Economists query Trump’s recession call

Donald Trump’s prediction that the US economy is on the verge of a “very massive recession” has hit a wall of scepticism from economists who questioned the Republican presidential front-runner’s calculations.

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In an interview with the Washington Post published on Saturday, the billionaire businessman said a combination of high unemployment and an overvalued stock market had set the stage for another economic slump.

He put real unemployment above 20 per cent.

“We’re not heading for a recession, massive or minor, and the unemployment rate is not 20 per cent,” Harm Bandholz, chief US economist at UniCredit Research in New York said on Sunday.

The official unemployment rate has declined to five per cent from a peak of 10 per cent in October 2009, according to government statistics.

But a different, broader measure of unemployment that includes people who want to work, but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment is at 9.8 per cent.

Coming off a difficult week of campaigning, in which he acknowledged he struggled to articulate his position on abortion among other missteps, Trump’s comments to the Post might be some of his most bearish on the economy and financial markets.

“I think we’re sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble,” he said.

Some economists agree the stock market is in a period of overvaluation but do not see that as foretelling a cataclysmic economic downturn originating in the United States.

“Nobody can predict what the stock market is going to do,” said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Centre at Georgia State University.

“I cannot predict a stock market crash, so I cannot predict a recession. I don’t see any of the reasons for a recession going forward unless there is a huge problem with the market or there is some catastrophic world event which is beyond the scope of economics.”

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, put the probability of an imminent recession at less than 10 per cent.

“If it happens, it would be because of what is happening overseas, especially in China and Europe,” he says.

Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisers in Pennsylvania, said it would take a “total financial meltdown” to trigger a recession.

The Democratic National Committee criticised Trump for his remarks, saying they “undermine our economy”.

Trump’s success with voters, despite his sometimes saying things only to contradict them later, has also alarmed many leading figures within his own party.

Some of them are openly plotting to try to prevent him from becoming the nominee at the party’s national convention in July.

Melbourne attack on Muslim girls ‘disturbing and brazen’: Islamophobia Register

Three Muslim schoolgirls have spoken of the terror they felt in what has described as a “disturbing and brazen” racially-motivated attack by a gang of youths.

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10-year-old Aima Sadiq-Ali, 12-year-old Walija Iqbalali, and Nadia Ali-Ahmad, 15, were playing in a Geelong park last Wednesday around 5.30pm, when a group of boys and girls approached and hurled racial abuses at them.

They then proceeded to forcibly rip off Aima and Nadia’s hijabs, which caused grazing to Aima’s neck.

“They said go back to your country. I’m gonna f*** your mum, like rude words.” Aima Sadiq-Ali told Channel Seven.

“They’re saying our scarf (is) poo, (they were) saying ‘get off your poo’.”

Walija Iqbalali said her foot was heavily bruised as the gang repeatedly punched and kicked them, and then pelted them with rocks.

“One of the little girls, she was like seven years old, and she was filling her socks with rocks and hitting us,” Ms Iqbalali said to Channel Seven.

“I couldn’t even control myself as I was really upset,” Nadia Ali-Ahmad added.

As the trio attempted to escape and call police, Aima’s mobile phone was taken off her and smashed into pieces.

A parent related to one of the offenders later arrived, but the girls say instead of stopping the violence, the parent egged the gang on.

“They hit us, and their mum is like saying rude words to us to ‘go back to your country, go back to your country,’” she said.

In a statement, Victoria Police said they are hunting the group of “about ten youths”, aged between seven and 16, and confirmed an older woman was believed to be with them.

Acting Senior Sergeant Jonathan Parish said the attacks were extremely distressing.

“It is a sickening attack. It’s extremely alarming. They’re young girls, they should be able to go to a local park and enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the community, without being subjected to this kind of behaviour,” he said.

“They certainly have the right to practice their faith and be safe and secure whilst doing so.”

Post by Islamophobia Register Australia.

