Shorten open to state energy deal

Labor has urged the prime minister to genuinely listen to the concerns of states about the government’s proposed energy policy, flagging the federal opposition could back it if the right deal is struck.

State and territory energy ministers will meet with their federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg in Sydney on Friday to discuss the design of the National Energy Guarantee.

Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has called on the emissions reduction target to be re-set every three years and three years in advance, instead of five years, and for the targets to be set by regulations.

“Every time a future federal government may wish to change the emissions level, if they have to run the gauntlet of the federal Senate, that is no certainty at all,” she told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The state also wants a registry accessible by regulators and government to ensure the guarantee works in the best interests of consumers.

The ACT and Queensland have also raised concerns about a lack of ambition in cutting emissions and driving further investment in renewables.

Asked about federal Labor’s energy policy ahead of the next election, Mr Shorten told reporters in Sydney he had not given up hope an agreement could be struck on the NEG.

“We don’t think that the proposal of the government is all bad,” Mr Shorten said.

“I think what we need to see is a fair dinkum negotiation on Friday. What I don’t want to hear is that Mr Turnbull says one thing to the states on Friday and another thing to his party room next Tuesday.

“I’m worried that Mr Turnbull doesn’t control his own party, cannot convince people there that lower energy prices from more renewable energy is the way to go.”

Mr Turnbull has assured coalition colleagues of his support for the underwriting of new dispatchable power generation, which is proving to be a key factor in getting backing for the NEG in the partyroom.

“That’s a very good suggestion and I have no doubt that we will adopt that,” he told reporters in Alice Springs.

“It will need to be a lot of design in it. It’s technology agnostic, so it would benefit anything that was dispatchable – it could be hydro, it could be gas, it could be renewables backed by hydro or gas or batteries, it could be gas alone, it could be coal.”

Critics of the NEG in coalition ranks have stressed such a commitment is crucial, seeing it as a potential means of supporting new coal-fired power stations.

Tasmania’s Energy Minister Guy Barnett on Wednesday accused governments in Victoria and the ACT, which also says it can’t support the current plan, of playing politics.

“I have very serious concerns about their actions because we want them to get on board,” he said.

“If this deal is not signed up, then you can see higher power prices.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale says the current policy is all about the politics and has been designed to get past the partyroom.

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It’s a crying shame we’re not taking drought seriously: Farrell

REAL DEAL: Brendan Farrell is calling for fewer displays of sympathy and more on-the-ground action to help farmers weather this drought.Burrumbuttock Hay Runners founder Brendan Farrell has launched a stinging broadside at bleeding hearts with “boxes of tissues”who are all talk and no action on the country’s drought crisis.

From politicians and swarming media crews to people from welfare offices weeping and wailing over dead stock, Mr Farrell said farmers crippled by drought needed help on the ground –now.

“If you’re going to help, get out and do it,” said the outspoken truckie who was awarded a Queen’s Birthday honour this year for his hay run efforts.

“You don’t need an office to help a farmer orboxes of tissues –three people crying around the kitchen table instead of two isn’t helping either.”

While Mr Farrell welcomed everyday Australians’ growing concerns about their rural counterparts, he expressed his frustration at the “publicity circus” surrounding the current crisis.

“The media should have been out here three years ago,” Mr Farrell said fromthe outback on Monday.

“Instead a whole parade of journalists arrived in Tamworth where it’s a little dry but a pretty easy place to get to.”

Mr Farrell said the drought was intensifying and pressure was mounting on politicians to do a lot more than just turn up for a staged visit and make sympathetic noises.

He said the next three years would be tough across all sectors of agriculture.

“I’m not a smart man but I’ve seen in farmers’ eyes when they are going backwards,” the passionate advocate said.

“(Agriculture minister) David Littleproud has the most important portfolio in this country right now and he needs more power to make the changes needed.”

One of the most critical issues in the latest drought crisis isdifficulty sourcing hay and other stock feed.

That’s a huge area of concern for the man who relies on hay donations for his yearly mission of mercy with an army of big rigs.

Mr Farrell isunsure where he’ll source hay for the 2019 run but it will come at a price.

