Pyne’s pitfalls, and the wind from the west: How the Liberal leadership crisis unfolded

January 15: The government backs down on its $20 Medicare cut. The reduced rebate had been widely criticised by doctors. Labor said the Coalition’s health policies were in a “shambles”. Only 24 hours earlier, Tony Abbott had been robustly defending the cut.
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January 26: Abbott announces that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will be knighted, a move which was widely ridiculed and raised internal questions about his judgment. He later confirmed it was a “captain’s call”.

January 28: Rupert Murdoch tweets that Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin should be sacked. “Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign …” he wrote.

January 31: Campbell Newman’s Liberal government suffers a massive backlash in the Queensland election. Meanwhile Queensland MP Mal Brough reveals he could challenge Abbott.

Feburary 1: Abbott meets Julie Bishop in Sydney to discuss leadership

February 2: Abbott delivers a speech at the National Press Club, admitting that he had made some mistakes, but he was not considering resigning.

Jeff Kennett says the Liberal Party’s leadership was now “terminal”. “It needs to be resolved as quickly as possible so that the party can move on,” he said.

February 5: Abbott tells the media he is “confident” that he will be leader next week, but news of a secret leadership meeting with Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull emerges. February 6:  A motion is called for a leadership spill by WA MP Luke Simkins. Tony Abbott says Julie Bishop and he will stand together during the motion on Tuesday (10 February). 

February 6: 6am: Christopher Pyne says he “hopes” the Prime Minister still has the numbers in the party room, raising speculation Abbott’s support in the cabinet is waning.

1pm: Bishop refuses to quell rumours of the spill motion, saying she does not have any advice for her colleagues because they are elected members of Parliament and “they take whatever action they see fit”.

1.30pm: West Australian MP Luke Simpkins writes an email to his colleague, announcing he will move a spill against Abbott. Fellow West Australian MP Don Randall supports it. Both are supporters of Bishop.

1.50pm: Phillip Ruddock, the chief government whip, writes an email confirming a motion will be moved by a secret ballot that the “senior positions of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party be declared vacant” on Tuesday.

3.10pm: Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says he will not contend the leadership.

3.30pm: Abbott fronts the media in a short conference, where he confirms the spill of the two positions, but says he and Bishop will stand together to defeat the motion.

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Liberal Party Tony Abbott spill: Twittersphere awash with reactions

Bring it on: Tony Abbott, with insets Luke Simpkins (top) and Don Randall. Photo: SuppliedLive: Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge’We must bring this to a head and test support’Julie Bishop refuses to quell unrestAbbott’s leadership enters the killing zone#libspill spills into ‘political protest’
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West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins has emailed his colleagues, announcing he will move a spill motion against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

In his email he said: “In the last two weeks I have been inundated with emails and walk-ins to my electorate office all questioning the direction the government is being led in.

“The knighthood issue was for many the final proof of disconnection with the people.

“I have therefore submitted to the Chief Government Whip [Philip Ruddock] a motion to spill the leadership position of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party… “

It was seconded by fellow West Australian Liberal MP Don Randall.

The motion has been listed for discussion at the Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday.

The Twittersphere is awash with quips and pictures of reactions to the spill, especially on the hastag #itson.  BREAKING: IT’S ON! Here’s @JuliaGillard watching @ABCNews24 as we speak… #itson#libspill#auspolpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/4VkfxyReWh — Chris Chamberlin (@popculturechris) February 6, 2015 Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott debate the republic. Pic from The Australian Moment’s gallery of rivals. #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/kutARysGz8 — George Megalogenis (@GMegalogenis) February 6, 2015 Bet you’re regretting making this tweet #itsonpic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/GfFKnurGWa — James Mc9 (@cashbonez) February 6, 2015 Fairfax and Sky News reporting of the #itson story has been first class. They’ve been slaking my thirst for stories. — Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) February 6, 2015  

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Revamped V8 Supercars television coverage to start on Sunday

As well as having to pay for live TV coverage of every race for the first time, V8 Supercars fans will also have to get used to new commentary teams.
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Some familiar names have been replaced in V8’s switch from Channel Seven to an AFL/NRL-style split broadcast deal with pay TV’s Fox Sports and Channel Ten.

