Pitch invaders, who are they, what are the protesting, Australia Vs India, first ODI

A protest of a $1 billion loan to mining company Adani by the State Bank of India has spilt onto the SCG with two men running onto the field.

Two pitch invaders made their way out to the middle of the SCG and spent a long time just walking around before security decided to take action.

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The two invaders were holding signs that read “NO $1B ADANI LOAN” on them underneath the State Bank of India, running onto the field after six overs into the match.

A reported group of 50 protesters were seen outside the SCG before the game, with police keeping an eye on proceedings.

The Galilee Blockade, an activist group against the Adani Carmichael coal mine released a press release after the protest, identifying the protesters as Father of two Ben Burdett and Sydney musician Josh Winestock.

The pair were protesting a potential $1 billion loan by the bank after Indian media reports suggested it was close to a deal with Adani.

In the release, Burnett said “Millions of Indian taxpayers who are watching the first game of the Indian cricket tour have a right to know that the State Bank of India is considering handing their taxes to a billionaire’s climate wrecking coal mine”, while Winestock added that the protest was aimed at pressuring the State Bank of India to “reassure Indians and Australians that they will play no part in supporting it”.

Cricket Australia later confirmed the invasion did not impact the players’ biosecurity zone.

But fans were also quick to point out how slow security was to react to the invasion.

“There isn’t much urgency from security at the moment,” Adam Gilchrist said in commentary.

Shane Warne added: “There’s not one security guard on the ground”.

Sports reporter Bernie Coen wasn‘t happy with what he was seeing unfold in front of his eyes.

“What disgraceful security here @scg two people walk out to the cricket pitch holding signs for 30 secs before anyone moved! WTF! the players should be concerned for their safety over that!” he wrote.

2GB’s Mark Levy added “Hello security???? Protestors make their way to the centre of the SCG holding signs and security nowhere to be seen. At least they were good enough to stay off the pitch. I think we’ll hear more about that.”

The Australian’s cricket reporter Peter Lalor wrote: “Two protestors made way onto ground with NO $1B ADANI LOAN signs and in extraordinary scenes were left there without being escorted off for some time. Social distancing security ?”

Fox Cricket also highlighted one security guard who was in no rush to break up the protest.

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Robinhood asks banks to pitch for potential 2021 IPO

Robinhood Markets, the trading platform that’s proved popular with novice investors, has asked banks to pitch for roles in an initial public offering, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company is aiming to go public as soon as the first quarter of 2021, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The company’s plans could change and it might decide not to pursue an IPO, the people said.

A representative for Robinhood declined to comment.

Robinhood raised an additional $460 million in a series G funding round, lifting its valuation to $11.7 billion, the company said in September. Robinhood’s investors include Sequoia, DST Global, Ribbit Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures. and D1 Capital Partners.

An IPO would follow a huge boom in volume on the platform, with stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic driving up retail trading. Robinhood has also tapped into a new demographic — millennial and Gen-Z traders. Robinhood has 13 million accounts on its platform, which allows for trading in options, gold and cryptocurrencies as well as equities and funds.

Larry Tabb, head of market structure research for Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a note that Robinhood’s targeting of millennials and its business model will increasingly draw the attention of other brokers.

“Yet competing versus Robinhood will be difficult,” Tabb said.

Founded by two Stanford University graduates, Robinhood declares on its website that it is “on a mission to democratize finance for all.” The company has experienced some growing pains.

In the first half of this year, U.S. consumer protection agencies received more than 400 complaints about Robinhood — roughly four times more than competitors such as the brokerage units of Charles Schwab Corp. and Fidelity Investments. The grievances, obtained via a public records request to the Federal Trade Commission, depict novice investors in over their heads, struggling to understand why they’ve lost money on stock options or had shares liquidated to pay off margin loans.

Almost 2,000 accounts on its platform were compromised in a hacking spree last month. Access to more than 10,000 email login credentials allegedly tied to Robinhood accounts were available for sale on the dark web in October, according to a Bloomberg review of dark web marketplaces.

