Party profile: One Nation

One Nation is back.

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Not that it’s ever really gone away since Pauline Hanson established One Nation in 1997, but she’s rejoined the party and it is again rising to prominence.

 

One Nation sprang to life in 1997 on the back of the astounding political fortunes of founder Pauline Hanson the year before.

 

Despite being disendorsed as the Liberal Party candidate for Oxley during the 1996 election campaign, Ms Hanson secured a record-breaking 19.31 per cent against the ALP in the formerly safe Labor seat.

 

Her maiden speech homed in on what Ms Hanson considered to be Indigenous privilege and overly high levels of immigration.

 

The speech resonated with some voters who felt themselves to be marginalised in Australian society.

 

“But I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. Like most Australians, I worked for my land; no-one gave it to me. I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. Of course I will be called racist but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.”

 

One Nation’s fortunes rapidly declined after Pauline Hanson lost her seat in the 1998 elections although it has continued to field candidates in most federal and state elections.

 

Its policies reflected the views outlined by Ms Hanson in parliament in 1996, and continues to do so, says the party’s national leader, Jim Savage.

 

Mr Savage says One Nation is an unashamedly nationalistic party that would push for the re-introduction of tariffs to protect Australian agriculture and manufacturing.

 

He says while the party is under no illusions that it will be a major force in the next government, it is prepared for potentially holding the balance of power.

 

“If anyone in One Nation, whether it’s in the House of Reps or the Senate, ever held the balance of power we would always put our support behind the Coalition, I’ll make that quite clear. We are anti-Labor. We have some issues with the Coalition on some of the things that they do, but we are definitely a conservative party and we would never be under doubt as to which side of politics we would support.”

 

But the things that gained Pauline Hanson such notoriety – Indigenous land rights and Asian migrants – have given way to concern about Muslim migrants and asylum seekers.

 

Ms Hanson told SBS Radio’s Tamil program migrants don’t see One Nation as being opposed to all migrants.

 

“As one Sri Lankan pulled me up only a few weeks ago and he said ‘I love you’. He said ‘I came here’ and he said ‘I have three sons’ and he said ‘I love you because you love your country. That’s why I came here, for a better way of life’.”

 

One Nation’s policy on multiculturalism states the party will “abolish the Racial Discrimination Act and promote assimilation, nationalism, loyalty and pride in being an Australian.”

 

Ms Hanson says the tradition of immigration in Australia was in the past a success because migrants assimilated far better than they do today.

 

“Immigration has always been a very big part of Australia’s history. A lot of migrants migrated here. So did my grandparents for that better way of life. So under One Nation, we believe in a zero net immigration policy — those that leave our shores, replace them. But to ensure that our unemployment queues are not added to, waiting lists on our hospitals, nursing homes, a strain on our infrastructure, we must look after the people that are here before we invite more into our country.”

 

One Nation says its policy to abolish multiculturalism is not intended to stereotype any group and has nothing to do with race.

 

But racism was just one of the charges made against Stephanie Banister, the now former One Nation lower house candidate who, in a memorable interview on Channel 7, said this:

 

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia… Less than two per cent of Australians follow Haram. Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ. They don’t have a tax on [kosher foods], they’ve just got a certain way of making it where haram has a tax on the food.”

 

One Nation’s national leader, Jim Savage, says the comments were a result of the candidate being unprepared to defend her concerns about the cost to consumers of Halal certification.

 

“You know, that poor girl, she went on national television on Saturday (after the original interview aired) and gave a heartfelt apology for the mistakes she made and Channel 7 wouldn’t show that. They came and interviewed her but when she was truly sorry and she was very, very sad. You know I think it was very much a case of ‘let’s try to bring up another Pauline Hanson of 1998 scenario’ and I think it was very unfair and I feel so sorry for Stephanie. I have to take some of the blame for that. I didn’t protect her well enough and I’ll stand condemned for that.”

 

The concerns One Nation candidates openly have about Islam and Muslims do not make it onto the party’s official platform.

 

What does is the matter that is preoccupying the major parties in this election campaign — asylum seekers.

