Disney’s search for a diamond in the rough to play Aladdin hits a snag

Casting the lovers in a live-action Aladdin has proved difficult for Disney. Photo: DisneyWanted: one street urchin, with the profile of a prince, and a physique that matches, beneath the dirt and patches, a diamond in the rough.
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The role? Prince Ali, fabulous he, Ali Ababwa, someone who can make the crowds in Agrabah genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee.

Easy, right? Apparently not. The US studio Disney has, according to reports, hit a snag in its pursuit of a star for the planned live action version ofAladdin.

Released as an animated feature in 1992 and based on the storyAladdin and the Magic LampfromOne Thousand and One Nights,Aladdinis the story of a poor street urchin who finds a magic lamp, releases a genie and is granted three wishes.

According to a report inThe Hollywood Reporter, the studio Disney and director Guy Ritchie have been searching for months for the right actor to play Aladdin but have so far come up empty handed.

Among those considered were actors Riz Ahmed (Rogue One,The Night Of) and Dev Patel (Lion,The Newsroom).

The report states the studio is looking for someone of “Middle-Eastern or Indian descent” to playAladdin and Jasmine (both Ahmed and Patel are British actors – Ahmed’s parents were born in Pakistan while Patel’s parents were born in Kenya and are of Indian descent).

In total more than 2000 actors have now read for Aladdin and Jasmine, the report says.

As a result, filming has been delayed.

A planned start date in July won’t be met, which means production in the film will be pushed in the second half of 2017.

Finding a Jasmine has been slightly easier -The Hollywood Reportersays Naomi Scott (Power Rangers,Terra Nova) and Tara Sutaria (The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir) – are possible contenders, but because of chemistry the two lead roles have to be cast together.

To put some context onto why it’s important to get it right, imagine watching aRaiders of the Lost Arkin which Tom Selleck was playing Indiana Jones?

That very nearly happened, until Harrison Ford was cast in the part; the rest, of course, is cinema history. (And about $US2 billion in box office.)

How about Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly inBack To The Future? Stoltz was cast and filmed about half of the movie until he was replaced with Michael J. Fox.

Or David Schwimmer as Agent J inMen In Black? (The role eventually went to Will Smith.) Leonardo DiCaprio as Patrick Bateman inAmerican Psycho? (That went to Christian Bale.) Or even Dougray Scott asWolverine? (Hugh Jackman eventually got the part.)

So what’s at stake? Money, and lots of it.

Disney dipped its toe in the genre in 2014 with a live action filmMaleficent, based on the 1959 animated filmSleeping Beauty. It pulled $US758 million at the box office.

Then the studio produced a live action remake ofCinderellain 2015, directed by Kenneth Branagh. It pulled $US534 million at the box office.

It might have seemed like an investment of diminishing returns, were it not for the recent animation-to-live-action adaptationBeauty and the Beast, which cost $US120 million to make but has so far pulled in $US1.26 billion at the box office.

That of course, changed everything.

How much of that pivoted on Emma Watson playing Belle and Dan Stevens the prince-turned-beast who is redeemed by winning her unconditional love is anyone’s guess, but in a town like Hollywood casting has always been the key.

Dev Patel was reportedly considered for the role of Aladdin. Photo: Getty Images

Having tapped a new vein of revenue, Disney has plans for almost a dozen animation-to-live-action remakes, with titles such asThe Little Mermaid,The Lion King,Mulanon the list.

Using some loose mathematics, we couldeven build an algorithm that says the live action remakes have about three times the box office potential of their animated forebears.

Beauty and the Beast, for example, pulled $US425 million in animated form and has taken in roughly three times that as a live action feature.

SoAladdin, having pulled around $US504 million the first time around, could be looking at something in the $US1.5 billion range at the live action box office.

Which means there is an even bigger payday on the horizon for Disney, and its name isFrozen.

With the original was worth $US1.3 billion in animated form, could Disney be dreaming of a US$3.6 billion payday?

