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Germany humiliates Brazil 7-1

Miroslav Klose of Germany celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Germany 7 Brazil 1
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Belo Horizonte: This was not just a humiliation, a beating, a complete and utter demolition job. It was the ritual disembowelling of a team, the deconstruction not just of a squad of footballers, but of a nation’s hopes and dreams.

Teams don’t win World Cup semi-finals 7-1. It simply doesn’t happen. Surely not in the modern day and age, But yes, it did, and it is Germany who will now head to Rio to try to win their fourth World Cup on Sunday (Monday AEST), and Brazil who must bear the shame and the ignominy, the dishonour, discomfiture and degradation of such a slaughter.

And it wasn’t as if Germany had to be particularly brilliant. They were good, of that make no mistake. But when a team wins this easily its hard to know just how good. It wasn’t as if they were scything Brazil apart with sumptuous flowing football of the kind that will leave the rest of the world looking on, breathless

But its relentlessness as it powered on and on to get to the final tally of seven had a terrible beauty about it, the total subjugation of an opponent who, before this match, seemed to think it had a divine right to be in the final.

In fact the scoreline and the poverty of the Brazilian performance distorted even the fact that this was a game in which a record for the ages was set: Miroslav Klose’s goal, Germany’s second, was his 16th in World Cups, making the 36-year-old veteran of four tournaments the record goalscorer in the history of the competition.

He and his teammates were aided and abetted by some of the worst defending ever seen in a game at this level. So simple was it for Die Nationalmannschaft that to compare it even to stealing sweets from a child’s pram is understating the ease with which Brazil was ripped asunder time and again.

Brazil left-back Marcelo, with his impetuous desire to get forward, continued to leave gaps on his side of the pitch which weren’t covered.

Marcelo of Brazil reacts after allowing a goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

David Luiz, captain on this most notorious of days, and his centre back partner Dante, drafted in to replace suspended skipper Thiago Silva, stood immobile and unaccountable, the antithesis of what is required at the highest level.

The midfield lacked bite, the wingers rarely threatened, and Fred, the figure of fun up front? He simply lumbered as ever, in ever-less threatening positions.

Every time Germany came forward they either scored, or looked like doing so, as the Brazilians gazed, ball-watched, made half-hearted challenges or simply gave the ball away in dangerous areas.

It was like a surreal dream as Brazil first crumbled, then collapsed before finally capitulating in such a supine fashion.

If this was any other sport, one which involved a mercy rule, the contest would have been stopped – and all of Brazil would have applauded.

The players themselves looked like fighters who know that this was one bout too many, one test for which they had been overmatched. They looked as though they would have been happy to quit on their stools and throw in the towel to save themselves further punishment and the agony of another hour of futile football.

Brazil have never been convincing in this World Cup. They have had the benefit of fanatical home support, of some dubious refereeing decisions and they have ridden their luck. And they have relied on the quality of Neymar, their superstar, to create something out of nothing.

They have drawn widespread criticism for the physicality of their approach, for the lumpen nature of their play and the lack of imagination in their midfield.

Brazil has run on a high octane mix of emotion and energy, of hype and hysteria, fuelled by a fan base whipped into a frenzy by a media dreaming of the ultimate glory.

This was the day the chickens came home to roost, the day when the world saw that the Emperor had no clothes.

Thomas Mueller of Germany celebrates scoring his team’s first goal past Julio Cesar of Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Much was made of Neymar’s absence leading into this match; fans in the stands carried cardboard cut outs of the absent striker. Captain for the day Luiz and goalkeeper Julio Cesar carried a flag bearing his name. The team arrived for the game all wearing hats bearing the legend ”Forza Neymar”.

Was too much emotional capital spent on acknowledging the team’s hero? Did the players believe they could not win without him?

Or is the truth more prosaic, that without the organising talents of the suspended Silva and his robust defensive qualities Brazil were a rabble at the back and paid the heaviest of penalties.

This wasn’t the Brazil of the earlier games in other ways, either.

The physicality of their approach was muted – it was as if all the criticism had to to them – and, after Germany scored, all the energy went out of their play.

And Germany held the key to this game. Perhaps they were the first side – even more than the excellent Colombia and Chile – who had come up against Brazil in this tournament and had not considered themselves inferior. The first team who glanced at the Brazilian team-sheet and who saw not threats and concerns but opportunities and weak links.

