Prestige property price growth picks up pace in March quarter: Knight Frank report


Prestige property prices are picking up as well-heeled home-buyers take advantage of low interest rates to upgrade their living arrangements.

Spacious homes with every amenity are in hot demand as buyers plan to work from home and prepare for the chance of having to quarantine again.

Prices rose at a faster pace in the March quarter than the December quarter for each of the prime property markets – defined as the upper 5 per cent of the market – included in Knight Frank’s latest Prime Global Cities Index.

Sydney prime property prices rose 1.9 per cent in three months, up from 1.1 per cent in the previous three months, Knight Frank said.

The Melbourne prime market lifted at a more modest 0.4 per cent in the March quarter, still double the 0.2 per cent in the prior quarter, the report found.

Growth was even stronger in Perth (up 4.1 per cent, from a prior 3.6 per cent), Brisbane (up 3.8 per cent, from 2.5 per cent) and the Gold Coast (up 3.5 per cent, from 3.2 per cent).

“We have recently witnessed some incredible record sales at the very top end of the market, although when charting annually, the prime market price growth is coming off a much higher base than the mainstream market,” Knight Frank head of residential research Michelle Ciesielski said.

“More prestige property buyers are leveraging the low interest rate environment encouraging them to diversify their portfolios with alternate assets.”

A string of trophy homes have changed hands as buyers and sellers look for the right home for their new normal.

Marshall White’s Marcus Chiminello has sold about $200 million worth of Melbourne prestige homes in seven weeks, more than half of which was sold off market.

9 Whernside Avenue, Toorak
Boost Juice founders Janine and Jeff Allis sold their Toorak home. Photo: Marshall White Stonnington

“We have seen an unprecedented amount of turnover in Toorak in that $20 million-plus price point,” Mr Chiminello said.

“They are not buying these homes to show off. They are buying them to make sure they have got every conceivable amenity within their home.”

After Melbourne’s extended lockdown last year, owners were less willing to tolerate shortcomings in their accommodation, and looked for somewhere they could live, work and educate their children in the case of future stay-at-home orders, he said.

His sales above $20 million include the Toorak mansion of Boost Juice founders Janine and Jeff Allis, as well as houses sold by celebrity chef Shannon Bennett and the wealthy Stamoulis family in the same suburb.

Mr Chiminello expects the fast pace of transactions could ease a little from now, with the market to become more balanced.

Another recent sale of about $20 million was the grand family home at 7 Towers Road, sold by Kay & Burton’s Michael Gibson and Robert Fletcher.

7 Towers Rd Toorak
7 Towers Rd Toorak Photo: Kay & Burton

The sellers were downsizers, while the buyers were moving in the other direction, Mr Gibson said.

The agency also handled the sale of a whole-floor penthouse at 29 Washington Street, which traded for between $14 million and $15 million after interest from three parties, to a buyer looking to live on one level.

“The price movement in 2021 has been significant,” Mr Gibson said. “The prices that we are achieving this year would not have been achieved last year.

“There has been an enormous amount of money go into lifestyle decisions.”

Some buyers have been spending more time on the Mornington Peninsula and downsizing in the city, he said, adding that, with stock levels low, quality homes were attracting multiple buyers.

Sydney’s prestige market has been busy, from the ritzy eastern suburbs to the traditional holiday home market of the northern beaches.

Media mogul Bruce McWilliam sold a Point Piper investment mansion for more than $32 million, and another in Bellevue Hill for more than $9 million, before turning up to bid on a three-storey house in Woollahra and missing out.

42a Wolseley Road Point Piper
Bruce McWilliam sold his Point Piper investment.

His real estate agent, Brad Pillinger of Pillinger, said prestige property in Sydney had been highly sought-after compared to cities elsewhere in the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have the perfect storm for price growth, particularly at the prestige end,” he said. “It is simply low supply and high demand. Money is cheap and easily obtained, stock levels are low as business recovery has been rapid and mortgage stress is minimal.”

Not to be outdone, expat lawyer Sarah Cooke sold a Point Piper trophy home for about $40 million, while Sydney Football Club chairman Scott Barlow and his wife Alina sold their non-waterfront home in Point Piper for about $40 million.

Even a boat shed in the exclusive suburb sold for close to $40 million within just a few weeks.