This is why it’s called ‘doing a Queenslander’

Winners when it counts: Queensland triumph late in game two, 2017. Photo: Getty ImagesIf you’re from Queensland then you already know that you have the superior State of Origin team.
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And you already know that dominance is built on a defiant, never-say-die attitude.

No Thurston? Who cares. The Maroons always step up when it counts. And now we have the data to prove it.

Fairfax Media has crunched the figures on the 109 State of Origin games to date, and what’s clear is just how dominant Queensland have been in what US sports broadcasters call ‘the clutch’ – those key moments when the game or series is on the line.

Proud tradition of success: Wally Lewis, Allan Langer and Gary Belcher in 1987. Photo: Fairfax Media

The numbers paint a bleak picture for the Blues and revealQueensland’s empire is built on two pillars: dominating the second half and dominating game three.

The overallpicture​There have been 35 completed three-game Origin series, plus two individual matches in 1980 and ’81, and two matches this year (for the purposes of this exercise we’re ignoring the California excursion of 1987).

Queensland have won 22 titles to the Blues’ 13, while the overall games tally and points scored remains relatively close.

Comeback kingsWatching Origin can sometimes feel like a David Attenborough documentary on repeat.

Off skip the New South Wales gazelles, frolicking happily as they get out in front, only to be mown down by eternally ruthless Queensland lions.

The data supports this, with NSW having actually led at halftime more than Queensland.

As we saw in Game II this year, the Maroons are justifiably famous for their never-say-die attitude.

Thirteen times Queensland have been behind at half-time only to go on to win the match, compared with eight for NSW. The Blues have never come back from more than six points down at half-time to win. Queensland have done it four times.

Winning the tight onesWhat do Cooper Cronk, Allan Langer and Mat Rogers have in common?

They’ve all kicked field goals that won Queensland an Origin. Actually, Cronk’s done it twice.

Of course, not all game threes mean that much. Out of 35 completed three-match series, there have been 17 dead rubbers and 18 series deciders, when Queensland again go up a gear.

The Maroons have beenthree timesmore likely to win in game threes that count.

But it gets worse for Blues fans. Because this chart leaves off Queensland’s wins in the first two Origin titles, which were only one match.

And there have been two draws in Origin history. Both came in game three and resulted in drawn series. But both times Queensland was the defending champion, and so retained the trophy.

Taking this into account, there have been 20 times when both teams showed up at the ground with honours even and the trophy on the line. Queensland have taken home said trophy 16 times.

So can someone remind me again why NSW are favourites for Wednesday night?

Jackie Gillies preparing for life beyond Real Housewives Of Melbourne

AMBITIOUS: Jackie Gillies has plans to take her Shine It Up events around the country and create her own TV show. Picture: Simone De PeakNEWCASTLE reality star Jackie Gillies has plans to launch her own TV show outside of The Real Housewives Of Melbourne.
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Gillies and her husband, Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies, were back in Newcastlethis week to receive the key to the city from Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Fort Scratchley.

Thebizarre civic ceremony was filmed for the upcoming season four of TheReal Housewives Of Melbourne. The reality TV showhas giventhe professional psychic a mainstream profile since itslaunchin 2014.

Several of the other Real Housewives cast members -most notably barrister turned-actressGina Liano – have developed their own brands beyond the Foxtel series.

Gillies, 37, already has a successful psychic reading business and a pre-mixed cocktail brand (with her husband),but she has grander designs.

Last weekGillies launched Shine It Up, a motivational speaking eventat Docklands in Melbourne, which was filmed for Real Housewives.

“Shine It Up with Jackie is where I talk about how I’ve manifested the life I have,” the gregarious Gillies tells Weekender. “I’m a visualiser, I believe your thoughts create your reality and I’m just trying to empower men and women.

“I did my first show in Melbourne with300 people there and a lot of people came from Newcastle to come and see.

