Protests to hit Trump, Turnbull meeting

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull isn’t the only person who’ll be turning out to greet Donald Trump in the US president’s home town.

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The native New Yorker, whose image for decades was interwoven with his hometown, is making his first trip back to Manhattan since taking office.

Several protests are planned across New York City, including near the USS Intrepid on the Hudson River, where Trump is scheduled to meet with Mr Turnbull on Friday (AEST), and the president’s home at Trump Tower, threatening to snarl Manhattan’s streets and produce images of a city rejecting its most famous native son.

“Thousands of people are ready to protest Donald Trump,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition which is co-organising one of the large-scale protests. “On the president’s first trip back to New York City, the world will see us rise up and oppose him again.”

The New York Police Department is gearing up for the visit with an eye toward those anti-Trump demonstrations. The turnout is uncertain, but activists are using Facebook and other social media to call on protesters to gather at several locations throughout the city to voice opposition to his immigration, health care and other policies.

Hundreds of police officers will be assigned to secure Trump’s Intrepid appearance, with more on standby on surrounding blocks if needed to make arrests.

Trump will deliver a speech on the USS Intrepid, a World War II-era aircraft carrier, and hold his first meeting with Turnbull since they held a contentious phone call in February.

A show of force is already a fixture at Trump Tower, where the Secret Service and heavily armed NYPD officers have used barricades, checkpoints and street closings to secure the iconic skyscraper where the president has a penthouse apartment.

Firewall concerns at Perth kid’s hospital

Western Australia’s building regulator is investigating claims of defective firewalls at the new Perth Children’s Hospital, as the construction union warns that replacing them could take many months.

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Building Commission director of compliance Sandy Randall said the information came from an anonymous source about the construction and inspection of firewalls at the already-delayed project.

“Building Commission inspectors are conducting a preliminary assessment of the firewalls to establish whether there is any validity to the information received,” Ms Randall said.

CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan said the complaint was detailed and he was concerned the allegations would prove accurate.

The firewalls may need to be ripped out and replaced, he said.

“The worst case scenario is it could take months and months if they do it all at once,” Mr Buchan told AAP.

“They can’t accept anything less than the Australian Standard.”

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt indicated to reporters he wasn’t overly worried.

“I’ve not yet received any information that would suggest to me that the Building Commission is particularly concerned about something that no doubt, as a result of what’s happening today, will get a report in due course,” he said.

The main problem that continues to plague the hospital is elevated lead levels in drinking water and the opening date remains unknown.

Mr Buchan said he didn’t believe the state government acted prematurely by accepting handover from the builder before the water supply was given the all clear.

He said it was a common strategy to get more hands on and take control of a project, and didn’t affect warranties for defects.

Birthplace or heritage? NRL stars picking sides ahead of World Cup

This weekend, Tonga meets Fiji in a match that would ordinarily only interest people of Pacific Island heritage.

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But the new rules mean players of the calibre of Manu Vatuvei and Daniel Tupou are all coming to the party after previously representing New Zealand and Australia respectively.

And even though some of the young guns like emerging Penrith hooker Sione Katoa may now miss out, just the chance to rub shoulders with the stars is a great experience.

Tonga hooker Sione Katoa prepares to play FijiSBS

“Hopefully the young up and coming Tongans can see what they’re doing and follow in their footsteps,” Katoa told SBS News. 

The new rules may upset some who believe you should only be allowed to play for the country of your birth, but according to Vatuvei, wearing a New Zealand jersey can’t hide his roots.

“I know I’ve played for the Kiwis, but even though I’ve played for them putting that jersey on is always representing my heritage and that’s Tonga,” he told SBS News.

Vatuvei will play his first-ever match for Tonga against Fiji and he couldn’t be more excited.

“It’s going to be a really special moment for myself and my family,” he said.

The World Cup runs from October 27 to December 2 and includes matches in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

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Over The Black Dot

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Turnbull to take swing at fairway diplomacy with Trump

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be looking to tap into US President Donald Trump’s penchant for golf when they meet face-to-face in New York.

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Mr Trump has played an estimated 18 rounds since he was sworn in as president on January 20, making frequent trips to Florida where he owns two golf courses.

The president tried to forge a bond with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over a game in February, but some critics have wondered if his time on the fairway has come at the expense of presidential duties.

