The Turnbull government has quietly axed eight environmental conditions aimed at protecting vulnerable turtle species set to be affected by Adani’s proposed $3 billion coal terminal expansion at Abbot Point in Queensland.
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The move by the Environment Department, signed by minister Josh Frydenberg on May 10, also modified a ninth condition that required the Indian-owned miner spend $450,000 annually to implement a marine offsets strategy. Those funds will now go to the Reef Trust, possibly from a later date.

“The beaches at Abbot Point are important nesting sites for flatback turtles and the region is a high priority foraging habitat for green turtles,” said Imogen Zethoven, a campaign director for the n Marine Conservation Society. “Both of these species are listed as vulnerable under federal and Queensland law.”

Abbot Point’s environment record was already under a cloud after coal sediment entered a nearby wetland and the company may have breached its temporarily elevated pollution limits during Cyclone Debbie in March.

The Terminal 0 expansion at Abbot Point is vital to service the $16 billion-plus Carmichael coal mine Adani hopes to build – with eager federal and state Labor backing- in the Galilee Basin.

At its approval in 2013 by the Abbott government, then environment minister Greg Hunt declared the 95 conditions to be “some of the strictest” in n history. These included controls on feral pigs and dogs as part of a turtle plan and the offsets strategy to be reviewed every three years – both conditions now cut.

A spokesman for Mr Frydenberg said that description “is still accurate”, with offset liability unchanged and projects that will focus on the same protection issues.

“This change is consistent with the government’s 2013 election commitment to establish the Reef Trust and enable it to deliver offsets on behalf of [the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation] Act proponents.” he said.

Opponents of the port expansion and mine say the changed conditions add to a lengthening list of concessions by the governments of Malcolm Turnbull and Annastacia Palaszczuk.

These include unlimited groundwater rights, a possible federal loan of some $1 billion to link the mine and port, and a potential $320 million royalties holiday expected to be discussed at a state cabinet meeting on Monday. ‘Their request’

An Adani spokesman said the EPBC amendments had been at the government’s “request and direction” to align conditions with the Reef Trust.

“The new condition is not an easing of requirements,” he said. “The same payment amount is required, for the same period and for the same purpose.

But Larissa Waters, the deputy n Greens leader, said “the gifts for this billionaire company from Labor and the Liberals keep stacking up”.

“Will any future breach of conditions be simply excused and waved through?”, Senator Waters said. “Cutting out huge chunks out of Adani’s conditions makes a mockery of Liberal and Labor claims that this project is governed by ‘strict’ conditions.”

Tony Burke, Labor’s federal environment minister, said minister Frydenberg “really needs to explain this one”.

“If there has been any weakening of conditions [under the EPBC Act], I don’t see how that could be justified,” Mr Burke said. “How is it possible for conditions affecting turtles and the Great Barrier Reef to be weakened during a time when the health of the reef has only declined?” Offsets offside

The Queensland government is expected to finalise soon its own report into Abbot Point’s handling of pollution during the cyclone, a category-4 storm the company has described as a one-in-500-year event.

Ms Zethoven said the whole concept of offsets was itself against the World Heritage convention that had signed up for.

The convention states government are supposed to protect or improve sites, she said. It doesn’t say “you can damage here provided you substitute over there”.

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Crossbench kingmaker Nick Xenophon has called on the Turnbull government to abandon any plans to force dumped senators Bob Day and Rod Culleton to repay their taxpayer-funded salaries and allowances.
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Senator Xenophon says it’s “ridiculous” the Department of Finance has sent the pair letters telling them they are required to pay back the salaries, expenses and staff costs they accrued during the time they sat in the upper house invalidly.

Both men are on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite being officially declared bankrupt.

“I think it is a bit ridiculous really,” Senator Xenophon told the ABC on Sunday.

“Whatever you thought of Bob Day and Rod Culleton the fact is they were declared elected. There was a process where they were found not to be duly elected but they turned up to work, they did so in good faith and it would set a very dangerous precedent.”

The government would likely be “throwing good money after bad” by pursuing them given the state of their finances, he said: “I think the Commonwealth has got other ways to better use its resources.”

???The High Court ruled both men were invalidly elected – Mr Culleton because he was bankrupt and Mr Day because he had a constitutionally prohibited financial interest in the Commonwealth due to a complex office leasing arrangement.

Mr Culleton was paid more than $100,000 in salary and superannuation between the July 2 election and the court’s decision in January. Mr Day was paid close to $130,000 between February 2016, when the office arrangement took effect, and his November resignation. Both men also racked up thousands in travel and office allowances, and staff costs.

