Abbott praises Turnbull for backing Liberal Party reform

Malcolm Turnbull has endorsed giving Liberal members a greater say in all of the party’s activities as not only crucial for winning elections but a “moral” issue.

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However, despite the prime minister’s stance, 1500 members of the party are still expected to have what NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described as a “robust and at times heated debate” on Sunday.

Adding to the heat will be Tony Abbott’s insistence on the special convention passing his so-called “Warringah motions”, which would ensure sitting members can be challenged under the new system of grassroots member plebiscites to select candidates at a state and federal level.

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Mr Abbott also wants members to have been signed up for two years before they can vote in plebiscites, in a bid to cut down on branch-stacking.

The prime minister told the convention while there were differences in the “detail” of the reforms, it was essential the party hand more power to grassroots members.

“The fundamental principle that I am so proud our party is committed to today is that every member should have a say,” Mr Turnbull said.

“It is not just right politically but morally.”

Mr Turnbull’s moderate faction is working with members of the “soft right” on alternatives to Mr Abbott’s motions – including a longer time frame for members to wait and the protection of sitting members from the new rules – but it was unclear who would prevail.

Mr Abbott told reporters he was encouraged by the prime minister’s speech, which he believed represented “unequivocal support for one member one vote”.

But he warned the convention needed to reject those who were promoting “fake democracy” and embrace the “true democracy” demonstrated in the Warringah motions.

“Reform is coming and it’s obviously coming with the full support of the prime minister,” he said.

“It’s going to be good for the unity of our party and it’s going to be good for the prospects of our party at the next election.”

He said the Liberal Party remained the “principle representative of the conservative side of politics” in Australia and he didn’t believe disgruntled members would leave if reform stalled.

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“My very strong message to anyone who has been disappointed by our party is stay and fight.”

He rejected suggestions the debate was about his leadership ambitions.

“This is a contest between factionalists who want to keep power and democrats who want to open up our party and I’m very pleased the prime minister and I are on the same side.”

Liberal president Nick Greiner told the convention it would be “unfortunate” if the party steered away from it being a “broad church”.

“I do notice … some lack of that civility, some lack of that mutual respect,” he said, taking aim at factional players.

“My plea to you … is advocate with passion, but to not do it in a tradition of civility and respect is very unfortunate.”

Liberal MP Alex Hawke, who is pushing an alternative to Mr Abbott’s motion, said it was important only “genuine members” were involved in party processes.

“Nobody wants to see people … try to get involved in parties they’re not actually in favour of, and we don’t want to see any of that.”

The final result of the convention on Sunday will go to the state director and president who will prepare the party’s modernisation plan to go before a future NSW state council meeting for endorsement later in the year.

NSW Liberals president Chris Downy promised the plan would be implemented “without fear or favour”.

Ms Berejiklian said she wanted reform to go further and party members to robustly debate it.

“I know that this issue … will be robust and at times heated, but that is a good thing, that is normal for a healthy thriving organisation.”

Timor-Leste election: Voters hope for action on corruption, economy

While Timor-Leste’s president has praised the peace and stability surrounding the parliamentary election, voters say it is time for the government to tackle corruption and daily needs in a country facing an uncertain economic future.

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In a country dogged by conflict and political upheaval, there was calm and good humour on Saturday morning as polling stations opened for 750,000 people to cast their vote on 21 parties vying for 65 parliamentary seats.

Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres and his wife, Cidalia Mouzinho Guterres, joined families and several other members of parliament at a polling station at Farol primary school in the capital, Dili, where he praised the “peace and stability” of the campaign.

Residents line up to cast their votes EPA

“I feel happy and proud that during the one-month campaign. These people are already showing the international community that in Timor Leste we hold (elections) in peace and stability,” he told reporters.

Mr Guterres is from the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), which along with the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) formed a de facto coalition in 2015 and ushered in a new era of unity.

But the country, where the median age is just under 19 years old, faces an uncertain future.

The government has faced heavy criticism for its reliance on oil and gas revenue to fund projects, salaries and services, with fears that unless the economy diversifies quickly, the country will run out of money within 10 to 15 years.

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While the government has been spending big on large infrastructure projects, the newly established People’s Liberation Party (PLP) – which is seeking to become a strong opposition voice in parliament – wants them to scrap life pensions for government members, tackle corruption and start focusing on basic needs such as health, sanitation and education.

