Department of Immigration wants to spend $250 million on unprecedented office upgrade

This empty building at Canberra Airport will likely soon house the new headquarters of the Department of Immigration. Photo: Andrew Meares A proposed floorplan layout for the new building.
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Immigration bosses want to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars revamping their Canberra headquarters in what is thought to be the most expensive office fit-out in Australian government history.

While the supercharged Department of Immigration and Border Protection – the result of a 2015 merger between immigration and customs – insists much of the $255 million cost of its “Headquarters Project” will be rolled into the lease costs, the politicians asked to approve the plan have raised major concerns.

Under the proposal, the number of buildings the department inhabits in the national capital would shrink from 12 to five, with the main office located inside a new state-of-the-art structure next to Canberra Airport.

The fit-out would include “a unified watch floor, situation rooms, briefing rooms, incident rooms, operation planning rooms, associated intelligence support rooms, and surge rooms”. The new building would include an armoury, conference and training facilities, evidence rooms and map rooms. The department envisions an “innovative” and “modern” new office with “large efficient floor plates to support future flexibility” and an open environment that will “promote collaboration and positive cultural renewal”.

But it won’t come cheap. The price tag for the 85,700 square metre multi-building fit-out suggests the renovations will cost nearly $3000 per square metre – well above the $1200 to $1800 government average.

The government has budgeted $22.6m for the fit-out, and another $20.5m will come from the department’s operating budget. The remaining $212m will come from landlord “incentives”, effectively meaning that cost will be incorporated into the lease arrangement with the government.

But Labor senator Alex Gallacher believes taxpayers will end up paying much more through hidden costs in the lease deal.

“Only half of the $212 million is actually a lease incentive,” Senator Gallacher revealed in the Senate on Wednesday.

“The other half is a loan – capital advanced up front by the landlord and amortised over the period of the lease.”

A member of the Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works – which has to approve the proposal before it can proceed – Senator Gallacher said the department has failed to answer simple questions about the proposal and points to its “unenviable record” of poor contract management and cost blowouts.

Taking the rare step of circumventing the committee to raise his concerns, Senator Gallacher said he wanted “full transparency” from the department.

“It is the biggest single fitout the public works committee has looked at in six years. We’re probably going to find out it’s the biggest single fitout of all time,” he told the chamber. “And we’re asked as a committee to just tick off $250-odd million of expenditure because there’s a lease incentive from a landlord?

“Well I don’t think we’re going to do that.”

Senator Gallacher was left furious last year when the Department of Finance told the committee a lease on its new state-of-the-art offices would cost $194 million but the true cost was later revealed to be of $376 million.

Turnbull government MP David Coleman also raised concerns about the lease incentives at a committee hearing last week.

“It is a lot of money. It suggests that the rent must be a very large number,” he said to departmental officials. “It is only really truly a lease incentive if you are paying a low rate for the lease in the first place.”

Officials were unable to tell Mr Coleman what percentage of the department’s rent they would get back in the form of lease incentives, saying only “the rent rates per square metre are very competitive”.

The department refused to reveal other details, citing commercial-in-confidence concerns.

The fit-out is due to begin in August this year and be completed by February 2021. The upgraded buildings would accommodate 6000 staff.

There will also be $12 million worth of new security upgrades.

At the hearing last Friday, departmental officials said the cost per square metre of the fit-out would be approximately $2250 – still well above average – but did not explain how they arrived at that figure.

The department had originally wanted to bring all its Canberra-based public servants under one roof but a successful lobbying effort from commercial interests at the department’s present location in north Canberra forced a backdown.

with Noel Towell

Agus Yudhoyono protests explosive allegations against his father on eve of election

Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, left, with his running mate Sylviana Murni at the rally on February 11. Photo: Jefri Tarigan Supporters of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono at a rally in Jakarta on February 11. Photo: Jefri Tarigan
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A Jakartan checks for his name at a polling station in the capital. Over 7 million voters are eligible. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, left, casts his ballot with his son Nicholas and wife Veronica Tan, all in his campaign’s trademark plaid shirt. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

A Jakarta voter shows inkstained fingers to prove she has cast her ballot. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

A Jakartan man on his way out of the polling booth. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

A voter’s finger is marked with ink. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

Supporters of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono at a rally in Jakarta last weekend. Photo: Jefri Tarigan

Fadli, 18, after casting his vote for Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono at Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. Photo: Jewel Topsfield

Monganiah, a witness for Anies Baswedan’s ticket at the Tanah Abang polling booth. Photo: Jewel Topsfield

Jakarta: Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, a contender for the governorship of Jakarta, has lashed out at “extraordinarily cruel” claims that his father, former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, framed someone for murder.

