Qld govt keeps Mason Lee report secret

Queensland’s opposition has accused the Labor government of a cover-up after it withheld a full report into the death of Sunshine Coast toddler Mason Jet Lee for at least another year.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday announced the report into Mason’s June 2016 death would only be released publicly after charges against his mother and her former partner had been dealt with.

It came as Queensland Family and Child Commissioner Cheryl Vardon handed down her report into the “post-death” reaction to the 22-month-old’s death, which recommended an overhaul of the way such cases are reviewed by government departments.

In an unprecedented move, the government sought the advice of Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Byrne QC who advised cabinet not to release the more comprehensive Child Death Case Review Panel’s report.

Mr Byrne told cabinet if the contents of the report were made public, it could prejudice the manslaughter and child cruelty trials of Mason’s mother Anne Maree Lee, stepfather William O’Sullivan and teenager Ryan Robert Hodson.

Ms Palaszczuk defended cabinet’s decision and promised to release the panel’s report once the court cases were finalised.

“I will make no comment that will jeopardise justice for Mason. The community wants justice, I want justice,” the premier said.

But the Liberal National Party took aim, with child safety spokesperson Ros Bates alleging a cover-up which “stinks to high heaven”.

“The premier announced last year that she would release all of the findings into Mason Jet Lee’s death. What we see now is a report that tells you nothing,” Ms Bates said.

“The Palaszczuk Labor government has had 10 months to come up with solutions about what happened to Mason Lee and yet today, we are seeing a cover-up.”

Ms Bates pledged to release the report in full if the LNP were elected to government before the court matters are finalised.

The election is scheduled before May next year, which is likely to occur before all three of the accused go to trial.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls also criticised the timing of the decision, saying the government cynically wedged it between Cyclone Debbie and Easter.

Mason was found dead in his Caboolture home in June 2016, suffering from horrific injuries, and it was determined he died from a ruptured bowel.

Three Child Safety staff were stood down in November last year over the case, and another nine are facing disciplinary action following a departmental review.

While not making specific comment about any pre-death findings, Ms Vardon said she was “concerned and upset” by what had happened to Mason.

‘In the lead-up to his death he had many eyes on him, but no one truly saw him, or did enough to protect him,” she said.

The government announced it would implement several of Ms Vardon’s recommendations, including $40.8 million over four years to provide more frontline staff to work with families, as well as better co-ordination of health and child protection systems.

No ‘silver bullet’ for housing affordability: Morrison

Scott Morrison has laid out Australia’s housing affordability problems, ranging from young people trying to raise a deposit to older people using their superannuation lump sum to pay off the mortgage.

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The treasurer also used a pre-budget speech in Melbourne to discuss shortages in the rental and community housing markets.

He reiterated a national affordable housing agreement with the states wasn’t working and “just shovelling money out the door” won’t solve the problem.

“Obviously there’s not a single national housing market and affordability is not impacting all Australians the same way or at the same time,” he told an audience at an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute address in Melbourne.

“However, it is worth remembering Sydney and Melbourne are home to forty per cent of Australians and the significant housing challenges faced in Sydney and Melbourne do have national implications.”

Housing affordability is expected to be a key plank of the May 9 federal budget.

Mr Morrison admits there’s no single or easy solution and blamed previous governments for avoiding the issue.

“Failure to confront these issues in the past can be traced back to the problems we face today,” he said.

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Obstacles to housing supply had to be removed. These include planning delays and regulation, infrastructure and services, development costs, taxes and charges and access to sites, including government land.

He’s also made clear the federal government won’t be touching negative gearing, after describing it as a “structural component” of Australia’s housing market.

“Disrupting negative gearing would not come without a cost, especially to renters, let alone the wider economic impacts,” he said.

“Proponents of disruptive negative gearing changes have ignored this fact.”

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government was being “pig-headed” because Labor got in first with it plan to reform negative gearing tax concessions.

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“They would rather play politics and stamp their foot than help young Australians get into their first home,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

However, the Property Council of Australia agreed with the treasurer that it was better to use “a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer” to boost housing affordability.