However the government could choose to waive the debt. The men can apply for an “act of grace” from Special Minister of State Scott Ryan, who would then decide whether the debt should stand or be forgiven. The Department of the Senate could also apply to have the debts forgiven on their behalf.

“There’s a process to go through that any citizen can apply for about the waiver for a debt to the Commonwealth,” Senator Ryan said last week.

The finance department could also decide not to pursue the debt if the men provide evidence as to their “financial circumstances”.

Mr Culleton has angrily described the debt notice as a “politically-motivated attack”. Mr Day has declined to publicly comment.

Labor has demanded the government go ahead with the debt recovery.

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Thousands of dogs across the nation have walked for their four-legged friends in need, in the RSPCA’s annual Million Paws Walk. Some of these pooches are very clever– snapping and posting along the way, with their very own Instagram accounts.
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National Gallery: Paws out for a cause Photo: Instagram @sausagedogsquad #millionpawswalk

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TweetFacebook YOUR PALS: The 2017 Million Paws Walk Pictures: Dogs of Instagram

How it happened last time​ | PHOTOS Watene-Zelezniak bombs a try, catching a ball metres from an open line with a foot raking the sideline chalk. Picture: Fox Sports/Twitter
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Joe Wardle warming up ahead of the clash. Picture: @nrlknights/Twitter

TweetFacebookThe Knights play Penrith at 2pmon Sunday afternoon at McDonald Jones Stadium. You can follow the live match blog here.

Here’s a look back at Robert Dillon’s match report from that Friday night in Marchwhen the two sides met for the first time this year.

The Newcastle Knights were again hindered by head knocks as they crashed to a 40-0 hammering fromPenrith at Pepper Stadium on Friday night.

The seven-tries-to-none victory was partially overshadowed by a 29th-minute incident, when Knights bench forward Jacob Saifiti crashed to the ground after trying to tackle Penrith’s hard-running Sitaleki Akauola.

Saifiti sat dazed on the turf as he was treated by Knights trainer Tony Ayoub.

He was then taken to the dressing room for a head-injury assessment, unlike last week, when Knights fullback Brendan Elliot was allowed to stay on the field after a high shot from South Sydney centre Hymel Hunt.

The Elliot situation and ensuing controversyprompted the NRL to hit the Knights with a $100,000 breach notice, which the club intends to contest.

Saifiti returned to the game for the start of the second half, but soon after Knights hooker Danny Levi also suffered a heavy knock and went off for an assessment.

He, too, returned to the game.

Despite winning only one of their first three games, the Knights were in each of those contests until the 80thminute.

Against Penrith they were simply outclassed and the resultwas virtually sealedby half-time, with Penrith leading 22-0.

Penrith opened the scoring in the fourth minute when skipper Matt Moylan worked a backline move and winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived over in the corner.

Five minutes later, Watene-Zeleniak went within inches of scoring after Penrith created another right-edge overlap.

The home side made it 10-0 in the 21stminute when debutant Corey Harawira-Neara crashed through some flimsy defence, and halfback Nathan Cleary converted.

The scoreline quickly mounted as five-eighth Te Maire Martin and centre Tyrone Peachey scored before half-time.

The Panthers added further tries to Peter Wallace,Dean Whare and Cleary, who also kicked six goals from seven attempts.

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Knights VS Panthers | live blog TweetFacebookAt half-time the Knights were on track to avenge their 40-0 loss earlier this seasonbut it wasn’t to be.
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Post-match press conferencesWhat’s next for Nathan Ross? Nathan Brown says “any number of things could happen” but issue that saw him dropped to NSW Cup is dealt with. pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/64RwpNUPdV

— Matt Carr (@MattCarrNH) May 21, 2017Nathan Brown on big calls against @NRLKnights in #[email protected]苏州夜总会招聘/oPSOOnIxpA

— Matt Carr (@MattCarrNH) May 21, 2017FULL TIMESione Mata’utia on where it went wrong for @NRLKnights in #NRLKnightsPantherspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/x8hGKqyRip

— Matt Carr (@MattCarrNH) May 21, 2017How Nathan Brown sees the 50/50 calls falling against @NRLKnightspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/0qlIG6dBKh

— Matt Carr (@MattCarrNH) May 21, 2017Swing and a missTRY: Moylan makes it a brace after chasing his own kick, putting himself in the right spot to take advantage of an air swing from Dane Gagai.

Penrith had more than 70 per cent of the second half possession, which goes some way to explaining how they’ve shut out the same side that kept them scoreless in the first 40 minutes.

Fans start to spill off the hills asPenrith lead 30-14 with less than three minutes to go.

Saifiti soars, nearly scoresJaelen Feeney pops through the Penrith line and offloads to the big man, who slides through and over the line.

