Daily News Roundup

July 31, 2019

George Calombaris, former MasterChef judge, says 'I'm sorry' for underpaying staff
Image: ABC News

Daily News Roundup 

WEDNESDAY JULY 31

George Calombaris says he is sorry for underpaying his restaurant staff and hopes he can now be a “voice for change” in the hospitality industry. 

George has spoken publicly for the first time about the matter to Leigh Sales and said he was “gutted” when he realised he had underpaid staff $7.8 million at a number of his restaurants. 

His company MAdE has since back paid the current and former employees, and will make a $200,000 “contrition payment” under a court-enforceable undertaking made with the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

“I won’t forget that afternoon in 2017 when we sat there with my new business partners after we’d done a full audit for the business and discovered the underpayments,” Calombaris told 7:30. 

“I want to apologise to all my team, both past and present, for the effect I’ve had on them, we’ve had on them. I apologise to them.” 

Calombaris assured the underpayment was an oversight and that his employees “are everything to us”.

“I take full responsibility for this. I’m sorry.

“The thing about 13 years ago, you’re a young chef, 26 years of age, you want to open your first restaurant, you get together with three other partners at that point, and you open the first one, then the second one opens, the third one, the creativity is flying, the ideas flying, the dreaming is there. 

“There was no CEO, there was no people culture manager, there was no elite finance team like we’ve got now, that can make sure that mistake that we made will never happen again.” 

“We aren’t closing our restaurants.”

Calombaris was dumped from a major Western Australian tourism campaign after the scandal broke. 

Network 10 soon afterwards announced that Calombaris and fellow judges Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston would not be returning for the next season of MasterChef, after the parties failed to reach a deal “despite months of negotiation”. 

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The expansion of a planned bikeway for Indooroopilly into a riverwalk, filling a missing link for cyclists and pedestrians between the western suburbs and The University of Queensland,  will cost about $58 million over three years. 

The cost of the riverwalk has been questioned in council meetings on Tuesday, after the council announced the original $8 million first stage of the bikeway would be combined with the planned second stage and upgraded to a riverwalk late last year. 

The new planned riverwalk will connect the Western Freeway Bikeway and the University of Queensland, taking cyclists off the main roads and onto dedicated cycling connections. 

Stage One of the planned cycleway will connect Witton Road and Twigg Street to Foxton Street and Radnor Street, adding pedestrian connections at Riverview Terrace.

Greens councillor, Jonathan Sri, questioned the large scale spending in a lower-volume cycling corridor and the prioritising of Indooroopilly’s riverwalk. Cr Adams said the council wanted the western suburbs to have safe cycling access.

“At the moment, yes, the numbers are low, but we believe the numbers are low because there is no safe access,” she said.

“By developing I think we’re going to see an enormous increase in cycling from the western suburbs to UQ.”

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A missing Australian woman has been identified as a “Jane Doe” found dead in Washington DC after her mother flew to the United States to search for her.

Meghan Godfrey, 27, had been sleeping on the streets after having her wallet and ID stolen and emailed her mother, Janelle, asking her to come and take her home.

Meghan was from the far north Queensland town of Yungaburra, about 45 kilometres south-west of Cairns, but was believed to have had family in Toowoomba.

A Washington-based support service, posted on Facebook that Janelle had approached them and asked for help tracking down her daughter. 

“[She] was recently sighted in Washington DC last Friday in Union Station near Gallery Place.

“The daughter is in a vulnerable state, had her wallet/ID stolen, and is living on the streets.

“We have been unable to locate her since Friday.

“The daughter did send her mother an email two weeks ago asking her to come take her home…that she is ‘ready to go back’. That is why her mother is here.”

According to a GoFundME campaign set up to support Meghan’s family, her body was in a local morgue, unidentified, until a description reached those who were searching for her. 

“On July 16, Meghan Godfrey sadly departed this world. Meghan was charming, trusting, personable and full of adventure. She will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate to have met her,” a US homelessness support worker Ami Angell, who created the GoFundMe, wrote. 

Washington DC Metropolitan Police confirmed the 27-year-old Australian was discovered with severe lacerations to her head about 10:30am on July 16 local time. 

She was treated by paramedics but died at the scene. It is believed there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. 

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