Fittler says Blues job is his to lose

Brad Fittler believes the NSW coaching job is his to lose, believing there “wouldn’t be many stronger cases” for the role given his experiences as a player, coach and ambassador at State of Origin level.
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Fittler has revealed his plans to bring fellow Channel Nine commentators Andrew Johns and Phil Gould onto his coaching staff if he is the successful candidate in a move that will bring three of the Blues’ biggest names into the fold. The former Penrith and Roosters playmaker said the Nine Network’s head of sport, Tom Malone, had given his blessing to juggle the coaching and commentary roles as the NSWRL prepares to interview “three to four” candidates from next week.

Fittler is the clear front runner to replace Laurie Daley due to his deeds on the field and his coaching experience off it, including previous roles with City Origin, the Roosters and as a NSW assistant. Even the medal presented to the Blues’ best player of the series is named after Fittler, such is the regard he is held in by the NSWRL hierarchy. It has led to a belief that the job is Fittler’s to lose, a notion the man himself wasn’t shying away from.

“I feel like I’m in a pretty good position,” Fittler said at a ceremony marking the commencement of the NSWRL’s centre of excellence construction at ANZ Stadium.

“Given my involvement with State of Origin and for a long time in Origin as a player, as an assistant, as a supporter, as an ambassador and relationships with other people – if it’s mine to lose, it’s understandable because there wouldn’t be many other stronger cases.

“Whether they think I’m a good coach, that will come down to their decision.”

The NSWRL will interview the contenders during the next fortnight with a view to announcing the successful candidate following a board meeting on November 24. Others linked to the role include Michael Maguire, John Cartwright and David Furner, although Fittler remains the firm favourite. NSWRL chairman George Peponis said it was appropriate to give everyone who had expressed an interest an opportunity to make their pitch.

“Everyone knows Freddie has put his hand up but there are others. It is important we speak to them,” Peponis said.

“It’s a matter of respect and courtesy to people. If people put their hand up for a job you have to give them an opportunity to put their case forward. I think that is the way it should be done …

“You have to realise that Freddie is committed to Channel Nine. They are all the questions we have to ask. You can’t just say you have got it. What happens during that seven-week Origin period when he is committed to Channel Nine and we need him full-time? All those questions need to be asked and they need to be answered before you rush in and make an announcement.”

The addition of Johns, the eighth Immortal, and Gould, NSW’s most successful coach, to team Fittler will undoubtedly help his chances. Fittler said he had yet to formally discuss what their roles would entail.

“First it would be sitting down and getting what their thoughts are,” Fittler said. “We obviously talk a lot about Origin because we work so closely around the game.

“They have their thoughts about what’s going on at the moment. They know externally what camp life is like these days, so it’s just getting their opinions.

“I haven’t had the chance to sit down and confirm any roles for anyone, so that will come out in time if things get to a different level.”

The Blues have won just one of the past 12 series, but Fittler believes the emergence of young stars including Nathan Cleary, the Trbojevic brothers – Jake and Tom – and Jack Bird has the state poised for better results.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity,” Fittler said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many good young kids come through NSW for a long time. That’s been one of the hard things for the players that have been part of this squad for at least half-a-dozen years, there hasn’t been pressure from underneath.

“That’s something every player needs, to feel like if you’re not going well someone will take your spot. It sharpens everyone up. We’ll see some good NSW players come from the start of next year.”

Rivals running scared as tiny field set to take on Winx in Cox Plate

Chris Waller won’t run a stablemate against Winx in her bid for a history-making third Cox Plate as the chances of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship featuring its smallest field this century continue to grow.
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Finding any challengers to take on the world’s best horse on turf is proving problematic for the Moonee Valley Racing Club, whose Cox Plate field is shaping to be as small as the eight runners that lined up to take on Fields Of Omagh when he won in 2003.

It is not uncommon for the MVRC committee’s hand-picked field to feature less than the capacity 14 runners, but Winx’s utter contempt for her rivals during a 21-start unbeaten run is taking the Cox Plate into new territory.

