Senate launches asylum seeker inquiries

CANBERRA, March 5 AAP – The Australian Greens and Labor have launched two Senate inquiries into asylum seeker policy, one into violence on Manus Island and the other into navy incursions into Indonesian waters.


Both were passed over government objections.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Manus inquiry would be the only genuinely independent investigation into the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, killed in on Manus Island.

“Through this inquiry the workers who were there that night and the refugees who were attacked will have the opportunity to tell their stories, free form the government’s gag order,” she said in a statement.

Assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash said there were already inquiries into events on Manus Island and the government didn’t believe another was necessary.

“We are confident that the existing inquiries in partnership in with the government of Papua New Guinea will get to the bottom of these matters,” she told the Senate.

But it will go ahead, conducted by the Senate legal and constitutional affairs references committee which will report back by June 26.

The second inquiry will be conducted by the Senate foreign affairs defence and trade which must report by March 27.

It will examine the circumstances behind the six breaches of Indonesian territorial waters by navy and customs vessels engaged in Operation Sovereign Borders between December 1 and January 20.

Senator Cash said defence and customs had already completed a review which found the breaches were inadvertent, not authorised and the government had apologised to the Indonesian government.

“The motion is once again nothing more and nothing less than a greens political stunt,” she said.

Continue Reading

California gold find spurs theory rush

Word that a Californian couple found $US10 million ($A11.


21 million) in gold coins while walking their dog has set off a rush of theories over who left them behind.

One is that Jesse James’ gang deposited it in hopes of someday financing a second Civil War. Another postulates that the gold originally belonged to gentleman robber Black Bart, who wrote poetry when he wasn’t sticking up stagecoaches.

But the theory gaining the most traction is that the hoard is made up of most of the $US30,000 in gold coins Walter Dimmick stole from the US Mint in San Francisco in 1901. They were never recovered.

That theory, from fishing guide and amateur coin historian Jack Trout, set off a flurry of calls to the US Mint after it was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

The Northern California couple’s coins are being called the Saddle Ridge hoard after the area of their land where they were discovered.

“We do not have any information linking the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility,” mint officials said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Although Trout acknowledges he can’t prove his theory, he still thinks he’s right.

“There is no real direct proof, but I am getting more research in on this,” he told The Associated Press by phone from Chile, where he lives part of the year.

Dimmick is said to have spirited six sealed bags – each filled with 250 $US20 gold pieces – out of the mint, where he was the chief cashier.

The Saddle Ridge Hoard contains 1400 $20 gold pieces, 50 $10 gold pieces and four $5 gold pieces, with a range of dates beginning in 1847 and extending to 1894.

Don Kagin is a rare coin dealer who represents the couple who stumbled upon the coins, which have a face value of about $28,000. He said the San Francisco Mint heist was one of the first possibilities he and his staff checked out.

Even if the mint had coins on hand covering a span of 47 years, which is unlikely, those in the hoard include some so badly worn they wouldn’t have been there, said David McCarthy, Kagin’s chief numismatist.

Another coin, dated 1876, was in such pristine condition it wouldn’t have been there either.

“It doesn’t have a single marking on it,” McCarthy said.

“That coin couldn’t have sat in a bag in the San Francisco Mint and looked like that. It would have had what we call ‘bag marks’ all over it.”

As for some of the other theories:

– The Jesse James one fails to account for the fact the Missouri outlaw died 12 years before the last coin was struck and was born the year the first one was.

– Black Bart robbed stages only between 1877 and 1883, when he was caught and sent to prison.

The finders, who have chosen to remain anonymous, have their own theory.

They’ve done some research, Kagin said, and believe their property in California’s Gold Rush country was occupied at the time by someone in the mining industry. That person must have squirreled away the coins over time.

Why the owner never came back for the coins, well, that’s another mystery.

Continue Reading

Qantas wields the axe as union anger grows

Qantas has started carving up its workforce, with unions fuming over a lack of information about the struggling airline’s bid to shelve 5000 jobs.


The flying kangaroo began its purge on Wednesday with a number of senior managers the first to be shown the door.

