Milford expected to re-sign with Broncos

Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford is poised to sign a multi-million dollar four-year contract extension with the NRL powerhouse in the coming days.

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Broncos CEO Paul White says the club expect a decision from the highly sought after playmaker early next week, after the 22-year-old reportedly shunned interest from Melbourne to accepted a $4 million deal.

The Storm are desperate for a marquee half to replace departing No.7 Cooper Cronk and offered Milford a deal worth a reported $1.2 million a year.

Milford’s Broncos deal is sweetened by the capacity for third party deals and the club’s dominance of the Brisbane sporting market.

Months after halfback Ben Hunt announced he will play for St George Illawarra next year, it was feared Brisbane would lose a second playmaker when the Storm made a play for Milford.

However, White all but confirmed that Milford, who will play for Samoa in Saturday’s Pacific Test against England, has agreed to stay at Red Hill.

“We’re not in a position to declare that yet,” White said on Friday.

“Anthony will get through his game on the weekend and hopefully we’ll be in a position to make an announcement or know one way or another early next week.”

White said the Broncos were not surprised by the interest in Milford’s services but were always confident of retaining him.

“These things are never easy processes and particularly when they’re marquee players,” White said.

“We acknowledge there’s a real developing market out there for those sorts of players and Anthony fits that bill.

“We’ve worked really hard through this negotiation process to make sure that Anthony remains at our club and we’re happy with the work we’ve done and we’re happy with the progress.

“We’re looking forward to him re-signing with our club.”

Milford’s expected re-commitment will allow the club to turn their focus on retaining other off-contract stars, including skipper Darius Boyd, Alex Glenn, Jordan Kahu and James Roberts.

Bridge funds on Tassie’s budget watchlist

Happy with the Turnbull government’s latest schools funding model and satisfied with a decade-long commonwealth sponsorship of a major hospital, Tasmania’s Liberal government is unlikely to be optimistic about additional big-ticket items in the federal budget.

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The only state or territory to welcome Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Gonski 2.0 scheme, championing an extra $200 million over 10 years compared to what was on offer for the state 12 months ago, Tasmania was quick to praise the schools deal this week.

And April’s promise of a $730 million cash injection to pay for the northern Mersey Community Hospital for the next decade has eased what’s been a chronic funding headache for the island state’s administration for several years.

“The government is anticipating a ‘no surprises’ budget that locks in recent commitments like … education funding and the Mersey Hospital funding deal,” a spokesman told AAP, also noting the recent $150 million commonwealth pledge for redeveloping the University of Tasmania’s northern campus.

But there are still a few key infrastructure items that Tasmania will be hoping make the cut for budget 2017/18.

In 2016, Infrastructure Australia named a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths university research and training facility in Hobart as one of the nation’s most significant future projects.

The University of Tasmania is keen on the idea but would be seeking federal dollars to co-sponsor the project.

Canberra has previously agreed to fund a new $535 million four-lane Bridgewater Bridge over Hobart’s Derwent River with construction due to start in 2019-20 and it should get a mention in the financial plan.

There’s an outside chance Tuesday’s budget could include funds for a new Launceston water treatment plan, for which federal Labor pledged $75 million in the lead up to the last election.

There should be previously announced funding for ongoing irrigation schemes and a rail freight corridor, while a federal pledge for a second Bass Strait electricity cable seems unlikely.

Tasmania’s opposition leader Rebecca White said the state was still reeling from $2.1 billion in cuts from the coalition’s 2014 budget.

“The federal government has done nothing to help fix Tasmania’s water and sewerage challenges,” Ms White told AAP.

“Labor committed $75 million to fix Launceston’s storm water problem. That commitment should be matched as a first step by the Turnbull government.”

The Labor leader said Tasmania was in desperate need of further education funding, adding that the state government was wrong to accept the latest schools deal.

Furthermore, public hospitals in Hobart and Launceston continued to operate under enormous pressures which could be eased by federal funding, Ms White added.

TASMANIA’S KEY FEDERAL BUDGET WISHLIST:

* Promised $730 million cash injection to pay for the northern Mersey Community Hospital

* $535 million four-lane Bridgewater Bridge over Hobart’s Derwent River

* University of Tasmania wants funds to co-sponsor a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths university research and training facility

* Funds for a new Launceston water treatment plan, ongoing irrigation schemes and a rail freight corridor

SVG sets Perth Supercars practice record

Defending series champion Shane van Gisbergen has vented his frustration to set a new lap record and dominate Supercars practice at Perth.

