Altair boss in dispute over mother’s shares

The fund manager who shocked the market by closing his Altair Asset Management funds and returning the cash to investors, citing an imminent property calamity and market correction, is embroiled in a dispute surrounding his mother’s share portfolio.
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In a case proceeding through the NSW Supreme Court, Philip Parker, who is Altair’s chairman and chief investment officer, is one of the defendants named in an action stemming from claims brought by his elderly mother, Faye Mary Parker and F M Parker Pty Ltd.

The action and its numerous cross-claims were set off when Mrs Parker filed suit against Attis Capital, its director David Reynolds, and Altair Assets and Pepsec, which is an entity linked to Mr Parker and Altair.

The dispute centres around a loan obtained by Pepsec on June 11, 2015, from Attis Capital, against which Pepsec providedMrs Parker’s shares as collateral. Attis Capital alleges that it exercised its right to sell those shares at the instruction of Mr Parker who denies giving these instructions. Mrs Parker argues that she never approved the transfer and sale of her stock and she wants her shares back.

Mr Parker refused to comment on Wednesday; he has previously maintained shuttering the business was predicated on a bearish market call. Last night, his lawyers said the court action had nothing to do with Mr Parker’s surprise decision to close his funds and repay investors.

“It appears that the plaintiff” – Mrs Parker – “is the victim of a fraud perpetrated by the second defendant” – Pepsec – “and the third cross defendant” – Mr Parker, it is alleged by Mr Reynolds and Attis. Mr Parker denies the fraud allegations. Pepsec and Mr Parker, in response, claim wrongdoing by Mr Reynolds and Attis and, that Mrs Parker did sign the transfer forms.

Papers filed on behalf of Attis and Mr Reynolds detail how $3 million was incrementally advanced to Pepsec, the entity linked to Altair and Mr Parker. Mr Parker told Mr Reynolds in June 2015 that Pepsec needed $1 million for the purpose of Altair working capital.

“Mr Parker instead used part of that money for his own use and benefit,” the documents allege.

Attis advanced $1 million to Mr Parker, and Attis intended to reconstitute the portfolio of shares when Mr Parker repaid the $1 million.

Mr Parker directed Attis to retain the balance of the proceeds and trade it, according to Attis and Mr Reynolds.

Moreover, “Mr Parker directed Attis to split any profits from that trading on a 50-50 basis between Mr Parker and Attis,” the documents submitted for Attis say.

Around October 14, 2015, $1.96 million was deposited in to Attis’ account with ANZ by F M Parker Pty Ltd.

Attis advanced a further $1 million to Pepsec from the $1.96 million at the direction of Mr Parker, the same documents say, and Mr Parker directed Attis to retain the balance and trade it.

Around December 22, 2015, $2.97 million was deposited to Attis, which advanced a further $1 million of the $2.97 million to Pepsec.

Again, Attis retained the balance and says it was instructed to trade it and profit share any spoils.

Altair, a plaintiff in one of the cross-claims, alleges Attis and Mr Reynolds sold the shares and used the proceeds to fund the loan to Pepsec. Altair also alleges the balance of the proceeds have been retained by Attis and Mr Reynolds for their own benefit.

Mr Parker claims he did not sign the loan agreement and did not witness his mother’s signature. Alternatively, he did not know what he was signing as he was signing numerous documents put forward by Mr Reynolds.

In their response, Attis and Mr Reynolds say the second secured loan agreement was provided by Mr Parker, signed by his mother and Mr Reynolds. They say the mother denies having signed it and Reynolds has no recollection of having signed it.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Parker said “giving up management and performance fees and handing back cash from investments managed by us is a seminal decision, however preserving client’s assets is what all fund managers should put before their own interests.”

The case continues and is likely to be heard in September. Mrs Parker was approached for comment via her lawyer. The lawyer acting for Mr Reynolds and Attis Capital had no comment in relation to the proceedings.

Separately, Australian Securities and Investments Commission documents show that Altair Assets director John Milne Hall resigned from the board April 7, 2017. Mr Hall submitted his resignation to Mr Parker, where he told Mr Parker that his reason for resigning was a lack of information.

