Qld Cross River Rail funding hopes dashed

The Queensland government’s hopes of a last-minute federal injection to Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project appear to have been dashed, with the prime minister refusing to commit to funding.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk raised the topic of federal funding for the project during discussions at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Hobart, but did not receive a pledge.

“My government has already committed $850 million to Cross River Rail. We expect a matching commitment from the Turnbull government so work on Cross River Rail can get under way,” she said after the discussions.

The state Labor government has previously urged the commonwealth to at least match its funding commitment or risk delaying the start of the rail beyond the end of this year.

But this year’s federal budget overlooked the $5.4 billion project, instead including a multi-billion dollar federal rail fund which could be used to pay for the Brisbane proposal, but not before 2019.

In the absence of federal funds, the Palaszczuk government would have to decide whether to go ahead alone, or seek other funding arrangements, possibly from the private sector.

During a meeting three weeks, ago Mr Turnbull told the premier there were outstanding requests for information from Infrastructure Australia.

Ms Palaszczuk on Friday said that information had since been provided, while the project had also received the support of the Brisbane City Council.

“The prime minister now has no excuse for the people of southeast Queensland for continuing to fail to fund Cross River Rail and help alleviate traffic congestion,” she said.

Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Jackie Trad said Mr Turnbull’s refusal to commit to funding came on the same day the project secured all major state approvals necessary.

At a pre-budget address on Tuesday, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said he “had a plan” to fund the project, but that didn’t mean federal funds would be unwelcome if they were offered.

Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls called on the government to release its business case.

“If it’s such a good business case, why are Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad refusing to release the details?” he said.

What now for Brexit after UK vote?

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has failed to win a parliamentary majority in Britain’s election on Friday, a shock result that plunges domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.

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Below are details of what happens next:

WHO GETS POWER?

For the election to produce a majority government, the biggest party theoretically must win at least 326 seats of the 650 United Kingdom constituencies. In practice, the threshold for a majority is around 323, because the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party takes up no seats that it wins in Northern Ireland.

As incumbent, May has the right to make the first attempt to form a coalition, though her tough stance on Brexit is likely to make finding a suitable partner difficult.

Until a new government is formed, May and her team of ministers remain in charge and retain their full legal powers to act on behalf of the country, although by convention they would be expected to avoid taking major decisions.

MINORITY CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT

May signalled she could attempt to lead a government without commanding a majority, relying on her opponents for support in parliament on an issue-by-issue basis.

Speaking as results were still being counted, she said Britain needed a period of stability and that she would take responsibility for delivering it if, as forecast, she won the most seats.

This will test the cross-party support for her pre-election pledges.

While her hardline Brexit strategy is opposed by all other major parties, Britain has already started the process of leaving the bloc by triggering a two-year negotiation period with Brussels. It is unlikely she would agree to stopping the Brexit divorce.

Nevertheless, May’s plans still rely heavily on being able to pass legislation through parliament. Firstly to convert EU law into British law, and then to form new post-Brexit policy on issues like immigration and tax.

Delays or outright blockages on this legislation would place doubts over how Britain would control its borders and trade with the EU after Brexit.

2010 REDUX: CONSERVATIVE-LED COALITION

The Conservatives formed a coalition in 2010 with the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats as junior partner. They governed together until 2015.

The two parties are unlikely to be reunited in coalition without major compromises on the central principle of their election manifestos: Brexit.

The Conservatives’ other coalition options are limited. They can traditionally rely on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which holds 10 seats.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which was forecast by media commentators to win 35 seats, are at ideological loggerheads with the Conservatives.

LABOUR-LED COALITION

A hung parliament could play in Labour’s favour even if it won less seats than the Conservatives because it is politically closer to smaller rivals on several issues. Labour has said it would try to form a minority government, and Corbyn has refused to discuss forming a coalition after June 8.

He is committed to heeding the results of Britain’s EU membership referendum a year ago in which 52 per cent voted Leave against 48 per cent in favour of Remain.

However, Labour has fought to water down May’s Brexit strategy which could make it easier to reach a compromise with either the Liberal Democrats, which has ruled out any coalition, or the pro-European SNP, which says it wants to stop another Conservative government.

Leaders vow to toughen anti-terror laws

Stronger counter-terrorism laws appear inevitable as Australia’s state and territory leaders move swiftly to keep potential attackers behind bars.

