That’s all for this morning, folks. Thanks for joining me. Hope you’re enjoying your big daily dose of live news.
At 10.30am, Chris Hammer and Labor MP Ed Husic will discuss ALP reform and the unions royal commission on Breaking Politics.
A quick look at the weather: Another cloudy one for Sydney, with a top of 24 degrees. It’s nearly 20 degrees right now.
Illustration: John Shakespeare.
‘‘The Queensland LNP has tried to wash its hands of the stench of corruption by returning the $5000 from Australian Water Holdings more than six years later ('' 'Mr Newman had a price' '', April 8). But has it returned the money it made from the six-year interest-free loan from this Dodgy Brothers privatisation scam?’’ says Adam Nelson from Katoomba.
‘‘At $5000 a sitting, is this the most expensive serving of Campbell's (soup) in Australia?’’ writes Jeff Marsh from Dulwich Hill.
And here's a wide-angle shot of China Diner.
Good Food. Terry Review. China Diner in Bondi. Photo: Edwina Pickles. 2nd April 2014. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Good Food. Terry Review. China Diner in Bondi. Go-to dish is 5 spice duck pancakes with hoisin, shallot and cucumber $25. Photo: Edwina Pickles. 2nd April 2014. Photo: Edwina Pickles
The one restauarnt group in Sydney has China Doll, China Beach and China Lane. Gees, they must be onto a good thing, because now they’ve launched China Diner (77-79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach).
‘‘From the ''Smalls'' section come prawn and sweet pea har gau dumplings ($4 each) that are more generous than elegant, the double-decker filling encased in well-made pastry,’’ writes Terry Durack in a review for Good Food. ‘‘A Suzy Wong cocktail of watermelon, gin, chartreuse and oh-so-fragrant kaffir lime ($16) from mixologist Quynh Van Nguyen paves the way to an organic, intriguingly peachy Switch chardonnay ($12/$50) from the Adelaide Hills.’’
Go-to dish: Five-spice duck pancakes with hoisin, shallot and cucumber $25.
Telomeres, which prevent chromosomes from unravelling over time. Photo: Supplied
Children who grow up in poverty or an unstable family show early signs of genetic ageing that may make them more vulnerable to certain diseases, says a US study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Telomeres, the protective caps that prevent the ends of chromosomes from unravelling over time, were shorter in children who had a severely disadvantaged upbringing compared with children from privileged backgrounds, writes our science editor Nicky Phillips.
Buses on Routes 615X and T64 are delayed up to 15 minutes due to heavy traffic on Windsor Road in Kellyville.
Buses on Route T70 are delayed up to 30 minutes in Bella Vista due to heavy traffic on Norwest Boulevard and Old Windsor Road.
Now some good news for Battlestar Galactica fans. Universal is resurrecting plans for a movie reimagining of the popular sci-fi TV show, reports Variety. Though some fans are unsure about how they feel. Best to leave a good thing alone?
In other news BSG is being rebooted again, and I doooonnn't… thiiiiiink… I waaaant that? Yeah nah http://t.co/wHFVkeecOp— Liam Dryden (@LiamDrydenEtc) April 8, 2014
I'm conflicted about this 'Battlestar Galactica' movie thingy. http://t.co/eUT4ylOdYa— Angela Watercutter (@WaterSlicer) April 8, 2014
Cover of the Herald's Money, Wednesday.
Twenty-two years on from its introduction, just as popular trends change, so has superannuation.
These days, people seek a lot more options for how their super is invested, writes Emily Chantiri for Money’s cover story. The CEO of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia sees the increase in choice over how people manage their retirement savings as one of the biggest changes in superannuation in the past two decades.
Ian Thorpe’s manager James Erskine has brushed off concerns the swimming great could lose the use of his left arm as ‘‘nonsense’’.
‘‘That’s just people making that up, I mean that’s just nonsense,’’ he said on the Today show. ‘‘He’s under very good supervision and he’s battling and he’s unlucky."
Thorpe’s friend, Alan Jones, said: ‘‘There may well be restricted movement - minor in a sense in the left shoulder.’’ And as far as swimming competitively again: ‘‘Well, that was never on anyway, so his swimming days are over."
Ian Thorpe Photo: Paul Rovere
Customers travelling from the city on the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line should allow extra travel time due to urgent signalling repairs at Erskineville station.
