Matt Canavan speaking at Hunter Coal Festival in April

INDUSTRY ADVOCATE: Queensland National Party Senator Matt Canavan in question time late last year in parliament. FEDERAL Resources Minister Matt Canavan andGlencore executive Peter Freyberg are theguest speakers at a mining leaders’ lunch on the first day of this year’sHunter Coal Festival.
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Senator Canavan –one of a number of federal parliamentarians caught up in the dual citizenship saga –has maintained his support for the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland at a time when other politicians have had a change of heart.

Singleton Business Chamber president Sue Gilroy said the mining leaders’ lunch at Club Singleton had attracted two powerful speakers.

“Senator Canavan is a senior and very important figure in the Turnbull Government,” Ms Gilroy said. “He has direct involvement in government decisions and policies and is a strong advocate for regional employment and economies.

“Likewise as head of Glencore’s global coal assets, Peter Freyberg is one of the most important men in the coal industry. His insight into the state of the coal industry – both in Australia and world-wide – should be of vital interest to anyone who has an involvement in the mining industry.”

The festival kicks off with the lunch on Friday, April 6, with a broad program of of social and mining-related events to followuntil Sunday, April 15.

Previous festivals were held in 2015 and 2016 and Ms Gilroy said this year’s program would be a “celebration of the co-existence between community and the mining industry” under the banner of“community + co-existence + innovation + education”.

Ms Gilroy said the social side of the festival included a touch football competition, a community day and street parade in Singleton on Saturday, April 7, followed the next day by a mountain bike race –the Kurri Coalface Pedal –to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter.

On the second weekend, Singleton Civic Precinct will play host to the Singleton Firelight Festival on Saturday, April 14, with a charity golf day at Singleton Golf Club on Sunday, April 15.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee will speak at industry breakfasts in Singleton onMonday, April 9, and at Muswellbrook the following day.

Mr Galilee applauded the festival on Tuesday, saying it was “a fantastic community event that we are proud to support”.

“The Hunter coal industry has been doing well over the last twelve months with more local activity and more jobs, so it’s a good time to celebrate and support everyone in our local mining industry and the contribution they make to the Hunter and to NSW,” Mr Galilee said.

Full details are available at the festival website.

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Vic man denies shooting teens in feud

Zakaria Zaatiti (left) is accused of shooting two teenagers in Melbourne.A witness recounted how his mate was shot in the legs by a hooded and bearded assailant wielding a “cowboy” gun after he was followed by a car, a Melbourne court has heard.
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Zakaria Zaatiti, 23, is accused of shooting Suhayl Omran, 19, and a 16-year-old at Roxburgh Park on August 11 as part of an ongoing family feud.

Mr Omran told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday a car followed him and his friends before they were attacked, and at one stage rammed their vehicle.

He said he had a phone conversation with Zaatiti’s cousin Omar Zaatiti before the shooting, demanding $4000 over a family dispute.

The teenager became agitated during cross-examination from Zakaria Zaatiti’s lawyer Shaun Ginsbourg, saying his questions were “stupid”.

He said he was concerned when he realised he and his friends were being followed.

“I was worried. Why wouldn’t I be worried if a car is following me?” he said.

In his statement to police, Mr Omran said he heard three or four shots and that he started “bleeding out” before being collected by an ambulance.

“I don’t want to say who they are because I don’t want to put my family in danger,” he said of his alleged assailant.

According to court documents, one of the boys’ friends told police he was in “disbelief” when a man came towards the group armed with what looked like a revolver.

“All of a sudden I see a man with a white hoodie, and a big beard carrying a cowboy gun,” the man said in a statement.

Zaatiti faces five charges including intentionally causing serious injury, being a prohibited person possessing a firearm and handling stolen goods – a BMW M4 coupe.

The father-of-two allegedly made terrorism-related Google searches, including for “rocket propelled grenade launcher” and “Islamic State” in the days before the shooting.

