Families of US personnel to leave Turkey over security concerns

The Obama administration has ordered the families of US military and diplomatic personnel to leave parts of southern Turkey and warned US citizens against travel to the region amid mounting security concerns.

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The Pentagon said 670 dependants of US military personnel would be affected by the order to depart areas of southern Turkey, including Incirlik air base, which is used heavily in the fight against Islamic State militants.

The US State Department said a small number of diplomatic families would be affected but did not give numbers. The Pentagon said 100 military dependants in Ankara and Istanbul were not affected by the departure orders because of security measures in place there.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the move had been under consideration for several weeks, and was not the result of any specific threat and had nothing to do with the visit to Washington this week by top Turkish officials.

Secretary of State John Kerry met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to attend a Nuclear Security Summit with other world leaders later in the week. Kirby said Kerry had discussed the security announcement with Cavusoglu at their meeting on Monday.

The US military’s European Command said it had ordered the departure of families of personnel stationed in Adana, home of Incirlik. It said families of US military personnel also had been told to leave Izmir and Mugla provinces in southeastern Turkey.

“We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” General Philip M. Breedlove, commander of the US European Command, said in the statement.

The departures do not indicate a decision to permanently end US families’ presence at military facilities in southern Turkey, the statement said.

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The US State Department said it had ordered the departure of family members of government workers at the US consulate in Adana. Dependants of US government employees in Izmir and Mugla provinces were also asked to leave.

The State Department issued a statement cautioning US citizens more broadly against travelling to southeastern Turkey.

Indian minister’s Australia visit sparks free-trade agreement talks

India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrived in Australia for four days of government and investor talks.

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It’s the latest round of negotiations which started five years ago with a goal of establishing a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently described finalising a free-trade agreement with India as a high priority.

Mr Jaitley said an economic agreement will be a central focus during his stay.

“The discussions are on for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA),” he said.

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“And there are a few issues left on both sides which are being sorted out.

“I do hope some advance takes place in the coming months.”

Open trade talks are good news for IT professional Sreeni Pillamarri, who runs a software-testing company in Sydney, and recently opened a branch in the southern-Indian city of Hyderabad.

“Even being in Australia, we were able to set up our shop in India and we have since had quite a number of great projects,” he said.

“And there have been a lot of opportunities created after that.

“Companies who are established overseas are able to walk into India, set up themselves and start running for good business opportunities as well.”

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Mr Pillamarri said operating his business out of India has great financial potential.

“If you have seen the GDP (Gross domestic product) of India, it’s marvellous. It is growing at a speed of 27-35 per cent which is at the top level of any of the countries which are growing,” he said.

“China took a lot of time to grow to that level, where as India, it is sky-rocketing.”

University of New South Wales Economist Tim Harcourt said such a deal could have significant financial benefits for both countries.

“Really, India’s new to the scene but the potential is there with the young population and of course with the very strong institutional links that we have there,” he said.

India is Australia’s tenth largest trading partner and fifth largest export market.

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The federal government said the trading relationship between the two countries has seen remarkable growth in recent years, citing growth in the two-way trade of goods and services.

Independent modelling estimates an Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement could increase Australia’s GDP by over $45 billion over 20 years.

The government identifies a youthful population and a diversified economy as factors influencing opportunities for Australian business in the areas of agriculture, energy, manufacturing, mining and services sectors.

Turnbull reveals radical income tax plan

Premiers have been quick to play down Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed tax overhaul to end the funding blame game between federal and state governments.

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The prime minister wants to reduce the federal government’s income tax collection, allowing the states and territories to collect the remainder to fund services like hospitals and schools, instead of going cap-in-hand to Canberra.

But already there are doubts some states will get on board.

NSW Premier Mike Baird says he disagrees with the plan to allow states to levy income tax, SA’s Jay Weatherill says it won’t work and Queensland wants to see more detail.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews dismissed the idea as a “tax policy thought bubble”.

Mr Turnbull says the radical plan will end the blame game, make clear who is responsible for what and make state governments accountable.

“What we are talking about is the most fundamental reform to the federation in generations,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“Right at the heart of the problems in the federation is the fact that the states do not raise enough of the revenue that they spend.

“They are not accountable enough in the way a government should be.”

The extra revenue the states earn will be offset by cuts to federal grants.

For now, states would be limited by how much they could raise and workers wouldn’t see a difference in the tax they pay.

But in future, states could lower or raise income taxes to cover their costs.

“If a state government, over time, wants to raise more money by lifting tax, it will be answerable to the public just as we are to the people of Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

He denied the plan would disadvantage smaller states and insisted he’d received positive feedback from the states and territories so far.

But Mr Baird said while he would consider a plan, he was anxious about the prospect of Australians paying more tax.

“While I have historically argued for a share of income tax for the states, this has not involved increasing the income tax burden on Australian households, which already have among the highest income tax rates in the world,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Weatherill said states handed over such powers in 1942 and he doesn’t favour taking them back.

He doesn’t envisage other states taking up the offer either.

“The idea of the states having their own income taxing powers again and creating some form of double taxation is just not practical and I don’t think it would work,” Mr Weatherill said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants more detail, saying all she had from the prime minister was a “blank page”.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten described the plan as “silly” and guaranteed it would not be Labor policy.

Mr Shorten said the government was looking for a hospital funding bandaid before the election and solving its problem by increasing taxes on Australians.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale accused the government of political cowardice, dumping its budget problems on the states and territories.

State premiers and territory chief ministers will be briefed on the plan when they meet with Mr Turnbull in Canberra on Friday.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said it was important not to “jump ahead” of the discussion.

Asked whether states would eventually be able to hike income tax rates, as stated by Mr Turnbull, Mr Morrison told Sky News: “The prime minister, I don’t think, has gone that far.”

Lyon back Dockers to rebound

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is challenging his team to prove they aren’t daydreamers when they take on Gary Ablett and the Suns on Saturday.

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He’s backing the Dockers to rebound in the home AFL clash in the wake of their opening round humiliation at the hands of the Western Bulldogs, but says it’s time for action not more words.

The Dockers scored just one goal by halftime against the Dogs before losing by 65 points at Etihad Stadium.

The return of Aaron Sandilands (suspension) and Michael Johnson (calf) and the return to Domain Stadium should help against Gold Coast.

“I’d be disappointed if we don’t respond but until we see it, it’s all just feelings and emotions,” said Lyon on Thursday.

“I’m sure we were feeling good last week and we were feeling confident but feelings don’t get it done, actions get it done. We want to bring the action this week.

“I’m fundamentally a coach who has a close working relationships and believes in his playing group, and believes anything is possible.

“That hasn’t changed one iota, but if you have high expectations, it has to be matched by work rate otherwise you are just a daydreamer.”

Fremantle regularly tagged the Suns superstar skipper Ablett previously using Ryan Crowley, but Lyon doesn’t expect to use that tactic with another tagger on Saturday.

Instead he will back his own midfield stars, the likes of Nat Fyfe, David Mundy, Lachie Neale and Michael Barlow, to outperform their opponents.

“We haven’t tagged for a while. We sort of have people accountable for them,” Lyon said.

“It’s been proven in numerous other teams and numerous games that it’s not about one player. It’s about all players contributing.

“I’m sure Gary will play well but we hope as a collective we play well enough to beat him and the Gold Coast Suns.”