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Justin Bieber has been asked to clean up graffiti left on a Gold Coast hotel wall in Australia.

Justin Bieber, 19, spray-painted cartoon faces on an external wall of a Gold Coast hotel earlier this week. The singer is currently touring Australia.

The hotel said it was pleased to have Justin Bieber’s artwork on their wall. However, Gold Coast City Council said it would order the graffiti’s removal.

Earlier this month, Justin Bieber was charged with defacing a building in Brazil.

Justin Bieber has been asked to clean up graffiti left on a Gold Coast hotel wall in Australia

Justin Bieber has been asked to clean up graffiti left on a Gold Coast hotel wall in Australia

The hotel, QT Gold Coast, said in a response to a comment on its Facebook page: “We are stoked to have Justin Bieber’s artwork on our wall.”

It added that it had given Justin Bieber permission to paint on the wall.

However, Gold Coast City Council said that while the graffiti was on a private property, it was in public view and an eyesore.

Earlier, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tait described Justin Bieber’s behaviour as “really silly”.

“Just come and clean it up and we’ll be happy with you. Alternatively come and sing at our mayoral Christmas carols on 7 December for an hour and I’ll let you go.”

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Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reportedly revealed that Australia’s intelligence agencies spied on phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and close confidantes.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady and Vice-President Boediono were reportedly amongst those targeted.

The documents leaked by Edward Snowden were published by broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Guardian newspaper.

Indonesia said Australia should “urgently” clarify the spying claims.

The report is the latest in a series of spying allegations that have strained relations between the two allies.

On November 1st,  Indonesia summoned Australia’s ambassador amid reports that Australia’s Jakarta embassy was used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.

The latest leaked document showed that Australia spy agencies named Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady, Vice-President Boediono and other senior ministers as targets for monitoring, the reports said.

The presentation from Australian spy agency the Defense Signals Directorate (now known as the Australian Signals Directorate) showed that agencies attempted to listen to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s calls at least once, and tracked calls made to and from his mobile phone, in August 2009, the ABC and the Guardian added.

Australia's intelligence agencies spied on phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and close confidantes

Australia’s intelligence agencies spied on phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and close confidantes

The news organizations published slides from the presentation, which appeared to show a list of Indonesian “leadership targets” and the handset models used by each target, as well as a diagram of “voice events” of the Indonesian president in August 2009.

One slide entitled “Indonesian President voice intercept (August ’09)” appeared to show an attempt to listen to the content of a phone call to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

On Monday, responding to questions in parliament, Australian PM Tony Abbott said: “The Australian government never comments on specific intelligence matters.”

He added: “I will never say or do anything that might damage the strong relationship and the close co-operation that we have with Indonesia, which is all in all, our most important relationship.”

Last week, commenting on the earlier claims, PM Tony Abbott had described the term spying as “kind of loaded language” and suggested that “researching” would be more appropriate.

On Monday Indonesian presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah, said: “[The] Australian government urgently needs to clarify on this news, to avoid further damage.”

“The damage has been done,” he added.

Indonesia has publicly voiced anger over previous allegations of Australian spying.

Vice-President Boediono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said last week that the Indonesian public was “concerned” about the spying allegations.

“I think we must look forward to come to some arrangement which guarantees that intelligence information from each side is not used against the other,” Boediono said.

Australia and Indonesia are key allies and trading partners.

Australia requires Indonesia’s co-operation on the asylum issue, as many asylum seekers travel via Indonesia to Australia by boat, but there are tensions on the issue.

Earlier this month, Indonesia declined an Australian request to receive a boat of asylum seekers whose vessel, bound for Australia’s Christmas Island, had got into trouble after it departed from Indonesia.

The reports are amongst the series of documents leaked by Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorized disclosures.

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Malaysia has summoned the heads of the US and Australian diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur over a row about an alleged American-led spying network in Asia.

According to the Malaysian foreign ministry, the reports of spying could “severely damage” relations.

It said a protest note was handed over.