“The principal reason for my resignation is that for the past three or more years I have not been provided with sufficient information in relation to the conduct of the business of Altair Assets Ltd to discharge my duty as a non-executive director to monitor the conduct of the company’s business and to intervene where appropriate.”

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Colossal Fifita comes of age as Blues humble Maroons

Match Report: Fifita stars as Blues smash MaroonsPlayer Ratings: How New South Wales faredPlayer Ratings: How Queensland fared
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Fat kids rule.

Eight months ago, Andrew Fifita was admonished and banished from the Australian team because of his subtle support for one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge.

On Wednesday night, he ripped out an Origin performance that has Queensland ripe for the picking in game two at ANZ Stadium on June 21.

The Sharks prop manufactured the Blues’ first try for James Maloney, helped get the ball rolling for Mitchell Pearce’s try on the stroke of half-time and then bulldozed over for his own in the 55th minute.

Fifita is one of the game’s great mysteries.

Cronulla fans adore him, not least after his display in last year’s maiden premiership victory. Many rival supporters consider him a stain on the game, as much as he tries to paint himself as a misunderstood soul.

In this match, it was impossible not to applaud him no matter what you think of him.

Park Fifita’s character to the side for a moment and what’s left is a 120-kilogram footballer who looks like he’s ducked through the drive-through at Hungry Jacks on the way to the game before playing with Beetson-like aplomb. The biggest kid on the field who nobody can stop and if you can he’ll just pop an impossible pass anyway.

In a game that’s becoming increasingly played by athletic robots, all of the same size, all of the same mediocre skill, he’s an unlikely breath of fresh air.

He set up the first try of the match using equal parts size and skill, scattering Maroons defenders like a bowling ball and then squeezing out an offload for Sharks teammate Maloney to score.

Late in the half, with NSW reeling from a Maroons try to winger Corey Oates from a Cooper Cronk cross-field kick, Fifita smashed it up the middle again, getting Queensland on the back foot and giving the Blues enough momentum for the play to surge down field before Pearce went over just before half-time.

Fifita was one of several stars in a Blues side whose time looks like it has finally arrived, albeit against a Queensland team that will now be sweating on the injured Johnathan Thurston returning for game two. It will stun if Billy Slater – for some reason overlooked for this match – isn’t there, too.

Even with those players, however, Laurie Daley’s men will be brimming with confidence after a 28-4 victory, their biggest in Brisbane.

Fullback James Tedesco was equally as dominant as Fifita, scoring tries at one end and snuffing them out at the other. Aaron Woods found the form he hasn’t had all season at the Tigers. Rookie hooker Nathan Peats tackled everything but the Maroons trainers.

Jarryd Hayne went into the match with his future at the Titans unclear, however on Thursday morning, the NRL club announced he would in fact be seeing out his second year on the Gold Coast.

When he scored in the 60th minute, he ran towards the large pocket of Blues fans behind the posts climbed into them, arms outstretched. After toying with American football and rugby sevens, the Hayne Plane was home.

In many respects, rugby league needs a NSW series win. Just to change it up.

For all the navel-gazing the game has been doing recently, it can always rely on Origin to bring it back to life, but this series has been different.

The opening match, in Brisbane, did not sell out and worryingly there were empty seats dotted around the outer of a rugby league cathedral that not that long ago would sell out Origin matches within a day.

Perhaps it had something to do with the Blues’ supposed favouritism with Queensland missing the likes of Thurston, Greg Inglis and Matt Scott.

Whatever the interest, it meant nothing to the players who produced one of the most absorbing opening halves of football seen at this level in years.

While Pearce was solid in his return to Origin, there would’ve been legions of Blues supporters sitting in loungerooms and throwing remote controls at the wall through an impotent kicking game that has long been his downfall in Origin.

He was starting to come into the game until the 50th minute when he was collected by Maroons centre Will Chambers and was ruled out of the rest of the night with concussion.

