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Australia has admitted it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea, raising concerns that it violated international law.
The transfer took place on Sunday.
Rights groups had raised concerns that some 200 Sri Lankans may have been handed over, including Tamils who say they face persecution at home.
The government has not commented on other possible cases, but says everyone was subject to “enhanced screening” to ensure compliance with Australia’s international obligations.
This is the first time the Australian government has confirmed it has intercepted people at sea, screened them and returned them to their country of origin. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison acknowledge on Monday that a boat-load of 41 people had been handed back to Sri Lanka, while not commenting on the fate of a second boat reportedly carrying about 150 people.
Scott Morrison said they were transferred at sea just outside the Sri Lankan port of Batticaloa on Sunday.
Australia has admitted it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea
“All persons intercepted and returned were subjected to an enhanced screening process,” he said.
The government says only four of those returned on Sunday were Tamils.
Scott Morrison added that only one person may have had a case for asylum but he opted to return voluntarily with the rest of the passengers.
Last week the UN refugee agency UNHCR had expressed “profound concern” about the reported situation.
“Requests for international protection should be considered within the territory of the intercepting state, consistent with fundamental refugee protection principles,” it said.
“International law prescribes that no individual can be returned involuntarily to a country in which he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution.”
Sri Lanka has been under heavy international pressure over alleged human rights violations during the final phase of the war against Tamil separatists which ended in 2009.
Rights groups say Tamils still face violence at the hands of the military.
The Australian government has been criticized for imposing what campaigners call a culture of secrecy around asylum, by refusing to comment on operations.
Under current policy, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are sent to detention camps in Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Nauru. If found to be refugees, they will be resettled there, not in Australia.
Australia says its asylum policy – which is also widely believed to involve towing boats back to Indonesian waters – is aimed at saving lives.
It is also facing tough questions over its offshore processing policy. The UN and rights groups have condemned conditions in its camps in PNG and Nauru.
Ash clouds thrown up by Indonesia’s Mount Sangeang Api volcano have forced airlines to cancel all flights to and from the northern Australian city of Darwin.
Mount Sangeang Api began erupting on Friday and plumes of ash have been sweeping south towards Australia.
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have all cancelled flights. Services between Australia and the province of Bali have also been hit.
The authorities say other airports could be affected in the coming days.
Hundreds of passengers have been caught up, with disruption expected to continue until at least Sunday.
Ash clouds thrown up by Indonesia’s Mount Sangeang Api volcano have forced airlines to cancel all flights to and from the northern Australian city of Darwin (photo AP)
“The volcano is undergoing a sustained, rather significant eruption at the moment,” Emile Jansons, manager of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told Reuters news agency.
“For the last 10 hours we’ve been observing large masses of volcanic ash being generated.
“Nobody has a very good handle on what this volcano is likely to do in the next 24 hours or beyond.”
Some flights between Perth and Bali were cancelled on Saturday.
Volcanic ash can be extremely dangerous to aircraft as the fine particles can damage engines.
The cloud is now sweeping south towards as Alice Springs, officials say.
Deputy PM Warren Truss said it could take days for Australian services to return to normal.
“Depending on wind and other weather conditions, the ash has the potential to affect flights to and from other airports, including Brisbane, during coming days,” he said.
The island of Sangeang Api has no permanent residents after they vacated following an eruption in 1988. Farmers nearby have reportedly been told to leave the area.
Indonesia lies across a series of geological fault-lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
There are about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
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Australia’s PM Tony Abbott has admitted he made a mistake after winking and smiling during a chat with a distressed voter.
The gaffe, which drew intense criticism, comes as Tony Abbott battles fury from some voters over his latest budget.
Many see proposals to cut health and education spending as Tony Abbott backtracking on election promises.
Hundreds have staged protests in Australian cities against the budget.
Tony Abbott appeared on ABC radio show to defend his budget proposals (photo ABC)
Tony Abbott had appeared on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio show on Wednesday to defend his proposals.
A woman who identified herself as “Gloria” called in, saying she was a chronically ill 67-year-old grandmother and that she would have to pay more for medical treatment under the new budget.
Tony Abbott winks and grins when the woman says: “I work on an adult s** line to make ends meet, now that’s the only way I can do it.”
He then appears to control himself by pursing his lips, glances at the video camera filming him in the studio, then puts on a serious expression.
Clips of the incident were later circulated online and on national media, prompting criticism that Tony Abbott has lack of empathy for voters.
He told Australia’s Channel Nine on Thursday morning that it was a mistake.
“I shouldn’t have done it… I should’ve been more focused on the caller and less focused on the interviewer,” Tony Abbott said.
He was attempting to engage with the caller and was “momentarily distracted” by the radio show whom he said was “smiling at me and I winked back at him”.
“Mistakes are always regrettable… and I will do my best having made a mistake yesterday to make none today,” Tony Abbott said.
On Wednesday he told another radio station that he was reacting to “an interesting call from someone who had an interesting story”.
