Reynolds comes good in Dogs’ NRL thriller

Canterbury star Josh Reynolds overcame a horror final 20 minutes against Gold Coast to nail the match-winning field goal in his side’s golden point NRL win.

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The Bulldogs pivot had earlier appeared to wrap up the match after he set up his second try of the afternoon to give his side a commanding 12-point lead midway through the second half.

In wet conditions at ANZ Stadium, it should’ve been enough.

But Reynolds was then partly responsible for consecutive Titans tries in the space of seven minutes that not only sent the game to extra time, but almost cost his team victory.

The former NSW State of Origin pivot was first marched for backchat in the lead-up to David Mead’s try, then his tapback off a Moses Mbye bomb led to Josh Hoffman racing 80 metres to level the game.

However, in a typical Jekyll-and-Hyde performance, Reynolds stood up to the plate and delivered a clutch 35-metre field goal in the extra period to consolidate Canterbury’s spot in the top eight.

“That was a gutsy play,” coach Des Hasler said post-game.

“He would’ve been very lonely out there at one stage, but he held it together and came up with the big play when he had to. Josh’s last three weeks, he’s been really strong with his footy.”

But Hasler refused to allow his team to glow in the aftermath of their thrilling win, expressing his disappointment at almost blowing another halftime lead.

Just as they did a week prior, the Bulldogs held the advantage after a dominant first half, only to again clock off midway through the second and allow their opposition back into the game.

Twice the Titans were in position to steal the win, but couldn’t land the killer punch.

“We didn’t manage it as good as we should have at 20-8,” Hasler said.

“You go on with the game from there and that’s what we need to get better at. We didn’t close the game out last week and we very nearly paid a heavy penalty for not closing the game out this week.

“That’s something we have to be mindful of and something we can’t let happen again. Our lapses are totally self-inflicted.”

After a bright start to the year, the Titans have now lost four straight and are hanging onto eighth spot.

Not for the first time this year, Titans coach Neil Henry was rapt with his team’s effort but bemoaned a poor first half.

“We’ve had a few this year where we were in games or coming back. I suppose 20-8 down again, we’re chasing points,” he said.

171 states signing landmark Paris deal

Leaders from 171 countries are signing the Paris Agreement on climate change as the landmark deal took a key step forward, potentially entering into force years ahead of schedule.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry, holding his young granddaughter, on Friday joined dozens of world leaders for a signing ceremony that sets a record for international diplomacy: Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that don’t sign Friday have a year to do so.

“We are in a race against time,” UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.”

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Many now expect the climate agreement to enter into force long before the original deadline of 2020. Some say it could happen this year.

After signing, countries must formally approve the Paris Agreement through their domestic procedures.

The United Nations says 15 countries, several of them small island states under threat from rising seas, were doing that Friday by depositing their instruments of ratification.

China, the world’s top carbon emitter, announced it will “finalise domestic procedures” to ratify the Paris Agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September. Ban immediately welcomed the pledge.

The United States also has said it intends to join the agreement this year. The world is watching anxiously: Analysts say that if the agreement enters into force before President Barack Obama leaves office in January, it would be more complicated for his successor to withdraw from the deal because it would take four years to do so under the agreement’s rules.

The United States put the deal into economic terms. “The power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector,” Kerry told the gathering, noting that this year is again shaping up to be the hottest year on record.

The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions have formally joined it.

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Maros Sefcovic, the energy chief for another top emitter, the 28-nation European Union, has said the EU wants to be in the “first wave” of ratifying countries.

French President Francois Hollande, the first to sign the agreement, said on Friday he would ask parliament to ratify it by this summer. France’s environment minister is in charge of global climate negotiations.

“There is no turning back now,” Hollande told the gathering.

Countries that had not yet indicated they would sign the agreement on Friday include some of the world’s largest oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, the World Resources Institute said Thursday.

