Mickle thrilled with javelin silver

Beaming fit to burst and booming for all she was worth, Kim Mickle produced the performance of her life to finish second in the women’s javelin at the world athletics championships.

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Mickle already had the silver medal in her keeping when she stepped up for her final throw at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday night, courtesy of a 66.25m personal best in the second round.

And after a hug from teammate Kathryn Mitchell – who finished a creditable fifth – Mickle pumped out another PB of 66.60m with a huge smile on her face.

It was 20cm short of Louise McPaul-Currey’s 13-year-old national record. But that can wait for another day.

This was about redemption for her qualifying-round flop at last year’s London Olympics.

Not to mention vindication of her “boom tactic” which involves throwing the javelin as far as possible without thinking about it.

“The boom tactic came out – which was always going to be a hit and miss sort of thing,” said the 28-year-old Mickle.

“The Russian (crowd) all got behind me on that last throw and I boomed the hell out of it.

“When I do go for it, that’s when my consistency tends to go out the window.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better and I honestly feel there is more there.

“It’s such an exciting time for me.”

Mickle bettered her PB three times in the space of three days in Moscow, having also thrown 65.73m in the qualifying round.

It was Mitchell who landed the first blow for Australia in Sunday’s final, throwing a season’s best of 63.77m in the opening round.

Mickle opened with a moderate effort of 60.43m.

The West Australian briefly moved into top spot with her 66.25m second-round effort, only to be overtaken minutes later by Germany’s Christina Obergfoll with what turned out to be the gold-medal effort of 69.05m.

“My first throw was not great so I tried to have another feeler and then activate the old boom,” said Mickle.

“It came in the second instead of the third because my first one scared the hell out of me.

“It was amazing out there. I enjoyed every moment of it.

“It was the scariest and funniest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

The bronze went to reigning Olympic champion Maria Abakumova from Russia with 65.09m.

Obergfoll finally claimed her first major title, having previously finished second and third at the Olympics and runner-up at the 2005 and 2007 world championships.

After undergoing ankle surgery in February, Mitchell was proud to finish fifth, which ensured Australia placed two female athletes in the top five of the same event at a world titles for the first time.

“A little bit further would have been great but, with my technique, that is where I’m at,” said the Victorian.

“It was great to get one out.

“A season’s best was the target for the final as well so I have really ticked every box.

“There was nothing more I could have done.”

Coalition outlines tougher asylum seeker policy

The federal Coalition says if it wins the election the 30,000 asylum seekers already in Australia after arriving by boat would never be allowed permanent settlement visas and would be stripped of the right to appeal to the courts.

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Opposition leader Tony Abbott has announced another toughening of the Coalition’s asylum policy saying permanent residency for people arriving by boat will become a thing of the past.

 

Under the Coalition’s plan, those asylum seekers would have their processing fast-tracked and if found to be genuine refugees they would be offered Temporary Protection Visas not permanent residency.

 

TPVs would be valid for three years, and a Coalition government would not guarantee to renew them.

The Coalition says people on TPVs would not be eligible for citizenship.

 

Mr Abbott says the tough plans are needed to stop the arrival of asylum seeker boats.

 

“We will discharge our ordinary humanitarian obligations to you but you just should not expect to get permanent residency. If you are found not to be a refugee, you will be in detention. That’s where you’ll be you’ll be in detention indefinitely. If you are a refugee you will be on a Temporray Protection Visa. Because we have got to send the strongest possible signal, the stongest possible signal to people smugglers and their clients that we are in charge of this country and we will determine who comes here. That is the signal we are sending.”

 

As part of the tougher policy, the Coalition says it would to scrap the Refugee Review Tribunal and replace it with asylum assesments conducted by Immigration Department caseworkers.

 

Mr Abbott says asylum seekers whose claims were denied would be removed from Australia – by force if necessary.

 

Asylum seekers from countries which refuse to accept involuntary returns could be left on Christmas Island indefinitely.

 

Mr Abbott says asylum seekers’ rights would still be protected.

