Month: November, 2018

Mackinnon Stakes and Emirates Stakes to switch in Melbourne Cup carnival change

Talks between Racing Victoria and the VRC have moved swiftly in recent weeks. Photo: Vince CaligiuriFor the first time in more than a century the Victorian Racing Club is poised to make a significant change to their four-day Melbourne Cup carnival by moving the Mackinon Stakes to the fourth day and bringing the Emirates Stakes to the opening day.
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Talks between Racing Victoria and the VRC have moved swiftly in recent weeks, with the change already being pencilled in for this year’s carnival.

The alteration to the carnival is the most notable in more than 100 years, with the Mackinnon Stakes long having been known as the final race before the Melbourne Cup on the following Tuesday.

Senior racing officials are hopeful that the new positioning of the Mackinnon Stakes will be followed by the injection of $2 million in prize money.

The added prize money is critical for the new Mackinnon Stakes, as it will be an added lure for Australian and overseas 2000 metre horses to visit Australia and further bolster the final day of one of the world’s most successful racing carnivals.

Fairfax Media understands that the board of the VRC have warmed to the change. Past board members had been concerned at tampering with the traditional Derby Day, but current members recognise the need for change.

Even former VRC chairman, the late Andrew Ramsden, was aware years ago that the appeal of the race was waning and needed to be reinvented on another day.

One of the major benefactors will be the Moonee Valley Racing Club, as the new positioning of the Mackinnon will be an ideal stepping stone for horses competing in the Cox Plate, who will then have a two-week recovery period and race again in the Mackinnon.

Over the past 15 years the Mackinnon Stakes has become an afterthought for owners and trainers with Group 1 2000 metre horses that have failed in the Cox Plate.

Last year, Fairfax Media contacted trainers overseas and locally, and they were all in agreement that the Mackinnon needed to change.

Red Cadeaux’s trainer Ed Dunlop was one who supported the scheme, maintaining that horses from all over the world would come to Australia with $5 million on offer for two 2000m weight-for-age races being contested.

The move will also mean another break in tradition, with the Emirates now set to be run on the first day of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival, the traditional Derby Day.

This will mean that horses from the Emirates are eligible to back up over 400m further the following Saturday.

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Election experts predict Senate changes will encounter High Court challenge

Antony Green Photo: Jacky Ghossein Senate crossbenchers Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Malcolm Mackerras Photo: Lyn Mills

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon questions Glenn Druery when he appeared before the Senate voting reform committee on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Glenn Druery at the Senate voting reform committee. Photo: Andrew Meares

Greens leader under pressure over Senate changes

Senate voting changes, if passed in their current form, are almost certain to incur a High Court challenge, polling experts have warned.

Veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras said the voting changes – which would clear the way for a snap double-dissolution election likely to clean out the current crossbench – stemmed from a “filthy deal” between the Greens and the Liberal Party, “led by the unelected, dud Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”.

Mr Mackerras faced a truncated hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters along with fellow psephologist Antony Green, the ABC election expert, constitutional expert Professor George Williams and University of Tasmania academic Dr Kevin Bonham.

Their criticism of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill – designed to end the era of “preference harvesting” by micro parties – centred on a perceived discrepancy in that the new Senate ballot paper will provide for optional preferential voting above the line but retain full preferential voting below the line.

That means that if a voter made the same six preferences below the line as they did above the line their ballot would be deemed invalid because those going below the line will still have to number all boxes – which can entail choosing between more than 100 candidates in some states.

Professor Williams described the proposed new system as “incoherent” and Mr Green, who broadly supports the changes, which he said would “put preferences back in the hands of voters” said the anomaly above and below the line were “a foot in the High Court challenge”.

Mr Mackerras believes the proposed system is unconstitutional because it does not adhere to the “candidate-based” system envisaged at federation.

“The [bill] as it now stands is breathtaking in its contempt for the Australian constitution. It is a bad bill,” he said.

“It should be withdrawn and redrafted to bring it fully back to comply with the constitution.”

He said it would be the “duty of a senator” to take a challenge to the High Court the day after the bill becomes law.

“I am confident such will happen. If that challenge fails I would be devastated. I would no longer be able to say that our senators are directly elected by the people.”

Earlier, Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rodgers said he was confident there would be enough time to implement a new system given three months.

“At this stage I have no reason to believe that we could not return the writ with the existing 100-day period set out in the act,” he said.