Robinhood said at the time there were no signs its systems were breached and that it employs several security measures, while encouraging customers to enable two-factor authentication.(Updates with details of account security concerns in 11th paragraph)

–With assistance from Katie Roof.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

  • Why the counties Joe Biden won represent 70% of U.S. GDP
  • Will another $1,200 stimulus check ever come? Here’s what we know
  • DoorDash IPO filing shows it could turn a profit only at height of lockdowns
  • The pandemic may be the greatest environment for business fraud in decades
  • A journalist-turned-detective on how corporate America depends on private sleuths

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Washington Nationals Invite Joe Biden to Throw First Pitch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals are making their pitch to President-elect Joe Biden.

The Nats have invited Biden to toss out the ceremonial first ball next season on opening day. Washington is scheduled to host the New York Mets at Nationals Park on April 1.

“We’re excited to continue the long-standing tradition of sitting Presidents throwing out the first pitch at the home of the national pastime in our nation’s capital,” the team posted on Twitter this weekend.

Biden last threw out a first ball as vice president, in 2009 when the Baltimore Orioles hosted the New York Yankees on opening day at Camden Yards. The right-hander threw a high fastball that brought O’s catcher Chad Moeller out of his crouch.

Biden, a Little League shortstop who later played center, has frequently been around ballfields. He saw the Phillies a few times in the postseason, including the 2009 World Series, watched Philadelphia play at Washington in 2012, has visited the Yankees at spring training and attended the Little League World Series.

William Howard Taft began the tradition of presidents throwing out the first pitch in Washington in 1910. Since then, every sitting president except Donald Trump has thrown out a first pitch when Washington had a major league franchise.

Trump attended Game 5 of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park and was booed when introduced as Houston played Washington.

When there wasn’t a team in Washington, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton tossed baseballs while in office at other big league parks.

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AFL trades 2020: Isaac Smith to Geelong Cats, free agent, decision, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Chris Scott, pitch, offer, news

Geelong is in the box seat to snare Hawthorn winger Isaac Smith after an 11th hour push from Chris Scott.

Foxfooty.com.au understands the Cats coach has spoken with Smith in recent days and reiterated the club’s desire to bring him over as an unrestricted free agent.

He told the left footer how much he wants him, leaving Smith close to pulling the trigger on a move down the highway.

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Grand Final

Smith believes a move to Geelong would give him his best chance to play in a fourth premiership.

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In Georgia, Joe Biden delivers a closing pitch to a state where ‘everything is at stake’

ATLANTA—On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began to deliver his closing message. He chose to send it from Georgia.

The location alone is a message of hope, that in this campaign something has shifted and this gateway to the Deep South may support him.

“The insidious virus. Economic anguish. Systemic discrimination. Any one of them could have rocked a nation. We’ve been hit by all three at once.” he said. “Our politics has for far too long been mean, bitter, and divisive.”

He was speaking in Warm Springs, Ga., population 452. Once, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt made his home away from the White House there, but it’s not a natural environment for a Democrat in the 21st century. According to the campaign press pool, those along the road leading to Biden’s address who were waving Trump signs and flags outnumbered Biden supporters roughly two to one.

But the candidate was there with a peaceful message. “I want to talk about the need to heal our nation.”

About an hour and a half down the road, in Atlanta, where Biden would hold a drive-in rally later in the day, the experience of 2020 seemed to call out for healing.

A walk around the block of State Farm Arena, where one of the city’s biggest early voting centres is hosted, showed the scars and evidence of a year of pain. A sign commemorating the death of Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis quoting him saying: “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.” Boarded up windows and a security fence still up around the CNN headquarters after protests erupted when a police officer shot Rayshard Brooks in the back as he ran away in June. There’s a free COVID testing clinic being conducted beneath awnings on one side of the building.

