Al-Shabab says Kenya bus massacre was revenge attack

Jan 31 2019

Somalia’s Shabab Islamists have ambushed a bus in Kenya and executed 28 non-Muslim passengers in what they say is revenge for police raids on mosques in the troubled port of Mombasa.

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“I can confirm … that 28 innocent travellers were brutally executed by the Shabab,” regional police chief Noah Mwavinda told AFP.

The bus, which was headed for the capital Nairobi, was ambushed on Saturday shortly after departing from Mandera, a town on the border with Somalia in Kenya’s northeast.

Some 60 passengers on board were ordered off the vehicle, and the gunmen separated the travellers into Muslims and non-Muslims.

The militants then had the non-Muslims reboard the bus and tried to drive off with them, but the vehicle got stuck.

“So they executed their prisoners” before escaping back into Somalia, Mwavinda said.

A Shabab spokesman said the deadly attack was in revenge for raids this week on four Mombasa mosques that hiked simmering tensions in the city.

“The Mujahedeen successfully carried out an operation near Mandera early this morning, which resulted in the perishing of 28 crusaders, as a revenge for the crimes committed by the Kenyan crusaders against our Muslim brethren in Mombasa,” Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement sent to AFP.

Police closed the four mosques in Mombasa, a largely Muslim city, on the grounds they had come under the influence of hardliners.

A 25-year-old passenger on the bus, who asked to be identified only as Ibrahim, told AFP that the vehicle came under fire several times after leaving Mandera, leaving one passenger dead.

The driver was finally forced to stop by the group of around 70 assailants, he said.

Ibrahim said the passengers were divided into Muslim and non-Muslim groups and he witnessed the execution of two non-Muslim passengers, who were shot in the head.

Kenya has suffered a series of attacks since invading Somalia in 2011 to attack the Shabab, later joining an African Union force battling the Islamists.

The Shabab carried out the September 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, killing at least 67 people, as a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of southern Somalia.

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Ferguson braces for decision on charges

Jan 31 2019

The father of a black US teenager killed by police in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson has sought to ease tensions as protesters stepped up calls for a grand jury to charge the white officer responsible.

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The predominantly African American community has been on edge over the jury’s expected decision.

US President Barack Obama has called for calm, Missouri’s governor declared a state of emergency and the FBI deployed extra personnel.

But contrary to days of speculation, US media reported that no decision would come this weekend, with the jury only expected to reconvene on Monday at the earliest.

The jury can either indict police officer Darren Wilson, meaning he could face trial for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, or determine there is no case for him to answer.

Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr, and his wife Cal distributed Thanksgiving turkeys in the neighbourhood the killing sparked weeks of protests, some of them violent.

“I feel like I just had to do this,” Brown Sr told AFP, wearing a T-shirt with a picture of his son on the front and the caption, “Gone to Soon.”

Visibly upset, Brown Sr embraced journalists and community members, but stopped short of commenting on the grand jury decision that has put Ferguson on edge.

“Everyone is suffering over this. This is painful for everyone, especially this community. I just feel this was needed so I came to do that, to make sure that people have a nice Thanksgiving,” he said.

Earlier in the week, he appealed for restraint in a sombre video plea. “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” he said.

His son’s killing inflamed racial tensions in mostly black St Louis suburb of 21,000 with an overwhelmingly white police force and town government.

On Saturday night, 15 to 20 protesters braved the rain to stage a spirited demonstration for around an hour, dancing to the beat of a young drummer, waving a US flag and demanding justice.

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Coach Meyer draws positives from Boks’ scrappy win in Italy

Jan 31 2019

The Springboks laboured to a 22-6 victory in a game in which the home side were in contention going into the final 10 minutes before the Boks pulled away with a late try from Bryan Habana.

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The positives for Meyer were few with too many handling errors, turnovers conceded and lost set-pieces, though he was pleased with the defensive display and the manner in which the Boks dominated the scrums with a second-string front-row.

“I’m very happy with the result and fact that we didn’t concede any tries and no points in the second half,” Meyer told reporters. “I’ll always prefer a try-count of 3-0 instead of 5-3.

“I’m very proud of the way in which they came through, especially in the scrums, where Trevor (Nyakane), in his first start, Coenie (Oosthuizen) and Julian (Redelinghuys) were part of a dominant performance against a very good Italian scrum.

“The same goes for Johan (Goosen), playing at fullback in a test for the first time, while I thought Nizaam {Carr) made a big impact when he came on.”

