Anger as Inspector Bryson Anderson’s murderer Mitchell Barbieri gets sentence cut

Inspector Bryson Anderson Photo: Kylie Pitt, Hawkesbury Gazette Police conduct a search of the property in Oakville, north-west Sydney, where Inspector Bryson Anderson was fatally stabbed in December 2012. Photo: Mick Tsikas
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Mitchell Barbieri pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Photo: Seven News

Living in squalor on an isolated rural property in Sydney’s north-west, Mitchell Barbieri and his psychotic mother believed the world was out to get them.

Police found notebooks and diaries in their Oakville house, filled with letters to the Pope, Russian President Vladimir Putin, state and federal politicians and TV presenters.

“They existed in an isolated, compromised state emotionally, materially and ultimately as a pair who believed they were both being persecuted in an elaborate global manner,” a psychiatrist found.

When the Barbieris began a violent confrontation with their neighbours on December 6, 2012, and police surrounded their home, one or both emailed politicians to say “corrupt” officers were trying to break in.

Mitchell Barbieri, then 19, murdered Inspector Bryson Anderson when he tried to intervene, stabbing the admired senior officer in the cheek and chest.

Paramedics heard Barbieri say: “Let the copper c— die. F— him.”

He pleaded guilty to murder in 2014 and was sentenced to at least 26 years’ jail, with a maximum term of 35 years.

His mother, Fiona Barbieri, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and was jailed for at least 7½ years.

Barbieri appealed against his sentence, in part arguing the sentencing judge did not properly consider his mental illness, which was “a transferred delusional disorder” influenced by this mother’s paranoid schizophrenia.

In a majority decision, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday slashed 11 years from his sentence, giving him a new non-parole period of 15 years and a maximum term of 21 years and three months.

There was silence in the courtroom as the judges announced their decision, but the Anderson family soon expressed their torment.

“We came here today and were – to use my father’s words – kicked in the guts,” Inspector Anderson’s brother, Warwick Anderson, said outside court.

“How any informed member of the community could possibly think a sentence of 15 years for someone who stabs to death a policeman who turns up to help other people is what the community expects is absolutely beyond belief.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said he had written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Lloyd Babb, SC, asking him to consider an appeal in the High Court.

The appeal judgment said Barbieri had delusional beliefs under the guidance of his mother, whom a psychiatrist described as being “powerful, charismatic and psychotic”.

Justice Carolyn Simpson found the judge erred in considering Barbieri’s “plainly severe” mental illness secondary to his mother’s.

She noted evidence the Barbieris considered themselves to be asylum seekers, and asked for Russian consular assistance after their arrest.

“The evidence I have set out … demonstrates the extent to which the applicant’s involvement with Fiona Barbieri and her dominance over him impacted on his mental condition,” Justice Simpson said, in a judgment agreed to by Justice Lucy McCallum.

The judgment said that, while it was important that sentencing acted as a deterrence, Barbieri’s case was not the appropriate vehicle to do so.

The dissenting judge, Justice Derek Price, said it was open to the sentencing judge to find Barbieri knew what he was doing, and was aware of the “wrongfulness of his actions”.

Barbieri will be eligible for parole in 2034.


Dylan Voller tells royal commission of road trip from hell

Dylan Voller speaking at the Royal Commission on Monday. Dylan Voller being manhandled by staff at the Darwin facility. Photo: ABC Four Corners
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Northern Territory prisoner staff forced a teenage detainee to endure a 15-hour road trip to hell with little water and no toilet stops, the royal commission into juvenile justice has been told.

Dylan Voller told commissioners he had been taken by road from Alice Springs to Darwin and was handcuffed in the back of a stifling hot van with no air-conditioning with only a hot chocolate and sandwich for the journey.

He was forced to defecate in his shirt, while the guards’ cigarette smoke made him vomit from nausea.

“I threatened self-harm . . . choking myself with seat belts,” Voller said.

He also gave evidence about being put in isolation in the Alice Springs Detention Centre and officers refusing his pleas to be let out to go to the toilet.

“I had been asking for at least four or five hours . . . I was busting,” he said. “I had to defecate in a pillow slip.

Voller, now 19, was the teenager who appeared in ABC’s Four Corners program last July, strapped to a mechanical restraint chair and wearing a spithood, and being tear-gassed during a 2014 riot at Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

The image helped spark the royal commission.

