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Truss lays out Nationals plans

Posted by on 15/09/2019 at 4:14 pm
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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.

Iraq attacks kill 48

Posted by on 15/09/2019 at 4:14 pm
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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.

Ko wakes up to grab share of lead

Posted by on 15/09/2019 at 4:14 pm
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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’.”

Magpies’ AFL defence crucial to attack

Posted by on 15/09/2019 at 4:14 pm
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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.”

PM finds support in western Sydney

Posted by on 15/09/2019 at 4:14 pm
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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.”

Demons coach blasts player discipline

Posted by on 15/08/2019 at 2:17 pm
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Melbourne’s caretaker coach Neil Craig has savaged the lack of player discipline at the AFL club and warned their vacant coaching job isn’t for the faint-hearted.

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Craig says the Demons are stuck in a loser’s rut after Adelaide crushed them by 68 points on Saturday, winning 18.12 (120) to 7.10 (52).

Melbourne were within 23 points of Adelaide four minutes into the final term at AAMI Stadium, but then managed just one solitary point as the Crows booted the last seven goals of the game.

Alarming ill-discipline blighted Melbourne’s performance, evidenced by defender Tom McDonald when outmarked by Adelaide’s six-goal forward Lewis Johnston in the third term.

McDonald inexplicably knocked the ball from Johnston’s hands and was penalised 50 metres, but didn’t even bother to stand the mark as the Crow strolled past him to the goal-line and scored.

“It probably says something is going through their psyche at the moment – the frustration of enormous effort for little return,” said Craig, who is uncertain if he wants to be Melbourne’s coach next season.

“From a coaching perspective, you’re going to need an enormous amount of patience and it certainly won’t be for the faint-hearted. There is a lot of work to do.

“We’re a long way off being a hard-nosed footy club to generate a win. We are a long was away as a total footy club … we have lost for so long that we need to break that habit.

“Whoever is coaching the side will need to make use of absolutely every bit of time that is available for this squad because you can’t waste a minute when you’re where we’re at.”

Melbourne gave away 14 more free kicks than the Crows, who successfully marked their final game at AAMI Stadium ahead of their move to a redeveloped Adelaide Oval next season.

Adelaide’s triumph was built by two scoring sprees: they kicked six unanswered goals in the second quarter and seven majors without reply to the end of the match.

Johnston booted four of his goals in a festive final quarter as the 34,653-strong crowd spent the last 10 minutes performing Mexican waves.

“I would have taken a one-point win to send off a stadium full of fantastic memories for our footy club,” Crows coach Brenton Sanderson said.

“We really built it up internally, that it was a really important game for our club and our fans.”

Robinson backs Roosters’ big guns to fire

Posted by on 15/08/2019 at 2:17 pm
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Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has told his star-studded squad to use all of their big-game experience to secure the NRL minor premiership with victory over bitter rivals South Sydney on Friday.

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In what will be the biggest non-finals match for years the ANZ Stadium encounter is to be a winner takes all affair – but Robinson knows there’s far more at stake than just lifting the JJ Giltinan Shield and pocketing $100,000.

It will be the first time since 1968 the two foundation clubs will face off for the minor premiership and local pride in addition to the perfect boost leading into the finals is very much at the forefront of Robinson’s mind.

“You want to be the best team in the competition, but sadly the way our game has gone we’ve moved away from the traditional models of sporting competitions where first past the post wins,” Robinson said.

“It is decided on one day in October and that’s our focus. We want to win games, and if that means we’ve won more games than others then good.

“But it’s not just about that. There are games coming up that will be just as important as this one.”

However, the 35-year-old is fully aware of the importance of this game to everyone connected to both clubs.

“The rivalry with Souths has been around for a long time,” he said.

“I came here in 1995 as a player as a young guy of 17 and I felt it right back then – as soon as you walk into the place.

“You hear it from ex-players from Souths and the Roosters, we live next door to each other.

“Our fans live next door to each other. There’s a big rivalry there and a respect.

“But you know playing Souths that it’s an important game for our club when it comes around twice a year and we want to win.”

The Roosters will take to the field with 11 of their 17-man squad having played in a grand final compared to just Jeff Lima, Roy Asotasi and Greg Inglis in the Souths side.

And although Sonny Bill Williams and Anthony Minichiello are the only players to have a premiership rings in his team, Robinson believes knowing what it takes to win finals games is priceless.

“The importance of big-game experience is vital to players and we will need to use some of that tomorrow,” Robinson said.

“There will be a lot of pressure on us. We’re going to an away ground with the Souths fans and that will be hard for some players.

“Any guys who have played big games will need to bring that with them.”

Dockers not scared by AFL history: Lyon

Posted by on 15/08/2019 at 2:17 pm
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Fremantle coach Ross Lyon insists the Dockers won’t be spooked by history as they attempt to inflict a rare home defeat on Geelong in Saturday’s AFL qualifying final.

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The Dockers last week labelled the prospect of playing a final at Simonds Stadium rather than in Melbourne “inconceivable”.

Lyon said on Saturday he would have expected to be playing at a world-class venue in a major city, not at a regional stadium.

The Cats have won 43 of their past 44 matches at their home ground and the city of Geelong hasn’t hosted a final since 1897.

