Archive for September, 2019
If you’re feeling the urge for a burger, Largs couple Katerina and Chris Schafferius have opened the state’s first Burger Urge at Stockland Glendale.
And it has been a long time coming. They bought the franchise three years ago when the popular Queensland burger chain had just six stores.There are now 21, and counting.
“At the time they probably weren’t ready for me to be knocking at their door, given that we’re interstate,” MrSchafferius told Food & Wine.
“But the brand has matured and developed in that time. When I first knocked on the door Burger Urgeonly had bottled beer in the fridge, now we’ve got a full bar.”
Katerina will manage the store full-time. Chris, a keen triathlete, works for a US mining company as general manager of its Australian operations.
“We’vebeen very patient, trying to find the right location,” Mr Schafferius said.
“Afew people have mentioned that we’ve jumped on the burger bandwagonbut we bought this franchise three years ago, so we were ahead of the curve when it came to dude food or whatever they are calling it.
“At Glendale everything just added up. Not only is therethe cinema and thealfresco space, but there is a good gap in the market when it comes to licensed venues.”
STATE FIRST: Katerina and Chris Schafferius have opened Burger Urge at Stockland Glendale. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
The Burger Urge menu is divided into categories: American Style; House Specials; and Classics. There are vegetarian options, too, as well as salads and a variety of different sides to choose from.
There is even a burger called The Donald Trump with pulled beef, crispy maple bacon, melted American-style cheddar, pickles, hickory BBQ sauce, truffle mayonnaise, aioli and tomato.
Burger Urge founders – brothers Sean and Colby Carthew –are known for walking a fine line when it comes to marketing. The more offensive and attention-grabbing, the better.
As for the Big Momma’s Kentucky Fried Waffle, well, MrSchafferius refers to it as “R rated” and “a very serious burger”.
Head of property atBurgerUrge, Matt Manzie, said the Newcastle region and its “strong and diverse economy” was a “logical next step” from their Queensland base and “will be used as a stepping stone into the Sydney market”.
The second NSW store will open in Port Macquarie in June.
AFR and Deloitte Banking and Wealth Summit.Sofitel Wentwoth, Sydney. Conduct Risk & Risk Culture roundtable with Peter Kell, Deputy Chairman ASIC .April 5 2016. Photos Quentin Jones. Photo: Quentin JonesThe corporate watchdog is seeking greater powers to step in and change how some salespeople in the financial sector are paid, to prevent staff having an incentive to promote inappropriate products.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission deputy chair, Peter Kell, on Wednesday made the case for the regulator receiving beefed-up powers to intervene in the design and distribution of financial products.
The federal Treasury is consulting on a proposal to give ASIC these powers, which would allow it to veto higher-risk products.
But Mr Kell said the watchdog wants an extension of the Treasury’s proposal, and is also seeking the power to ban certain types of pay structures that are clearly against the interests of customers, such as certain types of commissions.
If it were given these powers, it would allow the watchdog to rule out the “most pernicious” aspects of how some financial products are sold to customers, Mr Kell said.
“We are keen to have the product intervention power not only in how the product has been designed, but also the associated way that people are remunerated for selling it,” he told a Senate committee inquiry into consumer protection in the banking, insurance and financial sector.
“You can imagine there may be instances where the product itself is not necessarily a problem, as long as it is sold to the right people. But if people are being paid very high commissions or other sorts of benefits for selling it, then the temptation will be to sell it to the wrong people.”
“That for us, I think is the key area where we think we would like to see an extension to what has been proposed.”
Mr Kell gave the example of “flex commissions” paid by lenders to car dealers – where a dealer receives a higher commission if a customer takes out a car loan with a higher rate of interest.
Current rules made it much more difficult for ASIC to address this “really unfortunate” practice, which had embedded itself in the industry.
“We have stepped in and done something about that, but it has taken us a lot longer, and it has been a lot more convoluted than would have been the case with a product intervention power.”
Customers who are vulnerable or have poor financial literacy were most likely to be victims of this type of commission, he said.
