NZ will have a hung parliament under MMP

A kingmaker isn’t a foreign concept in Australian politics.


In 2010 there were three Julia Gillard had to deal with to secure her minority government.

But what’s different between that and New Zealand’s upcoming election is that the hung parliament was an anomaly.

In New Zealand, it’s intentional.

And for months it’s been said that NZ First leader Winston Peters will be the man to decide who forms government after the September 23 poll.

Sure the voters have their say, but based on current polls neither National nor Labour can rule alone.

Even with current partners both still fall short of a majority.

So it could come down to Mr Peters, who in the past has sided with both parties.

It’s the way Mixed Member Proportional voting was intended to work.

The confusing system, operating in only six countries worldwide, was first used in New Zealand in 1996.

Mr Peters was kingmaker back then too.

After campaigning for change, he shocked many when he ultimately decided to give National leader Jim Bolger a third term.

In negotiations he scored himself the contrived position of treasurer – until he was fired two years later.

In 2005 he was kingmaker again despite declaring he wouldn’t support either major party.

But Labour leader Helen Clark dangled the foreign affairs portfolio and was also returned for a third term as prime minister.

This year the choice is different. It’s between National leader Bill English who is campaigning as an unelected prime minister with 27 years of experience.

On the other side is Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who became leader four weeks ago and was just four years old when Mr Peters first entered parliament.

As for who Mr Peters will choose, he’s not giving anything away.

But the latest polls mean the idea that Mr Peters will be kingmaker is no longer a guarantee.

A second potential kingmaker has emerged in the Maori Party.

Thursday’s shock poll put Labour ahead of National for the first time in more than a decade and means a Labour-Green coalition would be only a few seats shy of a majority.

Despite the Maori party being a current National government support partner, co-leader Marama Fox has said it’s 50/50 on who they might side with this election.

At 1 per cent in the current polls, the Maori Party must win a seat to secure their return to parliament and a shot at being kingmaker.

Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell currently holds the party’s only electorate.

Johnson in AFL finals contention for GWS

Steve Johnson has struggled to put two strong games together this year but the door remains open for the Greater Western Sydney forward to play AFL finals.


The 34-year-old’s poor game against Geelong last week highlighted he is no longer an automatic selection ahead of his retirement at season’s end.

The star goalsneak has been hampered by a knee injury this season but he is set to benefit from the week off leading to the qualifying final away to Adelaide next Thursday.

His reputation as a match-winner will also count in his favour in his bid for a swan song.

But Giants coach Leon Cameron conceded there were doubts about his durability for the month-long finals campaign.

“His knee’s pulled up pretty well and he’ll be in line for selection,” Cameron told reporters on Friday.

“It’s unfortunate he hasn’t had any continuity.

“Some of the games he’s been able to produce throughout the year on the back of maybe a week or two off or not backing up week-to-week have been really pleasing.

“But there’s no doubt when he has to back up two or three weeks in a row, it has affected his form and his body hasn’t been able to handle it.”

Calls to drop former Geelong player Johnson, whose career has spanned 291 games including 24 finals for three premierships and 510 goals, come as utility Matt de Boer and last year’s No.2 draft pick Tim Taranto wait in the wings.

Johnson was goalless with eight touches against the Cats but Cameron insists he wasn’t the only player who struggled in the 44-point loss.

“There were probably 15 or 16 other players,” Cameron said.

“We were poor and we let ourselves down. We had a tough review on Tuesday – an honest review.”

Penrith look for finals push against Manly

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin insists Saturday’s final-round clash against Manly remains a “do-or-die” encounter despite having all but secured an NRL finals spot.


North Queensland’s defeat on Thursday means the Panthers need to lose by an unlikely 37 points or more against the Sea Eagles to allow St George Illawarra to sneak into the top eight, with a win over Canterbury.

However, Griffin is demanding his men bounce back from last week’s shock loss to the Dragons that snapped a seven-game winning run and build momentum heading into the finals.

“We’ve been finishing the year off really well and we were very disappointed last week with the loss there against St George,” Griffin said on Friday.

“So for us it’s a do-or-die game, that’s the way we’re approaching it. What happens after the game, we’ll worry about that then.”

Griffin denied the defeat took the steam out of their winning streak and pointed to his team’s success over the past two months.

A loss for the Sea Eagles opens the door for the Dragons to leapfrog them into eighth spot, giving the Panthers yet another challenge heading towards the finals.

“We’ve been in positions like this all along the last eight weeks,” Griffin said.

“We had to go down to Canberra and beat them and we’ve had teams coming at us for the last eight weeks, (Gold Coast, Canterbury), all playing for their season.

“And it’s been something that our group’s really handled well.

