TPG Telecom’s 320,000 mobile users will be switched over to the Vodafone network in a $1 billion tie-up between the two telcos.


TPG Telecom will drop Singtel-owned Optus as its mobile provider in favour of Vodafone Australia and, in turn, extend its so-called dark fibre network to carry its new partner’s mobile data.

David Teoh’s TPG will spend between $300 million and $400 million to add about 4,000km of new fibre and extend its NBN competitor network to Vodafone cell sites nationwide.

It anticipates more than $900 million in revenue over the sites’ 15-year contracts.

The deal, which had been 18 months in the works, further strengthens TPG following its $1.6 billion acquisition of iiNet and means Vodafone should be ready for the demands of data-heavy 5G when it is rolled out within a few years.

“This is a purely future-proofing. The reality is we are rolling out something we don’t really need today … it is something we must have in four years,” Vodafone Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta told AAP.

Some customers will join Vodafone immediately, with TPG offering new SIM-only 4G plans on Wednesday at the same time the companies announced the link-up.

TPG general manager enterprise and wholesale Mark Rafferty said the transition should benefit customers, through the introduction of initiatives such as real-time billing, and that the company had no concerns about the reliability of the Vodafone network.

“We don’t take this very lightly,” Mr Rafferty told AAP.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence about how the services are going to work.”

Mr Berroeta said Vodafone had addressed consumers’ past concerns about coverage and reliability in Australia.

“It is 100 per cent a future investment more than something we do to fix the network. All that is done: the turnaround is over, we’ve upgraded our network, we invested,” Mr Berroeta said.

“What we need to do is continue to invest.”

Neither party would be drawn on whether the partnership represented a step toward an eventual merger but Mr Berroeta did praise TPG, which already provided 900km of fibre to Vodafone between 2011 and 2013.

“The way the teams have been working together has been extremely successful. We really trust them,” he said.

TPG’s shares soared 72 cents, or 7.1 per cent, to close at a record high of $10.86.

IG Markets analyst Angus Nicholson said investors were broadly supportive of the deal, which is just the latest by the billionaire Mr Teoh.

“He’s proven himself time and again just how ambitious he is with the dark fibre program going head to head with the national NBN roll out. This is just another move by him that shows he’s really out to win and happy to take on the Australian government,” Mr Nicholson said.


A Melbourne mother who was so shocked to discover she was pregnant that she killed her baby and dumped the girl’s body under a tree has not been jailed.


The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to a charge of infanticide after she admitted to police she had given birth in a bedroom of her father’s house and then hidden the body when the baby died.

She had not known she was pregnant before going into labour in February last year.

After the baby was born, the mother covered the infant’s mouth with her hand for 30 to 60 seconds because she was afraid of waking up her household.

Victorian Supreme Court Judge John Rush said the woman’s impaired mental functioning at the time impacted her ability to think rationally.

He found she suffered a rare but recognised mental disorder called pregnancy denial, and had been extremely traumatised by the labour and subsequent death of her daughter.

He sentenced her to a community corrections order of one year, saying her life would be permanently coloured by the experience.

“The loss of a child is a life sentence in and of itself,” Justice Rush said on Wednesday.

“The shock and trauma you would have experienced upon realising you were giving birth and that your child subsequently died is a pain and anguish that no one should have to experience.”

The baby girl was moving and made a noise after she was born in the early hours of February 26 last year.

A report by consultant neonatologist Andrew Watkins said the mother’s description of the baby at birth is consistent with a baby born in very poor condition.

After the baby died, the mother, then 18, put the little girl’s body in a Cotton On bag and went to sleep.

She later hid the body under a tree.

The woman, who can’t be named, later told her sister about the baby’s death and they reported it to police.

Infanticide is the crime of a mother killing her baby while the balance of her mind is disturbed following childbirth.

The maximum penalty for infanticide is five years in jail.


Greens leader Richard Di Natale has not met Malcolm Turnbull since he became prime minister, but has outlined the areas in which the minor party is willing to work with the new-look government.


The Greens believe $35 billion worth of savings can be unlocked by cracking down on superannuation tax concessions, negative gearing and capital gains discounts and by abolishing fuel tax credits for miners.

But there will be no horse-trading on any plan to withhold welfare from young people.

The Greens leader surprised many this year by supporting the government’s pension changes to tighten eligibility for wealthier seniors.

Senator Di Natale believes that is proof he is serious about compromising on measures he considers to be in the interests of the nation.

“We will work with whoever we need to work with if we believe we can get a good outcome,” he told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Senator Di Natale has spoken briefly over the phone with the new prime minister and says he is looking forward to meeting him face to face.

