Monthly Archives: February 2019

Ben Barba will star for Cowboys: Flanagan

Ben Barba has been linked to a NRL return on a one-year deal with North Queensland.Former NRL bad boy Ben Barba will prove to be such a success at North Queensland that the club will have no choice but to sign him to a long-term deal.

That’s the opinion of Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan amid reports the Cowboys are on the cusp of signing the former Sharks star to a one-year deal for next year.

The development comes as Cronulla fullback Valentine Holmes weighs up the option of returning home to Townsville when his contract expires at the end of next season.

Holmes continued his hot form in the Sharks’ final game of the regular season on Sunday, scoring a try and setting up three others in another slick display.

However Sharks captain Paul Gallen stopped short of prematurely crowning him a club great.

“He’s 23 years old. He’s a terrific player, we know that. We’ll call him a club great when he signs a new four-year contract hopefully,” Gallen said.

Flanagan insisted any talks about an extension have been put off for the summer.

“He spoke to his manager and they know where it is. We’re not doing any negotiations with it until after the semi-final series,” he said.

“It’s just too hard. I’m sure Val appreciates not the talk going on during the week. He’s got a really big semi-final series and we just don’t talk to them about it.”

With the Cowboys believed to be keen on signing Barba, 29, on a one-year contract, Flanagan fears the rival club still harbours a desire to lure Holmes back to Queensland.

But he predicted Barba, who helped the Sharks to their maiden premiership in 2016, would prove to be a long-term fit for the Cowboys.

“If you listen to what the Cowboys’ mantra was about it, (coach Paul Green is) making sure he fits the club. But if I know Benny Barba, he’ll go up there and be a star,” Flanagan said.

“It’ll be hard for the Cowboys then to say, ‘Thanks for your services. After one year, off you go’.

“He’s a quality player, Benny Barba, and we know what he added to our team. I’m pretty sure he’s going to add it to that team up there.

“I’ve been watching closely what he’s been doing in the UK. It has been special.”

Qld euthanasia inquiry ‘urgent’: advocates

Voluntary euthanasia advocates have called on the Queensland government to fast-track its inquiry. Photo: SuppliedA Queensland inquiry into aged care and assisted dying should be held as soon as possible, advocates say.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Sunday that a wide-ranging parliamentary review would look at a range of issues including palliative care and assisted dying for terminally ill adults.

The announcement comes after Victoria passed assisted dying laws last year and a parliamentary committee recently recommended the introduction of legislation in Western .

Clem Jones Trust chair David Muir said the announcement was “not before time”.

He said the government should begin the inquiry as early as this week in order to prevent people being forced to take their own lives in painful ways.

“The premier needs to start this inquiry as soon as possible… and it’s important that the inquiry be an inclusive inquiry to hear all schools of thought,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“There’s an urgency because as revealed by the coroner in the parliamentary inquiry in Victoria, each week in Victoria there’s somebody taking life into their own hands by killing themselves in brutal and terrible and lonely circumstances, so there’s been damage done by delay.”

However, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the inquiry would not begin until its moves to change abortion laws are finalised.

The government introduced laws to decriminalise abortion to state parliament last month, with the bill expected to be debated and passed before the end of the year.

“Rather than do two inquiries poorly we’ll do one after the other,” Ms Trad said on Monday.

The Liberal National Party opposition’s official position is against voluntary assisted dying.

The party says there are more pressing issues to be addressed, such as congestion and cost of living.

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Dutton returns serve over au pair affair

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has launched a vigorous defence of his visa decisions, threatening to expose a list of “quirky” immigration requests from Labor MPs.

The failed Liberal leadership challenger will defend himself when parliament resumes next week, as pressure grows over revelations he granted visas to European nannies in 2015.

Mr Dutton firmly dismissed suggestions he acted to benefit anyone he knew, such as a former Queensland Police colleague whose Italian au pair was saved from deportation.

“To say I had some personal link or that I was acting on behalf of, you know, somebody that I was personally associated with is complete nonsense,” the minister told reporters on Monday.

Suggestions of wrongdoing are coming from a disaffected figure in the n Border Force eager to throw mud, Mr Dutton said.

He said he has not misled parliament in the past over the cases and will be happy to discuss them in the weeks ahead as he has nothing to hide.

But people should also be asking questions of Labor, he said.

“Chris Bowen has written to me hundreds of times asking me to intervene in matters. Now, has he got a personal connection with any of those people? You would need to ask him that,” he said.

“Is it of benefit to him and his electorate if he helps somebody out? You would need to ask that.”

Mr Dutton warned Labor would get a “whack back” in parliament if the opposition chose to ask him multiple questions on the issue.

“I have kept a list of Labor MPs who have come to me with quirky cases. There are some people who have been very quiet in this debate,” he said.

Greens MP Adam Bandt will move a no-confidence motion in Mr Dutton when parliament resumes next week.

Fellow crossbencher Andrew Wilkie will support the move, along with the opposition.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the home affairs minister was under the pump because of internal pressure relating to his role in dumping former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“It’s not what you know it’s who you know under this Liberal government. That’s not the way to run an immigration policy,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says suggestions the minister misled parliament by intervening in one case on behalf of a former police colleague are a “furphy”.

In another case, Mr Dutton overruled advice from immigration authorities to grant a French woman a visa after being lobbied by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan.

KAP considers going to CCC after staff cut

Katter’s n Party is considering going to the Crime and Corruption Commission after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stripped the party of extra parliamentary staff.

Ms Palaszczuk has withdrawn from a special taxpayer-funded staffing deal after the party refused to denounce KAP senator Fraser Anning’s first speech to federal parliament.

The premier demanded the party’s condemnation after saying she was disgusted by Senator Anning’s address, which used the Nazi-associated “final solution” phrase and called for a ban on Muslim immigration.

She announced on Sunday the party’s refusal to do so meant she would no longer fund the five staffers granted during the last term of government, at a total cost of around $500,000, when Labor was a minority and needed parliamentary allies.

But KAP Queensland leader Robbie Katter claims Ms Palaszczuk may have broken the law when she threatened to take away five staff if the party did not condemn Mr Anning’s remarks.

“That has very serious criminal elements and implications to it,” he told reporters on Monday.

“An officer in government cannot intimidate your or threaten you in any way, particularly with financial resources, and the Premier has explicitly done that.”

Mr Katter said he is considering taking the matter to the Crime and Corruption Commission, among other options he would not disclose.

Responding to questions about whether she had tried to bully or intimidate the party Ms Palaszczuk said: “No, not at all.”

“It’s not in breach, it’s totally at my discretion,” she said.

Mr Katter concedes individuals may have taken offence at Senator Anning’s speech but said they had been outnumbered by messages of support over the party’s refusal to apologise.

He simply says the speech was quoted out of context.

The Liberal National Party has taken credit for the Premier’s withdrawal from the arrangement, saying Ms Palaszczuk only took the step when she was shamed into it by the Opposition.

LNP MP Ann Leahy initially raised the issue in state Parliament, asking the Premier if she would walk away from the staffing deal in light of Senator Anning’s comments.

Queensland Council of Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O’Gorman says while Senator Anning’s speech was “appalling”, the government’s action is contrary to one of the pillars of the Fitzgerald report.

He says stripping KAP of their staff allocation is reminiscent of the Bjelke-Petersen government’s stifling of their Labor opposition.