The Paris Agreement, the world’s response to hotter temperatures, rising seas and other impacts of climate change, was reached in December as a major breakthrough in UN climate negotiations, which for years were slowed by disputes between rich and poor countries over who should do what.

Under the agreement, countries set their own targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The targets are not legally binding, but countries must update them every five years.

Swans beat Eagles by 39 points in AFL

Sydney fullback Ted Richards kicked his first SCG goal in almost seven years, as the Swans veterans stood tall in a 39-point home win over West Coast on Saturday.

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The Swans moved to 4-1 for the season, kicking the last six goals to run out 12.16 (88) to 7.7 (49) winners

The Eagles, now 3-2, were outscored 7.10 to 3.4 after halftime and mustered just four behinds in the final quarter.

They have failed to win any of their past five away matches stretching back to last season.

Richards, the oldest player on the Swans list at 33, kicked a morale boosting 51 metre goal, took 10 marks and tallied 22 touches in a best on ground performance.

The Swans next two oldest players, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh 31 and Ben McGlynn 30, were both prominent in Sydney’s decisive third quarter surge.

Like Richards, they started the season late due to injury, but on Saturday they kicked three straight goals between them, as Sydney regained the lead which they never subsequently relinquished.

Swans coach John Longmire was thrilled with his team’s effort especially after losing defender Jeremy Laidler to concussion in the first half.

“A combination of our older, experienced, leader players were fantastic and our younger kids really stood up as well,” Longmire said.

Opposing coach Adam Simpson acknowledged the influence of those Swans players on the outcome.

“We did leave it up to too few today and I thought Sydney’s leaders stood up when it really mattered and we probably could learn some lessons from that,” Simpson said.

Richards hadn’t kicked a goal since an Anzac round game three years ago in New Zealand and his last major on Australian soil was at the MCG in 2010.

“When I walked out the door I said to my son, it was his first game, he was four months old, I said I’d kick a goal for him,” Richards said.

“My wife laughed and it turns out I did.

“Deep down I knew there may not be another one.”

Richards, Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe and Callum Mills were all good as the Swans quelled the usually free-scoring Eagles.

The Eagles couldn’t capitalise on a promising start. Matt Priddis racked up 12 touches as the visitors eked out a six-point lead by the first break.

As the heavens opened in the second quarter, Sydney warmed to their task in pouring rain.

They led by nine at halftime and a Lance Franklin goal early in the third term blew their lead out to 16.

Three goals in four minutes wrested the lead back for the Eagles, but that was their last flurry.

Sydney’s relentless pressure forced turnovers, as the home team opened up a 21-point buffer at the last change.

Midfielders Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy excelled for Sydney, while defender Jeremy McGovern was outstanding for the Eagles.

In an unfortunate incident before the game, a parachutist from the Navy’s Red Berets was taken to hospital with a suspected broken pelvis after landing awkwardly in the centre square at the SCG.

The first win is the hardest, Lauda tells Bottas

“To win the first grand prix.

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..is always the most difficult one,” the retired triple champion and non-executive chairman of Bottas’s Mercedes team, told reporters.

“This I know out of my own experience. So every one that comes next, for him his life is easier. He has proven that he can win.

“As soon as you win the first grand prix, a big load comes off,” added the Austrian, who was surprised Ferrari did not win in Sochi given their race pace and having both cars starting on the front row.

Instead, Bottas roared past both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to seize the lead into the first corner in a move that decided the outcome.

The Finn has had to wait longer than most to scale the top step of the podium but the man he replaced in January, retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, took his first victory in his 111th grand prix start after also starting out at Williams.

Fellow-Finn Mika Hakkinen, world champion in 1998 and 1999 with McLaren, took 96 races.

Only last week, reporters were asking Bottas about having to accept so-called ‘team orders’ and help triple champion team mate Lewis Hamilton in the title battle against Vettel but it looks different already.

Bottas is now just 10 points adrift of Hamilton and, having started the season as an emergency stopgap, can now quite legitimately see himself in the championship mix.

