Crows AFL skipper: we’ll get the job done

Adelaide captain Taylor Walker knows the romantic line: the Crows winning the AFL premiership to honour a slain coach.

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But while Phil Walsh had started Adelaide’s journey to a grand final, Walker says Don Pyke should get the credit for finishing it.

“This is Pykey’s team,” Walker told reporters on Friday.

“I have got the utmost respect for Pykey. He has done an amazing job.”

Walker said the eve of Saturday’s grand final against Richmond wasn’t the time to dwell on the legacy of Walsh, who coached the Crows in a dozen games before being stabbed to death in July 2015 by his son Cy.

“Obviously, we have been through a fair bit and a lot has been spoken about it,” Walker said.

“Our group is so strong, so resilient, that I have got a lot of trust and belief in the 22 (players) that are going to run out tomorrow.”

Then, Walker used some Walsh-speak, expressing confidence “that we will get the job done” – a favoured saying of the coach.

Walsh’s widow Meredith will be among the MCG crowd for the premiership decider, as a guest of the Crows.

But Walker said Walsh won’t be mentioned in the inner sanctum before the game.

“We won’t speak about it all. It’s all about what we do to beat Richmond tomorrow,” he said.

Walker was also reluctant to expand on whether becoming a premiership captain would be reward for Walsh appointing him to the leadership role.

Pyke has taken Adelaide to the finals in his two years in charge since replacing Walsh.

But, like his captain, Pyke was solely focused on the here and now, rather than the past.

“We spend a long time, and I’m not just talking this year, preparing for this day,” Pyke said.

“And that is the opportunity we get tomorrow.

“Our guys, like the Richmond guys, clearly want to win.

“For mine, in big games, in finals, it comes down to a number of things. And I won’t go into those now but they are things we talk about as a group.”

Icebreaker name a nod to indigenous

Australia’s new icebreaker vessel will be known as RSV Nuyina after a Tasmanian Aboriginal word for southern lights.

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More than two years ahead of the $1.9 billion ship’s expected completion, the name was announced on Friday after a nationwide competition which attracted almost 800 entries from schools.

It follows a theme of Australia’s Antarctic ships being named after the southern lights phenomenon.

The current icebreaker is called RSV Aurora Australis, while explorer Sir Douglas Mawson’s ship was named SY Aurora.

‘Nuyina’ was nominated by students from Hobart’s St Virgil’s College and Secret Harbour Primary School near Perth.

It was used with permission from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

“Such acknowledgement of authentic Aboriginal language in Tasmania has been long overdue,” language worker Daisy Allan said.

She said the word was shared by aborigines with colonists in 1831 as they watched the southern lights from Ansons Bay.

One fifth of the names nominated were indigenous.

“We wanted to recognise the Aboriginal people of this land,” Year 8 student at St Virgil’s College Haidar Alnasser said, adding it took a lot of research from his peers and teachers to find a suitable name.

“We tried to keep the tradition.”

The 160m-long Dutch-designed ship is being built in Romania and is expected to arrive in Hobart in 2020.

It will be able to carry 117 passengers and carry 1200 tonnes of cargo.

“It’s 30 years of technology that’s come into building this ship,” Australian Antarctic Division director Nick Gales said.

“It will be the leading science and resupply platform in the southern ocean.”

A handful of students from the two winning schools will fly to Antarctica in November.

Trump to call Xi and Abe

US President Donald Trump will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday as frustration builds in the White House over North Korea’s nuclear program and overcapacity in the steel market.

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The phone calls come ahead of meetings he will hold with both leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday and Saturday where trade practices are expected to be high on the agenda.

Trump, who pledged a hard line on trade during his campaign for office, has been weighing new quotas or tariffs on steel imports for national security reasons and plans to discuss his concerns at the G20.

The White House said the phone calls were scheduled to start at 8pm on Sunday (10am Monday AEST).

Trump, who met with Xi in April in Florida, had said he was willing to work with China on trade issues but wanted to see Beijing use its economic leverage to force North Korea to scale back its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which are a threat to the United States and allies South Korea and Japan.

But Trump has become frustrated that China has not done more to pressure Pyongyang, and has been considering moving ahead on trade actions.

Trump also called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday in Washington.

North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Pyongyang defends its weapons programs as necessary to counter US hostility and regularly threatens to destroy the United States.

CBA puts pay focus on shareholder returns

The Commonwealth Bank has abandoned changes proposed last year to its executive bonuses, instead opting to focus the rewards for CEO Ian Narev and his leadership team on measures of the bank’s financial performance.

