Labor unlikely to back Newstart increase

Labor unlikely to back Newstart increase

Chris Bowen say the Newstart rate needed to be assessed with the resources of government.Labor appears unlikely to back raising Newstart, with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen confident the party won't budge from its current position.
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Left faction members are pressuring the party to go further than its current position of committing to a review if elected to government.

But Mr Bowen believes the status quo will prevail at the ALP's national conference in Adelaide.

"Newstart is low, we need to review it. That is the Labor Party's position and I expect that to be reflected in the national conference resolution," he told reporters on Sunday.

The dole has been frozen in real terms since 1994, prompting calls from advocacy groups for a $75-a-week increase on the current rate of $275.

With an expected cost of $3 billion a year, some within Labor are reticent to support such an increase, with the coalition set to target the opposition on economic management during the election campaign.

While right faction member Mr Bowen stopped short of saying the current rate was too low, Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong, from the party's left wing, said it was.

"I don't think there's anyone in the Labor party who doesn't recognise that Newstart is too low," Senator Wong told reporters.

"The question is how do we go about rebuilding it, how do we go about lifting it, there is political will but it is a big task."

She said Labor would work through the difficult fiscal issue at conference and through shadow cabinet.

Mr Bowen said the rate of Newstart needed to be assessed with the resources of government and departmental advice.

"These are all matters which would take some reflection in government to consider the best approach. We want to get this right," Mr Bowen said.



Kohli scores sixth century in China

Kohli scores sixth century in China

India captain Virat Kohli has scored his sixth Test century in .India captain Virat Kohli has notched his sixth Test century in , joining the elite company of Sachin Tendulkar.
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Kohli brought up triple figures on day three of the second Test against at Perth Stadium, taking 214 balls to reach the mark - 161 of which were dot balls.

No other Indian batsman has scored more Test centuries in than Tendulkar and Kohli.

Tendulkar was faster to the mark, needing just 16 Tests in to notch six centuries

Kohli has done it in his 17th Test, and now has the chance to overtake Tendulkar.

Sunil Gavaskar scored five Test centuries in .

Kohli arrived at the crease with India reeling at 2-8 in their first innings.

He raced to 19 off his first 12 balls to break the stifling pressure had applied.

Kohli had his heart in his mouth on 22 when he shouldered arms to a big-spinning Nathan Lyon delivery that only just missed his stumps.

He was also involved in an absorbing duel with Pat Cummins, playing and missing a series of seaming deliveries.

Kohli received a painful blow to his left arm by a rising Mitchell Starc delivery.

But the leader generally looked in control, helping India work their way back into the match.

By the time Kohli notched his century, India were 4-207 and a chance to take a first-innings lead.

Kohli's average in was above 61 when he posted his century - a remarkable feat given the struggles international batsmen often encounter Down Under.

"He's obviously pretty good - number one in the world for a reason," n opener Marcus Harris told Fox Cricket.

"But hopefully we'll knock him over. Hopefully we can bowl some good balls and he can make a mistake. "



A-League: Jets go down to Perth as hoodoo stretches another year

A-League: Jets go down to Perth as hoodoo stretches another year

ON THE SPOT: Perth players congratulate Neil Kilkenny after the midfielder opened the visitors' account with a penalty in the clash against the Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Picture: Darren Pateman (AAP)
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The Newcastle Jets will have to wait another year to try and end one of the biggest hoodoos in the A-League after they were stung 2-0 by Perth Glory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

A controversial penalty which was converted by Neil Kilkenny in the second minute and an opportunist goal to Jason Davidson in the 25thminute was enough to seal the visitors three points and keep them unbeaten at the top of the ladder.

The Jets controlled large periods of the game. They pushed and probed, created opportunities but couldn’t convert.

Jair caused the Glory the most problems and could have scored ahat-trick on another night.

Instead, the Jets succumbed to a third defeat at home and slipped out of the top six.

It has been seven years since the Jets last beat Perth in Newcastle –a2-1 triumph onNovember 5, 2011.

They don’t host the West ns again this season, with the two remaining games to be played at nib Stadium in round 16 and 25.

The homes side led all the key statistics, bar the most important one.

They created 22shots to four, had 59percent of the ball and won the majority of duels but found themselves 2-0 down.

Merrick rewarded the XI that got the job done 2-0 against Brisbane, which meant Jason Hoffman returned from a back injury on the bench.

For the visitors, Joel Chianese came in for Diego Castro (hamstring).

In an incredible opening, Jair could have put the Jets ahead after 12 seconds with a volley but was denied by a reflex save from Liam Reddy.

Thirty seconds later, the Glory were awarded a penalty whenGlen Moss was ruled to have bundled over Chianese after he wrong-footed the Jets keeper on the slippery surface. Contact appeared minimal.

The VAR reviewed the call but agreed with referee Stephen Lucas.

