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Australia sets India 328 to win Gabba Test and Border-Gavaskar series, before rain ends day four


In scenes reminiscent of the last Test in Sydney, Australia will need to take all 10 Indian wickets on day five to win the game, but this time the trophy will be up for grabs and the weather will almost certainly play a part.

After a slower-than-expected fourth day at the Gabba that was twice halted by rain, India can try to chase down the 328-run target to win the game and the series, or they can try to bat out the day for a draw, which would be good enough to tie the series at 1-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Australia, meanwhile, will have to bowl India out to win back bragging rights for the first time since 2015.

The bowlers could have possibly made more inroads into the Indian line-up on day four had there been a bit more urgency in the Australian batting tactics.

An early declaration looked on when the opening pair of David Warner and Marcus Harris came out with an aggressive but controlled approach, hitting four boundaries off the first 16 balls of the day and taking 40 off the first seven overs without ever really getting too agricultural in their strokeplay.

But suddenly wickets started falling. First Harris awkwardly gloved a Shardul Thakur bouncer to Rishabh Pant, and Warner was out just two runs short of a half-century when he was trapped in front by debutant off-spinner Washington Sundar one over later.

Despite the double blow, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith kept the scoring rate high, with 32 runs from four overs, but Labuschagne nicked Mohammed Siraj into the slips after scoring 25 at better than a run a ball.

Australia batsman Steve Smith hits a cricket ball into Indian fielder Mayank Agarwal during a Test.
Australia’s batting tactics left some confused on day four.(AAP: Darren England)

Three balls later, Matthew Wade was out for a duck after edging down the leg side, and Cameron Green had to work with Smith to consolidate and just survive through to lunch, which they did with the lead having ballooned to 182 runs.

Fireworks were expected to come after lunch, but neither batsman managed tee off, with Smith eventually reaching another half-century, only to edge Siraj into the slips on 55.

Captain Tim Paine put on 31 runs with Green before the West Australian nicked off to Shardul Thakur for 37, and Paine (27) joined him soon after as he chased a short ball in trying to boost the run rate.

Rain arrived one over before tea was scheduled, but there was still no declaration coming, despite a healthy 276-run lead.

Instead, Paine sent Cummins and Mitchell Starc back out under lights and the latter was gone for 1 shortly after the resumption.

Even as the lead passed 300 runs and the artificial light took hold as clouds darkened the skies, no declaration came.

Nathan Lyon was eventually dismissed for 13 and Josh Hazlewood for 9 as the Australian innings ended on 294, with a 327-run lead.

But the lack of urgency from Australia’s batting saw them lose a race against the elements, with the rain arriving and forcing the teams from the field just 11 deliveries into the innings, with four runs ticked off the target.

Look back at how the day unfolded in our live blog.

Live updates

Pinned

Australia vs India: Fourth Test at the Gabba

By Dean Bilton

Play has been abandoned

AP

That’s that for day four! It leaves the Test very nicely poised, with the whole series on the line on the fifth and final day. The only thing that could ruin this is rain, so cross your fingers we get an uninterrupted crack at it tomorrow. All three results are on the table, which is just the way we like it.

We’ll be back for a 9.30am AEST start tomorrow (weather permitting), so make sure you join us then. Thanks for your company today, and have a lovely evening.

By Dean Bilton

Surely the Australian team looking at your radar/paint graphic there would be saying “Oh, dear God no!!”

-H.B.W.

Sorry, let me fix it…

By Dean Bilton

Bit of rain around, ay?

By Dean Bilton

It’s dark, and it’s not going away any time soon. We apparently need to resume play by 5.30pm Brisbane time (in a little under an hour) or else that’s it. Looking at the radar and the sky, we aren’t going to be getting back on by 5.30pm.

WHO COULD HAVE POSSIBLY SEEN THIS COMING?!?

By Dean Bilton

2nd over – Josh Hazlewood to bowl

Australia’s best bowler in this Test. He’s bowling to Shubman Gill.

