Turnbull’s WA GST comment ‘off the beat’

The prime minister may have showed he is out of touch with West Australian people after he claimed the media was living in a “parallel universe” over the issue of the GST revenue carve-up, analysts say.

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Malcolm Turnbull spent most of last week in WA but brought little to woo voters in terms of infrastructure funding announcements or a resolution to the GST problem.

WA receives the lowest share of GST revenue and the state government last week urged Canberra to intervene over new census figures downgrading WA’s population, which it says could lead to another $1.9 billion hit.

Mr Turnbull skirted around GST questions but raised eyebrows when he claimed he had received a warm welcome to WA, which he said was contrary to media reports that people were “angry” and “wished” he would stay away.

“It is a complete parallel universe between what the media are saying and what people I’m meeting in the real world are saying to me,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

Political analyst Harry Phillips said the prime minister seemed to be covering up a problem he did not have a solution to yet.

“I was quite amazed by his statement,” he told AAP on Sunday.

“He’s usually quite good in his public statements … but on that one, I think he was just completely off the beat.”

Prof Phillips said the GST was a “coffee table” topic in WA that was a big concern and broadly discussed, even if people did not fully understand the carve-up system.

Analyst John Phillimore agreed on the GST significance and said there otherwise would not be a Productivity Commission inquiry into it.

“Clearly it’s a bigger issue than just the media. But also, what else is he going to say, to some extent (about the warm welcome)?

“It is clearly an issue in most people’s minds and has been for some time.”

Prof Phillimore said the prime minister was “shepherded to the right people” when he was in the community, so it was no surprise he felt positive about his visit.

Analyst David Black said Mr Turnbull’s visit was as successful as expected, but there could be ramifications once the WA budget is handed down on September 7 and the extent of the financial mess is revealed.

“The fact is that there is a real issue here and there is a federal election in sight,” he said.

“WA is a state that makes a difference.”

A recent Galaxy poll suggested four Liberal-held seats in WA could be in trouble.

But Prof Black also noted WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt had a tricky job of selling the state budget.

“From Mr Turnbull’s point of view, while WA deals with its problems it might make it easier from his side,” he said.

The prime minister, whose last visit to WA was in February, promised to return several more times this year.

Saints down Eagles in AFL thriller

St Kilda are believing again after getting their AFL finals bid back on track with a thrilling come-from-behind win against West Coast.

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A week after being rocked by Port Adelaide star Robbie Gray’s last-gasp winner, Alan Richardson’s Saints scored a morale-boosting 15.13 (103) to 14.11 (95) win on Sunday afternoon.

The stakes were high at Etihad Stadium with the Eagles and Saints eighth and 11th respectively going into round 20.

With their finals hopes on the line, St Kilda trailed by 14 points early in the last quarter but held their nerve and rattled through three unanswered goals to hit the lead then hang on for a pulsating win.

“I’m just so pleased for the boys … we couldn’t have been any more dominant in the last quarter, but weren’t able to really get reward,” Richardson said.

“It was just one of those games for the players to just get the satisfaction of being able to come in and sing the song after working so hard is really pleasing.”

The Saints remain in 11th spot with the win but are now the last team in a group of four sides with 10-9 records who are battling it out for a finals berth.

West Coast, in ninth, are one of those clubs but Adam Simpson’s team looks vulnerable after they suffered their fifth loss in Melbourne this season.

“We did a lot right … I thought the boys were pretty brave but couldn’t sustain it in the end,” Simpson said.

“When we got it in our front half we looked quite dangerous so I’m going to look at the glass half-full on this one.

“I think the effort and intent is there but the ability to execute all day is obviously something we’re working on.”

There was just one point in it as the clock ticked down the dying minutes, but Jack Billings marked and kicked the sealer with less than 30 seconds left in a pulsating contest.

Jack Steele was outstanding for the home side with 26 possessions, 10 tackles and two goals, with Blake Acres (30 disposals) and Billings (25 touches, two goals) also important.

Josh Kennedy kicked five goals for the Eagles, with Sam Mitchell (23 possessions) and Andrew Gaff (30) also influential.

The Saints face another key test on Sunday when they face 10th-placed Melbourne at the MCG, while the Eagles return home to host Carlton on Saturday night.

Retiring star Nick Riewoldt finished the match in the concussion protocol after a head clash with Dom Sheed, but the club is confident he will be cleared to play next week.

Tigers march on towards AFL’s top four

Richmond have dismantled Hawthorn by 29 points at the MCG to keep their top-four AFL ambitions on track.

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The Tigers made short work of the in-form Hawks, winning 13.15 (93) to 9.10 (64) to end Hawthorn’s hopes of finals football.

But Damien Hardwick’s side can continue to dream after a relentless performance brought a fourth-straight win.

The Tigers sit third, outside the top two by 3.3 per cent after their fine day’s work.

Dion Prestia put together one of his best showings for Richmond, Alex Rance was unbeatable and David Astbury had a field day.

Josh Caddy kicked four goals and Dustin Martin finished strongly, but nowhere was the difference between the two sides more evident than inside 50.

Richmond — without spearhead Jack Riewoldt once more — brought superb tackling intensity and found new routes to goal.

