Australians give $30b to charities in 2016

More Australians are giving their time but fewer are giving money than a decade ago.

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However, the amount of money those 81 per cent Australians who do donate to charity give has risen substantially, with $12.5 billion in donations made in 2016, government figures released on Monday show.

Nearly four in nine adults volunteered their time in 2016, adding up to 932 million hours in 2016 – an increase of 96 million hours in a decade.

“These are incredible figures and show just how the generosity of spirit of Australians is well and truly alive,” Social Services Minister Christian Porter said.

The figures show that more women made donations than men but men generally gave more – on average $867 compared with $671.

As well, a higher proportion of women did volunteer work and they averaged more hours during the year than men.

People who made donations were most likely to do so because they believed they were giving to a good cause or charity.

More than half of those who didn’t donate to charity said it was because they couldn’t afford it.

The government figures also show business philanthropy increased to $17.5 billion in the 2015/16 financial year – a massive jump from the $3.3 billion given a decade earlier.

Almost half of this came from small and medium-sized businesses.

“Small businesses, in particular, are very much a part of their local communities, whether it’s contributing directly to the local sporting club or seniors group with financial contributions, in kind contributions, prizes for local raffles and contributions to bigger community-focused activities like a new community hall,” Mr Porter said.

Larger businesses were moving away from one-off donations to forming partnerships with not-for-profit organisations.

THE GENEROSITY OF AUSTRALIANS

* $12.5 billion total donations from individuals in 2016

* 14.9 million people made donations (81 per cent of adults)

* $764 average donation ($200 median)

* 44 per cent of adults volunteered a total of 932 million hours

* Average time volunteered was 134 hours

* Businesses donated $17.5 billion in 2015/16

* $9 billion was from large companies and $8.5 billion from small and medium business

* Trend towards businesses forming partnerships with not-for-profit organisations

Bayliss ponders England spots for Ashes

England coach Trevor Bayliss says Ashes places are still up for grabs with a new generation of top-order batsmen yet to fully cement their places in the team.

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Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan played their part in the series victory over the West Indies, which was clinched by a nine-wicket win inside three days at Lord’s on Saturday.

However, questions remain over their readiness to face Australia in their own backyard.

Bayliss has indicated they remain in pole position, although the likes of Alex Hales, Keaton Jennings, Haseeb Hameed and Gary Ballance should not give up hope just yet.

He said: “That’s the big question, whether the three guys we have been speaking about all summer have done enough.

“They have shown they are good enough. But are they good enough for long enough? Are they tough enough, especially for an Ashes series?

“We will be discussing other players we have had in the team over the last 12-18 months. They will get a hearing, but it will be hard to go past these three guys.”

Asked if the batting line-up for the Ashes tour had been decided, Bayliss replied: “Not 100 per cent, but I am sure when we sit down in a week or two to discuss that squad, we will be talking about batters that have played for us in the last 12 to 18 months.

“There are another two or three county matches to play, and that will be a factor too.

“I think our opposition in the Ashes is far from stable either.”

Westley and Stoneman are among a group of players who will now link up with their counties, but Alastair Cook and bowler Jimmy Anderson will take a break while Stuart Broad is to undergo a scan on the heel injury which hampered him during the third and final Test.

The search for a long-term partner for opener Cook as well as numbers three and five remain priorities, but Bayliss is convinced the right candidate for at least one of those positions is already firmly on board in the shape of skipper Joe Root.

He said: “I would always have him at three. Joe is comfortable batting at four … [but] I think he will end up at three at some stage in the future.

“He is by far our best player, and personally I believe that is where your best player should be.”

England will head Down Under on the back of home series victories over South Africa and the Windies, and determined to return with the urn still in their possession despite having issues to address.

Bayliss said: “We are not going over to make up the numbers. We are going to leave here with a view to win, simple as that.”

Greek PM urges IMF to decide on bailout

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the International Monetary Fund should decide whether it will fund Greece’s current bailout programme by the end of the year and help Greece conclude a key bailout review on time.

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Euro zone governments in June approved another 11th-hour credit line for Greece, worth nearly $US10 billion ($A12 billion), after the IMF said it would join the country’s current bailout, the third since 2010, in principle.

