What do the independents want?

The three country independents that hold the key to forming a new government have their own list of issues.


Take a look.

Rob Oakeshott: (MP for Lyne)

· Reviving an emissions trading scheme by going back to the Garnaut report.

· Improve services for rural and regional areas, especially health.

· Ensuring better telecommunications and broadband for the bush.

· Getting a ‘fair go’ for rural and regional Australia

Tony Windsor: (MP for New England)

Mr Windsor is campaigning for a better deal for the bush. He submitted to Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott his bid for regional development:

· Regional affairs to be brought more directly under prime ministerial control.

· A full review of the Henry tax reform proposals – including the mining tax.

· Supports a parliamentary committee on climate change and wants Professor Ross Garnaut to update his report.

Bob Katter: (MP for Kennedy)

Mr Katter released a 20-point wish list to both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. The main points include:

· No Carbon tax, No emissions trading scheme, No mining tax.

· Rural hospitals under the control of a local hospital board.

· Reducing the market concentration of the Coles and Woolworths supermarket duopoly.

· The creation of a national energy grid and the development of more clean fuel (i.e. ethanol)

· Provision of title deeds providing ownership of homes, businesses and farms to indigenous communities.

(Julia Gillard has rejected Mr Katter’s call to raise trade tariffs)

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Clashes at Tehran anti-US rally

Thousands of Iranians have staged a noisy anti-US rally in Tehran to mark the 30th anniversary of the storming of the American embassy by students, as police and opposition supporters clashed nearby.


US President Barack Obama meanwhile said in a statement marking the anniversary of the event that sparked decades of hostility between America and Iran that the Islamic republic “must choose” whether to open the door to opportunity and prosperity.

Huge crowds from early morning descended on the embassy complex in central Tehran, chanting slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

They also smashed up posters of the American “Uncle Sam” symbol and chanted “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader” — a reference to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The crowd was constantly being swelled by people arriving on foot and by bus, witnesses said.

About a kilometre (mile) away at Haft-e-Tir square in the heart of the capital, riot police armed with batons and firing teargas moved in as several hundred opposition supporters attempted to stage an anti-government protest.

Witnesses said the protesters, who were chanting “Death to the dictator,” refused to disperse and dozens were beaten arrested.

Opposition supporters have since June been staging protests at every opportunity in Tehran against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a presidential vote they claim was massively rigged.

Wednesday’s anniversary, which has turned into a cornerstone of the Islamic regime, event marks the capture by radical Islamist students of the US embassy compound on November 4, 1979 — just months after the Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed shah.

The students, who took 52 American diplomats hostage and held them for 444 days, said they were responding to Washington’s refusal to hand over the deposed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Obama in his statement urged Iran to look to the future rather than the past.

“We have heard for 30 years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for,” he said.

“It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity and justice for its people.”

Leading Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said meanwhile the capture of the US embassy was a mistake.

“The occupation of the American embassy at the start had the support of Iranian revolutionaries and the late Imam Khomeini and I supported it too,” he said.

“But considering the negative repercussions and the high sensitivity which was created among the American people and which still exists, it was not the right thing to do,” Montazeri said in a statement posted on his website.

The anniversary comes at a time when Washington is backing a sensitive nuclear fuel deal for Tehran brokered by the UN atomic watchdog.

US-Iranian relations deteriorated even further during the tenure of former US president George W. Bush, who lumped Iran into an “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

During his first term as president, Ahmadinejad stepped up Tehran’s anti-US tirade.

And although Washington has made diplomatic overtures towards Tehran under Bush successor Barack Obama, Khamenei said Iran still distrusts the United States.

“Every time they have a smile on their face, they are hiding a dagger behind their back,” he said on Tuesday.

“They are telling us to negotiate, but alongside the negotiation there is a threat… We do not want any negotiation, the result of which is pre-determined by the United States,” he said.

World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make atomic weapons — a charge denied by Tehran — and want its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be taken out of the country.

In return, world powers would offer Tehran 20 percent enriched uranium as fuel for an internationally supervised nuclear reactor in the capital.