The $241 million six-year agreement begins on Sunday with live coverage of the final day of the two-day pre-season V8 SuperTest at Sydney Motorsport Park by Fox Sports and delayed highlights on the Ten Network.

The key casualty of the change is V8 legend Mark Skaife, who makes way for former Ten Network motor sport presenter Greg Rust.

Returning to the V8 commentary team after an eight-year absence, Rust takes over as the lead caller.

Also missing from the new-look line-up is popular pit lane analyst and ex-V8 racer/team owner Mark Larkham, replaced by four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy.

New Zealander Murphy, an outspoken observer famous for his Bathurst 1000 heroics, has retired from co-driving in the V8 endurance races to become a full-time commentator.

Skaife, winner of five V8 championships, is expected to have a role on Fox Sport’s new weekly V8 Supercars discussion panel show, which may also feature regular appearances by Larkham.

Staying on as the expert commentator is veteran V8 analyst and former racer Neil Crompton, with Riana Crehan also returning as the other pit lane reporter alongside Murphy.

Fox Sports and Channel Ten, which will simulcast the six biggest events, are sharing the commentary across the season, adding their own hosts, experts and guests around the common coverage of track action.

Fox Sports will telecast every practice and qualifying session, and all races of the 14-event V8 championship series live, while Network Ten will simulcast the Adelaide 500, Townsville 500, Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600 and Sydney 500.

Channel Ten will show delayed highlights of the remaining eight events following Fox Sports’ coverage.

V8 Supercars’ move to primary coverage on subscription TV is controversial because it is the first time fans have had to pay to watch every race since regular telecasts of major Australian touring car racing began in the mid-1970s.

While the split broadcast deal is good for V8 teams, which will receive more income from the much more lucrative arrangement, dedicated motor sport followers are upset that only six events will be screened on free-to-air TV.

It will cost $50 a month for a Foxtel subscription that includes Fox Sports’ wall-to-wall live coverage on all days of each event.

V8 Supercars and Fox Sports maintain that the improved and expanded coverage, which will include all supporting races, justifies the cost for hardcore motor sport followers while enhancing the service for existing subscribers.

V8 executives predict the total viewing audience will increase because Fox Sport’s coverage will be augmented by Ten’s free-to-air telecasts.

Fox Sports is expected to announce its additional V8 on-air line-up to supplement the shared commentary team, while Channel Ten will confirm its presenters later this month.

It is expected that Fox Sport’s motor sport presenter Jessica Yates will host the network’s V8 coverage. Former Channel Seven frontman Matt White will host Ten’s telecasts, joined by ex-F1 star Mark Webber at the season-opening Adelaide 500 and the blue ribband Bathurst 1000.

White will also host the return of the weekly RPM motor sport magazine show, which will feature V8 drivers as regular guests.

Fairfax Media understands that former V8 champion Rick Kelly has signed with Ten to provide behind-the-scenes insights during race weekends.

The pre-season V8 SuperTest this weekend will be a trial run for Fox Sport’s coverage, which is produced by V8 Supercar’s own broadcast production unit.

Fox Sports is promising telecasts loaded with new technology that will enable viewers to select alternative in-car and on-track vision during the broadcasts of track action.

The free-admission SuperTest consists of three practice sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, with the pre-season hit-out culminating with a shoot-out for the fastest lap time on Sunday afternoon.

All 25 cars will race one at a time against the clock over a flying lap.

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HUNTER HEALTH KICK: Couple kick on

CHANGED: Carmel Loughland and Michael Daley. Picture: Dean OslandA YEAR after they began the Hunter Health Kick that helped them shed a combined total of nearly 40 kilograms, Michael Daley and Carmel Loughland are ready to roll again.
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The 10-week campaign is a familiar adventure for the pair after the 2014 edition began a year of new ones and an entirely new lifestyle for the Georgetown couple.

