Everton ready to send message against Spurs – Martinez

17Feb

Everton are sixth, two points behind second-placed Liverpool and four off leaders Arsenal, and their one league loss was at Manchester City where they took the lead before losing 3-1.

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They have coped with the sale of midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United with ease and in Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, they boast one of the most lethal strikers in the top flight.

Martinez, who replaced Old Trafford-bound David Moyes at Goodison Park, has quickly established the eye-catching brand of passing football he ingrained at Wigan Athletic and Swansea City without sacrificing Everton’s steely core.

Tottenham are one point better off in fourth spot and Martinez believes the north London club, top-five finishers for the past four seasons, can act as a benchmark for his side.

“If we can win, I’m sure it sends out a message,” Spaniard Martinez, who will be without injured striker Arouna Kone, told a news conference on Friday.

“But there’s also a message internally; that you gain that confidence and belief in what you are doing.”

“This Spurs side can become something special but that’s why we’re looking forward to the challenge – because we feel that we are ready to face whatever we have got in front of us at Goodison,” Martinez added.

“I do feel that the environment that is created at Goodison is as positive as you can get as a home team and we want to use that to our advantage.”

Despite losing Welsh forward Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Martinez said the squad Andre Villas-Boas has put together at White Hart Lane is as good as any in England.

“Gareth Bale was a phenomenal player for Spurs, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.

“But when you replace that with seven or eight players, you’re going to be in a stronger position because you don’t rely on that player.

“As a top-four club, sometimes you are outstanding at something. I think Spurs are developing to be outstanding at everything.”

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is impressed with Martinez’s start at Everton and the impact of Lukaku who has netted five times in seven league games.

“There is a massive difference from Moyes’ aggressive-type football to Roberto’s build-up play but there is no difference to the results they are getting,” he told Tottenham’s website (www.tottenhamhotspur.com).

“The team have bonded to Roberto’s ideas…he’s a very straightforward, open-minded coach.

“Lukaku is a player of great potential, he is strong but he’s also creative on the ball. He has a big motivation to show that he belongs to the top.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Alison Wildey)

Federer finds Masters’ touch just in time

17Feb

Switzerland’s former world number one, now ranked sixth, will face second seed Novak Djokovic in the last four in the build-up to next week’s ATP World Tour finals in London.

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“I knew it was a long time since I had been able to do that,” Federer told a news conference after his 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory over the fifth-ranked Argentine.

“So I’m happy now I won against a top 10 (player) again, especially just before London where I will have to play against three top 10 players in a row.

“It seems to be interesting and I’m happy that I made that first step today,” he added ahead of next week’s ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The 17-times grand slam champion has had his worst season in 10 years, having failed to reach any of the grand slam finals and appearing in only one Masters Series final so far.

His last victory over a top 10 player was in the Australian Open quarter-finals against then eighth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Federer’s only title this season came on grass at Halle.

Del Potro beat him in the Basel Open final on Sunday before becoming the highest-ranked player to suffer defeat at the hands of the Swiss in nine months.

“Probably has to be,” Federer said when asked if Friday’s win had been his best of the season.

“I have had some decent matches along the way ‑ maybe against less famous players than Juan Martin ‑ so I’m happy it worked out well today,” added the Swiss, who revived some of his old brilliance at the Paris indoor event.

“I think it was a good match from start to finish. That’s definitely good for my confidence, because those are the kind of wins I need right now.”

Federer will play at the ATP season finale for the 12th time next week.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Sheens wary of letting guard down v Fiji

15Jan

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens admits Australia face a genuine Rugby League World Cup danger game against an ambitious Fiji in St Helens.

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The Group A teams meet on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT), with Australia looking to take their game to the next level after a 28-20 win over England in the tournament opener.

The Kangaroos have won all three previous clashes with Fiji by more than 50 points but the Bati have never looked stronger; their squad littered with NRL talent across the park.

And while it would be a major surprise if the Kangaroos are seriously troubled, Sheens says Fiji are capable of exploiting any complacency or a lack of focus from his men.

“You can’t afford to let your guard and get beat,” Sheens said as Australia trained in drizzle at the 18,000-capacity Langtree Park on Friday.

“Realistically, from our point of view, we’ve got to come out and be aggressive, kick and chase and play what we know is our game.