It is understood some workers will finish up at the company before the end of the month.

Union leaders met with Qantas bosses on Wednesday in Sydney but ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce refused to provide any clarity on where the job cuts would come from.

The ACTU asked whether any jobs could be saved if employees could drive more revenue into the business or agree to a wage freeze or cut.

“And the answer we got back was `no’,” Mr Oliver said.

Mr Oliver was also disappointed when he sought a commitment from Qantas about separating the domestic and international arms.

“We have had no commitment that they would not do that,” he said.

“What they said was basically everything is still on the table. And that is a concern for us as well.”

Qantas last month announced a $252 million half-year loss and detailed its $2 billion cost-cutting exercise.

Qantas chief financial officer Gareth Evans said the meeting addressed the wage freeze, and Qantas explained it was not appropriate to give pay rises in the face of significant losses.

“The wage freeze will help return the company to profitability,” he said.

The federal government wants to repeal the section of the Qantas Sale Act that governs foreign ownership, enabling majority international ownership of the airline’s domestic arm.

Labor and The Greens oppose the move and say it will lead to Qantas jobs being moved offshore.

Meanwhile, Mr Joyce says he hasn’t changed his position on the impact of the carbon tax despite the airline’s apparently differing statements about the levy’s effect on its financial woes.

On Monday, Qantas denied the government’s claim that the carbon tax had contributed to the airline’s difficulties.

But on Wednesday, the company said: “We have said that the price on carbon is a cost to our business that we have not been able to recover” and Mr Joyce told a lunch forum in Sydney that the carbon tax “has been a big cost for us, it’s $106 million last year”.

“It is absolutely one of the factors that’s impacted the airline, along with the fuel price,” Mr Joyce said at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch.

Mr Joyce said he had always been clear about the effects of the tax.

“There was some commentary, maybe misunderstanding, out there about what our position was on this,” he said.

He also told the lunch he will maintain his strategy of holding 65 per cent of Australia’s domestic air travel market despite criticism the capacity war is damaging the airline.

Mr Joyce blamed rival Virgin Australia for the glut of cheap seats in Australia, saying that in absolute seat terms Virgin had added more.

“And they are losing money. Proportionally they are losing more money than Qantas,” he said.

Mr Joyce said he was not surprised by the federal government’s decision to refuse a debt guarantee for Qantas in favour of changing elements of the Qantas Sale Act.

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Wednesday ruled out any chance of reconsidering Qantas’s request for either a debt guarantee or $3 billion unsecured loan, saying neither option was on the table.

“If you give someone an unsecured loan, you work on the basis that you won’t see it again,” he said

Continue Reading

Masters champion desperate to be a Great Scott

Twelve months ago Scott ended a run of near-misses at the ‘Big Four’ championships by becoming the first Australian to land the coveted Masters Green Jacket and the 33-year-old is hungry for more top-notch titles.


“This week is another opportunity for me to kind of keep moving my career in the right direction,” the world number two told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the Masters.

“I need to keep going, do it consistently for years to build up a resume like Tiger, Ernie and Phil, match the longevity of their careers. Their consistently high level of play is what I’m aiming for.”

Scott, rated by bookmakers Ladbrokes as the 12-1 joint favourite at Augusta National this week alongside Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, said the early part of his 2014 schedule was all about preparing for a stout defence of the Green Jacket.

“Everything I’ve done this year has been planned carefully so that I can peak this week,” he explained.

“My ball striking is up where I want it to be following some good work I’ve done on the practice range and at home and my competitiveness also came through in the three weeks I played on the Florida swing.

“Getting in contention at Bay Hill showed me I was right on the mark,” added Scott in reference to his third-place finish at last month’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.


The globetrotting Australian has won 23 times around the world and said it was always important to perform well as a defending champion.

“At any tournament you want to put in a good defence but especially so here,” said Scott, a golf brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz who are a global sponsor of the Masters.

“For me this week is about balancing expectation and enjoying the experience of being Masters champion and hopefully my form is good enough to put me in a similar position to last year.”

