THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE

* September 7: Tony Abbott elected 28th prime minister of Australia.

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* September 18: Ministry sworn in. Abbott criticised for having just one woman, Julie Bishop, in his cabinet. Operation Sovereign Borders starts.

* September 23: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Lieutenant General Angus Campbell hold the first of their Operation Sovereign Borders briefings. The weekly press conferences are quietly dumped at the end of the year.

* September 30: Three weeks after the election Abbott makes his first trip to Indonesia. “It is in many respects our most important relationship,” he says.

* October 29: Abbott visits Tarin Kowt base in Afghanistan to declare a “bitter sweet end” to Australia’s deployment to the country. The last of the troops are pulled out before Christmas.

* November 13: Carbon tax repeal introduced to parliament. “This bill delivers on the coalition’s commitment to the Australian people to scrap the toxic tax,” Abbott says.

* November 18: Revelations that Australian spies tried to listen into the phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior ministers. The media reports prompt Indonesia to suspend all military co-operation with Australia.

* December 10: The government falls behind Labor in Newspoll for the first time since the election. Its stocks continue to fall in 2014.

* December 11: Holden announces it will close its local manufacturing operations by the end of 2017. Labor accuses the government of goading the car maker into leaving the country.

* December 27: Immigration Scott Morrison marks the first 100 days of Operation Sovereign Borders, saying: “The boats have not yet stopped by they are stopping”. The government refuses to confirm reports that it is now turning boats back to Indonesia.

* February 10: Toyota announces it will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017, putting an end to the local industry.

* February 16: Three days of rioting breaks out at the Manus Island detention centre, killing Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati and injuring 62 others.

* March 17: Australia assumes co-ordination for the search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean, which Abbott describes as a “unfathomable mystery”. An extensive search off the West Australian coast fails to find any sign of the wreckage.

* March 19: Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos stands aside amid an ICAC investigation into his time as a director of Australian Water Holdings.

* March 20: Senate rejects the carbon tax repeal, with Labor and Greens voting down the bill. “We will not stop until the carbon tax is repealed,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt declares.

* March 25: Abbott announces Knights and Dames will be reintroduced to the Order of Australia honours list. “I believe this is an important grace note in our national life,” he says.

* March 25: Attorney-General George Brandis releases draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act to remove the words insult, offend and humiliate. Australians have a right to be bigots, he says.

* April 5: Abbott embarks on trade mission to Asia. During the week-long trip he signs a free-trade agreement with South Korea, and finalises one with Japan. He also visits China for the first time as Prime Minister.

* April 5: The Liberal Party suffers a five per cent swing against it in the WA Senate election re-run, but all three of its senators are re-elected. Abbott dismisses the swing as a “typical by-election result”.

* April 24: The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge visit Canberra on their royal tour to Australia. Abbott tells the royal couple they are more popular than world champion surfer Kelly Slater during a function at Parliament House.

* May 13: Joe Hockey hands down the government’s first budget, which includes unpopular measures such as a GP co-payment, a deficit tax levy for high-income earners, increasing the age pension access age to 70, changing its indexation and cuts to welfare spending. “We are a nation of lifters, not leaners,” Hockey declares.

* May 21: Abbott lands himself in hot water for winking while taking a talkback call from a mature-age sex-line worker.

* June 12: Abbott meets President Barack Obama at the White House, where the pair discuss defence ties and their contrasting views on climate change.

* June 19: The government marks six months without an asylum seeker boat arrival. “I’m not declaring victory; there’s no hint of mission accomplished,” Abbott says.

* July 7: New Senate sits for the first time. A mix of conservative crossbenchers, led by the Palmer United Party, now hold the balance of power.

* July 8: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses parliament, before he and Abbott sign a free-trade agreement. Abbott urges the international community to give Japan a “fair go” as it seeks to reinterpret its pacifist constitution.

* July 17: The carbon tax finally repealed after long-running negotiations with the Palmer United Party. “The tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone,” Abbott tells the Australian people.

* July 18: Abbott leads international outrage at the shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine, demanding Russia co-operate fully with an investigation into the tragedy. Australian police and military personnel play a key role in the recovery and identification of the 298 victims.

* August 5: Government announces overhaul of anti-terrorism laws to tackle home-grown extremists, and dumps proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act to preserve harmony in “Team Australia”.

