Recall suitor Iron Mountain pays $US45 million to settle with regulator

Brambles spun Recall Holdings last year.Iron Mountain, the Boston-based paper storage giant stalking Recall  Holdings, has paid $US44.5 million to settle a claim that it overcharged US government customers.
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In the lead-up to Christmas, Iron Mountain and its subsidiary Iron Mountain Information Management LLC settled allegations made under the False Claims Act that the company failed to meet its contractual obligations to US government entities.

The US Department of Justice said that Iron Mountain had provided the relevant entities with record storage services from 2001 to 2014 through General Services Administration contracts.

During this time Iron Mountain was alleged to have failed to “provide GSA with accurate information about its commercial sales practices during contract negotiations, and failed to comply with the price reduction clause of the GSA contracts by not extending lower prices to government customers during its performance of the contracts”.

Iron Mountain has maintained a deferred revenue liability based on estimates of the GSA pricing adjustment and said there would be no material impact on its fourth quarter result.

The case was filed in the Eastern District of California under whistleblower provisions that allow private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and receive part of the recovery.

The lawsuit was brought by former Iron Mountain employee Brent Stanley and another former worker in the records management industry, Patrick McKillop.

Mr Stanley and Mr McKillop will share $US8 million of the settlement.

Iron Mountain, the global leader in information storage and management, made a $2.2 billion cash and scrip bid for ASX-listed Recall Holdings earlier this month.

Recall was spun out of logistics group Brambles last year and is Iron Mountain’s only listed peer. Recall rejected the $7 a share offer, saying it failed to adequately share with Recall shareholders the value created by a combination.

After the knock-back Iron Mountain boss William Meaney poured cold water on pursuing further talks with his target, claiming Recall had grossly overestimated the synergies that could be extracted.

There has been no movement on the takeover deal since Mr Meaney’s response, but Recall shares have continued to trade above the $7 offer price, suggesting investors expect another offer will be forthcoming.

Iron Mountain is being advised by Goldman Sachs. Recall is being advised by UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Another hot, dry year for Canberra and more of the same to come

Joel Patton, of Woden, swings over the Murrumbidgee River as he tries to cool off in January. Photo: Jeffrey Chan A late start to the ski season brought some winter snow to the Brindabellas in June. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Canberrans sweated through another hot, dry year in 2014, which weather-watchers say was the ACT’s seventh warmest on record.

The city also had an equal record of three days in which the temperature reached 40 degrees or more – all in January.

The Bureau of Meteorology will not release its official annual review until next week though the trends are already apparent.

The ACT’s total rainfall this year (569 millimetres) was only 8 per cent less than the annual average, but almost a fifth of that fell in a very wet December.

And whereas the year was neither as hot nor dry as record-breaking 2013, Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said Canberrans should brace for more heat in coming months.

“Looking ahead, across January and February, we’re expecting warmer than average temperatures as the most likely scenario,” Mr Sharpe said.

“It’s also slightly more likely that it will be drier than usual.”

 

The bureau says there is a 70 per cent chance that 2015 will be an El Nino year, which in Australia is associated with droughts, high temperatures and bushfires, particularly across the eastern and southern states.

Mr Sharpe said “we’re teetering on the edge” of declaring the climate event.

“We’re experiencing what we call El Nino-like conditions. It’s pretty much an El Nino but not officially. And that generally means we’re likely to see drier than usual conditions here in the east.

“But the other factor working against that is we have warmer sea surface temperatures off the coast at the moment. Because of that, you see more evaporation than usual, and therefore you have more moisture in the atmosphere.

“That’s a fairly large reason why we’ve seen a wetter than usual December throughout NSW, with a lot of thunderstorms.”

Earlier this month, the ACT government released the first detailed projections of how climate change was likely to affect the Canberra region.

The joint NSW-ACT project found the city would experience hotter summers, drier springs and a significant increase in severe fire-weather days.

The warming trend projected for Canberra was worse than that projected for NSW regions.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said the modelling provided “a very clear and stark warning about what our future will be”.

“This is a marked change in our city’s climate, in our region’s climate and the implications are far reaching.”

