No concerns over Argentina involvement as Australia reveals Rugby Championship pitch

New Zealand, near certainties to host the Rugby Championship for months, were hamstrung by their government’s reluctance to relax quarantine protocols and are ruing what they believe could be an overall loss of $100 million in revenue to the country.

The NZR will, however, get an even split of profits with Australia, South Africa and Argentina as part of an “all-hands-in-the-middle” model.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke and chairman Hamish McLennan after Friday's announcement that Australia will host the Rugby Championship.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke and chairman Hamish McLennan after Friday’s announcement that Australia will host the Rugby Championship. Credit:Getty

“It’s a very fair approach,” said interim RA boss Rob Clarke. “I think it incentivises everyone to make it successful.”

In New Zealand, teams would have been forced into strict hotel isolation for four days. From days five to seven, they’d be in a bubble of 15 people. From days eight to 14, that bubble would expand to 25, which, as Robinson said, “makes it difficult for the way teams want to prepare”. He was referencing South Africa and Argentina, who have played next to no rugby this year.

Sniffing out a chance to swoop, Australia made an offer to SANZAAR on Thursday evening that sides could effectively do whatever they wanted when they landed, as long as they were in a special “hub” and that normal NSW Health protocols were adhered to.

By Friday morning, Argentina Rugby announced five players and three staff members – including head coach Mario Ledesma – had tested positive to COVID-19 on top of six players who tested positive last week.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma, who has tested positive for COVID-19, at Coogee Oval last year.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma, who has tested positive for COVID-19, at Coogee Oval last year. Credit:Brook Mitchell

Nonetheless, SANZAAR and Clarke quickly moved to ensure things would be under control by the time Argentina arrived in Australia, potentially as early as the end of this month, as well as pointing out that dialogue is ongoing with relevant government and health authorities.

They’re so confident that Clarke even floated the possibility of the Pumas playing trial matches against an Australia A side or even a Super Rugby franchise.

Argentina players will be required to undergo strict testing before and after arriving in Australia, however it is unclear what will occur if a player tests positive.

SANZAAR does have a back-up three-team model in case there is a major issue.

“The Pumas have gone into a bubble arrangement over there,” Clarke said. “They’re having regular testing and those that have tested positive … are being removed from the environment and separated. That will happen during the course of them being in the bubble and we anticipate that they will be all negative and ready to go sooner than later and will be able to fulfil all health requirements and protocols here in Australia.

“It’s going to be consistent with how the NSW Government have treated other visiting teams like the New Zealand Warriors. It will be a bubble concept and testing will take place over a 14-day quarantine period within that bubble where full training can take place. That has been the government’s position to date and they’ve reassured us that will be remain their position and that will remain consistent for every team in the TRC.”

As Australian officials began planning tournament logistics, the disconnect between New Zealand Rugby and its government became clear.

This wasn’t SANZAAR politics, as New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern had claimed, yet simply a case of inflexible quarantine policies with plenty at stake for a rugby mad nation whose fans did not take the news well at all.

“We worked incredibly hard to see if we could loosen restrictions around those bubbles but that’s ultimately where the government landed and had a major part to play in the decision,” Robinson said.


Although the Wallabies will still have to travel to New Zealand first for two Bledisloe matches – dates are yet to be finalised but likely to be on October 17 and 24 – and undergo those strict quarantine protocols that cost the Kiwis in the end, Clarke said he sympathised with his colleague.

“I feel sorry for Mark and the team,” Clarke said. “In other ways I’m delighted for us and for Australian rugby and the fans of rugby because this is going to be the equivalent of a mini World Cup played over six weeks and I think you couldn’t get a better finish to the year.”

Clarke said ANZ Stadium, Bankwest Stadium and McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle were in the frame to host matches, while hub locations for teams, as well as fixtures, would be worked through in coming weeks.

Stadiums with 50 per cent crowd capacity could be on the cards, while Clarke also said there would be no broadcast implications given a full Rugby Championship had been organised.

“The broadcast situation was already baked into previous deals … nothing changes there,” he said. “I know the broadcasters are very excited by it and so they should be. I know Fox and Ten will love the fact they’re getting such quality rugby at that time of the year and will drive, I hope, some subscriptions and viewership for them.”

