‘It’s going to ruin everything’: Thousands flock to nationwide protests to fight Adani coal mine

Today on Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, located in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth electorate, at least 2000 protesters spelled out the words ‘Stop Adani’.

南京夜网

“People really are against this coal mine. We need to send a message to Malcolm Turnbull that funding a giant coal mine in Queensland just makes no sense,” said organiser Blair Palese the CEO of lobby group 350南京楼凤,.

“It’s not time for more coal, it’s time for the solutions to climate change.”

Stephen Lightfoot and his partner Elizabeth Hess brought their two young sons to the beach protest.

The told SBS World News that they feared for the future of the region if the coal mine is built.

“We really don’t want taxpayer money going to a mine that is putting our Great Barrier Reef at risk, we really don’t want it,” Mr Lightfoot said.

“I think anything you can do might help to stop this, so at least we’re trying to do something,” Ms Hess said. 

45 protests in ‘national day of action’

Meanwhile hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Parliament House in Canberra to voice their opposition to the Carmichael mine as dozens of similar rallies took place across Australia on Saturday.

Major rallies also took place at Newtown, Brisbane, Port Douglas and Carlton North.

“The mine is just going to ruin everything, the water, the reef, the farming land, and also we’re lending them $1 billion and I cannot believe we can’t spend that money on jobs in other areas like renewables,” Michele Smith told AAP in Canberra.

Fellow protester Kathy Kituai said she was sceptical about what the state and federal governments stand to gain from the “insane” project, while Lois McRae is worried about the irreversible damage it may cause.

“It is ludicrous to propose this mine and it has got to be abandoned,” Ms McRae told AAP.

Those who gathered in Canberra waved placards and chanted slogans before heading off on a march, while people in other locations created human “Stop Adani” signs.

Scores of red-clad protesters also turned out at Brisbane’s Crosby Park on Saturday afternoon to create a human sign spelling out “Stop Adani” as part of a National Day of Action.

Jeff Hansen national director of Sea Shepherd Australia said his organisation was typically known for defending whale populations’ feeding grounds in the Antarctic.

“However, they face an even bigger threat in the form of the Adani coal mine,” he said.

He said “huge numbers” of coal ships would move through the Great Barrier Reef if the mine goes ahead, posing a serious threat to the whales’ birthing grounds.

“Not to mention the burning of fossil fuels is having a catastrophic impact on Antarctica and the krill numbers, the whales’ food,” he added.

The national rallies come as new polling shows more than half of Australians oppose the central Queensland mine.

Two-thirds of people also believe the Queensland government should veto a proposed $1 billion Commonwealth loan for a rail line to the Carmichael mine.

Indigenous activist Lola Forester told SBS World News the site will ‘desecrate’ numerous First Nation communities.

0:00 Thousands join nationwide protests against Adani Share Thousands join nationwide protests against Adani

“Not only the people that are working in the coalmines will end up with black lung, but it’s coming up in our children as well,” Ms Forester said.

“So it’s not just about the environment, it’s about the cost of human lives that are happening up there.

At least 2000 people spelled the words ‘Stop Adani’ at Bondi beach in Sydney. It was one of numerous protests across the country against the proposed coal mine. (Supplied)SUPPLIED

New poll results show Australian majority against Adani

Almost 2200 people were quizzed in the ReachTel poll this week.

Respondents were told Adani wanted to build a new coal mine in Queensland, which the Indian company said would create local jobs.

They were also told concerns had been raised about the company’s corporate track record and the environmental impact of the mine, before being asked if they supported or opposed the project going ahead.

A clear majority of people (55.5 per cent) either opposed or strongly opposed the mine, while 26.1 per cent said they supported or strongly supported it.

Almost one in five (18.4 per cent) were undecided.

Support was highest among Australian Conservatives, Liberal and One Nation voters, while Greens, Labor and Nationals voters were most keenly opposed.

