Levy not Abbott’s Gillard moment: Pyne

Senior Liberal Christopher Pyne denies the introduction of a deficit levy would be Tony Abbott’s `Julia Gillard moment’, despite a majority of Australians saying it would be a broken promise.


The coalition frontbencher played down the latest Galaxy poll, which showed 72 per cent believe tax hike would represent a broken promise.

Australians know the government will have to make tough decisions to get the budget back on track, he said.

“They know it won’t be easy and it is important that everyone shares in that burden of repairing the damage Labor did to the economy and to the budget,” Mr Pyne told ABC Television on Sunday.

According to the poll, published by News Corp Australia, the Abbott government is facing a voter backlash over a possible new debt tax on those earning more than $80,000.

Two party-preferred support for the coalition has plunged 5.5 percentage points since the September election, with its vote now 48 per cent compared to Labor’s 52 per cent.

The government has yet to confirm the deficit levy will be included in the May 13 budget.

But the prime minister has said any levy would be temporary, and therefore wouldn’t break an election promise not to increase taxes.

Mr Pyne denied a levy would be Mr Abbott’s `Julia Gillard moment’ – a reference to the former prime minister’s broken promise on the carbon tax.

“There is no easy way out from the debt and deficit disaster that Labor’s left us,” Mr Pyne said.

“But what we do has to be fair to everyone, and it has to be right for the country. That’s the job of government.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would oppose a deficit levy, and urged the prime minister to drop the tax hike before next week’s budget.

“Increasing taxes on working class and middle class Australians is a terrible mistake, and people will not forgive Mr Abbott for breaking this very big promise,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

However, the Labor leader did back a clampdown on gold passes that give free travel to retired politicians.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has hinted the life gold pass will be axed, saying his comments about an end to the “age of entitlement” also applied to politicians.

“This gold benefit at the end is a legitimate topic to be identified in the budget,” Mr Shorten said.

“It is appropriate that everyone shares the burden.”

Mr Abbott said the government was paying about $1 billion in interest payments every month, with Labor having left a projected debt of $667 billion.

“That’s dead money that could have been better spent on better services, and if we do nothing it will just get worse,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The budget shouldn’t be about how much Australians had in their pocket, but about the country’s future, he said.

“By all of us chipping in, we can chip away at this legacy of debt,” he said.


Firebirds beat Tactix for 3rd win in row

Queensland Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke believes a 17-point win over the Mainland Tactix will prove crucial to her team’s trans-Tasman netball championship hopes.


The 69-52 victory over the cellar-dwelling Tactix may not have been a surprise result but it was the Firebirds’ first game against a New Zealand-based team since round five.

The victory keeps the Firebirds in fourth place with three games to play.

Two of those three matches are against New Zealand teams and Jencke said the experience of playing the Tactix will be a bonus going in to those games against the Pulse and Magic.

“It was a very important game to get,” Jencke said.

“Tactix have beaten Pulse so it’s a good hit out for us definitely.”

Firebirds’ shooter Romelda Aiken was the dominant presence on court, narrowly missing out on her points-scoring record of 58 with a tally of 54 from 57 attempts.

Australian captain Laura Geitz had an impressive battle with Tactix Malawi international Mwai Kumwenda as Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander watched from the stands.

Alexander would also have kept a keen eye on Clare McMeniman, Verity Simmons and Jacinta Messer after all three received call-ups during the week for a national team training camp in Canberra.

Aiken admitted the record she set against the NSW Swifts in 2008 had been on her mind during the game.

“I was thinking about it all week,” she said.

“It’s high concentration to get it up there and unfortunately I fell a little bit short but there’s always room for improvement.”

The defeat means the Christchurch-based Tactix still have just one win for the season.

They play the Pulse at home next Sunday and coach Leigh Gibbs is determined to repeat their round four victory.

“That’ll really test how much we’ve learnt and grown,” Gibbs said.

“We can’t go into that game thinking that because we had a win last time it’ll be easy. The Pulse have got a lot to play for.”