After taking the heat out of the Brazilian early onslaught they silenced it in the best possible fashion, with that early goal by Thomas Mueller, left completely unmarked at a corner to volley home.

The second virtually put the game beyond doubt when Klose stuck his record-breaking goal, his first shot saved by Julio Cesar, the striker banging home the rebound while the defenders looked on.

Therein followed, in quick succession, two goals to Toni Kroos in a three-minute burst (23rd and 26th minutes) and a fifth to Sami Khedira in the 29th.

All that was left for Brazil in the second half was to save face. They tried, and it was a more even contest.

David Luiz and Maicon of Brazil react after allowing a goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

But just to rub salt in the wound German substitute Andre Schurrle came off the bench to nab the sixth in the 69th minute, popping up between Luiz and Dante to sweep home. The stand in central defender must surely have felt at this stage as if he was in all nine circles of hell simultaneously: certainly Brazil were, and their pain only intensified when Schurrle got away from the lumbering Luiz to smash a seventh in off the crossbar.

By the time Oscar pulled one back it was purely academic.

This was the tournament that, in popular myth, was going to be the World Cup where the Selecao erased the nightmare of 1950, when they were defeated at home in the final by Uruguay.

Instead they have an even bigger nightmare to deal with now. Brazil is a nation in meltdown, on the field and in the stands.

Germany march on, and in truth Joachim Loew might want to make sure he has a stiff probables v possible match in training before Sunday _ it will give his first team the sort of work out they didn’t receive here.

Expansion for Waratah Village

VILLAGE GROWN: The Waratah shopping centre, pictured, is planning a major expansion, see map.WARATAH Village shopping centre has confirmed future growth plans, with its owners acquiring more than a dozen neighbouring homes to make way for an expanded retail centre.
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The owners of the western Newcastle shopping centre, popular for its annual Christmas lights display and its 24-hour Kmart store, said though the expansion might be some time off, surrounding property was being acquired as it became available.

On the centre’s shopping list are 17 residential properties in Coolamin Road, Georgetown Road, Glenda Street, Tinonee Road and Turton Road. So far, 14 have been bought.

Centre owner Nekon Pty Ltd is now seeking to rezone the acquisitions from residential to commercial.

Centre manager Sheldon Hayden said the expansion plan had been in train for about six years, but it might take another three or four years to acquire all the properties it wanted and get the necessary approvals.

Mr Hayden said Waratah Village was a popular retail hub in the geographical centre of Newcastle and had good growth potential.

The company’s rezoning application has been lodged with Newcastle council and is on public exhibition until July 14.

Meanwhile, the retail village has become the first on mainland Australia to use power generated by on-site wind turbines.

Three turbines, each 14 metres high, were erected in the shopping centre’s car park in February. They were switched on last week and are now providing enough energy to power the centre’s car park lighting and common areas.

The wind turbines drew some concern from neighbouring residents when they were considered and approved back in 2011.

They are much smaller than the large Ausgrid turbine, which is about to be dismantled on Kooragang Island, and are considerably quieter.

Abbott axe poised to fall on carbon tax

Politics Live with Judith Ireland
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The government has edged closer to abolishing Labor’s climate change laws with a vote to axe the carbon tax set to happen as soon as Wednesday.

But as debate got under way in the Senate on Tuesday, new details of Clive Palmer’s proposed zero-dollar emissions trading scheme emerged, while motoring enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir flagged plans to punch a further $1.3 billion hole in the federal budget by trying to save the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government should achieve by the end of the week its long-cherished ambition to abolish the carbon tax, but it is increasingly clear the Palmer United Party intends to inflict maximum political chaos in the process.

In the Senate on Tuesday, Labor and the Greens attacked the government for a ”backward” step that would be condemned by future generations of Australians, while Palmer United senators, who support the tax’s abolition, moved an amendment to ensure power companies pass on to consumers the full cost savings from the removal of the carbon tax. Among its requirements, the amendment will force power companies to display the savings from the repeal of the tax in each household bill.

Debate on the repeal of the tax continued in the Senate on Tuesday evening, but a vote was not expected until Wednesday at the earliest, despite earlier fears from some Labor and Greens senators the government would try to stop the debate and bring on a vote.

The Palmer United Party was also finalising details of its emissions trading scheme on Tuesday and expects to bring an extraordinary 300-page amendment to the Senate next week.

The amendments will halt the abolition of the Climate Change Authority, allocate new money to the agency and put it in charge of monitoring climate action by Australia’s five major trading partners.

