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Australia to lead southern search for MH370

Australia will take responsibility for the "southern vector" of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 25 countries now involved in a huge operation to locate the plane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday. The Malaysian government has revealed an investigation indicates the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path -- either north towards Central Asia, or towards the southern Indian Ocean.

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.

Australian government takes step toward relaxing foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas

CANBERRA, Australia - The Australian government took a step toward relaxing foreign ownership restrictions on Qantas Airways on Thursday by passing legislation through parliament's lower house. But the opposition Labor Party and Greens party plan to use their majority in the Senate to keep the national carrier in Australian ownership.

Australia says spying 'for the benefit of our friends'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday his government used intelligence material "for the benefit of our friends" and "to uphold our values" following fresh reports it spied on Indonesia. Relations between the neighbours plunged to their lowest ebb in years in November after reports that Australia tried to tap the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and several top officials in 2009.

Municipalities ready their pitches for federal infrastructure spending blitz

OTTAWA - Municipalities are lining up for a piece of the Conservative government's $14-billion infrastructure spending blitz. Proposed projects range from wastewater treatment facilities to public transit. Pitches have been in the works for weeks in anticipation of the unveiling this week of the new building Canada fund, which was first announced in last year's federal budget. Provinces, cities and towns had to do most of their preparations ahead of time because they're under a serious time crunch.

Australian government plans to sell $117 billion in assets to ease budget squeeze

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia plans to raise up to $117 billion from sales of state assets, the finance minister said Thursday, as the government tries to bridge a gaping budget deficit. The announcement comes after the International Monetary Fund highlighted the challenge Australia faces to return its budget to surplus in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The task has been made harder by tax revenue falling short of expectations as a mining boom cooled.

Australian PM insists nothing he could do on Toyota

Prime Minister Tony Abbott insisted Tuesday there was nothing he could do to prevent Toyota halting car manufacturing in Australia as fears it will spark an economic crisis gather pace. The Japanese giant on Monday said it would stop making cars in Australia in 2017, citing high production costs, a strong local dollar and a small domestic market in a decision that kills off the country's 66-year-old auto manufacturing industry.

Australia ex-PM Gillard to lead schooling-for-poor group

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was named Monday chair of the Global Partnership for Education, which fights to bring education to the world's poorest children. Gillard, prime minister from 2010 to 2013 and before that Australia's education minister, takes on the job at a time when the GPE is seeking to replenish its funding from governments, businesses and civil society groups that back its mission.

Australia probes detention of asylum-seeker children

Australia's human rights watchdog launched an inquiry Monday into the detention of more than 1,000 children under punitive government policies that banish asylum-seekers arriving by boat to remote Pacific camps. Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said the probe would examine the impact of mandatory detention on more than 1,000 asylum-seeker children being held in immigration facilities in Australia and more than 100 on far-flung Nauru.

Australia probes detention of asylum-seeker children

Australia's human rights watchdog launched an inquiry Monday into the detention of more than 1,000 children under punitive government policies that banish asylum-seekers arriving by boat to remote Pacific camps. Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said the probe would examine the impact of mandatory detention on more than 1,000 asylum-seeker children being held in immigration facilities in Australia and more than 100 on far-flung Nauru.
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