Home » 2018 » December (Page 2)

9/11: I saw the first plane hit

 
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Fifteen years ago this weekend I was sitting at my desk in my loft a few blocks north of New York’s World Trade Center when I heard an almighty engine roar above my head and looked up to see a plane smash full throttle into one of the twin towers.

That first image – the cookie cutter impression the plane left as it entered the building, white paper and debris raining down like glitter – wasn’t captured front-on by cameras, but it’s seared in my brain forever.

How could I forget it? My neighbours poured into the street, confused. The cops were dazed, frozen. Groups of people massed on the side streets, running away from the towers, screaming.

Survival instinct made me leave our building before the south tower fell – I was half-way up to Fourteenth Street when I saw the debris billow up West Broadway. It was only when I reached a friend’s safe haven in Chelsea that I knew the tower had collapsed.

After 15 years, the turmoil set in motion by those attacks and the military and political reaction to those attacks forms a tragedy still being played out in many parts of the world. But New York bounced back, more expensive and exclusive than ever. There’s a shiny new Freedom Tower, magnificent reflective pools in the footprints of the two towers, and an astonishing new transport hub, the $US4billion Oculus, with its ribs of steel like an open pair of wings, making the site a compelling destination for tourists.

For me, the shock of the event and the heartbreak associated with it has worn off. The human heart is an amazing thing; it can heal itself if it is given time.

But mine still has a tender spot, which is why in trips to New York recently, I’ve been ambivalent about visiting the 9/11 museum that has been built in the bowels of the buildings.

Friends who shared my 9/11 experience call the reflective pools, which are such an emotional touchpoint for tourists, the ‘drains of doom.’ That gives you an idea of how raw the experience still is.

A couple of months ago, in New York for a few days, I finally gathered up enough courage to visit the museum. To be truthful, I was seeking a reaction, as I’d buried so much these past years.

The museum tells the story of the events of 9/11 through more than 11,000 artefacts, 40,000 images and oral histories told by families of victims, volunteers and survivors.

As you descend into the building, there are various galleries and, finally, the historic museum. The first galleries, which exhibit salvaged parts of the buildings, are quite majestic, if you can detach their content from the spectacular space. Objectively, the twisted lengths of steel and the smashed vehicles are as beautiful as an exhibition of the works of the great sculptors Richard Serra and John Chamberlain.

The slurry walls, which held back the Hudson River, have been left as they were, stripped and rough. It did feel very much like going into a tomb. I thought of the unknown man in the newsstand that once existed there, who illegally sold cigarettes to my 13 year-old daughter and her friends. Where is he now?

The museum itself contains a wealth of memorabilia for history buffs, such as a display featuring the terrorists and their backgrounds. I didn’t much care for that, thinking it inadvertently made icons of them, and I also didn’t care much for the sheer number of artefacts collected, room after room of them, including an entire shopfront covered in debris. I thought it made a fetish of it all and I was looking for the exit doors sooner than I expected.

I have my own memorabilia – a check that floated down from the towers onto my window box, the dress I wore on the day, a video I took of the second plane hitting. They’re in a box somewhere.

I understand it’s important for people to acknowledge the human cost of 9/11 and grieve. Those who directly lost their lives in New York and Washington D.C. are mourned generously here. It’s a poignant place, even if I have misgivings about it.

My personal reflection is about the aftermath, which is ongoing, in refugee camps and destroyed cities elsewhere. On other shores, hundreds of thousands of people died and many are still dying from 9/11’s consequences.

How will we mourn them?

Defence considers paying for town water connections in cove

TAPPED IN: Defence is considering paying for town water connections for residents outside of the Williamtown contamination zone.THE Department of Defence is considering paying for residents outside of the Williamtown contamination“red zone” to be connected to town water after the chemicals at the centre of the scandal were found 300metres south of the investigation area.
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TheNewcastle Heraldunderstands that elevated concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonateand perfluorooctanoic acid–or PFOS and PFOA–were foundat two propertieson Fullerton Cove Road during Defence testing in recent weeks.

According to the EnvironmentProtection Authority the samples were taken from boreand tank water at the request of the residents.

And while the EPA is insisting that“no changes to the investigation area are warranted” as a result of the discovery, theHeraldhas confirmedthat Defence is considering paying for connections to town water for residents outside of the investigation area.