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Premiers and chief ministers on Friday agreed to toughen bail and parole rules for people who have demonstrated support for or have links to terrorist activity.

There would be a presumption against their release, even if they hadn’t been in jail for a terror-related offence.

It follows Monday’s deadly siege in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, where Yacqub Khayre killed a man, injured three police officers and took a woman hostage while on parole.

He had a long history of violence and had been charged, but later acquitted, for plotting a terror attack in 2009.

“This presumption is a vital element in keeping these people who are a threat to our safety, and our safety of our families, off the streets,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Hobart.

“Violent criminals with terrorist links should not be walking the streets.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who announced her own suite of new counter-terrorism measures earlier this week, backed the plan.

“It will have far-reaching and positive consequences in terms of minimising as much as possible letting people out who could cause harm to others,” she said.

Mr Turnbull also announced that security-cleared corrections officers will be part of joint counter-terrorism teams across Australia.

That will ensure even closer co-operation and greater information sharing between agencies.

Leaders have also agreed to review counter-terrorism laws and practices at a special national security meeting in the coming months.

The prime minister says it’s not an area of policy where you can “set and forget”.

“We’re going to be very proactive, constantly upgrading our defences.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the meeting, saying there was some unfinished work left after Friday’s COAG gathering.

“I think the community will take a very dim view of each of us if, after that meeting, we do not have a detailed list of concrete, common-sense steps, doing what has to be done to keep every Australian safe,” he said.

Mr Andrews believes Australia has reached a point where it needed to give serious consideration to giving law enforcement tools they don’t now enjoy.

“It may mean taking the rights and freedoms of a small number of people (but) that is what will be needed in order to preserve and protect a great many more.”

The premier has already floated the idea of building a new federal maximum security prison to hold Australia’s most dangerous terrorists – a notion quickly rubbished by cabinet minister Christopher Pyne.

Leaders on Friday also discussed the work being done to protect Australians in crowded places and areas of mass gathering.

It followed briefings by the director-general of domestic intelligence agency ASIO, the acting commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, the prime minister’s cyber security advisor and counter-terrorism co-ordinator.

Heeney believes Swans can play AFL finals

Sydney’s Isaac Heeney is fast getting back to his best and believes the Swans are still a big chance of playing finals footy despite their slow start to the AFL season.

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The Swans have won four of their past five after starting the season 0-6.

Heeney missed the the first four rounds with glandular fever but has played the past seven.

He logged a personal season-high 31 touches in Thursday’s 46-point home win over the Western Bulldogs, in which Sydney’s relentless trademark pressure was evident after it went missing earlier in the campaign.

“All the focus is on next week with the Tigers, but I think the boys are confident that if we can bring the pressure and the hardness that we provided last night, we can get into the finals,” Heeney said.

“l think it’s such a level playing field at the moment that we’re definitely still a chance if we can play that style of footy consistently.”

Heeney is averaging a career-best 22 disposals a game this year, despite his delayed start.

“I don’t think I’m quite back to 100 per cent, but I’m not far off,” Heeney said.

“I’m able to run games out now without cramping, so that’s a positive.”

Heeney said he was getting plenty of extra sleep and paying attention to his diet after getting tips from teammates Heath Grundy and Kieren Jack, both of who also suffered from glandular fever.

“They just said diet and sleep is really all you can do, there’s no medication for it,” Heeney said.

Heeney has popped up all over the field this year, describing his role as “a bit all over the place”.

He has licence to switch his position in mid-match without waiting for instructions from coach John Longmire.

“I think you’ve got to trust yourself and you’ve got to have confidence in yourself,” Heeney said.

“If I’m in the midfield, Horse backs me to go forward and try and take marks and kick a few goals as well.”

Heeney backed dropped ruckman Kurt Tippett to fight his way back, though Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair dominated against the Bulldogs.

“The big boys played really well last night, but I think Tippo is just not playing as well as he would like to play at the moment,” Heeney said.

“He’ll go back to the NEAFL and just get confidence back; but I’m sure he’ll be back in the team soon.”

Election dents Scottish nationalists’ hopes for independence

Last year’s vote for Britain to leave the European Union had fuelled separatists’ ambitions to take Scotland out of the 300-year-old British union but the latest poll could serve to dash them again.