The explosive allegations topped off one of the most incendiary election campaign periods in Indonesia’s history, which many consider was a proxy war for the 2019 presidential election.

Antasari Azhar, a former anti-corruption commissioner who was jailed in 2010 for murder but recently granted a presidential pardon, alleged on Tuesday that SBY – as the former president is known – had been the “initiator” of his murder case after he refused his request not to detain Agus’ father-in-law.

After casting his vote in South Jakarta, Agus said the claims had intentionally been made one day before the vote.

SBY, who has already vowed to take legal action against Antasari, said it was difficult to believe the “slander” was not related to the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

“I think it’s extraordinarily cruel, but we stay strong, we are not too affected,” Agus said as he cast his vote. “God willing, Jakartans are smarter, with hearts that can differentiate between lies and facts.”

Agus, a handsome former military officer who was plucked from relative obscurity to stand for governor, has seen his electability dive in polls after uninspired performances in debates.

Australian National University lecturer Ross Tapsell said although Agus led on polls for the best-looking candidate, “that’s never going to win you the election, even in the era of Instagram and Twitter and so on”.

“Agus was was always going to have to perform at the debates and the general consensus was that he hasn’t,” he added.

His father has also proven something of a liability during the campaign period, with hyperbolic Twitter outbursts that have been ridiculed on social media.

SBY has emotionally railed against rumours that he was behind a November 4 mass rally that called for incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, widely known as Ahok, to be jailed for allegedly insulting Islam.

When students protested against sectarianism outside his house, SBY tweeted: “I ask the president, the police chief, do I not have the right to live in my own country, with the human rights that I am entitled to?”

This resulted in an avalanche of satirical tweets such as “I’m asking Mr President and Police Chief: why am I still single?”  ​and “I’m asking Mr President and Police Chief, why I am always sleepy during work hours?”.

However Fadli, an 18-year-old who was casting his vote for the first time at a polling booth in Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta, told Fairfax Media that Agus had won his vote.

“He looks firm, he keeps his words,” Fadli said, showing us the purple ink stain on his finger Indonesians use to denote someone has voted. “An army officer usually says A when he means A. I hope he can make Jakarta better.”

Agus’ promise to develop Jakarta without the controversial evictions to relieve flooding, create new parks and eliminate vice that have characterised Ahok’s tenure was the policy that most appealed to Fadli.

However he had also been tempted by the third candidate, Anies Baswedan, who said he wanted to build a sports stadium for football.

More than 41.2 million Indonesians across seven provinces in Indonesia will vote for their leader for the next five years in Wednesday’s election.

However all eyes have been on the capital, where 7.1 million Jakartans are eligible to vote in an election seen by many as a test of Indonesia’s much vaunted pluralism and religious tolerance.

Ahok, who is Christian and ethnically Chinese, has been fighting an election campaign whilst simultaneously fighting to stay out of jail at his trial for blasphemy.

Religion is writ large in the election. Posters hung on the polling booths with profiles of the candidates list religion alongside their date and place of birth, education and assets in both rupiah and US dollars.

Of the six gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial candidates in Jakarta, Ahok is the only non-Muslim.

Monganiah, a witness for Anies Baswedan’s ticket at the Tanah Abang polling booth we visit, said Agus and Anies were the favourites in the area because Islamic sentiment was strong.

“Ahok’s good, but because of the religious blasphemy case his electability decreases,” she said.

Voting is voluntary in Indonesia. In the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election there was a 63.7 per cent voter turnout in the first round, with commentators expecting participation to increase this year.

Even businesses are doing what they can to encourage participation in the process.