Perversely, incentives such as “flex commissions” tended to be adopted across the industry, because failing to do so would hurt sales of loans.
Mr Kell was also asked about recent reports by News Corporation of internal documents that showed ASIC staff before 2015 seeking feedback from banks on draft press releases about misconduct within banks. He said the regulator had since changed its approach, and the emails reflected “healthy debate” within ASIC.
ASIC’s push for greater intervention powers comes as the banking industry is pledging to overhaul how it pays frontline staff, by reducing sales targets linked to bonuses, and cutting commissions paid to mortgage brokers.
SMH News story by, Lucy Cormack. The end of the Government solar feed back tarrif. Photo shows, Solar user, Michael Kwan at his Killarney Heights home. He has decided on installing a smart meter, which will allow him to switch to a metering system on 31 December. It then allows him to use his solar energy to meet his household needs. Afterwards any excess electricity generated, and not used, is exported to the grid. Photo: Peter Rae Thursday 19 May 2016. Photo: Peter RaeYou probably don’t remember the exact time you last opened your refrigerator.
But an electricity smart meter will.
It will also remember the age and brand of your appliance and how it is being used in the home – and all conveniently in real-time.
But a University of Canberra cybercrime expert has questioned the cost of such convenience in a new report, arguing that current smart meter technology could place consumers’ privacy and security at risk.
“It is great to be connected and online, and we need to embrace what’s coming at us down the pipes,” said Nigel Phair, director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra.
“But we are not doing it in a measured or consumer-informed way. An insecure and accessible smart meter is a great way to tell when homeowners are away for extended periods of time.”
Smart meters are digital devices that electronically record water, electricity and gas usage and transmit the data to the utility operator in real-time.
Currently a smart meter is formatted to allow either a one-way or two-way transmission of data, with the latter the most commonly used in the Australian market.
One-way meters record the amount of water, electricity or gas at a pre-set interval, which is then transmitted to the provider, while in a two-way device, usage is not only sent to the energy provider but the provider can also push data and messages back to the meter.
To date smart meters have been rolled out on a voluntary basis in NSW, after a mandatory mass roll-out in Victoria was widely criticised.
But from July this year, any new meters installed in NSW homes must be a smart meter.
As well as being more costly, Mr Phair said a two-way device raises a number of security issues, as information transmitted is often unencrypted.
“I think smart metering is the future. But as we stand today we should only have one-way transmit meters until we sort out security,” he said, adding that providers could use push notifications in two-way meters to send advertising or turn off power to a home, if a bill has not been paid.
An Origin spokesperson would not confirm if information on its smart meters was encrypted, but said all devices and related systems featured “security measures” to protect all data.
“Origin’s digital meters comply with relevant privacy legislation and electricity market rules.”
In 2009 a criminal operation in Puerto Rico contacted the general public with an offer to covertly reprogram their smart meters for a fee, to falsely reduce their apparent usage, saving them up to 75 per cent off their monthly electricity bills.
An FBI investigation later found the Puerto Rican electrical and power authority lost nearly $400 million dollars in annual revenue.
Mr Phair said the case showed just how easily such technology could be compromised, and said it points to the need for public policy and “certainty in the marketplace about the security of devices”.
Energy Australia installed its first smart meters in Victorian customer homes in 2009. In the period since, an Energy Australia spokesman said there had not be “no known security breaches.”
“As well as adhering to national regulatory rules, we ensure our meter service providers routinely monitor their smart meter security systems so they are safe, secure and customers are protected.”
He said Energy Australia smart meters were not integrated with home technologies like wireless networks or telephones, adding that any smart meter data would continue to be shared “via independent and secure networks which do not overlap with the customer’s own wireless networks.”
An AGL spokesperson said its digital meter data was “confidential and encrypted,” and did not contain names or addresses.
“Data can be transmitted in two ways between the meter and the meter provider, which is important to enable meter software/firmware to be updated. We have not experienced customer data breaches ,” he said.
