The dogs that protect little penguins

  • 14 December 2015
  • From the section Magazine
Penguin and sheepdog Image copyright Global screen

When foxes discovered little penguins on a small Australian island, they nearly wiped the colony out. But a farmer came up with a novel way to protect the birds - and the story has been made into a hit film.

As a premise for a film, think Lassie meets Babe meets Pingu. What's not to like?

Middle Island, a beautiful, rugged and windswept outcrop off the coast of southern Victoria is home to a colony of the world's smallest penguins.

Originally known as fairy penguins, before some pen-pusher deemed that politically incorrect, they've now been given the far more dreary sounding title of little penguins.

To be fair, they are just that - little, standing at 30 to 40cm tall.

Read full article The dogs that protect little penguins

Australian Muslim Party's tough road to representation

  • 17 November 2015
  • From the section Australia
A mother and daughter at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, Australia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A new Australian political party is aiming to address under-representation of Muslims

Australia is not short of political parties.

There are more than 60 officially registered.

Read full article Australian Muslim Party's tough road to representation

End of 'Knightmare' poses republican question

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his Ministry during a press conference at Parliament House on 20 September 2015 in Canberra, Australia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Turnbull is known to be a committed republican

"Knightmare", as it became known, was arguably the beginning of the end for Australia's former prime minister and staunch monarchist Tony Abbott.

The "captain's pick" decision - in other words: "I won't bother consulting with anyone else" - to award Prince Philip an Australian knighthood in January this year was about as popular as a Polly Waffle in a public pool, as they say in these parts.

Read full article End of 'Knightmare' poses republican question

Rugby World Cup: 'The little guys won'

  • 31 October 2015
  • From the section Asia
New Zealand players celebrate after the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Image copyright AP
Image caption Victory over a neighbour is especially sweet

And so the best team won. And it wasn't Australia. Hurrah.

For the third time, the New Zealand All Blacks are the Rugby Union World Champions.

Read full article Rugby World Cup: 'The little guys won'

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.

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.

Read full article Australia's asylum approach: Tough, proud and popular

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.

Read full article Does Australia have double standards for Bali Nine duo?

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

Media captionJon Donnison boards a ship seeking the missing Malaysian plane MH370

"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