“It’s why we believe there is scope, as part of broader tax reform, to reduce the capital gains tax discount to 40 per cent (from 50 per cent) in the May budget,” PCA chief of housing and policy Glenn Byres said in a statement.

Industry super fund Cbus CEO David Atkin said funds could play a role in investing to help improve the supply of affordable housing.

But said letting first home buyers dip into their retirement savings for a house deposit was not the answer and “should be ruled immediately”.

Mr Morrison declined to comment on reports the government could provide incentives for older people to downsize to free up housing stock.

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Marcus Leonard at tax consultants BDO said the stamp duty cost of changing residences was now so high it discouraged people from moving.

“While the best option would be to remove stamp duty completely from residential housing, the provision of stamp duty concessions for older persons when they downsize their houses may have some effect in providing some more supply to the system,” he told AAP.

The Treasurer also indicated foreign investors who bought units but kept them empty and out of the market had not escaped his attention.

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‘Disgust, dismay’ as official Kokoda commemoration goes MIA

The prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday visited Kokoda and laid a wreath at the Bomana war cemetery outside Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and there will be a ceremony held in Canberra in November.

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Kokoda is considered Australia’s most significant battle of the war in the Pacific, in which the Japanese were for the first time defeated on land.

Veteran George Palmer points to his figure in one of the most famous Kokoda campaign photographs by Damien Parer: of Australian soldiers trudging through the mud.

“I’m the second one, there, now of the six of us there are two still alive, myself and Arnold Forrester, who lives in Townsville,” he said.

The 95-year-old veteran of the 39th Battalion is now fighting another battle, to preserve the memory of Kokoda, and is upset the official Australian commemoration will not be held in PNG.

“It’s wrong, just wrong. You must never forget the sacrifices my mates made,” he said.

Kokoda was fought between July and November 1942 on what was then Australian soil, the territory of Papua.

Historian Patrick Lindsay, the chair of the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), said he has been asking the government since last year about when the PNG commemoration would be held.

“I’m dismayed and disgusted,” he said.

“It’s the second time we’ve done this to these diggers, they didn’t get the credit they deserved at the time and after the war.”

Kokoda tour operators say they have also been awaiting confirmation since last year and feel they will now have to take up the commemorative task.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives via an Australian Army helicopter to the Isurava Memorial to lay a wreath at the Kokoda Track, April 8, 2017. (AAP)FAIRFAX POOL

“Yeah, it is disappointing,” said Frank Taylor, who has been running tours to PNG for three decades and is head of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KOTA).

“If the historical linkages are failing a little, as perhaps you could argue is being demonstrated with no offshore (Kokoda commemoration in PNG), it looks like a lot of that will pass on to the operators.”

More than 600 Australians died in the Kokoda campaign and there were thousands more casualties in brutal jungle warfare and on the beachheads, including an untold number of Papua New Guineans.

More than 10,000 Japanese and hundreds of US soldiers were also killed.

The 75th anniversary is expected to be the last time the few surviving veterans will see a major commemoration.

“Seventy-five years ago Australia was unprepared to defend itself,” the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday at the Bomana War Cemetery wreath-laying ceremony.

“All of our best soldiers, best trained soldiers were abroad. Militia men, reservists, were sent here to the Kokoda track.

“These men with very little training, rose to the occasion and kept Australia free, in the most horrific conditions.”

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The Governor General is expected in PNG for the only other Australian commemoration – on Anzac Day.

“It’s at least it’s an honour, and the PM should do that, but the real people who should be involved in the commemoration are the surviving veterans and the families of the diggers who laid down their lives there,” said Mr Lindsay

The Department of Veterans Affairs told SBS, “the Australian Government will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the New Guinea Campaign in World War Two with a national commemoration in Canberra on 2 November 2017, including a Last Post service at the Australian War Memorial”.

“For the health and safety of the veterans, the Australian Government made the decision to not continue veterans’ missions after the 70th anniversary.

