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‘Stressed’: residents still out of home a month after burst pipe

‘Stressed’: residents still out of home a month after burst pipe DISPLACED: Elermore Vale resident Nick Millward surveying the damage to his Taurus Street unit after it was devastated by a burst water main. Picture: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley at the Elermore Vale flooding. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldthey had become increasingly anxious in the wake of the September 22 burst, which sent a torrent of water into multiple units on Taurus Street, trapping some residents and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Hunter Water offered all who needed it temporary accommodation at no cost to residents.

However, according to correspondence seen by theHerald, that accommodation is due to expire on November 4, with residents told they would need to find alternate living arrangements.Residents were also given an initial9-day window to attain quotations for furniture claims over the value of $500.

Rent gap assistance–the cost of the new accommodation minus their original rent–would still be offered to residents.

BLOW-OUT: This unit succumbed to the water pressure. Picture: Marina Neil

However, traumatised residents said they felt the utility was“putting us under even more stress than we’re already experiencing”.

They said the utility’s request for residents to find new accommodation by November 4 was unrealistic.

“How can they expect us to do that in such a short time?” resident Nick Millward said.

“Even if we were to find a rental by that date, a lotof us have no furniture and there’s very few places that rent on a short-term basis.”

Other residents saidthey were still traumatised by the early-morning emergency.

At least one resident has sought professional help and children have struggled.

“It was very traumatic for us, and it still is for a lot of us,” one resident said.“I don’t think they [Hunter Water] understand how traumatising it was. They just need to understand that a bit better. None of this was our fault.”

ROUGH SLEEP: Residents were awoken by water lapping at their windows. Picture: Marina Neil

AfterHeraldinquiries on Friday, Hunter Water said it would make sure no one was left homeless.

“In terms of temporary accommodation, we want to help get people into their own, long term homes as soon as possible,” a spokesman said.“In the meantime however, we’re not going to allow a situation where a person has nowhere to stay.

“Hunter Water remains committed to supporting each individual affected by the Elermore Vale break in getting them back on their feet and to life as normal.”

A two-week extension was granted to allow residents to finalise claims.

“While it may be difficult providing these details, the sooner it happens, the sooner we can finalise claims and make ground on getting life back to normal for these residents,” hesaid.

‘Innovative’ energy policy no lifeline for coal, expert says

8th June 2017AFR GENERIC, solar, solar panels, green energy,Photo: Glenn Hunt .The design of the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee (NEG) is “innovative and elegant”, and could supply as large a share of renewable energy into the market as proposed by the Finkel Review, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.

While cautioning that the scheme to impose minimum reliability and emission reduction goals on the electricity market remains “in the early stage of development”, the plan could result in 42 per cent of power being sourced from renewable energy by 2030, the energy consultancy said.

“It solves a whole bunch of problems in one package … in an incredibly elegant way,” Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF in Australia, told Fairfax Media.

“Those who think it is throwing a lifeline to coal are mistaken.”

BNEF’s comments come as the federal government gave the states and territories just one day to respond to the NEG modelling scenarios it has asked the Australian Energy Markets Commission to canvass.

The scenarios include testing impacts of a straight-line reduction of emissions from 2020 to 2030, and an “optimised non-linear” one that presumably allows for a ramping up for renewable energy towards the end of the period, according to the letter sent to state governments and seen by Fairfax Media.

Mr Bhagnagri said he was surprised the briefing notes given to the states on Tuesday had predicted only a 28-36 per cent share of renewables by 2030. Various groups have seized on this estimate to criticise the plan.

If there were losers in the scheme, it might be large-scale solar and wind energy projects, which might be limited to 4.8 gigawatts of new capacity from 2021-30 because rooftop solar could crowd them out, BNEF said.

Mr Bhavnagri weighed into the debate about whether the scheme would generate a price on emissions, saying “the scheme does implicitly create a carbon price”.

Tom Koutsantonis, South Australia’s Treasurer and Energy Minister, said the scheme was “a carbon price but does not bear its name”.

“There’s only one way to [meet the Paris climate goals] and that’s to restrict the emissions of carbon,” Mr Koutsantonis told a lunch in Sydney. “They’ve got a price signal in place to do that – that is a carbon price.” Model uncertainty

One notable aspect of the scenario modelling – sent to the states and territories for comment on Friday – was federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s request the Australian Energy Markets Commission should “assume a constant target post-2030” in its work.