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“Indyref2 is dead, that’s what we have seen tonight,” Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said, using the separatist slogan.

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Davidson led her party to its best result in Scotland for three decades, in contrast to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s dismal showing elsewhere in the UK.

The separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) nevertheless remains Scotland’s biggest party despite some punishing losses, including former first minister Alex Salmond as well as the party’s current deputy leader Angus Robertson.

Asked what the implications of the result would be for her hopes for independence, Sturgeon told the BBC: “I’m going to take time to reflect on this.

“I’m not going to rush to hasty judgements or decisions but clearly there is thinking for me to do about the SNP result,” he said.

She admitted that the prospect of independence had left Scotland “feeling uncertain”.

Scotland voted by 55 percent against independence in a 2014 referendum, but the defeated nationalists voted en masse for the SNP in 2015 handing them 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland.

May called a snap general election in an attempt to strengthen her hand in forthcoming Brexit talks — and quell the nationalists’ ongoing agitation for a second independence referendum.

She lost her parliamentary majority following a late surge for left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The election also saw a partial revival for Labour, which once dominated politics in Scotland but was reduced to just one Scottish lawmaker in 2015.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said her new MPs will be firm opponents of a second independence referendum.

She said: “The SNP vote is crumbling in their heartlands…it’s a very bad night for the SNP.”

Professor Iain Begg, from the London School of Economics, said it was a “disastrous” election for the SNP.

“The Scottish nationalists, losing more than 20 seats, that is very bad news for them and for any ambition Nicola Sturgeon has to call a second referendum,” he told AFP.

The SNP is expected to remain Britain’s third-largest party, giving Sturgeon the chance to seek a “progressive alliance” with Labour to lock May’s Conservative Party out of government.

Asked if there was a role for the SNP in a future government, Sturgeon said: “There may well be, but it is perhaps too early to say that.

“But we will want to play a role…in trying to, if we can, secure a progressive government at Westminster.”

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Hooper happy to hold Test reins for Moore

Michael Hooper says he’s more prepared for his second coming as Wallabies skipper, even if it’s only temporary.

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Hooper will lead Australia out on to AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon against Fiji almost three years after he was first handed the role as a 22-year-old.

Then he replaced Stephen Moore because of a serious knee injury but this time the veteran hooker has been relegated to the bench through form.

While proud to get another opportunity, Hooper said Moore was still the Wallabies captain and he would happily hand the title back.

“Steve is the captain of this team and he has done a great job for the last couple of years and will continue to do a great job so I’m super keen to keep learning off him,” Hooper said.

“I’m very proud to lead the team and if that takes a bit of weight off Steve’s shoulders then great, and when he steps back into the role I will be there to support him.”

Hooper was forced to lead the Wallabies through a period of turmoil in 2014 when teammate Kurtley Beale was involved in a texting scandal with team official Di Patston, which ultimately led to the resignation of coach Ewen McKenzie.

Also the Waratahs skipper, Hooper felt it was his making as a captain.

“I wouldn’t change anything from then,” the 25-year-old flanker said.

“I always understood the privilege that it was but if I look at myself then, I was young and it was tough but that’s why I wouldn’t change it because I did learn a lot.

“I probably aged 20 years in that time but you’re sometimes put in these positions and you do the best you can I believe I did that.”

Moore was confirmed on the bench following the final training session at AAMI Park, while two other players were named to make a possible Test debut in baby-faced Brumbies halfback Joe Powell and Namibian-born, Perth-raised backrower Richard Hardwick.

With code-hopping inside centre Karmichael Hunt and blindside flanker Ned Hanigan named in the starting side, that means four players could earn their first Test caps.

Hooper said the team had been working hard in the few days they had had together to bed down their plays and patterns, predicting Fiji to be a formidable opponent in the forwards as well as the trade-mark razzle-dazzle from their backs.

“Last time we played them in Wales at the World Cup in 2015 it was a really tough hit-out,” he said.

“They’re obviously big guys who can run and tackle but the challenge at the set piece was definitely up there.

“It will be a big focus for us tomorrow, to try to get our set piece on the front foot in all facets.”

Rescuers racing to free beached humpback whale on NSW mid-north coast

Between 6.