There’s some swing! Too wide for Gill to need to play at, but still!

He’s finding that Hazlewood line and length already, but Gill is defending well.

YEP, HERE COMES THE RAIN! COVERS COMING ON!

By Dean Bilton

1st over – Mitchell Starc gets the brand newy

Righto, we’re going to have a go here. Not sure how much we’ll get in, but every ball is an opportunity for Australia.

Starc to Roshit Sharma. Series on the line. All to play for.

Rohit defends the first ball in at his feet. Bit of shape, but a little too short to really tell.

First ball Starc pitches up doesn’t swing at all. Which is a little concerning.

FOUR RUNS! Now there’s a shot from Rohit Sharma! Just a glorious cover drive, that has gone so quickly to the fence the camera couldn’t keep up. No swing at all from Starc, full and wide.

One over down, four from it.

By Dean Bilton

It’s on its way

Audience comment by Koala55

India can get this with 3 singles every over. Very doable…they don’t even have to be aggressive.

Audience comment by Bruce Russell

I would love to be proven wrong, but I can’t see Australian bowlers taking 10 wickets. I suspect they are mentally and physically exhausted, and this is actually quite a good Indian batting lineup.

Audience comment by Jo

Pleased for Siraj.<br>Now, Aussie bowlers – do your stuff!

By Dean Bilton

76th over – Siraj looking for his own five-fa

Cummins slogs to the man in the deep, and doesn’t take the single. So it’s not REALLY even about runs right now. What is it about, then?

And now they’ve taken a single… oh wait, they want two! But Cummins is sent back! And he nearly gets run out! And all of this is pointless!

FOUR! Hazlewood goes bang through the covers again! Why were they shielding him from the strike?

AND HAZLEWOOD IS OUT! FIVE WICKETS FOR MOHAMMED SIRAJ!

AUSTRALIA ALL OUT 294, INDIA NEEDS 328 TO WIN

Hazlewood went the ramp again but actually made proper contact this time and was caught at third man. A lovely moment for Mohammed Siraj though, his first five wicket haul in Test cricket. He’s a little overwhelmed in the moment, which is fair enough given everything he’s been through.

So Australia will get a crack at them now – but for how long? I reckon the rain is no more than 20 minutes away, and when it comes, I think that’s it. If Australia gets a couple of overs in tonight they will be lucky.

By Dean Bilton

Baffling that we’re still batting here. If I was India I wouldn’t even bother trying to bowl Australia out at this stage, every over that ticks by suits them perfectly.

-Sean

And that’s exactly what India are doing. Just bowling short and/or wide.

By Dean Bilton

75th over – Shardul looking for the five-fa

Ramped away over gully by Hazlewood. There was a third man in, but he didn’t hit it well enough to reach him. Just a single.

Field completely spread for Cummins now, men back everywhere.

A loose short ball there from Shardul. So loose, in fact, it’s called a wide.

Cummins takes a single then denies Hazlewood the chance to take one of his own, as another over ends.

By Dean Bilton

74th over – Siraj to Cummins again

SIX OF THEM! Cleared the front leg and tonked it back over the bowler’s head for six! Onya Patty.

Another well struck drive from Cummins, but mid-off got a finger to that one. Just two.

Eight from the over. The rain remains on the way.

By Dean Bilton

73rd over – Shardul to Lyon

AND LYON IS OUT! STRAIGHT TO COVER!

Well there’s probably not much point worrying about a declaration, as it looks like Australia will be all out soon anyway. Lyon just hit that straight to the fielder at cover at about stomach height.

Josh Hazlewood at the crease now. Shardul one away from a five-wicket haul, to go with his fine batting effort.

FOUR! How’s that from the Hoff? No need to move your feet, just throw the hands through it. Fair cover drive that.

So a wicket and a boundary off that over.

By Dean Bilton

AP

By Dean Bilton

72nd over – Siraj bowling again

Cummins hoiks, away to deep square leg for a single.