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Shocking Melbourne Cup win

Shocking has won the $5.


5 million Melbourne Cup ahead of Crime Scene and Mourilyan in the nation’s biggest race, giving lucky punters a return of $10 to each dollar they placed on his winning run.

Owned by former Cairns resident Laurence Eales, the four-year-old was trained by Mark Kavanagh and ridden by Corey Brown.

He was Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s pick for winner of the nation-stopping race.

For jockey Corey Brown, the win made up for the heartache of his narrow defeat on Bauer 12 months ago.

Internationals take second and third

Shocking and international raider Crime Scene pulled away from the pack in the straight and had the race between them before the four-year-old got the better of the Godolphin galloper.

Another international, Mourilyan, ran on late for third.

Brown had been booked to ride Vigor in the Cup but picked up the mount on Shocking when Vigor didn’t make the final field.

Sydney-based Brown said winning the Cup was a dream come true after seconds aboard Bauer, who was beaten by a nose by Viewed in a photo finish last year, and by Mr Prudent in 2002.

“Last year was very disappointing but I’ve got it,” Brown said.

“I’ve finally won the Melbourne Cup.

“My dream has come true, I can’t describe it, it’s unbelievable.

“Great job Mark Kavanagh and the horse, he travelled three deep with no cover, I know he had the light weight but he toughed it out so well.”

Melbourne punters going all out

Punters were not holding back with their bets on a blustery day at Flemington, with $11.6 million at stake by 10.30am (AEDT) by Victorians for the big race – ahead of the same time last year.

Gary Davies at TAB SportsBet were expecting a total exceeding $130 million across Victoria and NSW by the time the race started.

“The biggest bet we’ve had for the Cup today at fixed odds was $100,000 on Alcopop – so that punter stands to win $500,000,” Mr Davies told AAP.

Alcopop firmed into second favourite from $6.00 to $5.50 behind the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed.

But punters jumped on to another Cummings horse ahead of Shocking’s shocking win, rallying behind Roman Emperor.

The 8-1 Roman Emperor had more money put on him than Viewed.

Betting slow at Randwick

NSW bookmaker Colin Tidy said there was some early support for Allez Wonder, the outsider of master trainer Bart Cummings’ trio of runners at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

“They’ve mostly been betting around the favourites and generally the smaller punters don’t start betting early on the Cup, they’ll wait until just before the race,” Tidy said.

“Overall, it’s a lot quieter here than previous years but we had a professional punter put a good bet on Allez Wonder at $31.”

Cummings was represented by Viewed, the early favourite on the NSW totalisator, and AJC Derby winner Roman Emperor who is second pick ahead of Alcopop.

As revellers in Victoria arrived decked out in designer glory, New South Welsh fans celebrating the nation’s big race were warned not to get carried away with Cup-day barbecues, as a fire warning was put in place.

How they fared in full:

1. Shocking

2. Crime Scene

3. Mourilyan

4. Master O’Reilly

5. Harris Tweed

6. Alcopop

7. Viewed

8. C’est La Guerre

9. Kibbutz

10. Newport

11. Daffodil

12. Munsef

13. Gallions Reach

14. Leica Ding

15. Ista Kareem

16. Allez Wonder

17. Capecover

18. Basaltico

19. Zavite

20. Spin Around

21. Roman Emperor

22. Fiumicino

23 and last Warringah

Changingoftheguard scratched

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Matterson won’t go easy on Scotland

Terry Matterson was once selected to play for Scotland, but he will be doing his best to knock them out of the World Cup on Thursday night.


The former Castleford coach is in charge of the USA Tomahawks who have already qualified for the quarter-finals after winning both their group matches so far.

Their prize is a last-eight clash with tournament favourites Australia in Wrexham on November 16, but Matterson’s more immediate concern is their final group C fixture with Steve McCormack’s Scotland at Salford.

The Bravehearts, who have lived up their nickname by beating Tonga and holding Italy to a draw so far, need a win at the AJ Bell Stadium to keep alive their hopes of a quarter-final against holders New Zealand.