“I gave psychic vibes and my next step is to create my own show and go around and empower men and women.I’ll also look at creating my own show outside of Real Housewives.”

Jackie GilliesReal Housewives, alongsideLiano,Janet Roach and herarch nemesisLydia Schiavello.Season three ended in explosive fashion, when Gillies accusedSchiavello of spreading gossip andcheating on her husband Andrew Norbury at the Logies.

Lawyer Venus Behbahani-Clark and businesswoman Sally Bloomfield have joinedthecast for season four and Gillies said tensions have dissipated since last year’s fiery finale.

“I’m getting along well with the new ladies and they’ve really shaken up the cast well,” she says.“I will tell you, season four is a pisser.”

Gillies’ localfans will be particularly interested to see how Newcastle is portrayed on the show. And you can rest assured that Gillies’ lethal tongue will lashany of the other women if they dare criticise the city.

“I’m really protectiveand as the seasons go if anybody ever says anything about Newcastle, I’m coming back at you,” she says.

“I said to the producers, ‘that Newcastle is such a beautiful town’ and some of the production guys haven’t been here, so when they did they said ‘Oh my god it’s so magical and beautiful,everyone is so down to earth.’

“We walk around in shirts and thongs and that’s who I am. I really wanted Newcastle to be showcased on the Real Housewives of Melbourne, for four years now, and we finally got here.”

Newcastle Jets beat Weston Bears in pre-season trial

The Jets take on Weston on Tuesday night. Picture: Todd BlackwellJets coach Ernie Merrick was happy with the hitout but said his side looked “rusty” in a 2-0 win over NPL club Weston on Tuesday night.
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Striker Roy O’Donovan looked sharp on debut for Newcastle andfinishedoff a fine team goal in the 15th minute to open the scoring.

Daniel Georgievski, playing at Weston Park in his first game since the A-League grand final, looked classy at left back, and Dimitri Petratos showed flashesof quality.

But Merrick was not exactly thrilled with his side, even if theywere only two weeks into pre-season, had trained Tuesday morning and“weren’t fresh”.

“Blowing out the cobwebs. A bit rusty. Patches of good play,” he told the Herald after full-time.

“Some boys are still getting used to the way I want to play. Clean sheet, scored two goals, hit the crossbar.

“I think we should have done better, though, but I’m always expecting better.

“I have to say the Weston boys put up a really good battle and were probably unlucky not to score.”

Steve Piggott’s young Bears are last in the NPL but showed plenty of discipline and were far from disgraced.

The first goal came when right winger Petratos cut back in and floated a left-ball ball to Andrew Nabbout, whose neat half-volley cutback found O’Donovan for a tap-in.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley should have scored 20 minutes later with a free header at the far post, but the ball ballooned over the bar.

Petratos hit the bar with aleft-foot drive after being well picked out by impressive youth team centre back Pat Langlois.

He then rounded keeper Kane Runge with delightful footwork to put the Jets up 2-0 early in the second half before Merrick replaced most of his starting side.

The Jets were missing centre back Lachlan Jackson, midfielder Devante Clut and defender Nick Cowburn on Olyroos duty. Steven Ugarkovic and Nigel Boogaard were out injured.

Jets starting team: Duncan; Hoffman, Langlois, Topor-Stanley, Georgievski; Koutroumbis, Kantarovski, Brown; Petratos, O’Donovan, Nabbout.

Mayfield apartments under $500,000 snapped up off the plan

Property Watch: Apartments under $500,000 Artist impressions of the Diez Apartments under construction in Mayfield.
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Artist impressions of the Diez Apartments under construction in Mayfield.

Artist impressions of the Diez Apartments under construction in Mayfield.

Artist impressions of the Diez Apartments under construction in Mayfield.

Artist impressions of the Diez Apartments under construction in Mayfield.

TweetFacebookLast chance to buy off the planTHE hunt for affordable housing and property investment has meant the yet-to-be completed Diez Apartments at the east end of Mayfield are moving off the market at a rapid rate.

