North Queensland Cowboys end Parramatta Eels’ season, but Jason Taumalolo faces nervous wait

Cowboys end Eels’ season but Taumalolo faces nervous wait TweetFacebookPictures: AAPParramatta’s season is over, but perhaps so too is that of North Queensland wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo.

The Eels’ premiership drought will now stretch into a 32nd year after the Cowboys once again defied the odds to march to within one game of an unlikely grand final appearance. Whether Taumalolo will be part of the side that takes on the Roosters next weekend remains to be seen after he put a shoulder charge on opposing No.13 Nathan Brown.

The Cowboys have already progressed further than most expected without injured stars Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, but a suspension to Taumalolo would be a blow that perhaps even Paul Green’s men wouldn’t be able to recover from.

RELATED:Cowboys stun Eels in semi-final

The blue and golds came into the game as favourites after pushing Melbourne to the limit, but couldn’t reproduce that performance against the plucky side from Townsville.

The battle of the 13s was a ripper. The buy of the year against, to borrow a line from Billy Moore, the buy of the decade. Taumalolo and Nathan Brown were again among the best for their teams. They seemed to find each other on multiple occasions, although Taumalolo’s hit on Brown in the 29th minute didn’t appear a legal one. While the whistleblowers took no action, replays appeared to show a copybook shoulder charge. It will be a nervous wait for ‘JT’ and his side.

Taumalolo again ran for more than 200 metres. Tackling him is often an exercise in futility. Just ask Daniel Alvaro. The Parramatta forward was a tad lucky to be playing after throwing a reckless elbow against the Storm. Luck deserted him when he got his head in the wrong spot trying to stop ‘JT’. He knocked himself out just five minutes into the game and didn’t return.

The match also marks perhaps the last for in the NRL for Semi Radradra. He will leave the game not only as the pre-eminent winger but also its most dangerous player. His latest try, the 82nd of his short but eventful career in the 13-man code, was a cracker. When Te Maire Martin put up an attacking crossfield kick, it would have been a Cowboys try had one of his teammates come down with it. Instead, Radradra leapt above the pack, marked it like he was playing at the adjoining Spotless Stadium, and ended up putting the ball under the posts 100 metres upfield. When he is in one of these moods, there is no stopping him.

Radradra has the No.2 on his back, but couldn’t be confined to the sideline. There were times when he was playing in the centres, while on other occasions he was pushing forwards out of the way in the middle of the field. Toulon have got themselves a special buy indeed.

While he can score them, so too can opposing wingerflanker Kyle Feldt. His put-down – fighting the sideline, the cover defence and gravity- was just as spectacular.

The Cowboys’ third try could well have been the eight-point variety. Microseconds after Coen Hess put down the ball, Eels hooker Cameron King cleaned him up with a late hit. The visitors took umbrage, players ran in from everywhere and punches were thrown. Officials decided not to give Ethan Lowe an additional shot at goal.

This is will go down as yet another season of disappointment for the Eels. They finished fourth to earn two cracks in the finals, their first since 2009, but went out in straight sets. Two of the tries they scored were from opposition kicks. The only other, from the boot of Mitchell Moses, came after the full-time siren.

Wrecking ball: Jason Taumalolo goes for a gallop. Photo: AAP

Brown was again outstanding in a beaten team. However, their attack, so potent during the back end of the season, didn’t click on the biggest stage. Perhaps the physical and emotional energy they expended against the Storm last weekend was greater than that used by the Cowboys in their extra-time thriller against the defending premiers.

The difference was Michael Morgan. He may be playing without Johnathan Thurston but is playing more and more like him in recent months. With Morgan firing, particularly if Taumalolo is available, the Roosters will do well not to underestimate them. Too many teams have already made that mistake.

Tasmanian tiny house movement dreams big

Living big in tiny houses One of the tiny house models from Wagonhaus, out of North-West Tasmania. Picture: supplied

Inside a Wagonhouse, where the outside is welcomed in.

Tiny houses still include the necessities.

The kitchen inside a Wagonhaus tiny house.

The bathroom of a tiny house.

Sunlight streams into the living area of a Wagonhaus tiny house.

TweetFacebookGone are the days when a sustainable home was equated with mudbricks and limited electricity functions.

The sustainable homes of today are intelligent, innovative, and attractive.

Sustainable House Day has been run nationally since 2001, and invites the interested public to step inside these environmentally friendly homes to discover more about the new age of building practices.

In Tasmania, five properties will take part in the day on Sunday, September 17.

Some have been renovated to incorporate sustainable aspects, others have been purpose-built to function in harmony with the environment.

The Bell sisters have brought an international sustainable house concept to Tasmania –the tiny house movement.

The tiny house movement, the details of which are exactly as the name suggests, began in the United States and quickly spread across Europe, and into the Southern Hemisphere.

Katie and Tamika Bell began Wagonhaus last year, and on Sunday, will open their tiny doors into big ideas, at Forth.

Since launching, Katie said the business, which operates out of the North-West, has been flooded with interest, and is booked out into next year.

Katie attributes it to a fast-growing level of engagement with environmental awareness and sustainability.

“More and more people are becoming excited by eco-tourism, farm-to-plate food systems, permaculture and thermally efficient design,” she said.