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Following strong objections from shareholders at its 2016 annual general meeting, CBA has ditched a plan to reward the company’s leaders for “People and Community” targets that focused on achievements in inclusiveness, sustainability, diversity and culture.

The proposed executive remuneration which prompted the shareholder rebellion would have cut the important total shareholder return measurement (TSR) – from 75 per cent down to 50 per cent – in favour of more intangible cultural performance measures.

Following the concerns raised by shareholders, the board said the use of non-financial measures in executive remuneration was “excessive”.

“The proposed introduction of the ‘People and Community’ measure would have reduced the weighting on relative TSR to 50 per cent,” the bank said in a report on remuneration released on Friday.

CBA said it had listened to shareholders and that the FY18 long-term remuneration award for executives would include a 75 per cent emphasis on the key financial measurement of shareholder returns.

The bank’s board said it recognised the “critical importance” of rebuilding customer trust and the bank’s reputation within the broader community.

“This is a key factor in ensuring the company maintains its social licence to operate,” the bank said.

CBA said the remaining 25 per cent of an executive bonus would be tested against non-financial measures that enhance the bank’s trust and reputation, as well as instil employee pride as advocates of CBA values.

Following allegations by financial regulator AUSTRAC that the bank breached anti money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws, executives, including Mr Narev, had their short-term bonuses slashed.

CBA’s annual report, released in August, revealed that Mr Narev’s total remuneration in the 12 months to June 30 was $5.5 million, 55 per cent less than the $12.3 million he took home the year before.

The bank had been facing the possibility of a second “strike” on executive pay and a consequent board spill vote at this year’s annual general meeting if it failed to deal with shareholder discontent over a perceived gap between executive performance and reward.

Nearly 49 per cent of votes at the 2016 meeting in Perth went against accepting the company’s remuneration report, almost double the 25 per cent required for a so-called ‘strike’.

The bank’s 2017 annual general meeting will be held on November 16 in Sydney.

Fortescue backs indigenous business loans

Fortescue Metals Group has partnered with ANZ to set up a $50 million leasing facility for indigenous-owned businesses that have contracts with the iron ore miner.

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The initiative will let eligible businesses access finance at competitive rates through ANZ in order to lease required assets, supported by a guarantee from Fortescue.

Fortescue has awarded nearly $2 billion in contracts to 105 Aboriginal-owned businesses and joint ventures since 2011, under its Billion Opportunities programme.

These include contracts for freight and logistics, fuel supply, procurement of services, infrastructure maintenance and transport.

The company has also committed to spending 10 per cent of total procurement with Aboriginal businesses by 2021.

However Fortescue chief executive Nev Power said consultation with communities in the Western Australia Pilbara region had revealed that one of the key impediments to the growth of indigenous businesses was funding.

“They don’t have a credit history, a lot of them don’t have a business history to be able to put to banking institutions,” Mr Power said at an event in Sydney.

“So they have been forced to hire equipment at very high rates to provide services that we are asking them to provide and that has meant their margins have been squeezed or they haven’t been able to invest in income generating assets.”

Fortescue’s guarantee will allow the development of a normal business-banking relationship, by effectively providing a level of credit history for the business.

ANZ’s managing director for institutional banking Graham Turley said the new funding initiative will help aboriginal businesses develop long term capabilities.

“We believe this initiative will help aboriginal businesses grow, create financial independence and drive economic growth and employment opportunities for local communities,” he said.

IS leader urges militants to keep fighting

The leader of Islamic State group has urged followers to burn their enemies and target “media centres of the infidels,” according to an audio recording that the extremists say was made by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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The reclusive figurehead, who has only appeared in public once, also vowed to continue fighting and praised his jihadis for their valour in the battlefield – despite the militants’ loss of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in July.

The recording was released on Thursday by the IS-run al-Furqan outlet, which has in the past released messages from al-Baghdadi and other top figures of the extremist group.

The voice in the over 46-minute-long audio sounded much like previous recordings of al-Baghdadi. His last previous purported message was released in November, also in an audio recording.

“You soldiers of the caliphate, heroes of Islam and carriers of banners: light a fire against your enemies,” said al-Baghdadi, a shadowy cleric who has been surrounded by controversy since the Sunni terror group emerged from al-Qaeda in Iraq, its forerunner.

Russian officials said in June there was a “high probability” that al-Baghdadi had died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital. US officials later said they believed he was still alive.

“You soldiers of Islam, supporters of the caliphate everywhere, step up your attacks and include the media centres of the infidels and the headquarters of their ideological war among your targets,” he said in the recording, apparently alluding to Western news outlets and research centres.

