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jon donnison

Jon Donnison Sydney correspondent

Come here for my latest reflections and musings from Australia and the wider region

Smoke clears on cigarette packaging debate

As the British government announces it will ask parliament to vote on legislation on plain packaging for cigarettes before the next general election, it's worth taking a look at Australia, where such laws were introduced in 2012.

In Australia over the past two years there has been a fierce statistical battle between the tobacco industry and anti-smoking groups over whether plain packaging works.

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Nuclear secrets in the Australian outback

A sign marking the explosion stands in the test site

It seems remarkable today but less than 60 years ago, Britain was exploding nuclear bombs in the middle of Australia.

In the mid-1950s, seven bombs were tested at Maralinga in the south-west Australian outback.

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G20 summit: Koalas and 'shirtfronting'

World leaders wave during the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia on 15 November 2014

It reportedly cost more than A$500m ($437m; £279m) for Australia to put on, but in just two days, the G20 summit has come and gone. The world's powerbrokers are making their way home.

But aside from a few healthy air-mile accounts and an unhealthy dose of jetlag, what have they got to show for it?

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Australia's mixed message on Ebola

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L), and Australian Health Minister Peter Dutton (R) during a press conference in Sydney, Australia, 5 November 2014.

People around the world, and indeed at home, could be forgiven for being a little confused about Australia's response to the Ebola crisis.

The government has been sending out somewhat mixed signals over what help it can offer.

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Is Australia still the Lucky Country?

People on St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, Australia, 14 January 2014

It's 50 years since the publication of one of Australia's most iconic books.

The Lucky Country by Donald Horne, which came out in 1964, has gone on to become a cult classic, as well as saddling this land with an entirely misappropriated nickname.

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The battle between coal and the Great Barrier Reef

"An icon under pressure." That was how Australia's Great Barrier Reef was described recently by the body that manages it.

The latest threat: a project that will lead to the creation of Australia's biggest coal mine in the Galilee Basin region of central Queensland.

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'Burka ban' - not parliament's finest hour

Women wearing burkas in Afghanistan (file image)

After a year in Australia, I've never actually seen anyone wearing a burka, the traditional Afghan outfit which covers a woman head to toe, with a small meshed window for the eyes to peer out of.

So news earlier this month that parliament was introducing what the media branded a "burka ban" was something of a surprise.

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Worlds apart: From Gaza to Sydney

Sydney - Jon Donnison

The ocean, flat, soothing and expansive, is one of the world's great levellers. It can be beautiful wherever you are.

A few weeks ago I was sitting by the shore in Gaza on a summer evening looking out west over sun-kissed waves, the chaos and carnage of the war at my back momentarily fading away.

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Australia reacts to Rolf Harris verdict

Rolf Harris with Prince Charles

Rolf Harris was arguably one of the most famous Australians abroad - he is now almost certainly the most infamous.

The trial has received widespread coverage here and has often been front page news.

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Dismay in Australia as journalists are jailed in Egypt

In Australia, the jail sentences handed down to al-Jazeera's journalists have been greeted with shock and dismay.

For his parents Juris and Lois in Queensland, their six-month nightmare continues.

The rise and fall of Australian slang

Australians have long been famed for their rich and varied vocabulary of slang expressions, but experts say a new generation of Australians is coining fewer of them and borrowing more from abroad.

Australians have always had a way with words.

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Israel and Australia: New best mates?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the original flag Israeli paratroopers waved at the Western Wall in the 1967 Six Day War prior to a special Jerusalem Day Cabinet Meeting at Ammunition Hill on May 28

Australia has a lot of best friends. Sometimes it's Japan. Sometimes it's Indonesia. Sometimes it's China.

Now, though, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks he might have found a new best mate Down Under.

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Abbott and the wink

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott before House of Representatives question time at Parliament House on 14 May in Canberra, Australia.

First rule of politics: Don't mock those who elect you.

Second rule: Especially when you're on camera.

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Has Abbott miscalculated with new budget?

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks at the Museum of Contemporary Art on 9 May, in Sydney.

On these pages last week I asked whether Tony Abbott's first budget as Australian prime minister was brave or foolhardy.

Early evidence would suggest the answer is the latter.

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A brave or a foolhardy budget?

Australian PM Tony Abbott

Coming from a government elected just eight months ago on the promise of "no surprises" and no increase in taxes, Australia's first budget under Tony Abbott was either brave or foolhardy.

On the campaign trail last year, the conservative Mr Abbott didn't quite spell it out as memorably as George Bush Senior back in 1988 with his famous "Read my lips. No new taxes" but he wasn't far off.

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MH370: No closure for families yet

Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks on as retired Chief Air Marshall Angus Houston, the head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, on Monday, 28 April, 2014

For the families of the 239 people who were on board the missing Malaysian airliner this latest news is another blow.

There will be no "closure". Not yet. The search is now in its eighth week. Today we were told the next phase will take more like eight months, if not longer.

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Jon added analysis to:

Plane search signal 'important lead'

Investigators here say they are encouraged but cautious. The fact that the search planes have once again failed to sight any possible debris will dampen any sense of optimism.

Also, the Chinese ship has not reported detecting any further signals - which will also be of concern.

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Asylum policy: 'No comment'

In this photo taken on 14 April 2013, a fishing boat carrying Vietnamese asylum seekers nears the shore of Australia's Christmas Island

In the run-up to last year's Australian election, three words were perhaps uttered more than any others: "Stop the Boats."

The promise to end the flow of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia's shores was a key campaign pledge of Tony Abbott's conservative coalition, which eventually ended up in power.

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Jon added analysis to:

Philippines devastation is 'bedlam'

Tacloban has been flattened. Driving down the main high street, hardly a single building is left standing.

People say this town was hit by a wall of water when the typhoon hit on Friday. There is the stench of rotting corpses. Driving in from the airport, we saw scores of bodies lying by the roadside. For three days they have been there, with no one to bury them.

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Australia bush-dweller vows to fight fire

On a normal spring day the tiny hamlet of Hartley Vale would be an idyllic spot, nestled in a lush valley in the heart of the Blue Mountains.

But on Wednesday, people living here had fire on their doorstep.

About Jon

Jon has worked for the BBC for more than 15 years. He finds himself in Sydney after following a circuitous route with postings in Gaza, Washington, Cairo and Sheffield. Jon reported across the Middle East for three years and was awarded a Silver Sony Award for radio journalism of the year for his coverage of the 2012 Gaza/Israel War.

Jon lived in New Zealand in 2000/1 where he worked as a presenter for Radio New Zealand. He is a keen cyclist and in 2002 rode the entire 3,300km route of the Tour De France alongside the race, filing reports for BBC radio.

Jon went to school in Sheffield in South Yorkshire before doing a degree in French and politics at the University of Edinburgh. He studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and got his first reporter job at BBC Radio Sheffield.

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