“I think it is, in part, a reaction to the perception that government and big business are failing in their role as responsible environmental custodians.

“Increasingly, everyday n families want to take back control over their environmental future.”

The smallest Wagonhaus build is less than one-tenth of the size of the average n house, at 2.4 metres by 3.5 metres.

The largest, the family model, is 2.4 metres by ninemetres. They still include bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and lounges.

“I think the most surprising thing people find is just how spacious it feels,” Katie said.

Katie studied at the University of Tasmania’s School of Architecture in Launceston, and said she and her sister were inspired by the movement’s success overseas, coupled with Tasmania’s fostering attitude towards innovation.

“My sister and I thought to ourselves, ‘the tiny house movement might have started overseas, but it is here, in our incredible Tassie backyard, that we can take it to the next level’,” Katie said.

“As young entrepreneurs, both Tamika and I know just how difficult it can be for young people in Tasmania.”

Katie said the sisters were inspired by their own circumstances: “We did not have access to secure, affordable housing, let alone the freedom to travel, to live debt-free, to live in harmony with nature and to protect the environment.”

They further saw the challenges that faced community members in Northern and North-West Tasmania – housing affordability, the cost of education and transport, and workforce changes.

“Wagonhaus Tiny Homes is the vehicle helping us face that challenge head-on,” Katie said.

“Our tiny homes are going to drive change (both literally and metaphorically) for our communities, by creating more green jobs, more sustainable development and encouraging a shift towards green living at home and in our community. I believe in thinking globally and acting locally.”

As well as their size and ethos, the compact homes incorporate eco-friendly architectural design to boost their sustainability factor.

They use passive solar gain, double-glazing, universal insulation, and cross ventilation for starters, and then there’s the off-grid extras of solar power and composting toilets.

“While rapid technological development such as solar panels, lithium batteries and composting toilets have certainly made the dream of building green homes easier, much of our work still lies in harnessing old wisdom,” Katie said.

“Technological fixes can improve things, but more important is thorough planning in the design and construction phase.

“Attention to detail, correct positioning of the building envelope and the use of thermally appropriate materials is the main game when it comes to designing an eco-friendly home.”

The Wagonhaus tiny homes will be on display at Forth, from 10am to 4pm.

Other homes taking part in Sustainable House Day in Tasmania are:

“Our retirement home”, Evandale: A renovated 1970s house that has been built to sustain its “elderly” residents into the future. It includes recycled timber and stained glass, and a drip-irrigation garden with vegetable patches and a healthy mix of flora.“Renovation”, Westbury: Five years on from its initial renovations, the owners of this property are inviting the public to see how its updates have aged. Its attributes include bamboo flooring, a greywater system, a low-emission woodfire, and outside, a composite wooden deck and a cob pizza oven.“Organic living”, Sheffield: This house is an owner designed and built, solid timber construction. It was designed to be a self-performing passive house, which utilises a range of timbers to maximises their best assets.“Andrew’s House”, Devonport: This home scores an 8.1 rating for passive solar, and has been designed to be energy efficient. The owners brag that with their solar power system, they haven’t paid a power bill since they moved in 12 months ago.All properties will be open from 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

To find out more about Sustainable House Day, and to register to view a house, visit sustainablehouseday苏州夜网

Vehicle ‘black box’ could shed light on fiery Sydney Nissan GT-R crash

The Nissan GT-R R35, which burst into flames after crashing near Darling Harbour. Photo: SuppliedCrash investigators may soon turn to a vehicle “black box” to reveal what caused a fiery car crash in Sydney’s CBDin which three people were burnt to death.

Shortly before 3am last Saturday the white $200,000 Nissan GT-R R35 was travelling down Goulburn Street at speed, approaching Haymarket.

It is understood the car had only been bought days before the accident.

Joseph Bagala, 39, brothers Jeff and Steve Nasr, 39 and 31, and Bree Keller, 22, were just moments from the horror crash that would leave two families reeling and the latter three dead.

Brothers Jeff and Steve Nasr were farewelled by hundred of mourners on Friday. Photo: Facebook

Among car enthusiaststhe high-performance Japanese vehicle has earned the nickname “Godzilla”, dominating racing around the world, including the Bathurst 1000 in the 1990s.

The supercar can surge from zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, while its top speed is more than 300km/h.

From Leichhardt, Wiley Park and Narrabeen, just how Mr Bagala, the Nasrbrothers and Ms Keller came to be in the car together that night remains a mystery to the families.

NSW Police have confirmed “considerable speed … along with a loss of control” were major contributing factors in the accident, however they are yet to confirm just how fast the car was travelling when it flipped and burst into flames next to the Novotel Rockford hotel.

Crash investigators will examine every aspect of the accident and will now likely refer to the car’s event data recorder (EDR), which stores crash information, much like a “black box” flight recorder used in aviation.

The primary function of an EDR is to sense a developing collision and decide whether to deploy airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.

Crash investigations expert Mark George is one of about 20 civilians in skilled in analysing crash data.

A former military police warrant officer and NSW police sergeant, Mr George launched the inaugural crash data retrieval training course for n police and civilian crash investigators in 2011.

The Nissan GT-R R35 series, which retails for around $200,000.

At that time the Sydney metropolitan crash investigation unit said greater use of the technology in crash investigations was “coming”.

