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Activists ignore WA’s ‘shark sheriff’

The fisherman at the frontline of Western Australia’s controversial shark kill policy says he has been left alone by activists who had threatened to sabotage the operation.

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As more drumlines continue to be placed in the waters off the WA coast, the south-west contractor said he had been largely ignored since the initial furore over his lucrative contract last month.

More than 30 sharks are thought to have been caught on drum lines in West Australian waters, with the government confirming some were being cannibalised by larger sharks.

But the operator, who has asked not to be named, says he has seen very little direct opposition to his work on the water.

“We have had very little issues with activism, and I am very grateful for that,” the fisherman told Fairfax radio.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert will on Wednesday introduce a motion into the Senate calling on federal environment minister Greg Hunt to revoke the exemption he granted so the protected great white shark could be killed.

But as the political wrangling continued, so did the catch, with a four-metre Tiger Shark caught and shot near Bunker Bay on Monday.

The fisherman insists the policy was providing protection.

“We really feel we provide a bit of coverage when we fish in front of Gracetown and Yallingup, it feels you are putting a line of defence in,” the fisherman said.

The state government has been be forced to use its own Fisheries Department officers in Perth after commercial operators pulled out following threats from activists.

On Tuesday, Surf Lifesaving WA warned that a 2.79m tiger shark had been caught and released 1.4km off-shore at the popular Mullaloo beach.

Bull, tiger and great white sharks longer than three metres that are caught within one kilometre of parts of the WA coast are being shot dead and discarded at sea.

The fisherman denied that practice would attract even more sharks close to shore.

“Every time a fishing boat sails something has to die, a fishing boat is a floating abattoir, and it just has to be that way to get protein from the sea.”

The Senate later passed the Greens motion which called on Mr Hunt to revoke the exemption enabling the WA shark policy to take place.

“The Environment Minister has a responsibility to protect great white sharks and other marine life and should not have exempted this cull from the EPBC Act,” said Senator Siewert.

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Stocks to watch at close on Thursday

Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange at the close on Thursday:

ASX – ASX – up 56 cents, or 1.

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6 per cent, at $36.25

Improving global economic conditions and a rise in the number of companies listing on the local share market have contributed to a 11 per cent rise in market operator ASX’s half year profit.

CCL – COCA-COLA AMATIL – up 10 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $11.91

The Victorian government will give fruit processor SPC Ardmona $22 million as part of a $100 million co-investment that it says will save the company’s Goulburn Valley cannery.

DJS – DAVID JONES – down three cents, or one per cent, at $3.11

Upmarket retailer David Jones has increased its sales in the three months to January 25 by almost five per cent to $618 million.

RHL – RURALCO HOLDINGS – in trading halt, last traded at $3.29

The shares of Australian owned agribusiness Ruralco Holdings has been placed in a trading halt as it prepares to conduct an equity raising.

RIO – RIO TINTO – down 27 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $67.83

Rio Tinto will announce its full year results after the market closes on Thursday.

SGT – SINGAPORE TELECOMMUNICATIONS – up five cents, or 1.6 per cent, at $3.14

Optus lifted its net profit more than 40 per cent during the December quarter despite a slide in revenue from mobile customers.

TCL – TRANSURBAN – up one cent, or 0.15 per cent, at $6.83

Transurban has lifted its first half profit slightly following an increase in revenues from its toll roads.

TLS – TELSTRA – up four cents, or 0.8 per cent, at $5.15

Telstra has lifted its dividend for the first time in eight years after announcing a $1.7 billion profit.

TGR – TASSAL GROUP – down seven cents, or two per cent, at $3.48

Salmon farmer Tassal Group says its focus on the domestic market is paying dividends, with half year net profit up 42 per cent.

WEB – WEBJET – up 66 cents, or 26 per cent, at $3.16

Webjet shares are flying high after the online travel group lifted its half year profit by 60 per cent.

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Dhoni snubs media as India prepare for series decider

A committee set up by India’s apex court on Sunday found Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of the country’s cricket board chief and an official of the Chennai franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), guilty of illegal betting during last season’s Twenty20 competition.

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The scandal surfaced last year when former test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other local cricketers were arrested on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs.

With India 1-0 down and facing their first series loss to New Zealand since 2002, Dhoni, who plays for the IPL’s Chennai team, was expected to attend the news conference by the local and travelling Indian press contingent.

He was instead replaced by opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan for the team’s only media conference ahead of the match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

A team official also refused to allow any questioning on matters other than the test and when one reporter tried to ask how the team had prepared for the match with reports of the IPL scandal swirling in India, he refused to allow Dhawan to answer and shut down the conference shortly afterwards.

New Zealand won the first test in Auckland by 40 runs last Sunday though Dhawan said his side had drawn confidence from their bowlers’ third innings performance and better batting in the fourth innings of the match.

Pacemen Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan ripped through New Zealand’s second innings, dismissing the hosts for 105 before India’s batsmen, led by Dhawan’s second test century, had pushed them to the brink of a remarkable victory.

“The last test match, we fought back really nicely and that second innings we batted really nicely,” Dhawan said.

“There are lots of positives to take from the last test match, so it is helping build our confidence.

“We have got very good fast bowlers. Hopefully they can repeat that (performance) and get them out for a low score.

“We are confident and looking forward to the match.”

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New Zealand enter the match riding high, having won their previous three tests, which started with an innings and 73-run rout of West Indies on a green Basin Reserve wicket last December.

“It looks bit greener than what we had against West Indies,” New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said of the current wicket being prepared for the match.

