Nick Lazaredes – Video Journalist











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Election blog: Spin and reality

One week out from election day, the gloves are well and truly off and the spend-athon begins, says our election blogger, ANU Professor John Wanna.


Spin and Reality – November 16

Both leaders made very dissimilar pitches to voters in their official campaign launches (both held auspiciously in Brisbane).

Howard filled his launch (and the TV package drawn from it) with a bevy of Coalition characters – hoping to show a united team but risking looking like a gaggle of dissenting voices.

Rudd was the sole performer at his launch, leading from the front and looking presidential. He chose to keep his shadow ministers securely in the shadows.

Howard rolled out another $9.4 billion in electoral bribes – many in the form of direct payments to voters’ households – some universal and not means-tested.

Rudd, by contrast, spent far less in his follow up act, giving just $2.3 billion away to schools, training schemes, university scholarships and energy programs. He chose not to fritter money on individual families. Labor clearly feels confident it does not need to bribe voters further – beyond the ‘me-too’ tax cuts of $341 billion.

The so-called ‘educational revolution’ seems to be running on the smell of an oily rag rather than anything substantial.

So, with both sides pumping out +/- $60 billion in electoral commitments we now see them a little embarrassed by their largesse.

But politicians are not politicians if they allow reality to get in the way of a good argument.

We are now seeing the mother of all prize-fights about who is the most responsible party – after the most profligate of all election campaigns.

There are signs electoral advertising is getting dirty and desperate – especially from the Coalition’s side who are at their wit’s ends about why the polls won’t move in their direction.

The Liberals ran out former ALP MP Brian Courtice claiming Rudd is incapable of standing up to union heavies. Courtice said Rudd couldn’t go ‘3 rounds with Winnie the Pooh’.

Meanwhile Labor is turning up the heat on John Howard personally. Initially Labor ran respectful ads but reminded voters Howard was departing. Now it has cranked up the momentum asserting that you can’t believe anything the PM says and can’t trust any of his commitments he has given in the campaign.

The shadow boxing is over and the fight is on for real.

Behind the Messages – November 12

John Howard argues Labor are unelectable because they lack experience. This is reminiscent of Paul Keating’s assertion of 1996 that Asian leaders would not talk to John Howard as PM. To follow the Howard logic we would never have a change of government – surely not consistent with democratic practice – and, of course, Howard and Costello were themselves once inexperienced.

Kevin Rudd’s argument that Howard lied in 2004 over interest rates ('we'll keep interest rates down') is a little dubious given the key commitment from the Coalition was that they would keep interest rates lower than Labor – an untestable proposition now. Both parties have been going back to 1992, or even 1982 (and earlier) to prove their cases – surely an arcane gesture.

The most bizarre claim over the past week has been the statement by Howard that divorce rates would rise under a Rudd government and that there would be more broken homes and fewer children born! Howard chose to endorse Dick Blandy’s intervention that up to 400,000 jobs would be at risk if Labor came to power. Blandy is a conservative economist – so apparently his views are preferred by the government over those of other industrial relations scholars.

The 'sorry-not-apology' charade from Howard was an attempt to mollify the mortgage belt – but it drew parallels to the lack of an apology to Indigenous Australians for their historical treatment by white settlers. The resulting muddle just reminded people of the culture of plausible deniability that has beset this government periodically.

Finally, Kevin Rudd's message that he would set up a 'Razor Gang' to cut back the public service took us back some years (to Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke's tenures) but perhaps sensibly he provided no detail of where the cuts would fall. He promised $3 billion in savings. Even if Labor abolished all political advertising ($300 million – and which is most unlikely) he still has to gouge out another nine-tenths to meet his target ($2.7 billion). Disbelief seems to have been the most common reception to his announcement – although there would be some machinery of government changes if Labor won.

These mid-campaign messages have been lame concoctions – indicating both sides are getting a little desperate to inflict some damage on the other side and have it show in the polls.

Half-time but no respite – November 2

November 3rd is exactly half-way through the 42-day campaign. There's still 21 days to go and there's not much sign of excitement or movement in the campaign.

So far the election has been a succession of scoreless draws – lots of midfield play, lots of defensive errors, but no real howlers bouncing into the net.

The 'great' debates have usually been rehearsed and flat; no one really tying their opponent up in knots; and protagonists playing defensive politics rather than going for winners. Earlier in the week, the Nicholson cartoon that showed the 'worm' nodding off surely said it all.

Inexplicably, Tony Abbott did not take seriously enough his debate with his counterpart Nicola Roxon, and she was given a dream run playing alone.

However, the fact that Abbott is seen as a bit of a buffoon by both sides means the negative publicity may not switch many actual votes. He can assuage himself with the adage that all publicity is good publicity to some degree.