Liberal Party federal director Tony Nutt and Nationals federal director Scott Mitchell both gave their support to the proposed changes.

Glenn Druery, the so-called micro party preference whisperers, said the changes were likely to force Labor into a formal Coalition with the Greens because they will hand the Coalition the upper-hand in the Senate on a permanent basis.

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Kerrod Walters joins former Broncos teammate Glenn Lazarus in politics

Kerrod Walters during his playing days for the Brisbane Broncos. Photo: Craig Golding Former rugby league player Senator Glenn Lazarus has recruited a former team-mate to his party. Photo: Angela Wylie
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Glenn Lazarus has coaxed former Broncos teammate Kerrod Walters to join his Queensland Senate ticket at the next federal election.

Mr Walters was the first recruited candidate for Senator Lazarus’s eponymous party, the Glenn Lazarus Team, aside from Senator Lazarus himself.

The former Queensland Origin and Australian Test player continues the GLT’s rugby league theme, with the official party logo in the shape of a rugby league ball. pic.twitter南京夜网/8uxJpnoOZL— Glenn Lazarus (@SenatorLazarus) February 29, 2016

“Basically, I’m a proud Queenslander and fortunate to have played Origin for Queensland and felt it was an honour,” Mr Walters told Fairfax Media.

“I’m at the stage in my life now where I’m ready for another challenge and I’d just like to stand up for the people of Queensland and go down to Canberra and get the people of Queensland what they deserve.

“They need a strong voice and someone who’s prepared to roll up their sleeves and do things for Queensland to benefit all Queenslanders.”

Mr Walters said he had watched his mate “Lazzo’s” political career with interest and wanted to once again team up with him.

“I always followed (politics) to a degree, but when Lazzo got involved I followed it a bit more closely,” he said.

“It wasn’t until Lazzo mentioned to me he was looking for someone to run for his new party in the Senate and he’d like me to be a part of it, I just thought it was a great opportunity and I wanted to get on board.”

Mr Walters said he was concerned about the impact of CSG mining on the environment and farmers, jobs in regional Queensland and the obesity epidemic in Australian children.

Senator Lazarus said, barring a double dissolution election, Mr Walters would be top of the GLT Senate ticket at the next federal election.

“I’ve been speaking to Kerrod for a while about coming on board and that was before any voting reform announcements or talks of double dissolutions,” he said.

“If it’s just a normal half-Senate election, Kerrod will be top of the ticket.”

Senator Lazarus said he hoped to attract at least two more candidates for the Queensland Senate ticket and was “seriously considering” running federal Senate candidates in New South Wales.

And Senator Lazarus said he would broaden his party’s horizons from just the rugby league community.

“It’s not a prerequisite that you have to be an ex-footballer or whatever,” he said.

“I just thought Kerrod was a really good fit, knowing him for quite a long time, knowing his values and the way he was brought up and where he grew up.”

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Swanson, Fitzgibbon to nominate for HunterUPDATE

Buchanan resident Meryl Swanson will nominate for pre-selection in Paterson. Photo: Sage SwintonUPDATE 2PM:
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The Mercury understands Buchanan resident and Hunter media identityMeryl Swanson will stand for pre-selection for the seat of Paterson.

If pre-selected, Ms Swanson will join Greens candidate John Brown and incumbent Liberal Paterson MP Bob Baldwin in the contest for the seat.

Joel Fitzgibbon will stand for preselection to be Labor’s candidate for Hunter at the next election.


Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon will stand for pre-selection for the new-look seat of Hunter at the next federal election.

Mr Fitzgibbon released a statement on Tuesday morning to announce he would nominate as the Labor candidate for Hunter, which ended speculation about which seat he would contest at the next poll.

It rules out the possibility of a head-to-head election battle with Liberal Paterson MP Bob Baldwin.

“For the past twenty years I’ve actively, energetically and passionately represented the interests of Hunter residents,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I’m as enthusiastic about the Hunter’s opportunities and challenges today as I was two decades ago and I’m hopeful for the chance to continue the work I love so much.

“Whatever the preselection outcome, I will no longer have the great privilege of representing the people of Maitland, Kurri Kurri, Weston, Abermain, Neath, the Upper Hunter Shire, Kandos, Rylstone, and so many communities in between.

“This is a source of great regret for me and I thank them for their support over many years.”

Federal Hunter Valley seats will change significantly at the next election.

The federation seat of Hunter and the neighbouring electorate of Charlton have efectively been combined, but the new boundary has cut Cessnock in two.

