David Carney comes in from the cold to show true value

Nigel Boogaard cops a red card. Picture: Getty ImagesMATCH REPORT, PHOTOS
Shanghai night field

ONE of the first things Scott Miller did after being appointed coach at the Newcastle Jets was ring David Carney.

Miller had returned to London to finalise his move to Newcastle. This couldn’t wait.

Carney, one of the highest-profile and highest-paid players at the Jets, had spent the second half of last season in the grandstand, ostracised for his part in a revolt against previous coach Phil Stubbins.

‘‘I rang David and we had a lengthy discussion about his ambition for the year and his commitment to the club,’’ Miller said after Carney helped inspire the Jets to a 2-1 win over Wellington on Sunday.

‘‘He demonstrated that to me in the phone call and we made an agreement with each other. He made a commitment to be an outstanding player in the A-League this year.’’

Revitalised, Carney worked hard in the off-season.

His vision and touch have always been top-notch.

Now his body is in the right shape to make the most of those technical attributes.

He showed signs in the pre-season, but that was just the entree. When it counted most – the real stuff – he delivered.

Carney put the Jets ahead in the 29th minute when he met a Lee Ki-je cross at the near post and glanced a header into the far corner.

It was his first goal for the Jets and first in the A-League since 2006.

The 31-year-old, who is part of the leadership group, backed up his goal with an assist in the 71st minute.

It was Carney at his best. Playing on the right, he cut back inside onto his favoured left foot and curled a perfectly weighted cross into the six-yard box for Milos Trifunovic to slip between Louis Fenton and Ben Sigmund and sidefoot home.

‘‘David Carney has come away with a goal and an assist in round one,’’ Miller said.

‘‘That’s the expectation levels I’m putting on him.’’

Miller was also pleased with Trifunovic.

Signed late last month, the Serbian has been with the Jets for only three weeks.

It was a difficult game for the frontman, given Wellington had 60 per cent of possession.

He missed an early opportunity on the break, miscuing a spectacular volley at the back post when a header looked more likely, but made amends with a poacher’s finish for the match-winner.

‘‘Scoring on debut, irrespective of possession, that means he is clinical,’’ Miller said. ‘‘With the chance early on he should have put his head on it.

‘‘It was a good move in terms of transition – key pass forward, breaking lines quickly and men in the box.

‘‘He was unlucky not to score then.

‘‘His touch at the start of that movement – he brought down a high ball with skill.

‘‘With an extra couple of games he will be rolling.’’

Roselands Shopping Centre celebrates 50 years of retail glory

Moore’s pharmacy delivery van at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening Chemist Photo: Peter Moxham
Shanghai night field

Preparations at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening staff swimwear Photo: Peter Moxham

Modern grocery check-out at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening groceries supermarket Photo: Peter Moxham

Peter Stone and Ted Dietsch fitting the rose fountain at Sydney’s Roselands Shopping Centre on 8 October 1965.SMH NEWS Picture by GEOFF HENDERSON Retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening water feature Photo: Geoff Henderson

Vince Coletta (right) with his protege Frank Pelli. When Roselands shopping centre opened in 1965 his barbers wore white jackets with black bow ties and sharpened their razors on leather strops. Photo: Michele Mossop

Bow ties and cut-throat razors: Vince’s Hair Stylists at Roseland shopping centre in 1965. Photo: Supplied

Moore’s pharmacy delivery van at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening Chemist Photo: Peter Moxham

Preparations at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening staff swimwear Photo: Peter Moxham

Modern grocery check-out at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening groceries supermarket Photo: Peter Moxham

Peter Stone and Ted Dietsch fitting the rose fountain at Sydney’s Roselands Shopping Centre on 8 October 1965.SMH NEWS Picture by GEOFF HENDERSON Retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening water feature Photo: Geoff Henderson

Moore’s pharmacy delivery van at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening Chemist Photo: Peter Moxham

Preparations at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening staff swimwear Photo: Peter Moxham

Modern grocery check-out at the new Roselands Shopping Centre, pictured on 5 October 1965.SUN FEATURES Picture by PETER MOXHAM Sydney retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening groceries supermarket Photo: Peter Moxham

Peter Stone and Ted Dietsch fitting the rose fountain at Sydney’s Roselands Shopping Centre on 8 October 1965.SMH NEWS Picture by GEOFF HENDERSON Retail 1960s n retail hhollins opening water feature Photo: Geoff Henderson

They came from all over Sydney and beyond for a glimpse of it. The ladies wore hats and gloves and pantyhose. The men sweated in suits. Little girls twirled in frocks and their brothers had shiny shoes.

And they marvelled – at the “decked”, 15,000-space car park where they left their Holdens; at the Grace Bros. department store, the modern Coles New World supermarket and the 90 shops including Jolly Jumbuck lamb market, June Millinery and Edels Record Bar; at the gleaming escalators and the acres of spotless tiles; at Four Corners Gourmet (a “novel collection of eat-there or take-away restaurants and food bars”); and at the famous “raindrop fountain” and the catwalk crossing its “fashion pool” where “stop-and-look fashion parades” were held.