Gaffe hunters

The media generally has been preoccupied with gaffes and stumbles – they have been rewarded not only by high profile senior politicians (Tony Abbott, Peter Garrett) but also by some local candidates who have upset their own applecarts (eg. Labor’s Garry Parr in redneck Hinkler and Nicole Cornes in languid Boothby, or the Nationals Bruce Scott and Barnaby Joyce campaigning on draining the inland rivers even further).

Family First candidates seem to have mastered the knack of self-imploding, generally due to perverse sexual antics or viewing pornography on the web.

But these are all par for the course – part of the normal ebb and flow of election campaigns. They happen with unerring regularity only now are getting more attention by the intense touring media scrum.

The 'me-tooism' is becoming predictable and uninteresting. Some claim that almost 40 policies have been 'me-too-ed' by Labor so far.

Having said that this is an intentional strategy from the Opposition – not to give voters any reason to go back to Howard at all – even for the most small-scale policy bride or a few dollars here-and-there for pensioners. Hence, matching commitments are the order of the day. Consider just how much work for the Opposition’s backroom staff this intensive, rapid-reaction matching strategy entails. Their heads must be spinning as they replace the letterheads on the daily press releases.

The danger for Labor is that they do not look to have undertaken any original policy work themselves to ‘attract’ voters, and are instead relying on disaffected voters coming across from Howard. This segment of the electorate is largely undecided, soft in its support either way and as we go towards the final week is highly unpredictable in its final determination. The polling swings are not over yet and there is scope for a last minute drift enough to see the government hold on.

Interestingly the veteran Malcolm Mackerras said the only real interest in this election was who won the second Senate position in the ACT – either the Liberals Gary Humphries or the Green’s Kerry Tucker – a slightly uneven race but one made more open by the intense campaign by Get-Up with Save Our Senate.

When politicians turn chasers – October 25th

The strategies in week two of the campaign have focused on chasing the demographics. Targeting voters who have not yet made up their minds or whose support for one side is soft.

Pollsters are acutely aware which slice of the demographic pie their party is not reaching or is less warm to their messages. Hence, selective packages have been released to assist childcare and young parents, [®ion=7|the aged and frail, long-term carers, the disabled and self-funded retirees.w]

The grey vote in particular seems to be far more volatile this election, with the Coalition only conjuring some 45% of the over-50 vote. This is low by historical standards – as it usually attracts 52-55%. There is a perception in the aged demographic that this government has not done much for them in positive terms since pensions were set at 25% of the weekly wage, but have saddled them with the GST. Self-funded retirees may be profiting from the share market boom but feel the government has not really directed benefits their way.

Hence, the rash of cash handouts to specific groups. It is blatant vote-buying by politicians who suddenly pretend real concern about the plight of the groups targeted (but what about other non-targeted groups?). Its not 'policy' but straight out bribery and, naturally, it will work in many cases where voters trade off their support for tangible promises.

Every politician worth his or her salt is now out in the stumps pressing flesh and invading community venues where they may never have shown a face. Make no mistake, Kevin Rudd is right when he says this is going to be a tight race that will probably hinge on the last week – even last few days.

In such circumstances, meeting the voters is a crucial strategy – corny perhaps but evidence shows that people (especially undecided voters and those somewhat apathetic) will give votes to candidates they have met and who seem pleasant. Hard working politicians can attract up to 4-6% of the local vote according to some sources (although there is a real debate about how much a local member can shift the vote relative to the general swing). Put another way, voters can spot duds even if they are minor celebrities.

So it’s a case of 'après the Great Debate, now onto the electorates'.

The Great Debate – October 22

The Great Debate was punchy and reached beyond the rehearsed banter.

This was certainly a pugilistic bout. Straight-talking and impressive. There were episodes of direct engagement and feisty personal attack ('I don’t blame others as Mr Rudd does', 'the Treasurer did not have the commitment to argue the case to the cabinet'… etc)

The format was balanced with time for interrogation and counter-questioning.

The main themes boiled down to future commitments from Labor with much talk of ‘new directions’, versus the previous record of the government (and Howard’s defence of it). For most of the debate the discussion was about the pressures on Australian working families – despite the economic boom and full employment.

Howard did best when he stuck to his main script and centred his message on the economy. He performed worst when he moved onto Rudd’s policy strengths and tried to match Labor’s policy commitments (such as the education revolution, Iraq). Howard looked to be having an instant makeover when he pretended to have more serious policies on climate change and was about to talk to defence chiefs about our troops in Iraq.

Rudd was more impressive when he focussed on the government’s shortcomings and sketched out his convictions and aspirational goals for the future. But on many key issues Rudd did not sufficiently differentiate himself from the Coalition, preferring a bob-each-way. He sold his very similar tax policy well, which eliminates the tax cuts for those earning over $180,000 in favour of an educational subsidy for the costs of schooling.