That situation poses another headache for Hamilton but is one that Mercedes are relaxed about having to manage. They do not expect the relationship to turn sour as it did between the Briton and Rosberg.

“He (Bottas) took up that risky move to be Lewis Hamilton’s team mate, to take over the reigning world champion’s car, and I think that he has done a very good job,” said team boss Toto Wolff.

“The relationship between the two is very intact, Lewis was one of the first to congratulate Valtteri on his first race victory and I think that shows the respect that they have towards each other.

“Nevertheless, both of them are fierce competitors and they will want to win races and fight for a championship; But I don’t think it will affect the relationship and the dynamics within the team like it did in the last years between Nico and Lewis.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Storms in US South and Midwest kill at least 14

Severe weather devastated homes, overturned cars and felled trees, with the National Weather Service confirming at least four tornadoes in Texas.

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The mayor of Canton, Texas – a city some 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Dallas – said the death toll there stood at four.

“It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least,” Mayor Lou Ann Everett told journalists Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management told AFP severe weather had caused at least five fatalities in that state.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency had confirmed two deaths, one of them a child who was killed by electric shock in floodwater.

Cars and trucks are damaged as the walls blew out of the I-20 Dodge dealership after a tornado hit near Canton, Texas, Saturday, April 29, 2017. (AAP)AAP

Heavy rains also lashed the midwestern state of Missouri, with at least two reported casualties. According to CNN one of those killed was a 72-year-old woman who was stranded in her car as it was swept away by floodwaters.

In Tennessee, a two-year-old girl was pronounced dead at a hospital in Nashville after she was struck by a heavy metal soccer goal blown over by heavy winds, according to the city’s police department.

As of late Sunday the NWS was projecting major flooding to continue in parts of eastern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Authorities warned that severe storms potentially packing heavy winds, large hail and tornadoes could hit parts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern US by Monday afternoon.

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SA premier apologies over Oakden scandal

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has apologised to the residents of a state run nursing home and their families, after damning revelations on the quality of care at the facility.

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Mr Weatherill returned from holidays on Monday and reiterated an apology made by Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos over the poor treatment and potential abuse of elderly dementia patients at the Oakden facility.

“It is deeply distressing,” he told reporters at the Adelaide Airport before flying to the APY lands in the state’s north to take charge of a country cabinet meeting.

“I’m deeply sorry to those families and those residents that they experienced that abuse, that they experienced that neglect.”

The response was “not really good enough” to the widow of former patient Bob Spriggs, whose family alleges he was overdosed and also suffered severe bruising while in the facility early last year.

Barb Spriggs, whose husband has since died, said it took 10 months for complaints about the home from her family to gain traction with authorities and she is appalled to have since learnt of issues dating back even longer.

“It’s just appalling to think that it’s been covered over for over 10 years and nobody has picked up on it,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

The premier said steps are being taken to remedy the situation and that Ms Vlahos, who has resisted calls from the opposition to quit, has his full support.

He said she should be acknowledged for initiating an inquiry that has revealed “the depth of the concerns at this institution”.

But he said it is “disturbing” that mechanisms in place to safeguard the wellbeing of residents at facilities like Oakden did not fully reveal the issues there before Ms Vlahos decided in December that an inquiry was needed.

The inquiry, conducted by SA’s chief psychiatrist, uncovered the rough handling of patients, an excessive use of restraints, and a concerning level of injuries.

Releasing it in April, Ms Vlahos said a culture of cover-up existed at Oakden, which was now set for closure.

The opposition, medical groups and some families have accused the government of ignoring previous warning about care at the home.

Mr Weatherill said Ms Vlahos responded properly to a complaint about Oakden in 2014 but was given inaccurate advice at the time from SA Health.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall says nobody involved in the situation wants to take responsibility and the premier should have sacked Ms Vlahos to demonstrate his standards or have set a better culture for the public service.

“The fish rots from the head,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“This government is incompetent, ministers don’t take responsibility and consequently there are massive areas of neglect and cover up.”

