Skies clear for Gallipoli dawn service

Queenslander George Johnson has made his first trip to Gallipoli and also “probably the last” but he hopes young people will keep visiting to pay their respects to the fallen.


The 63-year-old, from Bluff in central Queensland, was impressed with Monday’s dawn service at North Beach which went off without a hitch amidst boosted Turkish security measures.

He was one of an estimated 1200 or more Australians and New Zealanders who attended, many sleeping out overnight in front of the main stage above the Aegean Sea.

“I came to show my respect for what was done and why we’re still here,” Mr Johnson told AAP after the service.


“I just hope the younger people keep coming back and keep it all happening. Without them it won’t happen will it?”

Mr Johnson said he was not at all deterred by security concerns following a spate of terror attacks in Turkey this year and was grateful to Turkish paramedics who tended to his “crook leg” overnight.

Australian Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan, who gave an address at the service, praised the Turkish government for doing an “outstanding job” making sure Australians and New Zealanders could commemorate Anzac Day in a safe way.

“It’s gone without incident which is very relieving for everyone.”

This year security was tightened with airport-style screening taking place, while armed Turkish police and soldiers stand guard at checkpoints into the Gallipoli sites.


A sudden thunderstorm on Sunday night had attendees rushing for the cover of the security tent but that passed and the service went ahead under largely clear skies.

In his speech Mr Tehan said that more than 11,000 Australians and New Zealanders died in the eight-month-long ordeal that was the Gallipoli campaign.

But he highlighted the successful evacuation of more than 93,000 allied troops from the peninsula in December 1915.

“It was the task of moving a city the size of Rockhampton or Bunbury or Palmerston North from this peninsula without the enemy engaging.

“The countless lives that were saved, the untold tragedy that was avoided, has meant that Anzac didn’t end as a story that we remember bitterly,” Mr Tehan said.

New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told the gathering that New Zealanders came to Gallipoli to remember the sacrifices made and the “terrible toll” of the campaign.

“But most of all we come because the actions of the Anzacs have become for New Zealand our coming of age as a nation.”


Mr Brownlee said the Anzacs’ “resilience and humanity in the face of hardship remain fundamental to New Zealanders’ sense of nationhood to this day”.

“Today we are proud to stand yet again alongside our Australian cousins, with whom we share the enduring Anzac bond.”

Also at the service a Turkish army officer read out a 1934 message from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and a key military leader at Gallipoli, urging Australian and New Zealand mothers who lost sons there to “wipe away your tears”.

Ataturk said their sons were “now lying in the soil of a friendly country” and were at peace.

“After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

Manly heap more woe on Knights in NRL

Manly coach Trent Barrett expects Daly Cherry-Evans to be better for the run after the Queensland and Australian playmaker returned to spark the Sea Eagles to a 26-10 victory over Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.


Returning earlier than anticipated from a high-ankle sprain, Cherry-Evans was below his best but did enough to steer the Sea Eagles home against the inexperienced Knights.

On a day when both teams lost key players to potentially serious injuries – Jarrod Mullen (hamstring) and Peter Mata’utia (knee) for Newcastle and Brett Stewart (hamstring) and Tom Trbojevic (ankle) for Manly – Barrett was relieved to see Cherry-Evans finish the game intact.

“He got through unscathed, which was good,” said Barrett, who also hopes to welcome back hooker Matt Parcell from a hamstring injury against North Queensland at Brookvale on Saturday.

“He blew a few cobwebs out, but it’s certainly good to have Cherry back.

“We’ve just got to keep improving.”

Cherry-Evans created a try for Tom Trbojevic in the 60th minute to give Manly a 20-6 lead, capping a 15-minute period in which the Sea Eagles dominated possession and field position.

In a bizarre turnaround Newcastle scored from the restart, Tyler Randell crashing over to make in 20-10 after Jamie Lyon sloppily batted back a short Dane Gagai kick-off.

But any slight hopes of a comeback were put to bed when lock Jake Trbojevic scored a converted try in the 78th minute.

Ten minutes earlier Trbojevic had to watch as his brother was helped from the field. He in turn had replaced Stewart at fullback after the former NSW and Australian custodian limped off in the 45th minute.

Barrett said Trbojevic was of more immediate concern than Stewart, though he did not expect either player would be available to back up against the Cowboys on Saturday night.