“Yes, Defence is investigating the possibility of paying to connect some residents to town water outside the investigation area,” a spokesman said on Friday.

“Defence is examining options and will make a decision once the options have been considered.”

The spokesman insisted that Defence was “already examining options to connect a limited number of residents on the outside edge of the investigation area”.

However theHeraldunderstands the discovery of what Defence called“low level detections” so far from the red zonemay influence the area considered for connection.

Officials wouldn’t be drawn on the issue on Friday, butthe stategovernment’s parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, saidthe government was “continuing to work with Defence, and pursue Defence” on the issue of town water connections.

Asked if Hunter Water was considering connecting residents to town water, spokesman Jeremy Bath did not rule it out, but said itwould“only expand the current project to provide free connection to properties inside the investigation area, if directed to do so by the NSW Government”.

GREAT NEWS: Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne.

In December the Baird government announced $3.5 million topay to connect residents within the red zone to town water.

But those outside on the edge ofthe investigation area were not part of the package, andNewcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne has been contacted by residents who live outside of the investigation area in Fullerton Cove who had been quoted costs of between 10 and 15 thousand dollars to connect to town water.

When he raised the idea of those residents having their connections paid forin a meeting with Defence officials earlier this year he said they“pushed back hard”.

“It’s great news thatthey are considering it now,” he said.

The test results from the two properties in Fullerton Cove were received on August 21.According to the Environmental Protection Authority the samples were taken from boreand tank water at the request of the residents.

While it saidPFOS–the main chemical of concern at WIlliamtown–was detected below the enHealth guidance for PFAS, as well as the US EPA criteria, it didnot comment on the level for PFOAor other compounds known to exist within the pollution plume.

“TheEPAis writing to Defence to request that further sampling be conducted in this area to gain a clearer picture about the significance of these results and their relationship to the broader contamination issue and the investigation area,” a spokeswoman for the environment watchdog said.

“It is important to note that due to their wide-spread use over many decades, PFAS are commonly found in the environment at low levels and their presence does not necessarily indicate a risk to human health.”

Also on Friday, the Department of Premier and Cabinet dismissed concerns that there are plans to abolish the Community Reference Group–set up as a conduit between the EPA, Defence and Williamtown residents.

A spokesmansaid the group would“continue”, despite a planned review.

“The upcoming review of the CRG will ensure improvements in delivering better community consultation in line with the next stage of work,” he said

Private Sydney: Designer Alex Perry’s walk from Chic ‘totally out of the blue’

Chic model management founder Ursula Hufnagl. Photo: Jon Reid Alex Perry is set to appear in a new season of Australia’s Next Top Model.
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Alex Perry with Chic models wearing his designs. Photo: Chris Colls

Alex Perry and Megan Gale in Project Runway Australia. Photo: Supplied

It’s lawyers at 20 paces between fashion designer Alex Perry and his manager/agent of 10 years’ standing, as claims and counter-claims emerge about tens of thousands of dollars in back-pay.

For over a decade 20 per cent of Perry’s earnings have been paid to Chic Management, the Sydney agency founded by formidable German-born former model Ursula Hufnagl.

Over the years Perry’s business empire has grown considerably, with his eponymous fashion label, lucrative deals with Specsavers, television appearances on Australia’s Next Top Model and Project Runway and his work designing from expensive floor rugs to interiors for major residential developments. Perry has become a household name across Australia, and a multi-million-dollar brand in his own right.

However PS hears things began going bad for Perry and his relationship with the management team at Chic on New Year’s Eve when his talent manager Jane Weston received an email informing her Perry, along with his good friend, Megan Gale, would no longer be represented by Chic.

“It was totally out of the blue, none of them were expecting it … from what I hear it ruined their New Year’s Eve celebrations,” an insider told PS this week.

Perry declined to comment on the matter when approached by PS, while Chic co-owner Kathy Ward said she was unable to discuss the matter due to “confidentiality agreements”.

Both Gale and Perry are set to appear in a new season of Australia’s Next Top Model which is about to hit screens on Foxtel, while Gale herself has ongoing deals with big brands including L’Oréal Paris and her own swimwear label, Isola.

Neither Gale nor Perry remain listed among Chic’s “talent”, though they are only two of a long line of big-name stars to have walked from the agency in recent history.

