Jobs data focus for Australian investors

The Australian share market is set for a flat start to the week before attention shifts to an expected lift in employment figures.


US stocks ended flat on Friday after a weaker-than-expected jobs report and US missile strikes in Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.03 per cent.

That signals a flat start to local trading on Monday.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said the US missile strikes against Syria caused a bit of uncertainty in financial markets but it looks to have been short-lived, as has been the case in the past in response to limited military strikes and most terrorist attacks.

“This is likely to remain the case as the strike was highly targeted and proportional to the chemical attack and does not signal increased US involvement in Syria,” Dr Oliver said.

Thursday’s jobs data will be the main focus for Australian investors.

The market forecast is for a rise of 20,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate remaining at 5.9 per cent.

Monday’s housing finance data for February will also be of interest, with the market forecast for a flat result.

Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton said conditions in the housing market remain in focus following the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s decision to implement additional measures to slow the growth of interest-only loans and loans with high loan to valuation ratios.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is concerned soaring housing prices are pushing up the level of household debt relative to incomes.

Ms Clifton said the RBA will elaborate further on its views on housing in its financial stability review on Thursday.

Westpac, which expects a one per cent dip in owner occupier loans, said the value of investor loans could remain strong in February as lenders moved to increase investor loan rates in March and APRA’s harder line on macro prudential measures was announced in April.

Chinese state media cheer Xi-Trump meeting

Chinese state media is cheering the meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as one that shows the world that confrontation between the two powers was not inevitable.


The official China Daily newspaper on Saturday said it was encouraging to see the two-day summit that ended on Friday “going as well as it could” after earlier “confusing signals” from Washington about how it was approaching the US-China relationship.

Trump had campaigned with strident anti-China rhetoric and had angered Beijing before taking office by talking to the president of Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.

But the two sides avoided any diplomatic gaffes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that would have tarnished the meeting in the eyes of the protocol-conscious Chinese.

China Daily said both parties appeared “equally enthusiastic about the constructive relationship they have promised to cultivate”.

State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times said the meeting “served as an indicator that the China-US relationship is still very much on course since the Trump administration took office in January” and it was likely the two nations would develop a more “pragmatic relationship”.

Their comments were echoed by a front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, which said the meeting established the tone for the development of US-China relations.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump wrote of the meeting: “goodwill and friendship was formed, but only time will tell on trade”.

In the talks, Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program and the two agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting US exports and reducing the gaping US trade deficit with Beijing.

US industry had hoped Trump would deliver a strong message to Xi behind closed doors to end what they see as discriminatory trade policies, but not do anything rash to spark a trade war.

Scott moves within striking distance of second Green Jacket

The first and only Australian to win the Masters, Scott finds himself three shots back of co-leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia going into Sunday’s final round at Augusta National.


He has more work to do than in 2013 when he trailed by one after three rounds before prevailing in a playoff victory over Argentine Angel Cabrera.

“That’s plenty close,” summed up Scott. “It’s just the great players in front, and in conditions like this, if they’re like this again tomorrow it’s going to be hard, because you’re going to have to make it happen.

“I’m just going to need the round of the year for me tomorrow.”

A second Green Jacket seemed a long-shot after Scott missed the cut last week in his Masters tune-up in Houston, and then opened his account on Thursday with a three-over 75.

But the 36-year-old has barely made a mistake since, and his bogey-free performance on Saturday, which included several golden birdie chances that shaved the hole but did not drop, left him alone in seventh on three-under 213.

“When you feel quite close to the lead it seems like that could just flip with a birdie and a bogey,” said Scott. “I think conditions weren’t quite as nice as this (on) that Sunday.

“It seemed easy today after what we’ve been through the last couple of days.

“I’m going to have to lean on my ball-striking tomorrow, and hit it a couple of feet closer on a few holes to give me realistic chances a bit more often.”

Playing in his 16th Masters, Scott knows he will have to get through the front nine without any damage and then attack.