Both leaders did less well explaining why their tax cuts would not feed directly into higher inflation and interest rate hikes.

Howard will draw some succour from the event because he did not lose and matched it mostly point-for-point with Rudd. The Labor leader will take heart because he has put his wobbly start to the campaign back onto an even keel. He did not overwhelm Howard but certainly gave viewers a much better view of his style and approach.

While Howard looked a bit tense and wooden, Rudd looked relaxed and a little impish.

I suspect this will be the one and only formal leaders’ debate in this campaign.

Fear, tax and a bit of loathing – October 18

Although both sides committed themselves to a positive campaign, it didn't take long for them to get down and dirty.

Negative advertising commenced from the first days of the official campaign with the Government highlighting both the lack of experience of the Rudd team and the union domination of the front bench – an attack that will probably raise concerns among Labor’s softer supporters and peel off some of its lead in the polls.

Labor nationally has adopted the 'victim' pose – claiming every response from the Coalition is part of an orchestrated 'fear campaign' .

Labor has taken a more positive approach in its national advertisements but under the radar has run local campaigns attacking individual Coalition members. Interestingly, both leaders have used the Internet to make lightening responses to attacks – often recycling the attack with the intention of lampooning it with a countering message. US campaigning tactics have arrived with a bang.

ALP YouTube site

Liberal YouTube site

Tactically, the government has been challenging Labor to front up with its policies early. It wants to dictate to Labor when it should release its major policy statements (such as its tax plan). This is despite John Howard fighting the 1996 election (when he was last in Opposition) stating categorically that he was managing the campaign according to his own logic and timing. Touche.

Labor announced its first non-policy with a three page lot of waffle on supposedly reviewing the $6 billion worth of

Commonwealth land assets that may be released for housing estates.

There is no detail, no figure of how much would be released, no sites indicated, and no consideration of the problems involved (eg Defence firing ranges, custodial landholdings etc). The non-policy was further undermined perhaps maliciously by the Coalition venturing that a Labor government would sell off treasured army bases close to the CBD of the major capital cities. Perhaps an own goal.

The Coalition raised the stakes for Labor with an ambitious set of tax cuts that managed to make everyone winners to some degree. It is premised on massive surpluses occurring into the future –- with the government proposing to give us around half of the additional revenue back through tax relief.

The biggest issue here (and this may reflect the fact that this policy was put together in a hurry after the leadership turbulence at the Sydney APEC meeting) was that the Treasurer was only prepared to fiddle with the tax scales rather than commit to a more fundamental reform of the tax system generally.

Even under Costello's scheme the Commonwealth government will still be taking more tax than it needs, and more tax than it is currently taking today. The tax policy is a major splurge of money $34 billion over the forward estimates) but hardly a major reform.

However, the Coalition's tax gambit poses problems for Labor. It cannot allow the Coalition to have a free run on this issue and not counter with anything. Labor was planning a more complex set of changes – perhaps like last time when they went to considerable lengths to appear to be offering tax relief when they were not giving anything back in aggregate terms.

Last time, too, clumsy calculations undid the package and showed Labor was either amateurish or deceitful. Labor can match the package but then look to be doing another ‘me-too’ which will play into the government’s hands. Or it can craft an alternative and hope to sell it as a better bribe, but this will be expensive and consume the money Labor was hoping to spend on other priorities.

If Labor delays while it 'studies' the government’s proposals, it risks handing over the momentum to the Coalition.

The opinion polls early next week will determine how both sides continue to respond to each other. If the Coalition have regained ground, Labor will be pressured to release its own taxation policy and perhaps begin more attack ads, if there is little movement, Labor may feel it can stick to its schedule and get a lift later in the campaign with a set of cuts.

Although the great debate is early in the piece – it will give us a better idea of how the two major parties are intending to fight this fight. With few real policies out in the marketplace, we can expect most discussion to focus on their comparative records, experience, visions for the future, aspirational spin.

In previous elections these debates have not involved much in the way of personal attacks on rival leaders, but with so much at stake this time around, it may be a very different story. It will be velvet glove stuff.

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Iraq policy ‘fatally flawed’

Major General Tim Cross, the top British officer involved in planning post-war Iraq, says he raised serious concerns with then US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the possibility of the country descending into chaos.


But Mr Rumsfeld “ignored” or “dismissed” his warnings, the general told the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Second slamming of policy

Yesterday, the head of the British army during the 2003 invasion launched a fierce attack on the United States over its handling of troubled Iraq since.

General Sir Mike Jackson branded US post-invasion policy “intellectually bankrupt” and says Mr Rumsfeld was “one of the most responsible for the current situation in Iraq”.