Voters who go to Bakerzin, an Indonesian bakery, are given free packets of macaroons if they can show their “pinky blue finger”.

Tari Lestari, supervisor at a central Jakarta branch, told Fairfax Media the promotion was to celebrate democracy in their country.

“It is a memorable moment for Indonesia,” she said. “We are definitely doing this to encourage people to vote.”

with Karuni Rompies and Jessie Chiang

‘Really significant step’: Consensus report emboldens push for free vote on same-sex marriage

Some Liberal MPs are agitating for a free vote on same-sex marriage. Photo: Chiang Ying-YingA fresh parliamentary push on same-sex marriage has become more likely after a cross-party Senate committee reached a broad consensus on refining the government’s same-sex marriage legislation.
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The “unprecedented show of collaboration” paves the way for a marriage equality bill as soon as next month, to be co-sponsored by Labor, the Greens, gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, the NXT and possibly Derryn Hinch.

In the report published Wednesday, senators took aim at aspects of the Marriage Act changes proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis ahead of the failed same-sex marriage plebiscite.

The exposure draft – the first time an Australian government had outlined its vision for marriage equality – proposed sweeping exemptions to discrimination law for ministers of religion, civil celebrants and religious businesses who did not want to participate in same-sex unions.

But the committee expressed concern the government’s draft bill “would explicitly discriminate against same-sex couples” for no good reason, because the Marriage Act already “provides the broadest and strongest protection of religious freedom for ministers of religion”.

With regard to civil celebrants, the committee proposed to establish a new subdivision of marriage celebrant titled Religious Marriage Celebrants, to capture civil celebrants of a religious inclination, who would be given the same protections afforded to ministers of religion.

And the committee was against extending protections to celebrants who did not want to officiate gay unions on the basis of “conscientious belief”, declaring there was no need to “disturb decades of anti-discrimination law and practice in Australia”.

While the report outlined many complex legal areas requiring further clarification, Fairfax Media understands senators from across the political spectrum went to extra lengths to ensure the committee reached consensus on the major points.

Marriage equality advocates welcomed the multi-partisan effort as a watershed moment in the path to legalising same-sex marriage.

“This is a really significant step forward,” said Tiernan Brady, director of Australians 4 Equality. “The Senate committee has risen above party politics. They have shown that political parties can work together to deliver the will of the Australian people.”

Greens senator Janet Rice described it as an “unprecedented show of collaboration, negotiation and consensus [that] has given us a way forward to achieve marriage equality in this Parliament”.

Committee chairman David Fawcett noted a plebiscite remained the government’s position. However, moderate Liberal MPs who have been agitating for the Coalition to abandon its plebiscite policy have pointed to the report as a key marker in their case for a free vote.

Fairfax Media understands the report will inform a cross-party Senate bill to be co-sponsored by Labor, the Greens, gay Liberal senator Dean Smith (who abstained on the plebiscite vote), the NXT and possibly Senator Hinch.

The numbers in such a Senate vote remain tight, particularly if it takes place after replacements for Bob Day and Rodney Culleton are found, which is likely. It would require conservative Labor senators to abstain and Senator Smith, at the very least, to cross the floor.

If successful, Liberals supportive of same-sex marriage would pressure the party for a free vote in the House of Representatives. Those understood to be pushing for a free vote include Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans and Warren Entsch. They were believed to be carefully considering the Senate report on Wednesday afternoon.

But conservatives in the Coalition have returned fire, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce ordering MPs to stop discussing the “Oxford Street” issue. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also reiterated the party’s position remains the plebiscite.

Even if the subject were debated in the Liberal partyroom, MPs would risk war with the Nationals, whose coalition agreement with the Liberals stipulates that a plebiscite be held.

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Just 129 public servants interested in sea change

Deputy Leader of the Nationals Senator Fiona Nash. Photo: Andrew MearesOnly 129  public servants have applied to be part of the Tax Office’s controversial excursion to the NSW central coast.
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The underwhelming response, from the 19,000-strong revenue agency to requests for expressions of interest in transfers to Gosford, raises the prospect of forced relocations for more than 400 Tax Officials to the regional town.