Scott said he took added confidence from the fact that his country’s golfing stock was high at the moment.

Jason Day started it all off by winning the WGC-Match Play Championship in Arizona in February before fellow Australians John Senden (Tampa Bay Championship), Steven Bowditch (Texas Open) and Matt Jones (Houston Open) followed up with more victories.

“It’s a tight-knit group of Australian guys on tour,” said Scott. “I’ve known Sendo for a long time and I’ve known Bowdo and Matt since high school days – we’re all round about the same age.

“It all kind of works in cycles. There was a group of us who came through in the mid-2000s with Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling when a lot of the guys were winning.

“We then went into a bit of a lull and now we have another crop of guys who have reached a certain level in their careers and have elevated their games.

“The Australian talent is really deep on the PGA Tour, we are doing really well and it’s important that we all keep it going.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Continue Reading

China keen to fast-track FTA talks

The Abbott government is getting all the right signs from China that they’re keen to fast-track talks on a free trade deal with Australia.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been personally assured by Premier Li Keqiang that China is determined to conclude negotiations on a deal as soon as possible.

That’s good news for Mr Abbott, who arrives in China having clinched agreements with South Korea and Japan and wants to redouble efforts to get Beijing across the line.

China remains the missing piece in his so-called trade trifecta and he wants to fulfil an election promise by delivering the three deals by year’s end.

He’ll use his visit to China to promote Australia’s trade and investment potential, and will take his message directly to economic leaders on Wednesday in an address to the Boao Forum.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg said it was vital Australia secured a free trade deal with its largest trading partner.

“We will be pushing very hard to do that as fast as possible,” he said in Shanghai.

“I must say, the Chinese leadership have made it very clear that they want to accelerate negotiations with Australia too.”

Mr Frydenberg has arrived in Shanghai ahead of the prime minister to promote the inaugural “Australia Week in China” trade expo, which is being run across four major Chinese cities.

The government wants to show China it means business and has sent its largest ever trade delegation, stacked with corporate heavyweights, to drive its message home.

All the state premiers and visiting delegates will converge on Shanghai on Friday for a keynote speech by the prime minister.

But while trade dominated bilateral talks between Premier Li and Mr Abbott, there were some notable subjects left off the agenda.

It’s understood Mr Abbott did not raise human rights concerns with China, or North Korea’s recent provocative missile tests.

Mr Abbott branded North Korea an “outlaw state” during a symbolic visit to the demilitarised zone, but isn’t likely to raise the issue with China who is Pyongyang’s major ally and economic provider.

Continue Reading

Masters chairman set to vote for women at Royal and Ancient

Recognised as the spiritual home of golf and guardian of the rules of the game since 1754, St Andrews has come under increasing fire for excluding women members.


But things could finally change in September when the club’s 2,500 members will decide whether to open its doors to everyone after operating as a men-only institution for 260 years.

The vote comes just two years after Augusta National, the home of the Masters, finally ended its all-male policy by admitting former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore as members.

And now Payne, who oversaw the decision to let women join Augusta National, gave a clear indication on Wednesday of how he would vote when the secret ballot takes place later this year.

“Well, I’m proud to be a member of the R&A and I bet you can guess how I’m going to vote,” he told a news conference on the eve of the 78th Masters.

“Other than that, I would respect their process, their requirement to conduct a vote, and so the process will culminate in a decision.

“And as I’ve said, I know where one vote is going to be cast.”

Augusta National’s membership policy had been an issue for years, triggering protests from the National Council of Women’s Organizations and even criticism from President Barack Obama.

Augusta’s invitation-only membership has been steeped in secrecy since the club opened in 1933. It was not until 1990 that Augusta National invited its first black member and until 2012, women were only allowed to play the course if invited by a male member.

“As I’ve said before, we readily and joyously welcomed our lady members when that happened a couple years ago,” Payne said.

“It remains a very good decision on our part. We are so delighted, and I know I speak for everyone, that they are members.”