Solskjaer keen to plot Cardiff’s Premier League return

“I am the manager of Cardiff City football club and I am not going to lay down and feel sorry for myself,” Norwegian Solskjaer, who replaced Malky Mackay as manager in January, told Sky Sports.


“We will go into the next game showing professional pride and put a good effort in, a good performance and then we will plan for next season.

Cardiff will play their final league match at home against Chelsea next Sunday and Solskjaer admitted it will be difficult to motivate the players for that match.

“My players are obviously very disappointed,” Solskjaer said. “With the effort they put in against Newcastle, they did not deserve to lose. They are a fantastic bunch who have given everything for the cause, but it was not enough.

“It will not be easy to lift them for the final day. We wanted something to play for in the last game apart from our professional pride to give our supporters a good send off for the summer.

“But this is not the time to reflect on the season. We want to go and do ourselves proud against Chelsea next week.”

A win against struggling Newcastle would have been Cardiff’s only realistic chance of avoiding the drop but they failed to convert the numerous chances they created and two late home goals sealed their fate.

“It’s never nice to be relegated but you just got to show you can bounce back up,” the manager added.

“Before this season we have been four seasons at the top of the Championship so it’s a club that’s very used to challenging at the top, challenging for promotion. So now we’ve got to use that experience to our advantage.

“Then we have got to use this season as a learning experience of course.”

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O’Brien)


McIlroy ends year as top golfer

Rory McIlroy made it a career total of 60 weeks

as world No.


1 on Monday with the final golf rankings of the year.

The Northern Irishman started the year as world No.6, but after wins in the British Open in July and in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the start of August he was back at the top.

He cemented that position with his fourth major title win at the US PGA Championship and ended the year almost three ranking points clear of second-placed Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

Australia’s Adam Scott, who held the No.1 ranking for a short period of time earlier in the year, was third.

Tiger Woods, who was top-ranked at the start of the year, slumped to 32nd due to a run of injuries and related problems with his swing.

Masters champion Bubba Watson is the top-ranked American at fourth with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama the top Asian at 16th.


1. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 11.04pts

2. Henrik Stenson (SWE) 8.13

3. Adam Scott (AUS) 7.71

4. Bubba Watson (USA) 7.27

5. Sergio Garcia (ESP) 6.70

6. Justin Rose (ENG) 6.69

7. Jim Furyk (USA) 6.62

8. Jason Day (AUS) 5.81

9. Jordan Spieth (USA) 5.75

10. Rickie Fowler (USA) 5.47

11. Matt Kuchar (USA) 5.11

12. Martin Kaymer (GER) 4.86

13. Billy Horschel (USA) 4.78

14. Phil Mickelson (USA) 4.47

15. Graeme McDowell (NIR) 4.16

16. Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 4.12

17. Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 4.02

18. Zach Johnson (USA) 3.83

19. Dustin Johnson (USA) 3.78

20. Chris Kirk (USA) 3.76


Scorchers set to get hotter in BBL

Perth Scorchers captain Adam Voges has warned there’s much better to come from his team after their less experienced players excelled in Monday’s shock Big Bash League T20 win over the previously unbeaten Sydney Sixers.


The defending BBL champions pulled off a stunning 36-run win at the SCG despite missing several strike players including internationals Shaun and Mitch Marsh, Brad Hogg and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Voges said some of his less experienced players such as quicks Matt Dixon and Andrew Tye, and batsman Marcus Harris had been thrown in the deep end, but each played a prominent role in toppling the Sixers despite the Scorchers losing 7-45 during their innings.

“That’s the exciting part about tonight … there’s a lot more we can do better as well,” Voges told AAP following Perth’s second win in three games.

From New Year’s Day, the Scorchers face a tournament-shaping run of four games in 11 days, which is likely to decide their fate.

“We’ve got a big chunk of games coming up now, so if we can hold our own in these next two weeks, we could see, on paper, a stronger team come the back end of the tournament,” Voges said.

“There’s four of five top quality T20 players we’d love to have back in this side but, having said that, it’s very hard to change a winning team and the boys are going beautifully at the moment.”