“We can live with or without the IMF presence,” Tsipras said in a press briefing at a trade fair in Thessaloniki on Sunday. “What we cannot do is live with the IMF setting one foot in and leaving one foot out.”

The end of the year would be a “reasonable timeframe” for the Fund to decide, he said. Athens intends to wrap up its next bailout review quickly, he said, adding that Greece would be financially independent in 2018.

The euro zone and the IMF have loaned Greece about 260 billion euros ($A387 billion) since 2010. In return, Greece has imposed austerity measures that have cut its output by a quarter and eliminated thousands of jobs. The lenders review Greece’s progress quarterly before approving loan payouts.

Tsipras’ government and the IMF have often locked horns over Greece’s fiscal progress, its economic targets and reforms in the labour market. Greece adopted more austerity measures for 2019 and 2020 to convince the Fund to join its programme and push for further debt relief.

Tsipras came to power in 2015 promising to end austerity but then signed up to the new bailout, worth 86 billion euros. He said on Sunday the government would assess fiscal progress for 2017 and offer handouts to the vulnerable, if Greece exceeded its targets.

Greece exceeded its goal for a primary budget surplus – which excludes debt servicing – in 2015 and 2016.

N Korea requires global response: NATO

North Korea’s “reckless behaviour” is a global threat and requires a global response, the head of the NATO military alliance says.

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NATO has not been directly involved in the crisis, which saw Pyongyang carry out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test a week ago, but has repeatedly called on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“The reckless behaviour of North Korea is a global threat and requires a global response and that of course also includes NATO,” NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with BBC television.

Asked whether an attack on the US Pacific territory of Guam would trigger NATO’s Article 5, which requires each member of the alliance to come to the defence of any other, Stoltenberg said: “I will not speculate about whether Article 5 will be applied in such a situation.”

“We are now totally focused on how can we contribute to a peaceful solution of the conflict,” he said.

“There is no easy way out of this difficult situation, but at the same time we have to … continue to work for political solution, continue to press also the economic sanctions.”

The United States and its allies had been bracing for another long-range missile launch in time for the 69th anniversary of North Korea’s founding on Saturday, but no fresh provocations were spotted while the North held numerous events to mark the holiday.

Throughout last week, South Korean officials had warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of UN sanctions and amid escalating tensions with the United States.

Thousands of homes wrecked by huge Mexican quake, death toll at 90

The 8.

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1 magnitude quake off the coast of Chiapas state was stronger than a 1985 temblor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands. However, its greater depth and distance helped save the capital from more serious damage.

Late on Saturday, authorities in the southern state of Oaxaca said there were 71 confirmed fatalities there, many of them in the town of Juchitan, where the rush to bury victims crowded a local cemetery on Saturday.

Television footage from parts of Oaxaca showed small homes and buildings completely leveled by the quake, which struck the narrowest portion of Mexico on the isthmus of Tehuantepec.

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Aftershocks continued into Sunday, and scores of people were wary about returning to fragile buildings hammered by the initial tremor, sleeping in gardens, patios and in the open air.

Piles of rubble lay strewn around damaged streets, where the shock was still visible in the faces of residents.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat told Mexican television the quake hit 41 municipalities and had likely affected around one in five of the state’s 4-million strong population.

“We’re talking about more 800,000 people who potentially lost everything, and some their loved-ones,” he said on Sunday.

Soldiers remove debris from a partly collapsed municipal building after the earthquake in Juchitan, Mexico.AP

In Juchitan alone, more than 5,000 homes were destroyed. Hundreds and thousands of Mexicans were temporarily left without electricity or water, and many in the south were evacuated from coastal dwellings when the quake sparked tsunami warnings.

At least 15 people died in neighboring Chiapas, and its governor Manuel Velasco said some 41,000 houses were damaged, estimating nearly 1.5 million people were affected. A further four deaths were also registered in Tabasco state to the north.

President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of national mourning, and pledged to rebuild shattered towns and villages.

However, some residents interviewed expressed frustration that the poor southern regions were still not getting the help they needed from the richer north and center of Mexico.

