Government cuts payments to asylum seekers in Australia for medical treatment

Close to 100 asylum seekers are no longer receiving welfare payments, after a decision by the Turnbull government came into effect.

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The men and women had been brought to Australia from detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island for medical treatment, but have now been told their fortnightly payments will stop.

They also have just three weeks to move out of government-supported accommodation and find somewhere else to live.

The individuals will be moved onto a new visa called a “final departure Bridging E Visa”, or BVE.

The government’s BVE fact sheet says the visa allows people to stay temporarily while they finalise arrangements to leave Australia, and return to a regional processing country or anywhere else they may have a right of residence.

While the visa grants work rights, it does not allow asylum seekers aged over 18 to undertake studies of any kind.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of again targeting the most vulnerable.

“Any person who is sick and ill and who requires Australian assistance in Australia, should get that assistance. That’s not about politics, that’s just about being a decent human being. I say to you Malcolm, we want these people resettled in third-party nations, we want to see the US deal come off, we don’t want to see the people smugglers back in business. But do you really have to make a hero of yourself by mistreating, in a weak and cowardly and cruel fashion, the most vulnerable people in the world?”

The government says it doesn’t believe it’s unreasonable to stop taxpayer support for asylum seekers who refuse to return to offshore detention centres.

Government policy states those who come to Australia illegally by boat will never be settled on Australian shores.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says Mr Shorten doesn’t understand the changes, which are designed to catch out people who have done the wrong thing.

“What we’ve seen from Bill Shorten on this latest episode on border protection is that he just doesn’t get it. Labor never, ever gets it. This is a targeted change to less than 70 people, who gamed the system to get to Australia, now are trying to lock themselves out of being sent back to Nauru or Manus. And to stay here at taxpayers’ expense and in taxpayer-funded housing, and Bill Shorten thinks that’s okay.”

Both Labor and the Greens have hinted they are looking into the possibility of overturning the decision.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale says the move is callous and doesn’t represent the view of all those in parliament.

“Just unspeakable cruelty. Remarkable here, that we have a minister, in secret, saying to members of the community, ‘we are going to take food off your table and kick you out of your homes.’ That is not who Australia is.”

Human rights advocates have slammed the changes, saying those affected haven’t been given any time to prepare.

They maintain that while 100 people will be affected immediately, long-term as many as 400 could feel the impact.

Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser says all these people want is safety and stability.

“We’ve had babies taking their first steps, speaking their first words, in Australian parks, we’ve got kids who are going to Australian schools, we’ve got families who have been part of our community for years. And now, out of the blue, the government is effectively going to throw them out on the streets in an attempt to force them back to harm. The Prime Minister must stop this. The only sensible, the only decent, thing to do is to let these people stay in the Australian community, let them get on with rebuilding their lives in freedom and in safety.”

 

Soliola back to face Storm after ugly hit

Canberra prop Shannon Boyd has warned Melbourne to “look out” for Sia Soliola when the Raiders backrower returns from a five-match NRL suspension this weekend.

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Soliola’s ugly high and late hit on Billy Slater knocked the Storm star out cold in round 20, sparking anger as well as the most anticipated judiciary hearing of the season.

But far from going into his shell, Soliola won’t take a backward step – according to Boyd – when the two sides resume hostilities at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

“He’s a big boy Sia. He’ll be ready to go out and get into them after what happened last time we played them, so look out,” Boyd said.

Soliola has knuckled down at training, with marathon gym sessions helping him to add some bulk while suspended.

“He’ll be massive for us against Melbourne,” Boyd said.

“He’s a good leader and he always shows the boys the way and leads out front.”

While the NRL later admitted Soliola’s shot on Slater should have seen him sent off, the versatile forward has an outstanding off-field reputation and isn’t considered a dirty player.

Raiders fullback Jack Wighton doesn’t believe the incident will heighten tensions between the two sides.

“We give it, we get it and it’s just the way it works sometimes,” Wighton said.

“There was no hard feelings, it was just one of those things you can’t take back that’s happened.”

Canberra will be playing for pride against the minor premiers after their faint finals hopes were extinguished when Manly won in Auckland on Sunday.

