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Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 5
Turnbull topples Abbott
Australia will have its fifth prime
minister in eight years after the
ruling Liberal Party last night
voted out Tony Abbott in favour of
longtime rival Malcolm Turnbull,
following months of infighting and
crumbling voter support.
Turnbull, a multi-millionaire
former tech entrepreneur, won a
secret party vote by 54 to 44, Liberal
Party chief whip Scott Buchholz
told reporters after the meeting in
Australia is set to hold elections
before the end of next year, and
Turnbull, to be sworn in as prime
minister today, told reporters he
had no intention of calling an early
poll to cement his legitimacy.
“I ’m very humbled by the great
honour and responsibility that has
been given to me today,” an ebullient
Turnbull told reporters during a
late-night press conference.
“This will be a thoroughly liberal
government. It will be a thoroughly
liberal government committed to
freedom, the individual and the
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
was re-elected deputy leader of the
party which, with junior coalition
partner the National Party, won a
landslide election in 2013.
Abbott had earlier pledged to
fight the challenge from Turnbull,
but was ultimately unsuccessful in
overcoming the “destabilisation”
that he said had been taking place
within the party for months.
He walked stony faced out of the
party room following the vote and
did not speak to reporters.
Abbott ousted Turnbull as leader
of the Liberal Party in 2009, though
Turnbull has consistently been
seen as a preferred prime minister.
However, Turnbull’s support for
a carbon trading scheme, gay
marriage and an Australian republic
have made him unpopular with his
party’s right wing.
The challenge came as Australia’s
$1.5 trillion economy struggles to
cope with the end of a once-in-a -
century mining boom and just days
before a by-election in Western
Australia state widely seen as a test
of Abbott ’s leadership.
Abbott emerged badly weakened
from a leadership challenge in
February, which came about after
weeks of infighting, and pledged a
new spirit of conciliation.
But he and his government
have since consistently lagged
the centre-left opposition Labor
Party in opinion polls, helping
fuel speculation over how long his
party would give him to turn things
Abbott earlier dismissed reports
about a challenge as “gossip”,
saying he refused to play “Canberra
Abbott has continued to defy
popular opinion inside and outside
his party, despite pledging to be
more consultative, blocking his
MPs from supporting same-sex
marriage and announcing an
emissions reduction target criticised
as inadequate by environmental
Turnbull declined to say whether
he would honour Abbott ’s pledge
to hold a public referendum on
gay marriage. On climate change,
a prickly issue within the Liberal
Party, he said he supported the
emissions target set by Abbott.
Abbott agreed last week to take
in 12,000 Syrian refugees, but
that news was overshadowed by
rumours of a cabinet reshuffle and
an insensitive gaffe about climate
change, caught by a microphone at
a meeting, by Immigration Minister
A Fairfax-Ipsos poll published
yesterday showed that voters in
the seat of Canning in Western
Australia could deliver a swing of
up to 10% against the government
in Saturday ’s by-election.
The outcome of that vote,
which had been expected to be a
referendum on Abbott ’s leadership,
will now be closely watched as a sign
of Turnbull’s chances of reversing
the government ’s fortunes.
The change of leaders is the
latest sign of political instability
in Australia, which has in recent
years been convulsed by backroom
machinations and party coups that
have shaken public and business
confidence in government.
Labor’s Kevin Rudd, elected
with a strong mandate in 2007,
was deposed by his deputy, Julia
Gillard, in 2010 amid the same sort
of poll numbers that Abbott is now
facing. Gillard was in turn deposed
by Rudd ahead of elections won by
Abbott in 2013.
Abbott has now become the
shortest reigning first-term prime
minister to be overthrown, Rod
Tiffen, an emeritus professor of
political science at the University of
“ It’s pretty amazing to think
that we will have had two prime
ministers overthrown in their first
terms, which hasn’t happened since
World War Two. This shows the
degree of instability within parties
that we now have,” he said.
Labor Party leader Bill Shorten,
in a scathing press statement
following Turnbull’s announcement,
dismissed the idea that Turnbull
was capable of changing the
government ’s trajectory.
“Australia does not need another
out of touch, arrogant, Liberal
leader. Australia needs a change
reporters in Canberra. — Reuters
No early election says new PM
Two decades of frontier-free travel
across Europe is unravelling as
countries re-establish border controls
in the face of an unprecedented influx
of migrants, which broke the record
for the most arrivals by land in a single
Germany ’s surprise decision to
restore border controls yesterday had
a swift domino effect, prompting
neighbours to impose checks at their
own frontiers as thousands of refugees
pressed north and west across the
continent while Hungary sealed the
main informal border crossing point
into the European Union.
