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Monthly Archives: July 2019

Crown keen to talk casinos with Qld

James Packer’s Crown is keen for details on Queensland’s plans for up to three new mega casinos as the sunshine state chases a bigger slice of the Asian gambling dollar.

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Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie has welcomed the announcement by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, and said he looked forward to seeing details of an expressions of interest process for new licences.

“Queensland is renowned globally for its incredible natural environment and climate,” Mr Craigie said in a statement.

“Investing in new attractions like integrated resorts will help ensure the state is more competitive with other global tourism destinations, many of which are already investing large sums to increase their tourism appeal.

“Crown is already participating in the consultation process around the future use of the William Street-government precinct in Brisbane which to us is an appealing site.”

Mr Newman has called for expressions of interest for a second Brisbane casino licence as part of the redevelopment of the Brisbane government precinct.

He says building a resort-style casino, and potentially another two in other parts of the state, is the best way to compete with other Asian tourist destinations.

Crown’s rival, Echo Entertainment, already operates casinos in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

Crown does not operate a casino in Queensland, but owns Melbourne and Perth complexes, and is negotiating the development of a VIP-casino and resort in Sydney.

Echo on Tuesday issued a statement, stating it had strong interest for some time in the government administration precinct in Brisbane.

“We look forward to the commencement of the expression of interest process later in the year as announced by the Queensland state government yesterday,” an Echo spokesperson said in a statement.

Echo Entertainment’s Treasury Casino licence in Brisbane expires in 2070, and Crown has expressed interest in such a licence, Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Wilson said.

“The government is seeking a proposal for an integrated development that is likely to include hotel, retail and entertainment precincts as well as a casino,” he said.

“The EOI (expression of interest) process will commence by the end of the year and the government will also seek interest from Asia and North America.

“The government may also offer two other casino licences for major integrated resort developments elsewhere in Queensland and locations could include the Gold Coast as part of the Broadwater Marine Project and Cairns.”

He said the threat of more competition for Echo in Queensland would weigh on its share price.

Crown’s shares on Tuesday were 59 cents, or 3.72 per cent, higher at $16.44, while Echo’s shares had lost 13 cents, or 4.78 per cent at $2.59.

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2019年7月17日 上海性息

Phillip Island braces for Stoner-free era

Stoner, who pushed his Honda to a record sixth straight victory at Phillip Island last year before bowing out of the sport at the age of 27, will hit the bucolic seaside circuit again but only for an honorary lap with fellow Australian world title-winners Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner.

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Stoner’s valedictory appearance lured a bumper race-day crowd of 55,000 last year, with leather-clad enthusiasts riding thousands of miles from distant states to farewell the local hero whose family sold their farm to finance his boyhood dream.

Organisers will be happy with 40,000 turning up this year and have pinned their hopes on 20-year-old Marc Marquez’s bid to become the youngest world champion – and a forecast of sunshine at Phillip Island’s notoriously changeable weather.

“It’ll be tougher without Casey Stoner here, we had an unbelievable strong amount of revenue growth from Casey Stoner’s decision to retire last year but that will be difficult to match,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) CEO Andrew Westacott told Reuters in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“Because if we’re not getting the same level of attendance, we’re going to be short of revenue.”

Australia’s appetite for world class sport and major events has seen motorcycling’s premier championship make a stop Down Under since 1989, with Phillip Island hosting a race for all but six of the years.

Like the higher-profile Formula One race held at Albert Park circuit a two hour drive up the road to Melbourne, the MotoGP has long been subsidised by taxpayers, albeit far less controversially than the four-wheel race which has posted losses of above A$50 million ($47.40 million) in recent years.

As boss of both races, Westacott has one of the toughest jobs in Australian sport, caught between government officials determined to reap political capital from hosting prestigious events while demanding organisers cut costs.

The AGPC managed to trim the loss for last year’s Australian MotoGP – which it termed “government investment” in its annual report – to A$5.95 million from the previous year’s A$6.59 million, a decrease of about 10 percent.