The revelation comes as the Coalition defended its policies intended to push hundreds of Canberra-based public servants to rural and regional Australia.

The policy of moving federal public servants to Gosford has been controversial since it was first announced as the Coalition tried to win the seat from Labor before the 2013 election.

The Tax office took some time to determine what it would actually do with the $72 million new building it was told to occupy but Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said in early 2016 that it was never the intention to move large numbers of public servants to Gosford from Canberra or anywhere else.

Rather, it was hoped the occupants of the building could be recruited “from the local area”.

But there could be a large shortfall on the numbers needed, after ATO staff were advised this week that only 129 of their colleagues had put up their hands for a Gosford Transfer.

“The Expression of Interest for transfer at level to the Gosford site has now closed, with a total of 129 applications received,” a staff newsletter reported this week.

“The assessment of applications has commenced and candidates will be notified of decisions by mid-March.

“The Gosford site is on track for the scheduled opening in November 2017.”

The central coast project is separate to the program of forced public service relocations from Canberra that the Nationals are driving in the Agriculture portfolio they control.

Under the Nationals’ policy the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation is moving to to Wagga Wagga and the Grains Research and Development Corporation is going Toowoomba, Dubbo, Northam and Adelaide.

The Fisheries Research and Development Centre will open an office in Adelaide and most controversially, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Agency is being forced to move to Armidale.

Nationals Deputy Leader Fiona Nash told the Senate on Wednesday that the policy was here to stay.

“We are a Government that wants to invest in those communities and to invest in their futures,” Ms nash said.

“We want those communities to have good jobs, high paying jobs and have better access to services. Part of our commitment to growing jobs outside of our major capital cities is to look at opportunities to decentralise Government agencies to rural and regional areas.

“We never apologise for taking decisions that are going to provide a sustain future for regional communities, to provide more jobs – and part of that is looking to decentralise to get those public sectors jobs out into the regions where they deserve that investment because it is regional Australia that drive this country.”

Uber driver Muhammad Naveed found guilty of raping a passenger

Mohammad Naveed, an Uber driver, was found guilty of sexual intercourse without consent at his trial at Downing Centre District Court. Photo: Kate GeraghtyA Sydney Uber driver cried and said a woman who accused him of raping her in the back seat of his car had “trapped” him.
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But within hours on Wednesday, a jury rejected Muhammad Naveed’s dramatic story, and found him guilty of sexual intercourse without consent.

The 41-year-old stood in the dock, but did not react when the jury delivered its verdict in the Downing Centre District Court.

The Crown’s case was that the woman was heavily intoxicated when she was picked up by Naveed near The World Bar in Kings Cross in the early hours of October 18, 2015.

Prosecutor James Trevallion said Naveed stopped to buy condoms and a bottle of water at a petrol station before encouraging the woman to get into the back seat and raping her.

The trial heard that the woman, who had an estimated blood alcohol concentration of .231 at the time, had only a partial memory of the night and woke up to find Naveed having sex with her.

She allegedly struggled to push him away and tried to tell him to get off her.

The Crown told the jury that the pair did have intercourse, but the woman never gave her consent, and, that she was too drunk to give consent.

When the woman was dropped at the place she was staying, the court heard, she immediately told a friend what had happened and police were called.

Naveed told the court that he was eating Doritos while on a break from Uber driving when the woman approached him and pleaded for him to give her a ride home.

He told the woman she needed to make a booking through the Uber app, but she asked him to show her “some sympathy” because her phone was out of battery and offered to pay the next day.

The woman, he said, did not appear intoxicated and was chatty in the car before she started trying to kiss him.

“I said: ‘Sorry I can’t do that I’ve got a family. Do you have a boyfriend’?”

Naveed told the court they then started kissing but he told her he did not have a condom.

“She said: ‘Don’t worry about protection’,” Naveed said.

“I said: ‘I don’t know you, you don’t know me, how I can trust you’? Then she said: ‘We can get condoms’.”

The court heard that Naveed stopped and bought the condoms and water before pulling over in a quiet street in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Naveed said they both climbed into the back seat of his car, but he could not get an erection.