Caulfield Stakes winner Gailo Chop, Epsom hero Happy Clapper, crack three-year-old Royal Symphony and Cranbourne Cup winner Folkswood are among the likely rivals for Winx, who is listed a $1.20 chance to equal Kingston Town’s three Cox Plate triumphs.

Overseas-trained Kaspersky and The Taj Mahal are also potential Cox Plate starters, along with Kris Lees’ Sense Of Occasion, but the most important race of the mare’s career could also feature the smallest field she has faced since the three-horse Caulfield Stakes last year.

Yet Waller isn’t the least bit concerned with the lack of genuine competition for what promises to be the most hyped race of the Melbourne spring carnival.

“I guess it’s more up to Moonee Valley into what they let into the race,” Waller said. “They have been pretty strict in what they let into the race in previous years. They’ve probably set a precedent. They can’t say certain horses can’t run it one year and then [they can] the next.

“But it’s the least of my worries. That’s the beauty of Winx. She’s got to lose form and there’s got to be a champion come forward and take her place [to be beaten].

“I haven’t given it any thought and I haven’t got into the argument about a couple of horses being there that potentially shouldn’t have been there last start [in the Turnbull Stakes]. I went up to one of the trainers of the 200-1 chances and wished them all the best.”

It is highly unlikely Winx will have any competition from within her own stable with Waller reluctant to run Toorak Handicap starters Egg Tart and Tom Melbourne after luckless efforts in last weekend’s group 1 handicap.

It will have historians scrambling for the record books with Fields Of Omagh’s eight-horse Cox Plate the least amount of runners to face the starter in arguably ‘s best race since 2000.

Northerly’s back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002 came in fields of just eight and nine runners, respectively.

But the decimated Cox Plate field will do little to diminish the enthusiasm for the race, which was fuelled by a massive build-up last year when Hartnell emerged as a potential stumbling block before Winx’s mind-blowing eight-length romp.

“It’s not Winx’s fault if they don’t get a full field [this year],” Waller said. “It was only a couple of weeks ago some people didn’t think she was going that well. She’s great and everybody was happy to see her win so well last start – as we were.

“I’ve been a trainer long enough to know it was hard to beat Black Caviar and you like to find a race you think your horse can win in. And I can see that effect with her. It’s something I shouldn’t discuss.

“It’s a privilege that other people think that way. If there’s other options for them to win it might be reasons for them to take another path.”

Trainer Pat Webster confirmed Damien Oliver will take over the reins on Happy Clapper from Blake Shinn after the gelding’s last-start defeat in the Craven Plate at Randwick.

Waller plans to nominate Winx for Dubai’s World Cup carnival as well as other features throughout Europe next year after admitting a Japan Cup start was unlikely after a surprise nomination on Tuesday.

He would have also nominated for Hong Kong’s international meeting if quarantine restrictions hadn’t been tightened earlier this year.

“After the spring I’ll sit down with the owners and see what they want to do,” Waller said. “I just said to the owners, ‘We’ll put a few noms in and keep options open’.”

???If we can get Pacquiao, why can’t we get McGregor?’

Jeff Horn’s promoter insists a potential fight against MMA superstar Conor McGregor is anything but fiction and he believes enough money can be generated to entice the outspoken Irishman to in 2018.
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Horn, who won the WBO welterweight crown from Manny Pacquiao in July, must first negotiate a defence against England’s Gary Corcoran (17-1, 7 KOs) in England on December 13, with “the Hellraiser” preferred ahead of fellow Brit Bradley Skeete due to his more aggressive fighting style.

After that, should Horn be able to take care of business at the Brisbane Convention Centre, Duco’s Dean Lonergan said they would entertain a number of options, including an ambitious plan to lure McGregor to for a shot at a legitimate belt.

McGregor was stopped late in his bout with Floyd Mayweather in August in his first attempt in the boxing ring. It was a decent effort in his first try at 12 rounds against an all-time opponent, even if Mayweather came out of retirement to collect the millions on offer.

Talk of Horn taking on McGregor has been dismissed as fantasy by critics, who feel “the Hornet” should be aiming at legitimate opponents, such as American welterweight champions Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Terence Crawford, who has gone up in weight after unifying the light welterweight ranks.

