May, 2019

Formula one testing: Sebastian Vettel on pace, Mercedes shows first chink

Sebastian Vettel speaks to the media in Barcelona. Photo: Andrew TateDaniel Ricciardo revs up for Australian Grand PrixRicciardo assesses his car and fitnessF1 testing: Ferrari unveils halo
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Barcelona: For the first time in two weeks of Formula One testing at Circuit de Catalyuna the all-conquering Mercedes team had a reliability problem, but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel​ is not getting too excited about the last-day hiccup for his main opponents.

Vettel was one of the last drivers to leave the testing track on Friday, managing 142 laps and the fastest time of the day of one minute 22.852 seconds. But the four-time world champion said the gearbox failure that titleholder Lewis Hamilton suffered on track did not indicate a major problem for Mercedes.

“No I think there is potentially 1 million reasons why you could have a problem with the transmission these days, from software failure to major hardware issues,” Vettel said.

“I’m not sure they will publish what exactly it was and given the laps that they have done so far in those two weeks I think in terms of reliability they look very strong.”

Hamilton’s car ultimately had to be retrieved on the back of a truck. He ran 69 laps. The other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was on track without incident for 67 laps in the afternoon session.

Vettel was pleased with his Ferrari’s performance in testing and said he was now keen to take the battle to Melbourne.

“We have had no major issues with the car we were able to do quite a lot of laps and going through our program well, so, yeah, I think it was a good test,” he said. “It has to be seen, but I think the first impression was good and everything that we built after that felt very positive so overall I’m happy with the feeling in the car … we are very happy with the step we made.”

At Red Bull, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo​ ran for 123 laps, with a best time of 1.24.427, giving his car some wheel spin in the pit lane as he went out for one last testing lap. He said he was now looking forward to the season-opening Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Andrew Tate travelled to Barcelona courtesy of the AGPC

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‘Three decades in combat’

CHANGE NEEDED: Gary Chandler says there needs to be more support services for former and current police officers. HE WAS “in a combat zone for 32 years”, butafter more than 18 months on unexplained sick leave Gary Chandler received just one call from the welfare department.
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The former Creswick police officer attended up to 40 fatalities during his time as a police officer inCreswick. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.He worked shifts by himself. One of his worst nights stands out clearly –at 5pm he was called to a suicide, at midnight he was called to another suicide. He knew both the teenagers well.

“The coroner said that was the first time in 30 years he’d heard of one person having to deal with two suicides,” Mr Chandler said.

When he returned to the empty police station, two teens were sitting on the step. They asked him if he was OK, and made him a cup of coffee.Mr Chandler has welcomed a call from the member for Western Victoria Jeff Bourman to the Minister for Veterans John Eren to extend military assistance to help police and emergency service workers experiencing PTSD.

“I call them my midnight visitors,” Mr Chandler said of the visions of people from fatal accidents that haunt his dreams.

“I would wakeup in the night screaming.”

At his worst Mr Chandler couldn’t attend an event without being near the door.He can’t remember how he got onto it, but Mr Chandler enrolled in a course for returned military personnel that had been modified for and extended to police.

Gary Chandler

“It explains to you why you feel the way you do …I found it quite good,” Mr Chandler said.“It enabled me to be able to cope.”

Mr Chandler said counsellors helped him cope with his “midnight visitors”.

“They said ‘did you handle it the right way? Did you help these people?’, I said yes.They said ‘they are not coming back to haunt you, they are coming back to thank you’.“I still have my my midnight visitors. But I no longer wake up screaming.”

Mr Chandler said the military was miles ahead of emergency services organisations when it came to understanding how to treat PTSD. He is hopeful a new investigation into PTSD among members will lead to changes in the force.

A spokesman for the Minister of Veterans said past and present emergency service workers have access to range of services to help them cope withthe impact of attending confronting events.

“The Andrews Labor Government knows these roles can be really difficult, so we’re committed to giving the hard-working people that do them the support they need,” the spokesman said.