Meanwhile “Gloria” contacted the radio show again on Thursday and said Tony Abbott’s actions were “sleazy, slimy”.
It is not the first time Tony Abbott has been accused of insensitivity towards women.
Tony Abbott was accused of being a misogynist by former PM Julia Gillard in 2012 – a label he has strongly rejected.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton have paid their respects to Australia’s war dead on the final day of their tour.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined military personnel, veterans and the public in Canberra to mark Anzac Day.
The Australian War Memorial held a service at dawn, in keeping with tradition, as a reminder of the dawn landing of troops on Gallipoli in 1915.
Prince William and Kate Middleton joined military personnel, veterans and the public in Canberra to mark Anzac Day
Later in the morning Prince William and Kate Middleton, appearing without their son Prince George, laid a wreath at the memorial.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, who have also visited New Zealand during their tour, joined figures including Australia’s PM Tony Abbott and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove in paying their respects.
The name Anzac Day comes from the acronym used to describe the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
More than 500,000 Allied soldiers were involved in the Gallipoli campaign, an attempt to open the Dardanelles Strait in modern-day Turkey to Allied navies during World War One.
Tens of thousands of Allied troops, including more than 8,000 Australians, died in the campaign, which failed to achieve its military objectives.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton have marked Easter Sunday by attending a church service in Sydney.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by cheering crowds outside St Andrew’s Cathedral in the city centre.
While at the cathedral, they signed the First Fleet Bible, which was brought to Australia in 1788 and bears the names of other members of the royal family.
Prince William and Kate Middleton then moved onto Taronga Zoo, where Prince George was introduced to a bilby, a rabbit-like marsupial.
Dressed in a blue striped shirt, blue shorts and black shoes, the young prince looked excited to meet the native animal, which was named George in his honor.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by cheering crowds outside St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney
Prince William and Kate Middleton then unveiled a plaque at the bilby enclosure, which was paid for by the Australian government to celebrate Prince George’s birth.
Earlier, the private church service was also attended by Australian PM Tony Abbott.
Archbishop of Sydney the Most Reverend Dr. Glenn Davies and Dean of Sydney the Very Reverend Phillip Jensen met Prince William and Kate Middleton on the cathedral steps before the service began.
The bible had previously been signed by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as well as the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1983 on their visit to Australia with an infant Prince William.
Prince William and Kate Middleton also signed the prayer book of the First Fleet – the 11 ships that carried Europeans to Australia in the 1780s.
Kate Middleton wore a dove grey Alexander McQueen coat and Jane Taylor hat for the service, while her husband wore a suit.
After the service, they spent time speaking to members of the cathedral choir and children who had gathered nearby to see the royal couple.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have met Australian families whose homes were destroyed by wildfires last year.
The royal couple spent the day touring the Blue Mountains as part of the second leg of their trip Down Under.
They visited the town of Winmalee, which was ravaged by the fires in October, where they also talked to firefighters who battled the blazes.
One man who lost his house said the royal visit made those affected feel like they had not been forgotten.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George arrived in Australia on Wednesday, having completed a tour of New Zealand.
On Thursday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took in the sights of the Blue Mountains region, near Sydney, which suffered devastating bush fires and where hundreds of homes were burnt to the ground.
Adrian Harrison, whose house was destroyed, told reporters: “Here we are five months down the track after we lost our house and for them to come out now, it makes us feel like we haven’t been forgotten.”
The royals also vowed to return to the Blue Mountains – one of Australia’s most visited beauty spots.
Prince William and Kate Middleton will spend 10 days travelling across Australia, visiting its famous sites, honoring its war dead and meeting locals.
They visited Echo Point in Katoomba to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation, where they were also greeted by Aboriginal elders representing the indigenous landowners.
The elders presented Prince William and Kate Middleton with a possum skin coat for Prince George and a kangaroo coat for themselves.
“That’s fantastic thank you very much, he’ll love that – very warm,” Prince William said of the gift for his baby son.
Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Echo Point in Katoomba to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation
According to elder Aunty Sharon Brown, chairwoman of the Gundungurra Tribal Council, a baby would traditionally be given a possum cloak with another pelt added to the garment for significant milestones during its life.
They were also greeted by around 3,000 well-wishers, who lined crash barriers at Echo Point.
Anthea Hammon, joint managing director of Scenic World, which runs the visitor centre at the beauty spot, guided Kate Middleton, while Prince William spoke with Randall Walker, chief executive of Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism.
After speaking to Kate Middleton, who wore a Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress and wedges, Anthea Hammon said: “She loved it, it’s a pretty stunning day. She was amazed about how far you could see.
“I was talking to her a little bit about bush walking, she likes walking and there’s lots of places to walk here in the Blue Mountains. She said she was keen to come back.”
Randall Walker said Prince William had been “very impressed” with the views and was interested in the Aboriginal legend about it.
“He was surprised to learn it’s the most visited regional site in Australia,” he said.
