Elgar century lifts South Africa in Dunedin

The left-handed opener, who was spilt down the leg side by wicketkeeper BJ Watling on 36 shortly after lunch, brought up his century from 197 balls with his 20th boundary.


The 29-year-old finished on 128 not out and also combined with captain Faf du Plessis (52) for a 126-run partnership that resurrected his side’s innings after they had slumped to 22-3 in a difficult first session of the three-match series.

Temba Bavuma, who joined Elgar before tea when du Plessis was dismissed, was on 38 not out at the close.

Du Plessis was caught in the deep by Trent Boult off all-rounder Jimmy Neesham three balls after he had a leg before decision overturned on review.

The Proteas were rocked by the loss of three early wickets when left-arm seamer Neil Wagner claimed two victims in one over following du Plessis’s late decision to bat after winning the toss.

Du Plessis finally opted against bowling first when he noticed that New Zealand had dropped pace spearhead Tim Southee to play two spinners in Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner.

The visitors had been under pressure when they resumed after lunch on 63-3 and New Zealand could have driven home their advantage had Watling held on when Elgar got a thick edge in the second over of the session.

New Zealand had seized the early advantage when skipper Kane Williamson introduced Patel in the sixth over, with the off-spinner proving difficult to get away as he extracted bounce and turn off the pitch.

Paceman Boult then got a delivery to swing back into right-handed opener Stephen Cook, who offered no shot and was given out lbw for three to leave the hosts 10-1 in the ninth over.

Williamson then reintroduced Wagner and he struck immediately to remove the dangerous Hashim Amla for one.

Four balls later, he had JP Duminy caught at first slip by Ross Taylor, also for one, from a rising delivery that brushed a glove to leave the visitors in dire trouble.

Following the first test, the teams head to Wellington before concluding the series in Hamilton.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O’Brien)

Downer to buy NZ builder Hawkins

Infrastructure and mining services group Downer EDI has agreed to buy New Zealand builder Hawkins for an undisclosed sum, as it expands operations in the Pacific nation.


The Australian company called the acquisition an excellent strategic fit, saying it will complement existing capabilities and provide a platform for growth.

Hawkins is one of the largest construction firms in New Zealand, with current major contracts including building Wellington Airport’s new control tower, Christchurch’s town hall and Auckland’s Park Hyatt hotel.

The company was founded 70 years ago, and is being purchased from the current owners – the McConnell family.

Downer chief executive Grant Fenn said the acquisition would help his company benefit from the booming construction activity in New Zealand, where an estimated $NZ50 billion ($A45.9 billion) is expected to be invested in non-residential construction, over the next five years.

Hawkins will continue to operate under its own brand.

The acquisition, expected to be completed by March 31, will be funded through existing debt facilities and be earnings accretive in its first year, Mr Fenn added.

Downer in February posted higher half-year profit and raised full-year guidance, suggesting its shift to rail, transport services and technology sectors was helping to offset the continuing decline in its core mining services business.

Downer has built capability in other segments, particularly in light rail design and construction, and utilities services, as it continues to reposition the business to service increased investment and outsourcing in public transport, communications and defence sectors.

At 1055 AEDT, Downer EDI shares were unchanged at $7.21 each.

New AFL ruck rule confuses Eagle Simpson

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has urged the AFL to leave the rules alone, saying he’s not a fan of the new ruck rule and has no idea what it’s even trying to achieve.


The AFL has outlawed the third-man up scenario at rucks this season in a bid to protect the role of the ruckman and to try to clear up congestion.

But the rule hit controversy last week when Adelaide midfielder Dean Gore was penalised because the ball accidentally hit him on the back during a shallow throw-in.

The AFL has since promised to tweak the rule so that instances of the ball striking passive players won’t be penalised again.

But Simpson couldn’t help but feel a tad bemused after raising that exact point to the AFL before the Gore incident even occurred.

And he is upset the third-man-up rule will be in place for the home-and-away season before being properly trialled and assessed over a full pre-season.

“I’m still trying to work out why we’ve brought that in,” Simpson said of the new rule.

“I don’t really understand the concept.

“What’s the purpose of it? Is it to protect the rucks? Was that an issue at the start?

“Does it mean there’s less stoppages?

“We were briefed on it, so I won’t say I was in the dark.

“But these rules are brought in after the draft and trade period, so what does it mean for the recruiting and what kind of players you’re looking for?”

Simpson hopes the AFL won’t make many more tweaks to the rules.

“Leave them alone,” Simpson said.

“I thought the standard of footy was pretty good last year, and what the Bulldogs produced was sensational for the competition.

“Strategies change, the game will evolve.

“I’d love to leave the rules alone. To protect the safety of our players – I get that a little bit. But I’m one for just leave it alone.”