“And I have to say if he doesn’t respond to it (the protests and figures), it will be goodbye Malcolm,” added businessman and Australian Conservation Foundation President Geoff Cousins.

Adani allegations

An ABC Four Corners investigation this week aired allegations of bribery, corruption, tax evasion and money laundering by Adani-linked companies.

Those polled were also told Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made an election commitment that Labor would not spend public funds on Adani’s private rail line for their coal mine.

People were then asked if the Queensland government should keep its promise and use its power to veto a $1 billion Commonwealth loan to Adani for the rail line.

Two-thirds of respondents (65.8 per cent) said they should veto the loan, while 17.7 per cent said they should not, with 16.5 per cent undecided.

The Stop Adani Alliance, which is organising the national rallies, is made up of 31 organisations.

Its membership has doubled since it launched in March, while more than 160 groups have formed in that time.

RELATED:

Xenophon dumps candidate over Facebook pic

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has sacked an SA-Best candidate after a Facebook photo emerged of the man holding his fist to a wax model of pop star Rihanna.

南京夜网

Rhys Adams was on Saturday named and then dropped as Senator Xenophon’s candidate for the Liberal-held SA seat of Finniss after the ABC reported on his Facebook photos, which also showed him groping another waxwork model of Toni Collette in Sydney in 2015.

The caption accompanying the Rihanna photo says “it’s Chris baby” and shows him holding a fist to the wax model. The pop star was assaulted in 2009 by her then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

“(I was) made aware of it this afternoon and sacked him within 10 minutes,” Senator Xenophon told AAP on Saturday, ending Mr Adams’ candidacy just hours after it began.

“I acted immediately because you cannot make a joke about domestic violence.”

In a statement, Mr Adams said the photos showed him “doing stupid things with a juvenile sense of humour”.

“Back then I didn’t take into account those that may be hurt by a what I now reflect on as a very poor-taste joke which certainly doesn’t reflect my mindset or my values,” he said.

“I am certainly sorry for any offence I’ve cause with previous Facebook posts and I wish the SA-Best team the very best going forward.”

Senator Xenophon – whose future was under a cloud due to constitutional questions about his citizenship – announced on Friday he was quitting federal politics to run for his home Adelaide seat of Hartley in the March state election.

The Senate powerbroker also said SA-Best would field candidates in key electorates in the hopes of becoming kingmakers after the March state election.

Despite Mr Adams’ sacking, Senator Xenophon maintained the party’s vetting process for candidates was up to scratch.

“The vetting process is a sound process because people go through extensive questions, police checks, background checks,” he said.

“We already have social media vetting but this was missed. It should not have been missed and the fact it was missed is a very valuable lesson.”

Finniss is held by the Liberal’s Michael Pengilly, who will retire at the next election.

Liberal MP Vincent Tarzia holds the seat of Hartley with a 3.3 per cent margin and has told Senator Xenophon to “bring it on”.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

Alexander issues challenge for Diamonds

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander is beginning to see a return to the Australian style of netball which went missing against the Silver Ferns a month ago.

南京夜网

And she wants to see her players up the ante in Sunday’s second Constellation Cup Test in Christchurch.

Thumped 57-47 in the Quad Series finale in Invercargill, the Diamonds rebounded to edge the Kiwis 57-54 in Auckland on Thursday in the opening match of the four-Test series.

Gone was an uncharacteristic hesitancy in attack, while an improved defensive effort generated plenty of turnover ball to keep the scoreline ticking over.

“We were very pleased with the progress towards getting that teamwork back, and that Aussie style of skill that we like to see,” Alexander told NZ Newswire.

“Pretty much for the whole Quad Series, we weren’t scoring off turnovers created by our defenders and that’s just not good enough.

“It’s still not perfect, but we’re showing much more patience and good decision making at the right times.”

Alexander isn’t entirely satisfied, however, and is looking for further improvement on Sunday after the Diamonds failed to build on their lead in Auckland.