Kilkenny sent Moss the wrong way with the spot kick;

Jair nearly put the home side on level terms in the 17thminute when he got in front his defender to meet a cross from Daniel Georgievski. Hemade good contact with a header but itcrashed into left post.

The Brazilian went close again four minutes later, forcing a diving save from LiamReddy.

The chances kept piling up for Jets, but it was the visitors who struck next in the 25thminuteafter a mistake from Moss.

Tomislav Mrcela lobbed a header into the six yard box. Moss climbed over a mess of bodies to take the ball but it spilled from his hands and Jason Davidson was on the spot to slot home.

Merrick introduced Jason Hoffman for Ivan Vujica in the 37thminute and went to Merrick reverted to a back three with Ben Kantarovski dropping from midfield.

The move nearly boughtinstant success.

Dimi Petratos played the right fullback in but his angled shot from 10 metres couldn’t beat Reddy.

The Jets continued to push and probe against a Perth back five but could find a killer blow.

Kantarovski had a half chance in the opening minute of the second half when lunged to at a ball over the top.

Hoffman then glanced a header wide and Daniel Geogievski lifted a shot over the bar as the Jets’ frustration started to build.

Community tick for Labor’s housing promise

Community tick for Labor’s housing promise

Bill Shorten, seen in November, again talking up housing affordability.Community groups believe Labor's plan to pour $6.6 billion into 250,000 new affordable rental homes is a good start to addressing spiralling rents.
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But the coalition says the last time Labor tried this idea it helped dodgy investors build tiny apartments rather than good-sized family homes.

Bill Shorten announced a plan to pay investors $8500 a year for 15 years to build new homes, as long as they are offered to low and middle income renters for 20 per cent below the market rate.

"Our plan will mean that a family paying the national rental average would save up to $92 a week, every week of the year," Mr Shorten told Labor's national conference in Adelaide on Sunday.

"(We'll) make sure these homes are built where they're needed most, and to go to the people who need them most. Not foreign investors, nor international students," Mr Shorten said.

Community Housing Industry Association chief executive PETA Winzar welcomed a long-term plan to address affordable housing shortages, while the n Council of Social Services said the 25,000 homes a year was a good start.

But Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said a similar program under Kevin Rudd had been full of holes.

"The incentive is the same for a one bedroom unit or a four bedroom house - so the scheme has discouraged the construction of bigger houses for families in need," Mr Fletcher said.

"The incentive is the same all across - so it is less likely to stimulate new housing in higher cost areas.

"Bill Shorten wants to revive the scheme - but how it will be funded is all smoke and mirrors."

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen rejected the government's analysis and said the Rudd scheme had worked well.

But he said Labor had learned how to improve it and the party was taking action to make it easier for people to find housing.



Where the rain fell in the Hunter over NSW’s stormy weekend

Where the rain fell in the Hunter over NSW’s stormy weekend

Wet weekend arrives late in city with Sunday afternoon downpour CLOUDS GATHER: Foreboding clouds above Newcastle Ocean Baths on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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TIME TO GET OUT: Swimmers defy the afternoon rainfall at Newcastle Ocean Baths on Sunday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

SHOWERS: Bathers end their weekend early after a burst of rain on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebook Sunday afternoon bucketing in NewcastleRainfall at Newcastle Ocean Baths. Pictures: Max Masone-HubersA brief, but powerful,burst of rain disrupted an otherwisedry Sunday for Novocastrians.Adownpour hitthe city at2.30pm.

Nobbys Beach recordedthreemillimetresof rain in less than half-an-hour, while a continuous drizzle brought that up to five millimetresby the evening.

It was a wet weekend for some areas of the Hunter,Katarina Kovacevic of the Bureau of Meteorology said, with“isolated heavy falls”arrivingonSaturday.

Maitland Airport recorded the highest rainfall in the region on Saturday, totalling 43 mm.

“Closer to home it seems like there was a report of 40 mmat Barnsley [in Lake Macquarie]. That was one of the higher totals in theNewcastle region,” shesaid.

“It seems like there was less rain in Newcastle itself.”

Nobbys Beach recordedjust one millimetre, and Newcastle University two.

On SundayBarnsley was soaked again, receiving37 mm of rain, the highest rainfall in the region.

“Tocal had8.4 and that was one of the higher ones,” Ms Kovacevic said.

Showers areexpected throughout the week in Newcastle until Friday.

The meteorologist said there was a chance of a storm on Monday afternoon, and a “slight chance” of a shower on Tuesday.

Wednesday will likely be wet with thepossibility of anotherthunderstorm. There is also a chance of showers on Thursday and Friday.

“We’ve got a trough over eastern parts of NSW,including the Hunter region. It’s drawing really humid air fromQueensland, and that air is full of moisture,” Ms Kovacevic said.