Just one two-bedroom apartment remains for sale along with five one-bedroom apartments in the complex of 20 at 10 Maitland Road.

A formidable team has come together to bring the project to fruition, architecturally designed by EJE Architects, built by Whitehead Property Group and being sold by First National, the complexis attracting a mix of permanent residents and investors according to First National’s Luke Murdoch.

“You’ve got Mayfield pool, the skate park and Dangar Park all down the road and you can jump on your pushbike and ride to Nobbys Beach,” Mr Murdoch said.

Its central location, almost adjacent to Hunter TAFE’s Tighes Hill campus, and proximity to transport, schools and shops makes it an attractive buy to those looking be a part of the area’s ‘urban renewal’ according to Mr Murdoch.

“I think Mayfield is finally being seen for the inner city suburb that it is,” he said.

“It used to be that the managers of BHP all built mansions to live in and then the workers came and built cottages so it was a real mix of properties.

“The regentrification has been happening for a while now and this is an opportunity to get an apartment under $500,000 within five-to-10 minutes of the Newcastle CBD.”

The construction has started with the complex expected to by complete within 12 to 18 months.

NovoPen Echo insulin cartridges recalled in China

A NovoPen Echo insulin cartridge.Six batches of NovoPen Echo insulin cartridge holders have been recalled.
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Authorities believe there is a risk that they may crack or break if exposed to chemicals in certain cleaning agents.

People who use a cracked or broken cartridge holder could be delievered a smaller dose of insulin than expected leading to high blood sugar levels, potentially putting the person at risk of hyperglycemia.

Novo Nordisk has advised that if people clean the pens as described in the User Guide, there is no reason that cracking of the cartridge holder will occur.

The batches involved are:

The recall only relates to some batches of the cartridge holders and there are no reported problems with the insulin being administered.

People with diabetes who use a NovoPen Echo should immediately check the batch number.

What to do if you are using an affected NovoPen EchoDo not stop treatment without consulting your doctor.Register your contact details (name, address, phone number, email and number of affected cartridge holders) either viawww.novonordisk苏州夜总会招聘.auor atwww.novonordisk苏州夜总会招聘/novopenecho5.htmlin order to receive a replacement cartridge holder. A replacement should arrive in about seven days.You should measure your blood sugar levels as instructed by your health care provider and more frequently if symptoms of too high or too low blood sugar levels develop unexpectedly.In the event that you experience symptoms of too high blood sugar levels involving this product, contact your doctor for advice.Report any adverse events or complaints to the NovoCare Customer Care Centre, which can be reached at 0800 733 737 or via email at [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.

Ray Speechley disappearance: where was the dog unit?

Where was the dog unit when Ray went missing? Ray Speechley, right, his wife Jan, top left, and a memorial.
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Mrs Speechley keeps asking the same question: “where are you?”. Photo: Robert Peet

Jan Speechley displays a hand-drawn picture of her beloved Ray. Photo: Robert Peet

The Speechleys on their wedding day.

Ray’s daughter Nikii Smith and his wife, Jan Speechley.

Hayley Speechley described her ‘Pop’ as a kind and genuine man. Picture: Adam McLean

Raymond Speechley, 77, was last seen in July last year at a retirement home on Ruth Place, Dalmeny.

A memorial cross to Mr Speechley, built by the Narooma Men’s Shed, has been erected near the place where he was last seen.

A search dog called Rufus has joined the search effort for Ray Speechley.

A search for missing man Ray Speechley organised by his family took place west of the Princes Highway, Dalmeny, in October last year. Photo: Nikii Smith

TweetFacebookJan Speechley goes to sleep each night looking at ahand-drawn picture of her husband Ray’sface.In the morning it’s the first thing she sees.

She eyes up Ray’s likenesswith frustration sometimes;other days she has only tenderness for him. Always -for more than a year now -she asks him the same question: “where are you?”.

