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    Echo doubles profit on growth in Sydney

    2019 - 07.17

    The Star lifted revenue 39 per cent compared to a year ago. Photo: Ian Waldie The Star lifted revenue 39 per cent compared to a year ago. Photo: Ian Waldie

    The Star lifted revenue 39 per cent compared to a year ago. Photo: Ian Waldie

    The Star lifted revenue 39 per cent compared to a year ago. Photo: Ian Waldie

    Gaming group Echo Entertainment has more than doubled its profit, soaring 110.6 per cent in the six months ended December 31 compared to the same time last year.

    Net profit after tax rose from a year ago to $97.1 million, while revenue grew 25.3 per cent to $1.09 billion, the company said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday.

    Echo chief executive Matt Bekier said the half year finished “well ahead of guidance provided at the AGM”.

    The company forecast a normalised earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation range of $245 million to $260 million, and delivered a normalised EBITDA $261 million.

    Reported EBITDA was $239.6 million, taking into account the $1 million after-tax gain on the sale of Jupiters Townsville and $9 million outlay in the bidding process for the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development against Crown Resorts.

    Flagship casino The Star in Sydney was the key driver of the growth in earnings, Mr Bekier said.

    “The $870 million refurbishment of the property that was completed at the end of 2011, now delivering on the board’s and management’s expectations,” he said.

    “The Star is now in line with the target of $340 million normalised EBITDA set at the start of the redevelopment in 2009.”

    The Star reported an actual EBITDA of $160.8 million, up 19.5 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

    Echo Entertainment’s VIP rebate business, tipped for strong growth in the first-half, reported a 96.7 per cent rise gross revenue to $332.2 million, with a turnover (the total amount bet) of more than $23 billion.

    The company will pay a fully-franked interim dividend of 5¢ per share on March 11, up from 4¢ a year ago.

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    Husband charged over cold case deaths of Rita Caleo and her brother Michael Chye

    2019 - 07.17

    Breakthrough: Dr Michael Chye and Rita Caleo. Pictures: SuppliedA Ramsgate businessman has been charged with ordering the murder of his wife and her brother in Sydney’s eastern suburbs more than two decades ago.

    Mark Caleo, 52, was arrested at his homein Sydney’s south early on Wednesday. He was taken to Kogarah police station where he was charged with two counts each of murder and solicit to murder.

    Police allege Mr Caleo, who operates a tutoring business at Kogarah, ordered for his brother-in-law Michael Chye to be shot dead in the garage of his Woollahra mansion in 1989.

    Police allege he then arranged for his wife, Rita Caleo, to be killed. Ms Caleo was stabbed to death in the en suite of her Double Bay flat. Police allege Mr Caleo wanted her dead because she “knew too much”.

    Mrs Caleo’s brother-in-law, Gerard Caleo, 42, was arrested in relation to the case at Sydney International Airport last August in what police described as a “major breakthrough”.

    Detectives from the Unsolved Homicide Team charged Gerard Caleo with solicit to commit murder, accessory before the fact to murder and accessory after the fact to murder. He remains in custody.

    Wednesday’s arrest is a long time coming for Strike Force Nichola, formed after the deaths of the siblings, whose father was a senior-ranking police officer in Malaysia.

    Dr Chye, 36, was shot three times in a gangland-style execution as he drove his Mercedes into the garage of his house in Attunga Street, Woollahra, on the night of October 16, 1989.

    An inquest into his death in 1991 found that Dr Chye, his sister and her husband had been been involved in a dispute over a $3.6 million waterfront property in Blakehurst, in Sydney’s south.

    Mrs Caleo, 39, was so worried about her brother’s death she handed her solicitor a sealed envelope that read: “To be opened only if my death is unnatural”.

    The envelope contained the names of two people she accused of organising her brother’s execution.

    She was stabbed in the stomach during the night of August 10, 1990, while her children slept in an adjoining bedroom.

    A live-in nanny heard sounds coming from the main bedroom of the unit in Bay Street, Double Bay before finding Mrs Caleo’s body at 1.30am.

    MarkCaleo, was working at one of his two Sydney Italian restaurants at the time of the killing, police said at the time.

    During an unsuccessful bail application at Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday, Mr Caleo’s solicitorSam Macedone told the court the police case was weak and based on “speculations, suspicions and assumptions”.

    Mr Caleo will appear in court again on February 17.

    Detectives anticipate making further arrests.

    with AAP

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    Eric Fitzgibbon remembered as a man of the people

    2019 - 07.17

    Eric Fitzgibbon, pictured with then Prime Minister Bob Hawke after he was elected to Federal parliament in 1984.A crowd of 600 mourners packed St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Cessnock on Saturday to farewell former Cessnock Mayor and Hunter MP, Eric Fitzgibbon.

