The Central Coast Mariners are demanding a public apology from Fox Sports following on-air criticism of a tackle made by their captain, Nick Montgomery, that resulted in a red card during Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.
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Montgomery was criticised by members of the network’s commentary team, who inferred that the Mariners midfielder was reckless in his challenge on Wanderers forward Golgol Mebrahtu.

Former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan was especially scathing of Montgomery’s tackle, saying he showed no duty of care towards a fellow professional, particularly one who has worked hard to rebuild his career. Mebrahtu has only just returned from successive knee injuries.

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was also furious with the nature of the tackle, but the Mariners issued a statement saying they were flooded with feedback from supporters about the negative television commentary.

“On behalf of our members, players and staff the Central Coast Mariners have today issued a formal complaint to Fox Sports Australia and Football Federation Australia in regards to inappropriate comments against our club and players following our most recent match against Western Sydney Wanderers,” the statement read.

“The Mariners have been inundated with members expressing their concerns and demanding that the club takes appropriate steps to ensure that the integrity of the Mariners and its players are protected against unwarranted and totally unfounded comments.

“This was also raised officially by the club’s supporter groups who recently held meetings with Mariners chairman Mike Charlesworth.”

Central Coast Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said the club felt they needed to act accordingly after such a reaction from their fans.

“When we receive such a clear message from our members that the club needs to take a stance we are obliged to do so,” Mielekamp said. “There are lines that we believe have been crossed and feel a public apology is the most appropriate outcome as the club must stand up for our players who are unfairly targeted. If these comments were made by a referee there would be an immediate fine but seems that those rules don’t apply when talking about a players integrity.”

Despite being contacted by the Mariners, the FFA said they had no position on the issue and believed commentators and fans were entitled to fair and reasonable debate on contentious issues.

“FFA has received a submission from Central Coast Mariners about comments which have been interpreted as unfair towards a Mariners player,” an FFA spokesperson said. “Commentators expressing their opinions are generally not subject to FFA’s jurisdiction. Responsibility for the opinions aired rests with the commentator and the broadcaster.

“FFA does not wish to inhibit the fair and reasonable debate about incidents in A-League matches, as this forms part of what makes the competition so interesting for fans.”

Fox Sports was sought for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

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Talent: The first ARTEXPRESS exhibition opens on February 5 at Western Sydney University. It will be followed by other exhibitions including at Maitland Regional Art Gallery from September 10. Picture: Max Mason-HubersAMARA Woods’ personalreflectionon mental illness has earned her a place in one of the state’s most prestigious art exhibitions.
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Intricate: Amara’s work.

The Swansea High student, 17, has had her work selected for ARTEXPRESS, a showcase of the best projectscompleted by NSW visual arts students as part of last year’s Higher School Certificate.

“I was jumping around my house, I was so happy and felt very proud of myself and the work I put in,”Amara said of being included in the exhibition.

“All the sleepless nights, the stress and the effort had finally paid off.”

Amara used her experimental artwork to exploreher grandmother’s experience of living with schizophrenia and how it had touched the rest of her family.

“It’s been a very strong influence in my life,” she said.

“It’s something that is always present at barbecues and family get-togethers, but it’s not something that we talk about very often.

“My relationship with my grandmother is also very strained at times, in our conversations there’s a list of things that we avoid talking about.We don’t bring it up.”

Amara used oil and acrylic paints, charcoal pastels, inks, pencils andfelt tip pens to create “intense, intricate” drawings across a piece of arches paper.

“I stitched wool into the paper and drew knitting needles and patterns to represent the deterioration and unraveling of relationships and the mind,” she said.

Amara also madetwo concertina books, to represent how the subject ofschizophrenia could be “closed off”in family discussions.

She said the work was neither positiveor negative.

“It’s more just about conveying what it’s been like for me,” she said.

“I think my family were interested to see that I was talking about it and expressing how I felt.

“My mum draws a lot of pastel works as well so she was offering me advice.”

Amara has always been an enthusiastic artist and as a primary schoolerwould spend lunchtimedrawing in her sketch pad.

Amara willbegin a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Newcastle this year and is considering transferring at a later stage into medicine.

She will continue practicing art as a hobby.

Students from Lambton, Whitebridge, Maitland Grossman, Merewether andTomaree high schools also had their work selected.

The Nauru detention centre. Photo: Angela WylieA leading international human rights group has blasted Australia’s asylum-seeker policy as “abusive” and says a serious rethink is needed to restore the country’s standing globally.
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Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s most prominent rights campaign organisations, has said in its yearly report that Australia, while having a solid record on civil and political rights, was failing to respect international standards for asylum seekers and this was taking “a heavy human toll”.

The report also blasts new counter-terrorism laws, which had bipartisan backing from the major parties, as “overly broad and vague” – though that broadside was also aimed at a range of other Western nations.

In a statement accompanying the report, the organisation’s Asia director, Brad Adams, said that Australia had done “little to redeem its reputation” regarding asylum-seeker policy in 2015 despite international criticism.

“Australia needs to seriously rethink its abusive refugee policies and take steps to restore its international standing as a rights-respecting country.”

The report highlights a number of developments it says merit criticism, including the Coalition government’s “personal and unsubstantiated attacks” on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs.

It also singles out continued boat turn-backs, the gagging of Immigration Department contractors, the payment of cash to people-smugglers, the failure to resettle asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea, and evidence of sexual assaults on Nauru.

Mr Adams said Australia’s new counter-terrorism laws raised human rights concerns, particularly with the lack of legal safeguards in the new legislation that strips citizenship from dual national terrorists.