FUELLING SPECULATION

The annual report budgeted for another decrease in the taxpayer outlay to A$5.24 million for this year’s race, but Westacott suggested it would be difficult to boost last year’s revenues of $12.6 million without the Stoner factor.

Little wonder the nation still pines for the hard-bitten rider, who signed off disillusioned with the tour and has spent this season repeatedly denying he is set for a comeback.

World champion for Ducati in 2007 and for Honda four years later, Stoner has since had an unsuccessful stint in the second tier of Australian V8 Supercar racing, driving on a one-year contract for Red Bull, and said last month he would take a break from the competition.

He fuelled speculation of a return to motorcycling by agreeing to test for Honda earlier this year but the team made it clear there were no plans for him to ride as a wildcard at any races this season.

Both Gardner, Australia’s first premier class champion in 1987, and five-time champion Doohan have speculated Stoner will change his mind.

“He could be on a bike as early as next year if he wanted to be,” Doohan told an Australian MotoGP podcast this week.

“He still knows how to ride and he’s still young enough. He’s an immensely talented rider so anything’s possible – but if he was going to come back, 2015 is going to have to be the year. Anything beyond that, it’s going to get more difficult.”

Westacott was also keen to apply gentle pressure.

“Casey makes his own decisions, he always has… I’d say wait and see what happens next year,” he said.

Boasting at least one premier class world title winner in each of the past three decades, Australia has punched above its weight in elite motorcycling, but may be set for a fallow period if Stoner keeps his distance.

Local enthusiasts will hope 18-year-old Queenslander Jack Miller, who has shown promise in the Moto3 category, can continue his improvement with Red Bull KTM after signing with the champion team last month.

“Local talent is important in any sport,” Westacott said.

“Successful Aussies bring bigger crowds whether it’s tennis, cricket, rugby union or even the Socceroos. MotoGP’s no exception.

“We’ve gone through the Gardner era, the Stoner era, the Doohan era. There’s youngsters like Jack Miller. Maybe we’ve got the Jack Miller era coming.”

($1 = 1.0550 Australian dollars)

(Editing by John O’Brien)

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Telstra defends job cuts amid AGM protest

The rising use of online transactions could mean next time you call Telstra, you’ll be less likely to hear a local voice.

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Telstra chief David Thodey told the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday that 40 per cent of customer transactions were completed online in 2013.

That compares with 30 per cent in 2012.

“This means our contact centre work is declining quickly and will continue to do so,” he said in Sydney.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says Telstra is replacing local staff with overseas workers at a rapid rate.

The union points to the telco’s decision to shed 1100 jobs from its Australian operations department by June 2014.

It also claims there are at least 10,250 people working offshore on Telstra business “on any one shift”.

A handful of Telstra staff and CPSU members used the company’s AGM to protest against recent job cuts and offshoring.

The union’s Teresa Davison says Telstra’s use of funds from the public purse means it’s responsible to taxpayers as well as shareholders.

Telstra said the business was changing to focus on increased productivity.

“While we have proposed that parts of our operations workforce reduce by around 1100 jobs by June next year, we have made other announcements that could see close to 1000 jobs added in other areas,” spokesman Scott Whiffen said in a statement.

Telstra worker John Bellingham’s job is safe for now but he turned out in support of dumped and at-risk colleagues.

“His job is likely to go to India,” Mr Bellingham said, referring to a colleague.

“He was talking to me to see if there was any jobs in my section.

“I don’t know if it’s something he’d be able to slot into but I put his name forward.”

The union believes shareholders are concerned about the welfare of Telstra staff, but shareholder Vince Smith said he wasn’t fully abreast of the job cuts and was concerned about share prices.

“I’m always concerned about job costs and I’m also … hoping the share price will go up,” he said on his way into the meeting.

“I bought in at $7 and now it seems like the company is kind of struggling.”

Telstra shares added seven cents to $5 on Tuesday.

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Plibersek gets Burke’s disappointment

New federal Labor deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek understands that some senior MPs are disappointed they didn’t make it to the new opposition frontbench.

