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Men in black fall foul of Tour officials

RadioShack’s team colours are red and grey.

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However, seven-time champion Armstrong and his teammates showed up for the 20th and final stage wearing black outfits emblazoned with the number 28.

That is a reference to the 28 million people Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation estimates are living with cancer.

The American famously battled cancer in 1998 to return to racing and win the Tour seven times consecutively.

In recent years his Livestrong foundation has been involved in raising awareness, and funds, in a bid to beat the disease.

But his latest bid was kept in check by International Cycling Union (UCI) officials on Sunday.

After turning up wearing black for the 20th and final stage from Longjumeau to the Champs Elysees in Paris, the rest of the peloton had to wait while they were forced to change back to red and grey.

Race jury president Franceso Cenere told French TV: “It is forbidden to change jersey in a stage race without an authorisation from the UCI.

“They had to change jersey otherwise they would have been excluded from the race.”

Armstrong decided to try again after the stage, when he and his team turned up at the podium to receive their prize for dominating the teams’ classification wearing black.

“In the end, I think the fact we had to change the jerseys (before the stage) gave us some publicity,” Armstrong told France Televisions.

On what was his final Tour campaign, Armstrong finished the race nearly 40 minutes behind Spain’s three-time winner Alberto Contador, his former teammate at Astana in 2009.

The 38-year-old American is at the centre of serious doping allegations levelled recently by former teammate Floyd Landis.

Landis’s accusations have led to the launching of a federal investigation into alleged doping practices of Armstrong and other riders at his former team, US Postal.

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BP’s robot submarines cap oil leak

BP’s robotic submarines wrestled a cap into place over the jagged end of a pipe from ruptured well deep below the Gulf of Mexico, in a dramatic bid to stem a disastrous oil spill.

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Live video feed provided by BP showed the inverted, funnel-like cap being attached to the well’s fractured riser pipe in near-freezing waters, nearly a mile (1,600 meters) below the surface. BP aims to then siphon the oil to a ship on the surface.

Oil and gas continued to spew out unimpeded with great force, complicating efforts to determine whether the cap was in fact a good fit. BP officials and the US Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

But engineers have already acknowledged that the cap will not be a fix-all, and some of the crude will still spew out even if it is successfully placed over the gusher.

BP earlier managed to slice off the fractured well pipe with a pair of giant shears, but the cut was jagged and officials had to resort to a looser-fitting cap.

The British energy giant’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has warned it could take about a day after the cap is put in place to know if it is managing to contain the worst of the spill, amid warnings that, with the broken pipe cut off, the oil flow would initially increase by up to 20 percent.

The firm has repeatedly tried — and failed — to contain the disastrous leak since an April 20 explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig just off the Louisiana coast.

Between 22 million and nearly 36 million gallons of crude have already spewed into Gulf waters, threatening vulnerable coastal wetlands, wildlife and livelihoods, according to US government estimates.

After the cap, the next chance to halt the flow would not come until mid-August, when relief wells are completed.

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Republicans are radicals: Obama

US President Barack Obama on Friday branded Republicans as radical and reactionary, in campaign appearances for high-profile Democratic senators under threat in November’s mid-term polls.

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Obama rallied crowds in Los Angeles, California, and was to move on to gambling paradise Nevada in a bid to rescue wobbling Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, on the third day of a four-day campaign blitz.

He charged that the first Republican president, his political hero Abraham Lincoln would not be able to win the opposition party’s presidential nomination in the modern age.

“Seriously, can you imagine him trying to run with these folks?” Obama said, in a bid to portray the Republican Party as outside the mainstream ahead of November 2 congressional polls in which his Democrats fear heavy losses.

Obama accused Republicans of sitting on their hands while he saved the economy from a second Great Depression and of wanting to go back to the same lax regulatory regimes that caused the crisis in the first place.

“This agenda that poses as conservatism is not conservative. It resulted in a radical shift from record surpluses to record deficits, allowed Wall Street to run wild, nearly destroyed our economy,” Obama said.