 

“Hello, I’m Mike Holt and I’m running in the seat of Fairfax for One Nation. Like me, I’m sure you are worried about the boat people problem. Kevin Rudd’s ‘solution’ is no solution at all. I believe that every single boat person who came here since Rudd dismantled Howard’s solution, I believe that they’re all illegal invaders, and therefore they do not deserve to be in Australia. They came here to circumvent our immigration laws and, as such, they are criminals and we don’t want criminals in our society. So I believe that we should round up every single one that’s come in here since Rudd was elected and send them all back home.”

 

One Nation candidate Mike Holt, in a campaign video on the One Nation website.

 

Pauline Hanson’s decision to stand for the Senate in New South Wales, and the ‘Islam is a country’ gaffe that made headlines around the world has again put One Nation in the public eye.

 

But this election will see many minor parties competing for the conservative vote — Rise Up Australia, Australian Christians, parties established by Bob Katter and mining magnate Clive Palmer among them.

 

One Nation national leader Jim Savage, himself a Senate candidate in Queensland, says it’s a case of the more the merrier.

 

“I don’t consider this a competition. I mean, the only reason One Nation exists is because we have grave fears about certain things that are going on in our country. We have grave concerns over the quality of our leadership. I would only be too pleased if other minor parties can join us. We have very good relationships with other similar-minded minor parties, and we have very good preference deals done with most of them. I don’t consider them as competitors, I consider them as team mates, and I welcome them.”

 

 

 

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Khawaja dropped down order for tour game

Incumbent Test No.

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3 Usman Khawaja did not bat No.3 for the Australians in their two-day tour match against England Lions in Northampton, in a worrying sign for the battling left-hander.

Phil Hughes instead came out at first drop and Shane Watson at No.4, with Khawaja under significant pressure to hold his place for the fifth Ashes Test starting at The Oval on Wednesday.

The fact that Khawaja has been pushed so far down the order in a match tailor made for Australia’s struggling batsmen to spend time in the middle, suggests the 26-year-old may not be in the selectors plans for The Oval.

Coach Darren Lehmann put his batsmen on notice after the collapse in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street that careers were on the line.

At lunch on the final day of the rain-affected tour match, the Australians were 2-59 from 19 overs, after The Lions had declared on their overnight score of 7(dec)-269.

Hughes was 5 not out, and had an excellent opportunity to put his case for a recall beyond doubt.

Stand-in skipper Shane Watson was unbeaten on 1.

Khawaja had spent two years out of the Test team and hasn’t looked convincing since his return at Lord’s.

He scored 54 in the second innings of that match, but otherwise he’s struggled with scores of 1, 24, 0 and 21 – although he did cop the worst umpiring call of the series in the third Test at Manchester.

Khawaja hasn’t looked comfortable in a position where Australia urgently need to find solidity.

Hughes is hardly banging the door down, however he has performed well enough to feel aggrieved he was dropped in the first place.

The 24-year-old averages 62 for the tour so far, higher than any other batsman.

He’s scored 436 runs and five half centuries so far in the UK, including an 81 not out in the first Test at Trent Bridge that he regards as one of his best ever Test innings.

David Warner continued his strong form to score 35 from 46 balls, with five fours, before he was out stumped in the 15th over trying to drive through the covers.

Ed Cowan reunited with Warner as the opening partnership, but a sorry tour continued for the Tasmanian, out for 17 caught behind.

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Hansen questions McKenzie’s flyhalf thinking

The opening match in Sydney on Saturday has been eagerly awaited in Australia since McKenzie was installed as head coach after Robbie Deans fell on his sword following his team’s 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions last month.

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New Zealander Deans had refused to select Cooper for the Lions series after a falling-out last year when the enigmatic Queensland Reds playmaker described the Wallabies environment as ‘toxic’ and restrictive for his natural game.

McKenzie, however, had publicly backed Cooper throughout and given him license to play his helter-skelter style while at the Reds.

McKenzie had refused to discuss his team composition and media reports across the Tasman suggested he will select the uncapped Toomua, who helped the ACT Brumbies to the Super Rugby final and is more of a steadying influence in the Canberra-based side’s conservative game plan.

