Archive for: ‘April 2019’

Looking for improved tax mix:Morrison

19/04/2019 Posted by admin

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the government is having good-faith discussions with the states and territories on how to improve the tax mix but hasn’t ruled out raising the GST rate to 15 per cent.

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However he described reports that the government is considering an increase in the GST as “speculative”, and says fixing the tax system isn’t about trying to increase the tax burden on Australians.

“The Commonwealth and states and territories are looking for the best mix of options that are going to encourage jobs growth and economic growth,” Mr Morrison told AAP on Sunday.

The treasurer was responding to a News Limited report that said the government is considering raising the GST to 15 per cent while making tax cuts for middle-income earners but keeping fresh food GST-free.

“Next year the average wage earner will be in the second highest tax bracket – that is not a sustainable position for us to be in if we want to encourage Australians to work, save and invest,” Mr Morrison said.

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos said the government was looking at getting the balance right between direct and indirect taxes like the GST.

“This is not just about the feds on tax reform, this a co-operative venture with the states,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he couldn’t understand why the government believed raising the GST would solve all of Australia’s problems.

“I think it’s the wrong idea for confidence, for families trying to make ends meet,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

Labor’s finance spokesman Tony Burke said the prime minister was making a choice to focus on a tax on lower and middle income households rather than address high income superannuation concessions and multinational tax avoidance.

“Malcolm Turnbull wants to take a hike in the GST and another massive hit to household budgets of millions of Australians to the next election, Labor is up for the fight,” he said in a statement.

CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley said everybody knew the GST had to be revisited.

“Our economy relies far too much on income taxes and introducing more consumption into the overall mix will deliver a better, more resilient balance,” he told AAP.

Federal Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer also declined to rule out an increase in the GST, saying all options were on the table.

“Fixing Australia’s tax system is all about getting the incentives right for Australians to invest more, to work more, and to save more,” Ms O’Dwyer said in Melbourne.

“The government has been in discussions with state and territory governments around their tax bases.

“Those discussions are on going. At the moment all options are on the table, we are considering those options.”

Swimming with humpback whales trial in WA

19/04/2019 Posted by admin

Swimming with humpback whales will be allowed at Western Australia’s famous Ningaloo Marine Park next year as part of a bid to increase ecotourism.

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Up to 23,000 people swim with whale sharks each year at Coral Bay and Exmouth, injecting around $6 million a year into the state’s economy, and it’s envisaged the humpback whale tours will work under a similar model.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said existing licensed whale shark tour companies could take part in the humpback whale trial, which will begin in June and determine how the tours can become a permanent feature of Ningaloo and other areas of WA.

“The humpback whale (migration) season actually coincides almost perfectly towards the end of the whale shark season, so this will essentially double the tourism season,” Mr Jacob told reporters on Sunday.

He said swimmers would not be allowed to touch the whales, but up to 10 people at a time would be able to get as close as four metres from a stationary whale and 30 metres from a moving whale.

No one will be allowed to swim with a mother and her calf or when the whales go within Exmouth Gulf to rest.

Large boats will have to stay 200 metres away from the animals.

Mr Jacob said the move came after the Threatened Species Committee recommended de-listing the humpback whale from that category and placing it in the specially protected list.

Pew Charitable Trusts declined to comment specifically on the plan until it has seen the detail, but confirmed there had been a huge recovery in the west coast humpback whale population since commercial hunting ended in 1963.

Azerbaijan’s ruling party seen easily winning election

19/04/2019 Posted by admin

Aliyev has consolidated his power since succeeding his father and long-serving leader Heydar in 2003, presiding over a period when officials say revenues from rising oil and gas exports have delivered better living standards.

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Rights groups accuse the government of curbing freedoms and of silencing dissent, while the opposition complains of harassment, a lack of access to broadcasting, and draconian restrictions on campaigning.

The government denies wrongdoing, and Western governments, who are courting Azerbaijan as an alternative source of oil and gas to Russia, balance their criticism over human rights with strategic considerations.

Azerbaijan is host to oil majors including BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp.

“We got 71 (out of 125) seats at the previous election and we have every chance to repeat that victory this time,” Ali Akhmedov, the executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) Party, said.

The mainstream opposition in Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim country of about 9 million people between Iran, Russia and Turkey, is boycotting the poll.

“The pre-election period was marred by massive violations. That’s why we decided not to participate,” opposition Musavat Party leader, Arif Gajily, told Reuters.

All 125 seats in the single-chamber parliament, which is elected every five years, will be filled through voting for individual candidates in electoral districts.

Human Rights Watch said this week that Azeri authorities had convicted or imprisoned at least 35 journalists and rights and political activists in 2014 and that “the crackdown continued at a dizzying pace.”