Those balancing household budgets will not like the latest economic data. Inflation figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday show the consumer price index, the key measure of inflation, rose 0.5 per cent in the March quarter – and driving that increase were essentials like petrol and housing.
Even though inflation was slightly weaker than expected, economists largely agreed the price growth was strong enough for the Reserve Bank of Australia to take interest rate cuts off the table. The annual rate of CPI growth lifted to 2.1 per cent, just above the lower end of the bank’s inflation target.
But commentators also noted that the price increases were not noted in areas that signalled economic growth, with the most significant price rises in the quarter being petrol (up 5.7 per cent) and electricity (up 2.5 per cent).
These are things households have to buy when at the same time their wages are barely lifting and their debts are high.
CBA economist Michael Blythe thinks that dynamic could impact on consumer spending, and thus affect the wider economy.
“Rising petrol prices, up 12.9 per cent over the past two quarters, are now having a negative impact on consumer spending power. In fact spending on areas that are largely outside consumer discretion, such as fuel, health, insurance, utilities etc., is on the rise, up 1.6 per cent in the quarter and 4.2 per cent over the past year,” he said.
“Trends in this ‘pain spend’ influence household’s perceptions of financial pressures, with a flow???on to sentiment and spending appetite.”
The pain was lessened slightly by a 6.7 per cent drop in fruit prices.
Underlying measures of inflation, which smooth out volatile price swings and are key to interest rate decisions, averaged just over 0.4 per cent growth in the quarter for an annual rate of 1.8 per cent.
In response, the Australian dollar lost a little ground, dropping from about 75.45 US cents prior to the release to around 75.2 US cents.
The RBA will hold its next monthly board meeting on Tuesday, but is expected to leave the cash rate at a record low of 1.5 per cent.
Hopes that March’s strong rise in employment was a turning point for the economy may prove premature as new figures show wilting demand for new workers.
Job advertisements on the internet declined 0.6 per cent in March after a revised 0.3 per cent fall in February in trend terms, Department of Employment data released on Wednesday shows.
This left annual growth at just 0.9 per cent.
Six of the eight occupational groups monitored by the department fell in the month, declining in three states and the ACT. Ending the rate cut talk
“Today’s CPI should bring to an end the debate about near-term rate cuts,” UBS economists said in a report.
“We expect core inflation to stay below the RBA’s target until [the first half of 2018], amid a housing correction that sees the RBA waiting to normalise rates until at least [the second half of 2018].”
Economists at Citi noted a lack of market-based inflation, with seasonal rises in areas such as healthcare, education, and insurance coming alongside higher petrol and housing costs
“We don’t expect much upside pressure in market determined prices in the future. Slow domestic demand growth and more competition from online and global retailers will constrain price growth in the non-food retail sector,” they said.
“More generally, low private sector wages growth and the increase in some mortgage interest rates at a time of record high household debt will prohibit many market-based CPI price lines from increasing at anything but a snail’s pace.”
Citi’s economists reckon the result is likely to stay the RBA’s hand for the rest of the year.
“For the RBA, its two main concerns are the subdued labour market and risks to financial stability. With these concerns pulling in different directions, we continue to expect no change in the cash rate this year. Any cash rate increase remains a distant possibility.
“We pencil in the first rate hike for [the December quarter of] 2018 as the RBA seeks to move away from historically low interest rates only when there is a likelihood of trend growth that removes the negative output gap.”
Capital Economics’ Paul Dales has abandoned his prediction of further rate cuts.
“The rise in underlying inflation in the first quarter, coupled with the RBA’s financial stability concerns, dramatically reduces the chances of any further interest rate cuts,” he said.
“When taken together with the RBA’s valid concerns that cutting interest rates further would threaten financial stability, today’s data suggest that underlying inflation is now at a level that the RBA will be willing to tolerate.
“As such, we are no longer expecting the RBA to cut interest rates further.”
He now expects the central bank to hold rates steady for at least the rest of the year.
Barclays’s Rahul Bajoria reckons rates wil be higher in a little over a year’s time.
