Controlling Gus to coach Penrith: Griffin

Anthony Griffin has turned the heat on Phil Gould to deliver the premiership he promised Penrith fans six years ago after being sacked by the “jealous” Panthers supremo a month out from the NRL finals.

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Griffin scored a unanimous win over Gould in the PR battle with a dignified appearance on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 barely 48 hours after being unceremoniously cut by the Panthers supremo.

“If I can just say one thing, I really wish the Panthers all the best,” Griffin said in a heartfelt message to his former charges.

“There’s obviously some really good days ahead for that club and for the players and the staff out there, I’d love nothing more than to see them win a trophy this year.

“So, as hard as it would be to watch, I wish them all the best.”

The 51-year-old’s touching tribute to a dressing room that his boss claimed the coach had lost came after Griffin accused Gould of being a control freak who craved to be in charge when Penrith next won the competition.

“The main thing that hurts me the most is that I think they’re on the verge of winning a premiership this year, which is probably one of the reasons I’m not there,” Griffin said.

“Clearly we don’t get on. It’s the main reason I’m sitting in here and not coaching. We don’t get on.

“It wouldn’t be unusual to go a month or six weeks not sitting down and having a chat. We had to operate.

“After we beat Manly I sensed things weren’t right. The silence gets deafening when you’re on the outer.

“I didn’t anticipate it would be Monday. I thought we’d sort it out at the end of the year.

“(But) I understand the business is brutal.”

Despite Cameron Ciraldo’s appointment as coach for the rest of 2018, Griffin has no doubt Gould will take charge of the finals-bound Panthers in pursuit of title glory.

“He just needs to be in control,” Griffin said.

“Gus runs the club – and I say that with all due respect to everyone out there – but he runs the club. He makes all the decisions.

“So now that I’m not there, it’s probably a breath of fresh air from that end (for Gould). I don’t think there will be too much happening without his input.”

Dubbed by his ex-boss as too “old school” to continue coaching Penrith, Griffin is adamant he did the job Gould head-hunted him to do – and more.

“Whether I’m old school or not, there’s a hell of a lot a head coach has got to do these days to build a club to be able to produce a result every weekend,” Griffin said.

“To be able to manage staff, to care for young players and to be able to build a roster from within, it takes patience and it takes a lot of time.

“When you grow something from the ground up, it takes a lot of care and takes a lot of attention to detail in all areas – strength and conditioning, sports science, skill acquisition.

“They’re young players that are playing first grade for the first time so there’s a lot of welfare that goes on.

“So I’m proud of what I did there.

“If that’s old school, I’ll take old school any day to play a role in a club that’s had so much success in the last three years.”

Dragons’ Vaughan targets early NRL return

Dragons prop Paul Vaughan hopes to cut his four-week recovery time from an ankle injury in half.St George Illawarra star Paul Vaughan has set himself the task of whittling his recovery time to just two weeks in a bid to be back before the NRL finals.

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Vaughan is faced with the prospect of entering September devoid of match fitness after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s loss to the Warriors which has ruled him out for a month.

However, while he insists he can’t rush his return, Vaughan is motivated to come back early.

“The team said four weeks, which is more realistic, but I’d like to try and do all the prehab and rehab and try and get back as quick as I can,” he said.

“I want to help the team out as best I can.

“We’ve got an important run to the finals so I want to be out there with the boys.”

The Dragons prop admitted fearing the worst when he first hurt his ankle.

“Initially I thought it was pretty bad. I heard a big pop and I was nervous about that because I’d gone through a little bit of stuff with my left leg, breaking that a few years ago,” he said.

“I looked down and saw my ankle was straight, which was a positive.”

Having spent most of the year at the top of the table, the Dragons are in grave danger of slipping out of the top four after losing four of their past five matches.

Vaughan said the onus was on the forwards to regain their early-season form.

“We need to get back to that power game and blasting the ruck and letting our halves – the best in the comp – play off the back of that,” he said.

“If we can get those boys to play good footy, which comes down to us as a pack, we’ll be sweet.”

He said it was imperative the Dragons retain their spot in the top four as they enter a finals series tipped to be one of the most closely fought in recent memory.

For the time since 2014, the current top eight is separated by just six points.

“(Top four is) massive, especially in this game where anyone can beat anyone on their day, which makes things nerve-racking,” Vaughan said.

“If you get that second chance, you can regather and go again.

“That’s what we’ve made the goal this year, before the season started and we’ve been on top of the comp pretty much the whole season. I’m more than confident the boys can finish there.”

