Hogan still called Australia, and US, home

It seemed an innocuous enough letter, striking a jaunty note amid the dry accounting and legal talk. It is to Paul Hogan from his American manager, Douglas Urbanski, in Los Angeles, and it stands out from the reams of technical detail on the file like a brightly coloured toucan amid a flock of dun-coloured hens.”Dear Paul,” Urbanksi writes on May 3, 2005. ”Further to our conversation last night, I want to reiterate in writing how important this matter is …”The simple fact is that while the world consolidates in many ways, I can not stress strongly enough the need for the physical presence of celebrities to be available where the heart of their business is taking place. The importance of having yourself, as well as our other internationally known celebrity clients, present and available in Los Angeles is more important than ever.”Hogan’s return to Los Angeles is ”an essential tool toward our pursuit of all of the Paul Hogan endeavours worldwide”, Urbanksi adds with a flourish.Just why this letter, revealed for the first time this week, ended up in a file painstakingly assembled by the Australian Crime Commission as part of its Wickenby investigation into suspected tax fraud is a long story.But the short answer lies in a note composed days earlier by the Ernst and Young tax adviser Marcus Davis. Headed ”Paul Hogan Tax Residency” and dated April 19, 2005, it outlines Hogan’s plans to take himself, his wife, Linda Kozlowski, and son, Chance, back to the US to live after three years spent in Australia between July 2002 and June 2005. Davis finds it pertinent to observe that ”Paul has been advised by his manager and other professional advisers that if he wishes to continue his career, he will need to relocate to the US”.Handwritten next to this someone has noted ” letter to come”. Sure enough, Urbanski’s letter arrives, two weeks later. Urbanski flatly denied the letter was solicited by Hogan’s Australian accountant, Tony Stewart, to whom it was copied by fax or email. ”I don’t take instructions from Tony Stewart and I don’t listen to or follow instructions from accountants,” he snapped.But whoever assembled the ACC file must have thought the letter had some place in the mosaic of events affecting Hogan’s shifting tax residency status. With Hogan and his family crossing the Pacific first in one direction, then another between 2002 and 2005, the ACC investigators suspected Stewart of constructing a series of ”false residency windows” – periods in which Hogan was paying tax in neither country.And they suspected the strategy involved retrospectively re-casting Hogan’s move from the US to Australia in July 2002 as only temporary.Thus the ACC schedule of inferences, seen by the media for the first time in court documents released this week, states: ”In 2002-03 the tax advantage lay in telling the US authorities he was coming to Australia permanently; but in 2005 the tax advantage lay in telling the Australian authorities that he came here only temporarily in 2002. Both cannot, however, be the case.”The brief further claims that Stewart (codenamed A3 in ACC documents) ”ultimately intended to facilitate an assertion to Australian taxation authorities that P [the codename for Hogan] was not domiciled in Australia between 2002 and 2005”.Much then turned on what was in Hogan’s mind when he came back to Australia in mid-2002 and whether he genuinely thought he was returning for good. In this respect, the ACC also notes that Hogan and Kozlowski bought a waterfront pile in Vaucluse in July 2002, shortly after their return from the US , where they had been living for some years.Meanwhile, millions of dollars were swirling through a merry-go-round allegedly devised by Hogan’s tax advisers. In one instance, the ACC alleges, an offshore entity called Quatre Saison Trust transferred funds to another Virgin Islands entity called Trelene, which then paid $US5 million to a company called Silverstream Nominees for Hogan’s benefit. The money was allegedly transferred while Hogan was in transit between the US and Australia and was ostensibly for rights to a film never made, Crocodile Dundee IV. But Hogan has reportedly denied receiving the payment.Both Quatre Saison and Trelene were beneficially owned or part-owned by Hogan and were run by the offshore financial advisory outfit Strachans, operated by Philip Egglishaw, a prime target of Operation Wickenby.The ACC alleges that ”A3 [Stewart] and Strachans and Egglishaw through A3 provided financial and taxation advice to P … to evade P’s taxation obligations through tax evasion schemes promoted and facilitated by Strachans”.Other matters attracting the ACC’s interest relate to the tax treatment of a loan from one Hogan company to another.Hogan, his Crocodile Dundee partner John Cornell, and Stewart have denied wrongdoing and have not been charged with any tax offences, despite the length of the investigation.In 2008 Hogan said defiantly from the US: ”Come and get me, you miserable bastards!”Moreover, while the ACC still has Hogan in its sights on other grounds, with more to surface in the courts in August, the ACC has not pursued its claims against him based on the residency dispute. It is understood it notified the Federal Court in mid-2008 that it had dropped that part of its investigation.Nevertheless Hogan maintained furious attempts to keep the documents out of the media. That battle, taken up by Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Herald, and Nationwide News, went all the way to the High Court but ended in defeat for Hogan this week. The court said embarrassment was not sufficient reason to suppress documents that had been admitted into evidence.
Nanjing Night Net