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, which publishes The Canberra Times.

Sydney eccentric: James Fowler Wilcox

Thirty years before Sydney’s first public zoo opened at Billy Goat Swamp in Moore Park, James Fowler Wilcox had opened a zoo of his own in the heart of the city.
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The enterprising naturalist arrived in Sydney in 1850 aboard the HMS Rattlesnake. The ship, under Captain Owen Stanley, had spent several years surveying the north and south-east coast of Australia, and the south coast of New Guinea, and Wilcox was kept busy collecting specimens for museums in England. Once discharged, he began amassing his private collection, and in 1851 opened shop at 30 Hunter Street.

His menagerie was part zoo, part museum, part emporium, where stuffed specimens were exhibited alongside their still-breathing cousins.  One June afternoon the Herald paid a visit to Wilcox’s establishment, and described “…a small but unique collection of Australian and Indian beasts, birds, and reptiles, from the inspection of which we derived much gratification”.

In far-flung colonial Sydney, the collection must have been a magnet for both the scientifically minded and seekers after novelty. For a small fee, visitors could see such exotic creatures as a cheetah, an orangutan, and a guynee (“a small cow with a hump, which the Hindoo regards as a sacred object”) housed with a Persian sheep. A favourite with the punters was a “formidable” boa constrictor, whose pen was kept humid with a jar of boiling water. “Young ladies declare it be a ‘love of a snake’, but are quite angry that it is not folded up in blankets,’ the Herald reported.

Wilcox had the instincts of a scientist and showman combined. The press made great play of the arrival of a “monster Moruk”, an emu-like bird…lately imported from one of the South Sea Islands and purchased at a high figure by the spirited naturalist of Hunter-street.” The latter announced that the Moruk had swallowed the key to its cage and was not, therefore, likely to escape.

Visitors could purchase live “budgerygars”, stuffed birds and animals “mounted in unequalled taste, and in strictly natural and anatomical positions” and, presumably for those wishing to accumulate their own collections, a range of firearms (including a “walking stick percussion gun”).

The menagerie was also home to Wilcox and his young family during his three-year stint as proprietor, and his wife regularly placed “servants wanted” ads in the papers. Unsurprisingly perhaps, there was a high turnover of housekeepers at the Wilcox residence.

Unhappy new year looms for Australia’s public servants

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz has left himself little room to manoeuvre. Photo: Andrew Meares Public Service Minister Eric Abetz has left himself little room to manoeuvre. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Public Service Minister Eric Abetz has left himself little room to manoeuvre. Photo: Andrew Meares

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz has left himself little room to manoeuvre. Photo: Andrew Meares

The nation’s 160,000 federal public servants, the ones who still have their jobs, will limp into their Christmas breaks, punch-drunk from the toughest year the service has seen in a generation.

And things will probably get worse in 2015.

The redundancies that have been racking the Australian Public Service for three years now show no signs of letting up, making life ever harder for those who are left behind, they haven’t had a payrise in 18 months and probably won’t get one before two years have  passed.

Even then, they’ll get nothing without a fight, never a welcome prospect for one of the more mild-mannered workforces in the Australian industrial landscape.

The only bright spot, and it’s not real bright, is that the Abbott government has admitted, in its recent MYEFO budget update, that it has cut as deep as it dares to for fear of causing economic slowdown.

But that doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to get rough in 2015.

The battlelines for an industrial war were drawn more than 12 months ago.

It’s just that, in true public service style, the opposing sides are taking forever to deploy on the front line.

To recap: the government’s “APS bargaining framework” rules out absolutely any wage increases that are not paid for with cuts to conditions and entitlements.

(The official euphemism “productivity offsets” is a fiction. They are cuts.)

While the Department of Human Services got crazy-brave in July and offered 1.2 per cent, at most, with $250 million worth of cuts, senior bosses across the bureaucracy winced.

“If I made an offer like that, my staff would lynch me,” one agency chief confided while he and others bided their time, waiting to see if something might give.

Something did, sort of. The offer collapsed before a vote could be taken, well and truly sabotaged by the Community and Public Sector Union, whose ambit wage claim is 4 per cent per year. Remember that?