His harrowing evidence on Monday has sparked further widespread outrage.

Voller admitted he regularly spat at officers in a state of panic when up to four of them were holding him down and hurting him.

“It was a disgusting thing that I did, I do regret it but it became a mechanism because … I was defenceless, I couldn’t stand up and put them off me,” he said.

“It was pretty much a game for them, restraining us.”

Voller said he had been kept in restraint chairs for up to three hours and an officer who was filming his treatment wearing a spithood would turn the camera off, taunt him, and then start reshooting as he became angry.

He admitted to depression.

“I cut my wrist on one occasion, I tied sheets around my neck at least five times to the point where I passed out and had to be taken to hospital,” Voller said.

“There was no help in Don Dale, I was lonely, I kept being bullied from other officers and inmates.”

Voller,​ now an inmate at the adult prison at Holtze in Darwin, told commissioners how he suffered ADHD as a child and had been kicked out of school as a 10-year-old “and never went back” when he refused to take Ritalin “because it made me sick”.

He was first put into detention at 11 after living in government home home where older boys not only taught him to smoke marijuana but introduced him to a life of crime.

The court heard Voller was regularly strip-searched from the age of 11 and on one occasion was left in a cell overnight with no mattress, sheets or clothes.

“They turned the aircon on full blast, I was freezing all night…. I was actually crying asking for a blanket,” he said.

Voller listed a series of incidents where guards had taunted or abused him. including one occasion when an another individual who previously had been found not guilty of assaulting him had been permitted to return to work at Don Dale. “I put my head down. I couldn’t look at him”.

They included offering water and throwing it on ground and using the refusal of food as a discipline measure.

Voller recalled a guard on night duty taking pity on him after he had been refused food who pushed muesli bars, fruit and toast through his grill in the early hours. “He didn’t agree with them starving me, I guess.”

Voller said as part of the system at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre he had to wear a red shirt denoting he was “high risk” in the behaviour management system, and was told there was no way of appealing his classification.

Teenage detainees could earn up to $4.50 a day if their behaviour was good.

Voller said the jail deducted $1.50 “for rent”.

He claimed the prison had a rewards system where boys would earn fake money for good behaviour, which could then be spent on rent, toiletries, socks, underwear and CDs.

No prison guards were permitted in the Darwin Supreme Court when Voller gave evidence.

Voller will not be cross-examined despite making allegations against 31 guards.

Voller frequently failed to give evidence that tallied with a statement he had provided counsel assisting the commission Peter Callaghan SC, and as hours passed he began blinking frequently as if under stress.

At the end of his of his evidence Voller was invited to read a statement.

However, the audio was muted after he had completed a few sentences.

But when he finished, the public gallery broke into applause.

Earlier, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory heard submissions aiming to stop Voller’s evidence being streamed live across Australia.

Northern Territory solicitor-general Sonia Brownhill made an application to suppress elements of Voller’s testimony from the public broadcast saying he could identify current or former prison employees in his evidence.

Jon Tippett, QC, appearing for former Corrections Commissioner Ken Middlebrook, who resigned in the wake of the Four Corners program, told the hearing that vulnerable witnesses like Voller usually gave evidence behind closed doors but he “wanted to tell his story to the world”.

Commissioners Margaret White and Mike Gooda rejected the applications and Voller began his evidence.

Voller’s legal counsel, Peter O’Brien, told the royal commission his client was determined to give evidence in the most public way possible.

“He wants to give his evidence open and freely with [appropriate] safeguards in place,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr O’Brien told commissioners that Voller had principally sought to give his evidence in person rather than via a telelink from prison.

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Oil rally to roll on after combined cuts from OPEC, non-OPEC producers

Oil prices are set to rise as 11 more countries agree to cut output. Photo: Hasan Jamali The shale oil industry in the United States could undo the price hikes caused by the production cut, but it is too early to know when. Photo: Jacob Ford
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Rising oil prices could rejuvenate the lagging United States shale oil industry, analysts say, a move that would add more supply and work against OPEC’s plan to cut production.

Crude oil prices are set to rise above $US60 per barrel over the coming months after 11 countries agreed to join the OPEC production cut on Sunday. The non-OPEC nations, including Russia, Malaysia and Oman, agreed to reduce output by 558,000 barrels per day two weeks after OPEC’s landmark production cut.

