Vic to get $8.4b from property taxes

Victoria needs to increase its debt if it wants to take full advantage of its AAA credit rating, historically low interest rates and build infrastructure, Treasurer Tim Pallas says.

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Victoria is in a strong financial position, with a $1.2 billion surplus for the 2017/18 financial year and higher ones in the forward estimates, Mr Pallas told a post-budget business lunch in Melbourne.

Debt as a proportion of gross state product is now at 4.6 per cent, below the 6.2 per cent Labor inherited from its coalition predecessor, he says.

But there needs to be “a grown up discussion about debt” and Victoria’s debt ratio needs to progressively move to six per cent.

“We need to bring (debt) up. We need to actually start to leverage the whole point of a AAA credit rating,” Mr Pallas said.

“What’s the point of a credit rating if you’re actually not using it to secure the lowest possible interest rates you can and actually secure the infrastructure that grows a community and builds the services that the community not only deserves but demands?”

Net debt is listed as $23.8 billion for 2017/18, according to Tuesday’s budget, and will rise to $25.1 billion the year after, then $27.4 billion in 2019/20.

Mr Pallas took another swipe at the federal government over the distribution of infrastructure money between states and disputed funds from the sale of the Melbourne Port lease.

Victoria says it deserves about $1.45 billion from the federal government under the asset recycling scheme when it leased the port.

It wants to put the money towards a regional rail program that many local federal MPs have been calling out for.

“It’s hard to put a compelling argument against (the projects) unless of course it’s something to do with mendacity,” Mr Pallas said.

The Victorian budget is forecasting a $1.2 billion surplus for 2017/18 and Melbourne’s property boom will rake in $8.4 billion.

Interest groups have flagged concerns the state is too reliant on property taxes, and that changes to duties paid by investors could cool the real estate market.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Pallas said he had been waiting for the market to slow, and that it needed to do so that first home buyers could “have a crack at it”.

“I’ve been predicting, and accounting for, slumps in the property market for some time now, and they just haven’t happened,” he told 3AW radio.

Babies killed in PNG cop’s wife bashings

Who do you turn to if the husband belting you is also a policeman?

What if he threatens to rape your teenage daughter if you report him?

Pauline (not her real name), an accountant from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital, has grappled with these questions in the past.

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The well-dressed and highly educated mother-of-two endured 17 years of family and sexual violence.

She’s had two miscarriages because of the bashings.

“I have damage to my reproductive organs,” she said.

“Every time I tried to defend myself and my children I suffered unimaginable injuries that almost ended my life,” Pauline said.

Years ago she had a gut-wrenching wait to find out if she was HIV positive after a tip off that there was a case among her husband’s posse of mistresses and prostitutes.

Fortunately, the test came back negative.

Health authorities were able to point her in the right direction to seek help and justice.

Pauline went over the heads of her suburb’s local police and took the bold step to press charges.

Her estranged husband is facing more than 30 counts of marital rape, and has been suspended from the police force, while the legal process takes its course.

He regularly offers bribes to judges and has also used his position as an officer to have her arrested on dubious charges, she says.

“Before we enter the court, he’s there in the (judge’s) office,” Pauline said.

Pauline is adamant she must keep fighting to hold her ex-husband to account in order to protect herself and her children.

Many women stayed silent out of fear, because of threats from perpetrators as well as a sense of inferiority, family and clan implications, and consequences such as financial hardship, Pauline said.

“Victim blaming is a big problem,” she said.

Pauline is grateful her employer gives her time off work to attend court cases.

Time off was costing companies between three to nine per cent of payroll or 300,000 Kina ($A125,879) to 3 million ($A1.25 million)

Business Coalition for Women chair and Origin Energy PNG general manager Lesieli Moala Taviri said in the trying economic times at the moment she anticipated more social problems.

* * PNG readers seeking help and counselling for family and sexual violence should phone the 1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN national hotline

(715-08000)

* Reporter Lisa Martin travelled to Port Moresby as a guest of Femili PNG during Rosie Batty’s recent visit.

Australian domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

High-flying Crows buck AFL system

Don Pyke’s barnstorming Adelaide Crows are bucking the AFL system.

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They’re unbeaten. Kicking 20 goals a game. Averaging a whopping 132 points.

And all that without a top 10 draft pick.

Pyke’s ladder-leaders are a motley crew of mid to late-order draft steals.

And some trade deals which leave the Crows with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Eddie Betts? Free agent. Haha. Rory Sloane? Pick 44. Hehee. Taylor Walker? Pick 75. Bahahaha.

Adelaide’s bargain list goes on.

And the sum part sits atop the ladder, unbeaten after six rounds and with new-found flag favouritism.

Coach Don Pyke finds the favouritism and flattery “nice” and “interesting”. But he says it’s irrelevant to him.

“It’s nice for people to be reflecting on how we’re playing,” Pyke told reporters on Wednesday.

“People projecting and people writing opinions is interesting.

“But it’s not really relevant to what we’re doing.”

What they’re doing is beating an AFL draft system tailored to mediocrity rather than success.

Since 2004, the Crows have finished lower than 10th just four times – no extended bottom-out and replenish via top-choice draft picks.

Then there was the Kurt Tippett kerfuffle, costing another two first-round picks in 2013.

Yet they now score so freely. Why?

“I really haven’t thought about that, to be honest, as to why,” Pyke said.

“… It’s not a great secret. It is just how it has evolved.”

Much has come from shrewd recruiting eyes.