And there is another sign of a more recent and encouraging 2020 phenomenon: lots of people voting early.

“My existence is at stake in this election,” Morehouse College student Kawika Smith said outside the voting station. “The mere fact that America has a president who can do what he pleases, can restrict people from coming to this country just based on their faith or just based on their race. The funding of police officers is at stake. My education is at stake. Everything is at stake right now. Democracy is at stake.”

That was a common sentiment among voters in Atlanta: that this election is urgent for them. Clearly, this largest city in Georgia, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and home to his ministry, and the headquarters of both Tyler Perry’s entertainment empire and CNN’s news network is key to Biden’s hopes of winning the state.

And he does hope to win it. Sending Kamala Harris to campaign in Texas this week is a small bet on a long-shot. Georgia is one Democrats think is actually winnable. Rising Democratic star Stacey Abrams came close to winning the race for governor here in 2018. FiveThirtyEight calls Georgia a toss-up state — with Biden winning 51 per cent of their simulations based on an average of polls.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden departs after speaking at The Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Warm Springs, Georgia on October 27, 2020. - Democrat Joe Biden was campaigning in the once reliably Republican state of Georgia on Tuesday and President Donald Trump was hopscotching across the Midwest as the US election campaign entered its final week. Biden, 77, who is leading in the polls ahead of the November 3 vote, was to hold a socially distanced drive-in car rally in Atlanta, Georgia's largest city. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden’s wife Jill was in Georgia on Monday. Donald Trump was here in nearby Macon for a rally just over a week ago, and his son Donald Jr. hosted another one there on Friday and visited Atlanta too. This state, Republican since the 1990s, is a 2020 battleground.

“I believe when you use your power, the power of the vote, we will change the course of this country, right here in Georgia,” Biden said in Atlanta to a crowd sitting in, and on top of, their cars.

The loudest cheers, and the honking horns, rang out in Atlanta when Biden criticized Trump’s response to George Floyd’s death and the protest movement it inspired, according to the pool report.

“The names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake will not soon be forgotten. Not by me. Not by us. Not by this country. They’re going to inspire a new wave of justice in America,” he said.



Georgians Saily Perez, right, and Rudy Bentley, after voting at an early voting site in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday.

Voter Saily Perez said the Black Lives Matter protest, alongside immigration and COVID-19, motivated her vote for Biden. “I think this will be a turning point for our nation. Are we really moving towards being more progressive? Or are we still stuck in our old ways?”

Brianne Wingate said that after casting her ballot, she was feeling anxious. “I feel like there’s so much at stake right now. I’m an attorney. So, you know, my attention is on the Supreme Court — it just makes the stakes higher.”

Here in Georgia, as in other states across the country, you hear a different sentiment if you travel outside the big cities to the smaller towns and rural areas. There, people remain devoted to Trump. Many supporters at Donald Trump Jr.’s recent rally told a local CBS affiliate they had attended his father’s event too. “The energy is fantastic. Like, they’re just vibrant. They’re the leaders for us,” Mary Ann Luckett told the station of the Trump family.

The gap between her and the people here in Atlanta is giant. It’s a division that will define this election, here in Georgia and across the country.

A division Biden promised again Tuesday to try to heal, first in the small town where Roosevelt was said to come to heal his ailing body. “This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed. That as a people and a country, we can overcome a devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world,” Biden said. “I’m running as a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I will work with Democrats and Republicans and I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do. That’s the job of a president. It’s a duty of care for everyone.”

Edward Keenan



What are you paying attention to in the last week before the U.S. election?

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

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Republicans Make an Unlikely Closing Pitch: Amend Section 230

Because Section 230 is the only federal statute that specifically applies to interactive websites, it’s one of the only points of leverage Congress has over the platforms. That’s why some elected officials have taken to describing the law, inaccurately, as a “special privilege” that tech companies need to justify. So, for example, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley authored a bill that would force platforms to undergo an audit for partisan bias as a condition of keeping their legal immunity. The bipartisan EARN IT Act, meanwhile, would condition Section 230 protections on complying with an elaborate regime designed to limit child sexual abuse material.

