Help on way to cut-off Qld sites: premier

Close to 300 properties in cyclone-battered north Queensland have been deemed unlivable, as authorities rush to address water shortages in the region.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says about 2000 damage assessments have so far been completed in the cyclone’s northern strike zone, with 270 properties damaged so severely they can’t be lived in.

Despite the focus turning to southeast Queensland and northern NSW following Cyclone Debbie’s destruction, Ms Palaszczuk insisted isolated north Queensland communities had not been forgotten.

The premier said authorities were “very conscious” about struggling communities such as Bowen, Proserpine and Airlie Beach, who were all battered by the category four storm on Tuesday.

“We are trying to get in there as quickly as possible. Let me make it very clear – help is on its way,” she told reporters at Beenleigh, where the local train station has been swamped by floodwaters.

Ms Palaszczuk said there were concerns about water supplies in the north.

“The army is doing everything it can to get water into those parts of North Queensland. I mentioned Airlie Beach, Proserpine, and the Whitsunday Islands. We have the SES helping with that,” she said.

Power restoration is the other critical factor hampering recovery efforts, with 50,000 properties in the Bowen, Mackay and Whitsunday regions still without electricity three days after Debbie crossed the coast.

It is slowly being restored to petrol stations and other essential services at Airlie Beach, after generators were brought in on trucks on Friday morning.

Authorities are also warning that Rockhampton could see significant flooding next week, after huge rainfalls in catchments feeding into the Fitzroy River.

“There is a concern for Rockhampton,” Bureau of Meteorology regional director Bruce Gunn told reporters.

At Airlie Beach, the army has used tanks and a truck to deliver almost 20,000 litres of much needed drinking water.

One pulled up at The Lagoon in the centre of town while the other went to The Centro shopping centre.

Young Kim is one of thousands of residents who has been without power and running water since Cyclone Debbie tore through the town.

He arrived early to secure his supply, saying the 30 litre containers he filled up would last about two days.

“We’ve been rationing,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to be like this, especially the toilet situation.”

Live Life Pharmacy manager Karen Milostic cried when she walked into one of her stores. It only reopened six months ago following extensive renovations to reduce damage caused by bad weather.

“The shop had been flooded twice before,” she told AAP.

Kyrgios to meet Federer in Miami semis

Nick Kyrgios has booked a semi-final showdown with the rejuvenated Roger Federer at the Miami Open after seeing off fellow young gun Alexander Zverev for the second time in two weeks.

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Australian 12th seed Kyrgios required six match points against the 19-year-old German, prevailing 6-4 6-7 (9-11) 6-3 at Key Biscayne.

After world No.20 Zverev refused to yield in an enthralling second-set tiebreak, Kyrgios rallied to break serve in the sixth game of the third set before taking victory in two-and-a-half hours.

Kyrgios sent down 16 aces to Zverev’s three in their second career meeting, having also won their maiden encounter at Indian Wells.

Kyrgios also hit 34 winners to 21, including a between-the-legs shot to win a point in the opening game of the second set.

However, Kyrgios’ bag of trick shots let him down in the second-set tiebreaker, netting a between-the-legs ‘tweener’ shot to hand Zverev the set.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Kyrgios said.

Despite signs of frustration from the players during the tense final set, which included both chastising the chair umpire and lines judges, Kyrgios appeared to appreciate the Zverev challenge.

The 21-year-old posted to Facebook a photo of the pair embracing after the match, saying, “And there will be many more of those to come.”

On Twitter he posted a video of the final point and post-match embrace adding, “Let’s hug it out, mate. @NickKyrgios #MiamiOpen”.

Kyrgios is looking forward to facing Federer – the reigning Australian Open winner and two-time champion at Key Biscayne – after he withdrew from their scheduled Indian Wells quarter-final a fortnight ago with a virus.

“He’s my favourite player, so I’m going to enjoy the moment,” Kyrgios said of Federer, who is 17-1 this year.

“He’s the greatest of all time. We don’t know how long he’s going to hang around so it’s a blessing.”

