France votes: Macron victory a win for the EU

There had been concerns that a rise in populist sentiments across Europe could lead to the collapse of the EU establishment.

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But many are breathing a sigh of relief.

The election of independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is being seen by some as a boost for the future of the European Union.

Mr Macron defeated nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen, taking around two-thirds of the votes.

Ms Le Pen’s campaign was largely driven by her populist sentiments, similar to those that fuelled the rise of Donald Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

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But Dr Maryse Helbert, a researcher in French national and international politics at the University of Melbourne, says Ms Le Pen’s resounding defeat signals a rejection of those sentiments.

“It shows that while yes, there was a wave of populism in the world, starting with Donald Trump and Brexit, it hasn’t translated in other European countries, she told SBS World News.

“This is is a good thing, it shows they’ve been able to resist it.”

Throughout her campaign, Ms Le Pen was a strong critic of the European Union, proposing to leave the euro zone and hold a referendum on membership.

But Mr Macron has vowed to remain committed to the EU.

French politics expert Professor Peter McPhee, from the University of Melbourne, says this reaffirms support for the idea of a strong Europe.

“It may well be a turning point in terms of reassertion of the political dominance of parties that are in favour of Europe rather than critical of it,” he said.

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“It will be interesting to see how it rubs off in the Italian elections that are coming up next year.”

Those elections could see the return of another young pro-European centrist in Matteo Renzi, who was forced to resign as Italian prime minister in December.

He now looks on course for a comeback after regaining the leadership of his Democratic Party in a primary vote.

SBS Europe Correspondent Brett Mason reports from Paris

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While Italy is a significant member, Ms Helbert says it’s France and Germany that are the pillars of the European Union.

She says Mr Macron’s win is a boost for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is standing firm on a strong commitment to the European bloc.

Ms Merkel is on track to win re-election in September, and Ms Helbert says Emmanuel Macron’s victory is encouraging for her supporters.

“I think it’s going to give them some kind of impetus for their own election, saying well, the European Union is still on, and still alive at least for another five years. And we are all together on that, because there is no dividing country,” she said.

“Because if France had decided to vote for Le Pen it would have decided to leave the European Union.”

The rise of populist leaders has swept through Europe in recent years but Professor McPhee says there has been a failure on their part to seize the momentum and take office.

Geert Wilders, who heads the Netherland’s Party for Freedom, and Austria’s Norbert Hofer, from the Freedom Party, were both defeated in their country’s presidential elections.

Professor McPhee says this indicates their support is perhaps not as strong as projected in the media, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

“In the Netherlands and Austria, they haven’t been successful, but certainly it’s been a worrying sort of cancer eating away at Europe, that you have populist right wing parties that have been so hostile to the European of providing safe sanctuary for refugees, and also, fundamentally to the whole idea of a single market, which I think has Europe has been a peaceful place for the last 70 years,”  he said.

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Swans need to be aggressive, says Jones

Aggression is the key to building momentum for Sydney, according to rising Swans AFL youngster Zak Jones.

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Speedy half back-midfielder Jones was a standout in Sydney’s drought-breaking 54-point home over Brisbane on Sunday.

He notched a career-high 27 touches and galvanised the SCG crowd with a sensational goal following a sizzling run which left would-be tacklers floundering in his wake.

The big win over Brisbane brought much needed relief to Sydney after six losses to start the season.

They (the losses) are still in the back of your mind always, but it’s good to get a win,” Jones said on Monday..

“Hopefully that brings confidence for the rest of the year and we can use that to build momentum.”

Sydney’s next two games are both at Etihad Stadium, starting with next Sunday’s clash with a North Melbourne side coming off back-to-back wins after losing their first five fixtures.

“They always bring a tough fight in every game and I think we have to bring the same aggression as we did this week,” Jones said.

Jones momentarily stole the spotlight from Lance Franklin”s eight-goal show on Sunday with his own dazzling six-pointer.

“That’s got to be the best goal I’ve kicked,” said Jones, who had only booted six in his 37 previous senior appearances.