Mr George said most EDRs were housed in the airbag control module of a vehicle, “but they also kept a record of crash and pre-crash data”.

Northern beaches hairdresser Bree Keller, 22, who died in the horror crash. Photo: Instagram

He estimates about half of all n vehicles made since 2007 have the device.

“That data is useful for determining … impact forces, injury likelihood, and what the vehicle was doing immediately prior to collision,” he said, adding that it was rare for an EDR to be so damaged that the data could not be used, even in a fire.

On Wednesday the family of Ms Keller, a northern beaches hairdresser, spoke of their grief in the days it took for police for police to formally identify her body using DNA and dental records, due to the severity of the fire.

“The circumstances of her death are horrific and this week we’ve been having to live with the fact we can’t bring her home,” her mother Tania Keller said on Wednesday.

Stepfather Peter Francis said the entire family remained “at a loss” as to why Ms Keller was in the car, adding that the family did not know “any of the people in the car”.

According to court documents, Jeff Nasr appeared before Burwood Local Court last month for two separate AVO applications sought by police for two different women.

At the time of the accident he was also on bail for charges of destroying property and common assault.

It has been reported Steve Nasr was fined $800 after pleading guilty topossession of a prohibited drug in 2014.

Hundreds of mourners farewelled the Nasr brothers at a memorial service at St Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Punchbowlon Friday.

A hearse carrying two white coffins was led through the street by a procession of luxurycars and men on motorbikes, some covering their faces with bandanas.

Sole survivor and father-of-four Joseph Bagala remains at St Vincent’s Hospital in a serious but stable condition, after suffering serious burns and arm, rib and and head injuries.

A NSW Police spokesman said police from Sydney City local area command were “preparing a report for the information of the Coroner which will outline the full circumstances surrounding the deaths”.

The story,Vehicle ‘black box’ could shed light on fiery Sydney Nissan GT-R crash, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Class action against The Cosmetic Institute over claims of botched breast surgeries

The class action case alleged The Cosmetic Institute breached duty of care. Photo: StockA group of women have launched a class action against ‘s largest cosmetic surgery clinic, alleging negligent breast augmentations left them with serious complications,including heart attacks, seizures, infections, chest wall deformities, pain, discomfort and psychiatric injuries.

The case, filed in the NSW Supreme Court, claims The Cosmetic Institute breached duty of care by providing a one-size-fits-all approach to breast augmentations.

It is being spearheaded by five applicants, including a mother from Western who suffered a heart attack after allegedly being administered high doses of local anaesthetic.

Others in the lawsuit include a NSW mother who says she suffered seizures as a result of high doses of local anaesthetic and a Queensland student who had emergency surgery after developing a severe infection after surgery.

The women are also taking action against Sydney plastic surgeon and TCI director Dr Eddy Dona, alleging he was responsible for designing, implementing and supervising the company’s approach to breast augmentation surgery, along with training the doctors who performed it.

Turner Freeman lawyer Sally Gleeson says the company has left a “trail of victims”.

“These women have suffered a range of complications including cardiac arrests from toxic doses of anaesthesia, lung punctures, infections and physical disfigurement,” she said in a statement on Friday.

In a statement of claim, TCI is accused of failing to properly train and supervise surgeons.

The claim alleges the company used an identical surgical technique regardless of a woman’s size or breast shape and did not perform procedures in accordance with standards.

TCI is also accused of not implementing adequate infection control.

“These women believed that the doctors treating them were surgeons who possessed the requisite skills and training to carry out these operations but the reality of the situation was quite different,” Ms Gleeson said.

“These women also share remarkably common experiences about the conduct of TCI, including the inadequacy of their treatment and attempts by the company to blame the women’s own anatomy for any poor outcomes.

“Every patient deserves competent treatment and follow up care. This class action is about delivering justice for this large group of women who continue to suffer from the impact of TCI’s failures to appropriately and safely carry out these procedures.”

TCI has clinics at Bondi Junction, Parramattaand the Gold Coast, and at Concord and Holroyd Private Hospitals, and says it is the country’s largest cosmetic surgery clinic.

TCI has been contacted for comment.


Man found dead with gunshot wound in Baxter in Melbourne’s south

A man who was found dead with a gunshot wound in a shed in Baxter has been described as a “typical battler” who was a “number one helper in the street”.

A 45-year-old man has been arrested after the man was found dead before 11am on Saturday in a Station Crescent home,about 50kilometres south of Melbourne.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting and aretreating the man’s death as suspicious.

A Baxter man, believed to be known to the dead man, has been arrested and ishelping police with their inquiries.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said they were called to a scene of a shooting involving a man in his 60s.

A neighbour, who didn’t want to be identified, said they heard a bang at about7.30am, but didn’t think much of it.

“It is a semi-rural area … and bangs are not that uncommon,” she said.

“Itstartledall the animals like crazy.”

She said they were shocked to hear about the death becausetheir neighbour was the “number one helper in the street”.

“He was lovely;he was a typical battler,” she said.

“He absolutely loved his dog. She was his world.”

“I couldn’t havea conversation with him without laughing.”

The neighbour said the man’s partner had died a few years ago and he shared the house with friends of his late partner, a family of three, to assist with the cost of living.