Voges said Brad Hogg was the closest to returning but added that “43-year-old hammys still take that little bit longer to heal”.

Successfully defending a modest total has become a trademark of a Scorchers side Voges conceded is not a consistently high scoring one.

“We probably make modest totals more often than we probably should,” Voges said.

“We’ve tried to build a bit of a reputation as a team that doesn’t go away.

“Even though we don’t always post big totals, we defend them to the very last ball.”

Monday’s win continued the recent golden run for WA teams at the SCG, following the Scorchers’ two wins there last summer and the Warriors’ domestic cup final victory at the same venue earlier this season.


Rare baby tortoises held at French airport

French customs officials say they have found 170 critically endangered baby tortoises wrapped in sticky tape and hidden in the secret compartment of a crate transiting Paris’ main Charles de Gaulle airport.


The species – known as “radiated tortoises” – are found only in Madagascar and prized by collectors for the unique pattern on their shell case.

Customs officials said the tortoises were destined for Laos.

Fifteen of the baby reptiles have died since their discovery in the crate carrying sea cucumbers on December 14 due to the “particularly unsuitable conditions of transport,” customs officials said.

The survivors have been taken to Tortoise Village in France’s southeastern Var region.

“We put them in a warm place and cleaned them with disinfectant,” said the centre’s director Bernard Devaux.

“They didn’t have enough water but they should be rehydrated slowly to avoid a new shock.”

He described the baby tortoises as “magnificent but very fragile, each one has a different shell pattern”.

Weighing only 20g and measuring up to four centimetres the tortoises are too small to face a second international flight and will likely spend a few years in France before being returned to Madagascar.

The tortoises can live up to 100 years.

“They are considered the most beautiful tortoises on the planet. You see them sold for $US10,000 ($A10,820) in New York or Tokyo,” said Devaux.

“They represent too much money. They are beautiful so they are hunted. Maybe it would be better if they were ugly.”

The tortoises are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Boxer Khan visits Pakistan massacre school

British boxer Amir Khan has visited the Pakistani school where Taliban gunmen slaughtered 150 people to pay his respects to the victims that included 134 children.


The WBC welterweight world champion, who has Pakistani roots, has pledged to help rebuild the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar, the scene of Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack.

He offered prayers at a memorial to the dead at the school gates and said he wanted to visit the city despite security concerns to show solidarity.

“The main reason I’ve come to Pakistan was to come to Peshawar and see the parents and the children and give the children the confidence to go back to school,” he told reporters.

“My heart goes out to the families and the parents whose children died.”

The attack this month shocked the world and prompted Pakistan’s political and military leaders to vow decisive action to stamp out militancy.

Khan said the country must pull together to prevail.

“We have to stop terrorism and with the help of the army and the people of Pakistan we can stop it,” he said.

Last week the boxer announced he would would be setting up Amir Khan academies for young people in selected Pakistani cities. Through his foundation, he would support Pakistani children in the health and education sectors.

He also plans to auction a $US45,000 ($A48,690) pair of shorts to raise money to help rebuild the school.

Khan wore the flamboyant shorts, which included a waistband made from 24-carat gold threading, during his successful WBC title defence against Devon Alexander in Las Vegas this month.


Technology resolutions we should all be making for 2015

By David Glance, University of Western Australia

People of the western world have been making resolutions for the new year for over 4,000 years.


The Babylonians, along with the Romans who later developed the idea further, made resolutions in the hope of favourable returns from the gods.

In the current day, self-interest has become disintermediated from others and we now make resolutions that are largely about self-control and self-improvement, with the occasional thought given to being a nicer person to others.

Although there seems to be some evidence that making resolutions for a new year works better than doing it at another time, Harvard psychologist Associate Professor Amy Cuddy points out how bad we are at setting effective and achievable goals. And then of course, even when we do make resolutions, most of us give those up very quickly.

A different approach however is to use the new year to undertake specific one-off tasks that at worst will have a lasting benefit and at best may initiate better behaviours.