On his match-up with Kyrgios Federer said in his on-court interview: “You all should tune in if you’re not in the stadium.”

Federer, the 35-year-old winner of 18 grand slam titles, fought off two match points before beating No.10 seed Tomas Berdych 6-2 3-6 7-6 (8-6) in their quarter-final.

“I’m happy today to have come through somehow,” Federer said.

“I definitely got very lucky at the end. But I think I showed great heart today.”

Fourth-seed Federer was serving for the match at 5-3 and got broken, had a match point in the next game and couldn’t convert, then was down 6-4 in the breaker before winning the final four points.

Federer looked set for another emphatic victory after taking the first set but the second set is where things started going awry.

He needed only 26 minutes to take the first set before Berdych found his stride. Federer broke for 4-2 in the third, was serving for the match at 5-3 and got broken to love, then let a match point get away.

But Federer held on and was handed the victory when Berdych double faulted.

“Sick atmosphere,” Federer told the crowd afterward. “Thanks for making it very special.”

In the bottom half of the draw, unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini will face Spain’s fifth-seed Rafael Nadal for a spot in the final.

Vic energy companies breaking the rules

Five Victorians on life support weren’t given notice about planned power outages to their homes, according to a report by the state’s utilities regulator.

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It also found Victorian energy companies were breaching industry rules an average of more than three times a day in the last six months of 2016.

The Victorian Essential Services Commission energy market report for July to December last year found five Victorians on life support weren’t told about planned outages.

It also found 27 instances when a registered life support customer was improperly disconnected from electricity between July 2013 to September 2016.

The report said the mistakes occurred due to “human error or inaccurate maps”, but luckily no-one was “materially affected”.

Energy companies have since reported changes to ensure the errors don’t happen again, including changes to systems, retraining staff and improving the accuracy of network maps.

The commission found energy retailers and distributors broke the rules 687 times in the six months to December 31 last year, including more than 370 wrongful disconnections that cost more than half a million dollars in payouts.

The problem appears to be getting worse, with energy companies on track to pass the previous financial year’s figure of 565 wrongful disconnections.

During the 2015-16 financial year, Origin had 214 wrongful disconnections, AGL EnergyAustralia had 117, Lumo 63, Simply Energy 52, AGL 34 and Alinta 30,

A spokesman for the Australian Energy Council said rising electricity costs are placing increased pressure on customers and retailers alike.

“There were about 20,000 customers disconnected for not paying their bills and 379 disconnections were wrongful,” the spokesman told AAP.

“While that is less than two per cent of all disconnections, it is still too many.”

Rio Tinto trims iron ore shipment target

Rio Tinto has pared back expectations for its full-year iron ore shipments as ongoing maintenance work slows its ability to export the steel making ingredient.

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The world’s second largest iron ore exporter now expects 2017 iron ore shipments to be at the low end of its previous guidance of between 330 and 340 million tonnes.

Shares in the company skidded on the news, down 1.6 per cent at $64.90 at 1510 AEST.

“Investors are factoring in the lower guidance for iron ore and coking coal and that seems to be weighing on the stock,” Morgans analyst Adrian Prendergast said.

“However, iron ore prices are stronger than people predicted and that should be a driver for the company’s earnings.”

The revision comes after June quarter shipments from its Pilbara iron ore operations slipped six per cent from a year ago to 77.7 million tonnes because of rail track maintenance work.

Mr Prendergast said the impact of rail maintenance had been expected to be spread over several quarters, but seemed to be more skewed towards the June quarter.

Production of iron ore was nearly steady in its second quarter, down just one per cent from a year ago to 79.8 million tonnes.

The mining giant had already made a sluggish start to the year, with first quarter shipments and production affected by bad weather.

Rio said its revised shipments target took into consideration first half production and further rail maintenance in the second half of the year.

“Further rail maintenance will continue throughout the remainder of 2017, albeit at a lower level than in the second quarter,” the company said in a statement.