Cold hard cash is the only currency that’s going to ensure those trucks can hit the road laden with hay –and hope –for struggling farmers.

“Every dollar you can whack in theRotary Club of Sydney account will help –even if people put in the cost of their cup of coffee it would be appreciated,” he said.

To donate – BSB:062 438; Account: 10211156; Description: Drought Appeal. Send cheques to: The Rotary Club of Sydney Drought Appeal;GPO Box 1523, Sydney NSW 2001.RELATED:

Brendan Farrell despairs of killer droughtWorking, watching and waiting on the rainBorder Mail

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Nelson Bay marina fire ‘suspicious’: three boats destroyed

Nelson Bay marina fire ‘suspicious’: three boats destroyed Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

Picture: Peter Lorimer

The sunken vessel. Picture: Frank Future

The sunken vessel. Picture: Frank Future

The sunken vessel. Picture: Frank Future

The damaged vessel. Picture: Frank Future

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

The scene where commercial boats were destroyed by fire at d’Albora Marina in Nelson bay overnight.Picture: Simone De Peak

Police at the scene. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Police at the scene. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Police at the scene. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Police at the scene. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Police at the scene. Picture: Peter Lorimer

TweetFacebook“We were fortunate there was not a strong westerly wind,” Salamander Bay NSW Fire and Rescue captain Mal Smith said.

“We had to work with breathing apparatus because the fiberglass boats were creating toxic fumes.”

As six crews from Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service, including one RFS boat crew, worked to get the blaze under control one of the vessels broke away from the marina.

The RFS boat crew managed to push the burning boataway from othervessels, including Frank Future’s Imagine Cruises fleet, andit eventually sank.

“One of our boats was right next to one of the boats that burst into flames and ended upsinking,” Mr Future said. “We were lucky.”

A third boat – Port Stephens Parasailing –owned byPort Stephens Watersportswas damaged beyond repair.

The business released this statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday morning:

“Unfortunately our Port Stephens Parasailing boat has been extensively damaged in this mornings fire at d’Albora Marina, Nelson Bay. We are deeply saddened by this event and as a result, we are unable to operate parasailing indefinitely.

“As police and fire have cordoned off the area, we are unable to gain access into our office and therefore cannot notify any of our customers.

“If you have a parasailing booking with Port Stephens Watersports, please be patient and we will be in with contact you as soon as it is possible. We will endeavour to provide updates via our social media channels.”

Frank Future inspecting the damage. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Mr Future received a call to get down to the marina about 4am. He described the scene as chaotic and said the damage to the marina, as well as the vessels, wasa huge setback for the industry.

“The dock itself is a mess,” he said. “The public dock has damage, the commercial vessels, it is a nightmare for so many.”

Mr Future said the fire was not the only unusual activity at the marina overnight.

“The odd thing is there seems to be some break ins as well,” he said.

“Some of the boats have been broken into, the booking office door was broken and I know someone tried to get into one of the Moonshadow boats.”

A police forensic teamarrived on the scene at Dock C of d’Albora Marinas after 9am to investigate the cause of the fire, believed to be suspicious.

The area from the entrance to Dock C has been declared a crime scene and it was expected the dock would remain closed for the remainder of the day. People boarding cruise and sightseeing tours are being diverted by tour operator staff.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District and Marine Area Command were on site about 10.30am on Wednesday to manage the removal of debris from the water. Port Stephens Marine Rescue were also on site to assist with the clean up.

HAZMAT booms have been put in place around the sunken vessels to minimise pollution.

A spokeswoman for d’Albora Marinas released this statement about the fire:

“An incident occurred at d’Albora Marinas Nelson Bay in the early hours of this morning involving firedamage to several commercial vessels moored on the commercial arm (Arm C) of the marina.

“We are pleased to confirm that there are no reported injuries to any staff, customers or members ofthe public as a result of the fire.

“Local authorities have been on site and are conducting investigations into the incident.

“Arm C of the marina has limited access however the remainder of the marina is operating as usual.All other authorities associated with the marina and waterways have been notified of the incident.