TOP EDGE FOR SIX! Lyon will take those! Genuine top edge on that pull shot, but it’s flown off the bat and cleared the rope easily.

Now an inside edge from Lyon, away for one more run. The lead is now 307.

Cummins is swinging a bit harder now. Can’t find a gap for love nor money, but the effort is there.

Another massive slog, but no contact at all this time. That’s the over, eight from it.

By Dean Bilton

It wld not surprise me more rain for bris in a while…there’s a fair bit inland at the moment running sth so who knows.

-Chris

Yes, looking at the radar I reckon we’ll get maybe 30-45 minutes in before the rest of today is washed out.

With that in mind, I’m thinking Australia has no real plan to bowl at all today.

By Dean Bilton

71st over – Shardul to Lyon now

Another tidy little pull shot from Lyon, around the corner for another single.

Lots and lots of short stuff now, reminiscent of what the Indian tail copped yesterday.

Eventually a no ball is called — too many bouncers over head height.

This one fractionally fuller but still pulled away by Cummins, and they run three.

And there’s your over bowled.



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Twitter CEO says Trump ban was right, but sets a ‘dangerous precedent’


Dorsey’s statements – the first time the CEO spoke about the decision – arrived on the heels of an emotional week in which right-wing figures disavowed the power of Silicon Valley companies, while employees and the public had begged the company for more explanation of its actions in response to the violent January 6 pro-Trump rally at the Capitol. At the same time, Twitter continued to suspend tens of thousands of problematic accounts.

Twitter’s Trump ban drew criticism from some Republicans who said it quelled the US president’s right to free speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned through a spokesman that legislators, not private companies, should decide on potential curbs to free expression.

Dorsey said he believed Twitter had made “the right decision”, adding that the company “faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety.”

But the action, he noted, came with perilous consequences in terms of fragmenting the online conversation as people flee to use different services that suit them politically, and giving companies like Twitter enormous unchecked power.

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he wrote. “A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”

Twitter has introduced a series of measures over the last year like labels, warnings and distribution restrictions to reduce the need for decisions about removing content entirely from the service.

Dorsey has said he believes those measures can promote more fruitful, or “healthy,” conversations online and lessen the impact of bad behaviour.

Twitter banned Trump’s account last Friday after first suspending him for 12 hours the day of the Capitol siege. On Friday, Trump again tweeted that he wouldn’t attend the inauguration, as well as saying that his supporters would not be disrespected “in any way, shape, or form.”

Twitter immediately dismantled his account, saying the tweets could incite violence.

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Facebook has also banned Trump indefinitely, as has Amazon-owned video platform Twitch. Snapchat banned him permanently, while Google-owned YouTube did so for seven days. Amazon’s web services division cut off the Trump friendly social media site Parler, which was also removed from the Google and Apple app stores.

The Twitter CEO explained bans by social media companies on Trump after last week’s violence were emboldened by each other’s actions, even though they were not coordinated.

Supporters of Trump who has repeatedly made baseless claims challenging Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, stormed the US Capitol last week, trying to halt the certification by Congress of Biden’s Electoral College win.

On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

The Washington Post/Reuters

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CrossFit and weightlifting champion Tia-Clair Toomey sets sights on bobsled at 2022 Winter Olympics


Very few people can call themselves an Olympian, but the “fittest woman on Earth” aims to earn the title across not one, but two sports.

Commonwealth Games gold medal weightlifter Tia-Clair Toomey has also been crowned the CrossFit Games champion a record-breaking four years running.

She will attempt to defend her title for a fifth time in 2021, all while learning a new sport for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Toomey took to social media to announce her gearshift, of sorts — relocating to South Korea in December to train with the Australian bobsled team.

“The fact that I have the opportunity to potentially represent my country in a different sport is just so humbling, it’s such an honour,” she said.

“It’s a bit of a strange thing how I found myself in this position, but I’m so excited to see what this new journey and adventure can provide.”

