Argentina delays formal bond revamp offer until ‘early’ next week: source

People are pictured outside a bank in Buenos Aires’ financial district, Argentina October 18, 2018. Picture taken October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

August 15, 2020

By Hugh Bronstein

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina will extend the deadline for its proposed bond restructuring beyond Aug. 24 and plans to submit its amended offer to U.S. securities regulators next week, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

Bondholders will have 10 days to decide on the offer once it is submitted. The previous deadline for accepting the deal was Aug. 24. That schedule implied the government would issue a decree formalizing the offer and file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

“The decree will not be finalized today, but early next week,” said the source, who is familiar with the government’s thinking and asked not to be named as the process is confidential.

Monday is an official holiday in Argentina.

“The next working day is Tuesday. The 10-day period will be met and in no case will the extension of the offer period go beyond August,” the source said, adding that last-minute “mechanical work” remained to be done on the decree before the offer can be presented to the SEC.

An economy ministry spokesman declined to comment.

Argentina and its main creditor groups reached an agreement in principle on Aug. 4 to restructure about $65 billion in distressed sovereign bonds.

With the economy expected to shrink 12.5% this year, the government wants to avoid the kind of messy default that punctuated a crisis in 2001 that sent millions of middle class Argentines into poverty.

The country’s main population centers are on lockdown amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, further complicating the economic outlook. The virus has claimed 5,428 lives in the country so far.

After the upcoming bond revamp is done, Argentina will start talks with the International Monetary Fund toward a new program to replace a defunct $57 billion standby lending deal that was negotiated by the previous administration.

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Additional reporting by Jorge Iorio; Editing by Grant McCool and Will Dunham)

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Clubs circle Giants star, despite five-year offer

GWS have the option of matching an offer for Williams, a restricted free agent, should he exercise his free agency rights. But this is unlikely given that he would be certain to attract a sufficient contract to earn GWS a first-round pick in return.

AFL club sources suggested that Williams, originally from Narrandera in NSW, would clearly attract upwards of $700,000 a year over a long-term deal in a pre-pandemic market place. It is possible that a club would be willing pay significantly more to get him out of GWS, which has a tight salary cap but has been highly successful in retaining stars.

The Giants also have to recontract emerging second-year midfielder Jye Caldwell, a Victorian who is of interest to Melbourne clubs but who is settled and happy in Sydney. For the Giants, opportunity to play is often the main issue with young midfielders such as Caldwell, who has played senior football and impressed this year.

Cameron is viewed by some rival clubs as the biggest free agent or out-of-contract player within the AFL, given his stature and the fact that his signature – and the price he fetches – would have a bearing on the Giants’ playing list and their prospects of retaining other players.

The five-year offer to Williams is consistent with the club’s succession of long-term deals to key players with skipper Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield signing seven-year deals, Toby Greene getting six years and Harry Himmelberg five.

Midfielder Josh Kelly signed a two-year extension with an option for a further eight years – a commitment of 10 years by the Giants when he signed the deal. Kelly can exercise that contract next year if he chooses, or explore free agency.

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Students among first to return offer lessons for reopening schools

NASHVILLE — Abigail Alexander shuffled through a stack of papers trying to find instructions for logging in to her school-issued laptop. 

The 10-year-old chatted with her best friend, a fellow fifth grader, about who is in their classes this year at Head Middle Magnet Prep in Nashville and what period they have a specific teacher.

Their conversation Tuesday sounded like a typical one between excited, anxious students on the first day at a new school — except this year’s first day of school was like no other.

Abigail was seated in the dining room of her North Nashville home while her two younger foster siblings played around the table. Her friend was on FaceTime, the phone propped up against the side of Abigail’s laptop.

The girls were among more than 86,000 Nashville students who started the school year virtually while their schools remained closed due the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

Two states away in Indiana, where additional school districts opened with in-person instruction on Wednesday, the state’s health commissioner said cases in schools are inevitable, calling them a “reason for action” and not a cause for alarm. Dr. Kris Box said outbreaks can be prevented and schools can reopen safely if they follow state recommendations and families screen for symptoms at home.