Amongst the resolutions people make at New Year, technologically-based ones would normally not be at the top of many people’s lists. This is possibly surprising given the central role that technology plays in our lives and the potentially immediate and devastating effect the failure of even personal technology can have. From the simple losing of information through failure to keep backups through to loss of our entire identity through its theft and subsequent misuse, problems that could be simply avoided can have major consequences. That is not to say that losing weight and exercising more is not important, but having good “technological hygiene” practices are important.

So here are three things that all of us should be doing in the New Year.

1. Tidy up and renew your passwords

Hundreds of millions of passwords are stolen every year. These are mainly stolen from hacked websites or from trojans on a compromised user machine. Having an account compromised is bad enough but the problem is magnified if the stolen password is the same one that is used for all of the user’s other accounts.

Even if you are using different passwords for different accounts, it is a good idea to change them periodically. When you do, you can take the opportunity to follow a few best practices and even start using a password manager.

Briefly, the rules of good passwords are:

    Use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper-case and lower-case letters. For example “ThzM1teB*gud”Make the password at least 8 to 10 characters long, but the longer the better. Remember that if you have password software to remember it for you, you can make the password as long as the site accepts.Avoid using common words as part of the password

One suggestion that combines changing passwords with other resolutions you may make for New Year, is to set your password to something that will remind you of the resolutions you have made, like “Bn1ce2people”.

2. Unclutter your digital life

Dealing with email and general information overload may be a feature of life these days, but a lot can be done by unsubscribing from unnecessary notifications and even entire services. Unsubscribing to third party emails is usually just a question of clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. For notification emails from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it is “easier” to configure your email notifications in the settings.

For Twitter, you can switch off all email notifications at 南宁桑拿,twitter广西桑拿,/settings/notifications:


Twitter Settings


For Facebook, you can control most email notifications by going to 南宁桑拿,南宁夜网.facebook广西桑拿,/settings?tab=notifications&section=through_email&view:


Notifications Settings


3. Lock down your digital world

This is the time to make sure that your mobile devices and computers are up-to-date with the latest software and that you have antivirus software installed on your PC or Mac. Often forgotten is the software that runs on wireless routers and modems which is notoriously vulnerable to attacks and compromise. Apple’s products are relatively easy to update using the AirPort Utility but other manufacturers have their own interfaces.

The most common problem with security however is one that is “between chair and keyboard” i.e. people themselves. This is especially true when it comes to clicking on links in emails that download unwanted software or take you to fake sites that attempt to steal usernames and passwords. It is always worth checking links before clicking to see if they are legitimate. For example, an email (see below) that says it is from Telstra (or any other legitimate company), will not have links that start with 南宁桑拿会所,dpalbums.lv – in Telstra’s case, it would have telstra广西桑拿,广西桑拿网, or telstra广西桑拿,


Spam Email


There is a number of other tech resolutions you could make in addition to these: recycling old technology, making sure your devices and computers are backed up and even just taking regular time outs from using technology. Whatever you end up doing though, they will set you up for the rest of the year and hopefully keep you calmer and safer.

David Glance does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.


Greek ferry fire: At least ten dead as ferry evacuated

The death toll from a ferry disaster in the Adriatic has risen to 10, with dozens of passengers still unaccounted for.


The Norman Atlantic had 478 people on board when it caught fire on Sunday off the Greek island of Corfu as it was heading for the Italian port of Ancona.

The fire disabled the ship and a towing attempt failed when the rope broke, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.

The Italian navy is continuing to search for bodies around the stricken ferry, which remains in waters close to Albania.

“The rescue operation is one of the most complicated to date because of the rough seas, heavy rain and gale-force winds,” Greek Merchant Marine Minister Miltiades Varvisiotis said of the rescue mission that lasted about 36 hours.

One person died on Sunday after he jumped in the sea.

Seven more people were declared dead on Monday.

Passengers said the evacuation had been chaotic and complained that lifeboats available on the ship were not sufficient.

‘We burn like mice’

“Many of the passengers had managed to make their way to the top deck and onto the bridge,” passenger Rania Firaiou told Greek private broadcaster Mega.

