Heatwaves coming longer, earlier, hotter

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Hotter days and longer heatwaves will occur in Australia more frequently and earlier in the year, a report says.

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And it will be decades before extreme temperatures stop rising due to the effects of human-induced climate change, one of the co-authors of the Australian Heatwaves report, Professor Will Stefan of the Climate Council, says.

Heatwaves are occurring up to two weeks earlier than previously recorded, are lasting longer and the number of record hot days has doubled in the last 50 years, the report says.

Scientists define a heatwave as more than three consecutive days where the temperature is in the top 10 per cent of days for that time of year, as well as being hotter than the previous month.

During the past decade there were three times as many hot-day records as there were cold, Prof Stefan said.

“That’s virtually impossible to happen on the grounds of natural variability alone,” he told reporters.

“What’s behind this? The physics is really, really clear. The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is going up.”

Co-author and heatwave expert Dr Sarah Perkins said “it is clear” heatwaves are becoming more savage and are lasting longer.

“This summer and last summer have been characterised by extreme temperatures a lot of which have been record breaking,” she said.

Extended heatwaves will have significant negative impacts on health and infrastructure, co-author Professor Lesley Hughes said.

“Heatwaves have been dubbed the silent killer,” she said.

About 1000 people in Australia, generally elderly or children, die each year due to heatwaves.

In the 2003 European heatwave about 70,000 people died and in Russia in 2010 more than 50,000 were killed by extreme heat.

Heatwaves also damage infrastructure, Prof Hughes said.

Roads can melt, train and tram tracks can buckle and over-stretched electricity networks can black out.

The final report is due out in late February.

As the authors spoke to reporters in Sydney, soaring temperatures scorched Australia’s southern states, fanning bushfires, health alerts and power outage concerns.

Melbourne is facing its longest run of 40 degree days since 1908.

Meanwhile Adelaide is heading towards 46C on Thursday, close to its all time high of 46.1C set on January 12, 1939.

Missing Aust man fails to board US flight

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Hopes that missing Australian soldier Captain Paul McKay would appear at a New Jersey airport for the first leg of his scheduled flight back to Australia have been dashed.

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“At this point he has not boarded a plane,” Saranac Lake police sergeant James Law told AAP on Wednesday.

Capt McKay was last seen on New Years Eve walking on railroad tracks in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

A ground search of the dense forest area involving Saranac Lake police, state rangers and volunteers has failed to find any clues to where Capt McKay might be.

He has been suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of Afghanistan and is on leave from the Australian Army.

Capt McKay, 31, purchased an Australia to the US round-trip airfare, with the return leg beginning from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport to Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon.

He was then scheduled to fly from LA to Australia on Wednesday evening.

The Transport Security Administration (TSA), airlines and airports have been alerted to be on the lookout for Canberra-based Capt McKay.

Banks will alert authorities if he uses a credit card.

“We have everybody watching and looking with the hope we would find him, but we haven’t heard from anybody,” Sgt Law said.

Capt McKay went missing when the northeast US was hit by the polar vortex, bringing minus 30 degree temperatures and snow storms, but Saranac Lake police chief Bruce Nason said Capt McKay’s Army training gave searchers and his family hope he could survive.

“Based upon his experiences, if anybody has a chance of going into this wooded area and coming out it is him,” Chief Nason said.

“He has some experience.

“We are hoping he got slowed down by the weather.

“I remain optimistic.

“If I wasn’t, we wouldn’t be looking that hard and if it was my child I would want everybody to remain optimistic and we are.

“We are committed to continue the search for as long as it takes.”

Capt McKay sent an email to his father on December 30.

In the email, Capt McKay said he was leaving all of his possessions to his father.

Lealiifano aims to return against Waratahs

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Wallabies centre Christian Lealiifano has earmarked the Brumbies’ round-five clash with the NSW Waratahs on March 15 for his return to Super Rugby action.

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The 26-year-old is recovering from the ankle surgery he underwent in December following a break-out season in which he made his international debut in the opening Test of the British and Irish Lions series in Brisbane.

However, that appearance lasted just 42 seconds. He was carried off after being knocked out when attempting to tackle Jonathan Davies.

But Lealiifano bounced back to play 13 times in the green and gold last year before going under the knife to cure a long-term ankle problem, with his moonboot to be removed on Monday.

