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Right royal welcome awaits Kate, Will and George in Australia

The welcome awaiting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their bonny Prince George when they arrive in Australia next week may well be warmer than ever before, or ever again. That is certainly how Republicans see it, under a prime minister who wears his love of the British monarchy on his sleeve and has turned constitutional debate topsy-turvy Down Under. The Australia that will greet the royals has just taken a surprise step back into its colonial past with Prime Minister Tony Abbott restoring knighthoods.

Australia defends security deal with Japan

Closer defence ties between Japan and Australia should not raise concerns in regional superpower China, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday, after sealing a major free trade and security deal with Tokyo. Canberra and Tokyo struck the agreement Monday to enhance trade and security ties, including joint development of defence equipment, elevating the bilateral relationship to a new level.

Australian PM under fire over knights and dames

Monarchist Prime Minister Tony Abbott was accused Wednesday of sending Australia into a "time warp" by reintroducing knights and dames to the country's honours list. The conservative leader announced the move Tuesday with ministers revealing he went straight to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Australia's head of state, for approval without consulting his Liberal Party. Opposition Labor lawmakers ridiculed the move, asking why he was not focusing on important issues such as health and unemployment instead.

Japan, Australia to hold ministerial FTA talks on Wed.

Japan and Australia will hold ministerial free trade talks Wednesday in Tokyo as they strive to seal a pact in time to announce a deal at a summit next month. The two sides will try to move closer over tariffs on beef and vehicles, which have been the sticking points in the talks. Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will meet with Japan's farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi to discuss remaining issues.

Japan, Australia to hold ministerial FTA talks on Wed.

Japan and Australia will hold ministerial free trade talks Wednesday in Tokyo as they strive to seal a pact in time to announce a deal at a summit next month. The two sides will try to move closer over tariffs on beef and vehicles, which have been the sticking points in the talks. Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will meet with Japan's farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi to discuss remaining issues.

Australia's royalist PM brings back knights and dames

Australia announced Tuesday that knights and dames will be reintroduced to its honours list to recognise distinguished members of society. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch monarchist, said up to four knights or dames could be appointed each year, starting with the British queen's outgoing representative Governor-General Quentin Bryce and her successor Peter Cosgrove. "I believe this is an important grace note in our national life," Abbott said. "This is for pre-eminent achievement."

Australian minister stands aside over corruption probe

Australia's assistant treasurer on Wednesday became the first casualty of Tony Abbott's government since it took office six months ago when he stood aside after being linked to a corruption probe. Arthur Sinodinos has been called to appear at a New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry investigating allegations involving the private firm Australian Water Holdings (AWH). No allegations have been levelled against Sinodinos -- who denies any wrongdoing -- but he was on the board of AWH before coming to parliament.

Feds look to Australia for pointers on Made-in-Canada brand campaign

OTTAWA - From those ubiquitous UGG boots to kayaks and cherries, a little green logo featuring a kangaroo has told Australian consumers what's been made or grown by their country for nearly 30 years. Now the Canadian government is looking to the Australian Made campaign as a model for a domestic branding exercise here. This year's federal budget promised a private-sector steering committee would be struck to make recommendations about a formal Made in Canada system.

Ottawa report on violence against aboriginal women stops short of public inquiry

OTTAWA - A parliamentary report into missing and murdered aboriginal women has rejected numerous calls for a full public inquiry, setting off a firestorm of criticism from the opposition and human-rights groups. Liberal and NDP members who sat on the all-party panel released dissenting opinions, accusing the federal Conservatives of sanitizing the final report.

Australian PM says too much forestry 'locked up'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was accused Wednesday of mounting "a massive assault on the environment" after he warned too much Australian forestry was closed to logging and there were enough national parks. In an address to a timber industry dinner, the centre-right leader said he would establish a new advisory council for the industry, calling it a sector that had been "frowned upon" for too long.
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