A review of mental health support services within Victoria Police is underway.

The Courier


UN eyes on Bendigo

CASE STUDY: The immediate past and current regional EAROPH presidents Kerry McGovern and Jane Stanley tour Bendigo. Picture: DARREN HOWEBendigo will be used as a case study on how to build a regional economy at a United Nations conference in South America later this year.
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This came after a regional think tank toured the city this week to see how it was employingsustainable urban planning,City of Greater Bendigo strategy managerTrevor Budge said.

“They had the opportunity to meet anywhere in Australia,”MrBudge said.

“They deliberately choseBendigo and central Victoria because they heard about the great things that are happeninghere in terms of economic development, urban design and how arts and culture arerejuvenating the city,”

More than 30 members of theAustralianChapter of the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) – a think tankwhich encourages excellence in planning and development –visited the Ulumbarra Theatre,theBendigo Art Gallery and new housing developments on Friday.

The case studies from Bendigo will inform the United Nation’s Habitat III Conference to be heldin Ecuador in October. The conference is held every 20 years and offers a unique opportunity todiscuss the challenge of how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed.

Afterwards theyheld a forum on housing and the role of local government and urban design, CBDregeneration and the role of arts and culture in Bendigo’s economic development,EAROPH presidentJane Stanley said.

“We’re interested in what is involved in building a regional economy that’s not connected to a big city metropolis,” Ms Stanely said.

“We’re going to look at Harcourt and Casltemaine and Bendigo as the three levels of hierachy and we’ll be looking at what the strengths of each economy are and how they can work together to build a regional economy.”

EAROPH will issue a report on howthe threecommunities can work together for mutualbenefit in coming weeks.They will then take their findings to theUN’s Habitat III Conference to be heldin Ecuador in October.

The global planning conference is held every 20 years.

TheBendigo Advertiser


Prime Minister Najib Razak stands defiant in Malaysia’s ‘Game of Thrones’

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad joined with political foes to issue a declaration signed by 58 public figures urging Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over corruption allegations. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad outlines the case against Prime Minister Najib Razak.
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Malaysians urged to ‘rise up’ against PMThe mystery of the $1.4 billion

Bangkok: Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak has defiantly lashed out at political enemies who have come together to call for a national movement to remove him from office.

In a dramatic escalation of tensions in his Muslim-majority nation, Mr Najib said 58 signatories to a declaration pledging to plot his ouster, including veteran former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, “have demonstrated the depth of their political opportunism and desperation.”

“There is an existing mechanism to change the prime minister. It’s called a general election,” he said.

“And it is the only mechanism that is lawful, democratic and fulfils the people’s will.”

Politicians from Mr Najib’s long-ruling party were among the group that came together in an unprecedented show of solidarity across Malaysia’s political divide, the latest development in a political tumult that even Mr Najib’s own brother has described as Malaysia’s ‘Game of Thrones’.

“We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, political affiliation, creed or parties, young and old, to join us in saving Malaysian from the government of Najib Razak,” the group said in a statement read by Dr Mahathir.

Members of the new alliance also demanded the remove of people close to Mr Najib who they said had covered up for the prime minister in a corruption scandal that has dogged him for months.

They also demanded the repeal of laws that violate fundamental rights and the restoration of institutions they said had been undermined.

Mr Najib’s immediate response to the declaration that was signed by anti-corruption activists and members of civil society groups, as well as politicians, made clear he has no intention of buckling to the pressure.

The 62-year-old British-educated son of a former prime minister has for months resisted growing calls to resign over allegations linked to the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and deposits of hundreds of millions of dollars in his personal bank accounts.

Mr Najib last year replaced the former attorney-general who had been investigating him, installing a loyalist who ordered the country’s anti-corruption agency to shut down its investigations into the allegations.

Mr Najib has also cracked down on critics and media outlets, prompting a rare, stern rebuke from the United States, a close ally.