Ray White Double Bay’s Craig Pontey described Sydney’s top-end market as being “on fire”.

“Prices have been quite strong, there’s been big activity out there, there’s not been a lot of stock around and people are paying premiums for good properties,” he said.

Although buyers are always willing to pay a premium for quality, at the moment they seem to be paying a little more, he added.

“I think the market’s going to continue to be strong.”

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Frank Costa’s state funeral details



The Geelong legend’s service will be held at Kardinia Park next week.

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Frank Costa, former Geelong Cats president and philanthropist, dies aged 83


Former president of the Geelong Football Club, businessman and philanthropist Frank Costa has died at the age of 83.

A giant figure in Victoria’s second-biggest city, Mr Costa and his brother Adrian took over the family fruit and vegetable business in 1958, growing Costa Group into a billion-dollar company. 

But the father of eight is perhaps best known for his tenure as president of the Geelong Cats from 1998 to 2010.

During his time as head of the club, the Cats went from a financially struggling team to a powerhouse that broke a 44-year drought to win AFL premierships in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2001 for his significant role in the AFL, which included the restoration of the club.

Mr Costa was awarded life membership of the Cats in 2011 following more than 30 years’ involvement with the club.

“Without Frank, there must be a genuine question as to whether or not the Geelong Football Club would exist today,” the club’s chief executive Brian Cook said.

“When the history of the club is written, it will be impossible to do so without having Frank at the forefront of the past 20-25 years. He took a divided club and willed it into the club we know today.”

Mr Costa was recently named a legend of the club — the 26th ever person and the first non-player to be inducted.

“Frank was a legend as a person, and a legend of the club. He forged so many strong and lasting relationships through his warmth and authenticity. He will be missed by all that have been fortunate enough to know and love him,” Mr Cook said.

“Our thoughts are with Shirley, and the entire Costa family.”

Mr Costa was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015 for his distinguished services in sports, business, religious, medical, educational and social welfare organisations.

In 2003 he received the Governor-General’s Centenary Medal for his contribution to Australian society.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino called Mr Costa an “extraordinary individual” who was “passionate not only about the Geelong Football Club, but the entire Geelong region”.

“He took an entire community… an entire region with him,” he said.

Mr Merlino said the government would consider a state funeral if the family wanted one.

Member for Corio and deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said Geelong had “lost its leading citizen”.

“It is impossible to conceive of Geelong without Frank Costa,” he said.

Mr Marles said Mr Costa’s stature was “built on the strength of his values”.

“His generosity of spirit was profound. His honesty was total.  And he knew what was really important in life; faith, family and friends.”

Liberal senator and Geelong local Sarah Henderson called Mr Costa “a great man; humble and kind and a giant of Geelong in every sense”.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett called him a “wonderful human being”.

“The City of Geelong and its community will forever be in his debt.”

Mr Costa’s philanthropic work often centred around his hometown of Geelong, and he was involved in a number of charities.

He and his wife established the Frank and Shirley Costa fund for the Geelong Community Foundation, saying “it is only when you give that you receive”.

The Barwon Health Foundation said Mr Costa’s “generosity and leadership will always be admired”.

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Geelong remembers Frank Costa


But the man born Francis Aloysius Costa was perhaps best known for his role in saving Geelong Cats from financial ruin.

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NRL 2021: Brandon Smith to the Bulldogs, three-year deal, contract, Titans, Cowboys, Melbourne Storm, Frank Ponissi


The Brandon Smith signing with the Bulldogs rumour has been hosed down as quick as it was ignited with Storm football general manager Frank Ponissi saying a deal has “absolutely not” been made.

Smith is contracted to Melbourne until the end of 2022 but approached the club late last year with his desires to play exclusively at hooker — the position that is now locked up by Harry Grant.

The Storm then confirmed in December that the 24-year-old would be given a release from the final year of his contract provided “appropriate arrangements” were put in place.

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Earlier this week, former Panthers forward Scott Sattler told SEN 1170 that he heard from a “pretty good source” that Smith had “signed a three-year deal with the Bulldogs as of next year.”

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Why the Panthers must heed the advice of Frank Sinatra


They’ve got a tough, hard-working pack and their left-side attack is the best in the comp with Luai, Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton.