“There were parts of that game when we got to be eight goals up, and we just didn’t put the foot down.

“That’s credit to the Silver Ferns too, because they made some really good changes in defence.

“But we’ve got to recognise those things a little more quickly, be able to actually put the foot down and get a bit more of a buffer between us a bit earlier.”

Alexander’s focus, along with that of New Zealand coach Janine Southby, is to build depth and develop combinations ahead of next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool.

The Diamonds are defending champions at both pinnacle events, with the Kiwis the beaten finalists.

“The teams are pretty evenly matched in a lot of areas if you look at player-for-player,” Alexander said.

“It’s a matter of getting that right combination – we want to get that real teamwork back, which we thought was missing in that final Test in Invercargill.”

Iraq’s ex-President Talabani buried

Thousands of Iraqi Kurdish mourners, Iraqi officials and world dignitaries have attended the funeral of Jalal Talabani, the country’s first president in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and once a symbol of national unity.

南京夜网

Talabani was laid to rest on Friday in Sulaimaniyah, the second-largest city in Iraq’s Kurdish region, after his casket – draped in the Kurdish flag – was flown back from Berlin where he died at a hospital earlier this week.

From the airport in Suleimaniyah, a motorcade carried the casket to a nearby hill for burial. Crowds poured into the streets, following the funeral procession on foot, carrying flags and posters bearing Talabani’s image and the emblem of the political party he founded more than three decades ago, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Many threw flowers on top of the coffin.

While Talabani traces his roots to a small village in Iraq’s north, Sulaimaniyah is the seat of his political power.

A long-time champion of Kurdish self-rule, Talabani, also established himself as a national statesman after accepting the largely symbolic office of the presidency two years after the 2003 US invasion toppled Saddam.

He held the post from 2005 to 2014, but faded from Iraqi political life after suffering a debilitating stroke in 2012.

During his time as president, Talabani was seen as a symbol of unity, a politician able to manage tensions between Sunnis, Shi’Ites and Kurds that in Iraq often erupt into violence.

Talabani’s death in Germany on Tuesday came as Iraq struggles to manage the fallout of a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence spearheaded by his long-time Iraqi Kurdish political rival, Masoud Barzani.

While Barzani was present at the funeral and laid a wreath of white flowers at Talabani’s casket, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was not in attendance.

Interior Minister Qassim al-Araji came to Sulaimaniyah to pay his respects in al-Abadi’s place.

Also in attendance were Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; Iraq’s current president and fellow Kurd, Fuad Masum; US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, and Jan Kubis, the top UN envoy in Iraq.

Baghdad, along with neighbouring Turkey and Iran, has rejected the Kurdish referendum and is demanding Kurdish leadership do the same. While the vote in non-binding and will not immediately create an independent state, many saw it as a symbolic affirmation of the Iraqi Kurdish dreams for a state of their own.

Spain braces for more protests in Catalonia crisis

Catalan leaders had threatened to declare independence unilaterally and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to stop them, rejecting calls for mediation in a dispute that has drawn cries of concern even from Barcelona and Real Madrid footballers.

南京夜网

Spain’s deepest political crisis in decades has raised fears of further unrest in the northeastern region, a tourist-friendly area of 7.5 million people that accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy.

Opponents of secession have called for demonstrations around Spain and a major rally in Barcelona on Saturday.

Also Saturday, people who support dialogue to end the crisis plan to gather in a bid to pressure mayors nationwide. The anonymous initiative, which spread across social media, seeks to promote talks using the slogan: “Spain is better than its leaders”.

“It’s the moment to come together to tell (our leaders) that they are incapable and irresponsible,” the group’s manifesto reads. The gathering will start from around midday (1000 GMT). 

A “patriotic” march will start around the same time in central Madrid, organised by people who support a united Spain.