With the Treasurer about to deliver his federal budget within two shakes of a burnt stick, it is time for your humble correspondent to deliver my annual advice on your sporting investment portfolio, as regards which shares to buy, sell, and hold.
John Coates. $7.02. Sell.
Tough call, but there is no way around it. His was a solid blue-chip stock until a couple of months ago when the challenge by Danni Roche for presidency of the AOC saw his price plunge from $12.57 to $8.22 practically overnight. Recent revelations have seen it fall further, and there are more to come.
Danni Roche. $3.58. Buy
Just 27?? three months ago, she is now rising by the week. If she gains the presidency, projections put her in the high $5-$6 range. (At that point, however, I’d sell. Remember Maxine McKew who did a staggering job defeating the sitting Prime Minister, John Howard, in Bennelong in 2007, and was rarely sighted thereafter. Ms McKew’s shares were never higher than on election night. I don’t necessarily say that will happen to Ms Roche as, after all, she will automatically take the top role should she win, and not be a mere back-bencher. I do say, however, that the fever of her accomplishment should push the shares to be well above their true value, in the short term.)
Rugby union. $2.46. Buy
A totally undervalued stock. There is no doubt whatsoever that the game is stinking up the joint in Australia. When I called the NSWRU the other day and asked what time the next home match starts, they said: “What time can you get here?” But all those wise-head brokers who are encouraging their clients to unload rugby portfolios at any price, forget that beyond Australian shores, rugby is booming as never before. Ultimately it is that value, those rivers of gold that continue to flow into the Australian Rugby Union’s coffers from overseas broadcasters ready to pay top dollar to see Australian teams that will sustain rugby through this distressing time of the “Depression Years”. (See, the last decade-and-a-half, since we held the Bledisloe Cup.)
Undervalued: A familiar Waratahs pose of late. Photo: Getty Images
A-League. $3.42. Hold
It is too hard to work out. I think it’s struggling. You think it’s struggling. But for some reason I don’t get, the insiders say it is as strong as ever, and getting stronger. On the other hand, soccer people always say that. It’s just in their blood. And so is falling to the ground screaming blue murder, even if you give them a light tap. Best thing is just to move on.
AFL. $19.52. Buy
It’s as blue-chip as they get, and is getting bluer. It is true that the AFL cheats somewhat by putting something in the water of the AFL follower that makes them mad for the game from the cradle to the grave, but it works for them. And the stunning success of the Women’s AFL this year highlights both how well run the game is, and how far ahead of everyone else they are in making their game grow.
NRL. $12.52. Sell
Something is going on this year, something like a change in the wind, whereby though all the media is still totally behind the game, the “buzzzzz”, is just not quite there. Plus, watch the concussion issue as it plays out in the courts. Todd Greenberg has done well this year to try to get on top of it, but I’ll bet it’s too late. Whatever happens in the current case, it is inevitable the game will face some serious pay-outs in the future which will push the share price down further. Finally, as more and more is known about concussion and the devastating long-term effects, it is equally inevitable that both players and spectators will veer away from what remains one of, if not the, highest-impact sports in the world.
Golden moment: Michael Gordon jumps on Mitchell Pearce in celebration after the Roosters field goal that sunk the Dragons on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
Australian Cricket. $25. Sell
Just before the Ashes. As that fascinating report in the SMH yesterday made clear – Channel Nine is thought to have lost up to $40 million by broadcasting the game last year – the professional game might be well past high noon in Australia, and just starting to wane. Sunset is no time soon, but the simple truth is it does not grip everyone the way it once did. Of course it will return to fever pitch just before this summer’s home Ashes campaign, it always does, but that fever hides the truth – with the loss of the West Indies as a serious competitive side, international cricket has lost one of its prime pistons and is lagging accordingly.
Raiders. $3.85. Buy
There’s something about that mob, under Ricky Stuart. About four years ago I got into the ear of their chair, telling him he had rocks in his head to take on Stuart, as he was just too intense and made his players wither, rather than grow. The chair ignored me, and was right to do so. Sticky has transformed them, and even though they’ve had a couple of unlucky losses, they will be dangerous come the finals.