Islamophobia Register Australia president Mariam Veiszadeh said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page that the “disturbing and brazen” attack on the three girls was part of a wider trend.

“The news of this incident comes amidst a global political landscape in which Islamophobia is becoming increasingly mainstream so people feel more emboldened to engage in a manner that is prejudicial towards Muslims and in this case, against children,” she said.

“We are currently in the process of working with a number of academics to analyse over 12 months worth of data from the Islamophobia Register Australia in an endeavour to publish a Final Findings Report later this year which aims to shed light on the trends we are seeing in our data.

“Many incidents like this continue to go unreported. Please help us, protect our communities by reporting any such incidents to Police and to us at the Register.”

The girls suffered minor injuries, but said the emotional trauma sustained was severe and are now too frightened to go outside without their parents, who fled war-torn Afghanistan.

“I’m so scared, and my mum’s scared too,” Aima Sadiq-Ali said.

Police have urged for anyone with information to come forward.

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Eels resolution to clear Norman’s future

A speedy resolution to Parramatta’s salary cap dramas shape as key to the NRL club holding onto off-contract playmaker Corey Norman.

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Norman on Monday admitted his manager had already been sounded out by rival NRL clubs interested in his services for 2017 and beyond.

His manager is also talking to the Eels about a new deal, but complicating matters is the fact Parramatta are unlikely to finalise any contracts until the NRL’s salary cap investigation into the club is complete.

There is still no firm timetable on when the NRL will hand down their findings, which Norman said would definitely help his situation.

“But in saying that we’re talking to the club at the moment and we’re doing everything we can to get everything right,” Norman said.

Norman has impressed for the blue and gold since joining from Brisbane in 2014, and was named their player of the year last season.

However with halfback Kieran Foran arriving at the club this season on a multi-million dollar deal, keeping another half on big money could be difficult for the Eels to manage.

And now other clubs are chasing.

“Yeah there are,” Norman said, when asked if other clubs had been in contact with his manager.

“My manager is doing that side of things. He will let me know when the time is right and I think we’ll have a sit down and discuss our plans.”

Parramatta fullback Michael Gordon said holding on to Norman should be a priority for the club.

The Eels’ last-minute 20-18 loss to Penrith was the club’s first while having both Norman and Foran on the field together, and Gordon believes the club must keep the pair together.

“If I was the club I would be doing all I could to re-sign him,” Gordon said.

“With Foran signed here for a while you would think if you can lock up him and Norman up long-term … they’ve got potential to build up something really good here over the next five or six years.”

Syrian air raid kills Nusra Front leader

A prominent leader in Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot the Nusra Front was killed on Sunday in an air raid in the rebel held north western province of Idlib alongside at least 20 other militants, including foreign jihadists and rebels, a monitoring group said.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the country, confirmed reports on websites by militant sympathisers that Abu Firas, “the Syrian”, was killed in a suspected Syrian or Russian air raid on a village northwest of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

Abu Firas was a well-known figure who had many followers within the hardline group and who gave commentaries released by Nusra Front on sensitive issues ranging from governance to religious jurisprudence.

An Islamist source said Abu Firas was a founding member of the militant group who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and was a senior member of its policy making Shura Council. He also worked with Osama bin Laden.

An army defector, Abu Firas originally came from Madaya, near Damascus, another source said.

The militant who supported the imposition of Islamic Sharia across Syria was killed alongside his son and Uzbekistan fighters in a strike that also targeted the militant Jund al Aqasa group in the village of Kafr Jales in mainly non-government controlled Idlib province, the monitor said.

A fragile “cessation of hostilities” truce has held in Syria for more than a month as the various parties try to negotiate an end to Syria’s five-year-old civil war.

But the truce excludes Islamic State and Nusra Front, and air and land attacks by Syrian and allied forces continue in parts of Syria where the government says the groups are present.