“Any immediate enquiries should be directed to the police.”

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Did you see the blaze? Send your details and photos to [email protected]出售老域名.au

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Indonesian quake toll rises to 131

Most of the earthquake victims died in northern Lombok, where numerous houses and mosques collapsed.The death toll from a devastating earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Lombok island has risen to 131, the disaster management agency says.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says there are reports of other deaths but they still need to be verified.

He says the death toll is expected to increase.

Nearly 2500 people have been hospitalised with serious injuries and more than 156,000 people are displaced due to the extensive damage to homes.

The magnitude 7.0 quake on Sunday came a week after another quake on Lombok killed 16 people.

Most of the victims died in northern Lombok, where numerous houses and mosques collapsed. Emergency services are working to locate survivors as well as recover the bodies.

Volunteers and rescue personnel were erecting more temporary shelters for the tens of thousands of people left homeless. Water, food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks.

The military said five planes carrying food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers left Jakarta for the island on Wednesday.

On the road to the north of the island, locals were asking for money to help the victims amid collapsed buildings.

Dozens of injured people are being treated in tents temporarily set up near Tanjung hospital in the northwest of the island, as the centre was damaged by the quake and was evacuated.

Aid has reached many of the survivors, but there is still a lack of food, water and tents in areas that are difficult to access.

Lombok is an island known for its volcanic Mount Rinjani and comprises about 4700 square kilometres in land area. It is located east of Bali, where the earthquake killed two people.

About 250 aftershocks were recorded on the small islands surrounding Lombok – Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan – where some 7000 tourists were evacuated after the quake.

Indonesia is situated within the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for heavy seismic and volcanic activity, which cause about 7000 tremors a year, mostly of moderate intensity.

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Diggers role in German army’s black day

The Battle of Amiens, Aug 8 1918, was referred to as a “black day” for the German army.By July and August 1918, Australian forces on the Western Front were at their peak. They were seasoned, well-equipped soldiers with effective leaders at every level, supported by tanks, aircraft and especially artillery.

Improvements in technology allowed the big guns to deliver devastating barrages on enemy positions without warning, to create moving barrages behind which the infantry followed, and to strike distant German guns using the new technique of sound ranging.

Soldiers, given free rein, developed their own tactics, such as “peaceful penetration”, with small groups infiltrating German positions, taking prisoners and even seizing sections of territory, all without big attacks or significant casualties.

With success came growing confidence. Australian War Memorial senior historian Ashley Ekins said the soldiers began to realise they might actually survive. In the darkest days of 1917, few could have been so optimistic.

“Men know that providing they practise the skills and battle procedures they have learned and follow the plan, there is far better chance of survival,” he said.

“But it still must have seemed to many soldiers by late 1918 that this war was going to go on forever.

“No one knew the war was going to be over before the end of 1918.”

German forces appeared far from defeated. In March, the German offensive rolled over allied forces, seizing in hours and days territory fought over for months at stupendous cost in 1916 and 1917.

Though fought to a standstill and having been steadily pushed back, the Germans tried again with a major attack against the French on July 15, their final major offensive on the Western Front.

That was checked and French and US forces counter-attacked on July 18, leading into the famous “Hundred Days” in which successive allied attacks brought the war to an end.

The Battle of Amiens on August 8 was the opening act of the 100 days, with Australian troops in a leading role.

Following the success at Hamel on July 4, Australian commander Lieutenant General Sir John Monash proposed an attack east of the city of Amiens. Others were thinking along similar lines and British commander-in-chief Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig gave the go-ahead on July 19.

Because of Australian achievements at Hamel and subsequent operations, two Australian divisions would spearhead the attack, with British and Canadian divisions on each flank.

Amiens was akin to Hamel, though on a vastly larger scale – 2,000 guns, all 552 tanks of the British Tanks Corps, cavalry and aircraft, including the Australian Flying Corps No 3 Squadron.

At 4.20am on August 8, the guns opened fire and tanks and soldiers moved off into the morning fog along a 13.5-kilometre front.