 

“Even under our system there’s the assesment, then there’s a second assessment, then there’s a review. So it’s not lightly done. There’s the assesment, there’s if you like a check of the assesment, quality control of the assesment, and then there’s a review. So I am very confident we will get this as right as it can be.”

 

Mr Abbott says asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without paperwork would be rejected straight away as refugees if it was found they had deliberately thrown their identification out.

 

Treasurer Chris Bowen says he has his doubts about the policy.

 

“This is I think the Liberal party pretty desperately trying to get this issue back on the agenda because we have the Papua New Guinea plan in place and it is starting to have some effect. It will take time to have its full effect. Also I see Mr Abbott promising to remove rights of appeal to courts. Well, that’s something that I think will be very, very difficult for him to implement and I am not sure this policy has been thought out properly.”

 

Greens Immigration spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the plan is another step in the wrong direction.

 

She says a tougher coalition policy on asylum seekers is another example of what she calls the Coalition’s appalling approach to asylum seekers.

 

And Senator Hanson-Young says it would be very costly.

 

“It is shameful. It is cruel. And it is going to cost the Australian taxpayer hundreds of millions and billions of dollars keeping refugees and asylum seekers locked up in indefinite detention is not just damaging to them and their mental healthy, not just cruel, but is going to cost the Australian taxpayer.”

 

The Coalition says it would also scrap plans for an asylums seeker detention centre at Singleton in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

 

The Coalition says the $60-million earmarked to build the centre would be used to build the two-thousand extra places it has promised for processing in Nauru while Australia searched for third country resettlement options.

 

More than 2,000 asylum seekers have arrived on boats in the month since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced his Papua New Guinea solution.

 

So far, only a few hundred have been sent to Manus Island under the Labor policy that states they will never be allowed to be resettled in Australia.

 

Has inflation gone bananas?

The headline rate for the March quarter rose 1.

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6%.

The biggest contributors for the three months were vegetables (+16.0%), fruit (+14.5%), pharmaceuticals (+12.5%) and petrol (+8.8%)

Most of these were a direct consequence of the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi.

Infact, the Bureau of Statistics says banana prices are up 100% in the three months the March.

The tensions in Northern Africa and the Middle-East as reported in detail on SBS World News Australia, obviously influenced petrol prices.

As a result, the headline annual rate of inflation blew out to 3.3%. The Reserve Bank likes to keep CPI between 2-3%

Generally, higher inflation means higher interest rates.

But here’s the thing. The RBA already warned that it would look through these top line numbers because of these one-off events.

Instead it prefers the underlying rate of inflation that strips out large variables like food and petrol, which can often skew the inflation result.

For the quarter, the rate came in at +0.85% and for the year 2.25%, within the RBA’s band.

So, the RBA is not expected to fire on interest rates just yet. But it will be keeping a very close eye on inflation in the future.

Our economy is expected to speed up in the second half of the year, as commodity prices strengthen and the rebuilding efforts post- Queensland disasters add to GDP. Furthermore, wage price pressures are predicted to emerge, and that will add to inflation.

It’s then when we’ll start to see the RBA lift the lid on interest rates, with many economists expecting the first rate rise to come in August.

Incidentally, the CPI result saw the Australian dollar surge once again to post- float highs – approaching US$1.09.

Maybe it’s time for a banana smoothie on the beaches of Miami?

Rudd dumps ALP candidate for Hotham

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has dumped the ALP’s candidate for the safe Labor Victorian seat of Hotham following claims of misconduct several years ago, while another candidate has quit the campaign after a racism row.

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Geoff Lake was forced again to apologise for abusing a fellow councillor during a meeting of Monash City Council in 2002.

Details of a sexual harassment claim from the time, reportedly being shopped around by his own party colleagues, say he called Liberal councillor Kathy Magee a “f…ing bitch” and a “f…ing slut”.

Mr Lake told News Corp newspapers he had apologised several times to Ms Magee and was still remorseful.

Labor ministers including Mark Dreyfus and Tanya Plibersek defended Mr Lake on Saturday, saying it was a long time ago, when he was 22, and he had apologised many times.