“Everything is on track. It’s been frustrating, I’ve been on crutches for a while and I’m itching to get out,” Lealiifano said.

The inside centre battled through last season with the niggling ankle, which he first broke midway through 2012.

“You think you’d get some kind of warranty on these kind of things,” he joked.

“All the nurses (in December) were like: ‘Oh you’re back again!”

While he conceded precaution could delay his return as late as the round-seven clash with the Melbourne Rebels, Brumbies’ director of rugby Laurie Fisher believes the Waratahs match is a very realistic possibility.

“That will be the aim. He’s very important in our structures,” Fisher said.

In the meantime, Pat McCabe, South African recruit Lionel Cronje and Andrew Smith will battle it out for the No.12 jersey.

Meanwhile, joining captain Ben Mowen, Lealiifano, David Pocock and Stephen Moore in the Brumbies’ leadership group in 2014 will be back-row enforcer Fotu Auelua and veteran winger Clyde Rathbone.

“We’ve got a lot young players coming up now. Hopefully I can lead by example and pave the way for them,” Auelua said.

Snowballs pose new defensive problem for Larsson

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Times may have changed for the former Swedish scoring machine but as the manager of small-town Falkenberg, he seems very content with his current position – for now.

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“Go on! Go on! Be brave!” he calls to the kids as he makes his way to the clubhouse, rolling back the years with a trademark jinking run to elude them.

“Everything changes in life. It took some time to get used to, but you have to adapt to the situation,” Larsson later told Reuters in the warmth of that clubhouse as he explained the twists and turns of his time in management so far.

“If you can’t adapt to the situation you shouldn’t get into this line of work.”

Larsson’s coaching career could hardly be more different from his stellar spell as a player, in which he won league titles with Celtic in Scotland and Barcelona in Spain and played 106 times for his country, scoring 37 goals and winning a bronze medal at the 1994 World Cup.

“It’s different. As a player I played for top clubs but as a manager I’m here at my second club, a team where nobody apart from ourselves believes we can do something,” he said.

“That is a challenge for me as a coach, and for me that’s something that I thrive on. You learn a lot about yourself when things aren’t going well. It’s always good to be the underdog.”

Just a few weeks after he announced his retirement as a player at Helsingborg, Larsson got his first coaching job at second-tier side – and Helisingborg’s bitter rivals – Landskrona, in 2009.

He spent three eventful years there learning the ropes, but never managed to get them promoted to the top flight before departing in 2012.

“I had three good years there, I learned a lot, not only about the football, but about the way a football club works when you are a manager. It was a great experience.”

COACHING BADGES

While studying for his coaching badges, the 42-year-old worked with fourth-tier side Hogaborg, the club that fostered him and that now has his son Jordan on the playing staff.

Larsson even laced up his boots again to play a couple of competitive games, lining up in attack beside his son.

The former Golden Boot winner may have been kept scoreless, but he enjoyed finally having the chance to play with his son.

“We kept them (the defenders) busy,” he says with a wry smile.

In December 2013, newly-promoted Falkenberg announced that Larsson would take over as manager. Sweden’s Cinderella club won the Superettan (second tier) in 2013, gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history.

It is about as far as you can get from the Champions League, which Larsson won as a player with Barcelona in 2006, and the town’s 20,000 inhabitants would fit into the Camp Nou almost five times over.

But though money is tight and the playing staff small, Larsson is optimistic.

“What brought me here was the opportunity to work with a club, newly promoted, the opportunity, the challenge,” Larsson said.

“Everybody here in Sweden expects us to go straight back down to the Superettan, but hopefully we can surprise everyone.”

PASSING GAME

He says he will stay true to the kind of football he enjoyed as a player, but that Swedish fans expecting to see him replicate Barcelona’s style might be disappointed.

“Tiki-taka? No, there’s only one team that can really do that, maybe two. I don’t have that quality here that I can play that game.

“We have skilful players here, but we have to be a bit more clever. We’re going to try to play a passing game, and I’m going to try to make them even better.”

To do so, Larsson is keen the players learn themselves, rather than him simply telling them what to do on the pitch.

“I think it’s important not to give them the answers, it’s important to ask them, to make them aware of what they can change in order to get a better result.”

