Collingwood v Geelong: Pies take a conservative approach with Ben Sinclair

Collingwood have adopted a conservative approach with defender Ben Sinclair after he received a minor knock at training on Thursday.

Sinclair has been ruled out of Saturday’s clash against Geelong technically because of concussion, having not felt entirely well after the training mishap, although he did pass the subsequent concussion tests.

He has already missed two matches this season because of head knocks. The first concussion came against Melbourne in round four, and he was late withdrawal from the Anzac Day clash against Essendon.

Sinclair returned for the trip to Perth to face West Coast but took another hit to the head, although he was cleared to play out the game after a concussion test.

He sat out the following week’s loss to Carlton and returned last week for the trip to Brisbane.

The Pies said on Friday Sinclair had emerged unscathed from the big win over the Lions but had received a knock at training and was “shaken up”.

It’s been a frustrating start for the 2009 draftee, who was restricted to six matches last season because of hamstring injuries and a broken hand.

Sinclair has been replaced by tall defender Ben Reid, as the Pies seek to build on the momentum from their win at the Gabba.

Magpies director of football Neil Balme insisted on Friday there were no plans to trade Travis Cloke at the end of the season.

Cloke has played three matches in the VFL since he was axed from the senior side on the eve of the Anzac Day clash but his form continues to be a concern.

The power forward needs to find a way to regain his groove, for the Pies have turned to American import Mason Cox and the recalled Jesse White to play alongside Darcy Moore in recent weeks.

Cloke is contracted to the Pies until the end of next year but will take a heavy pay cut next season.

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Peter Dutton was right on one thing – but not the real problem

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said refugees “would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Asylum seekers detained in Nauru protest this month against their treatment. Photo: Supplied

Full federal election coverageMore political +opinionDutton shows the Coalition has yielded to panic

At least Immigration Minister Peter Dutton highlighted one point this week: it costs a lot of money to bring people to Australia. He restricted his remarks to refugees but there’s a cost in bringing family-reunion and economic migrants to Australia, too.

The difference, however, is that we have a moral duty to help the world’s refugees but no moral duty to take economic migrants, who just like the idea of living and working in Australia.

One of the best indicators of these costs and duties can be found in Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook. The bank is well placed to measure wealth: Switzerland has topped the world’s national wealth table for every year of the databook’s five-year history.

The databook shows that Australia is a very wealthy country and with wealth more evenly distributed than in almost any other nation. In 2013, Australia’s average personal wealth was second only to Switzerland’s. We can and should do more to help the planet’s refugees.

So that’s the duty side. Now for the cost.

Since 2013 – in the term of this Coalition government, as it happens – little New Zealand crept up the wealth table and overtook Australia, with an average personal wealth of $US400,800 compared with Australia’s $US365,000. New Zealand is now second to Switzerland and Australia third.

New Zealand’s population (about 4.5 million) is growing at a rate of about 1 per cent a year, whereas Australia’s is closer to 2 per cent. New Zealand had zero net immigration in 2012, though it’s usually about 12,000 people a year. Australia’s net immigration runs between about 170,000 to 300,000 a year – up to four times New Zealand’s rate.

Our birth rate is higher, too. Increased population means less wealth per person.

Australia’s higher population growth may improve the wealth of some people in the property game, but overall it costs everyone else. Even with very high visa fees and sponsored immigration lowering the immediate cost to the government, the longer-term cost of immigration remains high.

As it happened, Dutton mentioned literacy, numeracy and Medicare – in other words, health and education. His remarks were directed at refugees, but are true of all immigrants. Extra schools, hospitals, roads and the like need to be built for them. As Dutton said: “So there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.” He was referring to the extra refugees that the Greens want to take but it’s equally true of all migrants who come to Australia.

Higher population also puts a strain on the environment.

The cost of high population growth is borne out by the fact that, even though Australia’s income per person has been higher than New Zealand’s in recent times, Australia has still fallen behind New Zealand for total wealth per person.

Dutton also mentioned jobs. He said of refugees: “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.” But to the extent that that’s true, it’s also true of all migrants.

Then Dutton got a bit jumbled because he said of refugees: “For many people, they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English … For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues.”

It’s an odd image: people in dole queues taking Australian jobs.

It’s also odd to draw a distinction between “Australian jobs” and jobs taken up in Australia by refugees. Surely, they are all Australian jobs. And in any event, to the extent that a job taken up by someone who arrives in Australia is one fewer job for a person already here, it’s true whether the arrival is a refugee or another sort of migrant.

All of Dutton’s arguments about costs and jobs with respect to refugees apply also to migrants in general, although refugees are initially more costly to government education and health services because they often come from places where education and health are poorso there is some catchingup to do.