At one point during his evidence he sobbed repeatedly “she trapped me”.

Naveed will be sentenced at a later date.

Body in car believed to be former Rebels bikie Ricky Ciano

Ricky Ciano’s disappearance was described as out of character by his family. Photo: Facebook The crime scene outside of Oberon in the Central Tablelands where the body was found. Photo: Channel 10
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Ricky Ciano was allegedly targeted in a conspiracy to murder plan at his Central Coast home in 2015. Photo: Facebook

The body of a man found in an abandoned BMW in rural NSW is believed to be a former bikie gang member who disappeared from Sydney on Saturday.

Family and friends of Ricky Ciano, 35, had feared the worst for the former Rebels bikie who allegedly survived an attempt on his life in 2015 shortly after he left the outlaw motorcycle gang.

The former president of the Rebels’ Sydney chapter disappeared after going to a friend’s house in Penrith on Saturday night.

He had been visiting Sydney from the Gold Coast to see his daughter but never made it.

On Tuesday night, a body was found in a white BMW on the side of a road in Duckmaloi, 15 kilometres from Oberon in the Central Tablelands.

While the man has not been formally identified, police suspect it is Mr Ciano.

The Homicide Squad is assisting local detectives in investigating his death.

It is understood he showed no signs of visible injury and it is unclear at this stage how he died.

On Tuesday, a close friend of Mr Ciano’s told Fairfax Media his friends and family were frantically searching for the father of five.

He last spoke to his wife on Saturday night, sending her a few text messages including one saying there was a blackout and he couldn’t charge his phone.

“It is completely unusual because he was down to visit his daughter and his daughter is his life so he wouldn’t miss it,” the friend said on Tuesday.

“It is completely out of character for him not to contact friends or family for three days.”

He said that Mr Ciano arrived in Sydney on Saturday and picked up his car from the airport.

Mr Ciano was in the Penrith area that day but had to leave his car on the roadside after he was pulled over by the police, he told his wife.

Mr Ciano left the bikie fraternity behind in 2015 to move to the Gold Coast, where most of his family live, for a lifestyle change, friends say.

He was the target of an alleged failed murder attempt at his Central Coast home in 2015.

Former Rebels Burwood chapter member Abuzar Sultani was allegedly offered $500,000 to kill Mr Ciano and conspired to carry out the contract through a staged pizza delivery.

However, the alleged execution attempt was thwarted when Mr Ciano refused to open the door to his Wamberal home.

Mr Sultani has been in custody since November, charged with conspiring to murder Mr Ciano, along with the alleged murder of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro.

Fairfax Media has previously reported on the conditions that come with leaving a bikie club, including handing back one’s bike or paying a hefty fee.

It is understood Mr Ciano was told he could walk away from the club under certain conditions, including that he remove his club tattoos.

“A post-mortem will be conducted in coming days to determine the cause of the man’s death,” a police statement said. */]]>

Sydney derby to launch Super Netball

New season: Team captains Collingwood Magpies’ Maddi Robinson, Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Geva Mentor, Melbourne Vixens’ Kate Maloney, Giants Netball’s Kimberlee Green, NSW Swifts’ Abbey McCulloch, Queensland Firebirds’ Gabi Simpson, Adelaide Thunderbirds’ Erin Bell and West Coast Fever’s Nat Medhurst. Photo: James Brickwood Suncorp Super Netball season launch. Photograph of the teams captains. LtoR Collingwood Magpies – Maddi Robinson, Sunshine Coast Lightning – Geva Mentor, Melbourne Vixens – Kate Maloney, Giants Netball – Kimberlee Green, NSW Swifts Abbey McCulloch, Queensland Firebirds – Gabi Simpson, Adelaide Thunderbirds – Erin Bell and West Coast Fever – Nat Medhurst. Photographed at The Rocks, Sydney. Wednesday 15th February 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH SPORT 170215 Photo: James Brickwood
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Netball NSW will consider moving future derby games between the Swifts and Giants to the Qudos Bank Arena, with Saturday’s season-opener between the two clubs expected to sell out the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.