Outlook key as ANZ starts earnings season

ANZ will kick off what is expected to be a solid round of bank earnings over the next week, with investors eager for clues on how long the blue skies over the sector can last.

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ANZ is tipped to unveil a first-half cash profit of about $3.79 billion – up more than 30 per cent on last year’s writedown-heavy $2.8 billion – thanks to a strong performance by its retail unit, tight cost control and a sharp drop in bad and doubtful debt charges already flagged in its first-quarter trading update.

National Australia Bank and Westpac are also expected to announce larger profits over the coming days but, with financial stocks having gained more than 20 per cent in the past six months, the market appears to have already priced that in.

“Investors are anticipating solid results supported by low bad debt provisions and cost control,” CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael McCarthy said.

“Yield investors continue to see banks as a relatively stable income proposition in the near term.”

The results will be the first since the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority introduced new restrictions on the amount banks can lend in the form of interest-only loans.

Banks lifted interest-only and investor rates as a result of APRA’s intervention and, while that could have a positive impact in the second half, banks could face earnings pressure in the longer term if the moves successfully reduce home loan demand from investors.

UBS banking analyst Jon Mott says that, while the banks have enjoyed a purple patch over the past six months, APRA’s limit on interest-only lending and hints of further increases to housing risk weights will have a bigger impact than many expect.

“The impact of this is likely to be decelerating credit growth to low single digit levels in FY18/19,” Mr Mott wrote in a note.

“Additional mortgage repricing is highly likely.”

ANZ lifted rates on some interest-only loans at the end of last week, with the impact to be seen in its full-year results.

Mr Mott has forecast a $3.31 billion cash profit for NAB when it reports on Thursday and $3.98 for Westpac next Monday.

Commonwealth Bank, which announced a 2.1 per cent lift in half-year profit to $4.91 billion back in February, will release a third-quarter trading update on May 9.

Sea of surpluses in Victorian budget

Victoria will get “surpluses as far as the eye can see” as it rings up more than $8 billion over the next four years, Treasurer Tim Pallas says.

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But he admits a key project will not go ahead unless the federal government stumps up the money.

A $1.2 billion surplus for this financial year will be unveiled in Tuesday’s budget, with average surpluses of $2.4 billion over the forward years, Mr Pallas said on Monday.

Along with debt being kept below the level the Labor government inherited from its coalition predecessor, Victoria has a greater capacity for infrastructure investment, Mr Pallas says.

“We’ve increased our level of infrastructure investment from around about $4.9 billion to $10.1 billion in this budget,” Mr Pallas said.

“Imagine how much more we could do if the federal government were interested in partnering with the state of Victoria instead of playing politics?”

A state and federal stoush is looming over a $1.45 billion regional rail revamp announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, to upgrade the Gippsland and Warrnambool lines and a new Surf Coast line.

Mr Andrews only told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the project that day, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan spoke to her federal counterpart on Saturday evening, and now the two governments are squabbling over the cash.

The money is owed under the asset recycling scheme after Victoria sold the Port of Melbourne lease for $9.7 billion.

The $1.45 billion is included in Tuesday’s budget but the projects will not go ahead without the commonwealth funds, Mr Pallas said.

Before the election, the government promised no new taxes but it now says it will not increase taxes to fund election promises.

Two tax changes, for investment properties and new cars, were announced on Saturday and together are set to bring in $120 million a year.

The money will be used to “improve services and improve our offering around capital investment”, which Mr Pallas conceded were election promises.

“But everything we are doing now is far and away in excess of anything we offered at the last election,” Mr Pallas said.

Tackling family violence will be a key part of Tuesday’s budget and new schools are also expected to be funded.

Earlier on Monday, $26.5 million was committed to boosting the improvement in ambulance response times.

Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien criticised Labor for smaller surpluses than what was left to them and wasting money on infrastructure business cases.

“Victorians are seeing talk, they’re seeing higher taxes and charges, they’re not actually seeing the work being done that makes their life better,” he told reporters.