Mr Daley, who estimates he has lost about 17 kilograms in the past year, said the Newcastle Herald campaign delivered a guide on how to become healthier at the moment he and his wife decided to make a change.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video‘‘It came along at a perfect time for us, and we were looking for something,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve changed our life basically in the last year.’’

Dr Loughland said the past 12 months had been a matter of sticking to the habits formed through the Hunter Health Kick, including regularly pounding the pavement in the free Newcastle Parkrun on Saturday mornings.

But the fortitude to stay strong enough to shed about 22 kilograms came from a simple mental change to looking at things positively, she said.

‘‘We always ate well I think but in the past we’d always be looking at what to cut,’’ Dr Loughland said.

‘‘The change for us was really about what we could introduce, what we could have instead of what we had to take away, so it wasn’t about deprivation.’’

Dr Loughland said while she occasionally has a ‘‘a be kind to Carmel day’’ when she can’t face her regime, the trick is in getting back into it after a rejuvenating rest.

She said wearing her Hunter Health Kick gear on the track also helped, often turning strangers she passed into a support network cheering her on.

‘‘I don’t know those people [I see when running] but I had their back and they had mine,’’ she said.

‘‘I feel like a new person, it’s given me a lot more confidence and I feel happier in my own skin.’’

While both plan to lose more weight, Mr Daley said exercising more and eating ‘‘cleaner and greener’’ had helped them enjoy more aspects of their lives.

‘‘Once you start doing it, you meet other people who are doing it and they become a new circle of friends,’’ Mr Daley said.

‘‘Definitely give it a go, put your heart and soul into it and you will reap the benefits.’’

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Sebastian Coe dodges walker drug claims

Reticent: Sebastian Coe declined to comment on Russian doping scandals. Photo: Brendan EspositoIAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe has refused to be drawn on Australian concerns about widespread doping in Russia which had denied Australians medals at world and Olympic games.
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Russia is confronting two doping scandals – one the wide-spread doping among race walkers after five more walkers were recently banned for doping, including those who had beaten Jared Talent into first place and denied him a gold medal.

Australia has protested to the IAAF about the situation with Russian race walkers and has raised the matter at the Oceania Area Congress on the Gold Coast.

Athletics Australia president David Grace has queried whether the Russian city of Cheboksary remains the appropriate host of the next two World Race Walking Cups.

Coe would not comment on that approach. He said only that athletics was the most drug-tested sport in the world and, consequently, with more tests came more positive results.

Now Russia and the IAAF are facing a far bigger doping scandal with the son of IAAF president Lamine Diack forced to stand down from IAAF roles and the president of the Russian athletics federation also forced to step aside amid allegations that authorities helped Russian athletes avoid doping bans in return for cash.

Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant, and Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and the IAAF’s treasurer, both stood down in December as an investigation is undertaken into the claims.

Three documentaries broadcast on German television station ARD alleged150 athletes between 2006 and 2008 recorded suspicious blood samples but were not subsequently target-tested.

Further it was claimed that prominent Russian athletes had paid large amounts of money to avoid doping bans.

It has further been alleged that Papa Massata Diack, who holds the marketing rights for the IAAF for some countries, had tried to obtain a payment of $US5 million ($6.4 million) during Doha’s bid for the 2017 world championships.

“These are all allegations and they are being investigated,” Coe said.

“We have an ethics committee looking at it, an ethics committee which I was in large part instrumental in putting together, and given we are into that process it would be wrong of me to make comment.

“There is also a supplementary review by WADA.”

Coe has long advocated that there needs to be full independent testing of athletes under a wholly independent system.

Separately Coe acknowledged the two reports conducted into Athletics Australia after the Commonwealth Games athletics fiasco, which culminated in coach Eric Hollingsworth being sent home, but said AA was on the correct path.

“I know [AA president] David Grace very well and I think he has a coherent vision for where the sport can go and I am not always sure that has been as present as it should have been in the last decade,” Coe said in apparent reference to Grace’s predecessor as president, Rob Fildes.

