Budget 2017 shows ‘basic inequalities’: Shorten

Bill Shorten says the government is only pretending to deliver a fair budget, but is actually helping the top end of town at the expense of the bottom end.

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Speaking to ABC24, the opposition leader rejected suggestions the government had moved to implement many of Labor’s policies.

“This is a government who want to look like they are doing something but they are not really, are they?” he said. 

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“On one hand, they have got a bank levy and we are not going to get in the way of that, but on the other hand they want to give them a corporate tax cut.

“Malcolm Turnbull thinks if you look after the top end of town, the crumbs off the table will help everyone else.

“We don’t believe it. We will keep fighting. 

“Malcolm Turnbull thinks fairness, if you repeat it enough, makes an unfair budget fairer and it doesn’t. It is what you stand for. We know and the government doesn’t.”

Mr Shorten took aim at the government’s proposal to gradually unfreeze the Medicare rebate over the next three years saying the move did not “fix” Medicare.

“The Liberal government under Abbott froze it for a number of years,” he said.

“We campaigned at the last election, Mr Turnbull said we were making it up.

“Last night we watched the Liberals recant and say they have a credibility and trust problem with Medicare, but the devil is in the detail. They are not unfreezing the rebates which ordinary patients get across the board until the next three years.”

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Mr Shorten also rejected the idea that the government had to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which was put in place by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme was funded,” he said.

“This is a government who is looking to find money in the budget for other purposes.

“The fact of the matter is if you want to fully fund schools or going to university or Medicare or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, don’t give a $50 billion plus company tax cut.”

He also took issue with one of the more controversial budget measures, a bid to randomly drug test certain welfare recipients.

“We are not into kicking the unemployed,” he said.

“The government needs to explain what it thinks it will achieve. We will look at their measures.

“The best thing we can do for unemployed is get them a job.”

Mr Shorten said the budget was “about Malcolm Turnbull’s survival but it is not a budget for the future”.

“The basic inequality at the heart of the Turnbull government is still there,” he said.

“If you look who the real winners were last night, if you earn $500,000 you get a tax cut. If you a large multi national you are getting a tax.

“But everyone else: school funding is cut, university fees are going up and a whole lot of measures that don’t deal with the real future of this country.”

Watch: Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers Budget 2017 0:00 Share

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US to arm Kurds fighting IS in Syria

US President Donald Trump has approved arms supplies to Kurdish YPG fighters to support an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State, despite fierce opposition from NATO ally Turkey.

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Ankara views the Kurdish YPG militia, fighting within a larger US-backed coalition, as the Syrian extension of the Kurdish PKK militant group, which has fought an insurgency in south-eastern Turkey since 1984.

The Pentagon stressed it saw arming Kurdish forces “as necessary to ensure a clear victory” in Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning the group’s attacks against the West.

“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally.”

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, with president Tayyip Erdogan expected to meet Trump in Washington next week.

The US has long directly supplied arms to Arab components of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, which include YPG fighters.

Ms White said Washington would still prioritise supplying those Arab fighters within the SDF.

The decision to arm the Syrian Kurds will likely cast a shadow over Erdogan’s US visit, policy experts said.

“There have been bad episodes in the relationship between the United States and Turkey, but this one is serious because it gets to the heart of Turkish security priorities,” director of the Turkey project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Bulent Aliriza, said.

“You’ve now got a question mark over the US-Turkish security relationship that is pretty serious.”

Ankara has long argued Washington should switch support for the planned assault on Raqqa from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against IS for the past year.

Ankara believes the YPG’s advances will fuel anti-Kurdish sentiment in predominantly Arab parts of Syria such as Raqqa and threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.

Medicare levy slug for NDIS worthwhile, PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged an increase in the Medicare levy will be an extra tax on families, but says it’s worthwhile because it will help fund the national disability insurance scheme.

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“Are you going to turn around and say in a few years’ time to parents of disabled kids, ‘Sorry, there’s no money in the till’?” he told ABC radio.

“Now it is fully funded so you’ll know if you have a disabled child … you will know the money is there, and it’s there because Scott Morrison included it in the budget last night.”

Mr Turnbull said the Senate had not backed the government’s savings measures to allow it to fund the NDIS otherwise.

The government looked at the half per cent already in the Medicare levy to help fund the NDIS and decided to add another half point – lifting the levy to 2.5 per cent total from July 2019.

“For many Australian families, they will feel it … but there’s a benefit,” he told Sky News.

“This is just, fair, responsible.”