The 8:39 Bondi Junction to Mortdale station service is cancelled due to train requiring mechanical issues at Mortdale earlier.
A stalled car is slowing down southbound traffic on General Holmes Drive near M5 East Motorway On Ramp in Mascot. Traffic is queued back to Southern Cross Drive.
A two-car prang is affecting eastbound traffic on The Horsley Drive near Justin Street in Smithfield.
China does not have the right to unilaterally establish an air defence zone over disputed islands with no consultation, the US has told the Asian superpower.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Chinese counterpart that they will protect Japan, the Philippines and other allies locked in disputes with China, as laid out in US treaty obligations.
Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan bit back, saying his country will use its military if needed to safeguard its territory. He added, the US must "stay vigilant" against Japan's actions and "not be permissive and supportive" of Tokyo.
Tony Abbott will fly to China today to work towards a trade deal with China by the end of the year, his self-imposed deadline, the AFR reports.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan clashed over island disputes at a joint news conference at the Chinese Defence Ministry headquarters. Photo: AP
The unions aren’t showing a united front ahead of the royal commission into its practices.
The inquiry could lead to positive changes and boost worker productivity, MBA honcho Wilhelm Harnisch said on ABC Radio. ‘‘Recent evidence indicates the unions have been emboldened to go back to their bad behaviours.’’
But ACTU secretary Dave Oliver is convinced the inquiry is part of the federal government’s aim to weaken the power of unions. Abbott was delivering for “radical ideologues that hate unions’’, he said last night.
The Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption begins today in Sydney.
The business sector hopes it will lead to changes in workplace relations and practices and help lift productivity. But unions have labelled it a politically motivated witch hunt.
The Health Services Union, Australian Workers Union, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Electrical Trades Union and Transport Workers Union will be scrutinised.
Adam Scott will open his Masters defence paired with PGA Championship winning American Jason Dufner and US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick. The group gets underway at 12.41am local time on Friday.
''I think Adam’s got a very good chance, but he’ll be under a lot more pressure than last year when he kind of flew under the radar. There’ll be a lot more expectation on him, a lot more talk,’’ said Greg Norman.
Highest-ranked Australian . . . Adam Scott at the US Masters. Photo: Getty Images
Here’s a wrap of the top financial headlines from around the world:
- The European Union says it has appealed to the WTO over Russia’s ban of pork exports from the 28-nation bloc.
- The IMF has cut its growth forecast for the global economy, pointing to the threat from the Ukraine crisis and the slowdown in major emerging economies.
- In the US, regulators are acting to require banks to build a sturdier financial base to lessen the risk that they could collapse and cause a global meltdown.
- Indonesia’s central bank has held its key interest rate at 7.50 per cent for the fifth consecutive month as inflation slowed and the trade balance improved in Southeast Asia’s top economy.
Pigs. Photo: Steve Hynes
Tony Abbott has declared North Korea as a ‘‘rogue’’ and ‘‘outlaw’’ state, ahead of his tour of the de-facto border barrier running along the 38th parallel north on the Korean peninsula.
‘‘The regime is a deadly danger to its neighbour. Until such times as North Korea gives up its nuclear ambitions, until North Korea permanently ends its aggression, it must be treated as a rogue and outlaw state,’’ he said.
Game of Thrones fans, you’ll love this. HBO has extended the series by another two seasons. No surprise, considering its record-breaking ratings.
This renewal will make the fantasy drama HBO’s longest running originally scripted show currently on air, says The Hollywood Reporter.
"Game of Thrones is a phenomenon like no other," said programming president Michael Lombardo. "David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling."
A scene from fantasy TV show Game of Thrones.
The caption says it all, really. Just tweeted from The White House account:
Accountant Ian George will face a second day of grilling today at the ICAC hearing into AWH.
Yesterday, the independent certifier of the bona fides of AWH's billings to Sydney Water, had a torrid time in the witness box.
He was asked why he thought Sydney Water should be billed for a charity golf day, a $346 bill for two people at Grappa Restaurant in Leichhardt, which included five glasses of Chivas Regal, a $410 bill for ''networking'' at Otto restaurant in Woolloomooloo and limousines for Eddie Obeid jnr.
Sydney Water will demand the return of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars from AWH if corruption authorities conclude the money was fraudulently obtained, writes our state political editor Sean Nicholls in an exclusive.