The brand new Suncorp Super Netball competition was launched at Sydney’s picturesque Hickson Road Reserve on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s Giants-Swifts clash, which will christen the eagerly anticipated eight-team competition.

Giants captain Kimberlee??? Green and recently returned Australian Diamond Susan Pettitt will run out against their old club for the first time after switching from the Swifts in the off-season to play under former coach Julie Fitzgerald.

The intriguing contest between the heavily favoured competition newcomer and the rebuilt Swifts should have no trouble filling the 4000-capacity Sydney Olympic Sports Park Centre, with only limited tickets left for sale as of Wednesday afternoon.

Down the road the Qudos Bank Arena can house 17,500 for a netball game, but the cost of hiring the facility is roughly four times as much as the venue chosen for round one. Netball NSW will use the venue three times throughout the season to house double-headers.

“It was just too big a risk to take for the first game but gee whiz what a response [to ticket sales] we’ve had and I’m happy to say that in the future we will certainly look at options around that,” Netball NSW chief executive Carolyn Campbell said.

“Qudos Bank Arena with 8000-plus in it is a good atmosphere and venue, but the cost of it is the critical factor to be considered so you want to be very sure before you take it there.

“I believe we’ve taken a really big leap of faith and a good business judgment to take three double headers to that venue.”

The first of those is next weekend when the Swifts play the Adelaide Thunderbirds before the Giants host the West Coast Fever. Double-headers at Qudos Bank Arena are also scheduled for rounds nine and 14.

But it’s this weekend’s contest which should give Sydney netball fans a guide as to how well their teams will fare this season.

Netball experts across the country, including Australian games record holder Liz Ellis, believe the Giants are capable of winning the entire competition, while the Swifts have been tipped to struggle after the significant turnover of their playing roster since losing last year’s ANZ Championship decider to the Queensland Firebirds.

“We are going for a championship, we’re not going to lie,” Green said.

“We’ve got really good depth, in our shooting, and in our mid court and in our defensive end.

“The cool thing is we can mix things up, especially in our shooting end we’ve got two moving shooters and a tall holding [shooter] and the ability to be able to mix that up. They’re three world-class players, too, which is really cool.”

Swifts captain Abbey McCulloch expected the round one clash against the Giants would be tighter than people were predicting.

“It’s going to be interesting because we play very similar as well … it’s going to be very close and I think whoever’s the fittest team will run over the top in the end,” McCulloch said.

“I’m expecting them to play very similar to how the Swifts played last year, Julie obviously was a Swifts coach for a while. They’re going to play very connected, very fast, very slick netball.”

Winx’s breeder John Camilleri falls in love with another Street Cry filly

Big fans: Trainer James Cummings and jockey Glyn Schofield have high opinions of Villa Carlotta. Photo: Vince Caligiuri Derby winner: Glyn Schofield wins the Victoria Derby on Prized Icon. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
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Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

“Don’t fall in love with them,” is often the advice for breeders, but there is something about Villa Carlotta that attracted the man who sold Winx, John Camilleri, to keep her.

“From the first time I saw her [Villa Carlotta], I loved her,” Camilleri said. “I just wanted to keep her. I usually sell them, but this filly was a little bit special.”

Like Winx, Villa Carlotta is a daughter of Street Cry, and Villa Carlotta got her racing career off to the perfect start by winning a maiden at Randwick on Wednesday.

“That was exciting to watch,” Camilleri said. “It was as good as watching Winx on Monday, and I’m like a proud dad with her, but it is different when you own them. She is special to me.”

Villa Carlotta has plenty of fans, including trainer James Cummings and jockey Glyn Schofield. Cummings was confident before the race, but tempered that enthusiasm with “you want to see them do it on the track”.

“She is as good as any two-year-old I have had in the past couple of years,” Cummings said. “I wanted to get that out of the way and now we have three or four options where to go next.

“It was important to have that run, so we can look at the better races coming up and we have some decisions to make.”

The race was supposed to be at Kembla Grange on Saturday and Schofield was going to try to ride the filly before coming back to Randwick, such as his opinion of her.

That was not going to be possible, so when that meeting was called off because of the heatwave and the race was rescheduled for Wednesday, Schofield was delighted.