The comments from both top military officers come at an embarrassing time for the British government, which has tried to soothe reported tensions with the United States over Iraq by insisting it will not cut and run from the southern province of Basra.

General Jack Keane, a former vice-chief of staff of the US army, says last month there was “frustration” in Washington at the deteriorating security situation in the British-run area – triggering an angry reaction from some quarters in the British military.

‘Lack of detail’

“Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the post-war plan – and there is no doubt that Mr Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process,” the 56-year-old says.

“I had lunch with Mr Rumsfeld in Washington before the invasion in 2003 and raised concerns about the need to internationalise the reconstruction of Iraq and work closely with the United Nations.

“I also raised concerns over the numbers of troops available to maintain security and aid reconstruction.

“He didn’t want to hear that message. The US had already convinced themselves that Iraq would emerge reasonably quickly as a stable democracy.

“Anybody who tried to tell them anything that challenged that idea – they simply shut it out.

“Myself and others were suggesting things simply would not be as easy as that.

“But he ignored my comment. He dismissed it.

“There is no doubt with hindsight the US post-war plan was fatally flawed – and many of us sensed that at the time.”

‘Cut and run’

The Sunday Times newspaper, citing government department officials, said Britain was preparing to hand over control of Basra to the Iraqi army as early as next month, in a move which would spark renewed claims from Washington that Britain was preparing to cut and run from Iraq.

Around 5,500 British troops are training Iraqi security forces.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Defence Secretary Des Browne wrote a joint article in Friday’s Washington Post newspaper saying it was “time to set the record straight” after weeks of “misplaced criticism”.

“The question some people have asked is: have British forces failed in Basra? The answer is no,” they add.

“We believe we remain on track to complete the return of full sovereignty to the Iraqi people as planned.

“The United Kingdom is sticking to the mission we took on four years ago.”

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Clarke won’t be rested during ODIs

Australia have no plans to lighten the load on captain Michael Clarke during a crowded one-day schedule in the UK in a bid to manage his chronic back problem.


In a further sign Cricket Australia’s rotation days are long gone, coach Darren Lehmann says Australia will pick its best team to win every match against England and Scotland.

That includes Clarke, who missed the Champions Trophy due to a flare-up of his back injury and also suffered some discomfort early in the Ashes series.

“We won’t be resting him. If he’s fit he plays,” Lehmann told AAP.

“It’s a simple fact of life and that’s what we want to do with all our players.

“You want to get the best team on the park each and every day but, having said that, if he’s not 100 per cent fit then he won’t play.”

Australia will play six 50-over games in the next two weeks.

While England have rested a host of big names from the five-match one-day series with a crowded schedule and the return Ashes series in mind, Lehmann says Australia “won’t be going down that path.”

“Every time we’ll be picking our best team to win that game,” the coach said.

Australia have made some forced changes for the one-dayers, starting with a one-off ODI clash with Scotland in Edinburgh on Tuesday, after Mitchell Starc joined Steve Smith in being released from the 15-man squad due to minor injuries.

CA said Starc had back pain and he joins a growing list of injured Australian paceman including Ryan Harris, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird.

Lehmann admitted the situation wasn’t ideal but said it was a side-effect of having a young pace attack.

“At the end of the day you have injuries. It’s part and parcel of being a fast bowler,” Lehmann said.

“Hopefully that settles down as they get a bit older and a bit stronger.”

Lehmann and his players have ruled out any chance of complacency against the Scots on Tuesday.

“We’ve got win as many games as we can,” wicketkeeper Matthew Wade said.

“We haven’t had that much success on this tour … we want to win all these games.”

Scotland coach Pete Steindl says his side was expecting an “extremely motivated” Australian outfit but welcomed another chance for the non-Test nation to get some valuable experience.

“The more times you can play against teams who are higher-ranked and better than you it teaches you where you have to get to,” Steindl said.

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Hewitt’s US Open run fires Cup team

Lleyton Hewitt’s run at the US Open is inspiring his Australian Davis Cup teammates to end three years of World Group qualifying heartbreak.


Captain Pat Rafter’s team – minus Hewitt – has already left New York to train in Munich ahead of the World Group promotion tie against Poland later this month.

But team trainer Josh Eagle said they were closely following the progress of team veteran Hewitt who was preparing to face Mikhail Youzhny in the Open fourth round for a likely quarter-final berth against world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“He’s just such a competitor and just such a warrior,” said Eagle.

“The guys will be in Munich watching his next match and they watched him when they were here and you know he’s just such an inspiration to the team.

“We’ve seen it for 10 years, so many times when you think he’s down and out he finds a way to win.”

Hewitt is in his tennis heaven right now.

The two things that keep the 32-year-old former world No.1 playing the game are the grand slams and Davis Cup and he has the chance to achieve big results in both in the next fortnight in New York and then Warsaw.

