Hockey cautious on Indonesia cattle plan

Treasurer Joe Hockey says any decisions on foreign investment will be made on a case-by-case basis, amid growing tension in the coalition over the issue, highlighted by Indonesia’s plan to buy up Australian cattle farms.


Speaking on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation finance ministers meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Mr Hockey insisted questions of foreign investment in Australia would be worked through in a methodical fashion.

The comments come after Nationals deputy leader Barnaby Joyce last week slammed a proposal by Indonesia to buy a million hectares of Australian cattle land as part of its efforts to reduce its reliance on imported beef.

Mr Joyce has also voiced concerns about a $3 billon bid by US company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) for Australia’s largest agribusiness, GrainCorp.

On Thursday, Mr Joyce told a gathering of farmers in Townsville that the Nationals still had major concerns about the proposed ADM takeover of GrainCorp.

The GrainCorp decision, expected within the next three months, looms as the first big test for the new government on foreign investment as well as its relationship with its junior coalition partner, the Nationals.

Mr Hockey gave a cautious response when asked about GrainCorp.

“We will have a methodical process for evaluating individual proposals and you can be rest assured that my decision will not be contrary to the national interest,” he said.

Mr Hockey, the first minister of the new government to hold bilateral talks on the international stage, said he had also discussed broader issues around the cattle trade with his Indonesian counterpart, Chatib Basri.

An Indonesian plan to buy large swathes Australian cattle country was not raised.

But Mr Hockey said both sides had spoken of a commitment to boosting the cattle trade, which has never recovered from a temporary ban on exports imposed by the Gillard government in reaction to evidence of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs.

“I was very encouraged in my discussions with the Indonesian finance minister, that it was recognised there is mutual benefit in expanding the cattle trade between Australia and Indonesia,” Mr Hockey said on Friday.

“We want to work closely together to expand and facilitate the export of food from Australia to Indonesia to meet Indonesia’s growing needs.”

Mr Hockey said the Indonesian finance minister had expressed a desire for his country to “forge deeper ties with Australia”.

“There is great warmth towards Australia and the new government from the Indonesian government. There is no doubt about that,” Mr Hockey said.

“The fact that the first bilateral meeting had by an Australian minister (in the new government) was with the finance minister of Indonesia is a good indication.”

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Eight arrested over Barclays cyber theft

British police say they have arrested eight men after a gang stole A$2.


2 million (£1.3 million) from Barclays bank by taking control of a branch computer system.


The men, aged between 24 and 47, were arrested on Thursday and Friday morning on allegations of conspiracy to steal from Barclays and conspiracy to defraud British banks.


They are accused of a theft in April, when a man purporting to be an IT engineer arrived at a Barclays branch in north London saying he was there to fix the computers.


He then attached a keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) device with a 3G router to one of the computers, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police.


Such devices are routinely used by people in business to work remotely on their office computer systems, but it allowed the gang to remotely transfer money into their bank accounts.


“Those responsible for this offence are significant players within a sophisticated and determined organised criminal network, who used considerable technical abilities and traditional criminal know-how to infiltrate and exploit secure banking systems,” said Detective Inspector Mark Raymond of the Central e-Crime Unit.


Barclays recovered “a significant amount” of the money stolen, police said, but the arrests are the first in the five-month investigation into the crime.


Officers searched a number of addresses across London and Essex, east of the capital, and seized cash, jewellery, drugs, “thousands of credit cards” and personal data, the statement said.


One central London premises searched was described by detectives as the “control” centre of the operation.


Police foiled a similar plot against Santander last week, arresting 12 men accused to trying to take control of a computer in a branch in London’s financial district. Four men were later charged with conspiracy to steal.

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Qatar maintains can host 2022 World Cup in summer

Qatar said it was open to a switch to winter dates but reiterated that despite the extreme heat, it could stage the World Cup in summer by building air-conditioned stadiums using newly environmentally-friendly technology.


“We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement on Friday.

“If the international football community asks us to move the timetable for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar we are able to do so, but the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies remains an important legacy issue for our nation, region and many countries with similar climates.”

How fans will deal with the heat away from the stadiums remains a worry and FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently said it was a mistake to plan for a summer tournament in the desert state.

The Qatar organising committee tried to allay those fears saying solar-powered, air-conditioning technology could solve the problems.

“Creating comfortable conditions for public areas, walkways, training pitches and stadiums both during and after the World Cup means being able to play and watch football matches in summer throughout the country,” the organising committee added.

“Cooling technology has existed at Jassim bin Hamad (Al Sadd) Stadium since 2008. This June the stadium (in Doha) hosted a FIFA World Cup qualifier in cool and comfortable conditions.

“We are now in the process of developing and perfecting sustainable cooling technologies … to ensure that our Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, training grounds and fan zones offer the optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games.”

European football federations have agreed it would be “impossible” to stage the tournament in summer.

Calls to move the World Cup to the northern hemisphere winter have also met criticism as it would disrupt domestic league competitions in European countries.

Last week, the association representing European clubs said they would not be opposed to a re-scheduling of the tournament but added they wanted to be consulted about the new timing.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Wallabies drop O’Connor indefinitely over airport incident

The 23-year-old was escorted by police from Perth airport last Saturday night after being refused access to a flight to Bali because airline staff said he was intoxicated.