“There are several cargo ships and vessels around us, but the waves and rain are making it difficult for them to approach the ship,” said Firaiou.

Another passenger told Mega the heat was so intense that shoes had started to melt.

“We will burn like mice,” a passenger who gave his name as Nikos told Greek radio station Skai.

Smoke continued to bellow from below decks even after the fire was brought under control.

Criminal investigation opened

Prosecutors in the Italian port of Bari have opened a criminal investigation into how the car ferry caught fire at sea.

Bari prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe announced an inquiry to examine whether negligence contributed to the disaster.

The fire was believed to have started at dawn in the garage of the ship, which was 55 kilometres off the north coast of the island of Corfu when it sent its first distress signal.

Marine traffic websites then indicated it had moved a few dozen kilometres further northwest.

The Italian-flagged Norman Atlantic, which belongs to Greek ferry line ANEK, was en route to Ancona from the Greek port of Patras.

The Italian navy vessel San Giorgio took command of the operation late on Sunday.

Greek and Italian helicopters and rescue vessels were also in the area, as well as the passenger ship Europa Cruise.


Vilification win over Alan Jones ‘symbolic’: Keysar Trad

A victory over broadcaster Alan Jones for racial vilification has been labelled “symbolic” by Muslim community leader Keysar Trad.


The 2GB broadcaster has been ordered to pay Mr Trad $10,000 for a “gratuitously insulting and offensive” radio segment directed at Lebanese men.

The Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the comments, made nine years ago, incited listeners to hatred.

Mr Jones read a letter in April 2005 expressing the view Lebanese men were “mongrels” and “vermin” that “infest our shores” while they “rape, pillage and plunder a nation that’s taken them in”.

The tribunal found these comments were not relevant to the public interest in its December 19 judgment.

“These words, which are highly insulting and inflammatory, portray Lebanese men in an extremely negative way suggesting that they rape and are warlike and violent,” said the judgment, handed down earlier this month.

Mr Trad said he was happy about the victory and thanked his legal team for years of support.

“This has taken almost 10 years of my life, a lot of stress on my family,” he told AAP.

“I’m very happy to have the victory.”

Mr Jones and Harbour Radio, which holds the licence for 2GB, were ordered to pay the damages, along with some of Mr Trad’s legal costs.

But Mr Trad said he still faced financial pressure resulting from the legal battle.

“My family is worried about losing our home,” he told AAP on Monday.

“It’s a symbolic victory.”

Mr Trad claimed he has been ordered to pay $115,000 to Mr Jones in costs relating to the case.

Comment was being sought from Mr Jones.


Warne takes credit for Starc’s blast

Shane Warne has cheekily taken credit for axed Test paceman Mitchell Starc’s blistering performance for the Sydney Sixers.


Warne clearly annoyed Starc when he described his body language as “soft” while commentating on the second Test at the Gabba and the paceman claimed at the weekend that Warne had been on his back for years.

Having vowed to fight his way back into the Test squad, Starc turned up the heat in the Sixers’ BBL loss to the Perth Scorchers at the SCG on Monday night.

After conceding 11 off his first over, Starc took 2-10 off his last three, consistently clocking close to, and occasionally over, 150 km/h.

He bowled Sam Whiteman and Ashton Agar in the same over, the latter with a trademark inswinging yorker.

Warne was watching and couldn’t resist a comment.

“Be nice if Starc bowled in a test match like he does with a white ball,” Warne tweeted.

“Awesome to watch & aggressive, my pleasure for firing u up.”

Sixers captain Moises Henriques wasn’t about to weigh in when asked if he thought Starc had been fired up by Warne’s comments.

“Mitchell is a very big boy and whatever is going on there is not really any of my business,” Henriques said.

Meanwhile, Henriques insisted he won’t be spooked into tinkering with his team’s balance, despite their calamitous batting collapse against the Scorchers.

The Sixers were well placed to make it four wins from as many games when Henriques and Riki Wessels were at the crease and the Sixers were 2-59 after 10 overs on Monday night, chasing a modest target of 136.

However, the Sixers lost 8-40 to be dismissed for just 99 and send most of a 24,000-plus crowd home disappointed.