“Commemorations in Papua New Guinea are a matter for the Papuan (sic) Government, or in some cases services are organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs Post.”

One hundred years on from the World War I Gallipoli campaign, it is still officially commemorated in Turkey by the Australian government, long after the last veteran has passed

“If we could do that, and we did for the 75th of Gallipoli, why aren’t we doing it for Kokoda?” said Mr Lindsay.

PNG will mark Kododa on November 3, for the so-called “fuzzy wuzzy angels” who served alongside the veterans like George Palmer.

Trump to meet Putin at G20 summit

US President Donald Trump will hold a high stakes meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when he attends the G20 summit in Germany next week.

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National security adviser HR McMaster confirmed on Thursday that the meeting is one of several Trump has scheduled when he is in Hamburg next week.

McMaster and economic adviser Gary Cohn would not say whether the president intends to address accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying that the agenda is “not finalised” for this or any other meeting.

All 17 US intelligence agencies have agreed Russia was behind last year’s hack of Democratic email systems and tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Trump. Members of his campaign are also under investigation for possible collusion with Russia in the lead-up to the election. Trump has staunchly denied that he had any contacts with Russia during his White House bid.

“Our relationship with Russia is not different from that with any other country in terms of us communicating to them really what our concerns are, where we see problems with the relationship but also opportunities,” McMaster said.

He added that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is taking the lead on the discussions and “has been engaged in a broad, wide-range discussion about irritants, problems in the relationship but also to explore opportunities, where we can work together, areas of common interest. So it won’t be different from our discussions with any other country.”

McMaster added that Trump also plans to meet with the leaders of several other countries – among them, the United Kingdom, Germany, China and South Korea.

New app helps Rio locals avoid shootouts

Every day, Rio de Janeiro witnesses an average of 15 gun battles dramatic enough for any Hollywood action film and a small group of volunteers has developed an app to enable residents to avoid the crossfire.

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Onde tem tiroteio (Where There’s a Shootout), known as OTT, offers nearly instantaneous notification of armed robberies and gunfights throughout the city.

“The idea emerged in December 2015,” project creator Benito Quintanilha said. “I saw a news report about someone hit by a stray bullet in a Rio neighbourhood and I thought ‘why not create a (web) page, a means to alert the Rio population about where there are shootouts.'”

After launching the effort via Facebook, the 41-year-old oil worker found himself overwhelmed by the task and sought help from two friends, physicist Marcos Vinicius, and programmer Denis Colli.

Henrique Coelho Caamano joined the team later.

“We got together and created a template, we have a form,” Quintanilha said. “Each one of us has a task. Enrique and I are in charge of operations, we receive the messages. Marcos Vinicius is in charge of administration, and Denis is our IT expert, he provides support if there’s any trouble with the apps.”

The alerts, which now circulate on Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram as well as Facebook, reach nearly 3 million people, almost half the population of Rio de Janeiro.

To prevent false alarms, the group maintains strict operational standards and relies on a network of trusted informants across the city.

Marcos Vinicius recalls proudly a message the team received by grateful parents who called them “guardian angels” after an OTT alert allowed one of their children to avoid getting caught in the middle of a shootout.

Iraq sees end to ‘caliphate’ as destroyed Mosul mosque recaptured

Iraq declared the Islamic State group’s “caliphate” was coming to an end after it recaptured Mosul’s iconic Nuri mosque Thursday, three years to the day after it was proclaimed by the jihadists.

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The jihadist group announced its self-styled “caliphate” on June 29, 2014, encompassing swathes of territory its fighters overran in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Its rule since then has been marked by repeated atrocities including mass beheadings and other executions documented in photos and videos that its supporters share online.

“Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret),” said Iraq’s Joint Operations Command.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the recapture of the mosque as a sign of IS’s impending defeat.

We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state, the liberation of Mosul proves that. We will not relent, our brave forces will bring victory

— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) June 29, 2017

 

The US-led anti-IS coalition also said the end was near.