Shaw ready to resume AFL battle with Betts

GWS’s Heath Shaw is looking forward to resuming his long-running battle with the Crows’ Eddie Betts.Saturday night’s venue will be a source of confidence for GWS veteran Heath Shaw, but the same can’t be said about the prospect of renewing his AFL rivalry with Adelaide star Eddie Betts.

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The Giants will seek to shore up their top-four spot when they host the Crows in Canberra.

GWS boast an eight-match winning streak at Manuka Oval, where their most recent loss came in 2015.

The showdown between Shaw and Betts will go a long way to deciding the winner, as will the broader contest between the Giants’ in-form back six and the Crows’ star-studded forward line.

Shaw knows Betts’ party tricks as well as anybody, having attempted to curb the livewire’s influence with varying degrees of success over the past 12 years.

“He’s one of the best small forwards I’ve ever played on, if not the best,” Shaw told reporters.

“Over the years we’ve probably grown a friendship from the battles … there’s always that mutual respect between all the older blokes, still battling away over the age of 30.

“But we’re fierce competitors and both want to get on top.”

Shaw and Betts both debuted in 2005. They first played against each other in round 20 of that season, when Betts kicked three goals to help Carlton topple Collingwood at the MCG.

A lot has changed since then, including both players changing clubs, but Betts still possesses the ability to turn a game on its head with a single act of brilliance.

“You’ve got to be concentrating the whole time or he’ll get a hold of you. I always look forward to playing on Eddie, even though he has touched me up a couple of times,” Shaw said.

Shaw noted enforced omissions Brett Deledio, Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson and Sam Taylor will be sorely missed, but suggested the Giants will lift in their final home game of the season at Manuka Oval.

“We love playing down in Canberra. It’s always been a bit of a fortress for us, especially in the last three years,” he said.

The Giants snapped a four-match losing streak and turned their season around during their previous meeting with Adelaide.

The expansion club have won seven of their past eight games since that hard-fought victory at Adelaide Oval.

PM visits Alice to back Lingiari candidate

Malcolm Turnbull’s Alice Springs visit was spent backing CLP candidate for Lingiari, Jacinta Price.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has visited the Northern Territory for the second time in less than three weeks after being criticised for not going after Cyclone Marcus and the rape of a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek that shocked the nation.

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While the recent trip to Tennant Creek was to support and announce a regional deal for the troubled town, Wednesday’s visit to Alice Springs was about backing Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari, Aboriginal woman Jacinta Price.

She is regarded as a chance to steal the long-term Labor seat held by MP Warren Snowdon.

“Lingiari needs a strong voice in government, you understand every part of the community, the indigenous community, the pastoral industry, the mining industry, the industries in the city, in the town here,” Mr Turnbull told Ms Price at a press conference on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull and Ms Price spent the day meeting the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group, Alice Springs Town Council, the Central Land council and other community groups.

There were no concrete plans such as a city or regional deal announced, although the prime minister said he was open to it

Australia’s population went past 25 million this week and congestion is a major problem in Sydney and Melbourne that could be dealt with by expanding other cities.

City deals are underway for Launceston, Western Sydney and Townsville which involve the three levels of government coming together with community leaders to boost jobs, investment and improve community services.

Alice Springs Town Council has said previously it was prepared to put in $800,000 towards a “city deal” that would result in the relocation of government agencies such as the CSIRO to the town.

Mr Turnbull also rejected suggestions his government should be contributing more to the cost of fixing the NT’s infamous youth justice and protection systems.

Labor MP made right call to quit: Shorten

Labor leader Bill Shorten believes outgoing MP Emma Husar was right to quit politics while facing a series of bullying allegations in her federal seat.

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The western Sydney MP won’t recontest her seat of Lindsay at the next election, after 22 former staff accused her of bullying and harassment.

NSW Labor is expected to release the conclusions of its investigations into Ms Husar on Friday.

“There’s plenty, clearly plenty, of unhappy people here, but she’s made a very principled decision to say that politics isn’t for her,” Mr Shorten told reporters on Thursday.

“She’s put her party and the people first. I actually now think that it’s time for some of the personal attacks to stop. It’s what turns people off politics.”

Mr Shorten refused to say if he was happy with the NSW Labor investigation, which was widely leaked to the media.

“Emma Husar has been under extreme pressure, and I don’t know all the facts at the end of the day,” he said.

After announcing she would quit, Ms Husar accused some in the party of resenting her election because she had not come through the party machine.

“I had not done my Labor Party apprenticeship,” she told the Nine Network.

“A few nasty, faceless people can ruin someone’s career, almost completely smash it to pieces.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann about the bullying allegations, and he was told there were processes in place to help the former electorate office staff who complained.