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Hopping mad pitch invaders run riot at junior match

CRAZED football fans were out in force at the weekend as the pitch of an junior match was invaded by an unruly mob.

During an Under 15s game featuring Woolgoolga and Northern Storm several furry fans, said to be ‘hopping mad’ at a contentious refereeing decision, decided to storm the pitch.

Witnesses said the game at Woolgoolga had to be stopped for several minutes while the pitch invaders kept on hopping around the field.

Football fans in Australia have long been singled out by some sections of the media – some say unfairly – as being particularly “passionate”, resulting in Football Federation Australia coming down hard on misbehaving fans.

After leaving the field, the fans retreated to the Woopi town centre to celebrate. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League has had a number of fans banned and been threatened with points deductions over the years.

The crazed fans at Woolgoolga appeared to be wearing no clothing, possibly in an effort to keep their club affiliations a secret.

It is unknown if any flares were ‘ripped’ by the offending troop and anyone with information about the wild mob should contact the FFA.

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The RNC’s Pitch to Women

Women voters may determine who wins the 2020 election: They turn out to vote in higher numbers than men, and they are an influential constituency in the suburban districts where Trump stands to lose badly among 2016 supporters. With Trump perpetually trailed by allegations of sexual assault, the RNC is attempting to brand the president as the kind of leader the suffragettes would have admired.

Last night’s line-up was dominated by images of historical women activists marching in the streets and protesting at ballot boxes. Lara Trump narrated a GOP-flavored history of women’s suffrage, theatrically emphasizing that suffragists launched their efforts over a tea party, a nod to the 2010s-era anti-government movement, and noting that leaders such as Susan B. Anthony exclusively supported Republicans for office. Even 100 years after the 19th amendment, “a woman in a leadership role can still seem novel,” Conway said, noting that she broke a barrier in politics as the first woman to lead a winning presidential campaign. “Not so for President Trump. For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men.” Democrats have often claimed the legacy of women’s suffrage activism for themselves, but Conway and McEnany wore suffragette white.

The night’s speakers pitched a GOP-friendly version of feminism—a vision focused on balancing motherhood and careers, championing hard work, and not asking for what they described as special privileges based on gender.

“For many of us, women’s empowerment is not a slogan,” Conway said. “It comes not from strangers on social media, or sanitized language in a corporate handbook. It comes from the everyday heroes who nurture us, shape us, and who believe in us.” Lara Trump described the “countless women executives” she encountered who worked for Trump. “Gender didn’t matter,” she said. “What mattered was the ability to get the job done.” And McEnany talked about Trump’s encouragement of her as the working mother of a newborn. “I choose to work for this president, for her,” she said, in reference to her daughter.

The first three nights of the RNC also highlighted president Trump’s ostensible support for racial equality, including a segment where he pardoned a Black man convicted of committing bank robbery. This message of an inclusive, kinder GOP is arguably pitched not only at minority voters, but also at suburban women who are reluctant to vote for Trump “because they feel that he is racist, too racist, in a way that they can’t personally affiliate with him,” wrote Liz Mair, who worked as a communications advisor to Republican political candidates, in a text. “If they succeed enough with a lot of their ‘we’re not actually racist’ programming, that should help them with suburban women voters.”

Conventions are as much about a party’s anxieties as that party’s vision for America—the themes that are emphasized most strongly often reveal where the party sees its vulnerabilities. If last night’s unending suffragette talk is any indication, Republicans are extremely nervous that women are not sold on a second Trump term. But a little revisionist history may not be enough to swing women at the polls in November. They already know a different version of Trump.

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GOP convention: Republicans pitch optimisitic future under Trump with stark warnings

A rising generation of Republican stars offered an optimistic view of President Donald Trump”s leadership, but were undermined on the opening night of the GOP’s scaled-back convention by speakers issuing warnings about the country’s future and distorting the president’s record, particularly on the pandemic.

As Trump faces pressure to expand his appeal beyond his loyal supporters, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s sole Black Republican, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, sought to cast the GOP as welcoming to Americans of colour, despite the party’s overwhelmingly white leadership and voting base.

“I was a brown girl in a black and white world,” Haley said Monday night, noting that she faced discrimination but rejecting the idea that “America is a racist country.” She also gave a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “of course we know that every single Black life is valuable.”