“Does this mean that electricity emissions would flatline from 2030, or that demand for electricity would flatline?” Alan Pears, an energy expert with RMIT University asked.

“Does it mean that all scenarios should assume the same carbon budget to 2050?”

“The modelling should test whether the NEG can deliver on a 2-degree pathway,” Mr Bhavnagri said, referring to the upper limit of the Paris climate goal.

“This is a core sensitivity. For power sector policy to be credible and durable, it must have the capability of meeting that goal,” he said. “Many of the world’s largest corporations stress-test their portfolio’s for a 2-degree world. If BHP can do it for it’s shareholders, I think the Australian government should do it for the nation,”

Two ministers complained to Fairfax Media about the short time given to provide feedback.

“This is not a sign of a government that wants to genuinely engage on an important piece of work,” one of them said.

“[There’s] insufficient time for us to consider it properly and respond,” the minister said. “Very unimpressed.”

Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at Melbourne University, said the Energy Security Board was being asked to do a “monumental” amount of work within the three-week deadline set by Mr Frydenberg to provide results by November 13.

“It’s practically asking the Australian Energy Markets Commission to re-do the modelling in the Finkel Review,” Mr McConnell said, referring to the eight-month effort led by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

He noted that while Mr Frydenberg sought modelling of the impact of Snowy 2.0 – potentially a $4 billion project to increase pumped-storage in the Snowy Hydro scheme – to be included in the modelling, other measures were excluded from the minister’s request.

The government should also ask for modelling for the renewable energy targets of Victoria and Queensland, and South Australia’s energy plan, Mr McConnell said.

“Once again the Energy Minister [Mr Frydenberg] is dictating to the states even though, like everyone else, they are still waiting on the details for this plan,” Mark Butler, federal Labor’s climate spokesman, said.

“It’s not just Labor state premiers – the Hodgman government [in Tasmania] have said they are not convinced on Turnbull’s plan and need more details,” he said.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Mr Frydenberg.

with Cole Latimer

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First home buyers, do you know what grants you’re entitled to?

SPREADING THE WORD: Holly Newbigging from Hore and Davies gave a seminar last week with ANZ on the new scheme for builders and buyers. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly Despite Wagga being ranked in the top 20 postcodes in NSW for taking up first homeowner benefits, agents say the market hasn’t lifted as much as expected following the sweetening of the scheme on July 1.

The new First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme giveseligible buyersexemptions on transfer duty on new and existing homes valued up to $650,000 and concessions on duty for new and existing homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000.

In the 2015/16 financial year 195 grants were paid for home buyers in Wagga totaling $1,640,609. Wagga remains 13thin the state for claiming thesegrants.

Shaun Lowry, director at Fitzpatricks Real Estate said while the market in general has picked up, the result was underwhelming.

“We thought it would have a bigger impact than it actually did,” he said.

However, hesaid there’s been a noticeable increase in out-of-town buyers.

“In the last 12 months, 60 per cent of our saleswere out 2650 area code,” he said.

“Abig part of that was investment and smaller part first home buyers from the city trying to get into the market.”

He believes soaring city prices have driven people to look to the country areas for their first home, which are now more visible than ever thanks to technology.

Holly Newbigging, licensed real estate agent from Hore and Davies said while they also thought the market would take off more, they have seen a significant boost to buyer activity on established homes as a result of the stamp duty saving.

“A lot of first home buyers cant afford $450,000 plusfor a brand new home so making that available on existing homes makes a huge difference,” she said.

She believes the scheme was likely pegged at the Sydney market where the median house price is currently $900,000 and near impossible to crack, compared to Wagga’s $340,000.

But, she said a lot of buyers and builders are ill informed about the benefits available to them now.

“I’dsay about 20 per cent of buyers aren’t aware there’sno stamp duty on established homes up to $650,000,” she said.

“It’s just about getting it out there more so they can start saving and know they’ve got help.”

She said within their agency, first home buyers tend to be local whereas good rental returns continue to drive a huge demand for investors coming in from Sydney.

Daily Advertiser, Wagga

Food, water, power to be cut at Manus Island centre as refugees forced to depart

Authorities are attempting to ward off a potentially violent crisis as the Manus Island detention centre closes, warning refugees their food, water and power will be cut on October 31.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers under Australia’s care have refused to leave the centre, whose closure has loomed since the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled the men’s ongoing detention illegal.