The premier of the day, Robert Askin, was clearly impressed too: when he opened the Roselands Shopping Centre 50 years ago on October 11, 1965, his speech took a florid turn. “The million-dollar spread of merchandise under this roof brings the city to the suburbs in a glittering way that must rival even the fabled Persian bazaars,” he said.

The Grace Bros. project was a retail game-changer – one of ‘s first shopping centres and the largest in the southern hemisphere. A Herald feature at the time of the opening noted: “The visitor’s first reaction to it is wonder. Wonder at the sort of courage that was needed to sink £6 million at a spot by-passed by commerce about half-way between Hurstville and Bankstown; respect for the men who had the necessary courage.”

Vince Coletta, who opened a men’s hair salon in the centre soon after it opened, recalls the centre’s managers as “very fussy” about the tenants they brought in.

“My salon was one of the best in Sydney; it was very elegant in those days,” says Abruzzo-born Coletta, who was 32 when he opened Vince’s Hair Stylists. His barbers wore white jackets with black-bow ties. They sharpened their cut-throat razors on leather strops and patted “Bay Rum” aftershave into freshly razored necks.

Coletta is now “60 plus 22”. In 1989, he passed his Roselands business, now the unisex F&V Hairdressing, to his one-time apprentice, Frank Pelli, but still goes to work every day at his salon in the Macquarie Centre.

Roselands was unashamedly aimed at the suburban housewife. “Focus for womenfolk”, read one heading in the Herald. The refrigerated butcher’s counter at Grace Bros. had a heated strip running along it so “madame” would not be cold while she did the shopping. Mothers anxious about leaving their offspring in the child-minding centre could glance at closed-circuit screens positioned through the centre beaming their children’s play. There was more than one butcher, more than one haberdashery – after all, “madame likes to compare competitive prices and qualities, to find some challenge to her bargaining skills”. The “rendezvous room” offered ironing facilities, showers and a powder room.

“In the early days it was considered … to be a great white elephant,” says Garry Welstead, whose parents, Cid and Phyllis, opened Centre Jewellers when Roselands launched. The store is now in the hands of a third generation – Garry’s children Toby and Joel.

“Roselands just knocked people’s socks off,” says Welstead. “The raindrop fountain was a spectacular thing and it became a meeting place.” He remembers the day Frank Sinatra popped in, the crowds, the shoppers hanging from the railings around the raindrop fountain to catch a glimpse of the singer.

He remembers his wedding reception after his marriage to his wife, Judy, in 1969: it was at the centre’s The Rose Room. He remembers the prawn cocktails and chicken maryland and steak diane. “The pièce de résistance was the bombe alaska for dessert!”

Roselands has undergone successive renovations which have erased all traces of its gloriously retro 1960s architectural heritage, including the raindrop fountain. “That was a disaster when they got rid of it,” laments Vince Coletta. “they should never have got rid of it.”

Follow Stephanie Wood on Facebook.

Jets start 2015-16 season with a win over Wellington Phoenix

Jets start season with a win Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.
Shanghai night field

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

Scenes from the Jets V Wellington match on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images.

TweetFacebook Jets V WellingtonMATCH REPORT

​ROOKIE coach Scott Miller was always confident his unheralded Jets squad would deliver – even if they had to do it the hard way.

Newcastle held on for a 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix after being reduced to 10 men in a tense season opener at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Reborn winger David Carney and returning keeper Mark Birighitti were the heroes.

Carney scored a goal and set one up for new striker Milos Trifunovic, who was cleared to play only on Thursday.

Birighitti made a fine save to deny Roy Krishna from the penalty spot early in the second half when the score was 1-all, and made two more top-shelf stops as Newcastle clung to their lead after captain Nigel Boogaard was sent off in the 77th minute.

It was a triumphant start for Miller in the A-League.

Recommended by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, the 34-year-old former Fulham assistant is the youngest coach in the A-League.

Postecoglou and England manager Roy Hodgson, a former boss at Fulham, were among a number of high-profile well-wishers to contact Miller in the lead-up to the game.

They would no doubt have taken satisfaction from his first-up win – as would the club’s potential new owner, Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson, who watched the match on television.

Miller’s predecessor, Phil Stubbins, did not win his first game until round 11 last season and finished a disastrous campaign with just three victories and the wooden spoon.

‘‘I knew they could deliver, and they did it,’’ a delighted Miller said.

‘‘We have come to Wellington, probably the most challenging place in regards to travel. We have dealt with it, and we have won. Irrespective of last year, that is a big step for any club coming over here.

‘‘Wellington are a solid team. They play nice football and are very dangerous in the final third.

‘‘To break them down and actually come out with the result, considering the circumstances, I thought it was magnificent.

‘‘It underpins what we have been working on: organisation, commitment, passion and never giving up.’’

The Jets played the final 13 minutes a man down after skipper Boogaard was given a red card for a second bookable offence when he held back Krishna.

