Same-sex marriage ‘resolved’: Turnbull government minister

Senator Matt Canavan departs after the joint party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 18 July 2016. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex EllinghausenAs the Turnbull government prepares for the final two sitting weeks of Parliament before the May budget, two cabinet ministers – with different personal views on marriage equality – have repeated the Coalition’s position that a plebiscite is the only way the issue will be dealt with.
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Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the government should be concentrating on its efforts to reduce company tax and on getting its childcare changes through the Senate.

“The Coalition’s policy is very clear. We think the n people deserve a say… it’s resolved as far as the Coalition is concerned,” Senator Canavan said on ABC television on Sunday.

“We’ve got a lot of other things to get on with. A notion that we’d distract ourselves and go into other areas would be a massive distraction.”

A letter from 20 of the country’s chief executives calling on the Turnbull government to legislate for same-sex marriage has reignited debate about the issue, and moderate Liberal MPs have suggested it was an unhelpful intervention into the debate.

On Saturday Immigration Minister Peter Dutton delivered a blunt and public warning to Malcolm Turnbull not to waver on same-sex marriage, insisting the government “won’t be bullied” and telling the country’s business leaders to “stick to their knitting”.

Health Minister Greg Hunt defended Mr Dutton’s comments: “What I do see is Peter making the same point as I’m making. This should be a debate not just for the elite but for every n to have their say.”

Mr Hunt repeated his support both for same-sex marriage and a plebiscite as the best way to achieve a change to marriage laws.

“It’s a positive for the n democracy that every n can have a say,” Mr Hunt told Sky News on Sunday.

Senator Canavan, who does not support same-sex marriage, said he wanted to see “a lot more respect” in the debate.

“What I found uncomfortable this week is contempt for those who might have a different view,” Senator Canavan said.

He echoed Mr Dutton’s criticisms of the companies that were signatories to the letter saying “customers of Qantas and Telstra shareholders deserve to have a say, too”.

He suggested changing ‘s marriage laws might damage relationships with regional trading partners that were more socially conservative.

“There’s no chance that any of these countries will legislate any time soon,” Senator Canavan said, and mentioned countries such as Indonesia and Japan.

“How can we go to our region and respect their views as well? There can be different views on this subject. If we just had a little bit more respect and common sense we could probably deal with the matter.”

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Frontrunner for East Timor presidency offers China hope on oil

Fretilin the country’s largest political party, staged its closing campaign rally in Dili on the 17th March. Photo:Wayne Lovell/Timor Photography Photo: Wayne Lovell Dili: The front-runner in East Timor’s presidential elections on Monday has offered new hope for a breakthrough in a bitter stand-off with over $40 billion in oil and gas fields.
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Francisco Guterres, known as Lu-Olo, told Fairfax Media there are now “better prospects” for an agreement on sea borders which could lead to an agreement to develop the Greater Sunrise fields in the Timor Sea.

An n parliamentary committee has been told that without billions of dollars in revenue from the fields, ‘s neighbour is likely to become an aid-dependent, failed state.

Mr Guterres, a leading figure in the power-sharing Fretilin Party, left open the possibility of the gas being piped to an existing plant in Darwin or for a floating platform to extract it above the fields.

Xanana Gusmao, East Timor’s independence hero, has for years demanded that the gas be piped to a proposed $1.4 billion industrial complex on the country’s remote southern coast, despite a consortium led by Woodside Petroleum saying that this approach was unviable and shelving the project.

“I can’t guess what the outcome will be. Each side has a position. That is what we will take to the table,” Mr Guterres said, referring to negotiations on a new sea border by a September deadline.

The comments are the most positive yet by an East Timorese leader on the stand-off, which has stirred strong nationalistic sentiments in a country famous for its long struggle for independence.

In January, East Timor dropped a spying case against in the international court and issued a joint statement with Canberra pledging to negotiate the sea borders “in good faith”.

Rebecca Strating, an expert on East Timor from Victoria’s La Trobe University, told a parliamentary committee last week it is “very possible” East Timor could be the “architect of its own demise” as revenues from its existing oil and gas resources and a sovereign wealth fund are exhausted.

“There are elections this year. A change in government or a change in personalities might produce a government that is willing to think a little more laterally or flexibly around the interests in the Timor Sea,” Dr Strating said.

“But since 2012 it seems to me that this pursuit of independence may actually create a failed state in Timor-Leste [East Timor],” she said.

East Timor, which has failed to diversify its income to manufacturing or agriculture, relies on oil and gas revenues for more than 90 per cent of its $2 billion-a-year budget.

“The next five years with new leadership is a critical time because revenue from currently used oil fields is mostly depleted,” said Charles Scheiner of Lao Hamutuk, a Dili-based think-tank.

Presidential elections will be followed by general elections in July.

Mr Guterres, a former guerrilla fighter, said he cannot see any of seven other candidates beating him for the presidency, predicting he will win enough votes to avoid a run-off election in April.

Mr Gusmao, the country’s behind-the-scenes powerbroker, swung his support behind Mr Guterres and rejected a push for younger leaders to replace former resistance fighters who have dominated the country’s politics since independence in 2002.

