Monthly Archives: February 2019

Gordon, Murdoch in legal challenge to Ten takeover

MERCURY. NEWS. Pic of Bruce Gordon owner of WIN TV . Picture: Sylvia Liber . 7 February, 2017Billionaire Network Ten backer Bruce Gordon and the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox have each made last-ditch pushes to thwart the purchase of the failed network by America’s CBS.
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Lawyers for Mr Gordon are arguing that administrators should have considered selling the business to Mr Gordon’s private company Birketu and Lachlan Murdoch’s Illyria Nominees Television which were shareholders in the group ahead of its collapse.

WIN Corporation, which is majority owned by Mr Gordon, made an urgent application to the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow it bring on a court hearing later this week.

The application by WIN was made on behalf of its CEO and Ten director Andrew Lancaster who claims he has not been paid his directors fees.

The challengers led by WIN are seeking to push back the date of the next creditors meeting for Network Ten which is scheduled for September 12.

They are also seeking rights for all shareholders to vote on the proposal and for the weighting of CBS’s vote to be reduced to $1. CBS is Network Ten’s largest creditor due to Network Ten holding a $172 million debt to the US group.

21st Century Fox is also understood to be preparing to front court this week alongside WIN Corporation to have its complaints heard about how the administration has been conducted. Comment has been sought from the company’s US offices.

Hearings will be held on Thursday and Friday in the Supreme Court of NSW before Justice Ashley Black to determine whether the meeting should be held at a later date.

WIN and its fellow challengers will ask the court for KordaMentha to reveal “the expected value of any tax benefits to CBS (whether in or in an other jurisdiction) as a result of CBS acquiring shares in Ten Network”.

They will also seek information on whether Network Ten will be capable of trading as a going concern in the event that the Proposed CBS DOCA is approved and the transaction is completed given the secured debt of $172 million owed to CBS.

A flurry of legal activity took place on Tuesday and Wednesday as lawyers for Mr Gordon and fellow Ten backer Lachlan Murdoch informed administrators from KordaMentha of their concerns about the second report to creditors.

Network Ten collapsed in June after Mr Gordon’s Birketu and Mr Murdoch’s Illyria said they would not extend their guarantee of $200 million of the media company’s debt. This followed the exit of James Packer as a backer for the financially troubled network.

In a searing letter from lawyers for Mr Gordon’s private company Birketu and WIN Corporation seen by Fairfax Media, John Atanaskovic described KordaMentha’s report as including “defective disclosure” after an initial review of the document.

“Even on cursory inspection, however, it is clear that the report obviously fails properly to discharge the obligation of setting out the [administrators] reasons for those opinions,” he said.

The letter adds the report does not include an independent expert report, does not include sufficient analysis of the alternative proposal put forward by Mr Gordon and Mr Murdoch’s private companies and fails to properly explain the transaction deed or financing from CBS. Independent expert reports are generally included in the final deed and not in creditors reports.

The letter also includes concerns that the CBS transaction does not allocate any votes to shareholders “in their capacity as contingent creditors in class actions against Ten”.

In a second letter to KordaMentha, sent on Wednesday, Mr Atanaskovic said WIN was not properly listed as a creditor.

“WIN is owed a liquidated debt by Network Ten in respect to unpaid amounts under a program supply agreement between WIN and Network Ten,” Mr Atanaskovic said.

Illyria is believed to have voiced separate concerns to KordaMentha.

A spokesman for KordaMentha said the insolvency house “has no plans at this stage to defer the Second Meeting of Creditors scheduled for Tuesday 12 September”.

“The report to creditors was comprehensive and compliant,” he said.

AFL has grounds for concern in Sydney

Gillon McLachlan has vowed to find football grounds in Sydney for junior players being turned away by local clubs due to a critical shortage of facilities.
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Pointing to the scarcity and inadequacy of grounds as “almost the biggest challenge facing our game”, the AFL chief vowed he would not “accept turning kids away” after holding talks in the harbour city on the eve of the finals with the president of Sydney’s biggest junior club.

McLachlan called a meeting with Eastern Sydney Bulldogs president Iain Dunstan after launching the finals on Wednesday in the harbour city. “The situation, as he explained it, was quite dramatic,” said McLachlan.

Dunstan, who turned away 70 juniors before this season and said that number would grow into the hundreds come 2018 registrations, pointed to the success of the two Sydney AFL clubs, the enormous impact of Lance Franklin, the influx of junior girls and the league’s growing impact in Sydney schools as creating a supply-and-demand crisis.

Of his meeting with the AFL boss, Dunstan said: “I think he was genuinely shocked. My view is the AFL has to put in some serious money to fix it and the current growth is only going to exacerbate.

“I understand the girls’ success caught them on the hop but right now it’s like running a business and spending all your money on advertising and then having no product to sell.

“I appreciated the time he (McLachlan) gave me and for listening, but I’ve had to resort to civil disobedience because I just think the AFL is spending the money in the wrong places.”