The royal couple also did a walkabout, meeting the crowds who had waited to greet them.
Meanwhile, Prince William and Kate Middleton narrowly avoided a minor incident, which happened before they arrived in the town of Winmalee to meet the bushfire survivors.
Two men had allegedly harassed some locals, who had gathered to greet the royal couple, before being moved on by police.
A New South Wales Police spokesman confirmed: “At 12:10 [local time] today police stopped and spoke to two men aged 37 and 21 who were allegedly harassing members of the crowd who were gathered at the corner of Single Ridge Road and Vista Road, Winmalee.
“The pair were moved on from the area prior to the motorcade coming past.”
Prince George did not take part in the tour of the mountain region.
Prince William and Kate Middleton are expected to bring 8-month-old Prince George to Taronga zoo in Sydney on Sunday where an enclosure housing bilbys – a rabbit-like marsupial – will be named after him.
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Prince William, Kate Middleton and their son Prince George have arrived in Sydney for the next leg of their tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Prince George was in his mother’s arms as the royal couple emerged from a plane at Kingsford Smith Airport.
Kate Middleton carried the 8-month-old down the steps of the aircraft before she and Prince William were met by dignitaries.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend 10 days travelling across Australia, visiting its famous sites and honoring its war dead.
Australia’s PM Tony Abbott and Governor-general Peter Cosgrove, their spouses and other figures were among those who met Prince William and Kate Middleton as they descended from the plane.
Kate Middleton, wearing a yellow dress by Roksanda Ilincic, handed Prince George to his father as she accepted flowers from Joscelyn Sweeney, a 22-year-old with Down’s syndrome.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and their son Prince George have arrived in Sydney for the next leg of their tour of New Zealand and Australia (photo Reuters)
A lively Prince George, dressed in a white cotton babygrow with ships on the front, touched hands with the governor-general’s wife Lynne Cosgrove before his parents left for their first engagement at the Sydney Opera House.
Prince William and Kate Middleton completed the first leg of their trip Down Under with a tour of New Zealand.
They arrived in Australia on Wednesday for the second leg as a political scandal erupted, forcing one of the country’s senior figures to pull out of the official greeting party.
Barry O’Farrell resigned as premier of New South Wales just hours before Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived after a document emerged contradicting evidence he gave to an anti-corruption inquiry.
He admitted to a “massive memory fail” after he failed to declare a gift of A$3,000 wine.
The leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party had told an inquiry that he never received the wine and that he could not remember calling businessman Nick Di Girolamo, who sent him the gift in 2011.
Barry O’Farrell resigned after investigators unveiled a hand-written thank you note from him.
He had been due to greet the royal couple on the tarmac, and later at their visit to Sydney Opera House, but did not attend the welcome ceremony at the airport.
Barry O’Farrell was not replaced by another official.
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Kate Middleton has visited a children’s hospice on the latest leg of the royal tour of New Zealand.
The Duchess of Cambridge was met by more than 40 children and their families at Rainbow Place in Hamilton, the AFP reported.
“There should be more places like this,” AFP quoted Kate Middleton as saying of the facility, which provides support for dying and bereaved children.
It was Kate Middleton’s first solo engagement on the 19-day tour which will also take in Australia.
She met youngsters and parents and had a briefing with the hospice’s chief executive before going to a Mad Hatter’s theme tea party in the gardens.
Prince William, meanwhile, was shown around Pacific Aerospace, an aviation firm in Hamilton.
Kate Middleton was met by more than 40 children and their families at Rainbow Place in Hamilton (photo Getty Images)
He was told about the P-750, an innovative light aircraft made at the plant.
“He talked about his friendly brotherly rivalry, with Harry flying Apaches and he’s been flying search and rescue,” the company’s chief executive Damian Camp told reporters.
“He said he still does some flying – all helicopter based – but not as much as he wants to.”
Prince William spent more than seven years in the military and was presented with his RAF wings in 2008.
Damian Camp added: “He said George has settled into a nice routine but was keeping mum and dad on their toes but they’re all enjoying their stay.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton reconvened in the nearby town of Cambridge where thousands of well-wishers lined the streets to greet them.
They opened a new velodrome in the town and met some of New Zealand’s cycling, rowing and canoeing elite.
And they were handed a tiny cycling jersey in the country’s colors for Prince George, who was not with his parents for this leg of the tour.
The tour has seen the royals race yachts, attend a state reception and visit a parent and baby class with Prince George in New Zealand before they head to Australia later this month.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s trip is due to end on April 25 in Canberra.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton have attended a state reception held in their honor as they continue their tour of New Zealand.
The Duke of Cambridge told guests at the event in Wellington that New Zealanders were warm-hearted, generous people.
He said they also had “an instinctive sense of justice and freedom”.
In other remarks, Prince William joked about the loud war dance used by the New Zealand rugby team, saying his 8-month-old son, Prince George, did the haka at night.