    Mr. Fitzgibbon, who served as Mayor from 1981 to 1983 and as Federal member from 1984 to 1996, passed away on January 25, aged 78.

    Political identities including R.J. Brown, John McNaughton, Peter Blackmore and Graham Richardson were among the mourners on Saturday.

    On behalf of his family, Mr. Fitzgibbon’s son Joel (the current Member for Hunter) thanked all who have extended their sympathies and best wishes.

    The following is a small part of his remarks at his father’s farewell.

    Joel and Eric Fitzgibbon, in late 2014.

    “Eric Fitzgibbon – he’s one of us”. It was the perfect campaign slogan for our father.

    “He’s one of us” had previously been used by other candidates but along-side Dad’s name it seemed to magically capture who he was and what he stood for.

    And it sent the message he wanted to send – that he knew what it was like to struggle. That he understood the lot of working-class people and those on income support, and he was the bloke keen to give people a hand-up.

    There can be no doubt that our father’s working-class childhood both drew him to politics and shaped his political views. It also drew him to the Australian Labor Party. He loved his party and all it stands for.

    They are the same views he took to the 1968 council election and the same views he used to challenge and shape community opinion through the newspaper column he penned in those days for the Cessnock Eagle under the pseudonym “Aquila”.

    Back then Dad lamented the fact that Cessnock was neither reaching its full potential nor serving its mainly working-class people well.

    He was determined to drive positive change and was particularly keen to address the lack of social and recreational opportunities for the city’s youth.

    All politicians have to constantly strive to strike the right balance between what’s right and what’s popular. Driving significant change is never without its political risks. Dad understood that only too well by the time he was elected Cessnock’s Mayor in 1980.

    He took that risk on projects like the new Sulo bins, the Mount View retention basin, the purchase of the old Kurri Co-Op Store, the basketball stadium, and of course, the sale of the Cessnock Sportsground.

    History treats Eric Fitzgibbon kindly on all of these issues including the sportsground – a proposal which finally came to fruition more than 25 years later.

    But sadly, it cost him both his position as mayor and his seat on council.

    So after 18 years as an elected official, Dad’s political career appeared over.

    But then came along the 1984 electoral re-distribution and with it, an additional parliamentary seat in need of a candidate.

    A hotly contested pre-selection followed and it was not one without controversy with Dad being accused of – amongst other things – buying local party votes by arriving at the homes of voters with a six-pack of beer under his arm.

    It had a happy ending – for Eric Fitzgibbon anyway. He won the preselection and he did so without the support of the party machine which was backing another candidate – although the Party machine’s boss at the time, Graham Richardson, was sympathetic and gave him an unofficial helping hand.

    The 1984 election was not a happy election for the Labor Government. Bob Hawke had gone to the polls early and while he retained government, things didn’t quite go as planned.

    Labor lost a swag of seats and while Dad secured Hunter, it was a tough campaign and a relatively tight local outcome.

    The result left him with a political margin of just 2.4 percent but by 1993 it had grown to almost 14 percent.

    It’s important I highlight this point because he was very proud of it – over four elections his margin grew from 2.4% to 3.6%, then to 8.4% and finally to 13.9%.

    Our father went to Canberra with no objectives other than to hold his seat and to improve the lot of those he represented – the people he loved, empathised with, and championed.

    He never held any ambition to be a minister, but didn’t mind telling them how to do their job and did so to further the interests of his electorate.

    In any case his political margin demanded he give his full and undivided attention to his electorate – and he did so, with energy, enthusiasm, great skill and absolutely.

    He attended every function and every meeting. Whenever someone had a problem he was there for them. Mum shares the credit for his success, more often than not she was by his side – they were a formidable team.

    Eric Fitzgibbon – he was one of us, and we will miss him terribly.

    Joel and Eric Fitzgibbon, circa 1993.

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    Shoalhaven Heads lifesaving looks bright

    2019 - 07.17

    Shoalhaven Heads Surf Life Saving Club members who competed at the recent NSW Country SLS championships at Mollymook, (back) Annika Janos, Leanne Janos, Karen Saad, (front) Taylah Flack, Angus Pryde, Alexis Saaghy and Kasey Flack.SHOALHAVEN Heads Surf Life Saving Clubreturned from the NSW Country Championships recently with a host of medal winners and some enthusiastic first-time competitors.

    Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club held the championships for the second consecutive year on the weekend and the event proved to be very successful once again.