As for his own development, Larsson says he has absorbed ideas from coaches he worked under such as Martin O’Neill, Frank Rijkaard and Alex Ferguson, but that none has had a dominant influence on him.

“I think I learned a lot from everybody – the good ones and the bad ones – and I’ve tried to mould them into something that fits my persona. I can’t be Martin O’Neill, I can’t be any of the other coaches – I have to make my own way.”

It is unlikely any of the coaches he worked with had to deal with some of the daily challenges that Larsson now faces, such as making sure the training pitch is cleared of snow in time for training.

It appears that Larsson and his team are something of a priority for the local council. A thick layer of snow coats some of the roads leading to the training ground, but the pitch itself has been ploughed clear to allow the team to train.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Rex Gowar)

Santander players hold firm on Cup boycott threat

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The entire team and coaching staff made the threat on Monday in protest over unpaid wages and the way the unpopular Levin and his team are running the financially troubled club.

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Santander are 3-1 down from last week’s first leg at Sociedad’s Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian and their chances of making the last four and setting up a meeting with record winners Barcelona are remote.

“The squad decided on something on Monday which they announced publically and they still think exactly the same way,” Luis Rubiales, president of Spain’s players’ union (AFE), told reporters after meeting with the players on Thursday.

“If the current board has not resigned by the time of the match (2000 GMT) they are not going to play,” he added.

Rubiales warned the players that refusing to play could have legal consequences but said they had the union’s full support.

“The players have more than enough legitimacy. I do not have words to describe everything they have had to put up with and how this inept board has got them into this situation.”

Levin has shown no sign of bowing to the players’ demands and was quoted in local media on Thursday as saying he intended to be in the VIP tribune for the match.

“We will try to find a consensus between all parties so that the game can go ahead,” he added.

Santander have fallen on hard times since they were taken over in January 2011 by Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed.

Ali Syed promised to invest in the squad and said Santander could become a “third force” in Spain to challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, they were relegated from La Liga at the end of the 2011-12 season after finishing 10 points adrift at the bottom.

Ali Syed disappeared from view and the club’s crisis deepened as they dropped down to the third tier (Segunda B) at the end of last term.

The future looked bleak after a capital increase in October designed to save them from ruin flopped and had to be abandoned and they remain in bankruptcy proceedings.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer)

Serbia Davis Cup captain defends absent Djokovic

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With world number two Djokovic resting in Serbia’s skiing resort of Mount Kopaonik, the Swiss will be strong favourites to advance after former world number one Roger Federer joined Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka as a surprise late inclusion.

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“Novak is exhausted and made it clear he needs to recuperate for what will be a gruelling season on the ATP Tour,” Obradovic told a news conference after the draw pitted Federer against world number 268 Ilija Bozoljac in Friday’s opening singles rubber.

“He has played so many great matches for us, his priority this season is to recapture the number one spot on the ATP tour (from Rafa Nadal) and our fans need to understand that he is still a part of this team.”

With Janko Tipsarevic sidelined with a long-term heel injury and Viktor Troicki suspended after missing a blood test last April, 2010 winners Serbia require what would amount to one of the biggest shocks in Davis Cup history to eliminate the Swiss.

Federer said he would have liked Djokovic to join the party but also made it clear Switzerland were looking forward to the prospect of taking full advantage of his absence.

“We were all hoping Djokovic would be here but we understand that he has good reasons not to be and we all know how much he has done for his country,” said Federer, who often skips Davis Cup ties himself due to the competition’s scheduling.

“It would have been more exciting and more difficult for us but what we have to do now is take this opportunity to try to win the tie.”

Asked whether he plotted a late arrival in Serbia to outwit Djokovic, many of whose fans had hoped the world number two would have a last-minute change of heart and turn up to boost Serbia’s chances, Federer said: “The press hypes a lot of things up because they want top players to hate each other, but my relationship with Novak is good.

“We’ve had a tough and fierce rivalry at times but away from the court we are friendly and do a lot of things together, like charity.”

Wawrinka, who showed few signs of jet-lag and fatigue in Thursday’s practice with Federer after a long-haul flight from Melbourne, was excited ahead of his clash with Dusan Lajovic on Friday.