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The current state of Section 230 discourse didn’t really start until May 2020, however, when Twitter did the unthinkable: It fact-checked a Trump tweet. The president responded not only with outraged tweets about the First Amendment, but also by issuing an executive order directing the Federal Communications Commission to “clarify” the meaning of Section 230. Since then, there has been growing evidence that Trump sees this topic as a winning issue. On October 15, on the heels of Facebook and Twitter’s controversial choice to limit the spread of the murky New York Post Hunter Biden laptop story, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that he would move forward with agency rule-making pursuant to the May executive order. (Most outside experts agree that the FCC doesn’t really have the power to do this.) And Politico has reported that the White House urged Senate Republicans to help with its anti-tech push. According to anonymous Senate staffers, the upcoming Section 230 hearing is the result of that pressure. Trump himself, meanwhile, has made the law a talking point, repeatedly tweeting his desire to repeal it in all caps and even discussing it at recent campaign rallies. (In Ohio: “Big Tech, Section 230, right?”)

Clearly, Trump thinks that railing against the law, and devoting party resources to it in the final days of the campaign, makes for good politics. The question is why. “The idea that Trump is talking about Section 230 at campaign rallies—that’s insane,” says Eric Goldman, a law professor and blogger who has written extensively about the law. “He thinks that it’s well known and well understood enough that he can mention it and get a political payoff from that. And that is, obviously, a very different world than we’ve been living in.”

Certainly the notion that tech platforms are discriminating against Trump supporters plays naturally into familiar themes of populist outrage directed at liberal-elite cultural gatekeepers. It’s also possible that the Trump campaign has seen internal polling that suggests attacking Section 230 plays well with some crucial electoral bloc. But polls show that most Americans still have never heard of Section 230, let alone plan to base their vote on it.

The likeliest explanation, then, is that a president who recently told 60 Minutes that he wouldn’t be president without social media has begun confusing internet culture with real life. As Jane Coaston recently observed in Vox, “Donald Trump and his campaign are poisoned by toxic levels of being Extremely Online,” which Coaston defines as “to be deeply enmeshed in a world of internet culture, reshaped by internet culture, and, most importantly, to believe that the world of internet culture matters deeply offline.” And so the president’s rallies and debate performances are peppered with references to Russiagate conspiracy theories about unknown government officials, niche culture war topics, and the minutiae of the Hunter Biden disinformation campaign. And, yes, Section 230, a topic that appeals above all to Trump supporters who insist that they are being shadow-banned by Twitter.

As with most questions on how to regulate the tech sector, the Section 230 debate features a confusing tangle of cynical political theater and serious policy proposals. The big tech platforms have enormous power and very little accountability, and the government certainly needs to find a way to address that problem. With luck, Wednesday’s hearing will include some actual good-faith discussion of how to do that. Because if the goal is really just to influence the election, someone has been spending too much time in the filter bubble.

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Lionel Messi’s open-play goal drought suggests Barcelona’s off-field problems are manifesting on the pitch — RT Sport News

Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid marked the sixth successive game in which Lionel Messi has failed to score from open play, suggesting the tense accord between the player and club is far from steady.

Messi plunged Barcelona into chaos in August when he announced his intention to leave the club on a free transfer prior to the start of the current La Liga season.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner cited language in his contract which he said guaranteed him the right to leave the club at a time of his choosing.

However, both Barcelona and La Liga disputed this and Messi opted to stay as a potential showdown in court loomed. 

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‘They should name the new stadium after him’: Pique hails Messi, blasts Barcelona bosses over treatment of star

Despite initially promising signs, the evidence on the pitch suggests that there remains an imbalance at the Camp Nou. The home defeat leaves the club languishing in 12th place in the Spanish top division, already six points behind league leaders Real Madrid, as the pressure starts to ramp up on new boss Ronald Koeman. 

