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上海龙凤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上海龙凤419m/kutARysGz8 — George Megalogenis (@GMegalogenis) February 6, 2015 Bet you’re regretting making this tweet #itsonpic.twitter上海龙凤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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News Corp revenue boosted by book publishing, digital real estate

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corporation has posted a 2 per cent lift in revenue, with its chief executive Robert Thomson trumpeting “high quality journalism attracts high quality revenue”.
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But journalism had nothing to do with News Corp’s revenue rising to $US2.28 billion in the quarter ending December 31, beating analysts estimates of $2.27 billion.

The bulk of their growth came from book publishing and digital real estate sales, the revenues of which rose $78 million, or 20 per cent, and $51 million, or 50 per cent, respectively.

But revenue from its newspaper business, the titles of which include The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and The Times of London, slumped 6 per cent or $89 million.

Its Australian papers, which include The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, reported a greater revenue decline, shedding 8 per cent. The company attributed the decline to “negative foreign currency fluctuations and modest advertising revenues”.

Advertising revenue across its entire newspaper business plunged 9 per cent “driven primarily by weakness in the UK print advertising market”.

Citi analyst Justin Diddams was concerned about the British slump, asking Mr Thomson during a conference call how the company planned to flip the 16 per cent advertising revenue fall in that market.

“I don’t think we can sustain that kind of decline for much longer, so I’m wondering what the strategy is for the UK business,” Mr Diddams said.

Mr Thomson said: “There’s no doubt that the advertising market in the UK is a volatile one, the winds are flukey.”

He said New’s UK chief executive Mike Darcey was focusing on digital advertising “where we do believe there is room for growth”, and circulation revenue.

Mr Thomson said the sales team were arguing the value of News’ British mastheads, particularly The Times which he said was the only UK paper to increase its print circulation.

“At a time of media transformation with a flood of low-grade listicles and cheesy charticles, it is clear that high quality journalism attracts high quality revenue and reader engagement across all platforms.

“The Times is doing very well, and that message when advertisers hear it and understand it, will resonate not only with advertisers but with potential consumers.

“So Mike [Darcey] and the team are very much on the case and they certainly have levers to pull”.

News’ book publishing revenue surged 20 per cent to $469 million. The company attributed the increase to the inclusion of Harlequin, the world’s biggest romance book publisher, which it bought for $415 million in 2014.

Revenue from its digital real estate business jumped from $103 million to $154 million because of the inclusion of third ranked US property site Move, which it bought with REA Group for $950 million last October.

“Although we don’t yet have a full quarter performance, it is fair to say that the expansion of our digital real estate portfolio should provide a firm foundation for future growth,” Mr Thomson said.

Profit for the entire company, excluding some items, was 26¢ a share in the fiscal second quarter, compared with the 24¢ analysts estimated on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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The Lowdown: A-League – Perth Glory v Sydney FC

Perth Glory v Sydney FC, NIB Stadium, Perth
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Kick-off: 6.30pm (local) (9.30pm AEDT)

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones

TV broadcast: Fox Sports 4

Twitter: #PERvSYD

Odds: Perth Glory $2, Draw $3.50, Sydney FC $3.65 (Sportsbet上海龙凤419m.au)

LIKELY TEAMS

Perth Glory (4-2-3-1): Vukovic; Jamieson, Djulbic, Thwaite, Risdon; Zadkovich, O’Neill; Sidnei, Marinkovic, Garcia; Keogh.

Sydney FC (4-2-3-1): Janjetovic; Gersbach, Petkovic, Faty, Grant; Dimitrijevic, Tavares; Naumoff, Brosque, Ibini; Janko.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played 28; Perth 7, Draw, 8, Sydney 13

FIVE TO WATCH

1. Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC)

Has just started to ignite in recent weeks and if there’s somebody with the pace and energy to unlock Perth’s excellent back four, it’s Ibini. He can get in behind and cause problems down the right, as Scott Jamieson will no doubt find out.

2. Ruben Zadkovich (Perth Glory)

Archie Thompson aside, is there a player in the A-League anywhere who so actively looks in the fixture list for the next time Sydney FC comes to town? Zadkovich just despises his old club – for reasons only he knows – but he needs to keep that discipline in check here, especially without the suspended Rostyn Griffiths.

3. Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC)

Having recently played in English Premier League, Tavares brings instant class to a Sydney team that needs real presence in central midfield. It’s still unsure if he’ll start here now that Terry Antonis is back but on the evidence of his debut showing, and strong training since, why change?

