Dragons confirm new ownership by WIN

29/05/2019 // by admin

St George Illawarra have confirmed WIN Corporation as their new part owner after completing years of on-again, off-again negotiations.

As part of the deal, Andrew Gordon, the son of WIN owner Bruce, will take over as the club’s chairman.

Ex-Dragons CEO Brian Johnston will return to his former job, replacing Peter Doust.

“Today is a momentous day in the history of the St George Illawarra Dragons as we welcome WIN as a partner in our club,” Johnston said via statement on Monday.

“The Gordon family through WIN bring a great passion for the Dragons and have been a supporter of rugby league for decades, first with the Steelers in 1982 and then the Dragons.”

Dragons coach Paul McGregor hailed the new owners after they agreed to buy a 50 per cent stake in the NRL joint venture.

“It’s really positive going forward with such a strong organisation as WIN Corp and the Gordon family being big supporters of rugby league,” McGregor told Macquarie Sports Radio.

“The growth there in the business behind the football team will improve, so it’s a positive all round for everyone involved in the club.

“Not too much will change.

“Brian Johnston coming on board as the new CEO, he’s a very experienced ex-player and businessman and his attitude towards everything is really good to be around.

“It’s all systems go for us because everything is all about winning with WIN.”

Doust, who earlier in the year announced his plans to retire at season’s end, has been a lightning rod for criticism during recent years with “Oust Doust” banners a frequent sign on the hill at Dragons games.

As part of the deal, the Dragons’ $6 million loan to the NRL will be repaid.

WIN will take over the Illawarra Steelers’ share of the club and will have three seats on the board, however, it is not expected to result in a change in the club’s name or brand.

Games will continue to be played in Wollongong at WIN Stadium and Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval.

Australian Associated Press

Federal Government’s decision to add cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi to the PBS will offer better health, and more time, to those eligible

29/05/2019 // by admin

New future: Morgan Gollan, of Fletcher, is happy a cystic fibrosis drug that helped her is now available on the PBS. “It has taken a village of people fighting for this,” she said. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTHE things Morgan Gollan longs for most cannot be bought –good health, and more time.

But the Federal Government’s decision last week to add a “life-changing” drug for cystic fibrosis (CF) to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)will offer bothbetter health, and more time, to those who are eligible.

Mr Gollan said Orkambiwasthe only available drugthat treatedthe underlying cause of cystic fibrosis, rather thanthe symptoms.

Previously, it cost $250,000 a year for CF patients.Now, it is set to cost less than $80 a year for concession patients, and $39.50 per month for general patients.

Related reading: Speaking up for access for pills of hope

“Friday’s decision means a new future,” Ms Gollan said.

“It means redefining what CF is, and that a bright, healthy future isn’t just possible, it is real.”

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system, with a life expectancy of 37.

Ms Gollan knows from personal experience what a difference the drugmakes, having been granted compassionate access to Orkambi in 2016 after waiting on alung transplant list for more than two years.

She watched herlung capacity grow from 35 per cent to55per cent while using the drug, and hascampaignedfor it to be made available to other cystic fibrosis sufferers ever since.

She said after three failed attempts to get it placed on the PBS, Orkambi was finally given the go ahead.

“It has taken a village of people fighting for this,” Ms Gollansaid.

“I havebeen on the drug for two-and-a-half years, and I am so happy that everyone else who is eligible for it will be able to access it. It’s the beginning of a new future for them.

“It is life-changing. Really.

“I felt guilty. It bothered me that I could have it, and other people couldn’t, because I knew how much difference it could make.”

Related reading: Cystic fibrosis patients need more mental health support

Ms Gollan, 27, said it was a wonder that she was still alive.She expected the drug would help others, like it had helped her,in preventing or reducing hospitalisations.

“I got my Christmas present, and all my dreams, two-and-a-halfyears ago when I first started taking it,” she said.

“Andnow, they get their new future too.”

Ms Gollan said the medication was expensive.

“But how much is a life worth?

“For the kids that start it, it will give thema normal life. The life expectancy before was37, but this drug is supposed to add 20 years to your life. That’s a normal life.

“And there will be more medications like it that will come through. So it will pave the way for those,” she said.

