Finals footy key to signing Tedesco

James Tedesco says the chance to play finals footy regularly – not money or the coach – will be the key factor in deciding who he signs with from next season.

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The star fullback also called on Wests Tigers management to show stability, adding the uncertainty at the joint-venture franchise was hurting the players.

The Tigers are facing a stiff battle to retain Tedesco as well as fellow young guns Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks who are widely viewed as the future of the club.

Tedesco has been linked to Canterbury in recent days while Woods has reportedly attracted interest from the Bulldogs and Warriors.

The Tigers have been success-starved in recent years, failing to make the top eight since 2011.

Tedesco has never played finals football despite being one of the premier players in the game and the incumbent NSW No.1, and said his priority was to go to a club that was a consistent top eight contender.

“It’s not about either of those (money or the coach) – it’s about winning games,” Tedesco said.

“Every player wants to be playing finals footy and I haven’t done that for five or six years (since playing under-20s).”

The Tigers last week sacked mentor Jason Taylor after back-to-back floggings with former Penrith and Warriors boss Ivan Cleary expected to be confirmed as the club’s new head coach next week.

Tedesco pleaded for stability and said the side couldn’t fire if things weren’t right off the field.

“It’s pretty clear that we need to get that stable and it’s been unstable for a few years,” Tedesco said.

“It all comes from the top. The board and the guys upstairs really need to show some stability so we can be confident in our abilities.”

Interim coach Andrew Webster will again lead the side into Sunday’s clash with St George Illawarra.

Tedesco, Brooks and Moses have all attracted criticism that they are undeserving of the blue-chip pay packets they’re asking for.

No.6 Moses agreed it was time for him and his fellow playmakers to step up but shrugged off barbs they didn’t deserve their asking price.

“That’s completely up to them,” Moses said of his knockers.

“I’m just going to keep playing footy for the Tigers and get my game up to where it was last year.

“I don’t think we’re too far off. We’re only four games into the season.”

Meninga backs Raiders as NRL contenders

Canberra remain premiership contenders despite their 1-3 start to the NRL season, according Raiders’ legend and Australian coach Mal Meninga.

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The club’s most-recent premiership captain believes depth is their greatest asset as they push for their first title since 1994.

And while many have tipped last year’s preliminary finalists to go one better in 2017, losses to North Queensland, Cronulla and Brisbane have them sitting outside the top eight after four rounds.

“Except for being blown away by the Sharks, I’ve been impressed with their efforts,” Meninga told AAP.

“I think they’ve been really resilient in the way they’ve gone about their business.”

The Raiders have continued their habit of engaging in tight tussles, with a golden-point loss to the Cowboys and a one-point defeat last week to the Broncos.

“They’ve hung in there well and nearly beat the Cows away and nearly beat Brisbane away,” Meninga said.

“I like the way they came back against Brisbane.

“They shot themselves in the foot with their mistake rate, particularly early in the second half.”

Elliot Whitehead’s suspension has paved the way for Sia Soliola to return to the Raiders’ starting line-up to face Parramatta on Saturday at GIO Stadium, which Meninga says is a measure of their depth.

“They’ve just got to start to string some wins together shortly and I think (the premiership is) possible,” he said.

“If they get over the Eels on the weekend, then they’ve got the Warriors and the Titans, so they’re very winnable games.”

Former State of Origin and Test forward Dave Taylor returns to the bench for the clash with the Eels, as he continues his NRL comeback.

The Kangaroos’ coach is not ruling out a return to representative football if the 28-year-old can get back to his best.

“If Dave is willing to put the effort in, he’ll be rewarded,” Meninga said.

“He’s such a talented individual. But you’ve got to work hard for your success.

“If he’s willing to do that and he’s willing to do that with Canberra – how good is that?

“He can blow a game open on his own at times.”

BOQ focused on credit quality over profit

Bank of Queensland’s refusal to match the size of loans offered by the big banks in the housing hot spots of Sydney and Melbourne contributed to a two per cent drop in first half profit for the regional lender.