“I feel great after winning a grand slam during two fantastic weeks in Australia,” he said. “It’s going to be tough to play straight after those exertions but I am enjoying the moment.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Italy’s Molinari targets Europe top-50 return after Dubai delight

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The former Ryder Cup player, who was part of Europe’s victorious 2010 team, has plunged down the world rankings from a career high 14th that same year to 274 today.

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Now largely injury free, the 32-year-old sunk five birdies on his opening eight holes of Dubai’s Majlis course before a bogey at his ninth dragged him back to four-under at the turn.

Molinari then chipped in from 35 yards to eagle his 11th hole and picked up one more shot to end two strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy’s 63.

The last time the Italian scored 65 was at the Andalucía Open in March 2012 and on Thursday he credited swing coach Sean Foley for his resurgence.

“I have been working with Sean for more than a year and I think my driving is the best it’s ever been – I’m very confident … every hole is a birdie hole,” Molinari told reporters, having reached 12 out of 14 fairways from the tee.

He had surgery on his left wrist in June 2012 before another operation on his left thumb last August. The two injuries were unrelated.

“The thumb is probably 90 percent, it still bothers me sometimes, but I haven’t been taking painkillers for 3-4 weeks now – it’s very hard to be patient, but that’s another big help from working with Sean, he’s helped my game and my attitude on and off the course,” said Molinari, whose younger brother Francesco is the world number 43.

“In the last two years I haven’t been able to play much, so the first goal will be to play a full season. If I make it back to top 50 in Europe that would be satisfying.”

Molinari was one of the few players on Dubai’s first-round leader board to tee off in the afternoon and on Friday the schedule will be reversed, which the Italian believes could be an advantage as he gets to play on the softer morning greens before the desert sun bakes the turf.

“The greens will be firmer and firmer as the week goes by,” he added.

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Curling: Canadian curlers ready to rock Sochi

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With nearly one million registered curlers in Canada, more than the rest of the world combined, the sport enjoys a high profile in the country with competitions routinely attracting sold-out crowds and top television ratings.

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But along with that popularity come expectations.

Only the Canadian men’s and women’s ice hockey teams in Sochi will be under greater pressure than the curlers to bring home gold.

Since curling was added to the Olympic line-up at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, Canadian rinks have won medals at each edition in the men’s and women’s events.

CANADA DOMINANT

On the men’s side Canada has been the dominant force, taking silver in Nagano and Salt Lake City and gold in Turin and Vancouver.

The torch has now been passed to Brad Jacobs who will try to skip Canada to a third straight gold in Sochi while Jennifer Jones will bid to put the Canadian women on top of the podium for the first time since Nagano and end a run of silver and bronze medal finishes.

Jacobs’s fist-pumping foursome head to Russia as the title favourites having marched through the Canadian Olympic trials – considered by many a higher quality competition than the Olympics – undefeated, including a victory over reigning Olympic champion Kevin Martin.

“We’re a confident group of guys right now and there’s no reason not to be after winning the Olympic trials out of Canada,” said Jacobs.

“You win that and you should be very confident that you can bring back the gold for Canada and we’re looking forward to getting out there and hopefully strutting our stuff and playing like we did at the trials.”

The Canadians, however, certainly won’t be the only rink strutting their stuff at Sochi’s Ice Cube Curling Centre.

Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegian foursome, silver medal winners in 2010, are back and ready to turn heads again with more of the outrageous, eye-popping outfits that turned the quirky rink into instant cult figures.

The fun-loving Norwegians became social media darlings in Vancouver with their harlequin-patterned pants and have promised more sartorial surprise in Sochi.

Niklas Edin’s Swedish foursome may not be as flashy as the Norwegians but will fancy their gold medal chances having beaten Jacobs’s Canada rink on their home ice in Victoria, British Columbia, to win the world championship.

Britain will not lack experience in their push for a podium with double world champion skip David Murdoch joining forces with Tom Brewster’s rink to form a Scottish dream team, that flashed their potential with a bronze medal placing at last year’s worlds.

SWEDISH HAT-TRICK?

Over in the women’s draw, Anette Norberg, who skipped Sweden to back-to-back golds in Turin and Vancouver, will not be in Sochi, leaving it to Margaretha Sigfridsson’s European championship rink to make it three in a row for the Tre Kronor.