Alternative accommodation has been offered in the nearby town of Lorengau, but refugees fear clashes with local Manusians, and have largely refused to move.

Notices written in Persian given to some asylum seekers on Thursday – and translated by Fairfax Media – declare all services including food, sanitation and water will cease after October 31.

“All PNG government and Australian personnel will leave the regional processing centre. This site will be used by the PNG defence force,” the notices state. “If you decide to stay, you should know services will be terminated.”

Certified refugees can go to one of two alternative locations in Lorengau, or transfer to Nauru, and await the outcome of their applications for resettlement in the United States.

Asylum seekers not assessed to be refugees have been told they can go to a location called Hillside Haus but should make arrangements to leave PNG and go home.

Advocates fear an outbreak of violence as the October 31 closure deadline approaches, given rising tensions between refugees and Manusians, and the Good Friday clash between refugees and PNG soldiers.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee and journalist on Manus, said he and other asylum seekers were “very worried about the future and extremely scared by this situation”.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was not available on Friday and a spokeswoman referred questions to authorities in PNG. Mr Dutton had earlier told Sky News more refugees would soon be accepted by the US.

Asked about the issue in Parliament on Monday, cabinet minister Michaelia Cash – who represents Mr Dutton in the Senate – affirmed the centre would close on October 31 and “anybody will be removed by lawful means”.

The Australian government’s contractors, including International Health and Medical Services, will leave the island on that date, although the Guardian reported late on Friday that IHMS would remain on the island under contract of the PNG government.

Earlier this week, the United Nations said it was “profoundly troubled” by the situation on Manus Island and the imminent Australian withdrawal.

Its refugee agency, which sent a mission to PNG last month, noted “a lack of proper planning for the closure of existing facilities, insufficient consultation with the [PNG] community and the absence of long-term solutions for those not included in the relocation arrangement to the US”.

Those factors “increased an already critical risk of instability and harm”, the agency said.

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A menage à multiples

ENCORE: Four cast members have reprised their roles as has the director for G and S Player Comedy Club’s farce Move Over Mrs Markham.THE title of the farcical comedy Move Over Mrs Markham is a punning reference to the situations innocent people find themselves in while those around them are trying to have illicit relationships.

Not that Mrs Markham can fully blame other people for what happens to her, as this popular play by two masters of the form, Ray Cooney and John Chapman, reveals.

Move Over Mrs Markham is being staged as a dinner show by Newcastle G and S Players Comedy Club at St Mathew’s Anglican Church Hall, Georgetown, opening on October 27.

The show’s director, Steve McLauchlan, said the company staged the comedy five years ago, and audiences and the staging team so enjoyed it that the company decided to do it again.

Indeed, the liking of the show by four of the cast members has them playing the same roles and Steve McLauchlan is again directing, as well as playing a role.

Writers Cooney and Chapman made their names as actors in farcical comedies, so they knew how to make such a show work,and this has been a hit since it was first staged in London in 1969. The G and S actors will appropriately be wearing bright 1970-style evening garb in most of the show.

The cast members repeating their roles are Geoff McLauchlan and Natalie Burg as Philip and Joanna Markham, in whose apartment the action takes place.

Peter Eyre is Henry Lodge, Philip’s partner in a company publishing children’s books, and Suellen Hall is a writer of such books who comes to see Philip while all sorts of romantic skulduggery is happening, wanting the company to take over printing her books because she is unhappy with her current publisher as “there is too much sex around” in the books they issue.

The other characters, played by Sean Hixon, Selina Elliot, Ann-Maree Day, Hilary Oliver and Steve McLauchlan, are friends and associates of the husband and wife who use their absence at a publishing function to have liaisons in their apartment, with confusion increasingly growing.

Philip and Joanna respectively and privately gave a key to the apartment to a person, and their housemaid also has a key, so unexpected encounters increase. Philip at one point finds a romantic note on the floor and thinks it was given to his wife by a lover, helping to boost the pandemonium.

Move Over Mrs Markham has performances on Friday and Saturday from October 27 to November 11, with a three-course dinner at 7pm followed by the show, for an all-inclusive $40 cost, and a 2pm $20 show-only Sunday matinee on November 5. Bookings: 0432 886 149.

‘It’s been taken unbelievably calmly’

Kiwi fund managers took the shock news that New Zealand Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern will become the Pacific nation’s youngest leader in more than 150 years in their stride.

