On ‘Brexit Day’ Britain will leave the EU – but not any EU institutions

‘Brexit Day’ on March 29, 2019 will see Britain leave the European Union in name only, under an EU plan leaked to the media hours after the so-called ‘divorce deal’ was done.

Instead, two ‘transition’ years will follow Brexit, during which the UK stays subject to the entire body of EU law, set by Brussels, but no longer having any say in those laws.

The UK will stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market for that time, and would have to abide by their rules such as the free movement of labour.

The document implies the UK government has already agreed to these conditions – and European Council president Donald Tusk also gave that impression.

“As you know, the UK has asked for a transition of about two years, while remaining part of the Single Market and Customs Union,” Tusk said. “And we will be ready to discuss this, but naturally, we have our conditions.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her ministers have previously insisted that Britain would leave both institutions on Brexit day.

In a statement to parliament in October, May said: “As we leave the European Union in March 2019 we will leave full membership of the Customs Union and full membership of the Single Market.”

She could argue the UK will no longer have ‘full membership’ because it cannot set the rules, but that explanation would likely not be well received.

In a sobering speech shortly after the divorce deal was announced, Tusk said he was satisfied with progress on the divorce deal but “the most difficult challenge is still ahead”.

“We all know that breaking up is hard, but breaking up and building a new relationship is much harder,” Tusk said. “Since the Brexit referendum, a year and a half has passed.

“So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task. And now, to negotiate a transition arrangement and the framework for our future relationship, we have de facto less than a year.”

The document, circulated to European leaders on Friday, is the EU’s draft of guidelines for the second phase of negotiations.

Tusk said the EU was ready to start preparing a close EU-UK partnership in trade, in the fight against terrorism and international crime as well as security, defence and foreign policy.

Whitehall insiders said they would not be taking a celebratory holiday now that the first stage of Brexit is done, but would be hard at work nailing down the transition arrangements.

UK-based businesses, including big corporations in the City of London, have made it clear to May that there must be clarity on the transition by March 2018, a year ahead of Brexit day.

Otherwise they will not be able to plan for the year ahead, and could activate contingency plans to move operations and staff to the continent.

Reaction to the divorce deal struck in the early hours of Friday morning was mixed, with hardcore eurosceptics calling it a betrayal of Brexit.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the “very bad deal” was a humiliating capitulation, and the UK had met every one of the EU’s demands.

“We collapsed at every level,” he said, saying it would be at least six years after the Brexit vote before the UK was able to make a trade deal with any other part of the world.

“We look like mugs,” he said. “We wasted months and months and in the end we agreed to all the things the Commission insisted upon.”

When asked for an example of where the EU had given ground, chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he was not “at this stage insisting the UK should repay the removal costs” for EU agencies leaving London.

Under the deal, Britain will pay a financial settlement for outstanding debts and obligations, calculated and paid over time – and estimated in the media at about between ??35 billion ($62 billion) and ??40 billion.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called the agreement “the breakthrough we needed” allowing the two sides to begin discussions on crucial future trade and customs arrangements.

May, who may have saved her job by getting the deal done, said it had required “give and take from both sides”.

The Democratic Unionist Party, who scuppered a draft deal on Monday because they were concerned it would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, have cautiously accepted the new version, saying there was “more work to be done”.

Their leader, Arlene Foster, said they had run out of time to go through the details of the agreement, and May had decided to go to Brussels anyway in the national interest.

DUP support in Westminster is vital for May’s minority government.

The agreement, which is provisional and could change next year, also guarantees the continuation of current rights of the three million EU citizens in the UK to continue to live, work and study there, including family reunification rights for spouses, parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren.

And it guarantees there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic, while also maintaining the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.

The UK will “maintain full alignment” with the rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union, unless it can come up with some other arrangement that guaranteed no immigration posts or customs checks on the geographical border.

In a public letter from the EU Commission to the European Council – the leaders of the nations forming the union – the Commission expressed its scepticism.

“(The UK’s) intention seems hard to reconcile with (its) communicated decision to leave the internal market and the Customs Union,” the letter said.

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England’s focus on sledging could cost Ashes, warn retired stars

England must forget about the sledging and redirect their energies to playing cricket if they’re to save the Ashes.