“It is a dual-occupancy; they shared meals together.”

She said the man’s dog was being looked after by another neighbour.

“It’s just horrible,” she said.”He was just a genuine, lovely man. A very friendly guy, he just helped everyone out.”

Station Crescentwas a quiet and safesuburban area without any crime, she said.

Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report atwww.crimestoppersvic苏州夜网.au.

Why talk of same-sex marriage impinging on religious freedom is misconceived

Picture: theconversation苏州夜网Conservative religious organisations and politicians have played amajor role in preventing the introduction of same-sex marriage in and hope to do so again.

John Howardcitedconservative religious views when he banned same-sex marriage. Labor’s fear of losing religious voters to the Liberalscontributed to concessionsto the religious right, and saw it oppose same-sex marriage until 2011. Even then, Labor MPs opposed to same-sex marriage were granted an initialmoralconscience vote that contributed to a parliamentary votebeing lostunder the Gillard government.

Now, Malcolm Turnbull’s fear of alienating thereligious right in the Coalitionhas seen him agree to a plebiscite hepreviously opposed.

Conservative religious organisations are mobilising again. However, given increasing public support for same-sex marriage, including amongreligious adherents, they often argue that same-sex marriage is really aboutbroader issues, such as gender roles and parenting.

Talk of same-sex marriage impinging on religious freedom is misconceived: here’s why TweetFacebookWhat protections will be offered to people who work for church-run institutions such as schools, hospitals and universities?But he only meant some kinds of protection:

Will teachers be free to teach church teaching on marriage or will they be forced to teach a more politically correct curriculum?We were recently reminded sharply how strongthose protectionsalready are, givenreligious exemptionsfrom anti-discrimination law. Fisher’s Melbourne counterpart, Denis Hart,warnedthe church’s 180,000 employees against “any words or actions” – such as a gay wedding – that failed to “totally” uphold a “Catholic view of marriage”.

Religious organisations will remain free to refuse same-sex marriage if it is eventually introduced. Meanwhile, another group’s religious freedom seldom gets a mention.40 per centof n same-sex couples identify as Christian.

However, unlike inother countriesthat do not have government laws impinging on religious freedom by banning same-sex marriage, their marriages can currently not be religiously solemnised.

Clergy stand ready to officiate – “because of our faith, not in spite of our faith”, as someput it. Their religious freedom toadequately pastortheir LGBT congregants is currently constrained.

Not all Christian same-sex couples may want church weddings. The point about true freedom is having the choice.

Caltex cleans up in worker compo ‘hoax’

Caltex is accused of ripping off workers. Photo: Simon BoschAmid the fracas of a wage fraud scandal tearing through Caltex, more than 200 franchisees and senior executives jetted into Tokyo in late March for a three-day conference at Tokyo’s swish Hilton Odaiba, overlooking Tokyo Bay.

Instead of the usual pomp and excitement of previous annual shindigs, the mood was sombre. Dozens of franchisees had been left off the invitation list after refusing to comply with a mandatory workplace compliance audit and those who had accepted came in the hope they would get some clarity on their future.

As the franchisees piled into the auditorium to listen to Caltex boss Julian Segal and the general manager of retail operations Karen Bozic, silence enveloped the room when they were told the future of the retail operating model – including the franchisee model – was still under review.

“We understand this will cause some angst until you get clarification,” the room was told.

Yet, almost six months later, franchisees are still in the dark about their future. There is a sense of foreboding that the wage fraud scandal and two separate projects – project Oyster and Project Reef – will collide and franchisees will be the collateral damage.

Project Oyster is exploring Caltex’s role in the competitive and underdeveloped $20 billion convenience store sector as Caltex grapples with the longer term trend of declining income from fuel, and the more immediate hole it has to fill in the wake of the Woolworths decision to end a long-term strategic alliance with Caltex and sell its 500-plus Woolworths-owned fuel and convenience store sites to BP.

Project Reef is looking at the underlying business structure to see if the franchise model – or a corporate model – is the best way to support its convenience store strategy, which is seeking to tap into changing tastes including fresh food and other convenience options at stores.

At the same time Caltex, which has a market value of more than $8 billion, is conducting mandatory audits across its network to ensure workplace laws aren’t being breached.

Through those audits, Caltex can seize hundreds of stores. Stores which franchisees have paid at least a combined $1 billion to buy Caltex can take and pay little or no compensation if workplace laws are violated at any level.

Shrinking networkBetween November and July, the franchise network shrunk from 650 to 500 stores while Caltex corporate sites expanded from 150 to 230. In the process Caltex converted about 80 franchised sites to corporate sites. Caltex says it already owns the stores and so there will be no impact on Caltex’s balance sheet.

For franchisees, termination means financial devastation.

On top of the audit process, franchisees whose five to 10-year franchise agreements are due to expire are being put on short-term contracts while the retail operating model review is in progress.

All this uncertainty is pushing the market value of Caltex sites down. Some franchisees say the market value has halved in the past year.

Caltex CEO Julian Segal Photo: Pat Scala

Quite how far the audit process has gone is revealed in a note Caltex wrote to franchisees saying: “So far decisions have been made or audits are in process for about half the franchise network.”

The note, obtained by Fairfax Media, said so far 30 stores “have been found to be complying with workplace obligations or are working with Caltex to remedy breaches”.