Historic timber group makes ASX debut

One of Australia’s oldest timber and building products companies has made a solid ASX debut after 14 months in the hands of private equity owners.

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Big River, which manufactures and distributes construction timber across Australia, was bought by Anacacia Capital from its founders, the NSW-based Pidcock family, in 2016 and entered listed life on Monday following a $17 million initial public offering.

Big River’s four-man board boasts former agribusiness Elders managing director Malcolm Jackman as an independent non-executive director.

The company ended its first day of trade more at $1.51, up 3.4 per cent from its $1.46 issue price.

Big River manufacturers and distributes building and construction products, including timber and steel products, timber flooring, plywood and related timber products across Australia.

The group owns two manufacturing facilities in Wagga Wagga and Grafton in New South Wales.

Big River’s customers include major property developer LendLease, construction firm John Holland and furniture and electrical goods retailer Harvey Norman as well as smaller contractors.

The company’s prospectus said funds raised will provide the company with growth opportunities, including “greater flexibility” for its acquisition strategy and improved access to capital and debt.

Big River is expected to book a proforma net profit of about $6 million for 2016-17, up 1.3 per cent from $5.9 million a year earlier, on revenue of $201 million, according to its prospectus.

Big River sold 11.6 million new shares via the IPO, which was fully underwritten by brokerage firm Taylor Collison.

Titans halfback happy to give it to Hayne

Ash Taylor says he’s happy to cop a spray from Jarryd Hayne – and dish one out to his more senior Gold Coast teammate – if it’s in the best interests of the NRL team.

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Hayne and halfback Taylor have argued on-field at times prompting outside criticism of Hayne’s attitude and approach to teammates.

But Taylor on Monday dismissed it as natural tension between creative players trying to get a result for their team.

“He (Hayne) is just trying to do the best for our team and so am I, that’s just competitive nature,” said Taylor on Monday.

“There’s other players out there who speak a bit differently, but he’ll (Hayne) cop one back if he needs one.”

Mostly picked at fullback this season, Hayne has been bobbing up in the halves at times to get his hands on the ball in attack.

Interestingly coach Neil Henry posted him to centre in the last-round 38-8 drubbing of Newcastle, with Tyrone Roberts at fullback and Kane Elgey partnering the gifted Taylor in the halves.

Henry said it was the best fit with all of those key players available and Hayne responded by scoring two tries in another strong display.

Taylor insisted he was unconcerned at chopping and changing with his halves partner, whether it be Roberts, Elgey or Hayne.

“I try not to change how I play, that just makes it harder on me,” he said.

“I want to be consistent no matter who’s in the halves and play the best footy I can.”

There is set to be more changes for the Titans with injured centre Dale Copley (ribs) likely to return for the Gold Coast when they take on Melbourne next round.

His return will cause another welcome selection headache for Henry.

“All of the boys are playing out of their skin in their positions so it’s going to be hard to name the squad but it’s a good thing for us,” Taylor said.

“It shows we have a lot of depth at our club, it’s going to be pretty tough to get a spot in the side.”

Westpac stance on coal ‘disappointing’: PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says coal has a big role to play in Australia’s energy future, and he’s disappointed that Westpac has turned its back on the Adani mine and others in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

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“I am disappointed that Westpac has made that decision. I think these projects should be examined on their merits,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Townsville on Monday.

Westpac ruled out supporting the Adani mine and others in the Galilee Basin under its new climate change action plan announced on Friday, in a move savaged by Resources Minister Matt Canavan as anti-development.

Mr Turnbull echoed those sentiments on Monday, saying: “Coal has a big role to play for a very long time”.

“The idea that Australia, (as) the largest coal exporting nation in the world, would suddenly walk away from that enormous resource is extraordinary,” he said.

Modern, low-emissions coal fired-power stations would help ensure Australia had affordable energy, while renewable sources and storage options were ramped up, he said.

On Sunday, Senator Canavan suggested Westpac’s position on coal was anti-Queensland, and anti-growth.

