Egypt’s Mansour says committed to election

Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour vows his government will stick to a timetable for elections next year and hopes to lift a state of emergency in mid-September.


Mansour, in his first television interview since the military appointed him on ousting president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, added Egypt was facing “terrorism” that was hampering investment and tourism.

“We will commit to the timetable in all the other stages,” Mansour said of planned elections by mid-2014 after a constitutional referendum.

Mansour has already appointed a constitutional committee that will amend the charter suspended on Morsi’s overthrow before it is put to a vote.

According to his timetable, parliamentary elections will follow by early 2014 and then the presidential ballot.

The former top judge said he believed the month-long state of emergency declared on August 14 would not have to be renewed if security improves.

Hundreds were killed across the country that day as police stormed two protest camps in Cairo by Morsi’s Islamist supporters.

The violence has died down in recent days in most of the country, barring the restive Sinai peninsula where the army is battling a militant insurgency.

“If security continues to gradually improve, I think there is no need to extend the state of emergency,” Mansour said in the interview with state television.

The police and military crackdown on August 14 sparked a storm of international condemnation, particularly of the operation to clear the Cairo protest camps.

However, Mansour said police acted “in accordance with international standards.”

The interim president also addressed foreign policy during the hour-long interview, saying Egypt would wait for a UN report before assigning blame for an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria.

“Egypt denounces the use of chemical attacks by any party,” he stressed.

But he added that his government would wait for the UN inspectors’ report “so we can determine the responsible party.”

The United States, France, Turkey and other countries have already blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the attack.

Mansour said patience was running thin with the influential Gulf state Qatar, which closely supported Morsi and criticised the popularly-backed coup that toppled the Islamist president.

“I hope we can keep our reserve of patience, which is about to run out,” said the famously phlegmatic leader.

Morsi’s removal however was enthusiastically supported by Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states that pledged $US12 billion ($A13.42 billion) in aid to the interim government.

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ALP better sticking with Gillard: Corbett

Labor made a mistake in switching leaders so late in the election cycle, leading businessman Roger Corbett believes.


The Reserve Bank governor and Fairfax Media chairman says Mr Rudd’s conduct since he was dumped in 2010 has discredited his own leadership.

“He’s a man that really has done the Labor Party enormous damage, destabilised it and is now wishing to present himself to the Australian people as a prime minister,” Mr Corbett told ABC TV on Tuesday.

“I don’t think the Australian people will cop that.”

Mr Rudd’s undermining of Julia Gillard and Labor in the 2010 election put the party in the position where it had to form a minority government.

“I think if they come undone in these elections it would have been much better that they’d come undone with Julia Gillard leading them than Kevin Rudd,” Mr Corbett said.

He said Labor also mis-stepped in dragging the public service into its attempts to force the coalition to release full policy costings.

Last week Mr Rudd released what he said were Treasury and Finance costings of coalition policies that showed gaps in Mr Abbott’s claims.

The heads of those two departments quickly distanced themselves from the move.

Mr Corbett says the whole affair damaged Labor’s credibility further.

All the opinion polls are pointing to a decisive coalition victory in Saturday’s election.

Mr Corbett said if that comes to pass, Tony Abbott will make a good prime minister.

“He’s a very sincere, nice type of human being … he’ll be very dedicated, focused in the job,” he said.

“We certainly need, in the economic times we are about to go into, some really clear and good leadership.”

The Fairfax media boss also criticised the strong bias of News Corp Australia newspapers during the election, saying it damaged the credibility of the press as a whole.

“I’d never ring a journalist or never ring an editor and suggest a paper was imbalanced in a particular way,” he said.

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Crows excited by whiff of AFL finals

Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson is surprised his AFL club’s stinker of a season still holds a slight whiff of the finals.


Essendon’s demotion keeps alive Adelaide in what has been “a disappointing season in a lot of regards” for the Crows, Sanderson says.

Adelaide will pinch eighth spot if they beat West Coast in Perth, and Port Adelaide beat Carlton, by combined margins of 61 points or greater – and Brisbane lose in Geelong, and Collingwood defeat North Melbourne.

“We need a lot of things to go right for us,” Sanderson told reporters on Wednesday.