Lumbering tanks crushed thick belts of barbed wire, allowing easy passage for following infantry. Working in co-operation with the soldiers, the tanks obliterated any German strong-points that had survived the artillery.

Progress was immediate and spectacular, with the Australian 2nd and 3rd Divisions and Canadian Corps overrunning the German frontline by mid-morning.

To maintain momentum, the Australian 4th and 5th Divisions passed through the 2nd and 3rd Divisions – a difficult process performed flawlessly in the heat of battle – and pressed forward.

The British Corps on the left flank hadn’t maintained quite the same progress, with less experienced troops and facing more difficult terrain. But by the end of the day, all had reached their final objectives, the so-called Blue Line, advancing the front by 13 kilometres.

German forces had suffered a shattering blow, with 27,000 casualties, including 16,000 prisoners, half taken by the advancing Australians.

The Germans acknowledged this spectacular reverse.

General Erich Ludendorff famously described it as ‘the black day of the German army in this war”. The official German history described it as their greatest defeat since the start of the war.

General Henry Rawlinson, commander of the British Fourth Army, declared this as fine a feat of arms as any the war could produce, saying the Canadians had done splendidly and the Aussies even better.

On August 12, Monash was knighted by King George V in recognition of his achievements.

By WWI standards, casualties were modest for the result attained but were still substantial – around 9,000 including 2,000 Australian dead and wounded.

The offensive continued on ensuing days against stiffening resistance but didn’t match the success of August 8.

Only some 155 of more than 400 tanks remained serviceable and their crews were exhausted. Artillery and supply trains struggled to keep up with the advance.

Attacks were mounted hurriedly on limited information without the detailed planning of Hamel and Amiens and with limited or no tank or artillery support.

In little remembered actions at Lihons, Etinehem and Proyart, casualties were substantial. Official correspondent Charles Bean observed that these were a classic example of how not to follow up a great attack.

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Star Eagle’s future clouded after AFL ban

Andrew Gaff’s AFL future remains unclear after the West Coast player was banned for eight weeks.Andrew Gaff might have played his last game for West Coast after he was slapped with a season-ending eight-match ban by the AFL tribunal.

The star midfielder, who is set to become a restricted free agent, will miss the rest of the Eagles’ premiership campaign and the start of next season after Tuesday night’s hefty suspension for punching Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw.

Contract talks have played out slowly this year, with Gaff intent on taking his time over the big decision according to manager Paul Connors.

The 26-year-old elite is highly coveted in his home state Victoria, with Connors confident up to six clubs are interested in landing him.

It remains to be seen what effect Sunday’s ugly incident at Optus Stadium and the subsequent ban will have on Gaff’s decision-making process.

A shattered Gaff said he will spend time with family and friends as he attempts to come to grips with the incident and its devastating aftermath.

Whatever Gaff’s future holds, it is clear his ban is another huge blow for Adam Simpson’s finals-bound side with the midfielder joining Nic Naitanui (knee) on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

Champion forward Josh Kennedy won’t play against Port Adelaide on Saturday and must be in some doubt to return as he struggles with a leg fracture.

The Eagles tried in vain to argue for a ban that would allow Gaff to return this season.

Early in the hearing – which lasted for more than two hours – David Grace QC, representing the Eagles, entered a guilty plea to the striking charge graded intentional, with severe impact to the head.

He then went about presenting a case for leniency that included a long list of character references and a contrite Gaff, who had never been suspended at any level, giving evidence that he meant to hit Brayshaw in the chest and not the head in a bid to break free from a hard tag.

Grace’s ambit claim on a punishment was that the jury start their deliberations at a three-game ban and work upwards.

Dockers club doctor Ken Withers, however, described in graphic detail the damage caused by Gaff’s swinging left-arm punch, which included a broken jaw, the displacement of three teeth and a deep laceration to his lower lip that went down to the muscle.

Jeff Gleeson QC, representing the AFL, described the incident as a “historically significant event” and recommended a suspension between eight and 12 matches.

The jury of Wayne Henwood, David Neitz and Shane Wakelin handed down the lengthy suspension after 13 minutes of deliberation.