But the prime-time convention proceedings, which featured a blend of taped and live speeches, focused largely on dire talk about Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger in the November election. Speakers ominously warned that electing Biden would lead to violence in American cities spilling into the suburbs, a frequent Trump campaign message with racist undertones. One speaker called Trump the “bodyguard of Western civilisation.”

Multiple themes

Scrambling to find a message that sticks, Trump’s team tried out multiple themes and tactics over the course of the night. They featured optimism from those who could represent the GOP’s future, attempts to characterise Biden as a vessel for socialists and far-left Democrats despite his moderate record, and humanising stories about the 74-year-old man who sits in the Oval Office.

Trump and a parade of fellow Republicans misrepresented Biden’s agenda through the evening, falsely accusing him of proposing to defund police, ban oil fracking, take over health care, open borders and raise taxes on most Americans. They tried to assign positions of the Democratic left to a middle-of-the-road candidate who explicitly rejected many of the party’s most liberal positions through the primaries.

The opening night of the four-day convention reflected the rising urgency fueling Trump’s push to reshape a presidential contest that he is losing, at least for now, with Election Day just 10 weeks away. It will continue on Tuesday when first lady Melania Trump will deliver remarks from the White House.

Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, are keeping a relatively low profile this week. In a tweet on Monday night, Biden told supporters to “stay focused.”

Broadening Trump’s base

The emphasis on diversity at Trump’s convention was an acknowledgement that he must expand his coalition beyond his largely white base. Polling shows that Black Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president’s performance, with his approval hovering around 1 in 10 over the course of his presidency, according to Gallup polling.

One of several African Americans on Monday night’s schedule, former football star Herschel Walker, defended the president against those who call him a racist.

“It hurts my soul to hear the terrible names that people call Donald,” Walker said. “The worst one is ‘racist.’ I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist.”

But that emphasis clashed with Trump’s instinct to energise his die-hard loyalists.

He featured, for example, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St Louis couple charged with felonies for pointing guns at what prosecutors deemed non-violent Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their home.

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighbourhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said, sitting on a couch in a wood-paneled room.

“They’ve actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home,” her husband said.

And Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said Democrats will “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.”

Defending Trump’s pandemic record

Trump’s political future may depend on his ability to convince voters that America is on the right track, even as the coronavirus death toll exceeds 177,000 and pandemic-related job losses also reach into the millions

A deep sense of pessimism has settled over the electorate 10 weeks before Election Day. Just 23 per cent of Americans think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Trump and his supporters touted his response to the pandemic while standing alongside front-line workers in the White House, although he glossed over the mounting death toll, the most in the world, and his administration’s struggle to control the disease.

Organisers also repeatedly sought to cast Trump as an empathetic figure, borrowing a page from the Democrats’ convention playbook a week ago that effectively highlighted Biden’s personal connection to voters.

Those cheering Trump’s leadership on the pandemic included a coronavirus patient, a small business owner from Montana and a nurse practitioner from Virginia.

“As a healthcare professional, I can tell you without hesitation, Donald Trump’s quick action and leadership saved thousands of lives during COVID-19,” said Amy Ford, a registered nurse who was deployed to New York and Texas to fight the coronavirus.

“Rigged election”

The first day of the 2020 Republican convention began early in the day as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were renominated by delegates who gathered in Charlotte, the city that was originally selected to host the convention before the pandemic struck.

Trump paid a surprise visit and he city, where he warned delegates that “the only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” raising anew his unsupported concerns about Americans’ expected reliance on mail voting during the pandemic. Experts say mail voting has proven remarkably secure.

The fact that the Republicans gathered at all stood in contrast to the Democrats, who held an all-virtual convention last week. The Democratic programming included a well-received roll call video montage featuring diverse officials from across the nation.

The Republicans spoke from the ballroom in Charlotte, and were overwhelmingly white, before the proceedings moved to Washington for prime-time.

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Liberal Democrats leadership contest: Ed Davey and Layla Moran pitch for votes

Liberal Democrat leadership candidates Ed Davey and Layla Moran have insisted they can rebuild their party as the contest enters its final days.

In a BBC debate, they set out plans to tackle the coronavirus recession through the green economy and by encouraging “mass retraining”.

The two MPs criticised the government on education, arguing that schools need more support to reopen after lockdown.

The results of the contest will be announced on 27 August.

The leadership election was triggered when Jo Swinson stepped down following a poor performance by the party in the 2019 general election.