West Coast will unleash a near full-strength squad for Thursday’s pre-season hit-out against Melbourne at Domain Stadium.

Ruckman Scott Lycett won’t feature in the match, but he’s set to play for WAFL side East Perth this weekend in his first hit-out since undergoing knee surgery.

Simpson is hopeful Lycett will be fit for round one, with Jonathan Giles, Nathan Vardy, and Drew Petrie the other ruck options battling for spots.

BHP Billiton expects oil demand to firm

BHP Billiton has reaffirmed its optimistic view on oil markets as it looks to invest further in the sector amid a steady recovery in prices.


The resources giant expects oil demand to rise and level with supply for the first time in nearly three years in 2017, and forecasts even more “compelling market fundamentals” over the next five to seven years.

“Based on modestly higher growth in absolute demand and the need to replenish existing natural field decline, we estimate the world will need about 30 million barrels of oil a day by 2025,” BHP Petroleum Operations president Steve Pastor said.

“We think investing counter-cyclically is a smart idea.”

His comments come days after BHP finalised an agreement with Mexico’s PEMEX to invest in the deepwater Trion oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. BHP will spend a minimum of $US382 million, and up to $US1.2 billion, exploring the offshore permits.

The company last month approved a $US2.2bn investment for a share in the Gulf of Mexico’s Mad Dog Phase 2 crude oil project.

“Most of our focus on long-term renewal is based on tier-one conventional assets,” Mr Pastor said.

He said the company also has short-term flexible opportunities to boost production, particularly through its stakes in North American shale gas developments in the Permian and Eagle Ford.

“Right now, we have an abundance of high quality gas in our portfolio, but quite frankly, we are a bit more bullish on oil,” Mr Pastor said.

BHP stripped its shale drilling program to a minimum in 2016 after a collapse in oil and gas prices forced it to write down the value of its US shale assets by $US7.2 billion.

Crude prices have recovered gradually and currently trade around $US53 a barrel.

The company has preferred to focus on developing its conventional petroleum business, which has some of the lowest unit cash costs in the industry.

BHP bounced back to profitability in the six months to December, as a rebound in prices for iron ore, coal and petroleum contributed to a $US3.2 billion profit.

Its shares were down 32 cents, or 1.3 per cent, at $25.18.

Sydney Boys students support women in their lives in IWD video

A Sydney Boys High school student stands on the school’s grounds and looks into the camera.


“Feminism is important to me because a few months ago a guy decided for me that I wanted to have sex with him,” he says.

“I didn’t want to.” 

For a moment the audience may wonder if he’s referring to his own experience.

Text appears across the screen: “We asked the women in our lives why feminism is important to them.

“This is what they said.”

The video, which students at Sydney Boys High School posted to Facebook for International Women’s Day, then cuts to another male student.

“Feminism is important to me because despite being a fully qualified vet, a woman recently told me I would not be able to go out to her farm and pull a calf because it would be too hard for me.

“I went out there and I pulled that calf.”

Another student says: “Feminism is important to me because when I give directions at work I get called a bitch rather than a leader, and bossy rather than assertive.”

And another: “Feminism is important to me because my Dad doesn’t think I can be an engineer and my Mum doesn’t think I can be an economist because that’s too hard for a girl.”

The Facebook video had racked up more than 120,000 views at the time of publication.

Facebook user Sally Lancaster wrote: “Great work SBHS Prefects – so impressed by you.”

While Holly Coleman commented: “There is hope!!! What amazing young men you are.”

Damian Yates said: “Awesome – a fine outstanding group of young gentlemen.. I wish I had this wisdom at their age.. #realmendontfearstrongwomen.”

And from Jenny Harding: “This is what our community needs – the voices of young men to be in partnership with women to recognise the inequities that permeate society. This is a start of what should be a global conversation. 

“SBHS this is just a wonderful contribution to IWD!”

Student leaders decided to produce the video to raise awareness about gender equality, deputy principal Rachel Powell told SBS News.

The boys were in a sport class at the time of publication and were not available for comment.

Ms Powell said it was disturbing that the boys were able to come up with such “shocking experiences of sexism so easily from talking to the women in their lives”.

The students have been taking part in ‘One Woman Gender, Inequality and Feminism’ workshops this week.

Sydney Boys High School will be fundraising for programs sponsored by UN Women by selling purple ribbons and holding a breakfast on Thursday.


ABA head did not consult Morrison on Bligh

The head of the Australian banks’ lobby group says he had no discussions with the prime minister or treasurer about the appointment of former Queensland premier Anna Bligh as his successor.


Outgoing Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steve Munchenberg told MPs on Wednesday that he had not received any expressions of concern from Treasurer Scott Morrison, who was reportedly furious over last month’s announcement that the former Labor MP would head up the ABA.

