Kevin ‘Ruddovich’ avoids Bishop comment

Kevin Rudd has played down his and Helen Clark’s chances of becoming United Nations secretary-general, joking he would have a better shot if his surname was “Ruddovich”.

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The former Australian prime minister also refused to address Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s recent comments that he has been visiting world leaders to express interest in the UN’s top job.

“That is a statement she made, and I didn’t,” Mr Rudd said in an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper.

Mr Rudd has not officially announced he will run for secretary-general, but he has not ruled out eventually making a bid.

The UN Security Council traditionally rotates between regions when choosing a new UN boss and the general consensus is eastern Europe is next up.

“Well my own view is that we are likely to have a UN secretary-general from East Europe this time, and that view hasn’t changed,” Mr Rudd said.

“Last I looked, my name is not Ruddovich.”

The UN took the unprecedented step last week of inviting the nine official candidates to attend two-hour public question-and-answer sessions at the organisation’s headquarters in New York.

Former New Zealand prime minister Ms Clark, considered a frontrunner for the job, had her turn on Thursday.

The final selection process will be held behind closed doors in the UN Security Council, with the five permanent members – US, Britain, China, France, Russia – holding veto power.

There is also a strong push for the next secretary-general to be a woman, but Mr Rudd played down Ms Clark’s chances.

“As I said, it is my firm belief that this time we will have a UNSG (UN secretary-general) chief from East Europe,” Mr Rudd said.

“As for Helen, I think she will be a strong candidate if we cannot find agreement between the P-5 and the other members of the Security Council on an East European candidate.

“I’ve known Helen for a long time, she’s a very capable person and strong PM of New Zealand as well as a strong internationalist.”

UN watchers predict Mr Rudd is waiting in the wings and will make a run if the current candidates are ruled out.

Ban Ki-moon’s term as secretary-general expires at the end of 2016.

Smiles in the Senate as MPs return early

Given they sat for 28 hours straight last time parliament met, senators were in a surprisingly chirpy mood after being forced to return to Canberra three weeks early.

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An eager Family First senator Bob Day was the first crossbencher to arrive in the upper house ready for work on Monday.

Former Palmer United Party team mates Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus embraced while Ricky Muir was visited by Labor’s Sam Dastyari who wedged himself on the cross bench.

They were getting ready for the arrival of the governor-general and the rest of the 150 MPs required by Sir Peter Cosgrove for a joint sitting of both chambers of parliament.

In a little-used constitutional procedure, parliament was prorogued mid-session to consider what Sir Peter said was legislation critical to the government’s reform agenda.

The government wants the Australian Building and Construction Commission restored and a Registered Organisations Commission established to oversee tougher governance rules on trade unions.

Rejection by the Senate would trigger a double-dissolution election on July 2, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed.

“My government regards these measures as essential for the rule of law in our workplaces,” said Sir Peter, as Labor MPs and senators – keen for a fight – jeered.

“My government also regards these measures as crucial to its economic plan for promoting jobs and growth,” he went on as coalition MPs shouted “hear, hear”.

And with that, Sir Peter’s job was done.

He shook Mr Turnbull’s hand and that of deputy PM Barnaby Joyce before walking over to do the same with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Left hanging was Labor deputy Tanya Plibersek.

“Know your place,” someone on the opposition benches joked.

As MPs dispersed from the Senate chamber, Treasurer Scott Morrison had a hug and a kiss for Liberal colleague Bronwyn Bishop who stood out in a bright orange jacket.

The 73-year-old former Speaker was dumped by her party at the weekend in a preselection race for the northern Sydney seat of Mackellar.

If push comes to shove in the Senate, Bishop’s remaining time in parliament will be numbered in days, not weeks.

‘I’ll create up to 1000 new jobs’: Palmer

Clive Palmer wants to reopen his Townsville refinery when world nickel prices recover and says prices are already on the rise.

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The federal MP hopes to create up to 1000 jobs in Townsville, where almost 800 people were left unemployed after the collapse of his company Queensland Nickel.

