Who should be the ACT Brumbies captain in 2018?

Incumbent ACT Brumbies skipper Sam Carter is keen to retain the captaincy role next year, and the sleepless nights that come with it, if new coach Dan McKellar decides he is the right man for the job.
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But the tireless lock says he will happily step aside if McKellar opts for someone else, with the looming return of Christian Lealiifano and David Pocock to add starch to the Brumbies’ leadership group.

McKellar will wait until the entire squad returns to training in January before making a decision on who will lead the Brumbies into the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Carter grew into his first year as captain, admitting he the responsibility weighed heavily on his shoulders before the first game of the season.

He shared the role with Lealiifano in a co-captains arrangement and led the Brumbies to their fifth consecutive finals berth.

Asked if wanted to continue as captain, Carter said: “Absolutely. Christian did all of the off-field stuff, and when it was on the field it was my turn.

“I know if Christian is back in the team next year he’ll be calling all of the plays anyway. There’s a few leaders within in the team and whoever has the ‘c’ next to their name is irrelevant.

“We could go with co-captains or a single model, it just depends what the coaches go with. Whoever is picked will lead the team.

“I didn’t get much sleep [before the first game], I was a bit worried about all of the things that could have gone wrong. The more game time I got as captain, the more irrelevant all of those worries were.

“I’d be comfortable [if I’m not captain], I’ll do everything I can to support the team and be a leader on the field anyway. As long as everyone’s working towards the same goal as a team.”

The Brumbies launched their 2018 jersey on Tuesday and will finish their first pre-season block on Friday, with the players to restart training on January 8.

Lealiifano and Pocock will arrive back in Canberra two weeks later after finishing their respective playing stints in Ireland and Japan.

Christian Lealiifano. Photo: Rohan Thomson

“Both of those players have been involved in Wallabies teams in the past, the form Christian is showing Ulster will be a bonus and benefit for us,” McKellar said.

“They’re smart footballers, they’ve been around a long time and they’ll fit into our program seamlessly in terms of how we want to play. I’ve been talking to them to keep them in the loop to make sure it’s not information overload when they do get back.

“The guys in leadership positions now won’t be cast aside and forgotten about when we get senior players back, we’ll make sure there’s flow on and continue to develop leaders.”

Carter played three Tests for the Wallabies in June, but was overlooked for the Rugby Championships and end of year spring tour of Europe.

But McKellar hoped the Brumbies change of style would help Carter show improvements in his game to put him back on the Wallabies radar.

“I think he’s started already, the changes we make to how we play the game will hopefully suit the areas he wants to improve,” McKellar said.

“He’s in the best shape I’ve seen him in since I’ve been at the Brumbies and is leading by his actions. Carts is always in good condition, that’s a strength of his game.

“He’s got a very good engine, but I think he’s probably taken that to another level.”

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Ex-Queensland state minister John McVeigh joins federal cabinet

FILE PHOTO: Nationals MP David Littleproud has a beer with Nationals candidate for New England, Barnaby Joyce, at the Aero Club in Tamworth, the evening before the New England by-election, on Friday 1 December 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex EllinghausenFormer Newman government minister John McVeigh has been promoted to the federal cabinet as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pre-Christmas reshuffle.
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The Prime Minister announced the cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr McVeigh, the former agricultural minister turned federal member for Groom, will be the Minister for Regional Development.

Mr McVeigh resigned from the Queensland Parliament in April 2016 following his LNP preselection for the seat of Groom, triggering a by-election in his seat of Toowoomba South.

The federal seat became vacant when Ian Macfarlane, a minister in the Abbott government, quit federal politics earlier that year.

Mr McVeigh went on to win the federal seat of Groom, which was once held by his father, Tom, in the 1980s.

Mr McViegh said it was a great honour and very humbling to be promoted to cabinet.

“I recognise there is a lot of work ahead of me,” he said.

Mr McViegh said his role as a minister for the Newman government not only covered the regional industries of agriculture, fisheries and forestry but he also sat on some COAG committee with other states, territory and federal ministers, including the Northern Australian Ministerial Forum.

