Former prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers have urged all nations to put new effort into nuclear disarmament.

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The call comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott prepares to sign a nuclear co-operation deal with India despite that country not having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Twenty-nine political, diplomatic, military and scientific leaders from 14 Asia-Pacific countries have signed what has been called the Jakarta Declaration on Nuclear Weapons.

The declaration urges all nuclear-armed states, and allies such as Australia who rely on their nuclear protection, to commit to “no first use” of nuclear weapons.

It also calls for a convention to be negotiated making the “no first use” a binding commitment by the US, Russia, China, India, North Korea and Pakistan.

As Asia is the only region in the world where nuclear stockpiles are growing, the group urged at least a freeze on present arsenals, and their reduction over time to the lowest levels “consistent with maintaining minimum effective retaliatory capability”.

All nuclear-armed states should also take their nuclear weapons off high operational alert and separate warheads from land and air-based delivery vehicles.

Group convenor, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, said a renewed sense of urgency was needed to deal with the risks posed by the world’s 16,000 remaining nuclear weapons.

“It’s time for leaders to listen, and act,” he said.

The Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament was formed in 2011.

The declaration text was agreed in Jakarta on August 18 and released on Thursday.

Signatories include former NZ prime ministers Geoffrey Palmer and James Bolger, former Australian PM Malcolm Fraser, former Pakistan joint chiefs of staff chairman Jehangir Karamat and former Indian foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.


A construction manager who said he heard union officials bullying non-union workers on a worksite was in a different building three metres away from the alleged incident, the inquiry into trade unions has heard.

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Nicolas Navarrete, a project manager for construction company Smithbridge Australia, testified to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption that he heard an organiser from the construction union threaten workers and give them five minutes to become union members.

However, Gregg Churchman, a delegate for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on the Gladstone Boardwalk project in Queensland, told the commission Mr Navarrete was in his office in a worksite hut three metres from the “smoko room” where the September, 2013 meeting took place.

Mr Navarrete told the commission on Wednesday he was in his office and overheard Jodie Moses, the CFMEU official accompanying Mr Churchman, threaten workers.

“I heard Moses say ‘Smithbridge employees won’t be going back to work today if you don’t sign up to the CFMEU union’,” Mr Navarette said on Thursday.

Mr Churchman told the commission the meeting was held in the smoko room with the doors and windows shut and the air-conditioning running and denied any threats were made.

“It would have been impossible, in my view, for Mr Navarrete to have overheard our conversation,” he said.

Counsel assisting the commission, Jeremy Stoljar, said Mr Churchman was accusing Mr Navarrete of lying, then accused Mr Churchman of making his evidence up.

“He (Mr Navarrete) might believe that he, himself, did hear it,” Mr Churchman said.

Earlier, a former CFMEU official denied ever banning a Queensland crane company, saying email evidence of a boycott was “concocted”.

Peter Close told the commission no ban was ever placed on Universal Cranes, a business owned by Albert Smith.

Mr Smith has testified the CFMEU banned Universal from worksites in Queensland in 2012 after he refused to sign up to a union enterprise bargaining agreement.

On Thursday Mr Close repeatedly insisted no boycott existed.

However, email records submitted by Mr Smith show exchanges from 2012 as negotiations wound on.

“I refer to our recent conversations regarding the CFMEU boycott of Universal Cranes on projects where the head contractors are prepared to support your action against us,” Mr Smith wrote on August 14, 2012.

After proposing terms of agreement, including making payments to a union-run redundancy fund, Mr Smith asks if the CFMEU will “lift its ban”.

Mr Close responded from his iPhone: “Will also want you to fix the membership if we are to move forward.”

Asked what percentage of Universal’s workforce should be union members, Mr Close replied: “Ninety per cent I reckon that’s fair for me”.

Mr Close said negotiations with Universal and Mr Smith had gone on for years and had been extremely difficult.


It’s one of the world’s truly magnificent hotels, with views over the Arabian Sea and the imposing basalt archway built to commemorate King George V and Queen Mary’s arrival in British India.

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Barack Obama, John Lennon, Roger Moore, Mick Jagger and Prince Charles are just a few who have passed through the grand entrance of Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai.

But 33 years ago the hotel welcomed a far less glamorous guest through its doors.

A bedraggled Tony Abbott, just 23 years old and weary from three months backpacking on the cheap in India, decided it was time for a bit of luxury.

“I spent a lot of time in third-class compartments in railway carriages,” the prime minister told a business breakfast at the Taj on Thursday.

“I spent a lot of time in two-rupee-a-night hotels, and I thought I’m going to have to treat myself.

“So I came here to the Taj Hotel and I had the best lunch this hotel could provide.”

Much has changed since he first toured the subcontinent three decades ago.

Mr Abbott is now Australia’s prime minister, and India has evolved into the world’s second-largest nation with an economy rivalled only by China and the United States.

The bullock carts Mr Abbott watched trundling down the streets of Mumbai – today India’s busy financial hub – have faded into history as the nation charged forward.