It’s also claimed he visited his victims in hospital and offered them money to withdraw their police statements.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was directed to appear in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday for a directions hearing.

Australian Associated Press

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Big prospect for Garden Suburb

Big prospect for Garden Suburb A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.
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SPACE: The four-bedroom home enjoys position on 1461 square metres of land.

FLAWLESS FINISH: The home has a Ceasarstone island kitchen with a range of Miele appliances.

BUSH OUTLOOK: The residence in Prospect Road, Garden Suburb, is surrounded by nature.

VERSATILE: Expansive decks on both levels make the home perfect for relaxing or entertaining.

TRANQUIL: Spotted gum floors are a feature throughout and floor-to-ceiling glass brings the outdoors in.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

A home in Prospect Road is poised to set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

TweetFacebook Garden Suburb poised for new benchmarkA home in Prospect Road could eclipse previous sales for Garden Suburb.Garden Suburb had its first sale over $1 million last year.

Its second came last month and a near-new home in Prospect Road on a large block which has been listed for sale for the first time is expected to set a new suburb high.

Cveta Kolarovski, ofRobinson Property,sold a four-bedroomhome in Ewing Street for $1.025 million last May.

She sold a five-bedroom home in Via Rossi Close on February 2 for $1.1 million.

Read more: $1.1m ceiling for Garden Suburb

There was no doubt in her mind that47A Prospect Road would eclipse those.

Ms Kolarovskihas seen increased interest in the suburb and expects this residence will set a new benchmark for Garden Suburb.

“It’s a magnificent home and it’s a large block of land,” Ms Kolarovski said.

“I think it’s another record,it has to be. Via Rossisold for $1.1 million. This is a newer home with a bigger block of land and, the way it has been designed, it’s beautiful.

“I’ve had a strong amount of enquiry, especially from Sydney.

“A lot of professionals have discovered Garden Suburb and are moving into this area.”

Read more: $3.6 million waterfront record in Salamander Bay

The suburbexperienced strong growth in 2017.

According to Australian Property Monitors, the median sale price rose from $582,000 for 26 sales in 2016 to $750,000 for 23 sales last year for growth of 28.9 per cent.

Graeme Knight was living in Merewether when he bought a vacant block of land in Garden Suburb, nearly 1500 square metres in size.

He had a sizeable Montgomery Homes residence built there six years ago.

Read more: More million-dollar sales for Mayfield expected

“I wanted a bit more room around the house to store extra motor vehicles, so hence there is garaging for four cars,” he said.

“Wedidn’t want to be too far from the coast andwithin 10 minutes’drive we could be at Merewether.

“It was a case of we had a bushy outlook andyou’re sitting amongst the trees then 15 minutes later you’re on Merewether beach.

“You’re pretty much halfway between the lake and beach, and the other thing that was a real bonus was that you’re right on the Charlestown Bypass. You don’t have to listen to it, but you’ve got all points of the compass covered and they are all very accessible.”

Read more: Islington’s popularity continues to grow

The four-bedroom residenceis bordered by reserve on one side and has a bush outlook.

The home itself isgenerous in its proportions.

It has a split-level layout and offers a choice of three separate living spaces with alfresco retreats.

The lower level features three bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry and lounge room which opens to a covered deck.

Upstairs is the large master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite.

Open plan living and kitchen extends to a choice of alfresco dining options, and there is a separate media room.

TheCaesarstone island kitchen features Miele appliances and there are spotted gum floorboards throughout.

There is a double automatic garage with internal access as well as an additionalfreestanding double garage.

An open house inspection is scheduled for midday on March 3.

Read more: Renewed interest for inner city living

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Court told man denied abuse by George Pell

Cardinal George Pell is due to face a four-week committal hearing from Monday (file).One of Cardinal George Pell’s alleged victims denied being sexually abused, a court has heard.
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The man is dead but is central to one of the allegations in Pell’s historical sexual offences case, the defence argues.