“We’ll get our opportunities near their line but we don’t want to rush those opportunities.

“Ireland did that (in an opening 32-14 loss to Fiji) … we’re going to have to be a bit more clinical.”

The Petero Civoniceva-led Fijians were physical and aggressive in their opening match, with Sheens revealing Ireland and Canberra prop Brett White had told Kangaroos players he’d never been so sore after a game.

Sheens expects much of the same on what is expected to be a cold, wet night in St Helens.

“There’ll be the odd tackle that rocks the stadium,” he said.

“I think that’s what this sort of football is about.

“It’s been shown with Samoa and New Zealand, and a few of the other games, they’ve been very high impact.”

Sheens predicted debutants Josh Papalii and Boyd Corner would handle the occasion well and backed Daly Cherry-Evans to slot into the side smoothly at halfback in place of the rested Cooper Cronk.

Fiji will be without centre Wes Naiqama (back) but they won’t be lacking any belief, with tough forward Ashton Sims adamant the 2008 World Cup semi-finalists felt they could pull off what would be the tournament’s biggest ever upset.

“We’re going out there to win, there’s no two ways about it,” said Sims, one of three Sims brothers in the side.

“If there’s guys who don’t think we can win, I don’t really want to play.

“We’ve got our backs against the wall big time, I understand that, but most guys don’t player rugby league just to be competitive. We want to win.”

Pistorius to face additional gun charges

17Aug

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius is facing two additional gun-related charges at his trial for the murder of his girlfriend.

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The prosecution won permission to add the charges to their main case against Pistorius for the Valentine’s Day murder of Reeva Steenkamp, even though the two alleged violations are understood to have taken place before the killing.

“The prosecution received authorisation to combine or centralise all charges against Mr Pistorius,” National Prosecution Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube told AFP on Tuesday.

Pistorius’s defence team was informed of the decision on Tuesday, he said, adding that the charges were not new, without elaborating.

The double amputee, known as the “Blade Runner” for the fibreglass prosthetic legs he uses in competition, shocked the world when he admitted to killing Steenkamp, a blonde cover girl and law graduate.

He has however denied murder, saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door in his upmarket Pretoria home because he thought she was an intruder.

While Mncube was quoted later on Tuesday as stressing the “convenience” of having the cases heard together, prosecutors have hinted at a strategy that will portray Pistorius as trigger-happy and that the killing was pre-meditated.

According to local media, the sprint star once fired a shot through the sunroof of his former girlfriend Samantha Taylor’s car. He had also allegedly accidentally discharged a firearm at a Johannesburg restaurant, weeks before he killed Steenkamp.

Pistorius catapulted to fame at last year’s London Olympics as the first double-amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes.

But the killing sent shock waves around the world and since then his reckless past and love of fast cars, beautiful women and guns has emerged in the media.

One newspaper has dubbed him the “Blade Gunner”.

The trial of Pistorius, who is currently out on bail, is set for March 3 to 20 at the Pretoria High Court.

ODI final a fitting end to special series

17Aug

It’s only fitting that the record-breaking one-day series with world No.

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1 India comes down to a winner-takes-all final game, says Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

He describes Saturday’s game 7 clash in Bangalore as “grand final day”.

What started out as a fight for the No.1 ODI ranking has surely proven beyond doubt these are the two best 50-over sides in the world.

Washouts in games four and five ended world No.2 Australia’s hopes of stealing the home side’s top ODI ranking.

But the closeness of every contest shows just how evenly matched they are.

It’s a series that has produced the second and third highest successful ODI run chases in history.

Batting records have tumbled in every game, with Australian skipper George Bailey in exquisite touch while India’s Virat Kohli has proved equally unstoppable.

Had it not been for James Faulkner’s extraordinary 30-run over off Ishant Sharma which single-handedly stole victory for Australia in Mohali, this series would likely already be decided in India’s favour.

But after six games the score is 2-2 and series honours will now be taken by the winner in Bangalore.

“It’s grand final day now, and I think it is very fitting that it comes down to a deciding match,” Haddin told AAP.

“There’s been some outstanding cricket played throughout the whole series.

“It’s obviously been very attractive to watch and there’s been some very special performances right the way through.

“To be playing for the series … it’s exciting and is exactly what this series deserves.”