Hornsby raises stakes in north shore apartment battle

KU-RING-GAI residents are fuming over plans for hundreds of apartments in six-storey blocks but further north in Hornsby the council is considering towers three times the size.Thirty kilometres from the CBD and on the edge of the Berowra bushland, Hornsby is classified as an outer-ring suburb, but Sydney’s population growth has convinced the council it has little option but to contemplate developments with densities still rare in most inner-ring suburbs.It has included in its draft housing strategy a proposal for 20-storey towers on five blocks close to the Westfield shopping centre, and within weeks will decide whether to make that draft policy permanent.Many residents are furious and have formed the Stop 20 Group which will hold a public meeting today to protest at a policy they believe would see construction of 20 separate 20-storey buildings dramatically alter the character of the suburb.The mayor, Nick Berman, said he understood the opposition but the council needed a policy on where to put the 10,000 new dwellings it has to take under the government’s policy to deal with population growth.The council had considered adopting a policy like that imposed by the state government on Ku-ring-gai, with four- and six-storey apartment blocks in and around train stations, but there had been heavy resistance from residents who feared apartments in quiet suburban streets. “The first draft had five-storey units in Asquith, Berowra, and Normanhurst and the clear message council received was residents wanted to see unit developments in the existing town centres, but not in low-density areas,” Cr Berman said.While 20-storey towers had angered some locals, most had agreed that if the extra homes had to be built, the best way to do it was to build a smaller number of higher-density buildings, he said.He dismissed as a “gross exaggeration” plans for 20 towers and it was “more like six buildings” containing 599 units, housing 1200 to 1500 people.But a spokesman for the Stop 20 Group, Kim Mullins, said her group “had information” that 20 towers would be allowed if the draft policy was adopted.”We find 20 storeys tremendously disproportionate with even the projected needs and the resulting congestion will have huge impact on the town centre . . . with risks of escalating crime as there’s so little for teenagers to do,’ she said.Cr Berman said one reason for allowing developers to build so high was because it increased the value of the project and gave them a better chance to buy out existing property owners to ensure projects went ahead.
Nanjing Night Net