Jacinta Mau, 37, who came to the polling station with her three children in tow, said this was what mattered for her this election.

“They need to provide roads, electricity, water and sanitation because these are the needs people are facing in their daily life,” she told AAP.

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Jobs and basic needs were also topping the list of 57-year-old government worker Aleixo da Costa Sarmento.

“What we need and what is essential to us is three things: electricity, water and roads,” he said.

“They must be create more jobs for the youth because so many are still unemployed.

“We must fight against the corruption. People cannot live and move forward because corruption only makes one or two people rich.”

Preliminary results will be known by Saturday evening, though official results will be announced early August.

US protesters confront Minneapolis mayor over Justine Damond’s death

Fallout intensified from the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman, as Minneapolis’s police chief resigned, an angry crowd shouted down the mayor, and protesters filled streets for the second day in a row.

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Police chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of the Midwestern US city’s mayor, who herself faced calls to stepped down by an angry crowd that brought her Friday evening news conference to an abrupt end.

Meanwhile, protesters filled the streets of downtown Minneapolis, demanding – among other things – greater police accountability and reform. Some celebrated news of the police chief’s resignation.

Mayor Betsy Hodges promised to remain in her post, but said she understood the frustration of residents following the police shooting of Justine Damond last Saturday night, which has ignited an international outcry.

The 40-year-old Australian native had moved to the United States to marry her fiance. She called police to report a possible assault near her home and was shot to death by one of two responding officers as she walked up to their police car — reportedly still in her pajamas.

0:00 Australian Justine Damond didn’t have to die: US police chief Share Australian Justine Damond didn’t have to die: US police chief

‘Lost confidence’ in chief

The police chief faced criticism over her handling of the tragedy. She did not appear before TV cameras until Thursday, saying she had been on vacation at a remote mountain location.

“I’ve lost confidence in the chief’s ability to lead us further. And from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Mayor Hodges said in a statement.

In announcing her resignation, Chief Harteau said she wanted to “let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done” to improve the police department.

Moments later the mayor announced her nomination of Assistant Police Chief Medaria Arradondo as Harteau’s replacement. Arradondo has been the public face of the department during the crisis.

If the moves were meant to quell uproar in the city, they did not appear to work.

In an evening news conference the mayor held to speak further about the changes, an angry group of protesters interrupted her within minutes of taking the podium.

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Calls to resign

“We’re not buying this,” exclaimed one protester after the mayor left, having been shouted down by the crowd. “This is just a cosmetic change, and we want institutional change.”

The protesters were particularly angry about the lack of body camera footage of the shooting, and complained of a lack of police accountability.

“We don’t want you as the mayor of Minneapolis any more,” another protester said. “You’re ineffective as a leader.”

Mayor Hodges resumed the news conference after the protesters cleared the city hall room, and said she would not resign.

“It is understandable to me that people’s frustration is high. I share that frustration,” she said adding, “I am governing right now.”

0:00 Transcript details Justine Damond’s frantic calls minutes before being shot Share Transcript details Justine Damond’s frantic calls minutes before being shot

There were street protests for a second day in a row on Friday, this time in downtown Minneapolis, following a march Thursday night on the streets of Damond’s neighborhood to the south of downtown.

The earlier protest was joined by Valerie Castile, the mother of motorist Philando Castile who was shot by a police officer last year in a Minneapolis suburb. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter, but the Castile family received a $3 million settlement.

Members of Minnesota’s chapter of the NAACP, an African-American rights group, also joined the protests — highlighting the fraught relationship between police and the public they serve, which has also been exposed by other recent questionable police shootings.

In other cases around the country, those shot were often black and the police white. In Damond’s case, she was white and the police officer who shot her, Mohamed Noor, is a Somali-American from the state’s sizeable population of immigrants from the African country.

Investigators probing the shooting have said little about the case, but on Friday announced notable progress in their effort to piece together what happened without the benefit of video evidence.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Affairs (BCA), the agency handling the probe, said it located and interviewed a witness they had been seeking.

That witness had been bicycling near the scene of the shooting and had stopped to watch officers provide first aid, the BCA said. The agency did not disclose what the witness told investigators.

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Fears of more Israeli-Palestinian violence over holy site

The latest violence — a stabbing attack that killed three Israelis and clashes which left three Palestinians dead — was among the most severe in recent years.