As always at Augusta, it will come to a boil on the back nine, though come-from-behind victories are not as common as many think.

“I mean, it’s cliche here at the Masters, but it all starts on the back nine,” said Scott. “For me in my position I just have to play a really good front nine, so I can start something on the back nine.

“But I’m going out there with no pressure tomorrow, playing really well tee to green, feeling good on the greens.

“Anything can happen. So it’s really going to be an exciting day tomorrow.”

(Editing by Andrew Both)

Warburton eyeing bigger prize after win

The All Blacks had the job half done last week, the British and Irish Lions squared the ledger in Wellington, but the big prize remains up for grabs.


That’s how Lions skipper Sam Warburton sees the situation as his side heads into Saturday’s series decider at Eden Park.

Recalled to the starting XV, flanker Warburton was a nuisance at the breakdown for the 14-man All Blacks all night, and made 10 tackles to boot.

Yet the Welshman told reporters he didn’t even celebrate after the final whistle of the Lions’ 24-21 triumph in Wellington – it was simply a case of evening up the scores before Saturday’s final showdown.

“I’m glad we’re taking it to Eden Park next week but I’d genuinely only be happy if we get that Test series win,” Warburton said.

“We’ll have to be prepared for a tougher encounter next week, we’ll be against 15 blokes most likely and have to step it up again.

“You can talk all the tactics in the world but sometimes it’s just down to a bit of desire to get off your line and win some shots, some collisions.”

In a congested global rugby calendar, the Lions brand has come under renewed attack in recent months, particularly from club bosses in the UK and Ireland who are loath to lose their best players without compensation.

Warburton hoped victory against the world’s best Test side would silence some of those critics, and restore legitimacy to the red jumper.

“Regardless of what happens, we’re going to definitely come back with some credibility in the Lions going forward, keeping the reputation of that – but I’ll only be happy if there’s a series win,” the 28-year-old said.

“For players, we can’t stress enough how important the Lions is for us personally, it’s the absolute pinnacle of our careers.

“Every single player in the British Isles will say they want it to happen – you do feel that responsibility when you play (and) to get wins in Test matches, it keeps hopes alive for the fans as well.”

Kaino accepts early Test substitution

He was the All Blacks’ sacrificial lamb after Sonny Bill Williams’ sending-off, but veteran flanker Jerome Kaino says he can completely understand why he was substituted.


The 34-year-old was removed after just 26 minutes against the British and Irish Lions, making way for Ngani Laumape after Williams was given his marching orders for a high shoulder charge on Anthony Watson.

The move to slot Laumape in at second-five and play with seven forwards appeared to pay dividends, as the All Blacks gave themselves a nine-point second-half buffer.

But late tries to Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray, as well as a 78th-minute Owen Farrell penalty goal, condemned them to a 24-21 loss.

Kaino appeared upset as he exited the field for Laumape in what was his 80th Test match, but said post-game that he accepted the decision.

He made three tackles and a single carry before his substitution.

“To get our strikes going we need a full back line, and I kind of knew someone would have to go off,” Kaino told reporters.

“The coaches decided it was me. It was an early game, but you’ve got to trust what the coaches see and how they view things.”

Kaino added that Williams would likely feel despondent in the coming days, as the All Blacks’ attack stuttered in his absence.

He was certain Williams wouldn’t deliberately target Watson’s head.

The All Blacks, most likely without Williams, will now head to Auckland for next weekend’s series decider at Eden Park, and Kaino said he couldn’t wait to make amends for the side’s first home loss in eight years.

“It’s why you play the game, for these occasions,” Kaino said.

Qld govt hails ID scanners a success

The introduction of ID scanners at nightlife hot spots across Queensland has been hailed a success following the first night of operation.


Almost 90,000 partygoers had their details recorded at 180 venues in 15 precincts across the state on Saturday.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said only seven people unsuccessfully tried to breach a banning order, while police issued another 35.

