Chinese whistleblower granted political asylum

‘Rebecca’ Jun Mei Wu has told SBS News she is relieved to have been granted asylum in Australia.

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Ms Wu worked for the digital arm of the People’s Daily state media empire from 2012 to 2016. She fled the city of Wuhan for Sydney after being detained and questioned by security officers over her affiliation with an underground Protestant church.

“I’m very thankful to the Australian government for saving me from certain imprisonment in China,” Ms Wu told SBS.

“My relatives are still under surveillance back home. The situation journalists face in China is dire.”

In a series of interviews with SBS last year, Ms Wu described the personal crisis she underwent when she was confronted by the systemic repression and censorship involved in the state media which is controlled by the Communist Party.

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“I left because I didn’t want to work in party propaganda anymore,” Ms Wu said.

“Telling the truth was not how we did business.”

Her husband remains in China, where authorities have placed him under a domestic travel restriction, which prevents him from leaving the city in which he works.

Ms Wu’s flight from China provided a rare insight into the workings of state media there, which has seen an increase in censorship directives and online surveillance under the watch of President Xi Jinping.

The former Communist Party member also documented several cases of extortion involving the People’s Daily, in which reporters were told to find evidence of corruption before blackmailing companies.

“It was cash for silence, basically,” she told SBS.

In one instance, she alleged that the Daily’s Wuhan bureau extorted more than 627,000 RMB every year from chemical manufacturer Chuyuan Technologies, which had done massive ecological damage to nearby villages after dumping effluent in the Yangtze River.

“This was our arrangement: Chuyuan would pay us $119,000 per year, and we would hold off on reporting any of these things that were affecting local people,” she explained.

“In addition to that, Chuyuan would get advertising space – as well as good press in our reportage.”

Ms Wu was detained by public security officials last year after managers discovered psalm notes at her workplace.

After intense questioning, she was asked to “infiltrate and monitor” her church group and to pass the information to security forces.

Her detention came at the height of a state crackdown on underground churches in China, in which a prominent pastor Father Gu Yuese was detained by authorities alongside his lawyer.

Reverend Bill Crews of the Uniting Church in Ashfield, who gave Ms Wu sanctuary upon her arrival to Australia, praised the Immigration Minister for his decision to grant asylum.

“I am so pleased by this decision,” Reverand Crews said.

“The immigration department and the minister have acted commendably.”

Watch The Feed’s interview with Jun Mei Wu about her case:

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Listen to coverage of the case on SBS Mandarin.

To contact this reporter, email [email protected]长沙桑拿按摩论坛,长沙夜网,

Turnbull backtracks on GST promise in WA

Six months after getting a standing ovation for promising to fix the GST system that was short-changing WA, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has backtracked and now says the floor he promised to set for the states is years away.

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The comments are a significant election blow to Premier Colin Barnett, who said over the weekend he wanted an answer from the prime minister during his visit this week about where the floor would be.

“The GST is our one major financial issue. I’ve been banging on about that for the last eight years, and I’ll continue to do so,” he said at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch.

The state’s GST share fell to 30 cents in every dollar raised by the tax in WA last year, equating to a $4.7 billion shortfall compared to the state’s population share.

It is blamed by the Barnett government for its record $3 billion-plus deficit.

Mr Turnbull now says WA will have to wait until its share increased to about 70-75 cents in the dollar.

He wrongly said that was forecast to be in about 2020, but Treasury says it will only be about 60 cents.

“Clearly you want to set a floor at a time when no state will be a loser and we need to wait a few years until the Western Australia share under the current formula climbs back up to a more normal level,” he told reporters.

It will also require the agreement of other states, he says.

Mr Turnbull said he was being consistent with last year’s promise, but last August there was no mention of the change taking until 2020 or requiring the agreement of the other states and Treasury being unable to act.

He also said Labor leader Mark McGowan should not be promising to divert federal funds to help pay for Labor’s flagship election policy – the $2.54 billion Metronet train system.

Labor plans to scrap the $1.9 billion controversial Perth Freight Link road project, tear up contracts already signed for it and redirect part of the $1.2 billion in federal funds to Metronet.

“That’s not his money … the Perth Freight Link project is one of the top priority projects and was assessed very carefully by Infrastructure Australia, was fully costed and engineered and is ready to go,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“If he wants federal money for another project, he will have to make a case for it.

“Mr McGowan has no business case, even if this is the best idea in the world it will take years before it gets through all those hoops and governments can responsibly allocate the funds and get the work started.”