Matterson insists there will be no room for sentiment, despite having a soft spot for Scotland.

“I got picked to play for Scotland in 1998 when I was with London Broncos,” said the North Queensland assistant coach as he wrapped up the Tomahawks’ training session at Salford on Wednesday.

“But I tore my calf the weekend before. I was gutted. I actually went up there with (manager) George Fairbairn and spent a night in camp and then I left.

“My grandfather fought in the war for Scotland. That’s the reason I got a work visa, through my ancestry heritage.”

The pressure is off the Tomahawks after Cook Islands’ 22-16 defeat by Tonga on Tuesday night ensured they will top the group, but Matterson insists it will not change the mindset of his players.

“Our focus is on the Scotland game, we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” he said.

“There is no talk about what’s happening after that.”

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Bulgarian FA accused of leniency over Levski fine

A human rights organisation and local media were among those to criticise the governing body for the 3,000 levs (1,306 pounds) fine it gave the club after fans displayed huge banners reading “Death for the refugees” and “Blood will be shed for our land” during Sunday’s 4-1 league win over Pirin Gotse Delchev.


“I do not think that this fine is a deterrent,” Radoslav Stoyanov, an expert with the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, an independent non-governmental organisation for the protection of human rights, told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Such fines are merely symbolic and do not lead to a change in the situation. The BFU is definitely guilty for its passiveness,” Stoyanov said.

He added that it was a missed opportunity for the sport’s domestic governing body to stamp its authority on the issue and show that the football authorities would not tolerate racism.

Presa, one of the most popular newspapers in the Balkan country, said Levski had “escaped with a paltry fine” while other papers said the punishment was “pitiful” and “a disgrace”.

“The BFU’s disciplinary commission showed absurd criteria in determining the punishment for xenophobia at Bulgarian stadiums,” Presa wrote.

The sports editor of Capital newspaper, Georgi Filipov, told Reuters: “Toleration of such events at the stadiums is unacceptable at a time of growing fears and even acts of xenophobia to Syrian refugees and immigrants of Arab origin in Bulgaria.

“The BFU and some of the leading clubs play a dangerous game with the extremist fans.”

The number of refugees, mainly from Syria, in the European Union’s poorest country has increased drastically, reaching almost 9,000 this year.

Sports website www.topsport.bg asked: “BFU, are you serious?”, adding that the BFU disciplinary commission’s decision was “scandalous”.


Levski, who are 26-times Bulgarian champions and one of the country’s two most popular clubs alongside bitter city rivals CSKA, have a history of racism at their matches.

The BFU fined the club 37,500 levs after their supporters displayed a banner showing a swastika and another one marking what would have been Adolf Hitler’s birthday during their game at Litex Lovech in April.

The governing body also warned Levski racism would not be tolerated and that they faced a much bigger punishment if such behaviour happened again.

The BFU has also previously warned clubs that match officials would be able to abandon league games in the event of racist behaviour by fans.

Levski were fined 30,000 euros ($40,400) by UEFA in September 2012 after fans brandished a racist banner and insulted the visiting team’s players during their Europa League match against Sarajevo.

“I don’t go to Levski matches anymore because of such things,” said Levski fan Yordan Mihaylov.

“Well, the April punishment was a yellow card shown by the BFU but they committed another foul and this sanction is something like an encouragement rather than a red card. It’s a ridiculous decision.”

The BFU, who described the incident as “unacceptable” on its website (www.bfunion.bg), was unavailable for comment when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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Villas-Boas defends Tottenham medics over Lloris treatment

Lloris, who returned to training on Wednesday, collided with Everton’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku in the latter stages of the Premier League stalemate and played on after pitchside medical checks.


The former Olympique Lyon keeper is expected to play for Tottenham against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League on Thursday.

“I stand absolutely by the decision I took and I stand by the decision that the medical department took following the checks they made on the player, all according to the book,” Villas-Boas told a news conference on Wednesday.

“I stand by the decision that gave us the green light for the player to continue.”

The former Chelsea boss added that club doctor Shabaaz Mughal and physio Geoff Scott had helped to save the life of Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba when he suffered a cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane in March 2012.