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Premier Mike Baird backs his ‘mate’ Tony Abbott in leadership battle

“Mates”: NSW Premier Mike Baird and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Daniel MunozNSW Premier Mike Baird has backed his “mate”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, ahead of a potential leadership spill when the federal Liberal party room meets on Tuesday.
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Mr Baird said people had criticised and underestimated Mr Abbott his entire career, including his ability to lead the Liberals, be an effective Opposition Leader and then become Prime Minister.

“All along the way he has proven his doubters wrong,” Mr Baird said. “My hope is that that’s exactly what he does. That, despite the current circumstances, he proves the doubters wrong.”

Mr Baird was speaking on Friday amid speculation about Mr Abbott’s leadership, shortly before Western Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins announced he would put forward a motion to spill the position at Tuesday’s party room meeting in Canberra.

Asked if he backed Mr Abbott, Mr Baird said: “Tony and I are mates. In that sort of context I obviously feel for him being in a difficult position at the moment.”

However, Mr Baird was quick to point out that despite their closeness, he and Mr Abbott had their policy differences.

“Not least of which is health funding, which is in the current state unsustainable,” he said. “The burden of health funding that has been shifted to the states in the last federal budget [is] something that needs to be rectified.”

In last year’s federal budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced $2 billion would be cut from funding to health and education in NSW over the next four years.

At the time NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance said the state was being asked to find an extra $1.2 billion in health funding alone.

Labor is likely to attack the NSW Coalition in the leadup to the March 28 state election over its failure to convince its federal colleagues to reverse the cuts.

Following the disastrous Queensland election result for the Liberal National Party, there has been speculation about how the plight of the Abbott government would effect the NSW poll.

Mr Baird conceded Mr Abbott’s unpopularity was “something that is obviously generating interest both in media and across the community”.

“My job is to focus on what we are managing and responsible for,” he said. “And I strongly believe that’s where the election will be fought.”

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Caleb Ewan claims stage two to make it a pair on the trot for Orica-GreenEDGE

Man of the moment: Caleb Ewan celebrates after winning Friday’s stage. Photo: Tony PrytzOrica-GreenEDGE has rebounded royally from a lean summer by claiming two victories in two days after Caleb Ewan notched his maiden UCI stage win in the first season he has started as a professional.
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Through a winless national championships, barren Tour Down Under and yet another runner-up placing in last week’s Cadel Evans one-day race, Australia’s only World Tour team – clearly missing an injured Simon Gerrans – found itself settling for second best again earlier this week in the prologue of the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour.

Cameron Meyer put an end to the trend with a breakthrough opening stage win on Thursday. Then, with 20-year-old Ewan following suit less than 24 hours later after negotiating an eventful bunch sprint finish into Nagambie, suddenly it seemed winning had become infectious. Meyer was even bold enough to forecast a trifecta, nominating Ewan as the man to beat in Saturday’s third stage.

A crash ruined the day of Drapac speedster Brenton Jones, who left the course in an ambulance rattled and bloodied, after tangling with Sam Witmitz (Budget Forklifts and third in the stage) while travelling an estimated 70km/h within metres of the finish line.

But things could not have gone better for Orica-GreenEDGE on the 118km route that left Meyer on top of the general classification with a four-second buffer.

The race was ridden aggressively – cyclists including multiple world track champion Meyer and young gun Ewan remarked on how stressful the frenetic early attacks had felt – soon after leaving Bendigo.

American Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), a stage winner in each of world cycling’s three grand tours and one of the top names in the event, managed to break away with prologue winner Will Clarke (Drapac) and Briton Michael Cuming (JLT Condor) around 40 kilometres in. The dangerous trio managed to put around 3 minutes, 30 seconds between themselves and the peloton before Cumming was dropped and Farrar and Clarke were caught by the bunch with six kilometres to go.

By finishing in the group of 77 riders that Ewan led through, Meyer retained his lead in the general classification and has good back up with teammates Simon Clarke, the defending champion, and Damien Howson behind him at 19 and 23 seconds respectively (fourth and sixth overall).

“I am aiming for five or six wins in UCI races this year, so it’s good to get one on the board,” Ewan said after capitalising on a strong lead out from his teammates with about 300 metres to go.