Lonergan said few expected him to be able to land Pacquiao and believed McGregor would provide unchallenged entertainment, excitement and, therefore, dollars. On that front, he’s convinced the sums add up to making the fight a reality.

“We’ve talked about how Conor McGregor would be a great fight for Jeff Horn,” Lonergan said. “We all know that. He’s a promotional genius and he looks like a good, fun guy. Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to do?

“These [critics] are the same people that said we couldn’t get Manny Pacquiao here. It turns into one of the great days of n sport. If we can get Pacquiao v Horn, why can’t we get Conor McGregor?

“We’d give him a chance at the WBO welterweight title. And, to be honest, I think we can make the money stack up. I’ve got a rough idea of what he got. Obviously he’s not going to get Floyd Mayweather money, but I tell you what, there wouldn’t be too many fights, if any, other than Mayweather that would offer the same money I think we can put up down here.

“I thought the McGregor-Mayweather fight was entertaining. I don’t care what anyone says. We probably all knew the result going in, but the build-up was entertaining, the fight was entertaining. And let’s not forget what business we’re in: it’s entertainment. The fight people want to see are the ones that entertain.”

If ns thought Pacquiao-Horn was a big production, McGregor would take it to a new level. What the MMA star lacks in polish in a boxing ring he makes up for in pre-fight hype, which helped send his promotion with Mayweather into overdrive. He made a minimum of $37.5 million for his efforts.

Horn has a two-fight deal in Brisbane, but they don’t necessarily have to be back-to-back bouts. That opens the door for a potential fight with Crawford in the US, although Lonergan isn’t in any rush to introduce Horn to the bright lights of Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden.

“???There’s no hurry for Jeff to fight in America,” Lonergan said. “We put on one of the world’s biggest fights only three months ago in front of 51,000 people. Pacquiao was paid a considerable amount of money, so we can have the big fights in this part of the world, particularly when you are broadcasting back through ESPN.

“I don’t think there’s any reason or need to go to the US anytime soon. But if the economic conditions dictate it, we’d definitely look at it. We’ve got a great partner in Bob Arum to help with that and put it on.

“We’ve talked about Manny Pacquiao [about a rematch] and there’s Terence Crawford out there, who Bob is very keen for Jeff to meet at some stage; he’s moving up to welterweight. And then you have unification fights like Thurman or Spence.

“First and foremost, he has to get past Gary Corcoran. He comes forward in a fashion that is going to make it an exciting fight. The most important thing now is Jeff getting through the Hellraiser. He’s got that name for a reason.”

Lambton pool tragedy: tributes for ‘loving and caring’ teenager Pono Aperahama

PONO Aperahama, friends said, was a big boy with a big heart.
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A “lovely and caring” teenager who, for whatever reason, lashed out at staff at Lambton Swimming Pool as they intervened while the 17-year-old suffered a medical episode and began to hurt himself, striking his head several times.

The Maitland High student, who had a pre-existing medical condition, was unable to be revived at the swim centre on Tuesday afternoon, devastating pool staff and his carer, who was with him at the time.

BIG HEART: Pono Aperahama was remembered by friends as ‘lovely and caring’.

Friends paid tribute to the teenager who, theNewcastle Heraldwas told, had been hit by a car a few years ago in an accident that left him hospitalised for an extended period of time.

They said Pono “had ups and downs” but “loved his sport” and was a good friend to many.

“He was a lovely, caring person,” friend Christian Cedergren said.

“He was a really good kid. He had a really good heart for people. He would do anything for you. He was a really great friend to everyone.”

Another friend said Pono had a “heart of gold and was always the joker”.

“Everyone who know him loved him. He was a cheeky guy who was always smiling,” shesaid.“He was a warrior, a fighter, his tough spirit got him through the most difficult times he experienced through his life. He never lost his spark and never gave up fighting.”

One said “I loved you more than you ever knew”, while another wrote the teen was a “beautiful soul”.

Pono’s mother,Terina Abraham, told the media she would fly from New Zealand to organise her son’s funeral.

Northern Region commander, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell, said the teenager’s death was a tragedy.