Mr Palmer has called on the Queensland government to work with him to ensure refinery jobs can be salvaged down the track.

“Queensland Nickel is certainly finished … but if we’re talking about the refinery certainly it’s being kept in care and maintenance at the moment, and can start up within a short period of time,” he told ABC radio.

“And the nickel price is already starting to recover so if we get a full recovery later on in the year, it’s our plan to open it up and to create up to another 1000 jobs up there for people.”

But Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt wants Mr Palmer out of the picture after administrators said there was evidence of gross, and possibly criminal, mismanagement by Mr Palmer and his nephew before Queensland Nickel collapsed.

“At the appropriate time there will be an opportunity to get it back up and running,” Mr Pitt told the ABC.

“Between now and then Mr Palmer has a decision to make and that is whether he’ll exit the business and allow somebody who will come in and run that plant for the benefit of the people of Townsville and the north Queensland economy.”

Administrators FTI Consulting have said Queensland Nickel should be wound up, and there’s evidence to suggest Mr Palmer used the company as a “piggy bank” to fund his other businesses and interests.

Mr Palmer denies that and says at no time did he or any of his associated companies take money “beneficially owned by Queensland Nickel for any purpose”.

Creditors will vote on Friday on the recommendation to put the company into liquidation.

Quarter’s 0.2 per cent inflation expected

New Zealand’s inflation rate has met the Reserve Bank’s forecast, with increases in tobacco tax, food and housing-related costs offsetting the impact of low fuel prices.

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The consumers price index rose 0.2 per cent in the first quarter, for an annual increase of 0.4 per cent, Statistics New Zealand says.

The biggest contribution to inflation in the quarter and the year was the 10 per cent annual increase in the excise on tobacco, the last scheduled rise.

The New Zealand dollar gained to US69.08 cents, from US68.90c immediately before the data was released.

Traders now favour a cut to the official cash rate at the April 28 policy review, with odds of 53 per cent for a cut and 46.9 per cent unchanged based on the overnight index swap curve.

The bank has projected that annual inflation will return to its one per cent-to-3 per cent target band in the fourth quarter and reach the 2.00 per cent mid-point by March 2018.

Cigarettes and tobacco contributed 25 basis points to both the quarterly and annual CPI, while housing rentals and purchases of newly built homes both added 0.22 percentage points to annual inflation.

Petrol recorded the biggest decline in the quarter, at 7.7 per cent, contributing 0.34 percentage points.

Falling global crude oil prices have ensured tradables inflation has continued to decline and in the first quarter that measure dropped 0.9 per cent. Non-tradables inflation, which reflects those goods and services that don’t face foreign competition and shows how domestic demand and supply conditions are affecting consumer prices, rose 1 per cent.

In the year, the tradables component fell 1.2 per cent and non-tradables rose 1.6 per cent.

The Reserve Bank next updates its forecasts in the monetary policy statement on June 9.

Boaty McBoatface wins naming poll

It may have taken a public naming poll by storm, but the newest $380 million Royal Research Ship is unlikely to be named Boaty McBoatface.

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The unusual moniker emerged as a runaway favourite during a campaign that allowed people to suggest names for the ship, which will carry scientists doing research in the Antarctic region.

When the vote closed on Sunday, Boaty McBoatface was the clear winner with more than 124,000 votes – well ahead of the second placed name the RRS Poppy-Mai, which came in with just over 34,000 votes.

However the Natural Environment Research Council, who created the poll, have said it reserves the right to make the final naming decision.

Thank you all for supporting our #NameOurShip campaign. The final decision will be announced in due course. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/yg4VHvNrm5

— NERC (@NERCscience) April 17, 2016

The UK Science Minister Jo Johnson told the Daily Telegraph parliament would be unlikely to endorse the public’s favourite name.

“You won’t be surprised to know that we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavour,” he said.

“I am grateful to everyone who has participated in the competition.

“The public has come up with some fantastic and very imaginative suggestions [for the name]. We are reviewing all of them. We will come to a decision in due course.”

Despite the misgivings of authorities, the campaign to have the ship named Boaty McBoatface has not abated online.