But he has issued words of advice to Mr Turnbull about the importance of standing up to the “dinosaurs” in his party on climate change and gay marriage.

The Victorian senator, who is four months into the party leadership job, says it is one thing for Mr Turnbull to talk about change but another to deliver.

“Whether the new prime minister can deliver will depend on whether he’s done a pact with dinosaurs that have locked him into the Abbott government’s agenda,” he said.

Eventually Mr Turnbull will need to put some “meat on those bones”.

“My only advice to Malcolm Turnbull is this, is that there are very few things as dangerous in politics as high expectations without the capacity or conviction to deliver on those expectations.”

While they might have different stances on certain issues, Senator Di Natale and Mr Turnbull share a trait in that they are both leaders who have never been to an election in that role.


An emotional Queensland MP is leading calls for wild horses to be culled in the state’s far north following a fatal crash that killed a teenage boy.


A 15-year-old boy died early on Wednesday after the car he was in hit the carcass of a horse on the Bruce Highway, just north of Townsville, and then ploughed into a tree.

It’s the second such death in just two months. A motorcyclist died on July 31 when his bike hit a horse on the same highway, in the same area.

The latest crash also left a 35-year-old woman in a critical condition, and another boy, 14, in hospital with a head injury.

Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said he had already been in discussions with state and local agencies urging for brumby populations to be controlled after the motorcyclist died.

He fought back tears when speaking about the latest incident.

“I’m devastated, I’m absolutely gutted, there’s no other words for it,” Mr Harper told AAP.

“It’s actually really hard to talk about.”

Mr Harper said he’d been on the phones to multiple state departments on Wednesday and was hopeful the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing would cull the estimated 200-strong wild horse population in the area soon.

Road workers were already putting warning signs along the problem stretch of road, he said.

Townsville councillor Sue Blom, whose division covers the area where the deaths occurred, has also called for an immediate cull, saying the state needs to do it, or give council permission to carry it out.

“They are still doing a lot of lip smacking and now we’ve had another death,” she said.

“They need to cull these animals. They are feral pests along with pigs and the wild dogs that we have in the area and they need to be treated the same.”

National Parks Minister Steven Miles said the latest incident was “absolutely tragic”, but didn’t commit to a cull.

“QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services) is not conducting lethal feral horse control at Clement State Forest or Paluma National Park at the present time,” Dr Miles said.

“But (it) may consider this control method as part of an agreed strategy between all landholders and in the interest of public safety.”


Skin regeneration firm Avita Medical has won a contract in the US worth up to $US54 million to help build preparedness for a mass casualty scenario involving burn injuries.


Under the five-year contract, the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will commit an initial $US16.9 million to support Avita’s trials in the US for the treatment of thermal burn injuries – which are aimed at securing approval from the US Food and Drug Administration – and procure more than 5,000 of Avita’s “ReCell” cell-harvesting devices.

There is further potential for Avita to receive another $US37 million to support additional clinical trials and supply up to 20,000 more ReCell devices.

Avita chief executive Adam Kelliher said the BARDA contract is a transformational opportunity for Avita.

“Securing this contract from a US federal agency is a momentous milestone,” Mr kelliher said on Wednesday.

“US authorities have conducted a detailed evaluation of our technology, and this contract further validates the opportunity afforded by our unique regenerative medicine.”

Shares in Avita climbed 1.2 cents, or 17.14 per cent, to 8.2 cents on Wednesday.

BARDA is a US federal agency assigned to ensure that the US is well prepared for public health emergencies.

The agency develops medical countermeasures to mitigate the medical consequences from potential chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear threats.

Avita’s ReCell technology allows clinicians to rapidly create “Regenerative Epithelial Suspension” (RES) which can be used to restart healing in unresponsive wounds, to repair burns using less donor skin, to restore pigmentation and improve the appearance of damaged skin.

RES comprises epithelial cells from the patient’s own skin, which have been multiplied in tissue culture in the laboratory.

The fact that RES can be created using only small skin samples significantly reduces the need for skin donor sites.

ReCell first gained prominence as a treatment for burns victims following the 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia.

It was also deployed in a more recent mass casualty event: the Taiwan waterpark disaster.


“I don’t think we have failed in Europe,” Pellegrini told reporters.


“We have qualified for the knockout stages in my two seasons here and then we lost to Barcelona, who are the best team in the world.

“We have beaten Bayern Munich twice. Last season we won our last two games against Bayern and Roma so we know how to do it. This season we lost to Juventus — a strange game,” he added.

City will be without influential skipper Vincent Kompany for Wednesday’s game.

The club had not conceded a goal in their first five Premier League games this season when Kompany started, but have shipped six in the two league games in which the Belgium did not feature, losing 2-1 to West Ham and 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur.

