Bowling coach McDermott signs new deal with Australia

The 49-year-old former paceman returned as Australia’s bowling coach ahead of last year’s home Ashes series against England, his second stint after working with the fast bowlers for a year starting May 2011.

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Australia demolished England 5-0 at home and then won a series in South Africa to climb back to the top of the test rankings with the pace battery widely proclaimed as the best in the world.

“Craig has built a really strong rapport with the bowling group,” Cricket Australia’s team performance manager Pat Howard said in a statement.

“Combine that with the international experience and technical expertise, it has proved to be a successful combination in recent times and we’re keen to see that continue.”

Since his return, McDermott has worked only with the test pacemen but in a new role will now also help out the limited-overs bowlers as Australia prepares to co-host the 50-overs World Cup with New Zealand next year.

“Craig will also do a bit more work with the limited overs players, along with Ali de Winter, as we head towards the World Cup early next year,” Howard added.

“As part of his role he will be closely connected to the work being done at the National Cricket Centre to ensure he is aligned to also developing players for the future.”

Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris have been Australia’s standout bowlers during their recent success, with the reliable Peter Siddle, young gun James Pattinson and spinner Nathan Lyon also making telling contributions.

McDermott, who took 291 wickets in 71 tests for Australia, said the goal would be to maintain the good work with a home series against India coming up, followed by next year’s World Cup and the Ashes in England.

“I feel like we’ve got a really good group at the moment,” he said.

“It’s really been great to build this close bond with them all – the boys call it the fast bowling cartel, but we also let Nathan Lyon in – and we’re all really motivated to keep that going.

“I’m also looking forward to taking on more responsibility and to work closely with Darren Lehmann (head coach) to broaden my coaching skills and, alongside Michael Di Venuto (batting coach), to ensure we’re a well-oiled coaching unit.”

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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ANC expected to take hit in South Africa elections

(Transcript from World News Radio)

 

More than 25-million registered voters are about to descend on polling stations across South Africa.

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It will be the first election since Nelson Mandela’s death.

 

His former party, the African National Congress, is expected to retain power, despite declining support, even in one-time strongholds.

 

Luke Waters reports from Soweto.

 

For some Soweto residents, a pre-election visit from the Vice President is reason for celebration.

 

A sea of yellow snakes through the dusty streets of the township.

 

Clad in yellow ANC shirts, supporters are following outgoing Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe as he campaigns.

 

But in the townships, support for the party isn’t as overwhelming as it once was.

 

Decades of failing services are generating discontent.

 

This woman told us her home floods during heavy rain and has done for more than a decade.

 

“They don’t repair the streets so when it rains all this water is coming from the street to here so we are asking if they can fix this.”

 

But in Soweto, many stalwarts refuse to abandon the party.

 

One-time freedom fighter 59 year old Ntombi Dineka explains the struggle generation to her 22-year old son.

 

“Because you been watching people die in front of you – guns all things like machine guns the police shooting people – that’s why we had to fight back – because if you didn’t, even today we would be suffering if we didn’t fight.”

 

But first time voter Vuyisile has informed her he’ll vote for the Democratic Alliance.

 

“She may want me to vote for ANC but I’m not willing to vote ANC because I’ve never seen any changes.”

 

In a way, the decision vindicates the very cause his mother, and thousands like her fought for.

 

And she accepts her son’s decision.

 

“Yes, that’s freedom. I can’t force my son to do something he doesn’t like. He has got his own life. He’s free. It’s a free country now.”

 

A few kilometres away, in a government house on the western outskirts of Soweto, Lu Lu Pieterson appears outwardly happy.

 

But she’s suppressing intense rage.

 

Her brother Hector Pieterson became a face of the struggle after the then 12-year old was shot by police during the 1976 Soweto uprising.

 

Lu Lu says the ANC has disrespected her brother’s legacy, is corrupt and she’s turning her back on the party.

 

“They’ve done nothing. All they have done is looted that money for themselves. They did nothing for us. The highest office of the ANC they’re looking after themselves and their relatives and their friends so that means if you’re not connected from the ANC you will never get anything.”