A majority of European Union
interior ministers, meeting in Brussels,
agreed in principle to share out
120,000 asylum seekers on top of some
40,000 distributed on a voluntary basis
so far, EU president Luxembourg said.
But details of the deal, to be formalised
on October 8, were vague with several
ex-Communist central European
States still rejecting mandatory quotas.
Austria said it would dispatch its
military to help police carry out checks
at the border with Hungary after
thousands of migrants crossed on
foot overnight, filling up emergency
accommodation nearby, including tents
at the frontier.
Thousands more raced across the
Balkans to enter Hungary before
new rules take effect today, which
Budapest ’s right-wing government
says will bring a halt to the illegal flow
of migrants across its territory.
By 3am today (NZT), police said
7437 migrants had been recorded
entering Hungary from Serbia, beating
the previous day ’s record of 5809.
Then helmeted Hungarian police,
some on horseback, closed off the
main informal crossing point, backed
by soldiers as a helicopter circled
overhead. A goods wagon covered with
razor wire was moved into place to
block a railway track used by migrants
to enter the EU’s Schengen zone of
Hungary later declared the low-level
air space over its border fence closed
but allowed a trickle of refugees to
enter the country at an official crossing
As the shockwaves rippled across
Europe, Slovakia said it would
impose controls on its borders with
Hungary and Austria. The Netherlands
announced it would make spot checks
at its borders. Other EU States from
Sweden to Poland said they were
monitoring the situation to decide
whether controls were needed.
“ If Germany carries out border
controls, Austria must put
strengthened border controls in
place,” Vice Chancellor Reinhold
Mitterlehner told a joint news
conference with Chancellor Werner
Faymann. “ We are doing that now.”
The army would be deployed in a
The measures were the biggest
threat so far to the Schengen system
of a border-free Europe, which
ranks alongside the euro single
currency as one of the transformative
achievements of integration on the
Named after a Luxembourg town
where it was agreed, Schengen has
eliminated frontier posts across
the continent since 1995. Twenty-
six European countries now issue
common visas and leave the borders
between them unguarded.
Frontiers which were fought over for
centuries and which were a bottleneck
for traffic and trade just a few years
ago are now marked by little more
than signposts on highways across the
world’s biggest economic bloc.
The rules bar undocumented
migrants from travel within the zone
but leave few mechanisms to stop
That has created chaos as hundreds
of thousands of people, including
refugees from war in the Middle
East, arrive on the bloc’s southern and
eastern edges and trek to rich countries
further north and west.
EU interior ministers held seven
hours of crisis talks, with Germany,
France and the bloc’s executive
Commission trying to overcome
opposition from eastern members to a
plan to compulsorily relocate 160,000
refugees from Italy, Hungary and
They did agree on the need for
tighter controls of the bloc’s external
borders, more aid to the United
Nations refugee agency for camps
close to Syria’s borders, and rapid
screening of arrivals and deportation
of those without valid asylum claims,
to appease countries concerned that
relocations will attract more people.
The EU ministers agreed to finalise
soon a list of “safe countries” whose
citizens would not normally be entitled
to asylum. But in a snub to Ankara, the
EU presidency said Turkey would not
be classified as “safe” for now due to its
current military action against Kurdish
Hungary’s hardline right-wing
government had warned that new
policies due to take effect today would
halt the flow across its frontier, the
main land route the EU. That led to an
unprecedented rush to cross before the
Soldiers cradled automatic weapons
by a metal fence that the government
of Prime Minister Viktor Orban says
will run the length of the frontier with
Serbia by October.
“ We heard the Hungarians will close
the border on September 15 so we had
to hurry from Greece,” 24-year-old
engineering student Amer Abudalabi,
from the Syrian capital Damascus, said
shortly before crossing the border from
“ We have not slept since Saturday
morning. I’m so tired. I won’t believe it
when we cross into Hungary.”
From today, Hungarian authorities
say they will receive and start
processing asylum requests at the
border with Serbia, and transport
many of those who apply to camps
elsewhere in the country. Those who
refuse to co-operate will be held at the
border and possibly expelled, while
those who try to cross evading police
will face arrest.
Orban said once the new rules were
in force, he expected a high rate of
deportations from Hungary.
