‘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.

Vic debt will leave state ‘exposed’: Libs

Climbing government debt despite financial windfalls and mounting taxes on Victorians have been attacked by the state’s opposition in its budget reply.

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Speaking at a Liberal fundraising lunch in Melbourne on Friday, Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien accused the Andrews government of not doing enough to tackle the cost of living and increasing crime.

The Labor government delivered its third budget on Tuesday, revealing $1.9 billion over four years to fight family violence and a $1.2 billion surplus for 2017/18.

It also showed debt was to spiral to $29 billion, or about six per cent of gross state product, by 2021 – a climb Treasurer Tim Pallas has urged Victorians to embrace.

Tax income has also grown massively, partly due to the real estate boom.

But Mr O’Brien pounced on the government for increasing debt despite the growing tax income and Melbourne Port lease sale windfalls.

And he said the government’s higher spending and debt based on cyclical revenue was a risk.

“Our budget is now hugely dependent on the heat of the property market and expecting that to continue,” he said.

“But even the budget papers acknowledge if interest rates rise and the property market cools, our budget will be extremely exposed.”

With 18 months until the state election, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy used the event to rally the party faithful around his “hungry” team.

He and Mr O’Brien also accused the government of being more concerned with political point scoring when it came to the commonwealth than working with Turnbull government.

Ahead of the state and federal budget, the Victorian government revealed a $1.45 billion rail revival plan entirely dependent on commonwealth money.

Blues give Thomas freedom to attack Pies

Former Collingwood favourite Dale Thomas has been encouraged to play with freedom when Carlton take on the Magpies in the 254th instalment of the AFL’s most celebrated rivalry.

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Blues coach Brendon Bolton made two changes for Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash at the MCG, with Thomas returning after a two-match break and former Adelaide forward Sam Kerridge also included.

Thomas struggled over the first month of the season before missing the Blues’ 90-point mauling by Port Adelaide.

The 29-year-old was ready to resume last week, but is no longer an automatic senior selection.

With question marks over his future, he responded with a commanding 31-possession performance for the Northern Blues at VFL level.

“Dale played a really good game at VFL level and comes in in-form,” Bolton told reporters on Friday.

“We just want to make sure that he plays with the freedom that he played with in the VFL.”

Thomas played 157 games, including the 2010 premiership decider, in eight seasons with the Pies before his high-profile free agency switch to Carlton.

“That’s not a consideration in selection,” Bolton said of Thomas’ return.

“The integrity around our match committee is based on form, but I’m sure he’d be determined to play well against his old team.”

Both teams have been inconsistent on their way to 2-4 records, but head into Saturday’s clash as last-start winners.

Carlton notched a 19-point victory in round six that kept winless Sydney anchored to the bottom of the ladder, while Collingwood stunned previously unbeaten Geelong by 29 points.

“What I did see last week was a Collingwood team that moved the ball a bit more aggressively through the corridor,” Bolton said.

“So we need to be on defensively, there’s no doubt about that, all our layers of defence need to be strong.”

The Blues have proved difficult to score against at times this season, but are yet to break the 100-point barrier in a game after six rounds and have scored the fewest points in the league.

“All supporters love to see scoring … I think it’s important to understand that we’re working really hard in that space,” Bolton said.

“We are young in our front half, by and large, but it’s a process of developing decision-making at the right time and leading patterns.

“That takes time to gel … it’s a work-in-progress for us.”

Young gun Jacob Weitering overcame a thigh issue to take his place.

The former No.1 draft pick struggled with a corked thigh in the Blues’ win over the Swans, finishing the game with his leg heavily strapped, but Bolton declared him a certain starter.

Youngsters Jack Silvagni (shoulder) and Zac Fisher (hamstring) departed the side, with Bolton hopeful the pair will only miss one game.

The Pies will be without injured speedster Travis Varcoe (hamstring) for the match that will also serve as a celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary.