Raymond Speechley, 77, was last seen in July last year at a retirement home on Ruth Place, Dalmeny.

Mrs Speechley was 16 years old when her path crossed Ray’s at TAFE’s West Wollongong campus, where she was studying to become a stenographer andhe, a boilermaker.

At 18 they went to the same dance, before she let him walk her home to her Narooma door.They were married at age 19 and spent57 years, nine months and 10 days together, until the day Ray scaled two fences to get clear of aSouth Coast nursing home, made it to the Princes Highway,and vanished.

The Speechleys on their wedding day.

Now Mrs Speechley, 78, must live without Ray. She has collapsed a few times from the stress of his disappearance. Recently she sold the South Coast home they had shared,with its views of the ocean, and moved to a more modest house in Albion Park so she couldbe close to her Illawarra-based son and grandchildren.

Once the fog of her earlyshock lifted, it all seemed so avoidable. Ray had changed with Alzheimer’s, but she had only placed him in the home –an IRT facility – for temporary respite. She had visited him about an hour before he disappeared.

Read more: Missing people of the Illawarra

Despite theabove-and-beyond effort of individual local officers, she questions why the NSW Police Dog Unit wasn’t brought in, in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s vanishing. She says it was a month before two police dogs – one of them a cadaver dog -searched the bush near where Ray was last seen.

“They did have SES and some firefighters searching (initially), but it was nothing of the scale that at it was a month later. Why wasn’tit done sooner?” Mrs Speechley said.

“For us as a family, it was wrong. Those first days are crucial, and that’s what we lost.”

In a short statement, a NSW Police spokeswoman cited “operational reasons” as cause for delaying the dog unit.

“There were a number of operational reasons the Dog Unit was not called at the earlier time during this investigation and NSW Police Force and other relevant parties have spoken to the family of MrSpeechley directly about these reasons,” the spokeswoman said.

“The matter is now before the Coroner and NSW Police Force will not be commenting further on the incident.”

Alerted to her husband’s abscondment, Mrs Speechley was returning to the nursing home when she saw a red car parked in a strange position beside the highway. Something about it caught her eye, but there was nowhere to turn around. By the time she came back to it, the driver was pulling away with someone in the passenger seat. Could it have been Ray? The question plays on repeat.

“I beat myself up every day for not getting the number plate,” Mrs Speechley said.

The Speechleyshave turned to the new not-for-profit Sydney Search Dogs to carry out further searches of the area.Mrs Speechley wonders if her husband could have gone into one of the area mines.

She knows in her heart that Ray is not alive. If he were, he would have made it back to her by now.

Atnight she hears him calling to her. She cannot sleep sometimes because of it.She remembers their teenage courtship –the dance, and how he walked two kilometres out of his way to take her home that night, with her brother chaperoning. How they traveled the world andmade a family together.

“He was gorgeous, he was gentle, he was lovable. He was funny. He was just lovely to look at,” Mrs Speechley said.

“Even to the end, he had a special way of looking at you, with a mischievous look on his face. He was just so special, to me anyway.”

“For it to end the way it did is heartbreaking. I just want to bring him home now, and put him to rest.”

An artist drew Ray’s picture as part of a campaign by the Missing Persons Advocacy Network–Unmissables – which aims to help jog the memories of the public and reignite interest in the missing.

Mrs Speechley keeps the picture close. Ray looks out from the frame, still a hint of mischief behind his eyes. He’s there for thesleepless nights and to ask until an answer comes: “where are you?”.

Illawarra Mercury

Getting good at building resilience

FIRE UP: In the cauldron of emotions that was Suncorp Stadium NSW forged a new chapter in character-building defeats.SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive
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If State of Origin proves one thing, it’s that sport builds resilience, and that’s a good thing, although it didn’t feel that way about 10pm Wednesday night.

It might also suggest that sportis an inverted pyramid where the majority of Blues supporters are united in failure, but that might sound bitter and I’m not bitter.