A girl on an icy race track.
Toomey checks out the bobsled track in South Korea ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics.(Instagram)

Training in the off-season

Twenty months ago, Toomey was contacted by the Australian bobsled team who were keen to recruit the Olympian and CrossFit champion.

“I obviously wasn’t very familiar with the season of bobsled, so I had to see when their season was and if it lined up with my goals for CrossFit,” she said.

Turns out, it’s the perfect match, with Toomey packing up her life in the US to focus on learning new skills on the ice in South Korea over the Australian summer.

“You know, I’m not finished with my CrossFit right now, so this is in the off-season,” she said.

“Honestly, it just couldn’t have played out any better; in my eyes [the two sports] only complement each other.”

Many will remember Toomey’s golden moment during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, when she clean-and-jerked 114 kilograms during the women’s 58kg weightlifting final.

Weightlifter Tia-Clair Toomey roars with approval after gold medal win
Toomey won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Toomey also represented Australia in weightlifting at the 2016 Rio Olympics and said all her experience to date, including CrossFit, would only help her bobsled pursuits.

“You need to work on your power, your speed,” she said.

“I know there’s a lot of sprint speed work, which I do a lot of throughout my CrossFit training.”

Bobsled racing involves crews of two or four athletes making timed runs down narrow and banked ice tracks.

The sport puts an emphasis on bursts of power and sprinting with strength also needed to push the sleds that weigh 128kg.

Already in the record books

Toomey is the only woman in history to win the CrossFit Games four times, a sport combining all elements of fitness including gymnastics, lifting, strength and endurance.

A man and woman in winter gear in the snow.
Coach and husband Shane Orr is looking forward to the pair’s new experiences.(Instagram)

She said the challenge of a new goal was giving her something to focus on during the CrossFit off-season.

When she switches back to CrossFit training in February, it will also help her Winter Olympic pursuits.

“I’m just getting that much stronger, that much faster and fitter,” she said.

Toomey’s husband and CrossFit coach Shane Orr has endured the two-week hotel quarantine in South Korea alongside his wife.

“I’m getting pumped for all the new experiences we will tackle in the coming weeks,” he posted on social media during the lockdown.

Following in the footsteps of champions

Toomey is not the first Australian athlete to make the switch from Summer to Winter games.

Jana Pittman and Astrid Radjenovic compete in the bobsleigh
Jana Pittman (L) turned to women’s bobsled at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.(Reuters: Arnd Wiegman)

Track sprinter Paul Narracott finished fourth in the 200m final at the 1978 Commonwealth Games and competed in Brisbane 1982 and at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics before joining the team for the 1992 Winter Games in France.

Jana Pittman competed at the Sydney and Athens Olympics in athletics before turning her attention to bobsled to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The former hurdler-turned-brake-woman joined teammate Astrid Radjenovic to finish 14th.



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Iris Capital sets record with $45m pub deal


Merivale boosted its portfolio last month paying $32 million for the Duke of Gloucester hotel in Randwick. Iris Capital, led by Sam Arnaout, also recently bought iProsperity’s distressed portfolio of 17 Ibis hotels from AccorInvest for $180 million.

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“I’m delighted to have purchased the Narwee Hotel from the Ryan family, and recognise the significance of selling a business having owned and operated it since 1987, Mr Arnaout said.

“The sale process was clinical, and the impressive presentation and positioning of the asset satisfied not only our key investment criteria, but also met a geographical objective we held for that part of Sydney.”

HTL Property chief executive Andrew Jolliffe, who advised on the deal, said established investors are acquiring A-grade hospitality properties at a time when interest rates are at record low levels.

“When we consider the origin of the most recent capital deployment events, it is almost exclusively linked to leading groups such as Redcape, Merivale and Iris Capital”, Mr Jolliffe said.

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Meanwhile CBRE research’s Chinmay Chitale said despite trade conditions improving across the country, with the exception of Victoria, the pub industry faces a key litmus test over the next 12 to 18 months.

