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Monthly Archives: April 2019

AFL’s Bombers prepare for pain to continue

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Essendon have expressed frustration that the interim nature of the ASADA report into the AFL club means the Bombers don’t know when their pain will end.

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AFL officials are reviewing the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s 400-page findings handed to them last Friday.

The league hopes to determine any sanctions against Essendon before the finals.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou on Wednesday described as “offensive” the suggestion by Essendon great Tim Watson that the AFL had already decided to punish the Bombers.

But new Bombers chairman Paul Little said the fact that ASADA’s evidence had been compiled only into an interim report and the investigation remained ongoing meant that the end was not necessarily in sight.

“From our point of view part of the frustration that is now brought to the table with the interim nature of the report is that we don’t know what other work is required, how long that may take and of course the pain goes on for the club,” Little said.

His comment came in an excerpt from an interview to air on Fox Footy’s The Hangar program on Wednesday night.

The saga has already claimed the Bombers’ former chief executive Ian Robson and chairman David Evans.

And assistant coach Mark Thompson gave another glimpse on Monday night into the toll it’s taking, admitting it had caused internal fighting and had distracted players leading into Sunday’s big loss to Collingwood.

The Bombers received the report on Sunday.

Demetriou returned from the United States on Wednesday and immediately hit out at Watson, father of Bombers captain Jobe, for claiming the AFL had been conditioning the public to expect the club to be stripped of premiership points.

“To suggest that the AFL commission would somehow predetermine an outcome is just offensive and it’s completely wrong,” Demetriou told reporters.

The AFL boss said the league’s general counsel Andrew Dillon would guide the commission through their response to ASADA’s findings.

The commission is scheduled to meet next Monday. Demetriou wouldn’t say whether they might gather earlier to speed up the decision-making process.

He was unsure whether they would reach a resolution before finals begin on September 6.

“We’re hoping (to) with the best intent,” he said.

“I think it would be appropriate if we could, but if we can’t it will be what it will be.”

Fairfax newspapers reported on Wednesday that the ASADA report contains circumstantial evidence that some Essendon players were given banned substances AOD9604 and Thymosin Beta 4 last year under the direction of the club’s former sports scientist Stephen Dank.

But the Bombers’ failure to keep proper records of which players were given particular substances could make it hard to sanction individual players, as opposed to sanctioning the club or its officials, it was reported.

Dank on Wednesday repeated his denials that players took any banned substances during his time at the club.

Mugabe rival withdraws vote challenge

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn a legal challenge to last month’s disputed presidential election which extended rival Robert Mugabe’s rule, his MDC party says, claiming the courts would not be fair.

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This removed the last hurdle to 89-year-old leader Mugabe’s inauguration for a seventh term.

“The prime minister has withdrawn his election petition,” the Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said of Tsvangirai’s decision on Friday.

“The main reason is that this trial was going to be a mockery of justice,” he added. “We have tried to make use of the legal process and it has proved to be impossible.”

Tsvangirai said in an affidavit he had no choice but to withdraw after election organisers blocked key documents needed in the petition.

A lower court on Wednesday stalled his urgent application to force the documents’ release.

“The fact that I still do not have the material means that I cannot meaningfully prosecute my petition,” said Tsvangirai, who served as premier in a unity government with Mugabe following disputed polls in 2008.

“This sadly as far as I am concerned entails that the Zimbabwe situation is far from resolved,” he added, vowing to resolve the political crisis through “democratic means”.

Tsvangirai has rejected the results of the July 31 poll which handed him 34 per cent of the votes cast and declared Mugabe the winner with 61 per cent.

Tsvangirai claims the vote was rigged and has called for fresh elections.

The MDC queried the unusually high numbers of voters turned away at the polling stations, especially in urban areas that are considered opposition strongholds.

In Friday’s affidavit Tsvangirai further accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of being “consistently secretive”, making “a mockery of the neutral role that they must play in these matters.”

The Constitutional Court would have heard arguments on Saturday to decide whether a full trial was necessary.

The withdrawal of the election petition would now pave the way for Mugabe to be inaugurated for another five-year term, extending his 33-year rule.

But Mugabe’s lawyer Fred Gijima said the case would go ahead.

“An election petition is unwithdrawable,” he told AFP.

“They have to appear in court and present their case. They can’t just withdraw after having made such serious allegations.”

Representatives of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party were not available for comment.

MDC spokesman said the swearing-in would now go ahead, but that his MDC would not attend the ceremony.

Mugabe meanwhile blasted Western sanctions again on his arrival for a regional leaders’ summit in Malawi.

“You know what the West is like. They want to think for us, take decisions for us and even direct us as to which way we want to go,” he told journalists.