“The best way to prevent this is for everyone to do their part,” Box said, “and know when to stay home.”

But while students and families cope with questions about how to keep themselves safe while they learn, reminders of the risk come at them from all directions: News of COVID-19 cases reported in schools that have reopened, plus street marches and car caravans in dozens of school districts across the country protesting what activists called “unsafe” school reopenings.

Abigail and her friend had their own concerns; both experienced access issues — to technology, school resources and the other services that schools offer millions of students across the country.

“I need help!” Abigail exclaimed, as her laptop again failed to load or connect to the internet.

“Seriously,” her friend responded.

LaTonya Alexander tries to help daughter, fifth grader Abigail, set up for virtual learning at home on her first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Nashville. Students are starting the school year virtually. Abigail attends Head Middle Magnet School.

Setting the stage for the nation

Despite increasing COVID-19 cases across Tennessee, most of the state’s school districts are reopening in person this month, and some of the suburban districts that surround Nashville and others in East Tennessee were among the first in the country to welcome back students after they closed in the spring. 

These districts set the stage for others across the nation that will be resuming classes in the coming weeks. Nashville students’ success — or failure — with virtual learning will help inform what many of the country’s largest school district’s face. With the announcement Wednesday that Chicago students will begin the year remotely in September, six of the nation’s seven largest school districts will open online

For many, the debate between reopening schools or learning from home has been a fraught one.

Parents, educators, elected officials and even doctors haven’t agreed on the best course of action for the country’s students.

The American Academy of Pediatrics initially recommended schools reopen, but as President Donald Trump has pressured districts to do so, the group said that local public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence. The group said reopening plans should start with the goal of getting students back in person, but in some communities schools may have to start back virtually. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s leading expert on the coronavirus, told teachers during a virtual town hall last month they’d “be part of the experiment” of reopening schools.

That’s small comfort to many educators, students and their families. The Tennessee Education Association and local teacher associations have joined many others around the country in calling for districts to delay reopening by holding mock funeral processions, “die in” protests and arguing that teachers will quit. New York, Chicago and Milwaukee were among the cities and school districts that saw similar protests, even as parents who are reluctant to send their children back to school also lament districts’ online learning plans. 

And it hasn’t taken long for new COVID-19 cases to emerge among those districts across the country that have resumed in-person instruction.

At least 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases connected to schools have already been reported in Tennessee, and two school districts have closed schools or altered their schedules as a result of exposures to the virus. More cases have been reported at reopened schools in Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia.

Even some school districts that have yet to reopen have been affected. After Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public School teachers gathered July 29 for in-person planning, 260 employees were excluded from work the following day due to a positive case or contact with one.

For families, and even teachers, worried about exposure to the virus at school, most districts offer some sort of remote learning option, but many parents say they need to send their children to school regardless of their fears.

‘Hoping it goes well’

In Indianapolis, Taylor Fenoglio stood at the bus stop Wednesday morning, crying after watching her daughter Izzy get on the bus for her first day at Thompson Crossing Elementary School. Fenoglio already missed her.

Izzy? Not so much.

“She’s been dying for the interaction and was really excited,” Fenoglio said. “She pretty much ran onto the bus.”

A bus waits to take students home from Homecroft Elementary School in Indianapolis on the first day of classes Wednesday.
A bus waits to take students home from Homecroft Elementary School in Indianapolis on the first day of classes Wednesday.

That morning Izzy had posed for first-day-of-school pictures next to a chalkboard sign with date and a drawing of a face mask – something that’s quickly become a symbol of the 2020-21 school year. While the state is requiring masks only for students in grades 3 and above, Franklin Township Schools is requiring them for all students (with exceptions for health and other conditions).

The district also offers a virtual option for families who aren’t ready to send kids back to school. Fenoglio said she and her husband discussed whether to go that route. But, with a new baby at home, Fenoglio worried she wouldn’t be able to give her older daughter the support she needed for a successful start to kindergarten. 

The unknowns of reopening schools in the midst of a pandemic made the stressful process of navigating school for the first time even more difficult, she said. But by the end of the first day, with her daughter home, happy and exhausted, Fenoglio said she feels good about their choice. 