“I actually think the better question is, ‘is he feeling … challenged’ because he doesn’t know which five-eighth (flyhalf) he wants to play,” Hansen told reporters on Thursday when asked if he felt under pressure with McKenzie’s mind games.

“He’s in a difficult situation because I’m imagining when Robbie Deans wasn’t picking Quade Cooper, he was saying ‘I’ll pick you Quade, I’ll pick you’.

“Our information is telling us that he’s going to pick the other bloke.”

PRESSURE OF EXPECTATIONS

Hansen said he felt that McKenzie was worried about the pressure of expectation that would be placed on either Toomua or Cooper, who has not played well against the All Blacks in the past and was anonymous in the Reds’ Super rugby playoffs loss to the Crusaders last month.

“There’s only one or two reasons why he doesn’t want to tell them,” Hansen said of McKenzie’s refusal to discuss his potential side.

“He’s not sure for himself or he doesn’t think they can cope with the pressure of being in the public too early. So it’s not effecting us, it doesn’t bother me who they play.

“I think they will pick Matt (Toomua) and possibly also pick both midfielders from the Brumbies (Christian Leali’ifano and Tevita Kuridrani) and use their defensive screens and their rush defence to put us under pressure that way.”

While McKenzie had been feted in Australia as the man to turn the Wallabies’ fortunes around after they won just three of the 18 tests against the All Blacks under Deans, Hansen said he would still be under pressure on Saturday.

“I only have to think back to my first test match as head coach and whether you want to admit it or not, there is pressure,” Hansen said.

“Australia haven’t had a great run against us for a wee while now and that’s been attributed to Robbie Deans, which I think is a bit unfair.

“And everyone seems to think that Ewen is going to make the difference so there has to be pressure on him. Well what happens if it doesn’t work? There is a lot of pressure there.

“That’s why they will turn up and give it everything they have got, so we have to match that intensity or better it.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years

The soldier was convicted of espionage and other crimes last month, having earlier admitted giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of reports from the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and confidential diplomatic cables.

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Bradley Manning could be freed on parole within a decade and his lawyers have indicated they’ll ask President Barack Obama to pardon him or commute his sentence.

 

Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving more than 700,000 classified files, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks in 2010.

 

At the time he was working as a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad, Iraq.

 

He will be dishonourably discharged from the Army but is to receive a credit of just over three-and-a-half years (1,293 days) for the time he has already served awaiting trial and sentencing.

 

In January, Judge Denise Lind shaved another 112 days off Bradley Manning’s potential sentence because of what she described as the “more rigorous than necessary” treatment he faced in solitary confinement.

 

He’ll be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence.

 

At the trial at Fort Meade, Maryland, Bradley Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, read a statement written by his client.

 

“I understand that my actions violated the law. I regret that my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all (and he puts in here) all women and men are created equal.”

 

Human Rights Watch has questioned the severity of the sentence, saying it contrasts with the total impunity of former senior US officials for torture and related abuses.

 

In a statement, the organisation says it also far exceeds the sentences most democratic countries impose for public leaks of sensitive information.

 

After the sentencing, lawyer David Coombs called on US President Barack Obama to end what he called Bradley Manning’s suffering and pardon him.

 

“Make no mistake about it, the cancer of over-classification is threatening the very fabric of our free society. Over-classification hinders debate. It hinders what we know about our government. It hinders finding solutions to common problems and that is, how do we keep our way of life in a post-9/11 world?”

 

The classified material that shocked many around the world included a 2007 gunsight video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Baghdad.

 

But Manning’s leak raised strong passions on the part of the US government, which said his action had put American lives at risk.

 

During his trial, the prosecution said Bradley Manning set out to harm the country he had pledged to serve.

 

But Manning has plenty of supporters among anti-secrecy advocates, who maintain he was justified in releasing the information.

 

Members of the Manning Support Network have gathered outside the White House to call on President Barack Obama to pardon Manning.