Friday saw the first signs the sides may be willing to step back from the brink in a political conflict that risks destabilising Europe.

After days of ill-tempered rhetoric, the central government said it regretted the injuries and suggested Catalonia should hold a regional election to settle the crisis.

Catalan government minister Santi Vila, a close of ally of regional president Carles Puigdemont, meanwhile told broadcaster Rac1 that his side could consider a “ceasefire” in the dispute, to avoid a further crackdown by Madrid.

Businesses and the government kept up economic pressure on Catalonia however, with several big companies announcing moves to shift their legal domiciles to other parts of Spain.

Two teenage girls walk along the street to take part in Tuesday’s demonstration. One wears a Spanish flag, while the other wears the independence flag.AAP

‘We deeply regret’

Puigdemont postponed an appearance in the regional parliament at which some leaders were hoping for a declaration of independence, a spokesman said, gaining time and easing tensions. It was unclear what he planned to say at the session.

Spain’s central government apologised on behalf of police to people hurt in last Sunday’s referendum disturbances.

“I can do nothing but regret it, apologise on behalf of the officers who intervened,” said the government’s representative in Catalonia, Enric Millo.

Central government spokesman Ignacio Mendez de Vigo also said later he “regretted” the injuries.

“It would be good to start mending this fracture… through regional elections,” he told a news conference.

In Madrid meanwhile, Catalonia’s police chief and two prominent separatist leaders avoided being remanded in custody at a court hearing Friday over sedition accusations.

The court summons raised tensions, but, despite the gravity of the accusations, the court did not issue a custodial order that could have further escalated the dispute.

Thousands of Catalans have protested against a violent police crackdown against the referendum. (AAP)AAP

Economic pressure

Spain’s Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the suspension of a session scheduled for Monday in the Catalan parliament at which some leaders have called for an independence declaration.

If Catalonia declares independence, Spain could respond by suspending the region’s existing autonomous status and imposing direct rule from Madrid.

On another front, the government in Madrid pushed ahead with a measure to pressure Catalonia economically.

It passed a decree to make it quicker for businesses to shift their legal domiciles away from one region to another.

Energy company Gas Natural and Catalonia’s two biggest banks, Sabadell and CaixaBank, said they were shifting their legal headquarters out of Catalonia.

Sources who asked not to be named told AFP that some customers had been withdrawing money from their bank accounts over concerns for the political situation.

With its own language and cultural traditions, demands for independence in Catalonia date back centuries but have surged during recent years of economic crisis.

The Catalan government later on Friday published final results from the referendum vote indicating that 90 percent of voters backed the region breaking away from Spain.

Voter turnout was 43 percent.

Recent polls have indicated that Catalans are split on independence, though leaders warned the violence during the referendum turned many against the state authorities.

Switzerland said Friday it was “in contact” with both sides in the crisis but stressed that formal mediation could not begin until both camps were ready.

Madrid has said there will be no talks or mediation until the Catalans abandon the independence bid.

Hamilton to start Japanese GP from pole

Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton smashed the Suzuka track record to seize a dominant Japanese grand prix pole position on Saturday with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel lining up alongside on the front row.

南京夜网

Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s race from third and fourth on the grid.

Mercedes’ Hamilton produced a stunning fastest lap of one minute and 27.319 seconds for his first pole at the 5.8km track and 71st of his career.

The time shattered seven time world champion Michael Schumacher’s previous outright best at the circuit by 1.6 seconds.

“Incredible,” said the Briton, in post-qualifying interviews conducted by his former McLaren teammate Jenson Button in front of the crowd. “It’s been a really good day and every lap was fantastic.

“It’s my first time. I’m running out of opportunities to get this pole, so I was like ‘I’ve got to make sure I make it stick today’,” added Hamilton, who was on pole in Japan at Fuji in 2007 for McLaren.

His teammate Valtteri Bottas was second quickest, 0.332 seconds adrift but drops five places down the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change.