Mr McGowan says he is prepared to “have a war” with the federal government.

“We’ll get the money out of the commonwealth and if I have to have a war with the federal government I will, but they will cave in because Western Australia will not be intimidated or bullied,” he told reporters.

Mr McGowan said the federal and state Liberals had failed WA by not delivering changes to the GST.

Pence reassures Europe, demands NATO funds

Capping a European trip aimed at allaying fears about the new administration’s support, Pence said Washington’s backing for the EU remained “steadfast and enduring”.

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“Today it is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” Pence said after talks with EU president Donald Tusk in Brussels.

European allies have all been unnerved by Trump’s criticism of the EU as a vehicle for Germany, his praise of Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and his dismissal of NATO as “obsolete” even as he praises Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Pence pledged the United States would keep working with Europe to boost the world’s two biggest economies, fight terrorism and defend eastern EU states against Russian encroachment.

Tusk, a former Polish premier, said that Europeans “truly needed” the meeting with Pence and that the 28-nation bloc counted on “wholehearted and unequivocal” US support.

“Too much has happened over the past month in your country and in the EU … for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be,” Tusk said.

Pence also met European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxembourg premier, who stressed that the United States “needs a strong united Europe.”.

NATO ‘actions not words’

Scores of protesters gathered in the EU quarter of the Belgian capital during Pence’s visit, criticising the Trump administration’s attitude toward women, gays and climate change.

Two female protesters went topless and carried banners saying “Pence get out of our pants,” while another placard read “Love Trumps Hate”.

At NATO headquarters, Pence said Trump expects NATO allies to make “real progress by the end of 2017” towards meeting a goal they set in 2014 of raising defence spending to two percent of GDP over a decade.

“If you don’t yet have a plan — these are my words, not his (Trump’s) — get one. It is time for actions, not words,” Pence told a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

So far, of the 28 NATO members, only the United States, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia have met the two percent target.

“America will do our part but Europe’s defence requires Europe’s commitment as much as ours,” Pence said Monday.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis delivered a similar message at a NATO defence ministers meeting last week, saying Washington could “moderate” its commitment if allies fail to pay up.

Pence, Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have stuck close to established policy during their first foray into Europe despite Trump’s previous pronouncements.

But they have also been left to cope with their president’s unpredictable remarks, and by a growing scandal over the new White House’s links to Russia.

Pence admitted on Monday he was “disappointed” that former US national security adviser Michael Flynn had given him “inaccurate” information about his contacts with Russia over US sanctions before he resigned last week.

However he said he fully backed Trump’s decision to accept Flynn’s resignation.

‘Very positive’

Pence’s visit came two days after Trump referred, during a rally in Florida, to a non-existent Swedish terror incident and urged people to “look at what’s happening in Brussels” as he listed a series of European cities struck by deadly terror attacks.

Pence said the United States would remain “full partners” with the EU in fighting terrorism, a Trump priority.

He also pledged it would defend Europe’s “territorial integrity” and said the Trump administration will “continue to hold Russia accountable” for the violence in eastern Ukraine and demand that Moscow honour the Minsk agreements for a ceasefire due to begin Monday.

Trump is expected to attend a NATO summit in Brussels at the end of May and he has also been invited to meet EU leaders.

An EU source told AFP that Pence’s meeting with Tusk was “very positive”.

“Will it allay all Europeans fears about Trump? No but it was the best we could have hoped for,” the source added.

Catalan government angers Spain after voting for independence referendum

Catalans are set to vote on whether or not they want to be independent from Spain in a referendum.

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The decree was signed by Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont and the rest of his cabinet in a bid to show a united front in the face of threats of legal action by Madrid.

Catalonia’s regional government approved on Wednesday a law to hold an independence referendum, setting up a clash with the Spanish government that has vowed to stop what it says would be an illegal vote.

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After 12 hours of often chaotic debate in the Barcelona parliament, a majority voted for the referendum and the legal framework to set up a new state, under which the assembly would declare independence within 48 hours of a ‘yes’ vote on October 1.

Politicians who opposed independence abandoned the chamber before the vote, with some leaving Catalan flags in their empty seats.

The winners, led by Mr Puigdemont, sang the Catalan national anthem once the votes were counted.

“We call on the citizens of our country to decide how they feel it is necessary to orient the future of Catalonia, whether by the current path of autonomy and trimmed statute or by a new road as an independent state in the form of a republic,” Mr Puigdemont said after signing the measure into law.