That move saw Brent and West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude jump by over 4 per cent to $US56.68 and $U53.97 on Monday.

Oil prices have surged by more than 50 per cent this year and have doubled since Brent hit a low of $US27.88 in January.

“There’s still upside to oil prices despite the rally this morning,” said ANZ senior commodities strategist Daniel Hynes. “Certainly something in the mid-60s is quite achievable over the next few months.”

Energy was the best performing sector on the ASX on Monday, gaining around 3 per cent.

Mr Hynes said the decision by the non-OPEC producers in the early hours of Sunday morning, Australian time, “certainly surprised the market”, and even “more so” Saudi Arabia’s announcement just minutes later that it may cut production to below 10 million barrels per day.

The unilateral decision from the world’s biggest crude producer marked a change of strategy for the Gulf kingdom and was evidence that it is less concerned about losing market share than in previous years, Mr Hynes said.

In June 2014, the Saudi Arabian government upped oil output in order to make American shale oil uncompetitive in response to dwindling market share.

But prices have once again crossed the break-even point for US shale oil producers, and any ramp-up in production could spoil the effect of 22 OPEC-member and non-member countries’ combined output cut.

This will eventually bring down the prices created by the cartel, but that time has yet to come, say analysts.

“The scale of cuts that have been announced over the past couple of weeks would essentially negate any increase from the US anyway and push the market into deficit,” said Mr Hynes.

He added that the potential uptick in the US shale oil industry would remain a medium-term risk, with the oil rig count already trending higher before any overseas cuts had been announced.

“It will be some time before we see the impact of that and the recent price rise,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by UBS resources and utilities analyst Nik Burns, who said in an email: “We would need oil to be closer to $US60 per barrel to see a large uptick in drilling activity to drive production materially higher.”

“Right now our view is that the current level of shale drilling activity can hold production largely flat,” he said, noting the construction of new shale oil wells would merely offset a decline in output from existing ones.

But when US shale oil producers do return higher output levels as expected, the current price increase will be in jeopardy.

“The gravity of their return will determine where prices top out at,” said Mr Hynes. “That is a headwind that will keep some sort of upside cap on prices in the shorter term.”

However while stocks are already up, the effectiveness of the production cut remains to be seen.

OPEC members met an average of 60 per cent of their commitments across 17 production cuts since 1982, according to Goldman Sachs, with the figure rising to around 80 per cent in recent years.

To solve this problem, OPEC has formed a compliance committee for the new round of cuts comprised of member and non-member countries. #OPEC & NON-OPEC deal to cut production:

Total cut 1,722 kb/d

% of Cut Prod: KSA 28.2% Russia 17.4% OPEC 67.6% NON-OPEC 32.4%#OOTTpic.twitter南京夜网/ZNydCdj3OJ— JEFAIN ALHAJRI (@JRJ_ALHAJRI) December 10, 2016

Regardless of compliance, the establishment of the agreement itself is nevertheless a positive sign, said Mr Hynes.

“There was certainly some scepticism about how non-OPEC producers would be able to come to some sort of agreement, but clearly Russia has been the driving force and has been able to bring others on board.”

The cuts include almost every major oil producer except the US, Canada, China, Brazil and Norway, and will apply to the first half of 2017.


New Newcastle Supercar circuit showcases city’s coastline

Revised Newcastle Supercars circuitCOMMUNITY feedback has prompted the organisers of next year’sCoates Hire Newcastle 500 to modify the 2.6 kilometre Supercar circuit.
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The revisedcircuitno longer crossesPacific Park but now runs the length of Watt Street, winds aroundShortland Esplanade and then cuts into Zara Street beforeheading into Parnell Place.

Significantly, the track still runs through the East Endwhere someresidents fear the event will have a negativeimpact on their lives.

Revved up: The revised 2.6 kilometre Supercar circuit no longer cuts through Pacific Park but runs the length of Watt Street and winds around Shortland Esplanade before cutting back into Zara Street.

But NSW Premier Mike Baird encouraged the race’sopponents to consider its benefits.

“Let me tell you they can rent their places out for a fortune,” he said during a visit to the city on Monday.

The newtwistingcircuitis designed to better showcase the city and itscoastline to more than 200 million viewers worldwide next November.

“This is a world-class circuit that will make for exciting racing for the people of Newcastle,” Supercars chief executive James Warburton said.