Commission orders pause on airport strikes over national security concerns

Striking Australian airport customs and immigration staff have been told to go to work after the Fair Work Commission ordered that industrial action over a pay dispute be temporarily suspended.

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The commission made the order late on Sunday to suspend the action pending its decision on a government bid for a three-month halt on strikes on national security grounds, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said.

The order suspends strikes from 12.15am Monday.

“Members on duty tonight should not take any further notified action, with the suspension taking effect just after midnight Sunday night,” the CPSU said on its website.

“…The CPSU will abide by the order made by the Fair Work Commission and strongly encourages members to immediately refrain from taking notified industrial action.”

Urgent hearings were held in the Fair Work Commission on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday after the Immigration Department applied late on Friday to suspend all industrial action for three months on national security grounds.

The CPSU said part of the commission’s proceedings were ordered closed after the Commonwealth sought to legally suppress some of the evidence.

The union plans to fight against the Immigration Department’s application when the case returns to the commission on Tuesday.

The strikes had initially been planned for the Easter long weekend but were suspended in the wake of the Belgium terror attacks so as not to compromise Australia’s national security.

On Monday customs and immigration staff had planned to strike at airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, as well as regional terminals in Queensland.

Rolling stoppages around the nation had been scheduled to run until April 12, after the CPSU asked Immigration Department staff to take the action as the latest step in a two-year battle with the federal government over pay and conditions.

Mumford looms as big hurdle for Swans

Sydney’s new ruck combination of Kurt Tippett and Callum Sinclair can expect a severe test against former Swan Shane Mumford in Saturday’s first harbour city derby of the AFL season.

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Mumford played 79 games for Sydney from 2010 to 2013 and was part of their 2012 premiership-winning side before moving to Greater Western Sydney.

The 29-year-old ruckman is widely considered the Giants’ most important player and underlined his value with a typically robust and physically imposing performance in the upset victory over Geelong in Canberra on Sunday.

Tippett and ex-Eagles ruckman Sinclair combined for seven goals and each grabbed seven marks in Sydney’s 60-point away win over Carlton on Sunday, as they rotated between the ruck and forward roles.

Following their 80-point opening round rout of Collingwood, it’s the first time in 29 years Sydney have started the season with two 50-point plus wins.

“Callum has fitted in really well and they’ve got a nice combo going him and `Tippo,'” Swan Harry Cunningham said upon the team’s return from Melbourne on Monday.

“But in saying that, we can’t really get complacent, they’ve got a big battle this week with Mumford.”

Cunningham emphasised Mumford was far from the only threat the Giants possessed.

“They are fierce at the contest and they always apply a lot of pressure around the footy,” Cunningham said.

“We know they’ve got some good ball users coming out of the backline as well and they’ve got some big targets to go to.

“They got some quality players all over the ground and it will be a tough test for us.”

Cunningham isn’t surprised by Lance Franklin strong start to the season, with the star forward bagging successive four-goal hauls.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in Lance to be able to do that,” Cunningham said.

“He’s a quality player and has been for a long time, so we certainly didn’t expect anything less.”

Australian refugee deal a failure: Cambodian official

It’s been dubbed a failure by a top official in Phnom Penh, but Immigration Minister Peter Dutton insists Australia’s refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia isn’t a $55 million white elephant.

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Of the five refugees who agreed to move from Nauru under the deal, only two remain in Cambodia after three opted to return to their countries of origin.

Australia offered Cambodia a $40 million aid sweetener and $15 million was earmarked for the International Organisation for Migration for resettlement costs.

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Not all of that money has been spent.

“Nobody has been paid $55 million,” Mr Dutton told ABC radio on Monday.

“We pay as people go across to Cambodia.”

Mr Dutton declined to provide an exact figure but said it was in the low millions of dollars.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan admits the country doesn’t have the social services needed to support the integration of refugees into Khmer society.