4. Richard Garcia (Perth Glory)

Enjoying an Indian summer in his home town, Garcia looked all but finished when he left Sydney last season. His game has slowed but he’s now using wisdom to get the most from his talents and those around him. Could even play defensive midfield.

5. Marc Janko (Sydney FC)

Simply must keep putting the goals away from here, not only if Sydney are to make the finals but if he wants a new contract. Showed against Central Coast that his eye for a finish hasn’t deserted him over the break and he’ll look to make it into double figures before the season is out.

THE KEY MATCH-UP

Andy Keogh (Perth Glory) v Nikola Petkovic (Sydney FC)

Keogh must be wondering why it took him so long to get to the A-League – he’s loving life out here and it’s not beyond the realm to say he’s putting himself into the frame for a national team recall with the Republic of Ireland. Nikola Petkovic, combined with Jacques Faty, will be following him everywhere.

IN THE DUGOUT

Kenny Lowe (Perth Glory)

Likes to talk himself down – and loves the idea that the eastern seaboard doesn’t take him seriously. We’ve been doing that for a while now but he’s using the imagined disrespect as fuel to push this team all the way. Whatever he’s doing, it’s certainly working.

Graham Arnold (Sydney FC)

The momentum from the thumping 5-1 win over the Mariners, combined with the Asian Cup break, seems to have put some distance between the Sky Blues and their bad festive results. Perth have some key injuries and Arnold knows it’s a perfect time for an upset win.  

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The battler of Point Piper: Labor plans its attack on Malcolm Turnbull

‘Tony Abbott in an expensive suit’: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Nic Walker ‘Tony Abbott in an expensive suit’: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Nic Walker
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‘Tony Abbott in an expensive suit’: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Nic Walker

‘Tony Abbott in an expensive suit’: Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Nic Walker

Live: Tony Abbott faces leadership challengeLuke Simpkins’ email to colleagues calling for spill against Tony AbbottAnalysis: Abbott’s leadership has entered the killing zone

Tony Abbott in an expensive suit. New salesman, same government. The man from Struggle Street, Point Piper.

Labor is already sharpening its lines to greet a Malcolm Turnbull prime ministership – even before Mr Turnbull had indicated whether or not he would contest a leadership vote if one follows the spill motion to be considered by the Liberal party room on Tuesday.

According to a number of ALP figures who spoke to Fairfax Media, the weaknesses of Mr Turnbull’s they would seek to exploit include the perception he is out of step with the core of the federal Liberal Party on issues such as climate change, same sex marriage and the republic.

A shadow minister nominated Mr Turnbull’s Achilles heel as simply: “His big f–king ego.”

“He convinces himself that he is the smartest person in the room in every situation – and sometimes he is. But when you believe you are the only one who truly understands an issue it is pretty hard to listen to anyone else around you,” said the source.

“His big ego killed him before. What will his ego be like if he believes he is being called to the country’s top job?”

But the shadow minister also conceded Labor would have a tougher time opposing a Turnbull-led Coalition. “He’s smarter than Abbott, more grounded than Abbott and he’s an adult, unlike Abbott.”

Mr Turnbull is favoured as leader by twice as many people as Mr Abbott, a string of IPSOS Fairfax polls have found.

Another Labor source with experience of the Gillard–Rudd war said Mr Turnbull had weaknesses to exploit but said he would be a more formidable prime minister to oppose.

“Absolutely he is more popular in the middle ground with voters, the place where elections are won,” the source said.

“This whole thing has reminded me of Gillard vs Rudd. A party stuck with a leader it knows cannot win an election and an alternative leader who is not liked by the party. But in the end, MPs will vote for their own survival, which is why I expect Malcolm Turnbull PM by mid-next week.”

Bruce Hawker, the longtime ALP campaigner who led Kevin Rudd’s doomed bid for re-election in 2013, said Mr Turnbull would take the Liberal Party back to towards the centre ground but that would eventually expose divisions within his own party.

“For Labor, Turnbull is a much harder character to deal with, he won’t score the same own-goals that Tony Abbott has become famous for,” Mr Hawker said.

“The danger for him is that he will start with a burst of popularity and relief in the electorate and he will try to steer his party back to centre ground. But he will have to deal with the Cory Bernardis of his party who are not going to sit back and watch a small-L liberal like Malcolm Turnbull do what he likes. That will open up the divisions for Labor to exploit.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been relegated to a low profile since the government began to tear itself apart after Australia Day, but his language at his daily press conference has begun to dig away at any notion that a change of leader would mean a fresh start for the Coalition.