The penalty will elevate Vettel to the front row of the grid, putting the two title contenders side by side for Sunday’s heavyweight battle between multiple champions.

Hamilton, who leads the German by 34 points with just five races to go, brushed aside a suggestion about how aggressive Vettel might be into the first corner.

“I don’t know. He won’t be any more aggressive than I am,” said the triple champion.

“I’ve got eight metres. I need to make sure I keep the eight metres that I have and get a good start. Starts have generally been strong this year.”

Vettel, a four time world champion, needs a big result this weekend to close the gap after suffering successive setbacks to his bid for a fifth title.

Saturday was Hamilton’s 10th pole of the season and marked a convincing return to the top of the timesheets for Mercedes after the champions struggled for pace at the last two races in Singapore and Malaysia.

McLaughlin claims Bathurst record, pole

The “Lap of the Gods” officially has a new owner at Mount Panorama.

南京夜网

Fourteen years after Greg Murphy entered Supercars folklore on the mountain, fellow flying New Zealander Scott McLaughlin has created his own legend by setting an astonishing lap record to claim pole position for Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.

The Supercars series leader clocked a stunning two minutes, 03.83 seconds in Saturday’s top-10 qualifying shootout, eclipsing his own mark set in Friday’s practice by 0.31 of a second.

The Ford gun became the first driver to crack the 2min:04sec barrier on the unforgiving mountain.

And the 24-year-old was the first to break the Mount Panorama lap record in a top-10 shootout since Murphy’s famous “Lap of the Gods” in 2003.

Murphy might be a four-time King of the Mountain but will always be remembered for that lap.

Under enormous pressure, Murphy clocked 2:06.85 in a single flying lap in top-10 qualifying to break the then lap record and stun the Bathurst crowd.

Murphy’s milestone still endears the Supercars faithful despite being left behind after six-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes had first eclipsed it in 2010 on a resurfaced Mount Panorama.

But McLaughlin did his best to ensure it might soon become a distant memory after his remarkable qualifying effort that left the Ford driver in tears.

“Oh, my God. I am over the moon,” he said.

“But I knew we could do that.

“I could hear the fans. It was crazy, so thank you.

“That was the most-incredible moment of my life.

“It is something I will never forget.”

McLaughlin has a maiden Bathurst title in his sights after topping qualifying ahead of Holden’s David Reynolds (2:04.27) and Ford’s 2013 Bathurst champion Mark Winterbottom (2:04.49).

All eyes were on McLaughlin when he emerged as the last man on the track for the shootout after Friday’s record book assault.

McLaughlin set 2:04.14 in Friday’s practice to obliterate Holden great Jamie Whincup’s 2015 lap record by a whopping 0.76 of a second.

It was a hard act to follow.

And it seemed McLaughlin might struggle to deliver.

He looked to have dashed any chance of pole position, let alone a record, when he tapped the side at The Cutting and went wide on top of the mountain.

Yet, somehow McLaughlin hung on to produce the fastest lap at Mount Panorama by a Supercar – yet again.

“It just managed to hold itself together and I brought it home – it’s pretty amazing,” said McLaughlin.

The Ford ace’s effort sent the Bathurst faithful into a frenzy with McLaughlin even receiving a trackside haka from a very merry Kiwi motorsport fan.

Asked if he would be able to sleep tonight, McLaughlin said: “I better. But I will enjoy it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

McLaughlin’s record-breaking pole ensures he will start on the front row of the grid for the 18th-straight race.

He has not featured outside the front row since the opening round.

Winterbottom was in awe.

“When things like that (record) happen, you just sit back and admire it, and appreciate what someone has done – it’s a special moment in history for our sport,” he said.

The NRA: The ultimate foe of gun control in America

The latest US massacre, in which a lone man rained gunfire from a Las Vegas hotel window onto a country music concert below, killing 58 people, has again raised the issue of the country’s lax gun regulation.