 

The symbolism of her departure is profound, but symbolic of the growing discontent with allegations of ANC corruption.

 

Back on the campaign trail a party official told SBS allegations are being investigated, and will be addressed.

 

“The president has said whatever the outcome of this investigation he’s willing to yield himself into ensuring the law is upheld.”

 

In the outlying townships like Soweto, it’s unlikely the growing discontent with the ANC will affect the polling significantly in this election.

 

But another term of unfulfilled promises and allegations of corruption could spell significant change for the ANC.

 

 

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Vic budget to include port lease, RFC sale

Funds from privatising Victoria’s rural finance lender and the Port of Melbourne will be spent on infrastructure, the state government says on the eve of its budget.

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The government is selling its agribusiness lender Rural Finance Corporation (RFC) to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank for $1.78 billion.

It will also push ahead with a 40-year lease of the Port of Melbourne.

The privatisations will feature in Tuesday’s 2014/15 budget, which is expected to show Victoria will remain in the black and a focus on major infrastructure projects six months out from the state election.

The proceeds of the two asset sales will be spent on infrastructure, including extending the rail line from Mildura to Geelong.

The government also expects to reap a further 15 per cent from each sale under the federal asset recycling program, an incentive for states that sell assets to fund infrastructure.

Money from the RFC sale, which is expected to deliver the state net proceeds of about $400 million, will go towards building infrastructure in country Victoria.

“This is going to be a very good outcome for the people of rural and regional Victoria,” Treasurer Michael O’Brien said on Monday.

The 40-year port lease will also go to the market early next year but the government will not reveal how much it expects to receive.

Mr O’Brien said the government had accepted advice that a 99-year port lease was a bad idea.

Ports Minister David Hodgett said funds raised would go towards the $110 million development of a container port at Hastings on the Mornington peninsula.

Tuesday’s budget is also expected to feature more funds for Melbourne’s East West Link tunnel and to shed light on plans for an airport rail link.

Mr O’Brien said Victoria was the only state with a surplus and all budget announcements would be fully funded.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews bagged the asset sales, saying the RFC should have gone to tender.

“Who sells a $400 million asset without even going to tender?” he asked.

“We have very significant concerns about the Rural Finance Corporation deal.”

Mr Andrews would not be drawn on whether Labor would support a 40-year Port of Melbourne lease, after originally calling for a long-term contract.

“We have always said what guides us fundamentally is the best value for Victorian taxpayers,” he said.

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Concern over ‘anti-malaria drug given to Manus asylum seekers’

Asylum seekers on Manus Island are being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff have been warned not to take because of serious side effects.

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Centre staff were warned not to take Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, because of adverse health effects.

Salvation Army worker Simon Taylor says in a submission to a Senate inquiry that he is aware asylum seekers have been given the drug despite the warnings to staff.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration warns that patients with a history of depression, anxiety disorders or other major psychiatric illness should not be prescribed the drug.

It’s common for asylum seekers in detention to suffer depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.

The US military developed the drug in the 1970s and has curbed its use among troops after it was linked to permanent brain damage, suicide, murder and domestic violence.

During his time on Manus Island between last September and February 2014, Mr Taylor experienced several camp “lockdowns”.

“Locals with machetes attempted to breach perimeter fences,” he said.

Many asylum seekers had contracted food poisoning from poor kitchen hygiene and insects that had been found in meals.

At times drinking water at the centre had the taste and smell of detergent because Papua New Guinea staff used inadequate processes.

Asylum seekers are allowed one to two hours of afternoon leisure time when they can play card games and soccer.

“Under no circumstances” are they given access to leisure equipment outside that time.

Mr Taylor said the Salvos had more sports equipment such as baseballs and skipping ropes but these were “deemed too dangerous” and were never used as it would require diverting security staff resources.

He had also worked at the Nauru detention centre and said its activity programs had not been allowed to be replicated on Manus for “operational reasons”.

Comment has been sought from International Health and Medical Services, which provides health care to asylum seekers at offshore detention centres.

