Matt Lauer in stoush over New Zealand land

Disgraced US TV show host Matt Lauer is in dispute over public access to New Zealand land he owns.American news anchor Matt Lauer says he’s being picked on because of “difficult times” he’s been through as he defends himself during a stoush over land he’s bought in New Zealand.


The former Today Show host – who was fired by NBC in November over allegations of sexual misconduct – bought a 6500ha high-country station in New Zealand’s South Island last year.

He passed the Overseas Investment Office’s “good character” test to hold onto the land earlier this year, but has now become embroiled in a long-running dispute over public access to the land.

Although the condition’s of his ownership allow for some public access, the country’s Walking Access Commission and Department of Conservation are now asking to put in an total easement on a 40km road that runs through Lauer’s property and into the pristine Hunter Valley – something he would be legally entitled compensation for.

With headlines across New Zealand saying taxpayers could be forking out money to millionaire Lauer for the access, the former newsman took to state broadcaster Radio New Zealand on Tuesday to defend himself.

Lauer said the government was trying to change the rules on him, that he had complied with nearly all requests for access thus far and that the application for the easement was unprecedented.

“I believe the groups that are behind this are in some ways unfortunately taking advantage of some difficult times I’ve been through over the past six months and I think they see me as an easy mark,” he said.

“I don’t know what the problem [is] they’re trying to solve because we have never denied people access who have gone through the correct procedure and called the station and said they were prepared to be on the road and properly equipped.”

Asked if he would look for compensation, Lauer said he would “explore” the notion, but denied he had already asked for a figure in the millions, as suggested in some reports.

“I have not demanded a cent,” he said.

The Walking Access Commission says access is currently at Lauer’s whim and that without full public access, the conservation park on the other side of the land is “essentially unusable”.

Lauer had been the Today Show’s host for 20 years before his dismissal and was reportedly one of the highest-paid news readers in the world.

In March, 2017 he purchased the Hunter Valley Station in Wanaka, which stretches along Lake Hawea.

The property is estimated to be worth $NZ13 million ($A11.95 million).

The dispute has also become a political football in New Zealand, with the government criticising the previous administration for allowing Lauer to buy the land.

Beale ‘on ice’ ahead of Tahs’ rugby semi

Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps says Kurtley Beale (C) can provide the spark needed to create history.Kurtley Beale can provide the spark needed to create some Super Rugby history in Johannesburg for the NSW Waratahs, halfback Nick Phipps says.


The Waratahs have never won a Super Rugby playoff game in South Africa and will be up against it at the Lions’ Ellis Park Stadium fortress in Saturday night’s semi-final.

The Lions have won their past three encounters, including a 29-0 dust up in Sydney earlier this year.

But Phipps is confident the Waratahs can make club history, having already diced with death in a comeback quarter-final defeat of the Highlanders in Sydney last weekend.

The Waratahs scored 24 straight points to book a semi-final berth, with Beale orchestrating their second half comeback.

“KB’s that man for us, he’s our spark,” Phipps told reporters from the team’s Johannesburg base on Tuesday.

“His ability to turn nothing into something and his control … he wants to be in that leadership role and if he’s playing great footy we’re playing great footy.

“So we’ll put the big boy on ice and make sure he’s ready to go.”

Much has been made of the logistical challenge that faces the Waratahs, who barely had time to celebrate at Allianz Stadium before boarding a flight to South Africa.

But Phipps, another to have stepped up in the absence of talismanic captain Michael Hooper (hamstring), isn’t buying into it.

“It’s no big issue; everyone’s in great spirits and quite antsy (after not training on Tuesday),” he said.

“We like to play quick, unrelenting footy (and that won’t change).”

While Beale’s influence on the game is often obvious, Phipps said the more subtle contributions would be also appreciated.

“Those little moments, there’s so many in a game but they’re unseen,” he said.

“Slowing the play down in the bottom of a ruck or putting a head in a dark spot on the try line … the guys all get recognition for those internally.”

SES crew rescues kitten stuck 10 metres up a tree

SES vertical rescue operators in action rescuing the kitten at Mount Keira on Monday night. Picture: NSW SES Wollongong City UnitAn adventurous kitty has beenrescued after it became stuck about 10 metres up atree inMount Keira.