Paterson will move south to incorporate Maitland, Kurri Kurri and areas around Kearsley and Aberdare, with boundaries extending to parts of Cessnock and Lovedale.

The Nationals’ seat of Lynne will stretch from Port Macquarie in the north to Largs and Dungog in the south.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had been encouraged to stand for pre-selection for Paterson, which he considered because he believed maximum Labor representation in the region was best for voters.

“I genuinely wanted, first and foremost, to do the right thing by the party,” he said.

“No matter which way I jumped, I was going to give up areas.

“In the end I decided my preference was Hunter.”

The next election is due to take place this year, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is yet to confirm when voters will head to the polling booths.

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Walka faces audit in crackdown on TrustsPHOTOS

DOUBTS: Former long-time chairman of the Walk Water Works Trust Ray Fairweather says Walka may not be unduly affected by the audit of Crown Land Trusts. NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has pointed to the Walka Water Works Trust as an example of a government entity that could be streamlined.
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In a speech at the Sydney Institute on Monday night, Ms Berejiklian said she commissioned a panel of experts to audit 870 government structures including departments, agencies, state-owned corporations, boards, committees and trusts.

“To give you an example of some of these bodies, there are 76 separate Crown Land Trusts managing assets on behalf of local communities,” she said.

She told the Mercury the audit looked at the Walka Water Works Trust, owned by the state government and managed by Maitland City Council.

Ms Berejiklian said that while the government had not decided the fate of the 76 trusts, the expert panel recommended they be merged into one.

“Over decades, these bodies may have been established for a specific purpose which no longer exists or is no longer important,” she said in her speech.

“There is opportunity here to reduce this number. Not for the sake of it, but because it will reduce waste, streamline decision making and make government work better.”

Maitland City Council community and recreation services manager Lynn Morton said Walka Water Works was a vibrant place for the Hunter, and an important part of Maitland’s heritage.

“Council’s priority is that Walka Water Works continues to be well maintained for the benefit of our ­community, and [council] is happy to work with the state government to investigate an alternative model for managing the site,” she said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge criticised Ms Berejiklian’s “foreshadowed cuts to the public sector”.

He said it would remove local control over parks, reserves and community assets.

“Crown Land Trusts offers a critical service to communities across the state, managing local parks, sports grounds and core infrastructure,” he said.

“These valuable local assets and services will be left exposed if the Crown Land Trusts are abolished, with the loss of local knowledge and accountability.”

Impact on Walka may be minimal says former councillorChanges to the way the state government operates Crown Land Trusts may not have a significant impact on Walka Water Works, Ray Fairweather says.

Mr Fairweather is a former Maitland councillor who was chairman of the Walka Water Works Trust for 14 years.

He said he was unsure how the government’s proposal to streamline the 76 Crown Land Trusts in NSW would affect the historic Maitland site.

Walka Water Works featured as a special mention when Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian outlined the proposal to consolidate Crown Land Trust management in a speech to the Sydney Institute on Monday night.

Mr Fairweather said the state owned the water works site, but Maitland City Council managed it and paid for most of the upkeep.

“The state government hasn’t made much of a contribution to upkeep at all,” he said. “I’m not sure what will come of all this, but there are a lot of public trusts.”

Walka faces audit in crackdown on Trusts | PHOTOS Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works from the Mercury’s archives.

Walka Water Works was once touted as a potential crocodile sanctuary.

IN THE BAG: Prudence, Tasha and Isabelle Winsor Okeefe will be part of the clean-up crew at Walka Water Works on Clean Up Australia Day on March 16. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

Maitland’s Walka Water Works

HEALTHY: Walka Advisory Committee member Cr Peter Garnham on the site.

TOP SHOW: Maitland Classic Motor Association president Ian Scanlon (front) with Graeme Head and a 1980 Ford Escort and a 1974 Rover. Picture by STUART SCOTT

Parkrun holds events at Walka Water Works

Parkrun holds events at Walka Water Works

IDEAS PLEASE: Councillor Peter Garnham would like to see Walka Water Works turned into a commercial venue. Picture by CATH BOWEN

DRESSED TO THRILL: Thai dancers Ooraya Sompan, 15 of Aberglasslyn, Jessica Michael, 11 of Aberglasslyn, Parinya Kesornbua, 16 of Cessnock and Chotika Boonon, 15 of Tea Gardens. Picture by CATH BOWEN

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