“First of all I just want to say that I’m so, so sorry to Andrew and the Brayshaw family for the pain that I’ve caused them over the past 48 hours,” an emotional Gaff said as he left the hearing.

“… I’m really disappointed. I own my actions, and it really hurts a lot.”

The club has until midday on Wednesday to lodge an appeal, but that appears unlikely.


* ANDREW GAFF (West Coast) – eight games in 2018

* JEREMY CAMERON (GWS) – five games, 2018

* TOM BUGG (Melbourne) – six games, 2017

* BACHAR HOULI (Richmond) – four games, 2017

* TOM JONAS (Port Adelaide) – six games, 2016

* STEVEN BAKER (St Kilda) – nine games (total), 2010

* DEAN SOLOMON (Fremantle) – eight games, 2008

* BARRY HALL (Sydney) – seven games, 2008

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Honda in line for Victory debut in Sydney

Keisuke Honda could play his first Melbourne Victory match against APIA Leichhardt in the FFA Cup.Keisuke Honda could be set to make his first appearance in Melbourne Victory colours in an FFA Cup match in suburban Sydney.

The defending A-League champions have drawn former National Soccer League champions APIA Leichhardt Tigers in the knockout tournament’s round of 16.

Japanese superstar Honda, who signed a marquee deal with Victory this week, is due to arrive in Melbourne next week to begin training with his new teammates.

The next round of FFA Cup matches will be held on two nights over two weeks in late August.

Presuming he is in good enough condition and ready to play his first minutes since Japan’s World Cup exit, it could be the perfect setting for Honda to make his official debut for Victory.

If he does, the 32-year-old will likely line up against Tigers forward and compatriot Tasuku Sekiya, who is regarded as one of the most exciting players in the NSW NPL.

APIA Leichhardt, who won the NSL in 1987, defeated Port Melbourne 1-0 in their round-of-32 clash while Victory beat Perth Glory 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Steve Corica is set for a homecoming match in far north Queensland after Sydney FC were drawn to face Cairns FC.

New Sky Blues coach Corica was born and raised in Innisfail, just south of Cairns, while his nephew Harry plays for the NPL Queensland outfit.

Western Sydney will meet neighbours Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Adelaide United will travel to Brisbane for their clash with Lions FC, and Melbourne City will host A-League rivals Newcastle.

Bentleigh Greens will be looking to back up their upset 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix when they head to Newcastle for their meeting with Broadmeadow Magic


* Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets

* Avondale FC (VIC) v Devonport Strikers (TAS)

* Adelaide Comets (SA) v Heidelberg United (VIC)

* Broadmeadow Magic (NNSW) v Bentleigh Greens (VIC)

* APIA Leichhardt Tigers (NSW) v Melbourne Victory

* Lions FC (QLD) v Adelaide United

* Cairns FC (QLD) v Sydney FC

* Bonnyrigg White Eagles (NSW) v Western Sydney Wanderers

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Australia’s population ticks over to 25m

Australia’s population has passed 25 million.Australia’s population has officially hit the 25 million mark.

The historic milestone was recorded at 11.01pm (AEST) on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ “population clock” which tallies up births and deaths, as well as those migrating or leaving the country for good.

Australia’s population hadn’t been expected to hit 25 million for a few more decades but is thought to have been given a boost by the arrival of immigrants to our shores.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge hopes that many of those new arrivals will opt to move to country towns rather than stay in Australia’s biggest cities where infrastructure is under pressure.

“There are some areas feeling the population pressures, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, while there are other regions in Australia which are crying out for more people,” he told the ABC.

“So I think we’ve got a distribution problem as much as anything else. And of course, we have to make sure that the infrastructure is being built in front of the demand rather than behind it, as we’ve seen in recent years.”

Associate Professor Amanda Davies, a geographer at Curtin University’s School of Design and the Built Environment, urged governments to come up with a population strategy as Australia’s cities will hit a limit in terms of how many people they can accommodate.

“The long-term disinvestment in regional and rural communities by successive governments has made it all the more difficult for these places to diversify their economic activities, grow employment opportunities and attract new residents,” she said.

