Archive for: ‘May 2019’

Jury in Robert Xie retrial says they are unable to reach unanimous verdict

09/05/2019 Posted by admin

Robert Xie and his wife Kathy Lin arrive at the Supreme Court in December. Photo: Jessica HromasThe jury in the retrial of Robert Xie has said?they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict after eight days of deliberations,?prompting Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton to issue a direction requiring them to reconsider the issues.
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The jury of 12 men and women sent a note to the court?about 1.30pm on Thursday advising?they had not been able to reach a verdict.

Justice Fullerton?directed them?to reconsider the issues “in order to make a further attempt to unanimous?verdicts in this trial”.

However, the jury sent another note shortly before 3.30pm reiterating that they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Justice Fullerton directed the jury a?majority verdict of 11 would now be accepted by the court.

“You should clearly understand that there are only two ways verdicts can be delivered in this trial: one, by unanimity, that is by all 12 of you, or by majority of 11 of you. No other numerical configuration will suffice,” Justice Fullerton?said.

Mr Xie, 53, is accused of murdering five members of his family on July 18, 2009.

The bodies of his brother-in-law Min “Norman” Lin, 45, Mr Lin’s wife Yun Li “Lily” Lin, 43, her sister Yun Bin “Irene” Lin, 39, and the Lins’ two sons Henry, 12, and Terry, 9 were found in their North Epping home.

He has pleaded not guilty.

After a six-month trial in the NSW Supreme Court, the jury of nine men and three women started their deliberations on Friday, December 30.

“Thank you for your jury note in which you inform me that you have not been able to reach unanimous verdicts in the trial at this time,” Justice Fullerton told the jury shortly after 1.30pm on Thursday.

“While I have the power to discharge you … that power will only be exercised by me if I am satisfied that after further deliberations?there is no likelihood of genuine agreement being reached and verdicts returned.”

Justice Fullerton said “it is the experience?of our criminal justice system that juries can often reach agreement if they are given more time to consider the issues”.

She?“unreservedly” accepted that the jury had given their “focused and careful consideration” to the evidence over the past eight days but invited them?to “retire again and to continue with your deliberations?to examine the issues that are the subject of disagreement in order to make a further attempt to unanimous?verdicts in this trial”.

Shortly before 3.30pm, the jury sent a further note saying they were still unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Justice Fullerton said they should continue trying to reach a unanimous verdict but a majority verdict of 11 jurors would now?be acceptable.

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

AGL slapped with $124,000 in fines for breaching political donations laws

09/05/2019 Posted by admin

AGL ?says it adopted a new policy in 2015 prohibiting political donations with AGL funds. Photo: Rob HomerEnergy giant AGL has been fined $124,000 in the NSW Land and Environment Court for failing to disclose political donations when making planning applications in the state.
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The Department of Planning and Environment brought the case against AGL and its subsidiary AGL Upstream after a compliance investigation was undertaken following complaints from community groups led by Groundswell Gloucester.

The department said on Thursday that?the fines were the largest imposed since?the provisions were introduced in 2008. The companies were also required to pay the department’s legal costs.

The?11 breaches, to which AGL pleaded guilty in February, involved failures to properly disclose donations as it applied for?coal seam gas projects in Gloucester and Camden,?the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility, the Broken Hill solar plant and the Dalton Power Station, the department said.

The fines were welcomed by John Watts, a spokesman for Groundswell Gloucester, who said it was “pleasing to see that AGL has finally been held accountable for its failure to comply with its political donations obligations”.

Mr Watts, though, said it was concerning that it required the diligent work of its volunteer members to unearth the breaches.

“The government itself seems to never bother checking that the law has been complied with,” he said, adding that the fact companies were not required to immediately report?political donations made breaches harder to uncover.

“The?penalties for such offences are woefully small having regard to the huge amounts of money involved in the large projects that companies such as AGL undertake, and having regard to the importance to communities in knowing what is being donated.”

At the time of the breaches, AGL had been pursuing development of a $1 billion-plus coal seam gas field near Gloucester in the state’s mid-north coast. The company abandoned the venture in February after a slew of mishaps and attempts to dump waste water into Hunter Water’s network despite being told in writing not to do so.

AGL said in a statement?it accepted the judgment of the court, adding it had adopted a new policy in 2015 prohibiting political donations with AGL funds.

James Hebron, general counsel for Planning, ?said the company had ?co-operated with its compliance investigation.

“Under planning legislation there is an obligation on a proponent when making a planning application to report political donations,” Mr Hebron said. “This is to ensure transparency in the planning process.”

Follow Peter Hannam on?Twitter?and?Facebook.