Mullen had collapsed to the ground after bursting into the clear in the 67th minute, and Knights coach Nathan Brown did not expect him or Mata’utia to be available for selection any time soon.

Mata’utia, who returned to Newcastle from the Dragons last week, lasted just 26 minutes of his homecoming game after sustaining damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Brown said Mata’utia could miss six to eight weeks and Mullen even longer.

Knights prop Sam Mataora was reported in the 65th minute for a possible crusher tackle.

Manly had taken a 10-6 lead to the break when prop Brenton Lawrence crashed over to score in the final seconds of the first half.

Replays showed the ball rolled loose as Newcastle defenders tried to halt Lawrence’s progress but review official Ashley Klein could not find enough evidence to overturn referee Gavin Badger’s on-field ruling of a try.

The Knights had no such luck earlier in the half when wingers Nathan Ross and Aku Uate were both denied tries by the bunker.

Negative gearing windbacks could deliver $5.3bn a year

Charis Palmer, The Conversation

Tax reform to target Australia’s distorting capital gains tax and negative gearing regimes could net the government A$5.


3 billion in tax revenue per year, according to a new report from the Grattan Institute.

The report recommends reducing the capital gains tax discount for individuals and trusts to 25%, and phasing in limits to negative gearing over 10 years.

“The case for reform is extremely strong and we do not think that this is likely to lead to a material crash in the housing market,” said the report’s author John Daley.

Daley and report co-author Danielle Wood have modelled the impact of their recommendation on house prices, rents and the rate of new housing development, estimating house prices would be 2% lower than otherwise.

Under their suggested tax changes people would no longer be able to write off losses from passive investments like housing against unrelated wage income.

“The only developed country we have found that lets you deduct the costs of interest and allows you to deduct it from your labour income apart from us is New Zealand,” Daley said.

Curtin Law School Associate Professor Helen Hodgson said the proposals were well balanced, based on sound evidence, and would improve the efficiency and fairness of the tax system.

She said the challenge was to claw back concessions without creating further distortions. “In that respect the Grattan Institute recommendations go further than those proposed by the Australian Labor Party.

“The ALP proposals allow existing negatively geared properties to remain deductible. This would have a lock in effect similar to the pre-CGT exemption from capital gains tax. Borrowers would be reluctant to sell their property and reinvest in other, potentially more productive, forms of investment.

The Labor Party proposal would reduce the capital gains tax discount to 25% and restrict negative gearing to new properties only.

Daley said this approach was likely to create a new distortion in the housing market.

“Essentially those new houses will be higher priced than the older houses and so you’ll get a distortion as investors disproportionately show up to the auctions for new housing and owner-occupiers disproportionately show up to the auctions for old housing. I’m not sure why we’d want to encourage that.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has argued Labor’s proposal would deliver “massive shocks” to the residential housing market, removing all investors. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said it would drive down the value of established properties, and push up the cost of rental accommodation.

But Daley said given new housing supply was significantly restricted by planning rules rather than inadequate returns, it was unlikely there would be any material impact on supply or rents.

“As Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev, who sits on a loan book of $400 billion has said, what keeps him awake at night is interest rates and unemployment rates, not negative gearing.”

Data from the Australia Tax Office shows negative gearing is more popular among taxpayers on higher incomes, and the Grattan Institute argues it largely benefits the wealthy.

Reforming the system would result in more funds instead flowing into equities, businesses and bank deposits.

“The current regime pushes people into property, it encourages them into much higher leverage than they would have otherwise, and that increases the volatility of the housing market and the vulnerability of the financial system,” Daley said.


Ku-ring-gai Council merger still an option

The Berejiklian government says it will push ahead with plans to forcibly merge two northern Sydney councils despite its decision not to appeal a court ruling which blocked the amalgamation.


The government this week missed the deadline to appeal a NSW Court of Appeal ruling that the proposed merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby councils could not proceed in its current form.

The court found Ku-ring-gai Council had been denied procedural fairness because the government failed to provide access to two reports used to justify the mergers.

But a spokesman for Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton on Friday told AAP the government remained committed to the merger “given the clear benefits it will have for the local communities”.

“There are a series of matters before the courts … which is why the government is not considering one case in isolation,” he said in a statement.