“Many individual towns and cities across the country are trying, best they can, to cope with population growth, stimulate population growth, or, for some, curb population loss.

“Without a national framework to bring this knowledge and effort together, opportunities are being missed. Now is the time to get serious about a national population strategy.”

The ABS population clock estimates that the nation’s population is increasing by one person every one minute and 23 seconds.

If that pace continues, Australia’s population is expected to hit 26 million in another three years from now.

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Turnbull open to city deals in regional NT

The Turnbull government is open to a “city deal” in all regional areas of the Northern Territory to boost jobs, investment and improve community services.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is in Alice Springs on Wednesday to meet with community leaders, just weeks after meeting with representatives in the remote town of Tennant Creek.

During that visit Mr Turnbull unveiled plans for a “regional deal” – mirroring the multi-million dollar city deals his government has been rolling out – for the Barkly Region.

The prime minister said that while a similar deal was not yet on the cards for Alice Springs, he would be discussing its potential with mayor Damien Ryan.

“You can’t snap your fingers and do this all at once,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio in Alice Springs on Wednesday.

“But every region, every city – you would have a regional deal or city deal where you have the federal government, state government and the local government working together.”

Both Tennant Creek and Alice Springs are facing problems with unemployment, child protection and crime.

The deals involve the three levels of government coming together with community leaders to set priorities and objectives for a region, as well as economic and social development plans.

The Country Liberal Party is hopeful of winning the federal seat of Lingiari, held by veteran Labor MP Warren Snowdon, at the next election due by mid-May 2019.

Last year, Alice Springs Town Council told a parliamentary committee the town of 27,000 residents was prepared to put in $800,000 towards a “city deal”.

The council said Alice Springs was an ideal place for the relocation of government agencies, such as the prime minister’s department, indigenous affairs and the science agency CSIRO.

“As such, council anticipates collaboration with the Australian government and Northern Territory government, in the interests of ensuring economic growth, as well as suitable investment and reform, to ensure revitalisation of the Alice Springs CBD,” the council said in its submission.

While the overall unemployment rate is five per cent, for indigenous people it is just under 20 per cent.

The council is also keen to pursue solar energy, having previously benefited from $40 million in federal grant funding.

There have been local concerns about the treatment of young people in detention, as well as overcrowding and pressures on local youth justice workers.

Work is underway on implementing the findings of a royal commission into youth justice.

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Dees captain daring to dream of AFL finals

Melbourne’s Nathan Jones is dreaming big after twelve years since his last taste of finals footy.Twelve years and 250 games on from his last taste of September action, Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones is daring to dream of a long-awaited AFL finals return.

With three rounds remaining, the Demons sit fourth on the ladder and are well-placed to finally book their first finals berth since 2006.

Long-suffering Dees fans could be forgiven for not getting ahead of themselves given the club was on the cusp of a top-eight finish last season, only to lose their final-round game to Collingwood and fall short by just 0.5 per cent.

Just four points separate the Demons from 10th-placed North Melbourne, although their percentage is comfortably better than all rivals bar ladder-leaders Richmond.

Melbourne also have a tough run home with games against Sydney, West Coast (away) and GWS.

Jones is the last remaining player from the Demons’ 2006 finals tilt which ended with a semi-final defeat to Fremantle.

The 30-year-old is desperate to return to the big stage and believes the talent-stacked Demons have the potential to make a deep finals run.

“I think about it all the time,” he told reporters.

“I don’t think you’d be human if you weren’t thinking about the possibilities and dreaming of what outcomes there are.

“There is a great opportunity here for the footy club and this team in particular but the season couldn’t be closer.

“We’ve got to give ourselves the best chance by performing our best for the next three weeks.”

Jones’ co-captain Jack Viney remains sidelined by a foot injury with the Demons targeting the first week of the finals for his return.

Key defender Michael Hibberd (quad) is due to return next week while forward Jake Melksham (hamstring) is 50-50 for Sunday’s clash with Sydney at the MCG.

The Dees will make at least one forced change for the Swans clash after backman Joel Smith broke his collarbone during their thumping win over Gold Coast.

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