 

A spokesman, Nathan Fuller, has described Manning’s sentence as massive, and says it’s outrageous that a whistleblower should go to prison at all, let alone for 35 years.

 

Mr Fuller has told the ABC Manning’s leak was substantially smaller than it could have been, given his security clearance, and that should have been taken into account at his trial.

T

“He understood what it would give the American people, and that was a clear sense of how we operate our wars in secret, what the American military and diplomats do with our tax dollars and in our name. And he saw that a lot of those were what he called the non-PR (public relations) versions of the world, and that included a lot of abuses, ignoring tortures and even some war crimes.”

 

The leaking of classified documents catapaulted WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, into the international spotlight.

 

Julian Assange has described Bradley Manning’s sentencing as a “significant strategic victory”.

But Mr Assange has renewed calls for Manning’s release, describing his conviction as an affront to basic concepts of Western justice.

 

Mr Assange has told the ABC Manning could apply for parole and be freed within a decade.

 

“The US government applied a capital offence to Bradley Manning that could have seen him executed. In addition it demanded at the beginning of this trial that he be sentenced for an additional 135 years, so to knock that down to a sentence that in all probability will be under 10 years served from now, that is a remarkable tactical victory. But it should never have happened and I hope that an appeal process is successful.”

 

Julian Assange says the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle, and that can only lead to more whistleblowers.

 

And indeed, US officials are still seeking the return of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed details of secret US monitoring programs.

 

Snowden has been given temporary asylum in Russia.

 

 

Kerri Worthington reports.

 

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Fewer state executions, says Amnesty

21 nations carried out state-sanctioned capital punishment last year, a drop from 28 countries a decade ago.

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Amnesty says there were just over 680 executions, almost the same number as in 2011.

 

But the group warns that this number does not include thousands of secret executions, many of which are carried out in China.

 

David Crisante reports.

 

Once again China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States are the world’s biggest executioners.

 

Also included in the 21-country list is Gambia, which ended a 31-year hiatus by putting to death nine people in one day.

 

India carried out its first execution since 2004, hanging a Pakistani militant who carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

 

And Japan also ended its 20-month freeze of capital punishment.

 

Amnesty spokesman Michael Hayworth says these countries are violating human rights laws by executing prisoners.

 

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment. You shouldn’t receive it for any offence, no matter what the crime. Obviously, where people commit crimes, they need to be punished. But the death penalty isn’t an appropriate punishment and it’s the ultimate denial of human rights.”

 

Australia last carried out an execution in 1967 and since then has been one of the leading advocates of abolishing capital punishment.

 

Amnesty says about 140 countries have outlawed the death penalty in law or in practice.

 

But Michael Hayworth says executions are an entrenched form of punishment in a small number of nations.

 

“There are varying different reasons for why countries still continue to execute. Some cite cultural reasons, some cite wanting to be tough on crime. But the reality is those countries should join the trend towards abolition. They should come on board with their international neighbours and abolish this horrendous practice for ever.”

 

The United Nations has expressed particular concern over a number of executions that have been carried out this year.

 

This month, three men were executed in Kuwait, the first state-sanctioned deaths since 2007, and last month Indonesia carried out its first execution in four years.

 

Rupert Colville, from the UN’s Human Rights office, is calling for all countries to create an official moratorium on executions.

 

“In many cases, the death penalty involves clear violations of international norms and standards: for example when fair trial guarantees and due process are not respected, and when executions of juvenile offenders take place in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

 

One glaring omission from Amnesty’s figures is China.

 

Spokesman Michael Hayworth says there is no reliable information about executions in China, so the country was excluded from the 682 executions that Amnesty recorded last year.

 

He says China is believed to have executed thousands of people in secret and Amnesty calling on Australia to use its influence in the international community to help stop this practice.

 

“Australia needs to take a principled approach to the death penalty. They need to condemn executions regardless of who’s executed. This is what we’re calling for. If we see that, we’ll see our reputation in the Asia-Pacific change and we’ll see people consider us as principled opponents of the death penalty who believe in human rights.”

 

Falun Dafa Australia claims many practitioners of the spiritual discipline, which is banned in China, are detained and executed so that their organs can be harvested in secret.