He’s already ousted sixth seed and former champion Juan Martin del Potro from the Open.

And he’s fiercely motivated to get Australia back into the Davis Cup World Group after the team fell agonisingly just short for the past three years – losing from 2-1 up going into the final day of the promotion playoff tie against Belgium (2010), Switzerland (2011) and Germany (2012).

“People probably don’t realise how much energy and effort and focus he puts into every tie,” said Eagle.

Hewitt is expected to partner doubles specialist Chris Guccione in Cup doubles rubber in the September 13-15 tie.

The veteran is also likely to play at least one singles match – with Bernard Tomic the other singles player – but backing up on consecutive days has been problematic for him.

Win or lose in Warsaw, Eagle can see Hewitt continuing to play Davis Cup for some time now that he has finally overcome injury worries that plagued him in recent seasons.

“The fact that he is healthy to me I see no reason why he won’t continue on playing for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“He’s just hasn’t been 100 per cent (previously) which has really hurt his ability to prepare and train properly and you know the game’s changed.

“Ten years ago when he was No.1 in the world he could run every ball down.

“Now these guys, they’re six foot five. They hit the ball bigger and stronger so he really needs to be able to train just to match it with these guys.”

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Merrill Lynch ‘settles’ prejudice lawsuit

Lawyers for hundreds of black financial advisers have reached a $US160 million ($A180 million) settlement in a lawsuit accusing Wall Street brokerage giant Merrill Lynch of racial discrimination, a plaintiffs’ lawyer says.


If approved by a federal judge in Chicago, the payout by Merrill Lynch to around 1,200 plaintiffs would be one of the largest ever in a racial discrimination case, Chicago-based lawyer Suzanne E. Bish said.

Speaking from his Merrill Lynch office in Dallas, one of the first plaintiffs from the earliest days of the suit, Maroc “Rocky” Howard, said he wished he and his fellow black brokers never had to resort to litigation.

“Working in a fair environment, I would have made more money than this settlement is going to make me,” Howard, 55, said in a phone interview. “But it is a positive thing.”

Another plaintiff who has since left the firm, Marshell Miller, 58, of Arkansas, also welcomed that eight years of litigation was drawing to a close.

“It’s been a long struggle,” Miller said. “But it was something that needed to be done.”

Bank of America-owned Merrill Lync”h – one of the world’s largest brokerages with more than 15,000 financial advisers – issued a statement Wednesday saying only, “We’re not at this point commenting on the existence of the settlement nor the status of a settlement.”

Lead plaintiff George McReynolds accused Merrill Lynch of steering black brokers away from the most lucrative business and so, under a compensation system emphasising production, they earned less than their white counterparts. They made 43 per cent less in compensation on average in 2006, plaintiff filings allege.

The settlement coincides with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream Speech, Bish noted. She said she hopes the case will help ensure the kind of equal opportunity King spoke about in Washington, D.C.

Bish said the settlement should force changes beyond the company singled out as the defendant.

“They are leaders on Wall Street,” she said. “And increasing opportunities for African-Americans at Merrill Lynch should spill over to the rest of Wall Street.”

In its own filings in the case over recent years, Merrill Lynch denied the discrimination allegation and staunchly defended its compensation programs.

“All (financial advisers), regardless of race, are judged by the same metric,” one of the company’s filings argued. “The rule is simple: produce more, earn more.”

Settlements don’t necessarily imply that a defendant accepts any wrongdoing. Bish said she could not discuss detailed terms of the agreement with Merrill Lynch.

But plaintiffs claimed discrimination pervaded Merrill Lynch, at least partly because the company employed relatively few African-Americans overall. In a 2009 plaintiffs’ filing, they contended that fewer than two per cent of the brokers at Merrill Lynch were black.

“Far from being a colourblind meritocracy, race permeates policy and practice in a way that creates substantial obstacles to equal employment opportunity for Merrill Lynch’s African-American employees,” William T Bielby, a professor of sociology, said in the filing.

Merrill Lynch sometimes relied on stereotypes, the filing also asserted, once allegedly suggesting managers encourage black brokers to “learn to play golf or other activities designed to learn how business gets done in manners (they) might not be familiar with.”

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Souths hold on to beat Bulldogs 28-20

Adam Reynolds with one foot and Greg Inglis on one leg combined to all but secure South Sydney a top-two finish with a 28-20 win over Canterbury in a sumptuous NRL finals entree.


In a result which will virtually put paid to the Bulldogs’ top-four hopes, the Rabbitohs finished the stronger in an absorbing duel – the two sides alternating tryscorers in a second half in which Souths never managed to get more than 10 points in front.