Meyer knew that winning the World Cup next year will at times mean substance over style and would not have been unhappy to see his side put under such pressure, yet grab the win.

“It was always going to be a scrappy affair and it’s never easy playing away from home against a very passionate Italian side,” he said.

“The Italians had a proper go and they deserve a lot of credit for their performance. But our guys stuck to their guns and pulled it through when it mattered most.”

Captain Jean de Villiers felt the Boks showed their quality in patches but admitted they would have to improve for next weekend’s clash in Wales.

“We put in a big performance against a fired up team and while there is always room for improvement, I thought we played some great rugby at times,” De Villiers said.

“We have one week left in our season and everyone involved knows the test against Wales in Cardiff next weekend will be a massive challenge — we’ll be going all out to finish 2014 on a high.”

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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Philippines hunts down suspects

Sep 30 2019

The small band of primarily armed forces officers who seized a luxury hotel yesterday to demand the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo were bundled off by police after a lightning raid, but officials said others were involved.

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National police chief Avelino Razon said documents found in the debris of the Peninsula Hotel, which SWAT teams stormed in a hail of gunfire and tear gas to end the stand-off, indicated “four groups” took part in the mutiny.

He declined to give details but said one of the renegade officers seen taking over the hotel had managed to get away despite an overnight curfew imposed in the Philippine capital after the rebels surrendered.

“We are looking for him,” Razon told local radio. “We don't know how he escaped.”

Meanwhile the president's national security adviser, Noberto Gonzales, said up to 20 other people who were not part of the hotel siege were under investigation, including businessmen said to have financed the rebellion.

“Some of them are businessmen but I do not want to be hasty by naming names,” Gonzales was quoted as saying in the local press.

Arroyo has faced repeated coup attempts since taking power in 2001, and many of the people involved in Thursday's mutiny had come directly from a court hearing into their involvement in a 2003 coup attempt.

Razon said some of them were the “usual suspects” from previous attempts to bring down the government in the Philippines, where the military, big business and the Catholic church all hold powerful sway over national political life.

The armed forces can make or break a president, and the leaders of yesterday's uprising — Navy Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes and Brigadier General Danilo Lim — had appealed to the rest of the military to join them.

Instead, after the rebels ignored a deadline to surrender, armoured personnel carriers smashed into the hotel lobby and elite troops poured inside, unleashing volleys of weapons fire and tear gas.

The rebels swiftly surrendered, and no one was reported injured in the raid.

“This armed undertaking had failure written all over it,” said the

Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of many newspapers that lambasted the renegades for their actions.

Despite the rebellion's failure to attract large numbers of supporters onto the streets, however, it appeared to have been well-organised.

Police did not stop the rebels on their way toward the hotel, witnesses said, and a detailed website appeared as the uprising was launched that included harsh criticisms of the state of the nation under Arroyo.

Among those found with the rebels were at least one prominent Catholic bishop as well as a former Philippine vice president and vocal Arroyo critic, Teofisto Guingona.

The Philippines has been benefitting from a strong economy of late but poverty and corruption continue to plague the Southeast Asian nation, which is made up of more than 7,000 islands.

Arroyo has been repeatedly accused of stealing her 2004 election after tapes emerged of her talking to an election commission official while the votes were being counted.

On their website, 南宁夜网.sundalo.bravehost广西桑拿,, the rebels said the president was “destroying” this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country of around 90 million people.

“The economy, the rule of law and the moral order lie in ruins,” they said.

“The entire system has broken down, thanks to a president whose legitimacy is denied by the vast majority of our people.”

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McKew declares victory in Bennelong

Sep 30 2019

The political career of outgoing prime minister John Howard is officially over, with Ms McKew on Saturday making history by claiming victory in the northern Sydney seat.

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Despite leading Mr Howard from the outset, Ms McKew had been reluctant to claim victory, repeatedly saying it was too close to call.

Even at her election function last Saturday in North Ryde, as her jubilant supporters screamed for her to call it, Ms McKew held back, saying Bennelong was on a knife edge.

But on Saturday at Gladesville Public School the former ABC journalist finally called Bennelong for Labor – the first time it has been out of Liberal hands since being established in 1949.

“One week after the polls opened I can now say that in Bennelong we are 2,100 votes ahead, we have 51.25 per cent of the two party vote, so we are comfortably ahead,” Ms McKew said.

“I can formally say that Bennelong is now a Labor seat for the first time.”

Her statement made official the end of Mr Howard’s illustrious political career, which began in 1974 when he first won the seat.

