Australia

Court quashes Cardinal Pell's sexual abuse convictions

The ex-Vatican treasurer, 78, was the most senior Catholic figure ever jailed for such crimes.

In 2018, a jury found he abused two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

But the High Court of Australia quashed that verdict on Tuesday, bringing an immediate end to Cardinal Pell's six-year jail sentence.

The Australian cleric had maintained his innocence since he was charged by police in June 2017.

His case rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope's most senior advisers.

Rugby Australia CEO admits July series with Ireland 'highly unlikely' to go ahead

The Wallabies are set to take on Andy Farrell’s Ireland in Brisbane on July 4 and Sydney on July 11, before playing Fiji in Townsville on July 18.

Yet with the global rugby calendar facing huge uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, those games look set to be postponed, or even cancelled.

Rugby Australia held their annual general meeting on Monday, where they revealed a $9.4 million operating deficit for the World Cup year of 2019.

Smith captaincy ban over

That is a question that took on new relevance on Sunday after Smith's two-year leadership ban ended.

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended from cricket after a ball-tampering scandal on the 2018 tour of South Africa.

A scheme was cooked up to use sandpaper to doctor the ball, with Smith being aware of the plan but doing nothing to prevent it going ahead.

Disgraced by the incident, Smith was served with a one-year playing ban that began on March 29, 2018, with a further 12-month suspension from leading Australia in any format of the game.

Coronavirus: Australia reverses 30 minute hair appointment rule

However, while appointments can now go on for longer, hairdressers and barbers must still observe the "four square metre per person" rule.

Salons have been allowed to remain open, despite other businesses being closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But some have called for all salons and barbers to be shut during the outbreak, which has killed 13 in Australia.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a number of new restrictions, which saw play centres, libraries and museums closed from midnight on Wednesday.

Australia v NZ behind closed doors

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed that fans will not be allowed into grounds to watch the three-match series, which starts on Friday at the SCG.

Ticket-holders will be given a full refund with no decision yet made over Australia's upcoming three-match Twenty20 international tour of New Zealand.

"Cricket Australia will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation at home and overseas before making a decision on Australian men's international matches beyond the Australian leg of the ODI tournament," said a statement.

First Australian death from coronavirus

His death was confirmed by Western Australia's chief health officer Andrew Robertson.

The 78-year-old man and his 79-year-old wife were among the 3700 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, including 14 New Zealanders and 164 Australians, when cases of coronavirus began to emerge.

Passengers were placed under isolation, but the virus continued to spread on the ship, with hundreds of people testing positive, including another WA man, who was taken off the ship to be treated in Japan.

Call for closer ties between Australia and small Pacific states

The head of the Australian National University's Department of Strategic and Defence Studies, Professor John Blaxland, said he had been inspired by New Zealand's free association links with Niue and the Cook Islands.

Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru would benefit from similar arrangements, he said.

Prof Blaxland said those countries were facing a conflation of issues - the geopolitical threat posed by rise of China, climate change, and issues with governance.

Fundraiser for boy in bullying video hits $300,000

Yarraka Bayles posted the clip of her son, Quaden, crying after he was targeted at school for his dwarfism.

"This is what bullying does," she says in the video, in which her son also says he wants to end his life.

Now a GoFundMe page has raised 30 times more than its $10,000 target.

The page was set up by US comedian Brad Williams after the video went viral to raise money to send Quaden to Disneyland.

The National Rugby League's Indigenous All Stars team have also invited Quaden to lead out the side for their match against the Maori All Stars on Saturday.

Fire-hit Australia faces 'dangerous' downpours

Severe weather warnings for rain, winds and flooding have been issued for coastal areas of the eastern state.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned of "dangerous conditions" on Saturday and Sunday.

There has already been flooding in Sydney and other areas along the coast.

Friday was the wettest day recorded in well over a year in Sydney, where roads were closed and public transport delayed.

Other NSW towns faced flood waters as well, including Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour, where 280mm and 250mm of rain fell respectively.

Coronavirus outbreak: First Australian evacuees from Wuhan sent to Christmas Island

The evacuees were first sent to specially quarantined facilities at a remote airbase in Western Australia.

The Qantas 747 touched down last night (NZ time) at a Royal Australian Air Force base about 1200km north of Perth, carrying 243 passengers, 14 crew, four pilots and officials from the Department of Health.

Several children were on board, with 89 evacuees under 16 years of age, including five under the age of two.

The 747 could not land at the small Christmas Island airstrip, so the passengers will be transferred to two smaller planes to make the trip.