A critical incident investigation is under way, with a forensic and coroner’s report to be prepared.

Lambton Swimming Pool on Wednesday after teenager suffered a medical episode and was unable to be revived. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Friend Christian Cedergren

Mr Mitchell said police were treating the ordeal as a medical incident, confirming that the teen began to punch himself in the head and also attempted to bang his head on the concrete path before bystanders intervened.

He said as they sought to restrain him he “leant towards assaulting some of those staff members”.

“But in any event, what we believe is certainly the case is that this young male was having some form of medical episode,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Members of the public and later police were restraining the young male.”

Newcastle City Council boss Jeremy Bath addresses the media. Picture: Simone De Peak

Mr Mitchell said there was “no suggestion there is any likelihood of suffocation” of the teenager.

“When I say restraining there is no suggestion whatsoever that this person was laid on his stomach or that there was anyone laying across the chest area of the male,” he said.

The Northern Region commander said bystanders tried to save Pono’s life.

“I think they were courageous, quite frankly,” Mr Mitchell said.

“They have gone there for no other reason but to support the young person.”

The Durham Road pool is owned by Newcastle City Council but its operation is outsourced to Lane 4 Aquatics.

The council’s interim chief executive officer, Jeremy Bath, praised staff for their handling of the situation.

“I’m very comfortable in terms of how everyone responded,” he said. “Everyone did their absolute best to save this man’s life.

“All we can do is express our sympathies. Not just to the man’s family, but to his carer who was with him at the time.”

A press photographer at Lambton Swimming Pool on Wednesday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Mr Bath said a number of staff members were left traumatised.

Swim centre management described Tuesday as a “tragic day”.

“This is the last thing you prepare for when you’re working at the swimming pool,” Mr Bath said.

“For an incident like this to happen when someone loses their life, it’s just tragic.”

An employee had a number of “scratches, bite marks and bruises” but returned to work the next day.

“He wanted to come back to work today, which I think is testament to his character,” Mr Bath said.

“My understanding is that he feared for his life yesterday.”

A critical incident investigation will examine all circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

Peter Dutton’s citizenship crackdown quietly killed off by the Senate

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says he won’t back down on his proposed overhaul of n citizenship laws, despite the proposal dying quietly in the Senate.
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The controversial crackdown would have imposed a values test, tough English language test and a four-year waiting period for permanent residents wanting to become n citizens.

But the move was blocked by Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team, who used their numbers in the Senate to impose a Wednesday night deadline for Mr Dutton to strike a deal.

That failed to materialise, despite a last-ditch compromise offer from Mr Dutton to ditch the retrospective element of the plan and delay the start date to July 2018, and reduce the level of English required from “competent” to “modest”.

The NXT rejected that offer, insisting the whole bill would have to be ditched and its components renegotiated to garner its crucial support.

“Just amending the English language test and retrospectivity is not sufficient,” NXT senator Stirling Griff said. “We will still be rejecting the bill.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says he will keep negotiating despite the bill dying in the Senate. Photo: Andrew Meares

The effect of a Greens motion agreed by the Senate last month meant the citizenship bill was struck from the notice paper when the Senate adjourned on Wednesday night – without a vote.

However, the government could revive the bill in the event of a deal with the NXT or others – but that will require a majority of votes in the Senate.

Labor’s citizenship spokesman Tony Burke hailed the outcome as “a great victory for every person who wants to pledge allegiance to this country and make a commitment to “.

He warned the government “will try again”, and urged the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to commence processing citizenship applications lodged after April 20 – the date the Turnbull government announced the changes.

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Dutton would not confirm whether that would now would occur.

“The government is committed to strengthening citizenship and our negotiations will continue with the independent senators,” she said.

“It’s a shame that Bill Shorten is so weak that he has to capitulate to the hard left of the Labor Party against the national interest.”

Labor grappled with the proposed measures, which Mr Shorten initially said “sounded reasonable”, before a groundswell of internal opposition led the party to harden its position.

Mary Patetsos, chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of , welcomed the rejection of the bill as “really good news for multicultural “.