That’s the opinion of several retired Australian Test cricketers who believe the chatter out on the field this summer has been no different to what’s gone before in more than a century of cricket between the great foes.

There have been no official complaints made to the International Cricket Council, despite much discussion so far this series focusing on whether or not the sledging has become too personal.

The visitors believe Australia took things too far in the opening Test at the Gabba, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow one of the primary targets.

Then in Adelaide there appeared to be plenty of discussion between Australian captain Steve Smith and the English bowlers.

At one stage umpire Aleem Dar stood between Smith, at the non-striker’s end, and Jimmy Anderson when one of their discussions became particularly robust.

“It’s been round for 100 years,” former Australian quick Craig McDermott said. “You don’t want to get personal, that’s for sure, but there’s always words said and that’s part and parcel of it at the end of the day.

“That’s what they said last time when they got flogged 5-0 out here. We didn’t cry poor when we got beaten in England did we? I think they need to just concentrate on playing cricket.

“It wasn’t a very quiet field when you played against blokes like Ian Botham and people like that. There was always plenty said in that particular era, and the West Indies were the same.”

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland played down the perceived sledging during the Adelaide Test as “banter” and CA feel the umpires are doing their job in managing the players.

“We do recognise that international cricket is a high-stakes, competitive environment and on-field banter is as old as the game itself,” a CA spokesperson said.

“All players are reminded regularly that they have a responsibility to manage their on-field emotions, even in the most pressured situations. Our players understand the consequences if they overstep the mark at any time.”

When England beat Australia in the Old Dart in 2015 their players were only too quick to remind the visitors that their Ashes campaign was falling into a state of disrepair.

“If the English are going to complain about it, they probably should look internal to see who their main culprits are as well,” retired all-rounder Shane Watson said. “When things are flying for them, they’re always very happy to continue to dish it out.

“It’s part of the game and part of an Ashes series, it’s high stakes out in the middle, not just the players, but the support staff around, the administrators, the fans, everything, there’s a lot on the line.

“I’ve loved seeing Steve Smith stand up to a few of those senior guys in particular, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, because he’s a leader of the team and he’s got to make sure he stands strong for himself and for his team around him.

“The players know where the line is, they’re going to push the line of course because it’s high stakes and people are trying to put their stake in the ground as well. I’d be extremely surprised if it boiled over.”

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UN warns racism on the rise in Australia

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Zed Seselja during a visit to the Crace Early Learning Centre in Canberra on Wednesday 8 February 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe United Nations has issued a scathing report on racism in Australia, warning discrimination is “on the rise”, including in the political sphere and in the media.

But the assessment and its recommendations have drawn a fierce response from the Turnbull government’s Multicultural Affairs Minister, Zed Seselja, who lashed out at its “bizarre criticism”.

The periodic review documented 16 areas of concern including the welfare and status of Indigenous Australians, asylum seekers and migrant workers.

The UN committee proposed a range of radical changes to combat racism, including beefing up section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and effectively censoring aspects of the media and public commentary.

It suggested racist incidents were often “treated with impunity” and said section 18C should be better policed by “law enforcement officials”. UN officials were concerned too few racial discrimination complaints made it to court because the costs and the burden of proof were too high.

Free speech advocates consider section 18C – which makes it unlawful (but not criminal) to offend, insult or humiliate someone on the basis of race – a blight on free expression. The Turnbull government earlier this year tried to water down the section’s wording but was blocked by the Senate.

In its report released overnight in Geneva, the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination declared “expressions of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia, including in the public sphere and political debates as well as in the media, are on the rise” in Australia.

The report’s conclusions are based largely on submissions and testimony from non-government organisations, communities and Australian governments.

Hate speech and violence particularly affected Arabs and Muslims, asylum seekers and refugees, Africans, South Asians and Indigenous people, the committee noted.

It recommended ditching the anti-terrorism and national security clauses of the Multicultural Australia statement – announced by the Turnbull government in March – which it warned could lead to racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs by police.

Senator Seselja said the Turnbull government “completely rejects this bizarre criticism” and that a successful multicultural Australia “is only possible, if at the same time, our borders are secure and our nation is safe”.