The government now has the option of going back to the Boundaries Commission – an independent statutory authority – to restart the merger process.

Ku-ring-gai Council mayor Jennifer Anderson says the government’s decision not to challenge the ruling shows its forced council mergers policy is “fatally flawed”.

“Our ratepayers should not be subjected to an undemocratic process based on secret reports, which has no demonstrable benefit to them, only to see their rates increase by up to 30 per cent in five years’ time,” she said in a statement to AAP.

The council says its made several requests to meet with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Ms Upton to discuss the council’s future but have heard nothing.

The government is facing four other legal challenges over proposed mergers with Woollahra Council’s appeal due to be heard in the High Court next month.

Greens MP David Shoebridge says the Ku-ring-gai court decision had challenged “every forced amalgamation that has either happened or been threatened to date”.

“The Court of Appeal said the obvious, that it is blatantly unfair to forcibly amalgamate a local council on the basis of a secret report,” he said in a statement.

Mr Shoebridge has urged the government to abandon the “undemocratic” policy.

There are 20 already-amalgamated councils across NSW with five more to be created in Sydney if their legal challenges are unsuccessful.

Ms Berejiklian decided to walk away from proposed regional mergers but forge ahead with those in the city after she replaced Mike Baird as premier in January.

Woman dies after Stockholm truck attack

A woman in her 60s who was injured in the April 7 truck attack in Stockholm has died, raising the death toll to five.


The Stockholm police said in a statement the woman, who has not been publicly identified, had been hospitalised in southern Sweden.

A 39-year-old Uzbek man, Rakhmat Akilov, has pleaded guilty to a terrorist crime for ramming the truck into a crowd on a main pedestrian shopping street in the Swedish capital.

Police have not disclosed a motive for the attack and no extremist group has claimed responsibility for it.

Akilov’s Swedish residency application was rejected last year but police said there was nothing to indicate he might plan an attack.

After the rejection, Akilov had been been ordered to leave Sweden in December.

Instead, he allegedly went underground, eluding authorities’ attempts to track him down.

Akilov was caught in a northern suburb of Stockholm, hours after he drove the stolen beer truck into the crowd of afternoon shoppers outside the upmarket Ahlens store.

Other victims of attack were an 11-year-old Swedish girl, a 31-year-old Belgian woman, a 69-year-old Swedish woman, and a 41-year-old Briton whom the British government identified as Chris Bevington.

Fourteen others were injured in the attack.

The attack had shocked Sweden, known for its welcoming policy toward migrants and refugees.

In 2015, a record 163,000 asylum-seekers arrived in the country – the highest per-capita rate in Europe.

The government responded by tightening border controls and curtailing some immigrant rights.

Trump spurns Taiwan’s request for new call

President Donald Trump has spurned the Taiwanese president’s suggestion that the two leaders hold another phone call, saying he did not want to create problems for Chinese President Xi Jinping at a time when Beijing appears to be helping with efforts to rein in North Korea.


In a White House interview, Trump brushed aside the idea after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told Reuters on Thursday she would not rule out talking directly again to the US president, an act certain to incense China.

The status of self-ruled Taiwan is possibly the most sensitive issue between Washington and Beijing.

“Look, my problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi. I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation,” Trump told Reuters, referring to signs that China may be working to head off any new missile or nuclear test by Pyongyang, Beijing’s neighbour and ally.

“So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him,” Trump added.

“I think he’s doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn’t want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So I would certainly want to speak to him first.”

As president-elect in early December, Trump took a congratulatory phone call from Tsai.

It was the first contact between a leader of Taiwan and an incumbent or incoming US president in nearly four decades, and Trump cast doubt on Washington’s longstanding policy of acknowledging Beijing’s “one China” policy, which asserts that Taiwan is a part of China.

The call angered Beijing because it fears contacts between Taiwan and leaders of other countries would confer sovereignty on the island. Democratic Taiwan, self-ruled since 1949, has no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.

Trump agreed to honour the “one China” policy in February and then hosted Xi at his Florida resort earlier this month.

Trump’s dismissal of Tsai’s suggestion underscored the importance he is placing on enlisting China’s help defusing tensions with North Korea, which has become his biggest national security challenge since taking office in January, 100 days ago on Saturday.

Trump: Major conflict with NKorea possible

US President Donald Trump says a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute.