The thing that’s really surprised me from the opening two rounds is they’ve also got the best discipline. They’ve given away just five penalties and set restarts this season. That’s incredible.

They have super-high completion rates, meaning they don’t beat themselves – and give the opposition nothing.

They’re possession in the first two weeks has been at 60 per cent for both matches. It sounds simple but this is what it takes to win: hard work and unwavering discipline.

For me, the key to winning matches is determined by where you give the ball back to the opposition. It’s a game of chess.

If you’re doing all these little things right, the other team should be picking up the ball on their own try line at the start of every set. That’s how you win matches. Based on the first two rounds, nobody in the comp is doing it better than Penrith.

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How the Storm can win

Any advantage Melbourne may have gained from the withdrawal of Cleary has been offset by the late loss of fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen due to a neck injury.

It’s a 10-point turnaround. Papenhuyzen’s absence is significant because he links everything on the field, whether it’s around Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes or any of the forwards around the middle.

The Storm chartered their own plane for the match against Parramatta in Sydney last Thursday so they could fly home that night. They didn’t want to miss a day of recovery in preparation for this game.

People have been questioning the Storm, even after their win over Souths and a great performance despite losing to the Eels. If Clint Gutherson doesn’t play, Melbourne probably win by 12 points.

The Storm’s first two games have been against top-four sides. Now they come up against the grand finalists from last year. Tough start to the season.

A big out for Melbourne is Felise Kaufusi after he was suspended for two matches for his hit on Ryan Matterson. His absence really affects their depth on the bench.

He’s established a great combination with halfback Hughes on the right. But the main thing is his defensive intelligence holds that right-edge together.

The Storm’s right-edge for this match is very inexperienced with Reimis Smith and Tom Eisenhuth, who comes in for Kaufusi, defending there.

That’s a big test for both of them against the star-studded Penrith left edge.

This battle will go a long way to determining the result.

Fatigue could become a factor for Brandon Smith.Credit:Getty

Player to watch

I’m really interested to see how Brandon Smith plays and how he is used.

For the past two years, he’s been used in 20-minute bursts off the bench, rarely playing for the whole 80 minutes. Two really tough, physical games in the middle, defending and then having to attack, takes its toll mentally and physically.

When you’re a hooker, you’re in the game almost every second. There were times last week when he just couldn’t get into position. Nicho Hynes has been named on the bench and I expect him to play big minutes.

Joey’s playbook

Beware the chip-bomb. It’s not a bomb, it’s not a chip, it’s something in between.

Cleary has been the master of this for Penrith, but expect either Burton and Luai to still use it when camped on the Storm’s line.

They will target Hughes with the Kikauosaurus – the big Fijian carnivore – or Crichton coming down on him.

The key to this kick is putting it high enough so it lands just as the chasers are getting there. If Hughes is isolated, his inside and outside men can’t get across the block for him.

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The verdict

Cleary is a massive loss, but I still think the Panthers will win.

The Storm are coming off really tough games and the last one against the Eels, in the wet at Bankwest, took its toll.

Penrith grind hard and the left-side attack will terrorise the Storm’s right-side defence. I can see the last 15 minutes opening up, and that will suit the Panthers.

Joey’s tip: Panthers by 6
First try scorer: Stephen Crichton
Man of the match: Jarome Luai

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Senior Liberal Kent Johns says he confronted MP Craig Kelly three times over allegations about his trusted advisor Frank Zumbo


Senior Liberal Party member Kent Johns has labelled embattled MP Craig Kelly a “liar”, as the former Liberal MP continues to stand by his political staffer Frank Zumbo amid allegations that Mr Zumbo sexually harassed young women.

Mr Kelly consistently denied any knowledge of allegations involving Mr Zumbo until reports emerged in the media last year, and again more recently.

“No specifics or no details of any allegation were ever put to me until recently,” Mr Kelly told 7.30 in a statement.

But Mr Johns, a former New South Wales Liberal Party vice-president, told 7.30 he personally informed Mr Kelly about some of the allegations and staff concerns at least three times between 2016 and 2018.

“He’s a liar,” Mr Johns told 7.30.

“He knew what was going on. He knew the behaviour was unacceptable, and he kept ignoring it. Craig Kelly had a duty of care, which he’s failed to fulfill.”

Concerns raised reached a ‘dead end’

Mr Johns said he raised these issues with a number of senior NSW Liberal Party members, but did not receive any meaningful response.