The dead rubber comes almost a year after the Storm eliminated Canberra with a preliminary final victory at the same venue.

“They’re on fire down there in Melbourne so it’s going to be a big job if we’re going to do it,” Wighton said.

Wighton was adamant the Raiders only have themselves to blame for their slide down the ladder this year after losing eight games by six points or less.

“We really let ourselves down in tight games so it’s something we’re going to have to fix next year if we’re going to be contenders,” he said.

Work to start on Adani mine in October

Indian mining giant Adani has announced it will start early works on its Carmichael coal mine in Queensland in October.

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Company chairman Gautam Adani has issued a statement confirming the start of works for the $16.5 billion project in Queensland’s Galilee basin, with the first coal to be produced by the facility in March 2020.

Adani’s Australian head Jeyakumar Janakaraj said Charters Towers-based civil contracting firm GA Services would be among the first regional contractors to benefit from the start of works.

“Adani Australia’s regional content initiatives will have long-term benefits for Queensland, particularly for contractors like GA Services who help us meet our indigenous content targets,” said Mr Janakaraj said in a statement.

Queensland Resources Council boss Ian Macfarlane welcomed the announcement.

“I congratulate Adani on its ongoing commitment to source contracts locally and the company’s leading practice targets for indigenous employment and participation,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Adani have had a clear objective on working with local suppliers to maximise the opportunities for regional Queensland right from day one.”

The company decided to move forward on the project after the Federal Court dismissed two legal bids to stop it from going ahead, from traditional owners and environmental groups.

Appeals lodged by the Australian Conservation Foundation and traditional land owner Adrian Burragubba were dismissed on Friday.

However, the Environmental Defenders Office said it would continue to examine the lawfulness of the mine.

ACF campaigner Basha Stasak said the announcement by Mr Adani referred to using money from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, however the NAIF is yet to formally announce any funding for the Camichael mine.

“This is all part of Adani’s ongoing shake down tactics to force the Turnbull government into tipping cash into a dirty polluting project that no Australian bank will touch,” Ms Stasak said,

“Public money should not go to any project that will pump billions of tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere and threaten the survival of our Great Barrier Reef.”

The Palaszczuk government has long been in favour of the project, although it has caused deep divisions between the party’s Left and Right factions. The Left headed by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is ideologically opposed to the mine on environmental grounds while the Right lead by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, has been spruiking its boost to the state’s coffers.

A government spokesman told AAP on Monday they “welcome any support for Queensland jobs.”

Charities ‘attractive’ to terror backers

Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations continue to be targeted by backers of terrorism to help secretly fund overseas operations.

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Nearly 30 suspicious matters related to terrorism financing were reported between 2012 and 2016 worth $5.6 million, according to new research.

“This is a significant amount in the current terrorism financing environment,” money movement watchdog Austrac said in a report, released on Monday.

While not-for-profits were not the main source of terrorism financing in Australia, they were “attractive” to financiers.

“What this shows is that NPOs have the capacity to quickly raise and camouflage the movement of large amounts of funds offshore to support individuals or groups engaged in foreign conflict,” Justice Minister Michael Keenan said in a statement.

Austrac rated the threat of terrorism financing to the sector as “medium”, noting that self-funding – through salaries, loans or credit cards – is the dominant method of terrorism financing in Australia.

Money laundering also posed a “medium” risk, but the greatest criminal threats to NPOs came from fraud and theft.

Between 2012 and 2016, 249 matters were reported for suspected criminal misuse with a total value of $57.8 million.

A majority (155) related to money laundering offences, 69 were linked to offences against the commonwealth, state or territory laws, while almost a dozen related to tax evasion.

“The fact that criminals are seeking to target a sector founded on helping our most vulnerable just shows that they are the lowest of the low,” Mr Keenan said.

Ten sale sparks new media reform debate

The decision by US media giant CBS to buy the Ten Network has sparked a new debate over the Turnbull government’s media ownership reforms.

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The American broadcaster announced on Monday it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire the business and assets of the troubled Australian media company.

Labor leader Bill Shorten welcomed the news, noting the government’s argument for abolishing the so-called two-out-of-three rule was to save Ten.

