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Johnson secures Australia Test win

Mitchell Johnson delivered an inspired spell to help Australia win the second Test and take a 2-0 series lead, despite a late India fightback.

Johnson took four wickets for 61 runs, including 3-10 in 11 balls, as India collapsed to 224 all out after resuming on 71-1 on day four in Brisbane.

Australia lost three quick wickets but chased down 128 for the win and now cannot lose the four-Test series.

Johnson said “It’s my job to be aggressive and take wickets.”

His performance revived memories of his match-winning display at the Gabba just over a year ago, when his 5-42 and 4-61 helped

Australia win the first Ashes Test

by 381 runs.

The only Indian batsman to resist during their collapse of 9-148 was Shikhar Dhawan, who hit a stubborn 81 after playing with a wrist injury he sustained in the practice nets before the start of play.

Dhawan was initially unable to resume his innings at the start of play and was replaced by Virat Kohli, who also suffered an injured wrist batting in the nets.

The injuries prompted India’s team management to claim they had asking for better practice pitches.

“Instead of that, they have asked us to practice on worn out wickets, which have uneven bounce. Because of that two of our batsmen got injured,” said the statement.

Chasing a modest target, Australia’s reply began badly with seamer Ishant Sharma claiming two wickets before tea, but Chris Rogers gave the innings some impetus with 55 off 57 balls including 10 boundaries.

Sharma also dismissed Rogers, leaving Australia on 85 for three, and as they closed in on victory Shaun Marsh, stand-in captain Steve Smith and Brad Haddin fell in quick succession before Mitchell Marsh hit the winning runs.

Smith was named man of the match following his first innings century. He also scored an unbeaten 162 and 52 not out to help

Australia win the first Test

in Adelaide.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30559793

Australian lender sells UK loans

People walk past National Australia Bank signs adorning a building in central Brisbane - 5 December 2011Australia’s fourth largest bank continues to sell-off UK assets

National Australia Bank (NAB) will sell a package of bad loans in the UK as part of a strategy to exit an unprofitable business.

NAB is offloading £1.2bn ($1.89bn) of higher risk loans from its UK Commercial Real Estate portfolio to Cerberus Global Investors.

The sale will generate a small profit for the Australian lender.

The deal with the private equity firm will also release £127m in capital.

With the sale of the mainly defaulted loans, NAB will be reducing higher risk loans in its commercial real estate business by 93%.

In a filing to the Australian stock exchange the lender’s Group Chief Executive Andrew Thorburn said, “the sale of these higher risk loans in the NAB UK CRE portfolio is another important milestone in our strategy to of reducing our low returning legacy assets and sharpening our focus on our core Australian and New Zealand franchises.”

UK offload

The bank also said the deal will not be subjected to regulatory approvals, and the assets will immediately be removed from the group’s balance sheet.

Earlier this year, the bank sold £625m of mostly bad UK commercial property loans.

NAB is Australia’s fourth largest bank. It owns the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks in Britain.

But the UK business has been a drag on earnings. Bad debt charges have led to repeated falls in the bank’s annual profit – which have declined four times since 2008.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30490443#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

VIDEO: How Australian TV reported siege

A gunman is holding staff and customers hostage at a cafe in Sydney, Australia.

The Lindt cafe in the city centre is surrounded by armed police. Officers have made contact with the gunman.

This is how Australia’s ABC News reported the siege.

Follow BBC News live coverage

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-30482038#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia’s budget deficit to widen

hockeyThe government said delays in passing legislation and negotiations with the Senate had cost the budget more than $A10.6bn

Australia’s government has said it expects the nation’s deficit to grow to $40.4bn Australian dollars ($33.2bn; £21.2bn) in the 12 months to June.

Earlier in the year, the deficit for the period had been forecast to come in at A$29.8bn.

The country’s treasurer, Joe Hockey, said falling prices for key export commodities had hurt the economy.

The nation’s mid-year economic outlook was delayed on Monday due to a siege situation in Sydney.

Mr Hockey predicted the shortfall for the 2015-16 financial year would be A$31.2bn, up from a previous forecast of A$17.1bn.

The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) updates Australia’s economic outlook from the previous budget.

More work to do

The report said the nation’s tax receipts had been revised down by $A31.6bn due to a more than 30% fall in iron ore prices, together with weaker-than-expected wage growth.

“Government payments have also been affected,” the MYEFO report said.

“Delays in passing legislation and negotiations with the Senate have cost the budget more than $A10.6bn over the forward estimates, keeping debt and interest payments higher for longer.”

50 centsA weaker Australian dollar together with historically low interest rates would continue to support the economy, the government said

The report also said the deficit should narrow to $A11.5bn by between 2017 to 2018.

“This reinforces that there is much more work to do and budget repair will take time,” it said.

Sydney-based economist Katrina Ell told the BBC that falling iron ore prices and stubbornly soft growth in the non-mining sector meant “a budget blowout was going to occur”.

“The initial budget estimates back in May seemed overly optimistic,” she said.