“I can’t put a timeline on that for them, but I see it closer to days than a week or weeks,” coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said, referring to an announcement of Mosul’s recapture.

IS’s “so-called caliphate is crumbling… from the outside and from within,” Dillon tweeted.

The Great Mosque of Al-Nuri and its famed Al-Hadba (hunchback) leaning minaret were Mosul landmarks and also held major significance in the history of IS rule in Iraq.

IS declared its “caliphate” in an audio recording three years ago.

A video released a few days later showed IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking at Friday prayers at the Nuri mosque and calling on Muslims to obey him, his only known public appearance as “caliph”. 

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Baghdadi fate unknown

Baghdadi’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown, and IS has lost much of the territory it overran in 2014.

The jihadists blew up the mosque and minaret on June 21 as they put up increasingly desperate resistance to the advance of Iraqi forces.

Only the base of the minaret remains, and while the mosque’s dome is still standing, much of the rest of it has been destroyed. 

The loss of the iconic 12th century minaret — one of the country’s most recognisable monuments sometimes referred to as Iraq’s Tower of Pisa — left the country in shock.

But the destruction had been widely anticipated, with commanders saying IS would not have allowed Iraqi forces to score a hugely symbolic victory by recapturing the site.

IS claimed on its Amaq propaganda agency that the site was hit in a US air strike, but the US-led coalition said it was the jihadists who had “destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures”.

Russia has said it is seeking to verify whether the IS leader, whose whereabouts have been unknown for months, was killed when its warplanes hit the group’s leaders in a night air raid in Syria last month.

Related readingHeritage destroyed

The mosque in Mosul’s Old City was the latest in a long list of priceless heritage and historical monuments destroyed by IS during its three-year rule over swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The jihadists cast the destruction of such sites as a religious duty to wipe out idol-worship, but they have shown no qualms about trading in smaller pieces to fund their rule.

The minaret, which was completed in 1172 and had been listing for centuries, is featured on Iraq’s 10,000-dinar banknote and was the main symbol of Iraq’s second city — giving its name to countless restaurants, companies and even sports clubs in Mosul.

After seizing Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland in June 2014, IS reportedly rigged Al-Hadba with explosives but was prevented from blowing it up by the local population. The jihadists consider the reverence of objects, including of such sites, as heresy.

The mosque’s destruction came three days after government forces launched an assault on the Old City, the last district of Mosul still under IS control.

The part of Mosul still held by the jihadists is small, but its narrow streets and the presence of a large number of civilians has made the operation perilous.

While Iraqi forces are moving closer to victory in Mosul, the city’s recapture would not mark the end of the war against IS, which still holds significant territory elsewhere in Iraq and Syria.

Some parts of Iraq could see an increase in violence as the jihadists lose more ground, as they will likely increasingly turn to carrying out bombings and other attacks in government-held areas.

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Cardinal Pell vows to fight sex charges

Cardinal George Pell says being charged over historical sexual assault allegations has only strengthened his resolve to prove his innocence.

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Pope Francis has granted Cardinal Pell, who as Vatican treasurer is considered the third most powerful person in the Catholic Church, a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.

Australia’s most senior Catholic says he is looking forward to finally having his day in court, after a two-year investigation, leaks to the media and “relentless character assassination”.

“All along, I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations,” he said in Rome.

“News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return to my work in Rome.”

The former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop and Ballarat priest says he will return to Australia to clear his name after being charged on summons with offences involving multiple complainants.

Cardinal Pell said he had spoken to his lawyers about when he needed to return and to his doctors about how best to do so.

He remained in Rome for his third appearance before the child abuse royal commission in February last year after medical advice he should not take a long-haul flight due to a worsened heart condition.

Abuse survivor Philip Nagle hopes the cardinal receives medical clearance to travel.

“The time has come. George needs to come home and face the music just like anyone else has to,” Mr Nagle said.

Abuse survivor Peter Blenkiron said it is important everyone gets their day in court, whether it is the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victims.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said he was shocked Cardinal Pell had been charged and no one should be prejudged because of their high profile, religious convictions or positions on social issues.