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The flying Kiwi clocked 54.77 seconds on the tight 2.4km Barbagallo Raceway circuit, shaving 0.21 of a second off Holden teammate Jamie Whincup’s 2011 practice mark.

Series leader – Ford’s DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard – was also under Whincup’s old record in 54.79 to finish second fastest in Friday’s final 45 minute practice session.

Six-time series champion Whincup was third quickest.

Van Gisbergen is second in the standings after three rounds, just seven points behind Coulthard, but claims he had arrived in Perth with a point to prove.

“I am pretty frustrated with my year so far,” he said.

“Apart from (opening round) Adelaide, the other rounds have been really crazy.

“I am disappointed but I am still second (in standings).

“It shows we have pretty high standards from last year and need to put it all together again.”

Remarkably, Van Gisbergen’s effort helped him jump from fourth-last in the 26-strong field to the top in the dying moments of the day’s second practice session.

Mark Winterbottom was fourth fastest, while Ford teammate Chaz Mostert completed the top five.

Coulthard had a spring in his step after staying in touch with Van Gisbergen, in front of legendary team boss Roger Penske.

The US motorsport giant is in Perth for his annual visit to Australia and watched first hand as Coulthard maintained his hot 2017 form.

Penske was seen holding an inspirational chat to his troops in the team garage after final practice on Friday.

“It was a pretty cool moment,” Coulthard said.

“For him to give us a pep talk gives the boys confidence.

“It’s early days but to be leading the championship and to have Roger come into town is perfect timing.

“He is rapt with how the team is going but we have a long way to go.”

The sole red flag on Friday emerged midway through the final practice session after 16-year-old Alex Rullo tussled with Whincup, locked it up and found the sand on turn seven.

Holden’s Garth Tander was fastest in the opening practice session in 55.64 but was only 19th quickest on Friday afternoon.

The opening 120km race will be held on Saturday.

Qualifying starts at 1355 AEST.

Collie WA mine owners in receivership

Workers in the West Australian coal mining town of Collie face an uncertain future after the Indian owners of the Griffin mine went into receivership.

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It comes on the same day it was separately announced a power station would close.

PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed receivers and managers at Indian-owned Lanco Resources.

The mine has posted large financial losses since Indian conglomerate Lanco Infratech paid what is now regarded as a grossly inflated figure of $740 million for it in 2010.

Lanco Infratech has high debt problems and is fighting KordaMentha in court claiming it was misled into paying that price.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union WA secretary Steve McCartney said workers were worried about losing their jobs and entitlements, on top of losses they had already suffered due to an ongoing pay dispute.

Mr McCartney said he wanted government intervention to protect the workers, saying the company was exploiting loopholes in the Fair Work Commission system to avoid paying workers their rightful entitlements,.

The Griffin workers take home pay and redundancy entitlements were controversially cut by 43 per cent after the Fair Work Commission ruled in March that employees should go back on an award rate.

However there are now fears the mine will be shut, leaving only the Chinese Yancoal-owned Premier Coal Mine.

“We are all paying for their (Lanco Resources) incompetence. They definitely paid too much for the mine,” Mr McCartney told 6PR radio.

“The workers have got punished but their mishandling of the mine since they took over has been a disaster as well.

“This company going into receivership is the worst possible outcome for these workers, and it is unacceptable that the accrued entitlements they rightfully earned at $62 an hour will now be paid out at only $30 an hour.”

It was also revealed on Friday that Collie’s ageing Muja AB coal-fired power station would be closed, despite the former Liberal National government spending $310 million to revive it in recent years.

Premier Mark McGowan said the decision to close the power station for commercial reasons was made by the previous government, which also chose to refurbish it.

“So now the megawatts have been withdrawn from the system at huge cost to taxpayers,” he told reporters.

One in 16 refugees to be paid for by private sponsors

The federal government will use next Tuesday’s Budget to announce it will shift the costs involved in settling 1000 refugees onto private companies, community groups and individuals.

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SBS World News can reveal the changes to the humanitarian program will take effect from July 1, 2017, with the government calling on the business sector to make their “corporate social responsibility obligations matter”.