“I wasn’t going to be able to do it on Saturday, so it was good to be able to ride her out there,” Schofield said. “She is a nice filly and we thought she was pretty good and she showed that. She was very strong at the end.”

Villa Carlotta will proceed to the Slipper lead-ups or Black Opal, but remains $101 in the Golden Slipper with Ladbrokes despite the strong win.

She was headed in the straight before fighting back to win by three-quarters of a length from Faeger and Pahruli.

Schofield made sure Villa Carlotta had plenty of room, sitting three wide with cover, coming to the turn as odds-on favourite Alizee was getting held up to his inside. Villa Carlotta hit the front and was then headed by Faeger before kicking into another gear.

“I never felt that she was going to get beaten,” Schofield said. “She felt like she had more to give.”

The Schofield-Cummings partnership will be looking for bigger fish when dual group 1 winner Prized Icon returns in Saturday’s Hobartville Stakes.

Prized Icon won the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old and then finished his last preparation by taking out the Victoria Derby.

“He has never been underrated by us,” Schofield said. “He has come back really well and I think he could sprint well at the 1400 metres. He has been one of those that keeps getting better with every preparation.”

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Kim Jong-un’s assassination removes an embarrassment and rival to North Korean regime

Kim Jong-nam and his half-brother Kim Jong-un (inset), who is North Korea’s leader.The apparent assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s older half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, at Kuala Lumpur Airport on Monday seems intended to remove an ongoing political embarrassment and potential leadership problem for the North Korean regime. According to South Korean media, Kim Jong-nam was travelling on a valid passport in the name of Kim Chol.
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Early reports say Kim, 45, was attacked by two women suspected to be North Korean agents using a chemical spray in the airport’s shopping concourse. It was obviously quick-acting because Kim died on the way to hospital.

South Korea’s national news agency, Yonhap, reported that the North’s intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, carried out the assassination.

The bureau is North Korea’s premier intelligence organisation, responsible for covert external operations. It has been associated with multiple attacks, including the 1968 attempt on South Korean president Park Chung-hee, the 1983 attempted assassination of South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan in Rangoon that left 21 dead, the 1987 downing of Korean Air flight 858 killing 115 people, and the 2010 attempt on high-ranking North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yeop in South Korea.

Assuming the women were bureau agents, the conduct of the attack and evading capture would have been considered carefully beforehand. It’s likely the agents will now either lie low in Malaysia or try to get to neighbouring Thailand or Indonesia, which have less stringent entry controls than Singapore.

Kim’s death by assassination would be the highest-profile North Korean death since the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek in North Korea in December 2013. Jang was responsible for North Korea’s economic reforms under Kim Jong-il and had supported Kim Jong-nam as the expected successor to his father, Kim Jong-il. However, Kim Jong-nam greatly embarrassed the North Korean regime when he tried to visit the Tokyo Disney Resort in 2001 using a false passport and was detained by Japanese authorities.

After that, he was effectively out of the running for the leadership and spent most of his time abroad. In September 2010, Kim Jong-il named his younger son Kim Jong-un as his chosen successor and, after his death, Kim Jong-un became supreme leader in December 2011.

Kim Jong-un was thought initially to lack the ruthlessness of his Kim dynasty predecessors, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. But he has since shown a ruthless streak in executing senior cadres seen to lack commitment to the Kim dynasty or to pose a potential threat to Kim Jong-un’s hold on power. His most unexpected act was the execution of his powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, for belittling Kim Jong-un behind his back and “factionalism”.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-nam’s actions abroad were also probably causing disquiet in Pyongyang. Kim had been living in Macau under Chinese protection. It seems China found it useful to keep him in the wings as a potential pro-China replacement for his half-brother. Kim Jong-nam travelled regularly to Beijing for talks with officials and was believed to have the ongoing support of factions of the North Korean Workers Party. He had also been publicly critical of the dynastic succession process in North Korea.

Because of Kim Jong-un’s belligerent foreign policies and China’s lack of control over North Korea, there has been increasing support in China for a hardline policy against North Korea. Since 2012, plans to oust Kim from power and replace him with his half-brother have surfaced at least twice, but of course they might have been deliberate leaks to keep Kim Jong-un in line.