“So I have had a lot of experience working with other states, particularly across the Northern Territory and Western Australia in collaboration with Queensland so [I have] a good background in reaching out beyond the state boundaries in that role,” he said.

“I am very excited, I do believe I have a good background and skill in the area.

“In the last six months or so I’ve chaired the parliamentary selection committee for regional development and decentralisation and through that role have been to every state and territory in the country in recent months so have had a little bit of a head start there as well.”

Mr McViegh said he was thrilled to be able to join with the likes of Peter Dutton and Steven Ciobo from Queensland in the cabinet.

First-time Queensland LNP backbencher David Littleproud, who sat in the Nationals party room, has also been promoted to cabinet as Agriculture and Water Minister.

When Mr Turnbull was asked if Mr Littleproud as a first-termer was qualified for the frontbench he said he was a very capable man.

“He’s had 20 years’ experience in agribusiness. He really does understand agriculture very well, both at a practical level and at a financial level. So no, he’s certainly well-qualified.” he said.

Mr Littleproud said it was Mr Turnbull who got to chose who had the best experience to fill the portfolios that will give the best outcome for the entire nation.

“Obviously I’m not naive, I understand there are some huge challenges ahead but am going in with a clean slate, enthusiasm and fresh ideas,” he said.

Mr Littleproud said the Queensland representation in the cabinet was fantastic.

“We’re there to represent all the nation, not just Queensland but I’m a proud Queenslander, born and bred in Queensland and obviously a real maroon but the reality is that we’re there for the entire nation,” he said.

“It’s great to see Queensland acknowledged for its contribution to parliament.”

Christan Porter is the new Attorney-General, replacing Queenslander George Brandis will replace Alexander Downer as high commission to London.

Mr Turnbull said he had refreshed the ministry to reflect the priorities and values of his government.

“The Ministry is filled with energy and rich with diverse life experiences,” he said.

“Together we look forward to securing and delivering a safer and more prosperous Australia.”

Mr McVeigh and Mr Littleproud were travelling to Canberra on Tuesday evening ahead of being sworn in on Wednesday.

Mr Macfarlane went on to lead the Queensland Resources Council.

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How an Australian first-timer landed Jackman’s Greatest Showman

For an Australian filmmaker making a name in Hollywood, Michael Gracey is virtually unknown in his own country.
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But the visual effects artist and commercials director has just directed his first movie – and it happens to be a mega-budget musical about circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams with music by two of the composers who won an Oscar for La La Land this year.

While yet to open anywhere – it’s out in the US this week and Australia on Boxing Day – The Greatest Showman has already been nominated for three Golden Globes, including best musical or comedy movie, best actor for Jackman and best original song for the stirring This is Me.

So how did a newcomer land a gig like that?

“That’s a very good question,” Gracey said cheerfully ahead of the Australian premiere in Sydney on Wednesday night. “It came out of doing a commercial with Hugh for the Japanese market.

“I actually got the gig because they thought, being Australian, I knew Hugh Jackman, and I didn’t. But I also didn’t correct them.”

After bonding over that Ice Tea commercial, Jackman suggested they make a movie together then surprised his new friend by sending him the script for The Greatest Showman.

“That started a seven-year journey,” Gracey said. “We went down a number of different paths.

“There was a stage where we were being encouraged to do a jukebox musical … But not being content with that, Hugh and I were like ‘let’s make an original musical’.”

The movie follows Barnum’s rise from humble origins to drawing together all kinds of exotic performers – a bearded lady, a tiny man, conjoined twins – into a phenomenally successful circus then risking everything on a singing tour by a Swedish soprano.

Gracey said fellow Australians Baz Luhrmann, Tim Minchin and Peter Allen were inspirations as he made The Greatest Showman.

“There is something about musical narrative and Australians,” he said. “If you want to do something, you kind of have to do it at a level – because we’re so far away from everywhere else – that exceeds what is just normal if you want to convince people that some guy from Australia is worth backing for an original musical.”

Gracey hopes The Greatest Showman will have a life like classic original musicals The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain and Mary Poppins.

