Monthly Archives: June 2019

Flanagan gets sponsor’s invite to Masters

BELMONT’S Nick Flanagan will be one of seven Hunter golfers in the field at the Australian Masters starting at Royal Melbourne on Thursday after being granted a sponsor’s invitation.
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Flanagan took to Twitter on Sunday night to notify the world of his inclusion, after finishing in a tie for 14th with a three-under 281 (75, 68, 67, 71) at the Australian PGA at Royal Pines.

‘‘Thank you @PGAofAustralia for a great week. Awesome event and truly appreciate the support every year!,’’ Flanagan tweeted.

‘‘And thank you @AussieMasters for the late invite to next week’s event. Royal Melbourne! Yewwwww.’’

Flanagan will join fellow Newcastle and Hunter professionals Nathan Green (Toronto), James Nitties (Charlestown), Aaron Townsend (Charlestown), Leigh McKechnie (Waratah and Newcastle), Brendan Smith (Belmont) and Ed Stedman (The Vintage) at Royal Melbourne.

Another Masters starter will be American Casey Wittenberg, the former Walker Cup representative whom Flanagan defeated to win the US Amateur Championship 10 years ago.

■ Muswellbrook master blaster Kurt Barnes is on track to retain his card on the Japan Tour, climbing to 63rd on the money list after tying for 18th with a two-under 282 (67, 71, 70, 74) at the Heiwa PGM Championship at Miho Golf Club in Kasumigaura at the weekend.

Barnes, who tied for third with a six-under 207 (72, 66, 69) at the Bridgestone Open a fortnight ago, needs to finish inside the top 70 to sidestep qualifying school.

■ Ageless former Manly, NSW and Australian forward Steve ‘‘Beaver’’ Menzies and Catalan Dragons teammate Scott Dureau were among the celebrity players at the Cure For Life day at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley last Friday.

Organiser Kane Bradley said about $18,000 was raised, and it would be shared between the Cure For Life and Mark Hughes Foundation charities.

‘‘It was a great day and we’re already looking at a similar event next year,’’ Bradley said.

Menzies, who turns 40 next month, has finally retired but is contemplating having another season with the Sea Eagles next year – if they are interested in having him.

One of his Australian Test jerseys, which he signed, went for $750 at the memorabilia auction.

He and Dureau took their turn behind the microphone answering questions and telling stories, as did guest of honour Mark Hughes and former Knights teammate Danny Buderus.

Current Knights players Jeremy Smith, Robbie Rochow, Alex McKinnon and Chris Houston played a round then hung around to speak to guests during lunch.

Bradley said the winning team had 17 under off the stick for a nett score of 46.5.

The Cure For Life charity was established to find a cure for brain cancer. Hughes had a malignant brain tumour removed three months ago and is undergoing radiotherapy.

■ Denman’s Cameron Norman won the Paterson Open at his first attempt on Saturday, shooting a seven-over 71 around the par-64 nine-hole course.

Mark Jackson, from Paterson, won the A-grade nett with 58 after a 74 off the stick.

Paterson committee member Brent Eslick was a popular winner of the B-grade nett trophy with 88 off the stick for a nett 60.

■ Hunter River District Golf Association are still taking entries for the Ambrose Fours tournament at Muswellbrook on Sunday.

HRDGA honorary secretary Zig Grzanka said nominations for the final event on the calendar for 2013 were due to close yesterday but he would accept late entries this week on 49345311 while he waits for clubs to submit their forms.

■ The week-long Myall Summer Classic is in full swing at Hawks Nest despite heavy rain on Sunday’s opening day.

A total of 230 starters began yesterday’s opening round and the second round will be played today.

Nick Flanagan

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Ashes 2013: Matthew Prior set back by calf injury before first Test

Matthew Prior has been ruled out of England’s final tour game before the Ashes, casting further doubt on his chances of lining up next week for the first Test.
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The England wicketkeeper and vice-captain has been diagnosed with a ”low-grade tear” of his left calf and is racing the clock to be fit to take the gloves at the Gabba.