    Shoalhaven Heads Surf Life Saving Club was one of the local clubs who attended the championships with competitors ranging from nippers through to masters.

    Byron Bay Surf Life Saving Club took out the carnival overall with local team Mollymook close behind in fourth.

    Fellow Shoalhaven clubs, Nowra-Culburra finished 11th overall and Shoalhaven Heads finished in 21st position.

    A shining light for Shoalhaven Heads was Angus Pryde who collected three gold medals in the under 17’s division, finishing top of the standings in each of his pet events, the beach sprint, flags and two kilometre beach run.

    It was a big week for Pryde who also competed in the eight day Trans-Tasman competition the week leading up to the Country championships at Mollymook.

    Pryde competed for NSW Country against Central Coast and Northern New Zealand at Warilla, Shellharbour and Kiama Downs Surf Life Saving Clubs.

    “The conditions for the Trans-Tasman’s couldn’t have been better,” said Pryde.

    “It was tough conditions in the water which meant it brought out the best surf life saving competitors and not just the pool swimmers,” he said.

    Pryde faired strongly in the sprints, flags and relay helping his NSW Country team to an overall win for the first time in Australia.

    “We we’re stoked to get the win… it’s the first time we have won on home soil so that was pretty special to be a part of,” he said.

    Pryde has been a member of the Shoalhaven Heads Surf Life Saving Club for a decade and remembers what it was like starting out and competing in the sport.

    “When I get the opportunity to work with the younger members and the nippers I really enjoy it because I remember when I first started competing, I wasn’t the best, I just gave it a go,” he said.

    “Sometimes some of the younger kids can get disappointed with their results and I know what that’s like, so I enjoy helping them when I’m around,” said Pryde.

    Taylah Flack, 10, took part in her first NSW Country surf life saving tournament on the weekend and said it was an enjoyable experience.

    “It was really fun and also challenging,” she said.

    “It was pretty scary and tense cause there was a lot of people there, but we got to meet people from other surf life saving clubs which was good,” said Flack.

    Kasey Flack, 8, and Alexis Saaghy, 10, have both been involved in surf life saving for two years and said that the carnival on the weekend was great.

    “There are so many different activities to do and so many different races you can go in,” said Saaghy.

    Pryde said it is important to see these juniors keep developing and participating in the sport and these carnivals are a great way for that to happen.

    “We haven’t got a lot of kids in the age groups from under 11 to under 14’s, but we’ve got a lot of juniors coming through which is great,” he said.

    “Hopefully the club sees a lot of those juniors who really enjoy the sport to progress through the grades and keep improving.”

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    Group looking for alternate port

    2019 - 07.17

    New port: Free Eyre chief executive office Mark Rodda said all options for a new port will be investigated before consultation began.RURAL investment company Free Eyre is calling for an alternate grain handling and exporting facility on Eyre Peninsula to increase competitiveness in the region.

    The company has argued that South Australia’s grain exporting infrastructure being owned by one organisation, Viterra, has led to escalating costs for growers.

    Free Eyre has sent a survey to grain growers across Eyre Peninsula asking if they were interested in setting up a fund or pool of money for the purpose of investing in an alternate port structure when it becomes available.

    Free Eyre chief executive officer Mark Rodda said the company had looked at alternate grain export avenues during the past eight years.

    “We’ve always believed grain handling and export on Eyre Peninsula has been important to farming in South Australia, and it’s one of the biggest expenses farmers have,” he said.

    “The storage and handling system was owned by growers until Viterra bought it, and no other trader has come in and built an alternate source.”

    In its background paper that was sent to growers, Free Eyre highlighted four possible sites where alternate grain storage and export infrastructure could be considered.

    Free Eyre has seen the bulk commodity shipping proposal for Lucky Bay as having some promise, as well as the proposals for multi-commodity exporting facilities at Port Spencer and Cape Hardy.

    Thevenard has also been highlighted as a possible area with Free Eyre arguing a modern transshipping solution, similar to the one proposed for Lucky Bay, should be considered.

    Finally the Lukin Quays Development at Port Lincoln has also been suggested as a possible site.

    Mr Rodda said all possible sites would be considered and discussed with the shareholders.

    “All have different factors to them, we know at Lucky Bay work is happening there, we’re not sure how fast but it is happening,” he said.

    “From Free Eyre’s perspective, we will look at alternate sites and if one has an economically viable future then we will be involved with shareholders and negotiate the particular outcome with them.”

    About 15 per cent of surveys have been returned so far, but there is early indication for supporting an alternate grain handling port.

    People can call Free Eyre on 8232 9266 for a survey.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名.