The UN committee also turned on politicians, saying Australia needed to combat xenophobia in political discourse by ensuring public officials “not only refrain from such speech but also formally reject and condemn hate speech”.

Furthermore, the media should “put an end to racist hate speech” in print and online, and adopt a “code of good conduct” with provisions banning racism.

Alina??? Leikin???, lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the UN report was a clear call to arms for the government to “act both urgently and effectively” in tackling racism.

Of particular resonance were concerns about Aboriginal land rights and the failure of the Closing the Gap strategy to improve the welfare of Indigenous Australians.

The UN said a “paradigm shift” was necessary in how governments deal with Indigenous people, calling on the state to “demonstrate the necessary political will to ensure that aspirational plans and programs become a reality”.

Several of the concerns raised in this year’s evaluation were already flagged in the UN’s previous report on Australia in 2010. However, the document released overnight was significantly more critical than the one seven years ago.

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Brumbies find calm waters for $14,000 profit at AGM

Assistant coach Dan McKellar will be named as the Brumbies Head coach for the 2018 season. Photo by karleen Minney. Assistant coach Dan McKellar will be named as the Brumbies Head coach for the 2018 season. Photo by karleen Minney.
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The ACT Brumbies hope to bury the turmoil of recent years when they announce a modest profit at the Super Rugby club’s annual general meeting on Wednesday night.

Brumbies officials are expecting minimal disruptions at the meeting and will delay the appointment of two board members until next year to meet the selection criteria.

The club is also close to implementing a new strategic plan to secure their long-term future after the ARU consider axing them from Super Rugby earlier this year.

The Brumbies will pocket $14,000 and record a profit for the first time in six years when the figures are expected to the ACT Rugby Union’s key stakeholders.

There has been angst in the Brumbies’ board room in recent years and the club has lost more than $3 million in the past three seasons.

But it is hoped the lingering pain of chief executive changes and power struggles will be forgotten when chairman Robert Kennedy and boss Michael Thomson detail their vision for the future.

The changing of the guard for the Brumbies will be on the field next year when coach Dan McKellar takes the reins for the first time.

McKellar has appointed Peter Hewat and Laurie Fisher as his assistants to join returning coaches Dan Palmer and Peter Ryan.

The Brumbies has also recruited a handful of Western Force players, including Chance Peni, Isi Naisarani and Richie Arnold, after the Perth club was cut from Super Rugby.

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Line call: final decision looms on corridor rezoning

The rezoning of the former heavy rail corridor goes before Newcastle council for a final decision on Tuesday night. Picture: Simone De Peak NEWCASTLE COUNCIL will deliver afinal verdict on the state government’s plan to rezone the former heavy rail corridor on Tuesday, at its last meeting before the Christmas recess.
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If the council gives the rezoning the tick, it will clear the path for residential and commercial development, open space and tourism uses along a stretch of the corridor between Worth Place and Watt Street.

Council’s interim chief executiveJeremy Bathhailed Tuesday’sdecision a“turning point” for the city.

Read more:

Newcastle council votes to back rezoning of heavy rail corridorNewcastle city councillors vote to retain corridor’s public transport zoningRezoning of rail corridor shelved by Newcastle councilRezone plan for rail corridor open for public comment“It ends what has been a very divisive debate in the community,” he said.“Developers and ratepayers need to know that there is planning certainty and that is what will come out of Tuesday’s decision, whichever way it goes.”

Newcastle council gave a tentative green light to the rezoning last year, before it received gateway approval from the state government.

Howeveritssmooth passage through City Hall is likely tobe tested by the results of community consultation –carried out in September and October –which indicatespublic opinion remains sharply divided over the fate of the land.

According to a staffreport to betabled at the meeting,394 submissions and 137 form letters objected to the rezoning, while226 submissions and46 form letterswere in favour ofit.

A further 44 submissions did not clearly state a position.

But the results of a telephone survey commissioned by the council in November have been obtained by theNewcastle Herald,showing starkly different results.

The survey of 955 residents, by ReachTEL, saw 57.5 per cent of people support mixed-use development, university or recreational uses of the old corridor, while 34.7 per cent supported maintaining it for rail.

The survey indicated people aged 18 to 34 were most likely to support the redevelopment of the corridor.