“Well, CBS has saved Channel Ten so we don’t need to tamper with media diversity laws,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said that was akin to saying there was no need for umbrellas after a day of no rain.

“The entire media industry says the government’s media reform package is needed and Bill Shorten’s response is to talk gibberish,” he said in a statement.

Senator Fifield, who wouldn’t comment on the Ten deal as it was still subject to a number of approvals, accused Labor of pretending Australia’s media organisations weren’t facing major challenges.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the package of changes was not a “Channel Ten amendment agenda”.

“This is about ensuring the sustainability of the entire media,” the prime minister told reporters in the NSW Snowy Mountains.

The existing provisions were drafted in a pre-internet era and newspaper companies, such as Fairfax Media, and regional broadcasters were screaming out for reforms.

“We need to have media ownership laws that enable the industry to respond competitively to the threat from the internet, from companies like Netflix and Amazon and so forth,” he said.

“If Channel Ten is bought by CBS, fine … but you have got the rest of the industry.’

By opposing the package in the Senate, Labor was guaranteeing foreign companies would advance at the expense of the Australian business.

“It’s about time (Mr) Shorten woke up to himself and recognised that the only beneficiaries of his opposition to media law reform are Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon,” Mr Turnbull said.

“They’d be cheering Bill on, because they’d say – the more divided the Australian media sector is, the easier it is to pick them off.”

The government is still in negotiations with the Nick Xenophon Team to secure passage of its reforms through the Senate when parliament resumes next week.

Senator Xenophon told AAP his party is still pushing for measures including tax subsidies for media outlets with an annual turnover of less than $25 million to boost support for public interest journalism.

NXT noted that its preference was for a local purchaser for the Ten Network.

Extended AFL All-Australian squad named

Every year the AFL’s All-Australian squad is just as notable for who wasn’t selected as who did make the cut and this season is no different.

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The league released its initial squad of 40 on Monday and Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin, Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan and Melbourne power onballer Clayton Oliver are among the players who can consider themselves unlucky.

Cotchin has been a key factor in the Tigers’ ascent to the top four, while Duncan has taken his game to a new level this year.

Oliver played all 22 games for the Demons, averaging 30 possessions a match, in his second AFL season.

“From our perspective, he’s been a terrific addition to our team (and) taken a huge leap for a young player,” Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones said of Oliver on Monday.

“He inspires some of our other guys to show the level of commitment and development that’s possible when you really set your mind to it.

“It’s a credit to him, with how hard he’s worked off field, the by-product is the performance we see consistently on the field.

“He’s probably pretty stiff to miss out, I would have thought, but I’m tipping he won’t be too far away in the near future.”

Minor premiers Adelaide have a league-high eight players in the extended 40-man squad.

The large Crows’ contingent includes mercurial forward Eddie Betts – one of a dozen members of the 2016 All-Australian team who remain in contention to go back-to-back in 2017 – skipper Taylor Walker and midfield stars Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch.

Sydney spearhead Lance Franklin is in line for a seventh All-Australian gong, while Geelong captain Joel Selwood could receive the honour for the sixth time.

Richmond defender Alex Rance is in contention to be named an All-Australian for a fourth straight year.

The only clubs without any representatives in the 40-man squad are Fremantle and Gold Coast.

Second-placed Geelong and third-placed Richmond had only two nominees apiece.

The All-Australian selection panel is made up of Gillon McLachlan (chairman), Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Andrew Dillon, Danny Frawley, Glen Jakovich, Chris Johnson, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson and Warren Tredrea.

2017 ALL-AUSTRALIAN SQUAD:

Eddie Betts, Matt Crouch, Sam Jacobs, Rory Laird, Jake Lever, Tom Lynch, Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker (Adelaide), Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions), Sam Docherty, Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton), Jeremy Howe, Adam Treloar (Collingwood), Joe Daniher, Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett (Essendon), Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood (Geelong), Toby Greene, Josh Kelly, Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel (GWS), Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn), Jeff Garlett, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta (Melbourne), Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Robbie Gray, Tom Jonas, Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide), Dustin Martin, Alex Rance (Richmond), Dylan Roberton, Sebastian Ross (St Kilda), Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy (Sydney), Josh Kennedy, Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo (West Coast), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs).