Spain’s government has asked the country’s constitutional court to declare the referendum law void.

The government has labelled the move as a “constitutional and democratic atrocity” with deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría saying it was a “shameful and embarrassing” betrayal, according to The Guardian.

Seventy-two MPs voted through the legislation while 52 opposed the move.

“The government will defend freedom, democracy and coexistence,” Ms Sáenz de Santamaría said. 

“We won’t allow the law to go unheeded in Spain. Let no one doubt that we know what we have to do and that we will do it.”

The Spanish constitution states the country is indivisible.

Relieved Aussies escape Test series defeat

Relieved after Australia dodged a humbling Test series defeat to Bangladesh, skipper Steve Smith says his side must address their constant batting collapses or risk losing the Ashes.

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Australia escaped from their first visit to Bangladesh in 11 years with a 1-1 series draw after winning the second Test in Chittagong by seven wickets with a day to spare.

Set a target of 86 runs to win after bowling out Bangladesh for 157 in their second innings on day four, Australia needed just 16 overs to claim victory on Thursday.

Nathan Lyon was named man of the match after becoming the first Australian to take 13 wickets in a Test in Asia.

He shared man of the series honours with David Warner, who backed up his drought-breaking triumph in Dhaka with a gutsy century in stifling heat during Australia’s first innings.

Warner’s heroics helped to minimise the impact of batting collapses in both Tests but Smith admitted it was an issue the Australians desperately needed to address.

“We would have much preferred 2-0 but it’s nice to get over the line here and have a 1-1 draw,” Smith said.

“I still think we have a lot of improvement in us. We probably let ourselves down at times throughout this Test match.

“I thought our first-innings bowling was very good to restrict them. Our first-innings batting, obviously the partnership between (Peter Handscomb) and Davey was fantastic.

“And then we got ourselves into one of our collapses that we’ve had.

“I think we’ve had 15 collapses in our last 14 games … that’s not good enough for an Australian cricket team.

“That’s something we really need to work on. We need to rectify that come the next series and the Ashes.”

Offspinner Lyon proved the hero for Australia in Chittagong, backing up his seven-wicket haul in Bangladesh’s first dig to record career-best match figures of 13-154.

Australia were forced to endure some nervous moments with Warner and Smith departing cheaply before Glenn Maxwell scored the winning runs with a six over midwicket.

A 2-0 series loss would have sent Australia tumbling to No.6 on the world Test rankings, their lowest point in almost 30 years.

Lyon’s 6-60 in the second innings took his wicket tally for the tour to 22, just one shy of Sri Lankan tweaker Rangana Herath’s record for the most dismissals in a two-match Test series.

An innings victory for Australia had looked like a genuine possibility when Bangladesh collapsed to 5-43 before lunch.

But Mushfiqur and Mominul Haque (29) led a spirited rearguard action to keep the hosts in with a chance.

Pat Cummins (2-27) was forced to battle through stifling heat but still managed to rattle the Bangladeshi batsmen with sheer pace and an array of short-pitched deliveries.

Matthew Wade made an important contribution with the gloves, stumping danger man Tamim Iqbal (12) and Shabbir Rahman (24) both off the bowling of Lyon.

‘David and Goliath’ marriage survey begins

Both sides of the same-sex marriage campaign are claiming underdog status in a “David and Goliath” battle to win over 16 million Australian voters.

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Forms for the voluntary postal survey will go out from Tuesday after gay rights advocates lost a High Court bid to stop the $122 million process.

Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Anna Brown says the survey is unnecessary but the advocates will now focus all their efforts on securing a resounding “yes” vote.

“We lost the court case but we need to win the plebiscite,” she said.

Australian Marriage Equality co-chair and plaintiff Alex Greenwich said supporters of marriage equality now had no choice but to campaign hard for a strong yes vote.

“This is going to be a tough campaign but we are in it to win it,” he said.

“But certainly the task ahead is daunting and clearly, having had this process imposed upon us in these circumstances, we are clearly the underdog.”

Those pushing for a “no” vote have also claimed underdog status.

Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton urged prospective no-voters to donate to their campaign to ensure it can be competitive.

“It’s a David and Goliath battle,” the Australian Christian Lobby managing director said.

“We don’t have the resources that the other side do.”

Marriage Alliance CEO Damian Wyld said it was extraordinary that those pushing to redefine marriage went as far as taking the government to court to stop the Australian people having a say.