(Reporting by Julian Linden, editing by Gene Cherry)

Continue Reading

Woods missing but not forgotten at the Masters

The four-time Masters winner, stuck on 14 majors for the last six years in his quest to surpass the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, is sidelined after undergoing surgery for a pinched nerve in his back.


“We miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said in his State of the Masters news conference on Wednesday. “He is always a threat to make a run and do well and win here at Augusta National.”

Woods, number two on the all-time majors list, had played in every Masters since his first appearance as U.S. Amateur champion as a 19-year-old in 1995.

Reigning champion Adam Scott of Australia said Woods would be sorely missed at the 78th edition of the stately event conceived by the legendary Bobby Jones.

“It’s a big loss for the tournament any time a world number one is not going to play. It’s a huge loss,” said Scott, who became the first Australian to win the Masters after a thrilling sudden-death playoff duel against Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.

“But, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what. It just has a way of doing it. It’s not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway.”

Woods’s long-time rival Phil Mickelson said it would feel strange not having Tiger to gun for.

“It’s a weird feeling not having him here, isn’t it?” said three-time Masters winner Mickelson, who last year notched his fifth major title by winning the British Open.

“He’s been such a mainstay in professional golf and in the majors. It’s awkward to not have him here. I hope he gets back soon.

“As much as I want to win and I know how great he is and tough to beat, it also makes it special when he’s in the field and you’re able to win,” added the big lefthander.

Rory McIlroy, the 24-year-old Northern Irishman rated a co-favourite with Scott for this year’s green jacket, said the absence of Woods would be felt right from the start.

“Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere,” said two-time major winner McIlroy, considered by some the heir apparent to Woods as the dominant player of his generation.

“You know where he is on the course just by the crowd and the gallery that follows him.

“I think people will miss him at the start of the week but by the end of the week, when it comes down to who is going to win the golf tournament, there’s going to be a worthy winner and it will produce a lot of excitement.”

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose was disappointed not to have Woods in the field for the tournament that kicks off the major championship season.

“It’s a shame for the tournament,” said England’s Rose. “I know that people are very excited to watch him play golf. Win, lose or draw, he’s a very big draw for the game.

“People are eager to see how he’s going to chase down Jack Nicklaus in every major championship. There’s a countdown to that. Yeah, he’ll definitely be missed this week. Obviously from a TV and a fan perspective, absolutely.”

Masters chief Payne was confident the tournament would not suffer.

“This is the Masters,” said Payne. “This is what we hope is the best golf tournament in the world, one of the greatest sporting events, and I think we will have a very impressive audience and have another great champion to crown this year.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Continue Reading

Scottish boss defends under-fire Johnson

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson has denied claims Scott Johnson was rewarded for failure following the national side’s miserable 2014 Six Nations campaign.


Australian coach Johnson was in charge of Scotland as they came within a last-ditch drop-goal of suffering a tournament whitewash but is now set to become the SRU’s director of rugby with New Zealand’s Vern Cotter, currently in charge of French club Clermont, taking over as national coach.

Scotland enjoyed a tense Six Nations win over fellow strugglers Italy which was precious little consolation for a series of heavy defeats including a 20-0 loss to England at Murrayfield – the first time Scotland had been ‘nilled’ by their oldest foes since 1978 – and a 51-3 thrashing by Wales in a match where full-back Stuart Hogg was sent off.

But Dodson, speaking on Johnson’s new role, said: “We need clarity on this issue. We appointed Scott to be director of rugby first. Then we got Vern Cotter as head coach. We knew we would have to wait for Vern as he wanted to finish the job he started at Clermont.

“We asked Scott to stand in during the interim. He had no ambition to do that but we asked him. He was happy to do it on one proviso, and that was to bring on Scottish players in larger numbers.

“In the period he’s been in charge, he has capped 17 new players, so we have a squad that is richer and deeper than ever.

“But as for the backlash about Scott being promoted, I’d say that he was never ‘promoted’ – he already had the job.

“We always knew there would be a problem with the 14-month period but Scott did what we asked him to do and he delivered what we asked him to deliver.”