“This is a choice between the past and the future, between fear and hope, between moving backwards and moving forwards. And I don’t know about you, but I want to move forward,” Obama said, at a campaign event for under-fire Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

“They are clinging to the same worn-out, tired, snake-oil ideas that they were peddling before.”

At a second event in Los Angeles, featuring actor and comedian Jamie Foxx as a warm up act, Obama fired off his stump speech to a crowd of 32,500 people, as 5,000 more watched on a big screen set up in an overflow area.

Republicans need to win 39 seats to take back the House after four years of Democratic control — a task well within their reach with some analysts judging up to 90 races in the 435-seat chamber as competitive.

In the Senate, Republicans need a 10-seat swing, a result that may be beyond them after several races tightened in favor of Democrats in recent days, and a scenario of six or seven seats changing hands seems more likely.

Obama was later to head to Nevada to take part in a Democratic National Committee rally alongside Reid, who is the top Republican target in the election, and is locked in a close race with “Tea Party” conservative favorite Sharron Angle.

He was due to finish up a campaign swing, which has also taken in Oregon and Washington state, in Minnesota on Saturday.

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Italy’s Aquilani denies Denmark in added time

Two almost identical far-post headers by Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner – playing in his first international since being suspended for six months following his arrest for drink-driving – looked to have secured victory against an Italy side that faded after Pablo Osvaldo’s brilliant 28th-minute goal.

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But Aquilani silenced the home fans when he diverted Osvaldo’s weak shot from close range.

“It was a lucky goal – I was really good with my knee,” a smiling Aquilani told reporters.

“They were unlucky on a couple of occasions, then I scored a goal that maybe we didn’t deserve.”

The draw means Denmark stay in third place on 13 points, level with second-placed Bulgaria and a point ahead of the Czech Republic and Armenia, who beat Bulgaria 2-1 earlier on Friday.

Bulgaria, who host the Czech Republic in the final round of qualifiers on Tuesday, have a superior goal difference to Denmark, who meet Malta. Italy have already qualified for the World Cup as group winners.

“I am very disappointed. They scored a goal right at the end,” Denmark defender Andreas Bjelland said. “We have two shots that hit the post and (Gianluigi) Buffon makes a few good saves, but it was just not our day.”

It was a superb goal that gave Italy the early lead. Southampton striker Osvaldo controlled Thiaggo Motta’s long, flighted pass with a delicate first touch that took him past Daniel Agger before he curled home a finish.

It was a reward for a disciplined opening by a second-string Italy that featured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in his 137th appearance, an Italian record.

Denmark were not deterred, however, and Bendtner levelled in first-half stoppage time when he rose above Federico Balzaretti to meet Michael Krohn-Dehli’s inswinging cross.

The Arsenal striker thought he had won it for Denmark 11 minutes from time when he again beat Balzaretti to a Krohn-Dehli cross, steering in a well-placed header.

(Reporting by Terry Daley, editing by Tom Bartlett and Stephen Wood)

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Dozens dead in new migrant boat tragedy off Lampedusa

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said at least 27 migrants were dead after the heavily loaded boat capsized in rough seas on Friday around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Lampedusa and 110 kilometres from Malta.

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Italian news agency Ansa said about 50 bodies, including women and around 10 children, had been pulled from the sea.

   

“Operations to recover the bodies are ongoing,” Muscat told journalists.

   

Around 150 survivors have already been picked up by a Maltese ship, the prime minister said.

   

The Italian navy has rescued around 50 survivors, and more rescue boats and helicopters have been sent to the site.

   

The Maltese navy swiftly dispatched rescue ships and helicopters and diverted commercial vessels to the area. Italy sent two naval vessels and helicopters carrying inflatable life rafts.

   

“The operation is in progress. The navigational conditions are difficult, with strong wind,” a Maltese navy spokesman told AFP.

   

An Italian helicopter carrying around 10 surviving children landed on the tiny island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of migrants are already seeking refuge in a seriously overcrowded reception centre.

   

European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstroem said she was following the rescue operations “with sadness and anxiety” and praised Italy and Malta for their swift response.