Any decision to eliminate Kim would have come from the top. Kim was always watched closely by the Reconnaissance General Bureau and it had, according to an arrested North Korean agent, considered killing him via a hit-and-run “accident” in China. However, it would have been considered preferable to avoid problems with China by killing him elsewhere. His regular travels to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France provided a better option.

For the record, Kim Jong-nam was the product of Kim Jong-il’s extramarital relationship with Sung Hae-Rim, a South Korean-born actress.

Clive Williams is honorary professor at the Australian National University’s Centre for Military and Security Law and an adjunct professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

NSW Waratahs’ Jake Gordon putting pressure on Nick Phipps, says Nathan Grey

Jake Gordon will start at halfback for the NSW Waratahs on Thursday in their trial against the Highlanders. Photo: Les SmithNSW Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon has earned a trial match starting spot against the Highlanders and Nathan Grey says the rookie is putting pressure on Wallabies representative Nick Phipps.
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The Waratahs have recalled stars Michael Hooper, Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton and Bernard Foley for their final pre-season match, at Brookvale Oval on Thursday night.

Irae Simone will start at inside-centre, Andrew Kellaway at fullback, while Harry Jones and Reece Robinson have been selected on the left and right wings, respectively.

An all-Wallabies front row of Tom Robertson, who has switched over to loose-head, Tolu Latu and Kepu will pack down in front of second-rowers Mumm and Skelton.

Jack Dempsey, Hooper and Michael Wells round out the back row.

The most eye-raising selection is that of Gordon, who had a stellar NRC campaign last season.

That is not to say Phipps, who featured in four of five Tests on the Wallabies spring tour – he did not get on the field against Ireland in Dublin – will not walk straight back into the starting spot next Saturday in round one.

However, Grey said there was a genuine selection headache brewing when it came to the halfback spot.

“There’s three [number] nines in the program at the moment that are all training and performing in a way that is making the decisions difficult for [head coach] Daryl [Gibson],” Grey said. “Jake and Matty Lucas will be getting time and they’re pushing really hard.”

Asked whether Phipps was still the frontrunner to play halfback against the Western Force in just over a week, Grey said: “We’re very confident in what Nick can do. Daryl’s really clear and honest with the guys around that nine spot is up for grabs. It’s up to the other guys to probably really step up and take it off him.”

The Highlanders will field a strong side, with New Zealand backs Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Malakai Fekitoa all getting a run.

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, regarded by many as the best in the world, will also be there in what will be a “really good contest” for Gordon.

“It’s really good to test yourself against a quality outfit,” Grey said. “We’ve got no doubt he [Gordon] can do that and it’ll be a really good test for him and a few other guys around just trying to execute what we can against quality opposition in a tough arena.”

Foley slots back into the chief playmaker role and will have a new man in Simone outside him, a player Grey and Foley have big wraps on.

“He’s been impressive and does a lot of the fundamental things well, which is really pleasing to see,” Grey said. “He’s played well in the trials, so he’s performing at a high level in the company that he is in and it’ll be another step up this week against the Highlanders.”

Foley said: “Irae has set the place on fire. He’s an extreme talent and he’s a big guy. He doesn’t shy away from the contact. He’s been really impressive in trying to fill that void of Kurtley [Beale] gone.”

The match will begin at 6.30pm and will be split into two 45-minute halves.

Waratahs: Tom Robertson, Tolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Bernard Foley, Harry Jones, Irae Simone, Israel Folau, Reece Robinson, Andrew Kellaway.

Reserves: Hugh Roach, Paddy Ryan, David Lolohea, Sam Needs, David McDuling, Nick Phipps, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Senio Toleafoa, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ned Hanigan, Brad Wilkin, Maclean Jones, Con Foley, Bryce Hegarty, Andrew Deegan/Mack Mason.

Highlanders: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman, Siate Tokolahi, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Tevita Li, Rob Thompson, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.

Reserves: Aki Seiuli, Craig Millar, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Guy Millar, Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, Alex Ainley, Elliot Dixon, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Sio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Matt Faddes, Pat Osborne, Jason Emery.