Penrith. 62??. Sell
The Penny Panthers have become the Penny Dreadfuls in the space of just six weeks or so, and no team in the country has been more Ordinary on the All-Ordinaries Index than them – and there is no sign it is going to end any time soon. I can never work out where in Phil Gould’s “rebuilding phase” they are up to, but that roar in the distance ain’t more builders coming. It is Joe’s Bulldozers, on their way to knock over what’s up already and start again. It is going to be very expensive, won’t necessarily work, and that will push the share price down even further.
Come to think of it, an investment in Joe’s Bulldozers could be very useful. If the Waratahs, Swans and Collingwood don’t start winning soon, Joe will be very busy indeed and should make a fortune!
Deposed Netball Australia director and former chair Anne-Marie Corboy has warned against underestimating the threat posed by the AFL Women’s league in the newly-competitive national environment, while staying cautiously optimistic that the power play orchestrated by the state associations will not derail netball’s recent progress.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the divisive internal politics that have forced the involuntary departures of Corboy and former Australian captain Kathryn Harby-Williams from the board, the experienced businesswoman said governance reforms being driven by the Australian Sports Commission remained of critical importance.
“It’s very disappointing that this has played out over the last week, but maybe it’s a shake-up that was needed and it has shone the light on some things that need to be addressed in the sport,” Corboy told Fairfax Media. “Netball has had this great year and this little glitch that’s become public won’t detract from that.”
Corboy is supporting Paolina Hunt’s bid for re-election as chair at Friday’s board meeting – the first since last week’s AGM expanded the directorial power base of the state bodies led by chief agitators Netball Queensland and Netball NSW. She also urged the member organisations to take a broader view.
“I think there’s still a lack of understanding about the competitive environment in which netball is now operating,” Corboy said. “In fact one of the member organisation CEOs said to me ‘Well, we’re not really worried about AFL at all’, and I think that’s a demonstration that the MOs continue to see the world from their own state’s position and at times find it difficult to see the big picture. And of course Netball Australia is dealing with the big picture.”
Corboy, who succeeded long-time chair Noeleen Dix last April, said the genesis of the unrest came through the stalling of ASC-mandated constitutional reforms in early 2016, with the state associations deferring moves to abolish the role of president – now held by WA’s Robert Shaw – and angered by the drawn-out negotiations for a Super Netball broadcast deal.
“That put pressure on the organisations to be prepared for this year, and I think that’s where a lot of the tensions arose,” Corboy said, admitting the states’ full list of “gripes” included the admission of football club-owned teams, and even the competition’s fixture. “And when some personality issues came into it, that mix just created an environment where the Netball Australia board wasn’t able to prosecute its agenda in the way that we wanted to, and for me to prosecute my agenda as chair, because we were operating in that very tense – and, in fact, litigious – environment. There was a lot of correspondence between lawyers that was started by the member organisations.”
The states having rebuffed attempts to mediate, while citing dissatisfaction with Corboy’s leadership style, the former MCG Trustee stood down as chair last month. In a coup the Australian Netball Players’ Association condemned as “an inexcusable lack of judgment that only serves to satisfy self-interest”, she was then removed from her board role at a special general meeting without explanation or any suggestion she had breached her director’s duties.
Calling for the implementation of a unitary administration model that would abolish the state associations and redirect financial and personnel resources to the athletes, and keen to correct apparent misconceptions about netball’s funding arrangements and strategic priorities, Corboy believes the next 12 months will be “critical” to the sport’s future.
“We’ll see who is elected as chair on Friday and I think that will also be an indicator,” said Corboy, who hopes new chief executive Marne Fechner will be given the necessary board support to build on revenue, audience and participation growth that has accompanied the start of Super Netball. “I think that what’s lost in all of this is that netball has had one our best years ever … in the most competitive sports environment ever.”