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Andrew Fifita produces performance for the ages

Andrew Fifita, take a bow. It was the night the controversial Cronulla prop finally stamped his authority on the Origin arena.
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With a performance Arthur Beetson would have been proud of, Fifita solidified his place as the game’s premier front rower – producing an inspired outing to lead the Blues to a 28-4 victory in the series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

Almost three years to the day Jarryd Hayne earned praise for producing arguably the best individual performance in NSW history on the same ground, Fifita put his name up in lights alongside him with a try and a try assist on a night that is likely to be remembered as the changing of the guard in Origin.

No Johnathan Thurston, no Greg Inglis, no Matt Scott, no chance … apparently. And judging by the dominance of NSW in game one, it appears the curtains are closing on a dynasty that many believe rugby league won’t ever see again.

The 27-year-old Fifita, who has earned his fair share of detractors after his controversial support of one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge, was public enemy No.1 in Brisbane before a ball was even kicked.

That certainly didn’t change after full-time after terrorising Queensland with a barnstorming display that included nine tackle breaks and almost 200 metres in his first Origin appearance in the run-on side in eight games for NSW.

Fifita was far and away the best player on the field, but Blues fullback James Tedesco put aside a season to forget to leave Suncorp Stadium with the tag as the second-best player on the paddock in NSW’s biggest win in enemy territory.

In only his second Origin game, Tedesco proved almost impossible to stop, bagging a try and setting up another as he rediscovered his mojo.

But it was his never-say-die attitude in defence, saving a couple of tries with his relentless pursuit of the ball carrier that would have pleased coach Laurie Daley the most.

Like they did in 2014 when they last won an Origin series, the Blues will head to ANZ Stadium looking to wrap up the series after a victory on away soil.

Three years ago, in the corresponding game of the series, Hayne etched his name into the history books with a performance for the ages.

This time it was Fifita.

In 2014 Hayne carried NSW on his shoulders to a drought-breaking series victory the last time he donned the blue jersey.

But the superstar status he left the game in possession of has eroded over the thousand odd days since he last walked out on to the Origin arena.

It took him 34 minutes, but Hayne showed he still possesses the superstar qualities when he bumped off a few defenders and produced an incredible offload to send Brett Morris into open space.

However his defensive deficiencies were also exposed, making a poor read in defence in the set of six that lead to Queensland’s first try to Corey Oates off a Cooper Cronk kick.

Hayne was picked based on the contribution he has made to the jersey in the past, and a hope that the jersey would contribute to Hayne rediscovering something from the past.

It was the opposite for Mitchell Pearce. There’s not much from the past the Blues wanted him remembering.

Unfortunately, after a sickening collision with Will Chambers early in the second half, there won’t be much from Wednesday night’s game Pearce will remember.

But when he sits down to watch the replay, the heavily scrutinised Blues halfback will reflect on a moment to savour when he combined with future Roosters teammate Tedesco to give the Blues a 12-4 lead on the stroke of half-time before his night came to a premature end.

In the early exchanges of the second half, NSW transformed a dominant start into a unassailable lead when Fifita and Tedesco crossed.

Queensland, unlike in previous campaigns, had no answer.

Hayne redeemed himself for his first-half defensive lapse and in the process took a walk down memory lane, leaping into Blatchey’s Blues when he scored NSW’s fifth try mid-way through the second half.

Debutant Nathan Peats braved a quad injury to prove he has the physical and mental toughness to belong in Origin.

But that was overshadowed by Fifita. The villain turned hero.

NSW 28 (A Fifita J Hayne J Maloney M Pearce J Tedesco tries J Maloney 4 goals) bt QUEENSLAND 4 (C Oates try) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: Matt Cecchin, Gerard Sutton. Crowd: 50,300.

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Pearce sees mixed return as Fifita dominates

Mitchell Pearce had an unforgettable return to State of Origin. Although he is unlikely to remember any of it.
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As is often the case with Pearce at this level, his performance leaves you with more questions than answers. He finished on the winning team, a feat that has occurred for just the fifth time in 16 appearances, but wasn’t on the field to finish the job.

