‘I can’t stand up much longer’: Prince Philip makes light of retirement

The Duke of Edinburgh’s decision to step down from public duties has been met with tributes praising his contribution to national life – and a lighthearted quip from Philip himself.

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The Queen’s consort will retire from royal engagements in the autumn after more than 65 years supporting the Queen in her role as head of state and attending events for his own charities and organisations.

Philip saw the funny side of the announcement on Thursday when he met mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah at a reception for members of the Order of Merit at St James’s Palace.

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When Sir Michael, who is 88, said to him: “I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down,” the duke joked: “Well I can’t stand up much longer.”

The Queen’s public schedule will continue as normal but it is understood other members of the royal family will “step up” in support of the monarch.

Despite being 95, Philip’s decision – supported by the Queen and not medically related – came as a surprise and followed a night of frenzied speculation caused by news reports about an “emergency” palace meeting.

An announcement regarding The Duke of Edinburgh. 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/SF1bgo68Un pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/TO9mR70xTk

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 4, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May led the tributes to the Queen’s consort, saying he has given the monarch “steadfast support”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the duke’s “clear sense of public duty” had inspired people for more than 60 years.

It is understood the Duke had been thinking about stepping down from public duties in the past few months and made the announcement now as his diary for the autumn would have been finalised during this period.

But Buckingham Palace stressed he might decide to attend certain events from time to time.

The Order of Merit was created in 1902 by Edward VII to honour leaders in the arts, sciences, culture and military and is limited to just 24 living members.

Watch: Theresa May comments on Prince Philip

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Members at the event on Thursday included former Australian prime minister John Howard, TV presenter Sir David Attenborough, artist David Hockney, the former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd and entrepreneur James Dyson.

Outside the palace on Thursday, tourists waited to try to catch a glimpse of the royal couple as they arrived.

Emma Sandvick, 31, from Brisbane in Australia, said: “He deserves to retire from royal duties, he has served his county well. He definitely deserves a break.”

Alan Doyle, 47, a guide with London Tailored Tours, added: “He has supported the Queen, he’s been her rock.”

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We can knock over England in Test: Samoa

Samoa are going into their Pacific Test against Wayne Bennett’s Englishmen with no regards for reputation and adamant they can cause a massive boilover at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.

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With the World Cup just under six months away, Toa Samoa have a chance to prove they are no longer minnows of the rugby league world.

Captained by North Queensland premiership winner Antonio Winterstein and having named Brisbane half Anthony Milford, Canberra’s Joey Leilua and a massive pack featuring Junior Paulo, Sam Kasiano and Josh Maguire, they look on paper capable of an upset.

“I’m pretty confident with the boys that we’ve got that we can get the job done,” Winterstein said.

Knocking off England would be the biggest scalp in the history of the world No.5 side.

The closest they have come to upsetting a top-tier nation came during the 2014 Four Nations when they were narrowly defeated by New Zealand (14-12) and England (32-26).

And after making it to the quarter-finals of the 2013 World Cup, they appear to have built nicely ahead of this year’s tournament.

Winterstein speaks effusively of the passion every man in the Samoan 17 has for the jersey and points to their considerable strike power, particularly out wide.

“That’s the vibe in the camp at the moment, they’re hungry,” Winterestein said.

“We know we’ve got a special group of boys that’s put their hands up to represent the jersey and I think if we play to our strengths and use the guys that we’ve got out wide, we can really cause them dramas.

“If we can get them some early ball and let them do their thing, we’ll be pretty hard to beat.”

England will be reliant on their forwards, headlined by Sam Burgess, James Graham and Elliott Whitehead to lay the platform.

With first-choice halves Gareth Widdop and the in-form George Williams missing through injury, Kevin Brown and Luke Gale will lead the side around.

Bennett has chosen former Queensland back-rower Chris McQueen to make his England debut while Australian-born Cronulla forward Chris Heighington will play his first game for England since 2011.

The match will be the headline act of Saturday’s triple header at Campbelltown with Brisbane’s Alex Glenn captaining the Cook Islands against Papua New Guinea and Will Hopoate leading out an experienced Tongan team against an exciting Fiji side.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Samoa has won all three of the Pacific Test matches over the past three years, defeating Fiji in 2014 (32-16) and Tonga in 2015 (18-16) and 2016 (18-6).

* Every member of the Samoan squad has played NRL, with each of them playing at least one match this season.

* England are rated third in the world rankings while Samoa are fifth.

Macquarie shares soar after $2.2bn profit

Macquarie Group chief executive Nicholas Moore’s pay packet swelled to $18.

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7 million in the past year but shareholders are unlikely to complain after a record full-year profit of $2.217 billion.

The financial group’s shares soared to a 10-year high on Friday after an above-expectation profit that Macquarie said it anticipates will be repeated in 2018.

Net profit for the 12 months to March 31 rose 7.5 per cent, earning Mr Moore a $555,000 increase on his remuneration over the previous financial year.

Share-based payments accounted for more than two thirds of his total remuneration.

The company’s strong performance lifted its shares as much as $4.10, or 4.4 per cent, to $96.02 – close to their all-time high of $97 set in May 2007 prior to the global financial crisis.

Net profit from Macquarie’s banking and financial services unit soared 47 per cent to $513 million, with Australian lending and deposits both growing.

The unit’s deposits rose 10 per cent to $44.5 billion and Macquarie’s Australian mortgage portfolio rose one per cent to $28.7 billion – which is about two per cent of the domestic home loan market.

The banking and financial services result also benefited from the sale of Macquarie Life’s risk insurance business, although this was partially offset by a loss from the disposal of its US mortgages portfolio.

The profit contribution from commodities and global markets also rose, by 15 per cent to $971 million, reflecting an increase in investment-related income generated from the sale of investments and a reduction in provisions for impairments.

