Month: January 2019

No limit on offshore detention: Shorten

Bill Shorten says a Labor government wouldn’t impose time limits on offshore immigration detention.Bill Shorten has confirmed a future Labor government won’t place any time limits on how long asylum seekers can be held on Manus Island and Nauru.
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Labor is preparing to debate offshore detention at its national conference in July, with a draft party platform calling on a Shorten government to “strive to ensure (detention) is for no longer than 90 days”.

Asked whether the proposal would extend to asylum seekers detained offshore, the Labor leader told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday: “The answer to that is no.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested supporting such a limit would be “rolling out the welcome mat to the people smugglers”.

Mr Shorten insisted his party would not “start the boats again” or put people smugglers back into business.

However, he argued the Turnbull government must work harder to ensure people are not placed in indefinite detention.

“The more positive approach we would adopt is putting more energy into resettlement,” Mr Shorten said.

Australian Associated Press

What could a Newcastle container terminal mean for these local industries?

GROWTH STORY: Weathertex operations and engineering manager Jason Marsh at the company’s Heatherbrae factory. Picture: Simone De Peak EACH week, theWeathertex manufacturing plant at Heatherbrae sends up tofour double-size containers full of its hardwood-basedwall-cladding products bysemi-trailer to Port Botany.
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Executive chairman Paul Michael says the company, which exports about 20 per cent of its product, would love to ship its containers out of Newcastle, and is supporting the Port of Newcastle’s push to have a container terminal established on the former steelworks site.

About 10 kilometres away, the giant Tomago Aluminium smelter brings inabout 1.1 million tonnes of its main raw material, alumina, through the Port of Newcastle each year.

About 60,000 tonnes of aluminium –or about 10 per cent of its output –heads the other way out past Nobbysas bulk cargo.

But most of Tomago’soutput, or about 500,000 tonnes a year, is exportedthrough Botany, leaving the smelter on freight trains at the rate of about 400 containers a week.

Tomago chief executive Matt Howellsays the companyis “doing the sums” on what a Newcastle container terminal would do for the smelter, saying “we can see the sense and logic” in the proposal.

“The Hunter has the industrial presence to support a container terminal,” Mr Howell said. “Obviously there are no concrete plans as yet but we like the idea.”

With a Newcastle container terminal back on the political agenda, Weathertex and Tomago are just two of the Hunter businesses who see benefits in shipping containers out of Newcastle.

Mr Michael says as well as a saving in trucking costs, growing congestion made planning truck movements in and out of Sydney was becoming increasingly difficult.

The Port of Newcastle has highlighted transport costs and congestion in recent documents, including a submission to the NSW government’s draft freight and ports plan, which closed for consultation in March.


Port owner swings in behind call for container terminalTwo operators interested in NewcastleSydney interest in Newcastle terminalThe NSW opposition is supporting the Newcastle push, with Labor leader Luke Foley saying the secret container fee imposed on the port during its privatisation was stopping it from developing a container terminal.

The fee would addabout $150 a container to Newcastle’s costs.

Itmeant“a wideswathe of the state from the Hunter and the Hawkesbury to New England and the mid-North Coastwill be paying more to import and export their goods”.

“The Berejiklian government’s decision to prevent Newcastle from competing with Port Botany means imposing high transport costs on businesses for 98years,” Mr Foley said, referring to the length of the Newcastle lease.

Dubbing the fee a “port rort”, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorpsaid Hunter businesses had put the cost of road-hauling a container to Sydney at about $1500.

“This includes fuel, maintenance, vehicle booking fees, surcharges and labour,” Mr Crakanthorpsaid. “The tolls alone for travelling north from Botany are $68.19 one way. These costs would be much reduced, or avoided altogether, if a container terminal was developed in Newcastle.”

READ MORE:How the Herald broke the ‘port rort’ open in 2016

After a tour of the Weathertex plant, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said it was a “manufacturing marvel” that would benefit from a Newcastle container terminal.

Mr Michael said that after 20 years under the existing ownership, the plant had lifted output from 1.2 million square metres a year to two million square metres.

It had been running around the clock on two 12-hour shifts a day and was about to add a third shift, meaning another 15 or so jobs on top of a workforce of about 100.

The plant had capacity to run four shifts a day.

Mr Michael said the plant, built in 1939, was the only one of its kind left operating in the world.

It still made small amounts of its original product, masonite interior panelling, but its main outputwas Weathertex, made for external use in various styles.”

Masonite and Weathertex areboth made of hardwood pulp, formed into shape using high pressure steam and hydraulic presses.

Masonite is named after William H. Mason, who patented what became known as the Mason process in America in 1924.

Richmond still the team to beat: Jakovich

Career-best form of players like Jack Redden is credited for West Coast’s hot AFL season start.West Coast great Glen Jakovich is backing the Eagles to secure a top-four finish, but says it’s too early to label Sunday’s clash with Richmond as a grand final preview.
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Adam Simpson’s men have defied the gloomy pre-season predictions to be equal top of the ladder with Richmond after eight AFL rounds.

West Coast’s seven-match winning run has left tongues wagging, and their ability to beat GWS last week without key trio Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey and Jeremy McGovern also made people sit up and take notice.

