Archive for April, 2019

Gaming firm Aristocrat’s profit soars

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

A major acquisition in the US and the growing popularity of mobile gaming have boosted poker machine supplier Aristocrat Leisure’s half year profit.

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Aristocrat’s profit jumped by a third to $77.6 million, with revenues in Australia and the US both higher.

Its $US1.3 billion purchase in October of north America’s Video Gaming Technologies was a key driver of growth, while Aristocrat said it had lifted its market share and achieved growth in digital gaming.

“Clearly, the acquisition and successful integration of VGT has been a significant factor in our performance half on half, but our results also reflect accelerating operational momentum across key markets and segments,” chief executive Jamie Odell said.

Aristocrat also lifted its number of premium gaming machines in the US, while machines that allow slot machine players in different locations to compete for combined jackpots generated more income.

The company plans to roll out more of those connected machines, including titles such as Game of Thrones and Big Bang Theory.

Revenue from its digital business more than tripled as Aristocrat’s Heart of Vegas games grew in popularity and were made available on iPad and iPhone.

The number of daily average users more than doubled to 716,672, and average revenue per daily user rose 75 per cent.

Aristocrat expects profit growth to continue in the second half of its fiscal year.

The company’s shares were up 53 cents, or 6.7 per cent, at $8.40 at 1310 AEST.

ACQUISITION AND ONLINE GAMING BOOST ARISTOCRAT’S PROFIT

* Half year net profit of $77.6m, up 35 pct from $57.4m in 2013/14

* Revenue of $699m, up 72 pct from $406m

* Unfranked interim dividend of eight cents per share, unchanged

Lord’s disappointment won’t temper New Zealand aggression

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

New Zealand’s batsmen scored over 700 runs and their bowlers took all 20 wickets but England completed a 124-run win in the final 10 overs of the fifth day on Monday courtesy of the all-round brilliance of New Zealand-born Ben Stokes.

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The Black Caps’ attacking mindset drove them to a maiden World Cup final in March and McCullum said his team would not alter their style for the second and final test at Headingley starting on Friday.

“It hurts a lot. I certainly won’t lie. But at the same time there is an element of pride that we continue to play the style of cricket that we know gives us our greatest chance,” McCullum told reporters.

“There are times we know that teams are going to be able to stand up to you and withstand the pressure you apply to them and come out on top.

“When that happens you’ve just go to doff your cap and say well played to them and make sure that next time you get that opportunity you go hard again and make sure that you’re asking the same sort of questions.

“Who knows at Headingley … we may see some different results but I’m pretty sure our guys will continue to play the same style of cricket which we have in this test match and which we have done over the last 18 months.”

McCullum said being defensive had not worked for New Zealand, who have not lost a test series home or away since being swept 2-0 on their last England tour in 2013.

“For a long time we had that kind of mentality and it didn’t serve us anywhere near as well as the aggressive mindset that we are now taking into games,” the 33-year-old said.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re authentic to that style, under pressure or whether you’re on top.

“We scored over 720 runs in this test match. We took 20 wickets. We ticked off a lot of things which normally would lead to a test win but in some of the key moments we weren’t quite able to come out on top.

“The message to the team will be that we weren’t far away.

“There’s certainly no knee-jerk reaction to a performance like this. For the most of it, we were pretty good.”

(Writing by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Julian Linden)

Labor releases full budget modelling after Question Time debate

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Labor has caved to government pressure, releasing modelling on the Abbott Government’s second budget in full.

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A small part of the modelling – commissioned by Labor and completed by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) – was released to media on Monday, sparking fierce debate in Question Time.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the modelling could not be taken seriously until it was released.

“If members opposite want to vindicate the work of NATSEM, release it,” he said.

“Just release it. Why is it that this work of NATSEM needs to be hidden?”

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Following numerous appeals in Question Time, Treasurer Joe Hockey again requested its release during an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday.

“We haven’t seen it,” he said.