Mr Shorten said on Friday: “They all voted for the budget. On budget night when Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott brought down their budget, they were slamming the desks and cheering and that’s the issue.

“Malcolm Turnbull may wear nicer suits but he’s just Tony Abbott in a nicer suit.”

On Tuesday he said: “They should stop worrying about which sales person they put up the front of the queue, and all of them should actually go back and take their foot off the throat of families.”

A senior player behind Mr Shorten said there would be no great recalibration of strategy if a change occurs. “There’s been a lot of talk about the effect of Turnbull taking over but we’re actually not all that worried.”

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$13 million blowout for Albert ‘Tibby’ Cotter bridge is not our fault: Heritage Council

Nearing completion: the Albert “Tibby” Cotter Bridge across Anzac Parade. Photo: Janie Barrett The Heritage Council says the bridge’s limited usefulness is a waste of money. Photo: Janie Barrett
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Nearing completion: the Albert “Tibby” Cotter Bridge across Anzac Parade. Photo: Janie Barrett

The bridge’s construction costs have blown out by $13 million. Photo: Janie Barrett JEM

The Heritage Council says the bridge’s limited usefulness is a waste of money. Photo: Janie Barrett

Nearing completion: the Albert “Tibby” Cotter Bridge across Anzac Parade. Photo: Janie Barrett

The Heritage Council says the bridge’s limited usefulness is a waste of money. Photo: Janie Barrett

Nearing completion: the Albert “Tibby” Cotter Bridge across Anzac Parade. Photo: Janie Barrett

The Heritage Council says the bridge’s limited usefulness is a waste of money. Photo: Janie Barrett

No Albert “Tibby” Cotter bridge over Anzac Parade would have been the best outcome.

That is the view of the NSW Heritage Council, which is upset by the $13 million blowout in construction costs –  from $25 million to $38 million – for the pedestrian and cycling bridge, which is due to be completed in time for this month’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

The chair of the NSW Heritage Council, Professor Lawrence Nield, has slammed Roads Minister Duncan Gay for suggesting the blowout was the fault of the Heritage Council. The council says the bridge’s intrusiveness and limited usefulness is a waste of money.

“It was a cheap shot for a very expensive structure that was expensive from the beginning,” Professor Nield said of Mr Gay’s comments this week that the blowout was imposed by the Heritage Council and a “tough pill to swallow”.

“The requirements of the Heritage Council would not have produced a cost increase. The change of the requirements were not going to cause that increase.

“The best solution would be to have no bridge.”

Mr Gay reiterated his stance that the $13 million increase was the work of the Heritage Council, citing an extra 100 tonnes of steel added to the bridge as the main reason for the overspend.

“The extra costs were almost entirely the result of conditions imposed on us by the Heritage Council,” Mr Gay said. “About two-thirds of the additional costs were due to aesthetic changes to the bridge design required by the Heritage Council to make the structure more elegant.”

The NSW Heritage Council has been in consultation with the Roads and Maritime Services since construction began. Many refinements the Heritage Council requested, including ways to make the bridge less intrusive and to reduce its width, were not accommodated.

Professor Nield said: “As a professional in this area, I think that [the $13 million blowout] is due to the tendering, the weather and the inherent design of the building, not our modifications. There were many ways it could have been made cheaper.

“You could have left the bicycle track out to make it a lot thinner, given a lot of bicycle groups say they don’t need it anyway. But [the NSW government] were set on the World Cup and having it built.”

The bridge is being built between Moore Park Road and Cleveland Street, and there are concerns it is not ideally placed to carry pedestrians to the Sydney Cricket Ground on game day.

The 52 per cent cost increase has further irritated cycling and other lobby groups that have strongly opposed the plans.

“The bridge is Duncan’s monorail, it’s the wrong infrastructure in the wrong place and will sit there unloved,” said David Borella, the president of Bike Sydney.

“The bridge was rushed through by the RMS with no genuine consultation or approval and will cost a huge chunk of the entire state’s skinny cycling budget.”

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Victoria ready for travel stint in pursuit of shield

Victorian captain Matthew Wade reckons their influx of Test players for the second half of the season will benefit them not only on the field but off it too in coping with an onerous travel schedule.
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The Bushrangers resume their Sheffield Shield campaign on Saturday, away to Queensland. Their necessity to play three home matches interstate, and the lack of suitable training venues unaffected by the World Cup, means they are only due to train in Melbourne twice in the next six weeks. Their playing schedule involves trips to Brisbane, Wagga, Glenelg and Alice Springs.