The 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) will publish its report on Zimbabwe’s polls during this weekend’s summit, according to South African President Jacob Zuma.

Election observers from the regional bloc have said the polls were free, but have not yet commented on the vote’s fairness.

“We were working for the elections to be peaceful, to be free and I think that this has happened,” said Zuma in the Malawian capital Lilongwe.

But the MDC is still taking the fight to the regional bloc which had mediated a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai four years ago.

Why the banks may still lift rates

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Many of them cried poor as higher wholesale funding costs squeezed their margins.

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Just a few months ago ANZ went one step better, explaining the composition of its funding base, detailing how funding costs are rising. It almost seemed like it was preparing us for future out of cycle interest rate moves.

And despite NAB yesterday morning promising to keep its standard variable rate lower than its three major competitors for the rest of this year, experts were warning the banks wouldn’t pass on all of the RBA’s rate cut, if it went that way.

But it didn’t. The Reserve left the official cash rate at 4.25 per cent, so the bank bashing has abated for now.

Or has it?

There seems to be some suggestion that this non-move by the RBA may in fact provoke some of the banks to lift interest rates.

Chris Kimber, Managing Director of Wealth Managements at FatProphets, said that it is possible for the banks to lift interest rates. He says, “If it is true they are not making any profits on recent mortgages they have issued then it has to rise at some stage.”

He adds that the “RBA is playing a game with the banks, not cutting rates as they knew they would not pass it on anyway.”

Stephen Koukoulas, the Managing Director at Market Economics says that its true funding costs have risen and that “there’s an even chance we see one of the banks lifting rates 10bps or so.”

Fitch recently placed Australia’s big four banks on credit watch negative, citing their reliance of overseas funding, and rising funding costs.

Given these costs are rising, despite the official cash rate being steady, simple math would seem to suggest the banks would need to lift their standard variable rates to protect their margins.

But at what cost?

CommSec’s Craig James says that “you can’t rule it out and is a risky thing to do.”

If anyone does move first, it would likely be ANZ. It now announces its interest rate intentions on the second Friday of every month, independent of the RBA.

Shane Oliver, Chief Economist at AMP Capital says there’s only a low risk of the banks lifting interest rates. He told me that risk is “around 15 per cent”. He adds that the RBA still appears to be retaining an easing bias, and that there would be huge negative publicity if they did move, so it would be better to wait and hope the RBA does cut again.

While Peter Esho from City Index thinks it would be very difficult for anybody to move, if one does, “you’d have a lender lifting because they don’t want volume, to reduce risk.”

White Crane Group’s Clifford Bennett reckons the banks will “stay incredibly quiet and don’t think they’ll move at all.”

It’s now up to the banks to see if they make any comments at all about rates.

The Reserve Bank will release more details on Friday with its Statement on Monetary Policy, but even if it doesn’t mention interest rates, we’ll definitely hear from ANZ at the very least, with its new policy to comment on its interest rate direction independent of the central bank.

Scott ready to conquer multiple majors

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Adam Scott and major championship contention are now tantamount but the Queenslander is ready to make his name synonymous with multiple major winners.

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American Jason Dufner may have stolen most of the limelight in the second round of the PGA Championship with a major championship record equalling 63 but Scott once again sits poised to pounce.

Dufner sits at nine-under par and leads by two over Scott (68), Matt Kuchar (66) and Jim Furyk (69).

US Open champion Justin Rose (66) and British Open runner up Henrik Stenson (66) share fifth at six-under.

Marcus Fraser continued to surprise as the next best Australian with a 69 moving him to four-under and a tie for ninth.

Having finished inside the top 15 in eight of the last 11 majors including a win, two seconds and a third Scott has made a habit of being a focal point of the big ones.

The Masters champion believes he’s in the prime of his career and is determined to make Greg Norman’s prediction about being the most successful Australian golfer of all time a reality.

Peter Thomson leads the way with five British Opens, Norman won two British Opens, while David Graham is the only Australian to win two different majors having won the US Open and PGA Championship.

“I’m very confident with where my game’s at,” Scott said.

“I think the platform has never been better for me to go on and win multiple majors.

“I guess you’ve got to take the confidence and form of winning a major and run with it.

“I’m doing everything I can to make sure that they are (my best years), and I can’t take my foot off the gas just because I achieved something great at Augusta.

“I was hungry before the Masters and I might even have a bigger appetite after it, and it might be greedy, but I feel like this is my time to get everything I want out of my career, and I’m going to keep pushing until I do.

“My game is in great shape. I’ve got to take advantage of it. Otherwise, it’s all a waste.”