Barcelona have dropped points in three of their first five league games. In addition to the stinging defeat to Real, they could only a muster a 1-1 draw with Europa League specialists Sevilla and also suffered a shock 1-0 reverse to Getafe. 

Questions will now be asked of Messi, whose two goals this season have both come from the penalty spot.

While his performance in Saturday’s Clasico showed promise, he was once again heavily marshaled by the Real Madrid backline – with Sergio Ramos expertly quashing one of Messi’s trademark slaloming runs in the final minute of the game.

So far this season, Koeman has been criticized by some – including his French forward Antoine Griezman – for not selecting his players in their most effective positions, something which suggests that the Dutchman hasn’t quite decided how to best deploy his best weapons.

Indeed, with so much of Barcelona’s dominance over the last decade or more reliant on Messi’s consistency of excellence, there will no doubt be concern in the club’s corridor of powers as to what to do should their talisman’s goals dry up.

Messi was the club’s top scorer last season with 31 goals in all competitions – but this was his lowest seasonal tally since the 2007-08 season. Add to that the sale of Messi’s strike partner, Luis Suarez, to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona’s forward options look increasingly anaemic. 

However, it must also be noted that Messi’s decline – if we can call it that – is a natural thing for a player in his 34th year, and even Messi has admitted that he will be forced to adapt his game as his age advances.

Also on rt.com
Lionel Messi sets new Champions League record with goal against Ferencvaros

I think less and less about scoring goals. I’m starting to step back more and more to be the creator rather than the one who finishes,” Messi said earlier this year.

Obviously I like scoring, and if I have a chance I’ll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I’m less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I’ve never been obsessed with goals. 

I understand that people will talk about it when I stop scoring, so many, but that’s part of the game, part of growing as a player and adapting to the times, to be the best player both for yourself and for the team.”

Lionel Messi may not have left Barcelona, but did his goals?

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Streakers, pitch invaders, social media reacts, Richmond vs Geelong, mayhem

The first half of the AFL Grand Final had everything — injuries galore, concussions, classy goals and streakers.

During a season of crowd restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, pitch invaders haven’t exactly been too common in 2020.

But a couple of idiots decided to grace the Gabba turf even though they weren’t invited, being chased and pinned down by security before being escorted off the ground.

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Social media was quick to condemn the act, with Channel 7 presenter and former Commonwealth Games swimmer Johanna Griggs leading the charge.

“What morons,” she tweeted as the two pitch invaders were taken down.

The pair were quick to brag about the stunt as social media comedy duo Marty and Michael, joining the infamous ranks of streakers Kinsey Wolanski, who invaded the Champions League and World Series flasher Julia Rose.

The game continued until they got within 50m of the ball.

A combination of the Gabba taking the game away from the MCG for the first non-Victorian Grand Final in history, and traditionalists upset by the move to a night time decider, punters couldn’t believe the wild show Brisbane was putting on.

News reporter James Mottershead tweeted: “Wtf even is this?”, while Triple J’s Hack reporter Jo Lauder wrote: “Total mayhem having the #AFLGF in Brissie. Very 2020.”

Hawthorn youngster Oliver Hanrahan was equally perplexed: “What is happening … this is the most bizarre grand final. Streakers and everything,” he said.

Channel 10 journalist Candice Wyatt added: “PITCH INVADERS! This game has everything … bad entertainment … bad injuries … bad crowd behaviour. Brisbane you are WILD!”

10 presenter Veronica Eggleton joked: “Streakers that aren’t even naked. We’re better than that Qld.”

The footy has been tight with a low scoring game in the decider.

The Cats snatched a 2.2 (14) to 2.1 (13) lead at the first break. Geelong kicked away in the second quarter, running out to a 21-point lead late in the half but the Tigers’ Dustin Martin brought Richmond back into the game with a snap with 75 seconds left in the half.