“JobKeeper payments are being gradually phased out and amnesty periods offered by banks are expiring, and this will place further stress on balance sheets in the future,” Mr Chitale said.

“Furthermore, rent abatements are due to kick back in with the additional 50 per cent rent to be added to existing rents over the remainder of lease terms.”

He added that pub businesses should take solace, however, from the Federal Government’s 2020-21 Budget initiative to provide full capital asset deductions and loss carry-back provisions as a measure to reduce tax burdens and improve profitability moving forward.

According to Mr Chitale, the measures should help alleviate some medium-term pressure off their balance sheets.

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Local News - Victoria

Storms, flash flooding sets Melbourne awash


Earlier, Geelong was battered by one of the heaviest downpours recorded in the city.

Melbourne’s Footscray had a drenching 165 points of rain in 40 minutes soon after 4.30 p.m.

In the inner city, homeward bound shoppers and office workers were soaked when 70 points of rain poured down in half an hour.

Exits to the city were feet deep in water and scores of cars foundered in the widespread flash floods.

At the height of the thunder storm Melbourne Airport was closed for 45 minutes.

People were pulled along on railway trolleys to get through the flooding in the subway at Flinders Street station.

People were pulled along on railway trolleys to get through the flooding in the subway at Flinders Street station.Credit:The Age Archives

Serious delays on all suburban railway lines during the peak period occurred when:

Lightning at Noble Park and Box Hill disrupted power supply to electric trains;

Flooding on lines in western suburbs forced trains to move at a snail’s pace, and

Lightning strikes closed a section of the Fern Tree Gully line at Heatherdale, and the railways had to run bus shuttle services between there and Lilydale.

Subway floods

Disruptions began with the deluge about 4.30 p m but most services were back to normal by 7.30 p.m.

Railway subways at both Spencer and Flinders streets were flooded to a depth of 18 inches when drains could not cope with the heavy rain shortly before 6 pm.

In the Spencer Street subway porters ferried train travellers on platform trollies.

More determined commuters took off their shoes and socks, hitched up their garments and waded.

Three women run for cover on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane.

Three women run for cover on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane.Credit:The Age Archives

Two Royal Navy helicopters on a flight from Sydney were battered by the storm as they approached Laverton RAAF base over Port Phillip Bay.

Early In the storm lightning struck a three-storey building In Auburn Road, Hawthorn, dislodging a large slab of masonry which crashed on to the crowded footpath. No one was hurt.

Last-minute shoppers in Toorak Village were briefly stranded when Toorak Road turned into a swirling stream with flood waters lapping the footpaths on both sides of the street.

Police closed the road around Albert Park lake when It was cut by storm water in several places.

Poor visibility and slippery road surfaces caused a spate of minor road incidents, but there were no serious injuries.

At the height of the storm in inner Melbourne, drains on the roof of Capitol House blocked and water cascaded into crowded Howey Place.

Several shops in adjoining arcades were flooded, and water an inch deep swept through carpets and stock in a Collins Street shoe store.

Blackouts

Several outer Melbourne suburbs were blacked out—some for more than two hours — alter lightning shattered electricity supplies.

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Areas hit included Deer Park, St. Albans, Sunshine, Altona, Newport, Airport West, Niddrie, Camberwell and Glen Iris.

Power was restored quickly to all areas except small sections of Sunshine and Altona which suffered major breakdowns.

In Geelong, flash flooding washed through the city centre during a storm which pounded the area for 20 minutes soon after 2.30 p.m.

More than an inch of rain fell, flooding city and suburban shops and low-lying homes.

Biscuit tins and other goods floated out of one delicatessen in Ryrie Street.

In a Moorabool Street men’s wear store, water six inches deep caused damage to stock estimated by the owner at more than £2000.

Muddy water damaged more than 300 suits.

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Local News - Victoria

NSW sets its sights on Victorian jobs


Ms Berejiklian and her Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said they hoped the policy would lure up to 25,000 jobs to NSW, but would not name which organisations had been in touch or where they were currently based.