People aged 51 to 65 were most likely to oppose it, while men tended to feel more strongly about the issue generally than women.

Several councillors were laying low over the weekend. Independent Kath Elliott said she was still formulating a view on the rezoning.

Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen (Labor) said it was up to councillors to make individual decisions, but he was pleased about additional benefits the council had been able to negotiate with the state government.

The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.

These included “hard commitments on affordable housing, appropriate public green space and a detailed transport masterplan.”

Activists mobilised, calling on the councillors to hold fire on the rezoning.

“Before any rezoning occurs, we need to be sure that we have the capacity to cater for the future transport needs of the city,” said Ron Brown, a transport engineer and spokesperson for Keep Rail on the Corridor (KROC).

Resident Barbara Ferris alleged 137 handwritten objections had been “misrepresented”as form letters and not counted amongsubmissions. She labelled it“appalling” aduplicated submission supporting the rezoning– which she deemed to be a form letter –was published 80 times.

Of the 394 objecting submissions, 248 supported leaving the current zoning in place so that rail could be reinstated in the future.

Many of the objections opposedthe light rail route, arguing it should follow the existing corridor rather than Hunter Street.42 objections suggested leaving the entire corridor as open space.

Other concerns hinged on parking, traffic congestion, the over-development of the city, creating a visible barrier to the harbour and the overshadowing of Hunter Street.

The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.

Staff emphasized many of thoseconcerns were not within council’s control.

“They relate to decisions that have previously been made by the NSW Government in relation to terminating of the heavy rail and the light rail currently being constructed,” the report said.

A letter written by Transport Minister Andrew Constancehasbeen circulated among councillors, in which he reiteratesthe land is no longer required for transport.

Supporting submissions argued the rezoning would“dramatically” improveconnectivity, reuniting the city withthe working harbour.

Other benefits were bringingpeople back to the CBD, improvingtourism and supportingthe creation of jobs, education, housing and a high quality public domain.

There was “excitement” about the development of the university precinct and Market Street lawn.

“Council received positive comments on the changes happening to the city, since the closure of the heavy rail in 2014,” the report said.

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Chapple begins new gig perfectly

Mitch Chapple. Picture: HRNSWMITCH Chapple is still months away from returning to driving from a broken wrist, but the Louth Park 20-year-old is happy to focus on his new training career.
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And for good reason.In his first two weeks as a trainer, Chapple has had three starters for three winners, including a double at Newcastle on Saturday night.

Burning Ambition and Derringer won, with Michael Formosa and Leigh Sutton driving respectively, to maintain Chapple’s perfect record.Burning Ambition, which has been trained by Chapple’s father, Guy, gave Mitch his first winner six days earlier at Maitland.

He made a promising start to his driving career but he has been out since a fall at home “shattered” his wrist, which required surgery.

“I broke my wrist about a month ago, so I thought I’d focus on the training until it heals up,” Chapple said.“Then I might have a drive every now and again, but I’m quite happy to focus on the training side of it.

“I’ve always wanted to do it.Dad’s been pretty successful as a trainer so I thought I’d give it a crack, and hopefully I’m as good as him.”

Chapple said Burning Ambition will head to Menangle next Saturday night, while Derringer willrace in heats of the Inter City Pace at Maitland on December 23.

Formosa completed a winning double when driving home the Ray Harkness-trained Eyes On Beers in the last.

Maitland reinsman Dan Morgan started the meeting with a double aboard La Patata and Dreaming Big.

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Sixers win Sydney derby honours as women showcase power hitting

The Sydney Sixers cruised to a second win of the weekend on Sunday, stamping themselves as the team to beat again this summer with a six-wicket win over crosstown rivals the Thunder.
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Following up Saturday’s crushing win over the Melbourne Stars, the reigning WBBL champions restricted the Thunder to 6-142 before chasing down the total in the 19th over before 4812 fans at North Sydney Oval.

Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy set the tone early after missing out on Saturday, blasting four boundaries off Stafanie Taylor’s opening over and setting the Sixers well on their way.

By the time she holed out for 49 on the straight boundary, the result was just about in the bag.

Saturday’s centurion Ashleigh Gardner took over from Healy, not quite as lethally as when she destroyed the Stars attack the day before, but effectively enough all the same.