“This legislation would have created a permanent underclass of n residents that would have been denied them the rights and opportunities of being welcomed as n citizens,” she said. “We are delighted that it has been thrown out of the Parliament.”

Ms Patetsos also urged the department to process applications which had been waiting since the April announcement.

The immigration department has advised the Commonwealth Ombudsman that due to a backlog of applications it has not yet started processing applications made after April 20.

The Ombudsman told applicants it would monitor the bill’s progress and also the actions of the department in the event the legislation were delayed.

The citizenship bill would not be the only immigration reform to be effectively abandoned by the government. A bid to prevent refugees who tried to reach by boat from ever obtaining any type of n visa has never been brought on for debate in the Senate.

Brumby Joe Powell’s double-edged sword in Wallabies camp

ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell admits it’s a double-edged sword travelling the world in the Wallabies but without seeing any game time.
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Powell been with the Wallabies since the first squad of the year was named in May squad but nine Tests later and he has played just 17 minutes in two appearances off the bench.

The 23-year-old has played only two games – both for the Canberra Vikings – since the Brumbies’ Super Rugby quarterfinal loss against the Hurricanes on July 21.

Powell travelled with the Wallabies to South Africa and Argentina, before returning in the Vikings’ 71-14 win against the Sydney Rays last Saturday, marking his first game in a month.

“The first five minutes was the quickest rugby I’ve ever been involved in and I was thinking it’s going to be a long 80 minutes, but it was great to be back out there,” Powell said.

The Vikings sit top of the National Rugby Championship ladder with one game left in the regular season but if Powell is picked on the Wallabies’ spring tour he will miss the NRC finals.

“If I was home playing footy I’d be kicking myself that I wasn’t in the [Wallabies] camp and then I’m in the camp and kicking myself that I’m not playing footy, so it’s a bit of a lose-lose,” Powell said.

“But I’m definitely happy with where I’m at and loving being in the Wallabies squad and learning from the best, no complaints there.”

Will Genia is the Wallabies first choice No.9, while Powell is competing with Nick Phipps for Test minutes and said the message from coach Michael Cheika has been consistency.

“Just consistency in my pass and little things that come with being a halfback but it’s hard when both the other halfbacks are playing really good footy,” Powell said.

“I’m just trying to play as much footy as I can and bide my time and see what happens.”

Henry Speight also featured in the Vikings’ win and is back the Wallabies ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.

Speight started the first four games of the Rugby Championship until he was dropped against the Springboks, but returned off the bench against Argentina in the Wallabies last hit-out.

“This is a big week ahead of us and some are saying it’s a dead rubber but it’s a really important game to us,” Speight said.

“We want to have a lot impact off the bench and I want to come on and make a difference and lift the energy levels and pace of the game.

“I’m not lacking any confidence at all and whoever is named this week we’re going to back each other 100 per cent and make sure we keep each other accountable through our training.”

Socceroos reward on offer for Sydney derby midfielders

The four central midfielders clashing in Saturday night’s Sydney A-League derby could be rewarded with more than just bragging rights with a potential international call-up in the offing for one of the defensive midfielders.
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While far from the forefront of their minds, Western Sydney Wanderers’ defensive midfielder duo Kearyn Baccus and Chris Herd and Sydney FC workhorses Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante could find themselves in the frame for a shock selection to the Socceroos squad with coach Ange Postecoglou facing a potential dearth in his defensive midfield stocks.

The Socceroos will be without Mark Milligan for their first-leg play-off match against Honduras, while captain Mile Jedinak remains in doubt having been restricted to just 45 minutes of football for his club, Aston Villa, due to injury.

Of concern for Postecoglou is the lack of young defensive midfielders in the national team set-up which means Postecoglou could be forced to look for local options to bolster his stocks for the crucial qualifier.

Brillante and Baccus have had the brightest starts to the season having impressed significantly in possession. The two are the leading n centre-midfielders with completed passes from the opening two games of the season.

Alongside Melbourne City’s Luke Brattan and Austria-based James Jeggo, the four in the engine room in the Sydney derby are the best domestic candidates. O’Neill says the only chance he and his partner Brillante have of staking a claim for Socceroos selection lies in continuing their form at club level, beginning with the derby.

