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Foley decides not to re-contest seat as Labor leadership becomes a battle between two

Related Story: Luke Foley resigns as NSW Labor Leader following ABC journalist's statement Rela..

Related Story: Luke Foley resigns as NSW Labor Leader following ABC journalist's statement Related Story: 'Consider your future': NSW Labor deputy tells Foley

Luke Foley has told his Labor colleagues he will not re-contest his seat at the March NSW state election.

Key points:

  • After resigning as NSW Labor leader yesterday but pledging to stay in parliament, Luke Foley today announced he would not re-contest his seat
  • Mr Foley's resignation has opened the door for a new leader, with Chris Minns and deputy Labor leader Michael Daley battling it out
  • A vote will take place at 2pm Saturday, with Mr Daley the strong favourite to take the leadership

The member for Auburn, Mr Foley, wrote to NSW Labor officials and informed them of his decision.

Mr Foley yesterday resigned as NSW Labor leader but denied an incident at a Christmas party in 2016 involving ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper that triggered the decision.

Ms Raper released a statement saying Mr Foley put his hands down her dress and inside her underpants.

Yesterday, Mr Foley said he would remain as the member for Auburn and move to the backbench. He has denied the allegations.

The ABC understands there are still some calls from some within the party to expel Mr Foley.

Battle between two

Mr Foley's announcement comes as the NSW Labor leadership is set be fought between two, with 39-year-old shadow water spokesman Chris Minns this afternoon unexpectedly throwing his hat into the ring.

The member for Kogarah's late bid for the leadership ahead of tomorrow afternoon's vote comes after frontrunner and deputy Labor leader Michael Daley announced his candidacy this morning following Mr Foley's resignation.

Michael Daley and Chris Minns

Mr Minns was contemplating a run at the leadership last night and officially announced his candidacy on Friday afternoon.

However, senior Labor MPs have told the ABC that Mr Minns's support could "be counted on one hand", while another suggested he should do "a decent day's work as a shadow minister before wanting to run for leader".

Party insiders suggest Mr Daley remains the red-hot favourite to lead the Opposition to next year's state election, with shadow environment and tourism minister Penny Sharpe expected to be named his deputy.

Most see Mr Minns's leadership tilt as a long-term play, with the 39-year-old using the opportunity to signal his intentions if Labor were to lose the March election.

Mr Minns admitted he would struggle to gain the numbers tomorrow, but believed he could sway Labor MPs by offering policies focused on young people and families.

Kings Cross Coca-Cola sign

"The only shot the Labor Party has in my opinion is to present a bold optimistic and positive plan for NSW and get people excited about change," Mr Minns said.

He said his main three policy focuses would be:

  • To dump NSW's planning laws
  • To dump Sydney's lockout laws that are "zapping the energy from Sydney"
  • Promote policy to prepare the NSW economy for a weakening of the housing market

Mr Minns was elected in the 2015 NSW State Election, taking the seat of Kogarah after long-term predecessor Cherie Burton retired from politics.

"I didn't expect that this day would come, but it has," he said on his tilt for the leadership.

"Whoever is elected as Labor leader faces a near-insurmountable task, they need to unite the party, present a bold policy platform for this state."

Daley outlines his policies

Speaking on Friday before Mr Minns outlined his intention to run, Mr Daley, who was flagged as Mr Foley's possible replacement when rumours of his demise emerged last month, said if he was elected Labor leader he would "stick up for ordinary people".

"The people who get up and go to work every day, who raise a family," he said.

"They've been insulted, they've been left behind, they've been forgotten by this Government. They need someone to stick up for them and respect them."

Penny Sharpe

He said he wanted to press the reset button on politics in NSW.

"There will be a ballot tomorrow," he said.

"I'll be seeking the support of the colleagues. All I can do is ask for their support. I believe I am more qualified for the job [than Chris Minns] — we'll see what the colleagues vote.

"I'm in their hands."

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China deploys anti-ship missiles in the desert making them harder to intercept

Beijing has announced it has deployed intermediate ballistic missiles to the country's north-we..

Beijing has announced it has deployed intermediate ballistic missiles to the country's north-west region, saying the weapons have the capacity to destroy US ships entering disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Key points:

  • The missiles can fire long distances and would be difficult for US ships to shoot down
  • Defence strategy expert Dr Malcom Davis said the move means China can back up its threats
  • The news came after a US guided missile destroyer passed through the South China Sea

The DF-26 missiles — which have been previously dubbed the 'Guam Killer' or 'Guam Express' by Chinese media and defence experts — are capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads.

They have a range of 4,500 kilometres, making them capable of reaching as far as Guam in the east and Indonesia in the south, providing Beijing with a powerful weapon as tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea.

External Link: @globaltimesnews: China's df-26 missiles

According to Chinese state media publication The Global Times, the DF-26 missiles are now stationed in north-west China's sparse plateau and desert areas, carried on the backs of trucks able to traverse the harsh terrain.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Beijing-based military expert told the Times that positioning the missiles deep in China's mainland made them more difficult to intercept as it allowed the missile to enter its final stages at a high speed.