“The justice and compassion we all seek for victims of abuse includes getting to the truth of such allegations,” he said.

A statement from the Holy See said it learned of the charges “with regret”.

“Cardinal Pell, acting in full respect of civil laws, has decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognising the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly and to foster the search for truth.”

The Holy See said it respects the Australian justice system.

“At the same time, it is important to recall that Cardinal Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors.”

The Holy See said during Cardinal Pell’s absence as prefect, the Secretariat for the Economy will continue to carry out its institutional tasks.

“The Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration and, in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals.”

Goretka double helps Germany reach Confederations Cup final

Mexico had more chances and more possession but their defence left wide open spaces which were ruthlessly exploited by Germany’s young, experimental team.

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Goretzka struck twice in the first eight minutes before Timo Werner and Amin Younis added two more in the second half, though Marcio Fabian’s 89th minute goal for Mexico was the most spectacular — a viciously swerving drive from 35 metres.

Germany, whose starting team had an average age of just under 24, will meet Chile in Sunday’s final in St Petersburg, having progressed despite resting players such as keeper Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.

Mexico’s elimination will leave the fans wondering about their chances at next year’s World Cup if, as expected, they qualify, and of ending a run of six successive last 16 exits.

There was controversy after the break when Werner appeared to be pushed in the back as he broke into the penalty area but the referee waved play on without asking for a video replay.

Germany went ahead after six minutes when Benjamin Henrichs burst down the right and Goretzka swept his low pass into the net from the edge of the penalty area

It took one minute 49 seconds for Germany to double their lead as Werner slipped the ball through an open Mexico defence to Goretzka who clipped it over keeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Mexico looked to be on course for a repeat of their 7-0 loss to Chile at last year’s Copa Centenario and could have gone three behind when Werner broke clear but Ochoa blocked his shot.

Mexico had 58 percent of possession and 25 goal attempts to Germany’s 12 but wasted their openings.

By contrast, Germany were clinical and struck again when their 23-year-old captain Julian Draxler, their most experienced player with 34 caps, slipped the ball to Jonas Hector whose pass into the area was turned in by Werner in the 59th minute

Mexico bravely continued to push forward and Raul Jimenez headed against the bar. Fabian’s goal gave them brief hope of a comeback, which was soon ended by Younis with Germany’s fourth.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Payne’s mistake lesson for all riders: AJA

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne’s mistake in taking a banned appetite suppressant should be a lesson for all riders, the Australian Jockeys Association says.

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An embarrassed Payne says she takes full responsibility and should have investigated further after her doctor prescribed Phentermine to help deal with gastrointestinal problems connected to injuries she sustained in a serious race fall.

AJA chair Des O’Keeffe says Payne accepts it is the rider’s responsibility to know what they are taking and the rules around it, regardless of whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not.

“At the end of the day the buck stops with the rider,” O’Keeffe said.

“There’s plenty of information out there of what they can and can’t take. They need to follow that carefully.”

Payne was banned from riding in races for four weeks, until July 21.

O’Keeffe does not believe it will hurt the reputation of the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

“Michelle Payne’s reputation is as an icon of Australian sport and not just racing.

“I think the manner in which she’s handled this she should be extremely proud of, disappointed that it’s occurred, but proud of the manner in which she’s handled it.

“I don’t believe it will tarnish her reputation in any way whatsoever.”

O’Keeffe said Payne seems well after suffering life-threatening injuries in the fall in May last year, which required extensive surgery.

“I know she’s found winter very difficult this year and hopefully with additional treatment, additional advice now she can get on top of it,” he said.

Payne rode at Royal Ascot last week and has been invited to compete in the Shergar Cup international jockeys’ challenge at Ascot on August 12.

“I look forward to working hard and being in great shape upon my return to racing,” she said.

NZ locks braced for Lions odd couple

The All Blacks locks are expecting plenty from a revamped British and Irish Lions duo at the opposite ends of their career.