India says China border stand-off will end soon amid scuffle footage

Indian and Chinese soldiers have for more than two months been facing off over a separate territorial dispute in the Doklam plateau, which India says is Bhutanese territory and which China claims for itself.

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Some analysts have said the dispute amounts to the worst crisis in relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours for decades.

On Monday Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India wanted peaceful relations with its neighbours as he addressed a unit of border guards in the capital Delhi.

“A deadlock is going on between India and China in Doklam. But I think a solution will come out soon. China will also take a positive step from its side,” Singh said as he addressed the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

“We want to maintain good relations with our neighbours. We don’t want conflict, we want peace.”

The stand-off between soldiers of #India and #China on August 15, 2017, took place at 33.720184, 78.763637 (Maps: 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/jM5AFfKakb). pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/oEM0Qdt9fp

— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) August 19, 2017

The ITBP guards India’s 3,488-kilometre (2,167-mile) border with China along the northern Himalayan mountain range.

His comments came days after video emerged of soldiers from both sides appearing to kick and punch each other as rocks rained down on them in a disputed part of Ladakh last week.

Army sources confirmed to AFP on Monday that the video of the fighting on August 15 — India’s Independence Day — was authentic. 

0:00 China blames India for border scuffle Share China blames India for border scuffle

Asked to comment on the scuffle at a regular briefing on Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman said its border troops were carrying out “normal” patrols on the Chinese side. 

“During this process, the Indian side took some violent actions, colliding with the Chinese personnel with their bodies and injuring the Chinese border personnel,” said Hua Chunying. 

“This violated the consensus between India and China in relation to border issues. China has expressed great dissatisfaction” and had lodged solemn representations, she added.

“What India did went against the two countries’ relevant consensus to keep the peace on the border and it endangered the situation of the western section of China-India border, China is extremely dissatisfied with this and has lodged solemn representations through border-related channels.”

India’s government had previously confirmed the scuffle but said no weapons were used, without giving further details.

Related reading

It happened on the shores of Pangong Lake, which lies over 4,000 metres high on the Tibetan plateau and is a popular tourist attraction.

India and China share a long history of mistrust and went to war in 1962 over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The latest standoff began in mid-June after Chinese troops started building a road on the remote Doklam plateau.

India has an army base nearby and moved soldiers into the flashpoint zone to halt the work, prompting Beijing to accuse it of trespassing on Chinese soil.

0:00 India confirms border ‘incident’ with Chinese soldiers Share India confirms border ‘incident’ with Chinese soldiers

China has repeatedly said India must withdraw its troops before any proper negotiation takes place. India said both sides should withdraw their forces together.

India has historically been closely allied to Bhutan, but in recent years China has sought to increase its own engagement with the tiny mountainous kingdom.

That has fed into a broader competition for regional influence between the two Asian powers.

Broncs turn to defence guru after NRL rout

It was not quite the blowout they had to have.

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But Matt Gillett says last round’s thrashing from Parramatta has been a timely reality check ahead of Brisbane’s crunch NRL clash with North Queensland on Thursday night.

Wayne Bennett cracked the whip at training on Monday, calling in ex-Broncos hardman Peter Ryan to stiffen up their leaky defence in response to last round’s 52-34 home loss to the Eels.

The former Broncos and Brumbies defensive guru took over Monday’s brutal session after Brisbane conceded 50 points at Suncorp Stadium for only the second time in their history.

But a much more damning stat was no doubt motivating Bennett on Monday – no team has conceded 50 points in a game and gone on to win the premiership that year.

Backrower Gillett said Brisbane were embarrassed by the scoreline but believed lessons learned from the rout – and Ryan – would ensure it didn’t happen again.

“I am not sure if it was the blowout we had to have but it was a good reality check for us before the finals,” he said.

“If you are a bit weak in your preparation that is what can happen to you.

“I am glad it has happened now. We just have to move forward.”

Gillett hoped Ryan’s visit had added some starch to the Broncos defence ahead of their crucial showdown in Townsville on Thursday night.

