People’s panel gives Budget 2015 the thumbs up

Our four regular Aussies – a small business owner, a young mother, a pensioner and a farmer – all know the federal budget affectst the family budget.

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But they all seem generally happy with what Joe Hockey delivered this year.

Young mother Aminata won’t be giving up her job thanks to the childcare package, while pharmacy owner Anthony Sadak is thrilled with the small business incentives announced.

Farmer Martin Honner gives the extra tax deductions a thumbs up, but asks where was the regional infrastructure announcement?

Retiree Ces Conte is happy about his increased pension but would like to see measures supporting job opportunities and job security for migrants.

Young family: James Ansuma, Aminata Tengbeh and their three children

Full time workers James Ansumana and Wife Aminata Tengbeh have three children in childcare.

Aminata was considering stopping work because of the high cost of sending their children to care.

They could be about $90 a fortnight better off under the new childcare changes.

That’s enough to convince Aminata to continue working.

Their plans for a fourth baby though are now on hold.

 

The farmer: Martin Honner

Fourth generation Riverina farmer Martin Honner has welcomed the Government’s announcement of tax deductions for farmers who invest in fencing, water storage and fodder storage.

He says it will help farmers “drought-proof” their properties following the bureau of meteorology’s declaration of an El Nino weather event.

He liked the Government’s commitment to Northern Australia, but said he was disappointed there was no major infrastructure announcement for regional Australia.

 

The pensioner:  Ces Conte

Melbourne pensioner Ces Conte’s sole asset is his house.

He stands to receive a modest increase in his pension payments.

But having spent many years volunteering with the multicultural community he says the budget fails to clearly deliver job security and opportunities for migrants, which he enjoyed when he was working as a teacher.

 

The small business owner: Anthony Sadak

Anthony Sadek is thrilled with this budget.

He says the one and a half per cent business tax cut as well as accelerated depreciation of purchases will free up cash, which he will then re-invest in his business.

He said it would be “suicidal” for the Opposition to block the changes.

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Real reject Morata fires Juve into final

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a 23rd-minute penalty to give Real the upper hand before Morata stunned the Bernabeu when he rifled a shot into the roof of the net off goalkeeper Iker Casillas 12 minutes into the second half.

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Spain forward Morata, a Real academy graduate considered surplus to requirements, also scored in the Italian champions’ 2-1 win in the first leg in Turin and Juve will bid for their third triumph in Europe’s elite club competition when they face Barcelona in Berlin on June 6.

Real pushed desperately for the goal that would have taken the game to extra time but squandered a host of chances and Juve remained on course for a treble of European and domestic league and Cup titles.

“Many people said Juve was not a team that deserved to be here and we have proved them wrong game after game,” Juve midfielder Arturo Vidal told reporters.

“They (Real) have some spectacular players but we are a very united team,” added the Chile international.

“We all know what Barcelona are, they have an incredible side, but we will see who is the best and we will put our lives on the line.”

After Ronaldo’s penalty following a clumsy Giorgio Chiellini foul on James Rodriguez, Real could have been further ahead at the break.

Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all wasted chances on a warm night in the Spanish capital with Real dominating as expected.

The match opened up in the second half and Juve were rewarded when forward Morata found space in the area after a clever layoff from Paul Pogba.

MISSED CHANCE

Chances came thick and fast at both ends and Rodriguez powered a shot narrowly over the crossbar, Real keeper Iker Casillas saved brilliantly from Claudio Marchisio and Bale nodded over when well placed.

“Juventus deserve to be in the final while we missed our chance,” Real defender Sergio Ramos told Spanish television.

“After the first goal it seemed like the tie was won but that wasn’t the case at all,” added the Spain international, whose side now face the prospect of ending the season without winning any of the Champions League or Spanish league and Cup.

Ronaldo, level with Barca forward Lionel Messi at the top of the 2014-15 scoring charts, became the first player to score at least 10 goals in four different Champions League campaigns.

He jointly holds the all-time goals record for the competition of 77 with Messi.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

England yet to ask Dizzy about top job

Jason Gillespie has not officially been approached to be England’s next cricket coach – but it may simply be a matter of time before he is announced as Australia’s Ashes threat.

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The former Australian fast bowler remains the heavy favourite to be handed the enormous task of turning around English cricket in time for the highly-anticipated Ashes series against the country for which he took 259 Test wickets.

Gillespie, who has been pinpointed by incoming England director of cricket Andrew Strauss as “one of the candidates”, dodged a large press gathering after his county champions Yorkshire completed a comprehensive win on Wednesday as speculation mounted over his future.

Instead, Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon fronted the media in his place, explaining there had not yet been an official approach from the England and Wales Cricket Board – but that he didn’t expect it would be long before Gillespie was coaching on the international scene.

“There’s nothing really he can say, because he’s had no official approach from the ECB,” Moxon said on Wednesday.

“Obviously Andrew Strauss has said that they’re interested in speaking to him.

“(But) at the moment they haven’t (and) they haven’t asked us to speak to him.”

One thing is clear – Moxon rates Gillespie, who took Yorkshire to the championship title last year, very highly and he understands why Strauss has jotted him down as a key target for the vacant coaching role.

“I think as far as international coaching is concerned, it will be `when’ rather than `if’,” he said of Gillespie.

“It’s great for him personally to be linked with the England job.

“But from a purely selfish point of view, we obviously hope Jason will stay with us

“…anybody worth their salt has ambitions and ultimately to work in international cricket, probably.

“Whether this is the right job for Jason or whether he’d be offered this job we don’t know at this moment in time.