And powerful division chiefs in the ruling United Malays National Organisation, who have for years benefited from an entrenched system of money politics and party largesse, have refused to move against the prime minister, who denies any wrongdoing.

Earlier jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim declared his backing for the Dr Mahathir-led movement, putting aside Malaysia’s longest-running and most bitter political rivalry.

Mr Anwar said in a statement from his cell that Mr Najib has “wreaked havoc” in the country with “the most severe scandal” in Malaysia’s history.

In 1998 while he was prime minister, Dr Mahathir turned viciously against Mr Anwar, forcing him from the post of deputy prime minister.

“We must together chart a new way forward to save our beloved nation,” said Mr Anwar, who is suffering serious health problems.

An alliance between Dr Mahathir, who remains an influential figure in the ranks of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) although his authority has waned over years, and Mr Anwar, was unthinkable before the scandal engulfed Mr Najib.

Mr Anwar’s opposition group won the popular vote at bitterly contested elections in 2013 but a pro-rural gerrymander saved Mr Najib’s party from defeat.

Ninety-year-old Dr Mahathir quit the UMNO on February 29, saying he could no longer support a group seen as supporting corruption under Mr Najib’s leadership.

Mr Najib has refused to clarify how almost $1 billion came to be deposited into his personal bank accounts in 2013 or to explain what happened to the millions that remain unaccounted for.

He has urged the country to unite and move forward after his government said the money was a legal donation from Saudi Arabia.

But the Wall Street Journal has reported the money flowed through a series of international transactions from the 1MDB state fund, which Mr Najib set up in 2009 and oversees through an advisory board.

The newspaper has also claimed that more than $1.4 billion was sent into Mr Najib’s accounts since 2011 – millions more than previously identified.

Mr Najib’s government denied the report, accusing the newspaper of becoming “a willing vehicle for certain political actors who are seeking to damage the Prime Minister and Malaysia for personal gain”.

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Tony Abbott was warned about rumours of an affair with Peta Credlin, claims book

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Tony Abbott consults Peta Credlin in Parliament. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Former prime minister Tony Abbott winks as he departs Question Time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

No happy ending as avenging Abbott unleashesShirtfronted: Part One “Problems”Shirtfronted: Part Two “Peta”Shirtfronted: Part Three “Joe”Shirtfronted: Part Four “Security”Shirtfronted: Part Five “Malcolm”

Tony Abbott was warned that the perception that he was having an affair with his chief of staff Peta Credlin was destroying his prime ministership, a new book claims.

Political commentator Niki Savva has detailed the revelation in her forthcoming book The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government.

Separate details of the book’s contents published by the veteran commentator Laurie Oakes detail how Ms Credlin fed the then prime minister food from her fork at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne.

She then rested her head on his shoulder and complained of being tired.

It was this sort of behaviour that sparked endless gossip in Canberra about the dynamic of the prime minister’s dependence on his staffer.

In extracts published in The Australian on Saturday, Savva writes that one of Mr Abbott’s most loyal lieutenants, conservative New South Wales Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, sounded the warning the night before the first attempt to oust Mr Abbott as leader in February 2015.

The senator tackled head-on one of the most circulated rumours in Canberra during the years Mr Abbott, his chief of staff and her husband Brian Loughnane, the federal director of the Liberal Party, dominated the organisation.

“Politics is about perceptions,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells is quoted as telling Mr Abbott.

“Rightly or wrongly, the perception is that you are sleeping with your chief of staff. That’s the perception, and you need to deal with it.

“I am here because I care about you, and I care about your family, and I feel I need to tell you the truth, the brutal truth. This is what your colleagues really think.”

Mr Abbott denied the rumours and refused to sack Ms Credlin – a hugely divisive figure within the government because of her micro-managing and domineering style.

In the past, Mr Abbott accused his colleagues of being sexist and claimed they would not criticise his chief of staff if her name was “Peter” and not “Peta”.