“Two people in the medical department that two years ago saved the life of a footballer on the pitch have been completely forgotten, poorly treated, badly respected by lots of opinion makers,” he said.

Villas-Boas, who managed Lukaku when he was in charge at Stamford Bridge, questioned whether the striker could have done more to avoid hurting Lloris.

“I want to believe that Lukaku’s leg was not left to clash into Hugo’s head,” he said.

“I find it remarkable that nobody has dedicated themselves to find out if the player could have avoided the goalkeeper and I’m disappointed that Lukaku hasn’t contacted Hugo.

“I don’t want to question Lukaku. He’s a young player and is wonderfully gifted but I think he could have jumped over Lloris.”

(Reporting by Mark Young; editing by Toby Davis)

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Aussie McLean eyes Italy’s biggest win

Fate has put Luke McLean on a collision course with old Aussie teammates as he aims to celebrate his 50th Test cap with the “biggest victory in Italian history” this weekend.


McLean will line up against the Wallabies for the sixth time in his Azzurri career in Turin, seven years after playing with Will Genia and Nick Cummins for the Australian Under-19s.

He’s also expected to be bombarded at fullback or on the wing by one-time Brisbane Souths clubmate Quade Cooper, who’ll be launching attacking bombs for Israel Folau.

But if McLean and his Italian teammates can rise to the occasion at Stadio Olympico on Sunday morning (AEDT), he staunchly believes they can continue the Wallabies’ annus horribilis.

Australia have never lost to Italy in 15 meetings but, after a 3-8 record in 2013, they find themselves vulnerable against a team that upset both France and Ireland in this year’s Six Nations.

As big as those home wins were, McLean says the Azzurri’s first “Tri-Nations” scalp would be more meritorious.

“It would probably be the biggest victory in Italian history,” he said.

“To take the scalp of the fourth-best team in the world, and the Wallabies – who have won the World Cup twice – everyone knows the importance and how difficult it will be to come away with the win.”

Under Frenchman Jaques Brunel, Italy have closed the gap against the top nations and Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper believes the powerful Azzurri pack will be licking their lips.

Italy almost stole a win against Australia last year before falling 22-19, and finishing off rivals is now their big focus post-Six Nations.

“We obviously have to prove to ourselves, and the Italian public as well, that we are on the right track,” the lanky back said.

“The best way to do it is win those close games.”

But McLean doesn’t view Australia as a wounded beast ready to be picked off easily by smaller animals.

“You have to put it into perspective, (New Zealand and South Africa) are playing top-notch rugby and Australia has definitely improved since the season has gone on,” he said.

“They are a quality team and we have to be on our game because if you give their backs a bit of room they can run riot and we saw that in Argentina (54-16).”

Townsville-born McLean, who qualifies to play for the Azzurri through an Italian grandmother, hasn’t looked back since leaving Perth in late 2007.

He found it strange to hear the Australian national anthem the first time he played the Wallabies, but now he’s unfazed.

“Once you get out on the field it’s 15 vs 15 and you see them as the opposition and you want blood,” he said.

“After being in Italy for so long now (I’m more Italian), even my girlfriend keeps telling me I’m losing my English.”

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Administration ‘untruthful’ on Obamacare

US senators have unloaded fresh attacks on the Obama administration’s handling of the rollout of the new health care law, with one Republican accusing officials of being “untruthful” about its impact.


Five weeks into the rocky launch of the website through which millions of Americans are expected to register for health insurance, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced criticism that the Affordable Care Act was putting the entire health care system in jeopardy.

Last week Sebelius apologised to the nation for what she acknowledged was a “miserable” start to the HealthCare.gov and on Wednesday she again took the blame, saying “I am focused on fixing it, and I’m accountable.”

She insisted, however, that the law was already working well for millions by no longer allowing insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, imposing coverage caps, or charging women more for health care.

But Senator Orrin Hatch and other Finance Committee Republicans pointed to higher insurance costs, and thousands of consumers getting notices that their existing plans were being dropped, despite Obama’s pledge that consumers who liked their policies could keep them.