Guidance for hard coking coal production in 2017 was cut to 7.2 to 7.8 million tonnes, from the previous forecast of 7.8 and 8.4 million tonnes, after June quarter output declined 14 per cent due to the impact of Cyclone Debbie.

Rio’s copper production fell six per cent to 124,700 tonnes in the June quarter, as operations at its jointly-owned Escondida mine in Chile gradually ramped up following a 43-day labour strike, while output remained curtailed at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia.

Malala urges Nigeria to prioritise education, meets Chibok girls

The 20-year-old global education campaigner made the suggestion at a meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa in Abuja.

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Nigeria has some 10.5 million children out of school – the most in the world – and 60 percent of them are girls, according to the UN children’s fund, Unicef.

Many of them are in the country’s northeast, where the Boko Haram insurgency has devastated education in the last nine years, damaging or destroying classrooms and schools.

Yousafzai, who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in her native Pakistan in 2012 for insisting girls should go to school, told reporters: “I highlighted a few issues. 

“The first was to ask the government to declare a state of emergency for education because the education of the Nigerian girls and boys is really important. 

“The federal government, state government and local government should all be united for this. Secondly, the spending should be made public and thirdly, the Child Rights Act should be implemented in all states.”

Yousafzai said there was a “positive response” to the suggestion from Osinbajo, who has been standing in for President Muhammadu Buhari since he left on open-ended medical leave in early May.

Nigerian activist Amina Yusuf meets Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai in Abuja, Nigeria, July 17, 2017.AP

The most high-profile symbols of the attack on girls’ education are the more than 200 students who were abducted by Boko Haram Islamists from their school in the remote town of Chibok in April 2014.

Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2014, joined politicians, celebrities and campaigners from around the world to support the online #BringBackOurGirls movement to demand their release.

On a previous visit to Nigeria in July 2014, she urged the then-president Goodluck Jonathan to meet the girls’ parents. 

On the first anniversary, she called the missing girls “my brave sisters” and wrote in an open letter that she could not wait to meet and hug them. “You are my heroes,” she said.

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A total of 106 of the kidnapped girls have been released, rescued or escaped after more than three years in captivity, while 113 are still being held.

Yousafzai said she was “very happy” to see some of the girls, who are staying at a government-run facility in Abuja. 

“I’m really excited to see them going back to their homes and to their families and continuing their education,” she added. 

“But I hope the other girls who are still under abduction of Boko Haram are released.”

Australian firefighters to help fight Canada wildfire emergency

Canada scrambled thousands of firefighters and hundreds of aircraft from across the country to tackle raging infernos in the western province, and had even drafted extra firefighters from Australia, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.

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He said 39,000 people had been forced from their homes so far, noting that the emergency measures constituted “the largest evacuation in the history of British Columbia,” the worst-hit region in the country.

“I would note that we’re expecting at least 50 forest firefighters to be coming in from Australia over the course of the next couple of days. And if there are additional resources needed from other parts of the world, we will access those as well,” he said.

Southern and central British Columbia have been hit by scorching weather that has left the forested province on high alert for the past 10 days.

Authorities had hoped to have the fires under control late last week, but they returned with a vengeance over the weekend, fanned by strong winds and increasing in number as lightning strikes sparked new blazes.

Wild fires were also devastating forests in California, where a lightning storm on Sunday near Yosemite National Park started a blaze dubbed the “Detwiller fire” which razed 7,100 acres (2,870 hectares), according to Cal Fire.

Around 50 alerts were issued in towns and villages in British Columbia, forcing residents to flee their homes with no guarantee they can return anytime soon.

On Saturday, the 11,000 residents of Williams Lake were forced to abandon their homes and spend hours stuck in traffic jams on the only evacuation route still open from their town, surrounded by flames in the middle of the night.

A dozen towns set up emergency centers to accommodate those fleeing the fires, providing camp beds and food. But towns such as Kamloops and Prince George were starting to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people arriving every day.

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Around 3,000 firefighters from all over Canada, together with 200 helicopters and fire-fighting planes, were battling more than 150 blazes in British Columbia, several of which were raging out of control.