He loses the ball, but a push on Feeney in backplay hands the Knights a penalty. Gagai loses the ball in a tackle and Penrith fans breathe out.

An easy one for Moylan and he gets himself a double!#NRLKnightsPanthers 14-30 with 3 minutes remaining.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/78ELI60REO

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017A big finishTRY: Newcastle need a big finish to claim this one. Brock Lamb attempts to deliver with an intercept, but instead it gives Penrith another six tackles inside the 10.

That’s just enough for Cleary to put the kick through for Watene-Zelezniak to reach it, but his grounding gets sent to the bunker.

Roars from the crowd as it’s awarded. Cleary converts.

Penrith lead 24-14.

Moylan making his markTRY: Matt Moylan keeps the pressure on Newcastle with an angled grubber for the left corner. Another drop-out and Penrith beginning to look likely.

James Tamou delivers, running around the defence to break hearts throughout of the 13,139-strong crowd even before Nathan Cleary slots the simple conversion.

Green light for DWZ! The @PenrithPanthers extend their lead.#NRLKnightsPanthers#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/ROPnyzs6Jx

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017Lucky KnightsA kick off the laces down the right edge catches a grasping Penrith hand –and Newcastle stay on the attack in fertile territory.

Brendan Elliot’s high-ball heroics have kept the Knights the past few minutes, bringing down bombs deftly as Penrith loomed large.

Tamou gets the @PenrithPanthers in front for the first time in the game! #NRLKnightsPanthers 14-18 with 14 minutes remaining.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/KC9f2zHiuE

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017Latu makes it twoTRY: Bench forward Leilani Latu buries over under the posts, and suddenly Penrith are back in the match.

Moylanmakes it hurt

TRY: Trent Merrin stands up from a play-the-ball and takes exception to marker Sione Mata’utia with a potent shove.

Replays indicate Mata’utia’s hand brushed Merrin’s face when he was on the deck, so he returns the favour and Penrith roll on towards Newcastle’s tryline.

Here come the @PenrithPanthers!Game on.#NRLKnightsPanthers 14-12 after 54 minutes.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/0aZt4qmprS

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017…and we’re backJaelen Feeney puts Brock Lamb through a hole early, but the ref calls forward pass. Poor Lamb always seems to be the man with the ball in his hands eyeing the trylinewhen the whistle goes today.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak threatens down Penrith’s right edge but takes the ball into touch on the second tackle.

Moylan gets the @PenrithPanthers going!#NRLKnightsPanthers 14-6 after 50 minutes.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/6vKqOUqqmB

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017Every which way but pointsNewcastle were doing everything they couldto find another first half try, but it wasn’t to be.Several late breaks threatened, most notably when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak spilled the ball to a waiting Sione Mata’utia.

But by the time the Knights skipper had whipped the ball to a wide open Brock Lamb, the whistle had handed the ball back to Penrith.

Some huge positives for Newcastle in that first half –while Penrith had their chances, the Knights had many more. And only one side has bothered the scorer so far.

Newcastle lead 14-0.

Take the twoPENALTY GOAL: Brock Lamb pushes the lead beyond two converted tries from right in front.

Less than five minutes left in the first as the Knights bring it back and Lamb stabs it into touch.

A surging tackle in the subsequent set appears to end with Joe Wardle collecting a lost Penrith ball, but the refs disagree and the visitors keep chasing their first points.

Lamb collects a threatening grubber on his line and the Knights, visibly bunching as the half winds down, escapeagain.

High hit on Peta HikuPenrith are pushing hard for points in the final eight minutes. They’re beginning to find success on the right edge after headingto the left for most of the opening exchanges.

Luke Yates gets a bit of help from the upright to halt a lunge for the tryline beforeKen Sio intercepts.

The big wingermakes it to halfway before he’s dragged down by a powerful Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Mitch Barnett is taken high at the other end and Newcastle elect to take the two.

Chance after magic from GagaiThe fullback put the hammer down with a return on the last, but despite a neat bit of play hiscurling kick failed to find friendly hands.

Waqa Blake almost conjured his own bit of special play, nearly running down a long kick that threatened to stay in-field a bit longer than Ken Sio would have enjoyed.

A Sam Stone knock-on in the next set and Penrith are on the attack –until they lose it 15 metres out. Josh King heads out in lieu of Daniel Saifiti.

Penrith on the attack with 37 minutes gone after a bit of push and shove in a tackle on Matt Moylan. Knightslead 12-0.

Penrith win the penalty, somehowA dubious possession change after a knock-on called against Newcastle metres from the line. It looks suspiciously like a Penrith hand snagged the pill, but the ball is in Penrith hands again.