However, Pellegrini said the recent woes were due to the rising injury count rather than the loss of one player.

“Of course Vincent is a very important player, he is our captain and he has started the season very well, but I don’t think one player is crucial,” said Pellegrini.

“I think it is the amount of injuries we have had that has been the more important thing. We have a strong squad but it is not easy to sustain 11 injuries.”

On a brighter note, the club’s record signing Kevin De Bruyne has been in fine form and scored three goals from five appearances so far.

Pellegrini said the Belgian could develop into an even better player with the help of experienced team mates like David Silva and Yaya Toure.

“Maybe he had to play before he was quite ready, but he has given his answer on the pitch,” the 62-year-old Chilean said.

“He is a very technical player, and playing with David and Yaya will help his development into an even stronger player.”

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


Uber Australia hopes other states follow the route mapped out by the ACT to regulate ride-sharing services.


The ACT government will legalise Uber and similar services in Canberra from October 30, with new regulations in place for drivers.

At the same time, it’s easing restrictions and drastically cutting fees for taxis and hire cars.

Other states playing catch-up with Uber already operating in their area have been left “looking like a bunch of slack-jawed banjo-playing yokels”, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm says.

Uber congratulated the ACT government for showing “global leadership”.

“It’s exactly what we’ve been asking for,” Uber Australia boss David Rohrsheim told AAP on Wednesday.

“There’s reviews underway across Australia and we hope this sets a good template.”

The ride-sharing company will start operating in Canberra from October 30, when the first tranche of regulations come into place.

Ride-share drivers must have government accreditation, pass criminal and driving history checks and have safety checks done on their cars.

They’ll have to be alcohol and drug free, the same as taxi drivers.

A second stage of regulation, starting once legislation is passed, will require ride-share drivers to have compulsory third party and property insurance as well as training.

They’ll have to pay $150 each year in licence and accreditation fees, plus charges for vehicle inspections and background checks.

Passengers won’t be allowed to pay cash unless cars are fitted with security cameras.

Taxi drivers facing increased competition will see their licence fees halve on October 30 from the $20,000 charged now, and then drop again to $5000 in 2017.

Only taxis will be able to pick up people from cab ranks and off the street – all other drivers must arrange pre-booked fares.

Mr Rohrsheim said Uber complied with these regulations already.

The ACT government believes its regulations strike a balance between allowing the sharing economy to thrive in Canberra while recognising the pressure it puts on existing taxi drivers and owners.

The Victorian government is also preparing a ride-sharing regulatory scheme to address passenger safety, driver and vehicle standards and insurance issues and NSW is also looking at introducing similar rules.

Senator Leyonhjelm said resolving the problem was a serious issue for tourism.

And NSW opposition leader Luke Foley wondered on Twitter why his state was lagging behind.

“If NSW Govt sources quietly claiming @Uber will be regulated in next 6 mths, why the bizarre public crackdown?” he said, referring to NSW Roads and Maritime Services suspending the vehicle registrations of 40 UberX drivers this week.

The NRMA has urged all state governments to legalise ride-sharing services, saying Uber is “here to stay”.


Exploitation of foreign workers at Australian 7-Eleven stores has claimed the scalps of the chain’s founder and chairman, Russ Withers, and chief executive Warren Wilmot.


The announcement on Wednesday follows weeks of revelations about 7-Eleven stores chronically underpaying international students and threatening them with deportation if they report the issue.

The convenience stores came under scrutiny following an ABC Four Corners and Fairfax investigation that found the company was paying its workers half the minimum wage.

Former iiNet and West Coast Eagles chairman Michael Smith has been appointed chairman after spending more than 15 years on the 7-Eleven board.

“There is no question it’s a much bigger problem than we realised … we were shocked at what we saw,” Mr Smith told AAP on Wednesday.

“It’s nothing like a majority of stores … but it’s a significant blow to our business.”

Mr Smith denied the company’s unique business model forced franchisees to look at ways to cut costs, including systematically underpaying staff, but said a board meeting on Thursday would discuss ways the model can be changed.

All underpaid workers should be paid in full by Christmas, he said.

Despite stepping down as chairman, Mr Withers will remain chairman of the group holding company that owns 7-Eleven and Starbucks stores in Australia as well as an expansive real estate and share portfolio.

“Naturally this is a major decision for me to stand aside as chairman, however I will continue to be a shareholder and I am determined to make sure the company is in the right hands to move forward,” Mr Withers said in a statement on Wednesday.

He had planned to step down in 18 months’ time, but said now was the right time to move on.

It is understood he will still have a hands-on role in the operation of 7-Eleven.