Scott would become the first man to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and just the fifth Australian to win the tournament after Jim Ferrier (1947), Graham (1979), Wayne Grady (1990) and Steve Elkington (1995).

Perhaps the scary thing for Scott’s competitors is he believes he has plenty of room left for improvement.

“We are always looking for the perfect and that may never be achievable but you can die trying,” he said.

Jason Day shot 71 to drop back to two-under but remains in contention in a tie for 15th while Marc Leishman’s second consecutive 70 has him even in a tie for 28th.

John Senden (70) made the weekend at two-over and Matt Jones (71) got in on the cut number at three-over.

Brett Rumford shot a 77 to miss the cut at seven-over and Geoff Ogilvy joined him out the back door after a second consecutive 74 left him eight-over.

Tiger Woods battled to a 70 to be one-over-par, 10 shots off the pace in his quest for a 15th major.

Calls for new process to review ASIO assessments

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

There are calls for new laws to make the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation periodically review its security assessments of asylum seekers and refugees.

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The calls come after ASIO overturned an adverse assessment that forced a Sri Lankan woman to be kept in detention, even though she had been given refugee status.

 

Some human rights activists are cautiously optimistic the case will bring hope to other refugees being held in indefinite detention.

 

Hannah Sinclair reports.

 

The decision by ASIO to overturn a negative security assessment was only the second of its kind.

 

Now, 41-year-old Sri Lankan refugee, Manokala Jenaddarsan and her six-year-old son, have lodged new applications for protection visas.

 

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the ABC the ASIO assessment procedure is shrouded in secrecy.

 

“This mother and her child had no idea what the effective charges were against them. They weren’t able to put forward their side of the story. There was no independent arbiter. And we find out now 18 months later, that the original decision was wrong.”

 

A negative security assessment means refugees can be held indefinitely, without knowing the details of why they are deemed a threat to security.

 

Ms Jenaddarsan, who is an ethnic Tamil, fled from Sri Lanka after her husband was killed during the long-running war between government forces and Tamil separatist rebels.

 

She was in the final stages of getting her refugee claim processed in 2011 when she was issued with the adverse security assessment, leaving her detained at Villawood detention centre in Sydney.

 

Spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, Trevor Grant, says after becoming a widow, she faced great adversity.

 

And he says she is no threat to security.

 

“She lived on the side of the road for 6 months, and in temporary shelters with her little baby. They’ve been through terror, we have been terrorising them again when they come here asking for our help.”

 

The Department of Immigration has confirmed there are 54 refugees currently facing adverse security assessments.

 

The group, ChilOut, which campaigns to get children out of detention, says nine children are affected by these assessments.

 

Campaign director Sophie Peer says ChilOut supports the Greens’ call for more regular reviews of ASIO’s decisions.

 

But she says the reviews shouldn’t be conducted by ASIO itself.

 

“It should absolutely be an independent review process. Many other nations have independent reviewers of their security systems and bodies, and there is no reason why Australia shouldn’t have the same.”

 

Retired Federal Court Judge, Margaret Stone, has been conducting an independent review of ASIO’s adverse assessments.

 

But she had reportedly not yet considered Ms Jenaddarsan’s case.

 

Spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, Trevor Grant says it’s a question of luck whether a decision is reviewed internally by ASIO.

 

“And this is the lottery these people are living with. And meanwhile they are having to remain in detention and suffer all sorts of psychological trauma.”

 

Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the reversal of the initial decision on Ms Jenaddarsan shows the current review system works.

 

But the Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young disagrees, saying a change in the law is needed.

 

“It’s not a system that’s working. The fact that the ASIO assessment was reversed means that we need a system set down that requires a review of those assessments on a regular basis. Currently that’s not the case. The only way to make that happen is to change the law.”

 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says lawyers representing refugee clients are often left in the dark regarding the security claims alleged against their clients.

 

President of the Alliance, Anthony Kerin, agrees a new system is needed to review ASIO assessments.

 

“The system is flawed and needs to be reviewed. You need to be able to challenge adverse findings against you if there is a basis for doing so. And at the moment that right doesn’t exist under Australian law in terms of ASIO assessments.”

 

In a case before the High Court last year, a Sri Lankan man challenged the legitimacy of his indefinite detention on the basis of an adverse security assessment.

 

The Court ruled that the method ASIO used to reject his visa application was invalid, but this did not lead to any legislative changes.

 

Sophie Peer, from ChilOut, says ASIO processes must be made more transparent.

 

“What there should be is a basic process of natural justice. If someone is going to be detained give them a chance to defend themselves. Let them know why they are being detained, what the charges are against them. I mean that’s just a basic rule of law.”