Jordan De Goey will be keen to impress after serving a three-game club-imposed ban, with important defender Ben Reid and Jackson Ramsay also included.

Weekend sport preview

Sunday afternoon will see the climax to an A-League season that has been dominated by Sydney FC.

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However, Melbourne Victory are level with Sydney on one win each in the two previous Grand Finals played between the sides.

Despite being favoured to win this time around, Sydney defender Alex Wilkinson knows they have to stay focused.

He was part of the Central Coast Mariners side that almost upset Brisbane Roar in the 2011 Grand Final.

Wilkinson says, if they don’t stay on task, they can be beaten.

“You can’t switch off at all. And we’ve talked about that in previous games this year as well it’s about playing the full 90 minutes, 120 minutes, whatever it takes and not switching off at all because you know we’ve seen throughout the past and I’ve seen firsthand you can get punished, but apart from that its business as usual.”

As for Melbourne Victory, the chance to upset Sydney on its own ground would be something to be cherished.

But the pre-game expectations of a Sydney victory will mean nothing if the Sky Blues fail to hit form.

Victory Midfielder James Troisi doesn’t believe his team deserves to be the underdogs.

“I don’t see it as an underdog and if you want to state it that way, that’s fine. Like I said, we’ll go into Sunday arvo as a final and you know both teams on the pitch.”

And you can see that Grand Final match on SBS Viceland on Sunday afternoon.

The final ever Anzac Rugby League Test takes place tonight in Canberra, where Australia takes on New Zealand.

Australia captain Cameron Smith will play in his 50th test match and becomes only the second player behind Darren Lockyer to achieve that milestone.

The match won’t be played again after a review of the Rugby League representative calandar.

The match will give the winning nation an important psychological boost ahead of October’s World Cup.

In the AFL this weekend, tonight’s match is St Kilda against the Greater Western Sydney Giants who are in second spot on the ladder.

Arguably the biggest game of the round sees Richmond taking on the reigning Premier Western Bulldogs.

The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a 76 point drubbing at the hands of Adelaide last round.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Swans remain winless after six rounds.

But coach John Longmire will be hoping to break the losing run on Sunday when his side takes on the Brisbane Lions.

Longmire says he isn’t feeling the pressure.

“Whether you’re a player or a coach or anyone in the football department you understand the responsibility that you’ve got to be able to perform on a weekly basis obviously it’s a bit more pointed as a coach. But we’ve enjoyed some fantastic times at this football club as a collective and we’ll work through the tough times as a collective.”

Sydney is the only team in the competition yet to post a win this campaign.

The Super Rugby season continues, with the Australian Rugby Union yet to confirm which of either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force will be the franchise to be cut from next season.

It’s been six weeks since the decision was confirmed and the players of both sides are starting to express their unhappiness about not knowing their immediate future.

Rebels Centre Tom English says some of his colleagues are already looking elsewhere.

“Rip the band aid off. Indecision is just going to lead to more players leaving overseas. If you cut down the team that’s just 30 less jobs available so you’ve just got to have a backup plan otherwise you’ll be left with nothing.”

The Rebels play South Africa’s Lions on Saturday afternoon.

Super Netball enters its final month before the finals arrive.

It’s tight at the top with the Melbourne Vixens leading the Sydney Giants by a point on the ladder. The Sunshine Coast Lightning are a further point behind.

The Vixens take on the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday evening, while the Giants travel to take on the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Sunday.

In cycling action this weekend the Giro D’Italia gets underway.

The home nation’s hopes resting on two time winner Vincenzo Nibali.

Australia’s Rohan Dennis will look to take another step to being a contender in all three Grand Tours, the Giro, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.

The race begins in Sardinia later tonight and ends in Milan in three weeks’ time.

 

 

Key issues for regional Australians in this year’s Budget

For long-time dairy farmer Noel Campbell, feeding his herd of 400 cattle is an unavoidable cost.