“It looks a bit harder as well. Hopefully with a bit of pace and bounce and some sideways (movement) too.

“Although what worked for us best against West Indies was the ability to swing it in the air.

“Hopefully we will be able to generate that swing and that will be key for us.”

New Zealand enter the match with two debutants in batsman Tom Latham and all-rounder Jimmy Neesham having started the last three test matches with an unchanged lineup.

Latham has replaced Ross Taylor, who has been released due to the impending birth of his second child, while Neesham has replaced leg spinner Ish Sodhi because of the pitch conditions.

Neesham is more known for his batting than his bowling but with three front-line pace bowlers in Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, McCullum has the option of two medium-fast bowlers in Corey Anderson and Neesham and he said he wanted to attack no matter what the match situation.

McCullum has already said he would bowl if he won the toss, something he has been unable to do in six successive games against Dhoni, and the New Zealand captain jokingly believes he may call incorrectly again on Friday.

“Yeah it is likely to go against me,” a laughing McCullum said. “We would obviously look at bowling if we win the toss.

“We will play to our strengths and with a bit of luck we can generate some pace and bounce on this wicket.”

Despite McCullum’s bad luck at the toss, New Zealand have managed to recover from horrendous starts in their first batting innings, battling back to post scores of 441, 349 and 503 in their last three matches.

“We have found ourselves in some precarious situations quite a bit this summer batting first and we have managed to come through it,” McCullum said.

“With Neesham at eight we have quite a bit of batting.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O’Brien)

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NZX inches up as earnings roll in

New Zealand stocks have firmed slightly, as the company earnings season picks up pace.

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The NZX 50 Index rose 3.556 points or 0.1 per cent to 4873.528 on Thursday.

Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 22 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $120 million.

Brisbane-based Michael Hill rose 1.5 per cent to $1.40. Vital Healthcare gained 0.4 per cent to $1.275.

Both companies are due to report earnings on Friday.

First NZ Capital analysts have forecast a five per cent gain for Michael Hill’s net profit, and a three per cent gain for Vital Healthcare.

SkyCity Entertainment Group was up 0.3 per cent to $3.66. The casino operator delivered its results on Wednesday, which were down on the previous year, but not as much as the market expected.

Network provider Chorus fell 1.7 per cent to $1.47. Chorus is facing regulated price cuts from December this year, unless the government pushes back on the commission’s decision.

Retirement village operators were down as investors took the opportunity to take some profit from the well-performing stocks.

Summerset Group Holdings sank 2.4 per cent to $3.29. Ryman Healthcare slipped one per cent to $7.60 and Metlifecare dropped 0.5 per cent to $4.03.

“There’s been a bit of profit taking. Investors think the sector has had a good run and time to take some profit and look elsewhere,” said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

“The outlook is still exceedingly positive, although some analyst valuations put it as a little bit stretched.”

Telecom rose 1.3 per cent to $2.42, cloud-based accounting software firm Xero gained 0.6 per cent to $40.15 and the nation’s largest listed company Fletcher Building was up 0.4 per cent to $9.45.

Outside the benchmark index used-car auction house Turners Auctions rose 13 per cent to $2.65, an eight-year high. Net profit rose 14 per cent to $4.8 million in calendar 2013, beating its November forecast increase of 10 per cent.

“Turners Auction was the surprise of the day, delivering an unexpected great result and market reaction was positive,” Mr Williamson said

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Reid to join brother as AFL swingman

Sydney key forward Sam Reid is set to join older brother Ben as an AFL swingman, with Swans coach John Longmire revealing he will also use him down back during the coming season.

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The 22-year-old premiership player has been used almost exclusively in a key forward role in his four seasons of senior football, kicking 61 goals.in 56 games.

Reid was signed to a five year contract back in December 2011.

Sibling Ben, 24 was picked up by Collingwood as a forward, but won All Australian honours as a defender in 2011.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley switched him to centre half forward halfway through last season and he kicked 25 goals in his last 13 games.

Sam Reid spent a little time in defence in Sydney’s intra-club hit out on Wednesday and can expect more time there during the coming season, when he will vie with Lance Franklin, Adam Goodes and Kurt Tippett for time in the key forward positions.

“I expect him to play both ends at different times during the course of the season,” Longmire said.

“It’s something that I really believe he can do, swing from forward to defence and vice versa when we need it.

“I’m confident that he’s got the ability and the flexibility to be able to do that.”

Reid was one of several Swans who missed a large chunk of last season to log playing time in the intra-squad hitout.

“(Rhyce) Shaw the longer the game went, I thought the better he looked with his run and his timing,” Longmire said.

“Gary Rohan as well. His defensive stuff was really strong, he missed a couple of goals and (Lewis) Jetta just played the last 15 to 20 minutes and he’s doing a bit more training now.

“Those blokes will build up over the coming weeks.

“Sam Reid got through pretty well. I thought he looked pretty sharp, so the blokes who missed a fair bit of footy last year are starting to come back in and look okay.”

Of those players still recuperating from injury, Longmire hoped Tippett would train on Friday and Goodes would resume running on either Friday or next Monday..

He suggested Franklin, who played 62 minutes if the intra-club game, might not play in next Thursday’s NAB Cup match against Greater Western Sydney.

“He might need another week of solid training, (Lewis) Roberts Thomson, (Mike) Pyke, there’s probably a few in that boat,” Longmire said.

Franklin had six shots at goal, but didn’t register a major and said he was probably a couple of games away from being fully fit.