He said he decided to speak out publicly because he had gotten nowhere trying to solve the issue through other means over many years.

“I want people to know that a lot of people tried to address the issue with Craig Kelly directly,” he told 7.30.

In 2018, Mr Johns wrote an email to moderate Liberal Party members, saying they were all aware of the alleged “treatment of young women” in Craig Kelly’s office.

“The behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept,” he wrote.

He told 7.30: “I’d got to the point where I’d raised it with senior members of the Liberal Party operationally, senior members of the Liberal Party politically, and gotten to a dead end. I just was frustrated.”

Former vice-president of the NSW Liberal Party, Kent Johns.(

ABC News: Jerry Rickard

)

The NSW Liberal Party told 7.30 it had no record of allegations about Frank Zumbo ever being raised with the party’s executive.

Mr Zumbo has suggested Mr Johns was motivated by politics and an intense personal dislike of him.

Mr Johns long held ambitions for the federal seat of Hughes, having once lost to Craig Kelly in a preselection contest.

He questioned whether knowledge of his political ambitions was used by the Liberal Party and Craig Kelly to undermine his concerns.

“It was seen through the prism of a political competitor,” Mr Johns said.

“Maybe that impacted my effectiveness, that people were not taking it as seriously as I did.”

He insisted the latest revelations had nothing to do with politics.

“I don’t want the seat of Hughes,” he told 7.30.

“What I want is these girls to be safe. That’s all this ever came down to.”

‘A smile on his face and an erection in his pants’

7.30 has obtained signed statutory declarations from three former staffers who worked at Craig Kelly’s electorate office. The staffers describe how they raised specific allegations with the MP as early as 2013.

During a meeting in June 2014, one staffer wrote, Mr Kelly was informed about an incident where Frank Zumbo emerged from a meeting with a young woman behind closed doors with a visible erection.

“Frank Zumbo walked out of the boardroom with a smile on his face and an erection in his pants,” the former staffer wrote.

Another allegation details an instance where others in the office overheard a young woman screaming.

The front of an office with a sign that says Craig Kelly MP on the window.
Crag Kelly’s electorate office in Sutherland.(

ABC News: Jerry Rickard

)

7.30 has also obtained a police statement from a young female staffer who alleges Mr Zumbo sexually harassed her for three years from 2015.

Mr Zumbo vehemently denied all the allegations and said he was appalled that anyone would be making them.

However, the Department of Finance and NSW Police are currently looking into some of the claims.

While still employed in Mr Kelly’s electorate office, Mr Zumbo is also the subject of an apprehended violence order.

‘Craig would turn around and walk out’

7.30 is aware of at least seven women who provided statements to NSW Police, detailing allegations that Mr Zumbo’s behaviour around them was uncomfortable and sexually inappropriate.

One of the women, who was a political adviser in Craig Kelly’s office between 2015 and 2018, alleges that Frank Zumbo sexually harassed her.

The woman did not want to be identified, as she is running for office in the UK. However, she shared her seven-page police statement with 7.30.

Woman with face blurred standing next to Frank Zumbo.
The woman was a political adviser in Craig Kelly’s office between 2015 and 2018, and alleges Frank Zumbo (pictured) sexually assaulted her.(

Supplied

)

The 27-year-old alleges that Frank Zumbo would greet her with hugs and kisses in Craig Kelly’s office, but then progress to trying to kiss her on the lips while putting his arms around her and pulling her close to him, and rubbing her body against his.

A year after she started working in the electorate office, she says that Mr Zumbo would begin the day by grabbing her breasts as she went in to hug him.

She alleges that in 2016, when she was 21, Mr Zumbo tried to kiss her in front of two witnesses.

“I pushed him away by putting both hands on his chest and saying, ‘Stop. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to kiss you,'” she wrote in her police statement.

Then, in June 2018, she alleges Mr Zumbo exposed himself to her.

Her police statement reads: “I looked over at Frank and noticed he had taken his penis out of his zipper on his pants. I began crying while saying, ‘Frank, I don’t want to do anything like that. Please just take me home.’ Frank tried to encourage me by saying, ‘Come on.’ But as I continued crying, he put his penis away.”