A fire-fighting helicopter crashed in the region on Saturday, and its pilot – who was alone on board – was being treated in a hospital.

Since April 1, 657 fires have destroyed some 730 square miles (188,800 hectares) of forest in the province.

Some of the worst fires, such as the blaze near the town of Ashcroft, cover tens of thousands of hectares.

Fires are also threatening areas further east in the Rocky Mountains, home to some of the country’s most important national parks like the nature reserve in Banff.

A part of that park – which receives almost four million tourists each year – was closed Monday as a new fire menaced the surrounding area.

The Parks Canada authority also closed parts of the neighboring Kootenay National Park.

The fires come at the height of tourist season and just as Canada is expecting a flood of visitors to celebrate its 150th anniversary, when it will grant free access to its national parks.

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Ancient Roman amphitheatre ‘secretly’ sold off in Israel

Caesarea’s Roman amphitheatre and hippodrome were built by King Herod around 2,000 years ago, transforming the coastal city into the commercial capital of ancient Judaea.

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By 6 BC it was the headquarters of the Roman government in Palestine, and later became the most important city in the country following the destruction of Jerusalem.

In the Bible King Herod ordered the death of all young boys when Jesus was born to avoid being overthrown.

The structures, listed for tentative consideration for UNESCO heritage status, are still used to host local and international performers, with US band The Pixies set to hold two concerts there later this month.

According to a news report on local television station Channel 2, more than 170 acres of land were sold off in June by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Chariot racing inside the amphitheatre at Caesarea in ancient Palestine, circa 100 BC.AAP

The buyer of the land, including the areas on which the ancient structures stand, is reportedly an overseas holding company.

The Times of Israel newspaper said the areas sold include large parts previously designated as historic national parklands.

Channel 2 said the deal was done for an undisclosed amount between the church and a company called Saint Ventures Limited.

It adds that officials were completely blindsided by the sale, including those at the Israel Lands Authority and the Justice Ministry.

The Justice Ministry has reportedly called for a meeting to discuss the land sales – particularly following recent similar revelations, the Times of Israel stated.

Around 1,500 property owners in some of Jerusalem’s wealthiest neighbourhoods last month discovered the land on which their homes sit had been sold by the church to several private real estate firms.

The Greek Orthodox Church acquired more than 1,000 acres of land in the centre of the Israeli capital city in the 19th century, primarily for agricultural use.

Following Israeli independence, it agreed to lease the land to the Jewish National Fund for 99 years.

Structures including Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, are built on land owned by the church.

The religious organisation is the second-largest owner of land in Israel behind the Israel Lands Authority.

A $35 million project to develop the city of Caesarea was announced in April, with Antiquities Authority director Israel Hasson telling The Jerusalem Post newspaper that the venture will help to “expose, conserve and make use of Caesarea’s secrets for the enjoyment of the general public.”

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Breust lauds Clarkson ahead of AFL 300th

Long-serving Hawthorn forward Luke Breust says his “inspirational” coach Alastair Clarkson deserves every plaudit he gets ahead of his milestone AFL match.

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Clarkson hits 300 games as coach of the Hawks at Domain Stadium on Saturday night against Fremantle.

In doing so he will take the record for most games coached at Hawthorn, overtaking legendary boss John Kennedy Snr.

Kennedy Snr oversaw the club’s first three premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1975 and was named as Hawthorn’s coach of the century.

Breust, who has played in three of Clarkson’s four winning grand finals, says his boss deserves to be feted.

“He’s been huge for this club from the day he stepped in the door back in 2004,” he said on Tuesday.

“His ability to take this group from where it was to where it is now has been inspirational.

“Any chance he gets he’s passing on his knowledge of the game … he’s been massive for this footy club and to break John Kennedy’s record speaks volumes for what he’s been able to do.”

Breust has backed Clarkson’s contentious moves in the player market and at the selection table this year, justified as necessary to grow the next generation of flag-winners at Waverley.

The Hawks rebuild has gathered pace in the past month with an away win over league leaders Adelaide and a draw with highly-fancied Greater Western Sydney.

