff was in an unexpected situation of danger, and he took the path of the lesser of two evils,” she wrote.

“His haste in seeking to resolve the situation of danger and protect others was understandable given the exigencies of the situation but there was a failure to pause and make observations in his attempt to remove the mug and it was that failure that amounts to negligence.”

Justice Wood noted that Mr Dann has been “wholly incapacitated for work since his injury” and she expected that would be the case for the next two years.

She awarded him $1,074,880 in damages, taking into account past and future loss of earnings, medical and pharmaceutical expenses and general damages.

Another $15,346 was awarded in interest.



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Hotel quarantine inquiry budget blows out to $5.7 million


The budget of the Victorian Government’s taxpayer-funded inquiry into its botched hotel quarantine program has been blown out by nearly $3 million.

The Premier gave his tick of approval after the Board of Inquiry requested a further $2.7 million, bringing its total budget to $5.7 million.

An inquiry spokesman said the board expected its final expenditure to be less than the $5.7 million, with any unused funds to be returned to the Government.

“The additional funding is necessary for the board to complete its work due to the logistical difficulties presented by the pandemic, which included transitioning the chair, counsel and all staff to remote hearings as well as the live streaming of hearings featuring 63 remote witnesses,” they said.

Judge Jennifer Coate will hand down her final report in early November.

It was further revealed the impact of the six-week extension to the inquiry’s reporting date, the “volume and nature” of documents sought and received and the number of parties with leave to appear were among other reasons for the additional funding request.

When asked about the budget blowout at Tuesday’s press conference, Daniel Andrews said he was not aware of the reasons why the inquiry had requested more money but would support their needs.

It’s believed more than 200,000 documents have been submitted to the inquiry, probing what caused the Government’s hotel quarantine scheme to fail and trigger much of the state’s second wave of coronavirus infections.

Mr Andrews was the final witness to appear on Friday afternoon, with the inquiry this week now sifting through final submissions.

The inquiry will hand down its final report and findings on November 6.





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Wealthy Deague family sues investment banker over $120 million project


The family is known for hotel developments (including the famed Art Series Hotels) as well commercial developments, residential investments and storage.

Family scion, Will Deague, who is named in the claim, was also the most high profile victim of the collapse of Sonray Capital which was founded by his Melbourne Grammar school chum Scott Murray – who was jailed over the broker’s collapse.

While best known as developers the Deague Group have also long been co-investors in other projects.

The Deague’s investment arm, Deague Capital, alleges in February this year Alvarium informed it of a development opportunity that was in the final stages of negotiation over a building contract that “should be closed out over the next week”.

The project is the Ambrose apartment complex in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Milton.

Deague Capital alleges Will Deague told Mr Treacy the company was reluctant to invest in the development until the construction contract was signed. Mr Deague claims Mr Treacy told him over the phone on March 4 that the execution of the contact was a few days away and that it would be for $50 million.

Based on Mr Treacy’s assurances, the Deagues went ahead and invested $3 million in the project via a cash loan and the purchase of shares. But the Deagues allege they were misled into investing in the project which had a much larger construction cost than they were originally told.

“In fact, the representations (of Treacy) were untrue,” Deague Capital says in its writ.

“In mid-2018, Hutchinson Builders tendered for the project at a price in the range of $65 million to $72 million.” That quote was later reduced to $62 million on request.

“At no time had Hutchinson ever proposed a construction price in the range of $48,000,000 to $50,000,000.”

The Deagues say the contract was executed in July for $62 million. “If the representations had not been made, Deague Capital would not have made the investment alleged.”

Deague Capital alleges it sought a refund from Alvarium in July, claiming it had rescinded the deal, but the family office investment house refused to pay back the $3 million.

Deague Capital declined to comment as the matter was before the courts. Mr Tracey and Alvarium, who are yet to file their defences in the proceedings, were contacted for comment.

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Alan Joyce’s pay falls to $1.7 million as pandemic clips Qantas’ wings


Qantas said the $1.2 million value of the bonus shares awarded to other key executives was less then what they sacrificed during the year after accepting a three-month pay freeze when the pandemic first hit. Total executive pay fell from $22.4 million in 2019 to $6.9 million, the annual report shows.

The long-term bonuses were awarded because Qantas’ share price – while down 44 per cent since January and down 32 per cent over a three-year period – was still performing better than a group of 18 comparable listed airlines.

Jetstar boss Gareth Evans, Qantas Domestic boss Andrew David and recently departed Qantas International boss Tino La Spina each received around $300,000 worth of shares. Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth received $141,000 and chief finance officer Vanessa Hudson got $66,000.

Companies paying c-suite bonuses while collecting JobKeeper payments has become a hot-button issue, attracting criticism from both the federal Labor opposition and the Business Council of Australia.

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Qantas collected $267 million in payments through the JobKeeper scheme last financial year, with most of that going to employees who were stood down from work, and the company receiving a $15 million net benefit from the wage subsidy and other government support packages.