It was down to just a converted try when Mitch Brown scored his second of the night nine minutes from fulltime, but the Bulldogs’ inability to hold onto the ball during the opening half-hour proved costly.

It was only fitting then that their last crack at the Bunnies’ line ended with Michael Ennis innocuously knocking-on from dummy-half with five minutes to go.

The Rabbitohs will have some concerns over the health of Inglis, however, the Queensland and Australian Test star limping noticeably throughout the second half after copping yet another knock on the right knee.

It is the same knee which caused him to miss four games after Origin III – of which the Bunnies lost three matches – but he was good enough on one leg to set up second-half tries for Isaac Luke and Bryson Goodwin.

If Inglis dominated the second stanza, it was Reynolds who controlled the first – on the same ground and against the same opposition that a hamstring injury in last year’s preliminary final ended the Bunnies’ premiership hopes.

A year on and the Rabbitohs appear a more formidable prospect, with Reynolds again a key – a crucial 40-20 in the lead-up to Dylan Farrell’s opening try backed up by a deft grubber to set up Dylan Walker for a 12-0 lead.

The Bulldogs scored either side of the break as an epic arm wrestle ensued, the Rabbitohs with the final say when Reynolds made it a perfect six from six with the boot with a penalty on fulltime.

In more bad news for the Bulldogs, both Frank Pritchard and Josh Reynolds were both put on report for shoulder charges, while Tim Browne could be in strife for a leg pull on clearly incapacitated Inglis.

Souths coach Michael Maguire admitted the health of Inglis remained a concern, but he refused to buy into the leg-pull drama that also cost his prop Jeff Lima a one-week ban.

“I’m not going to make a comment about those,” he said of the incident.

“I need to give him (Inglis) a bit of a rap … Greggy’s battled with that knee all week.

“We’ve got to really be aware of how we’re training him.

“He hasn’t trained a lot this week so to get out and do the things he did tonight is a real credit to all the players.

“They want to be out there.”

Asked if he would consider giving Inglis a week off in the lead-up to the finals, Maguire said:

“We’ll assess it after tonight and go through the week and if there’s that chance we’ll have a look at it.

“I know Greg wants to play.”

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said his side paid the price for its first-half struggles.

“There’s no doubt about the effort there but I think we’ve probably got about five bullets in our foot at the moment,” Hasler said.

“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

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Peace talks off over deaths in Palestine

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been cancelled after Israeli security forces shot dead three Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said.


“The meeting that was to take place in Jericho … today (Monday) was cancelled because of the Israeli crime committed in Qalandiya today,” the official said, referring to the refugee camp where the clashes erupted before dawn.

He did not set a new date.

“What happened today in Qalandiya shows the real intentions of the Israeli government,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, told AFP as reports of the shooting started to emerge.

He called on the US administration to “take serious and quick steps” to prevent the collapse of peace efforts.

Medics earlier reported three Palestinians shot dead and 19 wounded by Israeli security forces in Qalandiya camp, between Ramallah and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, very early Monday.

They named the dead as Rubeen Abed Fares, 30, and Yunis Jahjouh, 22, both shot in the chest, and Jihad Aslan, 20, who died of brain damage.

The hospital officials said all the casualties had been hit by live ammunition.

An Israeli police spokeswoman said that border police used “riot dispersal means” to disperse a stone-throwing crowd of 1,500 people, but she did confirm the use of live fire.

“In the early hours of the morning a border police team went into Qalandiya camp to arrest a hostile terrorist activist,” spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

“After his arrest a mob of about 1,500 residents began a disturbance, throwing petrol bombs and stones, endangering the lives of force members, who responded with riot dispersal means,” she said.

She said that three border policemen were lightly injured by stones.

The peace talks formally resumed this month after a hiatus of nearly three years, thanks to an intense bout of shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Palestinian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, had at the weekend said they expected a new round of talks to be held Monday in the West Bank town of Jericho, but there had been no official confirmation from either side, in accordance with a US-imposed news blackout.

The talks have been overshadowed by Israeli plans to build more than 2,000 new homes for Jewish settlers on occupied Palestinian territory.

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Abbott seizes momentum in final week

As former treasurer Peter Costello said last week, when the momentum’s with you the momentum’s with you – and all the momentum was with Tony Abbott in the final week of the 2013 election campaign.


As the Rudd campaign ran out of puff, the opposition leader looked confident and energised, and barely put a foot wrong – with the exception of the internet filtering bungle.

As the polls increasingly pointed towards a thumping coalition win, the man once mocked as Tony “people skills” Abbott looked more and more prime ministerial.

He tried to play down the polls, repeatedly saying he doesn’t believe them and Labor could still “sneak” back into power.

But as the final week wore on, these protestations rang more and more hollow.

Mr Abbott’s popularity has clearly been on the rise.