The offers that have made it to the ballot stage in recent weeks, at Employment and the Australian Financial Services Authority, have been run out of town in landslide results. If offers were people they’d have been tarred-and-feathered too.

And AFSA was offering 4 per cent over three years, albeit with swingeing cuts to conditions.

The margins of the no-votes – 95 and 82 per cent respectively – gives us no reason to believe those deals would be palatable anywhere else.

The problem for departmental bosses is that they haven’t been able to cobble together cuts-and-wages packages tough enough to get past the Public Service Commission, Finance Department, and  minister Eric  Abetz, who all need to approve any offer before it can be put to workers.

The effect on all of this of having a new Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, who thinks job security is a quaint anachronism, remains to be seen.

Public servants at big workplaces, such as Defence and the Tax Office, are getting restless. There is no sign of an offer for them, they were expecting something at least this year and, because the bargaining framework bans back-pay, they’re facing an open-ended wage freeze.

It’s starting to look vindictive.

The CPSU has been warning  for weeks about “spreading unrest” but what is unclear is the union’s ability to harness the unhappiness that is so clearly present in public service offices around the country.

The union, for sheer numbers, is not what it used to be.

Even where it is strong, DHS for example, any meaningful industrial action like disrupting Centrelink, Medicare or Child Support Agency payments pretty much guarantees a nasty public backlash.

Besides, it’s just not that sort of union.

On the other side, Abetz hasn’t left himself much room to manoeuvre either.

The minister’s tough rhetoric has worked him into a corner where anything less than a complete acceptance of his demands will be seen as a failure.

In recent weeks, the minister has resorted half-truths, circulating figures showing public servants’ pay has increased 42 per cent in the past 10 years, against consumer price index figures of about 28 per cent.

“The Australian community will have little sympathy for industrial action taken” by public servants who have enjoyed those pay rises, Abetz said, not bothering to mention that 42 per cent is about the same as everybody else has had over the last decade.

The rhetorical shift suggests that Abetz has given up trying to persuade public servants to see it his way and is now tailoring his message to the broader public, painting the bureaucrats as greedy and out of touch.

Digging in, it appears, for a long fight.

As 2015 dawns, we have a minister who can’t or won’t compromise, a union that lacks the strength to force the issue and a workforce wondering where this is all going to end.

None of it points to a very happy new year.

AirAsia flight overshoots runway in Kalibo, Philippines

Jet Damazo-Santos tweeted this photo of passengers leaving the plane via emergency slides. Photo: Twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/@jetdsantosBodies pulled from AirAsia wreckageThe victims on board AirAsia flight QZ8501
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Passengers on an AirAsia flight landing in the Philippines have been forced to use emergency exit slides after the aircraft overshot the runway amid bad weather.

AirAsia Zest flight Z2272 was flying from Manila to Kalibo, in the central Philippines, with 159 passengers and crew members on board. No one was hurt in the incident.

“AirAsia Philippines confirms flight Z2272 from Manila skidded off the Kalibo International Airport runway at 5.43pm (8.43pm AEDT) upon landing,” AirAsia said in a statement on Tuesday night.

“All 153 passengers and crew were able to disembark safely, no injuries reported. All passengers are now at a hotel assisted by AirAsia staff.”

Giovanni Hontomin, who is in charge of AirAsia Zest’s operations, said crew members activated an emergency slide to help passengers disembark safely from the Airbus A320-200.

In pictures posted on Twitter, the plane appears to have landed on a grassed area at Kalibo Airport. Airasia plane overshot runway at kalibo pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/6E4hWUJbS0 — Jet Damazo-Santos (@jetdsantos) December 30, 2014Rappler – a news website based in the Philippines – tweeted the events of the emergency landing, but said no one had been injured.

“Nobody seems to be hurt. Weather was bad because of #senangph Plane came to a very abrupt stop,” she tweeted.

“Engine was shut immediately, we were told to leave bags, deplane asap. Firetruck was waiting. Seems handled well.”

Parts of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Thailand have been battered by heavy rain and flash floods in recent days, killing dozens of people, although it was not immediately clear if the weather had caused the incident at Kalibo.