Both legal challenges – one led by independent MP Andrew Wilkie and the other by Australian Marriage Equality – failed.

They had wanted the full bench of the High Court to stop the postal survey, arguing the government should not have bypassed parliament in funding it.

The government found the $122 million by using laws to make an advance payment to the finance minister in circumstances where there is an urgent need for spending and the situation was unforeseen.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre CEO Jonathon Hunyor said the case was an important test of the limits of government power.

“This was a very important case to run because it raised fundamental issues about how governments exercise power in this country and about the role of parliament in our democracy, particularly when it comes to deciding important issues of rights,” Mr Hunyor said.

“We are obviously disappointed with the outcome but we now need to focus on ending discrimination against same-sex couples and making marriage equality a reality.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull encouraged every Australian to have their say in the survey.

Storm’s McLean happy to dodge spotlight

There has been little talk about Jordan McLean’s Melbourne NRL career fast coming to a close.

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And that’s just the way the giant prop likes it.

Ahead of the Storm’s qualifying final against Parramatta at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon, all of the spotlight has been on the departing Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith’s record 356th NRL match.

McLean will join North Queensland next season after signing a three-year deal that ends his Storm journey, which started with their youth team in 2009 alongside the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny.

The 25-year-old said he was happy to have escaped the bulk of the attention heading into the finals.

“There hasn’t been too much of a fuss and that’s the way I like it,” McLean said.

“I’m happy with all the focus to be on Coops and Cam. They deserve all of the spotlight.”

With two young children, the move to Townsville is about being closer to his wife’s family and while McLean is excited about a new opportunity he says it is bittersweet.

“I love this place and everyone here but it’s the best thing for my family,” he said.

“When the time comes it’s going to be tough to go, I came to Melbourne when I was 17 and have a lot of good mates here.”

That bond grew even tighter back in 2014 McLean was suspended for his part in the tackle that left Newcastle’s Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair.

McLean said the support from the club and his teammates helped him through.

“The club has supported me through the good and bad and the bonds with certain people have helped me through the tough times,” he said.

Second-rower Tohu Harris, who joined the NYC team in 2010, is also leaving for the Warriors, ending an era for the forwards who have grown into one of the game’s best packs.

“I haven’t really thought about it being end of an era but I do want to finish on a good note with those fellas,” McLean said.

Hardwick expects big AFL game from Rance

Swingman Harry Taylor became one of the very few players to get the better of Alex Rance when Geelong extended their winning streak against Richmond to 13 games last month.

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Ahead of Friday night’s massive qualifying final, Tigers’ coach Damien Hardwick is confident that lightning won’t strike twice.

With regular spearhead Tom Hawkins missing through suspension, Taylor went forward at Simonds Stadium back in round 21 and booted a match-winning four-goal haul opposing the four-time All-Australian defender.

“Champion players often respond,” Hardwick said on Thursday.

“I think I’ve seen (Rance) lose four one-on-one contests in his career and I I think three of them were on that day.

“Harry is a really good player as well, so we expect that similar match-up to occur.

“We learnt some lessons from that, Alex will certainly learn some lessons.

“He’s a very proud man.

“We know he’s got a role to play that’s important for us and if he plays that role it certainly increases our chances of winning.”

With Hawkins back in the Cats’ line-up, it is unclear where Geelong coach Chris Scott will choose to deploy Taylor at the MCG on Friday night.

Tom Lonergan is likely to get first crack at Richmond’s only genuine key forward Jack Riewoldt, so there is scope to again switch Taylor into attack.

The Tigers’ most recent finals victory was way back in 2001 against Carlton.

But Hardwick is confident the 2017 Richmond team, one he labelled “by far the best side I’ve coached”, is playing the type of hard-nosed, contested football which is tailor-made for September success.

“Defensively we are an incredible side,” he said.

“You look at our pressure numbers and our pressure rating and we haven’t performed like this before.

“Offensively we’ve allowed some things to happen and the players to play to their strengths which is great, but our one-wood is our defence and we know that.

“If we come to play with that sort of pressure and that sort of intensity we’re really hard to beat.”

Sharks can go back-to-back, says Ennis

They may have spluttered into the NRL finals but Michael Ennis predicts Cronulla are about to find another gear and are poised to pull off a premiership boilover.

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The Sharks must do it the hard way if they’re to be the first team in 24 years to win back-to-back titles after finishing fifth.