“He has had to evolve, to take a step back and see what we’re doing and what our way forward was,” Breust said.

“(That means) getting games into those young guys and giving them the experience.

“Games like Adelaide Oval with 50,000 people, (young players have) never experienced anything like that so how do you coach them to get up and make sure they don’t get overawed?

“He’s been unreal in making sure they’re calm and collected.”

Clarkson, 49 is known for his gruff and abrasive demeanour.

Breust said it was one of his most intense moments that provided him with a favourite Clarkson memory from nine seasons at the club.

“I think it was a Geelong game when he punched the wall,” he said.

“Matt Suckling missed that inside kick and he hit Suckers up for some money to help with the plaster bill.

“Suckers told him he had enough.”

Ministers play down Brexit security row

British ministers have tried to play down a row with key players in Brussels over an apparent threat to pull security co-operation unless the European Union agrees to a trade deal.

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Brexit Secretary David Davis insists his counterparts on the continent had praised the “positive” letter the Prime Minister Theresa May sent to invoke Article 50, and it was simply stating that a replacement for current crime and security measures would need to be negotiated.

“This is not a threat,” Davis told BBC Radio on Thursday.

“We’re after a fully comprehensive deal that covers trade, covers security, covers all the aspects of our existing relationship and tries to preserve as much of the benefits for everybody as we can.

“That I think is a perfectly reasonable point to make and not in any sense a threat.”

Critics accused the May of trying to make a trade-off between security and commerce by mentioning the crime-fighting measures alongside a trade deal in her letter.

But Davis said: “I spent all of yesterday afternoon on the telephone talking to my opposite numbers in the parliament, in the commission, around all the member states.

“Virtually all of them said spontaneously it’s a very positive letter, the tone was good and so on.”

Davis said it was a “negotiation” and “the other side might want to change things, too”.

The reference to security caused concern in Brussels.

Asked if he thought May was engaged in “blackmail”, the European Parliament’s co-ordinator for Brexit Guy Verhofstadt said: “I try to be a gentleman so towards a lady I don’t even use or think about the word ‘blackmail’.”

But Davis played down the issue, saying: “Guy Verhofstadt called it blackmail. Let’s not say everybody did.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said the row was a misunderstanding.

The two issues had been mentioned side-by-side because they were “bound up in our membership of the European Union”.

“It’s not a threat, I think that’s the misunderstanding,” he told BBC Two’s Newsnight.

“It’s absolutely not a threat.”

The next stage of the Brexit process will see plans set out to repatriate more than 40 years of powers back to Westminster, with the publication of the details of the Great Repeal Bill.

Debbie’s floods spark rooftop rescues

It’s “extraordinarily surprising” no one was killed during Cyclone Debbie or its torrential aftermath, Queensland’s emergency services chief says.

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The category 4 winds and rain that blasted the state’s northern coastline are now wreaking havoc inland and to the south with almost almost 500mm falling in 24 hours near the Gold Coast.

About 90 people trapped on top of houses, cars and verandahs as a result of rising floodwaters just west of cyclone-battered Mackay were rescued on Thursday morning.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Katarina Carroll said there were 50 rescue call-outs around Mackay during a hectic and tense Wednesday night.

Ms Carroll said she was stunned there had been no lives lost or significant injuries.

“Extraordinarily surprising but you know, I think the community has been listening (to warnings),” she told the Nine Network.

“The difficulty with last night was you couldn’t see. It was dark but also the conditions were horrendous, we couldn’t move.

“In two-storey houses there was water actually buffeting of the second storey, so there was an extraordinary spike in the triple-0 calls.”

Flooding on Wednesday night and Thursday morning was at its worst southwest of Mackay where the Pioneer River broke its banks, inundating local dams especially in the Eton and Homebush areas.

Ms Carroll said 46 people were rescued during the night and 40 more were evacuated before 10am on Thursday.

“We did have people up on the top level of their houses, reports of people on the roofs of their houses and roofs of their cars,” she said.

