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No smugglers' boats bought under Australia's plan

Australia's plan to buy people-smuggling boats from Indonesians to stop them being used to transport asylum-seekers has failed to result in a single sale, a parliamentary hearing heard Tuesday. Before his election in September, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would pay Indonesians for the leaky fishing vessels used to ferry would-be refugees to Australia, as part of a crackdown on the people-smuggling trade.

Australia warns of US-style debt shutdown

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey warned Thursday of a US-style shutdown if the Labor opposition refuses to agree to lift the nation's debt ceiling to Aus$500 billion. The current ceiling of Aus$300 billion will be breached in mid-December and while a bill to raise it passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, there is a stand-off in the Senate. Labor and the Greens hold the balance of power in the upper house and only want an increase to Aus$400 billion, but the Tony Abbott-led government said it was not enough.

Former Australia PM Rudd quits politics

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd announced an end to his chequered political career Wednesday, quitting politics two months after being ousted from office by Tony Abbott. The charismatic 55-year-old Labor stalwart, who led Australia twice and was foreign minister in Julia Gillard's government, said he would leave parliament at the end of the week. "This has been the product of much soul-searching for us as a family over the last few months," he told parliament in an emotional evening speech in which he had to pause several times to compose himself.

Legislation to repeal carbon tax introduced to Australian parliament

Australia's new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday introduced legislation to parliament to repeal the country's carbon tax on the grounds it has little effect but rather causes economic damage.

Australian government faces resistance in Parliament to plan to raise debt ceiling to $467B

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's government faces stiff resistance in Parliament to increasing the country's public debt ceiling by a whopping two-thirds to 500 billion Australian dollars ($467 billion). Opposition parties are refusing to support the plan. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday that a bill to increase the current AU$300 billion limit will go to Parliament the following day. The government warns that the ceiling will be exceeded next month and wants the legislation passed this week.

Australian government boatpeople policy under fire

Australia's Labor opposition on Sunday claimed the government's boatpeople policy was in serious disarray after a high-seas stand-off with Indonesia. The Tony Abbott-led government went into September elections vowing to turn back asylum-seeker boats to Indonesia, where many depart, when safe to do so. But Jakarta has received the policy coolly and on Saturday Australia was forced to accept a group of about 60 people who were picked up by an Australian vessel south of Java on Thursday after Indonesia refused to take them.

Australia says boatpeople 'floodgates closed'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday claimed his hardline policies to stop boatpeople reaching Australia had been successful, saying "the floodgates are closed, the boats are stopping". Abbott's vow to smash the people-smuggling trade and halt the surge of boats carrying asylum-seekers to Australian waters was a centrepiece of his election victory in September.

Abbott declares end of Australia's longest war

Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared Australia's longest war at an end during a surprise visit to Afghanistan, with more than 1,000 troops to return home before Christmas in a "bitter-sweet" withdrawal. "Australia's longest war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with, we hope, an Afghanistan that's better for our presence here," Abbott said. He flew to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) mission in remote Uruzgan province on Monday to make the announcement on the withdrawal which he said was a "bitter-sweet moment for Australia".

Australia ex-PM says 'bad message' from US to Asia

Australia's former prime minister Julia Gillard said Thursday that the United States sent a "really bad message" to a fast-changing Asia when President Barack Obama canceled a visit. Obama, who has pledged a "pivot" policy of putting a greater US focus on Asia, called off a four-nation trip this month that would have included two regional summits after lawmakers of the rival Republican Party forced a shutdown of the federal government.

Al Gore wades into Australia bushfire debate

Environmental activist Al Gore has likened Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's insistence that wildfires are not linked to climate change to the tobacco industry claiming smoking does not cause lung cancer. The former US vice president and Nobel laureate was commenting after Abbott this week dismissed UN climate chief Christiana Figueres' assertion that there was "absolutely" a connection between wildfires and rising temperatures.
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