The ICAC has heard the firm exploited a loophole in a contract to provide water infrastructure for Sydney Water in the city's north-west. Exorbitant executive salaries, political donations, a corporate box and limousines were charged as legitimate expenses.
Phil Costa, Labor’s former water minister told the ICAC he was ''gobsmacked'' when his crooked former colleague Eddie Obeid urged him to ''sack the bitch'' in a reference to Sydney Water boss Kerry Schott.
He gave evidence at the corruption inquiry investigating allegations the Obeids were ''secret stakeholders'' in Australian Water Holdings and Mr Obeid corruptly lobbied colleagues to favour the company.
He said Mr Obeid started lobbying him about infrastructure company AWH ''within four weeks'' of him taking on the portfolio in December 2009, reports Michaela Whitbourn and Kate McClymont.
Former Water Minister Phillip Costa arrives at ICAC on Tuesday. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Buses on Routes 196 and 197 are running 20 minutes behind schedule due to a fatal accident on Mona Vale Road near Forest Way in Terrey Hills.
For the first time, scientists have measured how fast the universe was expanding 10.8 billion years ago with startling precision.
The scientists looked at very distant celestial objects, whose light had been traveling from that early time period, they said at an American Physical Society meeting this week.
"What is impressive, in my opinion, is that we measure the expansion with a better accuracy (than the expansion today), even though we are looking further in time," Andreu Font-Ribera of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told CNN.
The Australian share market is set for a positive start to trade, after a slight recovery in technology stocks pushed Wall Street higher. The SPI is up 24 points at 5,428.
Today, Westpac and the Melbourne Institute release their latest survey of consumer sentiment. The ABS will publish housing finance data for February and international merchandise imports data for March.
The S&P/ASX200 dropped 3.1 points to 5,410.6, and the All Ords lost 6.9 points to 5,409.2.
Arabica-coffee futures capped the biggest rally in six weeks as dry conditions dim prospects for output in Brazil, the world’s top coffee producer and exporter.
Brazilian growing regions will receive limited rains through April 17 after the worst drought in decades hurt crops in January and February, according to World Weather Inc, Bloomberg reports.
But it’s unlikely the retail price of your favourite cup of coffee will reflect the ups and downs of the world markets, with cafe owners having to consider rent, staff, and other overheads when formulating prices.
Coffee. Photo: Brianne Makin
The Australian dollar jumped to a four month high overnight following a sharp rise in Chinese stocks.
This morning it's trading at 93.59 US cents, up from 93.17 cents yesterday. It reached a peak of 93.67 US cents overnight, its highest level since November 19, after the Chinese sharemarket rose sharply during late afternoon trade.
The dollar is also buying 0.68 Euro, 95.09 Japanese Yen and 56 British pence.
Cover of the Herald's SportsDay, Wednesday.
Canterbury will appeal the $20,000 fine imposed on them for flouting the NRL's new concussion laws during a game against Cronulla.
The Bulldogs claim their physiotherapist was unaware of Josh Jackson's condition because he was busy attending to fellow forward Aiden Tolmen, writes our chief rugby league writer Adrian Proszenko.
While half of the fine was suspended, we can reveal the club also received a ''please explain'' letter about the handling of James Graham's head knock in the round-four match against Melbourne.
More on the Terrey Hills crash - a woman has died and a man is being treated in hospital.
Their small hatchback left Mona Vale Road and crashed about 4.15am, police say.
The Crash Investigation Unit are on the scene. The Transport Management Centre says while a contra-flow is in place, traffic was heavy and motorists should avoid the area.
A vehicle is on fire, affecting traffic both ways, on the Great Western Highway at Prospect Highway in Prospect.
There’s a car accident on Liverpool Street at Elizabeth Street in the CBD, affecting traffic both ways.
A stalled car is impacting northbound flow on Ryde Road at Minnamurra Ave in Pymble.
And regarding the fatal crash on Mona Vale Road in Terrey Hills, the contra flow is now in place, so westbound motorists are slowly passing through.
Oscar Pistorius howled, sobbed, and emotionally broke down, as he spoke from the witness box for the second time at his murder trial in South Africa.
"I sat over Reeva and I cried," he said, describing the moment he saw his dead girlfriend. "I don't know how long I was there for.’’