“I’d be very surprised if The Greatest Showman didn’t end up on Broadway at some point,” he said. “And I wouldn’t even be surprised if it ended up on Broadway with Hugh Jackman playing the role.”

Gracey, 41, grew up in Melbourne – in Carlton then Kew – then started working in visual effects and music videos before making his reputation in advertising, impressing with his Christmas commercials in the UK and US.

Rather than a bio-pic, he sees The Greatest Showman as “a musical reverie” about a famous impressario whose creativity extended to three autobiographies that told different versions of his life.

“I kind of feel like if P. T. Barnum was around now, this would be the version of his life that he would tell and he would cast Hugh Jackman, who looks nothing like P. T. Barnum, to play him,” Gracey said.

While Gracey has been linked to a movie adaptation of the Japanese manga series Naruto and an Elton John bio-pic called Rocketman, he is not sure what his next project will be. Much depends on how The Greatest Showman fares at the box office.

“If you look at the things I’m drawn to, it’s always stuff that’s got a lot of imagination and heart,” he said. Gracey ‘kind of a big deal’: Jackman

Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Hugh Jackman arrive at the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman in Sydney. Photo: AAP

Jackman has said that when he first met Gracey, he was already “kind of a big deal” in musical storytelling. And pitching the project around Hollywood while they were trying to get it financed, “he was better than I’ve ever been playing P.T. Barnum”.

At the Sydney premiere of the film, Jackman said the past seven and a half years developing the passion project had been surreal.

“For the first three years I was acting like I knew the film was going to happen but I really wasn’t sure,” he said.

“At the time I’d never done a movie musical, I’d done a lot of movies and a lot of musicals and I’d just hosted the Ocsars. I thought ‘I’d love to give it a go’ but I wasn’t sure I’d get a shot.”

When The Greatest Showman was green-lit by 20th Century Fox, there hadn’t been an original Hollywood movie-musical for over twenty years.

“We just put everything into it and we took a risk. I’m very proud of the film,” the 49-year-old said on the red carpet at The Star in Sydney.

The Golden-Globe nominated actor said he’d be game to portray Barnum if The Greatest Showman were ever to be adapted for the stage.

“I’d be interested in that. I really really love the music.”

A week after Disney’s takeover of 21st Century Fox was announced, industry heavyweights are still scratching their heads on what the merger will mean for the film-making landscape.

“It’s a huge shift, it’s a lot to take in. I don’t think anybody really knows what the plan is moving forward,” Jackman said.

When asked whether less risks would be taken with movies going forward, Jackman said only time would tell.

“I don’t think we can assume that Fox or those departments are not going to make these kinds of movies any more. I think the next year will tell.”

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Fight for survival: Deadline looms for Blue Mountains council

The Blue Mountains council claims it has done everything in its power to respond to allegations of asbestos management breaches, while it awaits the government’s verdict over whether it will be suspended.
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The council’s case for survival is contained in a lengthy submission to Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton, who last week issued the council with a seven-day deadline to respond to the allegations or face a three-month suspension.

The council urged the minister against suspending the elected body, claiming it “has acted in a timely, cooperative, open and appropriate manner” in responding to asbestos issues.

Speaking ahead of an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Mark Greenhill said he was “confident” Ms Upton would accept the council’s position.

“To suspend us, the minister would have to be of the view we were not acting on the information that was coming to us. Clearly that is not right.”

Cr Greenhill said the elected council first became aware of the council’s asbestos issues in May, and in the months since had been working with SafeWork NSW and the Environmental Protection Authority to resolve the issues.

The council was issued with several improvement notices by SafeWork NSW in November, after its inspectors discovered asbestos at a number of council-owned properties, including at pre-schools in Wentworth Falls and Katoomba.

SafeWork NSW is also investigating whether workers were exposed to asbestos-contaminated material at a council-depot site in Lawson between November 2016 and November 2017.

“At no point has the elected body shirked its responsibility. SafeWork NSW have expressed contentment with our work. We’ve met every single deadline they’ve set,” Cr Greenhill said.

Ms Upton’s intervention last week came two days after her cabinet colleague, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean, ordered Safe Work NSW to investigate asbestos management practices at the council.