To date 116 stores have been issued termination notices or have prematurely ended their contracts after refusing to participate in a compulsory workplace audit.

Audit boycottIn some cases franchisees are refusing to do the audits because they have been underpaying workers, in other cases they fear Caltex will use technicalities to terminate them.

Ash Vatsa bought two stores in April 2015 and has been juggling two jobs to pay the bills. He says he is on financial assistance from Caltex because his stores are losing money.

He owes the bank $350,000 and is worried that an audit will be used to remove him from the system.

Ash Vatsa stands by the Caltex petrol station in Merrylands where he is the franchisee. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Vatsa says he has always paid his workers correctly but he is worried he might not have all the paperwork the audits require. When he bought into the network in 2015 the records weren’t rigorous and he says it can be hard to keep track of students on visas, including when they are on holidays from university.

He is currently on an assistance program from Caltex because he is struggling to stay afloat.

“It is hard to get them and you go through so much and then six months later do it again,” he says.

“I should have applied last year but I was scared to apply.”

He says even with assistance he has to work a second job.

“My second job is in hospitality. I’m working at least 80 hours a week,” he says.

“It is very stressful not knowing what is happening, we owe $350,000. How do we pay that, where do we get the money to pay for that.”

Process ‘fair’In a statement Caltex insists it follows a “fair and rigorous process” before ending a franchise agreement.

Franchisee Sanjeev Kumar, who has a store in Woodridge West, Brisbane, is also refusing to take part in the Caltex-funded audit.

Kumar’s store was audited by the Fair Work Ombudsman in October and received a notice in April from the regulator saying there had been a minor compliance issue which required the repayment of $13 to one employee and $40 to another.

He wrote to the company discussing his financial and mental plight.

“My health problem has become more severe that I have developed back and frozen shoulder severe pain due to increased stress level.”

Kumar wrote that he “humbly” requested Caltex to refund his franchise fees of $160,000 on pro rata basis.

On July 31 Caltex wrote: “We are mindful of the health issues you have outlined below, however as I indicated in our meeting …Caltex is not willing to consider a buy-back or surrender of your franchise at this time. A surrender of your franchise agreement does not fit within Caltex’s current strategic plans.”

So far 43 franchise sites have refused to take the audit. They hired law firm Lander & Rogers, which negotiated a settlement with Caltex, the terms of which are confidential.

According to Tean Kerr, it now represents a further 50 additional Caltex franchise sites in dispute with Caltex despite “many of them having already passed wage reviews by the Fair Work Ombudsman”.

“They are in dispute with Caltex because they believe that Caltex are intent on stealing their stores and the franchise fees they have paid.”

Kerr says the 7-Eleven scandal made Caltex management realise “Caltex is to blame for creating a franchise model that makes money for Caltex but exploits franchisees and pressures them into cutting corners to make ends meet”.

Professor Allan Fels has blasted the Caltex compensation scheme. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Caltex says in a statement that “initial investigations and audits were focused on stores where Caltex received allegations of wage underpayment or identified a high risk of non-compliance”.

It argues then that the high “run-rate” of breaches so far should not be seen as representative of the whole network.

It says its independent experts had found the model is sustainable, allowing franchisees to draw a wage, make a profit and pay employees lawful wage rates.

Caltex refuses to reveal the average profit, saying “the appropriate bottom-line profit for each store is highly variable depending on many business factors”.

But it is understood the average figure is about $60,000, which franchisees argue isn’t enough to pay bank loans and live.

Many say it is getting harder as they get squeezed to pay more to head office including royalties, rent, wages, Star Card fees, Star Boss, coffee machine leasing, drive-offs, where customers fill their tanks with petrol and drive off without paying, uniforms, accounting, electricity and bank card fees.

Draconian rulesFormer ACCC chairman Allan Fels, a former head of the 7-Eleven compensation scheme, said the terminations were unduly harsh. “These sorts of actions are draconian and exploitative of franchisees,” he said.

Professor Fels said with a “terribly” weak bargaining position, it demonstrates the need for more than just the newly minted Protecting Vulnerable Workers Act, which beefs up penalties for wage fraud and makes franchisors jointly responsible for workplace abuses if they have a “significant degree of influence or control” or influence over their franchisee’s affairs.

It is this control over franchisees that Professor Fels believes will result in a parliamentary inquiry into the $170 billion franchise sector.

Caltex has taken over the running of more than service stations. Photo: Sasha Woolley

Under Caltex’s franchise contract if a franchisee is terminated due to a breach of the franchise agreement the value of the business is returned to Caltex with the franchisee receiving only the value of any stock or other owned assets. Goodwill and other rights belong to Caltex.

“You acknowledge and agree that except expressly provided under the agreement or as may be required by law, at the end of the franchise you are not entitled to receive any payment or compensation from Caltex,” reads the relevant clause in a franchise agreement agreement.

After Caltex seized the store in late May, Hanna has been trying to find work so he can repay his business loan. He believes the termination process is a “heap of crap”.

Another franchisee who had three highly profitable sites worth an estimated $1 million each, believes Caltex used its might to take back highly sought after stores.

“They are acting like the police,” the franchisee says.

The stores were seized after an audit found a series of issues including wage fraud, not paying super, not of good character and various other contraventions.