But that said, refugees generally want to make a new home and get ahead like everyone else. And Australia is the place to do it. Australia has the lowest percentage of its people owning less than $US10,000 of wealth than any other country. It would be far cheaper to integrate refugees into the community than imprison them indefinitely on third-world islands.

We should recognise our duty to help more with the international refugee crisis.

We should drastically reduce the number of economic migrants we accept.

We should make an arrangement with Indonesia and other neighbours so that they take back any refugees who arrive in Australia through people smuggling, with no chance of them ever settling in Australia. In return, we would take as many or more people from among the refugees in those countries. And if there are no boat arrivals, we should concentrate on taking refugees from our region anyway.

That would wreck the people-smugglers’ business plan because refugees in Indonesia would know that any attempt to reach Australia by boat would mean permanent disbarment from Australia. That idea would compare poorly against the better option of waiting their turn in Indonesia with some hope of being resettled.

We should empty the prison camps on Manus Island and Nauru by bringing the occupants to Australia and accepting New Zealand’s offer to take some of them. After all, New Zealand can afford it now that it’s pipped Australia and taken second place on the world wealth table.

Alas, all this is so unlikely. Too many people with money and power profit from high immigration even if the great majority loses from it. And no one lost a vote playing the fear game and kicking refugees while they are down.


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Kieran Foran slots seamlessly back in at Parramatta Eels: Michael Jennings

All smiles: Kieran Foran is back at training. Photo: Benjamin Tranter “To see him today at training, he looks upbeat and positive.” Photo: Benjamin Tranter

Kieran Foran is back at Eels training and according to teammate Michael Jennings, it’s as though he never left.

Foran has been given the green light to return to the NRL after a stint in a Queensland rehabilitation centre, allowed to train on Friday and play on Monday before he returns to continue receiving the treatment and support.

While he hasn’t trained with the team for three weeks, Jennings insists the Eels skipper hasn’t missed a beat and looks in a positive mind frame despite battling through some personal issues. “It was good to see him. He just slotted in at ease and trained just like he was there the other day,” Jennings said of Foran. “It’s good to have him back. All the boys are upbeat about it and everyone is pretty positive at the moment. We haven’t really sat down as a team and talked about it; individually he has spoken to everyone and seems fine so far.

“I spoke to him this morning, we had a coffee with a few of the boys and his head is in the right place. To see him today at training, he looks upbeat and positive. The only thing we can do is be there for him. Him being around the boys and this positive environment is good for him.”

The Eels take on the Melbourne Storm at home on Monday night, just a few hours after Blues coach Laurie Daley announces his team for game one.

While Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was critical of the Australian team announcement, which he believes affected the performance of his players earlier this month, Jennings says a likely Origin selection won’t be weighing on his mind during the game

“Yeah it will be a bit weird. If you make the team you find out on Monday or before the game,” Jennings said. “You don’t really think about injuries, you just go out and play the game. If it happens, it happens. You really can’t control that. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. You don’t go into games thinking about injuries or trying to save yourself. I think some players, being their debut, to actually make the Kangaroos squad you wouldn’t want to get yourself injured because it’s a real honour to play for your country. You would be a bit reserved, I’d say, but personally I wouldn’t do that.”

The biggest talking point out of Parramatta this week has been about the defection of Jarryd Hayne from the NFL to Fijian rugby sevens.

Eels winger Semi Radradra represented Fiji in sevens at a young age and has backed his former teammate’s decision to try his hand at a new sport, confident he can handle the transition. “I was pretty happy about his decision. I know Haynesy is a very talented player and hopefully he gets picked for the team,” Radradra said. “To have him in the team, the boys will be happy. Hopefully he brings something new. It’s going to be tough for him, but I know Haynesy he loves the game and hopefully he gets picked. Fiji sevens is very hard, everyone wants to play.

“But if there’s a spot for him, they’ll like him. He’ll bring something new for the boys. Haynesy suits any game. He’s played rugby league, went to NFL and wants to play sevens. It doesn’t matter. He’s a good talented kid.”

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Game watch

I WONDER if liking a game makes its flaws that much more apparent.

Stellaris gives you control of an empire as it explores the galaxy.

I am having a hard time deciding if the fact that I’m really enjoying Stellaris makes its faults stick out or if it really is just a game that is excellent in concept and design but lacking in content and gameplay.

Stallaris is a hybrid of 4X and grand strategy games from the creators of the Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis series.

You take the role of an interstellar species that has just discovered faster-than-light travel, as they expand across the stars, meeting new allies and threats.

It’s aimed at being more friendly to newcomers to the grand strategy genre while also providing enough depth for Paradox Interactive’s fans, and for the most part it succeeds.

However, AI and user interface issues, as well as a particularly dull mid-game, hold it back from being some sort of genre-breaking masterpiece.

