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Monthly Archives: November 2018

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Labor’s carbon backflip

Labor is expected to support axing the carbon tax, with senior figures – including leader Bill Shorten – now convinced that its case for action on climate change is more easily sold if the politically ”toxic” tax is abolished.

The Opposition has been wrestling with the repeal of the tax, with some saying it must hold the line to show voters and demoralised supporters it still stands for something. But party leaders have progressed their thinking to consider what the party will put to voters in the lead-up to the next election.

They argue that Labor proposed to ”terminate” the tax at the election and to simply block its repeal would allow the government to continue to punish it politically.

Mr Shorten is also worried an endless focus on the carbon tax would distract from serious flaws in the government’s $3.2 billion Direct Action policy, which Labor will oppose.

Direct Action uses taxpayer funds to pay polluters to start reducing emissions and pay for other initiatives in forestry, carbon capture, and recycling.

A survey of economists by Fairfax Media found only two out of 35 supported Direct Action over an emissions trading scheme.

Labor will continue to back some form of carbon pricing but reserves the right to deliver its policy closer to the election. In the meantime, it will scrutinise Direct Action, independent analysis of which suggests it won’t be able to reduce emissions by 5 per cent in 2020, a bipartisan goal, without more funding, something expressly ruled out by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A senior Labor source said the party would not countenance weakening the target, amid concern that the draft legislation to repeal the carbon tax changes the status of the 5 per cent reduction from a legally enforceable cap to merely an aspiration.

‘‘We are happy to get rid of the tax but we do think there should be a cap on pollution,’’ said a Labor insider.

The Climate Change Authority will release its recommendations for Australia’s emissions cuts target on Wednesday morning. The independent advisory body may recommend that the 5 per cent cut be revised upward to 10 or 15 per cent. It will also assess the nation’s progress towards its short and medium term emissions cuts.

Mr Abbott has made the repeal of the carbon tax his legislative priority when Parliament resumes in three weeks. He urged Labor to ‘‘repent’’ and support the government.Multiple Labor sources acknowledged there had been a shift since the election.

Even so, shadow cabinet is yet to finalise Labor’s position and the party also wants to see the final shape of the government’s legislation before finally committing to its position.

Labor’s climate change spokesman Mark Butler hinted strongly on the weekend that the option of allowing the repeal bills through was being actively considered, revealing the final policy ‘‘will be informed by the fact that we took to the last election a commitment ourselves to terminate the carbon tax’’.

John Scales from JWS Research said polling showed that the carbon tax had dominated the climate change debate in recent years and undermined support for action.

He said the tax was widely seen through the prism of former prime minister Julia Gillard’s broken promise when she introduced the impost, as well as its impact on electricity and other prices.

Mr Abbott has already begun calling Mr Shorten ‘‘Electricity Bill’’ as he goads him to support the repeal of the tax.

With it gone, Mr Scales  reckoned that Labor would have the clear air to make direct action the target and develop its alternative.

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Time has arrived: Foreteller off to Cup

Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller said he had given up looking for reasons not to run his import Foreteller in next week’s $6 million Melbourne Cup, maintaining the horse’s time to compete in Australia’s most important handicap had arrived.

”It was a cracking run on Saturday in the Cox Plate. OK, will he run a genuine two miles is the question. Saintly went from a Cox Plate to winning a Melbourne Cup with a doubt on him staying.

”I know the horse was trained by a genius [Bart Cummings], but I am just hoping Foreteller could do exactly what Saintly did and win the Cup. We have been finding reasons not to start him, but his time has come.”

While Waller will not be the biggest player in this Melbourne Cup, as wealthy businessman Lloyd Williams could have up to a quarter of the field with six runners, the former New Zealand trainer has three hopefuls – Foreteller, Hawkspur and Kelinni.

”That’s how I’m looking at it,” Waller said. ”They are all in great order and I can’t fault them so the Cup is their mission. But Foreteller will not run on Saturday, he will go straight into the Cup.”

Local jockey Craig Newitt looks set to take the ride on Foreteller.

Cummings’ mission to get an incredible 88th runner in the Cup is still alive, although hanging by a thread, after Moonee Valley Cup winner Precedence was given a one-kilogram penalty .

Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter said the weight penalty for the group 2 win was in line with what the horse carried in last year’s race when a brave ninth to Green Moon, and was a penalty that took into consideration the horse’s age and the fact he has won a group 3 and a group 2 staying race in the past 12 months.

”The penalty takes Precedence back to the same weight he carried when running ninth to Green Moon in last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter said.

”The penalty is the same given to Vatuvei for winning the 2012 renewal at Moonee Valley and does not guarantee the horse a start in the race. After withdrawals at the third declarations stage Precedence has moved from 45th to 29th in the order of entry but is far from guaranteed a place in the final field of 24.”