It ultimately comes to little after an excellent take from Ken Sio sets it up for a half-break from Brock Lamb, but the Knights are unable to capitalise.

The end to end arm-wrestle rages on.

Newcastle make it to halfway and Brock Lamb buries a grubber into touch for a breather.

Injury dramas for the Panthers, with Bryce Cartwright limping and reports it was a groin injury that forced Peter Wallaceto the bench.

Knights hold them offPenrith power into Newcastle’s 20, sweeping left early in the tackle count. The Knights hold despite an overlap on that side on as aPenrith grubber topples into touch.

First tackle of the fresh set and it’s an offside penalty, putting Newcastle back on the march.

A Brock Lamb kicks sits up gently inside the dead ball line, forcing Penrith to play it out and give possession back to the Knights early.

Penalty PanthersThe visitors are making it easy for Newcastle, with the home side again given an ideal attacking opportunity.

Sadly they can’t make it three from three, with a knock-on handing Penrith the scrum feed just inside their own 40 metre line.

12-0, 12 minutes gone.

…and againTRY: Daniel Saifiti pounces on a Danny Levi cut-out pass 10 metres from the line to score under the post, and Newcastle’s off to a dream start.

Both tries have come after Penrith penalties let the Knights get on the attack quickly.

First pointsTRYSione Mata’utia busts through the Penrith line, offloading to Jaelen Feeney who pops it up from the ground to a swooping Brock Lamb.

The @NRLKnights are hungry for some points this afternoon!Saifiti gets a 4 pointer.#NRLKnightsPanthers 12-0 after 9 minutes.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/9fbui56Ryf

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017The early exchangesLamb charges through! Finds the line. The @NRLKnights are in early! #NRLKnightsPanthers 6-0 after 5 minutes.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/gj1ddlUCYA

— NRL (@NRL) May 21, 2017Here we go!Both sides are wearing the Mark Hughes Foundation beanies (which sold out about an hour ago at the ground) as they head out of the tunnel.

Nearly kick-off…So, just to recap –Jaelen Feeney partners Brock Lamb in the halves, with Trent Hodkinson not playing in either NSW Cup or NRL today.

Dane Gagai plays fullback as Brendan Elliot moves into the wing spot left open when Nathan Ross was sensationally dropped to NSW Cup for this week.

Jaelen Feeney.

Jacob Saifiti comes into the starting side for Josh King, with Tyler Randell moving into Saifiti’s bench spot.

Jack Stockwell steps in for Anthony Tupou due to a hip complaint.

Mitch Barnett also returns from an ankle injury today.

How Nathan Ross went in NSW CupJames Gardiner withthe latest from McDonald Jones Stadium.

BEATEN: Nathan Ross played in the Knights’ NSW Cup side in Sunday’s 44-18 loss to Penrith.

NSW CupPenrith held the upper hand in the NSW Cup match, blowing pasta Newcastle outfit including a demoted Nathan Ross 44-18.

Knights NRL line-upchangesInitial indications Trent Hodkinson may play appear to have been premature, with Jaelen Feeney expected to retain his spot in the halves after a strong showing in the win over Canberra.

Most of the changes for Newcastle are in the forwards.

Jacob Saifiti takes Josh King’s spot in the starting line-up as Jack Stockwell steps in for Tupou.

Tyler Randell jumps into the bench spot originally reserved for Saifiti.

Anthony Tupou (hip) and Nathan Ross dropped off the 21-man squad named on Tuesday, with Brendan Elliot sliding into the centres as Dane Gagai moves to fullback.

Mark Hughes beanies are goneHuge support for the Beanies for Brain Cancer round, with the Mark Hughes Foundation’s beanie supply depleted before kick-off in the main game.

The Knights reported they were sold out shortly after 1pm.

If you’re heading to McDonald Jones Stadium, don any beanie and drop a donation in at the ground.

Early resultsIn the NYC, the Knights notched a third straight win against the competition leaders with a 28-22 victory.

Click here to read more about the Knights of 1997 and their efforts to support the Mark Hughes Foundation.

The Panthers finished fast after the Knights led 12=10 at the break, blown out minutes into the second half when Mitch Andrews pushed the score out to 22-10.

PantherJarome Luai spent some time in the sin bin for dissent but it failed to break the Penrith side, who stayed in the match until Luai could return and score his own try down the middle.

With scores level, Knights five-eighth Hayden Loughrey broke free to offload to Mitch Cooper for a try and earned the Knights their 28-22 margin.

Penrith held the upper hand in the NSW Cup match, blowing past a Newcastle outfit including a demoted Nathan Ross 44-18.

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