“After you win one stage, your confidence lifts a fair bit, and I know I can beat all of the guys here in the sprint now, so going into the next stage I will be a lot more confident.”

Jones, in contrast, was left battle-scarred. Though after originally being listed as the sixth finisher, he was elevated to fifth by judges who ruled that his skidding body had crossed the line before his bike – and the nearest competitor – thereby earning him a promotion.

“Obviously there was a gap and he [Witmitz] decided to come underneath me, and my left cheek just got taken out by his right-hand shifter, so I hit the deck after that,” a flat Jones said afterwards.

“The ribcage and chest and back and neck are quite sore from the hard impact, so we’ll see how they pull up … and assess from there. It’s a big season and I want to continue to get results for the guys, so if it doesn’t mean tomorrow, I’ll be back next race.”

Stage three commences at Mitchelton winery, an estate co-owned by Orica-GreenEDGE owners Gerry and Andrew Ryan. After some tough climbing in the Strathbogie Ranges, the stage finishes again with a flat run into Nagambie.

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Australia wanting one-day wins when they matter the most

‘I believe the team winning the World Cup is the No.1 team in the world’: Michael Clarke. Photo: James AlcockAustralia’s peerless record of victories over the past four years will, their captain hopes, be the basis for the type of success in the World Cup that has eluded them in the past two major one-day tournaments.
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Since India won the 2011 World Cup – having eliminated Australia in the quarter-finals – Australia have won a world-best 57.8 per cent of their 83 matches, just ahead of India’s 57.6 per cent. Their record is even better since the 2013 Champions Trophy, in which India also triumphed, having won 64.7 per cent of their matches. That is more than South Africa (60 per cent), Sri Lanka (54.4 per cent), India (54 per cent) and New Zealand (50 per cent), and the rest. England have won just 37.1 per cent.

Despite that record, and occupying the top one-day ranking for the majority of time since the 2011 World Cup, captain Michael Clarke said he placed greater stock in what happened when results mattered most: in the World Cup.

“I believe the team winning the World Cup . . . is the No.1 team in the world,” he said on Friday.

Australia have been the defending champions in the past two ICC tournaments – the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy – yet not made the semi-finals of either. They finished last in their group in the latter, losing to England and Sri Lanka, and had their match against New Zealand washed out. Since then they have won five of their seven series, with the exceptions being the 3-2 away loss to India in late 2013 and falling to South Africa in the final of last year’s tri-series in Zimbabwe.

Clarke said he hoped Australia’s positive recent record “helps us with momentum and confidence going into a major tournament”.

“You need to build momentum through the tournament, but you [also] need to have consistent success,” he said. “Hopefully [because of] how we’ve performed over the past couple of years we can take that confidence into this tournament. But we need to be at our best.”

The captain predicted if Australia could be the best fielding team in the World Cup, that would “go a long way to having success”.

He gave no hint as to who would partner Mitch Starc bowling at the death for Australia for the duration of James Faulkner’s absence with injury, other than to say he thought the team’s all-rounders – Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell – were all contenders.

“I think they’ve all had experience, especially in the shorter format, the Twenty20 stuff,” he said. “We’ve got the talent there, that’s for sure. It’s just about practice now, plenty of work on our death stuff and execution.

“I’m confident any of the guys – all-rounders or the specialist bowlers – can play that role [in the batting powerplay and late in innings].”

Clarke also said he was not reading much into India’s failure to reach the final of the recent tri-series. He reckoned having spent more than two months in Australia will benefit them, as will their status as defending champions.

“I think they’ll see it as a fresh start [after the Tests and tri-series],” Clarke said.

“They’ve had success in major tournaments, so they’ll take confidence from that.

“I’ve no doubt India are going to be one of the toughest teams in this competition to beat.”