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Nevertheless, when Mr Turnbull arrives in New York on Thursday he’ll be looking to deploy a little golf diplomacy of his own to smooth over a rocky start between the two leaders.

In an interview with SBS News, Mr Turnbull said he would give the president a gift for his golf collection.

“We have a beautiful timber gift, it’s made of jarrah and silver ash, by an Australian craftsman from Bungendore and it’s designed to hold golf balls,” he said.

“The president is a keen golfer so I hope that will be part of his golfing collection to hold a dozen golf balls.”

It is customary for heads of state to exchange gifts when they meet, but Mr Turnbull will be hoping to strike the right note with Mr Trump, with whom he reportedly clashed earlier this year.

During a phone call on January 28, the property tycoon blasted Mr Turnbull over a refugee resettlement deal struck by then President Barack Obama, the Washington Post reported.

Mr Trump described the agreement as a “dumb deal” in a Twitter post, but has reluctantly agreed to accept refugees held on Nauru and Manus Island if they pass what he describes as extreme vetting.

Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017

Trump was an outspoken critic of Obama’s golf habit, but he appears to have outpaced his predecessor.

He has played one game every 5.7 days, compared to Obama’s once every 8.8 days, according to the Washington Post.

“@gretawire: PresObama is not busy talking to Congress about Syria..he is playing golf …go figure”

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2013Watch: Trump’s road to the White House

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Gonski 2.0: Greens not ruling out backing government’s schools package

The party’s education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young has told ABC radio people are sick of the argy-bargy between the states and the federal government and sick of the hyper-partisan fights between the government and the opposition.

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Senator Hanson-Young says they want more funding for the schools that need it, to look after our kids and give them certainty, and for those schools that have been over-funded for far too long to be reined in.

“People are sick of the argy-bargy between the states and the federal government, they’re sick of the hyper-partisan fights between the government and the opposition, we’ve got to get the politics out of this,”the party’s education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young told ABC radio.

“We want more funding for the schools that need it, we want to look after our kids and give them certainty, and for those schools that have been getting off with being over-funded for far too long, they need to be reined in.”

Two dozen non-government schools are in line for reduced federal funding, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed.

The list could include eight Catholic schools in NSW, Victoria and the ACT despite Education Minister Simon Birmingham insistence Catholic schools will not be worse off under what the government’s dubbed Gonski 2.0.

Asked if the 24 schools were “rich, private schools”, Mr Turnbull told the Seven Network on Wednesday: “Yes, that’s right.”

“They’re non-government schools. They will receive less per student, not a lot less, and the reason for that is that the goal is to get everybody being treated equitably and consistently.”

WATCH: Catholic education sector upset at cuts

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Senator Birmingham earlier confirmed a further 300 schools will experience lower rates of funding growth under the plan to be put to state education ministers on May 18 and premiers in June.

The Catholic education sector is angry, claiming a majority of its schools are on the hit list for cuts.

But Senator Birmingham denied they will be worse off – pointing to funding growth of 3.7 per cent per student under his proposed model.

“That is growth well above the wages growth that mums or dads around Australia are exercising at present,” he told Nine Network.

Overall, federal funding for schools will grow from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027.

To stop cost shifting, states will need to maintain real per student funding levels or face receiving less commonwealth funding.

WATCH: Plibersek: Gonski 2.0 is ‘$22b cut’

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In 10 years, the federal government will provide 20 per cent of the minimum Gonski be recommended “school resourcing standard” for government schools – up from 17 per cent – and 80 per cent for non-government schools.

David Gonski, who was first commissioned by Labor, to conduct a review of schools funding will now prepare a report for the coalition government on how to turn the extra money into better student outcomes.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes welcomed the extra funding, but warned Canberra it was moving away from existing agreements with the states.

NSW was considering “all the options available to us”, suggesting the possibility of court action.

WATCH: Budget cuts leave students in lurch

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Senator Birmingham said he would be surprised if NSW wanted to spend money on lawyers instead of schools.

Labor has criticised the plan, which it says is a $22 billion cut from its original proposal.

Labor leader Bill Shorten: “Australians will never trust the Liberals when it comes to properly funding schools. When they think they can get away with it, they’ll cut.”