To make the field Precedence must win either the Mackinnon Stakes or the Lexus Stakes on Saturday at Flemington or sit back and rely on attrition to improve his position in the order of entry.

Cummings’ grandson and training partner James said that if Precedence managed to sneak into the Melbourne Cup field his grandfather would be at Flemington to watch his 88th Cup runner.

The Melbourne Cup dream is still alive for the connections of 47 horses that were paid up at the third stage of declarations on Monday, with Saturday’s Derby day meeting at Flemington to play a significant hand in the final field.

Key Cup hopefuls that face a must-win scenario this Saturday include Caulfield Cup fourth Jet Away and English raider Forgotten Voice. Both must win the Mackinnon to get a start.

Saturday’s group 1 Mackinnon Stakes and group 3 Lexus provide the winner with ballot exempt passage into the field, meaning that horses on the borderline of a Cup start could be forced out.

And it would seem the Lexus will be a hard-fought affair considering there are 18 hopefuls attempting to force a way through to the Cup.

Key absentees from the list of nominations were the Gai Waterhouse-trained Glencadam Gold, Peter Moody’s Manighar, It’s A Dundeel, Royal Descent, and early Cup favourite Puissance De Lune, with tension building as the final field begins to take shape.

West Australian trainer Adam Durrant kept Mr Moet in the race after finishing sixth at Caulfield.

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Berry tough training schedule has Cup pair on track

Winning combination: Tommy Berry and Gai Waterhouse. The pair will combine with Tres Blue in the Melbourne Cup. Photo: Dallas KilponenIf he didn’t know any better, Tommy Berry could have sworn that he’s the one Gai Waterhouse is training to run the two miles of the Melbourne Cup and not French three-year-old Tres Blue.

But Berry knows Waterhouse too well to second-guess her methods as she prepares her latest European import for the Cup. He also understands that the champion trainer is in a strange way training the young jockey just as carefully for the rigours of the race as she is her horse.

While Tres Blue has been settling into the Werribee quarantine centre, Berry has been doing his own trackwork, pounding out the kilometres on the road and the race track in preparation for his second Melbourne Cup ride.

”Gai’s got me running the track, two laps of Flemington every day just so I can get used to it, she’s training me more than the horse, don’t worry,” he said.

”She’s got me going from Flemington trackwork to Werribee trackwork then back to Flemington for training every day, so I’ll be here (Werribee) every day until Cup day getting familiar with the horse – it’s what Gai wants.”

Waterhouse has made no secret of the fact that it is the Melbourne Cup trophy that she craves most, recently announcing a major public syndication group that will race horses specifically for the purpose of winning the Cup.

And along with her runners, race favourite Fiorente and recent French purchase Tres Blue, Berry has become a crucial part of her quest and is now regarded as Waterhouse’s No.1 rider following a separation from long-time stable jockey Nash Rawiller.

Berry was entrusted with the ride on Waterhouse’s Glencadam Gold in last year’s Cup, his first ride in the race, and has been handed the reins to Tres Blue along with the responsibility for helping the young stayer to acclimatise to Waterhouse’s methods in the week before the race, a challenge that excites the young rider.

”He’s got great form behind him, it is just as good as Fiorente’s when he came out last year. He can be a little quirky but we can’t fault him at the moment but we’ve got a little bit over a week to the Cup, so fingers crossed it all holds together,” he said.

”I think he’s a better chance than Glencadam Gold. This horse can adapt to races a little bit better than Glencadam and he has a lot better form coming into it.”

Tres Blue has emerged as a Cup player this season in France. The three-year-old (four by southern hemisphere season) was a narrow winner of a minor listed race at Lyon in May and then runner-up in what was considered to be an average edition of the German Derby. But from there the horse’s form improved significantly.

A dominant win against his own age group in the Prix De Reux over 2400 metres was followed by a grinding victory in the Prix De Deauville, leaving star galloper Cirrus Des Aigles behind at the line. The horse was then sold to Waterhouse’s former racing manager Bruce Slade and his Round Table Racing syndicate for a reported seven figure sum.

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Globetrotters promise hoops of fun

ENTERTAINER: Herbert LangHERBERT “Flight Time” Lang has promised a mixed bag of new tricks and old-school favourites when he and the Harlem Globetrotters touch down at Newcastle Entertainment Centre tonight.

The world-famous Globetrotters are midway through their first Australian tour since 2004 but this is Flight Time’s first visit Down Under, despite being in his 15th year with the team.

Flight Time and his teammates were enjoying some down time on a day off in Sydney yesterday after wowing crowds in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville and Cairns last week. They will head to Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart after playing in Newcastle tonight.