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Birrell wins Aussie Open wildcard playoff

Birrell wins Aussie Open wildcard playoff

File photo of Kimberly Birrell who won the n Open wildcard playoff.Kimberly Birrell was overcome with emotion after securing a place in next month's n Open main draw with victory in the wildcard playoff final in Melbourne.
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Eighth-seeded Birrell outclassed fifth-seeded West n Astra Sharma 6-4 6-2 to earn her second grand-slam appearance, having previously received a wildcard in 2016.

Birrell's success came after the Queenslander felt like she "started from scratch again" after elbow surgery two years ago that led to her spiralling outside the world's top 1000.

"So many mixed emotions. It all hit me at the end because I knew she was going to put up a fight until the very last point, until we shook hands," the 20-year-old said.

"So I'm just so happy - there's so much joy. I've been waiting for this opportunity and I'm just so glad I could take it.

"I never take anything for granted but I was hopeful and, through every single training session, you always have to have goals and you have to dream big and that's what I've done.

"It's going to be incredible, come January, and I'm just super excited."

A graduate of the same Southport tennis centre that produced Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic, Birrell suffered a gallant 6-4 6-4 first-round loss to world No.9 Karolina Pliskova three years ago in her only previous Open start.

"During that AO, I played on Hisense Arena, one of the biggest courts in the world, so I'm definitely going to draw on that experience for sure," said Birrell, who has climbed back to No.288 in the rankings.

James Duckworth also crowned a comeback from serious injury with victory over former n Open and Wimbledon junior champion Luke Saville in a rain-interrupted men's playoff final.

Duckworth won 6-3 5-7 7-5 7-6 (7-2) after the long battle was suspended for 90 minutes by a flash storm.

Duckworth's win earned him a seventh main-draw berth at the Open and came after the 26-year-old underwent five rounds of surgery, mostly for foot injuries, over 12 months.



Free rego fairer than toll refund: premier

Free rego fairer than toll refund: premier

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she wants to save motorists money across the board.NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says it is fairer to only offer refunds on one of Sydney's nine toll roads after Labor promised to extend the cashback scheme.
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Labor says that if elected, it will extend the M5 Southwest toll cashback to the M4 Western Motorway in a policy that will cost $113 million in its first year.

Tolls were reinstated on the motorway between Parramatta and Homebush in mid-2017 after the road was widened to eight lanes as part of the WestConnex project.

But Ms Berejiklian said it was fairer to give all motorists savings regardless of which road they used, pointing to her policy to give free or discounted rego to regular toll road users.

Asked how it was fair to run a refund scheme for only the M5, the premier said the cashback was an "existing arrangement".

"We think that's fairer, we're not going to decide which motorists have savings and which shouldn't," she told reporters on Sunday.

"People who use the M5 can choose whether they want free rego, they can work out what works best for them."

The premier said her government was instead upgrading roads and building WestConnex which would cut travel times for people living in western Sydney.

Labor had predicted refunding M4 tolls would cost $200 million a year.

But Opposition Leader Michael Daley said the price was now down to $113 million in the first year, according to analysis from the parliamentary budget office.

Mr Daley sidestepped a question about the policy being just about a quest to win back the seat of Penrith, which is currently held by NSW minister Stuart Ayres.

"It's about making sure families in western Sydney who are struggling with the cost of living have a clear policy choice," the Labor leader said.

"If they want to pay for 46 years to use the M4, vote for the state government (and) if they want to travel for free, vote for Daley Labor."

The M5 cashback is only open to NSW residents who have registered for the scheme, have a toll account and a vehicle registered in NSW for private, pensioner or charitable use.



Aust Jerusalem decision an election issue

Aust Jerusalem decision an election issue

Scott Morrison has defended his decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital.Malaysia has come out strongly against the n government's move to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, calling the decision "premature" and a "humiliation to the Palestinians".
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But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it's a decision for , and wants the nation's new position to become an election issue if Labor won't support it.

Mr Morrison confirmed the foreign policy change on Saturday, which Labor has suggested it could reserve if it wins government in 2019.

The prime minister says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten needs to make the case for such a reversal before ns vote.

"He will have to outline to the n community why he would want to now reverse that position and step back from what should be, I think, a very strong stand of support for Israel," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

A decision on the capital came after the government flouted the idea of moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in October, ahead of a crucial by-election in Wentworth.

It drew criticism from political rivals as a cynical ploy to buy votes in the electorate, which has a large Jewish population.

The step also drew rebukes from South East Asian trading partners, who feared wading into the multi-generational political quagmire could fuel unrest.

The government now says it won't move its embassy until a two-state solution is reached, at which time it will also recognise East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital.

But will establish a defence and trade office in Jerusalem and will start looking for an appropriate site for an embassy there.

The Malaysian foreign ministry expressed its strong opposition to the changes in a statement on Sunday.