Footage on CCTV showed trucks carrying the missiles driving through rough terrain and sand dunes.

The missiles were first paraded in 2015 and China confirmed they were now operational in April last year, but this is the first footage of the missiles outside of a parade.

It is unclear when the missiles were moved to the northwest region, the Times reported. (more…)

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Melbourne driver who cheated death when sign fell on car in no rush to drive again

Related Story: Dashcam footage shows moment car was crushed by falling freeway sign

The Melbourne ..

Related Story: Dashcam footage shows moment car was crushed by falling freeway sign

The Melbourne driver who cheated death when an overhead road sign fell and crushed her car says she cannot believe such an accident could happen in Australia.

Key points:

  • A second sign on the Tullamarine Freeway has been taken down as a precautionary measure
  • An inspection of similar-sized sign and gantries is underway
  • VicRoads says an independent investigator has been brought in to determine what happened

Extraordinary dashcam footage shows the moment the five-by-four metre sign fell in front of, and then on top of, Nella Lettieri's car as she was travelling on Melbourne's Tullamarine Freeway earlier this week.

While the 53-year-old was not seriously injured, she is bruised and battered — and wondering how she is still alive.

"It felt like a roller door had slammed shut in front of me," Ms Lettieri said.

"I've gone to swerve, but as I swerved, it just felt like the sign was actually falling on the car.

"And it just kept bouncing, and I felt like it was pushing me to the right, and I'm thinking, 'OK, is it going to stop?'"

A woman smiling and looking off camera.

She thought the metal object may have been from a plane landing or taking off from the nearby Essendon Airport, or from a truck on the freeway.

But she was shocked to discover it was actually an overhead sign, meant to be directing drivers to their destination. (more…)

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In his Brexit speech in Wakefield, Jeremy Corbyn again demanded the impossible

Speaking in Wakefield this morning, Jeremy Corbyn restated his demand for a solution to the Brexit i..

Speaking in Wakefield this morning, Jeremy Corbyn restated his demand for a solution to the Brexit impasse that appears effectively impossible: a general election.

In what is likely to be his last major public statement before MPs vote on the withdrawal agreement next Tuesday, he attempted to redefine the terms of the question facing both the Labour leadership and its MPs – from those that threaten to stretch his fissiparous electoral coalition to breaking point, to those which, on paper, unite it.

That resulted in a speech whose thrust was an appeal to class consciousness from Remainers in Tottenham and Leavers in Mansfield, rather than any meaningful debate over the validity or viability of Brexit itself. “Youre up against it,” Corbyn said, citing austerity, stagnant wages, and the cost of living crisis, “but youre not against each other.”

Accordingly, his cursory repetition of Labours policy – that a second referendum should remain on the table as an option in the event a general election does not happen – came with a caveat so huge that it amounted to an implicit dismissal of a so-called peoples vote. “Any political leader who wants to bring the country together cannot wish away the votes of 17 million people who wanted to leave, any more than they can ignore the concerns of the 16 million who voted to remain.”

But despite the fact that his attention was more or less exclusively focussed on the question of what sort of future relationship with Europe would negotiate – with the fact of the divorce undisputed – Corbyn categorically ruled out doing anything but whipping his MPs to vote against the withdrawal agreement. The vast majority of them will do so on Thursday, after which point Corbyn said, as expected, that Labour would table a motion of no confidence in the hope of securing an election and with it the chance to renegotiate Brexit (rather than, say, holding a second referendum).

Notably, however, he did not specify a timescale for tabling a confidence vote after Mays deal falls – despite several of his shadow cabinet ministers insisting that he would do so “immediately”. He instead put on the record the more cautious line briefed by his team yesterday: “Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the government at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success.”

That statement of intent was followed with a caveat seldom offered by shadow cabinet ministers sent out to spin the partys line on Brexit. “Clearly,” Corbyn said, “Labour does not have enough MPs in parliament to win a confidence vote on its own.” As he himself alluded to when he urged opposition MPs to join Labour in voting against the government, Labours chances remain slim until such time that the ten DUP MPs drop the government. (That every other party will is a racing certainty.) Paradoxically, the defeat of the withdrawal agreement – and with it the backstop Mays sometime coalition partners object to – will make that chance even slimmer.

We know from what Corbyn said this morning that the Labour leadership will not whip its MPs to approve Theresa Mays Brexit, back a second referendum out of choice – both courses threaten its electoral base in different ways – or support any attempt by Downing Street to make the Brexit deal more amenable to Labour MPs by tacking on guarantees on workers rights. That strategy has held until now.

But failure to roll the pitch for any alternative at all – or, indeed, for the inevitable breakdown in party discipline after Mays vote is defeated and Labour has no way to bind MPs who seek mutually exclusive Brexit aims – will make the messy politics of the aftermath of next Tuesday rather more difficult to finesse.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent. (more…)

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