The franchisee, who requested anonymity, says the family bought the stores from Caltex in 2015 for $200,000 each and built them up.

A final payment of $68,000 plus interest was made on one of the three stores to Caltex on July 3. On July 19 the franchisee was terminated and the stores seized.

“How unethical is that? To take the money then terminate us and get the value of the stores for nothing.” Caltex declined to comment, citing legal and privacy reasons.

The problem for employees is that if a franchisor terminates a franchisee and that franchisee is then left with no site and a big bank loan to repay, the chances of them repaying workers is slim.

So it isn’t just franchisees who feel aggrieved. Workers are also feeling done over.

Fairfax Media can reveal that four months after Caltex set up a $20 million compensation scheme for underpaid workers, only 101 have applied and nobody has been paid out, this is despite more than 116 stores either being kicked out or leaving after refusing to participate in an audit.

The scheme has raised the ire of the Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James who said this week that Caltex had failed to engage with the regulator to develop the fund or report those individuals it had breached or terminated.

She warned that Caltex was likely to face “enforcement action” and that the investigation so far, which involved raiding 25 sites, had “similar themes emerging to 7-Eleven”.

Professor Fels describes the compensation fund as bogus and a “public relations stunt” requiring regulatory scrutiny.

Conditional compensationConfidential letters obtained by Fairfax show that the compensation Caltex is offering workers is a fraction of their alleged underpayment. It also shows that the payouts are conditional on the workers keeping the information confidential and not making negative comments about Caltex. The conditions have raised concerns of the regulator which said in a statement it would take it up with Caltex.

The compensation scheme is a hoax, says former worker, Mustanser Bajwa, a bio-chemistry student at Sydney University.

He says the process from dobbing in his franchisee to making the claim made him feel used and exploited.

He informed on his employer in late 2016 after receiving a call from Caltex’s auditors to speak up. The franchisee was terminated in May, with Caltex seizing four stores worth an estimated $2.2 million.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James Photo: James Brickwood

Earlier this month Bajwa finally received an offer from Caltex that was a fraction of the estimated underpayments he was owed between 2015 and 2016. He wasn’t allowed to go back any further, to 2012, because the Caltex fund only makes refunds from 2015.

“I have all the documents to pay me back to 2015 but they offer me so little,” he said.

He says the sad part for workers is that most of the serious underpayments date back further than 2015, before 7-Eleven was exposed for wage fraud.

“Caltex is not willing to investigate prior to 2015 because I believe before 2015 the underpayments across the Caltex sites were as bad as 7-Eleven stores,” he says.

So far 7-Eleven has paid out $150 million to thousands of workers.

But Caltex said it went back to 2015 because “allegations of wage underpayment in the franchise sector in were first raised in 2015”.

Therefore, Caltex considers January 2015 to be a “fair and reasonable date.”

To exploited workers like Bajwa, Caltex’s behaviour is worse than that of the franchisees.

“At least they aren’t hypocrites,” he said. “Caltex makes out they care about us but they are also underpaying us what we are owed. What’s the difference?”

Another worker Saad Rafique, who came to in 2012 from Pakistan, worked an average of 65 hours a week at Caltex and was grossly underpaid.

Rafique is currently working at a Caltex store but agreed to speak up because he feels so strongly about what is going on. He says he was underpaid for years and has all the evidence.

He lodged a claim with Caltex but was shocked by the lowball offer, which he believes it 30 per cent of what he is owed.

“The offer is so little yet they won’t tell me how they calculated the amount,” he says.

Rafique says he was puzzled by what Caltex was doing with the money.

“They are taking away the livelihood of franchisees, paying them nothing when they terminate them and giving workers nothing.”

He believes Caltex is no better than the franchisees that underpay workers.

“Why won’t they do the right thing, they want us to say nothing bad about them, they want to silence us and we have no idea how they are making the calculations.”

Another worker, a student on a visa, said most workers decided not to apply because the bar was too high to prove underpayments and unlike 7-Eleven Caltex would only pay up to 20 hours for students.

“Everyone knows that students have to work longer hours to make up for the low wages they get paid,” he says.

“Sometimes students don’t have any choice but to breach their hours, but Caltex doesn’t care. This makes many think they can’t be trusted.”

Payments calculatedCaltex says in a statement the compensation fund relies on the information provided by franchisee employees to calculate wage underpayment.

It says the payment is an ex-gratia payment that “represents a contribution towards any claim they may have in respect of their employment with the franchisee”.

It tried to distance itself from the problem, saying Caltex was not the employer, had no part in wage underpayment and had no liability to pay franchisee employee entitlements.

“Caltex has established the fund to do the right thing by franchisee employees and provide some assistance to those who have been underpaid.”

As the Fair Work Ombudsman continues to examine the findings of the stores it raided last year, franchisees and former franchisees are coming forward alleging the business model is being increasingly stacked against them as Caltex grabs more and more in fees and rentals.

Certainly there is evidence from the emails obtained by Fairfax and interviews with former franchisees that Caltex was made aware of wage fraud issues over a number of years.

One email seen by Fairfax Media by a former site owner to a senior manager complained he had flagged similar issues to those at 7-Eleven to another senior manager in June 2011.

