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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."

'Increasing hope' of solving MH370 mystery: Australian PM

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott voiced increasing hope Sunday of discovering the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the 239 people on board after unidentified debris was sighted in the search zone. "It's still too early to be definite, but obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope -- no more than hope, no more than hope -- that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," Abbott said.

Australia PM sees "increasing hope" of finding out MH370 fate

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott voiced increasing hope Sunday of finding out what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 239 people on board after unidentified debris was sighted in the search zone. "It's still too early to be definite, but obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope, no more than hope, no more than hope, that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," Abbott said.

Australian PM says satellite finds objects possibly from missing Malaysian jet

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday satellite imagery had found two objects possibly related to the search for a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing since March 8 with 239 people on board. "New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean," Abbott told parliament.

Australia investigates 'possible' MH370 debris

Australia said Thursday that two objects -- one estimated at 24 metres (79 feet) long -- had been spotted in the Indian Ocean, the "best lead we have" in the search for a Malaysian passenger jet. Four search aircraft had been dispatched to the remote area of the southern Indian Ocean to check whether grainy satellite photos indicated debris from missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, as relatives of passengers huddled anxiously awaiting news.

Two objects spotted possibly related to MH370: Australia PM

Two objects possibly related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been sighted, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday. Abbott told parliament "new and credible information" had come to light nearly two weeks after the plane vanished. He said an Australian air force Orion had been diverted to look into the objects. He did not specify where they were but Australia has taken charge of the search in the southern Indian Ocean.

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.
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