Two years ago PS reported Miranda Kerr was leaving Chic, a move considered a body blow for Hufnagl’s business and described by one industry observer at the time as “the Chic is hitting the fan”. Hufnagl’s agency had nurtured the model’s career for many years and helped turn her into one of the world’s highest-paid models.

Since Kerr walked, so too has Perry and Gale along with television personality Sophie Falkiner, celebrity vet Katrina Warren, and bikini model Annalise Braakensiek, all names which had been managed by Chic for many years.Tilley finds new holiday idyll after US snub

A quick glance at the social media feed of Sophia Tilley, the glamorous Sydney socialite who starred at the centre of the ICAC probe into NSW Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, it is clear she is a woman who knows how to holiday in style.

From bikinis in Mexico and hot tubs in Sydney, to cocktails in Mykonos, it is evident the pretty brunette has a taste for the good life.

But the party came to a sudden end a fortnight ago when Tilley attempted to enter the United States for a much anticipated holiday to the Burning Man festival.

Tilley was refused entry by US Border Protection officers, however, her Sydney solicitor denied swirling rumours to PS that it was because of her appearance at Waverley Local Court last month where she pleaded guilty to cocaine possession.

According to Tilley’s solicitor, she was stopped by US customs because of a “mix up”, which had left her without a return ticket, a condition of entry to the United States for tourists, even well-travelled ones like Tilley.

A spokeswoman from US Customs and Border Protection was unable to comment on Tilley’s case specifically, citing privacy laws, however, she did explain the legal framework the authority works within and that “aliens who have been convicted of, or voluntarily admit to having committed a crime involving moral turpitude are excludable”.

Sophia Tilley with her former boyfriend Stephen Wyllie, son of NSW Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. Photo: Stephen Wyllie/Facebook

Last month Tilley, the former girlfriend of Cunneen’s son Stephen Wyllie, managed to avoid a conviction for possession 0.3 of a gram of cocaine but was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

According to court documents the 27-year-old from Double Bay was arrested on April 8 in Bellevue Hill when police in an unmarked car found a white powder in a small plastic bag in her handbag, which was confirmed to be cocaine.

Indeed Tilley, a popular fixture on Sydney’s social scene, would have been looking forward to getting away for a break. At Waverley Local Court magistrate Michael Barko said an “ad nauseam amount of media” had negatively impacted her mental health. Tilley, who no longer works in the Double Bay real estate agency where she was employed during the ICAC scandal, has since undergone rehabilitation.

“It is only very rarely that young people get so much publicity for these types of offences,” Barko said.

But her holiday plans in America were dashed when she was refused entry, resulting in some speedily hatched plans for a trip to Mykonos, from where she was posting idyllic images this week on her Facebook account.

Tilley was catapulted into the media spotlight when Cunneen was accused by the corruption watchdog of advising Tilley to fake chest pains to avoid a breath test at the scene of a car crash in 2014.

ICAC was forced to drop the probe into the NSW deputy crown prosecutor after the High Court ruled it had over-stepped its jurisdiction.Solomon tips popularity surge for The Paddington Inn

It’s been 30 years since millionaire pub baron Bruce Solomon took ownership of The Paddington Inn, and both he and the iconic watering hole have seen Oxford Street’s fortunes rise and sink over that time.

But on Wednesday night Solomon was confident Sydney’s former social hot-spot was on the rise again, investing heavily in a multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the hotel, which opened officially on Friday after a midweek “housewarming party”.

“I think the time is right for Paddington to emerge again as a key destination for people to come and enjoy the incredible array of venues that are now here … including The Paddington Inn,” Solomon confidently predicted to PS, noting that one of his friendly rivals up the road, Justin Hemmes, had already been in to offer his best wishes. Hemmes and his similarly named Paddington have been doing a roaring trade since he opened the doors on the ambitious venue, with two more ventures about to open.

Matt Moran (left), Anna Solomon and Bruce Solomon enjoy the atmosphere at The Paddington Inn relaunch. Photo: Fiora Sacco

But it was Solomon, who has now been joined in the business by his interior-designer daughter Anna, who was there first. During his tenure the Paddington Inn has helped nurture some of the great food talents of Sydney including Paul Merrony and Steve Manfredi, as well as his latest business partner, Matt Moran, the television chef having spent part of his early career rattling the pans in the pub.