I’m resilient, because what else are you gonna do after the greatest game of the Greatest Game Of All turned out simply not the best for disheartened New South Welsh people?

It’s certainly highligted the fact that when it comes to sport, a few get to win and the rest get to develop character, which in the greater scheme of things, doesn’t really matter, although it obviously stings because I’m still banging on about it.

Reflecting on the freshly crushed optimism of the Cockroaches, yet again, you have to applaud Queensland and marvel at the great theatre of sport and how fickle the finger of fate can be.

It reminded me ofthe exquisite cruelty Knights rookie Brock Lamb experienced last weekend with hisshanked kick against the Bulldogs. He’dnearly steered his team to victory but bombed an in-goal grubber with a minute to go which enabled Canterbury to run the length of the field and go ahead. All seemed lost for Lamb but thegreat scriptwriters in the sky gave him a chance to redeem with apenalty after the bell.

Thoughts turned to Johnathan Thurston lining up a kick from the sideline with a broken shoulder to win the second State of Origin this year. So much at stake, so much pressure, and JT puts it over the black dot, later saying that when the opportunity came he was excited to deliver.

Lamb might have hoped for a similar fairytale but the scriptwriters had a second bitter twist in store.

He butchered the kick and the Knights lost leaving us all to reflect on what a character-building season it’s been.

And that’s no criticism of Lamb because he’s a good young player who’s kicked heaps of goals before and will kick more in the future. But resilience sprang to mind, because we all have these moment.

I was reminded ofa D-grade basketball match way back when. I got fouled on full-time and had two free throws to win the match. My time to shine. Obviously not Origin, but it’s all relative.

The moment was not lost as I took up position at the stripe, telling myself I CAN DO THIS! The first shot, which would have won it, may have hit the ring. I can’t remember becauseit was forgettable. The second shot I’ll always remember because it was so forgettable.

Itarced off the hand, curling in slow motion towards its destiny, like Icarus towards the sun, and with greatness beckoning, exploded like the Spaceship Challenger just short of the ringin a starburst of air-ball mediocrity.

Onthe spectrum of efforts cometh the moment it does not get much lower. Unless I someday throw two airballs in a game of some consequence.

Not to worry, though, because it’s how you react that matters most and I think I quietly groaned for an hour or so afterwards and even now shake my head. Indeed, it’spossible that air ball gave me a twitch. But life goes on and you console yourself that at least you put yourself in a position to blow your chance to be a hero.

That’s how I’m rationalising State of Origin this year, again –another character-building opportunity to build reslience as we move ever forwards in hope.

Majority of federal MPs refuse to sign up to Tony Fitzgerald’s ethical standards

Corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald is part of a push to clean up Canberra. Photo: Greg WhiteFewer than a quarter of federal politicians have agreed to commit to new ethical standards devised by legendary corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald – and there is not a single Turnbull government MP among them.

The former judge teamed up with the left-leaning Institute think tank to survey every federal politician on their values as part of a plan to clean up Canberra and build momentum for a federal anti-corruption body.

The Queensland QC –whopresided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry that ultimatelyled tothe resignation of former state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen– developed the questionnaire to test MPs about their attitudes towards accountability, integrity, nepotism,deception and the spending of public money.

But the response from MPs was underwhelming, with just 53 of the 226signing up to the so-called “Fitzgerald Principles”. Thirty-six refused to commitand 137did not reply to repeated requests to participate.

“The refusal of a majority of politicians to commit publicly to normal standards of behaviour puts the need for an effective anti-corruption commission beyond doubt,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The major parties surely realise that the public wants politicians to behave honourably and thatthe scandals which are causing ns to lose faith in democracy involvetheir members.”

Thirty-eight members of the ALP agreed to the principles, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten andshadow attorney-general MarkDreyfus.Sevenmembers of the n Greens signed up, as did allfour members of the NickXenophonTeam, two independentsand One Nation’s Pauline Hanson.