Wollongong City State Emergency Service (SES)volunteers were called to Medway Drive about 8pm after a resident alertedpolice to the kitten’s predicament.

Menno Schaaf, from theWollongong City SES unit, said Rural Fire Service volunteers were initially dispatched to the scene on Monday night, beforethe SES’s vertical rescue operators werecalled in to complete the job.

“They set up a ladder and stabilised it … climbed the ladder,secured themselves and rescued the cat,” Mr Schaaf said.

The SES crew was able to safely retrieve thekitten, aged about four months, from the conifer. Itwasbrought down to the ground –without having to use any of its nine lives.

However, the animal clearly wasn’t fazed by the actions ofemergency services, with the Wollongong SES unit posting on its Facebook page that the kitten was “quickly taken inside before it made another attempted summit of the tree”.

“From my understanding, it was very keen just to go anywhere,” Mr Schaaf said.

“We didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of the kitten; it was just very quickly stranded away back inside before it could make another attempt at anything.”

The SES volunteers were assisted by members of theIllawarra Police Rescue Squad, which was standard procedure for any vertical rescue in the Wollongong area, he said.

Mr Schaaf said it was “not the usual sort of tree” that came to mind when peopleimagined a cat being stuck upa tree, with conifers rather dense in terms of foliage.

“We’ve rescued people out of gum trees and that kind of thing before and certainly having a straight trunk up makes it easier to climb the tree,” he said.

“We’ve got arborists who are part of the unit as well, who have assisted police with rescues up gum trees and climbing them using those sorts of techniques.

“They’re just not possible on these sorts of trees, so really the only option is that ladder leaning against it and doing it that way.”

MrSchaaf said theadventurous kitty, whosebreed was unknown, had been about 10 metres up the tree and “still has all of its nine lives” followingthe successful rescue.

Illawarra Mercury

Ken LongworthWeek of uni revues

LEGAL LAUGHS: The Law Revue, Clerkships: I Know What You Did Last Summer can be seen at Civic Playhouse.TWO of this year’s student-produced University of Newcastle revues are being staged in Autonomy Week, which celebrates the university getting independent status in 1965 after being a college of other NSW universities for 14 years.


The revues highlight the talents of Newcastle University students in putting together and staging bright shows looking at many issues through comedy, song and dance.

The Uni Revue 2018, Stranger Degrees, which involves students from many faculties, will run for 55 minutes, enabling it to be staged at the large Brennan Room in the Shortland Building on the Callaghan campus during meal breaks at 12pm and 6pm from August 7 to 9. It is a free event.

This year’s Newcastle Law Revue, Clerkships: I Know What You Did Last Summer, can be seen at the CBD’s Civic Playhouse. The two-hour show has performances on August 10 and 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets, $25, student/concession $20, can be bought through Ticketek, 4929 1977.

The title Stranger Degrees refers to students who move around the Callaghan campus when the lights mysteriously go out and, while searching for lights, encounter many very different characters. In one sequence, for example, they meet a dark lord, Hippokrampus, and learn that they have to find three items, “weapons of destiny”, to get them out of the darkness which makes their degrees meaningless.

The revue features 12 actors from diverse faculties, among them science, engineering and creative industries, with a large support team. Director Rob Dilley, a Newcastle lawyer who appeared in revues while a student at the university, said 24 brisk sketches are presented between the opening and closing songs.

One, for example, is set in the headquarters of the Seven Deadly Sins, where the students encounter two of the Sins, Pain and Sloth, who, among other things, refer to Newcastle City Council as a “prestigious organisation for real sins”.

Chris Laidler and Suzy Fuller, the directors of Clerkships: I Know What You Did Last Summer, note that the title is a reference to big law firms recruiting a few clerks for the summer period, with the recipients invariably getting a job after they graduate. And the three students who get that work find themselves facing scary things, such as a beauty pageant and a dating act.

The revue, with 18 performers in 30 sketches, songs, videos and voiceovers, makes tongue-in-cheek references to things affecting students, such as the transfer of the law students to NewSpace leaving them without the delicious and inexpensive pies sold by the Callaghan Bakehouse and their search for a replacement.

