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Our gas policy won’t change, Berejiklian tells PM

13/02/2019 | 苏州夜网 | Permalink

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has rebuffed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s calls for NSW to open areas of the state to gas production that are currently off-limits, declaring the state’s policy “will not change”.
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A day after Mr Turnbull renewed his attack on NSW and Victoria over restrictions on gas mining, Ms Berejiklian said the Commonwealth “can say what it likes, but we need a national approach”.

On Wednesday Mr Turnbull announced the government had reached an agreement with Santos, Origin and Shell to provide enough gas to cover a predicted shortfall in 2018 and 2019 by increasing supply to the domestic market.

He called on NSW and Victoria to lift bans on gas production.

The Prime Minister has also urged the NSW government to approve a Santos application to drill production wells in the Pilliga State Forest, which is being considered under planning assessment rules.

Ms Berejiklian said the state government had clearly identified areas where gas exploration can and cannot occur, following a review by the NSW Chief Scientist and “community consultation”.

She highlighted the NSW policy of protecting prime agricultural land and water catchment areas from gas mining.

The government has also imposed a two-kilometre buffer zone around residential areas and indicated it will not permit gas activity on the NSW north coast.

“We are not changing our policy,” she said. “I want to make that clear. Our policy stands, our policy is solid.”

Ms Berejiklian said a national approach to gas supply was the best way to reduce prices.

The comments come as the NSW government prepares to fight byelections in Cootamundra and Murray on October 14, including against the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, which defeated it at last year’s Orange byelection.

On Thursday former Nationals leader Troy Grant – who lost his position after the byelection defeat – attacked the Shooters over the gas issue, accusing it of having an “open-slather” policy.

Mr Grant, who is Police Minister, challenged the party to “come clean with the farming community that you allegedly represent. You want an open-slather policy for coal seam gas”.

But Shooters MLC Robert Borsak accused Mr Grant of being “full of hot air”.

He said the party’s policy had not changed for years and included supporting the ban on coal seam gas exploration on prime agricultural land and in areas that threaten the water supply or water table.

The party also believed landowners should have the final say about whether drilling can occur on their land, and be entitled to royalties.

Asked on what basis Mr Grant believed the party had an “open-slather policy”, a spokeswoman said he had no further comment.

Turnbull avoids another tough decision in the region

13/02/2019 | 苏州夜网 | Permalink

It’s in the Turnbull government’s DNA to avoid taking creative foreign policy initiatives on sensitive issues, even as democracy and freedoms backslide in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.
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But the increasingly repressive rule in our neighbourhood pales into insignificance compared to what is happening in Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar.

Outrage is mounting over atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces in Rakhine State over the past month which have forced almost half a million Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, creating an emergency in squalid refugee camps.

The United Nations calls it ethnic cleansing.

Human Rights Watch says it meets the criteria for crimes against humanity under international law.

If ever there was a time for to stand-up, it is now.

has expressed its deep concern over the violence, provided $20 million in aid to victims and sent a handful of relief experts to Rakhine to assess people’s needs.

It is not enough.

Human rights activists are appalled that insisted on weakening a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Myanmar.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she doesn’t condemn Suu Kyi – who has called allegations against her military “fabrications” while at the same time appearing alarmingly ignorant of the situation, saying last week “we want to find out why this exodus is happening”.

What apologists for her overlook is that she outrageously linked international aid agencies to “terrorist” insurgents, bringing to an abrupt end the delivery of desperately needed aid to tens of thousands of Rohingya still in Myanmar.

To be sure, Suu Kyi is in a difficult position as her country’s military leaders appear to be calling the shots.

And and like-minded countries want to keep Suu Kyi and her government above water in the hope the country’s “transition to democracy” can continue.

But it is clear that both Suu Kyi and the military are in a state of denial.

should take leadership in rallying concerned countries to consider ways to best have an impact on the Myanmar military’s behaviour.

A start would be to stop pandering to Myanmar in the UN human rights council and to cut the n Defence Force’s ties to the country.

What to do if targeted for a tax audit

13/02/2019 | 苏州夜网 | Permalink

The Tax Office’s new data matching technology is catching out more taxpayers than ever.
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Tax experts say they have seen a significant increase in the number of “please explain” letters, which can be sent out up to two years after lodging a tax return.

If you’re riding around in the latest sports car and enjoying life in an exotic overseas location, but only declaring income of $10,000 on your tax return, it’s easier than ever for the Tax Office to be aware of your lifestyle.

It’s able to assess the assets you own – cars, properties, boats – and work out how much income you would need to support your lifestyle.

And for those suspected of serious tax evasion, the Tax Office scrapes social media sites to find out a little more about their lifestyles.

Instagram posts in front of a convertible or enjoying the high life in the Caribbean might not sit too comfortably with the Tax Office if income to pay for the lifestyle has not been declared.

Rapid advances in technology enable the Tax Office to drill down to low-level evasion and innocent mistakes.

Tax experts say the Tax Office will be reasonable if the mistakes are innocent, with the shortfall in tax repaid, plus “penalty” interest.