It is only the second time in history that a sitting prime minister has lost his seat.

In a blot on his copybook, Mr Howard joins Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who was unceremoniously dumped in 1929.

Mr Howard has yet to officially concede the seat, however on election night last Saturday the outgoing PM admitted it was very likely he would lose his grip on Bennelong.

Ms McKew said she was not disappointed Mr Howard nor his office hadn’t formally relinquished the electorate, instead paying tribute to his 33 years in public office.

“Mr Howard and his family clearly had a huge amount to do this week,” said Ms McKew, who on Thursday was named parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and cabinet.

“I would like to acknowledge John Howard’s long years of public service – he gave 30 years to public life.”

Ms McKew said she had been swept into office by a uniform swing to Labor in Bennelong, which showed many people in the electorate had voted for the party for the first time.

“We saw swings in every single booth bar one (and) we had an overall swing of five per cent,” she said.

“To give you some idea of the scale of what the Labor Party has achieved in Bennelong, the primary vote at the 2004 election was around 28 per cent, our primary vote this time was around 44 to 45 per cent.

“That is a huge increase in Labor’s primary vote … and for me to see swings in places like Carlingford, Epping, Lyon Park and Eastwood … tells me people have voted Labor for the first time.”

Ms McKew said some voters may have felt neglected by Mr Howard in recent years, causing them to change allegiances.

“There was definitely a little bit of cynicism, I have to say, at the high level of visibility of Mr Howard in recent months,” Ms McKew said.

“People saw that as something of a contrast to what had gone before.”

She declined to comment on claims made by former treasurer Peter Costello, who on Friday night said the coalition would have performed better had Mr Howard handed over power.

“The fact is that didn’t happen and the Liberal Party are doing a lot of soul searching, but I’ll leave them to do that,” she said.

Ms McKew was “thrilled to bits” with her appointment as a parliamentary secretary, saying her swearing in on Monday would be a “spectacular honour”.

She promised the voters of Bennelong an energetic and visible member.

“As I campaigned in Bennelong (I said) I would be a strong voice for Bennelong,” Ms McKew said.

“That strong voice will be right there in the prime minister’s office.

“They have this assurance from me that I will serve them as energetically, as conscientiously as I can over the next three years.”

Comment is being sought from Mr Howard.

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Rates likely to rise in February

Sep 30 2019

The board of the central bank meets to discuss monetary policy in Sydney on Tuesday, and its decision will be announced on Wednesday.

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A clear majority of 19 economists surveyed by AAP believe the RBA will wait until after the release of December quarter consumer price index (CPI) data in January 2008 before tightening monetary policy in February.

The board does not meet in January.

Rate hike expected

Some 16 economists expect the RBA to hike rates by a quarter of a percentage point to seven per cent in February, while five expect to see another rise by the end of the June quarter to 7.25 per cent.

Westpac senior economist Andrew Hanlan says inflationary pressures were still evident in the economy, adding weight to the case for further rate hikes.

“The risk is the interest rate rises to date will be insufficient to temper those pressures,” Mr Hanlan says.

The central bank has already lifted the key cash rate twice in 2007, with last move in November to 6.75 per cent from 6.50 per cent.

Credit market fears

Mr Hanlan believes the RBA will raise interest rates in February and tighten further in the June quarter.

He says ongoing concerns about conditions in global credit markets, the US housing market slowdown and the state of the global economy could delay action by the RBA.

But the risks to domestic inflation remain firmly on the upside.

Inflation

“Core inflation in the last couple of quarters has been running at a 3.7 per cent annualised pace … and we think the risk is we'll seen another unacceptably high number released in January, thus forcing the Reserve Bank to act in February,” he says.

“We're expecting the CPI result next quarter will again force the RBA's hand.”

The RBA has said underlying inflation is likely to exceed the top end of its two and three per cent comfort band in 2008.

Effects of drought

JPMorgan chief economist Stephen Walters, who has also forecast a February rate rise, agrees that underlying inflation is set to worsen as the drought pushes up food prices, energy costs increase and rents continue to advance.

“Seven out of 10 of the top CPI items are going up,” he says.

“In our view, that means inflation is going to be above the (RBA's) target range for the next couple of quarters.

“During the past 18 months, when inflation has threatened the top of the target range, the RBA has raised interest rates.”

Brakes ‘on inflation’

But Grange Securities chief economist Stephen Roberts, who sees interest rates staying on hold through to the second half of 2008, said the global credit crunch would push up retail lending rates, helping to put a brake on inflation.