Outside of Wessels (28) and Henriques (23) no Sixer scored more than 10.

Most of their hitting power is provided by their top four in openers Nic Maddinson and Michael Lumb, Wessels and Henriques.

One option is to bring in former Test top order batsman Ed Cowan, who despite his reputation for being an accumulator has a very respectable T20 strike rate of 126.35.

Henriques would prefer to maintain a strong bowling lineup that includes five Australian representatives in pacemen Starc, Brett Lee and Doug Bollinger, with fast medium support from Sean Abbott and himself and spin from Luke Doran.

Abbott, who is batting at No.7 has a reputation for hitting a long ball, though he only averages 11 and has a strike rate of 102 in domestic T20 competition.

Asked if he would re-evaluate the balance of the side, Henriques said: “Not really, we’ve got Sean Abbott batting seven, who I think is a very capable player.

“He didn’t get many runs (five) tonight, but in the next game he’ll come out and I’m sure he’s very capable of winning us a game with the bat.

“We’ve been able to win three games with the exact same batting order, so it’s nothing to stress over.”

Wessels followed up his half century on debut with an eye-catching cameo, highlighted by two enormous reverse sweeps for six.


Dip in women on government boards

Female representation on government boards has dipped since the Abbott government took office.


In 2014, women made up 39.7 per cent of board members, down from 41.7 per cent the previous year, according to a new gender balance report.

The federal government has a target of 40 per for both genders for board positions.

The remaining 20 per cent can go to either gender.

The total number of government boards has been trimmed from 460 to 387 and the number of positions has decreased from 4039 to 3206.

New appointments have halved.

There were 639 new appointments to boards as of June 2014, but only 36.5 per cent of those positions went to women.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is also the Minister for Women, had the second-highest number of new appointments in his department’s board.

Prime Minister and Cabinet had 87 board vacancies, but only 21 positions went to women.

Health had the highest number of new appointments at 99 and gave 48 to women.


* 2014 women on boards 39.7 per cent, down from 41.7 per cent in 2013

* 2014 men on boards 60.3 per cent, up from 58.3 per cent

* Prime Minister and Cabinet 29.4 per cent women, 70.6 per cent men

* Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 41.8 per cent women, 58.2 per cent men

* Treasury 34.2 per cent women, 65.8 per cent men

* Immigration 40 per cent women, 60 per cent men

* Human Services 66.7 women, 33.3 per cent men

* Social Services 48.5 per cent women, 51.5 per cent men

* Defence 28.3 per cent women, 71.7 men

* Attorney General 48.1 per cent women, 51.9 per cent men

SOURCE: Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report 2013-14


Hodgson wants England to be ‘serious competitors’ at Euros

At the end of another year of anti-climax for England supporters following the swift World Cup exit, Hodgson was in good cheer as he enthused about his side’s promising post-Brazil revival.


“I am looking forward to seeing the team qualify for France in 2016,” Hodgson told the FA’s website (南宁夜网.thefa广西桑拿,) on Monday as he reflected on his squad’s 100 percent winning start to their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

“I want to continue to play my part in helping the players on the path that they are on — the path to becoming better in every aspect of their game and better at becoming a team which in 2016 will hopefully be as a serious competitor when we get to France.”

After failing to clamber out of the group stages in Brazil, Hodgson’s young side have shown signs of encouraging development, having won all six of their matches — friendlies and Euro Group G qualifiers — this season.

“I’m looking forward to the games we will play and hopefully keeping our winning run going,” said Hodgson. “I’m also looking forward to seeing the team qualify for the finals in France.

“Most importantly I’m looking for a constant progression for us to be a better team at the end of 2015 than we are at the start of it.

“We’re a good team now but we want to be even better. The experiences we gained during the course of this year will help us — coaching staff and players.”

England’s next game is against Lithuania in a Euro qualifier in March at Wembley but Hodgson has arranged for the players to meet up at the end of January to review their latest win over Scotland and to look ahead to 2015.

(Writing by Ian Chadband, editing by Tony Jimenez)