The flow of runs is unlikely to slow in Bangalore, with smaller boundaries and generally placid pitches tipped to deliver another nightmare for the bowlers.

“It’s certainly a very high-scoring ground,” allrounder Shane Watson said.

“…Hopefully not (this time), for the bowlers’ sake. Otherwise there might be a few bowlers are a little despondent on the flight home.”

Watson said the one-day format was a different game these days, following significant rule changes introduced this year – notably the requirement for one more fielder to be inside the 30-yard circle.

“No doubt it provides a really big challenge for the bowlers and also George as captain to be able to try and find ways to defend a big total like we’ve been able to get,” Watson said.

“It’s certainly changed the dynamic of one-day cricket.”

Australia’s task is made even more difficult following Cricket Australia’s decision to fly fast bowler Mitchell Johnson home ahead of the Ashes.

Johnson has been the most effective bowler of the series, leading with seven wickets, and is expected to force his way into Michael Clarke’s Gabba Test lineup after terrorising the Indian middle order.

“Obviously it’s a loss and we’ll miss Mitch, but that’s cricket these days,” Haddin said.

“He’s gone home in the best interest in Australian cricket to prepare himself to hopefully bowl his way into an Ashes squad.”

Johnson will likely be replaced by fast-bowling allrounder Nathan Coulter-Nile.

While still in doubt, batsman Adam Voges’ chances of featuring have improved after he reacted well to treatment on a back injury suffered in Wednesday’s thrilling loss.

CMC boss ‘curries favour’ to keep position

17Aug

The head of Queensland’s independent corruption watchdog has been accused of acting like the government’s puppet in a bid to be reappointed.

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Crime and Misconduct Commission acting chairman Dr Ken Levy wrote an unsolicited opinion piece on Thursday backing the state government’s controversial anti-bikie laws.

Members of the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC), which oversees the CMC, told him on Friday morning he’d compromised his independence.

“The opposition no longer has any confidence in you continuing as acting chair and I believe that your position now is untenable,” Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told him at a committee hearing.

Independent MP Peter Wellington said the CMC chairman had used his position “to effectively become a puppet for the government”.

“I no longer have confidence in Dr Levy’s independence heading the most powerful organisation in Queensland,” he told AAP.

“I believe it’s untenable for the government to extend his appointment and it should immediately call for expressions of interest for a new chair.”

Corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald and civil libertarians also accused Dr Levy of bias and undermining the CMC’s independence.

Dr Levy defended himself, saying he’d confined comments to issues within the bounds of the CMC, which was tasked with fighting crime, including criminal bikie gangs.

When asked whether he’d consulted anyone about the article, he said: “No, it’s my composition”.

Mr Wellington said it appeared Dr Levy’s opinion piece was “all about currying favour with the government”.

A call for nominations for a permanent CMC chair is due in about two weeks.

The government’s candidate must be approved by the PCMC, but that committee could be bypassed if the government simply extends Dr Levy’s tenure as acting chairman.

When asked on Friday if he would support Dr Levy’s nomination as permanent chairman, Premier Campbell Newman said: “Of course”.

Murray not sure he’ll make Australian Open

17Aug

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will only compete in next year’s Australian Open if he feels capable of mounting a serious challenge to win it.

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Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years in July, but he missed the latter part of the season after undergoing surgery on his back in September.

He is now working his way back to full fitness, but says he will not cut any corners in his preparations for the Australian Open, which begins on January 13.

“I would be disappointed to miss the Australian Open because it’s a grand slam. It is a tournament all the players want to play at,” he said on Thursday.

“But when you start setting targets — especially when you are coming back from having surgery on your back; it’s a serious thing to have done — (it is important) that you don’t come back just to play a match or to the Australian Open.

“If I come back, I want to be in shape to win it. I can look at this in a lot of positive ways and if I do get myself ready for it, I will have had a long lead-up and training block, really, to get myself in the best possible shape.

“Whether I make it or not depends on how things go once I get back on the tennis court. I haven’t been on the tennis court yet, so I’m not sure.”

It is now six weeks since Murray’s operation and he says he intends to return to the court for the first time next week.

“Rehab has been going well. I haven’t hit any balls yet, but all is on track,” said the world number four.