“Friday’s decision affirmed that the Australian government believes our lives are worth it, and that is everything.”

Business lobby unhappy with coal law changes, but so are injured workers

29/05/2019 // by admin

CLARITY: NSW Business Chamber says new coal industry workers comp legislation appears to go well beyond its intended reach, affecting service providers as well as mineworkers.LEGISLATION designed to close a loophole in coalmining workers’ compensation law has created a problem for companies providing various everyday services to the coal industry, according to a major employers’group.

Australian Business Lawyers and Advisers, a subsidiary of the NSW Business Chamber, says businesses whose employeesenter mine sites for something as simple as a delivery job may have to take out two sets of workers’ compensation insurance:one policy for the time they spend at a mine site and one for all their other work.

ABLA’sNewcastle spokesperson, Kyle Scott, said on Monday the situation followedchanges to the coal industryworkers’ comp system that were introduced on July 1 with a transition period until October 1.

The legislation, the Coal Industry Amendment Act2018, was designed to close a legal loophole caused by a 2014 court case that had allowed labour hire firms to move away from the supposedly compulsory coal industry workers’ comp scheme run by Coal Mines Insurance or CMI.

CMI is a subsidiary of Coal Services (formerly the government-owned Joint Coal Board, which was handed to the Minerals Council and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union in2001.

Restructure causes job losses at mines insurer

Coal Services is responsible for the health and safety of mineworkers and its compensation system charges premiums that recognise the health costsof long-term exposure to coal dust.

Mr Scott said the Minerals Council and the CFMEU were clearly consulted in the lead-up to the legislation but it seemed as though the“service companies” were not.

“As far as we are concerned, the amendment goes well beyond closing the loophole to arguably impact ona huge range of other businesses that supply services to the coal industry,” Mr Scott said.

He said the new definition of an “employer in the coal industry” as “any employer whose employees work in or about a coal mine” was too wide.

“Where employees spend some of their time working in or about a mine and the remainder working elsewhere, employers must now have two policies to cover that one worker,” Mr Scott said.

“They will also need to estimate the percentage of their employee’s total work activity in or about a mine, and then split and declare wages between the two policies.”

Mr Scott said the business chamber had written to the ResourcesMinister, Don Harwin, who had responded to say that it was not the intention of the legislation to rope in companies from outside of the industry.

He said that if the problem wasn’t fixed by regulation it would probably end up in the courts.

Asked about the chamber’s concerns, Mr Harwin said on Monday night that “the types of work that are required to have CMI coverage have remained the same, and have not been broadened under the recent amendment”.

“Workers engaged in non-mining related activities, and workers who are required to attend a coal mine site on an ad hoc or irregular basis in the course of their work, are not required to be covered by CMI,” Mr Harwin said.

Responding to ABLA’s concerns, a spokesperson for Coal Services said it had material on its website that clarified for things for employers.

As for holding two workers compensation policies, the spokesperson said this was already the case and had been since 2008.

The Coal Industry Amendment Act, which passed through NSW parliament in May, was championed by the Coalition and Labor alike as a fix for an industry with growing confusion over its workers compensation system.

In April, Resources Minister Don Harwin told parliament:“Given that the mining industry is increasingly moving towards a flexible contract workforce it is crucial that mine workers are afforded the same level of health and safety protection. Employers who are not using the Coal Mines Insurance scheme do not contribute funds to support the Coal Services health and safety monitoring of workers or the monitoring of dust and airborne contaminants. This puts coal mine workers at risk because of the difficulty in tracking health records and monitoring results over time.”

Miners’ lung disease detected again in NSW

But former Mount Arthur contractor Simon Turner said on Monday that nothing has been done for people like him who had been injured while their employer was using“the wrong insurer”.

He said the industry was“still pretending that injured workers like us don’t exist”.

“The changes mean that anemployer in the coal industry means any employer whose employees work in or about a coal mine,” Mr Turner said.

“That’s straight from the amendment bill. It’s alsowhat I’ve pointed out from day one to everyone involved, starting withSIRA (State Insurance Regulatory Authority), Icare, CGU Insurance, GIO ,Chandler Macleod and WIRO (Workers Compensation Independent Review Office).