“Put simply, there is a long track record of broken promises and untruthful answers to both this committee and the American people with respect to how this law would work and the impact it would have,” Hatch told Sebelius at a committee hearing.

“I hope that will stop today. No more caveats, no more excuses, no more spin. Just give us the truth,” he said.

The White House has been under fire for weeks about the botched website debut, with Republicans accusing the administration of obfuscating potential pitfalls in order to press ahead with Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Republicans demanded that Sebelius explain why she and others insisted the website, HealthCare.gov, go live on October 1 despite insufficient testing and warnings in August by inspectors in her own Health and Human Services Department who said there were critical security and privacy issues that required attention.

But Sebelius said noone suggested that the risks outweighed the importance of moving forward.

Committee chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, joined in the frustration, asking “why keep limping along” instead of temporarily shutting down the troubled website until the kinks are worked out.

“We’ve been advised that that actually doesn’t help,” Sebelius responded, saying “it’s better to do routine upgrades” while the system is running.

Authorities have created a “punch list” of priorities for getting the website up to full speed by the end of November as promised and Sebelius said her teams have identified “a couple of hundred functional fixes” that take priority.

Obama, in a bid to counter the stream of criticism, travels on Wednesday to Texas to highlight the role of volunteers who help consumers enrol through the health care exchanges.

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Iraq attacks kill 15, mostly police

A suicide bomber has detonated an oil tanker rigged with explosives at a police station north of Baghdad, killing seven policemen, while attacks elsewhere left eight dead.


Iraq is mired in its worst violence since 2008, with more than 5,500 people killed this year despite major military operations targeting insurgents and tightened security measures.

In Wednesday’s deadliest attack, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-rigged tanker in front of police station in Muqdadiyah, in restive Diyala province, and detonated it at the entrance, police and a doctor said.

The attack killed seven people and wounded 11 others, all police, and caused massive damage to the station.

The bombing is the latest in a string of attacks targeting police in the past week in Kirkuk, Salaheddin and Diyala provinces.

Elsewhere in Iraq, attacks on police killed three others.

In Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a policeman and wounded two others, while a gun attack left a policeman dead in the province’s north.

In Baghdad, a policeman was shot dead while on patrol in the Shi’ite slum neighbourhood of Sadr City, while two roadside bombs in the capital left three others dead, including an anti-Qaeda militiaman.

From late 2006 onwards, Sunni tribal militias, known as the Sahwa, turned against their co-religionists in Al-Qaeda and sided with the US military, helping to turn the tide of Iraq’s bloody insurgency.

But Sunni militants view them as traitors and frequently target them. The government has increasingly turned to Sahwa fighters as it combats a surge in unrest.

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, two separate shootings killed two civilians, officials said.

The level of violence in the country rose sharply after security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq in April, sparking clashes in which dozens died.

Authorities have made some concessions aimed at placating the protesters and the Sunni minority in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of the Sahwa.

But Sunnis insist they are still marginalised by the Shi’ite-led government and unfairly targeted by security forces.

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Rob Ford: a hedonist, populist mayor

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, plunged into a scandal over his crack use, is a colourful character, known as much for his drunken public antics as for his populist anti-tax stance.


In confessing to having once smoked crack cocaine – albeit “probably in one of my drunken stupors” – the rambunctious mayor of Canada’s largest city appeared unusually contrite.

Since he was elected in 2010, Rob Ford has starred in multiple escapades, most linked to his admitted abuse of alcohol.

Born on May 28, 1969 in a suburb of Toronto, a commercial and financial hub on the shores of Lake Ontario, Ford is the youngest of two brothers and a sister in a relatively wealthy family.

His older brother Doug is his most loyal supporter at the municipal council, where they are separated by just a few chairs.

At 28 years old, he ran for the first time for Toronto’s municipal council, winning a seat three years later and elected mayor a decade later.

As a politician, Ford’s strategy has been to promote a populist agenda.

Strongly linked to the right, like his father, he is close to the conservatives at both the federal and provincial levels.