“We haven’t been here since 2004 and for myself, I’ve been with the team now for 15 years and I missed the last two times that they came here so for me, this is my first time, and it’s been pretty much everything that they’ve advertised,” Flight Time told the Newcastle Herald.

“I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve been here. The tour’s been going great, attendances have been great, so hopefully it won’t be that long again before we get a chance to come back.

“It seems like you’ve missed us, according to the way people have been turning out so far. It’s always nice to know that you’re liked, and to be a part of a team that’s been around for so long.

“Coming to places like Australia, places around the world that you wouldn’t get to come to with a normal job, for me it’s a blessing, and I enjoy every minute of it.”

A fan, and star, of reality television, the 37-year-old guard from Brinkley, Arkansas, has appeared on The Amazing Race, Hell’s Kitchen and The Bachelorette, but basketball is his passion and he has never tired of entertaining fans with his sublime skills.

“We get a chance to go out on the court and entertain every night. Once we start the crowd participation, it’s a different show every night because you never know how people are going to respond,” he said.

“With social media the way it is, we can go on Twitter and Instagram and see what people think about us, and for the most part, we always get positive feedback. It’s always nice to hear how good you are.”

The International Elite All-Stars have replaced long-time whipping boys the Washington Generals as the Globetrotters’ opponents on this tour.

“We’ve been breaking ankles, and almost breaking backboards as well,” he said.

“This is our 87th year of touring the world, and the thing about the Globetrotters is, everybody has a Globetrotters story. We do a lot of crowd participation and bringing people out on to the court.

“You might see some water thrown on somebody, kids out there spinning basketballs, a lot of dancing, high-flying slam dunks, and great family fun. We’re all about making memories that will last a life-time.

“We’re a great family show. I always tell people that even if you don’t like basketball, you can still come to a Harlem Globetrotters game and have a great time.”

Globetrotters stars “Cheese” Chisholm, “Moose” Weekes and 224cm Jermaine “Stretch” Middleton, the third-tallest player in team history, will be at Newcastle Basketball Stadium at Broadmeadow at 4pm today to showcase their skills to junior basketballers preparing for the Seaside Classic at Port Macquarie this weekend.

A limited number of tickets remain for the show tonight, starting at 7pm, and they are available through Ticketek on a two-for-one basis.

Lawyer buys $710,000 city unit to set up son, 5, on ground floor of property market

dion vertzayas and dean A birthday present: The view from the Potts Point pad. Photo: Supplied


Helping your adult daughter to buy a million-dollar Surry Hills terrace is one thing, but spending $710,000 on an apartment for your five-year-old son is another.

Sydney property lawyer Dion Vertzayas has moved to secure his son’s future in the market by buying a bolt-hole in the inner city.

His son, Dean, probably won’t be moving in until sometime around 2025, but Mr Vertzayas said he had to act now to prevent his son being forever priced out of the market.

”There is only limited stock in Sydney,” he said. ”He’s turning six next month. It is going to be a surprise for his birthday. ”When he is at university he can have it as his place and he can commute from there to wherever he wants to study or work.”

The one-bedroom apartment with parking on Victoria Street, Potts Point, has views over the Domain to the Harbour Bridge.With the market on the rise, more first-timers are being forced to fall back on their parents for help.

The median house price in Sydney surged past $700,000 for the first time over the September quarter to $722,718. The median unit price also rose to $515,035, figures from Australian Property Monitors show.

Potts Point agent Nuri Shik from Laing+Simmons said parents had been showing up to inspections with their kids ever since the first home owner grant for established properties was scrapped in 2012.

”The government used to assist first home buyers, now it is parents who have stepped in to fill the gap,” he said. ”It’s the best way to get in to the market because if they [young people] wait until they’ve saved their money they could be priced out even further.”

The extent that parents will go to help their kids became apparent on Saturday when a Mosman couple helped their 23-year-old uni-student daughter buy a Surry Hills terrace for $1,094,000. The purchase price was $119,000 over the $975,000 reserve.

General manager at AFG mortgage brokers Mark Hewitt said more parents were acting as guarantor for their children’s purchases. ”The most popular tool is where parents provide a charge over the property they own to support the lack of deposit that their children have,” he said.

Television and radio personality Tim Webster thought up a low-risk way to help his two sons get into the property market: get them to pay his mortgage.

Mr Webster and his wife bought a property in Wahroonga and his sons, aged 22 and 24, make payments into the mortgage account.

”That way when we sell the house they’ll get whatever they put in back plus a percentage of whatever the increase in value of the home is,” he said. ”Hopefully, that will give them enough cash to put in to a place of their own.”

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