Final piece of jigsaw sells AUCTION: The Municipal building on the corner of Hunter and Market Streets will go under the hammer on Thursday. It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
AUCTION: The Municipal building on the corner of Hunter and Market Streets will go under the hammer on Thursday. It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
152 Hunter Street, left, is one of two buildings that will not be included in the redevelopment of Hunter Street mall by Iris Capital.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsA building in pole position to reap the benefits of the $500 million Hunter Street mall redevelopment will go under the hammer on Thursday.
The heritage-listed Municipal building,facing the site of the old Queens Wharf rail bridge, will be auctioned by Colliers International.
It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
The building at 164 Hunter Street originally formed part of the overall mall site owned by Urbangrowth and the GPT Group.
However during the master planning process, two buildings –the Municipal building and a neighbouring building at 152 Hunter Street –were deemedsurplus to needs. They were broken off and sold to a private buyer who is offloading the former.
Colliers International executive Michael Chapman said it was an opportunity for a buyer to capitalise onthe investment in the precinct.
“It is directly opposite the development owned by Iris Capital, which will see 600-700 units delivered over between three and five years,” he said.“Then there will be the high street retail on the ground floor.”
The building is zoned mixed-use andhas a 20 metre height limit.A week before the auction, Mr Chapman hadfielded 67 inquiries.
“We’ve had commercial investors, owner-occupiers, student accommodation operatorsand residential developers interested,” hesaid.
“Wehad someone looking at putting an additional floor on the building to create a penthouse while leasing the balance of the space.”
HALF A MILLION FOR DARK HORSEA building housing one of Wickham’s most popular coffee haunts has changed hands for $555,000.
The strata unit on Greenway Street is currently split into two tenancies, with the Dark Horse Espresso cafe in the front tenancy and the rear owner-occupied by a hairdressing salon.
Another hairdressing firm has purchased the building and plans to occupy the salon once the lease-back term of the current owners ends. The cafe will stay on in the front tenancy.
“This completes a run of four properties in a row we have sold in this Greenway Street complex,” said agent Jason Morris of Raine and Horne Commercial.
“We believe it’sbeen popular for its funky village-type feel and proximity to the CBD and the harbour.”
Greenway Street, Wickham
Wrong Location: Type in Sydney to Newcastle on Google Maps and you get this. Oh Google, what have you done?
You trawl through our search history to sell us things, pay stuff-all tax, manipulate search results and suck the blood out of writers andmusicians.
Now you’re sending people who want to get from Sydney to Newcastle to the wrong place.
Damn you Google! Your map to Newcastle is sending people to Lake Macquarie TweetFacebook Having a laugh at Google. +6MORE GALLERIES
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappReader Rod alerted us to this shocking error.
“Type in ‘Sydney to Newcastle’ in Google Maps and see what happens,” Rod said.
We followed his instructions. It wasn’t pretty.
Instead of directing us to Newcastle CBD, the map sent us to the back streets of Hillsborough in Lake Macquarie, of all places.
Google, how could you do this? We thought your maps were on the money.
“I have complained to Google many times and they haven’t fixed anything yet,” Rod said.
We admit that Google’s search engine is pretty good.
But come on. Surely they can sort this out. We can’t explain why they won’t fix this.
After all, their motto is supposed to be “Don’t be evil”.
The only explanation we have isthey’re too busy trying to invent immortality. We’re not joking. They really do want that.
History of Wallsend
The opening of West Wallsend colliery in 1888, with the iconic poppet head.
We love cool names. How’s this one: Cath Chegwidden.
Cath is writing and researching a book about the history of Wallsend.
Cath, like a lot of writers, doesn’t mind a metaphor.
“This task has become like the coal mines on which the community is founded,” she said.
“Every now and then, I’m uncovering a treasure.”
Wouldn’t that be more like a diamond mine? We suppose coal is a treasure.
They don’t call it black gold for nothing. Or is that oil?
Cath is on the hunt for stories about the town,relating to family histories, tragic and uplifting events, funny anecdotes, sporting moments and festivals.