“I was thinking about handballing to Buddy (Franklin) and then I was ‘I’m just going to take the shot.’

Asked if Franklin had anything to say to him after not getting the ball Jones said:, “No, he just got around me, everyone gets around you because you don’t usually kick goals from the backline.”

Jones conceded his effort couldn’t match Franklin’s bomb from almost 80 metres, though it came as no surprise.

“It happens all the time at training, its pretty crazy,” Jones said.

“I guess he can do it anywhere and anytime.”

‘While he describes himself as a back, Jones is now playing primarily in midfield.

The youthful energy of Isaac Heeney and himself on Sunday gave Sydney a lift and appeared to take some of the pressure of established midfielders Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker.

“I think so, it’s good to have that versatility and throw different players in there,” Jones said.

While Sydney are still below Melbourne on the ladder, Jones hasn’t received any reminders from older brother Nathan, the Demons’ co-captain.

“We haven’t spoken about that, I think he understands where I’m coming from, we’ve both been on the down,” Zak said.

Joshua fight on track, claims Fury

Tyson Fury has claimed that Eddie Hearn has already booked London’s Wembley Stadium next year in preparation for a fight with world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

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The 28-year-old Fury is targeting a comeback fight on July 8, providing he overturns a suspended drugs ban at a UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) hearing that opens on Monday.

Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight titles in November 2015, due to a combination of drug issues and mental health concerns.

But in the wake of Joshua’s stunning 11th-round win over Klitschko at Wembley last month, Fury has returned to training and his intent on securing an all-British super-fight with the new champion and has revealed that Joshua’s promoter Hearn has pencilled in a fight in April 2018.

“Eddie Hearn has already booked Wembley Stadium for next April,” Fury told the Daily Telegraph.

“There isn’t another stadium where it should take place. I would fight Joshua in October but I believe Klitschko will take the rematch.

“Deep down, I don’t think they want to fight me yet. Joshua struggled with Klitschko. And I took Klitschko to school, toyed with him, put my hands behind my back, literally, while he was letting his cannons go, slipping out of the way of them. They are not ready for that.

“A lot of people have picked AJ to beat me, but I’ve said many times that we are in a sport called “the sweet science” and it’s not a body-building contest or a strongman competition. Joshua is an easy fight for me.”

Fury is now keen to focus on the future but was deeply affected by suggestions he is a drug cheat and denies ever taking any performance-enhancing substance.

He vacated the WBA and WBO titles he held last October after admitting using cocaine to cope with depression, after which the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) suspended his boxing licence.

That development came after an ankle injury had forced the postponement of his proposed rematch with Klitschko, and after Fury and his younger cousin Hughie were charged by UKAD with “presence of a prohibited substance”.

Press Association Sport understands the Fury camp are confident about the outcome for both Tyson and Hughie.

The heavyweight division now boasts four unbeaten champions with Fury, Joshua, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder.

Fury added: “I’ve never taken a drug in my life. These people can say what they like but I’m suing them for what they have done to me. If I tested positive then why didn’t they ban me then?

“To be honest I didn’t want to live. If I had cheated, fine. But I have not cheated. I beat Klitschko on ability. I don’t need a drug. I’m a giant already. For them to say that about me, it sent me under. I did not want to live anymore. But I feel differently now.”

Housing affordability: Potential home buyers hoping budget offers relief

Housing affordability remains one of Australia’s biggest concerns heading into the federal budget on Tuesday.

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Despite house prices sitting at high levels across Australia’s major cities, some potential home buyers remain optimistic.

“It’s every man’s dream to own a house, have a family, and retire,” Indian-born Aditya Doshi, who’s been living in Australia for the past four years, told SBS 

“I don’t want to be moving from place to place every year or two years, depending on somebody else letting me stay in their property. That’s not my cup of tea.”

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Mr Doshi recently became eligible for Australian citizenship, and was now waiting for his wife’s visa to be approved.