Overall, the financial group’s second-half profit of $1.167 billion was 11 per cent higher than that of the first half, and 18 per cent up on the prior corresponding period.

“The group remains well positioned, with a strong and diverse global platform and deep expertise across a range of products and asset classes,” Mr Moore said.

“This is built on the foundation of a strong balance sheet, surplus capital, a robust liquidity and funding position and a conservative approach to risk management, which is embedded across all operating groups.”

The group raised its final dividend by 40 cents to $2.80 per share, 45 per cent franked.

At 1432 AEST, Macquarie shares were up $3.13, or 3.4 per cent, at $95.05.

MACQUARIE’S FY FIGURES

* Net profit up 7.5pct to $2.217b

* Revenue up 2.0pct to $10.364b

* Final dividend up 40 cents to $2.80 per share, 45 per cent franked

Jonas elbow hit done and dusted: Hinkley

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley doesn’t expect Tom Jonas to cop any retribution from West Coast players when the defender lines up in Saturday’s AFL clash at Adelaide Oval.

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Jonas was suspended for six matches last year after collecting Andrew Gaff with a crude elbow to the head while the Eagles midfielder was running with the flight of the ball.

Gaff was knocked unconscious by the hit, sparking a huge melee as angry Eagles players bolted in to remonstrate with Jonas.

Jonas copped widespread criticism after the match, with many people labelling the strike as a thug hit.

But Hinkley believes both teams have moved on from the incident.

“No I don’t expect there’d be anything in it from them,” Hinkley replied when asked if he expects Jonas to cop some extra lip.

“I mean, that’s their decision, not ours.

“Tom is a pretty ferocious ball player most of the time, and he made a mistake last year. That’s pretty simple. Done and dusted from Tom.”

West Coast and Port Adelaide sit a win adrift of fourth spot with 4-2 records, making Saturday’s clash a crunch encounter.

Port Adelaide have been bolstered by the return of captain Travis Boak, while the Eagles will give ruckman Nathan Vardy (elbow) and midfielder Liam Duggan (corked thigh) late fitness tests.

If Vardy fails to come up, he’ll be replaced by rookie Fraser McInnes.

West Coast have been battered in the ruck department, with Nic Naitanui (knee), Scott Lycett (knee), and Drew Petrie (hand) battling long-term injuries.

It’s left Jonathan Giles as the lead ruck option, and the Eagles have mostly lost the hit-out battle this year.

Giles and Vardy face a challenge to curb the influence of mobile Power ruckman Paddy Ryder, but Hinkley said it would be unwise to assume his team would simply dominate the area.

“We don’t go in with any of those thoughts. It’s silly,” Hinkley said.

“You never think you’re going to get an advantage in one area or the other.

“Because if you go in thinking it’s going to (fall your way), you might get caught out.”

West Coast have won four of their five matches at Adelaide Oval.

Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy has booted a combined 12 goals in his past two matches at the venue, and Hinkley knows last year’s Coleman medallist will be hard to stop.

“He’s an unusual one isn’t he. I think he’s only been off the ground twice for the year, which is an amazing number,” HInkley said.

“Hopefully we can limit the damage.”

Telstra gains as roaming rules unchanged

Australia’s competition watchdog has ruled out setting prices to allow Telstra’s competitors to roam on the telco’s regional mobile network, saying there was not enough evidence that regulating access would improve competition.

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Shares in Telstra jumped following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision on Friday.

Those of TPG – the newest entrant to the mobile market – and Hutchison Telecommunications – part owner of the local Vodafone network – slumped in an indication of the impact of the regulator’s decision on smaller players.

The ACCC said in a draft decision that it had decided against declaring a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service, which would have forced Telstra to share its regional mobile network for a fee determined by the regulator.

“There is insufficient evidence to suggest that declaration of a mobile roaming service in regional and rural areas would further lower prices or improve services, given the higher costs in servicing these areas,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“While a declaration may deliver choice for more consumers, it has the potential to make some consumers worse off.”

The decision marks a win for Telstra and Optus – Australia’s biggest telecommunications companies with about 27 million mobile subscriptions between them – who had opposed any regulation.

Telstra would have been the biggest loser because a change would increase competition and drive down prices, putting pressure on its profitability.

“This is the right decision for the people, businesses and communities of regional Australia because it ensures the industry still has the incentives to invest,” Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said.

By 1500 AEDT Telstra shares were up 3.9 per cent, haveing been up five per cent earlier in the day.

Vodafone Australia, which had pushed for the regulatory intervention, described the ACCC’s decision as “disappointing” and “a missed opportunity for regional Australia”.

“The telecommunications divide between the cities and regional areas will only continue to widen, as no other operator will be able to close the coverage gap between Telstra and the rest of the industry,” its chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd said in a statement.

Shares in TPG Telecom, which in April announced plans to spend $1.9 billion to build Australia’s fourth mobile network, were down four per cent in afternoon trading, as were Hutchison shares.

Peak communications consumer body ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumer Action Network) welcomed the decision, saying it was unclear whether regulated domestic roaming would result in better mobile coverage and improved competition in regional areas.

The ACCC said it will deliver a final decision by mid-2017 after further consultation with stakeholders and looking at other regulatory and policy measures for regional areas.

“We are looking at five areas where extra things can be done – accessibility to towers, the mobile Black Spot program, spectrum allocation, how consumers can be informed better, and what the presence of NBN (the national broadband network) can do,” Mr Sims said.

He said the regulator would monitor the situation and step in if mobile operators were unable to reach commercial agreements due to competitive reasons.

The ACCC inquiry, the third review in 19 years, was launched in September 2016, with the regulator saying that access to a roaming service would enable mobile companies to provide coverage for customers in areas where they don’t have their own network.