Moran was also there on Wednesday night, but not in the kitchen, having now stepped up to become Solomon’s business partner after parting ways with his previous partner of 24 years, Peter Sullivan, last year. Between Moran and Solomon their empire now spans about 30 landmark venues across Sydney and Brisbane, including The Australian Hotel in Chippendale, The Clock Hotel in Surry Hills, The Sheaf in Double Bay, Darlinghurst’s Green Park Hotel, Opera Bar, Chiswick and Aria.MacPherson and first hubby Bensimon in Sydney for shoot

Nearly three decades after the marriage came to an end, Elle Macpherson is jumping back into bed with her first husband, French fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon​. Well figuratively speaking at least.

And they are doing it in Sydney.

Macpherson and Bensimon are in Sydney this weekend for a big budget photo shoot on behalf of Elle Australia for an upcoming cover of the high-end fashion magazine.

Bensimon has been a key part of the Elle brand – both the magazine and the model – internationally for many years, having shot some of the world’s most beautiful women for the masthead, including his now ex-wife with whom he remains close friends.

In 1986 Bensimon shot Macpherson for the cover of Elle with zinc slathered over her nose.

Gilles Bensimon in New York’s West Village in 2014. Photo: Alo Ceballos

And 30 years later it is Bensimon who has shot the marketing imagery to launch Macpherson’s new lingerie brand, Elle Macpherson Body.

As PS revealed previously, the campaign features a Danish lookalike model, Kirstin Liljegren​, who at 19 bears a striking resemblance to a young Macpherson.

Indeed Macpherson wasn’t much older than Liljegren when she married Bensimon in 1986. Bensimon was 43 and his young bride just 22.

Their marriage came to an end in 1989, with Macpherson going on to form a long-term relationship with Arpad Busson​, the father of her two sons, Cy and Flynn, though these days she is married to reclusive Miami billionaire Jeffrey Soffer​.Australian beauties wow Bieber

Justin Bieber’s much hyped “harem” has a distinctly Aussie flavour, with no less than three “babes” from “down under” making the just-out-of-puberty pop star’s “final cut”. Over the past few weeks showbiz media outlets around the world have been abuzz with reports of Bieber’s bevvy of beauties, but PS can reveal that at least three of the leading ladies in the singer’s world hail from around these parts.

First it was Sahara Ray who was frolicking in her birthday suit with Bieber in Hawaii a few weeks back. Ray was born in Australia and is the daughter of Gold Coast native and big wave surfer Tony Ray.

But Sahara has since been usurped for the position of Bieber’s “top girl” by another Australian beauty, Sydney born and raised Bronte Blampied.

The striking young woman has been, ahem, enthusiastically, documenting her close encounters with the famous pop star on her Instagram feed, while her equally beguiling sister, another Sydney model named Madison, also has become firmly ensconced in the Bieber posse, which is pretty impressive for a guy who appears to be unable to get a five o’clock shadow. Indeed, a new generation of Sydney “it girls” has dawned.Milijash farewelled by friends 

Close friends from across Sydney’s fashion, media, showbiz and hospitality circles gathered at Waverley Cemetery yesterday to bid farewell to Jackie Milijash, who was found dead on the floor of her kitchen at her Avalon home two weeks ago, aged just 52. 

Jackie Milijash at Jackie’s Restaurant and Bar in Bondi. Photo: Tamara Voninski

Milijash, who was found by her mother, had endured a long battle with chronic pain but had managed to overcome such obstacles to become a popular fixture for many of Sydney’s movers and shakers, helping to create the city’s distinctly cool cafe culture of the 1990s with venues such as Jackies at Bondi Beach and later at Paddington. A wake was held for Milijash at North Bondi RSL, and while the day was shrouded in sadness, friends wanted to ensure her life was celebrated too.

List: What Australia’s political leaders have proposed for donation reform

Malcolm Turnbull favours limiting donations to people on the electoral roll. Photo: Sanghee LiuPrime Minister Malcolm TurnbullFavours limiting donations to people on the electoral roll but wants to leave the matter to the parliamentary committee on electoral matters”I would like, if we can manage it, financial participation in the election process to be limited to those people who can vote and that’s where we should get to.”
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Former prime minister Tony AbbottLimit donations to people on the electoral roll and introduce more timely disclosure”Plainly we do need to subject any changes to scrutiny to ensure there are no unintended consequences, but in the wake of the Dastyari affair, this does need to be looked at again.”