“ In such a case, if someone is a
refugee, we will ask them whether
they have submitted an asylum request
in Serbia,” he was quoted as telling
private broadcaster TV2. “ If they had
not done so, given that Serbia is a safe
country, they will be rejected.”
The right-wing premier, one of the
loudest critics of immigration he calls
a threat to Europe’s Christian heritage,
drafted hundreds more police officers
to the border, telling them to be
humane but “uncompromising”.
“ You will meet with people who have
been deceived. You will be met with
temper and aggression,” he told them.
In Serbia, buses took migrants from a
makeshift camp in the northern town
of Kanjiza to about a kilometre from
the border. Discarded blankets and
shoes littered the area.
In the south, on the border
with Macedonia, aid workers said
authorities had sped up migration
procedures and a train was taking
many directly to the Hungarian border,
bypassing Belgrade, where a park
previously inundated with migrants
was rapidly emptying as they headed
for the border.
Schengen countries are permitted
to reimpose border checks on a
temporary basis in emergencies, and
have occasionally done so in the past
on security grounds during major
sports tournaments or international
summits, but not on this scale.
Free travel end leaves refugees in limbo as Germany shuts border
A refugee boy passes the police at the border checkpoint in the village of Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal, in Austria.
Malcolm Turnbull: Rich,
famous and ambitious
Rich and famous, combative and
ambitious, Malcolm Turnbull has
lived a life full of glittering success.
His political career is now at
its peak after he secured the
ultimate achievement, successfully
challenging Tony Abbott for the
Liberal leadership and winning the
With the government trailing
Labor in 30 successive Newspolls
and Abbott ’s personal popularity
as prime minister languishing,
Turnbull made a move not totally
The 2016 election is less than a year
away and with the government ’s
prospects looking increasingly grim,
enough of the party’s conser vatives
decided that winning is more likely
with Turnbull in charge.
This might have happened sooner.
Turnbull became environment
minister under John Howard in
his first term in federal parliament
and opposition leader in his second
term, defeating Brendan Nelson
45-41 on his second attempt in
He was in turn narrowly defeated
42-41 by Tony Abbott in a
leadership spill in December 2009.
That was fundamentally because
of his backing for Labor’s carbon
forerunner of the carbon tax
which proved such a potent issue
for Abbott at the 2013 election
Throughout his career in public
life, Turnbull has championed a
succession of progressive causes
including the republic, gay
marriage, the apology to the stolen
generation and climate change —
which have not endeared him to
Liberal conser vatives.
Malcolm Bligh Turnbull was born
in Sydney on October 24, 1954. His
mother was Coral Lansbury, author
and English literature academic
who, after separating from her
husband Bruce, worked in the
Success came early.
He was a high achiever at Sydney
Grammar School, took an arts and
law degree from Sydney University
and, as a Rhodes Scholar, a second
law degree from O xford.
Tony Abbott is also a Rhodes
Scholar. There are other similarities
both went to Sydney University
and both worked as journalists.
In 1980, Turnbull married Lucy
Hughes, daughter of leading Sydney
silk and Gorton government
Attorney-General Tom Hughes.
The young lawyer became a
household name in 1986 with
the Spycatcher case in which he
defeated the British establishment ’s
attempts to ban the memoir of
former MI5 agent Peter Wright.
secretary Sir Robert Armstrong,
a masterpiece of brash disrespect,
forced a pivotal admission that the
British government would lie to
protect national security.
The following year, in partnership
with Neville Wran and Nicholas
Whitlam, he set up a merchant
bank which quickly attracted
In 1994 he helped develop the
internet provider Ozemail which
he later sold for a big profit.
Turnbull chaired the Australian
Republican Movement from 1993
to 2000 and was its high profile
public face in the 1999 referendum.
When it failed, he savaged John
Howard as “the prime minister who
broke this nation’s heart”.
In 2003, as the Liberal Party’s
federal treasurer, Turnbull ran for
pre-selection against sitting MP
Peter King in the inner-Sydney seat
of Wentworth and, after furious
branch-stacking on both sides, won.
The election turned into a messy
three-cornered contest which he
only won with preferences from
Peter King and $600,000 of his own
money spent during the campaign.
parliament in 2004 he was probably,
with the exception of Bob Hawke,
Australia’s best known new MP.
With a fortune of about
$140 million, he was also the
richest, though that crown has now
passed to Clive Palmer.
