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Wambo open cut conflict of interest raises questions about the Independent Planning Commission’s ability to act impartially

Wambo open cut conflict of interest raises questions about the Independent Planning Commission’s ability to act impartially

Opponents of the proposed Wambo open cut mining project believe they are unlikely to get a fair hearing even after the Independent Planning Commission appoints a new commissioner to the panel considering the project.
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Outraged: Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey. Picture: Peter Stoop.

Geoff Sharrock stood down from the panel two hours before a public meetingabout the project was due to commence on Wednesday after he identified a conflict of interest.

An IPC spokesman said Mr Sharrock was only appointed to the panel on Tuesday and advised chairwomanMary O’Kane of the conflict at the first available opportunity.

He was the second commissioner forced to stand aside from the panel due to a conflict of interest.

Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey said the apparent difficulties finding a genuinely independent commissioner combined with the concerns raised by Department of Planning whistle blowers made it unlikely the project would ever be impartially assessed.

“The assessment of every mining project should be put on hold until the allegations raised by the four whistle blowers are resolved,” Mr Krey said.

“We are also very concerned about the process used to checkthe CVs of those people who are appointed to the panel.”

Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson complained to the NSW Ombudsman in 2015 regarding potential conflicts of interest that prevent the commission from making unbiased decisions.

Ms Olofsson said she was appalled that Mr Sharrock’s conflict of interest was only identified two hours before Wednesday’s meeting was due to start.

“It is important that the public have strong confidence andtrust in the independent planning commissioner but utmost that the commissioners themselvesare deemed independent by the public and honest,” Ms Olofsson wrote in a letter to commission chairwoman Mary O’Kane on Wednesday.

The public meeting has been rescheduled for February 2019 when a new panel will be appointed to consider the project.

Wildcats on Bogut huddle watch in NBL

Wildcats on Bogut huddle watch in NBL

Andrew Bogut and Trevor Gleeson appeared to smooth the waters after their in-game run-in.Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson says he will do his best to chase away NBL star Andrew Bogut if the Sydney Kings centre tries to eavesdrop on his huddle again.
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Gleeson copped a $500 fine from the NBL for pushing Bogut in the chest when the NBA champion tried to listen in on an impromptu Wildcats huddle during the Kings' 77-72 win in Sydney last week.

Because it wasn't an official timeout, Bogut was within his rights to stand wherever he wanted on the court.

Bogut grabbed Gleeson's wrist during the incident but he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The teams will lock horns again at Perth Arena on Friday night and Gleeson says he will probably do "the same thing I did last game" if Bogut attempts to infiltrate the Wildcats huddle.

"I'll shoo him away," Gleeson said.

"Hopefully the 'Red Army' (Wildcats fans) will help me and direct him towards the bench he needs to go to and the coach he needs to listen to.

"We'll just tell him we're putting him in the pick and roll. That's fine. We'll have something ready for him."

Gleeson said there were no lingering ill feelings from his run-in with Bogut.

"It was more of the hand was out there to (get him to) stay away," Gleeson said of the incident.

"Then he grabbed it and wouldn't let go, so I said, 'Get out of here'.

"Thirty seconds later we smiled about it and had a bit of fun with it. There was no malice in there at all.

"If I had have known he wanted to listen to me talk that much, we could have offered him a contract.

"I'll ask him this week if he wants to join our huddle at halftime. He can come in and listen."

Bogut has been in hot form in recent weeks, and looms as a key player in Friday's blockbuster.

The Wildcats lead the league with a 11-2 record but the Kings (7-4) have closed the gap.

Gleeson said Bryce Cotton's injured thumb has been improving by the day but the star American will have to continue to manage the complaint.

"Basically if he didn't have a couple of tendons hanging on, he would have had surgery," Gleeson said.

Cotton didn't play in Sydney's win over Perth last week and Kings coach Andrew Gaze said it would be a tough job to limit the influence of the reigning MVP.

"There's a little asterisk next to our win at home because they never had Bryce Cotton," he said.

"That's going to be a challenge for us."



FFA expands A-League by two teams

FFA expands A-League by two teams

FFA CEO David Gallop (l) and chairman Chris Nikou confirmed the A-League will expand by two teams.The A-League will expand to 12 teams across the next two seasons after FFA decided to award licences to Western Melbourne and Macarthur South West Sydney.
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Western Melbourne Group will enter the league in October - in time for next season - with the Macarthur South West Sydney bid, based in Campbelltown, scheduled to join the 2020/21 campaign.