Earlier, Prince William and Kate Middleton paid their respects to New Zealand’s war dead.
Prince William and Kate Middleton paid their respects to New Zealand’s war dead at the Blenheim War Memorial (photo Getty Images)
They laid a wreath in a service at the town of Blenheim’s war memorial, and later met some of the approximately 5,000 people who had gathered for the occasion.
Prince William also unveiled a new portrait of the Queen at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, by the artist Nick Cuthell.
On Wednesday, Prince George attended his first official public engagement at a “crawl-about” with babies of similar age at Government House in Wellington, with childcare group Plunket.
Prince George will not be making any more appearances during his parents’ 19-day tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Prince William also received a tiny teddy bear from a well-wisher and was given a friendship bracelet from a little boy and immediately put it on his right wrist.
The royal couple was also given a helmet for Prince George when they visited Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Peter Jackson – the film director behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy and an aviation enthusiast – showed Prince William and Kate Middleton around the museum.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton took 8-month-old Prince George on the first official public engagement of their 19-day tour of New Zealand and Australia.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met fellow new mothers and fathers at Government House in Wellington along with not-for-profit childcare organization Plunket.
The parents were selected to reflect the diversity of New Zealand society.
Prince George appeared to remain calm even though there were tears from some of a similar age.
Prince George at the Plunket play group in Wellington (photo AFP)
Prince George went on a crawl-about with other children in the Blandor Room which had a large portrait of his great-grandmother, the Queen.
Prince William and Kate Middleton chatted informally with the parents of 10 babies, including a pair of gay fathers and a single mother.
Prince George was dressed in a blue dungaree shorts by British luxury brand Rachel Riley, a white blouse and soft blue pre walking shoes.
Prince William joked: “It’s madness, there are babies everywhere.”
The idea was to give the royal couple the chance to introduce the young prince to the world in a less formal way than usual. They also had the chance to swap experiences with other first-time parents.
Tristine Clark, New Zealand president of Plunket, said: “The parents are a spread of all the communities in New Zealand, including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples.
“This is a very multi-cultural country and we wanted the duke and duchess to meet people from all backgrounds.”
The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, widely known as Plunket, was founded in 1907 by paediatrician Sir Frederic Truby King.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton have carried their son, Prince George, off the plane at the start of a three-week visit to New Zealand and Australia.
It is the first official tour for the 8-month-old prince, who was awake in his mother’s arms as the trio were greeted at Wellington airport by New Zealand’s PM John Key and waiting media.
It was only the second time Prince George has faced the press.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were met with cold, wet and windy weather.
After greeting them on the tarmac, John Key tweeted: “The Royals have landed in Wellington. Let’s make them very welcome, New Zealand.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive in New Zealand with Prince George
Prince William and Kate Middleton were then taken to Government House, the official residence of the governor general, where they received a traditional Maori welcome.
They were greeted with a nose-press, called a hongi, and met Maori warriors.
A minor controversy marked the start of the trip – which ends in Canberra on April 25.
Plunket, New Zealand’s national childcare agency, published photos of a baby seat facing forwards in the royal car, with critics claiming this contradicted Plunket’s advice that children of Prince George’s age should face the rear window.
Kate Middleton’s fashion choices are expected to be closely scrutinized during the tour and she arrived in New Zealand wearing a red coat with gold buttons – from British designer Catherine Walker, who was a firm favorite of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Duchess teamed her outfit with a red pillbox hat designed by Gina Foster and a silver fern-shaped brooch, a symbol of New Zealand.
She has been loaned the diamond and platinum piece by the Queen, who had herself received it as a gift during a visit to Auckland 60 years ago.
Prince George was seen to be wearing a cream cardigan and matching shoes.
He will be taken to a few specific engagements throughout the trip, and the program stops on most days in the late afternoon to allow his parents to get back to him.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George flew on a scheduled Qantas flight from Heathrow Airport, via Dubai, to Sydney where they transferred to a military plane.
Their engagements in New Zealand will see them take in a yacht race and visit a Maori tribe, a rugby stadium and a vineyard.
In Australia, their destinations include Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Queensland, Adelaide and Canberra.
Helping oversee the care of Prince George will be his newly-appointed nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, who stayed in the background as the royals received their official welcome to New Zealand.
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Philip Morris has announced it will cease production of cigarettes at its factory in Moorabbin, Australia.
The closure of the factory, which has been in operation for nearly 60 years, will lead to a loss of 180 jobs.
Philip Morris said Australia’s regulation regarding cigarette production was a factor in its decision.
The tobacco giant said all cigarette production for the Australian market would be moved to its plant in South Korea.
Philip Morris has announced it will cease production of cigarettes at its factory in Moorabbin
“This is an extremely difficult decision, and devastating news for all of our employees,” said John Gledhill, Philip Morris’s managing director for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, in a statement.
Philip Morris said that it had been unable to increase exports as the domestic demand for cigarettes in Australia gradually declined over the past few years.