Pearce’s evening finished just 50 minutes into proceedings. The NSW halfback collided with Will Chambers in one of those sickening blows in which he came off second best.

The Melbourne centre faces a one-game ban for his hit after being charged with a grade one careless high tackle.

Pearce was helped off after trying to get to his feet before collapsing back to the ground, but was given a clean bill of health afterwards despite the concussion scare.

Chambers would have been eligible for a fine given the low grade nature of the charge, but has already been slugged monetary penalties twice this season. Michael Morgan was charged with a grade one dangerous throw for his tackle on David Klemmer. He won’t miss a game with an early guilty plea.

In the early years of Origin, Pearce would have stumbled, staggered back to his feet and gotten back into the defensive line. But in the modern game, where officials are more cognisant of the danger of head knocks, he was taken from the field and didn’t return.

However, we saw enough in his latest coming as an Origin player to suggest that better times are ahead.

The Blues forward pack finally laid a platform from which Pearce could operate. Moments before the halftime buzzer, he took advantage. With just 23 seconds left on the clock and the Maroons gasping for air, Pearce crossed the tryline after benefiting from the lead up work of Wade Graham and James Tedesco.

However, it was Pearce’s kicking game that was most instructive. He produced a mixed bag – most of his bombs were calmly defused by their target, Corey Oates. Some found the ground, one of them gave the hosts a seven-tackle set. He was not as dominant as his team ultimately proved, but perhaps he is a step closer to transferring his club form into the Origin arena.

The only time the Blues have broken Queensland’s winning sequence was when Pearce wasn’t in the side. But after thumping the Maroons in front of their own fans, there is every chance that could change.

None of it would be possible if not for Andrew Fifita.

Midway through his Origin masterclass, former teammate Beau Ryan tweeted: “Andrew Fifita. Best prop in the world.”

On this evidence, it is difficult to argue.

You only have to look at his figures. Ten runs. 119 metres. 14 tackles. One try assist.

And that was just at halftime.

One can only wonder what numbers he would have racked up had he not been forced off the field for a head injury assessment.

Fifita came off after being dazed courtesy of a Josh Maguire tackle. That was the only respite Queensland got. The big bopper came back and wreaked more havoc. Not content with setting up tries, he even scored one as well.

The 27 year old was on the spot when Justin O’Neill fumbled the ball in front of his posts. There could not have been a more deserving beneficiary.

Talk about State of Origin and immediately you think about the traditional ‘softening up period’. It was during these exchanges, the most brutal of the contest, in which Fifita stamped his authority. The Blues crossed twice in the opening stanza and Fifita was heavily involved in the lead up to both.

He left a trail of Canetoad carcasses, including Matt Gillett and Nate Myles, in his wake for the first, while still having the presence of mind to offload to Sharks teammate and eventual tryscorer James Maloney. It’s the sort of play that was the trademark of another big prop who stamped his legend in the very first Origin of them all. Big Artie would have been proud.

In an interview earlier this year, Fifita said, following the Kieran Loveridge debacle, that “I was the world’s most hated man.”

Not anymore. Just the most hated man in Queensland.

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Blues leave Maroons in state of despair

THE balance of power has shifted.
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Having lost 10 of their past 11 campaigns, NSW appear poised to regain the State of Origin title after a commanding 28-4win in the series opener against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Blues can now now secure the shield on home turf, in game two at ANZ Stadium on June 21.

Without injured mainstays Johnathan Thurston (shoulder), Greg Inglis (knee) and Matt Scott (knee), Queensland tempted fate by opting not to select champion fullback Billy Slater and incumbent Test winger Valentine Holmes.

Both are expected to come into contention now thatthe series is on the line.

The new-look Maroons found themselves facing 12-4 half-time deficit after an up-tempo first stanza, devoid of handling errors.

The Blues stuck first through five-eighth James Maloney, who stepped his way to the line after a Beetson-esque offload from prop Andrew Fifita.

The home team reduced the deficit to 6-4 in the 35thminute when halfback Cooper Cronk chipped perfectly for towering winger Corey Oates to score out wide.