“Measures such as stripping citizenship from dual nationals without basic legal safeguards are major steps backwards for Australia,” he said.

The wider report, scrutinising human rights practices in more than 90 countries, said the “politics of fear” led many countries to wind back civil and political rights.

“Fear of terrorist attacks and mass refugee flows are driving many Western governments to roll back human rights protections,” said Kenneth Roth, the organisation’s executive director. “These backward steps threaten the rights of all without any demonstrated effectiveness in protecting ordinary people.”

Mr Adams said Australia’s own shortcomings undermined its own ability to call for stronger rights protections abroad including through its lobbying for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018.

And he added that Australia rarely tackled other countries on human rights abuses, particularly nations with whom it cooperates on border protection or has a significant trade relationship.

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Salim Mehajer leaves Auburn council chambers on Wednesday. Photo: Dominic LorrimerLess than six months since his “wedding of the year”, Salim Mehajer and the Auburn City Council convened for potentially the final time.
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The council met on Wednesday to respond to last week’s announcement by Local Government Minister Paul Toole that he was giving the council 14 days to show why it should not be suspended.

Its planning decisions will come under a review by Sydney silk Richard Beasley.

An attempt by George Campbell, a member of the council’s minority bloc – the “poor four”, as Cr Mehajer has dubbed them – to welcome the minister’s move and ask that innocent councillors be spared punishment was a non-starter.

In the end, the council’s “super six” instead voted for a compromise solution.

In a response drafted by its lawyer, the council resolved to be on its best behaviour, co-operate fully with Mr Beasley’s inquiry and to refrain from all major planning decisions if allowed to keep running.

But there were some subtle swipes at the state government and muted protestations on the way.

The deputy mayor spoke against the suspension but only briefly.

“We don’t understand what the concern is,” Cr Mehajer said, regarding Mr Toole’s reasons for moving to suspend the council.

Hicham Zraika, a member of the council and Cr Mehajer’s ally, offered the most strident defence of the council’s much-criticised majority grouping.

“It would be laughable if those who are viewed to be guilty are exonerated,” he said.

Mr Zraika was last month expelled from the ALP for disloyalty. He had earlier been suspended for “unworthy conduct”, including allegedly falsifying meeting minutes. He is appealing the decision.

The council’s mayor, Le Lam, said she welcomed the inquiry but suggested it was orchestrated by council’s minority group.

“Giving information to the public and the media is how the whole thing instigated,” she said. “Now, by the end of the day, everything can come out fully.”

The minister’s letter made reference to only one case of alleged wrongdoing by the council, the sale of a council carpark to Cr Mehajer in a private deal that Fairfax Media revealed was apparently discounted by up to $5 million off its open-market value.

“It’s got to be more than that,” Cr Mehajer said. “The letter just doesn’t guide us.”

Cr Mehajer also placed on record that the car park, which a family company has applied to turn into a 100-unit complex, was in Lidcombe not, as Mr Toole had said in his letter, in Auburn.

A range of councillors, many of whom, like Cr Mehajer, have local property interests, have also been revealed to be connected directly and through relatives in a range of business ventures that have not always been disclosed to council.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for February 17.

It remains to be seen whether it will take place.

There is no timeframe for Mr Toole to respond to council’s submission.

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Damien Tudehope, who will chair the parliamentary hearing into the ICAC. Photo: Supplied ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham gives evidence at a parliamentary inquiry last year. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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The chair of a parliamentary committee preparing to quiz anti-corruption chief Megan Latham over the investigation of Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen has issued questions to her weeks before the hearing, signalling a fiery line of inquiry.

Liberal MP Damien Tudehope has taken the unusual step of writing to the commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption asking her to respond to questions – including the amount spent on legal fees on the Cunneen matter – by February 4.

Mr Tudehope sent his letter to Ms Latham on January 15 without first discussing the move with other members of the parliamentary oversight committee, as would normally be the case.

It comes after Ms Latham clashed with Mr Tudehope’s committee in August last year, when she refused to answer questions about the Cunneen investigation, arguing the matter was beyond the committee’s powers.

The committee is preparing to grill Ms Latham and senior commission officers on February 11 following a scathing report by the Inspector of the ICAC, David Levine, into its bid to investigate Ms Cunneen.

The ICAC sought to investigate an allegation, denied by Ms Cunneen, that she tried to pervert the course of justice by advising her son’s girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to fake chest pains after a car accident to avoid a breath test.

It abandoned the investigation after the High Court ruled it was beyond the ICAC’s jurisdiction.

Inspector Levine found the episode was a “low point” in ICAC’s history and it had engaged in “unreasonable, unjust, [and] oppressive maladministration”.

But the ICAC claimed Inspector Levine’s report contained legal and factual errors.

In his letter, Mr Tudehope asks Ms Latham if there is a “manual” governing how the ICAC conducts private and public hearings and to provide a copy if one exists.

He also asks for any “policy document” governing the rights of witnesses and details of the process for issuing search warrants and how the ICAC handles complaints against it about alleged leaking to the media.

Apart from Ms Latham, the inquiry witness list includes ICAC solicitor Roy Waldon, executive director of investigation Sharon Loder and executive director of corruption prevention Robert Waldersee.

Inspector Levine’s report revealed Dr Waldersee advised against proceeding to a full investigation of Ms Cunneen as it was not within ICAC’s remit, but the contrary view of Mr Waldon and Ms Loder prevailed.

Inspector Levine and NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb are also due to appear.

On Wednesday, Mr Tudehope said his questions were “standard questions on notice and cover matters which I believe may arise before the committee”.

“I do not believe the questions are unduly provocative,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the ICAC declined to comment.

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