“You could say it is a failure, but at least we relieved them from the camp,” the spokesman told Al Jazeera’s 101 East program.

He also told the program on Friday there had been a plan to build a refugee centre in Cambodia “controlled by the Australian embassy”.

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Meanwhile, Mr Dutton dismissed reports Papua New Guinea is moving to close the detention centre on Manus Island by the end of June.

“There is a lot of misinformation being peddled,” he said.

The main problem was that refugees were refusing to leave the centre and move to the transit centre at East Lorengau, the minister said he had been told.

Mr Dutton rejected claims the government reclassified parts of a Sydney facility to support its claim no children remain in immigration detention.

Mr Dutton announced over the weekend all children had been released from mainland detention centres but refugee advocates argue 10 remain at the Villawood centre in western Sydney after their status was changed to “community detention”.

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The minister said there was a family living in a townhouse adjacent to the centre who could come and go during the day, and visit a male relative still in “held detention”.

“We’ve been able to make a modification to the arrangement so the children aren’t detained, they can have friends over, they can go out into the community,” he said.

They weren’t being accompanied by guards when they went to school, the minister said.

Scott believes he’s man to beat at Masters

Nothing like a bit of self confidence, with world No.

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6 and former Masters champion Adam Scott believing he is the man to beat at Augusta this week.

Scott, with two US PGA Tour wins already this season, showed no sign of fear of the likes of in-form countryman and world No.1 Jason Day, Rory McIlroy or defending champion Jordan Spieth.

“I have to believe I am going to win this week and that no one else has a chance,” said Scott, seeking to recapture the magic of 2013 when he famously became the first Australian to win a green jacket.

“I honestly believe you have to see it happening for it to happen and that was probably the difference in my career before I won a major.

“It doesn’t mean it just happens but with some good shots and putts going in at the right time it can unfold that way.”

Since taking down Angel Cabrera in a playoff in 2013, Scott was T14 in 2014 and at T38 last year.

But his optimism has risen thanks to recent back-to-back wins at the Honda Classic and WGC Cadillac Championship.

“It’s huge coming in with confidence to any major, certainly here because you need your game to be on point here,” he said.

“The confidence is a lot higher than last year.

“There was a lot of tinkering going on in the lead up last year but things look much more in place coming here this year and its been a calmer preparation.”

Despite his recent victories, there are still questions as to whether Scott can handle the slick Augusta greens with the short putter.

But the man himself, who has lifted his strokes gained putting stat from 157th on tour in 2015 to 48th on tour this season, feels it will be to his advantage.

“I’ve said all along as soon as I get on this type of green, the faster quicker greens, I am going to putt better then slower greens,” he said.

“The fast quick greens like back home at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath – they are my favourite greens to putt on as well as here at Augusta. I think the rhythm of my stroke certainly favours this pace of green.”

ACCC flags fresh review of Asciano deal

Australia’s competition regulator has flagged a fresh review of the $9.

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05 billion takeover of rail and ports giant Asciano and is examining whether the new cross-ownership deal will lead to any common financial interest among the suitors.

The watchdog has also sought comments from market participants on whether the takeover will increase the ability of the combined businesses to discriminate against competitors.

Asciano in March agreed to a joint takeover from rival suitors that will carve up Australia’s largest rail and ports operator in an effort to sidestep previous regulatory concerns.

Under the proposal, Asciano’s main Pacific Rail business will be taken over by five overseas funds – China Investment Corp, Canada’s CPPIB, Singapore’s GIC, Global Infrastructure Partners and British Columbia Investment Management Corp (BCIMC).

Its Patrick container terminal business will be jointly acquired by logistics firm Qube and a consortium of Canadian infrastructure giant Brookfield, GIC, BCIMC and Qatar Investment Authority.

Asciano’s bulk, auto and ports services (BAPS) businesses will be taken over by Brookfield, GIC, QIA and BCIMC, with Qube holding rights to buy out the 50 per cent stake in the Australian Amalgamated Terminals business.