There is a tongue-in-cheek royal wedding sketch, based on royal bride Meghan Markle having appeared in Suits, the TV show about lawyers.

COMEDY CLASSESRENOWNED female comedian Mandy Nolan has been teaching comedy in her North Coast home town, Mullumbimby, for 20 years, and continues to get full houses for her workshops, generally limiting the number of participants to 10.

She’s now conducting classes in a few other centres, with two workshops and a comedy showcase set for Newcastle on Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12. She previously wowed a Newcastle Civic Theatre audience when she was a member of the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow in 2017.

The first workshop, at the CBD’s Royal Exchange from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, August 11, will be very interactive, with Nolan showing a maximum of 10 participants how to perform their own comedy routines. The participants will return to the Royal Exchange on Sunday, August 12, to show the skills they have learnt in a Comedy Showcase. That performance will start at 7pm and is open to the public. The comedy performance workshop will include a supplied morning tea and lunch. The cost is $230. Audience tickets for the Sunday show are $15, concession/student $10.

Mandy Nolan will also conduct a comedy writing workshop on Sunday, August 12, from 10am to 6pm, at Real Coffee on Darby, 3/269 Darby Street, Cooks Hill. The $195 cost also includes morning tea and lunch. People can participate in the two workshops for a reduced cost of $385. The writing workshop will look at a number of styles, along them satire, dialogue and commentary. Bookings for the three events can be made through trybooking杭州夜生活m.

Knights’ Ponga in doubt for Cowboys return

Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga has suffered an injury during training ahead of his return to Townsville.Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga may not make his much-anticipated return to Townsville after picking up an ankle injury during training.


Ponga had been pencilled in to come back from a hamstring injury against his former club North Queensland but failed to finish the field session on Tuesday.

Five-eighth Connor Watson could also be sidelined with his own ankle issue that prevented him from training, however both players will travel with the team on Wednesday.

Ponga has missed the past two Knights games after injuring his hamstring in round 16.

“His hamstring’s fine but he just rolled his ankle a bit. It’s a bit more precautionary or anything,” Knights coach Nathan Brown told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure what the situation is with it but he’s running freely and his hamstring’s good, which is pleasing. The main thing is his hamstring’s good. We’ll just have to see how his foot is.”

The inclusion of both Ponga and Watson would be a huge boost for a Knights side that has been without their first choice spine since skipper Mitchell Pearce went down in round seven.

And while hooker Slade Griffin is out for the year with a knee injury, Pearce has since returned to lead the Knights to back-to-back wins over the past fortnight.

Centre Sione Mata’utia is also expected to return from an eye injury against the Cowboys.

“It’s good to be bringing some good players back into a team that’s winning a couple of games, if Sione and KP are both able to play this week,” Brown said.

“If Connor can come through and we have those two boys in the team, it’s obviously pleasing to get them all playing together, especially nine, seven, six and one.”

Brown is also confident Ponga would be able to handle the occasion surrounding his return to Townsville given his impressive State of Origin debut this year.

“I would’ve thought he’d do that okay. As long as he keeps his mind focused on the right things. I think going home would be exciting for him,” Brown saiad.

“If you ask KP he’d tell you about the great things he got out of North Queensland and now he’s coming to Newcastle, it’s a new chapter of his career.”

Property of the Week903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Ocean views in Essington penthouse | Property of the week Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle


Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle

TweetFacebook Property of the Week | 903/26 Pacific Street, NewcastleThere is plenty of apartment movement in Newcastlewith multiple projects under construction throughout the city.

But a penthouse on the top floor of Essington Apartments overlooking Pacific Park and Newcastle beach has generated plenty of interest of its own since hitting the market this month.

Ben Robinson, of Robinson Property,is marketing the three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a price guide of $1.4 million to $1.5 million.

It is one of five penthouses occupying the top floor of the building. The last one to be sold was in 2015 for $1.3 million and this apartment has not been on the market since 2007, according to Australian Property Monitors data.

“Those apartments are quite big and they’retightly held,” Mr Robinson said.

“There’s not a lot of movement in that building and hardly anyone ever moves up there in Essington on the top floor.

“There’s a bit of history being the old nurses’ quarters and itis nice and quiet because you’re on the park.