Under the Palmer plan, the ETS will lie dormant with a starting price of zero dollars. It would become active when the US, Japan, South Korea, the European Union and China are judged to have taken major action to reduce emissions on a nationwide basis.

The authority would be responsible for advising the government when that has occurred.

Fairfax Media has been told by sources in the Palmer camp that the draft amendment would not require those five to have emissions trading schemes of their own. However, this element of the amendments has not been finalised and it is understood at least one key member of the Palmer team is pushing for an ETS to be a requirement.

The ETS is likely to fail in the House of Representatives even if it passes the Senate.

But Mr Palmer has said that support for Direct Action from the PUP was contingent on government support for his ETS, potentially setting up a stand-off.

Creating further problems for the government is the move by Senator Muir, who is seeking amendments to save the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Senator Muir’s proposal seeks to block budget cuts to ARENA that are contained in the carbon tax repeal bill.

With Tom Arup

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Sub-zero temperatures across the Hunter

Sub-zero temperatures across the Hunter Newcastle’s Megan Judd found a thick frost on her windscreen.
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Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Birmingham Garden’s David Hough rates this frost as the biggest in many years.

Rick Nicholson captured these frost crystals at Wallsend about 7.30am.

Rick Nicholson captured these frost crystals at Wallsend about 7.30am.

Sara Morgan captures a frosted floor at Raymond Terrace’s Riverside Park.

TweetFacebookHow was the weather at your place? Send pics to [email protected]杭州后花园m.au

Newcastle’s latest Miss Universe Australia Tegan Martin also took to social media to comment on the cold snap.

Good morning #Sydney .Missing the warm weather today ☀️. Anyone else a little cold ? #MediterraneanTan#bondiTanspic.twitter杭州后花园m/qkZKr1In4w

— Tegan Martin (@Tegan___Martin) July 8, 2014

Dozens of Herald readers shared their stories of the cold including water frozen in hoses, thick crusts of ice on horse troughs and heaters failing in the freezing conditions.

“Had to cancel a camping trip to Lake Glenbawn this week,” Phil Selman wrote.

“Thank you God!”

Rebecca Single said she recorded-4 degrees at her place in Cessnock, but things still got worse.

‘Here at Cessnock, heater just packed it in and I have an almost two-year-oldand a threeweek old to keep warm,” Ms Single wrote.

At Lake Munmorah, Kym Tomlinson-Ryan basked in a relatively balmy 12 degrees at 8am.

“[It was a] beautiful winter morning, so enjoyed a nice cuppa out on the deck in the sunshine,” Ms Tomlinson-Ryan wrote.

“Crazy that some areas were so cold and others just beautiful.”

Japan pushes for closer ties

Peter Hartcher: World citizen Japan prepares for the worstJohn Garnaut: Abe speech all about the Nationa that Must Not Be NamedPolitics Live with Judith Ireland
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has used a historic address to the Australian Parliament to move the two countries closer to a strategic defence alliance in a development certain to anger Beijing.

Declaring a new Japanese ”determination” to behave as a normal nation in the international sphere following a period of being ”self-absorbed” on security matters, the hawkish Prime Minister stopped short of directly criticising Chinese territorial expansion.

But his speech left little doubt as to Tokyo’s new activist defence posture – ditching its postwar pacifist stance – and its related desire for closer strategic co-ordination with Australia and the US.

That will no doubt fuel suspicions in Beijing that western powers are pursuing a containment strategy regarding China.

”There are many things Japan and Australia can do together by each of us joining hands with the United States, an ally for both our nations,” he told the special joint sitting of Parliament.

”Japan is now working to change its legal basis for security so that we can act jointly with other countries in as many ways as possible.”

In a subsequent press conference after the two leaders signed a new Economic Partnership Agreement, Mr Abe went further, however, describing the Tokyo-Beijing relationship as ”one of the most important bilateral relationships” but then blaming China for a deterioration.

”The door for dialogue is always open from the Japanese side, so I do sincerely hope that the Chinese side will also take the same posture,” he said.

”The fundamental position of Japan that we are keen to improve our relationship with China has been fully explained to Tony, the Prime Minister, but, however, we also discussed … China’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo.

”China along with Japan and Australia should play a greater role for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.”

He added that it was important that China ”share and accept international norms and play a concerted role in the region – that is what I am hoping China will do”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised Japan as an ”exemplary” and ”model” international citizen since 1945, despite Mr Abe heralding the resumption of whaling.