The election of 37-year-old Ms Ardern’s Labour Party ended close to a decade of centre-right National rule and could spell big changes for the country’s economy after most of the party’s flagship policies survived the negotiations with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Both parties have policies which are likely to lower immigration, implement higher taxes and weaken the housing market, UBS analyst Jeremy Kincaid said.

“The currency has already fallen on prospects of Reserve Bank of New Zealand reform and a slower growth profile, which also may feed into stronger price pressures,” he added.

While the Kiwi dollar remained off more than 2 per cent against its Aussie counterpart at around 89?? in the wake of Thursday evening’s announcement, the NZX initially fell sharply on Friday morning but then recovered through the trading day.

“The biggest surprise is the lack of surprise,” Milford Asset Management’s head of investment Brian Gaynor.

“It’s been taken unbelievably calmly,” Mr Gaynor said. “We thought that we would have a lot of clients calling us but we’ve only had two or three calls.”

“Change isn’t a bad thing. It’s been quite modest,” he said describing the move from centre right to centre left leadership as “more Tony Blair than Jeremy Corbyn.”

According to Pie Funds Investment Management chief investment officer Mike Taylor, the market’s reaction to the leadership change was a typical reaction to an incoming left-leaning government.

“Markets tend to favour conservative governments,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor is waiting for more clarity on policy but highlighted the strong correlation between net migration and house prices in New Zealand.

The new leadership is likely “negative for the housing market which in turn could flow through to the rest of the economy,” he said.

In terms of equity market impact, the one area of the market that was notably hit by the incoming leadership change was the retirement village sector, which relies on immigrant workers, Mr Gaynor said.

People also tend to move to retirement villages if they can sell their existing homes and there’s now some uncertainty about the residential property markets, he said. The sector also doesn’t have any exports so it is unable to benefit from a weaker currency.

Mr Gaynor said that overall the New Zealand equity market “has had a great run” but with the rate of economic growth now easing back “you tend to take a more cautious approach.”

“We like Australia at the moment,” he said, and Europe “looks pretty good” too.

To date the Kiwi equity market has been “very strong,” Mr Taylor said, who also flagged he was looking elsewhere for investment opportunities. “The funds we manage have very few New Zealand assets,” he said.

Morgan Stanley equity strategist Daniel Blake highlighted the high correlation of the New Zealand dollar to the domestic housing cycle and said “the currency could come under pressure should housing slow further.”

“The policy agenda proposed by the next government’s coalition of parties should have a negative impact on the structural outlook for the currency,” he said,

In addition, Australian companies may not by immune from fallout from the leadership change, Mr Blake added.

“We recently noted that ASX exposures to New Zealand were larger than often realised, with 43 stocks generating meaningful group revenues across the Tasman,” he said.

This includes the big four banks, which generate 10 to 20 per cent of group loans in New Zealand, with ANZ and NAB having the greatest share.

Consumer-linked businesses and industrials are next most exposed to any potential slowdown in New Zealand’s economy, including Harvey Norman, Woolworths, Kathmandu, IAG, Downer EDI, Fletcher Building, and Fairfax Media, according to Mr Blake.

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Robert Dillon: Garth Brennan is driven to succeed

OF all the hours Garth Brennan has spent on the freeway to and from Newcastle over the past six years, thelongest and loneliest driveoccurred midway through 2011.

WAITING GAME: After six seasons in Penrith’s lower grades, Novocastrian Garth Brennan has earned his first chance as an NRL head coach. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

It wasa trip home from Wollongong, after a face-to-face meeting withWayne Bennett.

Bennett had been recently appointed head coach of the Knights and was working through the process of what players and staff he wanted to retain, and who was expendable.

Brennan, who had been Newcastle’s National Youth Competitionmentor for two seasons, was concerned that he had not been approached, so he contacted the veteran tactician and asked for a chance to state his case, man to man.

Bennett agreed to meet but was apparently non-committal. By the time he jumped in his car, Brennan must have had a fair idea he was onborrowed time.

Sure enough, soon afterwards the Knights announced former Canberra and North Queensland assistant coach Mick Crawley would be be replacing Brennan, having signed a four-year contract.

The club’s media release said Brennan “has been encouraged to stay at the Knights next season to work with developing young players”, but theno specific role was ever discussed.

After an eight-season apprenticeship with Newcastle’s junior teams, including becoming the first man ever to coach their under-20s into the play-offs, Brennan had been cast aside with scarcelya second thought.