Liberal councillor and former mayor Daniel Myles said the council was being punished for its outspoken views on Badgerys Creek airport and overdevelopment in the mountains.

“If we are removed from office it will absolutely be about more than asbestos,” he said.

“The people of the Blue Mountains gave this council a mandate to govern. That mandate is as significant as any other level of government and it should not be withdrawn, especially before the full facts are known and the inquires are completed.”

The government’s intervention also followed several weeks of media coverage by influential Sydney radio commentator, Ray Hadley, who raised the issue directly with Ms Upton during an interview on his morning show in November.

“I’ve been calling on you for a week to take some action. This council, minister, needs to be sacked,” Mr Hadley said on air on November 20.

In her suspension notice to the council on December 13, Ms Upton cited media coverage, and its reflection of community concern, among the reasons for her intervention.

Addressing this issue in its submission, prepared by general manager Rosemary Dillon, the council said inaccurate media coverage had led to “a detrimental impact on procedural fairness for the council in addressing concerns of the NSW government”.

The submission took aim at Hadley’s commentary, claiming he made “a number of unsubstantiated claims about the organisation, the elected body, the mayor and many council staff”.

The council is expected to adopt the submission at Tuesday’s council meeting before providing it to Minister Upton by the Wednesday deadline.

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Don’t shy away from standing up to China, US envoy urges

Donald Trump’s new national security strategy aims to give Australia and other allies in Asia greater self-confidence in standing up to China by vowing the United States is “not going anywhere”, his acting ambassador says.
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The strategy, which President Trump released on Monday night Australian time, paints a stark picture of China as a strategic competitor to the US. Beijing and Moscow, it states, “challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”.

James Carouso, the US charge d’affaires in Canberra, acknowledged the strategy was a “document of hyperrealism” that accepted the world was a very competitive place.

But he also stressed that it expressed a firm commitment to US alliances and to a continued US presence in Asia – a pledge that will be well-received in Canberra – despite some commentators’ assessments that the US will pull back from the region.

“It’s a full-throated endorsement of the idea that any comment about us pulling back from the region is not only exaggerated, it’s just wrong,” he said.

He said the US was seeking a co-operative relationship with China.

“But we believe neither ourselves nor our allies should shy away from speaking clearly and forthrightly about policies which we’re concerned about, including increased tension in the region,” he said.

The message to countries in the Indo-Pacific region included an “assurance that we are not going anywhere so perhaps they will feel a little bit more self-confident when they want to disagree with China on something”.

The release of the strategy comes a week after the Turnbull government unveiled its new laws to curb foreign interference, notably by China. Mr Carouso declined to comment on how these laws fit with the US strategy towards China. The US strategy raises the issue of Chinese theft of American intellectual property through universities – an issue that is also causing concern in Australia.

The 55-page document is the latest in the five-yearly national security strategies that the US Congress mandates each administration must release. It draws heavily on Mr Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy, though while it states allies should do more to help, it also emphasises the value of alliances to the US.

Mr Trump’s rhetoric, which has in the past castigated close allies for not doing enough, has caused nervousness in some Western capitals. Along with China, the strategy singles out Russia as a strategic headache, diverging noticeably from Mr Trump’s frequent reluctance to criticise the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Mr Carouso said neither Russia nor China had the strategic alliances that the US enjoyed, which gave it a huge advantage in magnifying its power in the world.

“This a document of hyperrealism. We can be co-operative, but the world is a very, very competitive place. This paper lays out clearly that the goal is to ensure that the global power tilts in favour of the US and its allies,” he said.

This would involve military and economic influence, “recognising that our competitors are trying to do the same thing”.

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Why you shouldn’t be spraying your spiders this summer

Many homeowners are disappointed to find spiders return to their property within a few weeks of spraying with insecticide. Photo: Kitty HillSummer in Australia conjures images of long days lounging at the beach, slurping dripping icy-poles, and discovering spiders on the veranda.
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Homeowners’ first instinctmay be to pick up the phone and call the fumigators.

But many people are often disappointed to find an army of eight-legged fiends have returned to the battle scene within a few weeks of spraying with insecticide.