Boogaard received his first in the 52nd minute after Cameron Watson had fouled Phoenix fullback Louis Fenton.

The official match report indicated that both his cards were for holding.

‘‘I was slightly frustrated with a few of the decisions overall,’’ Miller said.

‘‘Nigel’s is one of those.

‘‘But it was his second yellow, and Nigel knows better.’’

The send-off did little to detract overly from the coach’s satisfaction.

‘‘We had a dance in the shed and sang, ‘This is how we do it,’’’ Miller said. ‘‘JP and I led that one. We got laughed out of the room.

‘‘That is what we are about.

‘‘We are here to enjoy life as well as our football.’’

Left back Lee Ki-je, Enver Alivodic and Daniel Mullen were the only survivors from the final game last season to start against the Phoenix.

After a nervous start, which included Cameron Watson clearing a Ben Sigmund header off the line, Lee help put the visitors ahead in 29th minute.

The nifty Korean produced some fancy footwork near the byline and whipped in a cross for Carney to glance into the net.

Phoenix dominated possession and hit back in first-half stoppage time when Roly Bonevacia made a late run into the box to meet a cutback from Michael McGlinchey.

His first-time shot deflected off the heel of Lee and snuck inside the right post.

In the end the visitors had Birighitti to thank for all three points.

Back from a loan stint in Italy, he dived to his right to deny Krishna from the penalty spot in the 47th minute, and then produced another diving effort in the 89th minute to parry away a Vince Lia drive.

‘‘Birighitti’s save was a turning point,’’ Miller said. ‘‘To save a penalty at any time gives you that confidence and momentum to move forward. I thought he was outstanding … with the whole performance, I thought to a man they were superb, even the substitutes.

‘‘The whole trip has been fantastic in terms of logistics. The entire staff deserve a rap. They have been outstanding all pre-season.’’

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was frustrated rather than disappointed.

‘‘We dominated possession, we passed the ball around well through the midfield and our defence were rock solid,’’ he said. ‘‘But it’s all about scoring goals.’’

PM lends weight to Canberra-led campaign to help 60,000 sick kids who are missing school

Co-founder of Missing School Inc, Megan Gilmour, at her home in Hawker with her son, Darcy, 15. Photo: Graham Tidy Co-founders of Missing School Inc, Megan Gilmour, left, and Gina Meyers at Megan’s home in Hawker. Megan’s son, Darcy, 15, missed 18 months of schooling due to various illnesses and their treatment. Photo: Graham Tidy
Shanghai night field

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will add his weight to the launch of a national campaign on Monday to help families of the 60,000 n children who miss classes at school while being treated for a serious illness.

The campaign will kick off at Parliament House in Canberra, led by three Canberra mothers whose children have been treated in Sydney for life-threatening illnesses.

In a remarkable coincidence, the children were all treated in the Turnbull Ward of the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

The women have formed Missing School Inc to push for leadership by the federal, state and territory governments to make sure seriously ill children remain connected to their schools while being treated in hospital.

Co-founder, Megan Gilmour of Hawker, said the lack of systematic support in schools left families trying to do it all on their own or relying on the goodwill of individual teachers.

“We want to see this started as a national conversation and not just something that would be nice to do,” she told Fairfax Media.

“What we found was that no agency in is actually counting these children and we had to estimate the number of kids who were affected.

“This issue is not being adequately addressed by state and territory education systems.”

The standards of schools in major hospitals varied widely, she said.

The group will release the first comprehensive report into the challenges facing children who miss school due to significant injury or illness.

The report by the n Research Alliance for Children and Youth estimates 60,000 sick children miss school in every year.

It recommends a system of counting these children and knowing where they are, maintaining dedicated two-way teacher contact and instruction and peer contact during the absence, and using technology to provide real-time virtual participation in the regular classroom.

CEO Dr Dianne Jackson said advances in medical technology meant more children were surviving illnesses that were previously incurable and unmanageable.

“Seriously sick kids need access to quality education if they are to have the same opportunities as other children and young people to fulfil their potential,” she said.

National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell said tens of thousands of students face disadvantage because they miss school as a result of significant illness or injury.

“Academic achievement may be affected, school relationships can be disrupted, motivation and engagement diminished, and isolation from the school community and peer group can have a profound effect on social and emotional wellbeing,” she said.

“These reports will help us understand what’s happening and how we can best address the challenges that students face.

“But much more work is needed. We need to extend our research and ensure we work collaboratively with policymakers, professionals from the medical and education sectors and, most importantly, the students and their families.”

In his message of support for the launch, Mr Turnbull says many young people suffer conditions that take them away from school.

“Maintaining a connection with peers and friends during such times can be crucial for a student’s social and emotional wellbeing, while continuing academic progress is important for long-term commitment to learning,” he says.

“I commend everyone here today for your dedication to improving outcomes for children who miss school due to significant illness or injury.

“You are doing a wonderful job in raising awareness of this issue, as well as bringing hope and encouragement to many young ns, their families and carers. For that, you have my admiration and thanks.

“I wish the organisers and attendees of today’s event all the best as you continue this great work.”

