Sydney residents face blackout after storm

More than 16,000 Sydney homes and businesses are preparing to spend a night without power after a severe storm ripped through the city bringing trees crashing down on power lines, houses and cars.

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Trains and flights were delayed while commuters heading home experienced traffic chaos on Wednesday afternoon with damaging winds and heavy rain.

Residents in Mount Druitt and the Hills District were the worst hit with lightning and strong winds cutting power to 33,000 properties at the peak of the storm late Wednesday afternoon.

By the evening, power was restored to around 17,000 properties but just over 16,000 were still without electricity, an Endeavour Energy spokesman told AAP.

Residents in Mount Druitt, Castle Hill and Penrith will remain without power overnight and into Thursday with additional crews brought into the storm-affected area to help clean up and repair work.

In Sydney’s north 800 homes in Berowra were under a blackout while 1300 were in the dark in the Central Coast suburbs of Woy Woy and 400 in Saratoga.

But those residents can expect to have power back up by midnight, an Ausgrid spokeswoman told AAP.

The NSW SES received 418 calls for help mostly in western Sydney with several reports of trees falling on roofs and cars.

“It’s been quite a quick, fast, intense storm that’s come,” SES spokeswoman Becky Gollings said.

A child who was reported missing in floodwaters in the western Sydney suburb of Shalvey was safely pulled from the water by friends.

Train commuters to the Central Coast were left stranded with cancelled services while Blue Mountains travellers were delayed by 20 minutes.

In St Marys, lanes in the Great Western Highway were closed after a tree fell onto power lines.

The storm dumped up to 20mm in just a matter of minutes in some suburbs. Baulkham Hills was pelted with 27mm in 15 minutes.

The storms are expected to move over the city on Wednesday evening after unstable conditions persisted throughout the day.

Wind gusts reached 85km/h at Cowra in the central west and Goulburn in the southern tablelands.

The Bureau of Meteorology said even stronger gusts could be recorded in Sydney.

Conditions should settle by the end of the week, however, with only a few showers expected on Thursday and Friday.

Girl born with four legs has surgery success

A baby girl from the Ivory Coast born with four legs and two spines has been successfully separated from a parasitic twin in a rare and complex surgery at a Chicago hospital.

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Ten-month-old Dominique underwent a six-hour procedure involving five surgeons at the Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, on March 8. She is now thriving with the Chicago foster family who will look after her until she is well enough to return home, her doctors and foster mother told Reuters on Monday.

“It’s going rather well. She was only in the hospital a total of five days. She’s been home with ‘step-mum’ and just doing very, very well,” said paediatric and reconstructive surgeon Frank Vicari.

Dominique was born with a parasitic twin. The bottom half of her not-fully-developed twin’s body protruded from her neck and back.

Watch: Baby Dominique’s new lease on life

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“A parasitic twin is an identical twin that fails to fully separate in development,” said John Ruge, a paediatric neurosurgeon at the hospital. “In other words, not another independent twin, but a twin that was dependent on her body system, such that Dominique’s heart and lungs provided the nourishment.”

Doctors did not give Dominique’s family name.

Nancy Swabb, from Edgebrook, Illinois, has looked after Dominique since she arrived in the United States for the surgery.

“She’s been a joy. We really enjoyed having her in our family,” said Swabb.

“We send a lot of photos and updates and so we know that Dominique’s family sees what she’s doing and seeing that she has two new teeth and she’s learning to wave and doing all sorts of special things.”

Swabb said she did not want to think about saying goodbye to Dominique when she returns to her family in the Ivory Coast.

“She has touched our hearts. She’s a member of our family,” Swabb said. “She’s pretty amazing.”

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Guterres wins Timor Leste election, bringing hope for greater stability in the region

With 100 per cent of the ballots counted after Monday’s election, Guterres secured 57 per cent of the vote, according to figures from the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration which were released on Wednesday.

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His closest rival, social affairs and education minister Antonio da Conceicao, was in second position with 32.5 per cent.

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Guterres will be the first presidential candidate to have won a clear majority in the first round since independence hero Xanana Gusmao was overwhelmingly elected as president in 2002.