“We are carefully optimistic about this year,” she said, “and just really hoping it goes well.”

Students line up to get on the bus and head home after the first day of classes at Homecroft Elementary School in Indianapolis Wednesday.
Students line up to get on the bus and head home after the first day of classes at Homecroft Elementary School in Indianapolis Wednesday.

Furthering divides

Many parents calling for schools to reopen worry about the quality of the remote instruction their children will receive.

Most districts have cobbled together virtual instruction plans with students logging on to various learning management platforms to access self-paced course content or join live video meetings over Zoom, Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams with their teachers and classmates. 

But many districts across the country have called for more funding from state and local governments to provide technology and internet access to students, even while they face threatened funding cuts from the federal government if they don’t reopen.

Nashville students’ tech woes were limited to the students using district-issued devices Tuesday morning.

Some students and families were able to get online to join live classroom meetings or check in with their teachers on personal devices for the first day, but some of those dependent on devices provided by the district were left in the dark, exacerbating fears that gaps will continue to widen between vulnerable students who come from economically-disadvantaged families and more affluent peers. 

Heather Powell and son, Hawkes gives a thumbs up as they connect via a laptop and a group chat application to his first grade teacher Mrs. Tolbert at Glendale Elementary from their home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
Heather Powell and son, Hawkes gives a thumbs up as they connect via a laptop and a group chat application to his first grade teacher Mrs. Tolbert at Glendale Elementary from their home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

Heather Powell interrupted her work day to let her son, Hawkes, 6, use her work laptop to log in to a virtual meeting with his first grade class Tuesday morning.

The Powells had tested both their children’s laptops the day before by logging on, but come Tuesday morning a Metro Nashville Public Schools network issue rendered the laptops useless for the time being. 

“It already disrupted my workflow this morning,” Powell said. “It worked today, but it won’t work for the long term.”

Powell’s daughter, Sophie, 9, was at a friend’s house as part of a learning pod that morning, but only one child had a personal device she could use to log-in.

Heather Powell works to connect her son Hawkes to a lesson on their laptop from their home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
Heather Powell works to connect her son Hawkes to a lesson on their laptop from their home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

The struggle to balance working full-time at home, keeping both her children engaged and meeting their social-emotional needs are why Powell tracked down learning pods for her children.

Parents across the country have turned to learning pods, or in-person microschools, for their kids while schools are closed. Some are banding together with nearby neighbors and others are linking up with classmates from the same school or grade level and hiring private tutors or teachers to lead instruction and provide child care.

Costs vary and some schools are helping families connect with each other, while in some cities across the country families are dolling out hundreds of dollars to pay for private instruction or to send their children to “virtual learning camps.”

In some areas, families are pulling children out of the public school system to send them to private schools that are reopening in-person or to homeschool with their own curriculum instead.

Both of the Powell children’s pods will stick to Metro Nashville Schools’ curriculum. The student will rotate houses each week, Powell explained, with the family serving as host. She hopes the tutor will relieve the burden on the working parents, so she can concentrate on work while the kids are learning.

As for the first day, Powell called it quits and took the second half of the day off after the frantic morning. She and Hawkes were going to go to the pool.

“I think that’s what we need today,” she said.

First grader Hawkes Powell pays attention to a lesson from his class on his laptop from his home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
First grader Hawkes Powell pays attention to a lesson from his class on his laptop from his home on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

When families don’t have options

Abigail’s mother, LaTonya Alexander, isn’t sure what she would have chosen for her children if she’d had a choice in Nashville.

She and her husband have had to shift their work schedules so someone is at home at all times with her three children and two foster children, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Alexander’s daughter, Anaya, is an exceptional education student and a senior in high school. Her son, Wilton, is starting the 10th grade. Both would prefer to be at school, Alexander said.

She has more confidence that older children could have taken health and safety precautions like wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing seriously. Remote learning is more difficult for younger students.

LaTonya Alexander is a hair stylist and her husband a barber, so exposure is already a concern. As a Black family, they are also among the Americans who are getting infected and dying at disproportionately higher rates than white people. 