“The idea is of course to have that support there provided by business groups who may know refugees in different camps, who they want to bring out [those] who have the skills,” Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke told SBS.

Any business or community group wanting to sponsor refugees under the scheme would be required to cover associated costs for their first year in Australia including airfares, medical screening; and all visa application charges.   

“You hear regularly in the public domain businesses say, ‘well the government should help refugees more.'”

They would also need to foot the bill for any settlement services on arrival but the government denies it’s all about saving money.

“You hear regularly in the public domain businesses say, ‘well the government should help refugees more and we want to help them help refugees more’,’’ Mr Hawke said.

But the changes to the humanitarian program will help the budget bottom line, with sponsoring the most vulnerable people entering Australia costing about $19,000.

In addition, sponsors will also need to contribute $20,000 to a “welfare bond”, a fund the government said it will draw from should the refugees end up relying on welfare. 

 “What it looks like from the outside is, this is a cost saving measure,”

Henry Sherrell, a research officer at the Development Policy Center of the Australian National University, wants to know why the government isn’t offering additional humanitarian places, and instead taking from its yearly target of 16,250 places.

“I think it’s really troubling if these places come out of the existing humanitarian program because what it looks like from the outside is, this is a cost saving measure,” Mr Sherrell said.  

“This is basically the government saying we don’t want to be responsible for the costs associated with these 1000 people.” 

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull flagged the proposal in 2016 during the Leaders’ Summit in New York, and this implementation basically extends the trial program, which has been in place for three years.

Sherak Dawood is the beneficiary of the government’s pilot program.

The Christian refugee was kidnapped by extremists in Iraq and told he had three choices: leave the country, convert to Islam, or be killed. He chose the former.

He ended up in a Jordanian refugee camp before Melbourne’s Assyrian community paid all the costs associated for Mr Dawood and his family to come to Australia earlier this year.

“I need to build our life and to make my kids live in peace and make for them the good life,” the father of three said.

Alex Hawke on the humanitarian program changes

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The opposition said it welcomes the chance for the community to help with the refugee intake but has slammed the way the government is making the changes.

It wants to see the detail but the government doesn’t to see Labor’s support because the scheme does not need a parliamentary vote to be implemented.  

“It is the Turnbull Government’s responsibility to meet the costs of Australia’s humanitarian program – not the community and business sectors,” Shadow Minister for Immigration Shayne Neumann said.

He added that if the Coalition really wanted to support the humanitarian refugee program the reforms would see a net increase in the overall intake.

“Which is why Labor took to the election a policy of increasing the annual humanitarian intake to 27,000 by 2025,” Mr Neumann said.  

Fashion brands slow to improve wages

Fashion brands in Australia are taking slow steps towards ensuring the workers who make their clothes are paid a decent wage.

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A new report card on the local fashion industry shows that while many companies now have better information about their suppliers, most haven’t acted to make sure garment workers receive a living wage.

Data collected by Baptist World Aid found the number of companies able to show that a portion of garment workers, who are usually in third-world countries, earn significantly above the minimum wage has more than doubled.

However, two thirds haven’t taken any action to ensure workers receive a living wage, or enough money to cover basics such as food, water, shelter, clothing and healthcare.

Pumpkin Patch, Oroton, General Pants, and Best & Less all rated poorly in the report.

Baptist World Aid advocacy manager Gershon Nimbalker said low wages force garment workers, who are usually young and female, to remain trapped in poverty at a time when the fashion industry generates more than a trillion dollars in export revenue.

“It’s good for companies in terms of their reputation and long-term profitability and sustainability if their workers are paid well,” he told AAP.

“From a consumer angle, they can choose to vote with their wallets and preference those companies that look after their workers and make sure people aren’t being exploited.”

In terms of how much extra consumers could pay if workers received a living wage, the report noted a Fair Wear Foundation study that estimated up to $US5 ($A6.39) would need to be added to an item’s price tag.

Mr Nimbalker said much of the problem stems from fashion brands not knowing enough about their suppliers – which range from those who grow cotton, to fabric makers and garment factories.

The report found while a growing number of companies (over 70 per cent) know about their manufacturing suppliers and “input” suppliers such as fabric makers, just five per cent know who supplies the raw materials used to make their garments.

Mr Nimbalker said that until more companies know about “input” and raw material suppliers, workers risk being abused.