Defence Industry Minister Christopher PyneLimit donations to people on the electoral roll but acknowledges constitution’s implied right to freedom of political communication”I am unfussed about foreign donations as long as they are properly declared and they are from individuals.”

Opposition Leader Bill ShortenBan foreign donations, reduce disclosure threshold from $13,000 (indexed to inflation) to $1,000, curb donation splitting, ban receipt of anonymous donations over $50″I say to Malcolm Turnbull, be prepared. Next week you can either work with us or oppose us, but by hook or by crook, Labor is going to propose legislation which will ban foreign donations.”

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese​Ban foreign donations, ruled out banning union donations”Malcolm Turnbull has said that he supports action on that front. We can do it very quickly; we can do it next week.”

​Greens leader Richard Di Natale

Bans on foreign and corporate donations, strict caps on donations from individuals, unions and not-for-profit groups, introduced a federal anti-corruption body

​”What we’re talking about is an end to big money politics, wherever that money comes from.”

Former NSW Liberal premier Nick GreinerBan on donations from organisations, cap of $1000-2000 on individual donations, real-time disclosure”This goes to public trust in the way our government operates and public confidence in government is very low at the moment.”

Former NSW Liberal MP and party treasurer Michael YabsleyLimit donations to people on the electoral roll, cap individual donations at $500″And I believe that would, as they say, pass the smell test in terms of an amount of money that is sufficiently insufficient that no one could really argue that any kind of inducement is being provided.”

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi​Limit donations to people on the electoral role, capping donations”It’s wrong for substantial amounts of money from foreign entities in non-democratic governments to flow into [the] Australian bodypolitic.”

One Nation senator Pauline HansonBan foreign donations”On principle, you don’t accept foreign donations. They’re not giving it to you because they like you, they’re doing it because they want deals done.”

Crossbench senator Jacqui LambieBan people with foreign citizenship from donating”Our constitution bans dual citizens from standing for parliament – because of divided loyalties – why not ban them from donating money to political parties as well?”

Crossbench senator Derryn HinchBan foreign donations, introduce a federal anti-corruption body”The government is saying ‘oh, we’ll look at it.’ You don’t have to look at it. Just legislate and say ‘bang, can’t do it.'”

ALP took more than $330K from banks, then called for royal commission into them

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Photo: Louie Douvis PM Malcolm Turnbull has described Labor’s policy as “bank bashing”. Photo: Sanghee Liu
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The Labor party took more than $330,000 in donations from the big banks in the 2014-15 financial year, despite Opposition leader Bill Shorten running on a 2016 election platform calling for a royal commission into the banks, dubbed “bank bashing” by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Australian Electoral Commission data from the most recent disclosure period show the biggest bank donor to the ALP was ANZ, which gave $80,000, followed by the Macquarie Group which gave $72,400. The Commonwealth Bank gave $46,925, NAB donated $35,600 and Westpac gave $34,700. Other, smaller donations were given to the state divisions of the Labor party.

The monies went into the ALP’s coffers to fight the 2016 election, during which Shorten campaigned heavily on the central promise of cleaning up dodgy banking industry practices with a royal commission.

Recently he has pressured Coalition backbenchers to declare whether they support his royal commission, so voters can know “which side they are on”.

The policy has been carried over into the new parliamentary term, and Shorten’s first question to the Prime Minister when parliament resumed on August 30th was on the subject of Labor’s proposed royal commission into the banking and financial services sector.

The big banks also donated more than $600,000 to the Liberal party, at federal and state level.

The Coalition has steadfastly refused to support a royal commission into banking, arguing the sector is already well-regulated and a royal commission could undermine business confidence. Shorten says Turnbull is running a “protection racket” for the big banks.

Shorten called for the royal commission on April 8th this year, at a high-profile press conference flanked with members of his front bench including Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen.

Shorten said that public confidence in the banking and financial services industry had “taken hit after hit over the previous few years”, that retirees had lost their savings and Australian families had lost thousands of dollars through banking industry “scandals” and “rip-offs”.