He was mobbed during a campaign appearance at Sydney Markets on Wednesday, with one man even getting on bended knee and kissing the opposition leader on the forehead.

He mixed easily with workers at the Austral Bricks factory near Launceston, and at a leather factory in outer Brisbane.

Blue-collar Penrice Soda workers in Port Adelaide, one of the safest of Labor seats, even gave the Liberal blueblood a warm reception.

As did shoppers in former treasurer Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley, where he provocatively conducted a mall walk on the second last day of campaigning.

Mr Abbott hit a host of Labor marginals in week five of the campaign. Hindmarsh in Adelaide, Lyons in Tasmania, Reid, Kingsford Smith and Lindsay in Sydney.

In Brisbane, where Kevin Rudd was supposed to sweep all before him, the opposition leader stopped in at Petrie in the outer north, and in neighbouring Lilley.

The headline in that city’s only metro paper on Thursday summed up just how far ahead the coalition is.

“RUDD FREE ZONE” blared the Murdoch-owned Courier-Mail, predicting the prime minister would lose even his own seat of Griffith on Saturday.

Rudd had all the momentum in 2007, when John Howard became only the second sitting prime minister to lose his seat at an election.

The tide is with Mr Abbott this time – and Rudd could well suffer the same indignity he visited upon Howard six years ago.

It would be sweet revenge, delivered by Mr Abbott on behalf of his former boss and mentor.

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Sharks progress no problem for the NRL

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg denies that Cronulla reaching the grand final would be difficult for the code if the Sharks are still under an anti-doping investigation.


The prospect of fifth-placed Cronulla playing in the October 6 season decider appeared more realistic after they dismantled the ladder-leading Sydney Roosters in a 32-22 win on Monday night, securing their spot in the finals.

The AFL was at pains to head off a similar scenario with Essendon, securing an interim report from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority on their ongoing investigation into that club’s controversial 2012 supplements program ahead of the finals series.

However the NRL has been steadfast from day one of ASADA’s probe into rugby league and Cronulla’s 2011 supplements program that it will take no action until the ASADA investigation is finished.

ASADA interviews with Cronulla players were only completed last week, leaving the likelihood the investigation will still be going during, and after, the NRL finals.

The possibility of the Sharks winning the first premiership in their 46-year history would seem a worry for the code should the club subsequently face sanctions, even though the period being investigated dates back to 2011.

Hypothetically, it could force them to consider taking 2014 competition points from the reigning premiers.

But Greenberg, who’s only been in his new role for less than month, insisted it’s a scenario that’s not being discussed in the corridors of power at Rugby League Central.

“I don’t think it would be (a difficult problem),” said Greenberg.

“(NRL CEO) Dave Smith has spoken about this already and I am going to say the same thing, (the ASADA probe) is a serious issue and we are taking it seriously.

“It’s my information the investigation is some way from being completed.

“It’s really important we don’t pre-judge it and we wait for the facts.

“When we have the facts, we’ll act upon them.

“I have no idea of that timeframe. We will be led by ASADA and what they tell us.”

Cronulla chief executive Steve Noyce said the club were basking in the satisfaction of the win over the Roosters less than a month after they were hammered 40-0 by Trent Robinson’s side.

And, despite all the turmoil surrounding the Sharks, the veteran administrator saw little sign of stress among the players and staff.

“I admire the leadership that (coach) Shane Flanagan has shown and I admire the resolve from the players and the Shire is right behind the team,” Noyce told AAP.

“I’ve been here four months now and I sense externally there’s more talk about (the investigation) than internally. The interviews have been ongoing and they are all finished now.

“I am sure the players sense that there’s support from head office, support from their managers and support from their families and certainly support from the NRL.

“It’s a feeling of everyone sticking together.”

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Three silvers for Kiwi rowers

New Zealand added three more medals to their haul from the world rowing championships in South Korea on Sunday.


Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson came within a whisker of gold in the women’s double sculls at Chungju, fading in the last 50m as the Lithuanian pair of Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite timed their run to the line impeccably.

Lithuania stormed home in 6min 51.82sec to New Zealand’s 6:51.86, with Ekaterina Karsten and Yuliya Bichyk of Belarus third in 6:55.90.

The Kiwis pushed their bow in front with 300m to go but a bad stroke cost them the win with only a few metres to go.

Bourke said their race plan to match the Lithuanians came close to success.

“But unfortunately there were a few speed bumps along the way which gave the race away in the end.

“We’re impressed with what we’ve done to date, and neither of us have much experience in the small boats,” she said.

“There’s a bit of fire in the belly for next year – disappointment is the biggest feeder for training and we hope to come back in 2014 in Amsterdam to take it out.”

The Kiwi lightweight four of James Hunter, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and Curtis Rapley also took silver, tracking winners Denmark all the way and mounting a strong threat over the last 500m.