His injury has paved the way for Jonny Bairstow to make his return to the England side for the tour game against a Cricket Australia invitational XI, though the 24-year-old, who was exposed by Australia during this year’s Ashes series, has big shoes to fill.

Prior, who is third on his country’s all-time dismissals list and averages 42 from 72 Tests, is much admired by England’s brains trust for his leadership and dependability as much for his ability behind the stumps and with the bat.

”He’s been a massive part of our success. He’s vice-captain of our team, he’s an important bloke in the dressing room – the way he talks to the guys – not just the stuff he does on the field,” said batsman Ian Bell. ”If he’s fit, he plays, there’s no doubt.”

Prior hurt his calf during the tour game against Australia A last week in Hobart and will spend the next nine days receiving treatment. The visitors are confident the veteran gloveman will be able to play.

”There’s still a bit of time. Matt’s got himself in fantastic condition for this tour and he’ll be very good with his rehab, so we have very faith that he’ll be fully fit for Brisbane, but it gives someone an opportunity in this game,” Bell said.

That someone is Bairstow, who played as a specialist batsman in the first four Tests of the Ashes before being dumped. Bairstow passed 50 just once from seven innings at a modest average of 29 and is yet to play a game this tour.

There are question marks over Bairstow’s ability at international level; former England captain Michael Vaughan, writing for London’s Daily Telegraph, says he should not even be on the tour.

”He has a serious technical issue with his batting that he needs to iron out away from the glare of an Ashes series,” Vaughan wrote in September. ”His backlift is too inconsistent … He is still a young kid with plenty of talent but he has to solve that problem if he is to have a sustained international career.”

Bell hinted Andy Flower had all but settled England’s top six but Bairstow could help his chances of a call-up later in the Ashes with a strong showing this week. ”I don’t know if he can force his way into that just yet, but if he got 100 in this game it’s a great place to be if anyone does lose form,” Bell said.

England are expecting Kevin Pietersen to play on Wednesday. Pietersen has been battling a knee injury that required a cortisone injection on Sunday.

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Transurban bids for Sydney tunnel

Pre-emptive strike: Transurban intends to buy Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel. Photo: Jim RiceTransurban is hopeful of buying Sydney’s failed Cross City Tunnel within the coming months for a total outlay of about $500 million, in a deal that will cement its position as the city’s toll-road king.
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Australia’s largest toll-road operator has also declared interest in buying Queensland Motorways, which operates five tollways in Brisbane, should its owner decide to push ahead with a sale.

Transurban made a pre-emptive strike on Monday in its attempt to buy the Cross City Tunnel by purchasing debt in the asset for $475 million from its sole senior secured creditor, Royal Bank of Scotland.

Built for about $1 billion, Cross City Tunnel has attracted only a fraction of the predicted traffic.

Transurban had previously made clear its interest in buying the 2.1-kilometre tunnel, which would fit well with its other toll-roads in Sydney such as the M2, M5, M7, the Eastern Distributor and the Lane Cove Tunnel.

The Cross City Tunnel, which was placed in receivership in September for the second time in eight years, runs under Sydney’s central business district and is linked to the Eastern Distributor.

Transurban boss Scott Charlton said the company hoped to buy the tunnel for $500 million, including stamp duty. This is a price we think represents value for the Transurban shareholders,” he said.

He emphasised the synergies Transurban could realise by operating both the Eastern Distributor and the Cross City Tunnel, as well as the other roads in its Sydney network.

Even if a higher bid emerges, he said Transurban would still make a material profit on the purchase of the tunnel’s debt. He expects the purchase of the debt to be completed by December, and is hopeful for receivers to finish the sale of the tunnel by February or March.

Transurban expects the tunnel to generate ”very moderate growth” over the long term, and would continue to toll motorists.

Analysts said it was unlikely a higher bid would emerge.