Reports said Kalibo Airport had closed after the incident.

According to pictures tweeted by Ms Damazo-Santos, elderly passengers on board the flight had their blood pressure checked after they disembarked the aircraft.

AirAsia Zest is a domestic carrier in the Philippines, partly owned by AirAsia Philippines.

On Tuesday afternoon, the mystery of AirAsia flight QZ8501 was solved with the news from Indonesian authorities that the wreckage of the plane had been found in shallow water, with all 162 passengers presumed dead. Just landed in kalibo on an AirAsia flight that overshot runway — Jet Damazo-Santos (@jetdsantos) December 30, 2014 Shoe-less AirAsia flight attendants on the windy, cold tarmac in Kalibo. Can’t wear heels when sliding down. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/PZNTXgLirc — Jet Damazo-Santos (@jetdsantos) December 30, 2014

with AP

Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar draw a blank in 0-0 A-League stalemate

As it happened
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Two sides bereft of confidence and still unsure of where they fit into the grander scheme of the A-League season did not exactly bode well for the kind of contest these two sides have been famous for in recent years.

The stifling Queensland humidity – the kind that makes you sweat even when sedentary – was the winner. The heat acted like a catheter, draining the intensity of the occasion, and reducing the match to a walk by the end.

Perhaps it was reflective of this strange week, where nothing seems to happen at normal pace. Both sides seemed in holiday mode at Suncorp Stadium. It was if they were each still lying prostrate in one of those wonderful post-Christmas lunch food comas.

The scoreless draw at least stops the rot for Sydney FC, a recent run of defeats that has separated them from the top four and out of title contention – if their glut of injuries hadn’t already. For Brisbane, it was another missed opportunity in a season becoming defined by them.

The Asian Cup had further blunted both sides of their midfield maestros, Terry Antonis for Sydney and Matt McKay for Brisbane. They link the play of their respective teams so fluidly and their absence was obvious.

In defence, Sydney fielded two teenagers, Aaron Calver and Alex Gersbach filling the right and left-back roles. Gersbach is still only 17 but looms as a long-term option not just for the Sky Blues. Pleasingly, he is both mature and developing, and, unusually for an Australian, defensively sound.

Big calls are fraught with danger but here goes: he’ll play in Europe one day and eventually become the Socceroos’ first-choice left-back. Sooner than you might think, too. Besides, Jetro Willems was barely 18 when he played all three group matches for the Netherlands at Euro 2012.

The challenge on this occasion was more for Calver, normally a centre-half, to prove his capability. He didn’t do a lot wrong, and battled gamely against Henrique. The tricky Brazilian has been in great form this year.

The injured Thomas Broich would have been a bigger test, however. How Brisbane miss him. But he turns 34 next month and cannot go on forever. They have not replaced him, nor have they have replaced Besart Berisha.

Jean Carlos Solorzano, coming off a double, didn’t look half as good as he did on the weekend in Gosford. Mensur Kurtishi wasn’t even on the bench. And sans McKay, Brisbane looked creatively bereft and hardly energetic.

Smartly, Graham Arnold changed his system for this clash. His two main strikers, Shane Smeltz and Marc Janko, are just too similar. They don’t press enough. They don’t aid the midfield enough. Adelaide had exposed their lack of mobility and a dugout response was required.

Janko was apparently hampered by injury, which could account for his lack of movement, but it was sensible swap that saw Smeltz left alone, although they were changed with 30 minutes to play.

Strategically, that meant a number 10 was introduced into the system. The 4-2-3-1 will eventually suit everyone a little better – especially Alex Brosque and Bernie Ibini – and forced Arnold to play a genuine playmaker.

Milos Dimitrijevic didn’t have a major impact but still looms a possible solution given his technical ability. A pair of gnome-sized grafters, Peter Triantis and Rhyan Grant, sat in front of the back four. Dependable, solid, unspectacular. Grant was relieved after an hour for Chris Naumoff. Triantis was given an extra 20 minutes before Hagi Gligor replaced him.