The man made no allegation against Pell when it would have been in his interests to disclose it while arguing for a reduced sentence in a criminal proceeding, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday.

Defence barrister Robert Richter QC argued it was a critical issue, as he unsuccessfully sought material from Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) about a document prepared for the man’s sentencing.

“(He) is central to one of the allegations and it is a very serious allegation,” Mr Richter told the court.

“If the situation is that there is a report back in 2012 which is intended to mitigate penalty … for him not to have mentioned any allegation or any interference by the defendant speaks volumes in the context of this prosecution.

“It is critical … whether back in 2012 when it was entirely in (his) interests to make the allegation of sexual abuse by the cardinal that no allegation was made.”

Mr Richter said the document and issue of disclosure were relevant to the credibility of particular allegations in the case.

“There’s evidence of that person denying that there was abuse,” he said.

“But in the context of trying to mitigate sentence and giving a psychological history, the context of it is of far greater significance than saying to mother ‘no I haven’t been abused’.”

Mr Richter referred to a 2012 sentencing for the man on charges including heroin trafficking.

VLA barrister Peter Hanks QC, who opposed the defence request, noted the document was dated 2006.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled against the defence because of legal prohibitions on the production of VLA material.

The dead man is not one of the multiple complainants in the case but there is a charge relating to him.

In relation to a different person, the court has previously heard a charge involving a complainant who has died is likely to be withdrawn.

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse and denies all the allegations.

His lawyers want to be able to question some of the accusers about the timing of their complaints, with the court hearing there is overlap with disclosures made about alleged abuse by other people.

Pell’s barrister Ruth Shann said the defence should be able to ask about disclosures made about Pell or the absence of disclosure.

“We do not seek leave to ask personal or distressing questions about the contents of those allegations, but it is about disclosures.”

The issue will be considered further at another administrative update on Friday.

Pell was not in court on Tuesday.

He will be there on Monday for the start of a four-week committal hearing that will determine if he stands trial on multiple historical sexual offence charges.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop and Ballarat priest has taken leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to fight the charges.

Australian Associated Press

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Massive blaze destroys Perth Bunnings

The arson squad is investigating the cause of a blaze at a Bunnings in Perth that’s been destroyed.A massive fire has ripped through a Bunnings warehouse in Perth, collapsing the roof and setting off a series of explosions, forcing residents to evacuate as toxic smoke billowed over the area.
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The fire is estimated to have caused about $5 million in damage.

Arson squad detectives are investigating the cause of the blaze, which broke out in the northeastern suburb of Inglewood broke at about 9pm on Monday.

The inferno ignited several explosions as LPG gas cylinders burst and aerosol cans flew with large flames licking high into the night sky.

Houses along Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue were evacuated due to structural damage to the warehouse.

Residents from an adjacent group of units remain unable to go home due to a large, leaning concrete wall which is threatening collapse, a Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Other nearby residents have been told to stay indoors, turn off air conditioners and close windows to block the thick, black smoke.

“The fire in the hardware store is contained and controlled however people in an area … may still be impacted by smoke or fumes,” DFES said.

Firefighters are continuing to monitor hot spots and the pollution response team is testing air quality.

“Air monitoring in the area has found no toxins over health criteria levels however the density of smoke would be likely to cause respiratory irritation,” DFES said.

Perth firefighter Clint Kuchel told Nine Network further flare-ups could occur.

“There’s LPG cylinders, pesticides, all sorts of things in the building itself so there is potential for flare-ups,” Mr Kuchel said.

“We have also got a structural issue. There is potential for structural collapse. So across are still in defensive mode at this point of time.”

Australian Associated Press

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FFA hits Wanderers with show cause notice

The RBB were in full voice during the last regular-season Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium.The FFA has issued Western Sydney Wanderers with its fourth show cause notice in two years after fans lit flares during Sunday’s A-League derby with Sydney FC.
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The Wanderers have until 5pm AEDT on Thursday to respond to the notice.

