Harold Mitchell fined $90,000 for ‘serious’ breach of duties at Tennis Australia


Harold Mitchell has been hit with a $90,000 fine for committing “serious” breaches of director’s duties while on the board of Tennis Australia.

The Federal Court penalised the media-buying mogul for his conduct during negotiations in 2012 and 2013 for the Australian Open’s television broadcast rights.

Mr Mitchell acted inappropriately by feeding secret information about Tennis Australia to the Seven Network, which helped it win the rights over other bidders, Justice Jonathan Beach ruled.

The broadcast rights were awarded to Seven for five years in 2013, but there was never a competitive tender process.

Channel Nine finally won the rights to broadcast the Australian Open from 2020 in a new five-year, $300 million deal sealed with Tennis Australia in 2018, ending a 35-year partnership with Channel Seven.

The controversial lawsuit was brought by the Australian Securities Investments Commission (ASIC), which was partially successful.

ASIC also sued Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy but, earlier this year, the court dismissed the case against him in its entirety.

“I am satisfied that each of Mr Mitchell’s contraventions were serious,” Justice Beach wrote in his judgment.

“His conduct had the tendency to undermine the authority of [Tennis Australia chief executive Steve] Wood.

Former Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy was cleared of wrongdoing by the court.(AAP: Julian Smith)

“His conduct in forwarding internal Tennis Australia communications to Seven was quite unusual and unacceptable.

“And his conduct generally was undisciplined and fell well short of what was expected of a director in his position given the centrality and significance to Tennis Australia of the negotiations with Seven.”

The Court decided not to ban Mr Mitchell from managing corporations, nor did it impose the maximum penalty of $600,000 for three breaches of director’s duties.

However, Mr Mitchell is up for millions of dollars in legal fees, as both sides were ordered to bear their costs.

For a long period, Mr Mitchell was the nation’s most powerful media buyer, running the company that books advertisements into TV, print, radio and online schedules.

The AFR Rich List estimated his wealth at $370 million in 2018, and the noted arts philanthropist was a confidant of Australia’s top media moguls, including the late Kerry Packer, his son James Packer, the Murdoch family and Kerry Stokes, as well as top politicians.



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Sydney Swans player Elijah Taylor stood down from club duties after aggravated assault charges


Police allege Taylor assaulted an 18-year-old woman who is known to him.

Taylor’s AFL future is looking grim after the Swans moved to distance themselves from the talented 19-year-old, who chief executive Tom Harley said had failed to “abide by club directives on a number of occasions this year” and would thus be stood down from all club commitments.

Taylor continues to be paid by the Swans and is contracted for 2021.

“We will review this position as the situation unfolds. We believe this is the most appropriate course of action giving respect to all involved, and in light of the impending court proceedings,” Harley said in a statement.

Elijah Taylor has been stood down from all club duties by the Sydney Swans.Credit:Getty

“We are extremely disappointed to have one of our players in this position.

“This is a difficult situation and one we will work with relevant experts and authorities to navigate.

“The club, together with the AFL, will ensure Elijah and those involved receive the appropriate assistance and support.

“Finally I would like to reiterate that our club has very strong values, which include respect, tolerance and a condemnation of violence, especially against women. We expect everyone at our club to uphold these values without compromise.”

The Swans consulted with Our Watch, a group devoted to stopping violence against women, with other experts and with the AFL’s integrity unit before standing down Taylor, who is in Perth with his family but has been in regular contact with the club.

The decision was made by the club board and CEO Harley, but with the backing of the player leadership group and the AFL hierarchy.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league supported Sydney’s decison to stand Taylor down.

“Violence against women in any form is abhorrent and we strongly condemn it,” McLachlan said in a statement. “Our view is clear and unequivocal – violence against women is never okay in any circumstance – ever. Our absolute commitment is to respect women and to never accept or condone in any way, shape or form violence against women.”

Taylor will face court in Perth on September 30 over the charge.

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His former partner Lekahni Pearce, 18, appeared on Seven News in Perth on Monday night with apparent bruising under both of her eyes. While she did not name her attacker, she said it was caused by “someone she loved”, and that she wanted to help shine a light on domestic violence and inspire other victims to speak out.

Pearce was caught in Taylor’s room during Sydney’s mandated 14 days of quarantine at the Joondalup Resort a month ago.

The Swans agreed to leave Taylor with his family in Perth after his suspension rather than have him travel with the team to their hub in Cairns, where they are preparing for Sunday’s clash with Geelong – their last match of the season.

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Soldiers on coronavirus checkpoint duties delight tiny outback town with church makeover


A tiny outback church has undergone a facelift, thanks to Australian Defence Force personnel deployed at a remote COVID-19 control point.

The Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church at Windorah, 1,200 kilometres west of Brisbane in far south-west Queensland, has served the town of just 60 residents for 80 years and was in need of some much-delayed repairs.

Windorah Development Board treasurer Peta Geiger said the ADF troops’ efforts had been a great morale booster for the town, which is struggling with a lack of tourists since Queensland closed its borders in March.

The troops joined police to establish a checkpoint on the road from Birdsville and the South Australian border, just over four hours’ drive west.

“There’s not much traffic passing through Windorah,” Ms Geiger said.

ADF personnel get to work on the renovation rescue.(Facebook: Windorah Community Events)

“We needed some painting done on the interior, we had the pews finished off, being sanded and coated, the floor varnished and the garden looks schmick out the front.”

Making the most of outback time

With plenty of spare time, the ADF was happy to help finish the church restoration.

The building’s new lease on life was celebrated by a congregation observing social distancing.

“We did have the men that were involved in the project from the ADF there.

“The priest from the ADF took the service and a few locals were there also.”

ADF member in army fatigues inside church that is under renovations
Altar alterations: Work in progress inside the church.(Facebook: Windorah Community Events)

A bigger celebration will be held when restrictions are lifted but it will be hard to beat the church’s opening in 1939, marked by a double wedding.

The Cartwright sisters came from a local pioneering family and had the honour of being the first to marry in the church, which has since seen its share of weddings and funerals.

“It was nice. It’s a cool little church. It means a lot in our town.”



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Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad resigns from ministerial duties



Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad has resigned from her ministerial duties, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.

Health Minister Steven Miles will take over as deputy premier.

Cameron Dick has been announced as the new treasurer and Kate Jones will be minister for state development.

The Premier said this would be the Queensland leadership team going into the upcoming state election.

Yesterday, Ms Trad announced she was standing aside from her ministerial duties during an investigation launched by the state’s corruption watchdog.

Ms Trad said the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) informed her on Friday afternoon that it would investigate the recruitment and selection process for the principal of the new Inner City South Secondary College, in Brisbane’s Dutton Park.

“Today, Jackie Trad has resigned from her ministerial portfolio responsibilities,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“She has made her decision in the best interests of her family, the community and the [Queensland Labor] party.

“She does not want there to be any distraction for the Government as we respond to the COVID crisis. I really want to thank her.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she had moved “swiftly and decisively” to decide on the new leadership team.

“I want to reassure Queenslanders that these are permanent appointments.

“Queenslanders expect myself and my team to deal with the health and economic crisis that we have before us and that is absolutely my intention,” she said.

Mr Miles said his appointment to deputy premier was “a great honour”.

“This year I have lived and breathed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic — nothing’s changed,” he said.

“It is an honour for me to continue to lead our health workers throughout that response.”

More to come.



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