The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed major flood warnings for several central Queensland towns but said the Pioneer River in Mackay was “an easing situation” as the weather improved on Thursday afternoon.

Between 400-800mm of rain fell in Mackay over the previous three days, forcing residents downstream of the Kinchant and Middle Creek Dams to move to higher ground.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the city had less than 24 hours of safe water supply left.

Clean-up efforts in the towns hardest hit by the cyclone, Bowen, Proserpine and Airlie Beach, have been hampered in recent days as floodwaters blocked roads.

About 58,000 homes and businesses have been without power since Tuesday, with Ergon Energy unable to access the towns to start repairs.

Thousands of residents are also without running water.

Emergency services crews and the army managed to make their way south to Bowen and Proserpine on Thursday, with fire and rescue teams expected in Airlie Beach on Friday.

About 20 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade at Townsville’s Lavarack Barracks will stay in Proserpine over the coming days to assess the damage, with the troops from Bowen on stand-by to help with the clean-up.

Major Paul Cosgrove told AAP the soldiers were “desperate to get amongst the people” and help.

“Our troops are available as and when we get requested by the council,” he said on Thursday.

Visiting Bowen on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced financial aid would be immediately available to start rebuilding infrastructure.

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

Disaster assistance including concessional loans is starting to flow to primary producers after the cyclone tore up sugar cane and vegetable crops and hit the beef cattle industry. However, recovery work has also been hampered by flooded roads.

Hundreds of tourists and residents stranded on Hamilton Island are still to be flown to safety while all on Daydream Island have been evacuated but the resort will be closed for a month .

China’s Xi to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago retreat

Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to the US to meet President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida on April 6-7, China’s foreign ministry says.

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It will be Xi’s first in-person meeting with Trump and comes as the two sides face pressing issues, ranging from North Korea and the South China Sea to trade disputes.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the announcement at a daily news briefing on Thursday.

The summit will follow a string of other recent US-China meetings and conversations aimed at mending ties after strong criticism of China by Trump during his election campaign.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended a trip to Asia this month in Beijing, agreeing to work together with China on North Korea and stressing Trump’s desire to enhance understanding.

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China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and by the US decision to base an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of US intentions towards self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

During his campaign, Trump accused China of unfair trade policies, criticised its island-building in the South China Sea and accused it of doing too little to constrain North Korea.

Trump also incensed Beijing in December by taking a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and saying the US did not have to stick to the so-called “one China” policy.

He later agreed to honour the long-standing policy and has written to Xi since seeking “constructive ties”.

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Victoria win 3rd straight Sheffield Shield

Victoria weren’t able to celebrate their historic third successive Sheffield Shield triumph with a win in the final after South Australia hung on for a gritty draw in Alice Springs, but there was no denying the Bushrangers were deserving of their success.

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A defiant unbeaten 137 from South Australia captain Travis Head saw the Redbacks weather the final day charge from Victoria to reach 6-236 when stumps were called.

Victoria were bowled out on the final morning for 323, leaving South Australia an almost-impossible target of 524 from 69 overs.

The Bushrangers elected to bat into day five despite the history books suggesting it was taking caution a step too far – the previous highest successful fourth-innings run chase in a Shield final was Victoria’s 2-239 against NSW 26 years ago.

Victoria comfortably finished top of the standings and therefore only needed a draw at Traeger Park to retain their title.

They continued that form in the final dominating from the opening session, though they did enjoy some good fortune along the way.

With Victoria winning a crucial toss, South Australia were forced to bowl in extreme heat over the opening two days before milder conditions prevailed.

It is the first time in the Bushrangers’ 125-year Sheffield Shield history they have three on the trot. The feat was last achieved by Queensland in 2002.

Victoria made the perfect start to the final with a 224-run opening partnership between Marcus Harris (124) and Travis Dean (94).

But the individual performance of the match was undoubtedly Jon Holland’s 7-82 which left South Australia 200 runs in arrears on the first innings.

“We had a goal at the start of the year to achieve three in a row, something Victoria has never done, so to achieve this is fantastic,” said Holland, who was named player of the match.