It’s familiar territory for the club, which faced similar notices for poor fan behaviour last year and twice in 2016.

In the latest incident, the Wanderers’ active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc (RBB), lit two flares in the first 16 minutes at Allianz Stadium.

Multiple RBB members wore shirts attacking the FFA and held banners calling for FFA boss David Gallop to quit.

The club on Tuesday announced it will close its active supporter area for Sunday’s match against Perth Glory at Spotless Stadium.

“Unfortunately a small group have made this action unavoidable,” WSW chief executive John Tsatsimas said.

FFA said it would take into account the Wanderers’ initial response to the incidents and “any other measures it takes” before the governing body makes a determination.

The Wanderers have only just escaped a suspended points penalty that hung over their heads last season for flare-related indiscretions, among other offences.

In February 2016, the Wanderers were fined $50,000 and had three competition points suspended for bringing the game into disrepute after 25 flares were lit outside Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.

The suspension was due to expire in February 2017 but was extended for a further three months when more flares were lit at the Sydney derby early in the 2016-17 season.

Tsatsimas delivered a final warning last July to a “rogue element” of the RBB, threatening to shut them down should any further “illegal and highly dangerous” incidents occur.

Australian Associated Press

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Forgotten clipboard ‘ingested’ into Airbus

A Jetstar plane was forced to return to Auckland after a clipboard was sucked into the engine.A clipboard left in an engine cowling during pre-flight checks was “ingested” into a Jetstar Airbus A320 before it took off from Auckland bound for Sydney, with the plane later forced to return to New Zealand.
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An Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the October incident states Jetstar has updated its aircraft dispatch procedures after a leading hand placed his clipboard into the engine cowling to protect paperwork from wind and rain.

“While preparing the aircraft for departure the leading hand placed a clipboard in the right engine which was subsequently ingested during start-up,” the ATSB report released on Tuesday found.

“During the walk-around the dispatcher noticed the clipboard in the right engine but, believing it would be retrieved prior to the aircraft departing, the dispatcher did not notify the leading hand or supervisor of the foreign object debris as per company procedures.”

Tuesday’s report reveals the leading hand realised he was missing his clipboard as the Airbus was taxiing but thought the dispatcher had it.

When he asked her about it the pair quickly realised it was missing.

“The ground crew returned to where they were preparing the aircraft and noticed paper debris on the ground,” the ATSB report states, adding ground crew then organised for their operations area to contact the flight crew.

But 12 minutes after the leading hand first realised his mistake the plane took off.

A short time later the pilot was told the paperwork may have been sucked into the right-hand engine. The captain asked if there was also a clipboard involved and was advised by a company engineer on the ground that a piece of sheared metal had been found.

At that point, the flight crew decided to return to Auckland, landing an hour after the Airbus had taken off.

“The engine was inspected by engineers and paper was found throughout the engine. They also found minor damage to an engine fan blade and attrition liner,” Tuesday’s report states.

The ATSB found at the time there was no procedure in place for the ground crew to contact the flight crew in the event of a “non-normal or emergency situation” prior to or after departure.

There were no rules on how paperwork should be prepared and managed during adverse weather.

Jetstar workers are now given a specific warning about not placing items in the engine cowling and greater detail on checks and responsibilities.

Ground crew staff are told how to re-establish communication with the cockpit “such as visually gaining the attention of the flight or contacting them via radio”.