“The credit crunch is doing the work of the Reserve Bank,” he says.

Mr Roberts sees underlying inflation likely falling below three per cent in the second half of 2008, as global economic growth slows.

“Since November, the downside risk to global economic growth has become more pronounced,” he says.

Spending cut ‘likely’

“That will keep rates on hold.

“Inflation will be coming down in 2008 and 2009.”

Mr Roberts added that the incoming federal Labor government was likely to cut spending.

“It looks like the new Labor government is going to be intent on not adding pressure to interest rates,” he says.

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Gilchrist dismisses fears of rift

Sep 30 2019

Adam Gilchrist insists Australia's cricketers are not trying to be “rebels” and will toe the company line when it comes to playing in the Indian Premier League.

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The Test vice-captain confirmed today he was one of about a dozen top-level players to receive a letter from Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland warning them against playing in next year's lucrative IPL Twenty20 tournament without CA's consent.

Gilchrist denied he or any other player was trying to bend the rules of their CA contract by signing a memorandum of understanding with the IPL, and insisted any such tournament would always come second to playing international cricket.

Dismiss concerns over split

The wicket-keeper said he did not view the letter as being the start of a “stand-off” between the players and CA, and dismissed fears Australian cricket was on the verge of the game's biggest split since Kerry Packer launched World Series Cricket 30 years ago.

“I think it's pretty dramatic to draw comparisons between the Twenty20 revolution and World Series Cricket all those years ago,” said Gilchrist, who added he had already spoken to Sutherland about the matter a few weeks ago after receiving the letter.

“World Series Cricket was quite dramatic, and there was a lot of bad blood around at that time, from what I've learned, but it's far from that at the moment.

‘Consent’

“No one will play (in the IPL) without consent.

“We're not trying to be rebels here. It's a new opportunity for cricketers and it's a very exciting one that I know Cricket Australia are endorsing and encouraging.

“We're not looking for a moment to bend the rules or our contracts with Cricket Australia. They are our employer, as simple as that.

‘Abide by rules’

“We'll abide by their rules at all times and we're not trying to bend those rules what so all.

“If the opportunity comes up to play IPL, which a lot of us have signed a MOU to allow us to do, (we will play) but that will always be secondary to international cricket and playing for our country.

“I don't see (the letter) as a stand off or a threat. It's simply them (CA) stating exactly what their position is, and making sure that everyone is fully aware of it.”

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Swan warns over ‘international storm clouds’

Aug 30 2019

The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute monthly inflation gauge for November released yesterday ose by a further 0.

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3 per cent for an annual rate of 3.4 per cent, well above the Reserve Bank's two to three per cent target range.

Mr Swan says he is adamant Labor's election promises would be implemented – including $31 billion in tax cuts – despite concerns public spending was fuelling inflation.

Dealing with inflation ‘a priority’

“Dealing with inflationary pressures in the economy is our number one priority,” he told ABC television.

“But we can also meet our election commitments because expanding the productive capacity of the economy is very important … in terms of the fight against inflation.”

Labor's agenda of lifting workplace participation, investing in skills and removing infrastructure bottlenecks would all help put downward pressure on inflation, he says.

‘Discipline’

“But over and above that, strict budget discipline is very important.”

Mr Swan says he took inflation warnings very seriously and was determined to find further savings in government spending.

“We are very serious – very serious indeed – about strict budget discipline, and that does mean making savings in the budgetary process and it also means redirecting some of those savings to vital expenditure which lifts the productive capacity of the economy,” he says.

RBA meets today

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is widely tipped to keep official interest rates steady after today's final board meeting of the year.

But economists say homebuyers should be prepared for another increase when the RBA board next meets in February with little sign of inflation pressures being curbed as yet.

The central bank raised its official cash rate to 6.75 per cent last month, the second increase this year and 10th since 2002.

Optimistic despite international pressures

Mr Swan acknowledged “international storm clouds” were a possibility on the economic horizon, but says he is optimistic about Australia's outlook.

“We've got to do as much as we possibly can to make this economy as productive as it can be to insulate ourselves from the fallout of what occurs internationally,” he says.

Commercial banks continue to threaten to independently raise their mortgage rates because of their own higher borrowing costs on world markets due to the lingering fallout from the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market earlier this year.

Whether that increase is passed on to clients is up to the individual distributors.

‘Re-engagement’

Mr Swan pledged to involve Treasury more closely in policy areas such as education, skills, infrastructure and federal-state reform.