Malaysia has summoned the heads of the US and Australian diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur over a row about an alleged American-led spying network in Asia

Malaysia has summoned the heads of the US and Australian diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur over a row about an alleged American-led spying network in Asia

China and Indonesia have already protested at the claims that Australian embassies were being used to monitor phones and collect data for the US.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said “such activities are not done amongst close friends”.

Anifah Aman said his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, replied that it was not her government’s policy to comment on intelligence matters, but she accepted Malaysia’s concerns.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has reported that Australian diplomatic posts in Asia were being used to intercept phone calls and data.

The reports were based on an NSA document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has declined to comment on the reports.

Australian PM Tony Abbott said: “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official… operates in accordance with the law.”

Australia’s ambassador has been summoned in Indonesia amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), diplomatic posts in Asia were being used to intercept phone calls and data.

China has also demanded an explanation from the US over the allegations.

The reports were based on an NSA document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The document, which was originally published by German newspaper Der Spiegel, describes a signals intelligence programme called Stateroom which involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic using equipment in US, British, Australian and Canadian diplomatic missions.

Diplomatic posts involved included those in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, amongst others, SMH reported on Thursday.

Australia's ambassador has been summoned in Indonesia amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia

Australia’s ambassador has been summoned in Indonesia amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia

A former Australian intelligence officer, who was not named, told SMH that the Australian embassies in Jakarta and Bali were used to collect signals.

In a statement, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said: “[The government] cannot accept and strongly protests the news of the existence of wiretapping facilities at the US embassy in Jakarta.”

“If confirmed, such action is not only a breach of security, but also a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics.”

“The reported activities absolutely do not reflect the spirit of a close and friendly relationship between the two neighbors and are considered unacceptable by the government of Indonesia,” the foreign ministry added in a statement.

Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty was summoned to the foreign ministry on Monday.

He described the talks, which reportedly took less than half an hour, as “a good meeting”.

Australia and Indonesia are key allies and trading partners. Australia requires Indonesia’s co-operation on the asylum issue, as many asylum seekers travel via Indonesia to Australia by boat.

Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was “extremely concerned” about the report.

“[China] demands that the US offer a clarification and explanation,” she said.

“We demand that foreign embassies in China and their staff respect the Vienna Convention.”

Malaysia’s foreign ministry, in a statement, said it had sought clarification on the issue from the US envoy in Kuala Lumpur, adding that Malaysia’s “security and sovereignty” remained the priority.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on the reports. PM Tony Abbott said: “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official… operates in accordance with the law.”

The reports are the latest in a series of documents leaked by Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorized disclosures.

The US is facing growing anger over reports it spied on its allies abroad.

However, correspondents say that in reality most governments conduct surveillance or espionage operations against other countries whose activities matter to them.

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Australia plans to raise the country’s debt limit by two-thirds to allay concerns it could face a future fiscal crisis.

The newly-elected conservative government is looking to raise the borrowing limit to A$500 billion ($486 billion).

Australia is forecast to reach its current A$300 billion ceiling in December.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that he wanted to avoid a crisis similar to the recent US fiscal emergency.

“The debt limit needs to be set so as to provide sufficient headroom to ensure there is stability and certainty for the financial markets about the government’s capacity to finance its operations for the foreseeable future,” Joe Hockey said.

“We need not look any further than the recent events in the United States to realize how imperative for stability and certainty is for confidence.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that by raising Australia’s debt limit he wanted to avoid a crisis similar to the recent US fiscal emergency

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that by raising Australia’s debt limit he wanted to avoid a crisis similar to the recent US fiscal emergency

Earlier this month, the US government was partially shutdown for 16 days after the Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement over the country’s budget and raising the debt ceiling.

The situation was resolved last week after Congress hammered together a last-minute deal to temporarily raise the debt limit until the end of the first week of February 2014.

However, financial markets were rattled by the US political deadlock, which brought the country closer to the possibility of defaulting on its debts.

There was little reaction in the Australian financial markets to Tuesday’s announcement.

Australian government debt is popular among many investors because of its top AAA credit rating.