However, late on Saturday, Mr Rudd issued a statement saying the party had removed Mr Lake’s endorsement following a report by Labor’s national secretary George Wright into misconduct claims.

“The national secretary has informed me that he is not satisfied that there has been full disclosure about these previous matters,” Mr Rudd said.

“Based on the investigation, I have concluded that it is inappropriate for Mr Lake to continue as the endorsed Labor candidate for Hotham.”

He said he would ask the national executive to preselect a new candidate for the Hotham.

Meanwhile, Labor candidate for Kennedy, Ken Robertson, has resigned after reportedly calling Tony Abbott a bigot, Sky News says.

“I hope Australia never has to suffer his Catholicism and the things that he’s doing personally, because I think he’s a very, very bigoted person,” Mr Robertson reportedly said.

“He’d have the White Australia policy back in a flash, if he could.”

Earlier on Saturday, the coalition said Mr Rudd’s sincerity about party reform would be tested by what action he takes against the two Labor candidates.

Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said the two reports of “serious misconduct” posed a test for Mr Rudd.

He linked it to Thursday’s announcement Labor was dumping its candidate for Forde, Des Hardman, in favour of former Queensland premier Peter Beattie.

“If Mr Rudd is willing ruthlessly to sack a candidate who is innocent of any wrongdoing, what leadership will he show, what action will he take against these two candidates … who have in different ways disgraced themselves?” he asked reporters in Brisbane,” Senator Brandis said.

“If Mr Rudd stands by these candidate, while dismissing poor old Mr Hardman in Forde as part of his political chess game, then the Australian people will make their own judgments about Mr Rudd’s personal standards and they’ll make their own judgment about Mr Rudd’s hypocrisy.”

One Nation candidate Stephanie Banister, who was ridiculed after referring to Islam as a country in a television interview, has also withdrawn from the election campaign.

A Super 18 on the cards from 2016

Super Rugby chiefs are seriously considering splitting the current three-conference system into two from 2016 and adding two teams from Argentina.

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Under a possible Super 18 model which appears the most logical future competition, Australian and New Zealand sides would join together in their own conference while South Africa would combine with Argentina.

Leading officials also say there’s the possibility of Japanese teams being added in three years’ time, but there’s plenty of work to be done.

One thing’s for certain: Super Rugby expansion will occur after the 2015 World Cup with governing body SANZAR committed to ensuring the recently-relegated Southern Kings will be one of six South African teams.

While SANZAR, which aims to finalise its next model by the end of the year, has a lot to consider before deciding upon its preferred model, the three-conference system looks to be coming towards an end.

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said the time-frame for the competition – currently played over 21 weeks, including three weeks for play-offs – could not be extended.

That makes it virtually impossible to keep the current structure if new teams are added as all three national unions want their local derby matches to played at home and away.

With the rigours of travel to and from South Africa combining to make player welfare a bigger issue, the simplest solution is for a two-conference split.

That would see the five Australian teams play each other twice and the five Kiwi sides once for 13 matches before both conferences came together in a six or eight-team finals series.

ARU boss Bill Pulver, who is also on SANZAR’s executive committee, said the ARU hadn’t decided on its preferred model but stressed the five Australian teams would remain.

“We’re trying to keep a very open mind to what this structure looks like,” he said in Sydney.

It’s more likely two new Argentinian teams, rather than one, would be added to what would become an eight-team South African/American conference.

It would allow all teams to play home and away over 14 rounds.

The heavy political pressure for South Africa to have six teams only intensified with the Port Elizabeth-based Kings losing a tightly-fought two-match relegation play-off with the Johannesburg-based Lions last weekend.

“We really understand the desire for that from South Africa,” Peters told AAP. “The Kings have 32 per cent of the playing population and 72 per cent of that is coloured,” Peters said.

“We understand the need for six teams in South Africa.”

While there’s massive commercial benefits with the inclusion of Japan before it hosts the 2019 World Cup, there’s logistical problems in fitting them into the Australasian conference.

SANZAR and the ARU are both pushing for the June international window to be moved to July to ensure Super Rugby can be played in one complete block instead of being interrupted for Test matches before the play-offs.