“Yes, there is some opinion that younger leaders should be elected. But no way,” Mr Gusmao told reporters.

“We are not a perfect state ??? it is very early. That is why you have to trust Lu-Olo to keep the country united,” he said.

Antonio da Conceicao, education minister from the Democratic Party, appears to be Mr Guterres’ closest rival, but analysts say his best chance would be in a run-off.

Jose Ramos Horta, the country’s respected former president, prime minister and Nobel laureate, decided in January not to contest the election, saying it is time for generational renewal.

Electioneering in Asia’s youngest democracy has been largely violence-free but intense amid persistent poverty and claims of entrenched corruption.

Twenty-six observers have travelled from for the election, the country’s first without United Nations support.

Damien Kingsbury from Melbourne’s Deakin University, who is leading the delegation, said despite some technical issues he expects the voting will proceed without any major hiccups.

East Timor has been ruled since 2015 by a power-sharing executive made up of leaders of Mr Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) and Fretilin. The two groups had been bitter rivals for years.

Clinton Fernandes, a Timorese expert from the University of New South Wales, said whoever Mr Gusmao endorses will win the elections.

“Voters see the cash liquidity flowing through the economy and – crucially – they trust Xanana,” Professor Fernandes said.

“He’s lost weight and appears to be looking after his health – which to me means he’s probably intending to be a player well into his 80s.”

Professor Fernandes said the person Mr Gusmao endorses for prime minister later in the year will have to have three qualities – connection to the public, ruthlessness and magic.

“Xanana is very much an animist and appears to believe his destiny and that of his country are in the hands of the ancestors whose spirits influence the land,” he said.

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Benefit for injured Knight Troy Miles raises thousands as former footballer vows to keep fighting

League fraternity throw support behind former Knight Troy Miles at Belmont 16 Footers with his family; wife Nicole and sons Toby, Bailey, Zac. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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The host of the night Tony Squires, left, and friend of Troy Miles Gordon Richardson, right. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Alex McKinnon at the benefit for Troy Miles. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Benefit night for former Newcastle Knight reserve grader Troy Miles, who is a quadriplegic after a motorbike crash in SA last year. Alex McKinnon, left, and Damien Jobson, right. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Troy Miles at the benefit night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Friends and well wishers getting pictures with Troy Miles, his wife Nicole on the left. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Damien Jobson and his wife Brooke, meeting Troy Miles. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Troy Miles, left, and wife Nicole, meeting Damien Jobson and his wife Brooke. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Troy Miles his wife Nicole and son Zac. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Host Tony Squires, Troy Miles his wife Nicole and son Zac. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldhe cherished being out of hospital and home for a day.

Troy Miles arrives at the Running for Miles benefit night @newcastleheraldpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/dlmfzo5PFb

— Brodie Owen (@Brodie_Owen) March 18, 2017Don’t forget: McKinnonALEX McKinnon says the best thing people can do to help those with permanent injuries is to not forget them.

McKinnon, who became a quadriplegic in 2014 after an illegal tackle on him while playing for the Knights, admitted to saying “why me, why me, why me” numerous times after being paralysed, but said he eventually learnt to accept it and move on.

“Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I can’t do things,” he told an audience at the Running for Miles benefit night on Saturday. “You just need to change your mindset a bit.”

McKinnon earlier this month quit his off-field role with the Knights and is set to turn his attention to public speaking. He has also reportedly launched legal proceedings against the National Rugby League.

McKinnon said his transition to a new lifewas made better by the support of others.

“The best thing is not the support now, but the support in five years’ time, 10 years’ time, 20 years’ time,” he said.

“It needs to be ongoing.”

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Doves may cry as nine US Fed members take stage

Local shares are poised to start the week lower, with thoughts of rising trade protectionism potentially at the forefront of investors’ minds and ahead of a raft of speeches from central bankers.
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ASX futures closed down 13 points over the weekend as financials, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, slumped in New York. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.1 per cent to 2378, limiting its weekly gain to 0.2 per cent.

But, while momentum faded on Friday, global stocks recorded the best week since January after the US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark lending rate without accelerating the timetable for future hikes.

As the week progresses, a litany of speeches by central bankers – specifically in the United States – may add to the market’s comfort with a global trend towards tighter monetary policy, or threaten to puncture it.

The Reserve Bank of ‘s Luci Ellis is first off the mark in Canberra on Monday. The RBA’s latest meeting minutes are to be released Tuesday with Guy Debelle speaking at a conference in Singapore on Wednesday. On Thursday there is a policy meeting across the Tasman at the RBNZ. Not so dovish

There are also nine Fed speeches on the schedule this week, which will “provide an opportunity for the Fed to re-calibrate market expectations after what the market interpreted to be a somewhat dovish hike,” NAB economist David de Garis said. All bar three of the nine are voting members of the Fed’s monetary policy setting committee, Mr de Garis noted.

RBC Capital Markets chief US economist Tom Porcelli said it was “puzzling” that the market took last week’s US Fed meeting so calmly.