That means it is regarded as the safest kind of investment by the ratings agencies looking at the risks associated with government borrowing, as well as for companies.

At the same time, Australia’s total debt, expressed as a percentage of its total economic output (GDP), is relatively low compared to other developed nations.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Australia’s debt is expected to be around 30% of its GDP this year, compared to nearly 106% for the US.

Joe Hockey said that the government was keen to keep its debt levels in check.

“We are not going to allow ourselves to get into the position that the United States is in where there’s tremendous uncertainty about the capacity of a country to live within its means,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Australian PM Tony Abbott is set to hold his first parliament sittings in late October, which will give the government up to six weeks to pass the legislation required to raise the debt limit.

The government is also set to face an audit commissioned by the Treasury, which is aimed at streamlining government services and reducing wasteful spending.

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Tony Abbott has been sworn in as Australia’s prime minister after his Liberal-National coalition ended six years of Labor government.

Tony Abbott, 55, took the oath at Government House in Canberra in front of Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

His conservative coalition won a comfortable lower house majority in the 7 September polls.

It plans to scrap a tax on carbon emissions introduced by Labor and further toughen asylum policy.

Ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony, Tony Abbott said his government would get to work immediately.

“Today is not just a ceremonial day, it’s an action day,” he said.

“The Australian people expect us to get straight down to business and that’s exactly what this government will do.”

The new ministers were also being sworn in during the day. His 19-member cabinet line-up has caused debate because it contains only one woman, new Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Tony Abbott, however, says his cabinet is “one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history”.

The new prime minister said on Tuesday that the carbon tax would be his first task.

“As soon as I return to Parliament House from the swearing-in ceremony, I will instruct the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to prepare the carbon tax repeal legislation,” he said in a statement.

Tony Abbott has been sworn in as Australia's prime minister

Tony Abbott has been sworn in as Australia’s prime minister

He says the carbon tax – which makes Australia’s biggest polluters pay for emissions over a certain amount – cost jobs and forced energy prices up.

Instead of the tax, he plans to introduce a “direct action” plan under which subsidies will be given to farmers and businesses to reduce their emissions.

The position of science minister and a fund providing loans for green technologies are to be scrapped. Two official bodies related to climate change are also expected to be closed, local reports say.

The moves that has prompted criticism from Australia’s chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb. “These sorts of issues are not going away just because we ignore them,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The new prime minister also says tough new policies to end the flow of asylum-seekers arriving in Australia via Indonesia will come into effect today.

Under a Labor policy, all asylum-seekers arriving by boat are being sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement if found to be refugees.

Tony Abbott is maintaining this policy and has promised to “stop the boats” – turning them back to Indonesia where safe to do so, a policy over which Indonesia has voiced concern.

He is expected to place the deputy chief of the army in charge of combating people smugglers, and his government will also restrict refugees already in Australia to temporary protection visas which must be regularly renewed.

Rights groups have criticized both the previous and incoming governments’ policies on asylum.

But – with some votes still to be counted from the September 7 election – it appears that the coalition will not control the Senate, meaning it may struggle to pass key legislation.

It is expected that the new government will have to work with several minor parties to get bills passed in the upper house.

The Labor Party, meanwhile, is in the process of choosing a new leader, with both former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese and powerbroker Bill Shorten vying to replace Kevin Rudd, who is stepping down.

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Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott has unveiled his new cabinet, calling it a highly experienced line-up.

The appointments broadly followed the line up while in opposition, but included a major promotion for finance.

As expected Julie Bishop became foreign minister – the only woman to be named to Tony Abbott’s frontbench.

Tony Abbott defeated outgoing Labor leader Kevin Rudd in a decisive election on September 7.

The prime minister-elect made the announcement on Monday, in his first news conference since the poll.

Tony Abbott has unveiled his new cabinet, calling it a highly experienced line-up

Tony Abbott has unveiled his new cabinet, calling it a highly experienced line-up

“It is, I believe, one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history, and I think it’s important to have experience as you move from opposition to government,” Tony Abbott said.