The result is expected to be confirmed on April 2.

Guterres is backed by the Fretilin party and CNRT, the party founded by Gusmao, who provided key support to Guterres during his election campaign.

The election was the first since United Nations peacekeepers left the country in 2012.

Supporters of Presidential Candidate from Fretilin party Francisco Guterres Lu’Olo shout slogans as Guterres arrives at Fretilin’s headquarter in Dili.EPA

Analysts said the outcome of the election is likely to strengthen stability in the tiny nation of 1.2 million people.

East Timor’s economy is heavily reliant on oil revenues but its $US16-billion sovereign wealth fund derived from petroleum money is fast drying up, analysts said.

The country remains one of the world’s poorest, with about 40 per cent of its population categorised as poor.

Violence erupted after East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored vote in 1999 as Indonesian troops and pro-Jakarta militia unleashed a campaign of destruction.

The United Nations administered the former Portuguese colony until 2002, when it became formally independent, but a UN mission stayed until 2005 to help the fledgling country establish state and security institutions.

A UN peacekeeping mission was deployed in 2006 after a new bout of political violence.

Timor Leste election

Finally respected, Klitschko announces retirement

The 41-year-old dispatched a regular supply of average fighters to reach 64 career victories yet few, if any of them, will feature in a showreel of the sport’s greatest contests.

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Instead it will be his final fight, against Britain’s Joshua, that will be define Klitschko’s legacy.

Despite a 14-year age gap and fighting in front of a partisan 90,000 Wembley Stadium crowd, Klitschko produced arguably his best performance before being stopped in the 11th round of a sensational fight.

Had he finished off a wobbling Joshua in the sixth round Klitschko would have become only the second fighter after George Foreman to win a recognised version of the world title as a 40-something.

Yet, even in defeat, a global audience finally gave the Germany-based fighter the acclaim he deserved for a career in which he carried the a sport so often dragged into the gutter with professionalism and dignity.

An eagerly anticipated Las Vegas re-match with Joshua was in the pipeline, yet Klitschko, who had lost his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts in a disappointing defeat by Britain’s Tyson Fury in 2015, has decided enough is enough.

“FRESH CHALLENGES”

“Twenty-seven years ago I started my journey,” he said in the video announcing his decision to retire on Thursday. “And it was the best choice of profession I could have ever made.

“At some point in our lives we need to, or just want to, switch our careers and get ourselves ready for the next chapter and chart a course towards fresh challenges. Obviously I am not an exception to this and now is my turn.

“I’m doing this with … tremendous excitement, dedication, passion; expecting and hoping that my next career, which I’ve already been planning and working on for some years, will be at least as successful as my previous one, if not more successful.”

Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente said his man had not lost his powers, but was no longer prepared to put himself though the 10-week training camps needed to prepare for big fights.

“It took him time to make a decision but he realised that the motivation and fire was not there any more,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t think it was that he felt past his best.”

Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, said on Facebook: “Thank you for the all-time great fights and victories! I wish you successes and achievements on new fronts.”

Klitschko turned professional in 1996 shortly after winning super-heavyweight gold at the Atlanta Olympics.

He won his first 24 fights before losing to American Ross Puritty in 1998 – his only fight in his native Ukraine.

Klitschko won his first world title in 2000, beating American Chris Byrd to claim the WBO title.

He suffered defeats at the hands of South Africa’s Corrie Sanders and American Lamon Brewster in 2003 and 2004.

After teaming up with trainer Emanuel Steward, Klitschko became a far greater all-round fighter and went 11 years unbeaten before losing to Fury.

It was an era dominated known as the “Klitschko era” with his older brother Vitali also holding the WBC belt from 2008 to 2012 before retiring in 2013.

Klitschko is second on the all-time list for successful title defences with 23, behind the 25 of Joe Louis, while his 29 heavyweight title fights remains a record.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London, Simon Jennings in Bengaluru and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev; Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Alison Williams)

Finally respected, Klitschko calls time

Wladimir Klitschko ruled the heavyweight scene with a steel glove for more than a decade yet it was a defeat by Anthony Joshua which ensured the Ukrainian retired on Thursday with the universal respect that eluded him for so long.