Mr Abe said the recent decision by the International Court of Justice had envisaged ”scientific” programs and revealed Japan would resume the practice in order to collect the ”indispensable scientific information in order to manage the whale resources”.

Mr Abe’s comments regarding the rule of law were transparently aimed at Chinese moves in the South and East China seas where it has simmering disputes with neighbours including Vietnam and the Philippines raising fears for the future security of sea lanes.

”I believe strongly that when Japan and Australia, sharing the common values, join hands, these natural rules will become the norm for the seas of prosperity that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian,” he said.

Relations between China and Japan are at a dangerously low point, and Beijing views the Australian visit as part of Japan’s plan to rally its neighbours to counter China’s rise.

”In everything we say and do, we must follow the law and never fall back into force and coercion,” Mr Abe said. ”When there are disputes, we must always use peaceful means to find solutions.”

China last week hit out at Mr Abe after his cabinet endorsed a reinterpretation of a constitutional clause banning the used of armed force, except in narrowly-defined circumstances.

This diplomatic juggling act was underlined as Mr Abbott sought to reassure Beijing that the strengthening of ties with Tokyo was ”not a partnership against anyone”.

The two leaders signed a defence research agreement that could pave the way for Japan sharing with Australia its widely admired submarine technology as Australia prepares to shop for a successor to the ageing Collins class.

Defence Minister David Johnston said Australia wanted to strengthen the three-way defence co-operation between Australia, Japan and the US based on their ”common set of democratic values and similar strategic perspectives” – another emphasis likely to irritate Beijing.

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Labor to push for new CBA probe

Perceived federal government tardiness in responding to a recent Senate committee recommendation for a high-powered inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s investment arm, and the financial regulator ASIC, has prompted a counter-move from the opposition.
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It will now push for a new dedicated Senate inquiry instead, in a move that could see Commonwealth Bank managers once again dragged before the Parliament to explain apparent inaction.

Fairfax Media has learnt the opposition believes it has the support of sufficient crossbenchers in the Senate to commence the new probe into Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited.

But the inquiry would also look specifically at the failure of Commonwealth Bank management to root out corrupt planners, and its refusal to more aggressively respond to the detection of fraud that caused thousands of investors to lose their life savings.

Labor leader Bill Shorten will announce the new inquiry in Sydney on Wednesday claiming the government was sitting on its hands.

”This is a scandal of shocking proportions. It’s shone a light on some incredibly poor practices that simply should never be allowed to occur again,” he said. ”It absolutely beggars belief that the government is watering down consumer protections in financial advice, particularly in light of this disgraceful episode.”

Mr Shorten slammed the government saying its plans to modify the Future of Financial Advice laws regarding investment advice would allow the Commonwealth Bank situation to reoccur.

Mr Shorten described the Commonwealth Bank’s own process for redressing some of the losses as ”a good first step”, but claimed it but fell ”well short” of adequate.

The new inquiry would issue an interim report by September 1, 2014.

Defence alliance to anger China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has used a historic address to the Australian Parliament to move the two countries closer to a strategic defence alliance in a development certain to anger Beijing.
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Declaring a new Japanese ”determination” to behave as a normal nation in the international sphere following a period of being ”self-absorbed” on security matters, the hawkish PM stopped short of directly criticising Chinese territorial expansion.

But his speech left little doubt as to Tokyo’s newly activist defence posture – ditching its postwar pacifist stance – and its related desire for closer co-ordination between Japan, Australia and the US.

That will no doubt fuel suspicions in Beijing that Western powers are pursuing a containment strategy regarding China.

”There are many things Japan and Australia can do together by each of us joining hands with the United States, an ally for both our nations,” Mr Abe told the special joint sitting of Parliament.

In a subsequent press conference, held after the two leaders signed a new Economic Partnership Agreement, Mr Abe went further, describing the Tokyo-Beijing relationship as ”one of the most important bilateral relationships”, but then blaming China for a deterioration.

”The fundamental position of Japan – that we are keen to improve our relationship with China – has been fully explained to Tony [Abbott] … but we also discussed … China’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo.

”China along with Japan and Australia should play a greater role for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The provocative comments came as Mr Abbott pointedly praised Japan as an ”exemplary” and ”model” international citizen since 1945, despite Mr Abe also flagging the resumption of whaling.

Relations between China and Japan are at a dangerously low point, with Beijing viewing the Australian visit as part of Japan’s plan to rally its neighbours to counter China’s rise.