南京夜网

But a week later, it’s clear that the laws that allowed the now-dead shooter Stephen Paddock to amass 47 guns including military-style assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition, will not change.

And one key reason is the unquestionable power of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

It has only five million members, but stirs trepidation in any politician it says threatens Americans’ gun rights.

With its normal allies, Republicans, controlling the White House and Congress, there is little chance of a move to significantly tighten restrictions on guns, despite the carnage last Sunday in Las Vegas.

Fundamental rights under attack

Founded nearly a century and a half ago to promote marksmanship, the Washington-based NRA in the 1970s turned to defending the broadest view of the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment promise of a right “to keep and bear arms.”

That was a reaction to the 1968 Gun Control Act, which required firearms dealers to be licensed and placed restrictions on various types of guns.

The group’s political influence grew slowly.

But after a ban on new automatic weapons in 1986, a short-lived prohibition on assault rifles in 1994 and mandated background checks for some gun buyers, it established itself as the vanguard in protecting what many Americans view as their fundamental rights.

Since the 1990s, the NRA has been able to deliver a powerful punch against local and national politicians it labels a threat to those rights, contributing to the defeat of many moderate candidates.

The secret to its power is that supporters vote on one issue, gun rights, while opponents are not nearly so focused.

“They are good in exciting their constituency,” with the result “an intense minority winning out over an apathetic majority,” said Gary Jacobson, an emeritus professor of political science and elections expert at the University of California-San Diego.

American gun culture is still strong despite mass shooting occurances. AAP

Rich war-chest

Financially powerful, the NRA does not lavish money on political candidates.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, it only donated $21 million to candidates over the past 27 years, mostly in state and local elections. In Washington, it spends about $3 million each year on lobbyists.

But over the past 13 years, in 30 states that report the data, the NRA spent $115 million to influence public opinion and political races indirectly by placing its own pro-gun advertisements on television and online, and helping other third parties get its message out.

“Elected officials generally know what is dangerous for them to do,” said Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College and author of three books on the politics of gun rights.

But Wilson, an NRA member himself, says the size of the bloc is also greatly underestimated. It has broad support among non-gun owners and civil libertarians, he argues.

“Gun owners are generally supportive of civil rights over all. It’s a privacy thing. Some of them simply don’t trust the government at all,” he said.

“This idea that everybody really wants gun control, and it’s only the NRA that is opposing it, is simply a myth.”

Wilson pointed to polls showing the NRA is favored more than President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

“The long-term trend in the country has been for gun rights,” he added.

For Jacobson, the NRA’s stance has now become “the more orthodox position of Republicans,” and its followers very much match Trump’s base.

That means there is little chance gun control advocates can make any gains after the Las Vegas horror.

Muscle-flexing

The group’s muscle was on display after the Las Vegas massacre.

Paddock had 12 legal “bump stocks” on his guns that allowed to fire about as rapidly as automatic weapons, unloading hundreds of shots per minute. That made his assault far deadlier than it would have been without the devices.

As soon as the use of bump stocks was known, Democrats called for their ban. But President Donald Trump was hesitant to take a stand, as were many Republicans in Congress, until the NRA itself suggested it would support new restrictions.

In a deft statement, it blamed Democratic former president Barack Obama for bump stocks.

It offered Republican lawmakers who fear gun rights activists an out, by proposing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and not Congress, handle a ban. And in the same breath, it audaciously called to loosen restrictions on people carrying guns in public.

“Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control,” the group’s chief executive Wayne La Pierre and chief lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement.

“In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.”

Wildcats start NBL title defence with win

The Perth Wildcats began their quest for a third successive NBL title with a workmanlike 96-86 win over the Brisbane Bullets at Perth Arena on Saturday night.

南京夜网

It was a tough ask for the Bullets, who finished last season on bottom of the ladder.