"This announcement, made before the settlement of a two-state solution, is premature and a humiliation to the Palestinians and their struggle for the right to self-determination," the ministry said.

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the shift in foreign policy was a "unilateral, risky decision".

"It's all risk for no gain," she told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

Labor believes Jerusalem should remain recognised as the capital of both Israel and Palestine until the final stages of negotiations on a two-state solution.

Israel's foreign ministry commended the move as a step in the right direction, while Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the announcement was born of n "petty domestic politics".

Mr Morrison has defended the new position, saying it was time to call out the "rancid stalemate" in progress towards a two-state solution.

A delayed multi-billion-dollar trade deal with Indonesia is expected to be on shaky ground as a result of the announcement.

Indonesia's foreign ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, noted that had not moved its embassy to Jerusalem and called on all members of the United Nations to recognise a Palestinian state "based on the principle of two-state solutions".



Labor trying to play down incoming figures

Labor trying to play down incoming figures

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down his first budget update on Monday.ns will soon know the size of the budget surplus the federal government expects to deliver in 2019/20 after it raked more tax revenue in its coffers than planned.
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The figure will be revealed when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down his first budget update on Monday, with the statement also tipped to show other improvements to the budget bottom line.

Labor has continued in its efforts to characterise the likely rosy picture as a product of good luck and direct people's eyes to debt levels.

"They have got billions rolling through the door courtesy of the global economy, and the budget is improving despite their efforts and not because of them," Labor spokesman Jim Chalmers told the ABC News channel on Sunday.

"Despite billions of dollars rolling through the door, we still have skyrocketing debt, which is double what the Liberals inherited when they came to office in 2013."

But the coalition begs to differ.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the update - known formally as the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook - will show the government is holding to its promise of better financial management.

"We promised to bring the budget back into surplus and that's exactly what we're doing," he told reporters in South last week.

Economists believe the surplus forecast for 2019/20 could be as high as $11 billion, on the back of bigger-than-expected tax revenues.

Deloitte Access Economics expects the government will rake in an extra $9.2 billion in revenue in 2018/19 than it forecast in the May budget, leading to an underlying cash deficit of $4.9 billion for 2018/19, followed by a surplus of $4.2 billion the following year.

The government in May forecast a $14.5 billion deficit for 2018/19, followed by a $2.2 billion surplus in 2019/20.



I drank too much after Monkeygate: Symonds

I drank too much after Monkeygate: Symonds

batsman Chris Lynn and Andrew Symonds before a T20 international on the Gold Coast.Andrew Symonds admits he started drinking "way too much" after his 'Monkeygate' incident with Harbhajan Singh.
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He also revealed the Indian spinner later broke down in tears when he finally apologised over the episode.

Symonds was allegedly called a monkey by Singh during a heated Test match at the SCG in 2008.

The n allrounder alleges Singh had also called him a monkey during a previous ODI clash but promised not to do it again after that match.

Singh has previously claimed he never called Symonds a monkey during the SCG Test but rather the Hindi slur 'teri maa ki'.

The controversial spinner was initially handed a three-match Test ban but it was later overturned as the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India flexed its considerable muscle.

"I suppose this would be the moment where my whole persona to cricket changed," Symonds said in a Fox Cricket documentary Monkeygate - Ten Years On.

"I didn't realise the politics, the power, the money until this moment in my career,.

"I didn't realise how powerful one player, one incident, how much money was at stake and the ramifications.

"I went downhill pretty fast after this because I felt responsible for four of my mates, close mates (Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist), that I dragged into this whole situation and it beared very heavily on me.

"I started drinking way too much and my cricket, my mindset -- I started to go downhill, I just wasn't in the right frame of mind."

Symonds scored 162no and 61 in a match-winning performance in that Sydney Test.

But his Test career ended less than 12 months later as his life started to spiral out of control.

However, Symonds reached a sense of closure when he joined Singh at IPL franchise Mumbai Indians a few years later.

"When I first arrived there was deafening silence in the dressing shed when I walked in. There was a pink elephant in the corner. You could feel it," Symonds said.

"We (went) to a very wealthy man's place for a barbecue, drinks and dinner one night and the whole team's there and he had guests there, and Harbhajan said, 'Mate, can I speak to you for a minute out in the garden out the front?'

"He goes, 'Look, I've got to say sorry to you for what I did to you in Sydney. I apologise, I hope I didn't cause you, your family, your friends too much harm and I really apologise for what I said, I shouldn't have said it'.

"And he actually broke down crying, and I could just see that was a huge weight off his shoulders, he had to get rid of it.

"We shook hands and I gave him a hug and said, 'Mate, it's all good. It's dealt with'.

"I said to him, 'It wasn't your fault or my fault, it was the way it was all handled', and after that you could see that it was a weight off his shoulders."