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Often denigrated for a robotic style, short on flair, Klitschko reigned supreme in a heavyweight era suffering from a dearth of box office names.

The 41-year-old dispatched a regular supply of average fighters to reach 64 career victories yet few, if any of them, will feature in a showreel of the sport’s greatest contests.

Instead it will be his final fight, against Britain’s Joshua, that will be define Klitschko’s legacy.

Had he finished off a wobbling Joshua in the sixth round Klitschko would have become only the second fighter after George Foreman to win a recognised version of the world title as a 40-something.

Yet, even in defeat, a global audience finally gave the Germany-based fighter the acclaim he deserved for a career in which he carried the a sport so often dragged into the gutter with professionalism and dignity.

An eagerly anticipated Las Vegas re-match with Joshua was in the pipeline, yet Klitschko, who had lost his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts in a disappointing defeat by Britain’s Tyson Fury in 2015, has decided enough is enough.

“Twenty-seven years ago I started my journey,” he said in the video announcing his decision to retire on Thursday.

“And it was the best choice of profession I could have ever made.”

Klitschko turned professional in 1996 shortly after winning super-heavyweight gold at the Atlanta Olympics.

He won his first 24 fights before losing to American Ross Puritty in 1998 – his only fight in his native Ukraine.

Klitschko won his first world title in 2000, beating American Chris Byrd to claim the WBO title.

He suffered defeats at the hands of South Africa’s Corrie Sanders and American Lamon Brewster in 2003 and 2004.

After teaming up with trainer Emanuel Steward, Klitschko became a far greater all-round fighter and went 11 years unbeaten before losing to Fury.

It was an era dominated known as the “Klitschko era” with his older brother Vitali also holding the WBC belt from 2008 to 2012 before retiring in 2013.

Young sex attacker may be deported to Ethiopia

A young Melbourne man with links to the Apex street gang may be deported to his native Ethiopia after serving a sentence for a “disturbing” sexual assault on a teenage girl.

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Bill Tang, 20, was found guilty of two counts of committing an indecent act with a child over a 2015 attack in which he and three other youths surrounded the girl and her friends at Cranbourne.

Defence lawyer Chris Pearson on Thursday said Tang’s permanent residency status had been revoked since the incident and this weighs on him in detention.

“He has an additional hardship hanging over his head, which is the daily suspense and anxiousness of not knowing what his future ultimately holds,” Mr Pearson told the Victorian County Court.

The lawyer said Tang would not apply for parole even if he could because he could end up in immigration detention.

Judge Peter Wischusen said it was a “troublesome concept”.

“If I was to impose a non-custodial sentence, not that I am able to, but things change to immediate deportation,” he said.

A refugee lawyer is working to get Tang’s visa back but it is ultimately up to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Tang is close to his family and had made “obvious progress” towards redemption and rehabilitation, the court was told.

But prosecutor Joanne Piggott said the attack on the young girl was “disturbing” and must be denounced.

Tang separated the girl from her friends before forcing her to perform a sex act, saying she would get her phone back if she complied.

“She was distressed and essentially thought he was going to help her and then he does exactly the opposite,” Ms Piggott said.

Tang, who has alleged links to the Apex gang, will be sentenced on September 22.

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Travellers to expect ‘enhanced security’ at airports but delays to wind down, PM says

Travellers around the country will see airport security return to normal levels but there will be some “enhanced” measures, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced.

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It comes after the aviation threat level was raised to “probable” last week in the wake of a thwarted alleged terror plot to bring down a plane departing Sydney Airport.

“The threat to aviation will be restored to the level it was a week ago,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Thursday.

However, there will be boosted security measures, he added.

“There will be continued enhanced security measures. Some of them will be obvious travellers, some will not,” Mr Turnbull said. 

The Prime Minister would not expand on how the measures would be modified but said it would be through “technology and good management”.

“They are going to continue to be enhanced, but they will be modified in a way that will cause less delays to the travelling public.” 