Dunstan’s club East Sydney was formed in 1880 and boasts 685 junior players, including 100 female players. Forced to share their 139-metre ground at Paddington’s Victor Trumper Park with rival club the UTS Bats, Dunstan said his club faced massive expenses renting facilities at the University of NSW 15 kilometres away.

For the second successive season both the AFL’s Sydney-based clubs are challenging in September and Dunstan said AFL NSW should have pushed harder to follow up negotiations with Randwick racecourse to establish an n rules playing field in the middle of the track – first proposed last season.

“We”re not getting our message across,” said Dunstan, “and we’ve got two successful AFL clubs, Buddy Franklin is a superstar here and kids are now playing at school on Saturday and wanting to play club footy on Sunday.

“It’s causing friction between the boys and the girls because we can’t send girls in their first season 15 kilometres away to play and the boys think we’re favouring them. I can’t walk down the street without disappointed parents asking why their kid is being turned away. Where am I going to fit them in?”

McLachlan conceded that while football clubs across were being stretched by a shortage of grounds, clubs in Sydney’s eastern suburbs were “bursting at the seams”.

“The facilities challenge for us is almost the biggest challenge facing our game,” added McLachlan. “We’ll play whatever role we can in turning it around and whatever the solutions are, I’m not going to accept turning kids away.”

The AFL boss said the competition was working with Sydney’s local councils and schools and confirmed the code was exploring establishing a football ground in the middle of Randwick’s racecourse. McLachlan added that the NSW minister for Sport Stuart Ayres had been sympathetic to the dearth of playing fields restricting the code in Sydney.

Easter Sydney was the junior club of Sydney’s Dane Rampe, Hawthorn’s Will Langford along with Paul Roos’ sons Dylan and Tyler. AFL commissioner Jason Ball coaches the under-15 girls team.

West of Sunshine, set in Melbourne’s west, makes its mark at Venice

Damian Hill and real-life stepson Ty Perham in West of Sunshine. Damian Hill and real-life stepson Ty Perham in West of Sunshine.
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n writer-director Jason Raftopoulos was overcome by the five-minute standing ovation that greeted his debut film West of Sunshine after its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

“It was a completely overwhelming experience,” he said. “So much of filmmaking is conducted in a bubble – you never truly know what you have until it’s shown. So to have the Venice audience respond in the way they did just blew me away.”

The critical response to the film was also warm. Trade magazine Variety called it an “impressive feature debut”. The Guardian said its “down-at-heel Aussie vibe prompts one to set it alongside other recent bawlers and brawlers, such as Kriv Stenders’ Boxing Day or David Michod’s Animal Kingdom”.

West of Sunshine was shot over 18 days in Melbourne and is based on Raftopoulos’ award-winning 2011 short film Father’s Day.

It stars Damian Hill as sad-sack Jim who is given one day to pay off a $15,000 gambling debt to a violent loan shark. His efforts to raise money are complicated by his compulsive gambling and the fact he has to look after his young son, who is on school holidays.

There is a melancholic tone to the proceedings as Jim proves himself his own worst enemy. Even when he wins big at the races, he can’t resist another flutter.

Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Harry Windsor praised Raftopoulos’ use of the location: “The town’s ubiquitous cranes and construction sites form an elegant widescreen metaphor for the film’s endlessly fraying central relationship.”

The central father-son relationship is loosely inspired by the 1948 Vittorio De Sica classic Bicycle Thieves, where mishap leads to a greater familial bond.

“I wanted to do a father-and-son relationship in a neo-realist style with a man under pressure and have him face his own demons,” said Raftopoulos. “It’s a meditation on fatherhood, and the theme of West of Sunshine is that love is an action and it’s not something that you necessarily feel.”

After earning awards in for writing and starring in Pawno, also set in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Hill is proving to be a talisman for local, low-budget breakout films. West of Sunshine was a family affair for the actor, as playing his son Alex in the film is his real life stepson Ty Perham. Both Hill and Perham were in Venice for the premiere.

“He’s been with me for about eight years,” said Hill of his 12-year-old stepson. “So that made developing the relationship between us easier.”

Perham, he says, came into his own in his first acting role.

“On the first day, I felt like a dad on set, but after the first day he wanted to be with other people in the crew,” said Hill.

“It was kind of weird because it was like working and parenting to a degree, but he was beautiful and everybody indulged him.”

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks said father and son both “deserve credit for excellent, affecting performances”.

The film screened in Orizzonti (Horizons), the section of the Venice Film Festival dedicated to new trends in world cinema, and is a contender for the Orizzonti Best Film Prize, to be announced on Saturday evening in Italy.

Running at a sprightly 78 minutes and co-starring Kat Stewart, Tony Nikolakopoulos and Arthur Angel, West of Sunshine is scheduled for an n release in August next year, after playing at more major film festivals.