“I’m hoping to hit a couple of balls next week, but very few and very light just to see how it is and I will start to progress from there. I have still got quite a way to go until I am 100 per cent.”

Murray was speaking at the launch of his new racquet, made by Head, at London’s Queens Club.

Surprise success for Scandidramas

17Aug

Why has the Western world fallen in love with Nordic noir thrillers?

Danish public broadcaster DR gained a reputation for quality television with the success of The Killing, a police thriller that was watched all over the globe.

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And now, the third and final season of Borgen is set to premiere in Denmark, having become one of the highest-selling television series in modern history.

But before Borgen hit record highs, the idea that the show could follow the path of unexpected global hit The Killing seemed too good to be true.

“When it started travelling I just couldn’t believe it,” says Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudson, who plays the role of Danish Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg Christensen.

Sidse Babett Knudsen interview:

When he landeded the role of the Prime Minister’s spin doctor Kasper, actor Pilou Asbaek was certain the show wouldn’t be a global hit.

“It’s about Danish politics, with a spin doctor and a journalist. It has absolutely no international potential at all.”

Asbaek is pleased about the show’s success, but finds it difficult to deal with his newfound fame.

“One third of the population in Denmark watches the show, so I am very thankful that I got the opportunity. But I am also angry because it’s more difficult to shop alone now and buy toilet paper.”

Screened in 120 countries, both series are set in Copenhagen, but brought to life in DR’s space-age studios in a series of elaborate, purpose built sets.

The public broadcaster has now produced two critically acclaimed series, on a drama budget one eighth of the size of the BBC.

DR Head of Fiction Nadia Klovedal Reich admits she was surprised at the success of the shows, but understands why they appeal to a global audience.

“We are a little country with a small budget for drama but we also have a lot of good stories to tell in Denmark. We feel that the shows we are doing have something for the heart and for the mind…we are kind of rough and soft at the same time.”

Pilou Asbaek too has theories about the secret to Scandinavia’s success.

“I have some ideas. One of them is that Danish drama is a mixture of business life and personal life. I think that people really like that they can see people with power in their own private homes. And the other one is that there are strong female characters and I don’t know how it is in Australia, but in Denmark right now the strongest persons in the country are female.”

Pilou Asbaek interview:

“I think it’s easier to be a woman prime minister in the fictional world,” says Babett Knudson.

“In no episode do we talk about my clothes, or my handbags, or my haircut, which they do much more with female politicians than male politicians.”

The imminent third and final instalment of the political thriller will bring an end to one of Denmark’s most successful productions.

However, Kovendal Reich isn’t wasting any time looking back.

“It’s actually not [sad] because we are on our way with news shows we have all our creative energy in now…so it’s okay to say goodbye to Borgen.” 

The success of The Killing and Borgen has paved the way for Denmark’s next Nordic noir adventure: ten part series The Legacy, which is due to be released in January 2014.

Producer of The Legacy Karoline Leth admits it is a bit daunting to be working in the aftermath of such global success, but she isn’t deterred.

“I think the best thing is not to feel the pressure.” 

More F1 records beckon Vettel

17Jul

Sebastian Vettel can chase records after clinching a fourth world title last weekend while there is still plenty at stake for “the best of the rest” in the three remaining races of the Formula One season.

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Red Bull’s Vettel can equal Michael Schumacher’s record seven straight season victories on Sunday in the day-to-night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Schumacher’s 13 overall season wins are also still in his sights.

Vettel won the debut race on the 5.554km Yas Marina course in 2009 and his repeat success a year later gave him a first world title.

Lewis Hamilton topped the 2011 podium and Kimi Raikkonen uttered the famous words “leave me alone, I know what I am doing” via team radio in 2012, en route to his first win since his comeback.

Vettel arrived in Abu Dhabi from two days off with his girlfriend at their home in Switzerland, during which he also relaxed by mowing the lawn, and said he has no motivation problem after taking the title.

“We are here to race and to win if we get the chance,” Vettel said on Thursday.

Raikkonen and Hamilton are among those for whom and their teams there is still plenty at stake.

Raikkonen is just 24 points behind second-placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, and fourth-placed Mercedes man Hamilton also still eyes a place on the final podium, another 14 points adrift and 75 still up for grabs. Red Bull’s Marc Webber and Nico Rosberg also have a mathematical chance.