The Opposition leader said the banking industry problems were long-standing and systemic and a royal commission was about “restoring confidence” in the system.

The shadow treasurer said a royal commission would cost $53 million and last two years.

In the 2014-15 financial year, the ALP also took money from the financial services industry, which is also in the sights of its proposed royal commission.

The ALP banked $21,500 from the Financial Services Council Limited, as well as another $11,100 to the party’s NSW branch.

The Financial Services Council also made a separate donation of $5000 to the federal division of Chifley, the seat of Labor frontbencher Ed Husic, and catered for two separate ALP lunches, at a cost of $2188 and $1718.

The Financial Services Council gave a total of $22,000 to the Liberal party at state and federal level.

Following the recent donations scandal involving Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, the Labor party has called for a reduction in the donations disclosure threshold from $13,800 to $1000, a ban on anonymous donations over $50 and a ban on foreign donations.

ALP General Secretary George Wright did not respond before deadline to a question asking whether the ALP would continue to accept donations from banks.

A spokesman from Mr Shorten’s office said there would be no change to the ALP policy concerning bank donations.

Pubs are on the shopping list

W. Short Hotel Group has acquired The former Courthouse Hotel in Redfern. Photo: suppliedThe pub sector is still attracting investors with a host of recent sales in and around Sydney’s inner suburbs.
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One of the recent sales was the former Courthouse Hotel, Redfern, which was bought by the W. Short Hotel Group, owners of the nearby Tudor Hall Hotel. The hotel was sold for about $6 million with 15 poker machines and flexible trading approvals.

John Musca​, the national director of JLL hotels & hospitality group, advised on the sale and said the experienced W. Short group hoteliers would revitalise and relaunch this historic premises.

Built in the 1920s, the former Tooth & Co hotel has been modified over the years and today operates with a ground floor bar and gaming room alongside converted retail shops with Domino’s Pizza and H&R Block as tenants.

Occupying a 440-square-metre site on the corner of George and Redfern streets, the hotel sits opposite the landmark Old Redfern Post Office built in 1882.

Mr Musca said with recent local small bar openings such as The Dock and Noble Hops within metres of the hotel, The Courthouse is positioned to evolve with the emerging Redfern hospitality scene and once again become a focal point for the burgeoning local community in this rapidly intensifying residential city fringe precinct.

W. Short Hotel Group’s principal Martin Short said the group was attracted to the Courthouse, “much like we were with the Tudor Hall”.

“We are really excited about engaging with the community in bringing this landmark venue back to relevance and further activating the area,” Mr Short said.

“This sale demonstrates that although Sydney hotel supply is constricting, opportunities still exist for astute operators and syndicators which has led us to transacting over $30 million of hotels in the past month,” Mr Musca said.

In Balmain, local investor Jon Adgemis bought the Exchange Hotel for about $5 million, which was conducted by Colliers International’s Miron Solomons and Vince Kernahan.

Richard Neville, the great disrupter: ‘I think the party goes on’

As we farewell the great cultural disrupter, Richard Neville, who died  aged 74 this week, I remember warmly the time he could have cost me my job. In 1987 I was the young editor of Good Weekend magazine and commissioned staff writer Ginny Dougary to interview Neville and his old friend Richard Walsh over dinner (so we could mimic the title of the brilliant 1981 film, My Dinner with Andre).
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My Dinner with Richard was lively, funny and profound, showing how the two in their 40s had moved on from their 1960s taboo-smashing days at Oz magazine into mainstream media – the sharp-witted Walsh as chief executive of Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press, the romantic Neville selling his show about “human potential”, Extra Dimensions, to Murdoch’s Channel 10.

In their discussion of “life, death and middle age”, atheist Walsh told his more spiritual mate, “For you, of course, dying isn’t a terribly traumatic thing” and Neville replied, “I don’t believe it is…To Richie, it’s a curtain closing. To me, it’s a curtain opening. I believe there are more things in store.” Walsh: “And that’s your consolation.” Neville: “I think the party goes on, yes.”

The morning after the magazine went to press I was told the Herald’s editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, had read the story late at night and, horrified that Neville had twice used the word “f—” (which I left spelt out), had tried to stop the presses – too late and too expensive to pulp the issue. I heard no more about it, but I realised the let-it-all-hang-out values I had absorbed as a teenager, thanks to the Richards and co, were still ahead of their time.

