Monthly archive for ‘ March, 2019 ’

IOC calls on Russia to explain its anti-gay law

11th March 2019 | Closed

The International Olympic Committee want clarification of how the law will be applied, despite having received assurances from Games organisers, Rogge said.

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Russia, hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, passed the law in June.

The ban has led some to call for a boycott of the Sochi Games. U.S. President Barack Obama has voiced his concern while Puerto Rican IOC presidential candidate Richard Carrion has spoken strongly against the legislation.

At a news conference in Moscow following a meeting between the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council and the executive board of the IOC, and ahead of the start of the world athletics championships in the Russian capital on Saturday, Rogge said his body needed clarification over the English translation of the law.

“We have received all reassurances emanating from Mr Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of the organisation of the Games in Sochi. We asked for written confirmation of these reassurances,” said Rogge, who was sitting alongside IAAF president Lamine Diack in the conference hall of the Radisson Royal hotel.

“We received them yesterday, we have studied it this morning but there are still uncertainties and we have decided to ask for more clarification as of today. So we are waiting for this clarification before having final judgement on these reassurances.”

CRITICS OF THE LAW

On Thursday, Russia’s sports minister Vitali Mutko and Diack were unconcerned about the law’s potential impact on the world championships which run from August 10-18.

Mutko told a news conference that “all the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected… but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in.”

Asked what would happen if an athlete protested against the law during the Sochi Games, Rogge said: “This is definitely something (that) has to be considered case by case so I cannot give you a generic answer.”

Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals. President Vladimir Putin also banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

Asked what the IOC specifically needed to clarify on the new legislation, Rogge replied: “We are not clear about the English translation of the Russian law and we want clarification of this translation to be able to understand what has been communicated to us.

“This is about a couple of paragraphs – we don’t understand all the details because of probably a difficulty in translation. We don’t think it is a fundamental issue, more of a translation issue.”

Belgian Rogge, who steps down from the IOC presidency in September after 12 years in charge, said the Olympic charter was very clear.

“It says sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.

“The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination. Our position is very clear but as we don’t have all (the) full details of a good comprehension of the law we cannot make any comment on that.”

Putin has made Sochi a top priority for Russia to help its image abroad by propagating it as a modern state with top-notch infrastructure.

But the latest controversy only adds to criticism over cost overruns and accusations of widespread corruption marring the February 7-23 Games.

(Editing by: Ossian Shine)


Happy Hansen hits out at McCaw, Cruden doubters

11th March 2019 | Closed

Before addressing the inevitable questions about how to manage complacency after such a thumping victory to open their Rugby Championship title defence, the former Wales coach felt the need to make a few points to the news conference.

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Firstly, he addressed those who had questioned his wisdom in starting openside flanker McCaw so soon after the All Blacks captain had returned from a six-month sabbatical.

Although not perhaps at his very best, the 32-year-old played 72 minutes, scored his 20th test try and was the usual thorn in the side of the Australians at the breakdown.

“For Richie to come back after having the break and everyone doubting him, to get through the 70 minutes like he did just shows the character of the bloke once again, so hopefully there won’t be any more doubters,” he said.

He followed up by heaping praise on flyhalf Cruden, who scored a try and 13 points from the kicking tee but most importantly ran the All Blacks attack with aplomb in place of the injured Dan Carter.

“People have questioned Aaron Cruden at times at this level and I think he showed tonight that he’s a true international player of world class ability and he led the team very well,” Hansen said.

Then it was back to the World Cup winning veterans with dreadlocked centre Ma’a Nonu receiving the plaudits after a typically rampaging performance in midfield in his 80th test.

“Ma’a Nonu struggled all week with an ankle injury and probably played one of his better games for the All Blacks and he’s had some good ones,” said Hansen.

The final words of Hansen’s statement were reserved for a player all but forced upon him by the late withdrawal of blindside flanker Liam Messum through injury – Steven Luatua.

“Last but not least, a young man who came into the side with five minutes to go at training on Thursday and played his first full international,” Hansen said.

“I thought Steven Luatua was quite outstanding in his performance.”

McCaw, who gave up a couple of early penalties and fumbled one pass early in his 117th test, said he had enjoyed being back in international rugby after missing the three-match series against France in June.

“I was just excited to be out there and run around,” he said.

“The first 20 minutes I was a bit over-eager at times but I settled into it. But it was good fun to be involved again.”

Hansen said the All Blacks had injury concerns over lock Luke Romano (groin) and Cruden (knee) and that Messum would not be fit for the return test against Australia in Wellington next weekend.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)


Call for probe into Christmas Island riot claims

11th March 2019 | Closed

The federal opposition is calling for further investigation into an allegation that the Australian Federal Police withdrew a riot squad from Christmas Island just before riots in 2011, despite knowing that an explosive situation was developing at the island’s detention centre.