West Australian Senator Mathias Cormann was named finance minister over Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, a move seen as a major endorsement from Tony Abbott.

Mathias Cormann, who was born in Belgium and migrated to Australia in 1994, has been the Liberal-National coalition’s spokesman on treasury and financial services.

Asked about the lack of female appointees, Tony Abbott said he envisaged that changing.

“I think you can expect to see as time goes by more women in the cabinet and the ministry,” he said.

Tony Abbott nominated Bronwyn Bishop, another Liberal Party politician, to became speaker of parliament. Several women also received appointments to junior ministries.

Other appointments include Andrew Robb, the coalition’s spokesman for finance in opposition, who was named trade minister, and Joe Hockney, the coalition’s shadow treasurer, as treasurer.

Tony Abbott is expected to be formally sworn in on Wednesday.

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Australia’s PM Julia Gillard has been ousted by Kevin Rudd as leader of Labor Party.

Kevin Rudd won by 57 votes to 45, in a leadership ballot of Labor lawmakers.

The change comes ahead of a general election due in September, which polls suggest Labor is set to lose.

This is the latest twist in a long and bitter rivalry between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd – but it could be the last as the prime minister has said she will now leave politics.

“I will not re-contest the federal electorate… at the forthcoming election,” said Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister.

“What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that, and I’m proud of that,” she added.

Despite their bitter rivalry, Kevin Rudd praised his predecessor, describing her as a woman of extraordinary intelligence, with great strength and energy.

“Julia, as prime minister and prior to that as deputy prime minister, has achieved much under the difficult circumstances of a minority government,” Kevin Rudd told a news conference after his victory.

Australia's PM Julia Gillard has been ousted by Kevin Rudd as leader of Labor Party

Australia’s PM Julia Gillard has been ousted by Kevin Rudd as leader of Labor Party

Kevin Rudd is more popular with voters than Julia Gillard, and many believe Labor will perform better in the election under him.

Wednesday’s leadership test was the third faced by Julia Gillard since she took office in 2010. She herself ousted Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010.

Kevin Rudd has exacted his revenge, after three years of him and his supporters mounting a destabilization campaign targeted very much at her.

The ballot followed months of speculation over the party’s leadership, and came after a day of drama that saw Kevin Rudd’s supporters push for a vote.

Shortly before the vote, a key power-broker, Bill Shorten, switched his support to Kevin Rudd, saying Labor stood a better chance in the polls with him.

Many people do not think Kevin Rudd will win the election but he may mitigate the losses and shorten the time Labor could spend in opposition if the party loses.

A poll published earlier this month suggested that three cabinet ministers would lose their seats at the poll under Julia Gillard’s leadership, but would retain their seats if Kevin Rudd was leading the party.

The vote makes Kevin Rudd the leader of the Labor Party, but not prime minister.

Julia Gillard must write to Governor General Quentin Bryce stating that she is resigning as prime minister before Kevin Rudd can be sworn in.

A shake-up in the cabinet is expected following the leadership change.

Deputy PM Wayne Swan has already quit because of Kevin Rudd’s victory. He has been replaced by Kevin Rudd ally and transport minister Anthony Albanese.

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Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says a report alleging Chinese hackers stole plans for Australia’s new intelligence hub will not hit ties with Beijing.

On Monday the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported blueprints setting out the building’s cable layouts and security systems had been illegally accessed by a server in China.

Bob Carr did not comment directly on the claims.

But he said the government was “very alive” to cyber security threats.

“I won’t comment on whether the Chinese have done what is being alleged or not,” he said.

“I won’t comment on matters of intelligence and security for the obvious reason: we don’t want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing, and how they might be doing it.”

Bob Carr said the ABC report had “no implications” for a strategic partnership.

“We have enormous areas of co-operation with China,” he said.

The claims were made in a report on Chinese cyber-espionage by ABC’s Four Corners investigative programme on Monday night.

Chinese hackers stole plans for Australia's new intelligence hub

Chinese hackers stole plans for Australia’s new intelligence hub

The programme alleged that blueprints to the new intelligence headquarters in Canberra – due to be finished last year but delayed – were stolen in a cyber attack on a contractor that was traced to a server in China.