“It’s not going to be anything new to us, but it’s obviously going to be a real pressure-cooker atmosphere over there tomorrow.”

Griffin also said he would give skipper Matt Moylan until kickoff to come back from a hamstring injury despite failing to train during Friday’s captain’s run.

The Panthers five-eighth had initially been ruled out until the finals but was included in the extended squad when the team was named on Tuesday.

“We’ll give him every chance. I’ll go and check him out now, he did some more running this morning,” Griffin said.

Call for action after report reveals high risk of suicide for transgender kids

Transgender young people are at a extraordinarily high risk of suicide and are about 10 times more likely than other young Australians to experience serious depression and anxiety, according to a nationwide survey.


The Trans Pathway survey – the largest conducted into the mental health of young trans people in Australia – also shows they are more likely to face homelessness.

Dr Ashleigh Lin, a research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia says the survey findings should act as an “urgent” call to action for the government, health professionals and general public to become better educated on transgender diversity.

“We feel very strongly about the findings of the survey, we don’t feel there’s been enough work on the mental health of trans young people and really if we look at the rate of suicide attempts, one in two is a horrifying statistic,” Dr Lin said.

More than 850 transgender and gender diverse young people aged 14 to 25 and nearly 200 parents and guardians of trans young people took part in the anonymous online survey.

They were asked a wide range of questions relating to mental health and their experiences accessing medical and mental health services.

Three out four had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety by a health professional – 10 times higher than experienced by adolescents in the general Australian population – and 22 per cent reported an eating disorder.

Nearly 80 per cent reported self-harming behaviour, while nearly half (48 per cent) had attempted suicide – six times higher than the general adolescent population.

Those who had self-harmed or attempted suicide were more than four times more likely to have experienced issues with accommodation, including homelessness; and three times more likely to have been bullied.

The majority of transgender survey participants said they were satisfied with the services provided to them by a GP, although some did report that it took time to find a “respectful” doctor.

Negative experiences with psychiatrists outweighed the positives, according to the survey findings.

Lead author of the report, PhD student Penelope Strauss, suggests this is because psychiatrists are often the “gatekeepers” to gender reassignment surgery.

“Often a young person needs to have a letter from a psychiatrist in order to access hormones,” Ms Strauss said.

Transgender refers to people who identify as a gender that does not match the sex assigned to them at birth.

For parents of a transgender child they are desperate for greater education, Ms Strauss said.

When asked what would make them more accepting of their child’s identity, they said: “It wasn’t that they were against having a trans child, it was that they were unaware of this identity and simply needed more information and more support from other parents who’d be able to understand what their child was going through and what their identity meant to their child.”

Key Findings:

74% diagnosed with depression72% diagnosed with anxiety disorder79% self-harmed48 per cent attempted suicideThose who attempted suicide 5 times more likely to face homelessness

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

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Turnbull warns Marawi must not become the region’s Raqqa

Malcolm Turnbull warns the troubled southern Philippines city of Marawi must not become the Raqqa of southeast Asia.


“It’s vitally important that the (Islamic State) insurrection in the Philippines is defeated,” the prime minister told broadcaster Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio on Friday.


Raqqa in Syria is Islamic State’s quasi-capital. Since June, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have been leading an offensive to reclaim it, supported by coalition airstrikes.

The Philippines defence force has been fighting IS militants in Marawi since May, and foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria are being drawn to the city. The conflict had displaced an estimated 400,000 people.

Australia has so far sent two P3 Orion reconnaissance and surveillance planes to assist the Philippines.

Foreign policy experts warn Australia may have to offer mentoring to Filippino troops similar to the programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

IS has released a video labelling Australia a guard dog to the US in the region.

Mr Turnbull declined to respond, saying he wouldn’t be running a commentary on terrorist propaganda.

0:00 Fighting in Marawi, Philippines explained Share Fighting in Marawi, Philippines explained

“Well I’m not going to run a commentary on ISIL propaganda videos. But can I say to you that we are determined to ensure that ISIL does not establish a foothold in our region.”

Asked about the prospects of Australian boots on the ground in the Philippines, he told reporters in Moruya on the NSW South Coast he wouldn’t “speculate on hypotheticals”.

“We are already providing assistance to the Philippines, and we’ll continue to provide the assistance that we currently have deployed,” he said.


When asked about President Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 3000 people in the past year, Mr Turnbull condemned the killings.

“We deplore the extra judicial killings in the Philippines and naturally we urge the government of Philippines… to comply with the rule of law,” he said.

The prime minister’s concerns about Marawi were backed by his foreign minister Julie Bishop, speaking at the Bali Process in Perth.

“We take the conflict in southern Philippines very seriously,” she said.