Australia and India meet in a day-night practice match at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

ONE-DAY WONDERSWinning percentages of ICC full members in 50-over matches since the completion of the 2013 Champions Trophy. 64.7% – Australia: 34 matches, 22 wins, 9 losses, 0 ties, 3 no result. 60% – South Africa: 40 matches, 24 wins, 14 losses, 0 ties, 2 no result. 54.4% – Sri Lanka: 57 matches, 31 wins, 24 losses, 0 ties, 2 no result. 54% – India: 50 matches, 27 wins, 18 losses, 1 tie, 4 no result. 50% – New Zealand: 32 matches, 16 wins, 12 losses, 1 tie, 3 no result. 43.6% – Pakistan: 39 matches, 17 wins, 21 losses, 1 tie, 0 no result. 41.9% – West Indies: 31 matches, 13 wins, 17 losses, 1 tie, 0 no result. 38.1% – Bangladesh: 21 matches, 8 wins, 12 losses, 0 ties, 1 no result. 37.1% – England: 35 matches. 13 wins, 21 losses, 0 ties, 1 no result. 16.7% – Zimbabwe: 24 matches, 4 wins, 20 losses, 0 ties, 0 no result.

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Cubitt Street, Richmond, home to go under the hammer as real estate prices rise

Nick Callanan and Penny Chan in front of their Cremorne home. Photo: Wayne TaylorThis little workers cottage in Cubitt Street, Richmond, tells its own bust-to-boom story.
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The free-standing weatherboard last changed hands in 2006 for $499,950 when the standard variable mortgage rate was 7.3 per cent, shortly before the US subprime mortgage crisis precipitated a global slump and today’s historic low interest rates.

Later this month the two-bedroom home will go under the hammer along with 1440 other properties after two years of steadily rising prices and just as the Reserve Bank’s Tuesday rate cut filters through to the property market. It’s expected to have almost doubled in value.

The 18-month record run of low interest rates has spurred Melbourne’s median house price to hit a fresh peak of $669,000 late last year, up from a previous high of $550,000 in 2010, just-released December quarter figures from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria show.

Prices rose most in middle suburbs, with regional areas rebounding as buyers looked for more affordable properties, REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said.

“Melbourne’s record-breaking auction boom, which continued until just days before Christmas, helped push home prices up,” he said.

But while values in Melbourne and Sydney at still climbing, other cities lag. Prices in Canberra and Darwin are depressed, and Perth’s are stagnant.

After cutting rates, the Reserve Bank will be watching property markets closely, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Given the large increases in housing prices in some regions and ongoing strength in lending to investors in housing assets, housing market developments will need to be watched carefully,” the RBA said in a statement on Friday, justifying its rate cut.

The statement included a mild warning to lenders that the RBA was considering so-called “macroprudential” controls to limit high-risk loans.

“The bank is working with other regulators to assess and contain economic risks that may arise from the housing market,” it said.

If passed on in full, the cut will result in a saving of $53 a month for a borrower with a $350,000 loan.

Financial markets are pricing in a one-in-three chance of a further rate cut next month.

Cubitt Street homeowner Nick Callanan said a desire to “upsize” and the buoyant property market had prompted his decision to move. “It’s a good time to sell particularly with the recent interest rate cuts,” he said.

But some economists fear lower interest rates could result in another property boom.

“One of the clearest things low interest rates are going to do is boost housing markets. Even lower interest rates risk seeing a housing bubble form, particularly in the Sydney market,” HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said.

Biggin & Scott real estate agent Edward Hobbs said he was expecting another strong year.

“The apartment market for new property is saturated but the housing market is still strong,” he said.

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Senator John Faulkner, Labor’s conscience, leaves Parliament after 25 years

Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Retiring Labor Senator John Faulkner packing up his Drummoyne office. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Labor’s elder statesman in the Senate, John Faulkner, spent the last day of his parliamentary term on Friday packing up boxes in his Sydney office, and having a quiet lunch with staff.

There would, he said, be no parting fireworks after 25 years in the nation’s upper house, no clarion calls for party reform of the sort that made headlines last year.

It was not a day for that.

Instead, he wanted it known that “I will always be a Labor loyalist, and a true believer, even at times when I have argued for change and for those in the party to change their approach. I owe the Labor Party everything.”

Senator Faulkner made an impassioned, and unsuccessful, plea at the state ALP conference last year for changes to the way upper house Labor MPs were selected, saying the stranglehold of factional and union bosses had to be broken.