Only Bennett and the powers-that-be ofthat time would know the rationale behind their decision.

My guess –and it’s only a guess –is that Bennett wanted his own people in key positions.

He was stuck with Rick Stone as assistant coach, at the insistence of new owner Nathan Tinkler, and perhaps he was concerned about the possibility of a clique in the ranks.

Whatever the case, Bennett seriously underestimated Brennan’s desire to forge a career as a rugby league coach.

A lesser man may have walked away from the game, especially as returning to his original vocation as a police prosecutor was an option.

Instead Brennan accepted an offer from Phil Gould to coach Penrith’s under-20s.

Relocating his young family to the foot of the Blue Mountains would have been problematic, largely because Brennan’s wife Rachel was runninga successful law firm in Newcastle.

So instead he opted to commute, staying a few nights each week in Penrith, and the rest at the familyhome in Stockton.Over the course of six years, he rackedup 500,000 kilometres in the trusty Holden Commodore he “borrowed” from his car-dealing brother, Shane Brennan.

After winning an NYC premiership in 2013 with the Panthers, he was described as “an NRL coach in waiting” byGould. The next yearhe collected a NSW Cup title, a feat he repeated this season.

All the while, Brennan kept wondering if he would ever get a chance at the highest level.

Despite Gould’s glowing praise, when the Panthers sacked Ivan Cleary at the end of 2014, they hired Anthony Griffin rather than promoting from within.

Twice Brennan applied for the top job at Newcastle, after Bennett’s departure and then when Rick Stone was speared less than a year later.

Both times he was overlooked. Even when assistant roles came up at the Knights, he was never seriously considered.

Recently he applied for the vacant position at Super League club Warrington, only to be pipped by former St George Illawarra coach Steve Price.

Brennan could have been forgiven for thinking his lack of profile was counting against him. Despite playing more than 200 games in the Newcastle competition, he never made the grade at professional level.

Clubs are alsomore inclined to appoint a recycled coach with NRL experience than someone who is unproven in the top grade.

But all good things to those who wait.

This week the 45-year-old was unveiled as Gold Coast’s new coach for the next three seasons, and nobody could be more deserving.

The timing seems slightly ironic, given that Brennan spent the majority of his career playing forWests Rosellas in the Newcastle premiership, and now the Wests Group are on the verge of assuming full control of the Knights.

It would be fair to say the Wests board ofdirectors –men who, like Brennan, shed blood on Harker Oval in their day –will be monitoring his progress with interest.

Obviously Brennan faces plenty of challenges in his new role.

Learning how to manage highly paid superstars, including prima donnas like Jarryd Hayne, balancing a salary cap and dealing with the media spotlight.

It will be a learning curve, but no doubt it is one he will embrace. He’s dreamed about this for years, and nowit is a reality.

In many ways, Brennan reminds me of Trent Robinson, who also spent several years on Newcastle’s coaching staff. When Robinson was handed the reins of the Sydney Roosters in 2013, many had never heard of him. He won a premiership in his first season and is now established as one of the best coaches in the game.

I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if Brennanis equally successful. Indeed, I’d be stunned if he’s not.

CBA defends disclosure, executive pay

Commonwealth Bank chair Catherine Livingstone has defended the board’s decisions on disclosure and executive pay, under at times heated questioning over the money laundering compliance scandal that has rocked the bank.

Ms Livingstone and chief executive Ian Narev fronted the federal government’s banking inquiry on Friday, the first such appearance since explosive money laundering allegations were levelled against the country’s biggest bank.

The grilling came after National Australia Bank chief Andrew Thorburn faced the same committee, fielding questions over staff falsely witnessing 2000 documents, vowing there would be “consequences” for staff involved.

In August this year, Austrac launched explosive legal action claiming CBA failed to report more than 53,000 large cash transactions, and that crime gangs laundered millions of dollars through the bank’s ATMs.

Inquiry chairman David Coleman repeatedly asked Ms Livingstone why the board didn’t tell investors earlier about the alleged breaches, given it was first made aware of some breaches in August 2015.

Mr Coleman also suggested it had been “extraordinarily incompetent” of the board to have determined that targets relating to risk management had been met, when it set remuneration in 2016.

Ms Livingstone, who became chair at the start of this year, acknowledged the Austrac matter had been “very challenging” and was a “crucial issue” for the board of Australia’s biggest bank.