She finished on 47 from 35 balls, paving the way for Sara McGlashan to hit the winning runs.

It capped a sparkling opening weekend of WBBL that produced a staggering 2023 runs across the opening six matches, and included two centurions in Gardner and Adelaide Striker Suzie Bates.

“Everyone’s just backing themselves a little bit more now,” Healy said.

“Girls are clearing the boundary with ease and just batting really freely, which is really exciting. There was a lot of wickets as well, so there was actually some really good bowling.

“Most of the girls playing in this Big Bash are professional cricketers now. They can spend the time that they probably didn’t have previously working in the gym, working on their fitness or working on their batting or their bowling.”

All-rounder Ellyse Perry registered a rare failure with the bat, run out by Alex Blackwell at mid-on for 12 after unsuccessfully taking on the Thunder captain’s deadly accurate arm.

Perry still contributed though, taking 2-15 off her opening overs a day after hitting a six that thudded into an unsuspecting fan’s face. The boy was taken to hospital on Saturday but discharged later that night, and Perry spoke with him on the phone on Sunday morning.

Just which WBBL team is capable of stopping this Sixers juggernaut remains to be seen.

Granted it’s very early in the season, but this side is even more powerful than the one that beat Perth in last summer’s final.

Outside of the Australian trio of Healy, Gardner and Perry, they are also served by South African pair Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne, and New Zealand veteran McGlashan.

Last year’s leading wicket-taker and Australian representative Sarah Aley is back for another season. So strong is the Sixers’ line up, Irish star Kim Garth, an injury replacement for Lauren Cheatle, is running the drinks.

The Thunder will likely bounce back. They are stacked with batting power themselves, but only Alex Blackwell (58) caused any serious damage on this occasion.

“Not enough runs,” Blackwell said after her side’s loss.

“I thought Perry and Aley bowled really well in the middle there, [they are] outstanding players who I enjoy captaining when I get the chance for [the NSW] Breakers. No surprises that they’re key players in this Sixers line-up.”

Meanwhile, English import Nat Sciver helped steer the Perth Scorchers to a season-opening win over the Brisbane Heat.

Sciver blasted three sixes in her knock of 84 off 46 balls to help Perth post a lofty 6-188. The Heat fell 18 runs short in reply, despite an unbeaten 87 by Australian all-rounder Delissa Kimmince.

“Really pleased to probably score as many runs as I did in the first two seasons in the one game,” Sciver said.

“The longer you bat on it, the easier it becomes. I managed to capitalise on a few bad balls and create a few boundary balls. I managed to get a few out of the middle and lucky when you get it through the in-field here it races away.”

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Lakes swoop to sign Edwards

Former NRL forward Joel Edwards is confident Lakes United have the roster and the coach to become a premiership force next season after confirming he will play with the Seagulls in 2018.
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Edwards knocked back offers from Maitland and Kurri to link with Lakes on a one year deal that includes employment in the mining industry. It will alsosee him re-unite with his former coach Todd Edwards.

“Obviously, the package Lakes offered played a part but I’m also looking forward to playing under Todd again,”Edwards said.

“”I played under him in the junior Knights and at Cessnock the year Wyong beat us in the grandfinal so he knowswhat it’s allabout.

“He is putting together a pretty strong roster with some young guys there I’m looking forward to playing alongside so I’m looking forward to next season.”

Edwards, who featuredin 107 NRL games for the Knights, Canberra and Wests Tigers in the past eight years, sayshe still hasn’t completely given up hope of playing at NRL or English Super League level.

“I’ve got some things in the contract that if something did come up, they would let me go but it’s probably unlikely,”he said.

Edwards will spearhead a Seagulls pack that will also include former Wests Tigers Under 20’shooker Daniel Peck.

Peck will have big shoes to fill in 2018 with the youngster set to replace departed skipper Chris Adams.

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Under-siege England may be split by factions, says Pietersen

England are imploding after the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents but Kevin Pietersen has climbed into the tourists for other failings, accusing Alastair Cook of looking uninterested, batsmen of making out that the Australian attack “is the scariest bowling they’ve ever faced” and suggesting there may be a factional split in Joe Root’s touring party.