“Don’t you dare allow the Crusaders and the apostates to enjoy a good and comfortable life at home while your brothers are enduring killings, shelling and destruction,” added al-Baghdadi, who reminded his followers of the rewards of martyrdom, including “72 wives” from among the maidens of paradise.

Nearly 135,000 flee rumbling Bali volcano

Spewing white smoke and sending tremors through the area, Mount Agung’s alert status was raised to the highest level last week.

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Since then, tens of thousands of villagers have abandoned their homes beneath the menacing volcano.

The national disaster management agency said many people have fled because they are unsure of their proximity to a 12km exclusion zone imposed around the crater.

Evacuees are being housed in tents, school gyms, and government buildings in neighbouring villages.

While there are plentiful stocks of food, water, medicines, and other supplies, evacuees fear they are in for a long wait that could disrupt their livelihoods.

Mount Agung, 75 kilometres from the resort hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August and threatening to erupt for the first time since 1963 – a potential blow to the country’s lucrative tourism industry.

Officials at an evacuation centre in Klungkung district said 122,490 people had left their homes, taking refuge at nearly 500 makeshift shelters or moving in with relatives.

Around 62,000 people lived in the danger zone before the evacuations, according to Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, but residents just outside the area have also left their homes out of fear.

Despite the significant increase in estimated evacuees, the government said it was prepared.

0:00 Indonesia President visits shelter for volcano in Bali Share Indonesia President visits shelter for volcano in Bali

“In general the evacuation is going well, the logistics supply is sufficient for the evacuees’ needs,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the agency spokesman, said Thursday.

This week Indonesia’s national disaster agency has sent face masks, mattresses, blankets and tents for evacuees, who have also been provided with food.

Five mobile sirens have been installed in the danger zone to warn residents in the event of an eruption.

Around 10,000 animals have also been evacuated from the flanks of the volcano.

Officials estimate there are at least 30,000 cows within a 12-kilometre radius of the mountain’s summit, and efforts to relocate them are ongoing.

“We’ve set a target to evacuate 20,000 more cows from the affected areas,” Nugroho said.

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The animals are extremely valuable to the evacuees — mostly farmers — some of whom have refused to leave the danger zone, the spokesman said.The Mount Agung is seen from the Purahayu village in Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia on 27 September 2017. Indonesian authorities declared a state of emergency.AAP

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said Mount Agung was highly active on Thursday, recording 125 volcanic earthquakes between 12am (1700 GMT) and 6am.  

“If we look at the magnitude, it continues to increase, yesterday we also felt several quakes with the magnitude of three on the Richter scale,” said Kasbani, head volcanologist at the centre who goes by one name.

Vanuatu

Elsewhere, the threat of a separate volcanic eruption on the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu prompted authorities on Thursday to order the compulsory evacuation of the entire island of Ambae, home to 11,000 people.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said it was the first time in living memory that an island’s whole population had been moved because of volcanic activity. 

The Manaro Voui volcano, which last erupted in 2005, sent up a plume of steam and ash over the weekend, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency. 

0:00 Infra-red footage of Ambae volcano Share Infra-red footage of Ambae volcano

In Indonesia, officials have announced the highest possible alert level and warned people to stay at least nine kilometres away from the crater.

The airport in Bali’s capital Denpasar, through which millions of foreign tourists pass every year, has not been affected, but several countries including Australia and Singapore have issued a travel advisory.

Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing nearly 1,600 people.

Storm ready for life after Cooper Cronk

As much as Melbourne love Cooper Cronk his premature departure may actually end up as a positive for the Storm.

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Cronk will end his decorated 14-year stint at the Storm in Sunday’s NRL grand final against North Queensland before moving to Sydney to be with his fiancee.

Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy said succession planning had been a focus since he took over in mid-2015, which meant handling the imminent loss of the “big three” – Cronk, skipper Cameron Smith and fullback Billy Slater – as well as plans for long-time coach Craig Bellamy.

Test halfback Cronk signed a two-year deal in 2016 but the final year was in his favour.

Slater is still to announce his playing future but given that Smith and Bellamy are also off-contract at the end of 2018, Cronk leaving early means the club won’t lose almost 1000 games playing experience, as well as Bellamy’s 16 years as coach, in one go.

“It caught us a bit by surprise that Coops was the first bloke to walk in the office this year and say he was going to Sydney but from a succession point of view it’s probably going to work out OK,” said Donaghy.

“The aim for us was that we’d ideally like to stagger it and it seems to be falling that way.”

The Storm boss felt that with the likes of talented youngsters halfback Brodie Croft, hooker Brandon Smith and fullback Jahrome Hughes all impressing with their opportunities in first grade this season, the club was well placed.