While captain Walker’s leadership is rightly hailed, so should Adelaide be for landing the NSW scholarship player with pick 75 at the 2007 national draft.

Vice-captain Sloane was a pick 44.

Defender Rory Laird, surely set to crack an All-Australian team after two seasons in the squad, and livewire Charlie Cameron came in rookie drafts.

Skilled winger Rory Atkins was a pick 81. Another emerging midfielder Riley Knight was pick 46.

Dependable small defender Luke Brown was recruited via a Greater Western Sydney pre-selection.

Onballer Brad Crouch came via a GWS mini-draft deal. His brother Matt cost pick 23 in a trade involving a club champion, Bernie Vince.

Ruck Sam Jacobs cost the Crows picks 34 and 67 in a deal with Carlton.

Josh Jenkins’ price was a pick 31, Mitch McGovern was chosen with pick 43.

All this draft value is now reaping big returns under Pyke.

“I don’t know if it says anything about the program,” he said.

“We have recruited some good young players that have come in.

“Where people get drafted is a number.

“Ultimately we want to bring in as much high-end talent as we can and high-end character – and we have got that.”

Second-year wingman Wayne Milera is Adelaide’s highest pick in action, taken 11th at the 2015 AFL draft.

All-Australian fullback Daniel Talia (pick 13), All Australian half-back Brodie Smith (14) and rising defender Jake Lever (14) are other higher-end selections.

Funding fight could delay Cross River Rail

Brisbane’s enduring Cross River Rail project looks set to be delayed further with the warring Queensland and federal governments at odds over whether it is ready to go.

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The Palaszczuk government has committed $850 million to the project and is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to at least match that funding in next week’s federal budget.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said work could start later this year with that level of funding, but otherwise the $5.4 billion project, first mooted in 2010, could be delayed again.

“This project is a no-brainer to lift congestion. It’s a no-brainer for our economy to lift productivity and it’s a no-brainer to setting up Brisbane to be a global city in the 21st century,” Ms Trad said.

“The ultimate test of whether the Turnbull government isn’t just talk on infrastructure is whether there will be a capital expenditure line-item in the upcoming federal budget for Cross River Rail.”

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday reaffirmed his commitment to the project, but said planning had to be done in a “methodical, consistent way.”

“We have provided $10 million towards a proper business case and analysis of the project, so that the planning can be brought up to the right level,” he said.

“It is a complex business. It needs planning. It needs that work. We are committed to doing that.”

The state government provided the federal government with a full business case for the current proposal in 2016.

The federal government allocated $10 million for early planning works on the project, as well as ensuring it ties into Brisbane City Council’s Metro project.

Federal opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said the government had to fund the project to retain credibility.

“Here in this city we’ve known for some period of time that what is needed is a second crossing,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Brisbane.

But Queensland deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Trad’s comments amounted to “blackmail.”

“Annastacia Palaszczuk said in 2013 that Cross River Rail was ‘shovel-ready’ – that’s clearly not the case,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Once again we are seeing the Palaszczuk Labor government attempt to blackmail the federal government into funding its pipedreams.”

The Cross River Rail project has had several setbacks since being first proposed seven years ago.

Labor’s loss of power in 2012 saw it thrown out and replaced the next year by the Newman government’s BaT tunnel, but that plan was itself thrown out when it failed at the 2015 election.

‘Roos discuss unity dance for World Cup

He rose from his hospital bed to pen the Kangaroos’ new ode, and now Sam Thaiday is hoping the team rise even further and recall the unity dance.

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Ahead of Friday’s final Anzac Test against New Zealand, Thaiday provided the latest hint that coach Mal Meninga is working on re-adopting a war dance in time for the World Cup.

“We’re in discussions with that at the moment. We have to make sure everyone wants to buy into it. Mal’s the guy that, if it is going to change, it’ll be under him,” Thaiday told AAP.

Thaiday has become the spiritual leader of the Australian team after the veteran forward inspired them to last year’s Four Nations final triumph in the UK without playing.

It was while he was injured last year that Thaiday wrote what he describes as a bush poem, which he read out to the team before they ran out at Anfield and claimed the title.

Thaiday revealed the seed was planted the moment Meninga took over as coach and held what is now considered a defining meeting before the corresponding fixture in Newcastle last year.

The Kangaroos haven’t been defeated since.

“He was trying to change a few of the things culturally within the Australian team and came up with a mantra of ‘Rise’,” Thaiday said.

“We went overseas together for the Four Nations and I just discussed with him I thought it’d be a good idea with the whole campaign to get a bush poem to help promote it.”

Recalled for the Test in Canberra, an emotional Thaiday read the ode to the squad on the opening day of the camp and has been featured in television and radio promotions.

“I sat at the front of the group this morning so no one could see me because yeah, it was emotional watching the ad,” he said.

“There was a couple of lines in there that really make you stop and think of your own journey, your own story, and that’s the whole idea behind it.”

There’s a strong chance of the unity dance being introduced in time for the World Cup at the end of the year, with discussions being held among Kangaroos officials and players.

The last pre-game cry for the Australian team was used in France in 1967.

“If all players agree to do it, it’ll be a fantastic thing,” Thaiday said.

“There’s a line in the ode that says, ‘Rise is remembering that we come from sacred land.’ And we do – we have a big indigenous representation, some of the best indigenous players ever.

“The NRL are always talking about closing the gap. These small steps are what is going to encourage indigenous kids to again, want to rise, want to go to school, want to be JT.

“I’m sure it’ll be this year at some point, whether it’s (in) time for this game or the World Cup.”