“It would be, I think, true to say that they haven't been as listened to in recent years as they should be,” he says.

“The Treasury has been locked out of the process. I think it's very important that they get re-engaged.”

The treasurer also warned banks against using the US sub-prime mortgage crisis as an excuse to lift interest rates in the absence of an official increase.

Urges banks to be cautious

“I would urge all of the banks to take great care and great caution. Because there have been six interest rate rises on the trot a lot of people out there are (under) financial pressure,” Mr

Swan says.

“I would urge all of our banks to think very long and very hard before they (go) putting up rates.”

Mr Swan says he will attend the Bali climate conference for talks on the economic impact of global warming.

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Thousands expected at Banton's state funeral

Aug 30 2019

Thousands of people are expected to honour the life and accomplishments of Bernie Banton when he is farewelled at a state funeral at Sydney's 21,000 seat Acer Arena, at Olympic Park today.

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Flags will be at half mast on all NSW government buildings today to mark the passing of the campaigner, who took on corporate giant James Hardie to win compensation for asbestos disease sufferers.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said flags will be flown at half mast in a sign of respect usually reserved for those who have held public office.

“As a mark of respect the Australian flag and the NSW State flag will be flown at half mast on all NSW government buildings and establishments all day on Wednesday,” Mr Iemma said.

Mr Banton already suffered asbestosis when he was diagnosed in August with peritoneal mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, and died surrounded by his family in Sydney last Tuesday.

He contracted his asbestos-related diseases while working in a James Hardie factory in western Sydney for six years in the 1960s and 70s.

Of Mr Banton's 137 workmates at the plant at the time, only a handful are still alive.

Mr Banton campaigned successfully to force the company to pay compensation to thousands of Australian workers and their families.

Five days before his death, James Hardie agreed to a confidential payout to settle Mr Banton's second compensation claim against the company.

Three weeks before his death, in the middle of the federal election campaign, Mr Banton won his fight to have the expensive palliative drug Alimta subsidised by the government.

And just a day after his death, construction started on a $12 million facility to fight asbestos diseases at Sydney's Concord Hospital. It is named in his honour.

Tomorrow's funeral begins at 10.30am (AEDT).

RailCorp will put on extra train services from Lidcombe to Sydney Olympic Park between 9am (AEDT) and 2pm.

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Aussies slipping against OECD students

Aug 30 2019

The study, which examined the classroom performance of 400,000 15-year-old students in OECD nations between July and September this year, showed the Australians performed above the OECD average but have slipped in two of three main academic areas.

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The results were dragged down by poor performances by indigenous students and those from a low socio-economic background, Fairfax newspapers reported today.

Students' reading, mathematic and scientific literacy were tested in the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment, released yesterday.

Only Finland, Hong Kong and Canada significantly outperformed Australia.

Australian students improved their ranking in scientific literacy, rising from fifth place in the last survey to fourth.

But their comparative reading ability declined, with Australian students in sixth place for reading literacy levels, down from second in 2000 and third in 2003.

Victoria was the worst performing mainland state. Its results were above the OECD average, but it ranked sixth in the country in each of the three test areas, beating only Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

“Something is happening in Victoria that's making Victoria perform at a lower level than NSW,” Geoff Masters, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Educational Research, told Fairfax.

“It's probably not starting age or the year that they transfer from primary to secondary school.

“The question we should be asking is: Is it something to do with the quality of teaching? Maybe not. Is it something to do with the curriculum? We don't know

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Economy 'at full stretch'

Aug 30 2019

Economists warn the national accounts data due to be released today will show Australia's economy is too strong for its own good.

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The September quarter national accounts, containing the all important gross domestic product (GDP) reading, will be released just hours after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announces if it has decided to lift interest rates.

Economists expect GDP accelerated 1.0 per cent in the three months to September, lifting the annual rate to a racy 4.8 per cent.

But it is widely forecast that the RBA will hold off any decision on rates until February.

Access Economics director Chris Richardson says the national accounts are the most comprehensive measure of how the Australian economy is going.

“It will give us essentially the good news that the Australian economy is growing fast, that we've been been picking up for a while and even though the drought remains a rotten one, the Australian economy is growing at speed,” he told ABC Radio.

But Mr Richardson warned the economy could be growing too fast.

“We have a problem of too much success at the moment – too much demand chasing around the Australian economy … our problem now is we are already at full stretch.”