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Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick dominated the second row battle in New Zealand’s 30-15 first Test win at Eden Park.

The response of Lions coach Warren Gatland was to replace George Kruis with Maro Itoje and bring a third Englishman, Courtney Lawes, onto the reserves bench.

Veteran Alun Wyn Jones retains his starting spot despite a quiet Test, attracting criticism in some quarters.

Gatland has belief his faithful Welsh servant will respond with the sort of physicality the pack as a whole was missing last week.

“It is a big game for him. He was a bit disappointed with how it went last week,” Gatland said.

“He is pretty focused and motivated. Normally in the past when he has been challenged he has really fronted the next game.”

A 110-cap veteran for Wales, Jones has played in the last seven successive Lions Tests.

At the other end of the scale, Itjoe is the youngest member of Gatland’s tour party at 22.

Arguably the brightest rising star of European forward play, “Super Maro” has been immersed in success from the outset with both England and his all-conquering club Saracens.

His first start against the All Blacks will carry the extra responsibility of calling the lineouts.

“We acknowledge that they’re too good operators, they’re very talented guys,” Itoje said.

“The challenge for us is to surpass them. We haven’t come here to play second best.”

Whitelock has been impressed by Itoje and the impact he has on his teammates.

His impact at the tackle and breakdown provided evidence of why he is regarded as a leading blindside flanker candidate.

“He’s very young. He has the energy and excitement when he’s out there playing,” Whitelock said.

“Both guys are really physical, they love that physical battle and we know they’re going to bring that.”

Mighty Meg inspires Australia to big win

Australia skipper Meg Lanning says she never doubted her side would chase down a record target of 258 to beat Sri Lanka and seal a second successive win at the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

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Lanning scored an imperious 152 not out as Australia raced to 2-262 inside 44 overs to win by eight wickets.

However, her fine innings was overshadowed by a brilliant unbeaten 178 from Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu.

Atapattu was one of only three players in her side to reach double figures, but struck the highest-ever score by a female player against Australia in a record-breaking knock that included six sixes and 22 fours.

It was also the highest proportion of runs scored by an individual in a women’s ODI.

“It was a very special innings from Atapattu,” Lanning said.

“We tried all sorts of different things to slow her down and get her out but she was too good for us today.

“Some of those shots she played were incredible and well done to her. It was one of the great knocks.”

Buoyed by the fireworks of their No.3 batswoman, Sri Lanka dismissed Australia opener Beth Mooney for a duck in the first over.

Nicole Bolton was lucky not to follow her back to the pavilion shortly after as wicketkeeper Prasadani Weerakkody dropped a simple catch when she was on five.

But it proved to be the only alarm for the world champions as Lanning underlined her status as the world’s best batswoman with her 11th ODI ton after putting on 133 for the second wicket with Bolton (60).

After Bolton’s dismissal she was joined at the crease by Elysse Perry, who scored 39 not out, with the skipper smashing a six to seal the win and bring up the biggest score of her international career.

“I thought we were good in patches with the bat and ball but it wasn’t our best performance,” she said.

“At the moment the wickets and the grounds are conducive to scoring runs and as soon as you get any width you feel you can free your hands.

“We were confident of chasing it down and although they got a few more than we would have liked, with our batting line-up and a good wicket we thought we could win.

“Once we set that base, Bolts and I, we knew we’d be able to chase it down.”

Australia’s bowlers shared the wickets between them with Perry, Kristen Beams and Bolton bagging two apiece.

Megan Schutt, Ash Gardner and Elyse Vilani each took a wicket.

New Zealand are Australia’s next opponents on Sunday, again at Bristol.

A look at the new financial year for investors

Investors over the past financial year have had to deal with the Brexit fallout, an OPEC production agreement and numerous local and global elections.

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CommSec chief economist Craig James says the most important election was the presidential race in the United States.

“Basically, Donald Trump was elected on the premise that he’ll be cutting taxes and increasing infrastructure spending. We haven’t seen it yet, but the market certainly has rallied on that expectation.”

