Month: January 2019

Cheika doesn’t fear Dublin Six repeat

The Wallabies have returned to the scene of the crime that may have kick-started the demise of former coach Ewen McKenzie.

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But his successor Michael Cheika is adamant a strong culture of respect and trust within the current playing group will ensure there’s no repeat of the infamous “Dublin six” booze binge this week.

Australia are back in the Irish capital a year on from the drinking drama in Dublin that led to six players being suspended and a host of others sanctioned.

Cheika joked the fact the Wallabies were this year basing themselves 15km out of the city centre ensured their was no chance of his players indulging in a wild night on the town.

But he insists it’s not something he has to worry about based on how his players have acquitted themselves in three weeks on tour so far.

“They’ve got us in a hotel fourteen thousand miles away from the city, so I don’t think it’s a drama because you’ll be trying to get a horse and cart in,” Cheika said.

“But they’ll be fine.

“That’s one thing I can’t complain about, the lads have been very good around the way they’ve managed themselves off the field.

“The treatment room’s been really full of guys getting ready and doing prep work and I’ve got no worries at all with that type of thing.

Cheika’s squad features two surviving members of the infamous ‘Dublin six’; Adam Ashley-Cooper and Benn Robinson.

Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Paddy Ryan and Liam Gill were also suspended for staying out late and drinking with nine other players sanctioned with written or verbal warnings.

Some believe McKenzie’s handling of the affair split the playing group, creating a disunity which contributed to his demise.

The former coach followed the incident by laying out a strict set of rules, warning his players they were not on a Contiki tour.

Cheika instead has put his faith in an informal code of conduct based on respect and common sense rather than specific guidelines.

“I don’t believe in too many of those sorts of rules,” Cheika said.

“If you have to force it on guys, it’s a worry.

“When I’ve told the guys that’s the way I want it to be they’ve really responded to that and matured.

“It’s like they’re saying, ‘he’s giving us the opportunity to behave like responsible men. Let’s make sure we take it’.”

Continue reading Cheika doesn’t fear Dublin Six repeat

China’s Xi commits to peace, prosperity

Relations between China and Australia are strong enough to withstand rain and storms like Uluru and the Great Wall, Chinese president Xi Jinping believes.

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Mr Xi used a speech to federal parliament on Monday to outline his country’s plans for peace, stability and prosperity, based partly on a new strategic partnership and a new free trade agreement with Australia.

The speech came just days after key US ally President Barack Obama told a Brisbane audience that Asian territorial disputes “threaten to spiral into confrontation” and called on China to “adhere to the same rules as other nations, whether in trade or on the seas”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott released a joint statement with Mr Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday calling for “the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in accordance with international law”.

Mr Xi said it was natural for countries to disagree on some issues, especially as China was “like the big guy in the crowd”.

But what was important is talking candidly, seeking common ground despite differences and “meeting each other halfway”, he said.

“The friendship will withstand rain and storm, and be as everlasting as the majestic Uluru Rock in Australia and the Great Wall in northern China,” Mr Xi said.

Mr Abbott said Australia and China had different systems of government but had become a model of how two people and two countries could complement each other.

“We are testament to the saying that a wise man seeks harmony, not conformity,” Mr Abbott said.

Mr Xi, only the second Chinese leader to address the parliament, said China was dedicated to upholding peace and improving the prosperity of the world.

“China will never develop itself at the expense of others,” he said.

The Chinese leader, who will visit Tasmania on Tuesday, joked he will be owed a certificate for having now visited every Australian state as a tourist and a politician.

He said China supported the development of northern Australia, just as it welcomed Australian companies working in China’s booming western region.

However, for the trade and investment relationship to flourish the two countries needed a greater exchange of students, workers and visitors.

“If a tree is to be forever lush and exuberant, its roots must be struck deep in the soil,” he said.

Continue reading China’s Xi commits to peace, prosperity

Bogut stars in easy NBA win over Lakers

Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry have sparked the Golden State Warriors to an emphatic 21-point NBA win over LA Lakers.

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The Pacific Division-leading Warriors cruised past the Lakers 136-115 on Sunday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles despite 44 points from Kobe Bryant.

Boomers centre Bogut had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Curry bagged 30 points and 15 assists as the Warriors stretched their season start to 8-2 under new coach Steve Kerr.