Caddy, Daniel Rioli, Trent Cotchin and Corey Ellis all kicked first-term goals to create a buffer that the Hawks couldn’t get close to all day.

Hardwick said the quick start against the almost-feared Hawks was key.

“We knew they were a fast-starting side and our guys came to play early. They’ve been a form side,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of sides thankful for us for beating them. Playing those guys in September’s a bit of a concern, so it’s a good win.”

“I’m really pleased with the way the guys shared the ball around, played for each other. It was pretty impressive.”

The hard-working Tigers seemed to inhabit every square inch of the ground, denying Hawthorn any run or clean usage.

Without suspended leader Luke Hodge, the Hawks struggled and played without cohesion.

The first-half display had Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling excited about Richmond’s prospects in September.

“It’s so impressive the style they’re playing with. It’s finals style football. This’ll hold up,” he told radio station 3AW.

Hawthorn eliminated their skill errors but were no more penetrative in the second term.

After a low-scoring second term, Richmond opened up a 45-point lead with three quick third-term goals.

The Tigers would have moved to second on the ladder if they maintained that pace.

Instead, a late Hawthorn rally means Richmond have to be content with third place with three matches left — starting with next Saturday’s blockbuster against fourth-placed Geelong.

In his 250th game, Jarryd Roughead was emblematic of Hawthorn’s kicking woes.

The Hawks skipper twice kicked out on the full, but did slot a tough set shot from outside 50 metres in an otherwise forgettable milestone game.

Hawks boss Alastair Clarkson said the Tigers were “harder and more polished”.

“We probably contributed a fair bit to their good play by giving them the ball far too easily,” he said.

Tigers lick lips for Selwood-less AFL Cats

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick can’t hide his anticipation for Saturday’s marquee AFL match-up with Geelong.

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With Cats skipper Joel Selwood ruled out of the contest, the Tigers coach admits he’ll “be sleeping a little easier” this week.

Richmond will head down the Princes Highway next weekend full of confidence after their 29-point dismissal of Hawthorn, their fourth-straight success.

The venue is not a happy hunting ground for the Tigers, with just one win in Geelong since 1990.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the fixture for Hardwick’s side.

Win and they’ll have all but locked up a double chance in September.

It could even allow the Tigers to stake a claim for a second-place finish, and the possibility of an all-MCG pathway to the grand final.

A loss and Richmond will sit fourth, looking at an away final to rampant minor premiers in-waiting Adelaide.

The stakes are high and Hardwick says he won’t be downplaying them in an attempt to deflect pressure.

“We embrace it. We’re enjoying the challenge at the moment and enjoying the struggle of the AFL season,” he said.

“It’s been an incredible season so far.

“It’s going to be big game down the highway but we don’t hide from any opponent.”

While admitting it would make his job of preparing for the game easier, Hardwick said he was disappointed that Selwood wouldn’t be out there.

The Geelong hard man suffered an ankle injury in Friday night’s loss to Sydney that won’t allow him to play again until the finals.

But Richmond could be without one of their key planks, with Jack Riewoldt no guarantee to return.

Riewoldt cut his cornea at training and visited three specialists in the hope of playing against Hawthorn without success.

“He was pretty close this week,” Hardwick said.

“If he doesn’t get the tick off I’m sure he’ll go searching for four or five other eye specialists.

“I think he’s ticked off half of them in Victoria.

“We’re pretty confident he’ll be right to play.”

Hardwick said the nature of his side’s win, without key forward Jack Riewoldt, showed the Cats would still be formidable.

“We lost a good player in Jack for two weeks. Sides can play when they haven’t got their best player playing,” he said.

Hardwick hailed the influence of recruits Josh Caddy (28 disposals, four goals) and Dion Prestia (31 disposals, one goal), who he said played their “best games for us in a big game”.

Abbas pledges to ramp up Gaza sanctions

Palestinian Authority president Mr Abbas based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been seeking to weaken Islamists Hamas by cutting power supplies to crowded Gaza.

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On Saturday, he said he would continue with sanctions on the coastal strip, despite UN concerns that it amounts to collective punishment of its two million residents.

“We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation” with the Abbas administration, the president said.

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“Since the coup, we have paid a billion and a half dollars to the Gaza Strip,” Abbas said, referring to the 2007 overthrow of his Fatah movement by Hamas in Gaza.

“We will not allow this to continue,” the WAFA official Palestinian news agency reported him as saying in Arabic.

“Either things will go as they are meant to be, or we will continue to reduce these funds,” he said, accusing Hamas of stealing some of the funds.

The Islamist group responded late Saturday in a statement: “Attacking Hamas and threatening the people of Gaza with more sanctions is a blow to reconciliation efforts.”

It accused Abbas’s Palestinian Authority of working with Israel to isolate Gaza and bring suffering to its people.

Both sides have previously committed to reconciliation, but repeated attempts have failed.

The Palestinian Authority had been paying for some electricity to be delivered to Gaza since 2007, but in recent months has reduced the amount.

Gazans now receive only a couple of hours of electricity a day, delivered from the territory’s own power station and others in Israel and Egypt.

The Palestinian Authority has also cut stipends to its former Gaza staff forced out of office by Hamas, in a move analysts see as seeking to sow discontent in the enclave.

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