“You are asking me about something I haven’t seen, the government hasn’t seen and most of the media haven’t seen.”

The impact of proposed budget measures are expected to be significantly larger for low and middle income families with children, according to the modelling.

NATSEM researcher Ben Phillips took 25 budget measures and other government changes into account, including the removal of the carbon tax, tightening of FTB payments and changes to the pension.

“In percentage terms, the impact is felt by the lowest income families more than high income families.”

Mr Phillips said the budget impact on families was expected to fall most heavily on low and middle income families with children, while wealthier families faced smaller losses.

“In percentage terms, the impact is clearly felt by the lowest income families more than high income families,” he said.

Case studies prepared by NATSEM also outlined gloomy predictions for low income families.

A single parent with two children – one in primary school, one in high school – earning around $55,000 annually is set to lose almost seven per cent of their income in the coming financial year. Those losses are set to total $20,647 over a four year period.

But a two-parent household with a combined income of $120,000 and two children – both in high school – is set to lose $11,575 over the same four year period.

natsem modelling | Create infographics

 

Mr Phillips said while there were gains relating to the removal of the carbon tax, there were many negatives.

“The largest impacts in the negative relate to losses from Family Tax Benefits A and B, pension losses and for a small fraction of families the loss of the child care subsidy due to the new work test arrangement,” he said.

“The major gains will relate to the removal of the carbon price and for some families the child care package providing a larger subsidy.”

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Read the modelling in full here:

Australia’s first anti-terrorism coordinator appointed

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Australia’s former ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, is to become the nation’s first counter-terrorism coordinator.

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Mr Moriarty will head a new office within Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s own department.

 

As well, Justice Minister Michael Keenan becomes minister assisting the prime minister on counter terrorism.

 

The government says the appointments will ensure nothing is missed in the fight against terrorism.

 

Amanda Cavill reports.

 

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the moves are a response to the potentially deadly threat of radicalised Australians enacting religious and politically-motivated violence.

 

Regarded an authority on security and intelligence, Mr Moriarty was also ambassador to Iran and has extensive knowledge of Islam and its variants, and experience as an inter-agency operator.

 

Mr Moriarty’s appointment follows a Counter-Terrorism Review released earlier this year which recommended more active co-operation with so-called “at-risk communities”.

 

Mr Abbott says it’s important that Australia stays one step ahead of terrorism.

 

“It is important that we stay ahead of this game. It is important that we are constantly doing better, because our enemies are constantly striving to do more. So I am very pleased to announce that Greg Moriarty, our former Ambassador to Jakarta, currently a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will move into my department, the Commonwealth’s principal coordinating department, as as our Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.”

 

Mr Moriarty says he welcomes the opportunity to join the government in the fight against terrorism.

 

He says he’s seen the benefits to the Government of tightly coordinated interagency work, and believes it is a highly effective way of tackling the issue.

 

“In Jakarta where I worked with multi-agencies to tackle challenges relating to counter-terrorism in Indonesia and South East Asia, but also the very enormous amount of interagency work we did in support of Operation Sovereign Borders and I think our agencies have enormous depths of talent and enormously hard-working people.”

 

The government is also expected to introduce more anti-terrorism laws into parliament later this week.

 

It’s seeking the power to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals and other Australians who join terrorist groups or advocate for violent extremism.

 

The government says no citizen will be left stateless under the new regime, because only Australians eligible to take another nationality are to be subject to the law.

 

Those who advocate violent extremism, but don’t necessarily participate in plots or travel overseas to support terrorist groups, could also be at risk of losing their citizenship.

 

Tony Abbott says dual nationals who join armies at war with Australia already lose their citizenship under current arrangements and the proposed changes are a logical extension.

 

“Effectively what we are doing is acknowledging that in the modern world it’s not just people who are serving with an enemy army who are, in a sense, at odds with the whole nature of citizenship but people who are working with terrorist organisations that hate our country, hate our way of life, hate our values. They have likewise put themselves outside the extended family of our nation.”