 

Association president, Lucy Zhao says tens of thousands of people have been executed in secret since the government began its campaign against Falun Gong in 1999.

 

She says people in China are living in fear that their family and friends could disappear and be secretly executed without an arrest order.

 

“They may come back after a few weeks or a couple of months as a dead body or as ashes. And of course the government will not tell you that they were on the death penalty. They will just tell you these people died because they committed suicide or they had a heart attack in prison. But how can you believe that?”

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Carr and Bishop outline foreign policy priorities

Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his Opposition counterpart Julie Bishop debated their visions in a debate at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

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Both leaders expressed the importance of Australia having healthy relationships with both the United States and China.

While no major policy differences emerged, some disagreement remains about Australia’s seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The debate between Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his Opposition counterpart Julie Bishop was described by the moderator as an optimistic discussion.

While both leaders attempted to outline their policy differences the similarities were more apparent.

Labor and the Coalition have both promised to review consular support services for Australians overseas.

Senator Carr says he’ll be announcing a review in response to concerns about money being wasted on cases of Australians getting themselves into trouble.

“I think they’re sensible reforms. They respond to the concern reflected in your questions that we’ve got too much diplomatic time being taken up looking after Australians who in many cases should be taking responsibility for their own safety.”

Julie Bishop says changes would also be made if she becomes Foreign Minister after the election.

Ms Bishop says the expectations of Australia’s international travellers need to be managed.

“Australians are an adventurous lot. They like to be traveling the world. But then when they get into trouble they want to have Qantas fly them home. And we have to manage those expectations.”

One area of contention was the issue of Australia’s newly-obtained seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Ms Bishop says in government, she would use the seat to vocalise the concerns of the Pacific Islands.

“I would use our position on the United Nations Security Council to pursue our strategic goals which include ensuring that our neighbourhood, and by our neighbourhood in this context I mean the Pacific, is secure and prosperous.”

But Senator Carr says it might upset Pacific neighbours if Australia used its position on the Security Council to raise regional issues that went beyond its mandate.

“The role of the Security Council of course is to work on peace and security. It’s a big step to say you’d take matter out of the Pacific and lodge them in the Security Council. I don’t think our neighbours in the Pacific, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, PNG would respond happily to an Australian Foreign Minister saying we’ve got these issues we’re going to lodge them as disputes in the Security Council.”

Ms Bishop and Senator Carr were both asked to outline their views on how Australia should prepare for potential future tensions between China and the United States.

Ms Bishop says she doesn’t believe that Australia will be asked to choose between a growing economic reliance on China, and increasing defence ties with the US.

She says it’s inevitable that there will be tensions between China and the US, but it should not be assumed that this will lead to military conflict.

“This is not the Cold War. This is a completely different scenario, where it’s a multi-polar world, where the United States and China have such economic integration that the likelihood of them engaging militarily is in fact subsiding. The engagement between the US and China on military exercises is increasing. The United States and China have a strategic and economic dialogue, which they both take seriously. There are more people in the United States State Department focused on the China relationship than we’ve probably got in the whole of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

Senator Carr says it’s a question of how China behaves as it asserts itself as it emerges as the dominant economy in the world.

He says he tends to agree with Ms Bishop that China and the US have a mutual interest in ensuring that their differences do not lead to conflict, and Australia should try to assist this trend.

“I think we’ve got to work with ASEAN (the Association of South-east Asian Nations). We’ve got to work in a spirit of seeking a peaceful resolution of the disputes that exist, the territorial disputes in the South China and East China Sea. Resource sharing is a positive contribution, and Australia is sponsoring work on that. Encouraging the military-to-military co-operation, which reduces the risk of an accidental conflict by local commanders. And of course, continuing to engage China so that those pockets of paranoia or nationalism that exist in the Chinese ‘commentariat’ can be tested and teased out by the Chinese talking in forums like this, getting to understand us and our instincts, as our knowledge of them deepens.”

When asked about Australia’s international reputation, both parties agreed that the country holds a strong position as a middle-power.