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15am and 7 am this morning, Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) received multiple calls about a beached whale at beached in Sawtell, in northern NSW.

The 10-tonne whale was found stranded on the sandbar at high tide.

ORRCA vice president Shona Loriga said experts arrived on site “very quickly” following the phone calls.

There is currently a team of up to 60 people assisting the whale including volunteers from ORRCA, Dolphin Marine Magic, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Police.

#sawtellwhale update: est 1-2 years old, no obvious injuries. Vet assess to come on outgoing tide. NPWS @ORRCA_Inc & Marine Magic on site.

— Environment+Heritage (@OEHmedia) June 9, 2017

The priority is to complete a veterinary assessment on the whale.

Ms Lorigan said assessments can take time and high tide presents several challenges to vets completing assessments.

“We currently have the best-trained rescuers there,” she said.

Humpback whale beached at Sawtell, NSW.Office of Environment and Heritage

The young whale’s lack of experience in migration, poor health, east coast blows and rough surf conditions are possible reasons for its beaching.

The stress of stranding and constant “rolling in the surf” has taken its toll on the whale’s health, Ms Lorigan said.

#sawtellwhale: trained experts re-positioning whale to assist its breathing @ORRCA_Inc pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/tfrHWCBMbt

— Environment+Heritage (@OEHmedia) June 9, 2017

Senior Wildlife Officer Susan Crocetti said as they learn more about the whale’s health, experts will be able to plan a safe way to assist it in getting back out to sea.

The mid-north coast has seen previous success in assisting beached whales, although each situation is unique.

Long day ahead @ORRCA_Inc + Marine Magic + NPWS + vet onsite @ sub-adult #sawtellwhale. Low tide now. Assessing options for high tide. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/2DnpRhXpbr

— Environment+Heritage (@OEHmedia) June 9, 2017

Ms Crocetti said if beachgoers see a beached whale, their first priority should be personal safety.

“We don’t want anyone becoming injured trying to help a whale,” she said.

Ms Lorigan said it would be a “life-threatening” situation if someone became trapped underneath a whale.

“Situations like these require a multi-agency response,” she said.

Injured or distressed marine mammals should be reported to ORRCA’s 24-hour hotline on 02 9415 3333.

Stranded humpback whale at Sawtell, NSW. Stranded humpback whale at Sawtell

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Bombers launch bid for AFL Women’s team

Essendon have joined the growing number of clubs clambering to join an expanded AFL Women’s competition in 2019.

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The Bombers officially launched their bid, which includes an $18 million redevelopment of their Tullamarine headquarters, on Friday.

The AFL last month decided against expanding the women’s league next year despite the success of its inaugural season.

All 10 AFL clubs who didn’t participate in the first season were given the opportunity to apply for a licence to field a team in an expanded competition in 2019.

Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast were granted provisional licenses for the inaugural season but were ultimately unsuccessful in their bid to join the eight-team league.

A minimum of two new clubs will be introduced in 2019 with those five clubs given priority weighting in the selection process.

But Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell believes his club has put together a strong case for inclusion.

“It’s been something the club has had great intent to do for some time … (but) we’re probably 12 months behind where we would have liked to have been,” he said.

“There are some pretty natural elements that are going to make up our submission … linking strongly to indigenous remote communities and the north-west of Melbourne.”

The Bombers are pledging to play an AFLW game at a remote indigenous community, as well as Craigieburn and the club’s spiritual home at Windy Hill if successful.

Club legend Michael Long’s daughter Michaela has already spurned interest from other AFLW clubs and is pinning her hopes on running out for the Bombers in 2019.

“The Essendon footy club is the be-all and end-all for me … I didn’t want to be anywhere else,” Long said.

“I looked at GWS and the only reason why was because (former Bombers performance boss) John Quinn was there … I remember him working with dad when I was young.

“I looked at Geelong, they didn’t get their licence but maybe playing VFL with them, but I’m happy to wait as long as it takes to get a gig at Essendon.”

The AFL is expected to make a decision on AFLW expansion in late July.

‘Stupid, useless, racist’: Former president of Mexico’s message for Donald Trump

After catalysing one of the more poignant viral hashtags at the beginning of this year, Vicente Fox has returned to deliver a message to the President of the United States amid the noise surrounding James Comey’s testimony.