LaTonya Alexander, center, gets virtual learning on the first day of school going with her tenth grade son Wilton and fifth grade daughter Abigail at their home Tuesday August 4, 2020. Wilton attends Maplewood High School and Abigail attends Head Middle Magnet School.
LaTonya Alexander, center, gets virtual learning on the first day of school going with her tenth grade son Wilton and fifth grade daughter Abigail at their home Tuesday August 4, 2020. Wilton attends Maplewood High School and Abigail attends Head Middle Magnet School.

So the Alexanders are dependent on the laptops distributed by Metro Nashville Public Schools. With five kids in the house, there isn’t enough work space — much less technology — to go around.

The family picked up four laptops, among more than 34,000 that the district has distributed to students so far, a day before the first day of school, but the youngest, a kindergartener, doesn’t have a device.

“I wish I could meet my teacher,” the kindergartner said Tuesday morning.

Instead, she sat quietly next to Abigail at the family’s dining room table, snacking on grapes and watching the other children try to log on to their computers.

Reporter Kelly Fisher contributed to this story. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: COVID-19: Returning students provide lessons for reopening schools

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Warriors interim coach Todd Payten reveals he rejected job offer for family

The New Zealand Warriors are still looking for a new head coach after interim coach Todd Payten revealed on NRL 360 on Monday that he had been offered — and rejected — the role.

The exchange appeared to stun show’s hosts Ben Ikin and Paul Kent after Payten revealed the bombshell on the first question.

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It had been long expected that Payten would be high on the Warriors hit list after the encouraging performances from the club despite being housed in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Payten took the reigns of the club after former coach Stephen Kearney was unceremoniously sacked in June.

But it hadn’t been leaked despite the offer going through a week ago.

“I had a job interview 10 to 14 days ago. It went well. I’d been offered the job last Monday and I told the club I’m going to turn it down,” Payten said. “It just wasn‘t the right opportunity for myself and my family at this time being.“

Ben Ikin was stunned.

“You‘re telling us you were offered the head coaching job of the New Zealand Warriors and turned it down?”

Payten replied: “It‘s not an easy decision, something I agonised over for a few days but in the end, it was the first time I’ve put my family first in the decision. It just wasn’t the right timing.”

The admission shocked the host with both Ikin and Paul Kent seemingly scrambling.

Payten said there was some family pain behind the decision with his father-in-law undergoing chemotherapy.

“With the COVID thing, for her to travel back and forth is very very difficult so that‘s a big part of it,” he said. ”There are some other issues I don’t want to make public but that’s just my decision, I’ve made it, I’m well aware it’s tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed but moving forward, my focus is on getting this side prepared as well as we can week to week.”

It was a shock admission as in the show preceding NRL 360 on Fox League, NRL Tonight, The Australian’s Brent Read had reported Payten was the favourite to take the job.

Payten said he still has another 12-month contract as an assistant coach and said any new coach would know that he has an assistant coach who is NRL ready.

The interim Warriors coach also teased another opportunity with Kent identifying it as the North Queensland Cowboys job.

He said he wanted to return to Australia for family, having alerted the Cowboys of his interest although the group have not entered into the recruitment process as yet.

The Cowboys are on the lookout for a new coach after premiership winning mentor Paul Green was told he would no longer be required after this season.

Payten said it had been a challenging season but he has no doubt that he could take on a head coaching role.

He added the team was “respectful” and ”ready to learn” but admitted there were some personnel changes he would suggest.

“We need a big body in the middle of the park and I reckon we‘re short a strike centre,” he said. ”We’re very skilful, we need some good leaders, some strong voices that can bring those guys who are the level below that up and push the group.”

As for the next coach of the Warriors, Payten said the side need “a good teacher who can communicate well and teach them the game of footy, not just the skills of the game but the actual game itself”.

As the conversation wrapped up, Ikin still seemed surprised and congratulated Payten for his decision.

“Congratulations on making such a brave decision, I can‘t remember the last time a coach knocked back a head coaching role – I think it may have been Craig Bellamy and it turned out well for him,” he said. ”But more than that, we wish you all the very best particularly your wife and your family through what I’m sure has been a pretty tough time.”