Turnbull toyed with the idea
of leaving politics after the 2007
election, when Kevin Rudd led
Labor to victory.
But, in one of those twists
of political fate, John Howard
convinced him to stay on. — A AP
Russia’s anti-trust authority has
found United States internet giant
Google guilty of unfairly keeping
rival ser vices off mobile devices in
a probe demanded by local search
engine provider Yandex.
The Federal Anti-Monopoly
Ser vice deemed Google in
breach of a law on “protecting
competition” after an investigation
launched in February following a
complaint by Russia’s largest search
engine, agency official Vladimir
Kudryavtsev told Russian news
Google could face a fine of up
to 15% of the income it has made
from the sector in Russia over the
In its initial complaint Yandex
asked the antitrust authorities to
prevent Android phones from
being automatically bundled with
Google’s search engine.
The European Commission is
carrying out a similar probe against
the US tech giant after initially
weighing a settlement that would
have allowed competitors to buy
space at the top of Google’s search
Yandex has dominated the Russian
market since its founding in 2000.
Much of that initial success came
thanks to an advanced search
engine that provided much more
precise results for entries made in
It also offered its own map and
traffic-tracking ser vices and has
recently entered the web advertising
The request to investigate Google
came as the company has made
recent inroads in the Russian market
thanks to its popular Android-
powered smartphones. — AFP
Russia finds Google guilty
San Andreas (California)
Firefighters are battling devastating wild
fires in the United States which have reduced
hundreds of homes to smouldering ruins and
threatened California’s renowned wine region.
State disaster officials said the fast-moving
infernos had consumed more than 50,000ha,
forcing thousands to flee their homes and
reportedly killing one person.
Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,
said the blazes were still spreading due to winds.
“ Winds are pushing south and there are new
evacuations on the northern edge of the valley
fire,” he said, referring to one of two areas
particularly devastated by the flames.
Among the hardest hit areas is Lake County,
where the township of Middletown was
devastated by the flames that left an apocalyptic
A reporter who visited the town saw
smouldering homes, melted vehicles and
downed power lines. “ There is metal dripping
off the cars because of the heat,” he said.
About a mile out of the town lay a dead horse
by the side of the road.
Local media said one person had been
confirmed dead, but there were no immediate
details on the identity of the victim or the
circumstances in which she died.
The valley fire is located about 160km west
of the State capital Sacramento and the second
major inferno — the Butte fire — about 160km
to the east.
“The fires are spreading faster than I have seen
in my 30 years,” Mark Ghilarducci, the State’s
emergency ser vices chief, told The Sacramento
More than 11,000 firefighters are battling 12
large fires across California. — AFP
Soul singer Aretha Franklin,
the daughter of a preacher, will
sing for Pope Francis during his
highly anticipated visit to the
United States this month.
Franklin, originally a Gospel
singer but best known for her
feminist-tinged cover of Respect,
will perform for the reform-
minded Pope in Philadelphia
at the September 26 Festival
of Families, organisers said
whose father was a Baptist
minister, recorded her first album,
1956’s Songs of Faith, at his
Detroit church when she was 14.
The 18-time Grammy winner
said in a statement that it was
“ indeed a blessing” to sing for
The Festival of Families,
sponsored by the Roman
Catholic Church and put on
every three years, also announced
that actor Mark Wahlberg would
ser ve as the host of the event.
Wahlberg, a devout Catholic,
embraced the church after
deciding to turn his life around
during a short jail term for
racially motivated attacks as a
teenager in Boston.
“As a Catholic, I credit much of
my success to my faith,” the rapper-
turned-actor best known for the
1997 film Boogie Nights and for
his Oscar-nominated performance
in 2006’s The Departed said.
“It is an honour to be part
of welcoming Pope Francis to
Philadelphia and I am humbled
to join this celebration. ”
Next week’s visit will be the first
by Pope Francis to the United
States, as pontiff or earlier.
The trip will also feature a
meeting with President Barack
Obama and an address to the US
Congress in Washington as well
as events in New York, including
at the United Nations. — AFP
to sing for Pope
Fire engulfs town
Man snatches tray of wedding rings
A man dressed in high-visibility work wear
has reached over the counter of a Melbourne
jewellery store and snatched a tray of wedding
rings worth $6000.
The man entered the store in Doncaster
East last Thursday and, when the assistant was
distracted, snatched the tray of rings and hid
them under his top before fleeing from the
Police have released a CCTV image of the
man. — AAP
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