This is the same defence Ms Credlin has mounted since the collapse of the Abbott prime ministership.

Since their fall from government, Mr Abbott has asked Mr Turnbull to appoint Ms Credlin Sex Discrimination Commissioner and to make Mr Loughnane Australia’s Ambassador to the Vatican – both requests the new Prime Minister has declined.

Senator Fierravantti-Wells is reported to have delivered the same blunt criticism to Ms Credlin, who paid her a visit two-days later.

This is when she made her prophecy, first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald’s political editor Peter Hartcher, that: “One day Tony will be sitting on a park bench in Manly feeding the pigeons and he will blame you.”

Ms Savva was one of Ms Credlin’s fiercest critics during Mr Abbott’s prime ministership. This led to Ms Credlin, backed by Mr Abbott, demanding the editor of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, sack her.

Mr Abbott denied demanding Ms Savva’s head, but Mr Mitchell stands by his interpretation of the conversation according to Hartcher’s five-part series Shirtfronted: The Story of the Abbott Government.

Ms Savva’s extracts also contain details of what prominent Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce told Mr Abbott a month before the September coup.

Senator Joyce – now National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister – reportedly told Mr Abbott he would face a leadership challenge around the time of the Canning by-election.

It’s also reported that current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton urged Mr Abbott to replace then-Treasurer Joe Hockey with Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Abbott did not heed their advice and was replaced with Malcolm Turnbull on September 15 – the Monday before the Canning poll.

He promised that there would be “no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping,” but has since criticised the new Prime Minister over national security and economic policies.

A separate News Corp report quotes Mr Abbott as pledging to continue defending his “legacy” but that any concerns he holds about the Turnbull government will be overridden by the prospect of a Bill Shorten-led Labor government.

Fairfax Media has asked Ms Credlin and Mr Abbott for comment.

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Australian Grand Prix 2016: Daniel Ricciardo revs up to go racing in Melbourne

“I feel ready to go racing” Photo: Mark Thompson Ricciardo is feeling confident ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. Photo: David Ramos
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Sebastian Vettel on paceRicciardo assesses his car and fitnessF1 testing: Ferrari unveils halo

After two weeks of testing in Spain, Daniel Ricciardo believes he’s in a better position than last year to push for a good result at the Australian Grand Prix – and the wheel spin he dropped in the pit lane on his last lap suggests he’s still having fun.

“Yeah, excited, I’m glad there’s no more testing, ready to go,” he said immediately after getting out of the car at Circuit de CataIyuna. “I feel ready to go racing.”

Ricciardo’s Red Bull ran sixth in Melbourne last year after enduring a testing session dogged by equipment failure. But this year he had mostly trouble free race simulations, ending Friday’s session with 123 laps and solid mid-field times.

“(It’s) pretty good. I’m glad the next time we are in the car is race time,” he said. “I think out of three out of my four days we got over 100 laps done so a lot better than the last couple of years.

The Australian said the Renault engine –  which is  branded Tag Hauer on the Red Bull – seemed to have more power than last year’s troublesome power unit.

“We’ve made some improvements, there’s definitely more to come, but so far it is in the right direction,” Ricciardo said. “I think it is a positive start to the year, so yeah, as I said we are in a lot better position than we were the last two seasons.”

I think if we were to race tomorrow, then that’s probably where we stand for now … from that I mean I think Mercedes and Ferrari are quicker than us basically on pure pace right now. I think it’s evident, but it’s expected as well.  If tomorrow we race in Monaco maybe we would have … an outside chance of a podium, but if we were to race here right now tomorrow then yeah we would need a little luck.”

Ricciardo said he’d ticked all the boxes for testing with regards to the car. Personally he said he wanted to check on one one thing: “Make sure I’m still fast”.