   

“These new horrible events are happening while we still have the shocking images of the tragedy in Lampedusa in our minds,” she said, adding that the latest disaster highlighted the need for expanded search and rescue operations “to better detect and assist boats in distress”.

   

The Commission has been urging EU states to pledge planes, ships and funds for EU border guard service Frontex, whose budget has been cut.

   

Italian Prime Minister called the latest tragedy “a new and dramatic confirmation of the state of emergency”.

   

“Italy and Malta cannot be left all alone, this is a European problem,” said his Maltese counterpart, Muscat, who spoke with Letta by phone.

   

The migrants in Friday’s disaster alerted the authorities using a satellite phone when their boat got into difficulty in Maltese waters.

   

The boat capsized after those aboard attempted to catch the attention of a military aircraft flying overhead by gathering at one end of the vessel, the Maltese navy said.

   

On Friday morning, Italian divers found another body from the refugee shipwreck last week off the coast of Lampedusa, raising the death toll in the tragedy to 312.

   

Only 155 survivors were rescued out of an estimated 500 people, most of them Eritreans and Somalis, on the boat which departed from Libya.

   

The disaster has shown up the EU’s asylum policy, which has been criticised for being overly restrictive and forcing refugees to resort to desperate measures to reach Europe.

   

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was heckled by activists and local residents when he visited Lampedusa on Tuesday.

   

The remote island is Italy’s southernmost point and closer to the African continent than to the rest of the country.

   

Italy has appealed to EU states for help in coping with the thousands that are washing up on its shores every month, and wants migration to be put on the agenda of summit talks in Brussels at the end of the month.

   

Immigration charities estimate that between 17,000 and 20,000 migrants have died at sea trying to reach Europe over the past 20 years, often crossing on rickety fishing boats or rubber dinghies.

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Djokovic on course for Nadal again

Rafael Nadal survived a fierce assault from Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the Shanghai Masters semi-finals Friday, staying on course for a potential title match against Novak Djokovic, who recovered from a set down to also claim victory.

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World number one Nadal was pushed to the limit by Wawrinka in a highly competitive first set, but the relentless Spaniard came out on top in a gripping tie-break lasting more than 20 minutes.

It was one-way traffic in the second set as he prevailed 7-6 (12-10) 6-1.

Top seed Djokovic kept his side of the bargain under floodlights at the Qizhong Tennis Center, withstanding a feisty challenge from Frenchman Gael Monfils to win his quarter-final 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4.

Elsewhere in last-eight action, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro breezed through their matches in straight sets as they hunt berths at next month’s elite World Tour Finals

Nadal, who has won 10 titles – including the French Open and US Open – this year, fended off three set points for Wawrinka, against whom he now boasts an 11-0 record, before taking his fourth opportunity to win the opener.

A dispirited Wawrinka ran out of steam in the second set against never-say-die Nadal, who regained the number one ranking this week and is chasing a record sixth Masters title in a single season.

Earlier, Monfils and Djokovic swapped two service breaks each before the match settled into a more regular groove, going to a tie-break won by the Frenchman when the top seed went long with a backhand.

But Monfils, cutting an imposing figure in his bright orange top with a shock of dark hair, let his intensity slip at the start of the set and Djokovic immediately seized the initiative with a break.

A time violation against Monfils rattled the Frenchman, who became embroiled in an argument with the umpire and was soon flat on his back receiving treatment on his abdominal muscles as the set slipped away from him.

Monfils, who conquered Roger Federer in the previous round, re-discovered his mojo at the start of the decider, rattling Djokovic.

But it was the Serb who made the crucial break, letting out a roar of triumph before going on to seal the match after an absorbing two hours and 22 minutes.

“Inexplicably I started serving quite badly, but not many unforced errors,” said Djokovic. “It happens. I mean, I was preparing for this match as well as I prepare for every other. It’s just sometimes that you start off slowly and you’re not feeling the ball as much.”

“Today was a very physical match and very intense,” he added. “Both of us, we played many rallies. I knew coming into the match that he’s going to run for every ball and he’s going to make me play an extra shot.”