Wrapped with care, the local option

The state Labor MP Paul Gibson tells a bleak anecdote about the sorely needed nuclear medicine centre he ”opened” some years ago at Blacktown Hospital in the heart of his electorate. Last Christmas he returned to the hospital and asked to inspect the centre, only to find it empty – the promised equipment was never installed.It is one example of the struggle Blacktown Hospital has faced to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and often disadvantaged patient population. Even when the old hospital (which did have a nuclear medicine centre) was rebuilt 10 years ago, a plan for more beds was axed because of budget cuts.Gibson says Blacktown’s safe Labor status means its hospital has a funds drought, while swing electorates such as Penrith have been lavished with a hospital expansion.This is despite the relatively sickly status of his community, whose high levels of cardiovascular disease are combined with the highest rate of smoking- and alcohol-related admissions in NSW.This is where chronic disease, frail aged, mental illness and alienation among young people, and the troubles of young mothers with sickly children, pose problems that often stretch the conventional healthcare that is available.Their plight also highlights the inequities of Australia’s health system, in which so often the carers, whether they are nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists or podiatrists, are scarce where they are needed most.Out of this challenging landscape has emerged the beginnings of ”wrap-around” community healthcare, which has drawn together local doctors, nurses, other health professionals and school counsellors to apply something more than a temporary solution to deep-seated health and social dilemmas.At Blacktown’s neighbouring HealthOne centre at Mount Druitt, state-funded nurses and other health and community workers have joined with federally funded GPs to take a team approach to care.The blight on the country’s primary healthcare is that it is ”disgracefully fragmented”, says a local wrap-around pioneer, Associate Professor Michael Fasher.Connected care is possible and it is happening in ”one of our country’s most socio-economically deprived communities”, he says. He cites Lisa, 24, single mother of Toby, 3, and Jade, 4 weeks (not their real names).The family, recently relocated from the country, have fled a background of domestic violence and child abuse. Lisa is concerned because a recent check has found a delay in Toby’s development and language skills. Lisa herself is exhausted as Jade is an unsettled baby with feeding problems.At the home visit provided to all newborn babies in NSW, the child and family health nurse identified multiple problems. With Lisa’s consent the nurse discussed the issues with the Mount Druitt HealthOne liaison nurse who plays a pivotal role in bringing together the care required.Toby was referred to the child and family team at the state-financed community health centre, and the family GP attends for the initial visit and receives a Medicare payment for taking part in a case conference. Toby is prescribed occupational therapy and language stimulation from a speech therapist.A GP liaison nurse organised breastfeeding support for Lisa, while the family health nurse also kept in touch.As Lisa was found to be at risk of post-natal depression, the liaison nurse met the GP and they organised counselling with a psychologist under a federally funded psychological services scheme. Lisa was introduced to a play group and to a kindergarten. ”Lisa is now less isolated and feels well-supported by her community,” Fasher says. ”The outcome could have been very different.” It all sounds simple and sensible, even with the organisational challenges that Australia’s traditional healthcare demarcations throw up. It is an approach that its advocates hope will be nourished by the Rudd government’s health reforms, which include ultimately a takeover of all community health funding.The aim is to end the divide between federally funded doctors and state financed community health and social services.Organisation is the key, and the pivotal player is the liaison nurse, says one supporter of HealthOne, Tracey MacFadyen, of Dean Park. One of her sons, Kyle, 5, suffers a challenging combination of conditions – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder – which had left MacFadyen at her wit’s end. ”I didn’t know what to do. He was like a wind-up toy. Once he was wound up it was very hard to get him down again.”The condition had also meant Kyle had speech and gross motor development problems impeding his writing. Four months ago MacFadyen attended a HealthOne case conference with her husband, John, that was organised by the liaison nurse at the Mount Druitt centre. The conference involved not only her GP, and the liaison nurse, but also an occupational therapist, and the principal and counsellor from Kyle’s school.As a result, Kyle now has fortnightly sessions of occupational therapy and speech therapy, with both the doctor and a paediatrician kept in the loop, thanks largely to the liaison nurse. All of this is at no out-of-pocket cost to the MacFadyens – a compelling benefit for a family with three young children.This month the federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, met doctors and hospital and community health executives at Blacktown Hospital. She listened to their pleas for more funding and for the locally organised arrangements to be supported under the proposed Medicare Local arrangements.Fasher says he was encouraged by Roxon’s response and her support for collaboration between community health services and GPs. The Mount Druitt scheme has been made possible by the combination of committed GPs and innovative community health executives at Sydney West Area Health Service, he says.The pay-off has been not only increased satisfaction among patients and their carers but also significant decreases in costly hospital re-admissions and longer in-patient stays. But Roxon has been given a hint of the trials ahead in applying reforms that will challenge the predominance of hospitals and Medicare-financed doctors who have little financial incentive to practise wrap-around care.The changes are now unlikely to be legislated before the federal election if it is held later this year, and it now appears unlikely Western Australia will agree, because of its refusal to release 33 per cent of its GST revenue. A Senate inquiry, which this week uncovered the fact that the Commonwealth and states have agreed to dump a national authority proposed to oversee the distribution of health funding, is expected to find more flaws in the reform plan.Some GP and nursing groups have criticised the Medical Local proposals for failing to offer more to encourage integrated care that develops the Medicare model. This would involve not only more routine use of nurses and allied health practitioners but also more involvement with education, housing and other life influences.Even the Australian Medical Association, which has been largely supportive, has raised concerns that the proposed funding structure will not end the blame game, a central point of the government’s promise to revamp health.While the plan would expand the federal government’s role in primary healthcare, it does not make it the sole funder. Details about which level of government will be responsible for many parts of primary healthcare are still to be considered, says the AMA president, Dr Andrew Pesce.HealthOne advocates hope that once the smoke clears, Kevin Rudd’s oft repeated promise for health services to be run locally will finally be met. A veteran crusader in Western Sydney for integrated community healthcare, Dr Di O’Halloran, says its advocates have been hanging out for decades for a system that supports ”wrap-around” care. The World Health Organisation and health reformers all say the same thing, she says: ”’The only way you can do that is at the local level.”’
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Stimulus not delivering value to every school