 

The proposed changes are part of a suite of counter-terrorism measures on the government agenda, including introducing de-radicalisation programs in high schools.

 

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the proposed changes are fair.

 

“People should face the full force of the law if they have committed an act against Australian law. That’s the first starting point for us. But taking somebody’s citizenship away – whilst not rendering them stateless – is not a penalty. It’s a removal of a great privilege. And it is a privilege to be an Australian citizen particularly if you have come from another country to our country to start a new life. And if you are seeking to do harm, if you are seeking to kill Australians, then people rightly ask whether or not you deserve to be Australian citizens.”

 

Australia is not the only western nation considering revoking the citizenship of dual nationals and other Australians linked to violent extremism.

 

The United States and Canada are also considering law changes regarding those who join terror groups or advocate extremism, while Britain already has such laws in place.

 

Labor says it will consider any changes put to the parliament.

 

 

Mass graves found in Malaysia’s north

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Malaysia has found mass graves feared to contain the bodies of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas,who are at the centre of a regional human-trafficking crisis.

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Mass graves at camps run by people-smugglers have been found in recent weeks in Thailand, but these are the first sites found in Malaysia.

 

Aileen Phillips reports.

 

 

Media reports say the mass graves are believed to contain bodies of hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

 

Police discovered a number of large graves containing the remains of hundreds of people in two places in Malaysia’s northern state of Perlis, which borders Thailand.

 

Malaysia’s Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi, says authorities are hard at work to determine who the remains belong to.

 

“The IGP (Inspector General of Police) and his deputy is currently at the Malaysian-Thailand border for confirmation and identification of the bodies in the mass grave. The mass graves area has been identified by VAT 69 (special police force) and PGA (general police force) as being used for human trafficking activities of refugees.”

 

Mr Hamidi says the graves were found near suspected detention camps run by people traffickers.

 

He says 14 big camps and three additional smaller camps have been found at the borders.

 

Northern Malaysia is on a route for smugglers bringing people to Southeast Asia by boat from Myanmar, most of them Rohingyas, as well as people from Bangladesh.

 

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is reportedly calling for punishment of those who leave the country illegally, and the middlemen who arrange their travel.

 

The BBC says Ms Hasina was addressing senior labour and employment officials, and described those leaving the country as fortune-seekers who are tainting the country’s image.

 

Many of those leaving Bangladesh claim they are seeking work.

 

But Ms Hasina says there is work available and they are putting their lives in danger.

 

As for those leaving Myanmar, they claim they have faced decades of persecution in the majority Muslim country.

 

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told the ABC Australia’s aid contribution is proof the country has not washed its hands of the problem.

 

But she says it’s critical the root cause of why people are leaving Myanmar must be addressed.

 

“What I have done is provide specific humanitarian relief to Myanmar, we are also one of the largest funders for the International Organisation for Migration in Indonesia. We are funding the resettlement of those who are found to be refugees throughout south-east Asia, including in Indonesia, and Australia is doing more than its fair share in trying to find a regional settlement for this issue but at the end of the day, the focus must be on the Burmese government to stop people being persecuted or having their human rights abused in Myanmar.”

 

She has repeated the government’s assertion that Australia has one of the most generous refugee and humanitarian resettlement programs in the world.

 

“We hope that other countries in south-east Asia and Asia will also take their fair share of people found to be refugees. That is why the Cambodian agreement is so important. Cambodia has said yes, they will take genuine refugees to help build their skilled workforce and their capacity to develop as a country and I’m hoping other countries in south-east Asia, the growing, dynamic economies of south-east Asia, will also take their fair share of refugees.”

 

Amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis, Pope Francis has urged the international community to come to the aid of the people taking to the sea in boats in southeast Asia.

 

“With great concern and pain in my heart, I continue to follow the events involving the many migrants in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts made by those countries that have shown willingness to welcome these people who are facing great suffering and danger. I encourage the international community to provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance.”