The plans detailed communications cabling and server locations, floor plans and security systems, the programme alleged.

It quoted Professor Des Ball, an expert on cyber security from the Australian National University, as saying access to such details would enable an outside party to identify rooms used for sensitive activities and work out how to monitor them.

The programme also alleged that the Prime Minster’s Office, the Defence Ministry and the Department of Foreign Affairs had been breached in hacking operations.

Four Corners did not identify the source of its information.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected the claims, saying “groundless” accusations would not solve the problem of cyber hacking.

“Since it is technically untraceable, it is very difficult to find the source and identify the hacker,” he said.

“Therefore we have no idea what is the evidence for their report in which they make the claim with such certainty.”

Earlier this year, hackers from China – which is now Australia’s biggest trading partner – were thought to be behind an attack on the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Financial Review reported.

The issue of cyber espionage looks set to be high on the agenda when the US and Chinese presidents hold their first summit in California next month.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon for the first time directly accused the Chinese government and military of targeting US government computers as part of a cyber espionage campaign aimed at collecting intelligence on US diplomatic, economic and defence sectors.

China called the report “groundless”, saying it represented “US distrust”.

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Australia has been ranked as the world’s happiest country among developed economies for the third year running.

Australia won the top position, due to the overall strength of its economy, in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland also made it to the top five.

The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.

“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD said on its website.

More than 73% of Australia’s 23 million people aged 15 to 64 hold a paid job, which is above the OECD average.

Life expectancy at birth is also higher, at almost 82 years.

Australia has been ranked as the world's happiest country among developed economies for the third year running

Australia has been ranked as the world’s happiest country among developed economies for the third year running

Australia’s economy has posted more than two decades of straight growth due to demand for its natural resources.

The nation also managed to sidestep the worst of the financial crisis and was the only major developed nation to avoid the global recession in 2009.

The country’s economic strength has been reflected in the Australian dollar, which is currently trading close to 30 year highs.

However, the government is starting to see challenges to growth as the mining boom tapers off, including rising unemployment.

As a result, Australia’s Labour government is now looking to move the economy away from its dependence on mining towards sectors such as construction and manufacturing.

Another challenge they face is a widening income gap. According to the OECD, the top 20% of Australia’s population earn six times more than the bottom 20%.

Top 10 World’s Happiest Countries:

  1. Australia
  1. Sweden
  2. Canada
  3. Norway
  4. Switzerland
  5. United      States
  6. Denmark
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Iceland
  9. United Kingdom

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French Yoann Galeran has managed to escape a saltwater crocodile that latched on to his head as he swam in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Yoann Galeran, 29, said he was “very lucky” to have survived the attack.

He was swimming from shore in the remote town of Nhulunbuy to retrieve a dinghy when the crocodile – estimated to be 8ft in length – attacked him on Sunday.

The Frenchman needed stitches for bite wounds on his head, neck and shoulders.

Yoann Galeran, a deckhand, said he kept punching the crocodile as it tried to roll and drown him.

“It went straight away to the top of my head and diving under the water he tried to do that spinning thing,” he said.

Yoann Galeran has managed to escape a saltwater crocodile that latched on to his head as he swam in Australia's Northern Territory

Yoann Galeran has managed to escape a saltwater crocodile that latched on to his head as he swam in Australia’s Northern Territory

But he fought his way free and made it to the dinghy, and then back to shore.

“I just feel that I’ve been lucky and I just think [if it was] a bigger crocodile, I maybe wouldn’t have any head,” he told ABC News.

A Northern Territory official echoed Yoann Galeran’s sentiment, saying the outcome could have been “a lot more dire”.

Lisa Heathcote, Yoann Galeran’s boss, said the crocodile had been in the area for weeks.

“We’ve walked out on the back deck and Jo’s [Yoann] standing there with a big grin on his face and blood pouring out of him,” Lisa Heathcote told ABC News.

Fatal attacks in Australia by saltwater crocodiles – a protected species since the 1970s – remain rare.