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A parliamentary committee into the riots found the severity of the violence was made worse by the policy and training deficiencies of the centre’s private security and by the AFP’s decision to withdraw specially-trained officers in late 2010.

 

It’s now being claimed that the AFP made a deliberate decision to leave Christmas Island, in a bid to highlight security failings at the centre.

 

Amanda Cavill reports.

 

The allegation against the Australian Federal Police comes from one of its own officers, who has been stood down from operational duty and is currently on unpaid leave.

 

Sergeant Brendan Thomson has told the ABC he was on Christmas Island as team leader of the AFP’s Operational Response Group, a specialist group trained to deal with violent riots.

He says he passed on repeated warnings to his bosses about trouble brewing in the detention centre.

 

“I think the AFP were, were frustrated with failures to address the public or the management issue. I think that it’s got to the point where they said they wanted to manufacture a situation that drew attention to those failings.”

 

Sergeant Thomson says he also emailed AFP Commissioner Tony Negus about his concerns but he and his team were withdrawn from the island in November 2010 anyway.

 

He says he believes the decision to withdraw was made at least partly to expose security failings of the private company managing the detention centre, Serco.

 

AFP Deputy Commissioner Peter Drennan says the claims are wrong.

 

“There is no way the AFP would make an operational decision which would emperil the safety of the community including people in detention or its officers. I mean that’s just not what the AFP does.”

 

The AFP has also rejected claims its officers later misled a parliamentary committee that examined the riots.

 

Sergeant Thomson says he finds that strange.

 

“I was there. I mean I know there’s intelligence reports that went through specifically around improvised weapons. My report to the Commissioner clearly identified issues with the CCTV and with containment and my reporting, not only mine but the police board commanders up to the complete withdrawal had all identified those issues into the AFP. So I find it very difficult to understand how the AFP could evidence before the Parliament and vicariously us, the public, that they had no knowledge of those significant risk factors.”

But Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the allegations made by Sergeatn Thomson should be looked into.

 

“Well I think what has been raised by the police officer are very serious allegations. These were matter that were broadly raised in the inquiry in terms of how the decisions were taken despite the warnings about the need to keep police officers there off the island. But his allegations are now public. I think goes further than that. Which this was done deliberatly to expose the weaknesses with DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) on Christmas Island. Now I do think that warrants further investigation whether that was a deliberate startegy.”

 

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was a member of the committee which looked into the 2011 riots.

 

Senator Hanson-Young says the issues raised by Sergeant Thomson are extremely disturbing.

 

She says the Senate will have to decide if it will refer them to the powerful privelages committee for further action.

 

“It is now up to the Senate if there was to be any recourse to the allegations that the committee was misled. We will consider the evidence. We will consider whether a reference to the senate privileges committee is warranted and we’ll go from there.”

 

Sergeant Thomson says he has told the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions the parliamentary committee was misled by the AFP.

He also says he secretly recorded a meeting he and another officer had with Assistant Commissioner Frank Prendergast where they discussed the withdrawal before the riots and that the situation was being manufactured.

 


Domino’s buys a slice of Japanese market

11th March 2019 | Closed

Australian-listed pizza company Domino’s will spend more than $235 million to take a slice of the Japanese fast food market.

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Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (DPE) has agreed to buy a 75 per cent stake in Domino’s Pizza Japan from Bain Capital Domino Hong Kong for 12 billion yen ($A135.65 million).

The company will also provide nine billion yen ($A101.74 million) of new debt funding.

The move came as Domino’s announced a net profit of $28.657 million for the 2012/13 financial year, an increase of more than six per cent.

Domino’s chief executive Don Meij said the move into Japan would expand the company’s network and provide it with further growth opportunities.

“The acquisition represents an exciting opportunity to leverage our proven track record of successfully growing the Domino’s network to deliver shareholder value,” he said.

“Japan is a strategic location for DPE’s future expansion, providing access to a large market which is well suited to significant new store roll-outs and the relocation of stores to higher traffic locations with improved image and formats.”

Domino’s will fund the move by selling additional shares in the company to investors.

The company’s shares have been placed in a trading halt until Friday following the takeover announcement.

IG market strategist Evan Lucas said the takeover was a good move for Domino’s.

“With growth a major key for the company’s future earnings, the announcement of the acquisition of DPJ Holdings is another springboard into a growing market and a step in the right direction,” he said.

Mr Meij said the roll out of new products contributed to its 2012/13 result.