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Tinder trap robber Jack Croucher jailed for six years

Tinder trap: Madelyn Capewell. Photo: Simone De PeakA former bikie associate who set a Tinder trap and lured a victim expecting sex to an empty car park so he could be robbed has also been convicted of firing a shotgun at a witness during a bungled ATM theft.
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Jack Anthony Croucher, 21, of Bonnells Bay, appeared in Newcastle District Court on Friday to be sentenced for armed robbery in relation to the Tinder set-up in July, 2014, and for two offences stemming from an attempted early morning ATM theft at the Cooranbong Newsagency five months earlier.

He was sentenced to a maximum six years in jail with a three year non-parole period.

Court documents state Croucher was on a good behaviour bond when he and four other associates of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang discussed stealing the ATM on February 7, 2014.

CCTV footage from two cameras at the newsagency shows Croucher reversing a four-wheel-drive up to the ATM about 4.15am.

Four men jump out of the car and start feeding a tow-strap out of the boot. But before they can fix it to the machine, the store’s owner returns in his car.

The men jump back into the car, but as Croucher is driving out of the car park he stops and points a shotgun through the passenger side window at the victim.

The passenger in the front seat of Croucher’s car had to lean forward to avoid being shot, court documents state. The victim ducked down behind the dash as Croucher fired a blast from the shotgun at his car, spraying pellets and shrapnel that hit the front and side of the vehicle.

Croucher then drove away. The victim was not injured.

Croucher wasn’t arrested until July 30, 2014, after police linked him to a robbery in the car park of Morisset Pool a few days earlier.

Court documents state that in the early hours of July 26, a 34-year-old man used the popular dating application Tinder to “match” with a woman named “Brittany” who claimed to be 20-years-old.

The two began chatting and by about 9.30am were getting into the heavy details. Court documents state that “Brittany” asked the man, “you wanna f – – – me”, followed by “it’s gunna cost ya”.

They agree on a time and location and negotiate a price.

The only problem was “Brittany” was actually Croucher, who had used photos of his girlfriend Madelyn Capewell on the profile. When the victim showed up to the meeting spot he spoke briefly with Capewell before Croucher jumped from a car with a 50 centimetre metal pole and accused him of “trying to pick up my girlfriend”.

The victim handed over his cash, phone and alcohol but refused to give up his credit card, prompting Croucher to smash the windscreen of his car. Capewell was given a suspended jail term for her role in the robbery.

Newcastle Herald

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Former TAFE manager Ronald Cordoba corruptly obtained $1.7 million: ICAC

A former TAFE manager could face criminal charges after the corruption watchdog found he engaged in  “serious corrupt conduct” by procuring more than $1.7 million from his employer for his own business.
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Ronald Cordoba was acting manager of information and communications technology services at the TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption heard allegations he improperly raised purchase orders and authorised payments for his company, ITD Systems Pty Ltd, in 2014.

In a report released on Friday, ICAC found Mr Cordoba funnelled more than $1.7 million to his business, deliberately concealing his ownership of it and using a fake name and title while communicating with TAFE SWSi.

Mr Cordoba also engaged in serious corrupt conduct when he used his position to secure $55,000 from a contractor to TAFE SWSi, ICAC found.

It recommended the matter be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of criminal charges, including fraud and making false statements to an ICAC officer.

Mr Cordoba had held various positions with TAFE SWSi from 2002. He was suspended on full pay in August 2014 and resigned a month later from the institute, which has more than 72,000 students.

In a statement, TAFE SWSi – which had notified ICAC of the suspected fraud – said it had already implemented improvements to its systems and processes to reduce the risk of a similar occurrence.

“While TAFE SWSi recognises that its systems and processes were not perfect, we believe the fraud was detected because of the professionalism and diligence of our staff, despite the complicated and extreme actions taken by Mr Cordoba,” the statement said.

TAFE SWSi is also seeking further legal advice and “taking all necessary steps to recover all funds obtained fraudulently by Mr Cordoba”, it said.

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