“Those 35 banning notices would’ve been showing up on every ID scanner system in a licensed venue across the state, within those safe night precincts, within an hour,” she said on Sunday.

Those revellers were based in Rockhampton, the Gold Coast and Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

Ms D’Ath said there were also no sexual assaults and just three assaults recorded in those areas.

“This is significantly down from previous numbers,” she said.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Brent Carter said the number of people arrested for drunken offences was just 50.

“It’s a real change in behaviour,” he said on Sunday.

“Based on last night I have a great deal of confidence we’re going to see a good reduction in violence.

“We’ve now got a measure where people can’t just go back into venues when they’ve been banned.”

Ms D’Ath said it was “no secret” some venues would have preferred not to have had the ID scanners installed, but she was pleased all but two operators in the 15 precincts had decided to sign up.

She said they would have the opportunity to sign up at a later date, as would any other venue across Queensland.

While there were some complaints about long lines outside pubs and clubs, Ms D’Ath said that was largely due to staff familiarising themselves with the system.

‘Moving past stereotypes’: Fresh calls for more diversity in the Australian arts

There are calls for new initiatives to increase cultural diversity in the Australian arts.


Short film ‘The Subtractor’ tells the story of a Hollywood director who comes to Australia to cast an Asian actor as the lead in a superhero film.

Director and producer Maria Tran said the film was a tongue-in-cheek look at the lack of representation of diversity in film.

She told SBS World News: “Asians are always playing the stereotypes of gangstas, nerds, prostitutes – we want to move past those stereotypes and show people that we’re not just an ethnicity.”

The 2016 Census showed as many as 49 per cent of Australians were first or second-generation migrants.

But a review by the Australia Council for the Arts found that only eight per cent of professional artists in Australia were from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Diversity Arts Australia’s Lena Nahlous said that figure was compared to 16 per cent across the total Australian workforce.

“If people don’t see representations of themselves, or stories about them, then it isn’t really relevant for them,” she said.

“It isn’t really building a really strong cohesive society.”

Aruna Gandhi came to Australia on an exceptional talent visa, as a practitioner of a classical Indian dance.

“Bharatanatyam is a very beautiful dance style which is thousands of years old from India,” she said.

“We use a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions and we communicate stories, thoughts and ideas.”

She said she struggled to secure arts funding, or be given a platform to be seen by mainstream audiences.

“If bharatanatyam can be presented, for example at the Opera House as part of the mainstream arts festivals, then that would be a success for us.”

Related reading

Horn boxing win puts ‘Brisbane on the map’

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones says Jeff Horn’s fairytale boxing win over Manny Pacquaio has “put Brisbane on the map”.


The local school teacher defied the odds to upstage the Filipino champion in front of nearly 52,000 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Ms Jones, who welcomed Horn with a hug and a kiss as he took to the stage for the post-bout press conference, said spectators had been treated to a “magic” event”.

“It just doesn’t get better than this,” she told reporters on Sunday.

“Our hometown boy has now put Brisbane on the map.”

Ms Jones said it was the largest crowd Pacquaio had ever fought in front of.

She said the pay per view numbers from around the world wouldn’t be known until Monday, but so far they were “pretty happy”.

Earlier this year the tourism minister confirmed the state government had made a “significant contribution” in order to bring the fight to Queensland.

Ms Jones refused to be drawn on exactly how much had been outlaid for the sporting spectacle, but said it would inject $24 million into the local economy.

Both Ms Jones and Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said they were open to the idea of hosting a rematch.

Promoter Bob Arum said there was a rematch clause and if it occurred it had to be in Brisbane.

“Manny’s future is still up in the air,” he told the post-match press confrence Sunday.

“It’s unfair to ask him today, let a week go by and we’ll figure it out.”

Fans descending on Suncorp Stadium on Sunday were urged to take public transport, as extra bus services were put on to cater for demand.

A TransLink spokesman told AAP there had been no issues for people as they made their way to the ground.