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon said his team would look at the measure “favourably”.

“We want the NDIS to be successful and to work and to deliver the enormous potential it can for the people with disabilities,” he told ABC TV.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he believed the government could find other ways to fund the the NDIS.

“We’re not sure the case is made just to automatically increase the taxes for everyday Australians,” he told Seven on Wednesday.

“If the government is looking for some extra money, they don’t need to give a tax cut to millionaires on 1 July and I don’t need to go ahead with corporate tax cuts.”

Labor has not ruled out supporting the increase, although Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was not convinced it was the only way for the government to fund the NDIS.

“We’re not sure the case is made just to automatically increase the taxes for everyday Australians,” he told Seven on Wednesday.

“If the government is looking for some extra money, they don’t need to give a tax cut to millionaires on 1 July and I don’t need to go ahead with corporate tax cuts.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the opposition would take time to respond to the proposed increase.

“It would be irresponsible to rule out supporting it,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Newly-wed McIlroy warns best golf to come

With a ring on his finger and a new equipment deal inked, world No.

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2 Rory McIlroy believes he’s mentally in the best shape of his career.

The 28-year-old married American Erica Stoll in a lavish ceremony at a castle in Ireland over the weekend.

Then on Tuesday, the four-time major winner announced a long-term endorsement deal with TaylorMade to use the American company’s bag, clubs and ball.

McIlroy previously played with Nike golf clubs before the sporting apparel giant closed its golf club manufacturing arm, though he remains their clothing ambassador.

Speaking ahead of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, the Northern Irishman is eager to capitalise on his work-life balance.

“Getting married and teaming up with TaylorMade, I feel like I’m in a great place in my life. I feel very settled and now it’s just about trying to make the most of the good fortune,” said McIlroy.

“I came to the conclusion (TaylorMade) was the best way forward for me to win more, try to get back to world No. 1 and win more majors.”

Former world No.1 McIlroy, who featured strongly at the Masters before finishing in a tie for seventh, believes he’s sharpened his game since the year’s first major.

“I feel like my game’s in good shape coming into (the Players). I needed to address a few issues in between Augusta and here, and I did that within the first 10 days after Augusta,” said

Florida-based McIlroy has three top-10s in eight starts at TPC Sawgrass.

He says he’s hungry to atone for a Saturday 75 that cruelled his chances of catching eventual Players Championship winner Jason Day last year.

Despite bagging 22 victories in 10 years as a professional and holding the world No.1 ranking for a total of 95 weeks, McIlroy believes his best golf is yet to come.

“I still don’t feel like I’m halfway there to achieving what I want to achieve,” said McIlroy.

“I’m 28 years old; if I can play competitively for the next 15 years, I feel like I’ve still got a lot left to give.”

Concern over Foran’s Sydney return: Doyle

Warriors boss Jim Doyle is anxious that departing star Kieran Foran gets plenty of support around him when he returns to Sydney for the next NRL season.

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Doyle hinted there is concern the 26-year-old is leaving Auckland prematurely to the city where off-field problems plagued his life before signing a one-year deal with the Warriors.

Foran announced on Tuesday he will finish with the Warriors this season and is close to finalising a three-year deal at Canterbury.

Doyle, who has forged a close relationship with Foran, revealed the player’s wider family were keen for him to stay in New Zealand, where he has enjoyed a settled lifestyle.

Any chance of that happening ended last week while Foran was in camp with the Kiwis in Sydney.

He met his ex-partner, along with their respective lawyers, and proposed remaining with the Warriors after spending the coming off-season in Sydney to be with his two children.

He would then continue to see his children every couple of weeks when the Warriors crossed the Tasman next year.

“Recently it was more and more about that he wanted to stay and he tried to make that happen,” Doyle told Radio Sport.

“But it’s not to be and therefore he has to go back.”

Foran left Sydney following a tumultuous 10 months which included a broken relationship, a probe into his links with a gambling identity and a drugs overdose.

Doyle says despite progress in Foran’s personal rehabilitation this year, he feels uneasy about his return to the inevitable spotlight of Sydney.

“That’s one of the main reasons his family were keen for him to stay here as well,” Doyle said.

“Yes, yes, it is (a concern). That’s something he’ll no doubt continue to work with specific people over there. I’m sure the Bulldogs will put support around him.

“Certainly, he got himself into a pretty dark hole just over a year ago.”

Doyle defended the signing of Foran at what he said was “a very low cost”.

He said the five-eighth brought a winning mentality to the Warriors which he expects to rub off on players in future seasons.