CPPIB is separately taking a 9.99 per cent stake in Qube.

“The ACCC considers these underlying commercial relationships may lead to a level of common financial interest within the consortium, despite the division of the proposed acquisition of Asciano into three separate components,” ACCC said in a market inquiries letter.

The regulator said it will take these relationships into account while reviewing the takeover, and now hopes to make a decision on the deal by May 26.

Lee Lin Chin becomes first SBS personality nominated for Gold Logie

Longtime SBS World News presenter Lee Lin Chin will be vying for the Gold Logie for the most popular television personality against The Project co-hosts Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly, The Block host Scott Cam, Essie Davis from the ABC and Family Feud’s Grant Denyer.

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Her inclusion is the first time SBS has been in contention for the Gold Logie in the station’s 36-year history, and caps off a successful campaign by SBS program, The Feed, who crusaded to have Ms Chin nominated by pushing the #LeeLinforLogiesWin hashtag.

She will also be vying for the Presenter award for her work on The Feed.

Ms Chin has held several posts since joining SBS in 1992, and currently hosts the weekend editions of SBS World News.

Waking up a gold Logie nominee just feels better you know? #tvweeklogies

— Lee Lin Chin (@LeeLinChinSBS) April 3, 2016Couldn’t think of a nicer person to be nominated for a gold Logie @LeeLinChinSBS! #LeeLinforLogiesWin #history #sbs pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/CWrplZe1nN

— Ricardo Goncalves (@BUSINESSricardo) April 3, 2016

Alex Dimitriades was nominated for for Most Outstanding Actor for his role in SBS drama, The Principal.

With the nomination of two hosts of the Project, co-host of The Project, Peter Helliar, jokingly said there may be rivalry in the newsroom

“It’s going to be very awkward at The Project for the next month,” he said.

Bickmore said she was still on a high from last year’s win and slapped down any talk of professional rivalry between her and Aly for the gong.

“I feel we need there to be a rivalry to fulfil everyone else’s expectations,” she said. “There genuinely is nothing.”

When it came to nominations for each network, ABC led the race with 31, followed by Nine, 25, Seven, 22 and Ten, 20.

Seven’s 800 Words and Nine’s Love Child both received nods for the viewer-voted best drama and peer-voted most outstanding drama series, as did Foxtel’s A Place To Call Home.

Ky Baldwin, 14, star of Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door, was awarded the The Graham Kennedy Breakthrough Award.

Heaven help those who are nominated up against the formidable @LeeLinChinSBS 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/mM90MdlyPJ

— Trevor Long (@trevorlong) April 3, 2016Hey @LeeLinChinSBS, @karlstefanovic is stoked for your Gold Logie nomination. Onya. #9Today 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/quM8QrdnQL

— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) April 3, 2016

Most Outstanding Newcomers were named as 800 Words star Melina Vidler and Joel Jackson, for his role in Seven’s mini-series Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door.

Streaming service Stan also got its first nods with Dan Wyllie, from No Activity nominated for most outstanding supporting actor and the show also getting a nod for most outstanding comedy. It’s the first time original Australian programs from subscription streaming services have been considered for TV’s night of nights.

2016 Logie Award nominees

Gold Logie for most popular TV personality

* Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)

* Waleed Aly (The Project, Network Ten)

* Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC)

* Grant Denyer (Family Feud / The Great Australian Spelling Bee, Ten)

* Scott Cam (The Block / Reno Rumble, Nine Network)

* Lee Lin Chin (SBS World News / The Feed, SBS)

Best Actor

* Craig McLachlan (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, ABC)

* Erik Thomson (800 Words, Channel Seven)

* Josh Thomas (Please Like Me, ABC)

* Stephen Peacocke (Home And Away, Channel Seven)

* Firass Dirani (House Husbands, Nine Network)