Mr Turnbull said the threat to airlines had been “disrupted and contained” by security and intelligence agencies. 

He advised travellers to continue arriving two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights, but expected those waiting times to come back down to the usual over the coming days. 

Meanwhile, transport minister Darren Chester has offered to meet with the Australian Airline Pilots Association to address their concerns ground staff at airports could be a weak link in aviation security.

The union argues that baggage handlers, caterers and cleaners, who generally do not need to pass through security scanners, should be subjected to tougher screening.

“If they have genuine concerns, I’m very happy to sit down and talk to them and work our way through any concerns they may have,” Mr Chester told ABC Radio.

“The correct way to do it is to raise it with me.”

The union is questioning why ground staff are not checked as thoroughly as passengers, crew or even the union’s 5,000 members.

“People who do have access to the aircraft should have the same level of screening as people who come through the terminal,” Union President Murray Butt said.

“Not everybody is screened. They don’t do any explosives detection. Most people don’t have to pass through an X-ray.”

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Senator Nick Xenophon, who led a recent inquiry into aviation security, will urge the government to plug the screening gap when parliament returns next week.

“I have great respect for the work that ground crew at airports do, but this loophole fails to pass the most cursory of pub tests,” he said.

But the transport minister has not said whether the government would move to screen ground staff.

Mr Chester said those workers were already required to carry an Aviation Security Identity card, which requires a national security and a criminal background check. He said the government was toughening up the regulations around the card.

“Let me reassure the Australian travelling public that we have robust security measures in place to prevent an attack against the aviation system, whether that be through a passenger or through a trusted insider,” the minister said.

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More than 60 organisations and companies can issue aviation and maritime security identification cards, with the Australian Federal Police warning the more people who can dish them out, the more vulnerable they become.

There are 250,000 aviation and maritime security cards issued but the regulator responsible cannot say how many workers have ceased employment and not given their cards back.

The passes are issued by organisations including airlines, the immigration department and port operators, and while the Office of Transport Security runs card-return campaigns, nobody has ever been fined for refusing.

The agency is investigating adding biometrics to security cards and cutting the number of issuers.

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It is also boosting screening of airport staff working in restricted areas, expanding the scope of background checks and forcing those who issue ID cards to verify identities face-to-face.

Anyone with links to serious or organised crime would be blocked from getting identification cards under legislation before parliament.

Mr Chester said the recently foiled alleged terror attack at Sydney Airport was proof the system was working.

“The fact that we were able to thwart a genuine threat and the fact that we’ve been able to detect other incidents in the past … is a good indication that our security personnel, our intelligence people are working collectively well to keep Australians safe in what is a challenging environment,” he said. 

– with AAP

Cyber bullying, radicalisation, internet safety: New app helps migrant parents spot dangers children face online

The Australian Multicultural Foundation’s Executive Director, Hass Dellal, says the app will cover topical issues such as information about social media, practical tips on healthy internet use and where to get more information.

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“The focus for us was to see if we could develop something that would help families and parents understand what their children are accessing online, and what are some of the potential dangers and how to deal with these challenges at home.” he says.

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“But more importantly, also to make it available and accessible. So hence the 17 different languages, to make it accessible and make it user-friendly, a free web app designed to teach parents on how to know what their children are doing online and on social media.”

“The idea and the proposal for the app was born out of a pilot program that we ran over the past year. Online safety training programs were discussed, and the use of the internet and social media at home was an issue that was often and commonly raised in families.”

The app looks at the internet itself, social media, some of the websites and apps that young people use, such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram.

‘CyberParent’ has been produced in 17 different languages.Australian Multicultural Foundation

Hass Dellal says the focus was to see if they could develop something that would help families and parents understand what their children are accessing online, as well as understanding what some of the potential dangers were and how to deal with those challenges at home.

“We felt that parents are obviously anxious about the risks the internet poses and want to protect their children from the dangerous material, unwanted contact, online grooming, cyber bullying and radicalisation, ” Mr Dellal told SBS World News.