“We can’t wait to come to Newcastle and deliver great entertainment on and off the track and showcase the city to the rest of Australia and the world.”

New race circuit for Newcastle 500 supercars | VIDEO BEFORE: The initial V8 Supercar Newcastle track.

AFTER: The revised 2.6 kilometre Supercar circuit no longer cuts through Pacific Park but runs the length of Watt Street and winds around Shortland Esplanade before cutting back into Zara Street.

TweetFacebook“Newcastle City Council thanks the community for their feedback to date. Consultation will continue to minimise any disruption while ensuring the track highlights the best of Newcastle including its famous coastline,” she said.

“With the date and track now locked in we can look forward to planning the next 11 months before the Supercars take to the streets showcasing Newcastle on a global stage.”

Initial road upgrades will begin in late February.

Construction on footbridges and other infrastructure will begin about six weeks out from the event.

Community information sessions to discussthe next stages of planning process will be held at Crowne Plaza, Newcastle onTuesday between 4.30pm and 8.30pmand Wednesday between 8am and 12pm.


Nutri-Grain ironman series: Redhead’s Daniel Collins one top-10 finish away from grand final place

DANIEL Collins believes he needs onemore top-10 Summer of Surf finish to make the national ironman series final after bouncing back with agut-busting seventh at Torquay.
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COMEBACK KID: Redhead’s Daniel Collins heads out again during the gruelling ironman final of the Torquay round of the Summer of Surf series on the weekend. Picture: Shane Myers

The Redhead clubbie from The Junctionovercame early setbacks at the Victorian raceon Saturday and a first-heat exit at Fingal Bay last month tomoveto 10thoverall butfourth among those not already qualified for the national ironman series decider at Cronulla on February 24-26. The 20-year-oldand clubmate Isak Costello, who was 16that Torquay and now 15thoverall, are chasing top-five finishes among non-qualified athletes in the Summer of Surfto make thethree-round 40-man grand final.

Collins, who was eighth at Newport in round two,was hunting one more top-10 result at North Wollongong (January 6-7) or Surfers Paradise (February 4).

“If I can get another top 15, top 10, that will probably secure me a spot,” Collins said.“That’s the goal, to get in another final, get some more points and lock it down.”

“I was really happy to get in the mix again and I’m looking forward to the next couple of rounds.”

Collins had to work hard on Saturday for his bestresult in the ironman series.

SPENT: Daniel Collins after the ironman final at Torquay. Picture: Shane Myers

“I didn’t get much luck in the whole race,” he said.

“I led the first swim, then I got hit by a couple of waves on the board, then missed a couple on the way in.

“I wasn’t having a lucky day, then that last ski leg I workedmy way into a good spot, then got down a wave right after I turned the can, then the run up the beach absolutely killed me. I was very spent after that.”

It followed a disappointing exit in big surf at Fingal Bay in round three.

“I got smashed onmy ski on the way out in my heat, I got hit by a four-foot set, lost my ski and there was nothing I could have done,” he said.

“I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time, but that’s the surf, that’s racing.”

The race at Torquay, which was a straight-out final that doubled as the Jim Wall Memorial, was the only endurance format on the circuit and took in two legs each of run, swim, board andski.


Keolis Downer given Newcastle transport contract by Baird government

FRENCH CONNECTION: Premier Mike Baird announcing the 10 year contract with Keolis Downer to operate Newcastle’s transport system. Picture: Simone De Peak
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FERRIES will run every 15 minutes instead of 25, light rail services will run every seven-and-a-half minutes instead of 10, and Newcastle’s bus network will be overhauled to include “night owl” and “on demand” services.

That’s the pitch to Novocastrians from the Baird government, whichannounced on Monday that the Hunter’stransport system wouldbe privatised andrun by French firm Keolis Downer.

The 10-year contract will see Keolis Downer form a new company –Newcastle Transport – to take over the city’sbus andferry operations in July next year,and its future light rail service when it begins in 2019.

“We said we would only proceed with this [transport deal]if there was a better service outcome for Newcastle,” Premier MikeBairdsaid on Monday.

“We have taken a bid that delivers enhanced services, more bus services, more light rail services and more ferry services.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the contract was “historic”, and would “cast aside” the traditional transport timetable.

“We’re going to see the development of a new network that will meet the needs of the people of Newcastle, which hasn’t always been the case,” he said.