TBH, I think the name #BoatyMcBoatface is an awesome name for a scientific ship! Why have a poll at all if you’re going to ignore it?

— Ernest Cunningham (@gingofthesouth) April 17, 2016The whole world will love you if you call her Boaty McBoatface @NERCscience #BoatyMcBoatface for the win

— Rebecca Mills (@_rebeccamills) April 17, 2016#BoatyMcBoatface wins the online poll.What better way to get kids interested in science at a young age than a ship called Boatie McBoatFace

— Princess Melli (@DameNoireLilith) April 17, 2016I shall call my kayak #BoatyMcBoatface Jr. In respect of the true boat faced winner 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/YNcbPFYWjd

— Steven Toth (@codekoan) April 17, 2016Don’t let those girls down, @NERCscience. Finish what you set out to do #BoatyMcBoatface 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/QzsOJM3C69

— Sarah Dingle (@SarahDingleABC) April 17, 2016

In third place was the RRS Henry Worsley, named for the explorer who died during a solo expedition in the Antarctic in January, with 15,000 votes.

The RRS It’s bloody cold here and the RRS David Attenborough rounded out the top five with just over 10,000 votes each.

Former BBC presenter James Hand was responsible for putting forward Boaty McBoatface as a suggestion.

It quickly shot to the top of the favourite suggestions and at one point the naming site crashed as people rushed to vote for the social media favourite.

The research ship is due to set sail in 2019.

Related reading

Russia pulling on Serbia as Serbian election looms

Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucicâ called for the vote two years before it was due, saying he needed a mandate to prepare the country for European Union membership.

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But, as the Republic of Serbia moves closer to the West, its old ally Russia is pulling it eastwards.

 

The outdoor cafes are packed on a sunny spring day in Republic Square, the heart of Belgrade.

On the streets, election-campaign billboards ask voters to tick the box for the SNS, the Serbian Progressive Party of Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic.â

Polls indicate he will return to power, but his campaign to have Serbia join the European Union is struggling, while pro-Russian sentiment is rising.

The Number 9 tram is old and rattly and runs from central Belgrade to the working-class suburb of Blajnica. â

Sociologist Jovo Bakic, ââan expert on Europe’s nationalist movements, lives at the end of the line.

“(The) Serbian Radical Party is quite an example. Vojislav Seselj openly states that these elections are elections between the EU and Russia and the only party that could fight for closer Serbian relations with Russia is (the) Serbian Radical Party.”

Nationalist politician Vojislav Seseljâ founded the Serbian Radical Party.

At a recent rally of the party, he told supporters, “We have to get back to the bosom of Mother Russia. She never bombed us, never stood us up, and is strong and powerful again.”

Not long ago, Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic, who now says he wants Serbia in the European Union, was a nationalist like Vojislav Sesselj.

At the age of 24, he became secretary general of the Serbian Radical Party.

Jelena Milic is director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies in Serbia.

(Reporter:) “I notice you’ve got quite a big lock on this door.”

(Milic:) “Well, we are an NGO (non-government organisation) which promotes some pretty radical ideas for this environment, like transitional justice and cooperation with NATO — and not cooperation with Russia — so we are forced to be kind of cautious.”

(Reporter:) “I understand you have had a death threat recently.”

(Milic:) “Yes.”

Ms Milic’s experience is similar to that of many non-government organisations in Russia.

And she claims, in Serbia, Prime Minister Vucic is using the nationalists for political gain.

“Vucic gave, deliberately, room and resources and media time to the extreme right, newly emerging extreme right, to threaten the rest of us here and the West that he is the only alternative.”

The Hotel Moscow is a Belgrade landmark, built with Russian money early last century.

More than a century later, Russia is again spending money in Serbia.

Veteran Serb journalist and political analyst Dejan Anastasijevicâ says the European Union is spending more but losing the propaganda war.

“When people are asked which country is financially and economically helping Serbia the most, a big majority of people will say that it’s Russia. However, when you look at the figures, you see that Russia actually gave us almost nothing and about 80 per cent of the financial and economic aid comes from the EU.”