Ikin admitted Payten‘s reveal “knocked me for six – I was not expecting to hear that tonight”.

Kent said it was “a sign of his maturity as a coach”.

He pointed to the time that Bellamy was offered the Wests Tigers head coaching role but hindsight has been kind as he took the Melbourne Storm coaching role.

Reportedly there are three coaches on the Warriors hit list for the vacant coaching role.

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Luxury waterfront and acreage homes on offer with discounts of up to $2.3m

This luxury Bayview home is listed via EOI at $5.9m, $2.3m below the original listed price.

Luxury waterfront and acreage homes are being offered with as much as $2.3 million cut off the price as COVID-19 depletes the pool of big-spending buyers.

The deals are giving buyers the opportunity to snap up premium homes at prices that wouldn’t have been possible before the pandemic hit.

One of the biggest discounts is on a six-bedroom house in northern beaches suburb Bayview that includes a swim-in bar, views over Pittwater and a 10-seat home theatre.

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The triple-level house on Pittwater Rd was first listed at $8.2 million but is now listed through an expressions of interest campaign at $5.9 million.

Another waterfront property in nearby Clareville was dropped to $5.7 million after originally going to market with a guide of $7 million.

The price for this Manly house on Augusta Rd has dropped $500,000.

The three-level house on Hudson Parade is serviced by a lift and the bedrooms have walk-in wardrobes.

Other significant property discounts ranging from $400,000 to $500,000 are being offered for luxury homes in Manly and northwest suburb Kenthurst.

Real estate experts said Sydney’s most discounted properties were often those originally priced between $2.5 million and $5 million.

This Clareville house is discounted by $1.3m.

These properties were a harder sell because buyers were becoming more cautious about taking on larger debts during the coronavirus crisis.

The typical market for these houses were also “aspirational purchasers” who wanted to upgrade to a luxury lifestyle but did not have an impending deadline motivating the purchase.

This meant they were happy to sit on their hands and get more certainty about the economy before making a move.

This house on Arnold St in Killara had more than $250,000 cut off the price.

These buyers were in the opposite situation to the buyer group who have been most active during the pandemic — families who have outgrown smaller units and urgently need space.

The result was that properties priced in the middle of the Sydney market, roughly $900,000-$1.5 million, were rarely heavily discounted.

Sydney’s prestige market in the eastern suburbs was not as affected either — there have been multiple $10 million-plus sales since the pandemic started — because ultra-wealthy expats were returning.

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Many of these buyers paid for their homes in cash and didn’t need a mortgage.

This Sandpiper Place home in Kenthurst was listed at $2.795m but is now $2.395m, a drop of $400,000.

Property Buyer director and buyer’s agent Rich Harvey said discounts varied considerably by suburb.

“Every property is being discounted to a degree but they are not as large in the eastern suburbs or lower north shore,” Mr Harvey said.

Coastal suburbs in Sydney’s north were a different story, he said. “The prices in areas like Palm Beach tend to fluctuate a lot … there would be less demand in the current market.”

The Bayview house discounted by $2.3m includes a larges games room and swim-in bar.

Ray White-Erskineville agent Ercan Erscan said buyer interest for homes priced above $2 million was weaker even in perennially popular regions like the inner west and Sydney’s inner south.

“There are still a lot of buyers once you get below $1.8 million,” he said.

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Argentina says it will not raise ‘last’ debt offer, willing to tweak legal terms

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks past posters on the street that read “No to the payment of the debt. Break with the IMF”, in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

July 25, 2020

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s government reaffirmed on Saturday that it would not budge from its latest proposal to restructure around the $65 billion in debt, but signaled it would be willing to negotiate on the fine print around the deal.

The South American country is facing a standoff with bondholders after creditor groups joined forces to reject the government’s proposal earlier in July and put forward one of their own.

The government has repeatedly said it cannot offer more, though sources told Reuters this week it would be willing to negotiate key contractual terms.

“Argentina wishes to and will contribute to the development of contractual instruments that enhance the success of sovereign restructuring initiatives when they enjoy meaningful creditor support,” the Economy Ministry said in a statement. 