Klay Thompson, who had 41 points in a win against the Lakers on November 1, finished with 18 in the rematch. All of Golden State’s starters scored in double figures for the second straight game.

Bryant, who sat out the fourth quarter with Los Angeles down by 36 points, was 15 for 34 from the field in 31 minutes – two nights after he played sick against the Phoenix Suns and missed his first 10 shots before finishing 1 for 14 with nine points.

Jordan Hill had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who are off to a franchise-worst 1-9 start.

The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 69-65 for their third consecutive victory, James Harden scoring 19 point and Dwight Howard 12 points and nine rebounds for Houston.

In other games, the Bucks had a 91-84 win over the Heat, and the Knicks ended a seven-game losing streak with a 109-93 victory over the Nuggets.

Brandon Knight made three three-pointers down the stretch and scored 20 points, leading Milwaukee to their first win over the Heat in 10 games.

Mario Chalmers scored 18 for Miami, which was again without Dwyane Wade and lost their third straight.

At New York, the Knicks held the Nuggets to one basket in the second quarter.

With the game tied at 31 entering the period, the Knicks outscored the Nuggets 31-8. Ty Lawson’s layup at the buzzer was the lone field goal for Denver in the second.

Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith each scored 28 points for New York.

Continue reading Bogut stars in easy NBA win over Lakers

China FTA to boost jobs and investment

Chinese goods will be cheaper and tariffs on Australia’s key mining and farm exports will be scrapped under a free trade deal agreed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Xi Jinping.

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The agreement has been 10 years in the making with talks spanning the Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott governments.

“It’s a good day for Australia, a good day for China, a good day for consumers and ultimately a good day for workers,” Mr Abbott said alongside Mr Xi in Canberra on Monday.

The agreement – which still requires a parliamentary inquiry and legislation – will ensure 85 per cent of all Australian exports will enter China tariff-free, rising to 93 per cent within four years and 95 per cent when it is in full force.

China is Australia’s top trading partner, with the two-way flow of goods and services exceeding $150 billion last year.

Mr Xi told parliament his country of 1.3 billion people was a “market of immense potential”.

Having come to power in 2013, he has set two goals: to double China’s 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020 and to turn the country into “a modern socialist country that is prosperous, democratic, culturally harmonious” by the middle of the century.

“It takes 10 years to sharpen a sword,” he said of the agreement.

“This will provide a bigger market, more favourable conditions and better institutional support for our cooperation.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was concerned that sugar, rice, wheat, cotton and vegetable oils had been left out and punitive new Chinese tariffs on Australian thermal coal remained in place.

“We look forward to examining the detail of the final agreement,” he said.

Manufacturers, miners and the service sector including finance and tourism industries are expected to make gains.

When it comes into force, 92.9 per cent of China’s imports of resources, energy and mining products from Australia will enter duty-free, with most remaining tariffs eliminated within four years.

Chinese televisions, clothes and cars will be cheaper.

Tariffs will be abolished for the $13 billion dairy industry and beef and sheep farmers will benefit from the abolition of tariffs ranging from 12 to 25 per cent.

All tariffs on horticulture will be eliminated.

China will allow greater access for a range of professional services from engineering to aged care.

The Foreign Investment Review Board screening threshold for private Chinese companies investing in “non-sensitive” areas will be raised from $278 million to $1.078 billion.

The government will still be able to meet its election promise of screening agricultural land purchases valued from $15 million and agribusiness purchases from $53 million.

All bids by Chinese state-owned enterprises will be screened regardless of value.

Australia will provide visas for a range of Chinese contractors and executives for up to four years, and other business visitors for between three and six months.

China will in turn allow certain Australian executives and contractors to stay for up to three years.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said there was a risk that Australian jobs could be lost as labour mobility between the two countries was made easier.

Continue reading China FTA to boost jobs and investment

China trade opened up by currency hub

The creation of a Sydney hub to trade China’s currency will further open up the world’s largest economy to Australian businesses, bankers say.

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The Reserve Bank and the People’s Bank of China have agreed to establish official renminbi (RMB) clearing arrangements in Australia, allowing more direct trading with Chinese entities.

This will further support the economic and financial links between Australia and China, and strengthen financial cooperation, the RBA said.