Not all bad

Despite the change to the deficit forecast, the government noted that Australia’s economy would continue to be supported by historically low interest rates, lower energy prices, and a weaker Australian dollar.

One area of focus for future growth would be continued investment in infrastructure projects, which would help create more jobs and reduce congestion in busy urban areas.

Continue reading the main story

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It’s time for fiscal policy to step up to the plate and aid the transition”

End Quote
Katrina Ell
Economist, Moody’s

“In total, the [infrastructure package] will lead to over $A125bn of new productive infrastructure over the next decade,” the MYEFO said.

Ms Ell also explained that the government was “accepting its budget blowout rather than cutting back spending further to get a medium-term surplus”.

“This means that there will not be additional pressure on public sector jobs and wages, which is good news for household spending and the broader economy.”

She said it was not appropriate for the nation’s fiscal policy to tighten further.

“For over two years, monetary policy has been doing the heavy lifting to guide a smooth transition away from mining investment and towards domestic drivers,” she said.

“It’s time for fiscal policy to step up to the plate and aid the transition.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30474648#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Smith named as Australia’s captain

Steve Smith will captain Australia for the rest of the Test series against India, Cricket Australia has announced.

He replaces Michael Clarke who suffered a serious hamstring injury during the first Test in Adelaide two days ago.

The 25-year-old will become Australia’s 45th and third youngest Test captain at the match against India in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Cricket Australia has named wicketkeeper Brad Haddin as vice-captain.

The chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh, said in a statement: “We congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country.

“He is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded by the National Selection Panel not only for his fine performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potential.”

The captaincy was expected to go to Haddin, but the Australia selectors preferred Smith who has played just 23 Tests but has previously captained New South Wales.

Injuries

Michael Clarke told a news conference on Saturday that there was a chance that he would never play again: “I hope that is not the case, but you have to be realistic as well.”

The 33-year-old was injured while fielding during

their 48-run win over India

in the first Test at Adelaide.

Clarke also needed treatment on Tuesday on his long-term back injury after retiring hurt while batting.

Clarke was a doubt for the first Test, which was due to start at the Gabba on 4 December, with the left hamstring injury he sustained playing against South Africa in November.

However, the Brisbane Test

was rescheduled

following

the death of Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes

on 27 November, and Clarke says he was determined to play in the Adelaide Test, the first match after Hughes’s death.

“I have no regrets about playing this Test and I have no regrets about going back onto the field after I retired hurt. This was the most important Test match of my career,” he said.

Australia captain Michael Clarke leaves the field

Australia captain Michael Clarke has suffered with degenerative discs in his lower back

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30474269

Lyon shines as Australia beat India

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 10 wickets in a Test match for the first time in his career as Australia beat India by 48 runs in the first Test at Adelaide.

India fell short of their target of 364 from 98 overs despite captain Virat Kohli’s 141 and Murali Vijay’s 99.

Lyon took 7-152 in the second innings to finish with match figures of 12-286.

But Australia captain Michael Clarke injured his hamstring while fielding and is a doubt for the second Test at Brisbane, which starts on 17 December.

More to follow.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30461148

Lyon shines as Australia beat India

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 10 wickets in a Test match for the first time in his career as Australia beat India by 48 runs in the first Test at Adelaide.

India fell short of their target of 364 from 98 overs despite captain Virat Kohli’s 141 and Murali Vijay’s 99.

Lyon took 7-152 in the second innings to finish with match figures of 12-286.

But Australia captain Michael Clarke injured his hamstring while fielding and is a doubt for the second Test at Brisbane, which starts on 17 December.

More to follow.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30461148

China buys Australian building firm

Australia's parliament houseJohn Holland built Australia’s parliament building in Canberra

A Chinese construction giant is set to buy one of Australia’s largest construction companies for $1.15bn Australian dollars ($951m; £603m).

China Communications Construction International (CCCI) will buy Leighton Holdings’ building unit John Holland.

CCCI is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which is the world’s fourth largest construction firm by revenue.

Just last month, China and Australia signed a major free trade agreement.

Ties between the two countries are an important source of growth especially for the Australian economy, with China as its largest trading partner.

The move also comes after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised during last year’s election campaign that he would to spend a record A$50bn on Australia’s transportation system.

John Holland, which built Australia’s parliament building, had revenue of A$4.5bn last year.

About 4,100 of the unit’s 5,000 workers will transfer to the new business, Leighton Holdings said in a statement on Friday.

The sale is subject to regulatory approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

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Do Australians still want Abbott as PM?

PM Tony Abbott in Canberra (19 Nov 2014)

Australian voters have rejected Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “year of achievements”.

The latest polling shows many people believe Mr Abbott is the least competent Australian leader in 20 years. He fares even worse when it comes to being trustworthy, according to a December Fairfax Ipsos poll.

And it is trust and competence that matter most to the public, say political pundits.

It is not unusual for prime ministers to struggle in their first term, says lecturer at the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, Dr Zareh Ghazarian.