Asked how she could improve her party’s fortunes, Ms Moran said her lack of experience in Parliament – she has only been an MP since 2017 – would be an asset “at a time when people don’t trust politicians”.

She also pointed to her success of overturning “a massive majority” in her Oxford constituency adding “we did that by amassing a group of people from all sides of the political spectrum”.

Current acting co-leader Sir Ed said he had learnt from his experience of working with former leader Paddy Ashdown to build up the Liberal Democrats in the 1990s.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionEd Davey is asked about the Lib Dem party polling falling by half since he became acting party co-leader.

He added that he would use the party’s local government base “as a springboard for results in the future”.

As leader he said the economy would be his “number one priority” and pointed to his background as an economist.

Asked how they would help tackle unemployment amid the pandemic, both candidates said they would promote green jobs and introduce a universal basic income.

Sir Ed set out his plans for a £150bn investment that he said would create hundreds and thousands of jobs, such as heat insulation installers, over three years.

Ms Moran agreed that promoting the green agenda was “the right thing to do for our economy”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionLayla Moran: “We need to win back the trust of the electorate, show we have learned from the mistakes of the past.”

She also said she wanted to see a programme of “mass retraining” to help those, who needed to, to change career as a result of the pandemic.

Both MPs championed the idea of a universal basic income, a scheme which would provide every individual in the country with a cash payment at regular intervals, without any requirement to work or qualify for it.

Ms Moran suggested the income should be around £80 per week, while her leadership rival argued the figure should be slightly lower on £40-60 per week.

On the subject of schools reopening following the coronavirus lockdown, both said they wanted to see children back in the classrooms.

However Ms Moran, herself a former Maths teacher, said Gavin Williamson should stand down as education secretary and urged the prime minister to “put someone in who knows what they are doing, for the sake of our children”.

Sir Ed called for extra funding to help schools safely reopen.


During the debate, the candidates were asked how they would instil confidence in the party’s BAME supporters.

Ms Moran admitted to feeling “shame” that the party does not have any black MPs. She said she wanted to see changes to the Equality Act that would allow political parties to have all-black shortlists when picking their candidates.

Sir Ed also said he wanted to increase the numbers of black Liberal Democrat candidates and pointed to his record in his Kingston and Surbiton constituency of reaching out to ethnic minority communities.

During the 2019 election the Liberal Democrats campaigned to stop Brexit.

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Image caption

Jo Swinson lost her seat in the 2019 election and resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats

While both candidates defined themselves as pro-European, they said they would not be calling for the UK to rejoin the EU in the near future.

Towards the end of the debate Ms Moran was asked about her arrest after slapping her partner in 2013. She said she had acted “defensively” and added that the charges had been dropped.

Sir Ed was asked about his record in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government when he served as energy secretary under David Cameron.

He acknowledged that they had “had tough decisions to make” and added that “all governments make mistakes”. He argued that the Liberal Democrats had offset the “Tory agenda” and said the Liberal Democrats would reverse some coalition policies such as the bedroom tax, if they got into power.

Liberal Democrat members have been able to vote for their preferred leader since ballots went out on 30 July. The ballot closes on 26 August and the results will be announced the following day.

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States to pitch AFL grand final parade alternatives

That will open the door for the match to be moved away to the MCG, either to Brisbane’s Gabba, Perth’s Optus Stadium, Adelaide Oval or Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.


The AFL is yet to announce whether it will implement its now traditional bye weekend between the end of the home and away season and the start of the finals. The decision will likely shape whether the grand final is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 (Caulfield Cup Day) or Saturday, October 24 (Cox Plate Day).

While the AFL is saying privately that a decision on the grand final venue will be made separately to when the game is played, industry sources suggest it is highly likely the match will be played as a night game on the Eastern seaboard, meaning a twilight fixture would eventuate should WA win the right to host the match.

This is at least in part to keep the game from clashing with the marquee racing events, which remains jewels in the Victorian sporting crown.

The four states in the running to replace Victoria will present to members of the AFL executive this week before the league’s commission makes a final determination.

As part of the presentations, sources said that states will make cases surrounding several auxiliary elements of the grand final, including matchday live sites and lead-up events.


For decades while the match has been in Melbourne the grand final has been preceded by a motorcade through the city’s CBD in which estimated six-figure crowds have routinely cheered on the participating teams on match eve.