Earlier, Argentine sixth seed Del Potro, fresh from winning the Japan Open, eased into the semi-finals, firing 27 winners and making just eight unforced errors in a routine 6-3 6-3 win against Nicolas Almagro, the Spanish 15th seed.

Del Potro, 25, just one win away from qualifying for the World Tour Finals, is wary of his semi-final match-up against Nadal, describing him as “unbeatable”.

“You have to have a perfect day with Rafa. We’ll see how it’s going,” he said.

Seventh seed Tsonga, 28, who admitted he was not quite 100 percent fit after problems with his knee, which forced him to miss the US Open, was equally impressive, beating 50th-ranked Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2 6-3 in just 64 minutes.

The top eight players of the season qualify for the World Tour Finals in London, with five places still up for grabs. Nadal, Djokovic and David Ferrer have already qualified.

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Del Piero stars in Sydney FC win

Del Piero, who notched 14 goals in his maiden A-League campaign last season, scored one and made one for Joel Chianese at Allianz Stadium, but Caravella played a part in both.

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After 36 minutes, Del Piero worked his way into the penalty area, but appeared to have lost possession to Connor Chapman only to be gifted it back when midfielder Caravella ran into Chapman.

The veteran striker picked his way through what little defence was left and expertly slid the ball across goalkeeper Mark Birighitti into the far corner of the net.

Del Piero opens up about life with Sydney FC

New A-League season: Five of the top players

Caravella, who signed a one-year contract extension earlier this week and is the nephew of Sydney coach Frank Farina, was also culpable for the second goal on the hour.

He was dispossessed by Del Piero, who fed the ball to Chianese who lashed a powerful shot into the net.

Sydney created far more chances against a Newcastle side lacking penetration up front, with strikers Emile Heskey, Michael Bridges and Joey Gibbs all on the injury list.

The Jets had a couple of decent chances after Chianese’s goal, but rarely exposed Sydney’s new-look rearguard, which included three newcomers to the club.

Adam Taggart flashed a strong header just over the bar and Craig Goodwin’s free-kick was saved by Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Del Piero helped enliven the game after a dull first quarter.

Chianese had a shot blocked by Birighitti in a one-on-one situation created by a Del Piero pass.

Former Newcastle player Matt Thompson almost marked his Sydney debut with a goal when his 20 metre shot crashed off the crossbar and then bounced off Birighitti’s back.

Becoming progressively more involved, Del Piero sent a wicked 20 metre drive just over the bar a few seconds before halftime.

The Jets showed some nice touches early on through Nathan Burns, James Virgili and Craig Goodwin, but didn’t create any good first half chances.

Don’t miss the A-League Highlights show on Monday from 8.40pm on SBS 2 for all the action from Week 1

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Bikies, your game is over: Qld premier

The party is over for bikies in Queensland as new laws enable an unprecedented crackdown on criminal gangs, the state premier says.

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Campbell Newman says under the legal changes the state’s crime watchdog will be given powers to call in and question bikie gang members.

The new laws will be introduced to parliament next week. They will allow the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) to force bikies to face hearings in its star chamber, where suspects could face mandatory jail terms if they refuse to answer questions.

The state is also allocating an extra $7 million to fight crime.

Mr Newman fired a broadside at criminal bikies and warned them that his crackdown had only just begun.

“I just say to them (bikies) its time to get a real job. Its time to know that it’s now over. The party’s over, the game’s over, we are going to actually go after you in a way that nobody ever has before and we’ve only just started,” he told the Courier-Mail on Friday.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the CMC has been hamstrung, but the changes would make it easier for them to haul criminals into the star chamber.

“The CMC, on a reasonable suspicion, will be able to call people for crime purposes, for investigative purposes, and gathering criminal intelligence purposes,” he said.

There’s been a statewide crackdown on bikies, particularly the prominent Bandidos and Finks gangs, since a brawl outside a Gold Coast restaurant and a riot outside a police station two weeks ago.

Queensland’s government has put more police on the beat, proposed tougher laws and provided a blank cheque for law enforcement.

Mr Newman has also been pushing for other states to launch crackdowns, so bikies have nowhere to hide.

His call comes as Victorian police launched its largest operation on a single bikie gang in that state’s history on Thursday.