Australian Associated Press

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Gary Grealey’s photo show brings Maitland Regional Gallery alive

LIVING IN ART: Hugo’s Office In a Small City, by Andrew Finnie.Maitland Regional Art Gallery continues to offer a wide range of diverse shows, and itsstaggered exhibition periods guarantee a fresh experience with every visit. The gallery is presenting seven exhibitions, including a major touring show of photographic portraits, a suite of computer-generated digital works and three contemporary installations from interstate artists.
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Art Maker, Patron, Lover is 2017 National Photographic Portrait Prize winner, Gary Grealy’s high-quality, photographic exploration of the faces behind the names of some of Australia’s most influential artists, collectors, administrators, gallery owners and benefactors.While a few well-known figures, such as former Art Gallery of NSW director Edmond Capon, are easily recognised, the majority of Grealy’s subjects are known to most of us only as names attached to galleries and foundations.

Important 20th Century Australian artists such asRobert Klippel, James Gleeson, Kevin Connor and Charles Blackman are given refreshed identities, while sensitive portraits of such established painters as Jenny Sages, Euan Macleod, Tim Storrier and Kerrie Lester, along with younger artists like Guy Maestri, Elyssa Sykes-Smith and Nell all help humanise the largely unknown, behind-the-scenes world of art and its makers.For Lower Hunter visitors, the inclusion of portraits of Newcastle artists Peter Tilley, Nicola Hensel, John Turier and Trevor Weeks, as well asMaitland Gallery’s former director Joe Eisenberg, add to this sense of connection.

The accompanying small exhibition of photographs of odd pieces of artists’ paraphernalia, such as Russell Drysdale’s hat, Fred Cress’ chair, Brett Whiteley’s shoes and Fred Williams’ etching tools are presented like holy relics or fetish items, helping restore some of the mystique that the portraits successfully removed. Until March 18

Newcastle artist Andrew Finnie is best known for his ‘en plein air’ paintings ofurban scenes and domestic interiors, but for the past several years he has also been working on large-scale digital project The Enlightening Journey of Mr Hugo Ball. Finnie has created a dreamland where Hugo Ball, the MC of the Dada movement, enters, occupies, then departs major paintings selected from the canon of western art. Through the worlds of Fra Angelico, Bosch and Bruegel to Vermeer, van Gogh, and Jeffrey Smart, the protagonist seeks enlightenment through living his life in art itself.

Brisbane artist Karike Ashworth offers a complete change of atmosphere in her meditative installation Lamentation, where stitched and embroidered hospital linen and floating organic shapes express her deepest feelings of personal loss and, in Whisker of Light Melbourne, artists Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison have produced drawings, prints, zines, artists books and 500 collaged postcards that examine the tenuous relationship between humankind and the rest of the natural world. James Hazel and Victoria Pham’s Sonant Bodies is a sound-based installation that explores our relationship with an electronic, sonic world.

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Sparkling supernova

FEELING GIDDY?: Blanc de Blanc is an alluring cocktail of cabaret, acrobatics, circus and burlesque. Photo: Daniel BoudA SHOW called Blanc de Blanc, whichincludes a lot of references to sparkling white wines of that type, might seem an unlikely candidate for touring success in a spiegeltent that has to be erected in each location.
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But the showhas been a huge hit since Australian company Strut & Fret first presented it at Sydney Opera House in January 2016, touring Australia and also being staged in London’s West End. It has been so popular that it has had repeat seasons, with the Adelaide Fringe Festival hosting it in 2017 and again now, before it heads to Newcastle for shows from March 27 to April 15.

The Fortuna Spiegeltent, which can hold up to 1000 people, will be erected in Civic Park for the season. The spiegeltent has an elegant 19th century style interior.Accordingly,Blanc de Blanc mixes cabaret, acrobatics, circus, burlesque, dance and comedy, much of it clowning, as it takes watchers from one group of characters to another, with the sequences largely backed by appropriately different music recordings. The opening dance routine, for example, is done to the sultry sounds of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

The show is compered by refined French master of ceremonies Monsieur Romeo, who introduces the night as “somewhat like a glass of fine champagne, smooth and sophisticated, leaving you giddy, bubbly and a little bit crazy”. He is assisted by contortionist and jester Spencer Novich, who is a bit dim-witted and can’t understand the difference between the French “merci” and the English “messy”.