The company blamed the export difficulties on the introduction of fire safety requirements for Australian-made cigarettes in 2010, which forced the plant to make cigarettes that didn’t match consumer preferences elsewhere.
“With any significant export opportunity restricted by Australian government regulations, our Moorabbin factory is significantly underutilized, operating at less than half of its currently installed capacity,” said John Gledhill.
“Regrettably, factors beyond our control prevent us from fully utilizing the facility, and accordingly it’s been identified for closure.”
In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce “plain packs”, which bans all company logos and colors from packets, which must instead display health warning images.
A new official photograph of Prince George with his parents, Kate Middleton and Prince William, has been released ahead of their tour of Australia and New Zealand.
The eight-month-old is pictured in Kate Middleton’s arms while Prince William holds their dog, Lupo.
In the image, taken by royal christening photographer Jason Bell, the family is looking through an open window at their Kensington Palace home.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to arrive in New Zealand on April 7.
They then fly to Australia on April 16 and their three-week tour ends on April 25.
In the new image, Prince George is wearing a pale blue jumper bearing his name, while Kate Middleton wears a cream-colored blouse and Prince William a shirt with rolled-up sleeves.
Prince George with his parents ahead of their Australia and New Zealand tour (photo Jason Bell)
Prince George, who is third in line to the throne, is not looking directly at the camera like his parents – instead, he is smiling at the black cocker spaniel next to him.
Other than a glimpse of the curtains, little of the Cambridges’ renovated Kensington Palace home can be seen in the photograph.
It is the first official picture of Prince George to be released since his christening last October.
The visit to Australia and New Zealand will be Prince George’s first official overseas tour. The trip echoes the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1983 when the couple took Prince William, then aged nine months, with them.
The tour will begin in Wellington, where Prince William and Kate Middleton will be greeted with a ceremonial welcome to New Zealand, called a Powhiri in Maori.
They will see a yacht race, visit a rugby stadium and a vineyard, and there will also be Maori engagements in Christchurch and Dunedin.
During their time in New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend a ceremony in Blenheim to recognize the sacrifice of members of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces in the First World War.
There will be a similar commemorative ceremony in Canberra, Australia.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Australian itinerary includes visits to Uluru in the Northern Territory, as well as Sydney and Adelaide.
They will also visit an area of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, that was hit by bushfires last October.
Their 11-strong entourage includes Prince George’s new nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, and a hairdresser.
Prince William has made a number of official trips to Australia and New Zealand in the past, but Kate Middleton is yet to pay an official visit to either country.
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According to new reports, an Australian plane has spotted two objects in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, and a ship has arrived in the area to find them.
The objects could be picked up in the southern Indian Ocean in a few hours, Malaysia’s transport minister said.
One object was circular and grey or green, and the other rectangular and orange, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
An Australian plane has spotted two objects in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet
Tony Abbott said it was not known whether the objects were from flight MH370, and could be flotsam.
The two objects were different, the prime minister said, from several white, square-shaped objects spotted earlier by Chinese military planes.
“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority [AMSA] has advised that objects have been located by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion. And I can advise the House that HMAS Success is on scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects,” Tony Abbott told the Australian parliament.
Investigators could be closer to resolving “one of the great mysteries of our time”, the prime minister added.
Speaking at a daily news briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed the missing airliner had been carrying wooden pallets, but said there was no connection yet to a reported Australian sighting of pallets floating in the search zone.
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The Rolling Stones’ Australia and New Zealand concerts, cancelled following the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott, are to be rescheduled for later in the year.
A statement from Frontier Touring said “every effort” was being made to move the concerts to October and November.
Fans have been told that if any new dates are not suitable, a full refund will be offered.
The Rolling Stones’ Australia and New Zealand concerts are to be rescheduled for later in the year
Mick Jagger is believed to have travelled to New York ahead of L’Wren Scott’s funeral.
L’Wren Scott’s death has been ruled as suicide by hanging, New York City authorities have said.
The fashion designer’s body was discovered in her flat by her assistant on Monday.
In a statement following the news, Mick Jagger said he failed “to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way”.
The Rolling Stones cancelled the tour on Wednesday, thanking fans for their support.
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Australia has announced it is investigating two objects seen on satellite images that could potentially be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
Planes and ships from Australia, New Zealand and the US were heading to the area 1,550 miles south-west of Perth to search for the objects.
The largest appeared to be 24 m in size, maritime authorities said, but warned they could be unrelated to the plane.
Australia has been searching in the southern Indian Ocean for the aircraft.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it lost contact with air traffic controllers. A total of 239 people were on board.
Twenty-six nations have been involved in a major search for the missing plane, which Malaysia says was intentionally diverted.
Investigators have been scrutinizing the backgrounds of both the crew and the passengers, but have so far identified no evidence of terror or other potentially relevant links.
A number of sightings of possible debris have been investigated in the course of the search but so far none have proved to be linked.