Neville admitted to “a twinge of guilt” about the angry, hippie hedonism of his youth and his book Playpower, which a taxi driver had told him that morning had “a terrible effect on him” and ended his plan to be a journalist. But Neville could write: his 1980 book on serial killer Charles Sobhraj, co-written with his wife Julie Clarke, and his memoir Hippie, Hippie, Shake (1995) were full of vivid energy.

In 1986 Neville wrote a piece for Good Weekend about attending the Australian Transpersonal Conference – “a rock festival of the unconscious mind” – which we illustrated with drawings by Martin Sharp, the other recently lamented talent in that team. Part believer, part amused sceptic, Neville found himself “dancing the vision” with a group: “Stomp, stomp, sway, sway….Up past the silly acid trips on Kings Road giggling at worldly absurdities, past memories of the theosophist temple on the beach at Balmoral, beyond oblivion, beyond all the books; beyond the eureka of discovering hatha yoga, meditation and the home birth of my first child on a mountaintop without doctors or drugs. Higher and higher until my eyes lit up with a simple truth: that the self within is identical, in essence, to the spirit of the universe…”

Thanks to artist Tom Carment, who allowed me to reproduce his portrait of Neville, a finalist in the 2002 Archibald Prize. “I think he found it a bit harsh at first but then he came around to it – in most photos of Richard he has that huge grin, so I wanted to avoid that,” Carment says. Neville later bought the painting as a present for his wife.

Cultural historians and biographers will find all this and more in Neville’s archive in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. I hope he is still enjoying the party.

Momentum builds for donation reform as business leaders, unions, former Labor cabinet minister say time to act is now

Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash says she would like to ‘level the playing field’ over political donations. Photo: Andrew MearesA member of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership group has backed reform of Australia’s political donations laws, suggesting unions and corporates should be banned from giving money and real-time disclosure implemented.
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Deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash told Fairfax Media on Friday that she backed changes to the donations system to “level the playing field in Australian politics”.

At the same time, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Industry Group and third party campaigners GetUp! all backed changes to Australia’s donations system to rebuild confidence and trust in the political system – though those groups split on what changes should be implemented.

Senator Nash’s comments come as momentum for reform builds in the wake of the scandal that engulfed Labor senator Sam Dastyari this week over donors picking up legal and travel bills.

Mr Turnbull on Thursday suggested that “ideally” a range of reforms to the system, such as limiting donations to people on the electoral role and banning unions and corporates would be enacted – though he said the changes would be a matter for the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

The Prime Minister returns to Australia this weekend after international summits in China, Laos and the Pacific, and as pressure mounts for action on political donations reform.

Senator Nash said her views were broadly in line with those of the prime minister, and cabinet colleagues Christopher Pyne and Steve Ciobo.

“Personally, I’m attracted to the idea of capping donations, and limiting them to persons on the electoral role, though I understand there are some hurdles to overcome,” she said, in a reference to a 2014 High Court ruling on NSW donations reforms.

“The idea of instant disclosure is appealing also. In my opinion, reform in this area would remove any perception that donations lead to favourable policy outcomes.”

Earlier on Friday, Mr Pyne told the Nine Network he backed banning unions and corporates from donating – echoing a call from former prime minister Tony Abbott – but he also added that “you also have to do something about third-party campaigning otherwise the unions will simply give all their money to GetUp”.

However, Labor shadow minister Anthony Albanese said he was “not at all” in favour of banning union donations and focused on foreign donations instead. Labor’s donations policy also includes reducing the disclosure threshold from $13,800 to $1000 and banning anonymous donations over $50.

AiG chief Innes Willox said that reforms to the system were necessary to restore people’s faith in the political system and although change had to be implemented carefully, he was willing to countenance ending corporate donations.

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Warning after North Korea sets off biggest atomic blast

Beijing. North Korea says it is now capable of mounting nuclear warheads onto its arsenal of ballistic missiles after it conducted its fifth and most powerful atomic test to date.
Shanghai night field

Friday morning’s nuclear test triggered a magnitude 5.3 earthquake and sent world leaders scrambling to condemn the North’s latest act of aggression, as Kim Jong-un’s isolated regime continues to defy international sanctions.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the North Korean leader was showing “maniacal recklessness” in ignoring the world’s call to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons. US President Barack Obama said the test would be met with “serious consequences”.