“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedevilled multiple US presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasising by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table.

“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” he said.

Trump lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for Chinese assistance in trying to rein in North Korea. The two leaders met in Florida earlier this month.

“I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well.

“With that being said, he loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it’s possible that he can’t,” Trump said.

Trump spoke just a day after he and his top national security advisers briefed US lawmakers on the North Korean threat and one day before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press the United Nations Security Council on sanctions to further isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

The Trump administration on Wednesday declared North Korea “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority”.

It said it was focusing on economic and diplomatic pressure, including Chinese cooperation in containing its defiant neighbour and ally, and remained open to negotiations.

US officials said military strikes remained an option but played down the prospect, though the administration has sent an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine to the region in a show of force.

Any direct US military action would run the risk of massive North Korean retaliation and huge casualties in Japan and South Korea and among US forces in both countries.

Asked if he considered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be rational, Trump said he was operating from the assumption that he is rational, noting that Kim had taken over his country at an early age.

“He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age.

“I’m not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he’s rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he’s rational,” he said.

Merkel shows tough Brexit approach: PM May

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments about Britain having illusions over its future relationship with the European Union show how tough the upcoming Brexit negotiations will be, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to say in a speech.


Earlier on Thursday Merkel said some people in Britain still had illusions over the EU rights they would continue to enjoy after Brexit and insisted the bloc would only agree on future ties with London after an exit deal has been nailed down.

May will use a speech in the opposition Labour stronghold of Leeds in northern England on Thursday to urge voters to back her Conservative Party at an election on June 8 to give her “the strongest possible hand” in negotiations.

“This election is not about who you may have voted for in the past. It is about voting in the national interest. Voting for the future. And every vote cast for me … will strengthen my hand when I negotiate with the Prime Ministers, Presidents and Chancellors of Europe,” she will say according to advance extracts released by her party.

“(Merkel) says the UK has ‘illusions’ about the process and that the 27 member states of the European Union agree. We can see how tough those negotiations are going to be at times.”

May, whose Conservatives have a substantial opinion poll lead over Labour, will say that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be “a weak leader negotiating Brexit”.

“Our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations, at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us,” May will say.

“That approach can only mean one thing – uncertainty and instability, bringing grave risk to our growing economy with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste and more debt.”

UK on heightened alert after terror arrests

Just weeks after the attack on the Houses of Parliament that left five people dead and scores injured, London is once again on high alert as Britain prepares for a snap election on June 8.


“Yesterday was an extraordinary day in London,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said, after confirming six arrests overnight.

“I wanted to reassure the public that this increased level of terrorist activity is being matched by our action… We are making arrests on a near daily basis.”

A 27-year-old man remains in custody after being arrested near parliament on suspicion of terrorism offences and possession of knives, in what police confirmed had been an ongoing investigation.

Just hours later, armed police raided a property in north London as part of an unrelated counter-terrorism investigation, firing CS gas as they entered and shooting a woman in her 20s.


Six people have been arrested as part of the probe, while the woman – who is also suspected of involvement – remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

“Due to these arrests that have been made yesterday, in both cases I believe we have contained the threats that they posed,” Basu said.

Suspect ‘tracked to Westminster’

Britain’s national terror threat level has been at “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely, since August 2014 — and remained unchanged after the attack on parliament on March 22.

Khalid Masood drove a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates of parliament. He ran inside and knifed to death a policeman, before being shot.

Police have said they may never know why he did it.

The man arrested on Thursday, metres from parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street residence, had reportedly been tracked by police and the domestic intelligence agency MI5.

Newspaper reports said he had been followed as he travelled into Westminster, in an investigation that originally began with a tip-off by someone close to him.

“They stopped and searched him as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation,” Basu said, without giving further details.

An AFP photographer saw firearms officers surrounding the bearded man and pinning him to the ground, before putting him in handcuffs.

Construction worker David Wisniowski, who was working on a building site next to the incident, told AFP he saw “three knives on the floor, one big one and two small”.

‘Debt of gratitude’

Hours later in Harlesden, a suburb in north London, armed police launched an unrelated counter-terrorism operation that resulted in six arrests overnight, five in the area and one in Kent, southeast England.

The address had been under observation and the woman who was shot was one of the subjects of the investigation, Basu said.