Macquarie Equities analyst Ian Myles said Transurban was buying the tunnel for a ”great price” by removing the likelihood of competitive tension emerging from other bidders. But he said the tunnel was ”not a must-have in their portfolio”, and agreed that growth in traffic would be modest.

”The east doesn’t go west. Until you get those in the eastern suburbs to go to more than the fish markets, the tunnel’s growth has got some constraints,” he said.

Transurban will make a further payment to Royal Bank of Scotland of up to $27.5 million over four years in the event that the tunnel’s traffic is better than its own best assumptions.

The deal has not altered Transurban’s guidance for this financial year of 34¢ a share.

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Orica profit of $602 million pleases investors

Diversified chemicals company Orica expects to lift its profit for the current financial year, despite subdued market conditions and weakness in its underground tunnelling and drilling division.
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Orica reported a net profit of $602 million for the year to September – up 49 per cent from a year earlier when it had a $247 million write-down against its Minova business.

But excluding last year’s write-down, its profit was down 7.5 per cent year on year.

The profit numbers were well received by the market, with investors pushing shares up $2.27, or 11.6 per cent, to close at $21.81.

Orica supplies chemicals and explosives used in engineering, construction and oil and gas projects around the world. Its mining services division has been impacted by slowing global demand, as well as a push away from coal towards gas in the US market.

Orica said subdued conditions remained in explosives, excluding key mining markets such as the Pilbara in Western Australia and Africa, where growth was expected to continue.

The company declared a fully franked final dividend of 55¢ a share, up 2¢ on the same time last year.

Chief executive Ian Smith described 2013 as a below-average year and he expected a higher net profit in the current year.

He warned volatile market conditions could continue.

Orica’s full-year sales revenue was $6.9 billion, up 3 per cent from 2012. Its earnings before interest and tax was 4 per cent lower at $985 million.

Orica has been responsible for several chemical leaks from its plants in Botany and Kooragang Island in NSW. Last month, it was accused of trying to keep secret a report into whether mercury was leaking from its former chloralkali plant, which operated in Botany for almost 60 years.

Chief financial officer Craig Elkington did not comment on the claims but said it was working with officials from the NSW Environment Protection Authority and had improved its community engagement at both sites.

Orica also announced on Monday it had entered a three-year agreement with Esso Australia and BHP Billiton to purchase natural gas from Longford from 2017.

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Packer’s Barangaroo casino gets nod

CASINO.971105.VC.MEL.AFR.picture by Valeriu Campan.Melbourne Crown Casino***FDCTRANSFER***The NSW government late on Monday gave the green light to James Packer’s plan for a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.
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NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has announced cabinet approval for a VIP-only casino as part of Mr Packer’s $1.5 billion resort at the harbourside development site.

Legislation to allow a second Sydney casino licence will be introduced to Parliament this week.

Mr O’Farrell said approvals were still needed from gambling authorities and the planning department.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would need to approve Mr Packer’s company Crown as a suitable casino operator and plans for the six-star hotel resort would need planning department approval.

”We support this proposal because of its economic benefits for NSW,” Mr O’Farrell said.

The gaming facility will be allowed to operate at the Barangaroo site from November 2019.

The agreement for the casino includes no low-limit bets on table games, no pokies and VIP gaming only.

The government said licence fees and gaming taxes would reap a guaranteed minimum of $1 billion over the first 15 years of the casino.

Mr O’Farrell defended the step that puts Sydney on the path to becoming the only Australian capital with two casinos. ”This is about high-worth individuals engaging in gaming,” he said. ”It’s estimated – and on the basis on Crown’s Victorian experience – that 5 per cent of local gamers would use this facility, but these are people who would gamble between $300,000 and 400,000 a year – clearly beyond the means of most people.”

The decision marks a setback for Crown’s competitor, Echo Entertainment, owner of the Star casino at Pyrmont. Echo has an exclusive casino licence in NSW until November 2019, and had argued the NSW government should approve a $1.1 billion expansion proposal, including an extension of exclusivity until 2034 in return for a payment of $250 million.

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