The test was a “grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability,” Mr Obama said in a statement, adding North Korea should face consequences for its “unlawful and dangerous actions.”

Australia’s Foreign Ministers Julie Bishop, speaking in London on Friday morning, said China needed to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“This is extremely destabilising behaviour,” she said. “It poses not only a regional threat but a global threat. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this further provocative act by North Korea, which is in flagrant breach of numerous Security Council resolutions.

“We will certainly be seeking China’s response to this. China is an influence in North Korea, China has a special role to play given its proximity to the North Korean regime, so we will be working with other partners but also calling on China to do more to curb this provocative behaviour,” Ms Bishop said.

“While North Korea is testing nuclear weapons and carrying out these nuclear and ballistic tests their people are suffering. The long-suffering people of North Korea need a regime that focuses on their needs not provocative behaviour that represents a global and regional threat.”

China, North Korea’s only major diplomatic ally, said it was resolutely opposed to the test and urged Pyongyang to stop taking actions that would further worsen the situation. It began emergency radiation monitoring along its north-eastern border shared with North Korea, state media reported.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter also singled out China’s influence.

“It’s China’s responsibility,” he said. “China has and shares an important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it.”

The North’s official Korea Central News Agency said the nuclear test was retaliation against “US-led hostile forces” and showed “the toughest will of the [Workers’ Party] and the Korean people to get themselves always ready to retaliate against the enemies if they make provocation”.

The test underscores Pyongyang’s continued defiance but also what analysts say is the ineffectiveness of tough trade and diplomatic sanctions imposed after its previous nuclear test in January.

“Sanctions have already been imposed on almost everything possible, so the policy is at an impasse,” Tadashi Kimiya, a University of Tokyo professor specialising in Korean issues, told Reuters. “In reality, the means by which the United States, South Korea and Japan can put pressure on North Korea have reached their limits.”

North Korea’s repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests also underline tensions between Pyongyang and Beijing, which has failed to rein in the Kim regime’s behaviour. The instability on the Korean peninsula saw Seoul announce in July it would ask the US military to deploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his South Korean counterpart Park during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou earlier this week, saying that “mishandling the issue” could “intensify conflicts” in the Korean peninsula.

With Nick Miller, Reuters

Ballarat daredevils slammed for antics on blow-up mattress in flood watervideo

Police have hit out at one man who put his life on the line for a cheap thrill in flood waters today.
Shanghai night field

While most us were huddling indoors to try and avoid today’s deluge of rain, one person took to Ballarat’s torrent waterways in a daring act.

Equipped with nothing but an inflatable air mattress, the daredevil tested out his sea legs along what appears to be the Yarrowee River.

Wearing a pair of boardshoots, shoes and a hoody, the man took to the water in search of some thrills.

Daredevil slammed for antics on blow-up mattress in flood water | videohttps://nnimgt-a.akamaihd上海/transform/v1/crop/frm/34dXacDR8RguBkyLHxYXLhN/66a466d4-1966-4bed-84f2-9bf09e8d99b8.JPG/r0_21_622_372_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgVIC: Police have hit out at a man who put his life on the line for a cheap thrill in flood waters.2016-09-09T20:44:00+10:00https://players.brightcove上海/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5117798458001https://players.brightcove上海/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5117798458001Filmed by his mates, he can be seen unsteadily getting to his feet onboard his questionable vessel as he is cheered on.

And while the activity is not illegal as such, police strongly advise against it.

Ballarat Police Acting Inspector Neil Robinson strongly warned against such behaviour.

“You don’t know what’s underneath the water or how quickly the situation can change,” he said.

“We wouldn’t encourage anybody engaging in these activities.”

The State Emergency Service also strongly advises against going anywhere near floodwaters.

A warning on its website says:

“Never enter or travel through floodwater. This includes walking, driving, riding and playing in floodwater,” it reads.

“Entering floodwater is the leading cause of death during floods.”

* The Couriercommunicated withthe person who filmed the video, but they did not wish to be identified, nor did the man in the video.