She defended the bank’s disclosure to investors, saying the board knew about only one component of the Austrac allegations against it in 2015. This related to the bank’s alleged failure to make threshold transaction reports – the requirement to notify Austrac of transactions above $10,000.

She said it remedied this situation within a month, including by boosting its financial crimes surveillance activity.

“We have met our continuous disclosure obligations based on our knowledge of the matters,” Ms Livingstone said.

Ms Livingstone said there was “a great deal” of detail in Austrac’s statement of claim, filed in August this year, of which the board had not been aware before it was lodged.

Mr Coleman also questioned Ms Livingstone over the board’s decision that group executives had satisfied performance criteria that included “risk” in 2016, when it was compiling its remuneration report. This is one metric included when determining executive bonuses.

Mr Coleman asked Ms Livingstone if the board had “manifestly failed in its duty” in making this determination.

“It is very, very hard to see how at bare minimum that is not extraordinarily incompetent, if not more problematic for the individual directors,” Mr Coleman said to Ms Livingstone.

In response, Ms Livingstone stood by the decision, saying it was “appropriate” at the time, as the board did not know Austrac would ultimately launch a civil case against CBA.

“The first we were aware that Austrac intended to launch civil proceedings was the third of August this year, and the period to which you relate and the events of that time are the subject of the Austrac civil proceedings,” Ms Livingstone said. ‘Further accountability’

The fresh round of scrutiny comes after Ms Livingstone scrapped short-term bonuses this year in response to the severe hit to the bank’s reputation caused by the Austrac scandal.

On Friday she vowed there would be “further accountability consequences as necessary” as the bank investigated the allegations further.

“As chairman, my position on accountability can be quite simply put,” she said.

“Where claims of serious misconduct are substantiated, there are consequences, including dismissal. People who underperform are supported to improve, however, if their performance doesn’t improve they are also asked to leave.”

As banks, and especially CBA, look to rebuild public trust in the industry, Ms Livingstone said the bank was conscious of the need for “greater transparency” and “greater accountability for the outcomes it delivers”.

“It is my goal as chair to ensure that we have robust governance, accountability and risk management systems in place,” she said.

Ms Livingstone also signalled that people had left CBA as a result of the flaws in the bank’s anti-money systems before Austrac launched the bombshell action against CBA in August.

Three former high-ranking executives of the bank had missed out on deferred pay as a result of the board’s pay cut this year, she said.

When pressed on specific details of Austrac’s claims, Ms Livingstone and Mr Narev said they were limited in what they could say because of the ongoing legal proceedings.

CBA is due to file its defence in the Austrac matter in December.

Mr Narev made it clear the bank would acknowledge it had made mistakes, and would not fight every aspect of Austrac’s claim against CBA.

“The statement of defence is going to make clear we’ve made mistakes,” he said. “We won’t fight the claim or fight aspects of the claim where we know we’re in the wrong.”

Analysts have estimated the bank could face a fine of up to $2.5 billion as a result of Austrac’s case, and suggested this is likely to weigh on the board’s capital management decisions. Share price slump

Since the Austrac allegations came to light, CBA’s shares have been downgraded compared with rival banks, and Mr Coleman put it to Mr Narev that the billions wiped off its market capitalisation would be “the largest example of shareholder value destruction in Australian history”.

“We understand that nobody wants to see the share price go down,” Mr Narev said in response.

“We would hope that many of those losses, over the short term, can be recuperated over the long term.”

The corporate watchdog has said it is investigating whether the bank’s board complied with its continuous disclosure obligations, while the plaintiff law firm Maurice Blackburn is also running a shareholder class action over the issue.

The Austrac scandal has put the spotlight on potential risks from banks’ intelligent deposit machines – which allow customers to make large cash deposits and were at the heart of CBA’s problems.

On Friday, CBA confirmed its machines continued to accept a maximum deposit of $20,000 in cash, compared with other major banks’ limit of $4000 to $5000.

Mr Narev said this decision on cash deposits was a reflection of small business customer “utility”.

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Merrick plays down Jets’ amazing record

FOCUSED: Ernie Merric explains a point to the Jets players at training this week. Picture: Marina NeilNEWCASTLE boast the best winning percentage at Suncorp Stadium of any team in the A-League including Brisbane, but coach Ernie Merrickinsists statistics will count for nothing when the Jets tackle the Roar on their home turf on Sunday.