“And we also felt that if you wanted to deal with these issues, or these behavioural issues, or problems that may arise from the use of the internet – don’t get me wrong – it’s obviously a wonderful tool and there’s so much benefit in it but also we undoubtedly it’s necessary to be aware of some of the risks and dangers of the internet as well.”

He says the app aims to develop protocols and communication techniques, and skills for parents, as well as practical tips – such as acronyms their children use.

“There’s about a set of 80 different acronyms they use online. They’ve actually made that available for parents, you know, things like ‘POS’ meaning parent over shoulder, or ‘PIR’ parent in room. So the families are really excited about that one. That is probably the most popular section of the app, is to get hold of those acronymns!”

Mr Dellal talks about a whole range of social issues for new families, particularly from multicultural backgrounds.

Arabic, right, is one of the 17 languages that parents can access new app CyberParent.Australian Multicultural Foundation

“Particularly young people where their resilience, people exploit their resilience and vulnerabilities based on things like when they feel they’ve been discriminated, isolated, alienated or cyber bullied simply because of who they are, or their ethnicity, religion or their culture.

“Sometimes this can actually create the problem and it’s very important for families to know that this may be happening and there could be some behavioural changes in their children and they need to understand those early warning signs so that they can actually develop some prevention strategies.”

* CyberParent is available in a total of 17 different languages, including: English, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, German, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Pashto, Spanish, Somali, Turkish, Urdu (from September 2017) and Vietnamese.

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New app helps migrant parents spot dangers children face online

The idea and the proposal for the app was born out of a series of community workshops and a pilot program run by the Australian Multicultural Foundation, or AMF.

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During the workshop participants discussed online safety and how best to monitor their children’s online usage.

The app looks at the internet itself, social media, some of the websites and apps that young people use, such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram.

AMF Executive Director Hass Dellal says the workshops revealed that many parents wanted to learn how to best help their children navigate the online world.

“We felt that, look, parents are obviously anxious about the risks the internet poses and want to protect their children from the dangerous material, unwanted contact, online grooming, cyber bullying and radicalisation. And we also felt that if you wanted to deal with these issues, or these behavioural issues, or problems that may arise from the use of the internet – don’t get me wrong – it’s obviously a wonderful tool and there’s so much benefit in it but also we undoubtedly it’s necessary to be aware of some of the risks and dangers of the internet as well.”

Mr Dellal says the app aims to develop protocols, communication techniques and skills for parents, as well as practical tips such as the meaning of some of the acronyms their children use.

“There’s about a set of 80 different acronyms they use online. They’ve actually made that available for parents, you know, things like ‘POS’ meaning parent over shoulder, or ‘PIR’ parent in room. So the families are really excited about that one. That is probably the most popular section of the app, is to get hold of those acronymns!”

Somali born Australian mother Leila Sheikh has had to learn to navigate the online world of her children.

She says many challenges exist but she makes it a priority to monitor her son’s usage.

“I sit with him I do my work next to them while they’re playing a game or getting access. At the same time I have a chat with them about how important it is to be aware of resources they are looking at, or if someone is bullying me to come and tell me. Show me if he is chatting with someone, who that person is and what age they are.”

Her son 12 year-old Ibrahim Abdullah welcomes his mother’s input about his internet usage.

“Yeah I think it’s a good thing because then you won’t be bad in the future and change in your attitude and if your parents help you it will help you be a better person.”

Federal eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant says it’s essential that parents are engaged in their children’s online life from an early age.

“We’re now growing up with a generation of children as young as two or three swiping the IPAD and that’s the time we should start having those conversations about the digital do’s and don’ts. So if we start those conversations early and build those expectations with our kids that we are going to be engaged with their online lives then that sets them up for much more guidance and resilience in the future when they go on major social media platforms at the age of 13 and beyond, and potentially face that digital online onslaught of cyberbullying, potential sexting and image based abuse.”

The AMF says while a person’s ethnic, religious or cultural background should be a considered a strength, they’re also factors that can make young people even more vulnerable to discrimination, isolation and cyber bullying.

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, says it’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously.

“Unfortunately we have seen a decided lack of online civility in everyday life on social media these days. So you do see the contours of misogyny, of racism. Particularly those who are more vulnerable, we want to make sure that we are giving them the tools to not only protect their voices online but to help them promote their voices online.”