Flight Centre chief executive Graham Turner has said he would consider moving the company’s headquarters from Queensland to NSW if Ms Berejiklian could guarantee “the borders would open and stay open”.

Both the Victorian branch of the Australian Industry Group and the state’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry said they were aware of firms considering a move north after the tough few months the local economy had endured, but that it was inappropriate to name them.

Announcing the scheme, which would offer four years of zero payroll tax to businesses that create 30 new jobs or more, Ms Berejiklian spoke of the huge frustration of companies in some states over their governments’ responses to the COVID crisis.

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“Businesses in other states are extremely frustrated with lockdowns and also with their state governments having borders closed. They are legitimately looking to move to NSW,” she said.

“What the Treasurer and I wanted to do is provide the incentive to do that.”

Some of Australia’s biggest corporations, including big-four banks ANZ and NAB, mining behemoth BHP and communications giant Telstra, have their global headquarters in Melbourne. The city’s business community has bristled under the months-long lockdown ordered by the Andrews government in response to Victoria’s devastating wave of coronavirus infections.

A spokesman for Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the state government had already provided billions of dollars in businesses support, including $550 million in payroll tax refunds, since the pandemic struck and that more help was on the way in its budget.

“We’ve stood with Victorian businesses and their workers every step of the way, with more than $6.5 billion in direct economic support to help make it through to the other side of the coronavirus crisis,” the spokesman said.

“The budget will continue our support for businesses, workers and families and deliver major investment in the job-creating infrastructure and services Victorians need as we rebuild from the pandemic.”

During the Andrews government’s lockdown many Melbourne businesses and business groups were loud in their opposition, with some calling it a “blunt instrument” and others decrying the uncertainty when it was extended or deepened.

The Victorian government says it already offers a more competitive payroll tax regime than its northern neighbour.

NSW businesses with annual wage bills of more than $1 million will pay 5.45 cents in the dollar to their state government this year, while Victorian employers paying their workforces more than $650,000 annually will pay 4.85 per cent, or 2 per cent for regional firms.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said payroll tax was a “tax on jobs and growth”. He urged Mr Pallas to raise the tax-free threshold to $1 million and drop the rate in the dollar for both regional and metro businesses.

“We don’t want to lose any businesses to NSW, which is why the Victorian Chamber is continuing to lobby the Victorian government to include payroll tax relief in its budget,” Mr Guerra said.

“Victoria was the engine room of the national economy before COVID-19 hit and, with the right incentives, levers and policies, we will be once again.”

Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group, said he was aware of companies looking to expand their operations beyond Victoria’s borders so that they would never again be “held hostage” by a single state government.

But the expense and disruption of moving an entire operation interstate would prove too much for many Victorian businesses, Mr Piper said, adding that firms would not want their plans in the public realm.

“It’s more a question of not putting all their eggs in one basket,” he said.

“But I think they’d want to keep that to themselves at the moment.”

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Climate lawyer who sued super fund sets sights on federal government over bond risks


“We’re in it to win,” he said. “It’s not difficult to imagine that the more debt Australia has, the more sensitive bondholders may become to risks such as climate change.”

As part of the settlement with Rest, the fund made a public statement on climate risk that Mr Barnden described as a victory for his client.

“Climate change is a material, direct and current financial risk to the superannuation fund across many risk categories, including investment, market, reputational, strategic, governance and third-party risks,” the super fund said.

“The settlement outcome and what Rest has committed to is a wonderful outcome for our client,” Mr Barnden said. “One would think that the threat of legal action should spur funds to do better.”

A string of major Australian financial institutions have recently racheted up their commitments to “transitioning” the economy from a reliance on carbon emitting industries to a greener future. Major industry super funds, including healthcare fund Hesta and AwareSuper, have committed to net zero targets and reduced exposure to fossil fuels.

“You have the prudential and company regulator telling the entities which they oversee to actively consider and disclose climate change risks.