At 2-0 down in the Ashes series and with England Lions squad member Ben Duckett having caused a new wave of controversy by throwing a beer over the head of James Anderson in a Perth bar, England are in proper eat-their-own mode.

Pietersen is at the front of the queue. He says the surprise decision by captain Root to bowl first after winning the toss in Adelaide may not have had the support of all his players.

“I have heard there are rumours that a couple of people didn’t want to bowl first in Adelaide. If a couple of people didn’t want to bowl and Root’s made that decision and they’ve lost, yeah there are certain factions that can happen in dressing rooms when that happens,” said Pietersen, who on the weekend labelled the Duckett episode a “f****** embarrassment” on Twitter.

“We’ll just have to wait and see. I think Perth is going to be a fascinating Test match – to see if the wheels are going to come off or not.” What the hell is happening in English Cricket?!?! Strauss????? It’s becoming a f*****g embarrassment! https://t.co/IF1nz84lo8??? KP (@KP24) December 9, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Why batting records are tumbling in the WBBL

Cricket superstar Meg Lanning says conditions, tactics and the professionalisation of women’s cricket are leading to record breaking scores on the opening weekend of the WBBL.

The Sydney Sixers, who scored 242, set a record on Saturday for the highest score in a BBL or WBBL match.

The Sydney Thunder also set a previously unmatched WBBL team total of 200 on Saturday, while the Melbourne Renegades (189) and the Perth Scorchers (188) – who were missing Lanning through injury – posted the fourth and fifth highest WBBL totals respectively.

The Adelaide Strikers’ 183 against the Hobart Hurricanes in South Australia on Saturday was the sixth highest score in the competition’s history. Their 176 against the same team on Sunday was the seventh highest score.

The Sixers’ total included the highest and quickest ever WBBL century, a brutal 114 off 52 balls smashed by Ashleigh Gardner. Susie Bates made 102 off 65 balls for the Hurricanes on Sunday.

Before Bates and Gardner smashed centuries on consecutive days only two centuries had been made in two whole seasons of the WBBL.

The previous highest team score of the competition was Brisbane Heat’s 190 in 2015.

Lanning, who said she was frustrated having to watch others make runs on the pristine North Sydney Oval deck, believed the trend toward high scores would continue through the season.

“We have got a great ground to play at, the wicket has been really good,” Lanning said. “I think the other thing is more batters are able to utilise only having four fielders out, so I think in the first couple of WBBLs you could have your cover fielder up a lot more and you’d probably get away with it.

“Now a lot of players can hit both sides of the wicket and once play gets going I think it’s pretty impossible to stop so hopefully the scores continue throughout the WBBL and it’ll be an exciting tournament that’s for sure.”

The ropes at North Sydney Oval were only very slightly in from the men’s rope outline which was still visible. The outfield was quick too, however given how hard many of the batters were striking the ball it would be hard to argue that it was too much of an aid.

With Australian contracted players being paid more, NSW contracted players taking home full-time wages and players who play WBBL and domestic one-day cricket getting close to, if not, a full-time wage, Lanning said Cricket Australia’s investment in the women’s game was reaping rewards.

“No doubt, I think that [the professionalisation of women’s cricket] makes a massive difference,” she said. “Not only training more for skills but you’ve also got your strength and your fitness ability as well that’s able to go along with that so we’ve had a good week and a half together as a team which helps so I think we will only see that continue to grow.

“It’s a combination of all those things and I think teams are going harder early, we’re not waiting for the last five overs to start taking on the bowlers so obviously that gives you a better chance to get a higher score so look, 242 last night, that’s just a bit ridiculous really, but it was a great spectacle to watch.”

Sixers and Australia star Ellyse Perry, who smashed 91 off 49 deliveries against the Melbourne Stars on Saturday, agreed with Lanning.

“We are another year into the development of women’s cricket,” Perry said. “Most of the women have been full-time elite cricketers for the past 12 months so that’s always going to lead to development.

“The girls are fitter, they’re stronger and have more time to work on their technique and get to know their game so it’s probably not surprising.”

Meanwhile, the boy in the crowd who was hit in the head by a Perry six during her stunning innings is OK. Perry rushed off the pitch after hitting the ball to check if the boy was well.