0:00 Dramatic vision of earthquake hitting a shopping centre in Mexico Share Dramatic vision of earthquake hitting a shopping centre in Mexico

Trump worried about ‘big monster’ Irma

President Donald Trump has called Hurricane Irma “some big monster” as it batters the Florida coast, saying he wants to go to the state very soon and praising emergency officials for their efforts to protect people.

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“The bad news is that this is some big monster,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Sunday, saying damage from the storm would be very costly.

“Right now, we are worried about lives, not cost,” Trump said after returning from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where he monitored the storm and met with his Cabinet.

The path of the storm, tracking the west coast of Florida, meant it might be less destructive than it would otherwise have been, Trump said, noting the next five or six hours would be critical.

“I hope there aren’t too many people in the path,” he said. “You don’t want to be in that path.”

Trump said the US Coast Guard had been heroic and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was doing a good job to help coordinate the response with states. He added, however: “I think the hard part is now beginning.”

Trump has offered the full resources of the federal government to Florida and the affected states, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters during a visit to FEMA’s Washington headquarters on Sunday.

“Wherever Hurricane Irma goes, we’ll be there first,” Pence said. “We’ll be there with resources and support, both to save lives and to help to recover and rebuild these states and these communities.”

On Sunday, Trump also issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, and expanded federal funds available to the US Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Irma, the White House said.

Trump owns a resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he has often travelled during his presidency, as well as three golf courses in the state.

“We’re going to Florida very soon,” Trump said.

Taumalolo says he made Gal "eat his words"

Jason Taumalolo says North Queensland made Cronulla captain Paul Gallen “eat his words” in Sunday’s pulsating 15-14 elimination NRL final victory.

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Gallen accused the Cowboys of “crying poor” in the lead up to the match over their hefty injury toll – which included co-captains and Test stars Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.

But the Cowboys had the last laugh when halfback Michael Morgan slotted over a 15-metre field goal in extra time, to end the Sharks’ premiership defence.

And Taumalolo, who looks up to Gallen and his longevity in the game, didn’t hesitate to hit back with some tongue in cheek when reminded of the barbs after the match.

“That’s Gal trying to get under our skin but it obviously didn’t really get to the boys’ heads,” Taumalolo said.

“It was a great battle and I think we were fortunate enough to get that win and make Gal eat his words a bit.”

Taumalolo and Gallen were both pillars of strengths for their respective teams at Allianz Stadium.

In performances that befitted the recent battles between the pair, Gallen posted a team-high 191 metres and 48 tackles in the middle for the Sharks while Taumalolo chalked up 242 running metres and scored a second-half try.

“As a player, you want to play against the best and tonight was no different,” Taumalolo said.

“Running into them both (Gallen and Andrew Fifita) a few times in the game was pretty good. The adrenaline rush was pumping a bit when you’re caught up in a battle in the middle.

“I have nothing but respect for both players”

Taumalolo’s effort was his 11th 200-plus-metre game of the season, while two quick play-the-balls in the lead up to Morgan’s field goal helped ice the match and book the Cowboys a semi-final date with Parramatta next Saturday in Sydney.

But he admitted he still admired the performances Gallen was churning out at age 36 – the oldest of any player in the NRL.

Gallen re-signed with Cronulla until the end of next season earlier this year, but has shown no signs of letting up his workload any time soon.

And 24-year-old Taumalolo – who signed a record 10-year deal with North Queensland in March – said he could only hope he’d still be at a similar level come the end of his career.

“He’s still making us young boys look a bit stupid at times with the crazy stats,” he said.

“With his age he’s still making 200-odd metres and 40 something tackles.

“That’s just typical of Gal, the way he’s playing. He could play another five or six years, he’s just one of those ageless players and hopefully we’ll see him play for another few seasons.”

AGL boss in Canberra for power chat

The federal government will try again to convince AGL boss Andy Vesey to keep one of the energy company’s coal-fired power stations operating.

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Mr Vesey will be in Canberra on Monday for the meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The government wants AGL to keep its Liddell power station in NSW online beyond 2022 – or sell it – after the energy market operator said it needed to stay open for the stability of the electricity system.