Just when it appeared only two points would separate the teams at the interval, NSW landed a crucial psychological blow.

In the last minute of the first half, Blues fullback James Tedesco breached the defence and linked with oft-maligned halfback Mitchell Pearce, who scored next to the posts.

Pearce was taken from the field with concussion 10 minutes into the second half, but the loss of their main playmaker did not deter the Blues. Two minutes later, Tedesco scored from dummy-half, Maloney converted, and Queensland were playing catch-up.

A Fifita try three minutes later, from a Queensland fumble, and then a 60th-minute Jarryd Hayne lifted the vistors to a 28-4 advantage.

And the Blues were just as impressive in defence, denying likely tries to Newcastle’s Dane Gagai, Aidan Guerra and Darius Boyd with last-ditch tackles.

According to the NRL’s official website, South Sydney-boundGagai made a game-high 220 attacking metres.

ONE-ARMED BANDIT: NSW prop Andrew Fifitatries to slip a pass as Queensland’s Dane Gagaiarrives to finish the tackle. Picture: Getty Images

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It takes courage to talk about depression: Carey

AFL great Wayne Carey has lauded the courage of Collingwood’s Alex Fasolo for his openness in dealing with depression and said the game has made huge strides in its attitude to mental illness since his playing days.
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Carey said players would never have admitted to suffering from depression when he was playing, because it would have been perceived as a sign of weakness. In his day, the former North Melbourne champion said, it would have made a player feel “they weren’t a real man”.

Fasolo, 24, is undergoing treatment for clinical depression and will take time away from football as he manages the condition.

He won’t play against Fremantle in Perth on Sunday but is an outside chance to return to face Melbourne in the Queen’s Birthday clash on June 12.

“Clearly it’s sad for Alex that he can’t play a sport that he loves. The good thing is, however, players are now more open to letting people know how they feel,” Carey said.

“By talking about it and not bottling it up, it expedites the recovery and that’s a positive for everyone.

“It takes brave men and women to be open and talk about what’s going on.”

Fasolo’s revelation comes less than a week after Greater Western Sydney ruckman Tom Downie retired at the age of 24 due to severe anxiety.

Downie said he lost his passion to train and play and needed to walk away from football to concentrate on his mental wellbeing.

Carey’s North Melbourne teammate Wayne Schwass struggled with depression throughout his career but did not speak publicly about his illness until after his retirement.

“Clearly there were people who had mental illness and suffered depression and they didn’t speak up because they felt embarrassed or maybe felt like they weren’t a real man,” Carey said.

“That was the level of stigma that it held.”

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said players are facing more challenges and pressures than ever.

“We’re playing a very, very demanding game,” he said on Wednesday.

“There are more challenges, it seems to me, in life now – whether it’s to do with the football or just as a normal citizen – than we’ve ever seen.

“Overcoming those challenges isn’t easy, whether it’s a footballer or someone in mainstream life.

“The things that we need to confront and be very delicate around, the way that we manage those things, I suppose what AFL football does ??? is provide a platform for awareness.

“I think the platform that AFL can provide is outstanding in terms of bringing that awareness and empathy.”

Carey, who commentates on live games with Channel 7 and Triple M, believes the media can do more when it comes to the critiquing of players and their form.

“We do often sit back as commentators when we’re commenting about these guys, when we’re talking about their form and what they’re doing right and wrong on football field ??? and we have no idea what’s going on at home or in their personal lives.

“It’s another reminder for everyone to be aware of that.”

If this article raises personal issues, contact:

Lifeline 131 114

beyondblue 1300 224 636

MensLine 1300 789 978

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Shark Tank contestant exploited staff: Ombudsman

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A fashion business that began on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank has been accused of running an illegal unpaid internship program and exploiting staff.

Investigators from the federal workplace watchdog have alleged fashion subscription start-up Her Fashion Box either grossly underpaid workers or paid them nothing at all.

Documents filed in the Federal Court claim business owner Kathleen Purkis has undercut the pay of three employees by more than $40,000.

One employee, a graphic designer who had completed a university degree, allegedly worked two days a week for nearly six months without any pay, before receiving a one-off payment of $1000.