Afghan all-girl robotics team denied entry to US for competition

The six teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, from Herat won’t be going to the inaugural FIRST Global robotics event in Washington DC in July – but their robot will.


They’ve all been rejected for the one-week travel visa – despite making the dangerous 800 kilometre journey – twice – to Kabul, to the American Embassy, to be interviewed.

Though saddened #TeamAfghanistan must watch from afar, see them ship their robot to colleagues in #USA for #FGC2017 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/vY8WbauHdz

— FIRST Global (@F1RSTglobal) June 30, 2017

Roya Mahboob, Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO, who brought the girls together under the Digital Citizen Fund project told SBS World News it was a dangerous journey for the girls.

“We didn’t get a reason why the students were denied” she said, speaking from New York. “They got very upset and the first time they were rejected they were crying all day”. 

Ms Mahboob said the girls were brought to Kabul for a second chance in the hope that at least one or two of them could obtain a visa.

“But unfortunately” she said “all of them got denied.”

Staff at the Consulate were polite, but she added “There are views that the number of visas for B1/B2 for Afghanistan is limited and that maybe their (US) Consular made the decision that this visa was not for our students .. or maybe because the students couldn’t speak English and because of that they made their decision.”

First robotics team in Herat

According to the competition’s website, the six girls were the first robotic team with the Digital Citizen Fund in Herat.

The fund is a non-profit organisation which aims to empower youth and young women in developing countries to gain access to technology.

The team members are from Towhid, Malakai Jalalai and Hoze Karbas high schools who said they “want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us”.

“This opportunity would allow us to invent, design, and create things that could possibly allow our community, our lives, and us,” according to statement on the website.

“We want to make a difference and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in people’s lives.”

FIRST Global Challenge

The FIRST Global Challenge is open to students aged 15 to 18 with the common goal of increasing their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

More than 160 national and five continental teams are participating in the event, including a team from Australia – the QLA Pineapples (Team Australia) based in Brisbane, made up of students from St Peter’s Lutheran College and Grace Lutheran College.

The QLA Pineapples (Team Australia) image from FIRST GlobalFIRST Global

“We come together around our love for Robotics and all things FIRST,” said their statement on the FIRST Global website.

It’s not clear why Afghanistan’s team has been denied visas but other countries such as Sudan, Iran, Iraq have, including Team Hope – a group of Syrian refugee youth who say they never gave up hope and ambition despite the difficult circumstances they faced after fleeing to Lebanon.

Watching from afar

Roya Mahboob says the girls’ robots will travel to the US “and we’re going to find a team of Afghan-American girls here to make them ready that they can compete and represent our students here.”

The girls, meanwhile, will be watching their entry back in Herat via Skype.

Team Hope (Refugees) – young Syrian who say they never gave up hope.FIRST Global


Pressure mounts on McGowan to fix budget

Almost four months since becoming Western Australia’s premier, Mark McGowan remains confronted with the massive burden of repairing the state’s finances but cannot keep blaming the Barnett government, analysts warn.


State debt is projected to exceed $42 billion by 2020, with a net operating deficit of about $3 billion forecast this financial year.

In an attempt to begin turning things around, one major decision made since the March election was to introduce public sector reforms, including capping pay rises and slashing the number of departments from 41 to 25.

But the amalgamations led to some senior public servants to indicate they would leave the bureaucracy.

Then, Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia announced his departure after it was revealed he sought a Supreme Court injunction to stop the release of documents to an inquiry about the $1.5 million sponsorship deal for the Western Force rugby team, which was struck under the previous government.

The premier insisted Mr Papalia’s departure was about the amalgamations, but Opposition Leader Mike Nahan labelled the public service “chaotic”.

Political analyst Harry Phillips said it would be difficult to measure the success of the reforms.

Fellow analyst David Black agreed, adding that while unions had backed the change of government, there was unease now in the public sector and dealing with unions, such as police, would be an issue for Labor.