“The reality is AGL relies heavily on coal … AGL get about 85 per cent of their power generation from coal,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Sunday.

Mr Vesey has previously said AGL is getting out of coal and Liddell would close in five years time when its operating life ends.

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The company said they had advised its closure in April 2015 to avoid the volatility created by the sudden exit from the National Electricity Market of other coal-fired power stations.

“Keeping old coal plants open won’t deliver the reliable, affordable energy our customers need,” he tweeted last week.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused Mr Turnbull of trying to shift the blame for the country’s energy problem.

“We are in the midst of an energy crisis and it’s inconceivable Malcolm Turnbull is refusing to pull the gas export control trigger,” he said in a statement.

Mr Shorten said Mr Turnbull’s government has had four years to come up with a solution and the buck stopped with him.

“If he doesn’t fix this crisis as he’s promised, Australians will have every right to blame Malcolm Turnbull for each and every blackout this summer.”

Same-sex marriage: Ad restrictions deal close as ABS prepares to post first ballot papers

With the High Court challenge to the survey now settled, the government and Labor are trying to agree on a series of rules for the campaign.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics will begin posting ballot papers from tomorrow.

The ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ campaigns will run another two months before the deadline for responses on November 7.

Labor’s shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the negotiations would continue on Monday, as parliament resumes for another sitting week.

“Labor has asked the government to include a provision that would ban vilification, hate speech,” Mr Dreyfus told ABC Radio on Monday morning.

“It looks at this stage like the government’s prepared to agree to that.”

“We haven’t yet hit on the final form of words.”

0:00 Thousands have rallied across Australia for marriage equality Share Thousands have rallied across Australia for marriage equality

The special bill for advertising restrictions is needed because the postal survey is not a formal election and falls outside the normal rules contained in the Electoral Act.

Besides anti-vilification rules, there will likely be authorisation provisions that will force advertisers to sign their name to ad material.

Anti-bribery and anti-fraud provisions are also expected, Mr Dreyfus said. 

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‘DO NOT shoot weapons at Irma’: Police urge Floridians not to fire guns at hurricane

As the deadly Hurricane Irma approached Florida, after ripping through the US Virgin Islands, more than 55,000 people have shown interest in a Facebook event titled “Shoot at Hurricane Irma”.

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The event description reads, “Yo so this goofy looking windy head*** named Irma said they pulling up on us, let’s show Irma that we shoot first”.

The Pasco Sheriff Office tweeted to warn people off even thinking about going outside in the treacherous weather to shoot at the hurricane.

To clarify, DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won’t make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effects长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/CV4Y9OJknv

— Pasco Sheriff (@PascoSheriff) September 10, 2017

“To clarify, DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won’t make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effects,’ the tweet read.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence also tweeted against shooting the hurricane.

⚠️ Unfortunately we must issue the following warning ⚠️ DO NOT SHOOT YOUR GUNS AT THE HURRICANE!!! 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/diS56jWInX

— CSGV (@CSGV) September 9, 2017

Creator, Ryon Edwards, said it was supposed to be a light-hearted event.

“A combination of stress and boredom made me start the event,’ he told the BBC.

“The response is a complete and total surprise to me.

“I never envisioned this event becoming some kind of crazy idea larger than myself. It has become something a little out of my control.”

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0:00 Havana neighbourhoods underwater in Irma’s wake Share Havana neighbourhoods underwater in Irma’s wake

Hurricane Irma slowed to a Category Two storm after making its second landfall in Florida on Sunday, US forecasters said, warning it still had “dangerous” winds causing “life-threatening” storm surges.

At 5:00 pm (2100 GMT), the hurricane had top winds of 110 miles (177 kilometers) per hour — at the top end of the Category Two storm range — with the eye of the storm located just five miles (eight kilometers) north of Naples, the National Hurricane Center said.

“Dangerous storm surges expected immediately after the eye passage along the Florida West Coast,” the NHC said. “This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.”

It cautioned that although it was set to weaken further, Irma was expected to remain a hurricane at least through early Monday.

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-With AFP.