Over the past 20 or 30 years in Australian politics it has taken most new prime ministers time to “find their feet”, says Dr Ghazarian.

‘Getting on with the job’

“One of Australia’s most successful prime ministers in terms of winning elections was [conservative] John Howard but he had a horrid first term in government,” he says. Mr Howard went on to be the second-longest serving Australian prime minister after Sir Robert Menzies.

“The problem for Abbott seems to be a bit deeper than that and it goes to issues of trust, credibility and competence,” he says.

“What matters is that the government presents itself as competent and is seen to be getting on with the job.”

Vehicle at mine in Pilbara region, Western Australia (20 Nov 2014)Mining benefitted from the scrapping of a 30% tax on profits in 2014

But after a series of economic and policy stumbles by the coalition government, opposition leader Bill Shorten is now leading Mr Abbott on six of 11 key attributes including competence, trust and having a firm grasp of social policy, according to the Ipsos telephone poll of 1,401 voters. The poll, taken between 4 and 6 December, has a margin of error of 2.6%.

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Policy wins and losses for Tony Abbott in 2014

Wins

  • Repealing the carbon tax
  • Repealing the mining tax
  • Stemming the flow of refugees coming to Australia by boat
  • Free trade agreements with China, Japan, South Korea

Losses

  • Harsh budget cuts across the board; poor hit hardest
  • Senate rejection of university fee deregulation bill
  • Senate rejection of changes to financial advice laws
  • Backing down on generous paid parental leave scheme
  • Backing down on A$7 fee to visit doctor
  • Expected blowout in May budget
  • Increase in an unpopular fuel tax

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The government started well. In July, it delivered on an election promise to repeal the former Labor government’s levy on the country’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters. It also dumped a 30% tax on coal and iron ore mining profits.

In cabinet, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has delivered on the government’s promise to stop the flow of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. Boats are now turned back and those who make it to Australia are detained in offshore camps with little chance of permanent settlement in Australia.

The government has also kept its promise of reversing most of Labor’s climate change policies. Along with the carbon tax, it scrapped the Climate Commission and plans to halve the country’s legislated renewable energy target.

This week, Australia was rated the worst performing industrial country in the world in terms of climate change in an annual analysis done by two European non-government organisations.

International criticism has had a small impact, with the government finally agreeing to contribute A$200m (£106m; $166m) to a UN-backed Green Climate Fund to help poor nations mitigate the impact of global warming.

But polls indicate the public is more worried about the economy than the environment.

The government’s inability to explain why it delivered such a tough budget earlier this year and its failure to get all of the budget savings through a hostile senate explain the public’s dissatisfaction, says Dr Ghazarian. The government does not have a majority in the senate.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey (file image)Treasurer Joe Hockey infuriated some Australians with his comments about people on low incomes

“I don’t think the government has effectively explained why they have made the decisions they have made, especially regarding economic issues,” he says.

There are rumblings of discontent within the coalition, too. After the Victorian coalition lost the state election in November, former conservative premier Jeff Kennett said the Abbott government was a “shambles” and its performance a major factor in the defeat of the state government.

Coalition members say also that criticism of the government’s own shipbuilding company, which is based in South Australia, by Defence Minister David Johnston, contributed to a 9% swing against the Liberal Party in a recent South Australian by-election.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has also performed poorly. Most notoriously, he said an increased petrol tax would not hurt low-income earners because they “either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far”, a claim that was widely disputed.

But Michelle Grattan, professorial fellow at University of Canberra and one of the Canberra Press Gallery’s most experienced political journalists, says a cabinet reshuffle could be dangerous.

“A reshuffle that was received badly publicly and internally in Coalition ranks would be a disastrous way to start the year,” she wrote in an article for the independent news and analysis site The Conversation.

She said Mr Abbott’s attempts to “reset” his government’s rhetoric – in several instances he has conceded he has broken election promises – could also bring him undone.

“We’re asked to swallow a distinction between his broken promises and Labor’s,” she wrote.

But is all of this enough to make his cabinet colleagues ponder a change of leader?

It proved disastrous for Labor, which ditched Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for Julia Gillard before switching back to Mr Rudd, only to lose the 2013 election. The Victorian government’s leadership switch last year is cited as one of a number of reasons it lost the November election.

They have to tough it out with Mr Abbott, says Dr Ghazarian.

“Parties that change leaders are doomed.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-30410255#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Captain Clarke plays on for Australia

Australia captain Michael Clarke was fit to resume his innings in the first Test match against India.

Clarke, 33, had to retire hurt on 60 after injuring his back moving away from a short ball on the first day of the opening Test in Adelaide.

But he had injections overnight to alleviate the problem.

He came out to bat at the start of the second day’s play, after Brad Haddin was out for a duck the previous evening.

And from the fourth ball he faced, Clarke struck a boundary that took him onto 64, Hughes’ international squad number, which has now

been retired

.

It has been a traumatic few days for the batsman, who made an

emotional speech

at the funeral of close friend Phillip Hughes on 3 December.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30407235

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