In an email, Mr Zumbo told 7.30 through his lawyer that he vigorously denied all the allegations, adding that they were not tested and were one-sided.

Unidentified woman and Frank Zumbo.
The young woman, pictured with Frank Zumbo, says Craig Kelly didn’t respond to her message when she tried to reach out after leaving her job.(

Supplied

)

After quitting her job in 2018, the young woman said she sent a message to Craig Kelly to try to tell him about what she’d endured while working in his office.

But she says the then-Liberal MP never responded to her message.

She told 7.30 that even while she was still working at the office, she felt that Mr Kelly neglected his duty of care towards her and her colleagues.

“A lot of us would break down and quietly cry regularly. And Craig would turn around and walk out,” she told 7.30.

Craig Kelly denied knowledge of the allegations, saying that “Mr Zumbo was the subject of a long-running, and often politically motivated scuttlebutt and a whispering campaign”.

Mr Kelly also said he never witnessed screaming in his office by any employee, and said that if he ever saw anyone crying, he would have asked if they were OK.

Other investigations involving Frank Zumbo

7.30 can reveal that Mr Zumbo was the subject of two concurrent bullying and intimidation investigations which started in 2014.

Two senior female staffers in Craig Kelly’s office lodged compensation claims, alleging persistent bullying and intimidation by Mr Zumbo, who was still a volunteer at the time.

In one of the compensation claims, a staffer described regular shouting matches in the office and constantly feeling threatened that her job was on the line because of Frank Zumbo. She described how she became concerned about the large number of young women who were brought to the office by Mr Zumbo.

The woman was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, which according to her medical certificate was caused by “her interactions with Prof Zumbo (volunteer) at her workplace.”

Frank Zumbo has consistently denied the bullying allegations.

A man wearing a suit and tie and glasses.
Frank Zumbo was the subject of two concurrent bullying and intimidation investigations which started in 2014.(

AAP: Alan Porritt 

)

Mr Zumbo was also investigated by the South Australian government over allegations of bullying and intimidation that spanned between 2014 and 2015, when he was employed part-time in the office of the Small Business Commissioner.

One former employee told investigators his dealings with Mr Zumbo left him feeling “exhausted, stressed and bullied”, and that his time in the office with Mr Zumbo “wraps up into one long nightmare”.

An investigation found bullying and harassment had taken place. Mr Zumbo denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, at the University of New South Wales, where Frank Zumbo was an associate professor, concerns about his conduct were flagged before his sudden departure in 2015.

Former student Kate Nichols said that as a lecturer, Mr Zumbo would persistently contact her over Facebook asking to catch up outside of class.

Woman with brown hair looks seriously at an interview.
Former UNSW student Kate Nichols said Frank Zumbo’s alleged behaviour felt sleazy, unwanted and intimidating.(

ABC News

)

She said the alleged behaviour felt sleazy, unwanted and intimidating at the time, but now, in the context of multiple other allegations, she views what allegedly happened under a different light.

“It almost feels like grooming-type behaviour,” she said.

Mr Zumbo told 7.30 through his lawyer that he denied any recollection of a “Kate Nichols” and had no record of any Facebook messages with a person of that name.

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Frank Worthington: Former England striker dies aged 72 following long illness


Frank Worthington began his career at Huddersfield in 1966, going on to play for more than 20 clubs during his 26-year career

Former England striker Frank Worthington has died aged 72 following a long illness.

Worthington, who won eight England caps and scored twice for the national team, began his career at Huddersfield Town.

He went on to make more than 200 appearances for Leicester City and played for clubs including Bolton, Birmingham City, Southampton, Leeds United and Sunderland.

He also had a spell as player-manager of Tranmere Rovers.

Former Leicester striker and BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker paid tribute, tweeting: “Profoundly saddened to hear that Frank Worthington has died. He was my boyhood hero when he was at LCFC.

“A beautiful footballer, a maverick and a wonderful character who was so kind to this young apprentice when he joined the club. RIP Frank [Elvis].”

Worthington was known as much for his flamboyant antics off the pitch as he was for his maverick talents on it.

He played in 22 consecutive Football League seasons from 1966 to 1987, scoring 266 goals in 882 appearances in all competitions.

In 14 of those campaigns he played in the top division, notching 150 goals in 466 matches, and won the Golden Boot award playing for Bolton in 1978-79 as the leading scorer ahead of Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton.