Incredibly, the Jets have won 10 of their 17 matchesagainst the Roar in the Queensland capital for a success rate of 58.8 %. Brisbane, three-time champions, have won 50.9% of gamesat home.

Adelaide are next best at 47.4%.Current champions Sydney have traditionally struggled up north, winning just 15.8 %. Merrick’s previous club Wellington have performed the worst in Queensland, winning two of 16 attempts for 11.1%.

In 159 games at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane have lost just 45, 10 of those to the Jets, including a 3-2 defeat in round 14 last season.

However,Merrick played down the relevance of historical statistics–good and bad–due to the continual turnover in personnel.

“I don’t look at it,” he said. “This season is a completely different team. We have five new starting players.You can’t say you have a successful record up there when you have a completely different team.”

Merrick, who has coached more games than anyone in the A-League, said referring to historycould also have a detrimental effect.

“If you look at history in a positive way, you are obviously going to look at it in a negative way,” he said.“We have always lost up there, does that mean we are going to lose this time.”

The Jets have hit the ground running under Merrick.

Awin in Brisbane would propel them to seven points after the three rounds and the best start in the club’s history.

The Roar, who have suffered consecutive losses to Melbourne City (2-0) and Adelaide (2-1), have been boosted by the arrival of French winger AlecBautheac.

The 30-year-old, who made 13 appearances for Lyon in the French Ligue 1last season, touched down on Wednesdaymorning and is likely to feature on Sunday.

“It’s definitely a boost for everyone,” Roar coach John Aloisi said.”We had our captain Matt McKay, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and [assistant] Ross [Aloisi] went to the airport to pick him up at 2am (on Wednesday) – that’s how excited they were.The group is strong and it gives them a lift getting a new player in.”

Merrick said the arrival of any quality player was“great”for the league.

“I expect he will be a very good player,” Merrick said.“My view on these things is that it is great we are bringing in quality players to the league. The higher quality the league,the better for everyone–bigger crowds, more sponsorship, more television exposure.

“I think it is a good thing that they are bringing in a high quality player.”

The Roar have undergone a transformation of sorts since the departure of Jamie Maclaren, who scored 40 goals in 53 appearances, and the release of club legend Thomas Broich.

Veteran Serie-A striker Massimo Maccaronenow leadsthe line and former Victory winger Fahid Ben Kalfallah has replaced Broich.

“With Jamie they had pace up front who could get in behind,” Merrick said.“Maccarone is a different type of player. He is a quality playerbut more one who likes the ball passed to his feet.A speedy tricky winger likeBautheacwill add to them I’m sure.”

Distance not the barrier for Celia

WIN: Melbourne marathon champion Celia Sullohern on Sunday. Picture: AAP ImageMelbourne marathon winner Celia Sullohern will headline Sunday’s Fernleigh 15 just a week after her career-best long-distanceperformance.

The women’s record holder for the annual Lake Macquarie event took out the Victorian 42-kilometre race in two hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.

It was a five-minute personal best, top-10 Australian all-time and fourth on the 2017 national rankings behind fellow countrywomen Lisa Weightman Jess Trengove andVirginia Moloney ahead of next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

But that won’t stop the 25-year-old former Novocastrian from slowing down this weekend according to coach, Rio Olympian and Fernleigh 15 organiser Scott Westcott.

“My advice would be to take it easy, but I dare say she’ll pin her ears back,” Westcott said.

“We’ll give her the starting duties, but I reckon she’ll drop the gun and go.”

Sullohern, who also claimed the City2Surf in Sydney in August, will more than likely battle it out with Kahibah’s Bridey Delaney, who was second over 10km in Melbourne on Sunday.

In the men’s race Newcastle’s Vlad Shatrov will shoot for a third straight crown on the Fernleigh Track.

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Newcastle-based Rheed McCracken will lead the Fernleigh 15 wheelchair section minus Hunter ParalympiansKurt Fearnley and Christie Dawes. McCracken moves up in distance after breakingthe men’s 100m T34 world record in Switzerland in May.

Westcott said around 1100 athletes had signed up for the sixth annual edition of the Fernleigh 15, which included more than 200 in a newly-formed five-person team relay section.

Entries are still being taken at Kotara Westfield’s ‘Rooftop’ on Saturday between 9am and 5pm.

Racing on Sunday starts near Adamstown’s St Pius X High Schoolfrom 7:55am. The finish line is located behind Belmont TAFE.