”In everything we say and do, we must follow the law and never fall back into force and coercion,” Mr Abe said.

China last week hit out at Mr Abe after his cabinet endorsed a reinterpretation of a constitutional clause banning the use of armed force, except in narrowly defined circumstances.

This perennial diplomatic juggling act was underlined as Mr Abbott sought to reassure Beijing that the strengthening of ties with Tokyo was ”not a partnership against anyone”.

The two leaders also signed a defence research agreement that could pave the way for Japan sharing with Australia its widely admired submarine technology.

With Philip Wen

Reject Shop has high hopes of new boss

The Reject Shop’s incoming chief executive, Ross Sudano, is expected to review the discount retailer’s aggressive expansion plans, product range and digital offer when he takes the helm in September.
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Mr Sudano, a former brewing and grocery executive with more than 20 years’ retail experience, will take the reins from Chris Bryce, who announced his resignation in March and left last month.

Mr Sudano, 44, joins the Reject Shop at a difficult time. The discount variety sector has been hard hit by the downturn in discretionary spending after the May budget and is grappling with structural challenges including a raft of new online and bricks-and-mortar competitors including Japanese discounter Daiso and NQR.

Last week, the Reject Shop’s largest competitor, Jan Cameron’s Discount Superstores Group, which owns about 150 Crazy Clark’s and Sam’s Warehouse stores, collapsed for the second time in less than two years.

After rapid expansion, the Reject Shop has been struggling to control costs with new stores appearing to be cannibalising sales at older ones. Key metrics including sales and earnings per store have been going backwards for four years. Commonwealth Bank analyst Sam Teeger says consumers are increasingly going to shopping centres for lifestyle reasons instead of shopping and the Reject Shop is being undercut by larger chains such as Kmart, which has slashed prices.

Analysts expect Mr Sudano, the former chief executive of craft brewer Little World Beverages and outdoor leisure chain Anaconda, to review longer-term plans for 400 to 490 stores, improve the product mix and reconsider the company’s reluctance to move online. ”Once this leadership transition occurs, we suspect the Reject Shop’s strategy will shift to improving store profitability metrics, which have been deteriorating since 2011 at the expense of the ambitious store rollout,” Mr Teeger said in a recent report.

Chairman Bill Stevens said Mr Sudano was an accomplished retailer who would bring great expertise to all aspects of the business, including merchandise buying, supply chain management, distribution, store operations, and marketing.

”Ross has clearly got very strong retail experience across a range of elements of retail including marketing, merchandising and buying, with a particular focus on customer requirements,” Mr Stevens told Fairfax Media.

”He doesn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.”

Mr Stevens conceded South African-born Mr Sudano lacked experience in discount variety, ”but based on where he’s been I don’t see that as a particular negative.

”He is certainly aware of the space and, particularly at Anaconda, had a focus on customer requirements and how to fill customer needs,” he said.

Mr Sudano’s contract includes fixed pay of $650,000 plus short-term incentives potentially worth 30 per cent of fixed pay.

World citizen Japan prepares for the worst

In lockstep: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott leave the House of Representatives after a joint address to parliament. Photo: Alex EllinghausenDefence alliance to anger ChinaComment: Abe speech all about the National that Must Not be NamedTony Wright: Parliament freezes in a moment that stopped timePolitics Live with Judith Ireland
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Australia and Japan continue to hope for the best from China, but they are putting in place mechanisms to deal with the worst.

This is the grave purpose underlying the new “special relationship” that Japan’s Prime Minister has declared with Australia.

The two countries restated their commitment to the shared peace and prosperity of the region, but girded, unmistakably, for the possibility of war.

Shinzo Abe’s appearance in Canberra on Tuesday ranks with Barack Obama’s Canberra speech in 2011. They are companion pieces, threshold moments in the Western bloc’s response to China’s rise.

Obama’s appearance gave force to his “Asia pivot” by announcing the US Marines for Darwin. Abe’s visit gave weight to his reinterpretation of Japan’s constitution to allow it to help defend its allies.

Last week, Abe declared the redefinition of his country’s post-war “peace constitution”.

It was a momentous decision that brought Japanese citizens onto the streets in protest and sent Beijing into furious denunciations of a militarist “coup”.

But it brought relief in Washington. It was “none too soon”, said the former admiral in charge of the US Pacific Command, Dennis Blair.