However, I’m not that worried.

Paradox has already addressed many fans’ concerns, saying that a lot more content will be coming in free updates, which will coincide with DLC releases.

While some companies exploit people’s desire for more content in their game with superfluous DLC, Paradox is known for providing exceptional support for its games.

Crusader Kings II has 11 rich DLC packs, all reasonably priced and a myriad of smaller content packs.

If Paradox’s support for Stellaris is anything like it was for Crusader Kings II, then in a matter of months I’m sure we’ll see a very good game become a great game.

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Labor hits out at ‘unprecedented’ AFP raids

Mark Dreyfus: The raids are “extraordinary and unprecedented events”. Photo: ABC Lateline Up to ten plain-clothes officers raided a Brunswick house believed to be the home of a Labor staffer. Photo: Sky News

The federal shadow attorney-general has labelled the raids of Labor Party offices by the Australian Federal Police “unprecedented and extraordinary” in the middle of an election campaign and said the government has serious questions to answer about the matter.

In an interview with ABC’s Lateline on Thursday evening, as news of the raids was still coming to light, Mark Dreyfus said he was shocked to learn of the events in the second week of a federal election campaign.

“These are extraordinary and unprecedented events and the government has a great deal of explaining to do,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“I cannot think of any precedent for this occurring before … It’s a concern of course because we have a proud record in Australia of non-politicised security agencies.”

On Thursday, AFP officers searched the office of former communications minister Stephen Conroy, while later, two staffers of current communications spokesman Jason Clare were also set to be targeted, Fairfax Media reported. Labor says the raids are in relation to leaks about time delays and cost blowouts of the National Broadband Network (NBN) under the Coalition.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has strongly distanced himself and the Coalition from Thursday’s events, saying the AFP were operating entirely independently from the government.

“It’s entirely a matter for the AFP,” he said earlier. “As you know they operate entirely independently of the government so this is a matter for the AFP. The Labor Party know that as well as you and I do.”

Lateline host Tony Jones said he had received information that the government was only informed of the raids as they were happening, and the AFP said they were acting at the behest of the NBN, not the government. The host asked Mr Dreyfus whether he was suggesting that the AFP was acting in a political way or at the behest of the government.

“I am not saying that, Tony,” My Dreyfus said. “I am saying that all Australians are right to be concerned about the appearance of a raid being conducted on a Labor senator’s office and on the – potentially on the homes of Labor staffers in the second week of a campaign and because of the subject matter of these raids.”

“There’s guidelines that govern the way in which the Australian Federal Police is to carry out searches relating to parliamentarians and also guidelines relating to how the Australian Federal Police is to conduct itself in relation to political – politically sensitive matters.”

“They require that the government be briefed. We are in caretaker mode now. That should require that there be proper full-briefing of the opposition.”

Mr Dreyfus also appeared to question whether there was a double standard at play in the raids, saying there had been “more than 20 serious national security-related leaks under this Abbott-Turnbull Government and not one of them has resulted in an AFP investigation, still less raids conducted in this manner.”

The shadow attorney-general said Labor would be defending any staffers as they would parliamentarians in any criminal matters arising from the raids.

NBN Co confirmed to Fairfax Media on Thursday it was assisting the AFP with an “ongoing investigation”.

with James Massola

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Huge boost for harness club

Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, meets with Ararat Rural City councillor Gary Hull to discuss an upgrade to the Ararat Harness Racing Club. Picture: MICHELLE DE’LISLE

ARARAT Harness Racing Club has received a record grantfollowing anannouncement made byMinister for Racing, Martin Pakula,

Mr Pakula visited the club on Friday where he announced theVictorian RacingIndustryFund (VRIF) will contribute $24,000 towards new asphalt in the racing stalls.

The difference to the project, estimated to be worth a over$48,000 in total, will be split byArarat Harness Racing Club and Harness Racing Victoria.

Mr Pakula saidasphalting the stalls will mean a better race-day experience, particularly for the participants.

“It will mean less dust, but also means the club has to use less water,” he said.

“It’s a great fund (VRIF). It means we can return money into the racing industry, for infrastructure, for race-day attraction and for projects such as this.

“It’s great to be out here. It’s good to have a tour and see the money’s going to be put to good use.”

Ararat Harness Racing Club secretary, Michele Berry, said asphalting the stalls will make it easier for the club to clean as well as reducing the amount of dust.

“It will also improve the facilities that we have here,” Ms Berry said.

“It’s very good for the clubindeed.”

The club was notified early in 2016it had been successful in its grant application. Works on the stalls are expected to start in early June, and will take three weeks to be completed.

“For our racing calendar next year, everything will be a lot cleaner and easier,” Ms Berry said.

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