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But she doesn’t accept claims the shadow ministry was being decided by a “couple of blokes”, pointing to the inclusion of 11 women.

With Labor getting ready for the return of parliament in the second week of November, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will reveal on Friday who gets which portfolios before Monday’s shadow cabinet meeting.

Victorian MP Anna Burke lashed out at factional power plays within caucus, saying she was “bitter and disappointed” at losing out on the position of chief opposition whip because of “a couple of blokes sitting round a room carving up the spoils”.

“I think Anna’s very focused on the half empty at the moment,” Ms Plibersek said on Tuesday.

“She’s speaking from a place of disappointment … she feels like she’s been overlooked.”

Ms Burke retains her position of Speaker until her Liberal successor Bronwyn Bishop is formally installed.

Her comments were followed by reports another senior Labor MP, Senator Jacinta Collins, was also disappointed at being overlooked, particularly by her own Victorian Right faction.

Although Ms Plibersek said she would meet Ms Burke to discuss her concerns, new Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said factions were a reality in all political parties.

“I think there was a broad cross section of people that were selected, and it’s probably a pretty reasonable line-up,” she said.

However, the former West Australian government minister said there could be improvements.

“It has been accepted that we must continually strive to do things better and in a more inclusive way,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Another Victorian Labor MP, Brendan O’Connor, said the opposition frontbench was far more representative compared to the coalition’s under Tony Abbott.

“We have almost four times the number of women in our ministry,” he said.

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Snitching bikies can avoid long jail terms

Bikie gang members can avoid the extraordinary jail terms threatened by new laws in Queensland if they turn informer.

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The laws being rushed through state parliament will hand bikies engaging in serious criminal activity such as murder or dangerous drug possession an extra 15 years of mandatory jail time.

The penalties for bikie gang office bearers are even harsher: an extra 25 years on top of their initial sentence.

And those sentences could be served in a special maximum security jail which the government has proposed to specifically house the state’s worst bikie criminals.

But in what Premier Campbell Newman says will be an effective way to gather intelligence, jail time will be waived if an offender gives authorities information about bikie gangs and their criminal activities.

“The only way they can get off those additional mandatory penalties is essentially to provide information that’s of use to the police to help bring down the gang,” Mr Newman said.

The government was also seeking royal assent to list all bikie gangs as criminal organisations, including the Finks, the Rebels, the Bandidos and the Hells Angels.

If a new gang is created, the government can add them to the list based on police evidence.

Mandatory prison sentences, laws banning bikies from owning, operating and working in tattoo parlours and hefty jail terms for assaulting police are the first anti-bikie laws the Newman government are expected to pass in parliament on Tuesday night.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said it would be up to jurors to determine whether an offender was a member of a criminal gang, or a “vicious lawless associate.”

“Where you may currently under law face a five-year sentence (for grievous bodily harm), it can potentially be a 25 to 30-year sentence (for gang members),” he told reporters.

“This is where the deterrent kicks in.”

Mr Newman said severe penalties would also apply to three or more gang members caught gathering together.

“We are going to make every effort to completely destroy these gangs. We are not joking,” Mr Newman said.

The premier admitted gangs were well-resourced and he expected legal challenges in the High Court, but said the government had been very careful and the Solicitor General heavily involved in drafting the laws.

Criminologists and critics fear the government’s taking it too far.

Former Gold Coast detective Terry Goldsworthy says the proposed laws are unfair, and set a dangerous new precedent for double standards in Queensland.

He says there’s now one set of rules to deal with bikies who commit crimes, and another set for others who commit exactly the same offences.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman says the bikie jail wouldn’t work as there’s no evidence to back the government’s claim bikies are using their jail time to recruit members, peddle drugs and intimidate prison staff.

“If there is a problem, concentrating them in one area is bound to magnify the problem if there is indeed a problem,” Mr O’Gorman told AAP.

The state opposition said the laws should have been reviewed by a parliamentary committee before being put to parliament.

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