That could include complaints to the Finance Department, and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

“Those processes are managed by Finance or IPEA independently and confidentially in the appropriate way,” a spokeswoman for Senator Cormann told AAP.

Mr Turnbull questioned how much Mr Shorten knew about the investigation.

“Where was the champion of the workers when people were being allegedly mistreated in this way?” he told 6PR radio in Perth.

But the Labor leader insisted he only found out when the story was leaked to the media.

“It’s rubbish. I had no knowledge of these complaints,” Mr Shorten said.

Ms Husar’s western Sydney seat of Lindsay, held with a margin of just 1.1 per cent, will be hotly contested between Labor and the Liberals at the election due by May 2019.

NAB faces criminal investigation over fees

National Australia Bank has potentially committed more than 100 criminal offences over charging hundreds of thousands of customers fees without providing a service.

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The corporate regulator is investigating “suspected offending” by NAB as part of the wider fees-for-no-service scandal across the financial services industry, documents before the banking royal commission reveal.

NAB denies committing any criminal acts.

In the documents about the fees-for-no-service issues, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission accused the bank of failing to report significant breaches of its licence on time on 110 occasions.

Failing to comply with breach reporting requirements is a criminal offence, although the regulator can take a range of administrative, civil and criminal actions.

The number of late breach reports was disputed by NAB, which told ASIC in May it identified 84 significant breaches reported outside the required 10-day time frame.

In the documents, ASIC also said it was concerned NAB contravened sections of the Corporations Act and ASIC Act – some of which may carry criminal as well as civil penalties – over the issue of fees wrongly charged to superannuation members.

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn apologised to customers via Twitter over the revelations at this week’s royal commission hearing, which include the bank charging more than 4000 dead superannuation customers $3 million in fees.

In an email to all staff on Thursday, Mr Thorburn said: “We do not believe that we have committed any criminal acts”.

NAB’s superannuation trustee NULIS is paying $120 million to compensate about 300,000 customers charged a plan service fee for general advice services when they had no adviser linked to their account.

The royal commission documents show ASIC may still take action despite the compensation program.

“As we have said, ASIC does not consider remediation to be the only regulatory action required to address the conduct that has resulted in harm to the plan service fees members,” it said in a letter to NAB and NULIS in June.

Other documents tendered at the inquiry showed ASIC believed NAB was out of step with some of its major peers over fees-for-no-service remediation.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC on Thursday rejected NAB’s request to suppress all or part of seven documents related to the extent of it charging fees for no service and its approach to compensating customers.

He said while it would be in NAB’s interests to pay the least sum available by way of mediation, it would be in the interests of customers charged fees for no service to be provided with adequate compensation.

Senior counsel assisting the commission Michael Hodge QC criticised NAB for producing more than 3000 documents to the inquiry last week.

Automatic AFL punch bans coming: Higgins

North Melbourne veteran Shaun Higgins can see a time when the AFL will be forced to automatically suspend players for punching an opponent, regardless of the force of the blow.

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The Kangaroos star, who is routinely targeted physically by opposition players, feels punches thrown to the body are part of the game that should be eradicated.

The practice – carried out in a bid to establish a psychological edge, put an opponent off his game or shake a tag – has been in the spotlight following Andrew Gaff’s eight-game ban for breaking Andrew Brayshaw’s jaw.

At his tribunal hearing, the Eagles highlighted several incidents where Gaff was targeted off the ball before he lashed out at Brayshaw.

Gaff also admitted to punching Brayshaw in the chest to give himself some space before the ugly incident played out.

Under the current guidelines, players are fined if they intentionally strike an opponent with low impact to the body.

But Higgins feels that’s not enough of a deterrent.

“I think it’s probably going to get to that stage,” Higgins replied when it was put to him that bans for any sort of punch were required.

“We probably went down that path 12 to 18 months ago, didn’t we? Then we’ve sort of backtracked a little bit for whatever reason.

“I would imagine that most players, the AFL and clubs would agree that there’s no place in the game for punches being thrown.”

While Higgins is all for outlawing niggling punches, he still feels there’s room for a level of physical aggression.

“It’s still a contact sport,” he said.

“It’s a physical sport but I think punching we can definitely eradicate from the game.

“Bumping and trying to get mentally on top of the opposition and physically trying to impose yourself is still part and parcel of the game but there’s definitely a line there.

“It’s probably been crossed a number of times this year.”

Government risking rift with crossbench

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm has accused Malcolm Turnbull of breaking a deal with him.The Turnbull government could face increased pressure from crossbench senators on a range of issues after being accused of breaking a deal with key supporter David Leyonhjelm.

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The Liberal Democrats senator wants Malcolm Turnbull to honour his agreement to guarantee a vote in both houses on legislation to lift the ban on territories legislation on voluntary euthanasia.