World champion Eve Muirhead and her Scottish foursome could be Britain’s best shot at Sochi gold while China will look for a return to the podium following a breakthrough bronze in Vancouver.

“We would be happy if we get a medal,” said Sigfridsson. “We know we have the ability to play for gold as well but we know it will be very tough and we are willing to do our best there and the team that has the best week will of course win.”

Curling itself could be the big winner in Sochi.

With each Olympics the sport has seen its profile raised attracting more and more fans, among them rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi who reportedly have on occasion rented ice time and picked up the brooms.

The world’s most famous curler, however, could well be Homer Simpson, the beer-swilling, doughnut-guzzling cartoon character who chased his Olympic dreams in an episode ahead of the Vancouver Winter Games by curling.

(Editing by Julien Pretot)

Cross-country skiing: Norway to dominate again

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The 28 year-old Northug, who will be competing in his second Olympics, won the 2013 overall World Cup and also bagged his ninth world title that year in Val di Fiemme, Italy, to match compatriot Bjorn Daehlie’s record.

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“I will stop at nothing because I must be at the top of the podium at the Sochi Olympics,” said Northug.

“If I am speaking honestly, I have high expectations. One gold medal will not be enough. I want to win no less than two gold medals.”

Northug, who is likely to compete in all six events – from the sprint to the 50-km individual race – could face stiff competition from team mate Martin Johnsrud Sundby, the overall World Cup leader and first Norwegian male to win the prestigious Tour de Ski this season.

Distance specialist Dario Cologna, the 15km Olympic champion, will also be a threat, though the Swiss is only coming back to fitness after missing two months with an ankle injury.

Host nation Russia’s hopes lie with Nikita Kriukov, the sprint Olympic champion who does not compete in the distance events, and with distance skier Aleksandr Legkov, currently third in the overall World Cup rankings.

CLEAN SWEEP

In the women’s events, triple Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen and the gifted Therese Johaug are looking to sweep all before them for Norway.

Bjoergen, 33, won three titles in Vancouver and four gold medals at last year’s world championships.

The most successful woman in World Cup history with 62 individual victories, the 33-year-old is not in a sharing mood ahead of Sochi.

“I will have a real marathon at the Olympic games and it is going to be really tough. I have a chance to make history,” the 12-times world champion said.

Her biggest threat could come from team mate Johaug, the overall World Cup leader nicknamed ‘Duracell’ in reference to her impressive speed and cadence.

Johaug has often found it difficult to get the better of her fellow countrywomen, though she did beat Bjoergen to win the 10km freestyle race at the last world championships.

She also won this season’s Tour de Ski, a feat Bjoergen never achieved.

Both, however, will be wary of Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk, who has skipped this season’s Tour de Ski – an event she had won in the four previous editions – to focus on the Games, where she will be among the favourites in the 30km mass start.

Russians Yulia Chekaleva and Yulia Ivanova can hope for podium places but Norway, with four skiers at the top of the overall World Cup standings, should have the last word after winning 10 of the 18 women’s medals on offer in Val di Fiemme.

(Editing by Julien Pretot)

Biathlon: Bjorndalen set for final bow in Sochi

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Bjorndalen, who turned 40 this month, has not enjoyed his best season and has not won a World Championships individual medal since Vancouver where he won silver in the individual and gold in the team relay.

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“I really want to do well in the sprint. This used to be one of my best disciplines,” said Bjorndalen, who has won 50 Olympic and World Championship medals.

“Not everything has gone right for me over the last few years. Last year I prepared well for the World Championships and was close to getting the result I wanted.

“Therefore, I am going to put in a lot of effort into doing well in the sprint (in Sochi).”

His Norwegian team mate Emil Hegle Svendsen, who won four gold medals at the 2013 World Championships in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic, and Frenchman Martin Fourcade are the two big favourites going into the Olympics.

Fourcade has been in excellent form and has been ranked the best overall biathlete for the last two seasons in the World Cup.

The host nation’s hopes will rest on Evgeni Ustyugov, who won gold in Vancouver in the Mass Start and Anton Shipulin, who claimed two medals at the last World Championships.

However, there best hope of bringing home a medal could be in the relay, where the country is ranked number one in the world rankings.

SHOCK RETIREMENT

Following Magdelena Neuner’s shock retirement at the age of 24, the women’s field is wide open.