Another graphic designer was allegedly underpaid $15,500 over two years of full-time work, while a third employee, engaged on a full-time basis, was allegedly underpaid $18,000 in a year.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the agency had received multiple requests for assistance from staff at Her Fashion Box since 2015, many to do with the company’s “unpaid internship” arrangement.

Unpaid placements or internships are legitimate in certain cases, such as when they are part of a vocational placement related to a course of study.

“The law prohibits the exploitation of workers by characterising them as ‘interns’ or as doing ‘work experience’ when they are fulfilling the role of an employee,” Ms James said.

“Such workers must be paid minimum employee entitlements.”

Her Fashion Box, created by Ms Purkis, is a subscription-based business that deducts fees from customers’ accounts each quarter before delivering a seasonal “fashion box” to their door. The start-up featured on the second season of Shark Tank.

Ms James said Ms Purkis had failed to comply with four demands to turn over documents to inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The decision was made to take legal action due to the lack of co-operation and the significant amounts of money owed to young workers, Ms James said. “Employers cannot simply choose to label and employee as an ‘intern’ in order to avoid paying their staff according to their lawful entitlements.”

The legal action is the business’ latest run-in with authorities. Last year the NSW Fair Trading issued a warning about the company following a growing number of complaints from consumers who had never received their “fashion boxes”, had struggled to obtain refunds and kept having payments deducted from their accounts.

Ms Purkis did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

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Welfare payment reforms to target aggression

Centrelink users who need an urgent cash advance may soon find it easier to get one – up to a point.
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The government’s bid to streamline and reform its social services payment systems will continue, with changes to its urgent payment system due to come into effect this week.

The requests will be granted almost automatically but capped at two a year, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Anyone requesting more will be moved on to weekly instead of fortnightly payments, and given financial counselling to help manage money better.

Under the urgent payment system, no additional money is granted by the government -it comes from the next scheduled welfare payment. Advance payments, which are provided as a loan, and crisis payments, will remain untouched.

In the past year the department granted 400,000 urgent payments to 210,000 people, including 38,000 people who requested a second advance payment within 15 days of the first and 10,000 who were paid advances six or more times.

Minister Alan Tudge said the payments were in response to aggression faced by Human Services departmental customer service centre staff, with 21 per cent of incidents coming in the wake of an urgent payment request. The vast majority came on the back of a refusal.

The changes are part of a raft of reforms which include a pilot program to streamline disability support pension claims.

Of the 110,000 people who apply for disability support, just a quarter are eligible. The government hopes by working with doctors and patients, there will be a better understanding of who is eligible for the payments, with the claims process being redesigned to speed up the process for those who will be able to receive the pension.

The government has been pushing ahead with its reforms of the social services sector, with ministers Tudge, Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash working togerther to change how Australians view and treat welfare.

The social services sector has questioned the effectiveness of some of the proposed reforms and trials, including the drug testing trial to be launched in January, and the removal of the energy supplement – set up by the Gillard government to offset the carbon tax.

The government aims to cut the payment, worth between $4 and $7 a week for welfare recipients, which has pushed The Australian Council of Social Service into a campaign to save it. CEO Cassandra Goldie has appealed to Labor and the crossbench to block the move.

“The community sector is united in its opposition to it. The government should focus on improving the adequacy of our unemployment payments rather than throwing their recipients into further destitution,” she said.

“Newstart is unbearably low. Business, unions and the community sector all agree that the level of the unemployment needs to be increased. It is extraordinary that the Turnbull government persists in trying find budget savings by cutting income support to this group even further.”

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House Rules showdown was for title of TV’s biggest villains

It would have almost been a relief if Fiona and Nicole had left House Rules as promised at the start of the episode.
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“Yeah we’re walking away from $200,000 but our integrity, everything about us as people is at stake,” a teary Fiona told cameras only part way into Wednesday night’s show. “So I’ve had it, I’m out of here and Nic’s right behind me.”

