Australia

Cardinal Pell granted final chance to challenge sexual abuse convictions

Pell was granted leave to appeal the verdict in the High Court of Australia.

The ex-Vatican treasurer, 78, is currently serving a six-year jail term for abusing two boys in a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.

He lost his first challenge against his convictions in August and has consistently maintained his innocence.

Pell is the most high-ranking Catholic official in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

Australian bushfires reach Sydney's suburbs

Scores of fires are still burning in New South Wales amid temperatures of 35C (95F) and winds of 80km/h (50mph).

A feared southerly wind change has now occurred but the "catastrophic" day feared has largely been avoided.

No deaths were reported on Tuesday but fire chiefs warned that conditions meant the dangers facing the state were far from over.

About six million people live in New South Wales (NSW) state.

The number of fires still afflicting NSW ranged from 100 to 300 in Australian media reports.

Australian states declare state of emergency over 'catastrophic' threat from bushfires

At least three people are dead and thousands have been displaced by three days of dangerous weather conditions in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.

But officials say the worst danger will come on Tuesday for areas around Sydney, the nation's largest city.

More than 120 bushfires are burning across the two states.

In NSW, the blazes have scorched 970,000 hectares of land and destroyed 150 houses. Nine homes have been razed in Queensland.

Oceania 7s: Double gold for Aussies in Suva

It was a double delight for the Aussie men, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a 19-12 win over Samoa earlier yesterday.

Both sides came from behind to win their finals against Fiji's teams.

The Aussie women trailed 12-0 in their championship final against FIjiana and stormed home with a 24-0 second-half to claim the gold medal.

That victory came after two wins over New Zealand in as many days, a huge boost of confidence for a young team.

Pacific's largest fresh produce market opens in PNG

The New Zealand-funded project, in partnership with PNG's National Capital District Commission, is two stories high and will host 1500 vendors, and include a café, playground, food court, and parking area.

The redevelopment of 'Gordons Market' was launched last week by National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop and New Zealand's High Commissioner to PNG, Philip Taula.

Australian jailed for student's high-profile murder

Codey Herrmann, 21, attacked Aya Maasarwe near a university in Melbourne in January.

The killing sparked a wave of anger about violence towards women in Australia, prompting vigils which were attended by thousands of people.

A judge jailed Herrmann for a maximum of 36 years, calling it a "savage attack".

Ms Maasarwe, 21, had been living in Melbourne on a one-year university exchange when she was murdered.

In her sentencing remarks on Tuesday, Judge Elizabeth Hollingworth described Ms Maasarwe as "a kind young woman who had her whole life in front of her".

Call for Australia and NZ to help fund Pacific rugby

Tonga, Samoa and Fiji's performances at the World Cup were hampered by a lack of economic resources, Fiji economist Wadan Narsey said.

He said if a Pacific team was included in the Super Rugby competition, it would strengthen Pacific rugby unions financially.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that New Zealand and Australia gave to the Pacific had a negligible political impact, he said.

Horwill fancies Australia's chances

The Wallabies have lost six consecutive games against England since knocking them out of the previous World Cup at Twickenham four years ago.

Eddie Jones' side are firm favourites to continue that sequence at Oita Stadium on Saturday and set up a semi-final against two-time defending champions New Zealand or Ireland. 

Yet former Australia captain Horwill thinks Michael Cheika's men can defy the odds and lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.

England v Australia

A 33-13 win for the Wallabies four years ago ensured England suffered an embarrassing pool-stage exit at the World Cup on home soil and prompted the Rugby Football Union to hire Australian Eddie Jones as their new head coach.

Tasmanian Jones has had Cheika's number ever since, with England winning each of their six meetings between 2016 and 2018.

However, that record is not weighing on the mind of Cheika, who has already said he will walk away from his post if Australia do not win the World Cup.

"The fear inside us is dead," Cheika said at a news conference.

Australia eases kava restrictions

The announcement of a kava pilot programme was made as Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, visited Fiji on Friday.

Mr Morrison said the amount of kava that can be imported for personal consumption will be doubled from two to four kilograms by the end of the year.

A pilot programme for commercial kava imports will also be implemented by the end of 2020.