Senator Leyonhjelm said it was a matter of honour for the prime minister.

He pointed to the implications that reneging on the agreement could have for “future trust and co-operation” between the crossbench and government.

Mr Turnbull argues the deal was only for a vote in the Senate, not both houses.

But Senator Leyonhjelm says the prime minister gave him his word in face-to-face discussions.

The deal was for his crucial support on re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

“Knowing that it hasn’t stuck to its deal in this instance would be somewhat significant to many of the crossbench,” Senator Leyonhjelm told AAP.

“That will affect the government’s relationships in the Senate.”

Souring relations with the crossbench could get messy for the government.

The coalition needs eight of the 10 independent, One Nation and Centre Alliance senators to pass its legislation.

The upper house is set to debate Senator Leyonhjelm’s legislation on Tuesday lifting the ban on NT and ACT controlling their own euthanasia laws.

After it is dealt with, corporate tax cuts will be on the agenda, with the government still trying to garner crossbench support for the policy.

Muesli boss jailed for killing colleague

The loved ones of a Melbourne woman may never know the motive for her murder in a “frenzied stabbing attack” by a man she considered family.

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On the morning of July 25, 2017, Peter Pavlis – the founder of established food brand The Muesli Company – fatally stabbed his business partner Jennifer Borchardt six times in the kitchen of her Richmond home.

He tried to clean the crime scene and pretended to colleagues that he was concerned about Ms Borchardt’s absence from work.

He changed his clothes and lied about the reason he had a fresh knife wound on his thumb.

The same afternoon, Ms Borchardt’s partner returned home to “find the lifeless body of the woman he loved”.

The reason Pavlis killed the 49-year-old remained “opaque”, Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Lesley Taylor said during sentencing on Thursday.

It was previously suggested to the court he was perhaps jealous or angry about Ms Borchardt’s new relationship, although there was no evidence to support the theory.

Pavlis also told a psychiatrist he had found a box full of $100 notes in Ms Borchardt’s home and believed she had engaged in financial misconduct, although the cash was never discovered at the crime scene.

“I do not accept that it was ever there,” Justice Taylor said.

“I am unable to discern the true motive for your behaviour.”

She denounced Pavlis’ betrayal of Ms Borchardt’s trust, loyalty and affection.

“You were a man very much trusted by her. She had started to work in your company as a teenager and grew to become your business partner,” Justice Taylor said.

“She was encouraged to think that she was part of your family.

“Your actions in attempting to clean the murder scene and your other deceptions about your involvement were callous and cowardly.”

At a previous court hearing, Pavlis described Ms Borchardt as a “nice person” and said “I still can’t understand how I did it”.

On Thursday, he was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 12 years, as Justice Taylor admitted there was a “very real chance” Pavlis would die in jail.

“We are pleased with the result today and glad the court has recognised that Peter Pavlis is a cold-blooded murderer,” Ms Borchardt’s niece Carlie Smith told reporters outside court.

“All those years of hard work and dedication and that was the thanks that she received, to be buried in a grave early when she still had half a lifetime to live.”

Oscars introduce new popular film award

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is instituting sweeping changes to the Oscar broadcast as it tries to find ways to bolster ratings for the flagging telecast.

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In a message to its membership, the group’s president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson said the broadcast will now include a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film.

The organisation’s initial announcement raised more questions than it answered.

The Academy later issued a statement clarifying eligibility concerns. Films can be nominated for both Academy Award for best picture and for outstanding achievement in popular film, with the new category to be introduced this coming year.

At one point in its history, Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as Titanic or Gladiator as the year’s best.

But recent best picture victors such as Moonlight, Spotlight, and the 2018 winner The Shape of Water have been firmly ensconced in the art-house world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as Guardians of the Galaxy or Star Wars: The Force Awakens have only been recognised for their technical achievements.

“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” Bailey and Hudson wrote in a note to members.

“The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”

The Oscar broadcast has also been slagged as a tedious affair, filled with speeches, musical performances, and montages. To that end, the Academy’s board announced that future broadcasts will be three hours long.

The 2018 awards show, which clocked in at almost four hours, was the least-watched Oscars to date. Though it pulled in a sizeable 26.5 million viewers, the ratings were down 19 per cent compared to the previous year.

To accommodate a three-hour ceremony, select categories will be presented during commercial breaks. Winning moments will be edited and later aired during the broadcast.

The moves are likely to be controversial, particularly the decision not to televise certain awards and the creation of the popular film category.

In particular, it’s unclear if financially successful films will now get the cold shoulder from voters assessing the year’s best picture because blockbusters have been given their own award.