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BOQ’s loan book contracted by $168 million over the six months to February 28 – compared to growth of $1.95 billion for the prior corresponding period – as the bank prioritised margins and credit quality over growth.

its net interest margin fell from 1.90 per cent in the prior half to 1.85 per cent as the big banks slugged it out for loans and deposits, while first half cash profit fell to $175 million, from $179 million in the prior corresponding period.

“In many cases, we found we were willing to lend a lower maximum amount than our peers, particularly in the Sydney and Melbourne markets,” chief financial officer Anthony Rose said.

“As a result we found ourselves off the consideration set for many brokers.”

Lending growth from the broker channel dropped about 90 per cent from recent levels, he said.

Where BOQ might have offered a loan of $900,000 to a two-income Sydney family, the big four banks might have offered $1.2 million, chief executive Jon Sutton said.

“A number of the majors scooped up an enormous amount of mortgages in a very short period of time at very competitive pricing, so we made a decision not to match that price,” he said.

“(And) we could not match the maximum loans that were being offered.”

Nonetheless, Mr Rose said applications had surged over the past six weeks as other lenders brought their credit and serviceability standards more into line with BOQ’s.

Mr Sutton said the outlook for the second half was brighter, and the focus on credit quality left the bank strongly positioned, with plenty of room to manoeuvre without breaching the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s 10 per cent cap on investor lending growth.

“We expect balance sheet growth to resume in the second half,” Mr Sutton said.

“The pipeline of mortgage applications in the past six weeks increased pretty substantially across all channels and furthermore we are not currently constrained by the APRA investor lending cap.”

Bank of Queensland shares fell two per cent in early trade but bounced back in the afternoon to gain 30 cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $12.04.

BOQ HIT BY FIERCE COMPETITION

* Half year cash profit down 2pct to $175m

* Net profit down 6pct to $161m

* Interim dividend steady at 38 cents, fully franked

Squeegee-led recovery after Qld cyclone

They may disagree on a lot of things, but Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are on a unity ticket when it comes to mopping up.

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The political leaders on Thursday took up squeegee mops during a trip to Bowen to help clean a shop damaged by Cyclone Debbie.

The pair also became tourism promoters when they urged all Australians to holiday on the Whitsundays, which was hammered by the category four storm.

“Nature flings its worst at Australians and it’s certainly happened here in the Whitsunday region, but it brings out the best (in people),” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“The storm’s gone, the clean-up will happen and then it’s back in business.”

The federal government has made money available immediately to the local council to start rebuilding infrastructure – including urgent repairs to roads where damage has cut off towns.

There are also 1300 Defence personnel, aided by 12 helicopters and amphibious landing ship HMAS Choules, in the area working on recovery efforts and airlifting supplies and fresh water to people stranded on islands.

Mr Shorten said if people wanted to help longer-term recovery efforts “the Whitsunday region is a great place for a holiday”.

“They will tidy this up, they will be back on their feet,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said the federal government would give the region extra help with tourism promotion.

Mr Shorten also reiterated to insurance companies that politicians of all stripes would be keeping an eye on them, to make sure legitimate claims weren’t tied up in red tape.

The prime minister later told parliament the ADF had sent in specialist electricians to Bowen to put the power back on.

“The speed of the reaction of the Australian Defence Force should make every single one of us so proud.”

Sex in pool, roof during Don Dale riots

Girls had to be given the morning after pill following two riots at Don Dale Detention Centre, the NT royal commission has heard.

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Salli Cohen was NT Youth Justice Executive Director in September 2013 when eight teenagers broke into a ceiling and caused $60,000 worth of damage to protest against mistreatment from guards.

She told the Northern Territory juvenile justice royal commission on Thursday the morning after contraceptive pill was administered following strong suspicions two inmates had sex.

A former detainee known as AG had told the inquiry she and the other detainees stayed in the roof for more than eight hours and she was put in solitary confinement for almost one month afterwards.

“The boys started going mad and broke into the roof and then they pulled me into the roof and we all went mad… one of the senior officers threatened to tear gas us,” the now 20-year-old said.

Ms Cohen said over the next year there were 16 serious incidents including escapes, disturbances, self harm episodes and a bomb threat.

The inquiry had previously heard three girls were given the morning after pill after allegedly having sex in a pool following a riot in 2011.