He did not spend the night in hospital and is at home under the supervision of his parents. Perry phoned the boy on Sunday morning to check in after she gave him her hat during the innings break on Saturday.

Other big, quick-fire scores from the weekend’s games included Natalie Sciver (84 runs off 46 balls), Delissa Kimmince (87 off 54), Jess Duffin (81 off 47) and Nicola Carey (47 off 17).

The match at North Sydney Oval attracted 3914 fans for Saturday’s WBBL double-header. 4812 turned up for Sunday’s double-header at the same venue. A lot of those fans were families, with many young children in attendance across the weekend.

The Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars match on the Saturday was the most watched regular-season WBBL match in the competition’s history, attracting an average national audience of 422,500 viewers with a peak of 629,000, a 59 per cent increase on last season’s WBBL average ratings.

The other match televised on Saturday, Sydney Thunder vs the Melbourne Renegades, attracted an average national audience of 278,500 peaking at 426,000.

The first day average audience of 350,000 was a 46 per cent increase on last season.

Sixers wicketkeeper-opening batter Alyssa Healy lauded the success of the opening WBBL weekend.

“It’s amazing to see just how far this competition has come and what it’s done for cricket in general and women’s cricket more specifically,” she said. “I think it’s been exciting to be a part of and hopefully it just keeps growing the game and we see more people coming.”

Lanning also revealed she was aiming to return to cricket in early 2018, after the WBBL finishes on February 4.

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Australian troops to stay in Iraq despite victory over ISIS

Australia will maintain a military presence in Iraq well into 2018 as local security forces continue their fight against Islamic State insurgents who have escaped capture.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the extremist group at the weekend, three years after IS first stormed the country and seized a third of its territory.

The declaration came after Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria. But while the territorial battle is over, coalition security forces now expect the group’s remnants to engage in a new phase of deadly guerilla warfare.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated the people of Iraq and their security forces for their “courage and determination”.

“The liberation of Iraqi cities and towns from ISIS control has saved countless lives and ended a pattern of terror, anguish and murder,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Their bravery in the face of unimaginable brutality has made the region and the world a safer place by robbing terrorists of their narrative of invincibility.”

Australia has made a significant contribution to the fight, deploying hundreds of troops who have been focused primarily on training local troops and police. The Australian Defence Force has also contributed to air strikes against IS targets in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Australia’s sixth rotation of about 300 troops – along with 100 New Zealand troops – deployed to Iraq in recent weeks and are scheduled to remain there until the middle of 2018.

There are no plans to cut short Task Group Taji 6’s deployment but Australia will now enter talks with Iraq and coalition partners about the road ahead.

“While today’s announcement by the Iraqi government is an historic moment, Iraq’s liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism and ISIS in Iraq is over,” Mr Turnbull said.

“ISIS fighters who escaped capture will seek to conduct an insurgency to continue their legacy of death and destruction. The biggest challenge is to bring security, peace and unity to all Iraqis through inclusive, representative democracy and political equality.”

Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, fell in July after a gruelling nine-month campaign backed by a US-led coalition that saw much of the northern Iraqi city destroyed. Islamic State’s Syrian capital Raqqa also fell to a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition in September.

The group was then squeezed into an ever-shrinking pocket of the desert along the border.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio recording on September 28 that indicated he was alive, after several reports he had been killed.

His followers imposed a reign of terrorism on the populations they controlled, alienating even many of those Sunni Muslims who had originally supported the group. They took thousands of women from the Yazidi minority as sex slaves and killed the men.

The war has had a devastating impact on the areas previously controlled by the militants, with more than 3 million people still displaced, according to the United Nations.

Iraq’s announcement comes two days after the Russian military announced the defeat of the militants in neighbouring Syria, where Moscow is backing Syrian government forces.

With Reuters

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Owner sought for World War I medals found in box in street

Police are hoping the owners of a set of World War I medals can be found so they can be reunited with the prized collection.

A man from Seven Hills saw a brown wooden box on the road at the intersection of Caroline Chisholm Drive and Langdon Road at Winston Hills in Sydney’s west about 1pm on Saturday.

He handed the box to police from the Quakers Hill Local Area Command.

Inside the box were original World War I medals in good condition, police said.