Australian PM Tony Abbott announced the discovery of the objects in parliament.
Tony Abbott: “The task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult.”
Australia is investigating two objects seen on satellite images that could potentially be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane
“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority [AMSA] has received information based on satellite information of objects possibly related to the search,” he said.
“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”
An Australian Orion aircraft is currently in the search area and three more planes, including US and New Zealand aircraft, are on their way. A merchant ship is due there later in the day and an Australian naval vessel, HMAS Success, is also on its way.
AMSA said the debris had been located in waters some 1,550 miles south-west of the Australian city of Perth.
The objects identified were of a “reasonable size”, AMSA’s general manager John Young said. The largest object appeared to be about 24m in size, he said.
“The objects are relatively indistinct. The indication to me is of objects that are of a reasonable size and probably awash with water and bobbing up and down over the surface,” he said.
“This is a lead, it is probably the best lead we have right now. But we need to get there, find them, see them, assess them, to know whether it’s really meaningful or not.”
John Young warned that poor visibility in the area could hamper the search.
Australia informed Malaysian authorities of the development on Thursday morning.
“We have been following every single lead and this time I just hope that this time it is a positive development,” Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.
Earlier this week, Australia was asked by Malaysia to take responsibility for the “southern corridor” search.
Investigators had identified two corridors of territory – one to the north and one to the south – spanning the possible positions of the plane about seven hours after take-off.
This was based on its last faint signal to a satellite – an hourly “handshake” broadcast even when the main communication systems are switched off.
Flight MH370 lost contact with controllers over the South China Sea as it crossed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air space.
Malaysian officials say it then turned west and its last position – according to Malaysian military radar – was over the Malacca Straits, in the opposite direction to its planned flight path.
Attention has focused on the crew and on Wednesday multiple unidentified US officials said that the FBI was helping Malaysia analyze data from a flight simulator taken from the captain’s home.
Hishammuddin Hussein, at a press conference on Wednesday, stressed the captain should be considered innocent until proved otherwise and said that members of his family were co-operating with the investigation.
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The Rolling Stones have decided to call off their Australia and New Zealand tour after the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott.
L’Wren Scott, 49, was found dead in her New York flat on Monday in an apparent suicide.
Mick Jagger earlier said he failed “to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way”.
In a statement on their website, The Rolling Stones thanked fans for their support.
They said: “The Rolling Stones are deeply sorry and disappointed to announce the postponement of the rest of their 14 On Fire tour of Australia and New Zealand following the death of L’Wren Scott.
The Rolling Stones have decided to call off their Australia and New Zealand tour after the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott
“Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood wish to thank all of their fans for their support at this difficult time and hope that they will fully understand the reason for this announcement.
“The Rolling Stones are planning to reschedule these postponed shows at a later date.”
The Rolling Stones had been due to begin the tour in Perth on Wednesday, having flown in to the Western Australian city on Sunday.
On his website, Mick Jagger, who started dating Scott in 2001, said they had spent “many wonderful years together”.
L’Wren Scott was found by her assistant at 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday.
Ninety minutes earlier, L’Wren Scott had sent her assistant a text message asking her to come to her Manhattan apartment, without specifying the reason why, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Police said there was no sign of foul play and no note has been found.
The Rolling Stones had planned to perform five concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Macedon and Brisbane before flying to Auckland, New Zealand, for the final show on April 5.
Ticket holders for the affected shows have been advised to keep hold of their tickets and await further information.
The Rolling Stones’ On Fire tour is scheduled to move to Europe in June, with concerts planned for the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Belgium.
China has started searching its territory for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, while Australia has narrowed its search area in the south.
Efforts to find the aircraft are focusing on two vast air corridors north and south of the plane’s last known location.
China said no evidence of terror links had been found in Chinese passengers.
The Malaysia Airlines plane went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. Some 26 countries are involved in search efforts.
Malaysia says the plane was intentionally diverted and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position in the Malacca Straits.
Search efforts are focused on two corridors – one stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and another from Indonesia to the Indian Ocean.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the aircraft’s crew – or other individuals on the plane – were involved in its disappearance.
A total of 153 Chinese nationals were on board the missing aircraft, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
China has started searching its territory for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, said that search and rescue operations in the Chinese territories of the northern corridor had begun, Xinhua news agency reported.
Based on background checks, there was no evidence to suggest that the mainland Chinese passengers on the plane were involved in hijacking or launching a terror attack, Mr Huang added.
China said it had also deployed 21 satellites to help with the search.
Meanwhile, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it had narrowed down its search area in the southern Indian Ocean based on satellite data and analysis of the aircraft’s possible movements.
However, AMSA said the search area was still vast.
“A needle in a haystack remains a good analogy,” AMSA Emergency Response General Manager John Young said, adding that there was a “difficult” task ahead.
“The sheer size of the search area poses a huge challenge – the search area is more than 600,000 square kilometres [230,000 sq miles],” he added.