But Lyon was focusing on the positives on Sunday, calling the Dockers’ trip to Geelong an exciting opportunity and predicting his side would give the clash a real shake.

“If history was a guide none of us would turn up, it would be Sydney’s premiership this year,” Lyon told the Seven Network’s AFL Game Day.

“It’s all about action, the only thing that counts for me is action and we’re keen to get into action.”

He said the Cats’ record was excellent everywhere, not just at home, during their current dynasty, which has netted three premierships since 2007.

But he noted the Dockers defied history last year, when they were also rated underdogs before they stunned the Cats in an elimination final at the MCG.

It was Fremantle’s first finals win outside Perth.

“We understand what we’re walking into but we’ve really grown as a football club,” Lyon said.

“It’s our first time in the top four for a while and to win a premiership you’ve got to put yourself up there.

“We’re going down to give it a real shake.

“No one really gave us much opportunity last year and we came out and played some very good football, so we know our best is very good.”

Lyon predicted 12 players would return for the Dockers, who fielded a virtual B-grade side against St Kilda on Saturday and rested many of their stars.

Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands, Stephen Hill, Michael Walters and Nick Suban, who all missed the game through injury, are among those expected to return, Lyon said.

He admitted to some second thoughts about such a low-key finals build-up while watching fellow top-four clubs Hawthorn and Sydney slug out a much more finals-like match on Friday night.

“When you saw the Hawks-Sydney game, how intense it was and how they went about it, (we wondered) have we done the right thing,” he said.

“We think we have but time will tell.”

Cutting aid will diminish security: Carr

Posted by on 15/08/2019 at 2:17 pm
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The coalition’s plan to reduce foreign aid spending by $4.

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5 billion will diminish Australia’s security, Foreign Minister Bob Carr says.

“We provide overseas aid because it’s in Australia’s interest,” Senator Carr said at the G20 leaders’ summit in St Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.

“We use foreign aid as a way of making Australia more secure as a nation.

“To cut back on that means you diminish Australian security.”

The coalition has released policy costings which include a $4.5 billion cut to foreign aid spending over four years.

The funds would be reallocated to three road projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The coalition is expected to easily win Saturday’s federal election but Senator Carr refused to be drawn on his own future in parliament if Labor loses.

“I’m only contemplating a Labor win,” he said.

“Yes, against the suggestions in the polls, but a Labor win based on the fact that people will vote for jobs and their economic security not for the cuts that Tony Abbott is promising.”

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello says the coalition’s planned cuts to foreign aid are “really cheap”.

“It’s very short-sighted and pretty devastating,” he told reporters at the G20 where he’s representing civil society NGOs.

“It’s really cheap to say ‘We are just going to look after ourselves – charity begins at home’.

“We can do both. This is not a good global look.”

Mr Costello said the coalition should follow Britain’s conservative prime minister who has said he won’t balance the books on the back of the world’s poor.

“It’s in all of our interests to invest in health and saving lives – particularly Australia’s – because the world’s poor are on our doorstep,” the World Vision chief said, adding increased prosperity benefited Australia through more trade and improved security.

Mr Abbott later denied foreign aid was being cut.

“We’re not cutting foreign aid, we’re just reducing the rate of increase,” he told the Seven Sunrise program on Friday.

“Under us, foreign aid will increase at CPI until such time as the budget is back in a much stronger position.”

AFL club presidents to meet on Bombers

Posted by on 15/08/2019 at 2:17 pm
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AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick has called a special meeting of club presidents for Thursday to brief them on the Essendon supplements crisis.

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Bombers’ coach James Hird says he has been denied natural justice after the AFL on Wednesday released details of charges laid against him.

Next Monday, the commission is supposed to hear the charges against Essendon, Hird, club doctor Bruce Reid, senior assistant coach Mark Thompson and Bombers football manager Danny Corcoran of bringing the league into disrepute.

But that hearing is now highly doubtful, meaning the Bombers go into the finals with the charges unresolved.

Hird and Essendon chairman Paul Little made it clear at a media conference on Wednesday afternoon that they will fight the AFL’s charges.

The AFL announced the charges last week, but on Wednesday released the much more comprehensive summary of the alleged offences.

“The AFL today continued its trial by media of me with the release of the charges against Essendon,” Hird said.

The Essendon coach also accused the AFL of a breach of due process by releasing a letter that club doctor Bruce Reid sent to him.

“The letter, released in isolation, is designed to damage my reputation,” Hird said.

Little said it was no coincidence the AFL released the charge details a day after a media report said the league had known since February that AOD-9604 was not a banned substance.

AOD-9604 is an anti-obesity drug that was administered to Essendon players, including captain Jobe Watson, during last year’s controversial supplements program at the club.

The status of the drug is one of the key issues of the AFL case and an ongoing investigation into Essendon by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

AFL medical expert Peter Larkins says he feels his friend Reid would be glad his letter has been released, which outlines Reid’s concerns over the use of some supplements.

“I believe he was happy that letter was made public because it clarified that he was not the bad guy behind this science program,” Larkins told 3AW on Wednesday night.

“There are other charges around Dr Bruce Reid’s involvement in this which he’s got to face and they haven’t been made public but I believe they may be made public tomorrow, which will be quite interesting to see the way the AFL is charging a doctor in that role.”