The decision comes after a protracted and heated fight to join the league, with long-term favourites Team 11, based in Dandenong, one of four shortlisted bids to miss out.

Hopefuls from Canberra, South Melbourne and Sydney-based Southern Expansion have also been overlooked.

FFA chair Chris Nikou said the decision, made in a marathon FFA board meeting on Wednesday, allowed the league to tap into 's biggest growth corridors.

"An expanded Hyundai A-League will connect new communities in our two biggest markets, create new rivalries, bigger television audiences, more derbies and importantly, further opportunities for n footballers to play at the highest level in this country," he said.

The Western Melbourne outfit will play out of Geelong's Kardinia Park until a purpose-built privately own stadium is completed, with FFA expecting it to be ready in 2022.

Little is known about the bid's big-promising investors, which is part of a major infrastructure proposal in tandem with Wyndham Council.

That private investment, and a bumper licence fee, is understood to have tipped the decision towards Melbourne's West rather than the South-East.

"Football-specific stadia have been extremely successful in league expansion in other parts of the world and we are excited by the prospect of such a facility in Melbourne," Nikou said.

Western Sydney Wanderers, an expansion outfit in their own right, will have new rivals from 2020/21 after the admission of a side from Sydney's South-West.

Their win, which aims to secure former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak as an inaugural marquee, came after bids from Macarthur and the South-West merged.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said their ready-made broadcast-suitable venue at Campbelltown Stadium was key in landing a licence.

"Macarthur South West is a region with a rich football history that when blended with a fast-growing demography creates an exciting future for the game. A ready-made rectangular stadium will also deliver an enjoyable match day experience for fans," Gallop said.

"Both of the new teams will start their life in the Hyundai A-League in grounds that will allow us and our broadcast partners to present the league in the best possible way and at high quality venues."

The losing bids expressed responses from shock to acceptance.

Southern Expansion claimed FFA acted against their own advice, while South Melbourne, Team 11 and Canberra vowed to fight on for new licenses into the future.

Those aspirations were given heart by Nikou, who vowed to continue growing the league beyond 14 teams.

"At this point that's not the full stop for the expansion process ... it's an ongoing dialogue," he said.



Dragons deal imminent for Norman

Dragons deal imminent for Norman

Tariq Sims has re-signed with St George Illawarra, keeping him at the NRL club until at least 2022.The final piece in St George Illawarra's 2019 team jigsaw will soon be in place with a Dragons deal believed to be imminent for Parramatta playmaker Corey Norman.
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St George Illawarra announced on Thursday they had re-signed NSW back-rower Tariq Sims for three more seasons and thrown an NRL lifeline to ex-Brisbane flyer Lachlan Maranta.

But another coup is set to be announced as early as Friday with Norman poised to link with the Dragons on a three-year deal.

Norman, 28, is believed to have secured a release from the final year of his Eels contract on Thursday.

Norman's manager Paul Sutton is overseas but is expected to finalise a Dragons deal by week's end.

Eels five-eighth Norman is expected to move to fullback for St George Illawarra, throwing the future of Dragons No.1 Matt Dufty - who only recently re-signed until the end of 2019 - in limbo.

Norman is tipped to step into the playmaker role in 2020 with Dragons pivot Gareth Widdop expected to leave for the English Super League at the end of next year.

While there was no official word on Norman - who has played 169 NRL games - from either clubs on Thursday, the Dragons still had plenty of signing news to announce.

Sims capped a stellar NRL season by inking a new deal that will keep him at the club until the end of 2022.

Sims was the 2018 Dragons' Player of the Year after a State of Origin debut for the Blues.

"To have the chance to extend my time with this special playing group, it was too good an opportunity to go anywhere else," Sims said.

Dragons roster manager Ian Millward said Sims' retention was critical for 2019.

"He's a very crucial piece of the jigsaw, locking him in long term, along with (Jack) de Belin, (Tyson) Frizell, (Paul) Vaughan and (James) Graham," he said.

The Dragons also sprung a surprise by signing Maranta on a one-year deal after the ex-Broncos winger spent the past two years with Super Rugby outfit the Queensland Reds.

"We were looking for a squad member and I must stress that Lachlan isn't a replacement for Kurt Mann nor a replacement for Nene Macdonald," Millward said.

Utility Mann has linked with Newcastle to nail down a hooker starting spot while ex-Dragons flyer Macdonald has signed with North Queensland.