No Coalition MPs – who are often instructed not to take part in surveys – signed up.

Institute deputy director EbonyBennettsaid polling shows a majority of ns support establishing a federal anti-corruption commission with the power to hold public hearings. “A federal ICAC would help restore the public’s eroding faith in federal politicians and institutions,” she said.

Under current rules federal ministers are required to uphold a Statement of Ministerial Standards that insists on “the highest standards of integrity and propriety”.

However there is no code of conduct covering other federal MPs or senators.

Thirty-sevenprominent ns have joined Mr Fitzgerald’s push, including high-profile barristersRobertRichter,Geoffrey Watson,Brian Walters,KristineHanscombeand StephenKeim.

The principlesare also supported by former NSW DPP NicholasCowdery, ACTU president Ged Kearney,former NSW Parliament speakerand Liberal MP KevinRozzoliand a long list of academics.

The results will be a focus of theAccountability and the Law 2017 Conference to be held in Canberra in August.

The Fitzgerald PrinciplesTo act honourably and fairly and solely in the public interestTo treat all citizens equallyTo tell the truthNot to mislead or deceiveNot to withholdor obfuscate information to which voters are entitledNot to spend public money except for public benefitNot to use your position or information gained from your position for your benefit or the benefit of a family member, friend, political party or other related entity

‘The devil incarnate’: Barnaby Joyce on decentralisation debate

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Andrew MearesBarnaby Joyce says he’s pushing ahead with the Coalition plans to force relocations of government departments from Canberra, despite the policy seeing him cast as “the devil incarnate”.

A day after going to market for a permanent home for the relocated n Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority in his own electorate of New England, the acting Prime Minister said he’s faced opposition for trying to move public service departments and agencies from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne to regional cities.

“So often we have to accept services being taken away from regional centres,” he toldThe Armidale Express.

“It’s amazing the fight I’ve had to deal with in moving services back to a regional centre.

“The Canberra Timeshas basically made me a key feature of their front page.I am the devil incarnate because I dare to have a belief for other places in apart from Canberra.”

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Andrew Meares

The government is seekingbetween 2000 and 3200 square metres of office space in Armidalefor the authority, which is currently working from a temporary office and with an interim chief executive.

The new building must be within 10 kilometres’ radius of the University of New England campus and close to a commercial or retail precinct, with public transport links and car parking.

Despite more than 50 regulatory scientists and former chief executive Kareena Arthy leaving ahead of the controversial forced move, Mr Joyce said it was good news for the city.

“That’s great for the economy, that’s great for the shops in the mall, that’s great for the local district, it’s great for confidence in Armidale,” he said.

The authority is expecting staff to decide if they will join the move to Armidale towards the end of next year, with the final transition completed by July 2019.

Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie talked up the Coalition’s decentralisation agenda in northern Victoria this week, meeting with local councillors and calling for the private sector to invest in country towns and cities.

She said the Turnbull government wanted to help communities in the Indigo Shire – which includes Rutherglen, Chiltern, Beechworth and Yackandandah – to benefit from public service jobs.

“In Melbourne the average price of a house is approaching $1 million. In Wodonga, it’s much more attractive at $375,000 and in Chiltern that drops to an average of $230,000.

“So while re-located staff from Commonwealth agencies and offices would be located in the regional cities, they can live in a very attractive town like Chiltern which is just 20 minutes from Wodonga,” Senator McKenzie said.

Government ministers are beingrequired to justify keeping agencies and departments in their portfolios in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne by next month.

Cabinet will sign off on more forced moves before the end of the year.

Fenner MP Andrew Leigh said regional ‘s development shouldn’t hurt Canberra.

“Barnaby Joyce’s plan to force hard working public servants to move to his electorate will cost taxpayers more and deliver worse services,” he said.

“Pork barrelling jobs to the regions is bad for Canberra and bad for the nation.”

– withMadeline Link