“There are always people who have been looking around for a while that are waiting for homes like this to come up, so I think it’s one of those rare opportunities when they do come up.”

The property will be positioned close to the light rail when it is completed and walking distance to the beach, ocean bathsand harbour.

There are ocean views from the open plan kitchen and living plus each of the three bedrooms.

It is located at 903/26 Pacific Street, Newcastle and open for inspection on Saturday at 11am.

Related content: Local property news

Griffin opts for Peachey as NRL fullback

Penrith’s coach has chosen to put Tyrone Peachey at fullback in a bid to spark his team.The versatility of Penrith star Tyrone Peachey will be put to the test after being named at fullback in a bid to arrest the Panthers’ alarming drop in form.


Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was expected to return from a hamstring injury and assume his spot as custodian for Saturday’s crucial NRL clash against Manly.

But he was instead named on the wing in place of Christian Crichton, with Peachey set to start in the No.1 jersey for the first time in his career.

Veteran forward Trent Merrin has also lost his spot in the starting line-up, with James Fisher-Harris moving into the front-row and Isaah Yeo posted at lock.

The Panthers are in danger of slipping below sixth spot for the first time this season after losing four of their past five games, including a 32-point hiding in Brisbane last week.

Merrin on Tuesday admitted the team had shown signs of complacency during their losing run, as well as being affected by their State of Origin representation.

“It’s been a tough period. Getting the Origin boys back into the team, and trying to build that consistency again, it’s always tough,” Merrin said.

“I think we can take some good things out of the last few games we’ve played.

“We just haven’t been getting the results.”

In other team news, Cronulla second-rower Luke Lewis is set to return from a calf injury for their crunch match against Brisbane.

The Broncos, who are two points below the Sharks in seventh spot, have retained Jamayne Isaako at fullback and captain Darius Boyd in the centres for the second week in a row.

North Queensland big man Jordan McLean could play his first match since breaking his foot in March after being included in an extended squad to take on Newcastle.

The match marks Kalyn Ponga’s first return to Townsville since switching camps over the summer, however he failed to finish Tuesday’s training session due to an ankle injury.

Dylan Walker and Jorge Taufua return from injury for the Sea Eagles against the Panthers, while Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne moves to the wing for their match against South Sydney.

Defending premiers and ladder leaders Melbourne also get Dale Finucane back in their starting line-up against a Canberra side boosted by the return of Joseph Tapine.

For the Warriors, Blake Green and Tohu Harris have been included but they lose suspended prop Adam Blair for their game against Gold Coast.

Slater won’t leave NRL’s Storm hanging

Billy Slater expects to decide whether he’ll play on next year before the finals get in full swing.Melbourne Storm superstar Billy Slater is yet to decide on his NRL future but says this time he won’t leave his club hanging until after grand final day.


The 35-year-old is weighing up whether to extend his decorated career into a 17th season, having made his final representative appearance during this year’s State of Origin series.

Slater last year helped the Storm to the premiership but waited until their end of season awards night to announce that he would play on in 2018.

The Storm are top of the ladder with six rounds remaining and eyeing off back-to-back titles but Slater says that won’t factor into his decision-making.

“I would have thought that I’d make the decision before we get to that,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’ve been fortunate to play in many grand finals, I’ve won four. That’s not going to determine whether I go on next year.

“It’ll be everything. It’ll be my body, it’ll be my mind and whether I feel I can give 100 per cent next year.”

The Storm have enjoyed enviable depth this season with Jahrome Hughes impressing while filling in for Slater at fullback during the State of Origin window.

“It doesn’t impact on my decision but it is great for the club,” Slater said.

“We’ve had guys come through in the past, Cameron Munster, Brodie Croft, young Brandon Smith. The club’s in good hands, obviously doing a great job at recruitment and bringing these young guys in and turning them into consistent first-grade footballers.

“With Craig (Bellamy) at the helm for another three years, it’s in a good position moving forward. It certainly gives you comfort that the club’s going to be competitive.”

Melbourne host 10th-placed Canberra at AAMI Park on Saturday night and Slater said the Storm were well-placed to extend their seven-game winning streak.

“This time of the year, you want to be playing good football,” he said.

“There’s only six games to go until the finals and for us, we’re all back together now.