“Me and Joshy are concentrating on our roles at Sydney FC but it would be lovely if that happens. Me and Joshy would be the first ones to put our hands up,” O’Neill said. “What an honour it is to play for your country. We’d obviously jump at that situation, but first and foremost our job is at Sydney FC to make sure we do our jobs and make sure we win football matches.”

Postecoglou has shown his willingness to throw debutants into high-pressure games, putting his faith in Matt Jurman to start in both of the Socceroos’ recent play-off games against Syria. While none of the quartet have been selected during this World Cup qualifying campaign, two of those that are set to run the middle of the park at Allianz Stadium featured significantly in the early days of Postecoglou’s tenure as Socceroos coach.

Four of Brillante’s five appearances for the national team came in 2014 where he played as a defensive midfielder and right fullback under Postecoglou. All of Herd’s three games for were under Postecoglou. The Wanderers midfielder was part of the 2015 Asian Cup squad but withdrew early from the tournament after sustaining an ankle injury during a warm-up at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Neither O’Neill nor Baccus have been capped at senior international level, though the Sydney central midfielder represented at youth level, making two appearances for the Olyroos. Baccus has pledged his allegiance to over his country of birth, South Africa, who have been hot on the heels of the 26-year-old.

The Durban-born Baccus rejected a call-up from South Africa in March when he was given an opportunity to be part of their World Cup qualifying campaign. In April, Baccus told Fairfax Media that was largely due to his long-term goal being to represent the Socceroos.

Jones fined, reprimanded for comments about Vics win

Cricket NSW chief Andrew Jones was reprimanded and handed a $3000 suspended fine for publicly arguing against a decision by Cricket to award victory to Victoria in a domestic one-day clash at the weekend.
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In farcical scenes at North Sydney Oval on Sunday, the match was called off after 26 overs of Victoria’s run chase and with the Bushrangers at 4-108 and needing only 37 more runs to win.

It took more than 30 minutes before CA confirmed that Victoria had won under the Duckworth-Lewis system and it was another hour until it was made official that the Bushrangers would be awarded a bonus point.

The decision angered Jones, who declared on Twitter: “It should be a No Result. Conditions didn’t change all game so if it was dangerous for one side it was dangerous for the other.”

He added: “This is right up there with declaring BISP (Blacktown International Sports Park) pitch dangerous right after highest batting partnership in history of FC cricket.”

The Blacktown match between New Zealand and a CA XI two years ago was abandoned after a record opening stand between Ryan Carters and Aaron Finch.

CA took umbrage with Jones’ comments, ruling he had breached the code of conduct, relating to “public or media comment that is detrimental to the interests of cricket, irrespective of when or where such comment is made”.

In a statement on Wednesday, CA said: “The proposed sanction was a reprimand and fine of $3000, fully suspended, subject to Jones not being found guilty of any further breach of the Cricket Code of Conduct for a period of 24 months from 18 October 2017. Jones admitted the offence and accepted the proposed sanction and no hearing was required.”

The Bushrangers’ win took them into third spot, while ending the Blues’ bid for a third-straight competition win.

This latest farce came two years after a Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG was called off early because of concerns about the state of the outfield.

China to get more open, more powerful, says president

Beijing: Chinese president Xi Jinping has sought to downplay China’s image as an emerging superpower, setting out a 30-year timeframe for the country to become a “global leader” with international influence.
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He said it would do so without “mechanically copying” western political systems.

In a three-hour long opening report to the twice-a-decade meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr Xi said China’s markets would nonetheless continue to open up to foreign investors, an apparent response to criticism from Donald Trump and the European Union about trade barriers.

China would become “more and more open” and “significantly ease market access, further open the service sector, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors”.

The report flagged the possibility of China also opening free trade ports.

Setting out the direction for the Communist Party for the next five years, on a stage draped in red banners and the golden hammer and sickle, Mr Xi cast China as a developing nation, but said Chinese socialism had entered a “new era”.

China had met the basic needs of its people, he said, and would next work to become a “great modern socialist country” using a road map that schedules its arrival as a global leader in innovation by 2035. Economic strength and rule of law would be in place by this deadline, he said.

