Weekend sport preview

The US Open Golf tournament, the second major of the year, is underway just outside the mid-west city of Milwaukee on the Erin Hills Course.

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The tournament dates back to 1895 and it has built a reputation of making the world’s top players work hard to win the trophy.

Jason Day and Adam Scott headline a five-strong Australian contingent hoping to do just that.

But the former US Masters Champion Scott says it won’t be easy.

“I’d dearly love to get in contention this week and win the US Open. I think what an amazing event to win. It’s just a battle. Everyone who has won a US Open has won this incredible battle not only against the best players in the world but against some of the most incredibly difficult golf course set-ups you’ll ever see. And I’d really love to put my name on that list.”

Yachting’s 35th America’s Cup Final gets underway in the early hours of Sunday morning Australian time with the opening two races of the series in Bermuda.

Team New Zealand is looking to avenge its heartbreaking loss to Team USA of four years ago.

New Zealand beat Sweden to reach the final during the week but the American team, skippered by Australian James Spithill, is ready and waiting.

While their final opponents were battling their way past the Scandinavians, the US team has been busy fine-tuning its preparations for the final.

And Spithill admits his team must improve if it is to retain the trophy.

“We need to be faster if we’re going to win this America’s Cup and for the sailors we need to technique-wise get a little better, a little more consistent. We know we’ve been making a lot of mistakes out there, but we’re a very, very candid team so we’ll go back and we’re going to work really hard.”

The third and fourth races take place in the early hours of Monday morning.

Four years ago, Team New Zealand allowed an 8-1 series lead to slip to lose the trophy 9-8.

The inaugural Super Netball Championship comes to its climax on Saturday night in Brisbane when the Sunshine Coast Lightning takes on the Sydney Giants.

It’s fitting that two new teams created for the tournament have won the right to contest the final which will pit two English captains against each other.

Geva Mentor will lead the Lightning, while good friend and England team mate Jo Harten will lead out the Giants.

But Harten says for the season decider, their friendship will be put on hold.

“I’ve had a few text messages. I texted her last weekend, but you know you keep it all professional. We keep it all cheery and smiley and when you hit the court it’s obviously enemy number one – she’s your English teammate, but at the moment she’s the enemy.”

Cricket’s Champions Trophy will be decided at London’s Oval ground on Sunday evening.

Host England was thrashed by a resurgent Pakistan on Thursday, with Pakistan hoping to get revenge on India in the final.

Pakistan lost to India en-route to the final, but captain Sarfraz Ahmed says that defeat only served to inspire his side.

“I think we just talked after the India match, we just motivated the guys, don’t worry about the India match, this is gone. We have two matches, if we play good cricket definitely we will win this tournament, now we are in the final.”

Next week’s Rugby League State of Origin sees this weekend’s scheduled NRL matches cut to half their usual number.

The Rabbitohs and Titans are in action tonight [Fri] in the first of four matches over the weekend.

In the AFL, the top two on the ladder the Adelaide Crows and Greater Western Sydney Giants have byes.

Richmond welcomes the Sydney Swans to the MCG on Saturday while the reigning Premier Western Bulldogs take on Melbourne on Sunday afternoon in two of the big match-ups.

 

Tippett overlooked, Swans want improvement

Misfiring Sydney ruckman Kurt Tippett is feeling fitter and playing better but the dumped star won’t be given any special treatment as he continues to battle for an AFL recall.

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Tippett excelled in the seconds last weekend, having been dropped after an underwhelming performance against Hawthorn in round 10.

Swans big men Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair dominated in his absence against Western Bulldogs, winning the hitouts 65-16.

It meant Tippett was left on the sidelines yet again for Sydney’s crunch clash with Richmond at the MCG on Saturday.

Swans coach John Longmire expects Tippett’s stint in the seconds to be short-lived, noting the club was confident the 30-year-old would produce “his best form pretty quickly”.

But Longmire also made it clear Tippett, who joined the Swans on a lucrative multi-million deal in 2012, would not be gifted anything.

“Kurt will play when we think he can help us win, like our other two ruckmen and like every other player in the team,” Longmire said.