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NRL still probing Fifita’s Bulldogs deal

Canterbury is yet to be given the all-clear over its botched multi-million dollar deal with Andrew Fifita, with the NRL revealing some aspects of the contract saga are still being investigated.

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Fifita was on the verge of signing with the Bulldogs for four seasons back in March, based on an annual salary of around $800,000 as outlined in a memorandum of understanding.

But the contract proper, leaked to the Nine Network last month, showed a shortfall of more than $1 million to the agreed amount.

He has since signed a lucrative four-year deal to remain at Cronulla.

NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle on Monday said while the Bulldogs had been cleared on some points, the league’s probe was ongoing.

“We’re going through the whole process at the moment,” Doyle told AAP at the launch of this year’s Women in League round.

“(There are) different aspects to it. Obviously the salary cap aspect of it, and there’s obviously dealing with player managers who are unaccredited – all those type of things are rolled up into it, so it’s still a work in progress.”

Asked how long it might be before the issue was resolved, Doyle said: “I wouldn’t think it would be too much longer.”

After suggesting last week the Bulldogs had already been cleared of any wrongdoing, chief executive Raelene Castle on Monday clarified that the club remained in discussions with the NRL as part of the probe.

“Certainly around some elements of it we’ve been given the all clear … particularly around the salary cap elements and around the negotiation process in relation to the salary cap,” Castle told AAP.

“There’s a couple of other queries around the player manager that Andrew was using to negotiate his contract, so we continue to talk to them (the NRL) about that.”

There have been suggestions Fifita has been considering legal action against Canterbury, however Castle said the club was yet to receive any notice of intention.

“We’re very comfortable with our position and we remain comfortable with the way we’ve handled things,” she added.

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G20 to talk tax in Tokyo

Tax experts are gathering in Tokyo to thrash out ways to stem a tide of avoidance in the international tax system.

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The G20 International Tax Symposium in the Japanese capital this week forms a key part of Australia’s 2014 presidency of the forum that represents the world largest economies.

Australia’s G20 agenda aims to improve growth and build resilience in the global economy, in which taxation plays a major role.

Australian Taxation Office boss Chris Jordan, who will attend the May 9-10 meeting, believes Australia is pioneering a new age of collaboration with the “landmark” gathering.

“We must be able to talk to each other, share information, share intelligence so that we can have a much more global picture of what’s happening,” Mr Jordan told a media briefing on Monday.

Some 230 delegates from 40 countries are registered for the event, beyond the membership of the G20 and the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Treasury’s Barry Sterland, who represents Australia as a G20 finance deputy, concedes there are many difficult issues to be resolved.

“But there is also agreement we do not want a situation where taxpayers exploit gaps and anomalies in the rules to avoid tax,” Mr Sterland said.

The international tax system has come increasingly under pressure through significant changes over the past two decades.

The OECD, through the political clout of the G20, has been working on standardising rules governing where the profits of multinationals should be taxed.

It will provide a further update in Tokyo.

Outcomes from Tokyo will be taken to the G20 finance deputies meeting in June in Melbourne and the G20 finance ministers and central bankers Cairns meeting in September.

Mr Sterland is confident the G20 will take tangible steps later this year that address deficiencies in the system.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), a sponsor for the tax symposium, believes risks to economic growth could be significant if consensus is not achieved.

“Countries may end up taking unilateral action that could result in increased uncertainty and double taxation for multi-national corporations,” PwC partner Pete Calleja said in a statement.

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Safety secured, Villa owner to reveal future plans

The ever shrinking investment from Lerner, who bought a 60 percent stake in the club at the start of the 2006/07 season, has led to the speculation the American will sell up after the final league matches at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur this week.

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New owners often mean new managers but former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Lambert was hopeful he could be allowed a third season at the helm.

“I hope so, that is what I want to do,” Lambert was quoted as saying by British media on Monday.

“But you’ll know when the chairman says what he is going to do. You would love to do it, it is a fantastic club, albeit the last couple of years has been tough.

“I think the chairman has said himself I have had to work within the parameters he has set between me and him. You either take the challenge on or bottle it.”