The league is conscious that a traditional grand final parade – even in another city – may not be feasible or responsible given the precarious nature of the coronavirus but other options are set to be tabled.

Queensland has in recent weeks emerged as the favourite to win the grand final hosting rights. Premier Annastacia Palascczuk has done a mountain of work to help the AFL continue its season despite the game’s Victorian heartland being gripped by the deadly pandemic.

Despite Queensland’s recent COVID-19 outbreak, 16,000 were allowed into the Gabba for Brisbane’s match with St Kilda on Sunday.

There is a school of thought that should the Gabba win the right to host the grand final, the September 4 Friday night clash between the Lions and Collingwood could be used as a significant building block towards whatever the grand final capacity may be.

Meanwhile, AFL staff are facing nervous waits with meetings scheduled for Monday in which they will be informed how the new structure impacts their job. The league told staff last month that it was hoping to finalise all appointments by September 11.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk defends ‘contentious’ Queensland coronavirus border closures and makes a pitch on a renewable future

Queensland’s economy is benefiting from the borders being closed and the Government has a roadmap for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told a Brisbane economic forum on Thursday.

Ms Palaszczuk said she had made “contentious” decisions about closing the state’s borders and was happy to “cop” the criticism.

“It is clear to me the Queensland economy can only open because our borders are closed,” she told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

“We made difficult decisions, hard decisions, often contentious decisions.

“There are now more active cases in aged care in Victoria than Queensland has had during the entire pandemic.

“And yet, it’s Queensland that is attacked. I’ll cop whatever gets thrown at me — that’s politics.”

Renewable energy corridor

The Premier said a large part of the State Government’s economic recovery roadmap was a $51.8 billion infrastructure plan over four years — with $13.9 billion earmarked for 2020-2021.

Ms Palaszczuk announced $145 million would be set aside for three new renewable energy corridors across north, central and south-west Queensland.

The areas would guide investment for future solar and wind energy infrastructure.

She said her Government was also committing $5 million for a feasibility study into a gas pipeline from the Bowen Basin and an extra $46.5 million for localised mental health community treatment and support services.

Ms Palaszczuk said the pandemic had put people’s mental health under stress, particularly for elderly residents.

“This global pandemic isn’t just claiming lives directly from the virus — it is taking a massive toll on Queenslander’s mental health,” she said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us never to let down our guard — and we see that again just today.

“Overnight we have been dealing with two new cases of coronavirus affecting South-East Queensland.

“You can never be sure where this disease will rear its head and this shows we are not out of the woods yet.”

The sun shining on solar panels at the Warwick solar farm.
Ms Palaszczuk promised to create a renewable energy corridor.(Supplied: UQ)

Call for stronger renewables commitment

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) spokesperson Jason Lyddieth welcomed the promise of investment in renewable energy zones.

“Renewable energy zones protect existing jobs and create the jobs of the future through the construction of new wind and solar projects, batteries and transmission lines,” he said.

“They power emerging industries like green aluminium, steel and hydrogen produced with clean energy.

But Mr Lyddieth said the Queensland Government needed to commit to its 50 per cent renewable energy target.

“The Palaszczuk Government still doesn’t have the policies to deliver on its targets of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 or net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Palaszczuk has ‘failed to plan’

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said an LNP government would establish an economic recovery agency that would fast-track approvals for major projects.

It has also committed to a $1 billion road and rail infrastructure program if elected in October.

Headshot of Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington at a media conference.
Deb Frecklington says Queensland is the only State Government not to deliver a budget this year.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Ms Frecklington said the Government needed to release a budget for this year to properly guide the state through economic recovery.

“The LNP is offering a way forward, dragging Queensland out of this recession,” she said.

“It is not good enough that Queensland has the lowest business confidence in the nation, highest number of bankruptcies and the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

“It is because the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has failed to plan.

“The only State Government to not have a budget this year, and if you don’t have a budget you don’t have a plan.”

In lieu of a budget, Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick will hand down a COVID-19 fiscal and economic review in September.

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The four national club competitions Rugby Australia will pitch to broadcasters

It will not only need to align with the rugby calendar but also be financially sustainable, with a yet-to-be-determined budget dependant on the amount RA can attract from a broadcaster.

RA does not have a preference for any particular model but is committed to including teams from non-traditional rugby states.