The party, he said, could not escape responsibility for a system that had enabled the repeated endorsement of Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, found later by ICAC to be corrupt.

Speeches like this have led to Senator Faulkner, who was a longstanding Senate opposition leader, as well as a minister under three Labor prime ministers, being characterised as the party’s conscience.

But on Friday he declared “my public political life is behind me”.

There will be no autobiography or memoir, no career in lobbying or in the media, he insists.

Instead, he will make a “useful contribution to the community” in some yet-to-be-revealed capacity. In the short term, he will advise new state ALP leader Luke Foley in the lead-up to the NSW election in March.

An intensely private politician, Senator Faulkner said the rise of social media had made a huge difference to the life of politicians. “So many more aspects of your life are an open book than previously would have been the case.”

Always entrusted by the party’s leaders with their deepest political secrets, he has never revealed the conversations he had with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard on the night she launched her challenge.

On Friday, he stuck to his hallmark taciturnity.

His response as Liberal leadership clouds gathered in Canberra? A wry “no comment”.

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The Liberals of the west who forced the vote against Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Federal MP Luke Simpkins poses with Karen National Defence Organisation head Major-General Ner Dah Bo Mya on January 31. Photo: Steve SandfordAbbott and Bishop to work together to defeat spill’We must bring this to a head and test support’Julie Bishop refuses to quell unrestAbbott’s leadership enters the killing zone
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Days before his surprise incursion on to the centre stage of Australian politics, little-known Liberal Luke Simpkins made an illegal incursion into Myanmar from across the Thai border.

The MP West Australian MP, who has forced the vote that will decide Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hold on the prime ministership, is another political maverick from the west.

Along with Dennis Jensen, the first Liberal to call on Mr Abbott to resign this week, and Don Randall, who will second Mr Simpkins’ spill motion on Tuesday, Mr Simpkins walks his own path.

Among his pet dislikes, which he has spoken up about in parliament, is halal meat which he has described as “one step down the path to [Islamic] conversion”.

He has spoken up for banning the burqa and was one of a handful of Liberals – along with Mr Jensen – to oppose the apology to the stolen generations.

On Tuesday, Fairfax Media reported Mr Simpkins’ “illegal” visit to Karen rebel paramilitaries in Myanmar.

The former Australian army officer presented a large Australian flag to the rebels before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Mr Simpkins, who was born in Sydney and attended Sydney Boys High, defended breaching another country’s sovereignty, saying pressure had to be exerted on “military-controlled governments”.

Mr Simpkins said he would report his findings to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the most senior and influential member of the West Australian Liberals.

It is not known whether he did that or whether Mr Simpkins and Mr Randall warned Ms Bishop that they would call for a spill.

According to Ms Bishop’s statement, released on Friday after Mr Abbott vowed to fight the motion, she does not support their course of action.

Ms Bishop’s relationship with the rebel elements in the Liberal Party room will be under close scrutiny, with the major backbench manoeuvres against Mr Abbott’s leadership beginning in that state.

Mr Simpkins said he expects “people like Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison will stand”.

“I expect Malcolm Turnbull will put his hand up as well,” he said.

In an initial statement, he said the spill motion would give all members the opportunity to “either endorse the prime minister or seek a new direction”.

“I have no front-bench ambitions,” he said.

“I just want to make sure that the economic vandals do not get back into power and our children and grandchildren are not left to pay Labor’s bill.

“I do this because I believe it is in the best interests of the people of our country.”

Mr Simpkins said he had been “inundated” with emails and people coming into his office questioning the direction the government.

Like Mr Simpkins, Mr Randall did not attend the Stolen Generations apology by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

He once referred to the “Gay-BC” when referring to the national broadcaster and its perceived biases.

Mr Randall was at the centre of the expenses scandal that rocked the early days of the Abbott government.

A Fairfax Media investigation found he had used $10,000 in taxpayer money to fly to Cairns, north Queensland, where he and his wife own an investment property. He claimed he was on “electorate business” in visiting then-party whip Warren Entsch.