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

Pensioners’ payments reduced amid anger over politicians’ entitlements

09/05/2019 Posted by admin

Judith Daley is angry about changes to the aged pension. Photo: Brook Mitchell “The only sure thing that comes out of it is that the general public is disadvantaged,” says Judith Daley. Photo: Brook Mitchell
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Judith Daley is one of the unlucky ones. Amid simmering anger over politicians’ entitlements and the government’s Centrelink debt clawback, the Sydney retiree is one of about 327,000 pensioners to have had her pension reduced?or cut altogether this year.

Ms Daley, 72, has lost?her part pension and health benefits under changes to the aged pension introduced on January 1.

“I have lost the health benefits that come with the age pension card,” Ms Daley said. “I don’t quite know at this stage what that means. I have serious ongoing health issues and they will be degenerative as I age.”

The federal government insists its pension reforms, which it passed last year with the support of the Greens, are necessary to secure the long-term viability of the pension.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told 2GB radio in Sydney last month the cuts would bring in “around $1 billion a year” in savings, and the changes were necessary to keep the pension sustainable.

“When you are faced with an ageing population, let’s not forget the pensions that are paid out today are paid for by today’s taxpayers – the people who are paying taxes today,” he said.

Ms Daley?was on a small part pension and received $230 a fortnight but has lost this as part of the federal government’s change to the assets threshold.

“I seem to have approximately $34,000 more than the cut-off for an aged person, so I have lost 100 per cent of the part-pension fund.”

She is angry about the loss of health benefits and the lack of detail about the federal government’s Low Income Health Care Card.

“As an aged pensioner I got significant discounts on prescribed medications and most GPs are bulk billed,” Ms Daley said. “I don’t know what the new Low Income Health Care Card is going to involve, because I haven’t received any information.”

Pensioners losing payments face a double whammy; once they lose their pension card they will also be stripped of a range of state-based pensioner discounts, including reduced council rates.

In a statement, Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the changes “only affect those with significant levels of assets other than the family home and who receive a part-pension”.

“The family home remains exempted from the assets test and the changes have been designed so that they only impact pensioners with significant assets outside the family home.”

Under changes introduced in the last budget, which came into effect on January 1, pensioners who own assets above increased thresholds – not including the family home – may receive a reduced fortnightly pension rate.

Single homeowners can have $250,000 in assets, not including their home, before their pension rate is reduced, while homeowner couples can own up to $375,000 in assets before their pension rate is cut.

After that threshold is reached, pensioners will lose $3 for every $1000 they own over the limit, up from $1.50.

The changes will leave about 171,000 pensioners better off; on average $30 a fortnight.

But Labor and the unions have come out swinging against the changes, which will see about 236,000 pensioners lose part of their payments, and another 91,000 lose their pension entirely.

They come into effect amid protracted complaints about the government’s handling of the “clawback” of $4.5 billion in supposed debts, with about 232,000 people served with notices that they owe Centrelink money. It has been estimated that at least one in five of those contacted did not owe a debt.

ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connelly said the government could look elsewhere for cuts, pointing to its proposed corporate tax cuts, which Treasury has estimated will cost the budget at least $48.2 billion over 10 years.

“The politicians that have made this choice are so far disconnected, as we’ve seen in recent days,” Mr Connelly said. “We don’t accept that this is the right decision for the times.”

Council On The Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said there were mixed views on the reduction among members.

“We’ve never advocated a reduction in the pension, but at the time we said this is the least worst of the options around,” Mr Yates said.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said pensioners were now aware of the “real” impact of the pension cuts. “Mr Turnbull just doesn’t get fairness. He’s taking money off pensioners and at the same time he’s trying to give big businesses and the banks a $50 billion handout.”

Ms Daley said that it was “no wonder people are disillusioned and fed up”, citing the furore surrounding Health Minister Sussan Ley’s travel expenses.

“The only sure thing that comes out of it is that the general public is disadvantaged,” she said.?“We can’t point to anywhere that the general public have been advantaged in one of these things.”

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

Assessments get most attention but have least importance in teaching: survey

09/05/2019 Posted by admin

Primary school students learning to read using phonic sounds. Photo: Justin McManusIt’s a frustration commonly voiced by teachers and educators: the media dedicate far more coverage to issues that are often the least important when it comes to effective teaching and learning.
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Now there’s a measure of that priority gap.

A global survey by the US-based International Literacy Association asked more than 1500 teachers, policy-makers and literacy academics to rate 17 literacy topics as either “hot” or “important”.

Hot was defined as trending –?debates or issues that receive the most attention in the classroom, in conversations with other educators, and in the media.