Three female and two male detainees were also treated for sexually transmitted infections after the Christmas night incident.

One of the boys, who was 17 at the time, was referred to police for having sex with an underage girl.

“We got taken out to the basketball courts because fire alarms went off,” a former detainee identified as BY told the inquiry.

“(Inmate) Dylan Voller jumped in the pool and a lot of other detainees followed behind. We started smashing stuff up.”

The then 17-year-old said things quickly “got out of control” and he threw a chair at a guard.

In response, management moved some of the kids to the nearby adult jail, where BY said he was spithooded, forced to shower with adult prisoners and threatened by guards with rape.

Less than a year before boys were teargassed in August 2014, Ms Cohen emailed then Corrections Commissioner Ken Middlebrook flagging major security risks.

“I believe we are very close to having a major incident,” she wrote.

Ms Cohen said she wasn’t surprised Mr Middlebrook ordered rolling 72-hour isolation stints totalling 17 days for the boy who sparked the gassing by escaping his cell and trashing an exercise yard.

By late 2013 a cabinet submission requesting $9.2 million for urgently needed new infrastructure and staff was knocked back and only $5 million for refurbishing Don Dale was approved.

Earlier, the inquiry heard procedures for dealing with kids at risk of self-harm were not being followed more than a decade after a death in custody.

The 15-year-old Aboriginal boy who died in 2000 had been sent to Don Dale for 28 days under controversial mandatory sentencing laws, after stealing stationery worth less than $100.

Qld schools to close for 2nd straight day

Schools in southeast Queensland will remain closed for a second day on Friday, with concerns for childrens’ safety as the region is swamped by intense rainfall.

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The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie has caused a deluge in southeast Queensland, leading the state government on Thursday to close all public, private and independent schools from Agnes Water south to the NSW border.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the decision to close state schools and make a directive for private schools to follow suit for a second day on Friday wasn’t taken lightly.

The premier said the worst weather had been forecast for Thursday afternoon when schools were to break and experts had recommended all people stay indoors and off flooded roads.

“What we didn’t want to see was people going out and picking up their children … at a time this weather event is only going to get worse,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“This decision was made in the best interest of the safety of families and we are now making that same decision for tomorrow because we simply do not want to put people’s safety at risk.”

The weather is expected to ease on Friday, however there was enough uncertainty around that prediction for the government to cancel classes for a second day.

Friday was to be the last day of term, meaning children will go straight to the Easter break.

Ms Palaszczuk also urged everyone, children and adults, to stay at home on Thursday night.

“If you have plans tonight to go out to see friends, to see neighbours, to travel, please do not. Stay in your home; this is for one night,” she said.

“I need to have the roads clear for our emergency services personnel if they do need to go to the assistance of people.”

China, Europe must lead on climate: EU

China and the European Union need to show joint leadership on climate change and cannot expect the “same leadership” from the US under the Trump administration, European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete says.

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Canete, speaking to reporters on Thursday after meeting Chinese officials in Beijing, expressed regret the US was rolling back climate policies but said China and Europe remained committed to “driving forward” the battle against climate change.

“We are not going to backslide even if the United States at the moment … is backsliding from its previous commitments,” he said.

US President Donald Trump signed an order on Tuesday to undo Obama-era climate change regulations, keeping a campaign promise to support the coal industry and calling into question US support for the international deal to fight global warming.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at slashing power plant emissions, was a key component of joint pledges made in 2014 by China and the US, the world’s two biggest producers of greenhouse gases, and helped seal a new global pact signed in Paris at the end of 2015.

The Paris Agreement seeks to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century and limit global warming to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Climate activists expressed concern the new US position would jeopardise negotiations to implement the Paris agreement, which are set to be completed in 2018, and urged the European Union to step into the breach.

“There is a clear risk that the United States might go beyond the delicate balance that the countries agreed in Paris,” said Li Shuo, senior climate adviser with environmental group Greenpeace.

“We might have some trouble and if the European Union and China can reaffirm their commitment to conclude this process, that will send a strong political signal.”