 

 

Three former NSW Labor ministers engaged in serious misconduct: ICAC report

After the resignations of a former state minister, senator and a premier, New South Wales’ corruption monitor has released its report into water infrastructure company, Australian Water Holdings.

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The long-anticipated assessment from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found three former state Labor ministers – Tony Kelly, Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi – engaged in serious corrupt conduct.

Staffer Laurie Brown was also found to have engaged in serious corrupt conduct.

A former minister for fisheries, Mr Obeid is currently serving a prison sentence for misconduct, after previously being found guilty of lobbying a senior public servant over lucrative Sydney waterfront leases without disclosing his family’s stake in the outlets.

Senior politics lecturer at Sydney’s University of Technology, Dr Bligh Grant, says the report’s release will be a relief to New South Wales residents.

“There’s a general feeling of disbelief with consecutive NSW governments so it’s very important that ICAC – and I think there will be a perception that ICAC has conducted at least something approaching due diligence in this regard – because consecutive NSW governments have really suffered a major legitimacy crisis over the last, almost decade.”

No findings were made against former Senator, now cabinet minister, Arthur Sinodinos.

The former chairman of the privately-owned A-W-H stood aside as assistant treasurer to the Abbott Coalition cabinet in 2014 over allegations he stood to gain financially if a deal between the company and the state-owned Sydney Water went ahead.

He was reinstated 18 months later.

He told the ICAC inquiry that it never occurred to him to reveal that he would benefit if the agreement was approved, because it was not relevant as to whether the proposal had merit.

In April of that year, Liberal NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell resigned amid controversy surrounding a $3,000 bottle of wine he was gifted by another former AWH head, Nick Di Girolamo.

Current Premier Gladys Berejiklian has welcomed the findings, calling it another example of the corruption of the former state Labor government.

It’s now up to the Department of Public Prosecutions if charges are to be laid.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Troy Grant says he hopes legal action is taken.

“The restoration of public confidence in our political class has never been more necessary. The way to restore that is to hold people to account, so I hope the book gets thrown at them.”

U-T-S’ Dr Grant says he expects the public is hoping for a similar outcome.

“I would expect that the Department of Prosecutions would be under serious pressure to pursue those criminal charges, absolutely. In particular because there’s been widespread dissatisfaction with the outcomes of these kinds of inquiries before, also you have members of a non-sitting government, a previous government there, so I would imagine that they would be perceived to be more prosecutable, they’re also extremely high profile.”

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten insists he won’t stand for claims of misconduct against his party.

He says he expects the rest of the nation’s politicians feel the same.

“The Labor Party has no time for corruption. It doesn’t matter if it’s politicians, unions, employers or banks, for example. We want to make sure there is no place for corruption, zero tolerance. No doubt the matters that you’ve referred to will take their processes through the courts. But let’s be very straight. This country and none of the political parties in it should have any time for corruption, wherever it shows its head, full stop.”

 

 

Turnbull shines light on power companies

Malcolm Turnbull will sit down with the chiefs of Australia’s major electricity companies next week to discuss rising power prices.

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The prime minister earlier this year met with gas company chiefs which led to intervention in the industry which the government hopes will keep a lid on escalating gas prices.

Mr Turnbull said his letter to eight bosses the rise in power prices has put “serious strain on Australian households and businesses”.

As well, disconnections had risen and more needed to be done by power companies to help those suffering hardship from steep bills.

“Since families are feeling price pressures now, it is important to ensure no family pays a cent more for electricity than it needs to,” Mr Turnbull wrote in his invitation letter.

“I am particularly concerned by reports that consumers are being pushed from discounted market rates to higher priced standard contracts or non-discounted plans often without realising it.”

Those invited to the meeting include Energy Australia, Origin Energy, AGL, Snowy Hydro, Momentum Energy, Alinta Energy, Simply Energy and the Australian Energy Council.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is due to release its interim report on competition in the electricity sector in September and a final report in June 2018.