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LNP’s Queensland election pitch to enforce Townsville youth curfew branded ‘a dog pound for kids’ by Katter’s Australian Party

Young people in Townsville and Cairns would be subject to curfews and parents fined $250 if their unaccompanied children are found out at night “without a reasonable excuse” under an LNP election pledge that advocates say could breach the UN convention.

Speaking in the key battleground of Townsville on day 16 of the campaign, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington declared an LNP government would “fix the juvenile crime problem” in the two cities by trialling an 8:00pm curfew for children aged 14 and under, and a 10:00pm curfew for 15 to 17-year-olds.

Under the plan, police would be given powers to take unsupervised youths off the streets and place them in refuges for an undetermined period.

“This is about making sure that parents become responsible for their children,” Ms Frecklington said.

“If you are on the streets doing the wrong thing, then you will be taken off the streets so the community is kept safe.”

Ms Frecklington said parents would also be fined $250 each time the young person was picked up by authorities.

The policy is similar to an LNP proposal at the 2017 state election to trial a 10:00pm curfew on children under 16 in Townsville.

‘A little bit ludicrous’

But Katter’s Australian Party MP Nick Dametto said today’s curfew announcement would turn police into “pound officers”.

“Picking kids up off the street and taking them to a designated location until their parents pick them up where they’ll give them a fine sounds like we’re setting up a dog pound for kids,” Mr Dametto said.

“The idea of getting kids off the street, fully support that — but there needs to be more context around this.

Katter party MP Nick Dametto says police would become “pound officers”.(Supplied)

“What about young Sarah who’s finished working across the road at a cafe walking home at 11 o’clock at night — what is her excuse?

“Are you going to set up a police special ops team just to look after stray kids? This seems a little bit ludicrous.”

Ms Frecklington said “common sense would prevail” among police officers, saying if a child was already headed home they would be allowed to do so.

‘Prevent childhood trauma first’

Amnesty International Australia’s campaigner Joel Mackay said the policy potentially breached Australia’s commitment to international law, including the United Nations convention on rights of the child.

“Curfews stigmatise, victimise and criminalise young people,” he said.

“They don’t do anything to bring down crime rates, all they do is entrench the marginalisation of children in our community.

“This proposal will not work.”

Act for Kids’ CEO Katrina Lines said young people involved with the youth justice system are often survivors of childhood trauma due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.

“We must treat and prevent childhood trauma first before any youth curfews are likely to see success in reducing the rate of child crime,” she said.

‘Cheap shot aimed at poor people’

Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda described the LNP’s proposal as a “cheap shot aimed at poor people”.

“It’s pandering to a bunch of law and order merchants,” he said.

“[The fines] will only impoverish more people, continuing the cycle.

“They should talk to the experts … and fund after-hours services [to support young people].”

PeakCare executive director Lindsay Wegener said residents in Townsville and Cairns deserved the right to feel safe from crime, but parents should be helped rather than punished.

A group of people on the streets with signs calling for the youth justice act to be scrapped
Youth crime has become a serious community concern in northern Queensland.(Facebook: Take Back Townsville)

“Sometimes parents are struggling to care for their children and struggling to ensure they stay at home,” he said.

He also believed the policy would disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

“Most young people who engage in youth crime also have child protection needs. This will simply exacerbate the kind of issues of concern that we have about the safety of those young people,” Mr Wegener said.

“If there is tension in the relationship between parents and young people, it’s certainly not going to ease that tension if their parents are being fined $250.”

‘It’s just got to stop’

Ms Frecklington said she made no apologies for being “tough on crime” and highlighted an incident where a cafe was held up by an 11-year-old with a knife.

“An 11-year-old — what is he doing on the streets at that time at night? He’s got to be back at home, safely tucked into bed,” she said.

“It is a terrible indictment when every time I come to Townsville, I have to meet with another community member who has had their house broken into, their car flogged … it’s just got to stop.”