“Her condition is serious but stable. Because of her condition she has not yet been arrested. We are monitoring her condition closely,” he said, adding that the police watchdog had been informed.

During an election campaign speech on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the police and security services, saying they were owed “a huge debt of gratitude”.

Terrorism has yet to feature heavily in the campaign for the June 8 vote, although May’s Conservatives have sought to exploit the anti-nuclear stance of opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed the leftist leader “seems to have no grasp of the need for this country to be strong in the world”.


Government ‘can’t guarantee’ gas prices will halve under new powers

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hit back at Labor claims he pledged wholesale gas prices would halve under his short-term solution to address looming domestic supply shortages.


Mr Turnbull has been under pressure about remarks he made when announcing export controls to protect domestic supplies.

“People” were being offered prices of $20 a gigajoule in Australia and under the new regime it should be about half that amount or less, he said.

Watch: Turnbull making it up as he goes along, Butler says

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Mr Turnbull later clarified the comments by insisting he was talking about wholesale prices, saying the main benefits would flow to businesses that relied heavily on gas.

But Labor leader Bill Shorten queried whether the prime minister was falsely promising to halve gas prices for households.

Mr Turnbull on Friday insisted the new measures would put “downward pressure” on wholesale prices, which made up 15-20 per cent of household bills.

And the “people” he was referring to were manufacturers.

“(Bill) Shorten misrepresented me as he always does,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

Watch: Shorten challenges Turnbull on gas prices

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Earlier Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg defended Mr Turnbull, saying he had been misquoted.

“The prime minister never said that prices will halve for all gas users,” he told ABC radio from Washington, where he is meeting his US counterparts.

“We can’t guarantee price in relation to any industry but what we can guarantee is this mechanism will put more gas into the domestic market.”

Under new regulations, if an exporter draws more from the domestic market than they put in they will need to show how they will fill the shortfall as part of their overall production and exports.

Related reading

The government will not prescribe how the gas exporters fill the shortfall.

Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler says manufacturers deserve to know the impact of the new policy.

“Malcolm Turnbull is either making it up as he goes along or he lied,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association says the real issue is too little gas is being produced to meet demand.

“There must be a concerted effort across commonwealth, state and territory governments to identify all opportunities to increase gas exploration and production,” chief executive Peter Greenwood said.

Related reading

Manufacturing Australia executive director Ben Eade, who met Mr Turnbull on Thursday, agreed more work was needed to boost supply that would push down gas prices.

If the government did not act it would affect jobs not only in manufacturing but agriculture, food, infrastructure and housing, he said.

RELATED: Industrial gas prices rising since 2002

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IPL huge benefit to England hopes: Vaughan

Former Test captain Michael Vaughan believes Indian Premier League exposure will give England an edge in their bid to win a first major 50-over tournament when the Champions Trophy begins in June.


The Indian 20-over competition features the world’s top limited-overs stars and Vaughan says that cannot help but be a boost to England’s prospects in the shorter formats.

“Playing in the IPL is a tremendous experience. It should’ve been done years ago,” he said.

“Kevin Pietersen was right. He was completely right in terms of saying the England players should’ve been allowed to play a lot more.

“I think it’s going to move England on, I think it has. Most of the one-day team have been given this opportunity to play in (Australia’s) Big Bash and now they’ve got the IPL.

“I think it just furthers their white-ball education. I can’t see anything but positives.

“England players should be involved in these types of leagues and if it means they miss a couple of Ireland games, I’m all for it.”

England named a 15-man squad on Tuesday for the Champions Trophy, which for the hosts begins against Bangladesh at The Oval on June 1, following a one-day series against South Africa.

England reached the final in 2004 and 2013 when hosting the competition but Vaughan says the current squad, which includes new Test skipper Joe Root, are more capable of success.

“The last two Champions Trophies here we’ve not had a great team and we’ve managed to sneak to the final by default, really. Whereas this team are a really good team,” he said.

“They’ve certainly got all the tools and ingredients to win, but you don’t just win on paper.

“Joe Root said yesterday ‘this is a great chance for England to win a tournament’. So they all know that they’ve got enough. It’s just whether they can deliver.”

India are the holders, but political posturing has placed some doubt on their participation.

