Archive for March, 2019

Rudd navy policy gets tourism tick

15/03/2019

The tourism industry’s peak body appears to be a lone voice welcoming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise to move naval assets from Sydney to Queensland, saying it opens up much-needed space for cruise liners.

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NSW politicians and the Australia Defence Association have come out in chorus to oppose the plan.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief Ken Morrison said it was essential to move the cruise terminal to the naval precinct at Garden Island because Sydney desperately needs more berthing space.

“Cruising is the fastest growing part of the tourism industry and is predicted to generate $1 billion a year for the NSW economy by 2020,” he said on Tuesday.

Sydney Business Chamber director Patricia Forsythe advocated a compromise.

She said naval and cruise ships sharing Garden Island would allow the cruise industry to continue to grow while “maintaining our strong historic and economic connections with the defence industry”.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell says Mr Rudd’s plan will “slash” thousands of jobs from the state’s economy and he should have been consulted.

An irate premier spent much of Tuesday detailing the devastating impact of relocating the navy’s east coast base to Brisbane.

“A phone call would’ve been helpful,” Mr O’Farrell fired at Mr Rudd during a showdown in front of the cameras on the harbour foreshore.

The premier took up the fight again during question time, saying news of the move would have been “a devastating start to the day” for the 4000 people who work at the base.

Mr O’Farrell then urged the PM to “stop the selfies”, referencing the Labor leader’s immoderate use of his mobile phone on the campaign trail.

“These are not just for taking selfies. These are for calling premiers,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“If he picked up the phone I could have stopped him from making a terrible mistake in this state.”

Mr Rudd accused Mr O’Farrell of “huffing and puffing”.

“The Royal Australian Navy is not Premier O’Farrell’s property,” he said in Brisbane later in the day.

“It is the property of the Australian government making national security decisions about where our defence assets should be located in the future.”

Under Labor’s strategic plan, the navy would be moved north over time, possibly to Townsville in northern Queensland and Brisbane.

Deputy NSW Premier Andrew Stoner accused the prime minister of ignoring the recommendations of his own defence experts.

“It’s a terrible, terrible sign that he would ignore the expert advice, the White Paper, just to save his own skin,” he told parliament.

The Australia Defence Association says Brisbane just isn’t a viable option for the major naval base Mr Rudd is proposing.

The lobby group’s executive director Neil James said Brisbane was on a flood-prone river which opened onto a large shallow bay.

“You’d have to build the base and then you would have to dredge a whole lot of channels separate to the commercial shipping channels. You’d have to dredge them in perpetuity and the environmental and financial costs would be massive,” he said. “It is just not a viable option for a major base.”

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Forgiven Quade set for Test return

15/03/2019

All has been forgiven by senior Wallabies as a more mature Quade Cooper looks set to start his first Wallabies Test since his “toxic” outburst 11 months ago.

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Despite coach Ewen McKenzie keeping his cards close to his chest, it appears Cooper is about to win back Australia’s No.10 jersey from rookie playmaker Matt Toomua for Saturday night’s clash with South Africa.

McKenzie hinted the Wallabies would stay true to their attacking roots at Suncorp Stadium where they have an amazing 7-0 record in running big Springbok outfits into the ground.

Cooper possesses the best passing skills and vision to achieve that end, shown by his penchant for producing his precise attacking rugby against South African teams in both Test and Super Rugby.

South Africa are certainly braced for the mercurial Queensland five-eighth to start with coach Heyneke Meyer rating him among the most dangerous players in the game.

“I think it’s just a matter of time when he comes back,” Meyer said.

“I just believe if Cooper plays well and (Will) Genia plays well then the Wallabies play well.

“I truly believe he’s a game breaker and especially if his confidence is way up there.”

Cooper has shown glimpses but overall hasn’t enjoyed his best season in 2013.

He was overlooked by Robbie Deans for the Lions series, didn’t feature in the Reds’ top-10 in their Stan Pilecki Medal standings and came off the bench in the two Bledisloe Cup losses where he opted against taking on the All Black defence.

But Wallabies stalwarts believe he’s in far better shape to guide the team around the field than last year when he described the team’s culture as “toxic” after being criticised by Deans for his display against Argentina on the Gold Coast.

Cooper, himself, has admitted he’s since matured and learned his lessons.

“I’ve definitely noticed that from Quade, and that’s all for the better I think for him,” hooker Stephen Moore said on Monday.

“He’s been really mature in the camps and has kept working hard and that’s very noticeable to see that and it’s really good.

“Look, you never close the door on anyone in Australian rugby and a guy like that with so much talent, it’s great to have those kind of players in your squad.

“They can win you games and that’s important to consider.

“He’s been really good around the group in the last few weeks and I’m sure that will continue.”

McKenzie, who will announce his team on Wednesday, stressed Cooper was in good form but said tactics would ultimately decide whether he, Toomua or Bernard Foley would start.

The former Reds coach has traditionally produced a run-and-stun blueprint against South African sides in Brisbane and hinted he could use that Super Rugby blueprint as Australia shouldn’t play to the Boks’ set-piece and kicking strengths.

“They love having set-pieces and they structure most of their game from that,” McKenzie said. “That’s what they want.

“The question is whether you give it to them.