A second phase, of becoming a global leader in “national strength and international influence” would take until 2050.

Mr Xi said China’s economy was transitioning from rapid growth to a focus on high quality development.

Advanced manufacturing, internet, big data and artificial intelligence would be integrated into the “real economy”.

State-owned enterprises, which had traditionally dominated Chinese production, would see further reform, and China would pursue “innovative, coordinated, green and open development”.

In resource allocation, the market would play the decisive role, and the government must play its role better, the president and Communist Party general secretary said.

He insisted that China had been in the driving seat of the global fight against climate change, and promised a “revolution in energy production” by building an energy sector that was “clean, low carbon, safe and efficient” with new regulatory agencies.

Mr Xi described the role of a modernising Chinese military as defensive in nature: “No one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests … China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”

Among the major achievements of China over the past five years under his leadership, the report listed the “steady progress” of construction of islands in the South China Sea.

China’s island building and naval presence there have been ruled illegal by The Hague tribunal.

On another key point of what the Chinese see as national sovereignty, Mr Xi issued a warning against Taiwan’s independence “in any form”.

A new theory would be added to the Communist Party constitution: “The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.

Mr Xi said there was a contradiction between unbalanced development and people’s growing need for a better life, and the policy emphasised the need to deepen reform, major country diplomacy, and law based governance.

The anti corruption campaign had cut like a blade and achieved the goal of becoming a deterrent to corruption, but would continue.

The new leadership team of seven members of the Politburo standing committee will be revealed at the end of the Communist Party’s national congress meeting in seven days.

n Foreign Minister Julie Bishop responded after the speech yesterday, saying that “power is being consolidated around President Xi Jinping in perhaps unprecedented ways”.

As China’s global power grows, Ms Bishop also urged Mr Xi’s government to be a “promoter and supporter of the international rules-based system that has enabled China’s economic rise”.

“I note the President is speaking about socialism with Chinese characteristics, a form of state capitalism, and I think we’ll see a greater intensity and focus on state-owned enterprises,” she said.

In comments that seemed at odds to the thrust of the Chinese president’s speech, Ms Bishop told Sky News she thought “there will be a greater concentration of power within the state-owned enterprises,” giving rise to concern about moves away from “open, free, transparent, accountable” markets.

The Foreign Minister labelled Chinese GDP growth “remarkable but we are concerned to ensure that China remains a free trading nation”.

– with Fergus Hunter

Williamtown elected representatives and community reference groups to be disbanded by state government: Labor

FURIOUS Labor politicians say have beenlocked out of future discussions on the Williamtown contamination crisis, followingan announcement that aconsultative group for MPswill bedisbanded by the state government.
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The future of the separate Williamtown Community Reference Group (CRG) –the main vehicle for talksbetween residents of the red zone, Defence, the NSW Environment Protection Authority, council and government agencies –is also under a cloud.

Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp attended an elected representatives’ meeting at state parliament on Wednesday morning, and were told at its conclusion that the forum was being wound up.

They were also informed thatthe CRGwouldbe dissolvedand the EPA wouldcall for tenders for a private consultant to run a new “consultative committee” to replace it.MPs would not be eligible to sit on the new committee.

Ms Swanson slammed the state government’s actions.

“It’s unconscionable to think the EPA is now outsourcing its responsibilities to a private consultant, and then excluding local elected representatives from being part of that process,” shesaid.​

“Without elected representatives in their corner, our constituents will have no clout in their plight to hold government agencies to account.”

Both the elected representatives group and the CRG were established in 2015 to keep channels of communication open between parties involved in addressing the firefighting contamination crisis.

It is unclear what the makeup of the new consultative committee will be, how its members will be chosen or by whom.

Ms Washington said that from the beginning, Labor MPs were unhappy at being excluded from CRG meetings, and they were dumbfounded they were now being blocked from discussions entirely.

“As local MPs, we’ve been sidelined from the consultation process from the very beginning,” she said.

“Two years on and the NSW Government continues to prioritise politics over the community by excluding us from this process.”

Comment was being sought from the state government on Wednesday night.