Tony Abbott: The Barack Obama antidote?

G20 leaders meet a koala. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and United States' President Barack Obama meet Australian koalas before the start of the first G20 Leaders' Summit session on 15 November 2014.
Image caption Abbott and Obama: not quite eye-to-eye on all issues

The last thing the United States probably needs right now is another Republican presidential candidate.

The race is already chock-a-block with conservative white middle-aged men.

But if pledging an entirely different vision to Barack Obama is a key credential of any serious contender, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott would slot quite nicely into the Republican field (notwithstanding his monarchist leanings).

Who knows what was discussed in the intimate moments of chitchat when the two men met last November at the G20 in Brisbane? (You'd have to ask the koalas.)

But you can't imagine the leaders see eye to eye on much.

Read full article Tony Abbott: The Barack Obama antidote?

The high cost of Australia's addiction to 'pokies'

Slot machines on the main gaming floor of the Star City casino in Sydney
Image caption Some studies suggest Australians are the world's biggest gamblers

Laura began gambling on slot machines, or pokies as they are known in Australia, when she was 20 years old.

Within a few months she was hooked.

Read full article The high cost of Australia's addiction to 'pokies'

Australia's asylum approach: Tough, proud and popular

This picture taken on 21 August, 2013 shows Tony Abbott listening as Kevin Rudd speaks during a people's forum in Brisbane
Image caption Mr Abbott's hardline asylum seeker policy delivered him election victory against Kevin Rudd in 2013

This week at my local pub in Sydney, I was earwigging a conversation happening at the table next to me.

The news playing on the TV was covering the ongoing row over whether the Australian government had bribed people smugglers with A$31,000 ($24,000; £15,150) to turn their boat back.

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Does Australia have double standards for Bali Nine duo?

Myuran Sukumaran (centre) and Andrew Chan (right) in jail in Indonesia
Image caption The plight of the Bali Nine drug traffickers has attracted public attention

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have eaten their last meals. Kissed their families for the last time. Inhaled their last breaths.

They have been shot in front of an Indonesian firing squad.

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MH370: Behind the tenacious deep-sea hunt for missing plane

"You have to believe we'll find something," says Brady Hernandez, a friendly American from Louisiana, in a thick southern drawl. "But will we find something? I hope so. We just don't know."

And there's the bottom line. One year on, despite millions of dollars spent, the greatest aviation mystery in history remains unsolved.

Read full article MH370: Behind the tenacious deep-sea hunt for missing plane

Smoke clears on cigarette packaging debate

Some examples of standardised cigarette packs used in Australia, taken on 3 April 2014.
Image caption Graphic pictures showing the effect of heavy smoking are plastered on packs of cigarettes in Australia

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.

Read full article Smoke clears on cigarette packaging debate

Lingering impact of British nuclear tests in the Australian outback

  • 31 December 2014
  • From the section Australia
A sign marking the explosion stands in the test site
Image caption A concrete marker stands on the exact spot where the atomic bombs were dropped

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.

Read full article Lingering impact of British nuclear tests in the Australian outback

G20 summit: Koalas and 'shirtfronting'

  • 16 November 2014
  • From the section Australia
World leaders wave during the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia on 15 November 2014
Image caption The G20 leaders are on their way home having pledged to boost global growth

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?

Read full article G20 summit: Koalas and 'shirtfronting'

Australia courts controversy with 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.
Image caption PM Tony Abbott (L) and health minister Peter Dutton (R) spoke on Australia's response to Ebola on Wednesday

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.

Read full article Australia courts controversy with mixed message on Ebola

Is Australia still the Lucky Country?

People on St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, Australia, 14 January 2014
Image caption Australia is a successful and prosperous country, but would Donald Horne still say it was a lucky one?

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.

Read full article Is Australia still the Lucky Country?