Two of the models feature eight teams, while there are also 16-team and 32-team options which are both knockouts.

The 32-team option is similar to the FFA Cup – but unlike the soccer tournament, professional teams such as the Waratahs wouldn’t be involved. Every state premier rugby competition would be represented but working out how many NSW and Queensland sides would take part, for example, is up for debate. Rankings would be based on performances in respective state-based competitions that year.

Captains ahead of last year's Shute Shield.

Captains ahead of last year’s Shute Shield. Credit:Stuart Walmsley

RA is keen to form a working group made up of premier rugby clubs and state unions to consider and investigate competition modelling. The group would have a say in determining how many teams from each state would be selected for the nationwide tournament. The bottom line, however, is that broadcasters will have the biggest influence.

Option two is a 16-club knockout competition with 15 matches across four weeks but only with teams from the Shute Shield (NSW), Hospital Cup (QLD), John I Dent Cup (ACT), Dewar Shield (VIC) and Fortescue Premier Grade (WA).

Options three and four, both with eight teams, are round-robin based. One model involves two pools of four teams that come from the five above mentioned states and territory. Each team would play three games, one against each other, before the top two advance to semi-finals.

The other model is similar to the last but two ‘wildcard sides’ will be able to qualify for pool spots, which would also be divided up with four teams split across two pools. The third and fourth models would run for five weeks and six weeks, respectively.

RA is keen to formally begin broadcast negotiations by September 4.

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NT leaders debate: Michael Gunner, Lia Finocchiaro and Terry Mills make their pitch to voters, live blog

The CLP’s election pitch


Lia Finocchiaro was confident the CLP could win back power this Saturday. (ABC News: Jano Gibson)


We asked the three leaders, in 100 words of less, WHY Territorians should vote for them on August 22.

Here’s what Country Liberal Party’s Lia Finocchiaro said. 


“I will lead a new Country Liberal Government that will drive job creation, tackle crime to make our community safe and play to our key economic strengths to create opportunities for all Territorians. 

“Under the Gunner Government, the Territory has been the worst performing economy in the nation with businesses closing, families leaving the Territory and higher crime.


“We will attract private sector investment by making the Territory the most business friendly environment in the world. To make our communities safer we will empower our police, and put victims, not offenders, first. For every offence, there must be a consequence.”

The CLP was comprehensively defeated at the 2016 NT election – leaving it with just two seats. But Ms Finocchiaro was confident her party could take back power this election. 


At the CLP’s 2020 NT election campaign launch. 


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Wayne Bennett makes 11th hour pitch to Joseph Suaalii as D-day nears for star teen

“One thing I know about all of it is that if he comes to this club, there is no one more experienced than I am at bringing young players through the NRL,” Bennett said.

“I’ve brought that many young players through from my 33 years of coaching. They need good people around them and they need good clubs to come to and I think South Sydney know that.

“I don’t think that, I know South Sydney provides all of that.”

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.Credit:Paul Seiser/SPA Images

The ARL Commission will consider bending rules for Suaalii that state players must not make their NRL debut until they turn 18.

Bennett was happy to hear that when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

“Players mature a lot earlier these days,” Bennett said. “They physically don’t mature earlier, but they certainly do mentally because of all that is happening around them. At 17 or 18, there’s not much difference. He will turn 18 in that year as well.”

South Sydney’s senior management has long believed Suaalii could be the club’s long-term fullback, but with Latrell Mitchell now entrenched in the famous No.1 jersey, the star teen may be forced to bide his time on the wing.

Bennett has traditionally erred on the side of easing players with considerable talent at such a young age through the grades and he intends on treating Suaalii the same way.

“Talent is the beginning for all these young men and he has lots of talent,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of work in front of them all, but he came into the pre-season with us and he certainly looked like he was prepared to pay the price you have to pay to have all of that talent come to the forefront.


“A lot of young guys lose their way who do have talent because they won’t make the sacrifices that are necessary. But he’s certainly got the talent and I’m sure he will make the most of it.”

Mitchell will make his return from a two-game suspension on Thursday night and will proudly pull on Souths’ Indigenous jersey.

“It means so much to the players here so you have to buy into it and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Bennett said. “South Sydney has a rich history here with Indigenous people and I’m just privileged to be a part of this game. I know how much it means to the players and the club.”

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