She’s alsointerested in the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church,which was “an integral part of this community for 150 years”.
Cath has already devotedmonths to digging through archives.
“I’d like to create a fascinating page-turner about Wallsend itself over the last 150 years,” she says.
That’s quite a task, Cath. But we reckon you’re up to it.
Anyone with a story or photographs about Wallsend, can contact Cath on 4954-6914.
It’s Save the Frogs Day on Saturday. Many are endangered. Don’t let them croak.
We’ve got a joke for you. What’s black and white and green? A frog sitting on a newspaper.
One more. We can’t help it. What do you say to a hitchhiking frog? Hop in.
Last one, we promise. What happened to the frog’s car when his parking meter expired? It got toad.
Jokes aside,the future of frogs isn’t funny. That’s why it’s Save the Frogs Day on Saturday. Kevin McDonald, a retired senior lecturer in environmental scienceat the University of Newcastle, loves frogs.
Kevin noted thatattempts have been made to save the green and gold bell frog from extinction in the Hunter.
And hewas chuffed about the recent discovery of a new frog species in Port Stephens, namedMahony’s toadlet.
The frog was discovered by University of Newcastle biologist Simon Clulow, who named it after his mentor andfrog expert, Professor Michael Mahony.
Kevin said frogs were indicators of “the health of our local wetlands”.
“Protect them lest they croak it!”, he said.
Hey, that’s a good one.
Up to 50 Australians with mental illness or concerning behaviour are being assessed for a new police unit targeting would-be lone wolf extremists before they commit a terrorist act.
The fixated persons investigations unit, unveiled on Wednesday, is one of newly appointed NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s first initiatives.
Comprising 17 detectives and government mental health workers, it will perform risk assessments on so-called lone actors or unstable people who are seemingly fixated on issues or individuals but are not considered persons of interest for counter-terrorism police.
“We know these people aren’t active counter-terrorism targets yet they are capable of acts of terrorism,” Mr Fuller said. “[We] believe we need to move quickly to close this gap.”
People could be referred to the unit by family, neighbours, counter-terrorism authorities or local police, who often know of concerning locals but are limited in how they can deal with them.
The unit might respond by sending an officer to speak to the person, drawing up a mental health plan or forwarding the case to the counter-terrorism unit.
“I’m not suggesting that, if you call, we’re going to kick your door down,” Mr Fuller said.
“What I do want to give is give the community a pathway to contact someone if they’ve got concerns about a family member, a friend or a neighbour because at the moment people don’t see them as terrorists but they are committing terrorist activities.”
Mr Fuller said about 50 people were being assessed for the unit.
Among them are Joseph Mekhael, a DJ arrested on Anzac Day for shouting anti-war slogans during the minute’s silence in Martin Place.
On his Facebook page, he claims to lead the “Save The World Army” and calls on followers to “have the courage to stand up against those who are enslaving the human race!”
Lindt Cafe gunman Man Monis would also fit the unit’s brief as would John Caddle, a mentally ill man who drove his car through a Wollongong mall in February in a mock terrorist act that he hoped would prove other terrorist events were “fake news”.
Monis was a long-standing public nuisance who taunted politicians and bombarded families of Diggers with anti-war letters, but counter-terrorism police had closed his case file.
Mr Fuller said the metropolitan robbery unit would be disbanded and its detectives, who have 10 years’ experience in “profiling” people, would start work on Monday.
He acknowledged that the link between mental health and Islamic State-inspired attacks was contentious and said the initiative was not intended to excuse or play down violent acts.
Muslim youth worker Kuranda Seyit, director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations, feared the unit would end up mining health professionals for any Muslim mental health patients.
“We need to carefully consider where we’re going with this….because there is the danger of stigmatising not just people with mental illness but also Muslims,” he said.
The unit is modelled on the Fixated Threat Assessment Centres in Britain and Queensland that have a joint police-mental health approach.
Police Minister Troy Grant said it also built on ideas from the FBI’s bystander work, which recognises that, in the aftermath of an incident, it often emerges that somebody knew or saw something but didn’t have the understanding or the means to report it.