Players and officials declare Hybrid Rugby game a success

Western Suburbs Captain Shannon Gallant looks for support. Photo: Wolter Peeters Ray Cashmere hits the advantage line. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Shanghai night field

Players and officials involved in the inaugural hybrid rugby match between Wests Magpies and Randwick are keen to play again during next year’s pre-season after hailing the concept a success.

Wests, whose team included former NRL stars John Skandalis, Bronson Harrison, Shannon Gallant and Ray Cashmere, ran out 47-19 winners over the Galloping Greens at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday in an entertaining match that encouraged organisers to continue with their quest to find a game combining the best of the two codes.

Their dream is eventually to pit the Wallabies and Kangaroos against each other in hybrid rugby, but the immediate plan is to stage another match before the start of the NRL and Super Rugby seasons, possibly between the same two teams as it took the players time to adapt to the rules.

“This game today sets up an absolute challenge for maybe some time in January, and I am sure that Randwick will come with their big guns, some of whom are in England now playing in the World Cup,” Hybrid Rugby chairman Phil Franks said.

“I’d really like to thank both clubs … who showed the ticker to turn up at this game today where others jumped under the carpet. They know what the potential is for this game. It was demonstrated here today in style.”

The match was played under league rules when the attacking team had the ball on their own side of halfway and union rules once they got inside the opposition’s half. There was also a shot clock, limiting the time in possession to 60 seconds.

Despite each team having 13 players, the Magpies initially struggled defensively as Randwick took advantage of an overlap created by their centres wrapping around to play outside each other, whereas their league opponents played centre-aside. However, by the end of the match the Galloping Greens were out on their feet from having to constantly move up and back 10metres in defence when Wests had the ball inside their own half.

“It was a little bit tricky, the league part blew us out a little bit there getting back the 10metres,” Randwick captain Dave Parsons said. “We stuck in there but Wests just finished too strong. I think we tried to play wide too quick but should have been a bit more direct.”

Most of the 10 tries came from broken play, such as a kick or an intercept, rather than any structured moves. Wests also had trouble retaining possession when they had to play rugby union rules and lay the ball back in the ruck.

“It was different for everybody and we all had to sit back and wait to see what was going to happen but the way it turned out I enjoyed it and I think everyone who played the game enjoyed it,” Magpies coach Leo Epifania said. “You would have to train constantly to get the knack of it but I just think both sides did their absolute best. We probably played better in the union half and they played better league than us in our half so we both obviously trained pretty hard.”

With each team scoring two converted first-half tries, the scores were level at 14-all at half-time but Wests got on top in the third quarter to lead 26-14, then ran away with the match in the fourth quarter.

“I am ready to go again next weekend,” said Gallant, the Magpies captain. “Come one or two more games we will definitely push some oppositions.”

Western Suburbs 47 (Todd Liubinskas 2, Tala Mapesone, John Skandalis, Tom Morrison, Shannon Gallant, Blake Sutton tries; Shannon Gallant 6 goals)  def Randwick 19  (Kieran Knight, Tom Molloy, Lachy Anderson tries; Nic Andrews, Tom Molloy goals).

Bill Shorten faces renewed pressure on ambitions to be PM as royal commission reopens

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten faces fresh scrutiny over controversial deals done in his role as n Workers Union chief. Photo: Michelle Smith Illustration: Matt Golding. Photo: Matt Golding
Shanghai night field

Bill Shorten’s prime ministerial ambitions face a series of challenges in the coming fortnight as the trade union royal commission tests his account of controversial deals done in his former role as n Workers Union chief.

At the same time, federal Parliament resumes on Monday and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s radically revamped ministerial team is preparing for its first hit-out, and nervous Labor MPs admit the federal opposition is re-thinking its tactics and political strategy, with a renewed emphasis on policy to combat the new-look government.

The Opposition Leader’s record faces 10 days of scrutiny from Monday with political and media attention on the evidence of eight executives from building giant Thiess John Holland over Melbourne’s $2.5 billion EastLink tollway project.

The executives, including former Thiess John Holland figures Stephen Sasse​ and Julian Rzesniowiecki, are likely to be grilled about $300,000 in payments to the AWU after a landmark industrial agreement on the project in the mid-2000s saved the builder up to $100 million.

The $100,000 a year plus GST payments, made for three years, were first revealed by Fairfax Media in June and Mr Shorten was questioned about them in July.

Counsel assisting the commission Jeremy Stoljar, SC, alleged the $100,000 a year was a “pre-arranged target”, discussed by Mr Shorten and the company, and that to justify the money the union issued bogus or inflated invoices to Thiess John Holland for services that were either never, or only partially, delivered.

Mr Shorten told the commission he did not “particularly remember” such discussions, later refining his evidence to acknowledge he may have raised the idea of the AWU providing training “and the like”.

To date, Mr Sasse has refused to comment. It is widely expected his recollection on Monday will be that Mr Shorten explicitly proposed the $100,000 payments.