“While the recipient of these medals may have passed away, we believe there are family members out there who would really appreciate having them returned home,” Duty Officer Chief Inspector Garry Sims said.

“They would be of high sentimental value to the family of the soldier who fought and served his country valiantly to earn these medals.”

Among the collection is the 1914-15 Star, which was awarded to those who served against the Central European Powers in any theatre of the Great War, including the Gallipoli campaign.

Also in the collection is a British War Medal, awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served during World War I, as well as the Victory Medal, awarded to those who entered a theatre of war during the Great War.

The box also contains a Silver War Badge, given to service personnel who were honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness.

There is also a Returned Sailor’s & Soldier’s Imperial League of Australia Badge.

Police will liaise with the NSW RSL sub-branch in an attempt to locate the owners.

Anyone with information about the medals is urged to contact Riverstone police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Sydney is a city fatigued by record development

building Perth 061025 AFR pic by Erin Jonasson. the construction boom in Perth. a New housing estate in the southern suburbs of Perth, Roof plumbers, residential property, trades, tradesman, building of new homes, house. skilled labour shortage in WA, generic hold for files, first use AFR please. SPECIALX 00057683The NSW government is on track to double the supply of homes achieved through the rezoning of state land, but the community is now fatigued at the frenetic pace of development, a senior Planning Department official has acknowledged.

NSW continued its streak of record housing approvals for the 45th consecutive month, as ABS data showed about 69,700 dwellings were approved in the year to October.

But Planning Department deputy secretary Brendan Nelson said a new challenge had emerged in allaying community concerns that Sydney had reached capacity.

“The community are feeling the pressure. They’re feeling the fatigue of a city that is going through a fundamental transformation,” Mr Nelson said in a recent address to a property industry function.

“Collectively we need to be thinking about how we take the community with us on this journey.”

His comments reflect a growing awareness within government of wilting community support for more development, after a recent Fairfax ReachTell poll found an astonishing two-thirds of NSW residents believed Sydney was “full”.

Mr Nelson also attributed the current backlog in Sydney’s housing supply to a declaration by former Labor premier Bob Carr in 2000 that Sydney was full.

The comments, he said, led to an “almost grinding halt” in supply as housing completions plummeted to their lowest in more than 60 years.

“What we saw after that announcement was made was a decline infrastructure spending, and a decline in a whole range of investment.

“It is only in the last few years where the government has reinvested back into infrastructure and [with] better confidence in the market that we found that things have been changing.”

This rationale has been prosecuted repeatedly by the Berejiklian government in its attempts to explain its aggressive housing boost to an electorate increasingly sceptical of overdevelopment.

Mr Nelson said the Planning Department was on track to add an extra 20,000 dwellings in 2017-18 through state-led rezonings. In July, Premier Gladys Berejiklian assigned the department a target of 10,000 additional dwellings a year to 2021.

About 8400 new homes will be delivered in Bella Vista and Kellyville, in north-west Sydney, after rezonings were finalised in November.

A further 15,000 homes are expected through state-led rezonings expected to be finalised by mid-2018, including Showground (5000 homes), Vineyard (2300), Sydney Olympic Park (4700), and Wilton South East (3000).

In total, the Greater Sydney Commission has estimated Sydney will need an extra 725,000 new homes over the next 20 years to accommodate an extra 2 million people.

According to the latest housing completion data, the majority of new homes are currently being built in western Sydney.

In the year to September 2017, 4877 new homes were built in Parramatta, 2997 in Blacktown, 2749 in Canterbury-Bankstown, 2521 in Camden, and 2386 in the City of Sydney.

In a bid to address bubbling concern over the rapid pace of development, the government has renamed its core planning process for boosting housing from “priority precincts” to “planned precincts”.

Under the priority precinct scheme, the Planning Department identified areas as a priority for more density (often around a train station) and accelerated the rezoning process.

The Labor opposition slammed the process as “cheap and nasty mass rezoning” and has promised to scrap the scheme if elected in March 2019.

Explaining the name change, Mr Nelson said “there was a presumption in the community that priority precincts was all about supply, supply, supply”.

“The focus now around planned precincts is starting to articulate the difference. Planning for schools, planning for open space, planning for homes, planning for active and passive recreation.”

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