More than 700 police, including federal and customs’ officers, raided Hells Angels clubhouses across Melbourne seizing guns, ammunition, drugs, $50,000 cash and arresting 13 people.

A national meeting between attorneys-general was being held on Friday to talk about toughening national bikie laws.

WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan also said state and federal police commissioners would meet on Monday to talk about cracking down on bikies across the country.

Mr Newman said he knew his crackdown would be challenged and some laws overturned, but promised that wouldn’t break his resolve.

“We are going to continue to try again. There are many mechanisms that we are going to use,” the premier said.

“I don’t particularly mind how these people go to jail, but I want to see them behind bars and so do all Queensland citizens.”

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Spain on brink after scraping past cautious Belarus

The victory lifted Vicente del Bosque’s side three points clear of second-placed France with one match to play and a point against lowly Georgia in Albacete on Tuesday will secure the world and European champions a berth at the finals in Brazil.

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Spain dominated against ultra-defensive Belarus, who are bottom of the group, but struggled to create clear chances until Xavi netted in the 61st minute with a powerful strike from the edge of the area that left goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor rooted to the spot.

Centre back Sergio Ramos was the unlikely provider of the second goal 12 minutes from time when he found himself on the right wing and clipped over a perfect cross for Negredo to send a superb diving header low into the corner.

Sergei Kornilenko pulled a goal back for Belarus in the 89th minute from one of their few forays forward but it was nothing more than a consolation.

“We weren’t effective enough with the final pass but in the end we got the win and it’s a very important step towards the World Cup,” Xavi told Telecinco television.

“Alvaro’s goal gave us some breathing room and at the end the Belarus goal gave us a bit of a shock but it turned out fine. It’s tough when teams shut up shop at the back with all 10 players in their half.”

Xavi was captaining the side in the absence of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has fallen out of favour at his club Real Madrid and was replaced in the starting lineup by Barcelona’s Victor Valdes.

Del Bosque also handed a debut to Michu but the Swansea City forward made little impact before being replaced by Negredo in the 57th minute.

Spain’s clearest chance of an uninspiring first half fell to Negredo’s Manchester City team mate David Silva when his shot from just outside the area was comfortably saved by Gutor.

Centre back Gerard Pique, who had earlier been booked for handling, rode his luck just before the break when the ball appeared to strike his arm in the area and the referee waved away Belarus claims for a penalty.

SIMILAR PATTERN

With most of Spain’s attacks foundering against a massed defence, Del Bosque brought off left back Nacho Monreal at halftime and replaced him with playmaker Andres Iniesta.

The switch gave the home side even more control and Iniesta and Pedro, who scored a hat-trick in Spain’s 4-0 win over Belarus in Minsk a year ago, added the width they had been missing in the first half.

“It was more or less as we were expecting and practically all our games follow a similar pattern,” said Del Bosque. “We didn’t have much penetration but the important thing was getting the three points.

“We still have one more game and we have to prepare effectively. The Georgians are going to make things tough for us too and we still haven’t sealed qualification.”

France, who are assured of a playoff place next month, play their final qualifier at home to Finland on Tuesday.

(Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid editing by Ken Ferris and Tony Jimenez)

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Move in Italy against racism rules

A sports justice court has postponed a ruling on a one-game stadium ban for fans of Serie A side AC Milan imposed for offensive chants, the ANSA news agency reported on Friday.

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The club was backed by rival supporters in an appeal against the ban which would have barred spectators for Milan’s game at the Giuseppe Meazza against Udinese on October 19.

Milan fans took part in offensive chants at last Sunday’s game at Juventus directed towards Serie A rivals Napoli.

A sports judge based the ban on anti-racism rules Italian clubs adopted in August following guidelines from European body UEFA.

The stadium closure was to follow an earlier ban after Milan fans chanted similar insults during a game against Napoli. In that case, the ban only affected the home-fan sector for a game against Sampdoria.

It is believed the court will rule on the case after a meeting between the league of professional clubs (Lega Serie A) and the Italian football federation (FIGC), which next week will address the case and possibly introduce a distinction between racism and “territorial discrimination.”