“There are now only three [board members’] forecasts calling for less than three hikes this year, compared to six in the last go-around,” Mr Porcelli said. “In other words, you now have 82 per cent of the [Federal Open Market Committee members] in the three-hike camp or higher.”

“Yet the market closed that day at a 50-50 chance of two or three hikes this year. Why the market views what is a higher probability that we get three hikes as something that should equate to lower odds of three hikes this year is puzzling to say the least.” Protectionism risk

Turning to the weekend’s G20 meeting, and it’s unclear how investors will interpret the finance ministers’ joint statement. The world’s top finance ministers, including ‘s Treasurer Scott Morrison, along with the world’s top central bankers met in Germany for two days.

They acquiesced to the US in dropping a long-standing reference to free and open global trade, a result of rising protectionist sentiment around the world. Thus far, markets have remained sanguine around the potentially damaging effect of a possible global trade war.

Over the next few weeks, there will be a keen focus on the setting of contract prices for both thermal and metallurgical coal. In a March 15 report, Macquarie Wealth Management said its current forecast for thermal coal is $US87.5 a tonne, or roughly $US26 a tonne higher than current levels. “Producers will be keen to get this settled before Chinese coal demand seasonally weakens in April,” the analysts said.

As for met coal, used in steel making, Macquarie sees $US175 a tonne, “although we expect achieved prices for producers to come in well below this, even after adjusting for quality”.

“One potential factor to watch is the Chinese domestic hard coking coal price, which after a period of stability (when international quotes were falling) is now dropping quickly, with expectations from our China trip earlier this month of a further 10-15 per cent decline over the coming couple of months.” Corporate earnings prospect

The good news, and a key reason why markets have been rallying, is that the global economy is performing relatively better than expected, bolstering the prospect for corporate earnings.

Optimism remains that the global equities rally has room to run with Bank of America seeing the S&P 500 reaching as high as 2500 before the end of the year, and to push towards 2600 before correcting. That puts BofA’s upside for the benchmark US sharemarket index at 4.9 per cent.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, found support around $US50 a barrel, which appears to have triggered some profit taking, OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said. As for US oil, it “appears to be having similar trouble with the psychological $US50 level but from below”.

“The price action over the last few days doesn’t look particularly bullish for oil and I do wonder whether the $US50 level in Brent is on borrowed time,” Mr Erlam said.

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Hot Dub Wine Machine concert goers taken to hospital for “drug and alcohol associated illnesses”

AMBULANCE officerstook 12 people attending the Hot Dub Wine Machine music event in the HunterValley to hospital with “drug and alcohol associated illnesses”, capping off a night that also included police charging four people for drug possessionand 61 ejections from the venue.
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Central Hunter duty officer Inspector Peter Vromans said ambulance officers took12 affected patrons from the Saturday night event attended by more than 10,000 people at Hope Estateto Cessnock Hospital.

Police joined by two drug detection dogs charged four men with possessing prohibited drugs, issued four criminal infringement notices and three infringement notices.

“People should not expect to escape detection,” Inspector Vromans said.

“People will be dealtwith according to the law if they have prohibited drugs, which pose a significant risk topeople’s health as can be seen from the number of people taken to hospital. Every single incident of drug use carries a risk.”

He said police had received no reports –and were not making any investigations –related to allegations of drink spiking.

Inspector Vromans said a 27-year-old was foundwith a small quantity of suspected cocaine, a 22-year-old and 19-year-old were each found with a small quantity of suspected methamphetamine anda 23-year-old was found with four tablets suspected to be ecstasy.

All were given field court attendance notices to attend Cessnock Local Court on April 19.

Hope Estate owner and registered pharmacist Michael Hope said neither police or ambulance officers had spoken to him about anyconfirmed “overdoses”.

He described himselfas an “avid anti-drug campaigner” and said hehad“zero tolerance” for drugs and anti social behaviour.

“I embrace the police coming here and bringing the [drug detection] dogs,” he said. “I realise a lot of kids will pop a pill because they reckon it makes them feel good, but they have no idea what’s in it.

“We don’t want people coming in who are under the influence of drugs or have drugs, it adds a level of complexity that we can’t control.

“The event had a lot of wilder, younger patrons who were a lot more boisterous and it took a lot more work from us, the police and security to keep it to safe standards.We agreed to shut the bars at 6.30pm for half an hour and then it was one drink each [at a time] from 7pm.”

Mr Hope said he was “dead against” drug testing at events.

“I don’t want to be encouraging use. If someone sees three pills are ‘safe’ and then dies, then I’m complicit. It will never happen at Hope Estate.”

A spokesperson for event promoter Falconasaid it worked with the venueand authorities“before, during and after the event, to implement as many harm-minimising measures as possible”.

“We believe we provided a safe environment for our ticketholders – their experience was our first priority – and the very low numbers of drug-related arrests attest to the quality of the crowd at Hot Dub Wine Machine events,” the spokesperson said in a written statement.

“There’s always going to be unavoidable outliers that occur at an event of this magnitude – when there’s upwards of 10,000 people together – but we were fully prepared in the event that an incident out of our control should happen to take place.

“We believe we implemented all measures possible that were required, and beyond, and that’s all that can be reasonably asked of us as event organisers.”

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