The German was the most successful female athlete at the World Championships with 17 medals, but suffering from a lack of motivation she decided to quit the sport in March 2012.

Tora Berger looks set to take over from where Neuner left off, the Norwegian having won four gold medals at the last World Championships in Nove Mesto.

She is currently third in the World Cup rankings and will be determined to put in a good performance in Sochi, with the 32-year-old intending to retire after the games.

Daria Domracheva and the young Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalova are more than capable of upsetting Berger.

Domracheva, from Belarus, is the reigning mass start world champion and has won two World Cup events this season.

However, it is the 24-year-old Czech who has been setting the pace on the World Cup this season with three wins putting her top of the rankings.

Germany’s 36-year-old Andrea Henkel is in the twilight of her career, having first competed at the Salt Lake City Games, but is still a force to be reckoned with although it would be a surprise if she adds to her four career Olympic medals in Sochi.

Russia won just one medal in the women’s biathlon event at the Vancouver Olympics, in the relay, and they have a relatively young squad, with Olga Vilukhina and Irina Starykh 25 and 26 respectively.

They will be led by 35-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist Olga Zaitseva, who is also hoping to enjoy a golden swansong in Sochi before retiring.

The squad are coached by German Wolfgang Pichler and Zaitseva agrees with his belief that Russia’s women will win at least one individual gold.

“He always thinks we will be the best, but of course that is not always the case,” she said. “We are doing everything to try and win. We are not sitting around or not getting a suntan.

“We are doing everything in our power to try and win.”

(Reporting by Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; editing by Martyn Herman)

SPC funding rejected by Government

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(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

The federal government has refused to provide an assistance package to Australia’s last remaining fruit processing company, SPC Ardmona.

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The move puts more than one-thousand jobs in jeopardy and will almost certainly see the end of the fruit processing industry in Australia.

The company had asked for a government grant to help it modernise and deal with difficult market conditions, warning it would probably have to close in July without such support.

Thea Cowie reports.

(Click on audio tab above to listen to this item)

Federal cabinet has refused to agree to the proposal for a one-off grant of $25 million.

This would have been coupled with $25 million from the Victorian government and $150 million in new investment from SPC’s parent company Coca-Cola Amatil.

The investment would have helped the company introduce new technology and products, as it faces pressures from the high Australian dollar and a flood of cheap imported products.

But Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the government has decided the company is capable of restructuring without government assistance.

“We believe industry reform needs to be led by industry and we believe that in this case the government would have to borrow money on behalf of the taxpayers to put into the proposal where we believe Coca-Cola with a very, very healthy balance sheet is able to provide that money from within its own resources.”

Late last year, the federal government appointed a panel including former Labor minister Greg Combet to report on the best way to help the Victorian-based company.

Its report has not been made public.

More than 1000 workers at Victoria’s SPC Ardmona fruit processing plant are now likely to lose their jobs and thousands more could be in jeopardy.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the government will support the company if it decides to continue restructuring.

He’s also encouraging the company to renegotiate enterprise bargaining agreements.

“The existing agreement contains conditions and provisions that are well in excess of the award. There are wet allowances, there are loadings, there are extensive provisions to cash out sick leave, there are extremely generous redundancy provisions well in excess of the award. This does need to be very extensively renegotiated if this restructure is to be completed.”

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the decision not to give SPC Ardmona a rescue package is short-sighted and damaging for the whole of Australia.

“There’s about a million manufacturing jobs in Australia. The government has already goaded Holden into leaving Australia. Theyre now looking at trashing jobs in food processing – an area that will only grow as individual wealth in our region increases. This government has no plans for jobs. They’re trashing car jobs, they’re trashing food industry jobs, they’re trashing manufacturing jobs. Sending those jobs offshore.”

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says if SPC Ardmona closes in July as predicted, there will be an influx of imported canned products.

He says this will have an adverse impact on fruit growers throughout the country.

Senator Xenophon says the government should be using anti-dumping duties to create a level playing field for companies such as SPC Ardmona.

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne agrees.

“Tony Abbott goes to Davos and talks up free trade, says governments should get out of the way, just let business go for it. Well free trade has led to the massive dumping on Australia of cheap imports which have undermined food processing. Not only have we had a high Australian dollar but we have had the dumping of cheap imports and that’s put huge pressure on companies like SPC Ardmona.”