Rosberg spoke of “the best of the rest” last Sunday after Vettel wrapped up the title in India, and Mercedes would love to keep second place in the constructors’ list behind quadruple champions Red Bull.

Mercedes moved four points ahead of Ferrari in India, and the Lotus team of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean is only another 16 points behind.

Ferrari are desperate to at least get second place in both rankings after failing yet again to earn a first drivers’ title since Raikkonen triumphed in 2007 during his first term at the Scuderia, as he will return to partner Alonso next year.

Alonso was 11th in India and has never won in Abu Dhabi, but will have enough pride to aim and keep second place in the drivers’ list.

Team-mate Felipe Massa finished ahead of him in fourth place Sunday for some Ferrari damage control although they have now missed the podium in the last three races.

“It’s important to try and end this season in the best way possible,” team principal Stefano Domenicali said.

“These are crucial weeks that we have ahead of us to the end of the year, because the work we are doing in preparation for 2014 is vital if we want to be the team that puts an end to this Red Bull dominance, just as we and Fernando have been their main rivals over the past four seasons.”

But Hamilton and Rosberg, who came second in India, are ready ready to defend their current runner-up spot.

“We’re up for the challenge!” Hamilton said. “We are still pushing and there is a lot that our team can achieve in that period. It’s all about consistency now and making sure that both Nico and I score good points so that we can keep the other teams behind us,” the Briton said.

Wallabies slam tilt face early acid test

17Jul

The Wallabies are determined to nip an England uprising in the bud this weekend when their grand slam ambitions face a massive first-up test at Twickenham.

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Australia-England Cook Cup clashes are big anytime the Wallabies venture to London but even more is riding on Sunday morning’s (AEDT) European tour opener.

Ten years after the English celebrated a World Cup final victory in Australia, Stuart Lancaster’s men have already put the Wallabies on notice as they prepare to host the 2015 tournament.

Both top-four ranked nations have been drawn into the ‘pool of death’ with Wales (No.6) and England skipper Chris Robshaw wants his young side to gain an early psychological edge by turning Twickenham into a home fortress.

The ground holds no fears for Australia at present as the Wallabies have won four of their last five games there.

Newly-appointed Wallabies captain Ben Mowen agrees the tussle holds extra significance this time as the teams start looking ahead to the World Cup.

“Having in the back of the mind that we will play them in the pool match there, it is important but when you just look at it as a stand-alone game it’s England versus Australia and that’s important enough,” Mowen said.

“These are very special games for Aussie rugby players.

“We’re all well aware of the responsibility that comes with it.”

England coach Stuart Lancaster views it as the start of a “defining year” of internationals for his side but Australia (3-7) can atone for a forgettable season of their own by starting their grand slam tour successfully.

With Tests against Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to follow, England loom as the biggest threat.

“The grand slam will be something that will come into more focus if we have done our job going into the last weekend in Cardiff,” Mowen said.

But helping the Wallabies is the fact the home side hasn’t played together as a top-strength unit since the 30-3 Six Nations-deciding loss to Wales early in the year.

They are also missing influential British and Irish Lions’ tight-five forwards Alex Corbisiero and Geoff Parling and damaging centre pairing Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt.

The injuries have left them with an inexperienced starting 15 that boasts 213 caps, 12 less than the 225 on the bench but Lancaster has selected on form and looked ahead to the future rather than rely on past stalwarts.

Mowen, who is yet to be offered an ARU top-up contract for next year, tipped a barnstorming game by deposed out-of-form skipper James Horwill who needs to be at his abrasive best to nullify the English pack.

The Wallabies front-row also shoulder major responsibility at scrum time and must find the consistency they’ve lacked under the new soft engagement laws.

“England are England – you know what is coming,” Mowen said.

“It’s going to be a big battle up front, and the last few years they have certainly played with more width and willingness to attack.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Tripodi ‘disappointed’ by Obeid’s secrets

17Jul

Former NSW minister Joe Tripodi has denied he was betrayed by his political mentor Eddie Obeid, who didn’t reveal hidden family interests in leases he lobbied the government over.

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But Mr Tripodi told the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) he was “extremely disappointed” the former Labor kingmaker didn’t inform him of family investments in two restaurants and a cafe on government controlled land at Circular Quay.