Mr Entsch cast doubt on whether that was electorate business and Mr Randall later paid back the fares.

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Liberal spill: where various cabinet ministers stand

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that he will not step down despite a challenge to his leadership. Photo: Janie BarrettTony Abbott
Shanghai night field

Leader of the Liberal Party since he deposed Malcolm Turnbull in 2009 and Prime Minister since winning the 2013 election. Will not go quietly, having told dissenters they were “asking the party room to vote out the people that the electorate voted in.”

Malcolm Turnbull

Communications Minister, former leader and the prime contender for the leadership. On Thursday, Turnbull stated that there was “no tension between Tony and any of his senior colleagues. It is a very, very cohesive team and we are all supportive”. Has not spoken since the spill motion was placed on the agenda.

Julie Bishop

Deputy leader of the party, Foreign Minister and is consistently mentioned as a a potential challenger for the leadership. Will vote with the Prime Minister against the first spill motion for the sake of “cabinet solidarity” but has not agreed to run on a joint ticket with Abbott if the spill motion gets up.

Scott Morrison

Until recently the Immigration Minister, now the Social Services Minister. Very succesful in his former portfolio and touted as a potential leader, although he has ruled out nominating. Reportedly a possible replacement for Joe Hockey as treasurer.

Joe Hockey

The Treasurer has said that he “strongly supports” the Prime Minister. His position as Treasurer would be vulnerable under an alternative leadership.

Warren Truss

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals. Although Nationals cannot vote in a Liberal leadership ballot, Truss has thrown his support behind the Prime Minister.

Barnaby Joyce

Agriculture Minister and deputy leader of the Nationals. Quoted on Friday: “If all of sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don’t necessarily think the wedding is still on.”

Eric Abetz

Leader of the Government in the Senate and from the conservative wing of the party. Abetz has publicly stated his support for the prime minister.

Christopher Pyne

Leader of the House and Education Minister. On Friday morning, Pyne stated that he was a “strong supporter” of the Prime Minister but didn’t appear confident that he would survive a ballot.

Andrew Robb

Trade Minister and a senior Liberal figure. While he supports Abbott, he has stated that the concerns of backbenchers are legitimate and that the Prime Minister’s “position relies on his performance.”

Bruce Billson

Small Business Minister. Stated his support for the prime minister on Friday afternoon, Billson said “the spill-motion will not succeed. It would be an act of self-harm.”

Peter Dutton

Recently minted immigration minister, Dutton has stated that a “spill of a sitting Prime Minister half way through his first term when there is no challenger just makes no sense.”

Kevin Andrews

Defence Minister. Will vote against the motion because MPs “should respect the view that the Australian people took to the election.”

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Defence Minister Kevin Andrews in Julia Gillard leadership gaffe

Analysis: all eyes on TurnbullThe Pulse: Tony Abbott faces leadership challenge’He’s smarter than Tony Abbott’
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Among the cavalcade of ministers pledging their support for Prime Minister Tony Abbott there was one statement that really stood out – for all the wrong reasons.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews followed his colleagues by calling a press conference to plead for unity amid the extraordinary leadership crisis gripping the Liberal Party.

“I believe the team of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard is the best leadership team for the Liberal Party and therefore part of the best leadership team of the Coalition for the country,” he said.

It was unfortunate. And it was perfect. Thank heavens Kevin Andrews is not in charge of anything important like, say, Defence. — Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) February 6, 2015

“We should respect the decision that the Australian people made and, most importantly, we should be acting for stability of the party and through that for the stability of the country.”

One by one, ministers emerged on Friday to declare they would not support next Tuesday’s leadership spill.

They included Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Employment Minister Eric Abetz and Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“I believe that the spill motion should be defeated and will be defeated,” Mr Frydenberg told the ABC.

“We saw, from the Labor Party when they were in government, it turn out like a very bad horror movie. I just don’t want to buy another ticket to such a horror movie.” Amid the flurry I missed Kevin Andrews saying he believes the team of Tony Abbott & Julia Gillard is the best team for the Liberals — Lauren Gianoli (@LaurenGianoli) February 6, 2015

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