The ministry said the bondholder group’s counterproposal called for “yet more generous financial terms for the creditors compared to Argentina’s current offer,” while requesting that Argentina cover fees and expenses of the creditors’ advisors.

“Those aspects of the counterproposal that seek to impose additional burdens on an economy that is choking in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis … cannot be accommodated,” the ministry said in the statement.

Analysts say a gap of about 3 cents on the dollar between the sides at the negotiating table should be bridged in last-ditch talks ahead of a current Aug. 4 deadline for a deal to avoid a messy legal standoff.

Creditors’ legal demands include that amendments be made to the 2016 indenture for new debt issued in exchange for ‘Macri’ bonds, to prevent the government from using ‘Pac-Man’ style measures to make future changes to any agreement.

Argentina has been in default since May, the country’s ninth, and is headed for 10-12% economic contraction this year due to the impact of COVID-19, deepening a recession that began in 2018.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Jorge Iorio; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Big problem with teen’s offer

Pundits have already questioned how rugby, a sport on the brink of financial ruin in Australia, could possibly offer 16-year-old Joseph Suaalii a $3 million, three-year deal but what’s more concerning for some is the human aspect to his mega deal.

The teenage phenomenon has reportedly backed out of signing a $1.7m, three-year contract with NRL side Souths and instead pledged his allegiance to rugby.

The offer has been described as “madness from a game that’s broke” but while rugby will cop plenty of scrutiny for throwing such enormous sums of cash at a school student, Suaalii will himself be under pressure when his professional career starts.

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Suaalii has been part of the Rabbitohs’ junior system since he was 11 and trained with the NRL squad during the pre-season. Bunnies hooker Damien Cook is adamant the young gun will become a superstar but is wary of the expectations that come with such a huge pay cheque for someone so young.

“To be honest I feel a bit sorry for the kid. I know he deserves everything he gets whether it’s a long career in rugby or rugby league but at such a young age it must be a lot of pressure on the kid’s shoulders,” Cook told the Big Sports Breakfast.

“As long as whatever decision he makes, he’s happy with that and he sticks to it and just backs himself.

“I honestly do believe he’s going to be a superstar in good time as well so I don’t think we should put the pressure on whatever sport he’s going to too early — he’s only 16.

“By the time he’s 20-years-old, I think he’s going to be a superstar in whatever sport he chose.”

There’s enormous pressure that comes with any footballer earning $1m a season, regardless of age. Suaalii will be expected to perform from game No. 1 in rugby and his deal will always be a talking point after every game, especially because Australia’s top players have been forced to take pay cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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In the NRL you only need to look at $1m players who have failed to live up to their salary in recent times like Anthony Milford (Broncos), Ash Taylor (Titans) and Ben Hunt (Dragons) to see how hard life at the top can be — and how quickly the critics come out when you’re not winning.

Rugby league guru and Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast: “To be placing this sort of financial package in front of a 16-year-old and his family, I find irresponsible.

“I don’t see why that’s necessary.

“I find the money obscene, I find a decision like that ridiculous.”

Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke hopes Suaalii hasn’t been tempted by money over love.

“This is where management is so important. There’s a very simple question. What code do you want to play? What sport do you want to play?” Clarke said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“Forget the money, forget the number because you’ve got two unbelievable opportunities.

“If this kid’s as good as what everyone thinks in whatever code he plays, money’s not going to be a concern for him. Pick the code that you want to play, fall in love with that code, be the best you can at that code and you’ll never be talking about money again.

“The money he’s going to get from Souths is huge, the money he’s going to get from rugby is huge for a 16-year-old boy. But if he is not advised to pick the sport he loves the most and prioritise that, that is horrendous guidance.”

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PM Scott Morrison drafting a plan to offer additional support to virus-hit Victoria

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has defended Scott Morrison and said the PM spent the weekend drafting a plan for Victoria after he copped backlash for attending Saturday’s football game between his beloved Cronulla Sharks.

The PM’s wife, Jenny, along with his daughters, will holiday during the school break on the outskirts of Sydney this week but Mr Morrison would not be on formal leave. He is expected to return to Canberra later in the week.

“Given the changing critical situation we have in Victoria, I will not be joining them for that full-time,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.