As the minutes ticked by, Brisbane sensed the urgency. It was such a stodgy game, no more than a goal would be needed to settle it. But this was a match that didn’t have that inevitable goal about it. They’d have to conjure it from nothing.

It didn’t happen. It was never going to. Perspiration, not inspiration, would be the order of the occasion.

James Pattinson tears Sydney Thunder apart

All James Pattinson needed to do to elicit a smile from cricket fans after his comeback match, in the Big Bash League, was to bowl with decent pace and finish the game uninjured.
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He went three steps better, rattling the stumps of Jacques Kallis, Mike Hussey and Andrew McDonald with the new ball in a devastating opening spell that inspired Melbourne Renegades a first win of the season and underlined why he is being primed for a return to Tests.

The Thunder’s paltry score of 6-114 was reached in a canter by the Renegades, primarily thanks to a brisk 48 from 37 balls by captain Aaron Finch and Callum Ferguson’s composed 30 not out from 24. The eight-wicket win, with 37 balls to spare in front of a record non-derby home crowd of 22,018, snapped a streak of five consecutive losses by Victorian teams – the Stars account for three – to start the season.

South African great Kallis had grounds to think he was the victim of an early contender for ball of the tournament when he was comprehensively bowled by Mitch Starc at the weekend. On Tuesday night he received another searing yorker that made him look every one of his 39 years, departing for a second-ball duck.

Pattinson is primarily playing BBL because his national and Victorian coaches think it’s a good stop-gap measure to build up his match fitness until two-day club matches resume in January.

It is no disrespect to Kallis to say his wicket was of less importance of that of Hussey, who is also 39 but still boasts an intensity that players half his age would long for.

In Pattinson’s second over, in which he reached 146km/h with his tweaked bowling action, left-hander Hussey was undone for 10 trying to nudge into the off-side and getting an inside-edge that went off his body into his leg-stump. The right-armer then maintained his record of rattling the stumps in his final powerplay over when his former Victorian teammate McDonald tried to play him into the leg-side and was comprehensively bowled between bat and pad. It was only the second time in Australia domestic Twenty20s  that a team’s top three have all been bowled, which underlined the significance of Pattinson’s penetration.  Pattinson bowled his four overs in succession at the start. Just conceding 24 runs from them would have been acceptable on such a small ground, but his three key scalps made his contribution invaluable. By the eighth over Aiden Blizzard and Eoin Morgan were back on the sidelines, which robbed the Thunder of their last hitters.

The latter marked a sudden shift in mood from the Renegades, as from the previous delivery Ben Rohrer dropped a simple catch off Daniel Hughes, which got Morgan on strike.

Top-scorer Hughes (40 not out) and wicketkeeper Chris Hartley shared a 51-run partnership that stemmed the flow of wickets, although the prospect of a surge in runs evaporated as both are better suited to playing supporting roles, which showed in the partnership coming off 50 balls. It ended when Hartley’s bat got stuck in the turf as he chased a quick single and was caught short by Dwayne Bravo kicking the ball into the stumps in his follow through.

The Renegades’ other five bowlers on the night backed up Pattinson’s superb start by keeping their economy rate under seven per over. The likelihood of a home team victory strengthened when they scored 47 from their powerplay for the loss of only Matthew Wade for 20, bowled by a yorker from Dirk Nannes, a 38-year-old who has lost little of his pace.

That Finch looked back to his fluent-hit best was good news not just for the Renegades but also Australia ahead of the one-day World Cup. Finch’s first two boundaries were particularly impressive.

With the required run-rate of about 4.5 per over from the middle of the innings the home team focused more on not stumbling than they did on entertaining, excepting Andre Russell’s 16 not out from seven balls at the end.

The efforts of Pattinson at the start of the night  ensured the spectators were not shortchanged by the mostly sedate conclusion to it. Team P W L NR T Pts NRR Sixers 431–60.005 Strikers 22—41.852 Scorchers 321–41.129 Hurricanes 211–21.065 Renegades 312–20.133 Thunder 312–2-0.259 Heat 211–2-1.375 Stars 3-3–0-2.098

James Pattinson returns with fiery spell to spearhead Melbourne Renegades’ easy BBL win

Melbourne Renegades pace bowler James Pattinson spent months overhauling his action to prevent his career being curtailed by  back injuries – and he returned on Tuesday  to rip the steel out of the Sydney Thunder batting line-up’s spine.
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Pattinson and a pitch that was going to be tough for the team that batted first on it formed an unholy alliance for the Thunder.