“You have the RBA talking about the structural risks to the Australian economy and the impact on major financial institutions.

“These are not activists,” he said.

Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility executive director Brynn O’Brien said the world had changed since the Rest case was launched two years ago.

“The financial sector is now committing to actions we could only dream of in terms of public policy in Australia, it is that far ahead of government.”

Ms O’Brien said the case had been closely watched not only by other financial institutions, but by those who would hold them to account.

“I believe that other institutions are now likely to see what Rest has agreed to do as something like a minimum standard,” she said. “It will have a normative and persuasive effect on the Australian market.”

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NSW Police Organised Crime Squad sets up strike force to investigate Sam Burgess allegations


NSW Police says it has set up a strike force to investigate domestic violence and drug allegations against former South Sydney Rabbitohs player Sam Burgess.

The police confirmed its Organised Crime Squad has established Strike Force Irrabella to look at the allegations which emerged following an article in The Australian newspaper.

The Rabbitohs have been rocked by claims by the publication that the club covered up alleged domestic violence and drug use by former captain Burgess.

On Friday, Burgess stepped down from his position as an assistant coach with the Rabbitohs and from a broadcast role with Fox Sports.

He has denied the allegations.

Burgess’s lawyer, Mark O’Brien, told The Australian: “The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client.”

Earlier, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett denied the misconduct allegations were common knowledge at the club.

“That is not true, it wasn’t known widely within the club because I’ve been here since the end of ’18 and I knew nothing about it until I was told in the last 24 hours,” he said.

“I’ve never had a player or any staff member since I’ve been here talk to me about it in any shape, form or manner.”

“I’ve never heard a rumour or a whisper about Sam Burgess and drugs.”

A man with grey hair looking pensive.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett says the revelations are not a distraction ahead of the finals.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Bennett said he had spoken to Burgess but would not go into detail about their conversation.

“I’m not going to discuss my relationship with Sam — we know where we stand with each other,” he said.

Burgess’s lawyer has claimed the sources of the allegations “are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues”.

Bennett strongly rejected suggestions the issue would impact on the side’s performance in Sunday night’s qualifier against the Newcastle Knights.

“It has no impact on the team whatsoever, Sam’s not part of the team in the sense that he’s not playing, he’s not required to play, we’ve come this far without him this year, he’s retired,” Bennett said.

“You can make it out into as big of a headline as you like, you can talk it up as much as you like, but I’m going to tell you now it’s not going to have an impact on the playing group here because it’s distant from us.”

Two men sitting in an empty stadium.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett says he had spoken to Sam Burgess since the allegations came to light.(AAP: Darren England)



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Stewart McSweyn breaks Australian 1,500m record, Jessica Hull sets new national 3,000m mark at Doha



Middle-distance runners Stewart McSweyn and Jessica Hull have continued their remarkable 2020 campaigns by breaking more Australian records at the Diamond League meet in Doha.

McSweyn produced arguably the greatest run of his burgeoning career to win the men’s 1,500m in three minutes 30.51 seconds.

Not to be outdone, Hull clocked 8:36.03 in a red-hot women’s 3,000m — meaning she became the first Australian woman to simultaneously hold the 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m national marks.

It was also the first time in 20 years that two Australian athletics records were broken on the same day.

McSweyn has enjoyed a remarkable northern hemisphere summer campaign.

Eight days ago he consigned the great Craig Mottram’s 3,000m mark to history.

This time around, he bettered training partner Ryan Gregson’s 10-year-old national standard in the 1,500m.

McSweyn dominated a high-quality field from the start.

He flew past the last of the pacemakers with 350 metres to go and held his form all the way to the finish line on a steamy Friday night (Saturday morning AEST) in Doha.

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“Obviously I’m very happy,” said the Tasmanian.

“I came here knowing I was in good shape.

“I’ve had a good European season so I just wanted to be competitive, I wanted to give it everything.

“That’s why I got right on the pace because I like running and finding out how good I am and not worrying too much about other people.