“He just has to work on a few things and make sure he has a real presence in the air and on the ground.

“It’s pretty basic. He certainly improved in those areas last week and I’m sure he will continue to improve.

“There’s nothing wrong with his attitude. His attitude is always really good.”

Tippett started his career in the red and white by serving an 11-game suspension for his role in Adelaide salary cap breaches.

A series of injuries followed, meaning he is in the midst of his fifth season at the SCG but has only played 70 games for the Swans.

The stop-start narrative continued this year in the form of ankle and hip setbacks.

“He’s certainly feeling a bit better,” Longmire said.

“Like all players, you need to manage them.

“He’s certainly been able to put the training program together. We’re confident he’ll be able to be in his best form pretty quickly.”

The Swans will face a familiar foe in Saturday’s ruck battle.

Toby Nankervis will tackle Sydney for the first time since being traded by the club, having since played a key role in helping Richmond claim a top-four spot.

“He’s been in fantastic form. At the back end of last year he was in pretty good form as well,” Longmire said.

“We were keen to keep Toby last year but we understood the opportunities that Richmond could offer were a bit greater.”

Meanwhile, the 2012 premiership coach confirmed former co-captain Kieren Jack (dislocated fingers) will be fit to face the Tigers.

Concerns over Australian building fire safety after London tragedy

It’s too soon to tell and official investigations are underway, but there’s speculation the building’s new cladding could have contributed.

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And there are fears some Australian high-rises could also be compromised.

Australian skylines are dotted with high rise towers.

There are fears many of them could prove to be the death traps the Grenfell tower proved to be.

Engineer Stephen Kip coducts fire safety building audits.

“What I’m seeing when I audit buildings are uses of foam-based cladding materials, polystyrene, polyethelene and sometimes polyurethane, which are not compliant with the building code but which are used because they’re cheap and energy-efficient.”

Senator Nich Xenophon is calling for immediate action in Australia.

“We have to take this very seriously, we need to have an audit of all high rise buildings which have cladding, to ensure it’s fire retardant and meets Australian standards. If it’s not, it needs to be removed.”

A 2014 fire at the Lacrosse apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands, blamed on the cladding, spread through 13 floors in less than 11 minutes.

Nearly a thousand people were forced to flee.

Chris Stoltz from Engineers Australia, says only two years ago, a skyscraper fire in Dubai forced a tightening of rules there.

“The way to solve it is to make sure that the building companies that build these buildings, the developers who develop them and fund them, that they use properly certified engineers in their design, and have their buildings certified by a fire safety engineer.”

With the high price of housing, apartment living is an increasingly popular option in Australia.

Building experts, like University of Melbourne’s Giorgio Marfella, are warning buyers to ensure they complete all the necessary checks.

“They should ask for proof…”

A senate committee report investigating the use of non-conforming building materials is due in October.

 

 

Fears of stateless kids and ‘extraordinary’ powers for Dutton prompt new citizenship concerns

Details of the proposal to change citizenship laws have been revealed, including the granting of “extraordinary” powers to the Immigration Minister, and the possibility of rendering children born in Australia stateless.

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Introducing the bill to parliament on Thursday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the bill “reinforces the integrity of our citizenship program.”

“This will help maintain strong public support for migration and the value of Australian citizenship in what is an increasingly challenging national security environment and complex global security situation,” he said.

The bill proposes to increase the residency requirement for citizenship from one year to four years, introduce separate English testing and require a demonstration of “shared values”.

Dr Sangeetha Pillai from the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW said that under the proposed changes children born in Australia to non-permanent residents will lose the entitlement to citizenship at age 10 if:

they have ever been present in Australia as an unlawful non-citizen,they have ever left Australia without a visa to return, oreither parent did not hold a substantive visa at the time of their birth.

“This means that children born to people who have overstayed visas, or who have entered Australia seeking asylum, will lose their automatic entitlement to Australian citizenship,” she said.

According to the government, more than 30,000 “illegal maritime arrivals” came to Australia by boat in the years leading up to 2013, and many remain in the community.