He opened the bowling at Etihad Stadium and, with the final delivery of his first over, Pattinson sent South African superstar Jacques Kallis packing for a two-ball duck when the ball uprooted his off-stump.

In his second over Pattinson – who played a few games of grade to prepare  – dismissed the Thunders’ other heavyweight, Michael Hussey, for 10. He danced with delight as the skipper’s inside edge rocketed between his bat and pad before crashing into his leg stump.

Former Australia all-rounder Andrew McDonald was dispatched to stop the rot. He managed 11 runs before the Pattinson express unleashed an inswinger to finish him off …  bowled.

It was breath-taking and, with the visitors on the ropes, Renegades captain Aaron Finch sooled Pattinson, like an attack dog, for one more over. He tormented the men in lime green but went wicketless. He had  captured 3-24, though, and the Thunder would not recover from his spell.

“Definitely plenty of nerves, I haven’t played for a long while,” Pattinson told the host broadcaster Channel Ten. “But I was just excited to get out here and do something I love.”

Hussey noticed Pattinson’s pre-match nerves but said the former Test bowler needed very little time to overcome them.

“He bowled beautifully,his  three early wickets put us on the back foot,” he said.  “I did detect a few changes in his action as well, so he’s obviously been working very hard on that.

“When he tried to swing the ball the seam was perfectly upright and in the perfect position for the out-swinger and that was a very good sign. He looked like he was getting a little bit more side-on than he has done in the past, he was rocking that shoulder around a bit more – before he seemed a bit more front-on.

Aiden Blizzard, who fought a savage but ultimately fruitless rearguard action in the Thunders’  last-match loss to the Sixers, tried to repeat his heroics. But he was contained by the Renegades’ smart attack before being caught by Matthew Short off  West Indian Andre Russell for 11.

Eoin Morgan came and went quickly,  caught by Callum Ferguson off the Jamaican’s bowling, and the Thunder were 5-47.

After losing the toss and being sent into bat first Hussey noted the impact the “two-paced” pitch had on the Thunder’s effort.

“It reminded me a lot of last year, actually,” he said. “It seemed in the first half it was a bit two-paced and then it ‘skip-on a bit more in the second-half [of the game]. They [Renegades] struggled batting first last year and we founf it easy in the second half  . . . it was certainly tough batting first and they found it easy.”

Daniel Hughes and Chris Hartley worked hard to set a decent target but their partnership was ended by Dwayne Bravo’s footwork. He kicked the ball soccer-style into the stumps to catch Hartley short.   Hughes made  a fighting 40  to help the Thunder set 115 for victory – and the Renegades’ openers Finch and Matthew Wade did their best to mow them down.

The Renegades had rocketed to 36 in the fourth over before  Wade fell, bowled by Dirk Nannes, in the for 20.  Finch and Ferguson joined forces in a smart partnership to take the game away from the Thunder.   Former Test spin bowler Nathan Hauritz was introduced  and after being hit for 14 off his first five balls, he ended Finch’s 37-ball innings when he was on 48.

Pat Cummins was brought on to try to delay the inevitable but Ferguson and Russell put him to the sword and the Renegades chalked up an eight-wicket win.

Daniel Lane stayed in Melbourne courtesy of TFE Hotels, a Sydney Thunder sponsor.

Brandis supports state in battle over coal licences

City hall feuding
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FEDERAL Attorney-General George Brandis and his state counterparts have backed NSW in a High Court battle over coal licences that were torn up in the wake of corruption inquiries into Eddie Obeid and other Labor figures.

Private mining company Cascade Coal and its former director Travers Duncan, along with listed company NuCoal, have asked the High Court to overturn NSW laws stripping the companies of lucrative coal exploration licences.