Having recorded a 1-0 win over title chasing Chelsea in March, Villa plummeted down the table with only one point from six matches to join the relegation battle.

With tough fixtures at City and Spurs to finish, Saturday’s clash at home to Hull came with huge pressure but Ashley Westwood put them ahead inside a minute and Andreas Weimann scored twice to claim a priceless three points.

The win moved them up to 14th on 38 points, five clear of 18th-placed Norwich City who only have one match left at home to Arsenal, and Lambert did not hide his sense of relief.

“That’s an understatement,” the Scot said. “I have been involved in massive games but that is too close for comfort.”

After Villa held Southampton to a 0-0 draw at home last month, Lerner released a statement urging fans to get behind the team and gave praise to Lambert.

The 52-year-old, who used to own the NFL’s Cleveland Browns franchise, also acknowledged the rumours of his departure but failed to quash them and said all would be revealed at the end of the season.

With matters on the field finalised and another season in the lucrative league assured, attentions switch back to the American with Lambert left pondering a possible exit.

“I respect the chairman’s statement and what he is going to say,” he said. “It will bring clarity and it will not be a problem, whatever way he wants to play it himself.

“I will respect his decision, no problem with that whatsoever. Randy is a really top guy and I’ve said before, it is his club.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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Today’s birthday, May 6

Responsible for one of the most talked about movies of all time, Orson Welles was a filmmaker who struggled for recognition.

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Born George Orson Welles on May 6, 1915 in Wisconsin, both his parents died before he was 14, after which Welles indulged his love of literature and theatre.

After finishing school and travelling to Ireland, London, Morocco and Spain, Welles founded the Mercury Theatre group.

In 1938 Welles and the Players performed the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, famous for convincing thousands of Americans that aliens had landed on Earth.

Welles went on to join the RKO studios where he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in Citizen Kane (1941), now one of the most famous films ever made.

Based on the life of newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst who strongly opposed the film, it struggled to gain media attention and ran at a loss.

With his second film the Magnificent Ambersons running into major budget and production problems, Welles parted company with RKO.

His Hollywood directing career never really recovered.

Towards the end of the 1940s Welles moved to Europe where he took on various acting roles in films such as the Third Man (1949).

His other famous films include Catch-22(1970), Treasure Island (1972) and The Muppet Movie (1979).

Up until his death from a heart attack in 1985, Welles continued to act, do voice-overs and make television appearances.

Despite not enjoying much commercial success, Welles is viewed as one of the most important directors in the history of film.

He married three times to Virginia Nicolson (1934-1940), Rita Hayworth (1943-1948) and Paola Mori (1855-85).

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Brumbies eye game, not ex-coach: Moore

Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore says his side can’t afford to be distracted by the highly publicised return of former coach Jake White to Canberra.

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The Sharks will make the trip to Canberra Stadium for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash, eight months after White ended his Brumbies contract two years early before joining the South African franchise.

With both sides currently sitting first and second, many believe White’s premature departure has done the Brumbies no real harm.

However some players, according to captain Ben Mowen, would be privately “filthy” at the way he left the club.

Moore played down White’s return on Monday, saying the whole thing was a non-issue.

He added that he wouldn’t even be thinking about White until he had a chat with him after the game.

“There is a lot of peripheral stuff,” Moore said.

“That stuff can only be a distraction.

“We’re playing the top team in the competition, so that’s the important thing.”

Moore admitted he was a little shocked when told of White’s departure from the club in October, but say he’s now moved on.

“I’m fine with it,” he said

“It’s not an issue.

“That stuff happens in football. It’s happened before and it will happen again.”

Brumbies prop Ben Alexander said they wouldn’t be making any wholesale tactical changes against the Sharks just because White had inside knowledge of their structures.

“You’ve got to try and find what’s been working well for you, refine it, and stick to it,” he said.

“Not change it because the opposition might know what’s coming.”

He said last week’s 40-20 thumping at the hands of the Crusaders provided them with a timely lesson ahead of the top-of-the-table clash.

“To get touched up like that, maybe it is a bit of a reality check,” he said.

“You learn the most from your losses and we’ve really analysed those lessons.”

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