Blanc de Blanc has lots of references to nudity and it features in the performances. But the way the nudity is handled has had audiences smiling and laughing, not walking out. Understandably, the show is recommended for adults only.

The aerial routines often have visual references to champagne in the movements, and one sequence has balloons seemingly rising from glasses, as if they are champagne bubbles, with the balloons subsequently popping. The aerial routines also include references to champers. Some of the performers whir from above, like champagne being poured, and some suddenly disappear from the scene, only to reappear in notable state of undress, as if their clothing bubbles have vanished.

Five of the original cast members -Spencer Novich,Monsieur Romeo,J’AiMime(Jaimi Luhrmann),Laura New, andShun Sugimoto – are in the show, joined byMilena Straczynski,Hampus Jansson,Jessica Mews,Cassie Audiffrin andTuedon Ariri, adding to the global flavour.

​Blanc de Blanc has evening and some weekend matinee performances between March 27 and April 15, with shows on all days of the Easter holiday weekend.

Visit civictheatrenewcastle南京夜网419论坛 for details.

Tickets from $59 to $89. Bookings: 4929 1977.

ALSO IN THE TENTTHE Fortuna Spiegeltent will also host 14 one-act musical and comedy shows during Blanc de Blanc’s Newcastle season. Thesestart about 90 minutes before the main show.Among the one-act shows are:

Mothers Ruin,March 28, 6pm, a darkly comic cabaret staged at this year’s Sydney Festival that takes audiences on a journey through locations including New York speakeasies and the Australian bush.

Luke McGregor–Almost Fixed It, March 29, 6.30pm, with the title comedian getting a real girlfriend – or has he?

Yana Alana, April 7, 4pm, with the title queen of queer cabaret and her all-female band, Tha Paranas, performing unusual songs and excerpts from herpoetry book.

Tom Gleeson, April 7, 6.30pm, has the stand-up comedian taking on Australian hecklers.

Livvy & Pete: The Songs of Olivia Newton John and Peter Allen, April 10, 6pm, has cabaret artists Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan paying tribute to the title performers.

Rove McManus: That’s Me Talking, April 11, 6pm, a stand-up comedian in a very joking mood.

Peter Helliar: Big Boy Pants, April 13, 6.30pm, a comedian offering more than pants.

The other shows are: Emma Pask, Saturday, March 31, 6pm; Breabach, Tuesday, April 3, 6pm.

Trash & Trevor: The Best of Trevor Ashley, April 4, 6pm; Gawurra, April 5, 6.30pm; The Black Sorrows. April 6, 6.30pm; The Audreys, April 12, 6.30pm; Kate Miller-Heidke, April 15, 5.30pm.

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Catherine Marriott ‘collateral damage’ of Coalition infighting

Catherine Marriott.LABOR deputy-leader Tanya Plibersek has launched a stern warning about the “shocking” error in disclosing the complainant’s identity in the sexual harassment complaint against the former Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
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“This sends the worst possible message to women who’ve been subjected to sexual harassment,” Ms Plibersek said to media today in Canberra in suggesting the complainant was also “collateral damage” due to political infighting within the Coalition.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president Fiona Simson accused the Nationals of leaking sensitive details of the sexual assault allegation, made by prominent agricultural identity Catherine Marriott, which prompted Mr Joyce’sresignation as Nationals leader.

Ms Simson made the politically charged statement on social media about the alleged breach of confidentiality after it was revealed Ms Marriot was behind the untested and unproven claim, which eventually forced Mr Joyce’s move to step down last Friday.

The New England MP’s decision to quit the leadership and Deputy Prime Minister’s post came after weeks of relentless media pressure and political scrutiny, following revelations of his affair with former media adviser Vikki Campion who worked in his office of Agriculture and Water Resources Minister following the 2016 federal election.