* August 13: Joe Hockey is labelled out of touch after suggesting the poorest people don’t own cars. He later apologises for his defence of a plan to reintroduce indexation of the fuel excise.

* August 14: Unemployment reaches 6.4 per cent, its highest rate in 12 years.

* August 31: Abbott announces Australia will join an international airlift of military equipment to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic extremists in northern Iraq.

* September 2: The government reaches a deal with the Palmer United Party and other crossbenchers to repeal the mining tax.

* September 4: Abbott visits India to sign a uranium trade deal with Delhi.

* September 6: Abbott visits Malaysia.


The Abbott government’s contentious higher education reforms have cleared parliament’s lower house.

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But it will be several weeks before the government can take them to the Senate.

Labor bitterly railed against the changes that will deregulate student fees, raise interest rates on student debt and cut Commonwealth funding.

It vowed to continue its battle against the reforms outside parliament.

“We don’t have to fight very hard because everyone knows how bad these changes are,” frontbencher Amanda Rishworth said.

She accused the government of guillotining debate because it was scared of scrutiny about the bill’s impact.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie called on senators to “see good sense” and block the reforms that would hurt the disadvantaged, women and country residents.

“This is another sign of a government that is cruel,” he said.

But coalition MPs said the reforms – which Education Minister Christopher Pyne has hailed as the “greatest of our time” – would result in a system that was “truly fair and universal” and ensure universities were strong and competitive.

However, some rural MPs are working behind the scenes to convince Mr Pyne regional unis need extra support.

As Labor was losing its fight in the lower house, it managed to win Senate support to push back a report on the reforms – delaying the government’s moves to introduce the bill to the upper house until October 28.

That gives Mr Pyne, who’s conceded the package won’t pass the Senate in its original form, plenty of negotiation time with crossbenchers.

He appears to have the support of Family First senator Bob Day and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.

Other senators are waiting to see the legislative detail before coming to a firm position while the the Palmer United Party is opposed at this stage.

Labor has urged the government to separate a number of non-controversial measures from the legislation, such as extending loans help to New Zealanders.

The Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 now goes to the Senate.


The date has been set, but that’s about as much as we know.

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The world’s biggest company by market capitalisation is expected to launch a number of new products next week. It hasn’t given anyone any clues, sending the rumour mill into overdrive.

Some are suggesting we’ll see a wearable device.

Would you buy a $400 iWatch? 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/7VVhkNkegA pic.twitter广西桑拿,/A2gEmYD9mD

— ForbesLife (@ForbesLife) September 3, 2014

 Others are certain we’ll see a new, thinner and larger iPhone, possibly dubbed the iPhone6 or even, the iPhoneAir.

There are claims it may have some new technology.

Post by CNET.

What we do know for sure, is that Apple shareholders are enjoying the spoils already, with shares reaching an all-time high even before the event.

 

But Apple’s announcement may be overshadowed by another technology giant called Alibaba.

 

Alibaba is China’s answer to Amazon and eBay. The main difference is that Alibaba doesn’t take ownership of inventory or stock goods in their distribution centres to then fulfill the orders. 

Still, it is the world’s largest e-commerce company. Sales hit $250 billion last year on its two online shopping sites, Taobao and Tmall. Combined, they account for 80 per cent of China’s online retail sales.

So what’s the fuss?

After months of speculation, it looks like the Chinese company will be finally ready to launch its initial public offer next week.

It could be worth as much as $20 billion, making it one of the world’s largest offerings in years, valuing the company at around $200 billion. 

Yahoo is already one of its major shareholders.

 

Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Markets told SBS World News, Alibaba’s listing is interesting from two perspectives.

“First the sheer size of it shows the possibilities that can arise for those companies and investors that have exposure to the middle class. Consumption will be the driver of China over the coming years as it moves from a manufacturing and export nation to a consumption nation. Alibaba has exposure to all levels of the middle class as well insulating it from fluctuations.

“Second, this is the best opportunity the globe has had to get exposure to a Chinese mainland player, considering it is now the largest example of shadow banking, it is the largest provider of online payment systems in the country and its offering millions upon millions of products it could be considered the perfect ‘diversified’ investment vehicle for those wanting exposure to China.”