Prof Phillips said the budget cuts only slightly improved WA’s finances and it was possible a key election promise not to sell Western Power could be broken.

“If, after a couple of years, they aren’t making enough progress, they might look at the privatisation agenda,” he told AAP on Sunday.

Prof Black said it could happen even sooner.

“It would be a major decision (to sell Western Power) but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out,” he told AAP.

Prof Phillips said the GST carve-up remained the biggest problem, but the Commonwealth seemed intent on waiting for the Productivity Commission’s findings.

He said federal treasurer Scott Morrison, who visited Perth last week, was keeping expectation levels extremely low.

“His political language is one of minimal change.”

Prof Black described some people’s expectations as a “pie in the sky”.

“There are too many players involved who would be impacted,” he said.

“You’re asking too many people to make cuts.”

Meanwhile, the average WA family is being slugged an extra $438.40 per year for utilities and other fees under the 2017/18 budget, including the fixed charge for electricity supply going up $169 and water rising $96.90, while seniors card holders will have certain rebates capped at $100.

While the budget will not be handed down until September, Treasurer Ben Wyatt recently announced the changes taking effect from July 1.

Some people labelled it a broken promise, but Mr McGowan said everyone had to bear some financial burden.

Prof Phillips said most people understood fees had to increase and the premier had been clear.

It remains to be seen what other cost-saving measures will be announced in September, and Prof Black said that would be the public’s opportunity to assess the McGowan government’s performance.

Mitchell stars as Hawks down Pies in AFL

Hawthorn have crashed Scott Pendlebury’s 250th AFL game, downing a depleted Collingwood by 24 points at the MCG.


The Hawks trailed by two points at three-quarter time on Sunday but rallied in the final term to claim an 18.10 (118) to 14.10 (94) victory.

Tom Mitchell was again a thorn in the Magpies’ side, racking up 35 disposals and booting two clutch fourth-quarter goals to seal the Hawks’ victory.

Collingwood were two men down for much of the last term with Tyson Goldsack and Darcy Moore both injured.

Goldsack was concussed after a collision which left him bleeding heavily from the nose, while Moore suffered hamstring tightness.

The Pies trailed by a goal at halftime before snatching back the lead in a fiercely contested third quarter.

But the final term belonged to Hawthorn, who had an even spread of contributors with 12 goalkickers.

The 13th-placed Hawks remain in the finals hunt after backing up their upset victory over Adelaide last week.

“The challenge for us this year is we’ve been unable to really follow up with another good performance the following week,” coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“That was important for the group, to consolidate what was a really good victory last week and to execute it again.”

The loss drops Collingwood to 15th place, with a finals berth looking unlikely.

The Pies’ transition offence was much improved from previous weeks but they were beaten at the contests and careless with the ball.

“I reckon we had colour blindness in the second half – we kicked more to them than we did to us unfortunately,” coach Nathan Buckley said.

“It made it really hard to hold field position and defend some of the turnovers that we gave, and ultimately it was too much for us to counter.”

After racking up 50 disposals last time the two sides met, Hawthorn prime mover Mitchell was again allowed to run free and made the Pies pay.

Veteran Shaun Burgoyne continued his excellent form while Ryan Burton, Luke Hodge and James Sicily were important down back.

Hawthorn also gambled with Taylor Duryea in a forward tag on Jeremy Howe and were able to restrict the influence of the Magpies playmaker.

Jordan De Goey had a career-best 32 disposals for Collingwood while the oft-maligned Mason Cox booted three goals.

Milestone man Pendlebury had 21 disposals but the Pies skipper was quiet by his lofty standards.

Magpies midfielder Taylor Adams is certain to face scrutiny from the match review panel for a clumsy elbow to the throat of Luke Breust in a second-quarter marking contest.

PM to press case for free trade at G20 meeting in Germany

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can escape the internal bickering in his own party when he flies to Germany this week to attend the G20 Leaders meeting.