Ex-Cylone Debbie causing airport chaos

Heavy rain from ex-tropical cyclone Debbie is causing havoc for flights in and out of several major airports in Queensland and parts of NSW.

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Virgin Australia has cancelled domestic flights at Queensland’s Gold Coast and Prosperine airports, while no Qantas flights will operate to or from Gladstone.

However, Qantas has resumed some Hamilton Island flights to help evacuate hundreds of tourists stranded as a result of cyclone Debbie.

A spokesman said the remainder of its flights across Queensland were operating as usual.

Virgin Australia said there would be no flights in or out of Prosperine, near the cyclone-ravaged Airlie Beach, on Thursday or Friday. All its domestic Gold Coast flights scheduled to arrive or depart this afternoon were also cancelled.

The airline is meanwhile working with authorities to confirm whether it is safe to fly in and out of Hamilton Island.

“Due to the extensive damage to infrastructure on the island, Virgin Australia will not bring any more guests into Hamilton Island for the next two days, up until and including Saturday 1 April,” the airline said in a statement.

“An update on inbound services to Hamilton Island from Sunday 2 April onwards will be provided following further assessment.”

Virgin said its flights to and from Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Port Macquarie in NSW may also be affected by wet weather today.

Passengers booked on Virgin flights to or from Brisbane, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton in Queensland could also be delayed by the wet weather.

Comment was being sought from Jetstar.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said all the budget airline’s flights will operate on Thursday, with no weather-related cancellations.

“All of our scheduled services will operate to and from Brisbane and Gold Coast today, unless otherwise advised,” Jetstar said in a statement.

“A number of options are available to customers who are unable to reach the airport or travel due to severe weather conditions.”

Treasury works on capital gains tax reform

The federal Treasury has produced modelling and other work on capital gains tax reform.

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AAP sought, via a freedom of information search, correspondence, meeting notes and reports of modelling produced by Treasury in relation to potential changes to CGT produced between November 2016 and mid-February.

The request, which is still being processed, has turned up 97 pages of material.

In February, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to answer a Labor question in parliament about whether he had personally sought advice or modelling on the issue.

However, he said the government was “paying very close attention to the damage that would be caused by the capital gains tax proposals of the Labor Party”.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said last month he was not working on any plans to changes CGT.

“I can assure you,” he told media.

Labor has proposed reforming negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, which it says will help young people seeking to buy their first home.

The two concessions cost the budget more than $10 billion a year and the amount is set to grow.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told AAP on Thursday it was further evidence the government was divided over the issue and offering no confidence it could provide a plan for jobs, housing affordability and protecting the triple-A credit rating.

“It’s completely unsurprising that Treasury has done work on changes to the CGT discount given the treasurer’s refusal to rule out such changes,” he said.

“Meanwhile the prime minister and finance minister continue to insist the government has no mandate for such changes and will not be pursuing them.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison is expected to announce a housing affordability package in the May budget.

Guests stuck on battered resort island

The first guests have been evacuated from the Whitsunday islands resorts smashed by Cyclone Debbie but thousands remain stranded on Hamilton Island.

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Daydream Island is expected to be closed for a month as further assessments of the extensive damage continue.

All guests and more than 100 staff have been evacuated from Daydream after the category four storm belted the region but many more remain stuck at other resorts.

The 3000 people stranded on nearby Hamilton Island, which was lashed with the strongest recorded winds on Thursday at 263 km/h, face a longer wait to reach the mainland.

Twelve flights have been scheduled between Hamilton Island and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Checking in could take up to 25 minutes per passenger, a statement on the Hamilton Island website said.

“We have been advised airlines will be bringing up large volumes of staff to assist with this process,” the statement said.

The defence force delivered food, fuel and water to Daydream Island earlier on Thursday, while local ferries were organised to shuttle guests back to the mainland.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visited Bowen on Thursday morning, making financial aid available immediately to the Whitsunday council to start rebuilding infrastructure.

A emergency services source told AAP South Molle Island, to the northwest of Hamilton Island, had been “totally devastated” but no one was there when Debbie struck.

Nearby Hayman Island has also suffered significant damage preventing emergency services personnel landing on Wednesday.