Important was defined as those topics most critical to advancing literacy for all learners.

The survey found that educators believe standards and assessments (including national tests and the global PISA tests) get far more attention than they deserve, while early literacy is actually the most important topic when it comes to boosting literacy skills.

Parent engagement was considered the most important topic that gets the least emphasis.

But the survey report’s authors were surprised that there was not more importance attached to digital literacy, with 37 per cent saying it was not at all, slightly or moderately important in their country, despite being an extremely hot topic. That meant it was ranked less important than early literacy, professional learning and development, diversity, parent engagement, independent reading and several other topics.

The five hottest topics were assessment/standards; diversity; digital literacy; early literacy and disciplinary literacy (which includes STEM literacy).?

Australia contributed the third-largest response to the survey, after the US and Canada.

Respondents to the survey included classroom teachers and reading/literacy specialists teaching 5-14-year-olds, academics and people working in government,?with an average of 11 years of professional experience.

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Graham Arnold boasts of Sydney FC’s defensive record ahead of Western Sydney Wanderers clash

09/05/2019 Posted by admin

Possible call-up: Sydney FC Youth player George Timotheou could be on the big stage. Photo: Melissa AdamsSydney FC coach Graham Arnold brushed off concerns over his club’s defensive crisis for Saturday night’s derby, suggesting Western Sydney Wanderers will struggle to get a shot on target against his high-flying side.
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Never one to shy from pre-game mind games, Arnold deflected concerns of fielding an inexperienced defender in the biggest home game of his club’s season – instead heaping more pressure on the Wanderers’ problematic attack that has plagued their season.

A 19-year-old untested central defender could be thrown into Sydney FC’s starting line-up due to injuries, suspension and player sales depleting their back line, but Arnold believes it won’t have much of an impact on his team’s collective defensive shape.

Whether?teenagers Patrick Flottmann, George Timotheou?or 21-year-old Aaron Calver partner Alex Wilkinson on Saturday night, Arnold doesn’t envisage the reshuffle causing a busy night for goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who has leaked fewer goals than any other shot stopper this season.

“Our defence starts from the front, we’ve got a brick wall, we’ve conceded seven goals in 14 games and again our defence starts from the front, we’ve had many games where Danny Vukovic hasn’t had to make a save and the same will happen on Saturday night,” Arnold said.

The Sky Blues are holding out little hope of signing a foreign defender in time to face the Wanderers and are set to continue their search for Matt Jurman’s replacement into another week. An injury to Seb Ryall is expected to sideline the defender for a number of weeks and prompted Sydney to fast-track their recruitment of another central defender.

The club was linked with Czech international defender Tomas Sivok, former Newcastle United man Steven Taylor and Australian-born Greek international Avraam Papadopolous. Sydney will instead look at other options during the January transfer window including their ongoing bid to sign Australian international Rhys Williams, who won’t be released by Perth Glory despite being on the outer.

“It seems that Rhys is unhappy. It’s clear he’s not playing over there and for me Rhys is a national team player,” Arnold said.?“Would we like to have him? Yeah if they don’t want him we’d love to have him, but it’s out of our hands.”

The inability to bring in a visa-player in time for Saturday’s derby hampered Sydney’s hopes of deploying midfielder Brandon O’Neill?as a makeshift stopper with his regular partner Josh Brillante suspended,?leaving the club’s midfield stocks?bare. O’Neill played the majority of last week’s match against Central Coast Mariners at centre-back and, while earning praise from his coach, Arnold reaffirmed his faith in his young central defenders?Flottmann, Timotheou and Calver – who only recently returned from a lengthy injury layoff – to step into such a big occasion.

“We’ve got some fantastic under-20 kids. Patrick Flottmann and George Timotheou ?who are international players. They’ve been waiting for their?chance for a long, long time. They’ve worked extremely hard in training. They’re part of the youth team that won six trophies last year. They’re very successful in what they do,” Arnold said. “Brandon O’Neill played in the back line showing what he can do,?Aaron Calver is back who’s got a lot of experience in the A-League for his age.”

Sydney are in a rich vein of form in front of goal having scored 13 goals as they won their last four games, three of which were away from home. Their attacking stocks are set to receive a further boost with the return of?captain Alex Brosque?to the starting line-up after serving a one-game suspension.

“Alex Brosque, our captain, is back and he’s such a wonderful leader, such a wonderful player. He brings another 10-15 per cent out in all our players. We’re down one player suspended, they’re down two players suspended. They’ve got a couple of injuries, we’ve got one injury so were in good shape,” Arnold said.

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