Late on Monday, US officials said the US navy ship USS Kidd had been taken off the search because the enlarged search area meant that “long-range patrol aircraft” were “more suited” to the mission.
The move was made “in consultation with the Malaysian government”, officials said in a statement. USS Kidd had searched the Andaman Sea but found “no debris or wreckage associated with an aircraft”, they added.
The US says it is using patrol aircraft including the P-8A Poseidon and P-3C Orion to continue search efforts, with the P-8 taking part in search efforts in the south corridor.
The Malaysia Airlines plane left Kuala Lumpur at 00:40 local time on March 8. The last transmission from the plane’s Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was received at 01:07.
A transmission expected 30 minutes later did not come through, Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahy told reporters. Officials believe the communications systems were deliberately disabled.
Several countries have already rejected the suggestion that their airspace might have been breached.
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Australia is taking control of the “southern vector” search for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet, Australian PM Tony Abbott says.
According to Malaysian officials, flight MH370 was intentionally diverted and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position.
More than 20 nations have been asked to help search for the missing jet, and evaluate radar and satellite data.
There has also been scrutiny of the last communication from the plane.
Malaysian officials said on Sunday that the last words from the cockpit – “All right, good night” – came after the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which transmits key information about the plane to the ground, had been deliberately switched off.
On Saturday, Malaysian police searched the homes of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. A flight simulator taken from the captain’s home was being re-assembled and examined at police headquarters, officials said.
Friends of both pilots – who investigators say did not ask to fly together – have expressed disbelief at the possibility of their involvement.
Australia is taking control of the “southern vector” search for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet
Investigators are also looking at passengers, engineers and other ground staff who may have had contact with the aircraft before take-off in their search for clues.
Malaysia Airlines plane, carrying a total of 239 passengers and crew, left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:40 local time on March 8.
The plane disappeared off air traffic controllers’ screens at about 01:20, when it was over the South China Sea.
Malaysian officials said on Saturday that according to a military radar, the aircraft then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west direction.
A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane until 08:11 local time, although it was unable to give a precise location.
Investigators are now looking at two possible corridors – a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Australian PM Tony Abbott said he was adding more resources to the search in response to a request from Malaysia.
Tony Abbott told parliament on Monday that Malaysian PM Najib Razak asked Australia to “take responsibility for the search on the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft”.
“I agreed that we would do so. I offered the Malaysian prime minister additional maritime surveillance resources which he gratefully accepted.”
Malaysia’s navy and air force were also deploying assets to the southern corridor on Monday, Malaysia’s transport ministry said.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Authority said it was not possible for the plane to have reached its airspace undetected.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority said it had checked its radar recordings but “found no clue” connected to the flight.
Aside from Australia, Malaysia has sent diplomatic notes requesting assistance to 25 countries.
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Australian missionary John Short, who was deported from North Korea earlier this week, has spoken out about his experience in detention.
John Short, 75, was detained in Pyongyang after leaving Christian pamphlets at a tourist site.
In a statement to the Australian Associated Press, John Short said he was subjected to “gruelling interrogations”.
“There were two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons,” the Hong Kong-based missionary said.
John Short was deported from North Korea earlier this week (photo EPA)
John Short also said being confined was stressful.
“This I found to be most painful physically as an active senior person,” he said.
John Short said he told his interrogators he was not a spy.
“I confessed that I had knowingly broken the law in what I believed is my God-directed duty and as I do in every place and country I visit,” he said.
Religious activity is severely restricted in North Korea and missionaries have been arrested on many previous occasions.
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A snake has defeated a crocodile in an epic five-hour battle at Lake Moondarra, in Queensland, Australia, which left onlookers shocked as the python slowly devoured its prey.
The incident near Mount Isa was captured on camera by local residents on Sunday.
The 10-ft snake, thought to be a python, coiled itself around the crocodile and the two struggled in the water.
The snake later brought the dead crocodile onto land and ate it.
The snake has defeated the crocodile in an epic five-hour battle at Lake Moondarra in Queensland
In remarkable images captured by Tiffany Corlis, a local who was watching on, the python can be seen strangling and eating the crocodile, whose outline can then be seen inside the snake.
Tiffany Corlis said it appeared to take the snake around 15 minutes to eat the crocodile.
Queensland is home to some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, as well as saltwater crocodiles.
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Australian TV personality Charlotte Dawson was found dead at her Woolloomooloo home in an apparent suicide following a long and very public battle with depression.
Charlotte Dawson’s friends have spoken of a sense of inevitability around her death, revealing that in recent weeks her mental state seemed specially fragile.
It is believed Charlotte Dawson, 47, was struggling financially, having borrowed up to $80,000 from friends as she tried to keep up the rent on her $1200-a-week apartment.
Charlotte Dawson had also been axed from her role on the popular Foxtel TV show Australia’s Next Top Model, and last November parted ways with management company Chic Management after they said her battles with mental illness were “damaging her brand”.