“He’s a very talented coach … and has a great rapport with the lads. He’s a great communicator.”

While Gillespie remains the favourite, two more Australians, Justin Langer and Tom Moody, are also viewed as potential candidates.

Strauss has indicated he wants the new coach hired in time for the Ashes, which starts on July 8, while caretaker coach Paul Fabrace is in charge for the preceding New Zealand series, but is not considered a leading contender for the role long-term.

Ironman triathlon ran illegal lottery for athletes – U.S. prosecutors

World Triathlon Corp, which owns the Ironman franchise, has held annually a lottery allowing thousands of athletes who did not quality for its world competition to pay $50 for a chance to win entry, according to court records.

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Many paid another $50 to purchase membership in a club that would increase their chances of getting into the championship race held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

“Ironman would have been permitted to give away the opportunity to compete in the race but violated the law when it charged athletes money for the chance to win,” said a release from U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley for the Middle District of Florida.

The company is forfeiting its proceeds from the lottery since October 2012, according to the release.

Court records show Ironman also agreed not to contest the violations. However, organizers said they did not believe their actions had been “untoward or inappropriate,” according to a statement posted on its website.

“Ironman chose to settle so that we can focus on our priorities – our athletes and our events,” the company said, noting that it had cooperated with the investigation.

The company said it would no longer operate the lottery as it currently exists but would honour the slots awarded to this year’s winners.

Ironman is a long-distance triathlon featuring a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Ironman events, including shorter races, are held in more than 20 countries.

(This version of the story fixes the day in first paragraph to Wednesday)

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Bill Trott)

Burundi army officer ‘sacks president’, crowds celebrate

A Burundian general said on Wednesday he had deposed President Pierre Nkurunziza for seeking an unconstitutional third term in office and was forming a transitional government, after more than two weeks of protests against the re-election bid.

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But as cheering crowds streamed onto the streets of Bujumbura, sporadic gunfire was heard in the centre of the capital, and it was not immediately clear how much support Major General Godefroid Niyombare had.

With Nkurunziza having gone to Tanzania to discuss the crisis with East African leaders, the presidency dismissed the declaration by Niyombare, who had been fired as Nkurunziza’s intelligence chief in February, saying on Facebook that the coup had been “foiled”.

“We consider it as a joke, not as a military coup,” presidential aide Willy Niyamitwe told Reuters. But late on Wednesday night, Nkurunziza’s whereabouts were unclear.

A Tanzanian official said he had not attended the talks in Dar es Salaam, and had left to return to Burundi. But Niyombare said the capital’s airport and all border crossings were closed.

The East African leaders condemned the bid to oust him and called for a return to “constitutional order”.

The U.S. State Department urged “all parties to immediately end the violence and exercise restraint”. But spokesman Jeff Rathke said he could not confirm that a coup had taken place.

Activists say more than 20 people have been killed in weeks of protest against Nkurunziza’s re-election bid, plunging Burundi into its worst crisis since an ethnically fuelled civil war ended in 2005.

70,000 refugees flee

The United Nations said more than 70,000 Burundians had fled to neighbouring states in a region with a history of ethnic fighting.

“The region will not accept, nor will the region stand by, if violence does not stop or escalates in Burundi,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said after the summit.

It was hard to establish who was in control in Burundi. The state broadcaster, often a primary target in state takeovers in Africa, was surrounded by troops. An employee inside told Reuters some soldiers had tried to enter while others resisted.

That did not deter crowds from dancing and singing in the streets. Some sat on top of cars. A Reuters correspondent saw little sign of the police, hated by protesters for breaking up demonstrations by force and widely considered loyal to Nkurunziza’s party.

Niyombare had made his declaration that Nkurunziza had been overthrown to reporters at a barracks in Bujumbura.

“Regarding President Nkurunziza’s arrogance and defiance of the international community, which advised him to respect the constitution and Arusha peace agreement, the committee for the establishment of the national concord decide: President Nkurunziza is dismissed, his government is dismissed too,” he said, surrounded by several other senior army and police officers, including a former defence minister.

It was not clear if the army was fully under Niyombare’s command. In the 12-year war, the formerly Tutsi-led army fought rebel groups from the Hutu majority, including one commanded by Nkurunziza. The military is now officially mixed, and has become a symbol of reconciliation, but the presence of rival factions creates possible faultlines.

Youth wing

Many Tutsis say the Imbonerakure youth wing of Nkurunziza’s ruling party has been armed and has been threatening Tutsis. The U.S. government has also voiced concern about militias being given weapons. The ruling party has denied all the allegations.

Diplomats in New York said the United Nations Security Council discussed Burundi during a monthly lunch with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday. Ban himself called on all parties to exercise calm and restraint.

Opponents say Nkurunziza’s bid for another five years in office violates a two-term limit set down in the constitution and in the Arusha peace deal that ended the civil war.

A constitutional court, however, ruled that the president could run, finding that his first term, when he was picked by parliament rather than by popular vote, did not count. Critics say the court is biased.

Niyombare, also a former ambassador to Kenya, said he was working with civil society groups, religious leaders and politicians on forming a transitional government.

Western donors, including the United States and the European Union, have criticised Nkurunziza’s decision to stand again.

The European Union and Burundi’s former colonial ruler, Belgium, had said they were suspending some aid, particularly support for the elections, due to the violence.

(Additional reporting by Goran Tomasevic in Bujumbura, Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala in Dar es Salaam, Michelle Nicholls in New York and Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Edith Honan and Kevin Liffey)