Not only is every game do-or-die, the black, white and blue are swimming against the tide of history with no team in the NRL era (since 1998) having come from outside the top four to win the grand final.

While Shane Flanagan’s men are widely considered one of the few teams capable of beating runaway pacesetters Melbourne, they must find form quickly.

The Sharks looked far from convincing in the closing rounds, winning just two of their last five, failing to win consecutive matches since round 21 and being pushed all the way by wooden-spooners Newcastle last week.

But Ennis, who was a part of the Sharks’ drought-breaking title win last year, said Jack Bird (shoulder) and Wade Graham (leg) shape as game-changers ahead of Sunday’s elimination final with North Queensland.

“Bird and Graham are huge inclusions,” Ennis said at the Fox League finals launch.

“Having those guys on the park, the Sharks play that semi-final-type football.

“I’ve got a feeling they are about to put the foot down. Sunday is huge in terms of building some real confidence.”

Also important, Ennis says, is the fact they have fallen on the softer side of the draw.

Should they beat the Cowboys, they would not be drawn to meet the Storm until the grand final – unless Parramatta can spring an upset against the minor premiers on Saturday.

“They’ve fallen on a good side of the draw. They are healthy. They get Bird and Graham back, they play the Cowboys at home,” Ennis said.

“We saw what that did for the Sharks last year. The Cowboys are depleted. They’ve been gallant with the injuries they’ve faced but Paul Green has done a tremendous job, I would imagine the Sharks would win that.

“Then they will face the loser of the Melbourne and Parramatta game and they have had success against both those sides in the regular season.

“I certainly think with their experience that they are well in contention to go back-to-back. “

No regrets staying with Cowboys: Taumalolo

Two years ago Jason Taumalolo very nearly became a Cronulla Shark.

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But the North Queensland enforcer has no regrets sticking with the Cowboys despite their dire plight ahead of Sunday’s NRL elimination final with his former suitors Cronulla.

Taumalolo was reminded of just how close he came to joining this weekend’s foes after Sharks captain Paul Gallen chewed his ear at the 2015 All Stars game.

“At the time I was (close),” Taumalolo agreed.

“I was still young and weighing up my options.

“I didn’t think Gal would be playing too much longer but the way he has been showing us young boys how to play, he’s still one of the big boys.”

However, Taumalolo said he did not wonder what might have been despite the Sharks’ success.

The NRL’s oldest player Gallen – who turned 36 last month – has found another gear to ensure the defending premiers are overwhelming favourites against the depleted Cowboys.

Reeling from an injury list that ballooned out to 12 players three weeks ago, North Queensland had to rely on other results to scrape into the top eight.

“I think the boys around me made my decision easy,” Taumalolo said of staying at North Queensland.

“I had the respect of my teammates and the coaching staff and I had it for them so that made my choice easier.

“And I love living in north Queensland and that won’t change any time soon.”

Taumalolo is on a collision course with Gallen on Sunday after amassing the most total run metres (4243m) and averaging the most metres per game (192.9m) this season.

But Taumalolo scoffed at the suggestion he was carrying the Cowboys’ finals hopes.

“We are not a one-man team,” he said.

“We have strike weapons right across the park, hopefully on Sunday they all fire.”

Problems linger as Australia dodge defeat

Relieved after Australia dodged a humbling series defeat to Bangladesh, skipper Steve Smith says his side must address their constant batting collapses or risk losing the Ashes.

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Australia escaped from their first visit to Bangladesh in 11 years with a 1-1 series draw, winning the second Test in Chittagong by seven wickets after losing in Dhaka by 20 runs.

Set a target of 86 runs to win after bowling out Bangladesh for 157 in their second innings, Australia needed just 16 overs to claim victory on Thursday with a day to spare.

Much of the credit will rightly go to man of the match Nathan Lyon, who became the first Australian to take 13 wickets in a Test in Asia.

Lyon’s 6-60 in the second innings took his wicket tally for the tour to 22, just one shy of Sri Lankan tweaker Rangana Herath’s record for the most dismissals in a two-match Test series.

He shared man of the series honours with David Warner, who backed up his drought-breaking triumph in Dhaka with a gutsy century in stifling heat during Australia’s first innings.

Recalled spinner Ashton Agar and electrifying quick Pat Cummins were also impressive, showing the fortitude necessary for them to forge long Test careers for Australia.

But while Bangladesh proved to be tougher opponents than their No.9 ranking would suggest, Lyon and Warner’s heroics helped to obscure some deep-rooted issues.