In a statement, 7-Eleven Australia said before the scandal broke it was working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman and accounting firm Ernst & Young to investigate a number of allegations.

Employment lawyer Josh Bornstein, of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, says up to 5000 workers across the company’s 620 store network are affected, but many had not come forward because they feared deportation.

Professor Allan Fels has been appointed to run an independent panel to identify underpaid workers and pay their missing wages.

ALP senator Sam Dastyari, who is part of a Senate inquiry into the exploitation of foreign workers, told ABC radio in Melbourne on Wednesday high-level managers at 7-Eleven were either grossly negligent or they wilfully covered up their treatment of foreign workers.


When Ken Wyatt was awoken with a tap on the shoulder on a flight to the United States he couldn’t quite believe the document that was been placed in front of him.


Its content told the Liberal MP he was about to become the first indigenous Australian in the federal ministry.

“It was surreal, so I reread it,” Mr Wyatt told reporters after he was sworn in as assistant health minister in new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government on Wednesday.

“It reminded me of what I had seen in movies.”

He ticked it off with an “emphatic yes” and had the Qantas crew send it back to the prime minister.

Due to the overseas trip, Mr Wyatt missed out on the first swearing in ceremony by Governor General Peter Cosgrove at Government House last week.

Despite the West Australian’s indigenous heritage, it’s aged care he will focus on and he wants to be known for his capability and contribution to the sector.

Before entering politics, Mr Wyatt worked in community health, including as director for aboriginal health in WA and NSW.

However, he knows indigenous people will be “immensely proud” of his elevation into the executive of government.

“Our heritage counts for all of us, and in my case being offered a position by the prime minister was very special,” he said.

Mr Wyatt’s official swearing in followed that of his boss, Health Minister Sussan Ley, who added Minister for Aged Care to her portfolios.

Why that wasn’t included in last week’s official ceremony isn’t clear and Ms Ley sidestepped queries on that matter on Wednesday, at one point saying she was “bewildered” by the question.

“In the previous government, we didn’t have a minister with aged care in the title,” she said.

“We’re talking about a few days here.”

Ms Ley wanted aged care back in the health portfolio due to “common sense” but wouldn’t say if the omission from the first cabinet lineup was accidental or intentional.

The health team is rounded out with Minister for Rural Health, Fiona Nash – who was previously the assistant health minister.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge and Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg were also at the swearing in ceremony for some technical changes to their jobs.


Russia has found itself at odds with many nations over the future of Syria and the MH17 disaster during the UN General Assembly in New York this week, where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is representing Australia.


Ms Bishop told the assembly in a keynote speech on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) Australia would seek a non-permanent council seat in 2029-30.

She also backed a new push to curtail the single-handed ability of permanent members to veto resolutions dealing with “mass atrocities”.

Having met earlier with representatives of nations involved in the MH17 investigation, Ms Bishop said: “We will not let a Russian veto impede the efforts of countries grieving the loss of their citizens and demanding justice for the perpetrators of this atrocity.”

Australia was open to a range of political solutions in Syria.

Speaking at a forum on fighting terrorism, which Ms Bishop attended, US President Barack Obama said defeating Islamic State in Syria would only be possible if Bashar al-Assad leaves power, a day after a clash with Russia over the Syrian president’s fate.

“In Syria … defeating ISIL requires, I believe, a new leader,” he said.

Ms Bishop also used her speech to outline Australia’s first-time bid for seat at the UN Human Rights Council.

Australia would use the role to promote the empowering of women and girls, strengthening governance and democratic institutions, promoting freedom of expression and advance the human rights of all.

Decisive action was required on climate change, she said, committing Australia to seeking a global approach to the two degree warming goal.

Earlier Ms Bishop told the anti-extremism forum that while a comprehensive package of domestic counter-terrorism measures had been put in place, it was important to defeat the group at their source.

“The campaign is making progress,” she said of the coalition fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

However, without political reconciliation in Iraq, the military effort would not succeed.

Australia last served on the security council in December 2014.

The 2029-30 term is considered the first available opportunity to nominate for a seat that is uncontested, giving Australia the greatest chance of success and minimising the cost.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek is a “little bit surprised” about the bid’s timing.

“That seems a little unambitious to me, but we are not going to criticise the government for saying that we should take on a greater international responsibility,” she told ABC radio.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the forum to ask all UN members to contribute to a new plan in 2016 to tackle extremism.

Russia snubbed the forum, sending a low-level diplomat to the meeting to take stock of the one-year campaign to defeat IS

jihadists, who control large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the forum his people were making great sacrifices to defeat ISIL.

“We must not lose purpose and lose time.