ANZ chief executive Mike Smith said the creation of a trading hub was a significant achievement.

“The Renminbi is expected to dominate Asian trade and could become a genuine rival to the US dollar as a global reserve currency,” he said.

Westpac will be one of the first local banks to connect with the RMB hub, and its chief executive Gail Kelly said it would create greater opportunities for the bank’s customers.

“The ability to settle transactions in RMB in real time through Sydney will make it faster and easier for customers to trade and transact in RMB,” she said.

Rob Whitfield, the head of Westpac’s institutional bank, also said it would encourage a build of Australian deposits of RMB and stimulate activity in RMB-denominated financial products.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said Chinese authorities would shortly announce the designated clearing bank, which will support Australian importers and exporters in their cross-border RMB transactions.

Meanwhile, Australian-based financial institutions will also be given unprecedented direct investment access to China’s previously restricted equity and bond markets.

“Today’s announcements will help ensure Australia is prepared to benefit from RMB-related trade and investment opportunities that emerge as China continues to deepen its integration into the global economy,” Mr Hockey said.

Continue reading China trade opened up by currency hub

Harris back at Gabba with NSW in strife

The return of Test quick Ryan Harris could not stop Nic Maddinson inspiring a gutsy NSW fightback in their Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland at the Gabba.

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At stumps on day two, the Blues were 6-217 in reply to the Bulls’ 9(dec)-472 thanks to the baby-faced Maddinson (115 not out).

The one-time Australian Twenty20 player dominated a 126-run stand with Sean Abbott (58) after NSW were reduced to 5-87, with to a fired-up Harris taking 1-47 off 14 overs.

In his first game in eight months, Harris bowled with venom early in his first-class return and struck in just his fourth over when Ryan Carters was caught at gully for four.

Harris toiled hard all day without luck in an encouraging return from knee surgery ahead of the Test series against India which starts at the Gabba on December 4.

Asked about his return, the tough marking Harris quipped: “Go and ask the captain – he was the one who took me off.

“The first few overs were okay but the end was disappointing, not to be able to put enough dots in the right spot – that was probably a bit of (lack of) match fitness as well.

“The legs are a bit heavy and the knee is a bit sore but it was a good day for the team.”

Luke Feldman (4-54) was the pick of the Queensland quicks.

The sight of Harris back in action would have brought a smile to the face of resident national selector Trevor Hohns.

But not everything at the Gabba on Monday would have been to his liking.

Bulls gloveman Chris Hartley hopes to be in the mix if Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (shoulder) is ruled out ahead of the first Test against India.

However, he missed a chance to impress with the bat when he was caught behind for a second-ball duck.

It was a rare failure in the Queensland innings as the hosts picked up where opener Joe Burns (183) left off on Sunday.

Peter Forrest (93) and Nathan Reardon (95) missed out on tons after Queensland resumed on Monday at 3-326.

And Test spinner Nathan Lyon (0-91) also did himself no favours in front of Hohns on Monday.

The NSW offie rarely beat the bat in a worrying sign ahead of the first Test.

Time is running out for Lyon to overcome his lacklustre form which yielded just 14 Test wickets this year, capped by a horror series against Pakistan.

Continue reading Harris back at Gabba with NSW in strife

Ageing Ablett to shine brighter: Eade

Gary Ablett is now the wrong side of 30 but new Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade believes the best days are ahead of the two-time Brownlow Medallist.

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On his first day overseeing his full Suns squad, Eade had no doubt Ablett would improve in the twilight seasons of his glittering AFL career.

The experienced former Sydney and Western Bulldogs coach likened the Gold Coast skipper to full-forward great Tony Lockett who thrived in his latter days with the Swans.

“I was fortunate enough to coach Tony Lockett at 29,” Eade said. “It’s not so much better (form) compared to their previous best, but they learn new ways, they change their game as they’re getting older and their body can’t do what it used to do.

“Gary, certainly I think has got four or five good years of footy left in him.

“Hopefully he can become a better leader. He’s a good leader, but hopefully a better leader to drag these younger players along.”

Ablett’s influence on the rising Suns was illustrated best by their stark late-season slide in 2014, winning just one of seven games after the midfielder injured his shoulder in round 16.

The premier AFL on-baller looks set to start 2015 in good nick after returning to pre-season training earlier than expected last week without a sling.