The associaton works with governments and regulators as a representative of 25 Australian banks.

Westpac boss Brian Hartzer was full of praise for Ms Bligh when he appeared before the same parliamentary committee earlier on Wednesday, but declined to say whether his staff had discussed the issue with Mr Morrison.

Mr Morrison has denied reports that he cancelled meetings with the chief executives of the big four banks due to his unhappiness with Ms Bligh’s appointment.

“Anna Bligh is an outstanding appointment,” Mr Hartzer told the parliamentary hearing into the big four banks.

“I was fully supportive; I interviewed Ms Bligh and I’m really excited about the changes she is going to bring.”

He said he had not discussed the appointment with Mr Morrison and refused to talk about private conversations the bank may have had with the government on the issue.

The Westpac boss was the last of the big four banking chiefs to appear before the bank review by the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra.

As chairman of the ABA, National Australia Bank chief executive Andrew Thorburn led the process that led to Ms Bligh’s appointment.

He told the same committee of MPs last week that the former Labor premier possessed the skills the banks needed.

Mr Thorburn said he informed Mr Morrison of Ms Bligh’s appointment ahead of its February 17 announcement and that the Treasurer did not try to change the decision.

Ms Bligh will become the ABA’s first female CEO on April 3.

Proteas’ Elgar calls tune in first NZ Test

Opener Dean Elgar’s seventh century has helped South Africa reach a commanding position in the opening Test against New Zealand in Dunedin.


The 29-year-old left-hander’s 128 not out on Wednesday anchored his side’s first innings as they reached 4-229 at stumps.

It continues a purple patch for Elgar, after scores of 45, 52, 129, 55 and 27 against Sri Lanka and 127 against Australia in November in Perth. He is just two runs shy of matching his best Test score.

New Zealand gave him a life on 36, when wicketkeeper BJ Watling dropped a leg-side edge off the bowling of Trent Boult.

However, apart from a few loose shots at the end of the day, he showed discipline and composure in hitting 22 fours.

New Zealand are underdogs against the world’s third-ranked Test side.

In the morning, they surprisingly dropped regular opening bowler Tim Southee so they could play two spinners, the first time at home for seven years.

The match is groundsman Mike Davies’ first Test and the pitch, which started with an unusual dark brown appearance and offered little bounce for the quick bowlers.

However, neither offspinner Jeetan Patel, who came on in the sixth over, nor Mitchell Santner could earn a wicket, despite Patel testing the batsmen early in the day with spin and bounce.

In the previous 22 Tests on New Zealand soil, the toss-winning captain has chosen to bowl first to take advantage of green pitches.

However, Faf du Plessis confounded that school of thought and chose to bat after correctly calling the coin.

He might have been regretting that a little when his side were teetering at 3-22 but, with the pitch improving, he and Elgar put on 126 for the fourth wicket.

Du Plessis was on 52 when he was given out lbw but a DRS appeal overturned umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s decision.

However, he didn’t last much longer when, later in the over, he hooked Jimmy Neesham to Trent Boult waiting on the midwicket boundary.

Neil Wagner finished with 2-59, Boult 1-44, Neesham 1-29, Patel 0-60 and Santner 0-32.

Shark-spotting drones help at NSW beaches

Shark-spotting drones triggered eight water evacuations across beaches during the NSW summer holidays, according to the state government.


The trial of drones – used as part of the government’s strategies for reducing shark attacks on NSW beaches – spotted 26 potentially dangerous sharks at Ballina, Lennox Head, Evans Head in the north; Redhead beach near Newcastle; and Kiama beach on the South Coast.

Two swimmers also have the drone pilots to thank after being spotted in distress at Kiama in January, with the sighting prompting local authorities to monitor the situation until the pair were safely ashore.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said it highlights the multitude of benefits in using drone technology for coastal safety.

Along with the drones, helicopters swept over seven of NSW beaches during summer spotting 167 sharks close to beachgoers, with 25 of those being potentially dangerous sharks – meaning they were more than two metres long. Seventy-eight beach evacuations were triggered from these sightings.

“These eyes in the sky have really complemented our other measures under the $16m shark management strategy, which include our tagging program, net trial, SMART drumlines and VR4G listening stations,” Mr Blair said.

The deployment of shark nets along the coast has been heavily criticised, with dozens of marine animals being killed.

Six manta rays, two turtles and a bottlenose dolphin were among 72 animals killed in the nets off Ballina in the second month of the controversial net trial, while just one targeted species – a great white shark – was captured.