Senator Carr says Australia’s profile has been boosted since its election to the UN Security Council.

“Australia is seen as a creative middle bar. In fact the consensus in the forums in the world is that we decidedly punch above our weight, decidedly. I went through it. I mean election to the Security Council is a rough and ready test. It’s not a bad KPI (Key Performance Indicator) of where you stand.”

While agreeing that Australia’s image overseas is positive, Ms Bishop says this position could change.

Ms Bishop says it’s important that Australia continues to engage with its neighbours and to operate within a prosperous regional framework.

“I believe that Australia’s image overseas is positive. I think that we’re considered a constructive middle power. And our image is of course dependent upon our ability to maintain a strong and stable and prosperous economy, (and) it’s dependent upon the quality of our engagement.”

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Bendigo Bank profit up, confidence down

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank posted a strong jump in annual profit, but faces increasing earnings pressures this year in an economy with low confidence.

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The nation’s biggest regional lender lifted its underlying cash profit by 7.7 per cent lift to $348 million on the back of increased net interest margins, a measure of the profit it makes on loans.

The bank’s managing director Mike Hirst described the result as a solid one in difficult trading conditions.

It is able to lift its net interest margin by delaying passing on the Reserve Bank’s rate cuts.

It has now made those cuts, and while the historically low rates were providing comfort to the bank’s existing mostly retail borrowers, Mr Hirst said the effects were yet to be reflected in a return of consumer confidence.

“Consumer confidence and demand for credit remains low, and competition remains very strong for retail deposits,” he said.

“Certainly if we had a resounding result one way or another at the election, you would hope there would be some more confidence emerge in the market.

“Ultimately low interest rates are good for banks because they lead to expanding economies and the creation of credit.”

Morningstar analyst Ravi Reddy said there would be a negative impact on margins this year and that combined with subdued credit growth would put pressure on the bank.

He said while the bank had done well achieving higher revenue growth than cost growth, the four major banks were still more attractive for investors.

They were achieving better returns than the Bendigo Bank, reflecting their ability to source wholesale funding cheaper, he said.

One area of concern was an 18 per cent jump in the bank’s exposure to bad debts to $37.8 million.

That is related to its exposure to struggling North Queensland cattle properties and increases in bankruptcies by investors in the collapsed Great Southern managed investment scheme.

Wholesale funding costs fell during the year and the bank had taken advantage by jumping into that market and issuing two senior unsecured debt offers, its first since the GFC.

Retail deposits fell slightly but still comprised 78 per cent of funding, giving it the freedom to issue debt and possibly also source funds through residential mortgage backed securities, the bank said.

It also grew its total lending by 4.8 per cent, outperforming the industry average 3.4 per cent.

Bendigo’s net profit, including one-off effects, was up 81 per cent to $352.3 million.

Last year’s figure was reduced by a $95 million writedown on its margin lending operations and wealth management division.

Bendigo shares gave up some early gains to be two cents higher at $10.62 at 1500 AEST.

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APN looks for more cost savings

Jobs could be on the line as the Australian regional media (ARM) operations of APN News and Media look for more cost savings with revenue continuing to fall.

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APN chief executive Michael Miller said the group intended to retain all of its Australian regional newspapers at the moment but when asked if job cuts may be necessary said: “I can’t say no to that”.

“Unfortunately, that’s business.

“I think it’s prudent that all businesses look at their cost line.”

Also, new technology could be employed and duplication between newspapers in the group eliminated.

Sydney-based APN, which also has significant publishing and radio assets in New Zealand, on Friday booked a net profit of $12.8 million for the six months to June 30, 2013.

In the prior corresponding period, APN reported a loss of $319.4 million after slashing the value of its New Zealand publishing business.

ARM revenue fell 14 per cent to $107.8 million, compared to the prior corresponding period.

ARM earnings were down 40 per cent to $12.7 million.

Tough conditions in the retail sector and in local job markets continues to weigh upon ARM’s advertising revenue.

But, APN said, the fall in revenue had eased early in the second half of the company’s financial year, and government spending was starting to pick up.