“(India’s) clearly the emerging democratic superpower of the world and a country with which Australia has long and warm ties,” he said.

Mr Abbott wants to deepen Australia’s trade and business ties with India and its leader Narendra Modi, the country’s pro-business prime minister elevated to power in May.

But before launching into the trade agenda of this two-day visit Mr Abbott paused to remember a darker chapter of India’s history.

He laid a wreath at the Taj to remember the 31 people murdered by terrorists at the hotel during the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The grand hotel was the scene of some of the worst violence during the attacks, with gunmen massacring guests and firing on police from within its grounds.

Mr Abbott wrote a tribute in the hotel’s memorial book to the 164 people who lost their lives, including two Australians – Brett Gilbert Taylor and Doug Markell.


Sydney defender Ted Richards has hailed the focus of teammates Lance Franklin and Adam Goodes in handling the firestorms that have surrounded them this AFL season.

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The two indigenous stars are set to be key players in Saturday’s qualifying final against Fremantle, with Franklin scheduled to return from knee soreness which kept him out of last week’s game against Richmond.

He has rallied from a slow start to the season and a car accident which attracted plenty of unflattering headlines.

However, Franklin has since started to deliver in the first year of his nine-season contract, winning the Coleman Medal and garnering plenty of positive headlines.

“He copped it at the start of the year externally,” Richards said of Franklin.

“There were reports that were just so way off the mark, it was incredibly hard for him.

“But his ability to focus in on what’s important has just been phenomenal, the year he’s been able to have.”

While Franklin is a noted big game player, Richards suggested even Buddy would find it hard to improve on his recent high level.

“I’d love to say that, but to be fair to him he’s won the Coleman, he’s probably going to be All Australian,” Richards said.

“He’s at a fair level right now, so no pressure on him.”

Veteran Goodes, the club’s all-time appearance leader, found himself front and centre in the media glare this week over suggestions he dived in an incident during the Tigers game.

Australian of the Year Goodes has also had to deal with a couple of racist remarks made about him last year and two more instances this season.

“It seems like Goodesy’s name has been in the media a lot the last year or two, and he’s a bloody good bloke, a bloody good person,” Richards said.

“He’s able to just focus in on what’s important.

“It is a real strength of his, so I don’t think it’s going to distract him at all.”

Asked if he thought it necessary to defend Goodes, who has come under fire from Essendon great Matthew Lloyd and cricketing legend Shane Warne, Richards said: “I could, but I think he’ll just let his footy this week do the talking.”

Richards, who has played every game this season, is likely to renew his long-standing rivalry with veteran Fremantle forward Matthew Pavlich.

“He’s such a good player, because he is a key position forward that is unique in that it’s not uncommon for him to go into centre bounces,” Richards said.

Richards noted Fremantle’s greater offensive output of recent weeks, saying they were playing very attacking football.

He refused to blame the contentious ANZ Stadium surface for his well-publicised slip last weekend, which allowed Dustin Martin to kick the decisive goal.

“That was just poor footwork by me. I’d love to be able to blame the surface,” Richards said.

“But if I had my time again, I probably would have done things differently.”


West Coast rookie Murray Newman has the chance to revive his AFL career after being released from prison.

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Newman returned to club headquarters on Thursday after serving a six-month sentence for fracturing the jaw of a man who had sex with his girlfriend.

The 20-year-old midfielder was granted parole late last month, and was released from the Wandoo Reintegration Facility on Thursday morning.

West Coast have indicated they will keep Newman on their rookie list as long as the former first-round selection meets strict protocols.

“He will not immediately slip back into full-scale training, rather he will gradually rejoin teammates in skill drills,” West Coast wrote on their website.

“While he has been working to a club-issued conditioning program, he has had limited opportunity for exposure to football skills.

“Murray will have some very strict guidelines to follow over the next six months and, as part of those conditions, the club hopes his privacy will be respected.”

Newman played four games for the Eagles in 2012.

But his career was in limbo after breaking the jaw of Brett Marris at a Perth nightclub in November 2012.

Newman was handed a one-year prison sentence in March, but The Prisoners Review Board granted him parole late last month after noting his willingness to address his problems.

Meanwhile, West Coast have re-signed defender Jamie Bennell and forward Josh Hill.

Bennell, who played 57 games for the Demons before switching to West Coast via the 2013 rookie draft, has signed on for the next two years.

The 24-year-old made 19 appearances for the Eagles this season in his first full year back from a knee reconstruction.

“I am really grateful to the club for giving me a second chance,” Bennell said.

“Until they contacted me a couple of years ago, I thought my AFL career was over.”

Hill’s future looked bleak after he made just four underwhelming appearances during the opening 18 rounds this season.

But the former Bulldog impressed during the latter stages of the campaign to earn a new one-year deal.

“This season we certainly improved and I want to be a part of what we are building towards,” Hill said.

“All the boys are driven to succeed and we are keen to drive each other to get there.”

West Coast finished ninth with an 11-11 record this season under rookie coach Adam Simpson.