Mr Fuller denied it was an attempt to pre-empt negative findings from the Lindt Cafe inquest.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the initiative would struggle to succeed because trust had not been established.
“The missing link in the NSW Police Force’s terrorism response is the connection with vulnerable communities; it’s not a resourcing issue but a cultural one,” he said. “The spate of highly armed and high visibility police raids in western Sydney that end with televised arrests of members of the Muslim community destroy hard-fought links with the community.”
FIXATED PERSONS: The type of people the new police unit wants to look at
Ihsas Khan, 23: Years of odd behaviour, including cutting down Australian flags on a neighbour’s home, culminated in the alleged Islamic State-inspired stabbing of neighbour Wayne Greenhalgh.
A 18-year-old man from Narwee: Arrested in the Opera House forecourt last year allegedly carrying canisters of brake fluid on the “instructions of Islamic State”. He has an intellectual disability but was charged after his behaviour escalated.
Alo-Bridget Namoa, 19: Allegedly wanted to do an “Islamic Bonnie and Clyde” with her husband but suffers schizophrenia and hallucinations and became obsessed with watching beheading videos, a court heard.
A 17-year-old boy from The Oaks: Allegedly threatened to carry out a mass stabbing in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Charges downgraded after severe mental health and developmental issues emerged.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Newcastle Jets midfielder Mateo Poljak. Picture: Getty Images
JETS midfielder Mateo Poljak has lived in Australia for five years. He met and married wife, Katarina, here. His six-month-old daughter, Mia, is an Aussie. Newcastle has become home.
But the 27-year-old Croatian national is faced with the prospect of moving his young family overseas to continue his career.
Poljak applied for Australian citizenship in October. He was listed as a “priority process”. Seven months on, he is still waiting.
Until naturalised, Poljak is classed as a visa player in the A-League. Each club is permitted five visa players.If the status quo remains, it appears unlikely that the veteran of116 A-Leaguegames will be re-signed at the Jets.His chances of picking up a contract elsewhere are limited.
“I am obviously anxious about that,” Poljak said.“Something like that (citizenship) would give me a lot of options. It opens doors.Being a priority process, you would think it would be done by now. It can take up to one year.It is not going to happen in time for next season.”
Poljak’smost recent contact with the immigration department was on Friday. It took 14 calls to get though and he was 65thin the queue.
“Everything is out of my control,” he said.
“There is not one more piece of paper, piece of evidence, that I can provide to the department of immigration to speed up the process.I am already a priority process. I am literally on hold.”
Poljak is one of 10 players off contract at the Jets, whose fate will be determined by the new coach.
Ernie Merrick is the front-runner for the position which will be finalised after owner Martin Lee conducts a final round of interviews in China on Tuesday.
“At the moment I do not have a clear picture on where I will be or where we will be,” he said.“We have a great bunch of boys here and the spirit is very strong.Having a six-month-old daughter, the best thing and easiest thing for us would be to stay.”
An industrious midfielder,Poljak joined Western Sydney for their inaugural campaign in 2012-13. He played 66 games for Wanderers, helping steer themto the minor premiership in year one and the Asian Champions League in 2014.
He signed withNewcastle for the 2015-16 season, was installed vice captain and startedall bar one game. However, this season he has not been an automatic selection.
Turning 28 next month, theDinamo Zagreb productbelieves he can still make an impact in the A-League.
“I feelbeing here for five years, I know the league and I know my teammates and I know the other teams as well,” he said.“From the start of a career as a professional, you know you are going to be faced with a lot of challenges. There are so many people out there ready to take your spot. Me being a foreigner or not. I don’t think that will decide my future.”
If unsuccessful in securing an A-League contract, he will switch focus to overseas.
“If I have to try somewhere else, then get back,I would rather do that than play locally (semi professional),” he said. “I have come so far from my country, from my family, for one purpose –to play football.I am a fighter. I am sure something will come up.”