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder said his board and management had shown “important leadership” by giving up some of their salaries.

“This is obviously not the same hardship as [experienced by] those stood down or facing redundancy, but it comes at a time when demands on management are greater than ever,” he said.

Qantas said its executives would have been entitled to part of their annual bonuses based on non-financial measures, but gave those up along with some of their salaries.

The company’s executive team and board received no salary between April and June. That freeze extended into July for Mr Joyce and chairman Richard Goyder, who are now being paid 65 per cent of their base rate. Other board and executive team members have been on 85 per cent of their normal pay since July.

Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said it was “sickening” that Qantas awarded bonuses at a time when the airline’s workers were struggling on JobKeeper and facing layoffs.

“They literally have no idea what life is like for their workers, who are terrified about their futures as the axe swings over their heads,” Mr Kaine said.

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AFL veteran Shaun Smith receives $1.4 million insurance payout for concussion damage



A former AFL player has welcomed an historic insurance payout, saying it is long-awaited acknowledgement of the permanent damage caused by repetitive concussions while playing football.

Shaun Smith, who played for North Melbourne and Melbourne in the late 80s and 90s, was recently paid just over $1.4 million after his insurance company found he was “totally and permanently disabled” from the brain injuries acquired during his career.

“I’m just happy that it’s finally been recognised,” he told the ABC.

The 51-year-old said his brain injury had changed his life in numerous ways, from affecting his moods to damaging his memory.

“I’m a pretty easy-going guy, and I was getting pretty angry at the drop of a hat,” he said.

“It just goes on and on, and it doesn’t make it much fun for people living around me.”

Smith said he had fought for recognition of the damage caused by concussions, and the insurance payout helped acknowledge it was a “real thing”.

“I just hope that the AFL listen, because it’s people’s health at risk,” he said.

Agent hopes case ‘will be a benchmark’

Concerns have been rising in recent years about the potential long-term health effects of repeated head injuries in contact sports.

In February, doctors confirmed the first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in an AFL player, 64-year-old former Geelong champion Graham “Polly” Farmer.

Former St Kilda captain and Richmond coach Danny Frawley was found to have been suffering from CTE when he died suddenly last year.

AFL player agent Peter Jess, who supported Smith’s fight for recognition, said he hoped the payout would help others seek compensation for head injuries in the future.

“I suspect it will be a benchmark in terms of the acknowledgement inside the sporting community that concussion is a disease that creates long-term damage, and has the impact of creating a total and permanent disability,” he said.

“It’s a not a transitory disease, it is permanent.”

However, he said the likelihood of other players getting similar payouts depended on their insurance, and he hoped that the case would generate debate about how to compensate people who have been damaged during their careers.

“We know that players can be totally and permanently disabled from playing football,” he said.

“Two panels of medical people have looked at Shaun’s case and said the injuries created from playing football were so significant that he’d never be able to work again.”

The AFL has been contacted for comment.



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Education startup Forage scores $13 million in funding as learning goes online.


Mr Brunskill started Forage in 2017 with co-founder Pasha Rayan after he found his degree at Australian National University had left him ill-prepared for life as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons.

The pair secured the law firm as Forage’s first client and since then the startup has enrolled more than 1 million students in its free online programs, with companies including KPMG, JP Morgan and Microsoft paying a subscription fee to have their courses on the platform.

The coronavirus pandemic has driven a steep increase in enrolments with 830,000 new students signing up since April, up from 20,000 to 30,000 each month before COVID-19.

Mr Brunskill is confident this growth will continue when the pandemic is over and said COVID-19 had accelerated the shift to remote learning. “We’ve certainly seen an explosion in usage which has been driven by those macro forces through this period,” he said. “Whether coronavirus is here to stay or not the benefits of what we’re delivering to both sides of that marketplace will continue to mean that we see growth.”

The funding round was led by US firm Lightspeed Venture Partners and Forage will use the investment to expand its team which is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Miami, New York and London. Forage has previously raised $US11.6 million in venture funding and its investors include Steve Baxter’s Transition Level Investments, FundersClub, Y-Combinator and Arizona State University.

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Mr Brunskill said he moved to the United States because San Francisco offered proximity to venture capital, university partnerships and global brands but said “Australia is still very much in our DNA”.

He said the future of education looked “fundamentally different” to what it does now. “There will be increasing pressure on education providers to show real outcomes in terms of pathways to employment.”

Mr Brunskill said he did not expect to see the “extinction” of universities but rather more emphasis on work-integrated learning and job readiness in curricula. “That’s clearly where the world is already heading and there’s no silver bullet solution but we think we’re part of the solution.”

Mercedes Bent, partner at Lightspeed, said the pandemic had put hundreds of millions of people out of jobs globally and Forage was an essential platform for employers and candidates looking for talent and work. She said Lightspeed was drawn to the focus on careers and employer-led courses.



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