But against the reigning champs, in front of the biggest crowd for an NBL season-opener in Perth (13,403), they were far from disgraced.

For most of the contest, Travis Trice (23 points), Daniel Kickert (16) and newcomer Perrin Buford (17 and five rebounds) reminded the Cats that the 2016/17 season was long gone.

But with Bryce Cotton showing no sign of suffering from a championship hangover, there was enough in the Cats performance to suggest they’ll be right in the mix again.

Cotton scored 45 points the previous time he was on an NBL court, in game three of last year’s Championship play-off against Illawarra.

Although it took him almost eight minutes to get on the scoreboard against the Bullets on Saturday night, once he did, there was little Brisbane could do to stop him and the Cats. He scored 11 points in the second term and finished the game with 24 and three assists.

Cotton finished the opening half with 17 points, 12 of them from long range.

Perth led 49-39 at the main break courtesy of Jean-Pierre Tokoto, who nailed his first NBL points, another three-pointer, at the same time as the buzzer sounded.

At half-time, the Cats unfurled their eighth NBL championship banner.

But again it was Brisbane who came out firing after the restart, on the back of Kickert’s efforts. They managed to reduce the margin back to four.

But a successful half-court shot from Cats veteran Greg Hire right on the three-quarter-time buzzer extended the margin back to nine points.

The challenge was blown out of the Bullets by another Wildcats veteran, Jesse Wagstaff, at the start of the final term, when he nailed nine points in just more than a minute.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson was happy with the contribution from his entire squad, but acknowledged that there was a lot of work to do.

“It was a good game for us. I don’t think we played particularly well, but it was a really good hard game for us first up,” he said.

“We have a lot of areas to tidy up, especially on the defensive end.”

Despite the loss. Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis says that there were a lot of positives to take from the game.

“It was a seven point game just before half-time,” Lemanis said.

“Stephen Holt misses a little bunny tip in and they come down and stick a three-ball in right on half-time, which take it to 10.

“And that one that three-quarter-time. We were six down, Trav drives to the rim, misses a lay-up. It should have been four and then they throw it the length of the court.

“There are a lots of positives to take from that game.”

Vettel banking on sunshine to lift qualifying gloom

The German, who trails championship-leading Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by 34 points in the overall standings with five races left, could only manage the third-fastest time as the Briton smashed the track record at the Suzuka circuit to seize a dominant pole.

南京夜网

Vettel’s best was nearly half a second slower than the triple champion’s benchmark time.

Although he is set to start alongside his rival on the front row in second, thanks to a five-place grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas, the Mercedes driver’s speed could prove too much to overcome. “I don’t know which sort of pace they will have,” said the four-times champion, trying to put a positive spin on the situation, but cutting a subdued figure.

“Obviously, you always know what you are doing but they have been a bit up and down: last week they weren’t very quick.

“This weekend they seem to be back to normal…”

Ferrari were ominously fast as Mercedes struggled in the sweltering heat of the last two races in Singapore and Malaysia.

But the Maranello-based team’s challenge imploded.

Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on the opening lap in Singapore.

Engine issues forced the German to line up last in Malaysia and prevented his Finnish team mate from even making the start.

Hamilton capitalised on his rival’s misfortune, winning at the floodlit Marina Bay track and finishing second in Sepang.

Vettel, encouraged by Ferrari’s pace, arrived in Japan hopeful of narrowing the gap to Hamilton but Mercedes appear to have regained the edge in Suzuka’s cooler conditions.

Temperatures are expected to be warmer on Sunday, however, and Vettel’s hopes now rest on conditions hotting up enough to handicap Mercedes.

“I think there should be sunshine which makes everything a bit hotter, so let’s see how that goes,” said Vettel who has conceded 41 points to Hamilton in the last three races and is running out of time to make up the lost ground.

“For us, I think normally we are a bit stronger in the race compared to qualifying, so that’s where I guess we get together and see what we can do, at the start and then during the race.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)