“We’re going to see more frequent ferry services …more frequent light rail services [and] a better bus network.

The government has long been displeased with Newcastle’s falling public transport patronage, which in turn places more pressure on traffic and parking in the city.

“I think anyone who comes into Newcastle everyday would see a lot of empty buses running around the streets,” he said.

“What that says to me is there is a need for patronage to get back up to where it should be and Keolis Downer are going to deliver that.”

Mr Constance said the new privatised network would be “more dynamic”, and include “on demand services”.

“The current network is not working for the people of Newcastle [and]very pleasingly what we’re going to see is the casting away of the old timetable and the delivery of a new timetable that is more dynamic, more off-peak services, a night owl service, and also on demand services,” he said.

The deal includes a five-year employment guarantee for the city’s transport workers, and was “cautiously welcomed” by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s NSW Secretary Chris Preston.

“It’s a great step forward for Newcastle transport workers who can now finally put a face to their future employer, and will soon get some clarity about future work conditions,” he said.

“Whilst it’s business as usual for the public transport workers of Newcastle, the RTBU will be in contact with the new operator at the very first available date, to continue to advocate on their behalf throughout this transition.”

Keolis Downer chief executive Campbell Mason said the contractwould deliver “more reliable” transport that would help “breathe new life” into the city.

“Newcastle is undergoing a major transformation,” he said.

“The investment in light rail will breathe new life into the CBD and a more reliable and efficient public transport system will create a network that is attractive to new users.”

But in the wake of reports that the cost to the NSW government of paying a private consortium to operate Sydney’s new light-rail line for 15 years has blownout to almost $938 million has prompted Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp to again call for the government to release the business plan for the Newcastle Light Rail project.

“I have been calling on the government to release this case since last year,” he said.

“I have requested this information under the GIPA Act as well as through the Information and Privacy Commissioner but the government continues to evade this request.

The big question is what is this government hiding? There seems to be a lot of secrecy around this business case. The government is treating Newcastle like fools.”


How to manage your kids’ safety and spending on their new online devices

It’s possible to let kids enjoy phones and game consoles without giving them unfettered access to its capabilities and online stores.Smartphones and video game consoles can be great devices for kids to learn and play with, but their internet-connected nature can make it difficult for parents to keep control over their use. From accessing inappropriate content to using the device too much to racking up huge unexpected bills, unsupervised use of these devices can cause serious issues.
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Luckily, most modern devices have a range of options for parents to monitor or limit how their kids’ use their internet-connected devices, so if your child is getting a new phone or game console for Christmas this year, here’s what you need to know. Game consoles

On both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, parents should sign in and create an account for themselves first, and then make one for their kids (this is called a child account on Xbox, or a sub account on PlayStation). Though the systems work a little differently depending on which console you get, each allows the parent to decide what classification level is appropriate for each child, regulate their spending and limit their online activities.

As the holiday season approaches, Xbox Australia’s Jeremy Hinton says it’s important for parents to be prepared to walk through game console rules with kids from the moment the machine is unwrapped.

“There are a lot of consoles and devices that will be sitting under Christmas trees right now to be opened on Christmas day”, Hinton says. “And of course the kids will want to jump right in, but there really are a number of features that we think benefit the family considerably if they’re done right at that first stage”.

When you set up a child’s account, the console will ask you to set appropriate rules and restrictions, so going through this process with the kids present can set ground rules from the get go.

On most platforms, content such as games, movies and apps are classified using a mix of official Australian Classification Board ratings and those determined by an independent body. On Xbox, all content is rated by the ACB. Regardless of the platform, each child’s account can be set to an appropriate level, from G to R.

“What we really want is for parents to have a level of confidence”, Hinton says, “that you’re child’s not accidentally going to wander into some content that might not be appropriate for them”.

On Xbox and PlayStation, parents can grant a temporary exception to these rules by inputting their passcode, for example if the child tries to watch a movie rated higher than what the parental controls allow, but the parent is present and says it’s ok. For this reason, it’s important to have a strong password or code associated with the parent’s account.

Parents can also set an allowance that lets their children buy games or spend money on in-game transactions without giving them unlimited access to the family credit card. Furthermore, they can choose to restrict access to websites through the console, and decide how children can interact with friends or strangers online.