At the heart of his agenda is a populist defence of city taxpayers, a stance that has won him diehard support among a section of sub-urban voters now jokingly dubbed the “Ford Nation.”

After he was caught reading work documents while driving his own car, police encouraged him to accept a driver for his own security and the safety of others on the road.

“I think that’s a waste of taxpayer’s money,” the mayor retorted.

“A million people a day go to work in the city and they drive. They drive themselves. I don’t see why I am any different.”

His many binges also have made him a target, but he has steadfastly brushed off criticism, along with drunk driving and marijuana possession charges in Florida during a break from his 1999 mayoral campaign.

The admission of crack use may be Ford’s most embarrassing crisis to date, but he says he believes in redemption.

His polling numbers remain strong and he has pledged to win back the trust and support of Torontonians ahead of his next year’s re-election bid.

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Cherry-Evans starts again for Kangaroos

Daly Cherry-Evans has been handed another chance to impress at the Rugby League World Cup, this time alongside the man he one day hopes to replace as Kangaroos halfback.


Manly star Cherry-Evans will make a second successive start for Australia after being named in the side to face Ireland in Limerick on Saturday.

The 24-year-old impressed at halfback alongside Johnathan Thurston in the win over Fiji last week and will shift to five-eighth to partner first-choice No.7 Cronk, who returns after being rested.

It comes as part of Tim Sheens’ continued squad rotation and the Kangaroos coach has made seven changes to the side that defeated Fiji 34-2 in St Helens.

Billy Slater, Brett Morris, Brent Tate, Greg Bird and Sam Thaiday all return to the side while first-choice stars Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and Darius Boyd join Thurston in being rested.

Sheens is set to pick his best 17 for the finals and Cherry-Evans is unlikely to unseat either Cronk or Thurston in the starting side.

However, another strong showing by the Clive Churchill medallist against Ireland will enhance his claims for a utility spot on the bench, with Sheens confirming he and Robbie Farah were involved in a live selection battle.

Farah has been named on the bench for the third straight match and Sheens said it was critical both players were getting game time in case injury struck later in the tournament.

“We don’t want to have an issue down the track and have anyone who’s not played any football. They’ve got to be playing,” Sheens said.

“The halves have understood that, even though they’re very competitive. Cooper and Johnathan would love to play every game.

“At the end of the day, it’s for the good of the squad.

“But obviously after the pool games I’m going to be more selective and I’m going to get down to the nitty gritty through the quarter-finals and hopefully past that.”

Captain Cameron Smith starts at hooker for the third straight match, denying Paul Gallen a chance to captain his country for the first time.

Gallen will also play a third successive match, named at prop, but both he and Smith will spend some time on the bench.

“I start with the skipper because he steadies the ship,” Sheens said of Smith, who played only a half game against Fiji.

“I’m giving him some rest in that respect, but I’m also ticking him along and making sure he gets us to where we need to go.”

Others playing a third straight game are front rower James Tamou and interchange forward Andrew Fifita.

Boyd Cordner will start on the bench after making his debut against Fiji and appears in pole position to claim the interchange forward spot vacated by injured backrower Luke Lewis.

Twins Josh and Brett Morris start next to each other for the third time in the green and gold while Smith and Corey Parker will likely share the goalkicking duties in Thurston’s absence.

Australia: Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne, Brent Tate, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk, Paul Gallen, Cameron Smith (capt), James Tamou, Greg Bird, Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles. Interchange: Boyd Cordner, Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Corey Parker, Josh Papalii, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Jennings. (three to be omitted).

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I was wrong to use cancer to boost image, says Armstrong

“It’s inexcusable; it’s embarrassing to hear that,” said Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from cycling for life last year after accusations that he had cheated.


“Those are the moments you’d do anything to take back or say something different, or erase it,” added Armstrong, who in January admitted to years of using performance-enhancing drugs to help him in cycling.

“A statement like that, what it would have signified or the confidence it would have given to the community that matters, the cancer community, they took stuff like that to heart,” Armstrong told the website in an interview being published over several days.

“In my mind that’s where the foul there is times one thousand.”