Ablett was restricted to light duties at Metricon Stadium on Monday morning and caught the ball right-handed to protect his surgically-repaired left shoulder.

“I imagine he’d be joining back with the main group within the next week or two,” Eade said. “There’ll be no problems with him.”

Hired to take the talent-laden Coast towards a premiership, Eade is reluctant to put any schedule to finals progress.

“My coaching is about continual improvement,” he said. “Hopefully my tenure will be a bit longer than I’ve committed to (three years).”

Continue reading Ageing Ablett to shine brighter: Eade

No dollar figure, but China free trade agreement is big

Andrew Robb describes the China free trade deal as the completion of a “powerful trifecta”, even though the trade minister can’t put a dollar figure on the final leg.

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But it looks like being huge.

The FTA broken down

Mr Robb revealed the agreement with Beijing – coming hot on the heels of FTAs with Japan and South Korea – was concluded at “five minutes to midnight” and, as a result, there was no time to do the modelling.

A figure of $18 billion is frequently banded around, but that’s from modelling done 10 years ago and does not include benefits to the services sector.

And services are the breakthrough of this deal with greater access to China for Australia’s banking, insurance and securities firms.

“China realises if it is to become a domestically focused economy it will be a service-based economy overwhelmingly,” Mr Robb told reporters in Canberra before he signed a declaration of intent with his Chinese counterpart.

Asian middle-classes are expected to grow from 600 million to three billion over the next 30 years.

“They will need our services,” he said.

Services make up one of the five pillars of the agreement, the others being agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing exports and investment.

On agriculture, Mr Robb believes Australia has in every respect the equivalent of what New Zealand scored in its successful FTA with China, apart from dairy, which he described as “New Zealand-plus”.

However, he failed to gain a deal for cotton, wheat, sugar, rice and oilseed farmers after the two sides could not agree on China’s demand for greater investment access for its state-owned enterprises.

“We weren’t going to hold back 98 per cent of the content (of the agreement) for the two per cent,” Mr Robb said.

But all is not lost, because the outstanding issues will be revisited in three years.

Aside from the direct trade impact from goods and services and investment, the FTA would also build trust and confidence between the two nations, Mr Robb said.

“I do think it is going to provide the impetus for taking our relationships in the Asian region …. to a whole new level,” he said.

Continue reading No dollar figure, but China free trade agreement is big

China’s Xi praises Australian innovation

Chinese president Xi Jinping has lauded Australia’s innovation and global influence during an address to federal parliament.

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Australia was no longer just a country “on the sheep’s back” or sitting on mineral deposits.

“More importantly, Australia is a country of dynamism and innovation,” Mr Xi told MPs and senators on Monday.

“It has produced many world-renowned scientists and made outstanding contributions to the progress of human civilisation.”

Fresh from the G20 leaders’ meeting, Mr Xi is the second Chinese leader to be accorded the rare honour of addressing federal parliament.

He spoke fondly of his trips to Australia over the past few decades and the huge variety of the “ancient and dynamic continent”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott noted Mr Xi’s personal relationship to Australia – after he visits Tasmania on Tuesday he will have been to every state and territory.

“This president of China, in fact, is more widely travelled in our own country than most Australians,” Mr Abbott said to chuckles from MPs.

The Chinese leader, who will host the G20 in 2016, thanked Mr Abbott for a “fruitful and memorable” summit at the weekend.

“It demonstrates Australia’s important status and influence of international and regional affairs,” he said.

The partnership between the countries will be strengthened by a free trade agreement that Mr Xi and Mr Abbott will sign later on Monday.

China is Australia’s number-one trading partner, with the two-way flow of goods and services exceeding $150 billion last year.

Trade between the countries was worth just a quarter of that amount a decade ago.

Mr Abbott said it was a historic day with the conclusion of the trade deal.

“We have become a model of how two peoples and two countries can complement each other,” he told parliament.

He acknowledged the contributions of the one million Chinese-Australians and ways the countries have worked together, such as in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Both Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten praised former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam for opening diplomatic channels between Australia and China.

“He ended a generation of lost contact and began a thriving partnership now in its fifth decade,” Mr Shorten said.

He congratulated China on its recent climate change deal with the United States, heralding President Xi’s vision on reducing carbon emissions.