Xbox One also offers a ‘screen time’ feature that can let parents determine when and for how long the console can be played. Phones and tablets

If your child is getting their own iPhone, iPad or Android device, it’s a good idea to set them up with their own Apple ID or Google account so you can keep their digital life and yours separate. Thankfully, you can do this without letting them loose to do whatever they want with their new device.

For Apple families, you’ll need to use your own device to turn on Family Sharing for your own account, and then you can add the Apple ID of any family members to be part of your group. Children under 13 can’t make their own Apple ID, so you’ll have to do it for them.

If you’d prefer certain aspects of the device to be off-limits entirely, for example Safari or the App Store, you can do this on your child’s device by accessing ‘Restrictions’ in the general settings. This is also how you can restrict the device’s use of location services or access to adult-rated apps, music, movies and websites.

When your kids’ accounts are connected to yours with Family Sharing, they will get access to any iTunes and App store purchases you make. If you’d like to give them the autonomy to buy their own things, you can activate ‘Ask to Buy’, which sends a request directly to your phone when a child would like to use your credit card to buy something.

The process is much the same for Android families, with parental controls that limit apps, music and movies by classification on the device itself (you’ll find it in the ‘settings’ of any Google Play branded app).

Android devices don’t usually come with the ability to block certain aspects of the phone entirely, or limit the kinds of websites you can access, although there are many parental control apps you can use to do this.

Anyone over 13 can sign up for a Google account, and if you add your kids to your Family Library group you can allow them to use your money for purchases by entering your PIN on their device.

With the holiday season fast approaching, check out our tech Christmas gift guides:Under $1000$1000 plus


Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks livestreamed to 1 billion people on Facebook and YouTube

Billions of Facebook and YouTube users will be able to watch Sydney’s New Years Eve firework celebrations live from their mobile phones. Photo: Janie Barrett Crowds at Barangaroo park for last years New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Photo: Brook Mitchell
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A billion Facebook and YouTube users will be able to watch Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations live on their mobile phones for the first time this year.

The Welcome to Country ceremony, kids’ 9pm fireworks and midnight fireworks will all be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube and the City of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve website.

The City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that organisers would be “breaking new ground” this year by streaming the “world’s most famous firework show” to an estimated audience of one billion people.

“By making the most of digital technology only available this year, we can put Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show in the palm of people’s hands around the world – right as it happens,” Cr Moore said.

Earlier this year, the “Songlines” visual artwork, which was projected onto the Sydney Opera House during the Vivid festival, was livestreamed on Facebook and was shared eight million times.

The director of the Welcome to Country ceremony, Rhoda Roberts, said the livestream of the fireworks could easily pass 10 million shares and that audiences will have a “pleasant surprise” during the Welcome to Country ceremony.

“Welcome to Country shows we are a continuously living culture … we are continuing an ancient tradition of protocol but we are doing it in a very relevant manner,” Ms Roberts said.

It has taken 15 months of planning and preparation for this year’s firework displays which will use seven tonnes of fireworks to create more than 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects accompanied by a digital light show.

The 9pm kids’ fireworks will begin with a green and gold umbrella which was inspired by the “Aussie Spirit” at this year’s Olympic Games.

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve is the biggest public event in Australia with up to a million people lining the Harbour last year with similar numbers expected this year.

In addition to broadcasting the ceremony on social media, ABC will have a pop-up digital radio station with audio descriptions of the fireworks for people with impaired vision. Sydney’s New Year’s Eve schedule:

6pm Pre-show entertainment featuring an aerial acrobatic display and tug boat water display.

8.38pm Welcome to Country ceremony with the theme “Walking on Country”.

9pm Family fireworks display.

9.15pm Harbour of Light parade featuring ships decorated with ropelights.

Midnight Fireworks display.


Labor promises ICAC heads same protection from ‘political interference’ as judges

Megan Latham resigned as ICAC commissioner after the agency was restructured. Photo: Brook MitchellFuture heads of the NSW corruption watchdog would be given the same protections against removal from office as judges under a Labor plan to safeguard the independence of the agency.
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The head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Megan Latham, announced last month she would not apply for a new position after her role was axed by an Act of Parliament restructuring the agency.

The restructure has been slammed by Labor as a Baird government “ruse” to remove Ms Latham.

She came under fire over the ICAC’s inquiry into Liberal Party fundraising and its failed bid to investigate Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC.