“Yet after almost three years of fighting this stuff, those of us who have been injured while our employer was not using Coal Mines Insurance as they should have been are still left where we are, still falling through the cracks with each organisation saying it’s not their job, or they don’t have jurisdiction, or they’ve already answered that question.”

Mr Turner’s plight and that of others in a similar situation attracted the interest of a specialist Canberra law firm, Adero Law, which has launched a class action to pursue the rights of present and past casual mineworkers it says have been substantially underpaid.

Vic Greens call for $1.5b banking levy

29/05/2019 // by admin

A tax on banks could rake in $1.5 billion over four years for the state, the Victorian Greens say.

The minor party is pushing for a controversial banking levy, based on the South Australian model proposed by the former Labor government.

“The Greens’ plan for a levy on the big four banks, plus Macquarie Bank, will return some of the super profits of the banks to all Victorians,” Greens’ treasury spokeswoman Ellen Sandell said in a statement on Monday.

“This means more public money for our schools, hospitals, public transport, and essential services across Victoria.”

The Greens have had the policy reviewed by the recently-established parliamentary budget office, which costs political policies.

The party’s plan would apply to banks operating in Victoria which are already liable for the federal major bank levy and would be set at 0.015 per cent per quarter of the state’s share of bank liabilities, calculated using Victoria’s share of the national economy.

“Banks should be working for us, but the royal commission has shown us that they’ve racked up super profits off the back of shocking behaviour,” Ms Sandell said.

“We can’t just rely on taxes from an over-inflated housing market to pay Victoria’s bills.”

However, Premier Daniel Andrews quickly shot down the suggestion, telling ABC radio on Monday he ruled it out when the SA government tried it and his position had not changed.

Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said the policy was “recklesss and dangerous”, discouraging investment, slowing growth and affecting jobs.

“This proposal will hurt business confidence, affect investment and make the state a riskier place to do business,” Ms Bligh said.

“The finance and insurance industry is vitally important to the Victorian economy, contributing 10.6 per cent to economic activity of the state.

“Australia’s banks last year paid almost $14 billion in tax, making them the largest taxpayers in the country.”

Australian Associated Press

Family angered by Qld shooter’s sentence

29/05/2019 // by admin

The distraught sister of a man shot to death on the Gold Coast by his ex-partner has told the woman to “rot in hell” in a Queensland court.

Linda Annette Currie, 50, was sentenced to seven years’ jail at a Supreme Court hearing in Southport on Monday for shooting Gabriel Orchard following a confrontation at a Labrador home in August 2016.

Currie had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder.

With time already served, Currie will be eligible for parole from December 21, 2018.

The sentence drew sighs and groans from Mr Orchard’s family, who wept in the back of the court before one of his sisters angrily disrupted the hearing.

“Rot in hell you scum … you murdered my brother,” the woman yelled before being escorted from the court by a police officer and other family members.

Outside court, Mr Orchard’s father Mac simply said “not bad for murder, isn’t it?” when asked by reporters about the sentence.

The court heard Mr Orchard, who had been released from prison a couple of months before the shooting, had given Currie a gun to look after the morning of his death while he attended Southport Court.

Later that day, he returned looking for Currie at the Labrador home and when the pair had wrestled for control of the gun around a kitchen table, he was fatally shot in the chest.

Prosecutor Matthew Hynes told the court Currie had expressed remorse and distress when police arrived.

“I should’ve just taken a beating,” Currie told officers, referring to the pair’s history of domestic violence.

Justice David Boddice said the nature of the pair’s former relationship and her remorse were factors in his sentence but that she had a “fleeting intention to do grievous bodily harm” to Mr Orchard.

“It’s a terribly tragedy that you have taken the life of another human being,” Justice Boddice said.

“The loss of that human being has been devastating for the family.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Orchard’s mother Kathleen said the loss of her first-born son had left a “gaping hole” in her life.

“No one should lose a child like that,” her statement said.

Mr Orchard’s sister Katie said in her statement that explaining what had happened to her children had been particularly galling.

“My heart has been shackled,” she wrote. “In an instant it was all gone.”

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Australian Associated Press