Karissa ‘will never have the chance’ to pass tough tests for HSC

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 06: Student Karissa Piller and her mum Sabine Piller at NAPLAN protest at NSW Parliament on SEMPTEMBER: 6, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEMPTEMBER 06: Students protest NAPLAN at NSW Parliament on SEMPTEMBER: 6, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)
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If the new policy requiring students in NSW to pass literacy and numeracy tests to be eligible for their HSC stays in place, Sabine Piller is looking at moving her family to Victoria or Queensland.

Her daughter, Karissa, who is in year 8 at Catherine McAuley and has dyslexia, will “never have the chance” to pass the tests, Dr Piller said.

“We have definitely started looking at how different states treat students with disabilities and we’re seriously looking at moving because you want to give your kids the best options and it’s hard to justify taking all of those away,” said Dr Piller, a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University’s school of science and health.

After school on Wednesday, Karissa travelled to the city from Westmead with her mum to join dozens of other students and parents outside Parliament House to protest the changes to the Higher School Certificate.

“I want to work with animals when I finish school and I want to go to uni or at least have the chance to,” Karissa said.

“I’m worried and a lot of my friends are worried they won’t ever pass.”

Another group of year 9 students from the International Grammar School said they did well in the NAPLAN tests but thought the policy was “unfair”.

“If you’re not the most academic, that doesn’t mean you’re worth less or your future is worth less,” Allegra Welsh, 15, said.

Martine Beaumont, founder of the HSC, Opportunity, Potential for Everyone group, which organised the protest, said she and other parents have been seeking a meeting with Education Minister Rob Stokes and Department of Education secretary Mark Scott over the issue.

“We’re here because we’re not being listened to, kids want to have a voice, parents want to have a voice,” Ms Beaumont said.

Under the new policy, which was announced in July last year, students who are currently in year 9 will be required to meet a minimum literacy and numeracy standard by achieving band 8s in their NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy tests or passing online tests in subsequent years in order to get their HSC.

Mr Stokes said that he has “yet to hear a good reason why we shouldn’t expect students to have basic level of literacy and numeracy when they leave school”.

“We have introduced the HSC reforms to raise standards for our students leaving school to make sure they have a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy, to motivate them and challenge them to achieve at the highest possible level, and to prepare them as well as possible for life after school,” Mr Stokes said.

However, Labor’s spokesman for education Jihad Dib said that “the fact that so many people and so many students are out here shows how important this decision is”.

“Contrary to what the minister thinks, the general public do not think this is a good idea. I’m all about raising standards but anyone who knows anything about education says this is not the right way to do this,” Mr Dib said.

Dr Piller said Karissa wants to keep studying after school but probably won’t get the chance to do so without the HSC credential.

“The HSC in itself already tests that in a way that lets students fulfil their potential in different areas,” Dr Piller said.

“You don’t have to be good at both English and maths. Combining the two just cuts out a lot of people who could pursue further education in areas that are important to society.

“Karissa’s not stupid but she will never achieve the band 8 [in next year’s NAPLAN tests]. And it puts even more pressure on them if they can sit the online tests [in later years], and they probably still won’t get it.”

Newcastle Rugby: Maitland colt cops 10 years for assaulting refereevideo

MAITLAND breakaway Mark Meafua hasreceived a 10-year ban for striking referee Niklas Gaal during the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Unionunder-19s grand final.
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THE MOMENT: Mark Meafua about to be issued a red card by referee Nick Gaal. Picture: Stewart Hazell

The 18-year-old pleaded guiltyto lashing out at the promising whisteblowerin the second half of Maitland’s 28-3 loss to Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday night.

BarTV Sports footage shows Meafu forcefully shove Gaal in the faceafter the refereeissues the player with a red card.

Meafua was arrested at his home in Rutherford on Saturday night and charged with common assault.He will face Maitland Local Court on October 4.

A remorsefulMeafua read out a three-page apology letter during a two-hour NHRU judiciary hearing on Wednesday night.

The judiciary, despite the player’s regret,deemed the act unacceptable and at the top endunder n Rugby Union guidelines.

As well as thesuspension for“physical abuse of an official”Meafua was found guilty of the red card offence–striking with his elbow–andissued a 10-match ban.

Both sentences are to be served concurrently. The red card incident was sparked by a dangerous lifting tackle on a Maitland player.

Gaal, who did not appear at the hearing, was not seriously hurt in the attack.

Meafua was set to receive the Jack Scott Medal, presented to the best and fairest player in the under-19s competition, but is now ineligible.

The ugly incident shocked and outraged the hundreds gathered at the ground and drew widespread condemnation on social media, but NHRU officials stressed that, whileMeafua’s actions were unacceptable, they had a duty of care to look after him during the process.

“We have not seen anything like this in our zone in 30 years,” NHRU general manager Andy Fairfull said.

“It is unacceptable to verbally or physically abuse a referee. Thesanctions show that if you undertake that behaviour, you will be out of the game for a serious amount of time.

“But, as well as ensuring Nik’s wellbeing, the union hasan obligation to provide Mark with the appropriate support.Within that 10 years, the referee’s association and Maitland club will work the young man to assist in some rehabilitation.”

Meafua has until close of business Friday to appeal against the sentence.