But I’ll hand it to them, even though they’ve spent the entire series being hated outcasts (and for good reason), they continued on in order to “deliver an amazing home for Aaron and Dee???” – and also because Nicole would get nothing out of all her hard labour while Fiona kicked back in a new house.

So when does the stress of a renovation reality show become too much? Channel Seven says stay tuned.

As a viewer watching Fiona’s constant stream of tears, tantrums and nasty fights, I feel exhausted. But that doesn’t mean I’ll look away and neither will the rest of Australia, for the ratings (as predicted) have never been higher.

In fact, House Rules delivered its highest audience in three years (including Grand Finals) on Monday night when Troy and Bec stormed out. Even loyal Voice and MasterChef viewers took time out of their beloved shows to watch the couple’s hissy fit (despite most of it being in the promos), with House Rules peaking at 2.43 million viewers across all Australia, including regions.

So what about Fiona and Nicole’s stress levels? Clearly they are way up with their showstopper piece, Brooklyn’s newly named star (“Aaron and Daniella were blown away with the gesture that someone would actually name a star after their son”).

And all because they haven’t figured out, even as renovators, that the more stubborn the wall, the more sledge hammers come at it.

“We absolutely cannot show any mercy this week,” Fiona explained at the outset. “We’ve got to get through to the next round of renovations.”

I’m no psychologist but I understand that how you talk to people will greatly affect the outcome. So it should have come as no surprise to them that their lies, bullish behaviour and greedy measurements would eventually tip Troy and Bec over the edge.

But that is where my sympathies for Troy and Bec stop.

Describing Nicole as “looking like lipstick stuck to a pig” (to be fair Troy has been branded the “village idiot” by Fiona but it was not about his looks), and then proceeding to make an ugly scene even uglier by building what felt like the Berlin Wall for all the anguish and animosity it was causing, meant Troy and Bec had sunk to a new low.

It was the seige of Troy, as Fiona and Nicole staged a protest that stopped short of chaining themselves to the floor and dwindled into Fiona trying to use a hammer to sabotage the wall. And it was embarrassing to watch.

The poor tradesmen were caught between a rock-headed Troy and a hard-placed Fiona. “As far as I’m concerned it’s their zone. I can’t stop them from putting up a wall in their zone. They can put it in the middle of the room if they wanted to,” the site foreman told Fiona and Nicole.

Worse still (and while I understood the other contestants’ desire to stay well out of the firing line) no one stepped in to calm the situation.

So off stalked Nicole and Fiona.

“We can unload the car, I’m going home,” said Fiona as she started pulling furnishings out of her car. “We just don’t do it, we’ll fail, we’ll go home. Just leave everything we’ve bought. I’m done.”

“For people to carry on like village idiots, absolute knobs and then to walk away acting like they’re all wonderful and we’re the crazy (bleep) ones, they can all get stuffed,” she added in what looked to be her final teary showdown. “I’m sick of them.”

“The girls spat the dummy, who cares, I hope they’re flying home to VIC right now to tell the truth,” an unrelenting Troy told viewers.

But nothing in House Rules has stayed permanent, except the builds and the looming elimination.

“We’re back, we had all last night to think about it, we’ve spoken about it at length,” began Fiona.

“We’re not quitters, we’re not going to let the bullies win,” finished Nicole.

“And we’re certainly in this competition to win the competition and deliver an amazing home for Aaron and Dee.”

And it was at this point, when Harry counsels and comforts Nicole about “compromise both ways, and you’ve got to remember you want the best for Aaron and Dee”, a new side of the women began to emerge. One that was not so tough. “They’re not just destroying our zone, they’re destroying Aaron and Daniella’s house.”

But their (admittedly poor) effort at negotiating a compromise with Troy and Bec over their five-star master suite, fell on deaf ears. “All youse do is pass the buck on everything and lie about everything. Youse wouldn’t have a clue,” Troy berated them after dismissing the women’s demands for a new ensuite door. “Youse haven’t got a half a brain between the both of youse, or design sense. So deal with it, work around it.”

And it was their failure to win the statement piece round, which would have helped them make up for lost time on renovating their rooms, that pushed an emotional Fiona to breaking point.