The move “should give pause to potential aggressors”, he said, and “provides tangible support for the US pivot to Asia”.

Abe told a joint meeting of the Australian Parliament on Tuesday: “So far as national security goes, Japan has been self-absorbed for a long time.

”Now, Japan has built a determination. As a nation that longs for permanent peace in the world, and as a country whose economy is among the biggest, Japan is now determined to do more to enhance peace.”

Abe signed a defence agreement with Tony Abbott to allow the exchange of military technology between their countries.

“That will make the first cut, engraving the special relationship in our future history,” Abe said.

Specifically, it will allow Australia to buy Japan’s submarine technology, the best conventional capability in the world, in renewing its own fleet.

Abbott gave Abe strong endorsement: “Give Japan a fair go,” he told a joint press conference. “Japan should be judged on its actions today, not its actions 70 years ago.”

He embraced Japan as an “exemplary international citizen”.

On Wednesday Abbott escorts Abe on a trip to the Pilbara. Why? “It’s about the future,” said an Abe adviser travelling with the Prime Minister, Tomohiko Taniguchi.

“It’s location, location, location. Australia just happens to be on the same longitude as Japan. You happen to send your ships to Japan without passing through the contested areas like the South China Sea. My own take is that Australia will gain even more strategic salience for Japan.”

In other words, for Japan the intensified relationship with Australia is all about hedging against a bellicose China. Abbott won’t say so plainly, but Australia’s embrace of a tougher new Japan is in search of just such a reassurance.

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Asylum seekers in limbo on high seas

Elite officer suspected of key role in smuggling bidPolitics Live with Judith Ireland
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More than 150 asylum seekers, including about 40 children, face living in limbo on the high seas in an Australian customs vessel for weeks, while their fate is decided in the High Court.

Lawyers for the Abbott government and the asylum seekers agreed on a timetable for court action on Tuesday after the government promised to give 72 hours’ notice in writing if it intended to hand the asylum seekers to Sri Lankan authorities. A directions hearing will be held within three weeks, raising the question of where the asylum seekers will be held in the interim.

During the hearings, the government revealed that it had intercepted a boat carrying the asylum seekers outside Australia’s migration zone and transferred them to a customs vessel. This follows the revelation on Monday that it had already handed over to Sri Lanka 41 asylum seekers on another boat after they were subjected to ”enhanced screening” at sea.

Lawyers representing those on the second boat say they will challenge any transfer of the 153 people to Manus Island or Nauru while the case proceeds, on the grounds that such a transfer would be unlawful because the boat was intercepted on the high seas.

Another option would be to transfer the asylum seekers to Christmas Island until the case is decided. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young urged the government to bring the asylum seekers to Australia to assess their claims, saying they had already been at sea for three weeks and were ”anxious and frightened”.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, argued the group could have been assessed on Christmas Island or Manus Island.

”The government has options,” he said. ”The reason they are not taking those options is because they want to protect nothing other than a political scoreboard – and that is not good enough and in the process what they are doing is trashing this country’s international reputation.”

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the government had offered no commitments on what it would do with the asylum seekers in its custody.

”I have no doubt [Immigration Minister] Scott Morrison is currently working the phones trying to find some godforsaken place to dump them,” he said.

In Parliament, the government’s Senate leader, Eric Abetz, defended its hard line on boat arrivals, declaring: ”I see no sense of social justice whatsoever in giving priority to those who bypass safe haven after safe haven after safe haven and then pay a criminal to get them to the front of the queue.”

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said after the hearing: ”What the government’s decision today means is that a group of vulnerable men, women, and children will not be sent back to their persecutors in Sri Lanka.”

Mr Newhouse said the asylum seekers would be given access to legal representation.

High Court Justice Susan Crennan said during the hearing that a challenge to any handover would be heard ”expeditiously” by the full High Court.

Counsel for the government Justin Gleeson, SC, said the boat carrying the asylum seekers had been intercepted outside Australia’s migration zone, ending more than a week of secrecy by the government. Appearing via video link from Sydney, Mr Gleeson said the government had the executive discretion to determine where those detained ended up under the Maritime Powers Act.

Ron Merkel, QC, acting for the asylum seekers, claimed the government did not have the power to lawfully return the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka against their will before their claims were determined.

Mr Merkel has issued writs on behalf of 50 of those on board, including eight children aged between two and 16. He said that once an assessment of the claims had begun, the government was lawfully bound to take it to its conclusion under the provisions of the Migration Act.

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