Victoria’s bid to buttress their position atop the shield ladder should be helped by the availability of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Chris Rogers for the rest of the season. Wade said the trio would be influential in helping their teammates cope with the travel schedule, as each had completed longer stints on the road with the national team.

“More important than anything is trying to find the time to get away from the game in the next little bit, whether that’s a training day you have off here or there . . . to find time to get away and relax and get your mind off the game,” the captain said.

“It’s as hard a program we’ve seen for a while with all the travel. Luckily enough we’ve got a lot of blokes who’ve done it before with the Australian team and they know how to deal with being away from home and how to get away from the game while you’re on tour. It’s not going to be easy but we’ve got to keep the fun in the game as much as we can.”

When the Bushrangers players reconvened after the Big Bash League the captain’s first move was to remind them, particularly the bowlers, of what they had the chance to achieve in the second half of the season.

“Obviously with where we’re sitting on the table, if we can put a couple of performances together we’re right up there and in with a chance of making the final,” he said.

“I spoke to the bowlers as soon as we got back together and went through that, that we’ve got two Test bowlers coming back . . . means people who’ve already done a good job are getting pushed out, but that everyone in the next five games is going to get an opportunity with the schedule the way it is.

“It’s good to have competition for spots. It means everyone is going to be firing . . . there’s no room for any complacency.”

Wade said he was proud that younger members of the squad such as Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis and Scott Boland had been so influential in getting the Bushrangers to top spot at the break. He backed all three of them to continue to thrive.

“It’s one of the reasons we’ve gone from a poor year to having a good year right now. That’s not to say that things are going to come easy and roll along because we’ve got three Test blokes coming back, but if our younger players can keep performing . . . at that level our more experienced guys will obviously get the job done as well, and that puts us in good stead,” he said.

Wade is not expecting Pattinson will have any bowling workload restrictions imposed on him in what will be his first appearance in a first-class match for 11 months.

While the Gabba typically favours fast bowling, Wade said he hoped Fawad Ahmed retained his place, declaring the leg-spinner was clearly the best spinner in Australia after Nathan Lyon.

Queensland will have stand-in leaders on and off the field, due to coach Stuart Law’s resignation and captain James Hopes’ withdrawal with a rib injury. Their roles will be filled by assistant coach Justin Sternes and wicketkeeper Chris Hartley. The elevation of all-rounder Simon Milenko to the squad, in place of Hartley, will mean the Bulls could have three debutants for the second time this season. They have also selected 28-year-old batsman Michael Philipson, the younger brother of now-retired batsman Craig Philipson, and 25-year-old Charlie Hemphrey, an all-rounder born in England who has played 2nd XI county cricket.

QUEENSLAND (from): Chris Hartley (c), Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Luke Feldman, Peter Forrest, Peter George, Charlie Hemphrey, Chris Lynn, Simon Milenko, Michael Philipson, Mark Steketee.VICTORIA (from): Matthew Wade (c), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Daniel Christian, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron White.

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Inside Malcolm Turnbull’s Point Piper mansion

Agents say the Turnbulls’ Point Piper home is in a similar price range to its waterfront neighbour Altona, which sold recently for $52 million. Photo: Michele Mossop
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Agents say the Turnbulls’ Point Piper home is in a similar price range to its waterfront neighbour Altona, which sold recently for $52 million. Photo: Michele Mossop

The Turnbulls sold the neighbouring house, pictured left, for $13.5 million, in 2011. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Malcolm Turnbull in the driveway of his house in 2009 when he was opposition leader. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Agents say the Turnbulls’ Point Piper home is in a similar price range to its waterfront neighbour Altona, which sold recently for $52 million. Photo: Michele Mossop

Agents say the Turnbulls’ Point Piper home is in a similar price range to its waterfront neighbour Altona, which sold recently for $52 million. Photo: Michele Mossop

Malcolm Turnbull and family. Source: Malcolmturnbull上海龙凤419m.au

If Malcolm Turnbull does become Australia’s next prime minister he will be trading down big time if he moves to the Lodge, given the sort of digs he is used to calling home.

Like so many Australians, the wealthiest member of federal parliament has much of his money tied up in the family home, which in his case is a vast waterfront estate in Point Piper on a scale and grandeur similar to the nearby mansion Altona which sold for $52 million.

Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull have proved to be savvy real estate investors.

The former Goldman Sachs co-chairman bought what was then a beachfront residence known as Le Gai Soleil in 1994 for $5,425,000, selling their Paddington home Alster House the following year for a then suburb record of $2 million.