During the election campaign, Tony Abbott pledged $16 million to the Cadbury’s company in Tasmania to help it develop a new factory.

At the time, he said an Abbott government would continue to support Australian jobs and Australian industry.

 

 

Champion NZ cyclist Shanks calls it a day

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New Zealand’s double world champion Alison Shanks, who’s battled injury over the past two years, is retiring from cycling.

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Shanks, who nursed a hip problem through her 2012 London Olympics campaign, had surgery afterwards with aim of making the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this year and the Rio Olympics in 2016.

But she says she can no longer manage the demands for getting back to the top of her sport.

“I have a real passion for what I do and have always committed 100 per cent, but I have to listen to my body when enough is enough,” the Commonwealth Games gold medallist said.

“If I can’t do something 100 per cent physically and mentally, then it’s time to find a new challenge and start a new adventure.”

While her hip was improving and she believed she could earn selection for Glasgow, Shanks didn’t want to be in the team just to make up the numbers.

She said neither she nor her coach, husband Craig Palmer, wanted to do something unless it was to the best of their ability.

“I’ve been working hard, but the spark and passion that drives me is not there,” she said.

“In every athlete’s career there has to be one final finish line and I’ve reached mine.”

Shanks, 31, said the decision to retire was tough, but she knew it was the right one and she was satisfied with what she had achieved with her support team.

She hoped to remain involved in cycling and would continue in her role as an Olympic ambassador with the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

She was also looking to put her marketing and nutrition degrees to use.

Shanks collected world titles in the 3000m individual pursuit in Pruskow, Poland, in 2009 and in Melbourne in 2012.

She won the same event at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and just missed out on a medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she finished fourth.

New captain Moya plotting Spain victory in Germany

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The 37-year-old takes charge of his first Davis Cup tie this weekend, trying to plot Spain’s path through a testing World Group first-round tie against Germany in Frankfurt.

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Even without world number one and fellow Mallorcan Rafa Nadal and Spanish number two David Ferrer, Moya still has an enviable array of talent at his disposal and selecting the best combinations has been a new challenge.

Not to mention organising the practice, warm-ups, tactics, meal times and various other unseen duties.

“It’s different definitely, you have a team of 15 guys around you that you have to manage every one, trying to put all the pieces together,” Moya said in a TV interview.

“Then not being to go out on to court to play, that’s different too although I’m already getting used to it.”

The role of a captain often goes unnoticed when things go well but get it wrong and they often take the blame so Moya’s decision to trust debutant Roberto Bautista Agut, ranked 52nd in the world, with Friday’s opening singles against experienced Philipp Kohlschreiber is a bold one.

Bautista Agut, 25, is the third highest ranked singles player in the Spain squad, behind Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, but his victory over world number four Juan Martin del Potro at the Australian Open this month prompted Moya to throw him in.

NOTHING TO LOSE

“I trust Roberto,” said Moya, winner of the Davis Cup with Spain in 2004. “I’m happy with how the draw went and him playing first because if you play second you tend to be nervous waiting for your match.

“I will tell him don’t worry about the crowd. They are going to try and bother you, don’t worry about the opponent, he’s good but so are you.

“I’ll remind him the pressure is on Phillip, he’s a higher ranked player, he is playing at home, you have nothing to lose. Play it like any tour match.”

Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, retired in 2010 after a persistent foot injury and follows a long line of former players into the Davis Cup hot seat.

Alex Corretja followed Albert Costa, who won the team event in 2009 and 2011, and now Moya gets his turn as Spain seek a sixth title since 2000.

“I’m looking forward to it and I think it’s going to be very exciting for all of us,” Moya said.

“The week has been great so far and a great experience for me being around them. I’m very happy the way they’ve been practising and I think it’s going to be a great tie.

“I’m trying to pass on my experiences from the past and take the pressure away from them,” added Moya.

“One thing I’ve learned in Davis Cup is that rankings don’t matter. It’s about how they handle the situation and their experience.”

One player who has plenty of experience in the team event is Germany’s Tommy Haas although not in recent years.

Haas, an old sparring partner of Moya’s, returns for only his second Davis Cup tie in seven years but the world number 12 is only set to play in Saturday’s doubles because of a shoulder injury.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)