“Origin’s over, we’ve got a few guys back from injury. It’s about the time that we need to start building on our performances.”

Canberra must move on Williamtown PFAS contamination

Tuesday’s Williamtown hearingIT will be three years in September since the residents of Williamtown’s“red zone” were propelled into the centre ofone of the worst contamination problems that this country has seen.


Over this time, the controversy over the potentially carcinogenicper- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used for decades in firefighting foams has grown, both in its physical scope and its implications.

It is now officially accepted thatPFAS chemical contamination can be found at virtually every airbase in the nation. And not only airbases. Just this week, the Department of Defence announced that an environmental review would be needed at the Singleton army base, with a community information session to be held in Singleton on Friday. Indeed, the deploymentof these chemicals has been so widespread for a range of reasonsthat experts now say that PFAS exposure, if only at very low levels, is almost endemic.

But even if PFAS contamination has become an issue in a range of locations, Williamtown remains the epicentre of a situation that has trapped its victims on a range of levels.

At a public hearing on Tuesday at Williamtown, federal parliamentarians saw and heard the human impact close-up.

With Defence acknowledging that PFAS chemicals were still leaching from the base, residents lined up to tell the MPs on the Defence joint standing committee that they felt betrayed, abandoned, frightened and fed up. With their health under a cloud, and their financial situations ruined thanks to the PFAS-created collapse in property prices, few of those involved are able to leave what has effectively become an unwalled prison.

The federal government is clinging to a report that says there is very little if any evidence to link PFAS exposure to human disease, but this is no assurance for those who are trapped in the red zone through no fault of their own.

No one can change what has happened but we can impact on the future. The only decent thing that Defence and the Commonwealth can do is to buy out those who want to leave at pre-PFAS market rates –at least –and to remediate the area as best as possible. As a nation we are spending tens of billions of dollars on new planes and warships. The least we can do is spend a fraction of this amount toalleviate the impact on the defence department’s accidental victims.

ISSUE: 38,960.

Alleged Qld murderer ‘played the victim’

Lindy Yvonne Williams portrayed herself as a victim of George Gerbic’s violence to cover up her intention to kill him, the prosecution in her murder trial alleges.


Williams, 60, has admitted dumping Mr Gerbic’s torso on the side of a road and setting it alight 80km from their Sunshine Coast home in September 2013.

But she has denied deliberately killing him and cutting off his head, hands and legs.

Williams has claimed Mr Gerbic hit his head on a kitchen benchtop after slipping on blood from a cut on her arm he had inflicted as she tried to defend herself during a fight.

“‘George attacked me.’ He might have ended up with his head cut off, his hands removed, the lower half of his body removed … but ‘I’m the victim in all of this’,” crown prosecutor Todd Fuller QC said.

“George Gerbic was the victim.”

Determining the cause of Mr Gerbic’s death has been impossible given only his charred torso had been located.

The removal of his body parts indicated there was an attempt to cover up his murder, Mr Fuller said.

“The means by which his body was disposed of can lead to only one conclusion – that he suffered a violent death,” Mr Fuller said in his closing submission.

“That his death was done with intention to cause it or cause him a serious injury.

“She can’t explain the way George was dismembered because … she was involved in his death.”

Williams told police after seeing Mr Gerbic slip, she locked herself in a bedroom, emerging the next day to see him on the kitchen floor.

She said she left and returned two days later to find his body missing its head, legs and hands wrapped in plastic in a bathroom – a claim Mr Fuller described as a “most outrageous lie”.

She has denied cutting up his body and said she did not know who did.

The court has heard throughout the trial Williams attempted to cover up her partner’s death by telling friends and relatives he was overseas.

Emails and texts were sent from Mr Gerbic’s accounts after he died to give false updates of his well-being and whereabouts, which Mr Fuller argues were sent by Williams.

“This woman here for 10 months was manipulative, calculating and engaged in a whole episode, with family, with friends, with acquaintances, all to carry out the subterfuge because of what she did,” Mr Fuller said.

Mr Fuller said her claim to friends and police about Mr Gerbic being bisexual, which could not be verified by investigators, was to portray him as “driven to violence”.

Defence lawyer Simon Lewis will give his closing statement on Wednesday.