The Point Piper beachfront home was sold by the late socialite Klara Saunders, wife of the late Westfield Holdings director John Saunders, who in turn had bought the property from Alan Bond in 1979 for $900,000.

The Turnbulls commissioned a renovation by architect Michael Suttor shortly after they bought it, promptly dropping the Le Gai Soleil name. They then purchased the adjoining property Gwandalan for $7.1 million in 1999.

It was a clever purchase next door because that enabled them to carve some 600 square metres off that title to expand his waterfrontage. The remaining property was then redeveloped into a duplex and sold off in 2011 for $13.6 million to Ben and Tiffany Tilley.

Agents familiar with the Point Piper market say the Turnbull home is in a similar price range to its waterfront neighbour. “It has all the same, key attributes as Altona in terms of size, quality of home, view and waterfrontage,” said Michael Dunn, of Richardson & Wrench Double Bay, who sold the adjoining property to the Turnbulls.

Bill Malouf, of LJ Hooker Double Bay, said internally the Turnbull’s home was a much better house than Altona. “It’s an outstanding residence and one of the best in that position.”

The Mediterranean-style home was built in the 1930s and has retained many of its ornate features, such as arched roof tiles, arched doorways and windows and juliet balconies, all set behind elaborate wrought-iron gates.

Set on 1940 square metres, it also has a swimming pool, boatshed and private jetty.

It is a far cry from The Lodge, in Canberra, where the $6.4 million worth of renovations by Prime Minister Tony Abbott have been delayed. Works to repair the slate roof, remove asbestos, upgrade security features and replace electrical wiring and climate systems were due to be complete last year but are now set to be finished later this year.

The other option for the Turnbulls is Kirribilli House, the two-storey, waterfront sandstone mansion that is the prime minister’s official Sydney base.

Mr Abbott has made good use of the historic neo-Gothic property. The Forestville family home that he bought in 1994 for $351,000 would now sell for about $1.5 million in the current market, agents say.

While Turnbull’s capital gain on his 1994 home purchase easily outstrips Abbott’s purchase the same year, the Forestville market has done better over the 21 year period.

The Forestville median house price is up 293.6 per cent since 1994 to $1,136,000, and Point Piper’s median is up 147.9 per cent to a median of $7.8 million.

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East Timor: political rival to be new leader as Xanana Gusmao resigns

Xanana Gusmao is likely to continue to play a role in East Timor’s government. Photo: Tom Allard Xanana Gusmao is likely to continue to play a role in East Timor’s government. Photo: Tom Allard
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Xanana Gusmao is likely to continue to play a role in East Timor’s government. Photo: Tom Allard

Xanana Gusmao is likely to continue to play a role in East Timor’s government. Photo: Tom Allard

East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has offered his resignation to the country’s president, paving the way for a new government that will share power among the country’s usually fractious political parties.

Rui Araujo, a leading member of the opposition Fretilin party and a former vice prime minister, is the overwhelming favourite to head a government of “national unity.”

Mr Gusmao is likely to continue to play a role in government, most likely as a minister in charge of strategic planning and development.

Just months ago, Mr Gusmao’s CNRT coalition government and Fretilin were engaged in a bitter political battle, much of it involving claims about corruption and gross financial mismanagement.

The apparent reconciliation is an extraordinary development, said Gordon Peake, author and long-time observer of East Timor.

“This is very unusual,” said Dr Peake, who is in East Timor’s capital Dili. “It’s like Tony Abbott stepping down to become a minister in a government led by Bill Shorten.”

“It’s an example of the unpredictability of Timor’s politics. What’s also interesting is that there’s no sense of crisis. It’s been an orderly transition.”

The “restructure” of the government will also include a slimmed-down Cabinet and four senior co-ordinating ministers drawn from different political parties.

Mr Gusmao was a guerilla fighter imprisoned by Indonesia and is widely revered as the hero of the country’s independence. He dominates East Timor’s politics like no other since the country’s independence.

Approaching 70, Mr Gusmao has always been keen to ensure there is stability when he stepped down from the prime ministership.

He has been prime minister for more than seven years after holding the largely ceremonial post of president for five years. For much of his time as prime minister, Mr Gusmao has also been the minister for defence, intelligence and security.

“Members of government – staying, leaving and incoming – are all working together, prioritising the national interest of Timor-Leste and committed to respecting the dignity and legacy of Maun-Bo’ot Xanana”, said Minister of State Agio Pereira, referring to East TImor by its official name.

Mr Gusmao will remain Prime Minister until his replacement is sworn in, which is expected next week.

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