But the crocodiles are especially abundant in the Northern Territory, where deadly encounters have been reported.

A boy was killed in December after he was dragged into the water by a crocodile at a swimming spot. Weeks before the incident, human remains were found in a crocodile’s stomach in the state after a girl disappeared.

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Australian PM Julia Gillard has issued an apology to people affected by the country’s forced adoption policy between the 1950s and 1970s.

Tens of thousands of babies of unmarried, mostly teenage mothers, were thought to have been taken by the state and given to childless married couples.

Many women said they were coerced into signing away their children.

Speaking in front of hundreds of the victims, PM Julia Gillard said the “shameful” policy had created “a legacy of pain”.

“Today, this Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologizes for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering,” Julia Gillard said at Parliament House in the capital Canberra.

“We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children.”

Julia Gillard said mothers had been denied knowledge of their rights, which meant they could not provide informed consent.

“You were given false assurances, you were forced to endure the coercion and brutality of practices that were unethical, dishonest and in many cases illegal,” the prime minister said.

Australian PM Julia Gillard has issued an apology to people affected by the country's forced adoption policy between the 1950s and 1970s

Australian PM Julia Gillard has issued an apology to people affected by the country’s forced adoption policy between the 1950s and 1970s

Many people in the crowd broke down in tears during her speech, which was greeted with applause.

Julia Gillard also announced the Australian government would provide A$5 million funding to improve access to specialist support, records tracing and mental health care for those affected by forced adoption.

Last February, a Senate committee called for the national apology after investigating the impact of the policy.

The report was based on submissions from hundreds of women.

Many said they gave up their children because of stigma attached to unmarried motherhood at the time.

Some said they were drugged, while others said their signatures were forged.

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An international mission is under way to rescue a sick US citizen working at a research centre in the Antarctic.

An Australian Airbus A319 landed at an icy runway of the US McMurdo station, after a five-hour flight from Christchurch in New Zealand.

The US requested help from Australia, saying the patient – who has not been identified – may require treatment beyond that available at the base.

An international mission is under way to rescue a sick US citizen working at a research centre in the Antarctic

An international mission is under way to rescue a sick US citizen working at a research centre in the Antarctic

New Zealand’s air force is monitoring the rescue operation.

“The patient is currently stable but may require immediate corrective surgery,” a statement by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) said.

It added that the base was “not equipped for the type of procedure being contemplated”.

The base’s runway is one of the few in the Antarctic that remains operational for much of the year, despite the polar darkness and hostile conditions.

 

Australia announces that it will create the world’s largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

The reserves will cover 3.1 million sq km of ocean, including the Coral Sea.

Restrictions will be placed on fishing and oil and gas exploration in the protected zone covering more than a third of Australia’s waters.

Environment Minister Tony Burke, who made the announcement, will attend the earth summit in Brazil next week with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“It’s time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans,” Tony Burke said.

“And Australia today is leading that next step.”

Australia announces that it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Australia announces that it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Australia has timed its announcement to coincide with the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit – a global gathering of leaders from more than 130 nations to discuss protecting key parts of the environment, including the ocean.

The plans, which have been years in the making, will proceed after a final consultation process.

Last year, the Australian government announced plans to protect the marine life in the Coral Sea – an area of nearly 1 million sq km.

The sea – off the Queensland coast in northeastern Australia – is home to sharks and tuna, isolated tropical reefs and deep sea canyons. It is also the resting place of three US navy ships sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

The network of marine reserve will also include the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The plan will see the numbers of marine reserves off the Australian coast increased from 27 to 60.

“What we’ve done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean,” Tony Burke told Australian media.

However, activists and environmental protection groups are likely to be less than satisfied with the plans, having called for a complete ban on commercial fishing in the Coral Sea.

The fishing industry is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, reports say.

Some have also noted that oil and gas exploration continue to be allowed near some protected areas, particularly off Western Australia.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said that although the plan didn’t go as far as they would like, it was a major achievement in terms of ocean conservation.

Currently the world’s largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.