“We’ll have to find a way to win. But winning doesn’t have to be stodgy.”

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Judge orders Armstrong to speak on doping

15/03/2019

A Texas judge is pushing Lance Armstrong closer to his first sworn testimony on details of his performance-enhancing drug use, ordering the cyclist to answer questions about who knew what and when about his doping, including possibly his ex-wife and his attorneys.

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Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance Holding is seeking the information in its lawsuit to recover $US3 million ($A3.33 million) in bonuses it paid Armstrong from 1999 to 2001. A judge previously refused to dismiss the case.

Acceptance is trying to prove a yearlong conspiracy and cover-up by Armstrong to commit fraud. It wants to know when several of Armstrong’s personal and business associates – including ex-wife Kristin Armstrong, team officials, the cyclist’s lawyers and International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid – first learned of his doping.

Armstrong’s attorneys objected to those demands in court documents, arguing the former cyclist already has acknowledged cheating and that Acceptance is engaged in a “harassing, malicious … fishing expedition” intended to “make a spectacle of Armstrong’s doping.”

Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak last week ordered Armstrong to provide documents and written answers to a series of questions by the end of September. The case has been set for trial in April 2014.

The questions seek information dating to 1995 and ask Armstrong to detail who was paid for delivered performance-enhancing drugs, who determined what amount to use and administered them, and who was aware of his drug use. Acceptance specifically asks for information on when and how Armstrong’s closest friends, advisers, ex-wife and business partners learned of his doping.

After more than a decade of denials, Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey in a January interview that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times, titles that have now been stripped away. But the admission lacked details and he has refused to provide sworn testimony to a the US Anti-Doping Agency, even when it was presented as his only chance to lift his lifetime ban from sport.

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Scott faces early test with fire emergency

15/03/2019

It’s her first week on the job, but already the newly-minted MP Fiona Scott is preparing to brief the prime minister about a bushfire emergency unfolding in her electorate.

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Ms Scott on Tuesday urged her new constituents to follow the advice of their local emergency crews as fires raged throughout her western Sydney seat of Lindsay.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling numerous blazes across NSW, with the worst located in and around Castlereagh in Ms Scott’s electorate.

The Liberal MP-elect said she’d spoken with local residents who were concerned by the plumes of smokes covering the area and fires near their properties.

The electorate in the foothills of the Blue Mountains is semi-rural and susceptible to bushfire outbreaks, she added.

“People out in our part of western Sydney are quite acutely aware of bushfire danger,” she told ABC News 24 on Tuesday.

The statewide emergency could prove an early test not just for Ms Scott but Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott, a volunteer with the Rural Fire Service.

Ms Scott said she would speak with Mr Abbott later on Tuesday and ensure he was up to speed on the latest developments in the region.

“Ironically, it’s actually some of his teams from his Warringah bushfire brigade are actually here helping us today,” she said.

“The plan here will be making sure… he is aware of the situation on the ground here in Lindsay and the Penrith region.”

Ms Scott – praised during the election campaign by Tony Abbott for having “sex appeal” – claimed the coalition one of their biggest scalps when she defeated Labor minister David Bradbury on Saturday.

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Swans rule out Goodes for AFL finals

15/03/2019

Sydney’s stuttering AFL premiership defence has taken another massive hit, with dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes ruled out for the rest of this finals series.

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Goodes has not played since round 13 because of a knee injury and once he failed to come up for Saturday night’s semi-final against Carlton, the Swans announced his season was over.

Carlton included ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, who is yet to prove his fitness, and named Brock McLean as an emergency, while Geelong as expected recalled key forward Tom Hawkins.

But the big news was Sydney deciding not to risk Goodes, regardless of how far they progress this month.

“Adam trained as hard as he had for quite a while on Tuesday and pulled up OK yesterday, but he was a little bit sore in the warm up today and therefore we decided not to push him,” coach John Longmire said after Thursday’s team announcement.

“It is not a case of him having reinjured his knee, he’s still fine, but the intensity of Tuesday’s session meant that it was hard for him to back it up again today, so that’s his season done.

“It is obviously disappointing but the reality is that Adam hasn’t played for a significant amount of time and we have a great deal of confidence in the group of players who are available.”

Sydney have repeatedly shown that you write them off at your peril.

They will start favourites against the Blues at ANZ Stadium, but they have had a bad run with injuries and are coming off a woeful second half in the qualifying final loss to premiership favourites Hawthorn.

They also lost Ben McGlynn with a calf injury and left out Gary Rohan, with Shane Biggs and Harry Cunningham to make their AFL finals debuts.

The Blues made two late changes before Sunday’s upset elimination final win over Richmond and the same could apply against Sydney.

Kreuzer hurt his calf against the Tigers, while McLean’s quad injury flared during the warmup and he was a last-minute scratching.

Tall utility Levi Casboult is among Carlton’s emergencies should Kreuzer not recover in time.

Hawkins, who has an ongoing back problem, was brought back for Friday night’s semi-final against Port Adelaide at the MCG.

The key forward is a day-by-day proposition and is no certainty to play against the Power.

The Cats lost Corey Enright (knee) and Josh Caddy (ankle), while Josh Walker predictably made way for Hawkins.

The Hunts – Taylor and Josh – will also return, while Port are unchanged.

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