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SYDNEY — Australia will create a A$2 billion (£1.1 billion) fund to provide loans to Pacific nations to build infrastructure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce on Thursday, as Canberra seeks to counter China's influence in the region. Australia and China have been vying for influence in sparsely populated Pacific island countries that control vast swathes of resource-rich oceans. China has spent $1.3 billion (£990.2 million) on concessional loans and gifts since 2011 to become the Pacific's second-largest donor after Australia, stoking concern in the West that several tiny nations could end up overburdened and in debt to…
China has given money for Pacific projects, such as roadworks in Papua New Guinea Australia will create a multi-billion dollar fund for Pacific island nations to build infrastructure, in an apparent attempt to counter China's influence. Delivering a major policy speech, PM Scott Morrison said he aimed to restore the Pacific to the "front and centre" of Australia's foreign outlook. Australia will offer up to A$2bn (£1.11bn; $1.45bn) in grants and loans to strengthen ties, he said. In Beijing, China's top diplomat said the two countries were "not rivals". After meeting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Beijing, top Chinese…
The homeless man who became a national hero after being hailed Melbourne’s “trolley man” in last week’s Bourke St attack has faced court on a number of charges. Michael Rogers, 46, was wanted over a spate of burglaries and breaching his bail conditions, and handed himself in to police on Friday night. After facing court today, it’s expected his bail application will be opposed. He rose to public attention after using a shopping trolley to ram Hassan Khalif Shire Ali as police tried to disarm the Somali-born radical in last Friday’s Bourke Street terror attack. But a week later, police…
The search and investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is already the most expensive in aviation history, figures released to Fairfax Media suggest. The snippets of costings provide only a small snapshot but the $US50 million ($54 million) spent on the two-year probe into Air France Flight 447 - the previous record - appears to have been easily surpassed after just four weeks. Meanwhile, Malaysia's opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has claimed the government is deliberately concealing information that would help to explain what happened to the missing flight. MH370: The cost of the search is about $53 million and…
New smoking bans to protect children ·    Bans at playgrounds, skate parks and underage sporting events ·    Protecting children from the dangers of tobacco smoke ·    Victorian Coalition Government building a healthier Victoria New laws banning smoking at outdoor public playgrounds, skate parks, swimming pool complexes and sporting venues during underage sporting events come into force on April 1. Minister for Health David Davis said the new outdoor smoking bans will protect children and young people from the dangers of second hand smoke where they play. “These new bans will create thousands of new smoke-free areas used…
Victoria’s share of GST slashed from 1 July 2014 • Victoria’s GST revenue slashed by $286 million in 2014-15 • Broken GST system must be fixed so Victoria gets its fair share • Victoria secures commitment for GST flaws to be scrutinised by Taxation White Paper reform process Victoria’s share of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is set to decline further, following the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s announcement of the GST annual carve up, Treasurer Michael O’Brien confirmed today. “In 2014-15 for every $1 of GST collected in Victoria we will only get 88 cents back, compared to 90 cents…
Melbourne Remote Control Tourist receives top industry accolade ·    Successful Melbourne campaign recognised at Awards ·    Melbourne again positioned as a top city to visit ·    Victorian Coalition Government promoting tourist visits to our state Melbourne’s innovation and creativity has again been recognised and awarded at the 35th Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD) Awards, with Melbourne Remote Control Tourist winning the Film and Video and Digital categories and the prestigious, Best in Show category. Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher said that the Victorian Coalition Government was delighted that the latest stage of…
Friday 28 March 2014 Victoria’s new vision for social housing ·    Victorian Coalition Government to upgrade 9,500 public housing properties ·    Laying the foundation for a strong and sustainable future for social housing ·    Renewal of assets, new anti-social behaviour policies and greater opportunities for tenants Clear new directions for social housing have been set by the Victorian Coalition Government with today’s release of the New Directions for Social Housing: a Framework for a Strong and Sustainable Future. Minister for Housing Wendy Lovell said the Framework outlined the next steps in building better communities, delivering better opportunities…
  It was only the second time in 14 appearances that Williams had lost in the first round at the Australian Open. Andrew Brownbill/Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia — For Venus Williams, a win in reach instead became another frustratingly early loss at a major tournament. Williams held a 3-0 lead in the third set, before dropping the next five games in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat against Ekaterina Makarova on Margaret Court Arena, the tournament’s third-largest venue, Monday afternoon, the tournament’s opening day. It was only the second time Williams had lost in the first round of the Australian Open…
MELBOURNE, Australia — James McGee did not last two hours at the 2014 Australian Open, but his brief stay Wednesday morning failed to dampen his mood. On Court 12 at Melbourne Park, McGee, a 26-year-old from Dublin, lost to Jimmy Wang of Taiwan, 7-6 (2), 7-5, in the first round of the qualifying draw in 1 hour 44 minutes. “There were sparks of greatness that during the match I felt like, ‘Wow, I’m playing great,’ ” McGee said in the players’ lounge, his mood already brightened an hour after defeat. “But I couldn’t maintain it consistently. Obviously really disappointed to have…
Launch media viewer Andy Murray practiced prior to the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency MELBOURNE, Australia — For years, Andy Murray’s right hand shot so frequently to his back after arduous or even routine points that it sometimes seemed permanently attached. Murray looked, at times, like an old man, or at least a man far older than 26. His 2013 season was divided into the portion of the year in which he managed the back pain, triumphing at Wimbledon, and the portion of the year in which he shut down his schedule and opted for back…