Ms Marriott is a well-regarded and respected identity in Australian agriculture and a former WA Rural Woman of the Year winner.

She was also announced late last year as the WA Project Manager for the CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) which has $75 million in Commonwealth funding over 10 years to invest in areas like farm research.

It’s understood Ms Marriott took her concerns initially to senior WA Nationals members, including leader Mia Davies, which were discussed among elected members in various party room meetings, over several days.

Those discussions were also behind the WA National’s decision to make a strong public statement last week indicating they didn’t support Mr Joyce continuing on as the federal leader due to the damage it was causing to the party’s brand.

Ms Plibersek said the Nationals had said they were “confident” that the disclosure of the woman’s identity, in the complaint against the former Deputy Prime Minister, did not come from the party.

She said Victorian federal Nationals MP Andrew Broad had said “similar things yesterday, that this didn’t come from the National Party, it came from the Liberal Party”.

But the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs to reassure the parliament today that neither he nor his office nor any Liberal Member of parliament, nor their staff, made the complainant’s identity public, she said.

Labor deputy-leader Tanya Plibersek

“This sends the worst possible message to women who’ve been subjected to sexual harassment,” she said.

“First of all, Barnaby Joyce says ‘look, if there’s a problem here the woman should go to the police’.

“Sexual assault and sexual harassment are both very serious, but they’re different.

“Sexual assault should be immediately reported to the police.

“Sexual harassment, on the other hand, is often dealt with within organisations through formal procedures that in most cases guarantee that complaints can be made confidentially and the identities of complainants can be kept confidential.

“In fact, when the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was asked about this yesterday, they said they would never make the identity of a complainant public without her consent.”

Ms Plibersek said it was “accepted practice” that such complaints can be kept confidential.

“Because if you don’t have that degree of confidentiality, victims are much less likely to come forward, other women won’t make complaints when they see someone like this complainant, collateral damage in a political fight between the Liberals and Nationals,” she said.

“This has been a sterling example of exactly how not to deal with a sexual harassment complaint within an organisation, and the Prime Minister has to answer for who has leaked this woman’s identity to the media.

“I think it is shocking in the extreme that her identity has been made public without her consent.

“I think it will discourage other women from making similar complaints and it is completely, completely unacceptable behaviour.”

NFF Support ‘100%’Despite the intense political sensitivity underpinning the issue, Ms Simson backed Ms Marriott’s character in relation to the allegation – which Mr Joyce has vigorously denied – on social media at the weekend which ignited significant debate and response; in particular amongst members of the farming community.

“Catherine Marriott is undeniably one of the most fair dinkum people I know,” Ms Simson said on Twitter.

“She is generous, passionate and honest.

“Whatever she says goes.

“Hugely courageous.

“She wanted to give the Nats a chance to sort it out and they leaked instead.”

While the naming of Ms Marriot triggered an outpouring on social media in defence of her integrity, some sources have also warned there’d been a rush to judgment, given the allegations against Mr Joyce were still unproven.

“The NFF should just stay out if,” a source said.

Only just heard of the goings on but I will take the word of Catherine Marriott over anyone, and the fucker who made this public for their own gain should be roped, branded and cut. #standwithmaz

— Michael Trant (@farmersway) February 24, 2018Of course. That’s what she asked for – for the due process to be conducted confidentially. I’m not determining anyone guilty but happy to stand by MAZ and without knowing any details know that she must have had a reason for doing what she did. https://t.co/xw8sjT4Jnt

— Fiona Simson (@afsnsw) February 24, 2018

Mr Broad – a former NFF Vice President – later claimed a Liberal MP also had access to the letter which detailed the sexual harassment complaint; opening the possibility of an alternative source for the leak.

However, he declined to name the individual who had access to the complaint.

“I’ve made some investigation of my own and I believe the due processes of the National Party have held, have been very thorough and the leaks have not come from the National Party,” he told ABC television.