Sam Yehia, owner of Sydney Best Pest Control, says that this disappointment is usually due to a lack of information provided to customers.

“Customer service is important. Some technicians turn up to [a customer’s] door and don’t explain to the customer what they are going to do… and afterwards the expectations. It’s pest control, not pest eradication,” Mr Yehia said.

“If you can’t spray a spider, you can’t kill it. When it come to funnelwebs, wolf spiders, or mouse spiders – ground spiders – you won’t ever completely get rid of them with just spraying because they roam around hunting.”

Macquarie University post-doctoral researcher Lizzie Lowe says spraying gardens with broad spectrum insecticide destroys the eco-system, allowing only the “hardiest” of pests to flourish with unlimited resources.

“People may want to eradicate everything in the backyard, but you shouldn’t actually want every insect in your garden dead. You want to have the good guys to help control the bad guys… so you don’t have these massive outbreaks of creatures,” Dr Lowe said.

Black house spiders and cockroaches are the most common critters to return after fumigation, according to Dr Lowe.

Both Mr Yehia and Dr Lowe agree that, generally, spiders do more good than harm in the backyard.

“Spiders eat flies, moths and flying insects that could bother you in your garden, or juvenile forms of these bugs like caterpillars who are eating your plants,” Dr Lowe said.

“I think a lot of people think that every spider is out to get them. In Australia, we have over 8000 species of spider and only two that will kill you, and they haven’t killed anyone in 40 years.

“A lot of people who report spider bites are often misdiagnosed and haven’t actually seen a spider. In the case of the white-tail spider there is noevidence that they have a flesh-eating venom; usually these wounds are bad becauseofbacterium that comes in afterwards.”

Mr Yehiarecommends dealing with spiders without upsetting their natural habitat by cleaning the gutters, and changing white outdoor lights to fluorescent lights to avoid attracting spider-food like moths and mosquitoes.

To keep redback spiders away from children, he suggests putting their toys in a plastic bucket of water overnight.Homing two chickens in the backyard to hunt and eat ground spiders, like funnel webs, also prevents against infestations without disrupting the eco-system.

If you are going to spray for spiders in your home, he says to “avoid spraying bushes or the fence line to avoid [unnecessarily] harming the spider life”.

When it comes to redback spiders, though, Mr Yehia says it’s important to spray for them in newly built homes, as they usually “come from brick work”.

“If you let them build up too much, they can go into the weep holes of the house, up into the roof, and back into the house,” he said.

“The most important thing is that, whoever does the pest control, that the roof gets dusted – most insects, whether they are cockroaches or spiders live in the roof.”

Fuel efficiency standard ‘would save billions’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gives a press conference at 1 Bligh Street to announce his cabinet reshuffle on 19 December 2017. Photo: Jessica HromasMotorists will save more than $500 a year on fuel if the federal government acts on a proposal to introduce a new fuel efficiency standard.
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The finding, contained within the Turnbull government’s long-awaited review of climate change policies, projects economic benefits of up to $14 billion if the new standard is fully implemented by 2025.

Savings would be made to household budgets through all new small cars being required to run on cheaper, more efficient fuel, while the economy would pocket $50 per tonne of carbon not released into the atmosphere.

Australia is playing catch-up on the policy that environmental groups have been calling for since at least 2014, with two of the world’s largest car markets – Japan and the US – already implementing restrictions and encouraging manufacturers to build cars for their markets worldwide.

Cars are by far the largest contributors to Australia’s transport emissions according to new figures released by the Department of Environment and Energy on Tuesday, making up to half of all transport emissions per year.

The Department of Environment and Energy found Australia could take better advantage of new technology allowing for the creation of low-carbon fuels from waste products such as plastics and timber off-cuts, while also exploring ways to use this fuel on planes and ships.

But fuel-powered cars could be on the way out by the time the policy is fully implemented after the review found the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads is expected to soar from 0.3 per cent of all new vehicles in 2020 to 15 per cent in the following decade.

If the extraordinary rate of growth is realised it will put more than 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Tuesday’s assessment from the government suggests Australia’s overall emissions are flat-lining, but omits crucial figures that show the country would have to go into an emissions nosedive to meet its target of a 28 per cent reduction by 2030.