It said it had achieved cost savings in the first half from the restructure of ARM’s operations in northern NSW, resizing of its head office and the outsourcing of support functions.

Also, a printing plant at Ballina had been closed earlier in August.

Mr Miller said APN’s regional newspapers in Australia were heavily reliant upon mining industry advertising, and the contraction in that sector had affected those papers directly.

ARM, therefore, needed to focus on other sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, and on growing demographic segments such as the babyboomers in Queensland.

Also, ARM now had a new management team.

Queensland’s economic recovery from recent natural disasters would also help ARM’s performance to improve, Mr Miller said.

APN said its publishing arm had already achieved $25 million in cost savings and was targeting $35 million for the full year.

Shares in APN were 6.5 cents, or 22.41 per cent, higher at 35.5 cents at 1216 AEST on Friday.

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Greens happy with Melbourne ballot draw

The Greens have had their chances of retaining their only lower house at the federal election improved with Adam Bandt appearing above his Labor rival on the ballot paper.

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Sixteen candidates will contest the seat of Melbourne – the most for any lower house seat in the country, the Australian Electoral Commission said at the close of nominations on Friday.

Mr Bandt drew the fifth position on the ballot, just above Labor candidate Cath Bowtell at number six.

Independent Anthony Main is in the top spot.

The 16 candidates represent a range of parties including the Palmer United Party, Stable Population Party, Sex Party, Animal Justice Party and Family First.

Mr Bandt said he was pleased with his position on the ballot paper, but it would only make a difference “at the margins”.

“It’s obviously better to be higher up than lower down, but I think in an electorate like Melbourne where people are pretty savvy and pay attention, and a very high proportion of people don’t follow their how-to-vote cards anyway and vote the way that they want, I think if it makes any difference it will be minimal,” he told AAP.

Ms Bowtell said being “in the middle of the ruck” meant people would have to decide to put Labor number one.

She said the Greens had the benefit of incumbency and it would be hard to beat Mr Bandt.

“We’re convincing (voters) to put us number one, they’re going to have to look for my name and we’re going to hand them a how-to-vote card and hopefully they’re going to follow that,” she said.

“I think people in Melbourne are smart enough to work out who they’re voting for and they will put number one who they want to vote for.”

Ms Bowtell said a decision on where Labor will direct preferences will be made now they have the full list of candidates.

The Greens hold the seat by a six per cent margin.

Mr Bandt won the seat in 2010 with the help of Liberal preferences, but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has directed candidates to preference the Greens last on September 7.

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Malthouse not keen on AFL finals back door

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse is taking no solace in the prospect of Essendon’s woes opening up another AFL top eight spot after the Blues’ failure to make it on their merits.

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A wasteful Carlton fell 12.10 (82) to 9.22 (76) to the Bombers at the MCG on Saturday night, squandering chances of killing off the contest with inaccurate shooting for goal, then being outscored four goals to none in the last quarter to have the game ripped away.

The loss left eighth spot out of reach, although if the Bombers are stripped of premiership points, as expected, the ninth-placed Blues can still sneak into the finals.

“Not interested, not one little bit interested,” Malthouse said of that prospect.

“We came here to win, we didn’t win.

“I don’t know what’s going to take place (with Essendon), I don’t care what’s going to take place.

“We play Port next week, technically we can’t make the eight.”

Malthouse said the Blues had to take responsibility for their “terrible” kicking for goal.

“No one means to miss but we missed that many times it becomes contagious,” he said.

He said the fact that the Blues have lost four games by single-figure margins this season, and won only one, was a major disappointment.

But he was unwilling to say whether Carlton’s season should be deemed a failure if they don’t play finals.

“I don’t look at making the eight, I look at having wins against sides that you should try to beat,” Malthouse said.

“You try to win every game.

“Clearly sides you don’t beat, by definition of how we’ve gone against them we’ve seen them in the eight.”

The Blues lost Brock McLean to a quad injury in the first quarter, further depleting a midfield already missing Chris Judd and Andrew Carrazzo.

Malthouse was unsure of McLean’s prospects of playing in Saturday’s clash with the Power.

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