Westpac senior economist Anthony Thompson agrees.

“We're expecting growth of 1.0 per cent for the quarter – that'd give you an annual rate getting close to five per cent now and that's clearly in our view beyond the long term speed limits of growth for our economy before you ignite inflation figures,” he told ABC Radio.

Dr Shane Oliver from AMP Capital Investors said there were other concerns too.

“Also just as worryingly the trade imbalance – in other words the gap between imports and exports – is running at about the worst it's ever been,” he told ABC radio.

Dr Oliver said the new Australian government should put its focus on tightening fiscal policy.

“I think the most important thing the new government can do on fiscal policy is look for savings,” he said.

“Obviously the government will be keen to fulfill their election promises but if they can find savings to reduce the amount of fiscal stimulus going into the economy, I think that would take a lot of pressure of the Reserve Bank.”

Labor's promised $31 billion in tax cuts should also be dumped, he said.

“In an ideal world it would be great not to have the tax cuts coming through but I think that we all realise that this is not an ideal world.”

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RBA leaves rates unchanged

Aug 30 2019

The central bank's board met for the last time this year today to discuss monetary policy.

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It announced today that the cash rate would remain unchanged at 6.75 per cent.

The decision was widely expected.

Financial market economists predict the bank won't move again until next year, perhaps as early as February following the release of the next set of quarterly inflation figures.

In a statement accompanying the bank's decision today, governor Glenn Stevens said inflation remained a concern.

“The board remains concerned about the outlook for inflation,” he said.

“But given the heightened uncertainty about the international outlook and the local trends in wholesale borrowing costs, both of which could have a bearing on inflation over the medium term, it judged that the current stance of monetary policy should be maintained for the time being.”

This is the first time the central bank has released a statement explaining its reasoning when it has left rates unchanged.

Mr Stevens said the decision to release a statement today was part of a move by the Reserve Bank to be more transparent.

“As part of wider changes to communication practices which the board has adopted, it was further decided that a statement explaining the decision would be released,” he said.

Mr Stevens said also that recent data continued to indicate strength in demand and output in Australia, with the economy having little surplus capacity.

He said the annualised rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index and underlying measures, was likely to be above three per cent in the first half of 2008, and to decline somewhat thereafter.

The outlook was in line with the bank's last quarterly statement on monetary policy released in November.

“Sentiment in global credit markets has deteriorated recently after an earlier improvement and prospects for growth in the major economies appear to be weakening. It is unclear to what extent that will affect Asia, where conditions at this point look quite strong,” Mr Stevens said.

“But overall, it now appears likely that global growth will be closer to trend in 2008, after several years of above trend growth.

“High prices for food, energy and natural resources, however, continue to pose a significant risk to inflation around the world.”

He said that in Australia, the pressures arising from the global financial market turmoil have been less pronounced.

The flow of credit to “sound” borrowers did not appear to have been impaired.

“Nonetheless borrowing costs have risen appreciably since mid year, particularly for business borrowers, as a result both of changes in monetary policy and market-driven increases in funding costs for intermediaries,” Mr Stevens added.

“Depending on conditions in wholesale markets in the near term, some further rise in rates charged to borrowers may yet occur.

“These developments will help to contain private demand over the period ahead.”

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PM wants more accountability

Jul 30 2019

Mr Rudd has admitted he failed to live up to one of his pre-election promises to release his ministerial code of conduct before polling day, but said this would happen after tomorrow's cabinet meeting.

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The code was important to restoring the Westminster system that relied on ministerial accountability, something which was lacking during the Howard years, he said.

“It's just a complex document and and you're right, I did say that before the election and I don't hide from the fact it's taken a little bit longer than I thought,” Mr Rudd told Southern Cross radio today.

He said Labor's parliamentary standards “absolutely” would be higher than the Howard government's.

Mr Rudd said he could not understand “through the $300 million

`Wheat for Weapons' scandal that, whereby Australia became the largest source of illicit foreign funding to Saddam Hussein's regime, that no minister, no minister was held accountable or responsible for that gross failure.”

He said advice was being prepared on whether his government would pursue the AWB Iraq wheat scandal and why former foreign minister Alexander Downer or trade minister Mark Vaile were not stood down.

“Ministerial accountability means precisely that, they should be responsible to the parliament for their actions. They're responsible for the operation of their department as well,” he said.

Mr Rudd said he was determined to have good, sound principles of public administration.

“The first meeting of full ministry within hours of being sworn in, we went through some of these basic principles,” he said.

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