Only two people appeared stoic and unmoved: the victim’s mother, June Steenkamp, and the trial judge, writes Lisa Davies in Pretoria.
June Steenkamp, centre, mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp, listens as Oscar Pistorius testifies in court in Pretoria on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo
We welcomed the news late yesterday afternoon that the young mother who abandoned her baby on a doorstep of an Auburn home had made contact with police.
But the 24-year-old mother has been taken into custody by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. We can only presume she was an illegal immigrant. Baby ‘Mai’ remains with foster carers.
Ian Thorpe is "quite sick" in hospital after contracting two infections, his agent says, which may strip him of the ability to swim competitively again.
He contracted the bugs after undergoing surgeries on his shoulder in Switzerland. He is being treated in Sydney.
"It’s serious but it’s not life-threatening," Thorpe’s agent James Erskine said. "I mean bad luck. He’s quite sick but that’s the situation."
Ian Thorpe: unlikely to swim competitively again.
A car rolled off Mona Vale Road and crashed this morning, killing the female driver. The tragic accident occurred near the intersection of Mona Vale Road and Forest Way in Terrey Hills.
One westbound lane has been re-opened, after all were closed by emergency services earlier. Motorists heading west towards Pymble from the northern beaches are being advised to add extra travel time, because the lane configuration has changed.
Front page of the Australian Financial Review, Wednesday.
Let’s take a glance at the front pages of Sydney’s other major papers:
The AFR leads with the news the Abbott government is likely to exempt Chinese foreign investment below $1bn from requiring formal approval but still expects the sensitive issue to be a sticking point in negotiations over a trade agreement.
The Tele says patients who crowd hospital emergency wards seeking treatment for minor ailments such as a cold will be charged under reforms being considered by the federal government.
And The Oz reports Labor faces increasing pressure to overhaul its archaic candidate selection processes, with Jenny McAllister calling on faction and union bosses to cede power to members as John Faulkner urged rule changes to stamp out corruption.
Two 16-year-olds were sexually assaulted in a Fairfield park in the middle of the day, yesterday.
Police are searching for three men who approached the girls on a train travelling between Blacktown and Fairfield. The group alighted the train together at Fairfield station. The men gang raped the teenagers in daylight at Ulverstone Street park.
One man is described as being about 19-21 years old, about 178cm tall, with a dark complexion, a thin build and dark hair. The second man is about 175cm tall, with a thin build and black hair, police say. The third accomplice is described as being between 17-19 years old, with a medium build and about 175cm tall.
A crime scene has been established at the park, and is being inspected by forensic specialists.
Tony Abbott has arrived in Seoul, Korea, to sign another free trade deal. He is also aiming to take a slice of South Korean retirement savings accruing in coming years worth a trillion dollars.
It could open the way for a massive injection of Korean capital and for direct control of key Australian infrastructure, writes Mark Kenny from Seoul. Australia, Abbott says, is ""open for business".
Executives from Korea's National Pension Service - the fourth largest retirement savings fund in the world - were part of a "round table" of the peninsula's biggest funds.
Roll out the colour: Tony Abbott is welcomed in a ceremony at Seoul Airbase, South Korea on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday.
Something doesn't make sense. More than 80 per cent of the $90 billion in tax Sydney's workers and businesses forked out in 2011-12 ended up in federal coffers.
Sydney is being starved of desperately needed infrastructure funding, writes Matt Wade on the Herald's front page.
The Commonwealth returns to the states the GST it collects and provides grants to fund state services including health and education. But the Committee for Sydney says too little of the taxes returns to the city.
A woman has died after being found stabbed on a southwest Sydney street.
Police were called to Rawson Street in Auburn just before midnight where they found a woman on the footpath in front of a bakery with multiple stab wounds. She was treated by paramedics and taken to Westmead hospital, but died.
They arrested a 49-year-old man, who they believe knew the victim. He is being questioned at Flemington Police Station.
Hi, early birds. Welcome to Morning Express - your live news blog of breaking news, sport, finance and a few surprise stories along the way.
There's no end to the string of cloudy days. Another overcast day, with a chance of a light shower along the coast this morning.
The mercury will hit 24 degrees in the city, 24 in Parramatta and 25 in Penrith. It's 16.1 degrees right now.
Have a news tip? Get in touch via Twitter @EstherHjHan