However the Australian Energy Market Commission has found 47 per cent of residential users and 54 per cent of small businesses have not switched electricity retailer or plan in the last five years.

Mr Turnbull said one reason for people not shopping around for a better deal is a “lack of appropriate information” on costs and consumption.

The Australian Energy Regulator recently found households could save $900, $1400 and $1500 respectively in Queensland, NSW and South Australia by moving from the worst to the best offer.

In Victoria the figure was just over $800.

Pujara, Rahane tons put India on top in Colombo

Pujara’s 50th test turned out to be an eventful one as India’s number three nearly perished in the slip early in his innings and ran out partner KL Rahul before making amends with his burgeoning 211-run stand with Rahane.

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Pujara, who also completed 4,000 test runs in the process, was batting on 128 at stumps, his 13th test century containing 10 boundaries and a pulled six off debutant spinner Malinda Pushpakumara.

Rahane, who survived a couple of reviews, hit 12 boundaries in his fluent 103 not out, as India utterly dominated the opening day of the contest to reach 344 for three.

Alarmingly for Sri Lanka, still smarting from their comprehensive defeat in the series opener in Galle, lone frontline paceman Nuwan Pradeep left the field in the final session clutching his left hamstring.

India got off to a brisk start after skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat on a dry surface with Rahul, who missed India’s victory in Galle with high-fever, and Shikhar Dhawan scoring freely against a spin-heavy Sri Lankan attack.

Dhawan clobbered Rangana Herath for a six in the spinner’s first over and also hit five boundaries in his brisk 35 before Dilruwan Perera trapped him leg-before.

Rahul was on 19 when the right-hander was given out leg-before to Dimuth Karunaratne but the batsman used review to successfully overturn the decision and went on to make his sixth successive test half-century.

Rahul fell on 57 after a horrible mix-up with Pujara and was soon joined by Kohli in the pavilion as India slumped to 133-3.

Pujara, who struck 153 in Galle, and Rahane ensured Sri Lanka did not get any momentum, however.

Renowned for their impeccable temperament, the right-handed duo deftly used the crease to punish the Sri Lankan bowlers who endured a wicketless final session.

Sri Lanka welcomed back skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who missed the Galle test with pneumonia, and effected three changes overall in their bid to level the three-match series against the top ranked Indian team.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Alison Williams)

Sprint queen Thompson ‘feeling great’ ahead of 100m quest

The 25-year-old Jamaican is passing up the chance to become the first woman to hold the 100m and 200m titles at the Olympics and World Athletics Championships as she focuses only on the 100m in London.

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“I’ve been doing a lot of 200s this season, so my coach decided that we go only for the 100m this year and I’m pretty excited because last year’s double was really difficult, so I’m looking forward to the 100m and 4×100 and it’s going to be a great championship,” Thompson told Reuters.

Since placing second over 200 metres in her World Championships debut in 2015 in 21.66 seconds, Thompson has been the dominant sprinter and now has a win steak of 14 races over 100m finals.

This include Diamond League races and last summer’s Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro.

But it is not just that Thompson has been the winning big races against her top rivals, it is the seemingly effortless way she does – even while nursing an Achilles injury this season.

She said new spikes had been giving her some discomfort after the Eugene Diamond League meet in late May.

“… so I got some training flats, which I tried in London, just to try, but I’m back in the shape now that I’m supposed to be in so hopefully by Saturday you’ll see me in the spikes I’m supposed to be in,” Thompson said.

She aims to join compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown as the only Caribbean women to win the 100m world title.

“I’m in good shape, of course. I’m feeling great, I reached London safe and I’m looking forward (to the 100m), I’m confident and feeling great,” Thompson said from the Jamaican team hotel.

“There’s always going to be pressure, especially from the fans, but you can’t let them pressure you, you know your job is to go out there and execute and do your best,” she said. “All I need to do is just go out there in this my second world championships and have fun.”

She says she maintains her respect of her competitors even as he tries to remain dominant. “I respect everybody I compete with because of it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be heading to the (start) line competing with them … but I’m still looking forward to keep up the fight against them.”

(Reporting by Kayon Raynor; Editing by Alison Williams)