The royal commission is refusing to release publicly transcripts of two secret interviews with Mr Sasse, infuriating Shorten allies who believe his version of events may have changed between the first interview on June 29 and the second interview, on August 7. Mr Shorten appeared before the royal commission on July 8 and 9.

In a letter to affected parties, including Mr Shorten, on October 6 solicitor assisting the commission James Beaton released the transcripts of two interviews with Mr Sasse by the commission that “may be relevant to your consideration of the oral evidence to give on October 12” but warned the transcripts were subject to a non-publication order.

An ally of Mr Shorten’s said that if the commission “had nothing to hide, why won’t they release the transcripts?”

It is unclear whether documents exist to support either Mr Sasse or Mr Shorten’s recollection of events.

If that is the case, Tuesday’s evidence by Mr Rzesniowiecki – a Sasse underling at the time – will be especially important because the commission has documents in which Rzesniowiecki specifically refers to the $100,000 a year payments.

Since the switch to Mr Turnbull, Labor has released a raft of policies including in the areas of infrastructure, higher education, mental health and innovation, with more expected before the end of the year.

Sections of the king-making NSW Right faction are closely watching Mr Shorten’s performance, with support for the opposition softening among some.

One said: “People want Bill to succeed but there is a wait-and-see view. No one is willing him to fail, unlike Julia [Gillard]. And it’s not like we have Bob Hawke waiting in the wings.

“Obviously with Malcolm becoming leader, the pressure is now on and he is trying to respond with policy,” the MP said.

A second MP said that if Labor saw its primary vote slump to less than 35 per cent in three consecutive major polls, “come and see me” and “people know he is in trouble”. NormalfalsefalseEN-AUJAX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Energy companies gouging households ‘because they can’

Up to 45 per cent of a electricity bill is paid to the retailer in Victoria. Up to 45 per cent of an electricity bill is paid to the retailer in Victoria.
Shanghai night field

Up to 45 per cent of a electricity bill is paid to the retailer in Victoria.

Up to 45 per cent of a electricity bill is paid to the retailer in Victoria.

The government faces calls to overhaul the nation’s energy markets after the removal of all price controls has resulted in soaring retail margins for energy retailers.

The retail competition margin of gas and electricity retailers has risen to $600 per customer, research by the St Vincent de Paul Society shows, and makes up the largest component of the energy bill.

“The retail component of bills is too high in the deregulated, competitive electricity market,” the report found. “This is either because the cost of competition is high or because competition is ineffective.

“We have an energy retail market that ensures customers are paying over the odds for an essential service unless they annually dedicate time to compare energy plans and switch retailer.”

The rise in the retail margin means that as much as 45 per cent of the electricity bill is paid to the retailer in Victoria, and only around 11 per cent of the bill covers the cost of the actual electricity used, the survey has found.

In NSW, the retail component is 30 per cent. The balance of the bill is comprised mostly of network (or distribution) charges for delivering the electricity.

Even though the market has been deregulated for several years in Victoria and more recently in NSW, there are still a large number of households who either cannot or have not shopped around for the lowest prices on offer. As a result, these households often pay more than 50 per cent more for their electricity than households who have shopped around. Retail margins “outrageous”

“There will always be customers who will not or cannot participate in the market, and allowing retailers to charge them a significant premium, just because they can, is not an acceptable outcome,” Gavin Dufty, policy and research manager with the St Vincent de Paul Society, said.

Additionally, when households move onto a competitive contract, it typically runs for just 12 months, the survey has found, so that the household must shop around each year for a new supplier to ensure they do not face price gouging.

“With the outrageous retail premiums that customers are currently being charged, we need the market model fixed rather than just blaming consumers for failing to shop around,” Mr Dufty said. “Unlike other markets, people can’t exit the market.

“In other markets, your contract expires and then the company has to ‘price to entice’ you to continue to use their service. There is no competitive pressure with energy. We need to address that market failure. The retail cost component looks very expensive: the more competition, the bigger the margin.

“If the cost outweighs the gain, is it worth it?” he asked of energy market deregulation.

“Can you unbake the cake? You probably can’t.”

Therefore, government needed to find a way to put competitive pressure on the market, he said, since it was not reasonable to expect households to be ever vigilant about the gas and electricity contract.

“People have got better things to do. It has to be on the COAG energy ministers’ register,” he said, arguing the new Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, should “initiate a review of the National Energy Customer Framework in relation to retail pricing in deregulated markets”. Retailers winning as consumers lose

NSW-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre policy officer Oliver Derum​ said, obviously, the retailers were very profitable.

“You are seeking to profit by providing an essential service, and there are responsibilities that go with that, to ensure it doesn’t profit overly at the expense of the customer,” he said.

Mercedes Lentz heads Victoria’s Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre and said: “Regulatory and policy settings need to be explored and ensuring affordability has to be addressed. This is an essential service, how can we allow it to be so unaffordable?

“We need more tools to make it simpler. We need tools to demystify electricity retailing.”

Victoria, for example, has as many as 18 energy retailers offering 4000 products.

“It is highly complex and consumers find it terribly confusing,” she said.