Cameron White, who along with Rob Quiney has won five Shields, said he would likely relinquish the Victorian captaincy with Peter Handscomb the likely candidate to assume the role.

Victoria achieved their triumph without four players on Test duty in India – Handscomb, Mathew Wade, Marcus Stoinis and Glen Maxwell – with John Hastings unavailable due to injury.

It was a second loss in a row in the season decider against Victoria for SA, whose winless run in the competition extended to 21 years.

“Victoria have been the standout all season with seven wins, and they played the conditions really well, so it was always going to be a tough week,” said SA captain Head.

“That wicket was tough. With the quality of spinners they have, they weren’t able to get 10 wickets, so it would have been difficult to get a result on that wicket, even if we took our opportunities on day one.”

There was some joy for South Australia with wicketkeeper Alex Carey claiming a Shield record for most dismissals in a season (59), while seamer Chadd Sayers was the season’s top wicket-taker with 62 scalps.

Senate showdown on 18C and company tax cuts legislation

Federal politicians have been forced to change their flights and stay another night in Canberra as they gear up for a fiery late night debate on two controversial bills.

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On the agenda is the Treasurer’s decade-long package for company tax cuts, and contentious amendments to race-hate laws.

The government wants them both passed before this year’s Budget in May, with parliament ordered to debate the bills late Thursday night and into the early hours of Friday if necessary.

The leader of the House of Representatives, Christopher Pyne, announced that the lower house will sit to accommodate the expected late night debate.

“We will suspend the House late this afternoon, in the normal course of events, and then we will have the House suspended until ringing of the bells,” Mr Pyne said.

He indicated the House wouldn’t rise “before 9am” on Friday.

The Prime Minister used question time on Thursday to highlight the need for Australia to stay competitive and said that it remains “one of the highest taxed company regimes in the world”.

“If you reduce company tax, you increase the return on investment so you get more investment, (if) you get more investment you get more employment,” Malcolm Turnbull said.

As he rushed back to Canberra on Thursday, from assessing the damage of Cyclone Debbie, the Opposition Leader refused to shift Labor’s position.

“The government can make it all a lot simpler by working with Labor, working on behalf of the living standards of Australians,” Bill Shorten said.

The Senate is debating the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, with the government wanting to swap the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” with “harass and intimidate”.

But the bill is expected to be blocked by Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Jacqui Lambie, with the government lacking the 38 votes needed to pass the legislation into law.

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson spoke on the legislation on Thursday and said she’s not being racist by wanting to change the wording of the Act.

“Australians are not racist, Australians are very proud of their culture, their country and their heritage,” Senator Hanson said in the chamber.

Ms Hanson said the left side of politics was deliberately encouraging groups to “stir the pot” by complaining about the changes.

Crossbench Senator David Leyonhjelm has refused to come back to parliament on Friday and said he “will be leaving irrespective” of whether he is needed or not.

“I’ll give [my support] to the government on those issues [company tax cuts and the Racial Discrimination Act amendments] because of those issues, I support them … as long as they don’t go and introduce any other things I don’t agree with,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

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The government’s company tax cut plan would drop the 30 per cent rate to 25 per cent for all companies in the financial year of 2026-27, however securing support for the bill in the Senate is proving difficult.

Labor wants the reduction limited to 27.5 per cent for firms, with a turnover of $2 million or less, so the government needs the support of a precarious crossbench.

Support is expected from former Liberal-now independent Senator Cory Bernardi, as well as Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, but Pauline Hanson’s four One Nation senators will only support a reduction for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million.

‘There is reverse racism in Australia’: Hanson on 18C

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Senator Xenophon has left Canberra on personal leave, however he and his two other senators will back a reduction for businesses with a $10 million turnover, as will Victorian senator Derryn Hinch.

There is speculation of a plan to split the bills so some measures will pass before the budget, however Treasurer Scott Morrison is not giving anything away.

“All of your questions on that will be answered by the experience of the next 24 hours,” he told reporters on Wednesday night.