The interest, which is tax deductible, is up to 9 per cent a year. Penalties

There is, however, a range of penalties in the Tax Office’s armoury for more serious offences.

Failure to take reasonable care results in a penalty of 25 per cent of the amount owed. Recklessness incurs a penalty of 50 per cent of the amount owed and intentional disregard attracts a penalty of 75 per cent.

H&R Block tax communications director Mark Chapman says it’s important not to ignore a please explain letter and to give the Tax Office everything it asks for.

“If you fail to co-operate, the Tax Office can impose higher levels of penalty,” he says.

“Tax audits and reviews can be stressful and potentially expensive in terms of extra tax payable, interest and penalties.”

Liz Russell, a senior tax agent at Etax, says taxpayers need to take immediate action as they typically have only two to three weeks to respond.

She says that if you bury your head in the sand and do nothing, the Tax Office will make an adjustment based on what it thinks should apply.

“This year, we are seeing more data matching letters being issued, but that doesn’t mean more people are doing the wrong thing,” she says. Net cast wider

“The Tax Office’s latest technology helps it cast a wider net and catch more errors or unusual deductions claims,” Russell says.

The long arm of the Tax Office is extending beyond the long-standing compliance hot spots of work-related expenses, rental property income and capital gains tax to those earning income from the sharing economy.

The Tax Office says it is looking at those working as Uber drivers, letting rooms on Airbnb and offering services through Airtasker.

As the transactions in the sharing economy are made electronically, they are easy to trace.

Tony Fittler, the managing partner at HLB Mann Judd, Sydney, has also seen an increase in data-matching letters from the Tax Office.

“You have to assume that the Tax Office is getting much more information,” Fittler says.

Tax Office will be specific about what it thinks you have not declared. The letter will state exactly what adjustments it plans to make based on that new-found information.

Russell says in some circumstances little can be done and if you agree with the information in the letter, you do not need to contact the Tax Office.

After the deadline to object passes, the Tax Office will automatically send you an amended assessment.

“But if a taxpayer disagrees with what a Tax Office letter says and has the evidence to support their claims, the Tax Office will usually be understanding and reverse its position,” Russell says. Data matching not infallible

But the Tax Office’s data matching is not infallible, Tony Fittler says.

“It’s important to check the information carefully, as we have found data-matching errors,” he says.

Mark Chapman says being proactive when dealing with the Tax Office can help.

“If you haven’t yet been contacted by the Tax Office, but you become aware that there may have been a mistake in your tax return, then consider submitting an amended tax return or making a voluntary disclosure,” Chapman says.

“This will minimise the likelihood of penalties. The best policy is to stay out of trouble in the first place.”

A “sure-fire” way get into trouble with the Tax Office is failing to declare taxable income, he says.

“Even if you are relying on information pre-filled by the Tax Office itself, the responsibility for ensuring that you’ve included everything you need to rests with you.”

And he says foreign income is a growing area of concern to Tax Office.

It is not only foreign income from employment, but also income-producing assets such as an overseas rental property, as well as income from overseas shares and bank accounts, Chapman says.

Other common triggers for an audit include not disclosing capital gains on the sale of shares and property, he says.

And don’t forget bank interest. n Banks report all the interest they pay to the Tax Office so any discrepancy is easy to pick up, Chapman says. Small businesses

Business people have to be particularly careful, Chapman says.

“If you run a small business and don’t declare all your sales, the Tax Office will often identify that your business performs poorly compared to other similar businesses,” he says.

“They do this by establishing ‘benchmarks; for businesses in certain sectors.

“If your business is outside the benchmark for your sector, expect additional Tax Office scrutiny.”

Work-related expenses is another continuing hot area for Tax Office scrutiny.

Taxpayers, particularly those who doing their tax returns themselves, can easily get it wrong, Chapman says.

“Tax law can be difficult and it can be hard to know what to claim and not what to claim,” he says.

Chapman says the Tax Office is looking closely at work-related deductions, including the deductions of up to $300 that can be made without receipts.

It’s important to claim only for items you actually spent the money on. And even with the first $300 you need to be able to show how those claims were calculated, he says.

“You do need to have spent the money,” he says.

It’s important not to claim private or domestic costs, such as the cost of the car for the daily commute to and from work, which is not an allowable deduction.

Chapman says if in doubt on what to do in response to a query from the Tax Office, seek professional help from an accountant or tax agent.

Liz Russell says a tax agent can communicate with the Tax Office about any special circumstances you’ve faced.

“That could be the difference between whether you get a penalty, or a refund,” she says,

Moore wants to ‘go out the big door’ with repeat of 2010 ‘special win’

13/02/2019 | 苏州夜网 | Permalink

Johannesburg: Wallabies stalwart Stephen Moore has been recalled to ‘s bench to face the Springboks at a venue in Bloemfontein he says holds a special place in his heart after a famous victory there in 2010.
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It comes as Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma said it was important for Moore to “go out the big door” at the end of the year with teammates carrying him atop their shoulders after what has been a fine career.

Moore did not feature for the Wallabies in their last match against South Africa in Perth because he was in Brisbane for the birth of his third child.