It came as the ICAC inquiry into alleged untoward behaviour by Mr Obeid was widened on Friday to consider whether Mr Tripodi also acted corruptly.

On Friday the ICAC heard the enterprises at the quay were owned by a front company controlled by an Obeid trust, with associate and relative John Aboud acting as the face of the business.

“If, as you say, Mr Obeid did not tell you that his family had interests in Circular Quay, then … do you not regard his behaviour to you … as a complete betrayal,” Assistant Commissioner Anthony Whealy asked Mr Tripodi.

“Definitely I would have preferred if he had told me. I’m very disappointed, extremely disappointed,” Mr Tripodi replied.

The scope of the inquiry has been extended to also investigate allegations Mr Tripodi did in fact know the Obeid family secretly owned leases.

Mr Tripodi’s former deputy chief of staff, Lynne Ashpole, told te hearing on Thursday that her boss told her in 2006 about the Obeids’ stake in the lucrative cafes, which earned the family about $2.5 million a year.

“In view of the evidence that was given, I should indicate that I propose now to amend the scope of the allegation … by including … Mr Tripodi,” Commissioner Whealy said on Friday.

During his time in the witness box, Mr Tripodi also denied he had changed policy governing the leases at Mr Obeid’s request.

The leases were to go out to public tender when they expired in August 2005.

But they weren’t renewed until 2009, without going to public tender.

Mr Tripodi, who was Minister for Ports from February 2006 until November 2009, was initially in favour of seeking expressions of interest.

He denied changes were made at the request of Mr Obeid, who Mr Tripodi agreed was urging a shift in policy.

A phone transcript tabled in the ICAC showed calls in August and September 2007 between Mr Obeid, Mr Tripodi and Steve Dunn, a senior bureaucrat who had come into the ports ministry after heading up the fisheries department under Mr Obeid.

Mr Dunn is also being investigated for corruption.

“Was the matter being discussed in the course of these telephone conversations … the development of the commercial lease policy?” counsel assisting Ian Temby, QC, asked Mr Tripodi.

“No,” Mr Tripodi replied.

“Definitely not between myself and Mr Obeid.”

The hearing, which is investigating whether Mr Obeid lobbied several state ministers to change the Circular Quay leases, continues next week.

It’s expected to last three weeks.

Are West Australians heading back to the polls?

17Jul

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Calls are growing for an unprecedented new Senate election in Western Australia.

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It comes after almost 1400 ballot papers mysteriously vanished during the drawn-out recount of votes from the election in September.

A new election would be an early test of voter satisfaction with the Abbott government – and could determine just how difficult its task may be in getting legislation through the new Senate after next July.

(Click on audio tab above to hear full item)

The fact that the ballot papers are missing came to light during the recount of Senate votes cast in Western Australia in September.

The recount was ordered because of the extremely close battle for the sixth Senate seat between Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Palmer United Party candidate Dio Wang, who won in the initial count.

The Australian Electoral Commission says an exhaustive search has been conducted, including of all premises where Senate votes were stored, and it appears they will not turn up.

It says there is nothing to suggest anything improper has occurred but Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty has been called in to conduct an independent investigation.

Mr Keelty’s task will include identifying if fraud is involved.

Missing are 1255 formal votes and 120 informal votes from the electorates of Pearce and Forrest.

It’s expected the AEC will shortly declare a result from the recount.

After this, any candidate or West Australian voter or even the AEC itself would have 40 days to petition the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, for a fresh election.

West Australian Senator Scott Ludlum says the Commission should not declare the result until Mr Keelty’s investigation is concluded.

Senator Ludlum says another election should be a last resort.

“If this ends up in the Court of Disputed Returns with two inconclusive counts competing against each other with potentially equally legitimate claims with people saying hang on the first one was dodgy but so was the second then maybe the only way to resolve it is with a by-election. My preference though before we go there would be to make sure that if there’s a simpler opportunity ie: Mr Keelty says ‘here’s where you have gone wrong’ that we avail ourselves of that opportunity to make this a lot simpler.

The situation has been described as bizarre by Clive Palmer, who has finally won his House of Representatives seat of Fairfax in Queensland by just 53 votes.

Mr Palmer’s party will definitely have at least two Senators after next July – and three if Dio Wang gets the last Senate seat in Western Australia.