West Coast’s premiership credentials will be put to the test at Optus Stadium on Sunday when they take on Richmond in the match of the round.

Richmond (also 7-1) aren’t showing any signs of a premiership hangover this season, and Jakovich says the Tigers are still clearly the team to beat.

But West Coast are now well placed to mount a premiership challenge following their hot start.

In their remaining 14 fixtures this year, the Eagles only take on six sides who are currently sitting inside the top eight.

Jakovich said West Coast have become a quicker and more skilful side this season, and are benefiting from the career-best form of players like Jack Redden, Jack Darling, and Dom Sheed.

But he said it was too early to call Sunday’s clash a grand final preview.

“No, I think there’s going to be many more of these challenges, not only for West Coast, but also Richmond, Geelong, GWS, and Sydney,” Jakovich said.

“There’s many contenders this year. But well done to West Coast for being in the position they’re in.

“If they can go to the break at say 8-2, then top-four has to be a realistic ambition for them.”

Jakovich said the return of ruck duo Scott Lycett and Nic Naitanui had been a critical part of West Coast’s success.

And their greater variety in attack has also been a big weapon.

“Josh Kennedy used to be the forward line. Now he’s not the forward line, he’s part of the forward line,” Jakovich said.

“A bloke who has really stood up and is in All-Australian contention is Jack Darling. And Mark LeCras has booted 15 goals.

“Their captain Shannon Hurn has been sensational in defence, and Brad Sheppard has gotten better again.”

Naitanui will return from suspension against the Tigers, while Lewis Jetta (calf), McGovern (calf), and Dom Sheed (foot) could also be back.

The hype surrounding Sunday’s blockbuster could result in a new record crowd for an AFL match in WA.

The current record stands at 56,521 for the round-six western derby, which was a Fremantle home game.

The capacity of Optus Stadium is around 60,000.

Australian Associated Press

Labor MP cleared to contest by-election

Susan Lamb is free to contest the federal by-election in the Queensland seat of Longman after receiving confirmation from the UK Home Office her British citizenship has been renounced.
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The former Labor MP was forced to quit parliament last week after being snared in the dual-citizenship crisis.

“Susan Lamb is eligible beyond any doubt to run in the by-election of Longman and she will be an excellent flag-bearer,” Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Ms Lamb faces a tough contest to regain the seat, which she held with a wafer-thin margin of 0.8 per cent.

“What is critical in Longman is not Labor or Liberal but what sort of country we want to be,” Mr Shorten said.

Ms Lamb, along with fellow Labor MPs Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie, resigned last week following the High Court ruling ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher ineligible.

Labor frontbencher Tim Hammond quit for family reasons, triggering a total of five by-elections.

Mr Shorten admitted he was surprised Speaker Tony Smith was still to announce a date for the contests.

“We want to move on with it,” the Labor leader said.

In February, Ms Lamb tearfully revealed in parliament she could not prove her UK citizenship had been renounced because her mother left the family when she was six.

The Home Office agreed to Labor’s request to process the renunciation without her parents’ marriage certificate, paving the way for her to stand in the by-election.

Liberal frontbencher Michaelia Cash said Ms Lamb was never entitled to sit in parliament and Mr Shorten had chosen to ignore the issue.

“The Australian people cannot believe a word that comes out of Bill Shorten’s mouth,” she told reporters in Adelaide.

Australian Associated Press

Manly confirm Trent Hodkinson NRL return

Trent Hodkinson’s NRL return to Manly as the answer to their five-eighth woes is complete, with the Sea Eagles signing him until the end of 2019.
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A day after being released by Cronulla, Hodkinson had his Sea Eagles contract registered on Tuesday by the NRL, freeing him to face Melbourne on Saturday night.

It will represent a return to the club where Hodkinson debuted in 2010. He had been then-coach Des Hasler’s preferred halfback choice over Daly Cherry-Evans when Matt Orford left the club.

He’s since won a State of Origin series for NSW and played for Canterbury and Newcastle, before heading to the Sharks last summer over the salary-cap clouded Sea Eagles.

Hodkinson was named on the bench for the clash with the Storm, with Dylan Walker still in the No.6 jersey. But if he fits in at training this week he could still potentially start at five-eighth.

Regardless, the shift means he is likely to fill injured five-eighth Lachlan Croker’s jersey for the rest of the season once he establishes himself, giving Cherry-Evans a much needed experienced halves partner.

“Cherry’s a great talent,” Hodkinson said.

“He has been for a long time and his stronger attribute is running.

“Hopefully, I can alleviate some pressure from Cherry and use my organisational skills to help him out, so he can be comfortable in his own game and go back to what he does best which is running.”

Hodkinson’s acquisition will come as a welcome relief to coach Trent Barrett, with the injury crisis deepening at the club.

Young forward Taniela Paseka will join six others in Manly’s casualty ward for at least the next four weeks. Scans have revealed a high ankle sprain from Saturday’s win over Brisbane.

“Trent’s experience and game management will be of enormous value to us,” Barrett said.

“As a person, Trent is also highly respected for the wonderful amount of work he does in the community, so he will bring plenty to the club on and off the field.

“This is a great signing for Manly.”

Australian Associated Press