But Australians wanting access to its IPO might find it difficult because it is limited to those with US investment accounts.

“However, we do offer a grey market on Alibaba where investors can take a position on the expected market cap of Alibaba at the close of the first day’s trade,” says Lucas. “There are also ETFs and derivative products on offer for Australian investors keen for access before the listing. Post the IPO the secondary market will be an option to all however it will mean they will miss the initial reactions to Alibaba listing and might have to pay a premium.”

If all goes as expected, Alibaba will be trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker code “BABA” by September 18 or 19.


In a repeat of the 2012 final, which Murray won, the pair combined for some stunning long rallies before Djokovic pulled away for a 7-6 (1) 6-7 6-2 6-4 victory to set up a semi-final against Kei Nishikori of Japan.

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“I think we played a very physical match in the first two hours,” Djokovic said. “I am very glad to get through to another semi-final.

“We both gave our best. At times, the tennis was not that nice, we made a lot of unforced errors but that’s due to a very physical battle we had in the first two sets.

“I knew coming into the match that he was going to go for his shots and the one who was the most aggressive would win. I am glad I managed to stay fit in the end and pull through.”

Murray ended the match struggling a little with his movement and required a hot compress for his back midway through the fourth set.

But he produced arguably his best tennis since having back surgery 11 months ago and gave the top seed a real scare.

In the end, the Scot was left to rue a series of missed break point chances, taking just four of 16 in all, while Djokovic was successful on seven out of 10.

In their 21st meeting, Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game but surged ahead 4-1 only for Murray to hit back, prompting the Serb to smash his racket on his chair at the change of ends.

He regained his focus to take the tiebreak 7-1 and when he led 3-1 in the second set, he looked as if he would run away with the match.

But Murray suddenly began cracking forehands with huge powerand he recovered to force another tiebreak, also winning it 7-1.

The start of the third set proved crucial as Djokovic broke again for 3-1 but this time held his advantage to move ahead.

Although Murray hung in well for much of the fourth set, despite a sore back, Djokovic broke in the 10th game to advance to the last four.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston / Ian Ransom)


Australia Post wants people to pay more for a fast, five-day-a-week letter delivery service.

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Australia Post says its existing letter delivery service is losing so much money that it could eventually overwhelm the entire group, so it needs to be overhauled.

Details of proposed changes came as the government-owned postal service reported a 34.5 per cent slide in full year profit to $116.2 million.

Profit was pulled back by losses of $328.4 million in the mail business amid a drop in letter volumes and higher costs.

Until now, Australia Post’s growing parcel delivery service has been able to cover the losses in the mail business, but that may have happened for the last time.

To help stem mail’s losses, chief executive Ahmed Fahour is advocating a “priority” letter delivery service to be introduced alongside “regular” deliveries.

Under the priority service, customers would pay extra to ensure their letter is delivered within a set time, in a similar fashion to Britain’s Royal Mail which offers a “first” and “second” class delivery service.

The price of the priority stamp has not been determined yet.

Under the regular service, mail would still be delivered five days a week, but letters may take longer to get to their destination.

“What we’re asking for is the regulatory change to enable us to put in place product choices,” Mr Fahour told reporters on Thursday.

“We are not changing five-days-a-week (delivery). We will continue to offer five-days-a-week while customer demand is there.”

The number of letters handled by Australia Post has fallen dramatically.

Mr Fahour said only three per cent of letters delivered to the letterbox is social mail, and the rest is from the likes of banks and government, or advertisers.

And businesses and government are moving away from traditional letters, in favour of email and other forms of communication.

Without urgent changes to its community service obligations on mail delivery and pricing, Australia Post would soon become a loss-making enterprise, Mr Fahour said.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the federal government wanted to ensure Australia Post could maintain a sustainable mail service accessible to everyone.

“We are working closely with Australia Post and considering their options for reform to ensure the company does not become a burden on the budget,” he said.

Mr Fahour said continued losses in the letter delivery business would likely result in some more workers being shifted over to Australia Post’s profitable parcel delivery service, or other operations.

Australia Post has already reduced jobs in the mail division and created 2,000 elsewhere.

The union representing postal workers, the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, urged Australia Post “to do the right things by its employees” and ensure they do not fall victim to short-sighted cost-cutting measures.