Armstrong said the story of his battle against cancer built him up into a hero and he gladly sheltered behind it as he aggressively denied repeated doping allegations.

“It was a cancer survivor who was two years out of diagnosis winning the hardest sport in the world,” he told the website in an extract published on Wednesday.

“I can see why that became such a story and one turns to two and the story just builds and builds.

“Hence the reason why so much of the fallout has been so drastic. If you’re just a guy who wins the Tour seven times with no ‘story’, the fallout isn’t the same. A lot of that’s my fault. I accept responsibility for being so aggressive and stern when it came to the denials. It was a tremendous mistake. That took the fall and doubled it.”

Armstrong said he had eventually backed himself into a corner with his constant denials of doping.

“Once you say no once you’re stuck with no. So you just keep saying no,” he said. “It would have been better to have been more passive in a press conference.

“It’s one thing to not comment and get out of that question as soon as you can. It’s a whole different thing to be confrontational and combative, which was what I was.”

(Writing by Clare Fallon in London; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Departing FECCA chair holds fears for multiculturalism

The outgoing chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia says he has serious concerns about the direction of multicultural affairs under the Abbott government.


Pino Migliorino says the federal government’s migration policy, stigmatisation of asylum seekers and lack of ministerial representation for multicultural affairs are key issues.

His criticism comes on the eve of FECCA’s biennial conference on the Gold Coast starting tomorrow.

Mr Migliorino told Stefan Armbruster he hopes the conference will highlight multicultural issues often eclipsed by the asylum seeker debate.

(Click on the audio tab to listen to the full interview)

For four years Pino Migliorino has been the chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia, the country’s peak body for multicultural affairs.


During that time under the Rudd government he regularly spoke out against its policies affecting multicultural communities.


His concerns have not changed with the recently elected Abbott government.


“Leading right from the top I’m concerned about the migration program and the continual stigmatisation of asylum-seekers,” he says.

“We’re very keen for the government to reconsider its position on the migration of people with disabilities. There are many, many wonderful families who could make a great contribution to Australia but because they have a child in the family who has a disability they’re barred from accessing it.

“All of that is probably wrapped up in a far larger discussion which we wanted to have with the government which is about the positioning of multiculturalism and the appropriate status of ethnic communities within the civil society structures of Australia.”


Shortly after the Coalition was elected, FECCA proposed again the introduction of a Multicultural Act to enshrine services for ethnic communities in law.


“A Multicultural Act would not only deliver that but would be a really strong statement from government to an Australia which is predominantly migrant-based that the words Australia and diversity are indeed one and the same.”


But the response has been muted and Pino Migliorino fears the sector could fall victim to cuts.


“Yeah after long consideration I think it’s something both sides of politics have been quite negative about but I think the reality is we can’t rely on the whim of government to build or take away the infrastructure that is necessary for a culturally diverse society.”


Another source of concern is that the Abbott government has no minister for multicultural affairs.


Neither did the Rudd government when it was elected in 2007, but it did have a cabinet minister and two parliamentary secretaries with multicultural responsibilities when it went to the polls this year.


Mr Migliorino would like to see cabinet representation again.


“We have a fine parliamentary secretary in this area, Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells, she reports to a senior minister, the minister for social services.

“She has indicated already her willingness to engage with and champion many of these issues. We’re seeking opportunities with other ministers and the prime minister himself.”


But for now there’s a feeling the message is being almost totally overshadowed by the asylum-seeker debate.


“I think what’s happening is not some much that there’s frustration that those discussions are taking place, but that they take place at the exclusion of other discussions.”


As for moderation in the asylum-seeker debate, Mr Migliorino says he doesn’t like the direction the Abbott government is heading.


“I don’t think you can have it both ways,” he says.

“I don’t think you can go really hard on irregular maritime arrivals and asylum-seekers, and at the same time reduce the number of offshore refugees from the UNHCR, because the federal government has indicated that is reducing that number from 20,000 to 13,750. Something needs to give, something needs to be a bit more humane, a bit more engaging.”


The FECCA conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland runs until Friday, and on Saturday a new chair will be elected.

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