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But he says the twice daily milking process, which takes less than two hours each time and costs far more than it should, because of a law stipulating a minimum three-hour shift for engaging casual staff.

“So we’re actually paying if we need someone for four-hours for the day we’ve gotta pay them for six-hours so it makes it quite difficult to do so we tend to end up doing the work ourselves rather than employ people.”

And there’s a view that a lack of flexibility in the labour market is impacting the broader agriculture sector.

Tony Mahar from the National Farmers Federation says the nature of seasonal and sometimes remote work, means an “agriculture specific” visa should be considered as part of the Budget and review to the overall visa system.

“We need to have the capacity to get people from overseas that can come and help us get products out of the ground off the trees and onto the consumers tables and into their kitchens.”

Mr Mahar says the budget must also deliver certainty around the long-awaited inland rail infrastructure project, which would link key agricultural hubs throughout Victoria New South Wales and Queensland

“We’ve had feasibility studies and we’ve had committments from government which is positive – we need to actually get a firm committment of a billion dollars to getting this inland rail actually built.”

If completed, the 1,700 kilometre track will become Australia’s largest rail-freight project, and Jack Archer from the Regional Australia Institute says it will offer significant savings and improved opportunities for the sector

“With better pathways to markets, cheaper pathways to markets businesses and agricultural producers in those areas will be able to tap into the Chinese markets in a different way.”

Other issues front-of-mind for those living outside metropolitan centres include further commitment to mobile phone blackspot funding, access to effective internet facilities and upgrades to the Bruce and Pacific Highways.

Jack Archer from the Regional Australia Institute says – if funded appropriately – regional centres have the potential to provide a solution to a metropolitan problem.

“There’s an opportunity to address the housing affordability crisis by making it easier for people to consider regional living and transfer out into regional areas.”

Another key aspect of incentivising regional living is improving rail transport for those living in country areas centres and commuting to cities for work.

In Victoria the state government says it will spend almost $1.5 billion on regional rail upgrades, but needs the federal governement to release money it says it’s owed from the lease of the Port of Melbourne

Despite the challenges of living in the bush, Tony Mahar says the right high-level decisions could offer progress and solutions.

“As sectors like mining and manufacturing come down from in the mining case peaks agriculture will provide growth productivity and profitability.”

 

Teen critical after botched Qld carjacking

A teenager is fighting for her life in a Gold Coast hospital, while another is in police custody after an apparent botched carjacking.

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The 15-year-old girl suffered severe head injuries when she was flung from a car on a suburban street in Helensvale just after 7.30pm on Thursday.

The girl had allegedly been leaning through an open door brandishing a knife and demanding a 24-year-old woman give up her car.

The panicked driver drove away at speed, with the girl’s head hitting either the pavement or a parked car when she was thrown clear of the vehicle.

Unaware the girl had been injured, the woman called police after driving a short distance to report the attempted robbery.

A boy who was with the girl fled the scene. He was arrested on Friday and is in police custody.

“She just believed that she’d managed to speed off,” Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Procter said of the driver.

“She seized on an opportunity at the time when she thought they’d pulled their hands out of the car.”

The girl was placed in an induced coma and remains in critical condition at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Det Snr Sgt Procter said the incident began when the teens approached the woman at Harbour Town Shopping Centre and claimed they were being followed by a man.

She offered to give them a lift and they asked her to drive them to Mullewa Crescent, eight kilometres away.

Mr Procter said police were confident the story given by the pair to gain the lift was a ruse and the driver, who suffered a small cut to her hand, was deeply affected by the incident.

“She’s done what most of us would do,” he said.

“She was pretty shaken up.”

Local resident Angus Knox said he could see puddles of blood on the road outside his family home when he arrived at the scene.

Mr Knox, who was initially suspected by police to be the missing boy, had been concerned something had happened to his grandmother inside their home.

“I’m pretty sure there was some blood on the road. You could see big puddles of it. It wasn’t cool,” he said.