Another former Caltex franchisee, Kevin Crossey, who operated a number of sites between 1998 and 2014, has previously told Fairfax that he repeatedly told head office there was a problem with wage fraud.

“I was on the NSW state franchise council and national franchise council representing franchises over a number of years,” he said in an interview last year.

One email written by a worker to a Caltex manager in 2014 flagged issues including staff sacked without payment. “Many time local people come to apply for the job but [the franchisee] keep the money… I have been treated okay because I always spend two hours etc without pay… they have kept copies of our passports.”

Caltex says it has responded to every allegation made about wage underpayment, including allegations made in 2014 about wage underpayment at businesses to which Caltex was a fuel supplier only, not the employer and not the operator.

But Caltex has a problem. It has created a toxic relationship with franchisees and workers alike.

“They are trying to hide under the banner of doing the right thing but their actions prove they are not doing the right the thing,” Saad Rafique says.

“The scheme should be open for everyone, for all years and for all entitlements.”

But it’s not.

Chinan Wallabies beat Argentina Pumas in Canberra: Pictures

Wallabies record comeback win over Argentina TweetFacebook 2017 Rugby Championship: Wallabies v PumasPictures: Sitthixay Ditthavong and AAPA lack of first-half urgency had n coach Michael Cheika seeing red and questioning the effort of his players but the Wallabies managed to get their Rugby Championship campaign off the ground with a convincing 45-20 win over Argentina in Canberra.

With his side trailing 13-10 at half-time, many thought Cheika would have put a rocket up his players given he could hardly hide his displeasure when speaking to Fox Sports while the game was still in the balance.

“There’s no urgency, I’m not sure if we realise we’re playing in a Test match,” Cheika said. “Urgency, speed, aggression [were] all missing in the first half. We’re lucky to only be 13-10 behind.”

From there the Wallabies got their act together, with Sekope Kepu and Israel Folau scoring tries to establish dominance and prevent what would have been ‘s first defeat to Argentina on home soil since 1983.

RELATED: Wallabies secure big victory

The six-tries–two victory was ‘s biggest over Argentina since the Mendoza fixture in 2015 and largest overall since their 62-point win against Uruguay at the 2015 World Cup.

Cheika revealed afterwards he didn’t have to say a thing because his players knew they weren’t up to scratch.

“There’s no point me going down there and giving them a rev up, even though I really wanted to,” Cheika said. “I didn’t need to because they said it themselves. That’s a step forward for our leadership team, they told it as it was at half-time, didn’t try to hide from the lack or intensity and urgency that was there.

“We know we should be on, we know we let ourselves down in the first half. We stayed in the fight at least

“From the first whistle in the second half they owned that and they wanted to get better.”

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu makes a bustling run during the Rugby Championship’s fourth round clash between and Argentina at Canberra Stadium. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

failed to learn their lesson from last week and at times were ineffective at cleaning out Argentina’s back-rowers, notably Pablo Matera and Tomas Lezana, who hovered over the ball like angry magpies.

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy carried the ball a total of 17 times with real purpose and his turnover in the 42nd minute, after the Wallabies had built up 14 phases, epitomised ‘s struggles at the breakdown.

Sean McMahon was ‘s most potent forward of the evening while Michael Hooper was instrumental in the second half when his team needed their leader to stand up.

“It’s not a sense of relief, it’s a sense of finally getting a reward for some of the hard work that not only a lot of the players have put in but staff,” Hooper said. “It’s a good feeling for everyone.”

The 25-point defeat was Argentina’s ninth loss from their last 10 games and leaves them still on zero points in the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies will have a week off before travelling to Johannesburg on Saturday to prepare for a Test against the Springboks, who came crashing back down to earth after they were thumped 57-0 by the All Blacks.

“What I do know is that when we get to the high veld, it’s going to be on,” Cheika said. “They’re going to be looking for some retribution on someone and that’s most likely going to be us and we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Earlier, man of the match Bernard Foley opened the scoring with a penalty from in front and while looked to at attack at every opportunity, a number of careless knock-ons thwarting their ability to strike from counters in their own half.

Argentina hit back with a three-pointer of their own in the 15th minute in what was a largely uneventful opening first quarter of an hour.

The visitors dominated early territory – they had 76 per cent at half-time – and threatened the Wallabies, whose defensive line spacing has improved leaps and bounds since the Sydney disaster four weeks ago.

Bernard Foley of the Wallabies (centre) is tackled by Pablo Matera of Argentina (right). Picture: AAP

It took 23 minutes for cold fans to see a try but it was the visitors who dived over first, courtesy of halfback Martin Landajo from close range.

Shortly after, however, the Wallabies levelled the scores, with Folau crossing for his ninth try from seven games this year.

A no-look Adam Coleman pass went to ground but the Wallabies scooped it up and four passes later seized their chance as Folau continued his hot streak to the delight of a Canberra crowd of 14,229.

The Pumas took a 13-10 lead into half-time and interestingly, some local fans booed Foley when the Wallabies five-eighth kicked the ball out, from his own end, to put an end to a half of rugby that lacked vitality.

To ‘s credit, they could have taken a penalty to draw level but decided to chance their arm and it payed off.

Sekope Kepu equalled the most tries scored by an prop (four) in the 49th minute before Folau bagged his second of the evening four minutes later.