In July, Ms Frecklington released the LNP’s “comprehensive plan to crack down on youth crime”, including its “three strikes and you’re out” policy aimed at forcing courts to sentence young people to youth detention if convicted of a third office.

LNP candidate for Mundingburra, Glenn Doyle, said he and his police colleagues were frustrated and needed laws tightened in relation to youth crime.

At a separate press conference in north Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the curfew plan “doesn’t really cut the mustard”.

She announced a promise to build a second Bruce Highway stretching from Charters Towers to Mungindi on the NSW border to create jobs and divert freight trucks, if Labor was re-elected.

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After ousting Alexander, Crown’s Coonan makes desperate pitch to save her own job

Alexander’s plank walking exercise was richly rewarded with a $3.5 million pay package for a year’s work – more generous even than Barton’s salary. The announcement didn’t expressly say Alexander would leave in the year but anyone that made inquiries was made aware that was the deal.

Coonan’s take on January’s management and board upheaval was that it was a nod to non-Packer shareholders who were looking for a more conventional governance strategy. Anyone that has followed the Crown inquiry over the past few months will find that concept jarring/gobsmacking and even laughable.

Important information and decisions about the operation of the business were ring-fenced inside an inner sanctum – a handful of Crown executives and Packer operatives. Thus normal reporting lines were bypassed.

The removal of Alexander and the creation of a chairman’s role distinct from the chief executive role feels largely cosmetic when seen against the bigger problems within Crown.

Helen Coonan’s time in the witness box these past days is tantamount to her application to remain as chairman – her pitch being she will become a change agent for an organisation in desperate need of an overhaul.


She told the inquiry she was “invested” in Crown’s future. It remains to be seen whether she will have the opportunity to make a return on that investment.

Her pitch was certainly not helped by her admission that she may have known about an AUSTRAC investigation, announced by Crown on Monday, but had failed to mention it during her first day of giving evidence on Friday.

Coonan’s was a desperate attempt to argue that Crown 2.0 will emerge as a more conventional company with a proper structure, a raft of new management, and new compliance operatives having hired a swath of external consultants to write reports on what went wrong and how it can be avoided in future.

That’s the “go forward” piece. And it’s up to Bergin whether she will take this on faith.

If she doesn’t Crown risks having to postpone the opening of its Sydney casino – and that isn’t the worst outcome. It is possible Bergin will recommend that Crown loses its NSW licence.

The tricky part for all the Crown directors that have filed into the virtual witness box – many of whom want to retain their seats on the board – is that they sat aloft in this organisation with a duty to oversee the company’s risk, governance, compliance with anti-money laundering laws. All this during periods where the company failed in each area.

All tried to walk the delicate balance between acknowledging Crown’s failings, defending some of them and justifying their role.

It was clear from Commissioner Patricia Bergin’s comments and questions that she needs to be comfortable that the current Crown regime can oversee its massive cultural overhaul. She appears equally interested in whether the current casino regulatory regime is fit for purpose.

The independent directors relied heavily on the fact that they were unaware of the problems within Crown because they were deprived of information from management. It is a defence that only goes so far.


While the inquiry was partly initiated on the back of a series of reports in 2019 from this masthead and 60 Minutes, there have been numerous media exposés about Crown’s association with junket operators with links to organised crime.

Some directors – bizarrely – admitted to not having been aware of them. Some were not aware of the Chinese government’s crackdown on foreign casinos – an issue well canvassed in the media. Most directors admitted to having no real knowledge or skills around anti-money laundering.

The one thing most directors had in common was some kind of prior dealings or relationship with James Packer. Coonan’s history with the Packers goes back to her time as federal Communications Minister when the Packers were heavily involved in the media industry.

And if Packer is ultimately required to sell or sell down his stake in Crown it is difficult to see how any or all can survive without his support. Indeed Packer indicated in his evidence that changes to the board are needed alongside independence.

It has already become clear that large minority shareholders are planning to vote against three directors up for re-election at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.

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