THE two primary schools are neighbours in Sydney’s west, but that’s where the similarities end. Both were allocated several million dollars through the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution program, but the private school’s ability to manage the projects appears to have paid handsome dividends.The public school spent about $2.8 million constructing four classrooms and refurbishing five other classrooms.At the private school, $3 million was spent on a new hall with stage, a covered outdoor learning area, a toilet block, two special learning areas, a multipurpose library including a soundproof room, a storage area, a staffroom, storage sheds, rainwater tanks, solar panels and an interactive whiteboard.Yesterday the NSW upper house inquiry into the program heard this was not an isolated case. There were other examples where cost blowouts, value for money and discrepancies between what schools wanted and what they got had become an issue.The head of the taskforce investigating the program across the country, Brad Orgill, said that fewer than 1 per cent of schools had complained.”In many cases it has clearly been successful in delivering value for money,” he said.”Has it delivered money in every case? No, I doubt that.”Mr Orgill said that there had been 209 complaints to the BER Taskforce, 129 from NSW.But representatives from the NSW Teachers Federation and the Public Schools Principals Forum said their experience with the program was not always positive.The chairwoman of the forum, Cheryl McBride, said that she had tried to get answers to her school’s budget and why a lift was included in the quote when it had not been built.”[The Education Minister, Verity Firth] has assured that this is the most transparent system in Australia – I can assure her it’s not,” she said. ”I don’t think there is a principal in NSW that has a definitive set of figures that can explain where the money’s gone.”The Education Department’s director-general, Michael Coutts-Trotter, who has responsibility for the NSW upgrades, defended the costs and said about 4 per cent of schools had not had a good experience.But he could not explain the different experiences of public schools compared with Catholic schools.”Some of the concerns that schools have expressed to us have been about the time [required] to make these decisions and also the scope of the choices,” he said.He denied schools and communities had not been engaged in the decision-making process and said that materials used in school buildings were to rigid specifications.The level of detail included ”specifying the type of mortar between bricks so that those bricks can be recycled at the end of the building’s life” and using ”two types of Australian hardwood from plantations that are certified as ecologically sustainable” and special drainage in the concrete slabs in halls, he said.Mr Coutts-Trotter conceded that there had been issues of communication between contractors and school principals.”The quality of communication has been variable,” he said.with AAP
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Petrol costs to rise as unleaded fuel axed

MILLIONS of motorists stand to pay more at the petrol pump thanks to the state government’s decision to phase out regular unleaded fuel.It is mandating the use of E10, a blend of 90 per cent petrol and 10 per cent ethanol, as part of its commitment to promote renewable biofuels.This is despite E10 being proved to be less efficient than regular unleaded. Although ethanol has a higher octane rating, it holds less energy than petrol.That means anyone using E10 could use up to 3 per cent more fuel than normal premium unleaded petrol.Besides, all cars built before 1986 are incompatible with E10; owners of those cars will have to use premium unleaded fuel with a 95 or higher octane rating.That will affect about 100,000 motorists when unleaded petrol disappears.The government has defended the decision, saying it is a necessary response to shrinking oil supplies. “Acting now to develop our local biofuels industry will help to make sure that we have affordable fuel supplies available in the future for all motorists,” a spokesman for the Minister for Lands and Infrastructure, Tony Kelly, said.The NRMA safety expert Jack Haley said the organisation wanted to see the same strategy implemented across Australia.”We support biofuels generally because they reduce our dependency on foreign oil,” Mr Haley said.Octane ratings determine the grade of fuel and how efficiently it burns.But with 91, 95 and 98 octane fuel on the market besides E10, it is confusing for many motorists. Experts say the difference between 91, 95 and 98 octane-rated fuel is about a 1 per cent improvement in power and fuel efficiency per octane rating.E10 now has an unofficial octane rating of about 94 because fuel companies simply add ethanol to 91 unleaded.Mr Haley warned against using the higher-quality fuel if a car is not calibrated for it.”There are very few vehicles around that are designed for 98 octane,” he said.The government said it was considering an awareness campaign before next year’s fuel switch.
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