But the reprieve from hostilities could be brief with the debate in Hamburg expected to be fiery as some European leaders clash with US President Donald Trump.

Host German Chancellor Angela Merkel will argue for the international Paris Agreement on climate change to continue – a pact President Trump has already pulled out of.

She will also fight against calls for protectionism, in opposition to the Trump administration’s “America First” stance.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is already in Germany, said Australia remains committed to the Paris Agreement.

“We will continue to promote the case for more freer and open trade as an engine for prosperity and lifting of living standards,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.

“The world is going to be a better place if all of us engage in as much free and open trade as possible.”

Senator Cormann represented Australia at the funeral of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl on Saturday, the architect of German unification and a driving force within the European Union.

He described Mr Kohl as a political “giant” and the day was very much a reflection of the significant and historical contribution he made to Gemany, Europe and to the world.

He said while Europe does face its challenges with Brexit, he said there is a lot of optimism and the French-German axis is stronger than ever following the election French President Emmanuel Macron.


Italy urges other EU ports to welcome migrants

Italy’s interior minister called Sunday on other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships ahead of talks with France and Germany on tackling the migrant emergency.


Marco Minniti, who meets his counterparts in Paris later Sunday to prepare for EU talks in Tallinn this week, said in an interview with Il Messaggero daily that “we are under enormous pressure”.

With arrivals in Italy up nearly 19 per cent compared to the same period last year, Rome has threatened to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats or insist funding is cut off to EU countries which fail to help with the crisis.

“There are NGO ships, Sophia and Frontex boats, Italian coast guard vessels” saving migrants in the Mediterranean, he said in a reference to the aid boats as well as the vessels deployed under EU border security and anti-trafficker missions.

“They are sailing under the flags of various European countries. If the only ports refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question,” he said.

“I am a Europhile and I would be proud if even one vessel, instead of arriving in Italy, went to another European port. It would not resolve Italy’s problem but it would be an extraordinary signal” that Europe wanted to help Rome, he said.

Over 83,000 people rescued while attempting the perilous crossing from Libya have been brought to Italy so far this year, according to the UN, while more than 2,160 have died trying, the International Organisation for Migration says.

Italy’s Red Cross has warned the situation in the country’s overcrowded reception centres is becoming critical.

Interior minister Minniti was set to meet counterparts Gerard Collomb of France, Thomas de Maiziere of Germany and European Union Commissioner for Refugees Dimitris Avramopoulos at 1800 GMT in the French capital.

Screen migrants in Libya

The Italian minister said Rome would be pushing for a way to shift the asylum application process from Italy to Libya, and safely bring to Europe those who win the right to protection.

“We have to distinguish before they set off (across the Mediterranean) between those who have a right to humanitarian protection and those who don’t.

“And, on the basis of the decisions made by the UNHCR, we must ensure the former depart for Europe while economic migrants are voluntarily repatriated” to their countries of origin, he said.

Unsourced Italian media reports said Rome was likely to call for a European code of conduct to be drawn up for the privately-run aid boats, with the Corriere della Sera saying vessels that did not comply could be “seized”.

Critics have said the NGOs attract traffickers by sailing close to the Libyan coast. The NGOs insist they have no choice, because smugglers put the migrants out to sea in flimsy vessels that sink as they reach international waters.

Rome would like a regional maritime command centre to oversee all rescue operations from Greece to Libya to Spain, which would spread the migrant arrivals between European countries, the Corriere della Sera said.

And Italy insists that the EU refugee relocation programme – which is largely limited to people from Eritrea and Syria – should be expanded to include other nationalities, such as Nigerians, La Repubblica said.

Between September 2015 and April 2017, some 5,001 asylum-seekers – 14 per cent of the 34,953 target – were relocated from Italy to 18 European countries, the UN’s refugee agency said.

“While some participating states have showed greater commitment towards relocation, the number of pledges made available continues to be inadequate and implementation remains slow and challenging,” it added.