NZ deportee bill passes first reading

An urgent bill that allows the New Zealand government to monitor and supervise Kiwis deported from Australia because of their criminal records has passed its first reading in parliament.

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The vote was 107 in favour and 14 abstentions from the Greens.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says about 20 New Zealanders are expected to return from Australia as early as Thursday, and there are serious offenders among them.

She wants her bill passed into law on Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning at the latest.

“We cannot stop Australia exercising its sovereign right to deport any category of people their parliament decides is lawful,” she told parliament when she launched the first reading debate.

“It is critical we have in place a regime that can manage and supervise the offenders who do return, many of whom have been convicted of serious offences.”

The bill allows authorities to impose supervision and monitoring conditions on the returning Kiwis in the same way as if they had served their sentences in New Zealand.

Labour is reluctantly supporting the bill.

“In principle we agree with the need for this,” said Jacinda Ardern.

“But it need not have been rushed … and there is nothing in it about reintegration.

“People will be walking out of an airport with nowhere to go.”

The Greens are abstaining because the bill is being rushed through.

“This is not a national emergency, so it is unacceptable that there is no public submission period,” said co-leader Metiria Turei.

Ms Adams says she has a rough idea of the type of offences committed by those who are returning this week.

“They certainly include sexual violence, serious violence, robbery and drug offences.

“When they arrive they will be met by police, corrections staff and social agencies … then served with notices making them aware of their supervision conditions.”

Ms Adams says if they refuse to co-operate they can be locked up.

“They’ve served their time and punishment, offenders are released like that every day,” she said.

“But they should have the same oversight that we have over New Zealanders who have served their sentences here.”

She understands most of them will be coming from the Christmas Island detention centre, where there was a riot last week, and have chosen to return to New Zealand and appeal against their visa cancellations from here.

About 200 New Zealanders are reported to be in detention in Australia awaiting deportation.

According to Australian figures, there are 585 Kiwis with criminal records in the deportation pipeline.

Under new immigration laws, Australia can deport any non-citizen who has served a sentence of 12 months or more or failed a character test.

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Raiders lock up Wighton until 2018 in NRL

The pieces are coming together for the Green Machine and Ricky Stuart is understandably upbeat about Canberra’s chances of long-term NRL success after re-signing promising fullback Jack Wighton.

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The 22-year-old is the latest Raider to commit to the club, extending his contract by two years until the end of the 2018 season – and there’s promise of more to come.

Canberra’s have locked up Joey Leilua, playmaker Aidan Sezer is in pre-season training after a switch from Gold Coast and back-rower Elliott Whitehead is on his way after a starring two-try effort at the weekend for England against New Zealand.

And with Queensland enforcer Josh Papalii and English Test hooker Josh Hodgson expected to ink new deals in coming weeks, there’s reason for optimism in the nation’s capital after missing the finals the past three seasons.

“They know that we’re building something special and Jack sees that and he’s a big part of it,” Stuart said.

Stuart last week described Wighton as a part of his “big three” along with Sezer and five-eighth Blake Austin and a central pillar of their plans.

“He’s a big part of the plan going forward,” Stuart said.

“Jack’s one of the favourites amongst the boys. He’s a very young NRL player who’s played nearly 70 games of (NRL) football. He’s a guy who’ll have the opportunity to play up around 250 games so he’s a big part of the plan going forward.”

Wighton has found a home at fullback after being shifted to the back towards the end of the 2014 season.

He has been mentioned as a future NSW State of Origin representative after an outstanding season in the No.1 jersey.

He said while he attracted interest from other clubs, he never seriously contemplated leaving the Raiders.

“There’s always interest but my heart was always here at the Raiders,” Wighton said.

“We’ve got a great core group re-signing and one of the main reasons also is my little daughter. I’m really comfortable with her here and she’s one of the biggest reasons to re-sign here.”

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Federal government won’t be rushed on subs

Australia’s next fleet of submarines will be agile, potent, affordable and sustainable but the federal government is in no hurry to make a decision on who will build them, a defence conference has been told.

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With both the submarines and the wider Defence White Paper, the government will take the time to ensure it adopts the right strategy for a modern Australia, Defence Minister Marise Payne says.

“To meet our future challenges the government will deliver an Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of military capability and technological sophistication,” Senator Payne told the Submarine Institute of Australia conference in Adelaide.

Within that context, she says submarines remain a core strategic capability.

“We don’t see the submarine as an option but a necessity,” the minister said.

“Submarines are a vital element of our defence strategy today and will be so into the second half of this century.”

