Archive for September, 2019

Truss lays out Nationals plans

15/09/2019

A coalition government will roll out a $1 billion fund to support regional areas and set its own road and rail priorities, but scrap any Rudd government programs that are not under signed contract.

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Nationals leader Warren Truss on Thursday revealed the coalition would spend $200 million a year over five years on a new National Stronger Regions Fund.

Mr Truss said the fund to start in 2015 would be used for social and economic infrastructure in regions with high unemployment.

Each project would require a 50 per cent matching contribution from the proponent or local or state government.

“This program is long overdue recognition that when regions are strong so is our country,” Mr Truss told the National Press Club in a pre-election address.

Asked what would happen to the hundreds of projects in train under Labor’s Regional Development Australia Fund, Mr Truss said the coalition would honour all signed contracts.

“If there haven’t been contracts signed then they are just Labor party election promises,” he said.

Mr Truss said Labor immediately cancelled coalition government-funded projects when it came to power in 2007.

The Nationals leader – who has travelled 30,000km during the election campaign on what is affectionately called the “Wombat Trail” – said the coalition would set its own road and rail priorities and bring back two Howard government schemes, Roads to Recovery and the black spots program.

But he would not commit to the $8.4 billion in infrastructure listed in Labor’s most recent budget.

“We have identified the road and other infrastructure projects we will fund,” Mr Truss said.

“We are not committed to Labor party election promises. We have our own promises and we will deliver.”

Liberal party members are arguing the trade portfolio under an Abbott government should not go to the Nationals, who many regard as too protectionist.

Mr Truss said he felt it was important the Nationals leader should have a domestic portfolio.

But he said he would argue for the Nationals to hold a trade-related portfolio at either a parliamentary secretary or ministry level.

Mr Truss said such arguments were premature before the election.

Asked about his future, the 64-year-old Queensland MP said he intended to remain leader for as long as he was able.

There were “plenty of potential leaders” in the Nationals, he said, including Barnaby Joyce who is seeking to move from the Senate to the lower house at the September 7 election.

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Iraq attacks kill 48

15/09/2019

A series of attacks in Baghdad and north Iraq has killed 48 people amid a surge in violence that authorities have failed to stem.

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Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to press on with his anti-insurgency campaign, which has reportedly led to the arrest of hundreds of alleged militants and the killing of dozens.

But analysts and diplomats say authorities have failed to tackle the root causes of Iraq’s worst violence since 2008: anger in the Sunni Arab community over perceived ill-treatment by the Shiite-led authorities and security forces.

Sunday’s violence, which left more than 100 people wounded, struck the Baghdad area and predominantly Sunni Arab towns and cities to the north, but the deadliest of the attacks hit the capital.

A series of bombings – two car bombings and a roadside bomb – went off between 4pm (2300 AEST) and 5:30pm (0030 AEST) in Baghdad and its outskirts, killing nine people and wounding 22 others, officials say.

The blasts struck a variety of neighbourhoods across the city, and were the latest in a burgeoning trend of militant attacks in the afternoon and evening in Baghdad.

In previous years, deadly attacks have typically struck during the morning rush-hour when much of the capital is in gridlock.

Along with the spate of blasts, two other bombings in Baghdad killed nine and wounded 29.

Violence has markedly increased in Iraq this year.

Attacks have killed more than 3,600 people since the beginning of 2013, according to figures compiled by AFP.

The surge in violence has raised concerns that Iraq is teetering on the brink of a return to the all-out sectarian war in 2006-2008 that left tens of thousands dead.

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Ko wakes up to grab share of lead

15/09/2019

New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko took time to wake up but there was nothing sleepy about the way she opened her defence of the Canadian Open golf championship[.

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The world’s top amateur, who had a 7am tee time, carded a five-under-pa 65 to be in a three-way tie for the lead after day one in Edmonton.

“When I tried to wake up this morning, my eyelids weren’t coming up,” she said.

“I said, oh, my God, I’m just tired. But after you’ve woken up, you’re fine, you’re ready to go.”

The 16-year-old went on to reel off five birdies in her opening 10 holes at Royal Mayfair. There was another birdie on the 14th, before her only bogey at the 15th.

She finished level with world No.16 Angela Stanford of the United States and Dutchwoman Christel Boeljon, who had a hole-in-one late in her round.

The three are one stroke clear of Americans Christie Kerr and Paula Creamer, with world No.1 Inbee Park of South Korea another shot back.

“Up to the seventh hole I went birdie, par, birdie, par, that kind of pattern,” Ko said.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind the colour ratio on my scorecard if I looked on the computer. I played pretty solid today.”

World No.19 Ko was at her ball-striking best.