Recalled second-rower Rob Simmons orchestrated a terrific offload out the back before Will Genia’s long cut-out pass landed in Folau’s bread basket to gift him try No.10 for 2017 and put the Wallabies ahead 24-13 after a conversion.

“He’s a natural footballer,” said Cheika of Folau. “I think that he handled everything pretty well during the week, he didn’t look to lose any focus at all. He’s quality.”

Rugby league convert Marika Koroibete came on in the 50th minute and almost scored a try on debut from a Foley grubber out the back of the Pumas defensive line.

“He looked pretty good,” Cheika said. “He didn’t look out of place. He’s nicked Sean’s [McMahon] phone or done something to him down in Melbourne because he could have had his first Test try but Seany went back inside to Nick with a brilliant pass.

“He made a nice entrée for his first game no doubt about it.”

A yellow card to Pumas Enrique Pieretto in 71st minute was a just reward for the ns, who turned out their best scrum performance of the Rugby Championship.

“I’d like to see that consistency every week,” Cheika said. “I know we can do it.”

A minute later Genia scored his 13th Test try and by then had completely found their groove. Reserve halfback Nick Phipps and youngster Jordan Uelese then snared their own five-pointers to put Cheika in a far better mood than he was in the sheds at the break.

Davis Cup 2017: Nick Kyrgios leads the Chinan fightback against Belgium

‘s Nick Kyrgios during his five-set thriller with Belgium’s Steve Darcis. Photo: APBrussels:Nick Kyrgios has fought back to keep ‘s Davis Cup hopes alive after seeing off a determined Steve Darcis in a five-set thriller in Brussels.

Kyrgios won 6-3 4-6 6-7 (7-5) 6-1 6-2 against the wily world No.70 who had looked set to inflict more misery on –seven years after relegating the 28-time champions from the World Group.

he crucial victory levelled the tie at 1-1 ahead of Saturday’s doubles rubber after David Goffin earlier beat a spirited John Millman.

Kyrgios stormed imperiously through the opening set, sending down eight aces without losing a point in five service games.

The controversial Canberran stirred up the home fans by cupping his ear to them after taking the lead, a move that only seemed to inspire Darcis, who was playing in his 21st tie for his country.

Belgium haddrawn first bloodwhen Goffin prevailedover Millman6-7 (7-4) 6-4 6-3 7-5 in a three-and-a-half hour marathonto give the hosts a 1-0 lead at the Palais 12 arena.

John Millman fell short in an epic three-and-a-half hour duel with Belgian David Goffin in Brussels. Photo: AP

The world No.12 has now won 14 of his last 15 Davis Cup singles matches, but he was made to work hard for his victory by the 185th-ranked Queenslander, who was only called into the team by captain Lleyton Hewitt on Thursday.

Millman grabbed the opening set in a tiebreak after battling back from a break down to stun the noisy home crowd.

However, the 28-year-old Millman demonstrated tremendous fighting spirit to break back immediately only to surrender his serve in the next game, before once again levelling the scores at 3-3.

Belgium’s David Goffin after beating ‘s John Millman during the first rubber of the Davis Cup semi-final in Brussels on Friday. Photo: AP

Millman had another break point at 4-3 but was unable to convert. Goffin broke Millman for a 6-5 lead and ultimately served out the match.

However, the 28-year-old Millman demonstrated tremendous fighting spirit to break back immediately only to surrender his serve in the next game, before once again levelling the scores at 3-3.

Millman had another break point at 4-3 but was unable to convert. Goffin broke Millman for a 6-5 lead and ultimately served out the match.

NRL semi-final: Cowboys secure shock victory over Parramatta

Try scoring machine: Semi Radradra. Photo: AAPThe North Queensland Cowboys have produced a stunning comeback to beat the Parramatta Eels on Saturday night.

The Cowboys secured a 24-16 win at ANZ Stadium to progress to next weekend’s NRL preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.

After trailing 10-6 at half time, North Queensland dominated play in the second half to record an upset win.

John Asiata started the run by scoring a try in the 44thminute for the Cowboys.

Ethan Lowe nailed the conversion to help his side take a 12-10 lead.

Cowboys forward Coen Hess then crossed over to score in the 51stminute and Lowe converted as the side led 18-10.

Star five-eighth Michael Morgan all-but sealed victory in the 74thminute when he dived over to score.

Lowe nailed the conversion to help the Cowboys take a 24-10 advantage.

Parramatta centre Michael Jennings scored a consolation try on the siren for the home team.

Mitchell Moses’ conversion rounded out the 24-16 result.

Full match blog here.

Vision of the @nthqldcowboys Try Decision in the 74th minute of #NRLEelsCowboys.#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜网/9qXvKO2bm8

— NRL Bunker (@NRLBunker) September 16, 2017Half time report:Parramatta Eels have edged one step closer to booking a spot in the NRL preliminary finals.

The Eels have taken a 10-6 lead into half time in their semi-final against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.

Parramatta scored the first try after six minutes via winger Semi Radradra.

The Semi-Trailer lights up the #NRLFinals!#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜网/mImbXH3PcS

— NRL (@NRL) September 16, 2017Game on!#NRLFinals#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜网/H1v8TND2zP

— NRL (@NRL) September 16, 2017