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, said if Australia wanted to play a role in deterring conflict and contributing to peace and security around the world it must have a defence force sufficiently lethal to sanction anyone who might use armed force.

“This is where the submarine features in Australia’s strategic reckoning,” he said.

“Our submarines deliver our government with the requisite lethality to achieve these outcomes.

“Such is the destructive power of submarines.”

The comments came after an industry spokesman said the defence portfolio had suffered from “decision paralysis” with three ministers over the past two years.

Australian Made Defence spokesman Chris Burns said the defence sector was looking to Ms Payne for a fresh outlook on defence acquisition.

“For years governments have failed to lead the nation towards a continuous shipbuilding strategy, as a result the Australian shipbuilding industry is being forced to lay off workers,” Mr Burns said.

“This is not just about the defence businesses, it’s about national security, sovereignty, skills and Australian taxpayer dollars.”

Tuesday’s conference also brought together the three groups from France, Germany and Japan bidding to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines.

If successful, the French plan to build a submarine called the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A, which has been designed specifically for the Australian Navy.

The Japanese have proposed building a sub based on the Soryu Class currently in service and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems has proposed an 89-metre submarine known as the Type 216.

All three groups must have their final bids before the federal government by November 30.

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Confidence suggests decent Xmas spend up

It’s being called the “Turnbull effect” when it comes to the growing confidence among Australians but it could equally be described as the “Teflon factor”.

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The latest consumer sentiment reading shows only a modest easing after a weekend serving of intense media coverage of the shocking events in Paris, leaving confidence close to a near two-year high.

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence gauge, taken on Saturday and Sunday, eased by 0.6 per cent, but it is still comfortably above its monthly average spanning back to 1990.

“This is a good sign ahead of the critical Christmas retail season,” ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said releasing the report on Tuesday.

The survey would have taken into account last week’s unexpectedly strong labour force report that showed the jobless rate tumbling below six per cent.

Confidence has been on the rise since Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott as prime minister in September, with consumers taking in their stride increased mortgage rates and the growing talk that the government may put up the rate of a broader GST to 15 per cent.

Opinion polls have also swung behind Mr Turnbull, the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing the coalition extending its two-party preferred lead over Labor to 56-44 per cent.

Mr Turnbull’s own standing as preferred prime minister has sky-rocketed to 69 per cent compared to just 18 per cent for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Confidence will play a role in the Reserve Bank’s interest-rate thinking in coming months.

The minutes of the central bank’s November 3 board meeting, also released on Tuesday, reiterated that the inflation outlook “may afford some scope for further easing of monetary policy, should that be appropriate”.

But it still anticipates economic growth strengthening gradually over the next two years as the drag on growth from falling mining investment wanes and activity progressively shifts to non-mining sectors.

Treasurer Scott Morrison is keen to get the economy growing at three per cent again after expanding by just 2.3 per cent in the last financial year.

“That’s what we need to get to,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW radio.

“It is a process of growing the economy, growing revenue and controlling expenditure and that will deliver a budget balance over the cycle.”

G20 leaders, including Mr Turnbull, in their final communique of the Turkish summit reaffirmed the Brisbane 2014 commitment to a collective extra two per cent growth target by 2018, even though growth remains uneven and weaker than expected globally.

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BP to try again with SA drilling plan

Oil giant BP will be forced to rework its plan to drill in the Great Australian Bight after falling short of environmental standards.

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BP’s application to drill four exploration wells next year has been rejected by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

“NOPSEMA is a diligent and thorough regulator and we expect to have to work hard and take the time to demonstrate that we have got our EP right,” the company said in a statement.

The South Australian government agreed, saying the setback was evidence of the regulator’s diligence and efficacy.

But Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon will push for legislation giving the commonwealth the final say on drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

“It appears to be an accident of history that NOPSEMA has no ministerial oversight for decisions as vital as letting exploration drilling into the Great Australian Bight,” he said.

The Greens are likely to support the move, saying BP has a “shocking” environmental record.

“BP clearly hasn’t learned from their disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill five years ago,” Senator Robert Simms said.

The Wilderness Society of South Australia, which has campaigned hard against oil and gas drilling in bight, says BP would put marine life at risk.

“The Great Australian Bight is a haven for whales, boasting the world’s most significant southern right whale nursery as well as many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales,” director Peter Owen said.

The group last month released modelling showing an oil spill in the Bight risked closing all fisheries from South Australia to Victoria and Tasmania.

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