A total of 87 companies that own 300 brands were assessed by Baptist World Aid, with each given a rating ranging from A to F based on how they mitigated the risk of exploitation.

Just two scored an A+: Etiko and Audrey Blue.

Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia boss David Giles-Kaye said as consumers were more educated about supply chains, companies that don’t lift their game to end exploitation could lose customers.

“There’s a moral issue first and foremost but at the end of the day it’s good business practice as well,” he said.

The report was released just before the third anniversary of the collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, where 1134 people died and hundreds of others were injured.

FINDINGS ON FASHION COMPANIES

* 87 companies assessed

* median grade was C+

* six received A grades, nine received Fs

* 79pct trace input suppliers, up from 49pct

* 39pct trace raw materials suppliers, up from 17pct

* 5pct know where their raw materials come from

* 3pct publicise data about wages paid to workers

* 48pct publicise which countries they source from

SOME OF THE BEST AND WORST PERFORMERS

* As : Etiko, Audrey Blue, Adidas, Patagonia

* Bs : Cotton On, Country Road, Target, David Jones, Pacific Brands, H&M, Inditex (Zara)

* Cs : RM Williams, Quiksilver, Bardot, Billabong, Big W, Coles, Lowes, Myer

* Ds : Lorna Jane, Pumpkin Patch, Oroton, Best & Less

* Fs : Boohoo, General Pants, Roger David, Seed Heritage

Source: Baptist World Aid Australia

Regulator failures over pedophile doctor

NSW health authorities knew about sexual abuse complaints against a trusted family doctor in 1992 but failed to act for almost two decades, putting more children at risk, an inquiry has found.

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There may be other victims of convicted pedophile Dr John Phillip Rolleston who have never come forward, the child abuse royal commission’s report released on Wednesday said.

NSW health care regulators received allegations about Dr Rolleston sexually abusing boys from 1992.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission did not tell police about two victims’ complaints, the royal commission found.

There were also lengthy and unacceptable delays in its investigation of a 1998 complaint by one victim, AWC, who felt discouraged from going to police by his dealings with HCCC.

The NSW Medical Board was also told about AWC’s complaint but failed to link it to the 1992 telephone calls.

The HCCC wrongly decided to end the investigation into AWC’s allegations of serious criminal offences at a time when Dr Rolleston was still practising medicine and there was a need to protect patients from the risk of predatory activity by him, the commission said.

“Ultimately, the (investigation) report observed that after 22 years there was no longer a public interest in taking disciplinary action and recommended that no further action be taken.”

The commission criticised the HCCC for its insensitive approach to a 2003 complainant and for ending that investigation without considering the similar reports against Dr Rolleston.

The commission said that by November 2006 the Medical Board knew about three complaints against Dr Rolleston but did not exercise its statutory powers to immediately suspend or restrict a medical practitioner’s registration.

Dr Rolleston continued to practise medicine without appropriate conditions on his registration until June 2009, the commission said.

“Having regard to the power given to the Medical Board to protect children, this was a significant failure to act to protect children who may have been at risk of assault by Dr Rolleston.

“Although we know of people who have reported sexual abuse by Dr Rolleston when they were children, it is reasonable to assume that others were abused who have never come forward.”

Dr Rolleston, who worked as a GP in private practices and hospitals, was arrested in 2009 and later jailed.

The commission also found Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital never confronted a volunteer with allegations of child sexual assault from the 1980s, despite police believing there would potentially be other victims.

The hospital sacked Harry Otto Pueschel in January 1998 but made no mention of the allegations, which the commission said left open the possibility of him working elsewhere as a volunteer.

He was still able to access the hospital wards after being dismissed.

The commission said a Royal North Shore Hospital representative discouraged the father of a boy abused by a psychologist in the late 1960s from going to police, to spare him from “interrogation and all those distressing things”.

The victim told the commission that psychologist Frank Stuart Simpson sexually abused him under the guise of play therapy to treat his asthma.

In a statement issued by Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, chief executive officer Christine Kilpatrick said allegations aired in the inquiry forced it to further review and strengthen safety, protection and welfare practices.

She said inquiry testimony taught the hospital that only “eternal vigilance” would give the community confidence that all children in their care were safe.

Call for crackdown on cosmetic industry

Cosmetic surgery patients will die unless Australia acts to regulate the booming industry.