Australia undid the good work of their bowlers with dismal batting collapses in both Tests, and Smith admitted it was an issue they desperately needed to address.

“We would have much preferred 2-0 but it’s nice to get over the line here and have a 1-1 draw,” Smith said.

“I still think we have a lot of improvement in us. We probably let ourselves down at times throughout this Test match.

“I thought our first-innings bowling was very good to restrict them. Our first-innings batting, obviously the partnership between (Peter Handscomb) and Davey was fantastic.

“And then we got ourselves into one of our collapses that we’ve had.

“I think we’ve had 15 collapses in our last 14 games … that’s not good enough for an Australian cricket team.

“That’s something we really need to work on. We need to rectify that come the next series and the Ashes.”

Warner, Smith and Handscomb were the only Australians to make 50s during the series but Smith suggested Australia’s batting problems were largely above the shoulders.

“I’d say that probably 95 per cent of batting is mental and decision-making,” Smith said.

“I don’t think it’s technical a lot of the time. Guys just have to make better decisions consistently and hopefully be able to build some partnerships in the middle.

“You have to find ways to work with your partner out there, get another partnership going and stop the rut as such.”

GWS beaten, not broken by AFL loss: coach

Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron saw enough in his side’s second-half fightback against Adelaide to suggest the Giants’ premiership dream is still alive.

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The rampant Crows kicked 5.3 to 0.1 in the second quarter at Adelaide Oval in a 12.12 (84) to 6.12 (48) qualifying final win on Thursday night.

GWS managed just one goal in the first half and now face a cut-throat semi-final against the winner of Saturday night’s elimination clash between Port Adelaide and West Coast.

“They’re a super side, they finished top for a reason and they’re hard to beat here, but I’d just love to have our time over again in that second quarter,” Cameron said.

“But we finished top four for a reason, we get a second chance, and we’ll bounce back.

“I couldn’t sit here and say that we’d bounce back if we had a really poor second half.

“But I was pleased with the second half … I think there’s a lot of light at the end of the tunnel for us.”

The Giants will be without star forward Jeremy Cameron for the Spotless Stadium encounter after he left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

Cameron missed four matches with hamstring problems in the second half of the season and could struggle to feature again this year.

“It’s his other hammy, it’s not the one that he had a few weeks ago, but we’ll scan it and see where it’s at,” Cameron said.

“It’s disappointing because his back half of the year with those hamstrings have worried him a bit.

“As disappointing as it is to lose one tonight there will be opportunities for boys to plead their case.”

Cameron also forecast more changes to the team, with Steve Johnson and Ryan Griffen to feature in a scratch match against Adelaide’s reserves on Friday.

Crows have unique AFL bond: coach Pyke

The death of Phil Walsh has given AFL flag favourites Adelaide a unique bond, Crows coach Don Pyke says.

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The Crows flew into a home preliminary final with a 36-point drubbing of Greater Western Sydney in Thursday night’s qualifying final.

Pyke is in his second season as Adelaide coach, appointed after the killing of Walsh, who was stabbed to death by son Cy in July 2015.

Cy Walsh was found not guilty by reason of mental incompetence of murdering his father, who was in his first season as Adelaide coach.

“Our group has been through something really unique,” Pyke said after Adelaide’s 12.12 (84) to 6.12 (48) thrashing of GWS.

“Obviously the passing of the previous coach in Phil Walsh has challenged them. It’s an unprecedented event and these guys have gone through that.

“And often loss is an opportunity for growth.

“So they have got something unique as a group and that is good to be able to work with that because the guys now have a sense of each other.”

Pyke said his players’ “genuine care” for each other was evidenced in their reaction to stalwarts Sam Jacobs and Brodie Smith on Thursday night.

Smith is expected to require a knee reconstruction and be denied a shot at a premiership after being hurt just over 10 minutes into the match.

Jacobs fronted despite still grieving the death of his 31-year-old brother last week from an undisclosed illness.

“It’s never easy when a player is dealing with a tragedy in his family,” Pyke said of Jacobs.

“It was always going to be difficult, to be honest, for Sam. And that is a credit to him that he is able to come in and perform the way he did under those circumstances.

“His commitment to being a professional player and also his commitment to the team, that he didn’t want to let them down.

“You could see that afterwards each player and coaching staff were super-proud of Sam and what he was able to do, but at the same time sad for Sam as well.

“He has lost his brother and the result, as happy as we all are, we’re still sad in our hearts for Sam.”