Charlotte Dawson was found dead at her Woolloomooloo home in an apparent suicide
Only a week ago, Charlotte Dawson’s ex-husband Scott Miller had appeared on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes to talk about his drug addiction and the role it had played in the breakdown of their marriage. Charlotte Dawson, who described Scott Miller as the “love of her life”, said at the time she wasn’t sure if she would be strong enough to watch the interview.
Charlotte Dawson’s body was discovered the morning after Scott Miller’s 39th birthday.
She is understood to have been found by a security guard in her rented waterside apartment in the early hours of yesterday morning. Her body was later formally identified yesterday by Madeline Huett, a friend and former Top Model contestant.
Charlotte Dawson was hospitalized in 2012 after hundreds of social media trolls viciously targeted her on Twitter.
A police media spokesman told news.com.au: “About 11a.m., police from the Kings Cross local area command were called to Cowper Wharf Road after the body of a woman had been located in a unit. No suspicious circumstances at this stage and a report is being prepared for the coroner.”
It is believed her body was discovered after a real estate agent raised the alarm after she couldn’t reach Charlotte Dawson by mobile phone in relation to the auction of her home.
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Australian TV presenter Charlotte Dawson has been found dead at her home in Sydney.
Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of 47-year-old Charlotte Dawson, who had a long history of depression.
Charlotte Dawson, a former model from New Zealand, was also a high-profile victim of cyber bullying.
New Zealand PM John Key said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by her death.
Charlotte Dawson, a former model from New Zealand, was also a high-profile victim of cyber bullying
Charlotte Dawson was best known for hosting reality TV show The Contender Australia, and for her role as a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model.
In 2012, Charlotte Dawson was admitted to hospital after being targeted by cyber bullies on Twitter.
She went on to become an outspoken campaigner against internet trolls.
Charlotte Dawson, who left her native New Zealand at the age of 16 to pursue a modeling career, has been described by her friends as outrageous, outspoken and fragile.
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Shell has agreed to sell its Australian downstream business to oil trading firm Vitol for $2.6 billion.
The sale includes Shell’s refinery in Geelong, 870 service stations, its bulk fuels and chemicals unit and part of its lubricants business.
However, Shell’s aviation business is excluded from the deal.
The oil giant is looking to dispose off assets as part of a strategy that will see the company “changing emphasis” in 2014.
The asset sales also come at a time when its profits have been declining.
Shell has agreed to sell its Australian downstream business to oil trading firm Vitol for $2.6 billion
Last month, Shell posted “clean” profits – which strip out the impact of oil price movements – of $2.9 billion for the October-to-December quarter, down from $5.6 billion during the same period a year ago.
“Australia remains important to Shell, but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company’s overall competitiveness,” Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell said in a statement.
Recent disinvestments by Shell include the sale of refineries in the UK, Germany, France, Norway and the Czech Republic.
The company has also offloaded its downstream businesses in Egypt, Spain, Greece, Finland and Sweden.
Shell said that majority of its downstream staff in Australia will continue to work under its new owner.
Shell and Vitol deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close within this year.
Toyota has decided to stop its car and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017, effectively marking the end of the country’s carmaking industry.
Toyota said it might scale down the operations of its development and technical centre in Australia as well.
Last year, Ford and General Motors’ Holden unit also announced plans to stop producing cars in Australia.
About 2,500 jobs are set to be lost as a result of Toyota’s decision, which it attributed to high manufacturing costs.
“We believed that we should continue producing vehicles in Australia, and Toyota and its workforce here made every effort,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.
“However, various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision.”
Toyota, which first began making cars in Australia in 1963, said it “intends to provide the best support it can, including employment assistance” to those affected by the decision.
Vivek Vaidya, an automotive analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan, said he was not surprised by Toyota’s decision.
Toyota has decided to stop its car and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017
“Toyota was the last producer in Australia after exit of Mitsubishi, Ford and Holden,” he said.
“Labor cost in Australia is too high to be price competitive in production.”
Vivek Vaidya also said rival car-producing countries such as Thailand and the US were more attractive in terms of manufacturing costs.
Toyota’s decision comes despite appeals from Australian PM Tony Abbott, who has been looking to keep the carmaker operating in the country.
Car manufacturers have been pulling out of Australia as the rising cost of doing business in the country has hit profits.
Last May, Ford said it would close its car lines in Australia in October 2016 with the loss of more than 1,000 jobs.
General Motors’ Holden unit has also announced plans to stop production in 2017, affecting nearly 3,000 jobs.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors sold its last Australian-made car in 2010.
Australia’s carmaking industry has traditionally received billions of dollars in subsidies from the government.
However, a national commission recently recommended that the financial support should be ended and that car companies should cut costs instead.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) called Toyota’s decision “devastating” and warned the move could cause an economic recession.
Last year, Toyota – the world’s top global car maker by sales – found itself in a dispute with Australian car plant workers over proposed changes to their contracts, in an attempt to reduce costs.
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