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“Mexico will not pay for the f—– wall,” Fox opens the video, shared on social channel Super Deluxe.

“Donald, under no circustances will we pay for this stupid, useless, racist monument.”

The video, posted on Wednesday, has since amassed more than 21 million views, surely in part due to the former president’s directness.

“I know when you came up wih the idea, all the experts thought it would work.

“But the ‘bad hombres’ have gotten more sophisticated since then. They are even sharing plans on the internet,” he said, holding up a hand-drawn “schematic” of a ladder.

“You’re going to build a $25 billion wall that can be defeated by a $25 ladder?

“Be honest, Donald. This wall isn’t going to stop anyone who really wants to cross the border. It’s just going to make your country weaker, and poorer, and less respected by the rest of the world.”

In January, the day after Sean Spicer proclaimed Mexico would fund Trump’s vision of the wall, Mr Fox tweeted, “Mexico is not going to pay for that f—— wall,” punctuated by the hashtag #F——Wall.

The hashtag struck a chord with Twitter users globally, trending worldwide.

Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall

— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 25, 2017

However this time, Mr Fox extrapolated, detailing ways in which the US could better spend the estimated $25 billion it would cost to construct the border wall – roughly $10 billion more than was initially quoted.

“For $25 billion, you could provide clean drinking water to the entire planet for three years,” he says in the video. “Isn’t that a better legacy than a pointless wall of hate?

“Here are some other options for the $25 billion: you could end world hunger for one year; you could hire 50,000 teachers for a decade, or pay for the college educations for 250,000 students.”

Mr Fox also rubbished the conditions upon which the US stipulated Mexico would build the wall.

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“What would be the point of us paying for something beautiful, if we cannot even see it? That would be like marrying a model who won’t even sleep in the same city as you,” he says in the video.

Fox then turned to a framed photo of a young Donald Trump.

“Donald, instead of building a wall, build a bridge across the oceans of time, and walk back across it to find this small boy and tell him, and tell him, that just because his father doesn’t love him, doesn’t mean he cannot love the world.”

Mr Fox was president from December 2000 until November 2006, the first leader of Mexico’s National Action Party to be elected into the position.

While the party is associated with a more conservative political stance, the party does not consider itself fundamentally conservative, developing contextually responsive, rather than ideologically-driven policy.

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Faulkner praises Smith’s captain’s knock

It wasn’t a traditional Twenty20 innings but Steve Smith delivered a classical captain’s knock to revive Australia’s hopes of winning a tournament they never have.

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Smith’s unbeaten 61 powered Australia to a total of 4-193 and a 21-run win over Pakistan in Friday’s World Twenty20 clash in Chandigarh.

The result means Australia’s final pool game against India, which starts at 1am AEDT on Monday, will effectively be a quarter-final.

The winner advances to a semi-final, while the loser will be eliminated.

Smith only struck seven boundaries but brought up his half-century in 35 balls and finished with a strike-rate of almost 150.

“Steve batted exceptionally well today but I am not surprised. I have seen him play T20 over here in the IPL and he does that all the time,” allrounder James Faulkner said.

“He was a class act.

“After losing the first two wickets it was beautiful timing to get a bit of a platform.”

The 26-year-old was under immense pressure, with a loss likely to have ended his side’s World T20 title hopes.

Australia, having suffered middle-overs collapses of 6-57 and 4-22 in their previous two World T20 matches, slipped to 3-57 against Pakistan before Smith steadied.

“We had a massive focus on batting through the middle and obviously here in India it is something you really need to nail,” Faulkner said.

“To keep some wickets in the shed for the last four, five or six overs.”

Shane Watson was the man to prosper from the platform laid by Smith and Glenn Maxwell, clubbing three sixes in an entertaining knock of 44 not out.

It was the first major score of the tournament for both Smith and Watson, who shuffled down to No.6 in a new-look batting order.

“People see figures. Yeah he (Smith) missed out the first couple of games but at the same time, every time he walks into the nets he hits the ball exactly the same,” Faulkner said.

“That’s the same with Shane, he missed out in the first couple games but he came off a hundred (in a T20 against India in January).

“Coming in when he did, under the pump, to hit the ball from from ball one was exceptional … it’s no surprise he whacked it tonight.”