She hit her approach on the par-five third to tap-in distance, while the rest of her birdie putts were “just reasonable distances, not extremely long or extremely short”.

Last year, when she took the title in Vancouver at 15, she created international headlines by being the youngest winner of an LPGA event.

She admitted it was different coming into an event with a world-class field as the title-holder.

“I did feel a little bit of pressure, not from others but from myself,” she said.

“I called my dad a couple days ago and he said, `Just relax, you can’t control everything, just play the game that you want to play and that you planned’.”

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Magpies’ AFL defence crucial to attack

15/09/2019

Ben Reid’s move into Collingwood’s attack has been a Magpie success and forward coach Matthew Lappin is counting on the club’s defenders to ensure he stays there.

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The Collingwood assistant said Reid, who switched from defence mid-season, had become the AFL’s No.1-ranked player at winning one-on-one contests in attack.

Crucially, he has also made fellow Magpies tall targets Travis Cloke and Quinten Lynch more effective, contributing to Collingwood’s improved recent form.

Last round against West Coast, the three marking forwards combined for nine goals.

Lappin said when Reid was in the backline earlier in the season, former Eagle Lynch struggled to fill the deep forward role alongside Cloke that the club was seeking.

Reid, who has kicked 20 goals since round 10, has filled that role admirably.

The move has also allowed Lynch to play the position he prefers further up the ground, boosting his form and making opposition defenders focus less on Cloke.

But if opposition tall forwards dominate the Magpies at some stage during the finals, Lappin noted it could also undo Collingwood’s attacking structure.

“It can only work if Lachy Keeffe stands up the way he has down back and Nathan Brown stands up the way he has,” Lappin told AAP.

“If they didn’t defend well, then obviously there would be a need for Reidy to go back.

“But I think there was a real need for us to inject more talent into our forward line … not only talent but guys who can get the job done.

“Early in the year, when we were going to Lynchy in there, he was unable to get the job done as much as we’d like.

“That meant the players would kick to Clokey more than we’d like them to … we needed a better spread and we think we’re starting to get there now.”

Lappin said Brown and Keeffe had been holding up their end of the bargain well, but noted AFL history was littered with examples of big forwards tearing apart finals matches.

Collingwood need look back only to the 2011 grand final, when a burst of dominance by Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, opposed to Reid at the time, turned the game.

Lappin said Kangaroos tall forwards Drew Petrie, Robbie Tarrant and Aaron Black will provide an important test of Collingwood’s defence in the club’s last pre-finals tune-up at the MCG on Sunday.

The Kangaroos’ status among the AFL’s best clubs in winning contested ball and punishing opposition turnovers adds to their value as finals testing boards, Lappin said.

“Certainly the way we like to set our game up is, defensively, we want to be very strong then we want to win our share of contested ball,” he said.

“Any coach will tell you that’s what stands up in finals.

“So it’s an opportunity for us to tune up for our first final the week after.”

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PM finds support in western Sydney

15/09/2019

Labor may be struggling in the polls in western Sydney but it still has some supporters, like small business operator Marie Lai of Toongabbie.

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Ms Lai, a Labor member who runs a clothing alteration business called Marie’s KK Clothing, welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement on Friday he will cut red tape for small businesses.

She said GST paperwork was killing her.

“I have to do it every night. Running a small business, you are busy during the day time. You haven’t got an accountant,” she said.

Then there’s Mustapha and Ghada Khoder, proprietors of the Abu Hussein Mixed Business in South Granville, a stopover on the campaign trail.

“Most of us are Labor supporters,” said Mrs Khoder who came from Lebanon three decades ago.

“Everyone is so excited. We have never met him before.”

Not so happy was Toongabbie accountant Gerard Quinn, who found the PM taking a morning coffee break in The Blend Cafe in Toongabbie.

“What they should do is cut the Labor government and cut Rudd,” he said.

One of those in the firing line is Labor MP for the electorate of Greenway Michelle Rowland, who holds her seat with a margin of less than one per cent.

She said polls weren’t that important at this stage of the campaign and her priority was to get out and talk to as many people as possible.

“I have been doing that for three years. This is pretty much a normal day for me,” she said.

“People are very interested to know about policy. They are very much in the space where they are about to make a choice. There are a lot of undecided people still.”

NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright welcomed moves to reduce the GST reporting burden on small businesses.

“Being the unpaid tax collector for governments constitutes a large portion of the regulatory burden for small businesses, and reducing this burden can only be a positive outcome,” he said.

Mr Cartwright called on the coalition and other parties to endorse the policy announcement.

“Red tape generated by all levels of government costs the NSW business community approximately $4.8 billion each year,” he said.

“Any steps that we can take to reduce this burden is good news for the economy and excellent news for jobs.”

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