That indicates President Trump will continue to sway global shares.

Macquarie analyst Martin Lakos says the US president’s policies have given momentum to global share markets, which have outperformed the local index.

“The Aussie market in the last financial year is up about 9 per cent, not bad, but that compares with, say, the US markets are up about 15, and we’ve got the Hong Kong market up 24, the German market up 30 per cent. So, in that context, we’ve underperformed.”

Also important in the new financial year is what the US Federal Reserve will do with interest rates in that country.

Craig James says Australian interest rates look set to stay low, bad news for retirees reliant on fixed-income returns.

“Well, I think we’re going to continue to see an environment of low inflation and low interest rates, so I think there’s still a focus on the dividend payers — the utilities, the property trusts — as well as other sectors across the market such as the banks and telcos.”

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver says he expects the Australian share market to rise in the new year, but modestly.

“So the bottom line is, yes, the Aussie economy keeps growing but it’s relatively constrained growth. And, therefore, profits grow, but at a relatively constrained growth. Share market goes up, but not dramatically.”

Macquarie’s Martin Lakos says the real opportunity for investors is overseas, amid signs global growth is picking up.

“So whether it’s investing directly or investing via Australian companies that have a good proportion of their businesses in overseas markets and economies, we certainly still like that theme.”

AMP’s Shane Oliver says he agrees.

“If you want to see good returns, you’ve probably got to have a decent exposure to global shares, particularly eurozone shares, Japanese shares, emerging market. That’s where I think the growth will be.”

Meanwhile, new superannuation rules will come into effect on Saturday. (July 1)

The before-tax contributions cap will fall to $25,000, regardless of a person’s age.

The after-tax cap declines from $180,000 to $100,000.

And the bring-forward rule, which allows people to combine three years of caps in a single year, will also be reduced, from $540,000 to $300,000.

 

 

 

 

 

More deaths as migrants try to cross the Mediterranean

When an Italian navy boat brought 700 migrants to the port of Pozzallo on Wednesday, medics had to carry some migrants off on stretchers.

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Pozallo Port Doctor, Angelo Gugliotta says some of those rescued off the coast of Libya were severely malnourished.

He says others had physical injuries, including gunshot wounds.

“In regards to the situation in general when it comes to migration internationally, it is not my job to comment, but I am a medic and I have taken the Hippocratic Oath to respond in a time of need in the role of a medic, and this is a situation that has become ever more dramatic over the years, with incredibly high numbers of people arriving. The last arrival we assisted to was on Sunday and already, just three days later we have 700 more arriving today and I am certain we have more people arriving before next Sunday.”

He says one boy born on a migrant boat, died from respiratory problems soon after he and his mother were rescued.

“For the first time I have had to ask the emergency services to intervene because we had a “code red” patient already at the time of arrival. The medical needs are the same as usual, gunshot wounds, hypothermia, cases of asthenia, dehydration and so on.”

Rescue workers have also recovered five bodies off the Libyan coast on.

Rescue Worker, Hossam Al-Tabouny says the makeshift rubber dingy used for their journey washed up damaged on rocks.

But he says the other four people believed to be on board have not been found.

“Of course the recovery of bodies from Tajura is ongoing. Today’s search recovered five bodies but because of limited time there still remain other bodies around but they will be removed in the coming days to clean up our shores”

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi says migration needs to be seen as an opportunity.

Speaking at an international conference on migration in Berlin, Mr Grandi urged Germany and other countries to do more to save refugee lives at sea

“Regardless of status, refugee or migrant, saving lives including through rescue at sea and protecting them from these threats are compelling humanitarian imperatives. We must also work to reduce those risks in the first place. Regular pathways must urgently and substantially be expanded to prevent migrants and refugees from having to resort to dangerous and exploitative mechanisms.”

The Berlin conference also heard the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel suggest Germany and other nations need to change the way they think about migration policy, on an international scale and on a societal level.

European vessels are pulling hundreds of migrants from surrounding seas daily, often carrying those fleeing war, persecution or poverty.