“I know of a Liberal MP who had access to that letter when we had not seen it.”

NFF CEO Tony Mahar declined an opportunity to speak to Fairfax Media about the issue in an interview but he said on Twitter – in backing Ms Simson but not asserting the actual source of the leak as being the Nationals – “Whatever has occurred here needs sorting immediately by those in control”.

“This can’t be tolerated,” he said.

“We stand together behind an inspirational and courageous leader in #AusAg.”

Ms Marriott released a statement after she was identified in a media report at the weekend, confirming she was behind the allegation made against Mr Joyce.

“On February 20, 2018,I wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Federal Executive of the National Party outlining an allegation of sexual harassment against Barnaby Joyce,” she said.

“I want to stress that I never intended forthis issue to become public.

“I requested that a formal and confidential investigation into this incident be undertaken by the National Party to ensure there is accountability in relation to the incident I raise, and to prevent this type of inappropriate behaviour towards women in the future.

“Thiscomplaint was not made solely to address the incident against me – it is about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions.

“I will await the outcome of this investigation before determining any future action or commenting further.”

Nationals federal director Ben Hindmarsh said “The National Party of Australia has at all times adhered strictly to the terms of confidentiality in the formal complaint”.

“We are taking the complaint seriously and acting on it in an appropriate and timely manner,” he said.

“All complaints are taken seriously and treated with strict confidentiality and given due process.”

When the story broke of the claim last Thursday in national media, a spokesperson for Mr Joyce said he was aware of the new allegation.

“Mr Joyce said he had been made indirectly aware and described the claims as spurious and defamatory,” the spokesperson said.

“He said allegations of wrongdoing should be immediately referred to police so that the veracity of any claim could be properly tested.”

Nationals Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said as acting leader of the Nationals – at the time – she had been made aware that a formal complaint had been received by the National Party organisation.

“I am not aware of the details of the complaint,” she said.

“I understand the matter is being dealt with by the Federal organisation.

“But if the matter is criminal in nature I encourage the complainant to refer details to the police.”

In speaking to media in Armidale to announce he was stepping down as leader, Mr Joyce said the “current cacophony of issues has to be put aside…and I think it’s my responsibility to do my bit to make sure that it happens”.

“Now, might I say, with the last allegation that was in the paper today, I have asked that that be referred to the police.

“I’ve asked for the right of the person who’s made the allegation and I’ve asked for my right of defence that that be referred to the police.

“But it’s quite evident that you can’t go to the Despatch Box (in parliament) with issues like that surrounding you.

“So, I can’t enter into any discussions about that.

“If it is going to be before the courts, it is going to be before the courts, you would understand.

“But I will say on Monday morning at the party room, I will step down as the leader of the National Party and deputy leader of Australia.

“I have informed the acting Prime Minister, Mathias Cormann, of this. I informed my colleagues of this.”

Fairfax Media has also reported today that it understands a lawyer for the Nationals has requested a group of rural women who have concerns over Mr Joyce’s behaviour at functions detail any complaints they have so the party executive can assess them.

Mr Hindmarsh has been contacted for further comment on that matter.

Ms Davies has not returned calls from Fairfax Media, or Ms Marriott.

Queensland federal Nationals MP Michelle Landry said to reporters in Canberra today “I’ve spoken to the hierarchy in the party and the leak didn’t come from us”.

Agricultural sector sources have said they were aware Ms Marriot was weighing up whether to take action on the allegations against Mr Joyce, and has held ongoing discussions seeking advice over a period of time, which has intensified in recent weeks.

Fairfax Agricultural Media was also made aware on Thursday last week – before the story was revealed in national media – of Ms Marriot’s complaint to the Nationals but the source of that information was not from any political party.

Ms Marriott is also a former Executive Officer of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA) and has engaged Lawyer Emma Salerno to handle the matters relating to the allegations, who is also Vice Chair of the Association.


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