“It’s an end of an era and we heard it quite a bit, the talk of the Storm’s demise, but we knew two things – we knew we had to bring in the next generation and we’ve all had a bit of a taste of that,” said Donaghy.

“At the same time we didn’t want to have that leadership vacuum, or skills vacuum – something you saw in the Australian cricket team when players like (Glenn) McGrath, (Shane) Warne, (Adam) Gilchrist and (Steve) Waugh all went out around the same time.

“They went though a huge generational turnover really quickly.

“It’s a challenge we’ve been aware of and the guys have got on with making sure we bring in players who can one day take over.”

Donaghy said he believed Slater would play on in 2018 but if the champion fullback decided to bow out the money they were holding over for him would give them greater flexibility with their current list and in recruitment.

Regardless Donaghy predicted the Storm would be back challenging for the title in 2018 and he hoped to tie Bellamy to a contract extension to oversee it.

“The intention is that win or lose on Sunday we’ll be pushing to get back here the following year and every year after that,” he said.

“The premiership window has to be every year if you’re fair dinkum about it.”

Mars on minds as Musk, ESA chief visit

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has fuelled hopes for manned missions to Mars but the head of the European Space Agency says it could be decades before humans walk on the red planet.

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Both men were in Australia on Friday, with Mr Musk addressing the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide as ESA director-general Jan Woerner visited WA for the first time.

In New Norcia, where one of only three ESA deep space ground stations has played an important role in communications for the Rosetta and Mars Express missions, Mr Woerner told reporters the fourth planet from the sun was an enormous challenge.

“I am quite sure humans will go back to the moon in the next 50 years and maybe also to Mars but Mars is a very special challenge. It’s really hard,” he said.

“The trip to Mars takes about two years and we do not have the technology right now to do so.

“Radiation is heavy – after one month or two months, you are developing some health issues – and cannot return with today’s technology.

“You have to go on for two years.

“Humans will go there and I hope humans go even beyond but not in the next 20 years, let’s say 15 years. There is no real concrete project for that.”

Mr Musk spoke of new space rockets he hopes will be able to service the International Space Station as well as establish human colonies on the moon and Mars, and said the program could be funded by the money his SpaceX company receives for launching satellites.

He believes he could send the first two cargo ships to the red planet by 2022 with the first two crewed craft touching down just two years later.

The re-usable rockets will lift a payload of more than 4000 tons and feature 40 cabins, each capable of carrying three people, he says.

Australian National University College of Science associate professor Charley Lineweaver said the science behind Mr Musk’s plan was realistic.

“The unrealistic part – the thing holding us back – has always been finding the political will to invest in space,” Dr Lineweaver said.

But Mr Musk was “not a committee”, he said.

“He shows what intelligence and money can do when they are combined.”

Mr Woerner also welcomed Australia’s plan to create its own space agency but advised against agonising over where it will be headquartered.

“Rather than going into a competition in Australia, I would say join forces and do something great out of it,” he said.

“Australia, this is the land of pioneers and dreamers, and so you are the best basis for space.”

Dad Cotchin prepares for AFL grand final

It’s a safe bet that Trent Cotchin’s pre-AFL grand final relaxation will involve no more dance moves.

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The Richmond captain says his two daughters will help calm any nerves before Saturday’s decider against Adelaide.

Elder daughter Harper was with him in Friday’s grand final parade and after what happened recently, he owed her the outing.

Earlier this month, her mum Brooke posted a video of dad and daughter having a dance at home.

It looked great until Cotchin tried one move too many and dropped Harper onto the lounge floor, reducing her to tears.

Brooke titled the video #dadfail.

It is possibly the only time this month the public have seen Cotchin make a false move, given his superb form and leadership in Richmond’s two finals wins.

Now Cotchin says family life will distract him before the biggest game of his career.

“The best thing about having kids, which not a lot of players know, they take the focus first and foremost,” he said.

“For me it’s very easy (before the grand final), I just be a dad.

“For others it will just be chilling out, cafe, whatever they normally would do.”

Richmond have had a massive amount of attention this week, given they are one win away from breaking their 37-year premiership drought.

Cotchin is supremely confident the Tigers have successfully navigated the middle ground between embracing the hype and staying focused for the grand final.

“From within our four walls this week is very normal … (with the parade) we’re just looking forward to accepting what is out there, there’s a lot of hype, a lot of talk, a lot of excitement which is the beauty of our game,” he said.

“It brings a lot of people together and we love that and we celebrate that but, as soon as that finishes, we’ll be ready to settle in and get ready for a game tomorrow.”