“We are trying to develop the north, we are trying to develop our country and get behind new products like opening up the Galilee Basin with 16,000 jobs,” Senate Canavan told Sky news.

“Here we have a bank which should be a proud Australian … they are not going to finance stuff that is going to develop our country.”

He also branded Westpac hypocritical, being itself a big polluter with its data centres for its own products.

Home prices near flat in April: CoreLogic

Sydney home prices stagnated in April, leading to the lowest rise in capital city prices in almost a year and a half.

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Australian capital city home prices rose a mere 0.1 per cent in April, according to the CoreLogic Hedonic Home Value Index.

CoreLogic director of research Tim Lawless said the biggest weight on overall prices was a Sydney prices flat at a median price of $860,000 for the month, while Melbourne prices were up just 0.5 per cent to $650,000.

“The two hottest housing markets in the nation have shown signs of slowing down in April, with the CoreLogic Hedonic Home Value Index recording a rise of just 0.1 per cent over April, the lowest month-on-month rise in capital city dwelling values since December 2015,” he said in a note.

Despite subdued rises on other cities – Hobart was the strongest with a rise of 1.0 per cent to $363,200 – Mr Lawless said the trends in the overall housing market remain positive.

He said Australian home prices were up 2.9 per cent in the three months to March 31, and 11.2 per cent in annually, to $625,800.

Mr Lawless noted the subdued April result came amid public holidays, mortgage rates edging higher and a tightening of lending standards, especially to investors, by the bank regulator APRA.

“We need to be cautious in calling a peak in the market after only one month of soft results,” he said.

“April, in particular, coincides with seasonal factors including Easter, school holidays and ANZAC Day long weekend.”

He added that the softer results should also be viewed against a backdrop of ever-evolving regulation aimed at slowing investment and interest-only mortgage lending.”

Adelaide home prices were up 0.8 per cent at $430,000, Brisbane prices were up 0.6 per cent at $481,000 and Darwin prices were up 0.5 per cent at $467,000.

Meanwhile, Canberra prices slumped 2.8 per cent to $605,000 and Perth prices were down one per cent to $472,000.

Major university cuts may be part of next week’s Budget

A strong Chinese economy and two Reserve Bank interest rate cuts last year have delivered a boost to Australia’s coffers.

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But a leading economist warns the $100 billion surge in national income this year will not make much difference to the Budget.

Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson says that is partly because the money has already been counted.

“It won’t terribly translate into better news for the Budget, partly because the Treasurer’s previous update was more or less on the money there and because wage growth remains pretty weak and that’s weighing on the tax take.”

Mr Richardson warns the return to surplus could be slower than Treasury is hoping.

He says that is because the official modelling is counting on big improvements to the way tax is collected.

“Treasury’s still of the view, and it may be right, that the tax system will get a bunch healthier in the next few years. In the last seven years, total revenue went up by an average of $17 billion a year. In the next three years, Treasury says it’ll jump to $30 billion a year, not because of a decision to tax more but because of underlying repair in the tax system.”

The Government is reportedly considering major cuts to university funding which could include a rise in fees for students.

The education minister is meeting with university leaders to discuss it.

The move follows a Government-commissioned report, also by Deloitte, that shows federal funding has risen faster than the actual cost of educating students.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says universities are banking the difference in profit.

“What I do know is, in the figures that have been released by the education minister today, that funding growth has been at 15 per cent, the costs have been growing at 9.5 per cent, there is the effective profit equivalent of 6 per cent for these institutions, but, for businesses at large, it’s at 1 per cent. So I think those three figures tell you something about the capacity, I think, for the sector to deliver better value, even better value, for the students.”

The Opposition has attacked the Government for raiding the education sector for savings, though.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it is a question of priorities.

“No nation can be an innovation nation when you’re cutting funding to education. Why should university students have to pay much more to go to university at the same time as the Government is giving corporate tax giveaways of $50 billion over the next 10 years?”