Stroke Curtis Rapley said the closeness of the finish reflected the race’s intensity.

“We kept to our own game plan and we nearly came through. The Denmark crew is a top quality crew and you can’t give them an inch.”

The Danish four clocked 5:55.68 for the win, with New Zealand second in 5:57.28 ahead of Great Britain’s third-placed 5:59.98.

Emma Twigg rounded out the day with a strong finish in the women’s single sculls, taking silver in 7:33.57 behind Australian Kim Crow, who dominated the race throughout with 7:31.34.

Although disappointed to miss out on gold, Twigg said Crow’s early work was hard to pull back.

“Obviously gold was what I came here for but silver is pretty good.

“Kim put a lot of distance in the early part of the race, but I didn’t stay in touch as much as I would’ve liked.”

New Zealand had already picked up a gold on Saturday (NZT) when Olympic champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond won the men’s pair, while Rebecca Scown and Kayla Pratt took bronze in the women’s pair.

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PM’s launch will focus on jobs

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will talk up Labor’s plans to grow jobs and highlight the opposition’s secret plan to cut services when he launches the party’s election campaign on Sunday.


Mr Rudd will officially launch his bid for re-election on Sunday in Brisbane, where he will continue to push the opposition to reveal what Labor says are plans to cut funding to hospitals, schools and jobs to pay for their expensive paid parental leave scheme.

One person who won’t be there is former prime minister Julia Gillard who doesn’t want to distract from her successor’s “powerful message”.

Mr Rudd says he understands and he’ll continue to acknowledge her contribution.

“I’m in the business of acknowledging all strong, positive contributions of those who have gone before me,” he said.

“Julia’s one of those, Paul Keating’s one of those, Bob Hawke’s one of those, Gough Whitlam’s one of those.”

The prime minister will continue his focus on jobs with plans to boost apprenticeships and strengthen the TAFE system.

Labor will introduce new rules for Commonwealth government building contracts and some projects that are more than 50 per cent Commonwealth funded – that 10 per cent of total labour hours worked must be by apprentices.

“Apprenticeships for us are a number one, two and three priority,” Mr Rudd told reporters in the marginal Country Liberal Darwin seat of Solomon on Saturday.

“Unless we are producing the apprenticeships of the future, we’re not building properly for the future as well.”

Mr Rudd says Labor had funded hundreds of thousands of apprenticeships and traineeships since coming to office.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced last week a plan to give HECS-style loans for apprentices to buy tools and equipment.

Resources Minister Gary Gray told Mr Rudd on Friday that he will be sky diving on the day of the launch and will miss the event.

The prime minister says he’s not sure if former Treasure Wayne Swan will attend.

But Mr Swan has tweeted in response to shadow treasurer Joe Hockey that he will be attending.

“@JoeHockey I’ll be there reminding people of the cuts you & Abbott would make & the $11B hole in your costings after the 2010 election.”

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Risks remain in global economy: OECD

Australia’s next federal government faces a world that’s still a long way from a sustainable economic recovery.


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) latest report on the world’s biggest economies says North America, Japan and the United Kingdom are expanding while the euro area as a whole was no longer in recession.

Growth in China – Australia’s number one trading partner – also appears to have passed a trough, but recent financial market turbulence points to difficulties in a number of other emerging economies.

“While the improvement in growth momentum in OECD economies is welcome, a sustainable recovery is not yet firmly established and important risks remain,” the Paris-based institution said in a 2013 economic update released on Tuesday.

The group’s findings tally with the current Labor federal government’s view that Australia continues to face economic headwinds from offshore that could dampen domestic growth.

The OECD believes the euro area remains vulnerable to renewed financial, banking and sovereign debt tensions.

At the same time, there are potential serious negative economic consequences if there’s a repeat of earlier episodes of “deadlock and brinkmanship” over fiscal policy in the United States.

It also says there’s a risk recent financial market volatility and strong capital outflows in some emerging economies could intensify, exerting an additional drag on global growth.

“As emerging economies contributed the bulk of global economic growth in recent years, and since their share of global output has increased so much, this widespread loss of momentum makes for sluggish near-term growth prospects for the world economy,” the OECD says.

It believes major economies should keep interest rates low, but also thinks the US Federal Reserve should gradually reduce its pace of quantitative easing by buying back US debt.

In China, subdued inflationary pressures create room for monetary policy easing if growth were to flag, but authorities need to be cautious because of strong credit growth.

The OECD’s latest outlook did not include Australia.

But in May it forecast Australia’s growth to slow to 2.6 per cent in 2013, before picking up to around 3.2 per cent in 2014.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release June quarter growth numbers on Wednesday.

The report’s expected to show Australia is growing at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent.

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