Johnson won just five of his 16 games in charge but Dodson said it was Calcutta Cup defeat by England that led to a torrent of criticism.

In light of those damning statistics, Dodson – who insists he never made any attempt to lure Cotter from France early – is praying the New Zealander proves worth the wait.

“The performance against England was what caused us problems. We did not compete against them in a Calcutta Cup match here at Murrayfield. It can’t get much worse.

“That was unacceptable to us but it was also unacceptable to the coaching team and the players.”

Continue Reading

Pharrell Williams defends Miley Cyrus

Music star Pharrell Williams “loves” Miley Cyrus.


Williams, the genius behind the Oscar nominated song Happy, worked with the Wrecking Ball singer on a song for his new album, G I R L.

While Miley has sparked a storm of controversy for her racy lyrics and onstage antics, Williams is convinced she was destined to be a star.

“I love Miley man,” he told Ryan Seacrest on the presenters US radio show.

“I’ll never forget talking to you like a year or two years ago telling you like, she’s on her way.”

Williams also says critics should give the 21-year-old singer a break, insisting it’s a natural progression for her to grow up and change from her Disney days.

“Everyone thinks that she’s Hannah Montana and that’s a really thin slice of her personality, there’s so much more there,” he said.

“And you know the saying still goes, there’s so much more to her and when you guys see where she’s headed next and what she’s up to you’ll get more of the breadth of what she can do.”

Cyrus appears on the track Come Get It Bae from Williams’ new album. He also said he loved working with such a creative star.

“It was a pleasure having her on the record,” he said.

Williams meanwhile is coming down from his high-octane performance at Sunday night’s Academy Awards.

Oscar-winners Lupita Nyong’o and Meryl Streep were among those who got up from their seats to boogie with the singer, who says that moment was a “highlight” of his life.

He gushed about Streep: “I love her man, I’ve always loved her. So that was awesome man, to get a chance to do that it was awesome!”

Continue Reading

Calls for arrest of Sudan’s leader

More than 30 human rights and civil society organisations have called for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on the fifth anniversary of his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.


The groups expressed grave concern in an open letter on Tuesday to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court at the continuing impunity that al-Bashir enjoys despite being accused of “the world’s most heinous crimes.”

They accused the international community of not only failing to arrest al-Bashir but also allowing the Sudanese government “to continue its crimes in Darfur and throughout Sudan with impunity.”

The court issued an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir in March 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes for allegedly orchestrating atrocities in Darfur. It added three counts of genocide to the charges against him in July 2010.

Darfur has been gripped by bloodshed since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.

Al-Bashir refuses to recognise the court’s authority and has repeatedly said he will not turn himself in to stand trial.

The organisations urged all 15 Security Council members and the 122 countries that are parties to the Rome Statute “to stand for justice and make this year the last year of Bashir’s impunity.”

Among the signatories of the letter are United to End Genocide, Physicians for Human Rights, Enough Project, International Justice Project and seven groups supporting the people of Darfur.

Continue Reading

Scrapping allowance unfair: Swans captain

The scrapping of Sydney’s cost of living allowance is unjust punishment for luring superstar Lance Franklin, the AFL club’s co-captain Kieren Jack says.


Jack says he’s irked at a belief that the Swans used their controversial allowance to sign Franklin on a nine-year, $10 million contract.

“It does annoy me,” Jack told AAP in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“We took a massive risk, offering a nine-year deal.

“If other teams wanted to do that, they could have offered a nine-year deal too but no-one was prepared to do it.

“(Sydney chief executive) Andrew Ireland said if we didn’t take the risk and we didn’t get Buddy, we would still have the cost of living allowance.

“But we took a nine-year risk and we picked him up and we’re really happy we got him.

“But now we have suffered because of that and they’re taking the allowance away.”

The AFL on Tuesday night decided to phase out the allowance, after rival clubs protested the Swans getting 9.8 per cent more in their salary cap to compensate for high living costs in the NSW capital.

“It is disappointing from a playing point of view,” Jack said.