“I think it is legitimate to urge guidelines that distinguish expressions of intolerance, prejudice and contempt from those with ironical and non-offensive tone,” Sports Minister Graziano Delrio was quoted as saying.

Lega boss Maurizio Beretta and FIGC president Giancarlo Abete, along with the presidents of Milan, Juventus and Lazio, also expressed similar views.

Diehard fans from various clubs, including Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio, have sided with Milan and threatened similarly offensive chants in order to cause the closure of their stadiums.

Several supporters’ websites this week condemned racist abuse but said they should not be compared with chants that stress long-existing rivalry among clubs.

Roma, Lazio and Inter have had home-fan sectors closed over racial abuse episodes since the start of the season.

Sports authorities now seem inclined to reconsider punishments, to differentiate between forms of abuse while trying to crack down on unruly fans.

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Child abuse inquiry back in NT

The national inquiry into child sex abuse will return to the Northern Territory to continue private hearings with people affected by child sexual abuse while they were in institutions.

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The Royal Commission spent time in the territory this week meeting with members of the Stolen Generation who had suffered abuse in institutions when they were children.

Royal Commission CEO Janette Dines said: “Around 40 people attended the meetings which were an opportunity for people to speak with trained investigators in an informal setting where they could feel safe.

“The Royal Commission wants to make it easy for as many people as possible to tell their story, and be heard and believed,” Ms Dines said in a statement.

The commission was not due to be in the Northern Territory until next week but provided extra sessions to hear from members of the Stolen Generation after community lobbying, the ABC has reported.

Ms Dines said the Royal Commission would also hold private sessions in Darwin from October 15.

“This is a chance for any Territorian affected by child sexual abuse in an institution to tell a Royal Commissioner what happened to them.

“We’ve had a strong response from Territorians wanting to tell their story. People have different reasons for coming forward. Many people want the Royal Commission to know what happened to them as a child and the impact it has had on their lives,” Ms Dines said.

On Wednesday, October 16 the Chair of the Royal Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, will be meeting with support services in Darwin to talk about the Royal Commission’s work.

Ms Dines said the forum would focus on how community organisations can help their clients engage with the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said it would return to other parts of the Northern Territory for further private sessions in the future.

Anyone wishing to tell their story to the commission can find out more by visiting the website www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

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Fine stayed while Vic government appeals

The Victorian Government will fight a Federal Court ruling and a $53,000 fine that it breached workplace laws.

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Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg on Friday penalised the government with a fine for breaking federal workplace laws, and ordered the fine be paid to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

Justice Bromberg found in May the government broke the laws by threatening not to use builder Lend Lease on the new Bendigo Hospital project.

The government is already appealing that decision and a spokesperson on Friday said it would also appeal against the penalty.

“The government considers that it has not infringed Commonwealth law and that imposing a civil penalty in circumstances where the government has fully complied with the court’s ruling since it was made only causes unnecessary cost to Victorian taxpayers,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The government considers there are good grounds to appeal against today’s decision, as well as continuing with the appeal already underway against the court’s original finding that Victoria has infringed Commonwealth law.” The Victorian Government had said the four-year pay and conditions deal struck by Lend Lease and the CFMEU in 2012 did not comply with its construction code.

Justice Bromberg also found the government contravened the Fair Work Act by trying to coerce a small recycling company, Eco, to change a workplace agreement.

But the fines were stayed while the state government appeals the May judgment.

After the ruling, the CFMEU said the government should stop fighting court battles and instead “focus their energies and resources on creating jobs and saving lives in what is a high risk industry”.

Minister for Employment Eric Abetz said the Federal Government will intervene in the appeal against the federal court decision.

“As the Federal Courts decisions may have significant implications for the operation of the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act, I consider it to be in the public interest that the Commonwealth intervene to make submissions about their correct interpretation,” Senator Abetz said. He said he would not comment further as the matter was before the court.

A Victorian Government spokesperson said the Victorian Code of Practice guidelines for the building and construction industry have been adjusted to comply with the Federal Court’s previous findings, pending the outcome of the appeal by the government.