China is aiming to peak its emissions by 2030.

“We look forward to building a clean energy future with China,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Xi says he wants to “draw a more ambitious blueprint for advancing relations” between the two countries during his visit.

“We Chinese are striving to achieve the Chinese dream which is the great renewal of the Chinese nation,” he said.

“It is about enhancing the strength and prosperity of the nation and the wellbeing of the Chinese people.”

China had set two goals – to double the 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020 and to turn the country into “a modern socialist country that is prosperous, democratic, culturally harmonious” by the middle of the century.

He said the rest of the world would be interested in how China achieves those goals.

“China’s like the big man in the crowd,” Mr Xi said.

“Others are naturally wondering how the big guy will move and act.”

Mr Xi said some countries have confidence in China’s ability, others have concerns and others “find fault with everything China does”.

But China needs a harmonious domestic and international environment to thrive.

“China needs peace,” he said.

“The Chinese are committed to pursuing peaceful development and we hope that all other countries will do the same.”

China remains an “unshaken bull” in it’s commitment to common development, Mr Xi said.

Continue reading China’s Xi praises Australian innovation

Chinese president Xi Jinping praises Australian innovation

Chinese president Xi Jinping has lauded Australia’s innovation and global influence during an address to federal parliament.

南宁桑拿

Australia was no longer just a country “on the sheep’s back” or sitting on mineral deposits.

“More importantly, Australia is a country of dynamism and innovation,” Mr Xi told MPs and senators on Monday.

“It has produced many world-renowned scientists and made outstanding contributions to the progress of human civilisation.”

Fresh from the G20 leaders’ meeting, Mr Xi is the second Chinese leader to be accorded the rare honour of addressing federal parliament.

He spoke fondly of his trips to Australia over the past few decades and the huge variety of the “ancient and dynamic continent”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott noted Mr Xi’s personal relationship to Australia – after he visits Tasmania on Tuesday he will have been to every state and territory.

“This president of China, in fact, is more widely travelled in our own country than most Australians,” Mr Abbott said to chuckles from MPs.

The Chinese leader, who will host the G20 in 2016, thanked Mr Abbott for a “fruitful and memorable” summit at the weekend.

“It demonstrates Australia’s important status and influence of international and regional affairs,” he said.

The partnership between the countries will be strengthened by a free trade agreement that Mr Xi and Mr Abbott will sign later on Monday.

China is Australia’s number-one trading partner, with the two-way flow of goods and services exceeding $150 billion last year.

Trade between the countries was worth just a quarter of that amount a decade ago.

Mr Abbott said it was a historic day with the conclusion of the trade deal.

“We have become a model of how two peoples and two countries can complement each other,” he told parliament.

He acknowledged the contributions of the one million Chinese-Australians and ways the countries have worked together, such as in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Both Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten praised former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam for opening diplomatic channels between Australia and China.

“He ended a generation of lost contact and began a thriving partnership now in its fifth decade,” Mr Shorten said.

He congratulated China on its recent climate change deal with the United States, heralding President Xi’s vision on reducing carbon emissions.

China is aiming to peak its emissions by 2030.

“We look forward to building a clean energy future with China,” Mr Shorten said.

 Mr Xi says he wants to “draw a more ambitious blueprint for advancing relations” between the two countries during his visit.

“We Chinese are striving to achieve the Chinese dream which is the great renewal of the Chinese nation,” he said.  

“It is about enhancing the strength and prosperity of the nation and the wellbeing of the Chinese people.”

China had set two goals – to double the 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020 and to turn the country into “a modern socialist country that is prosperous, democratic, culturally harmonious” by the middle of the century.

He said the rest of the world would be interested in how China achieves those goals.

“China’s like the big man in the crowd,” Mr Xi said.

“Others are naturally wondering how the big guy will move and act.”

Mr Xi said some countries have confidence in China’s ability, others have concerns and others “find fault with everything China does”.

But China needs a harmonious domestic and international environment to thrive.

“China needs peace,” he said. “The Chinese are committed to pursuing peaceful development and we hope that all other countries will do the same.”

China remains an “unshaken bull” in it’s commitment to common development, Mr Xi said.

Continue reading Chinese president Xi Jinping praises Australian innovation