“I certainly know how hard it is to live in Sydney, not if you’re an established player and you’re already earning okay money, it’s alright. But younger players coming in, they really struggle.

“The cost of living allowance has been around for 20 years so I don’t know why all of a sudden it has now become a big issue.

“It’s a tool used for equalisation.

“Look at all the stats and Sydney is a lot more expensive to live than any other city. That is how we saw it and that is what we used it for.”

Continue Reading

AFL captains name three grand finalists

Reigning premiers Hawthorn, runners-up Fremantle and Sydney are the only potential grand final opponents for an AFL team this season, according to a poll of the 18 club captains.


The release of their annual survey coincides with Wednesday night’s AFL season launch in Adelaide.

The skippers were asked which other team will make the grand final – 10 went for the Hawks, five for Fremantle and three for Sydney.

Predictably, those three clubs also received the maximum 17 votes when the captains were asked which other seven teams will make the top eight.

The popularity of those three teams reflects a widely-held belief that there will be a wide-open competition this season between fourth and 15th on the AFL ladder.

Curiously, one skipper picked Geelong to not make the top eight and Collingwood only received 12 votes.

West Coast (11), North Melbourne and Richmond (nine apiece), Essendon and Port Adelaide (seven apiece) and Adelaide and Carlton (two apiece) were the other top-eight picks.

Gold Coast was not named, despite the Suns having reasonable claims to break into the finals for the first time.

New Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury was the most popular Brownlow Medal fancy, attracting votes from four of his counterparts.

Last year’s winner Gary Ablett and Adelaide star Patrick Dangerfield polled three votes and 10 players in total were nominated.

No captain predicted Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead would win the Coleman Medal last year – this time, four have nominated him.

Collingwood key forward Travis Cloke and West Coast’s Josh Kennedy were the most popular picks with five apiece.

Nine captains correctly named Jaeger O’Meara last year as the Rising Star winner and this time seven have gone for his Gold Coast team-mate Jack Martin.

Continue Reading

China targets 7.5 per cent growth

China is targeting growth of about 7.


5 per cent in 2014, Premier Li Keqiang says, unchanged from last year as the government tempers expectations for an economy transitioning to a more balanced, sustainable model.

The announcement came in Li’s speech on Wednesday to the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature.

“We must keep economic development as the central task and maintain a proper growth rate,” Li said, according to his text.

“On the basis of careful comparison and repeatedly weighing various factors as well as considering what is needed and what is possible, we set a growth target of around 7.5 per cent.”

The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.7 per cent in 2013, the same as in 2012 – which was the worst rate of growth since 1999.

Rising prosperity is a key part of the Communist Party’s claim to legitimacy in China, and the government usually sets a conservative growth target that it regularly exceeds.

The economic growth estimate figure is closely watched by analysts for insight into the leadership’s thinking about the economy and how they expect it to perform.

The “around 7.5 per cent” goal came after soft recent economic data, with a key manufacturing index slipping to an eight-month low in February, the government said Saturday.

“We believe China can achieve 7.5 per cent GDP growth this year,” economists with Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a research note, despite what they described as recent “negative news and data” such as manufacturing declines.

They said they would maintain their slightly higher forecast of 7.6 per cent.

China’s leadership says it wants to transform the country’s economic growth model away from an over-reliance on often wasteful investment, and instead make private demand the driver for the country’s future development.

They expect the change to result in slower but more sustainable rates of expansion.

“This target… will boost market confidence and promote economic structural adjustment,” Li said in the speech, his first work report since becoming premier at last year’s NPC.

“Boosting domestic demand is both a major force driving economic growth and an important structural adjustment,” he added.

China’s once regular annual double-digit growth rates have been on a slowing trend, and the 2013 result meant GDP growth had been in single figures for three consecutive years for the first time since 2002.

Li reiterated the government’s commitment to economic reform.

“Reform has brought us the greatest benefits,” he said.

Li also said the government would keep the target for the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) at about 3.5 per cent, the same as last year’s.

Inflation was tame in 2013, with CPI rising 2.6 per cent for the year.

Continue Reading