The pro-EU Aleksandr Vucic looks certain to take his Serbian Progressive Party to a convincing win on April the 24th.

But his goal of moving Serbia to the West faces a powerful challenge from the East.

 

 

Time for delay over, Brandis tells Senate

The Senate needs to stop procrastinating and deliver its verdict on the federal government’s trade union reforms, Attorney-General George Brandis says.

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In his reply to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove’s recall of parliament on Monday, Senator Brandis said the upper house had repeatedly employed delaying tactics to avoid debating bills to restore the building industry watchdog.

“The time has come for the Senate to procrastinate no longer, to delay no longer and to come to a conclusion on these bills,” he told parliament.

He also urged the Senate to support the government’s move to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

If legislation to abolish the tribunal comes before the Senate while it was debating bills to restore the building industry watchdog, the government was prepared to temporarily adjourn debate on the Australian Building and Construction Commission, he said.

If the bill to abolish the tribunal did not pass, the government would seek to delay its decision to set minimum pay rates from coming into effect.

Senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy described the recall of parliament as a travesty of democracy, likening it to the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General John Kerr.

“What we’ve had today is the ghost of 1975 revisited upon us – the long, dead arm of Sir John Kerr crawl out of his grave.”

Sir Peter had overturned the will of a democratically-elected Senate in a tawdry political stunt that demeaned his office, Senator Conroy said.

“Never has the need for a republic been more evidenced than today,” Senator Conroy said.

“Never in modern history has a government prorogued a parliament to obtain a political advantage and that is what this government has done.”

The senator was repeatedly warned by Senate President Stephen Parry to stop reflecting adversely on both the Queen and the governor-general.

Senator Conroy said the recall of parliament had nothing to do with trade union reform and was about clearing out the crossbench in a double-dissolution election following the passage of Senate voting changes.

The prime minister’s commitment to having union reforms passed was just “crocodile tears”.

Turnbull government vs the Senate: Key points day 1

The government has enforced a rarely used constitutional power to prorogue parliament, effectively creating a new session of parliament without dissolving itIt has given the Senate three weeks to consider rejected legislation restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission and bills imposing tougher governance measures on trade unionsPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to hold a double-dissolution election on July 2 if the Senate again rejects the legislationGovernor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove addressed a joint sitting of parliament’s two chambers, telling MPs and senators they had been recalled early to consider legislation critical to the government’s reform agendaSenior Labor figure Stephen Conroy invoked the ghost of another GG – Sir John Kerr – to accuse the government of proroguing parliament for political advantageIn the lower house, the government used its numbers to block an attempt by Labor to have MPs debate a motion demanding a royal commission into the misdeeds of banksMPs voted to formally asked the Senate to consider the ABCC billsThe government has agreed to interrupt Senate debate on the ABCC bills to consider legislation abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal once legislation has been received from the House of Reps

 

‘Alarming’ fear level over Parkinson’s

Almost two-fifths of people in the UK with Parkinson’s disease have felt the need to hide their symptoms or lie about having the condition, a survey has shown.

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The findings, from the charity Parkinson’s UK, are said to reveal an “alarming” level of fear surrounding the disorder.

A total of 127,000 people in the UK live with Parkinson’s, a progressive brain disease that causes uncontrollable tremors, slow movement, and impaired speech.

Parkinson’s UK estimates that 42,000 affected people in the UK have delayed sharing their diagnosis with someone close to them.

A total of 1868 Parkinson’s sufferers were questioned for the survey between January 14 and February 11.

More than a third of those polled said they had experienced negative emotions during the year following their diagnosis.

According to 18 per cent of this group it was as if “the world had ended”.

A total of 37 per cent had felt it necessary to hide their symptoms. Of those, 63 per cent wanted to avoid people feeling awkward or embarrassed around them.

Nearly a third of this group (32 per cent) did not feel that the symptoms were socially acceptable.

For many patients, breaking the news about their condition to friends, family members or colleagues felt like “coming out”.

Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said: “No-one should feel alone in dealing with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Too many people are struggling with their diagnosis alone because of fear of what people might think, say or do.

Wildlife photographer David Plummer, 47, from Henfield, West Sussex, said after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s he walked round and round a square in London feeling “completely dazed”.

He added: “There are a few people I told quickly but after that I didn’t announce it. I’ll often try to hide it if my symptoms are showing, as sometimes it’s embarrassing. When going out on dates or in social situations it’s not something you want to say first off. A part of me wants to hide it.”

Governor-general in handshake gaffe

Was it a right royal snub or just a case of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove sticking to the rules?

Sir Peter found himself embroiled in a mini-controversy over a missed handshake when he made a rare visit to the Senate on Monday for the reopening of parliament.

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The governor-general appeared to snub deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek as she extended her right hand to Sir Peter just moments after he shook hands with five of parliament’s most senior men.

The Queen’s representative was in the Senate to deliver a speech to a joint sitting of parliamentarians explaining why they were being recalled to consider government bills restoring the building industry watchdog and imposing tougher governance rules on trade unions.

Once he finished speaking, Sir Peter shook hands with Senate President Stephen Parry, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Ms Plibersek, standing right next to Mr Shorten, extended her hand too but Sir Peter appeared to blank her, leaving her to shrug her shoulders in bemusement.

Parliamentarians and those watching from the public gallery were left wondering if the GG had deliberately snubbed Ms Plibersek or simply didn’t see her.

While his office isn’t commenting, parliamentary protocol states that the governor-general is only required to shake hands with the senate president, prime minister, speaker and leader of the opposition in such situations.

A handshake from Sir Peter wasn’t even meant to be on the cards for Barnaby Joyce, let alone Ms Plibersek.

Nevertheless, the GG later telephoned Ms Plibersek to explain himself.

“Ms Plibersek’s position is that no apology is necessary, and that the whole thing’s a storm in a teacup,” her spokesman said.

However, not everyone agrees.

“Not protocol at all. GG sent terrible message for Aust women,” opposition spokeswoman on aged care, Senator Helen Polley tweeted.

Bridget Bosen wondered if Sir Peter was a “scaredy cat about girls (sic) germs”, while TS tweeted that the apparent snub was “not a good look GG”.

“Oh dear, the GG has just reached back into the era of dinosaurs,” Rob Harris tweeted.

Late controversy as Orlando and New England draw 2-2

But the Orlando advantage was wiped out with only seconds remaining, after referee Baldomero Toledo called a handball on Orlando midfielder Servando Carrasco, an equally debateable decision considering the ball his hit shoulder.

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The referee originally awarded a free kick just outside the box, but changed his call after consulting an official and awarded a penalty.

The decision allowed Lee Nguyen to convert a spot kick for New England and tie it up for the visitors.

The raucous crowd then rained debris onto the field and there was a fiery exchange between coaches Jay Heaps and Adrian Heath and officials as teams left the arena.

“There was a lot of emotion at the end but I thought it was a really good battle between two good teams,” Revolution coach Heaps told reporters. “I was trying to tell the referee there was stuff being thrown on the field and I was worried for my players’ safety. It felt like things had spiralled out of control.

“Adrian (Heath) was upset with me and I was upset with him for not letting me protect my players.

“But we also felt there was a clear handball on their second goal, and then the handball at the other end clearly happened in the box, so it had to be a penalty-kick call. From my vantage point, I saw two clear handballs.”

For Heath, it was a rollercoaster, but he remained positive as the Lions sit just three points off top spot in the Eastern Conference.

“You think you’ve won the game in the end when you score that late, and the players probably thought that would’ve been it too,” he said.

“But I can’t fault them for their efforts in the second half. I thought we played with a lot of passion, if not with a lot of quality at times, especially the first half.”

Earlier, Orlando captain Kaka was awarded a contentious penalty after only 11 seconds that led to the opening goal.

Elsewhere, FC Dallas came back from a goal down to beat Kansas City 2-1 and push to a three-point advantage on top of the Western Conference.

(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both)