When she arrives from India they hope to start a family while paying off a house. But despite being pre-approved for a loan of about $800,000, Mr Doshi’s near three-year house hunt has been unsuccessful.

“I would go there for an auction, make a private offer, but then get beaten at the last stage because I’m way beyond my means,” he said. 

“Prices are soaring through the roof. It’s going to cost at least another 10 to 15 per cent over your budget to buy a property in an area you like.”

Among the options being considered in next week’s budget announcement is a scheme for first home buyers to use their pre-tax income to save for a deposit faster.

So instead of paying more tax, their money would go into a savings account.

“We believe this will incentivise more first home buyers to park more money in there and save more,” said Taj Singh, co-founder of advocacy group First Home Buyers Australia.

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But not everyone is convinced, including housing analyst Dr Dallas Rogers from the University of Sydney.

“They can do one of two things in the budget,” he explained.

“They can moderate the housing affordability problem, or they can compound the housing affordability problem. 

“If you put more capital into the housing market, that will further push up prices, and that’s something we don’t want.”

The pre-tax income scheme comes after the Coalition was split over a controversial proposal to allow first home buyers to use their superannuation to raise a deposit.

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Those in favour included Treasurer Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. But others, like Malcolm Turnbull, have called it a “thoroughly bad idea”.

A better one, according to Dr Rogers, would be to rein in two measures the coalition previously vowed never to touch.

“What I’d like to see them do is wind back some of the incentives that further compound the problem,” he said.

“Things like winding back negative gearing, the capital gains tax exemptions. That would be a best case scenario.”

Taj Singh agrees, adding the federal government should work with their state colleagues to help level the playing field.

“Rather than just talking about it, they need to actually work with state governments and fast-track the release of land,” he said.

“That way there’s more supply in the market and therefore puts a downward pressure on prices.”

In any case, Aditya Doshi said he won’t give up on his dream to one day buy a home.

“These are things which help you, but they should not demotivate you if it doesn’t work in your favour,” he said.

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Yeo backed to nullify star Dog Bontempelli

West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis says he’d love to see Elliot Yeo go head-to-head with Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli in Friday night’s AFL clash at Domain Stadium.

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Yeo nullified Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe in West Coast’s big derby win a fortnight ago, and Bontempelli looms as his likely match-up this week.

At 190cm and 87kg, Yeo possesses the big body and the athleticism needed to match it with Bontempelli (193cm, 92kg).

“That would be a great match-up I’d love to see,” Priddis said.

“Yeo’s probably the only midfielder who has that big body who can play on the tall, marking sort of mid.”

Yeo’s hot form has seen him rocket into early Brownlow Medal calculations, and Priddis reckons the former Lion might be flashy enough to win it.

The 23-year-old was rated a $501 outsider by one betting agency at the start of the season to win the coveted award.

But Yeo’s scintillating form has seen him wound into $21 – equal ninth overall.

Adelaide’s Rory Sloane, Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield, and Richmond’s Dustin Martin remain the early favourites.

But Priddis, who won the Brownlow in 2014 and finished second to Nat Fyfe a year later, says Yeo boasts all the right ingredients to attract the eye of umpires.

“He’ll be right up there (in the vote),” Priddis said of Yeo, who has averaged 25 disposals and 10 marks per game this season.

“He’s great to watch. He does the flashy things, but does the hard things too.

“He’s been one of our top performers every single game.”

West Coast were left shellshocked when they were knocked out by the Bulldogs in last year’s elimination final in Perth.

Priddis danced around questions when asked if revenge would be on the minds of Eagles players this week.

“It always hurts when you exit a season earlier than you expect,” Priddis said.

“That’s the ruthless nature of AFL footy. You have to fight pretty hard and play good footy to win finals.

“We were beaten by a better side on that night.”

The Bulldogs enter Friday night’s crunch clash without star forward Jake Stringer (knee) and Josh Dunkley (shoulder).

Both West Coast and the Bulldogs boast 5-2 records after seven rounds.