At the same time, consumers did not trust their energy retailers, she said.

Spinach in a muesli bar? Freedom Foods muscles up for superfoods attack

Like Popeye, cereal and snack company Freedom Foods hopes to use spinach to deliver its next knockout punch.
Shanghai night field

The company controlled by the billionaire Perich family is muscling into the superfoods category to capitalise on an increasing number of ns ditching sugary and fatty treats for healthier options.

Freedom’s core range of gluten, wheat and nut-free products has won praise from analysts.

It is combining those products with so-called superfoods such as maca powder, goji berries and Popeye’s favourite, spinach, to produce a snack bar and breakfast cereal range. Superfoods can be scarce

Food scientist Kuan Chen said he faced a challenge when the company’s marketing department handed over the superfoods’ brief for the Crafted Blends range.

“Superfoods aren’t very abundant and, at times, there are supply issues,” he said.

“So we had to be able to source the produce and then see how it held up in the manufacturing process.”

The company hoped to use kale, which has surged in popularity in recent years, but it didn’t transfer well into powered form to be used in cereals and snack bars.

So, for one bar, it used spinach, combined with pepitas and chickpeas instead.

Marketing manager Monique Sommer​ said it was too early to say how supermarkets would respond to the new product range, but customers had warmed to the idea on social media and at a recent trade expo.

Ms Sommer said while the company had hits, it also had some misses, pointing to a flavoured milk range targeted at children which failed to gain sales traction when it was launched several years ago. Strategy ‘makes sense’ 

Morgans analyst Belinda Moore said the superfoods strategy made sense and should win support from the big supermarkets.

“[Freedom has a] fantastic line-up of exciting new products which are in the health and wellness category, which does very well,” Ms Moore said.

“The supermarkets are very supportive of the health food category. It’s a growth category because we are eating healthier foods these days, and it’s also generally a higher margin category.”

The move came after Freedom’s underlying net profit for the year to June 30 was weaker than expected, falling 60.3 per cent to $4.9 million.

This stemmed from the company commissioning a new snack bar line, which knocked about $2.8 million from the company’s gross margin.

Ms Moore said there was also greater than expected investment in people, new product development, R&D and brand marketing.

“This meant that EBITDA [earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation] for the Freedom Foods business fell 53 per cent.”

However, Ms Moore said Freedom had “strong organic growth prospects over the next few years” because of its exposure to high-growth areas including dairy and allergen-free food.

“The company also has a huge opportunity to leverage these trends in offshore markets – North America and Asia – which are many times the size of .”

‘s biggest listed investment fund, n Foundation Investment Company (AFIC), also believes Freedom has prospects, acquiring a 0.6 per cent stake recently.

Last week, AFIC managing director Ross Barker said it bought into Freedom in “response to recent market weakness”.

It also snapped up holdings in Macquarie, Mainfreight and Challenger for the same reason.

Despite a 1 per cent stumble on Friday, Freedom’s shares are trading at a 17-day high at $3.02.

Dawn French to play Civic Theatre in solo comedy show February 2016

Dawn French is booked to appear at the Civic Theatre on February 12.
Shanghai night field

BRITISH comedy superstar Dawn French is bringing her 30 Million Minutes show to Newcastle in February.

The actress, writer and comedian – famed for writing the comedy sketch show French and Saunders with creative partner Jennifer Saunders and for her role in TV sitcom The Vicar of Dibley – on Monday announced an expansion of her n tour to include Newcastle and Canberra.

The 21-date tour will also visit Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, with many of the previously announced shows already sold out.

30 Million Minutes, a new show based on French’s life and career, has already garnered widespread critical acclaim during an extensive tour of the UK.

It’s touted as including various delights and riches, with the odd irksome tribulation thrown in, as the Brit takes audiences through the various lessons life has taught her, and the things she knows for sure.

Her extraordinary lack of willpower, combined with an enviable knack for nosey parking and showing off, has driven her to grapple with the big stuff of life in public: 30 million minutes of life in fact. That’s how long she’s been alive.

“I’m sick with excitement about this solo tour.

“I am enjoying the fact that I can’t categorise exactly what it is, but it’s somewhere between a monologue, a play, and an autobiographical slide show with a few funnies thrown in,” Dawn said.

“At last, I have had one of my three genie wishes granted, which is to work with [director] Michael Grandage.

“The other two wishes are as yet unfulfilled.

“They are secret, obviously, but suffice to say, one is about Barack Obama in Speedos.”

“The other is about me in Speedos, with cheesecake involved . . . enough said.”

Catch French at the Civic Theatre on February 12. Tickets go on sale on October 19 at 10am.

PNG chiefs talk of civil war over unpopular Chinan bank deal

Until now, the tribal chiefs in Papua New Guinea have been happy to host a hugely profitable natural gas project on the slopes of their mountainous land.
Shanghai night field

It might have disrupted hunting grounds, ruined waterways and uprooted fruit and vegetables, but the money flowing from it also promised progress and development for the people.