“Emissions per person and the emissions intensity of the economy are at their lowest levels in 28 years,” the report found.

Figures released in a separate data wave and quietly uploaded to the department’s website shows Australia will be more than 140 mega tonnes above its target by 2030 at the current rate of growth.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney his priority through the national energy guarantee was “to keep energy affordable and reliable at the same time as meeting emissions reductions”.

The review allows for increases to baseline emissions when businesses require it and takes pro-market approach to environmental policy.

“We will meet our 2030 target and we will do so without compromising economic growth or jobs,” the report states.

“This would see baselines increase with production, supporting business growth. Conversely, if production falls, the baseline would automatically fall in proportion.”

Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt labelled the report “pure propaganda”.

“The public shouldn’t be paying polluters to keep on polluting,” he said.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott welcomed the findings and said it was time for the country to meet its international targets.

“After a decade of petty politics what Australia needs now is a bipartisan focus,” she said.

“The states as well as federal political leaders must work together not just to get the policies right and meet our targets, but to give businesses the long term policy certainty they need to plan and invest in innovative and more efficient technologies.”

The government is expected to develop next year a long term emissions reduction strategy to meet its 2020 and 2030 targets.

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State ministers reach stalemate over Murray-Darling Basin plan

A three-state ministerial council has been unable to break a political stalemate on the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
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Ahead of the meeting, Basin Community Committee member Russell Pell was optimistic the discussion would be about “constructive ideas – not political grandstanding”.

But after the meeting, that’s exactly what NSW and Victoria’s water ministers accused their South Australian counterpart Ian Hunter of doing.

“Today South Australia pretty much tried to hold hostage, or blackmail, the NSW and Victorian communities,” Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said.

The three ministers are at loggerheads over a plan to move 450 gigalitres of environment flows upstream to South Australia.

NSW Water Minister Niall Blair said communities would be “decimated” by the loss.

“We are not going to allow NSW communities to be held to ransom for political gain in South Australia,” he said.

“That’s what we’ve seen today, politics over policy, politics over the environment, politics over communities.”

A December 2017 review found farmers in the Goulburn Murray irrigation district were paying $20 million more per year for temporary water.

Farmer and Australian Dairy Industry Council chair Daryl Hoey said there were ongoing frustrations at the lack of progress on the plan.

Committee for Greater Shepparton’s Sam Birrell said the industries were reaching a tipping point.

“I worry five years down the track we’ll have a water crisis, a food crisis, industry struggling and what are we going to do about it?” Mr Birrell said. “Industry is under real threat.”

Albury major Kevin Mack said it was not good enough that South Australia was asking other states to “suck eggs” and adopt an unsustainable plan.

Councillor Mack said it was time for farmers, and those who represent them, to stand up for their industries.

“I can’t believe people in Canberra are making such ridiculous decisions … states need to step up and say ‘Enough is enough’,” he said.

“The [Murray Darling Basin Association] and ministers need to get their stuff sorted, it’s getting ridiculous.”

Mr Hunter said meetings would now be occurring “offline” between individual states rather than as a group.

He asked all federal ministers from South Australia to support a disallowance motion to prevent previously agreed upon points passing until the issue had been resolved.

“Today just confirmed our deep suspicion that NSW and Victoria never planned to deliver on the 450 gigalitres plan,” he said.

“They only wanted the down-water requirements.”

The Border Mail

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Kelly O’Dwyer: from ‘serial detachment’ to public service minister

Kelly O’Dwyer minister for Revenue and Financial Services at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 13 December 2016 Photo: Andrew Meares Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 20 October 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares
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NewsZed Seselja in his office with artwork, Winter Western Turville by Alexander Jamieson at Parliament House. 28 July 2016Photo by Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Times

Malcolm Turnbull’s new public service minister has previously accused Canberra public servants of “serial detachment” from the rest of Australia, advocated for job cuts and proposed formal employment exchanges with the private sector.

The surprise appointment of Kelly O’Dwyer to replace Michaelia Cash representing public servants and women in the Turnbull ministry is set to see a significant reorganisation among federal departments, coming as ACT senator Zed Seselja takes on the role of assistant minister for science, jobs and innovation.