“Children affected by the changes may still be able to make an application for citizenship, but if they are not successful they may be vulnerable to statelessness,” Dr Pillai said.

“There is a particular risk of this for children of asylum seekers, who are unlikely to be entitled to the citizenship of any foreign country.”

Mr Dutton stated on Thursday the bill “will not affect access to citizenship by children born in Australia to New Zealand citizens or children who are stateless”, but it is unclear how the measures could apply in cases where a family with a child born in Australia is sent to another country.

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Dr Joyce Chia, Director of Policy at the Refugee Council of Australia, was less concerned about the amendments affecting children. She said there were circumstances even now where a person born in Australia can remain stateless, but the current bill is unlikely to make “any real difference” to the situation.

Instead, she highlighted that the bill gave the Minister “extraordinary powers”, including the power to determine what is ‘competent English’, to determine when a person is able to sit a citizenship test, and to reverse decisions of an independent merits review tribunal. 

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC said the expansion of the Minister’s power to overrule independent citizenship decisions made by the AAT is “a disproportionate response that weakens crucial checks and balances.”

“This new legislation effectively allows the Minister to override citizenship decisions or to render his own decisions unreviewable.”

Dr Pillai also expressed concern that the Minister now has the power to revoke citizenship in cases of misrepresentation.

“For instance, it is possible where the Minister considers that a person has failed to act in accordance with the values tested for in the revised citizenship test, this may form the basis for citizenship revocation,” she said.

The government flagged the changes in an announcement in April, but only revealed the full text of the proposal on Thursday.

The Labor Party will meet on Tuesday to decide whether it will support the government’s proposal.

Watch: PM announces new Citizenship Rules

0:00 PM announces new Citizenship Rules Share PM announces new Citizenship Rules

Major parties throw stones on China links

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has questioned whether a previous Labor government’s decision to pull out of a security dialogue with the US, India and Japan in 2008 was influenced by former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon’s links to China.

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In a blistering attack during question time, Ms Bishop queried whether Mr Fitzgibbon had a role in the “extraordinary about-face” on an important foreign policy position.

Australia withdrew from a four-country security dialogue in 2008 under then prime minister Kevin Rudd, who feared the grouping would upset Beijing.

Mr Fitzgibbon was forced to resign as defence minister in 2009 for failing to disclose gifts from Chinese businesswoman Helen Liu.

Ms Bishop also pointed out inconsistencies between his media statements to Fairfax and a sworn affidavit to the ACT Supreme Court, over whether he had written to Chinese officials.

“What is it? No correspondence with Chinese officials or letter after letter?” Ms Bishop said.

Mr Fitzgibbon later hit back saying there had been no accusations of wrongdoing or impropriety in the Fairfax report.

Her focus on Mr Fitzgibbon followed ongoing scrutiny this week of his colleague Sam Dastyari, who resigned from the frontbench last year after a Chinese donor paid a travel bill for him.

Ms Bishop faced a counter-attack from Labor about her appearance in photos with Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou, who is owner of the resources company AusGold and is a major donor to the Liberal party, contributing more than $400,000 between December 2015 and June 2006.

Ms Zou set up a company under the name Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation Pty Ltd in April 2016, but shortened it to Glorious Foundation soon after. Ms Bishop has denied knowledge of the venture.

Meanwhile, China’s ambassador has taken aim at the ABC, accusing the national broadcaster of recycling groundless and fabricated allegations about his country’s influence in Australian politics.

“In Chinese, we call it cooking up the overnight cold rice. It means repeating the same old stock again and again,” Cheng Jingye told an Australia-China networking event at Parliament House on Thursday.

An ABC/Fairfax report – titled The Power and Influence of China – alleges links between Beijing and two wealthy Chinese businessmen who have made donations to Australia’s major political parties.

Mr Cheng dismissed the report as politically motivated.

“Those who have fabricated those allegations really have an imagination which is wild and morbid,” he said.

“If they were to apply their imagination to scientific research they might be accorded with a Nobel prize someday. Who knows?”

Their main purpose, as the ambassador saw it, was to instigate “China panic”.