So they stuck with a 2009 agreement to provide access and security to a $US19 billion ExxonMobil PNG liquid natural gas project, which has given ‘s nearest neighbour one of the highest GDP growth rates on earth.

All that, though, could change. They are threatening to “turn off the taps” after the PNG government barred their n lawyers from entering the country.

Landowners struck a deal in 2009 to allow the mine project in their mountainous area of PNG to go ahead.

It was the final straw for the deal that has turned increasingly sour for local tribesmen in the mountainous Hela province, where the majority of the gas is sourced.

ExxonMobil, n company Oil Search, and the PNG governments have all received profits ahead of schedule, but the local people say they are missing out.

Under the deal struck in 2009 to allow the gas project to go ahead, the tribesmen and women are entitled to exercise an option to buy a 4.2 per cent equity share, which could deliver upwards of US$6 billion over the project lifespan. .

But a Fairfax Media investigation can now reveal that a complex and unlikely deal inked in March last year between n bankers at Swiss firm UBS and close advisers of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has unnerved tribal leaders.

They say the deal effectively “mortgaged” their equity to plug a widening fiscal hole in the government’s own finances. It’s clear that trust between these land owners, the PNG government and the bank has been obliterated.

Prime Minister O’Neill has moved quickly to attack the “politicised” leak of documents, as a Fairfax report on Friday dominated social media in the country over the weekend.

He pointed blame at the previous Somare government, skirted revelations that the PNG government had “surrendered” most of the potential upside to UBS, and promised that ongoing court proceedings would provide clarity.

Fairfax can now reveal that tribal chiefs are seeking a court injunction to prevent Mr O’Neill and UBS from having further dealings with their promised equity without their full consent.

And they are incensed that the PNG government has obstructed those court processes by banning their Queensland lawyer, Greg Egan, from entering the country.

Last week n diplomats dismissed the blacklisting of Mr Egan as a “private” matter. But matters such as this have a history in PNG of blowing up into much more than that.

The landowners cite the precedent of the civil war in Bougainville, which followed the failure of mining company Rio Tinto and governments in PNG and to adequately negotiate with local people.

“We fear that when the government runs out of money, they may touch our money and spend it elsewhere,” says Dickson Ango, a chief of the Buta people, who own much of the land beneath the Hapono Block near Hides gas field in the Southern Highlands Province.

“If they are stopping us from expressing our rights to the courts of the land, then our own people will ask the government to come and talk to us by way of other means, like sit-in protests.

“It may cost the project.”

ONE DAY A WHITE-LEGGED MAN WILL COME

Dickson Ango is old enough to remember how his elders used to carry around the bones of their ancestors before the missionaries came. They decorated those bones, and spoke with them. These days, bones are buried in the ground and traditional animist beliefs have been supplanted by Christianity.

But there are astonishing continuities between the old world and new.

“When the white-legged man came to this mountain, Gigira, they found one of the world’s highest quality natural gas fields – enough to bring light to hundreds of thousands of people,” says Ango, recalling the “prophesy” of his forefathers.

“We can see now that everything is happening according to that prophesy,” Ango says. “So I want to tell the future generation that we must live in appreciation of what God has done.”

Ango believes his people have been “chosen” to be custodians.

“God in his divine plan put all those resources on our land, where our forefathers lived, because he knew that we – these people of Hela – we are people who are able to share, people who can laugh with others, and able to share those benefits with the rest of PNG and are able to agree with the government and welcome the developers.”

But such agreements are not without cost.

PYTHONS ARE GOOD PROTEIN

Wandigo Kau is a clan leader from the area known as PDL 1, which supplies 57 per cent of the gas to the PNG LNG project. When he was born in 1982 there were no schools, no shops and certainly no doctors to help a mother giving birth.

Life was short. Like most of his contemporaries, chronic malaria had given him a hugely swollen spleen. His own baby child, however, has been born into a world of previously unimaginable possibilities.

“My child will have a modern standard,” Kau says. “Not like my life. My life was too hard.”

For all that’s been gained, though, much has also been lost. Kau can no longer go on long hunting treks through lush jungle, crossing the tumbling streams of Mount Gigira with bow and arrows strapped across his shoulder.

Now the cassowaries, hornbills and protein-laden pythons that Wandigo Kau used to hunt have been chased away by three well-pads, three quarries, a waste dump, a huge gas conditioning plant, nine kilometres of pipeline and a main road.

Kau’s home in Tugu Tapira is the most intensely impacted in the PDL-1 area, where the majority of gas is sourced.  But all his neighbours have similar stories.

“We have given up our land, our water, our hunting grounds, our food gardens, we have given everything,” says Hamule Ngiame.

A 2009 meeting of the PNG landowners before the deal was struck.

THE BIG MEETING

Ngaime, like Wandigo Kau and Dickson Ango, was one of the tribal leaders who travelled to Kokopo, in far-away East New Britain, to negotiate the 2009 agreement that got the project off the ground.

That meeting was an anthropological and logistical feat to rival the engineering that has followed. Thousands of clan leaders were flown to Kokopo and stayed for months of rolling talks, camping in Oil Search-issued tents, arm wrestling government leaders to work out how compensation should be apportioned and spoils divided.