“We will get it done, don’t give up yet. Seriously don’t give up,” Harry told Fiona, as he and Kate rallied around the Victorian besties (“I feel for them, I really do”).

“It’s just so overwhelming. They’ve deliberately set out to destroy us,” Fiona tearfully accused Troy and Bec. “They’re nasty, they’re outright nasty.”

“Yet again I have let us down,” a distraught Fiona told Nicole. “I’m the one who’s failed in the picture framing, I’m the one who’s let you down again; out of this entire competition, I’m the one that walks away with a house. Nic walks away with nothing.

“Those arseholes go in there and sabotage our zone and make our lives so much harder, walk around cocky as all shit. I’m just over it.”

“They’re carrying on, they’re sooking. They only have themselves to blame,” Troy told cameras.

So much for Bec’s sentiment (when Andrew injured himself) that “we may fight and curse each other as a group but we’re a weird, weird family and we’re going to protect each other like no tomorrow.”

Given the direction that Bec and Troy’s attitude has headed, their only win against Fiona and Nicole will be for the title of biggest villains.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Labor MPs divided on Malcolm Turnbull’s citizenship changes

Tony Burke addresses the Speaker during the division to put the motion “Discharge of certain orders of the day” to remove 2014 Budget measures at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 10 May 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Several Labor MPs have spoken out against the Turnbull government’s proposed changes to Australian citizenship, setting the stage for an internal fight as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton crows over the apparent division.
Nanjing Night Net

While leader Bill Shorten has acted cautiously, declaring that tougher English language testing and a four-year wait for citizenship looked “reasonable”, MPs from the party’s left are in open disagreement.

Anne Aly, a counter-terrorism expert and now West Australian Labor MP, said it was “unfair and unreasonable” to require a higher, university level of English from migrants who sought Australian citizenship.

“I think Labor should oppose it,” she said. “I don’t think there are that many Australians who would be able to pass that.”

The tougher test would also be “predominantly unfair to women” who are generally behind their spouses on English uptake, Dr Aly said.

The government has also proposed a “values” test to quiz would-be citizens on matters such as forced marriages, genital mutilation and whether it is acceptable to hit your spouse.

Dr Aly said it would be unjust to support such a test unless the government could demonstrate it would actually keep Australians safe.

Otherwise it was “just some grandstanding that looks like its tough on the outside and that panders to populist opinion”, she said. “We have to see the detail.”

Labor MP Madeleine King, also from WA, said she did not like the requirement for permanent residents to wait four years for citizenship, and objected to the proposed values test.

“I certainly wouldn’t be pushing for us to follow it,” she told Fairfax Media. “My personal preference is I think it’s a beat-up.”

Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh, who has written to Mr Dutton voicing her concerns, doubled-down on her criticism on Wednesday.

“I can’t see how this is good for our nation,” she said. “This undermines the values of tolerance, inclusion and a fair go for all [and] is causing unnecessary distress across Australian communities.”

Left MPs are hopeful Labor is shifting away from Mr Shorten’s initial openness to the reforms. Labor’s citizenship spokesman Tony Burke, of the NSW Right and from a highly multicultural Sydney seat, was particularly critical of the stricter English test on the ABC’s Lateline on Tuesday.

One left-wing MP, who declined to be named, said the English test and four-year delay were “outrageous” measures, while the values test was “a complicating factor” and potential dog-whistle.

“I’m anxious about it. We can’t take social cohesion for granted,” the MP said.

While internal discussions were not yet at crisis point, he noted: “This is a matter that the Left have been discussing quite a lot.”

In Question Time on Tuesday, Mr Dutton said Labor was “completely divided” on the issue and called on Mr Shorten to declare a position.

“You would have thought the Labor Party could unite but they haven’t,” he said.

Labor pointed out the legislation has not yet been drafted – in part because the Turnbull government is consulting on the proposed changes. Submissions close on June 1.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has yet to decide if it will publish the submissions.

If Labor and the Greens block legislation in the Senate, the changes could still pass with crossbench support from One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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