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There were concerns over whether it would spark wider unrest as Israeli officials grappled with how to ease tensions over the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City that includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock has been a rallying cry for Palestinians.

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In 2000, then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the compound helped ignite the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted more than four years.

Tensions have risen throughout the past week because of new Israeli security measures at the compound following an attack nearby that killed two policemen on July 14.

The measures have included the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the site, which Palestinians reject since they view the move as Israel asserting further control over it.

Israeli authorities say the July 14 attackers smuggled guns into the holy site and emerged from it to shoot the policemen.

Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers — which typically draw thousands to Al-Aqsa — brought the situation to a boil.

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In anticipation of protests, Israel barred men under 50 from entering the Old City for prayers, stoking further Palestinian anger.

Clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinians around the Old City, in other parts of annexed east Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Abbas freezes contacts

Three Palestinians between the ages of 17 and 20 were shot dead. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 450 people wounded in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including 170 from live or rubber bullets.

In the evening, a Palestinian broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank during a Sabbath dinner and stabbed four Israelis, killing three of them.

The 19-year-old Palestinian was shot by a neighbour, an off-duty soldier, and was taken to hospital.

The Israeli army said he had spoken of the Jerusalem holy site and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post.

The Israelis killed in Neve Tsuf, north of Ramallah and also known as Halamish, were a grandfather and two of his children, an Israeli military official said. The grandmother was wounded.

Israeli soldiers raided the Palestinian’s nearby village of Kobar overnight and arrested his brother, an army spokeswoman said.

Preparations were also being made to demolish the attacker’s home, a measure Israel regularly employs because it views it as a deterrent, although human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment.

Amid mounting pressure to respond to the dispute over the mosque compound, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas announced late Friday he was freezing contacts with Israel.

There was no immediate public reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

‘For all Muslims’

“Violence is likely to worsen absent a major policy shift,” said Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“Netanyahu’s mistake was installing the metal detectors without a Muslim interlocutor. It is the coercive character more than the security measure itself that made this unacceptable for Palestinians.”

On Saturday, entrances to Jerusalem’s walled Old City were open, but heavy security was in place.

The metal detectors also remained at the entrance to the mosque compound.

“Al Aqsa –- that’s for the Muslims, not for the Jewish,” said Mohammad Haroub, a 42-year-old souvenir shop owner.

Like hundreds of others, he prayed outside on Friday instead of passing through the metal detectors.

He added that it was not only an Israeli-Palestinian issue.

“Al Aqsa is not for Palestinians. It is for all Muslims.”

Sharon Kopel, a 46-year-old Israeli tour guide leading a group in the Old City, said he felt the metal detectors were unnecessary and politically motivated, but also criticised Palestinians for “lies” about Israel trying to take over Al-Aqsa.

“I don’t think it’s really effective anyway,” he said of the new security measures. “But on the other hand… they brought guns into a holy place.”

The Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It lies in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

It is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

Ex-Aussie tennis player Peter Doohan dies

Former Australian tennis player and coach Peter Doohan has died at the age of 56.

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Dubbed the ‘Becker Wrecker’ after famously defeating two-time defending champion Boris Becker in 1987 at Wimbledon, Peter reached a career-high world ranking of No.43.

In a tweet on Saturday evening, Becker said: “My heartfelt condolences to the family of #PeterDoohan! The tennis fraternity lost a great guy and wonderful player!”

In a statement issued earlier on Saturday, Tennis Australia said the tennis family was deeply saddened by the news.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

“Peter was unbeaten in Davis Cup representation. He won the South Australian Open singles title and reached No.15 in doubles, winning five titles during his distinguished career.

“Following his retirement, Peter coached in the United States, after first studying at the University of Arkansas, where he was all-American and a NCAA champion. He returned to live in Australia in 2009,” the statement said.

“The tennis community rallied around Peter during his battle with a particularly aggressive form of motor neurone disease which was diagnosed just nine weeks ago.

“A moving tribute to Peter, led by former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald, along with a fundraising auction, were featured at the annual International Club Wimbledon Dinner at Kooyong last week.

“Peter is survived by his mother Thelma, his sons John (26) and Hunter (23), both based in the United States, and his sisters Cathie and Margaret.

“His funeral will take place in Newcastle with further details to follow.”