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it would not monitor the election because restrictions imposed on it by the authorities made credible poll monitoring impossible.

“I urge Azerbaijan’s leaders to engage with their citizens and with the international community in an open and honest dialogue aimed at bringing human rights and rule of law back to the country,” the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s democracy and human rights chairperson, Isabel Santos, said earlier this week. 

Some foreign journalists, including reporters from Reuters, were not issued with accreditation to cover the election. The foreign ministry cited technical difficulties.

Polls close at 7 p.m. (1500 GMT) and official preliminary results are expected to follow within hours.

Time for young guns to fire: Chappell

19/04/2019 Posted by admin

Former skipper Ian Chappell believes a spate of Test retirements may benefit the Australian team by forcing underperforming youngsters to finally stand tall in the baggy green.

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Australian coach Darren Lehmman on Sunday said it was up to new skipper Steve Smith and deputy David Warner to rebuild the new-look national side ahead of this week’s first Test against New Zealand.

However, Chappell claimed the onus should be on the youngsters to finally show they were up to Test standard.

Chappell was frustrated that selectors had been forced to pick veterans such as 36-year-old Adam Voges in the side after youngsters fluffed their opportunities in the past.

He said the spotlight was firmly on the likes of the recalled Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja to stand up and be counted with Smith and Warner, otherwise a long summer may await.

Burns, Khawaja, Voges and allrounder Mitch Marsh got the nod for the first two Tests against New Zealand.

But they will come under immense pressure from the likes of Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger if they do not fire a shot in Brisbane or Perth.

“The young blokes haven’t been grabbing their opportunities recently and that is why we have had all these 30-year-olds making their debut,” Chappell told AAP.

“But because of the retirements now they’ve got to start choosing some young blokes, it is up to them, they have to make the most of it.

“In some ways it (retirements) may be a good thing – the young blokes are forced to do it.

“Plus for Smith what he will have now is his team, not Michael Clarke’s leftovers – that’s not a bad thing.

“As long as they make runs.

“If all the runs are going to be left to Smith and Warner then it could be a problem.”

Lehmann baulked on Sunday when asked if he was excited about starting a new era after retirements to the likes of skipper Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers.

“I am more excited about David Warner and Steve Smith rebuilding the side to be perfectly honest,” he said.

“The players will do that. We will guide them along and prepare them the best we can.”

New Zealand quick Tim Southee said he was wary that Khawaja and Burns would be out to prove a point in the first two Tests.

“A couple of Queensland boys got the nod for the first Test so they know the Gabba better than anyone else,” he said on Sunday.

“They’ve obviously got a point to prove and a spot to sew up for future tours.”

Lehmann admitted his attack of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and veteran Peter Siddle was more settled.

But Lehmann said he wouldn’t go with four quicks at the Gabba “unless there is a monsoon”.

Australia has not lost a Gabba Test since 1989.

New Zealand have not won a Test series in Australia in 30 years.

The first Test starts on Thursday.

Kim birdies last to claim stunning victory in China

19/04/2019 Posted by admin

“As soon as I saw this course, I realised it was my type of layout and really wanted to win, so I am very happy right now,” Kim said in a post-round interview at the Hainan Island resort.

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Lewis had earlier looked on course to claim her first victory of the season after five previous second-place finishes when the world number three led by two shots after 12 holes but a bogey on the 13th allowed her rivals to haul her back in.

Kim birdied the same hole and the next to leapfrog the American as Kaufman picked up four shots in seven holes to move to one-under for the tournament and joint overnight leader Kung also birdied the 14th to form a trio of chasers a shot back from the Korean.

Kaufman parred the last three holes to sit in the clubhouse on one-under and when Kim duffed her tee shot on the par-three 17th, her chances of recording a third victory of the season appeared all but over.

Kung and Lewis hit superb tee shots to within five feet of the penultimate hole and when Kim three-putted from 45 metres to drop back into a tie for first, her playing partners both failed to sink the short putts that would have given them the lead.

Four players were now tied for the lead as the final group headed to the par-five 18th and when Kung and Lewis missed their birdie attempts, Kim took full advantage and sank to her knees as the winning putt dropped into the centre of the cup.

“I was really nervous and could hear my heart bounce. I just tried to focus on my putt and when it went in, I couldn’t believe it… it was just amazing,” added Kim, who will move into the top 10 after a stellar first season on the LPGA Tour.

The leading quartet were the only players to finish under par for the tournament as Sandra Gal, Xi Yu Lin and Alena Sharp tied for fifth place on three-over par, a stroke ahead of world number one Lydia Ko, who went four-under over the weekend after a terrible start.

(Writing by John O’Brien in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)