It was during that season he scored one of the defining goals of his career against Ipswich at Burnden Park in April 1979, juggling the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area before turning, knocking the ball over the onrushing defenders and volleying low into the corner.

He was player-manager of Tranmere between 1985-87 before having a number of short spells at non-league clubs including Chorley and Weymouth. He was player-coach at hometown club Halifax in the 1991-92 season.

He made all eight of his England appearances in 1974, scoring in friendlies against Bulgaria and Argentina.

In a statement, the Professional Footballers Association said: “We are very sad to hear the news about Frank Worthington. He was a great player and great character who lit up the game. He was also a marvellous after dinner entertainer with his football tales.

“Our deepest sympathies to Carol and all his family. Frank will be much missed but never forgotten.”

Former Bolton striker Alan Gowling, who provided the assist for Worthington’s famous goal against Ipswich, told BBC Radio Manchester: “Frank was a really skilful player. We always used to have a little laugh about the fact I used to do all his running for him while he was doing all the show business bits.

“Frank was up there with the George Bests and people of that ilk in football. He had this image of being the playboy. In fairness to him he enjoyed a social life, but his football came first.

“I’ll remember him as a good friend a great footballer with the best left foot I have ever seen on anybody.”

In 2016, Worthington’s daughter, Kim Malou, announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, something he publicly denied the following day.

In a statement, his wife Carol said: “Frank brought joy to so many people throughout his career and in his private life.

“He will be greatly missed by everyone who loved him so much.”

‘One of the game’s great entertainers’ – Phil McNulty’s tribute

Frank Worthington will be remembered as one of the game’s great entertainers, a magnificently gifted striker with a colourful lifestyle that made him revered by team-mates and loved by supporters everywhere.

Ian Greaves, his manager at Huddersfield Town and Bolton Wanderers described him as “the working man’s George Best.”

There were similarities on and off the field but nothing must ever disguise or downplay the wonderful natural ability that made the tall Worthington one of the game’s most silky and effective attackers.

He graced a host of clubs throughout his career but even that may path may have taken a different turn when he moved from Huddersfield Town to Liverpool for £150,000 in summer 1972. The traditional signing pictures were taken with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly and his then right-hand man Bob Paisley only for Worthington to fail the medical on the grounds of “high blood pressure.”

Frank Worthington signing for Liverpool in 1972 - before the deal collapsed
Frank Worthington signing for Liverpool in 1972 with Bill Shankly (left), assistant Bob Paisley (centre) and club secretary Peter Robinson (right), before the deal collapsed

Who knows how he would have fared at Anfield but Leicester City, who he joined shortly afterwards, and all those clubs he subsequently played for were eternally grateful that they were able to benefit from the services of this one-off maverick – he even had a picture of his idol Elvis Presley on his desk when player-manager at Tranmere Rovers – who brought excitement and entertainment wherever he went.

Worthington only won eight England caps but he played in an era when unpredictability was often greeted with suspicion.

He enjoyed a glorious career in which he stayed true to his footballing principles that the game was about entertainment and enjoyment and everyone who witnessed him in action will be glad that he did.

The passing of a club legend – Worthington tributes



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More women go public with allegations against MP Craig Kelly’s senior aide, Frank Zumbo


Three young women have identified themselves to speak out about their allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Frank Zumbo, a senior employee and trusted advisor of embattled MP Craig Kelly.

A former intern at the electorate office alleged Mr Zumbo’s behaviour — including touching, kissing and hugging — occurred when she was 16 years old.

Her allegations against the 53-year-old form part of an ongoing NSW Police investigation as the Department of Finance investigates workplace health and safety concerns for staff in Mr Kelly’s office.

7.30 understands at least six women have made formal police complaints, including former intern Anna Hobson.

In an interview with 7.30, Ms Hobson said she was a Year 11 high school student when Mr Zumbo offered her an internship position at Mr Kelly’s electorate office in Sydney’s south in 2018.

Frank Zumbo denied the allegations and said no charges have been brought by police.(

AAP: Alan Porritt 

)

When the then-16-year-old first arrived at her new job, she discovered the workplace was made up almost entirely by other young female interns who were all managed by Mr Zumbo.

“Frank would call all of us ‘sisters’,” Ms Hobson said.