The Higgins MP – a former staffer to Howard government treasurer Peter Costello – advocated in 2013 for “devolving power” away from Canberra-based departments and agencies, suggesting big business believes the public service does not understand the impact of policy or Australia’s economic realities.

“Business complains that the public service “doesn’t get it” -whether it’s what impact a policy change will have in practice, or what’s going on in the “real economy”,” Ms O’Dwyer wrote in an Australian Financial Review opinion piececoinciding with Canberra centenary celebrations.

“Ditto, not-for-profits. And for voters on the home front – after all, Canberra’s definition of a traffic jam is two cars within five metres of one another on Capital Circle.

“With its commitment to Australia’s future and despite undoubted talent within its ranks, the public service also gets frustrated at not understanding why its perfect theoretical solution won’t fly.”

The change offers the chance for a reset with the public service, in contrast to the hardline approach brought by former ministers Senator Cash and Eric Abetz, the bitter response to more than 15,000 job cuts and the government’s tough new workplace policy.

Ms O’Dwyer, minister for revenue and financial services, wrote in 2013 the size of the federal government workforce should be reduced to limit centralised decision making.

“Since 2007, the number of federal public servants has risen by about 20,000, yet many decisions would be better left to local communities and agencies on the ground, rather than made in Canberra.

“Devolving power removes obvious information costs between Canberra and the rest of Australia and delivers greater responsiveness to local needs.”

She said the Coalition shouldn’t put “all of our eggs in the smaller government basket”, arguing for six-month to three-year exchanges between departments and private firms to promote new insights and “more commercial” advice to government.

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood called on Ms O’Dwyer to deliver a new approach.

“This is an opportunity for the Turnbull government to change tack and abandon its destructive and counter-productive approach to the Commonwealth public sector,” she said.

“Kelly O’Dwyer should turn away from the ideologically driven war on public sector workers that’s been waged by Michaelia Cash and Eric Abetz before her and instead adopt a pragmatic and constructive approach to dealing with the public service.”

“I will be seeking to meet with Kelly O’Dwyer at the first available opportunity to discuss the deep challenges facing the public service and the people working with it to deliver services and public policy.”

Ms O’Dwyer said she was looking forward to getting briefed on issues within the public service, and would have more to say afterwards.

Hume MP Angus Taylor moves from assistant minister for cities and digital transformation to the new Home Affairs mega portfolio, in the new role of Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity.

Michael Keenan will take Mr Taylor’s former role overseeing the Digital Transformation Agency as well as taking over from Alan Tudge as Human Services Minister.

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Former racing minister appointed to $250,000, four-year term on board of Racing NSW

Former racing minister George Souris has been appointed to the board of Racing NSW on a four-year term during which he will be paid more than $250,000.
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Mr Souris, a former leader of the NSW Nationals and member of the Order of Australia, was racing minister for three years under former premier Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Souris, 67, retired from politics before the 2015 state election after being dumped from cabinet in a 2014 reshuffle announced by then Nationals leader Andrew Stoner and incoming premier Mike Baird.

Shortly before he was dumped from cabinet, Mr Souris announced a $10 million grant to establish The Championships thoroughbred carnival at Randwick and Rosehill racecourses.

On Tuesday, Racing Minister Paul Toole, the Nationals MP for Bathurst, announced Mr Souris’ appointment to the Racing NSW board.

“As a former NSW minister for racing, Mr Souris brings a wealth of racing knowledge and experience,” Mr Toole said.

Mr Souris will be paid $63,000 a year in the role. This will come on top of his taxpayer funded parliamentary pension worth more than $150,000 a year for life.

Mr Toole also announced the reappointment to the Racing NSW board for one year of former Labor racing minister Kevin Greene.

Mr Souris served in the NSW Parliament as the member for Upper Hunter for almost 27 years.

In May last year, he was appointed president of the Library Council of NSW – an unpaid position – by then arts minister and Nationals leader Troy Grant.

The following June he was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to the NSW Parliament and the community of Upper Hunter.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.