“Any race you lead in such a high-quality field you know you’re going to have guys hunting you.

“I just made sure I held it together because I knew if I slipped up just two per cent I was going to get caught by that whole second pack.”

Selemon Barega from Ethiopia was a distant second in 3:32.97.

Hull, 23, took advantage of a stacked field to improve on Benita Willis’s 17-year-old Australian record in the 3000m.

Hull stripped more than 32 seconds off her PB to clock 8:36.03, finishing 10th in a race won by Kenyan Hellen Obiri in 8:22.54 — the fastest time in the world this year.

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Egan Bernal’s bad day sets up Slovenian battle in Tour de France


The Tour de France boiled down to a battle between its two star Slovenian riders on Sunday as last year’s winner Egan Bernal dropped out of realistic contention.

Tadej Pogacar beat yellow jersey-holder Primoz Roglic in a dramatic mountaintop finish to Stage 15, though Roglic retains a 40-second advantage in the yellow jersey and formidable support from teammates who shepherded him up the Grand Colombier climb.

Bernal plummeted down the standings, all but ensuring the end of a five-year streak of Tour victories by his Ineos Grenadiers team, formerly known as Team Sky.

“At the moment, Roglic seems unstoppable,” Pogacar said.

“But today Bernal cracked and maybe one day myself or Primoz will crack too.

Pogacar stayed with Roglic on the long and brutal Grand Colombier climb despite Roglic having backing from four teammates on his ascent.

They drew on their last reserves to sprint for the summit finish, Pogacar taking his second stage win by a bike-length.

Pogacar and Roglic were given the same time.

As the stage winner, Pogacar was awarded 10 bonus seconds in the general classification against Roglic’s six for second place.

Roglic leads Pogacar by 40 seconds overall.

“I was a bit too short at the end. I didn’t make any gift to Tadej,” Roglic said, adding the Tour is “far from over”.

“We are good friends but we both want to win. He was just stronger and I was a bit disappointed to lose the stage.”

A cyclist wearing a white jersey throws his arms in the air while crossing the finish line of a stage on the Tour de France.
Pogacar, wearing the best young rider’s white jersey, crosses the finish line ahead of Roglic.(By Christophe Petit-Tesson/Pool via AP)

Monday is a rest day before five competitive stages including an individual time trial on Saturday, then the traditional procession into Paris on September 20.

Colombian riders started on Sunday ranked third to sixth overall behind the Slovenian duo, but all of them lost time on the 175km stage into the Jura mountains, and for two the challenge seemed over.

Bernal dropped off the lead group on the Grand Colombier climb and appeared to lose any chance of retaining the title as he dropped to 13th overall, eight minutes and 25 seconds off the yellow jersey.

Fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana started the day fifth but also dropped back on Grand Colombier and is ninth, five minutes, eight seconds off the lead.

Two more Colombian riders, Rigoberto Uran and Miguel Angel Lopez, managed to stay with the lead group and sit third and fourth in the overall standings.

Two cyclists, one in a white jersey ahead of one in yellow, straining as they ride.
There are five competitive stages left on the Tour.

Bernal said he had been feeling the effects of the first of the day’s three climbs, which had a gradient reaching 22 per cent in places.

“I was not going well from the first climb, to be honest, I was almost dropped there, I was suffering from the first climb,” he said in a statement from Ineos Grenadiers.

“It’s difficult to say how I felt, the feeling was that I was empty — I had no power. When the other riders did a big acceleration, I couldn’t go too hard to follow, but then I recovered really quickly, but my body couldn’t react as normal.”

As the long climb from the Rhone Valley to the finish began, Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team had five riders including the Slovenian in the peloton.

They worked well together on the climb to protect Roglic and force a pace that put pressure on his rivals.

Restrictions introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic were supposed to ensure fans were restricted to the flatter sections and foothills and weren’t allowed to throng the narrow approaches to the summit finish.

However, there were still some cheering and waving flags near the top.

AP



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