“I think it’s becoming quite consistent that India flex their muscles at times,” Vaughan said.

“(But) they’ll fancy their chances, so they’ll certainly be here.”

Violence erupts as protesters storm Macedonia parliament

An AFP reporter saw Zoran Zaev, who leads the main opposition Social Democrats, with blood on his face in the chaos, while Macedonian media quoting hospital sources said ten people were injured, including two deputies.


The violence erupted after around 100 protesters supporting the rival VMRO-DPMNE party entered parliament waving Macedonian flags and singing the national anthem.

AFP photos and footage on local TV showed at least one masked man inside the building.

“I condemn the attacks on MPs in Skopje in the strongest terms. Violence has NO place in Parliament. Democracy must run its course,” said European Union Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Twitter.

The incident follows months of political deadlock in the Balkan country, where demonstrators have been holding nightly rallies in the capital since an inconclusive December election.

Protestors storm the Parliament after Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (AAP)AAP

They oppose a proposed coalition between Zaev’s Social Democrats (SDSM) and ethnic Albanians, which they perceive as a threat to national unity.

According to local media, Thursday’s incident broke out after the SDSM and Albanian parties voted in a new parliamentary speaker although the former speaker had closed the day’s session.

Their chosen speaker, Talat Xhaferi, is ethnic Albanian.

For a decade until last year, Macedonia was ruled by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski.

December’s election saw the party secure 51 seats in the 120-seat parliament — or two more than the SDSM, but the conservatives failed to reach a deal with kingmaking Albanian parties.

Although Zaev then reached an agreement with the Albanian groups, President Gjorge Ivanov refused to give him a mandate to form a government.

An ally of Gruevski, the president expressed concern over the controversial demand of Albanian parties that Albanian be made an official language across Macedonia.

Critics of the demand fear it could lead to the break-up of the small country of around two million people, about a quarter of whom are ethnic Albanians.

The EU and the United States have urged Ivanov to reverse his decision, while Macedonia’s opposition has warned its conservative rivals that they are playing with fire by using the ethnic card in a bid to stay in power.

The vote was supposed to end two years of political upheaval in Macedonia, sparked by a huge wiretapping scandal, but it has only served to deepen the crisis.

The former Yugoslav republic aspires to join both NATO and the EU.

Gruevski called for people to “calm down” after Thursday’s trouble.

“People should not respond to provocations of the SDSM and those who want to push the state into even deeper crisis,” he said on Facebook.

Kangaroos on notice after veterans dumped

North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell believes the decision to axe Andrew Swallow and Lindsay Thomas has sent a powerful message to the winless AFL team.


Ziebell feels for the out-of-form veterans but agrees Kangaroos players have been put on notice ahead of Saturday’s clash against Gold Coast.

“I think it sends a message to everyone at our footy club that there’s no individual who is bigger than the club … if you’re not doing what’s required then we’ll bring someone in who can,” Ziebell said on Friday.

“I think for our young guys that’s a pretty powerful message.

“We’ve got a lot of guys doing really well in the reserves at the moment and opportunities aren’t far away.

“When you’re 0-5 change is inevitable.”

The Roos’ last-gasp loss to Fremantle last week was their third of the season by a margin of five points or less.

It continued a worrying trend of close losses under Brad Scott, but Ziebell said it was down to the players to take responsibility when a match is in the balance.

“When the game’s tight we need to make sure we stand up and get the job done,” he said.

“We’ve been in every game this year and been in control of some and should’ve capitalised but didn’t.

“But we understand why we haven’t and how we can change that.

“For our group that will give them a lot of confidence that next time we get in that position we can get it done.”

Important forward Shaun Higgins and former Hawk Jed Anderson were included to face the Suns, who sit 12th on the ladder with a 2-3 record.

Gold Coast rested David Swallow for the Etihad Stadium clash and recalled Jesse Lonergan.

Rodney Eade’s men are coming off a 67-point thumping by Adelaide, but return to the scene of their last win – against Carlton in round four – when co-captain Tom Lynch kicked seven goals.

“I think Tom is an absolute star of the competition … we’ll definitely be doing everything we can to halt his momentum,” Ziebell said.

“(Not only) down back but also with some pressure on the ball to try and hamper that delivery.

“(But) they’ve very talented across all lines and when they put it together they’re very hard to beat.”