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Best Actress

* Jessica Marais (Love Child, Nine Network)

* Bonnie Sveen (Home And Away, Channel Seven)

* Julia Morris (House Husbands, Nine Network)

* Marta Dusseldorp (A Place To Call Home, Foxtel-SoHo)

* Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC)

Presenter

* Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)

* Lee Lin Chin (SBS World News / The Feed, SBS)

* Waleed Aly (The Project, Network Ten)

* Grant Denyer (Family Feud / The Great Australian Spelling Bee, Network Ten)

* Amanda Keller (The Living Room, Network Ten)

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Best New Talent

* Pia Miller (Home And Away, Channel Seven)

* Adam Dovile (Better Homes And Gardens, Channel Seven)

* Benson Jack Anthony (800 Words, Channel Seven)

* Dan Reilly (The Block, Nine Network)

* Joel Jackson (Deadline Gallipoli / Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door, Foxtel Showcase /Channel Seven)

Most Outstanding Actor

* Alex Dimitriades (Matt Bashir, The Principal, SBS)

* Hugh Dancy (Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, Deadline Gallipoli, Foxtel-Showcase)

* Malcolm Kennard (Ivan Milat, Catching Milat, Seven)

* Patrick Brammall (James Hayes, Glitch, ABC)

* Sam Neill (Lang Hancock, House Of Hancock, Nine Network)

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Most Outstanding Actress

* Deborah Mailman (Lorraine, Redfern Now: Promise Me, ABC)

* Essie Davis (Phryne Fisher, Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries, ABC)

* Mandy McElhinney (Gina Rinehart, House Of Hancock, Nine Network)

* Pamela Rabe (Joan Ferguson, Wentworth, Foxtel-SoHo)

* Sarah Snook (Anna Ivin, The Beautiful Lie, ABC)

Most Outstanding Supporting Actor

* Dan Wyllie (Jimmy, No Activity, Stan)

* David Berry (James Bligh, A Place To Call Home, Foxtel-SoHo)

* Ryan Corr (Corporal MacDonald, Banished, Foxtel-BBC First)

* Tim Minchin (Jacob, No Activity, Stan)

* Tim Minchin (Smasher Sullivan, The Secret River, ABC)

Most Outstanding Supporting Actress

* Celia Ireland (Liz Birdsworth, Wentworth, Foxtel-SoHo)

* Emily Barclay (Sarah Hayes, Glitch, ABC)

* Harriet Dyer (Patricia Saunders, Love Child, Nine Network)

* Jenni Baird (Regina Standish, A Place To Call Home, Foxtel-SoHo)

* Rarriwuy Hick (Robyn Davis, Redfern Now: Promise Me, ABC)

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Best Drama

* A Place to Call Home (Foxtel-SoHo)

* House Husbands (Nine Network)

* 800 Words (Seven Network)

* Home and Away (Seven Network)

* Love Child (Nine Network)

Most Outstanding Drama

* 800 Words (Channel Seven)

* A Place To Call Home (Foxtel-SoHo)

* Glitch (ABC)

* Love Child (Nine Network)

* Wentworth (Foxtel-SoHo)

Best Lifestyle show

* Selling Houses Australia (Foxtel-The LifeStyle Channel)

* Better Homes And Gardens (Channel Seven)

* Gardening Australia (ABC)

* The Living Room (Network Ten)

* Getaway (Nine Network)

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Most Outstanding Comedy

* Open Slather (Foxtel-The Comedy Channel)

* No Activity (Stan)

* Please Like Me (ABC)

* Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell (ABC)

* Utopia (ABC)

Most Outstanding Entertainment Program

* The Weekly With Charlie Pickering (ABC)

* Gruen (ABC)

* Have You Been Paying Attention? (Network Ten)

* The Voice (Nine Network)

* The X Factor Australia (Channel Seven)

The 58th Logie Awards will be presented on May 8 at Crown’s Palladium Room in Melbourne.