“Often there were as many girls in school uniforms [as] there were people in office clothing.

“The whole office was basically run by the girls.

“Other than that, it was just Frank and Craig.”

Ms Hobson said Mr Zumbo “set the culture” of Mr Kelly’s electorate office during her nine-month stint.

“You’d always have to hug him and give him a kiss on the cheek when you came and when you left,” she said.

“Things like having one-on-one personal conversations in the conference room with the door shut.

“It was my first office job and my first male boss.”

‘He put his hand on my leg’

A woman sits in a chair with a dog on her lap.
Anna Hobson alleges Mr Zumbo put his hand on her leg while making a joke in his car.(

ABC News: Jerry Rickard

)

Ms Hobson told 7.30 that Mr Zumbo’s behaviour in the office would often be “temperamental” and “angry”.

She said he was insistent about taking her out on day trips alone.

“There wasn’t really any way to reject it,” she said. “I never had an option to say no.”

Ms Hobson said during the one day trip they had, Mr Zumbo picked her up from home in his car.

“He wanted to buy me clothes, which I rejected throughout the whole day,” she said.

“I let him buy me books instead”.

She said Mr Zumbo made her feel extremely uncomfortable during the car ride.

“When we were in the car, he put his hand on my leg while making a joke.

The front of an office with a sign that says Craig Kelly MP on the window.
Crag Kelly’s electorate office in Sutherland.(

ABC News: Jerry Rickard

)

“It was the moment [when] I was very, very conscious of ‘I’m alone in a car with a man, I know he can be temperamental … and he could drive me anywhere or do anything.'”

In September last year, the St George Shire Standard reported that Mr Zumbo had been under police investigation since April last year over his alleged conduct towards another young intern.

NSW Police confirmed the investigation remains ongoing and, as such, would not comment further.

But police did successfully seek an AVO against Mr Zumbo, banning him from going within 100 metres of any place where the teenage girl lives or works. 

Through his lawyer, Mr Zumbo strongly denied all allegations and said no charges have been brought by police.

“Police have had ample [time to] consider their position and this will all be the subject of defamation action in due course,” the statement to 7.30 said.

“The allegations are fanciful, misleading or otherwise without merit.”

Mr Zumbo remains in his role as Mr Kelly’s office manager.

Mr Kelly, who recently quit the Liberal Party, has said he had no knowledge of the allegations until they were printed in the local St George Shire Standard last year and in The Guardian two weeks ago.

‘I will make you a star’

A woman with long dark hair under an umbrella.
Amarah Bucknall says Mr Zumbo told her he could help her singing career.(

ABC News: Grace Tobin

)

In an interview with 7.30, high school student Amarah Bucknall and her mother, Nicole, allege Mr Zumbo’s behaviour displayed a “pattern of grooming” towards the teenager after she met him at a local cafe event in 2019.

Amarah said she had just finished performing with a band when Mr Zumbo introduced himself and said he wanted to help boost her singing career.

“Frank Zumbo came up to me and was like, ‘You’re amazing,’ and saying he wanted to make me a star,” Amarah said.

“He portrayed himself as like, really well known, like this big political figure. So I was like, ‘Oh wow, maybe this is like a chance for me.'”

Mr Zumbo later met Amarah’s mother, Nicole Bucknall, and asked for her teenage daughter to intern at Mr Kelly’s electorate office.

“He said, ‘Oh, your daughter’s so talented, and I want to make her a star. I’ve got so many connections,'” Ms Bucknall told 7.30.

“And then he pulled me aside and also offered for Amarah to work in the office. And I said, ‘Look, she’s 16, she doesn’t have any office experience.’ And he said, ‘Look, it’d be great for her resume.’

Two women sit under umbrellas in the rain.
Amarah with mother Nicole Bucknall, who told police she was concerned Mr Zumbo was trying to groom her daughter.(

ABC News: Grace Tobin

)

Ms Bucknall said she was suspicious of the offer and declined the internship on behalf of her daughter. But Amarah said Mr Zumbo then linked up with her on social media and started commenting on her photos on Instagram and Facebook.

Screenshot of Instagram messages.
Instagram messages Amarah Bucknall received from Mr Zumbo.(

Supplied: Amarah Bucknall

)

“Anything I would post on my social media, he would reply with the emoji with love heart eyes which I thought was weird, but I just brushed it off,” she said.