The laws were passed on January 30, after the Independent Commission Against Corruption said the licences were so tainted by corruption they should be expunged or cancelled.

Senator Brandis and the state attorneys-general have intervened in support of NSW in all three cases, which will be heard together in Canberra on February 10.

The companies and Mr Duncan argue in written submissions the NSW Parliament strayed outside its powers by passing laws that amount to a punishment or penalty. They say this is an exercise of judicial power that can be exercised only by the courts.

But Senator Brandis’ legal team, led by Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, SC, says Parliament has not strayed outside its powers under the Commonwealth Constitution.

‘‘There is no basis in the text or structure of the Commonwealth Constitution, or in state constitutional law, to prevent the NSW Parliament from enacting a law whose operation can also be characterised as judicial in nature,’’ they said.

The companies and Mr Duncan also argue the Parliament acted without power by making findings of corrupt conduct before meting out a punishment.

But Mr Gleeson and his junior, James Stellios, say the laws related to tearing up the licences do not involve the ‘‘adjudgment and punishment of criminal guilt’’ and any prosecutions following the ICAC inquiries are unaffected by the cancellation of the licences.

Separate submissions supporting NSW have also been lodged by the state attorneys-general.

NuCoal says the NSW laws stigmatise the companies. It has noted their ‘‘mum and dad’’ shareholders were also affected by the laws, although they were not a party to any wrongdoing found by the ICAC.

The ICAC had recommended the government consider compensating any innocent person affected by the laws, but the former government of Barry O’Farrell decided against it.

Cascade Coal previously held two exploration licences, including one over a Bylong Valley property owned by the family of Mr Obeid.

Handicap honours for Hickman family

TOUGH GOING: Handicap winner Wild Rose on its way to Hobart. Picture: Carlo BorlenghiBAD weather and broken equipment proved no obstacle to the Hickman family and the rest of the crew aboard Wild Rose as the 43-footer claimed handicap honours at the Sydney to Hobart.
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In his 38th tilt at the bluewater classic, owner and skipper Roger Hickman won his third overall title on Tuesday and got to share it with 13 others on board, including sister Lisa and brother Andrew.

‘‘I’m so elated and feeling fantastic … absolutely wonderful,’’ Hickman said after being presented with the Tattersall’s Cup.

It was far from smooth sailing on the way into Hobart for Wild Rose, with Hickman admitting the final 40 nautical miles were the toughest in his experience.

‘‘Gales, winds, becalm, hail … they say it’s a normal Sydney to Hobart yacht racing,’’ he said.

‘‘It made it really tough because we were losing time on the guys that had finished and gaining time on the guys behind us.’’

And it was not the first nervous moment on board either. When Wild Rose reached Tasmania’s mid-east coast early on Monday, potential disaster struck in the form of a broken steering cable.

It was a blow that made navigator Jenifer Wells think any chance at handicap honours was blown.

‘‘It was looking pretty dicey,’’ she said.

‘‘We got the emergency tiller up and got the kite [spinnaker] down in 30-knot [winds] and repaired the cable and were back on track in 30 minutes.’’

Hickman, though, took it all in his stride.

‘‘It was a learning experience. It was a bit of fun,’’ he said of the broken cable and subsequent emergency repairs.

The boat, formerly named Wild Oats and owned by Bob Oatley, whose super-maxi Wild Oats XI took line honours on Sunday, took handicap honours in the 628-nautical mile race in a corrected time of three days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds.

Hickman, 60, said he would be back for more Sydney to Hobart action.

As the last boat, Southern Myth, reached Hobart on Tuesday afternoon the usual celebrations were muted.

A light plane carrying a pilot and photographer crashed into waters near the Tasman Peninsula on Monday and neither man, aged 29 and 61, have been found. Nor has the aircraft.

They had been photographing the racing boats along south-east Tasmania and the plane crashed within 300 metres of competitor Mistraal.

Crew on board the boat radioed for help and along with six other racing yachts went to help in the search.

The yachts that diverted to assist were praised by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Cameron.

‘‘An ocean race is of secondary importance to the safety of people, and at the moment we are all thinking of those affected by this event,’’ he said.

A search continues. AAP