McKenzie said the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) investigation into the incident was not yet completed but he had seen enough evidence to make his decision.

“We’re not getting the right type of behaviour from him,” McKenzie told reporters at ARU headquarters on Friday.

“From a behavioural perspective it’s not acceptable. He’s let himself down at the weekend so we’ve stood him down and we’ll move forward without him.”

Australia beat Argentina 14-13 in Perth on Saturday and the squad, including O’Connor, were given a week off before Monday’s departure to South Africa for a match in Cape Town on September 28. They play the Pumas in Rosario on October 5.

“It’s pretty clear he won’t be taking part in the tour,” McKenzie said.

“The reality is that representing your country is the ultimate honour but also a week-to-week proposition. To be selected, players must consistently do the right things on and off the field.

“We’ll continue to assess James on that basis before any team decisions are made about a return.”

Uncapped New South Wales Waratahs winger Peter Betham will replace O’Connor in the squad for the trip to South Africa and Argentina.

O’Connor, who played flyhalf in the British and Irish Lions series earlier this year before moving back to the wing for the Rugby Championship, has won 44 caps for his country since his debut in 2008.

While prodigiously talented, O’Connor does not have a flawless disciplinary record off the pitch and has been involved in a string of incidents while representing his country.

Most notably, he missed the official launch of Australia’s 2011 World Cup campaign at Sydney airport after sleeping in. He was also photographed at a fast food restaurant at 4 a.m. with fellow Wallabies back Kurtley Beale during the Lions series.

“He’s a good footballer, no one disputes that and he’s been doing good things for us,” McKenzie said.

“There’s a track record there of similar types of events so a significant change in behaviour is what’s required. So that’s the challenge for him.”

O’Connor, who is without a Super Rugby team after being dumped by the Melbourne Rebels, conceded after the Lions series that he had some work to do to regain the trust of some of his team mates.

This latest incident would appear to be the final straw with senior players as well as management reported to have lost patience with O’Connor.

The incident could also have major implications on his future with his former team Western Force, the only Super Rugby outfit still in the hunt for his signature, saying they would be keeping an eye on the ARU probe with interest.

If he was left without a Super Rugby team for next season, O’Connor’s only option would be to move abroad to play which in turn would make him ineligible to play for his country under ARU rules.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amalan Chakraborty)

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Purple power won’t distract Dockers in AFL

It’s often said the journey is more useful than the actual destination.


That’s exactly how Fremantle are treating things ahead of Saturday night’s preliminary final against Sydney at Patersons Stadium.

Never before has Fremantle been in such a strong position to win the flag, with the club’s 19-year history littered with failure and disappointment.

An expectation of success is a relatively new phenomenon for the Dockers, and the town of Fremantle has gone into overdrive this week as long-suffering fans dare to dream of premiership glory.

Such is the hype, one butcher has even started selling purple sausages in support of the West Australian club.

Fremantle know they face one hell of a fight to get over the top of the Swans, whose brand of contested football is perfectly suited for finals action.

But Dockers coach Ross Lyon says the hype and pressure surrounding his club this week will prove to be invaluable preparation for the grand final – if they’re good enough to make it.

“There’s a lot more external distraction and the outcome is bigger,” Lyon said of the finals fever gripping the town.

“We acknowledge that but we welcome it because, at the end of the day, we’re aiming as a club to go to grand final day.

“So it’s an opportunity to practise and rehearse and cope with all the distractions and challenges and mounting focus.

“We see that as an opportunity to be used to our advantage and grow.”

Sydney are accustomed to the big stage, having featured in 10 of the past 11 finals series, including their premiership campaigns of 2005 and 2012.

In contrast, Fremantle’s best effort before this year was a preliminary final appearance in 2006.

Sydney were again Fremantle’s nemesis on that day, with the Swans prevailing by 35 points at ANZ Stadium.

Only six current Dockers featured in that match – Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Luke McPharlin, Michael Johnson, Ryan Crowley and David Mundy.

Pavlich, who kicked four goals that day, is confident the 2013 Fremantle squad is better placed for success this time around.

When the teams last met in round eight this year, Fremantle came from 27 points down in the final quarter to snatch a draw at the SCG.

Sydney veteran Ryan O’Keefe said the Swans learned some valuable lessons that night.

“When you’re playing the best sides, if you have a lapse for a five or 10-minute period, they’ll jump you,” O’Keefe said.

“And that’s what they did. We sort of let it go for a period of time and Freo are a really good side and capitalised and made us hurt.

“In the end, they probably should’ve won the game.”

Although the Swans are missing key players up forward and in defence, their star-studded midfield is relatively unscathed.

Fremantle also boast a host of on-ball stars, with Lyon predicting the midfield battle will decide the outcome of the game.

Sydney coach John Longmire says restricting the influence of ruckman Sandilands will be the key to his side’s hopes of victory.

The Dockers have been boosted by the return of All-Australian defender Michael Johnson from a calf niggle, while Sydney recalled forward Ben McGlynn (calf) and Gary Rohan in place of Kurt Tippett (knee) and Tom Mitchell (ankle).

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