* Drones and helicopter crews flew over waters at Ballina, Lennox Head, Evans Head, Redhead & Kiama

* Drone trial sighted 46 potentially dangerous sharks, triggered eight water evacuations

* Helicopter crews spotted 525 sharks, made 167 calls to beach authorities, triggered 78 water evacuations

* Drone pilots spotted two distressed swimmers at Kiama, monitored until safely ashore

* Pilots flew a total of 92,929km over holiday period.

Kearney’s NRL blast from past, Storm nears

Few people on either side of the Tasman are better qualified to talk about Melbourne NRL club than Stephen Kearney.


The new Warriors’ boss spent six years as a player in the Victorian capital from 1999-2004, winning the club’s maiden premiership, before returning from 2006 as an assistant coach for five seasons.

In that time, Kearney was able to watch up close and personal as Craig Bellamy drove the side to two since-stripped titles.

But even before the golden era of Bellamy, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and company, Kearney said the club had the key ingredient of success – culture.

From the top down, the club was in sync on where it was, where it needed to be and how it was going to get there.

“Without a doubt, the people help, wonderful people down there, who have a real eye for what success looks like,” Kearney said.

“I thought they had a wonderful culture but Craig’s only enhanced that, and that’s why they are the way they are.”

Friday’s tussle in Auckland will pit Kearney against his old mentor again, having lost two of three match-ups in an unhappy two-year spell at Parramatta.

But while the Storm’s Kiwi linchpins Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris will miss the game, Kearney is almost certain to have Simon Mannering and Charlie Gubb available.

The Warriors’ vice-captain has overcome a neck issue from Sunday’s 26-22 win over Newcastle, while Gubb is expected to pass concussion tests.

Only hooker Issac Luke is in doubt, having injured a rib against the Knights.

Kearney said he was pleased with his side’s edge defence against last year’s wooden-spooners, but that they made life too easy for their opponents.

A similar performance against Melbourne would be punished severely.

“You just know when you come up against Melbourne that you have to play well to get the result – they’re not going to give you a great deal,” Kearney said.

“My focus is on preparing the team, giving them the belief and confidence that we can go out there on Friday and perform well.

“We definitely need to improve but I’m really excited about that contest.”

Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying Melbourne were a world-class outfit.

But he was confident the side could mix it with last year’s runners-up, having received a boost from their late win over Newcastle.

“It definitely showed that the competition is heating up and the NRL is a tough competition,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.

“We can’t be that soft (again) on defence.”

Major bank bosses spurn further scrutiny

Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer agrees with his counterparts at NAB and Commonwealth Bank that there’s no need for the competition watchdog to supervise the banks, insisting he’s already trying to “compete our competitors into oblivion”.


Mr Hartzer, the last of the big four bosses to front the House of Representatives economics committee, said there are already two active regulators mandated to oversee competition in the sector.

“Although there are many assertions about competition in the industry, my own personal experience is it is highly competitive,” he told MPs in Canberra.

“We spend all day thinking about how we compete our competitors into oblivion and avoid having the same happening to us.”

It was put to Mr Hartzer that Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims believed competition between the big lenders was not as intense as it might be.

“That’s not the way it feels when you run a bank,” Mr Hartzer said.

The heads of CBA and NAB also used their appearances before the same committee to dismiss the need for additional oversight from the ACCC.

The ACCC can investigate suspected one-off breaches of competition law – such as when it took action against ANZ and Macquarie Bank over alleged cartel-like behaviour – but has no mandate for systemic oversight.

Unlike his peers, ANZ boss Shayne Elliott this week said he had no objection to the ACCC gaining additional powers, but still shot down suggestions customers could be best served by a royal commission.

He said it was easier and quicker to tackle problems on an issue-by-issue basis.

Mr Hartzer also brushed off the need for a royal commission – pointing out that banks are already being pursued by regulators over various instances of suspected wrongdoing.

He denied the corporate regulator’s allegation that Westpac breached its duty to act in the best interests of customers when it recommended they join the bank’s poorly performing BT Financial superannuation fund.

He said a disclaimer made it clear to customers his bank was only providing “general advice” on switching super.

“It’s a balanced fund that’s designed to deliver returns through cycles in different markets that, while it might be appropriate for some, it might be inappropriate for others,” Mr Hartzer told MPs.

“But in a general advice conversation, there’s a limit to the extent to which you can take that into account.”

If the Australian Securities and Investments Commission won its federal court case against Westpac over the issue, Mr Hartzer said, it would “effectively be close to impossible to provide general advice”.

He also said he was keen on the idea of opening up customer data to rivals, with the aim of stoking competition, but said he was wary about exposing them to the risk of financial fraud.

“We’re relatively agnostic about who leads the process. We are supportive of open data … (but) our obligations to protect customer data to protect them from fraud and all that are very real,” he said.