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That’s the blunt message from plastic surgeons after an investigation by NSW’s health watchdog found six breast implant patients at one clinic suffered potentially life-threatening complications during surgeries in the past year.

On Tuesday, it was revealed a NSW Health Care Complaints Commission probe found the clinic, The Cosmetic Institute, was routinely administering adrenaline in combination with local anaesthetics at dosages well above safe levels.

The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons says the practice is rampant at cosmetic clinics, which carry out major operations such as breast enhancements and liposuction while licensed to give only “conscious sedation”.

“What happens in practice is, conscious sedation becomes unconscious sedation very, very quickly and an uncontrolled situation occurs,” the society’s president Associate Professor Hugh Bartholomeusz told AAP.

“Now combine this with large volumes of local anaesthetic which are toxic to your heart, and you’ve got an incredibly volatile situation.”

He said patients can have fits and go into a cardiac arrest, which is what the HCCC probe found occurred at The Cosmetic Institute.

“It’s a really, really dangerous situation and we are just fortunate that nobody has died,” Prof Bartholomeusz said.

The Cosmetic Institute says its patients now undergo surgery at a licensed private hospital.

The clinic has also reviewed its procedures to ensure safe upper limits for adrenaline and local anaesthetic usage, according to general manager Andrew Gill.

But plastic surgeons are calling on state and territory governments to urgently tighten regulations around anaesthetic use, practitioner credentials and the licensing and accreditation of facilities.

They say patients’ lives are at stake.

“Unfortunately somebody will die. There can’t be any messing around with ifs, buts or maybes – it will happen,” Prof Bartholomeusz said.

DV groups say funding is needed to back ‘respect’ campaign

In a scene from the federal government’s new $30 million domestic violence advertising campaign, a woman tells a girl who has had a door slammed in her face: “He did it because he likes you.

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The campaign aims to tackle family violence by challenging underlying societal attitudes which may contribute to male aggression towards women.

Domestic Violence NSW’s Moo Baulch said the government’s campaign is welcome, but measures to tackle the problem need to go further.

“I think it’s a first step,” she said. “But I think we also need to be looking at issues around gender inequality and violence-supporting attitudes.”

Ms Baulch said campaigns such as these tend to increase the demand on support services.

“So what we really need to see is the funding and resourcing for those services to be able to meet the demand.”

One-in-six women over the age of 15 has experienced violence from a current or former partner, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the rates are are even higher. Women with a disability and those from diverse backgrounds are also considered to be at risk.

Greens senator Larissa Waters has urged the government to back up the campaign by restoring a funding cut in previous budgets to community legal services and shelter accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence.

“We need to make sure the services are there so when women do reach out they can get the help that they need and not be turned away,” she said.

The Greens are calling for funding to family violence services to be addressed in the upcoming federal budget.

National Chairperson of the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) Julie Oberin has welcomed the television campaign, calling it a “world first”.

“It’s absolutely vital to address not only violence, but the underlying attitudes which support violence, which many people may not even know they have,” she said.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic family violence, help is available. National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call 000.

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India still wants the Koh-i-Noor Diamond

India will make all possible efforts to get back the Koh-i-Noor Diamond from Britain despite comments by New Delhi’s solicitor-general that the priceless jewel should stay with the former colonial ruler, the government says.

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India has repeatedly demanded that Britain return the 105-carat diamond, which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 and today sits on display as part of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

India’s solicitor-general surprised many on Monday when he told the Supreme Court that his country should forgo its claims to the jewel because it was given to Britain as a gift by an Indian king, rather than stolen as many Indians today believe.

The government said on Tuesday his view did not represent its own and that it was yet to give its opinion to the court, which is hearing a case demanding the diamond be returned.

“The government of India further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Koh-i-noor Diamond in an amicable manner,” the ministry of culture said.

The ministry said the stone was a “valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history” and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to get it back.

A lawyer in India’s neighbour Pakistan last year filed a court petition calling for the stone’s return. India and Pakistan became two different countries with partition in 1947, when they became independent from Britain.

The Koh-i-Noor is set in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth, the mother of the reigning monarch, at the coronation of her husband George VI in 1937, and was placed on her coffin at her funeral in 2002.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who last week visited India with her husband, Prince William, will wear the crown on official occasions when she becomes queen consort.

William is second in line to the British throne.