But Premier Mike Baird has insisted the changes strengthen the agency and Ms Latham could have applied for the new chief commissioner position or one of two part-time commissioner roles.

In an early bid for election in 2019, Opposition Leader Luke Foley said a government led by him would insert a new section in the NSW constitution giving ICAC commissioners the same protections against political interference as judges.

“We need a robust and independent ICAC that can keep Macquarie Street and politicians honest; one that can fight corruption without fear of retribution,” Mr Foley said.

“Mike Baird’s sacking of the current commissioner has sent a warning shot to all corruption fighters in NSW – investigate the ruling party at your peril.”

The NSW constitution provides that a judge can only be removed from office by the governor after a vote by the majority of both houses of Parliament. The only grounds for removal are “proved misbehaviour or incapacity”.

Parliament must first receive a recommendation from the Judicial Commission, the independent statutory watchdog overseeing the judiciary.

Existing provisions of the ICAC Act – which were bypassed in Ms Latham’s case – provide that a commissioner may be removed by the governor following a vote by both houses of Parliament.

It does not specify any grounds for removal, but the procedure in the ICAC Act may have afforded a measure of protection to Ms Latham had it been followed.

Provisions in the constitution applying to judges do not prevent judicial offices from being abolished, as occurred in the ICAC restructure.

However, the constitution provides that a judge who held an abolished office is entitled “to be appointed to and to hold another judicial office in the same court or in a court of equivalent or higher status”.

This right remains in place for the period during which the judge was entitled to hold the abolished office.

Ms Latham will return to her former role as a Supreme Court judge next year.

Labor said it would also give the chief commissioner of the ICAC veto rights over the appointment of the two part-time commissioners.


Domain rejects News Corp’s porn site advertising claim as REA’s share price tumbles

Domain Photo: suppliedFairfax Media has hit back at a false report that Domain Group has taken advertising on porn sites, describing the story as “bile” and a reflection of News Corp Australia’s “seemingly endless appetite for gutter dwelling”.
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The claim, published on Monday in the media section of The Australian, as well as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Melbourne’s Herald Sun, comes as Domain Group challenges rival REA Group as the country’s number one property advertising site.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia owns 61.6 per cent of REA Group.

The rise of Domain has seen REA Group’s share price plunge. From a peak of $65.77 in July this year, the company’s share price had dropped to just $45.50 by November. That wiped more than $1.6 billion from the value of News Corp’s holding in REA Group.

REA Group remains on the list of most shorted stocks on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said the story was “wrong” and Domain had taken out no advertising on porn sites.

“We told The Australian it was wrong,” Mr Hywood said. “We note they printed our quote. But they still had no hesitation in running the yarn. We generally ignore it. Not today.”

A spokesman for Fairfax Media said screen shots provided to Fairfax Media “appeared to be links from a porn site to Commercial Real Estate”, Fairfax Media’s commercial property site, which is part of Domain Group.

“We did not authorise any advertising, re-targeting or redirections and believe it is a malicious scam/bot,” Brad Hatch, director of communications for Fairfax Media, said.

Commercial Real Estate is challenging REA as the number one commercial property site in the country.

“Commercial Real Estate has been the focus of significant investment over the past 18 months,” Melina Cruickshank, chief editorial and marketing officer for Domain Group, said. “To suggest we are inflating metrics via bots or cheap traffic sites is ridiculous.”

Mr Hatch said Fairfax Media had undertaken a review on Monday morning.

“Our technical partners have confirmed that no advertising from us has been placed on porn or illegal sites. We have this morning asked News Corp’s lawyers to provide us with any and all information they have on this matter so our technical people and independent advisers can more fully investigate the matter.”

Mr Hatch said Fairfax Media would notify authorities of the findings and Fairfax would “fully co-operate with any inquiries that may be launched in relation to this matter”.

Mr Hatch added: “News Corp has never had any shame about using their media platforms for attacks on competitors. They dress up their bile as news and bore the rest of the industry with their seemingly endless appetite for gutter dwelling.”

Fairfax Media buys online marketing through a company called Pais Media, which has worked with the Domain team for three years.

Pais Media’s director Josh Smith said the Domain contract had strict clauses that state that certain type of advertising categories are off limits.

“Gambling and adult sites are one of many categories that are excluded from the channels we manage for Commercial Real Estate,” Mr Smith said.

“I can state that Domain has never purchased advertising through these channels.”