He says the AEC should either accept the result of the first count of votes, with Dio Wang as the winner, or hold a new election.

“I don’t think you can count the second vote because it hasn’t been completed so it’s invalid really. So you either go back to the first vote or you have a new election if that’s what it has to be. Now the AEC mightn’t like that. They might declare the poll based on half the of the recount or partial recount. I just don’t think that’s valid and it would certainly attack democracy.”

Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon says fresh polls should be held if over one-thousand misplaced votes in Western Australia can’t be found.

And Senator Xenophon says it’s vital the matter is resolved.

“I think there ought to be a very thorough parliamentary inquiry, as the Special Minister of State has foreshadowed, to find out what occurred, in addition to the inquiry by Mick Keelty. When you consider there are only 14 votes in this, out of 1.3 million cast, then 1375 votes could have made a material difference, enough to swing the result, not just for one Senator but for two.”

Special Minister for State Michael Ronaldson says the news about the missing votes is deeply disappointing and risks damaging trust in Australia’s democratic institutions.

He says he will ask a federal parliamentary committee to review all aspects of the 2013 federal election, including the WA Senate recount process.

Clarke reprimanded for ill-discipline

17Jul

It was an unhappy day three for Australian captain Michael Clarke at Blacktown, clean bowled by Tasmanian quick Ben Hilfenhaus and then slapped on the wrist by Cricket Australia for showing dissent towards an umpire.

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Despite Clarke’s cheap dismissal, NSW were in the box seat for a season-opening win, with Tasmania 1-15 and trailing by 276 runs at stumps heading into the final day of their Sheffield Shield clash.

Clarke’s code of behaviour breach occurred the previous day, but CA announced after play on Friday that despite there being a report, his clean record meant he escaped with a reprimand and a hearing wasn’t required.

The 32-year-old was reported by the umpires for making the “T sign” with his hands when fielding at slip, to ironically indicate the men in white should go to the video for a decision they made to give a Tasmanian not out despite a low catch being claimed at gully.

There’s no television cameras let alone third umpires at Shield matches and as part of the code of behaviour, any player who uses the T sign, in jest or otherwise, will be automatically reported as it shows dissent to the umpire’s decision.

Clarke admitted guilt and accepted Match Referee Daryl Harper’s proposed penalty of a reprimand.

Ill-discipline is an unusual occurrence for the Australian skipper, as was the sight of his off-stump being dislodged when he was on 7.

Some might say claiming the skipper’s wicket isn’t the smartest career move, but for right-arm quick Hilfenhaus the prized scalp of Clarke for just 7 can only boost his hopes of a Test recall.

Hilfenhaus finished with figures of 2-42 off 14 overs, with his delivery to dismiss Clarke a beauty, nipping back nicely to take off.

The 31-year-old had a brilliant run two summers ago against India under mentor Craig McDermott, but struggled a little last year and hasn’t played a Test since December.

However, given the injury problems plaguing Australia’s quicks, Hilfenhaus will be in contention to face England throughout the summer if he performs well.

With McDermott, now returned to his post as Test bowling coach, watching from the stands, Hilfenhaus got his season off to a handy start.

“If the opportunity pops up I’m more than happy to take it. I’m just concentrating on playing well for Tassie at the moment and finding some rhythm and hopefully take a few wickets along the way,” said Hilfenhaus, who said he’s gradually bowling up his loads to be able to reach the 150km speeds he achieved two summers ago.

McDermott said Hilfenhaus was certainly in the running for the Ashes.

“He’s quite capable, he’s not too old. He’s strong, he’s fit and a couple of little tinkers here and there and hopefully he can come back,” he said.

Tasmania were set a challenging target of 295 to win, and their task got even tougher when another Test hopeful Josh Hazlewood claimed the key wicket of Ed Cowan, the type of batsman capable of sticking around in tough conditions.

Ben Dunk (12 not out) and Alex Doolan (0no) face a big task on Saturday.

NSW were bowled out for 245 from 72 overs in their second innings, with Australian middle-order batsman Steve Smith starring with 63 and Scott Henry chipping in with 65.

“I think we’re in a good position. It was nice to get Eddie out … it’s going to be tough work for them if we bowl well tomorrow,” Smith said.

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