The 34-year-old was not recalled to the match-day 23 in Canberra a week later but has been given the green light by coach Michael Cheika on the bench, behind starting hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.

There have been plenty of raps on 20-year-old Melbourne Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese, who now has two Tests under his belt against the Springboks and Pumas.

Some thought his emergence was a sign of Cheika transitioning Moore out the team but the veteran’s experience and grunt will be required against a strong South African pack.

Moore was one of three players, alongside Kurtley Beale and Will Genia, to play in ‘s famous victory in Bloemfontein seven years ago where Beale slotted a penalty after full-time to seal a 41-39 win and end a 47-year drought on the Highveld.

“It was an important game and it was myself and Drew Mitchell’s 50th Tests, so you remember those kind of games and particularly the way it ended,” Moore told Fairfax Media. “I remember when the whistle went they were trying to shut the game down. Wayne Barnes gave us a penalty and that was it, Kurtley stepped up and once he knew he was going to take the kick, he nailed it. It was a great kick and those kind of things you remember for sure.

“After the game, those moments in the dressing room, they’re the kind of things you play for and anyone who was there would say the same thing. It was our first win on the Highveld for a while and it was a pretty special win, and when you look back at everything it was right up there.

“To win here, you need everything to go well and you need preparation to be spot-on.”

Even though Moore will retire from Tests at the end of year, Ledesma said he had so much to offer from a leadership perspective and even imparted his own metaphor for how the 122-cap hooker should finish his career in a gold jersey.

“Cheik and I have been chatting with him and he definitely has an important role to play with us in terms of leadership, in terms of driving standards, in terms of his legacy,” Ledesma said. “For him we need him to finish strong.

“There’s a saying in France: ‘you go out the big door’. It’s like in the corrida, when a toledo wins, he goes out of the big door and somebody is carrying him.

“If we can do that for him and if he can do that for him, that’d be awesome.”

Moore is happy to sail off into the sunset and help a newcomer in Uelese find his feet around the Wallabies set-up two years out from a World Cup that he will no doubt be targeting.

“It’s really good for the team because in two months I won’t be playing any more,” Moore said. “It’s something that we should look positively at. We’ve got a young player that has come up, had two Tests there and shown that he’s capable of playing at this level. I think Taf has been doing a great job as well.

“That is the pleasing thing for the team because it’s an important position and we need to make sure we build more depth there going into the Word Cup.”

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu, another older member of the squad, is adamant competition from younger players is beneficial for a guy like Moore in the twilight of his career.

“He’s come back in and there’s three quality hookers ??? that competition is keeping him hungry,” Kepu said. “We’ve got the younger guys coming through and we’ve got to keep pushing harder than ever.”

Penthouse pet loses defamation bid after court find claims were true

13/02/2019 | 苏州夜网 | Permalink

Simone Farrow aka Simone Cheung, charged with drug offences. Image from the Ed Hardy campaign. For Bellinda Kontominas story.A former Penthouse pet’s attempt to sue News Corp for defamation over an article that claimed she was a prostitute and ran a drug ring has been thrown out by the NSW Court of Appeal, partly because the claims were based on her own evidence at her criminal trial.
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Simone Farrow, who is serving a prison sentence for drug smuggling, took action over an article published in The Sunday Telegraph that she said carried the defamatory imputations that she formed a secret sexual relationship with a prison guard in return for being allowed to make phone calls that were not recorded, that she ran a drug ring, had skipped bail, was a prostitute and was convicted of criminal offences.

The story ran under the headline “Drugs, sex and an officer” and alleged that she had sex with a prison guard in exchange for favourable treatment, which Farrow denies.

The NSW District Court rejected her claim as an abuse of process, given some of the claimed imputations were incontrovertibly true – that she had skipped bail, had pleaded guilty to a charge of importing crystal methamphetamine and was sentenced for that offence to a term of 11 years’ imprisonment.

Judge Judith Gibson found the remaining imputations did not justify the cost of the legal action.

Farrow sought to appeal the order in the NSW Court of Appeal, which rejected her application on Thursday.

Justice Lucy McCallum found the story was “plainly defamatory but at least partly true”, and truth was a defence to defamation.

Farrow had argued it was not true that she had bartered sex for favourable treatment and that contrary to the description of her as somebody who had “run” a drug ring, she was one of several principals in the smuggling operation.

But Justice McCallum dismissed the notion that a convicted offender could be entitled to invoke the authority of the court “to vindicate such a nuanced analysis of the findings of the criminal court”.

She also found that it was clear from the story that Farrow was no longer working as a prostitute, and that the reference to her employment history came from her own evidence in the criminal trial, where according to The Sunday Telegraph she told of being conscripted into sex work by her mother to pay for her boarding school fees.

“It would be absurd to allow the applicant to seek a remedy for damage to her reputation caused by the publication of her own evidence,” Justice McCallum said.

Justice John Basten and acting Justice Ronald Sackville agreed.

Farrow was sentenced to a minimum 6?? years in prison in September 2016 over her role in an ice smuggling ring. She was accused of using her role as a swimsuit model as a cover, while concealing the drugs in packets of bath salts.