“West Coast away is a tough ask but we’ll certainly be going over there to put in a really good performance and hopefully get the win and hopefully other results go our way.

“Ninth is the new eighth and we’re obviously excited about that.”

Sanderson saw irony in Adelaide’s finals fate resting largely with bitter rivals Port Adelaide.

“We’re obviously hoping that Port win well this week. It’s not every often that the Crows coaching staff say that,” he said.

The Crows would keenly watch the score from Port’s match, due to finish just as Adelaide take the field in Perth.

“We will keep one eye on that but our focus should be to go over to West Coast and win – and win well,” he said.

“It shouldn’t change whether you go more more attacking or you try and lock them down.

“It’s nice to feel that it’s round 23, the final round of the season, and a good win can potentially put us in September. So that does breed a bit of excitement around the place.”

Sanderson expected key backman Daniel Talia to overcome a bruised lower back and play against the Eagles alongside Victorian-born Sam Kerridge, who has signed a new contract to remain at the Crows for another two seasons.

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Burke has deep regrets over boats

Immigration Minister Tony Burke regrets that Labor was unable to come to a decision on how to deal with the asylum seeker issue sooner.


Mr Burke and his opposition counterpart Scott Morrison were asked during a debate on immigration policy if they had any regrets about the way their parties had handled the asylum seeker debate.

The minister reiterated “big regrets” about Labor’s failure to shift its policies in 2009 after changes in the global movement of displaced people.

“At that point, there was a new path-line of people smuggling and we needed to change our policies immediately,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

“We didn’t, and I believe we should’ve and I deeply regret the consequences,” Mr Burke said.

He also expressed regret over the government’s failure to garner support in parliament for its Malaysia people-swap legislation after the High Court ruled it unlawful in 2011.

“I wished we’d done some of what might’ve been needed to be done to make sure that that legislation would’ve gone through smoothly,” he said.

“It’s deep regrets (and) deep consequences from them.”

Mr Morrison turned the focus back on the government when asked the same question.

“My biggest regret is I don’t think I’ve been convincing enough to get the government to move earlier on these matters,” he said.

“They’ve resisted our arguments for a very long time.”

He conceded the asylum seeker debate was “very difficult”.

“Engaging in the debate in this area is like walking on a razor blade most days and you need to be very careful,” Mr Morrison said.

“Occasionally I’ve misspoken and I’ve made apologies for that when I have.”

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Bombers confirm Hird to keep coaching

Essendon have confirmed suspended coach James Hird will have the role at least until the end of the 2016 AFL season.


“Having James sidelined for 12 months is also a heavy penalty to pay, but James and the board have agreed he’ll be back as senior coach once his suspension is served,” club chairman Paul Little said in a letter to members.

“(He) will continue in that role until at least the end of season 2016.”

The letter was sent on Wednesday, less than a day after the AFL announced Hird’s ban along with unprecedented penalties on the club over Essendon’s supplements scandal.

On Tuesday night, Hird’s former team-mate Matthew Lloyd first revealed that the coach would receive a contract extension.

Little said the club had had to bring to an end its dispute with the AFL over charges of bringing the game into disrepute laid against Essendon, Hird and three other Bombers officials.

“I know some of you may have preferred that we continue to fight the charges, and I assure you last night’s decision was not taken lightly,” he said.

“We firmly believe, and it’s a view many of you have expressed to me over recent weeks, that bringing these matters to an end was in the long-term best interests of our players, their families and indeed everyone involved with the club.

“The penalties … are tough, but as I said last night I believe they’re fair in the circumstances and reflect the nature of the mistakes and failings in our governance and people management in late 2011 and into 2012.”

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority continues to investigate the club, but the Bombers insist they are not drug cheats.

“It’s also important to note that the AFL has now acknowledged that neither Essendon nor any of the individuals charged set out to implement a supplements program that would result in players being administered prohibited or potentially harmful substances,” Little said.

“We should all be clear in understanding that the club, James, Danny (Corcoran), Mark (Thompson) and Bruce (Dr Reid) were not been accused of drug cheating, and we have not been penalised on that basis.

“Our agreement, including our penalties, covers governance and people management failings.

“We made mistakes in these areas – we’ve addressed our shortcomings, we’ve apologised for them and now weve been penalised for them.”

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