“Some years ago the leaders of ISIS, declared they wanted to establish a caliphate of headquarters in the southern Philippines. We have been working with the Philippines for some time to prevent such an occurrence.”

0:00 President Duterte visits Marawi Share President Duterte visits Marawi

And she warned that as IS were forced into retreat in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters who survived that conflict were likely to return home.

“As we are more successful in the coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, then we will see foreign terrorist fighters who survived that conflict making their way home,” she said.

“In Southeast Asia they’ll be coming back to the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia and other places.

“So it’s going to take a very close and deep level of cooperation to continue to support each other in the fight against terrorism.”

Duterte visits Marawi

The president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte visited the battlezone in southern Marawi on Thursday, after troops recaptured a main mosque.

It was Duterte’s third known trip to the embattled city.

During his brief visit, Duterte inspected a devastated community near the frontline and talked to troops guarding a recaptured building.

He also visited a military patrol base and “tried a sniper rifle and fired twice toward the direction of the terrorists,” a government statement said.


Billionaire takes stake in Bindaree Beef

Australian beef processor Bindaree Beef Group (BBG) has had another crack at securing a Chinese investment partner – this time successful.


Bindaree Beef has sold a 51 per cent stake in the company to the Hong Kong-based Hui family and the Hui-backed Archstone Investment Co in return for a “significant” investment in Bindaree Beef.

The amount of the investment has not been disclosed but is believed to be between $100 million and $150 million.

The deal, which has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board, was settled by both parties on Thursday.

The Hui family is the controlling shareholder in the Hong Kong-listed property developer Shimao Group which has projects in Hong Kong, Asia and Australia.

The Shimao Group was founded by Australian billionaire Hui Wing Mau, who was ranked eighth on the Financial Review’s 2017 Rich List, with a fortune of $5.96 billion.

Mr Hui lives in Hong Kong.

The transaction comes after an agreement in October, 2015, with Chinese meat processor Shandong Delisi Food Co to take a 45 per cent stake in Bindaree for $140 million failed to settle.

Bindaree Beef founder JR McDonald said the partnership with Archstone and the Hui family will enable Bindaree to expand its operations to have a greater domestic and international reach.

“Our joint vision for BBG is to create a more competitive company that can cater for both local and international markets,” Mr McDonald said in a statement on Friday.

“We will rapidly expand our reach while also upgrading our facilities, supply chain and distribution.”

Bindaree operates a processing plant at Inverell in northern NSW, which has a capacity of 300,000 cattle a year, and the Myola feedlot at North Star in northern NSW.

Archstone Investment is headquartered in Beijing, and has interests in the food, agriculture, technology and medical sectors in China, Hong Kong and Australia.

Archstone has agriculture-related interests in Western Australia.

Children the ‘true victims’ in Ebert case

The distraught mother of suspected outback murder victim Tanja Ebert says her daughter’s two orphaned children “are the true victims in this tragedy”.


Andrea Ebert arrived from Germany as the search continued for the 23-year-old.

Ms Ebert says it’s hard not knowing what happened to Tanja but the family still has hopes she will be found alive.

“We worry about Tanja and Michael’s two young sons, who are the true victims in this tragedy,” she said in a statement read by police on Friday.

“Their well-being is our utmost priority, with Michael’s family we share in their future.”

Michael Burdon, father of the two boys aged one and three, killed himself last month as police began to investigate his wife’s disappearance.

He remains the only suspect in her likely murder.

But Ms Ebert’s family described the 41-year-old as a “wonderful” father.

“We do not feel hopeless,” they said in the statement.

“It’s our hope to find Tanja alive and well. We also grieve for Michael Burdon.

“We knew Michael as a wonderful father, a good friend and a sociable person.”

On Friday, mounted police joined other officers at the family’s 410 square kilometre sheep station near Mannahill, northeast of Adelaide.

But police said it was difficult to predict the result of the search given the remoteness and enormity of the property.

They have been searching old mine sites and other areas of interest on the property since Wednesday with the help of mining experts and specialist camera equipment.

The last time Ms Ebert was seen by people other than her family was on August 8 when she visited the SA Museum in Adelaide with her husband and sons.

As the family drove back to Mannahill, Mr Burdon told police she became agitated and got out of the car near Roseworthy, north of the city, and walked off.

But he did not report her missing. Another family member contacted authorities two days later.

Ms Ebert arrived in Australia from Germany several years ago and married Mr Burdon in February.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Dual UK-Aust citizen denies coin smuggling

A man with dual British-Australian citizenship whose new wife mysteriously vanished as they sailed off the Cuban coast will deny smuggling stolen gold and silver coins worth up to $US100,000 ($A125,770), his lawyer says.


Lewis Bennett, 40, sent an SOS call saying Isabella Hellmann was missing and his catamaran was taking on water, prompting an FBI investigation.