“Our solid performance for the 2013 full year is the result of product innovation, rolling out new products including the biggest product launch in 20 years with the addition of our new Chefs Best range,” he said.

He said the company expects to lift earnings by 15 per cent in the 2013/14 financial year and open between 70 and 80 new stores globally during that time.


Labor reels from ICAC findings

11th March 2019 | Closed

The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption has found two former high-profile Labor MPs acted corruptly and should be referred for possible criminal charges.

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ICAC Commissioner David Ipp has advised the Department of Public Prosecutions that former state government ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald be considered for possible prosecution over their involvement in the tender process for a coal mine licence in the NSW Hunter Valley.

 

The ICAC Commissioner has also found Mr Obeid’s son, Moses, engaged in corrupt conduct over a car for former Labor minister Eric Roozendaal.

 

But the Commissioner has found Mr Roozendaal did not act corruptly.

 

After the largest corruption investigation in New South Wales’ history, ICAC Commissioner David Ipp has handed down three reports into allegations against former Mining Minister Ian Macdonald, Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid and former Treasurer Eric Roozendaal.

 

Mr Ipp has recommended Mr Macdonald, Mr Obeid and his son Moses be considered by the DPP for possible prosecution over their involvement in the tender process in 2008 for a coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

 

Mr Macdonald was accused of rigging the tender process in granting a coal mining exploration licence on land owned by Mr Obeid’s family at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley.

 

Mr Obeid and his family were accused of making 30 million dollars from the granting of the exploration licence.

 

The Obeids were also accused of disguising their 25 per cent stake in Cascade Coal which won the right to explore for coal at Mount Penny.

 

Eddie and Moses Obeid have strongly denied the findings in the ICAC report and say they intend to pursue the matter in court.

 

NSW Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson says he believes Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald should be prosecuted over their alleged misconduct.

 

He says they have already been expelled from the Labor Party.

 

However Mr Robertson believes the NSW coalition Government should go further and follow the lead of the Queensland government which set up a special prosecutor to investigate political corruption in the 1980s.

 

“We should see a special prosecutor put in place. That was also put in place in Queensland when the Fitzgerald Inquiry concluded into the Bjelke-Petersen government- a special prosecutor was put in place and I want to ensure that these individuals are tried, I want to ensure that the proper resources are put in place and I’m calling for a special prosecutor because we know the DPP is already over-stretched.”

 

ICAC Commissioner David Ipp also found Mr Macdonald pocketed rewards for facilitating meetings with energy executives when he was Energy Minister.

 

Mr Ipp said Mr Macdonald used his ministerial influence on a number of occasions to benefit businessman Ron Medich.

 

The corruption commission found Mr Macdonald was rewarded with the services of a prostitute called Tiffanie, arranged by ex boxer Lucky Gatellari.

 

ICAC has rcommended the DPP consider Mr Macdonald for the offence of corruptly receiving a benefit from Mr Medich and Mr Gatellari as a reward for favours.

 

It said he should also be considered for the charge of misconduct in public office.

 

However ICAC has not singled out former Treasurer Eric Roozendaal with an adverse finding.

 

He denied allegations that Mr Obeid’s family gave him a car worth over $44,000 at a discount of $10,000 in 2007, in return for favours.

 

ICAC found there was insufficient evidence to show Mr Roozendaal knew of arrangements that led to him benefiting from the discounted car.

 

The release of the ICAC reports come as NSW Labor continues to struggle in opinion polls ag reports #ainst the coalition led by Barry O’Farrell which won power in a landslide victory in 2011.

 

But it could also have implications for Labor at a federal level.

 

Shortly before Commissioner Ipp delivered his findings, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved to distance himself from the former NSW Labor ministers.

 

“The Australian Government welcomes the ICAC report. We’ve been disgusted, I’ve been disgusted by what I’ve seen before ICAC and anyone responsible for corrupt behaviour should face the full force of the law.”

 

But Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott believes the reports reflect badly on Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party as a whole.

 

“We hear Mr Rudd saying that he is disgusted by corruption, but Mr Rudd is only Prime Minister because the NSW Labor Party put him there. And if he ever seriously tackles the rottenness at the heart of the NSW Labor Party, he will be dealt with by the warlords of Sussex Street* again, as he was back in June of 2010.”

 

ICAC Commissioner David Ipp is expected to release another report over coming months into another corruption inquiry involving former minister Ian Macdonald.

 

Operation Acacia has been examining a coal exploration licence granted by Mr Macdonald to a company run by ex-union boss John Maitland and entrepreneurs.

 

Mr Ipp will also consider whether the NSW Government should amend mining laws and codes of conduct for MPs and ministers.