“As a dad, I will take some time, but at the same time I can assure you we will remain absolutely focused on things we need to focus on next week.”

But when he was spotted at the Sharks game as authorities dealt with containing Victoria’s virus-hit suburbs, Mr Morrison was criticised for “frolicking at the footy”.

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On Sunday night, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News the PM’s appearance at the football adhered to social distancing restrictions and discussed plans to tackle Victoria’s coronavirus rise.

“In terms of around the country it’s appropriate for people to go about new activities and new behaviours, we’re encouraging that,” Mr Hunt said of the Prime Minister’s appearance at the football.

“He was demonstrating exactly what we’re encouraging in an appropriate way.”

It came just hours after Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth issued a stern reminder to anyone becoming complacent about the importance of social distancing, warning the nation’s death toll will rise if people slip back into old habits.

Mr Hunt said he had been working throughout the weekend with the PM to draft a plan for the Commonwealth to offer additional support for Victoria to help the state deal with the surge in infections.

The PM had “worked right through yesterday (Saturday) … on a new level of support for Victoria, over and above every thing that we’ve done”, Mr Hunt said.

“I know because I was working with him. I’ve been working with him throughout today, so this fellow never stops.

“He is one of the reasons, perhaps the fundamental reasons, that we are where we are.

“I have never seen any body work harder in my life and more effectively in protecting a country.”

Mr Hunt did not give detail or outline what support that would be but the government has already deployed more than a thousand Australian Defence Force personnel in Melbourne.

It’s understood that 850 of those will be involved with hotel quarantine, as over 30 cases linked to system have sparked concerns over physical distancing.

Another 200 ADF members will be involved in logistic and medical support.

The ADF members are expected to stay in Victoria until at least the end of July.

At Sunday’s Victoria coronavirus media briefing, where premier Daniel Andrews reported 273 new cases of the virus, he brushed off questions about Mr Morrison’s decisions to take time off, and to attend the football.

The Premier said he had “better things to worry about”.

Victoria recorded 273 new cases of coronavirus and one death on Sunday, as authorities warn police will no longer issue warnings to people found doing the wrong thing.

A man aged in his 70s is the latest fatality during the state’s second wave.

At least 57 Victorians are in hospital with 16 of those in intensive care.

The new cases bring the state’s total to 3799 cases, with almost 1500 of those active.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said there were at least 145 cases linked to public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington, and a further 22 in Carlton.

It comes as a cluster of eight coronavirus cases has been recorded among staff at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

The hospital says the cluster includes five cases acquired through community transmission and three cases detected through contact tracing.

Mr Andrews again put Victorians on notice, reminding them to only go out when for the purposes that are lawful – shopping for essentials, work or study, care or medical treatment, exercise.

“This is a dangerous time, this is a very challenging time,” Mr Andrews said.

“Victorian police have issued more warnings than fines last time. That won‘t be the case this time.

“If you are out and about doing the wrong thing, then Victoria Police will have no choice but to issue you with a fine.”

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$20m offer for native title over five town areas – Alice Springs News

$20m offer for native title over five town areas



The NT Government is offering Lhere Artepe (LAAC) a $20m “package of benefits over a 10 year period” if it will extinguish native title over five areas in Alice Springs to be used as residential and industrial land.


Based on an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) this will include:-


• Housing throughout the town for “particularly vulnerable groups” and the Akangkentye hostel worth $3.5m in South Terrace.


• $8.5m “employment and enterprise development” including government contracts for Arrernte businesses – improve existing ones and set up new ones.


• $2.5m for education and training.


• $1.6m for land and infrastructure intended to support youth engagement programs, including to “practice cultural skills, learn from elders and develop skills to live off the land”.


The amounts are contained in a fact sheet obtained by the Alice Sprigs News and relate to areas identified by Chief Minister Michael Gunner in Alice Springs in March but at the time without putting a dollar figure on the deal.


The objective, says the fact sheet, is to “materially closing the gap … through provision of practical benefits” and to building the true commercial capability of LAAC.


Meanwhile sources say the Alice Springs native title organisation has moved its office to Darwin.


The News is seeking information about this.




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