He was rescued alone in his life raft, where investigators say they later found a stash of silver coins.

A haul of golden coins was also found in a search of the couple’s home in the US state of Florida.

Bennett will appear in court for a bail hearing on Friday after his arrest over the coins.

His lawyer, Marc Shiner, says he will deny a charge of transporting the coins while knowing that they have been stolen.

The search for 41-year-old Hellmann was called off days after she was reported missing in the early hours of May 15, but the investigation into her disappearance is continuing.

During his rescue, Bennett took a suitcase and two backpacks into his life raft but left with just one “unusually heavy” backpack, according to a coast guard.

Special Agent James Kelley alleges that 158 British Year of the Horse silver coins and 77 Canadian Maple Leaf coins were found in Bennett’s raft.

After a visit to the UK, Bennett went back to his Florida home later in May and the FBI returned the coins.

But later that day they realised Bennett had reported to police in May 2016 that coins had been burgled from a sailing boat, Kitty R, that he had been working on in St Maarten, according to court documents.

Investigators returned to his home to discover 162 gold coins stashed in a pair of boat shoes in a bedroom cupboard, it is alleged.

The FBI says Kitty R’s owner confirmed that all the coins discovered were the ones taken from the vessel.

PM calls cashless welfare cards an exercise in love

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited the Western Australian town of Kalgoorlie on Friday to announce the expansion of the mandatory welfare trial will begin there next year.


The card is compulsory for working-age welfare recipients and will affect approximately 3,000 people in the region.

It quarantines 80 per cent of welfare payments to the debit card so it can’t be spent on alcohol, drugs or gambling. The remaining 20 per cent can be used as cash.

“If you love somebody and they are spending all their money on booze and drugs, what are you going to do” Mr Turnbull asked after a meeting with community leaders in Kalgoorlie.

“You are going to try to stop it and get them to spend it on foods and clothes and necessities of life.”

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An independent evaluation of the scheme in the towns of Ceduna and Kununurra found it had led to significant decreases in harmful behaviour among the current 2,100 trial participants.

“Almost 41 per cent of people are saying that they are now drinking less as a result of this card, 48 per cent of people are saying they are taking fewer drugs, 48 per cent of people are saying they are gambling less,” Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said.

“This trial has gone better than we could possibly have hoped for.”

Mr Tudge says the government will roll out the next trial around Kalgoorlie because there is a demonstrable need in the community, particularly given the harm caused by drugs.

“And secondly because there’s community leadership support here for it,” he told the ABC earlier.

But Greens community spokeswoman Rachel Siewert is disappointed about the expected announcement.

“I am concerned about the impacts this will have on people in the Goldfields community, particularly those on a working age-payment who are on a shoestring budget and cannot afford to have their income quarantined against their will,” she said.

Initial figures from the 300-page report show the program has led to falls in alcohol abuse and family violence, The Australian reported.

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Storm focused on keeping momentum: Bellamy

With a minor premiership presentation, milestones and farewells all a part of Melbourne’s last-round clash with Canberra, Storm coach Craig Bellamy says it’s important his team keep focus on the NRL finals.


Melbourne host the Raiders at AAMI Park on Saturday night and are using the match as veteran halfback Cooper Cronk’s home and away farewell, while their skipper Cameron Smith will draw level with Darren Lockyer for the most-ever NRL games played at 355.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona is playing his 50th NRL match while Billy Slater needs just one try to match ex-Sea Eagles forward Steve Menzies for the second most tries ever scored, with the pair trailing former Norths and Manly flyer Ken Irvine.

And Smith will be presented with the JJ Giltinan Shield for winning the NRL minor premiership which they secured two weeks ago.

Despite all of the approaching fanfare, Bellamy said it was vital his team still focused on performing.

“It’s really important that we keep our momentum going,” Bellamy said on Friday.

“It’s a big occasion and all those things are important to us as a club but I don’t think it will be hard because there’s some important things ahead.

“If you go into a game not caring about the result or your performance, well that’s not what we’re about.”

Although the Raiders will miss the finals, Bellamy expected them to be a good warm-up for the play-offs and test his team’s defensive structures.

Despite being 10th on the ladder Canberra rank third in terms of points scored.

“Even though we’re playing a team that’s not in the eight this year they’re a real good footy team so I’m sure they will be keen to go out on a good note,” Bellamy said.

“They’ve got some real dangerous individuals and guys who can carry the ball really well; they’re a big, mobile side.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne confirmed they had signed North Queensland prop Patrick Kaufusi, the younger brother of current Storm forward Felice and ex-Melbourne player Antonio.

Patrick, 23, will replace Cowboys-bound prop Jordan McLean.