Brisbane are hoping to seal a top four finish and home final with a win while the Cowboys are desperate for a victory to keep their finals hopes flickering.

“He was an enforcer, won premierships for the club,” Gillett said of Ryan.

“What happened last Thursday night was pretty embarrassing for the football team so it was good he could pass on his knowledge to the players.”

Sam Thaiday is emerging as Brisbane’s Mr Fixit after being tipped to fill the huge front row void created by Korbin Sims’ season-ending arm fracture.

Thaiday has been starting at hooker since Andrew McCullough’s season-ending knee injury.

He is expected to slot in at prop with bench back-up No.9 Ben Hunt starting as rake against the Cowboys.

Joe Ofahengaue is another starting prop option after completing a three week ban.

Winger David Mead left training early on Monday with a suspected knee complaint but Jordan Kahu is expected to take his place against the Cowboys after returning to training from a groin complaint.

Shannon Boyd plays down Kangaroos hopes

Canberra prop Shannon Boyd believes his NRL form hasn’t been good enough to regain his Kangaroos jersey in time for the World Cup.

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Less than a year ago the 24-year-old made an impressive international debut, but he’s not confident of forcing his way back into Mal Meninga’s squad for the tournament which kicks off in October.

While only a leg injury stopped Boyd from playing in the Anzac Test in May, he believes he has fallen down the pecking order since then.

“I don’t think my form has really granted me to play for Australia this year,” Boyd said.

“I’ve been a bit better the last four or five weeks but there’s a lot of other players that have done it all year.

“If I got picked I’d be stoked but I’ll just have to wait until it happens.”

Boyd is a rare breed, having played four Tests for Australia during last year’s Four Nations but never represented NSW in State of Origin.

Origin forwards David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods, Jarrod Wallace, Dylan Napa and Tim Glasby could all be in front of Boyd, while former Raider Paul Vaughan is a possible bolter.

Boyd’s improved form has coincided with the Green Machine winning five of their past seven games.

But it hasn’t been enough to give the 122kg giant a chance to prove a point to Australian selectors during the NRL finals, with Canberra no longer a chance of squeezing into the top eight.

“It’s something you play for all year and to turn around and just be no chance it’s pretty ordinary,” Boyd said.

The Raiders face minor premiers Melbourne, who will have strong representation during the World Cup, in their final match of the season on Saturday night.

“They’re a class above everyone else at the moment,” Boyd said.

Reliance first FY profit beats prospectus

Plumbing products designer and manufacturer Reliance Worldwide has exceeded its prospectus forecasts, reporting a net profit of $65.

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6 million in its first full-year financial results.

Revenue of $601.7 million for the 12 months to June 30 was up 12.6 per cent on its pro forma results the previous year, while earnings (EBITDA) of $120.7 million was 21.8 per cent better than the pro forma $99.1 million.

Net sales grew 2.4 per cent on the prospectus forecast while net profit after tax rose 4.8 per cent.

Driving the positive result was a continued expansion of Reliance’s SharkBite products business in North America which delivered strong sales growth in 2016/2017, mainly in the defensive repair, maintenance and renovation markets.

The Sharkbite business figures included a sales benefit in the second half from the initial rollout of product to approximately half of US company Lowe’s more than 1,700 stores.

Reliance, which listed on the ASX in April 2016, said improvements in gross margin had continued, driven by cost reductions, procurement savings and operational efficiencies.

Chief executive Heath Sharp said the company performed well across all its geographic and market segments.

He said Reliance’s growth in the year ahead would be helped by the company’s new plumbing fittings products and efforts in commercialising the latest “Internet of Things” applications for water flow monitoring.

Reliance forecast earnings (EBITDA) for 2017/2018 of between $145 million and $150 million, driven by strong top-line growth from the expansion of its business in the Americas, the inclusion of results from its newly acquired Holdrite business and opportunities to gain market shared in Asian Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Reliance shares closed 30 cents, or 8.9 per cent, higher at $3.66.

RELIANCE EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS:

* Net profit of $65.6m, vs $52.1m pro forma

* Revenue of $601.7m, vs $534.4m pro forma

* Dividend of 3cps, fully franked