Oil Search managing director Peter Botton says the scale of the discussion was unprecedented. “Where else would you get 5000 people to sit down and discuss the size of the pie, and thousands more to talk about how to divide it?”

The negotiating motto of the tribal chiefs was straightforward: “No equity, no gas.” 

Thousands of clan leaders attended the meeting.

Many wanted a 10 per cent share. In the end, they were happy to settle for 7 per cent, plus royalties and grants – 2.8 per cent would be paid up front and the remaining 4.2 per cent when the gas was flowing.

“It was a huge task to mobilise all the people because most of the people were illiterate,” says Andy Hamaga, a leader of the Jula and Aya clans. “It took us six solid weeks to negotiate.”

The corporations had already conducted a complex social mapping exercise to work out the entitlements of 60,000 people. They had to do it an area where traditional land ownership is relatively fluid, and partly contingent upon continual occupation. Meanwhile tens of thousands of migrants were arriving in search of work.

In the end: “We were satisfied.”

Hamaga says his people trusted then prime minister Sir Michael Somare, often referred to as the founding father of the nation, his son Arthur, then a cabinet minister, and the provincial governor, Anderson Agiru.

“They asked us to provide security to the project, which we did.”

Adding political intrigue, the land owner claims are being supported by Arthur Somare, who led the 2009 negotiations, and who is the son of Sir Michael Somare, who recently referred Mr O’Neill to a leadership misconduct tribunal.

TURNING ON THE TAPS

Every three or four days a tanker leaves the Gulf of Papua for terminals in Japan, China and Taiwan, filled with tens of millions of dollars worth of gas, condensed at temperatures of minus-160 degrees into liquid form. Already, the $US19 billion investment in the highlands has expanded the GDP of ‘s closest neighbour by a staggering 25 per cent in just two years.

ExxonMobil, the US oil giant, delivered the project ahead of schedule. It has buoyed the share prices of n gas majors Oil Search and Santos, and it has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into PNG government coffers.

Port Moresby’s Grand Papua hotel is filled to bursting and the rents on expatriate apartments have gone through the roof.

But for the country’s 8 million citizens, the boom times never came. A World Bank report released last week declares that welfare standards might actually be going backwards.

The report also said PNG had breached its legislated debt level of 35 per cent of GDP by a considerable margin. More worrying, a mid-year Treasury update said the budget deficit for this year could blow out to 9 per cent of GDP without corrective action. Government services are not being delivered and bills are going unpaid.

Partly, PNG is suffering from a king-sized version of the resources bust also affecting . But mismanagement and cronyism are also to blame.

On the figures, the government might want to extract every kina of profit that it can from the “benefits-sharing” arrangement to give land owners their 4.2 per cent equity stake, which they are due to receive in the first half of next year.

And this is where Hela landowners, n investment bankers, and n and PNG politicians could all find themselves in the kind of serious conflict that, in the past, has led to civil war.

WE’LL TURN OFF THE TAPS

The fight is over the honouring of the old “gas for equity” deal.

Last May, the money started flowing. Exxon Mobil got its share, n company Oil Search got another, as did the PNG government. But what should have been a stream of revenue from royalties and grants to the local landowners has been nothing more than a trickle.

The PNG government says it has not yet finished the “vetting” process to ascertain who is entitled to a share of the money.

Landowners, however, say the government is deliberately dragging its feet. Exxon Mobil, with an eye to its biggest risk, cannot afford any further delay.

It recently offered 7 million kina ($3.5 million) worth of Land Rovers, hotel rooms and helicopter rides to make the journey of officials from Port Moresby to Hela easier.

A respected judge has been called in to accelerate the vetting process.

Some tribal chiefs are still showing patience. Last week the court intervened by overturning the ban on lawyer Mr Egan from entering the country.

But those who are taking the court action say time is running out for a negotiated solution. And the first thing they want is their own choice of financier and a chance to negotiate a reasonable price for their 4.2 per cent equity option.

“We don’t trust UBS … because they failed us in the first place,” says tribal leader Andy Hamaga. The government, he says, has “mortgaged our equity to get the UBS loan”.

And if they don’t get their way? “We will turn the tap off,” says Hamaga. “No choice.”

On Sunday, a UBS spokeswoman said the land owner’s 4.2 per cent equity option had been “carved out” of last year’s loan security terms, and that the bank was not doing the ongoing financing work that land owners feared. “We have not been mandated by anyone in PNG to raise the finance for the landowner call option,” said the spokeswoman.

The tribespeople have tried to talk to the politicians. Then they tried the courts. Options are running out.

Another leader, Hamule Ngiame, whose Pii and Komen clans live on the PDL-1 land, responsible for more than half of the PNG LNG’s gas supplies, says “Coming to the media is the second [last] option.”

“The last option is to disturb the project. We know that in 1989 we had the Bougainville crisis, over a similar issue of government failure in meeting its part to deliver landowner benefits.

“We will do the same.”