“A couple of weeks after that he called me and he said, ‘I saw a photo of you at your formal — you looked absolutely beautiful.'”

Amarah said she began feeling uncomfortable with Mr Zumbo’s constant remarks about her appearance and ended up cutting the contact.

“I felt like I was going to end up in a situation where I’m being groomed … and I was just quite uncomfortable with his actions,” she said.

Ms Bucknall said she has since contacted NSW Police to say she was concerned Mr Zumbo was trying to groom her daughter.

“I was concerned there was a pattern there of grooming,” she said.

“They [the police] basically said because nothing had happened, there’s nothing that they can do … But I just wanted to be able to at least say there is a pattern here.”

Former staff raised concerns in 2013

Older man wearing black suit and colourful blue tie
Craig Kelly says he was unaware of the allegations against Mr Zumbo until media reports last year.(

AAP: Mick Tsikas

)

7.30 has spoken with six former staff members from Mr Kelly’s electorate office.

They claim concerns were raised about Mr Zumbo’s alleged inappropriate behaviour around young female interns directly with the federal MP eight years ago.

Two staffers, who spoke to 7.30 on the condition of anonymity, said they confronted Mr Kelly during the 2013 federal election campaign to complain that Mr Zumbo’s behaviour around the young women was “odd” and made them uncomfortable.

However, Mr Kelly says he had no knowledge of the allegations until they were publicised in the media last year and again more recently.

Senior Liberal Party members have also had concerns about Mr Zumbo for years.

In an email sent in 2018 to a number of Liberal moderates, Sutherland Shire councillor Kent Johns condemned “the treatment of young women in [Craig Kelly’s] office over the last six years”.

He said, “the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept”.

Bede Crasnich, president of the Young Liberals Miranda Cook branch — Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s electorate — also told 7.30 that between 2013-2016, he refused to send branch members to volunteer at Mr Kelly’s office due to concerns “about Frank [Zumbo]”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently revealed in Parliament he has long held concerns about Mr Kelly’s employment of Mr Zumbo — but separate to the issues of alleged harassment.

“That is based on the fact that my electorate adjoins that of the member for Hughes and they relate to performance measures that don’t relate to the more sensitive issues that have come up more recently,” Mr Morrison said.

Accusations of harassment in Mr Kelly’s office have been referred to the Department of Finance for investigation.

In a statement, the Department of Finance said every report of bullying and harassment is treated seriously and an “assessment is currently underway in relation to this particular matter”.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further.”

‘Deal with the devil’

A woman stands on a foorpath.
Philippa Clark says Mr Zumbo started mentoring her when she was a Greens candidate.(

Supplied: Philippa Clark

)

7.30 spoke to one other woman who provided a statement to police alleging Mr Zumbo touched her on the leg inappropriately.

Philippa Clark was 18 when Mr Zumbo offered to mentor her during the 2014 state election, even though she was running as a Greens candidate.

“I was a bit suspicious,” Ms Clark told 7.30.

“Obviously he was a right-wing Liberal staff member. It sometimes felt like a bit of a deal with the devil because he also just made me feel uncomfortable personally.”

She said there was an expectation to give Mr Zumbo a kiss on the cheek every time they met.

“He’d want to hug me and on one occasion when we were driving home, he reached over and put his hand on my thigh and gave it a shake, and I said to him, ‘Why did you just put your hand on my leg? That feels kind of weird and creepy.’

A woman stands next to a Greens sign.
Philippa Clark says Mr Zumbo made her “feel uncomfortable”.(

Supplied: Philippa Clark

)

“And he said, ‘I don’t think it’s weird and creepy.'”

Ms Clark says she met up with Mr Zumbo about once a month over several years to discuss political strategy and acknowledges he sometimes gave her useful advice on political campaigning.

However, she said his behaviour towards her was often intimidating and she ended up leaving politics partly because of him.

“One of the things that encouraged me to take a step back was I thought to myself, I finally don’t have to deal with Frank anymore,” she said.

Watch this story tonight on 7.30 on ABC TV and iview.

Thank you for visiting My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed seeing this news update about current New South Wales News titled “More women go public with allegations against MP Craig Kelly’s senior aide, Frank Zumbo”. This news release was posted by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

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