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Australia ‘faces A$4bn abuse bill’

Royal commission investigating response to child sexual abuse, September 2014The commission, led by Justice McClellan (third from left) has spoken to more than 2,000 survivors of abuse

Australia may need to pay A$4.4bn ($3.4bn; £2.3bn) as compensation to the victims of child abuse, officials say.

A consultation paper, released by Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, estimated 65,000 people may be entitled to compensation.

The commission is investigating how schools, churches and government bodies responded to abuse claims and cases.

It has also called for a national system for checking the history of people who seek to work with children.

The commission was formed in April 2013, following pressure from lawmakers amid police claims that the Roman Catholic Church had concealed evidence of paedophile priests.

There were revelations that child abusers were being moved from place to place instead of having their crimes reported and investigated. There were also accusations that adults had failed to stop further acts of abuse.

On Friday, the commission’s chair, Justice Peter McClellan, called for responses to the consultation paper so that a final report could be published in the middle of this year.

“It is necessary for me to stress that the commissioners do not presently have firm views about any issue in the consultation paper,” said Mr McClellan.

Actuaries estimated 65,000 victims may be entitled to some level of redress, with an average payment of A$65,000.

“Based on these assumptions, the total cost of redress nationally would be in the order of A$4.378bn,” Justice McClellan said.

In the two years since the commission was appointed, its commissioners have spoken to more than 2,850 survivors of child abuse in private sessions. It has also completed 21 public hearings and expects to hold another 17 hearings this year.

‘Blight upon communities’

Justice McClellan said the commissioners were developing a picture of a period when thousands of children were abused in a “high-risk environment”, created by “prevailing social attitudes to children and unquestioning respect for the authority of institutions by adults”.

However, he acknowledged that the abuse of children “is not confined in time – it is happening today”.

Justice McClellan said there had long been a need for a national framework to check the backgrounds of people working with children.

“Its absence is a blight upon the communities’ efforts to provide effectively for the protection of children,” he said.

The consultation paper said the compensation scheme would be funded by contributions from both governments and institutions.

If the state was a funder of last resort, a contribution of almost A$2bn would be required from various government authorities, and A$2.4bn would come from private institutions.

The commission expects to provide a final report by December 2017.

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Murray into Australian Open semis

  • Murray through to semi-finals in straight sets
  • Briton faces seventh-seed Berdych on Thursday
  • Live on BBC2, online and 5 live sports extra at 08:30 GMT

Britain’s Andy Murray ended the run of home favourite Nick Kyrgios with a brilliant display to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Murray, 27, outsmarted the 19-year-old to win 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 and set up a clash with Tomas Berdych on Thursday.

Kyrgios threatened a comeback in the second set tie-break but two superb lobs helped the Scot to a crucial lead.

The sixth seed is through to his fifth Australian Open and 15th Grand Slam semi-final.

In the last four he will take on seventh seed Berdych, now working with Murray’s former coach Dani Vallverdu

who left the Briton’s team in November.

While Berdych

enjoyed a landmark win over Rafael Nadal

in his quarter-final, Murray overcame the great new hope of Australian tennis – and a packed and expectant crowd on Rod Laver Arena.

“I didn’t go into it obviously thinking like that,” said Murray about facing the home favourite.

“I was just trying to win against Nick, which was tough because he has an exceptional serve and makes it very difficult for you when he’s serving.

“And it was very tricky conditions as well, so I was quite happy with the way I handled everything tonight.”

The dominant force from the outset, particularly on serve, Murray used a variety of spins and angles to keep Kyrgios off balance.

When Kyrgios did suggest a fightback, the Briton was able to find a big serve or a winner to halt the momentum.

Two terrific lunging returns set up a break point in game six and a sliced backhand drew the error when Kyrgios went for too much.

On a cold and breezy evening, the home crowd needed their man to bring a bit of heat to the contest and, after saving an early break point in the second, he worked his way into the match.

A tie-break was required and Kyrgios looked likely to take it when he turned around a 2-0 deficit to lead 4-3 with a break, but Murray played a magical forehand lob to wrestle back the initiative.

The Australian had a half-chance facing a second serve at 5-5 but could not make the return, and Murray produced another winning lob off the backhand to clinch the set.

A furious Kyrgios risked a point penalty when he smashed his racquet, having earlier been warned for an audible obscenity, but at least escaped that punishment as he faced the prospect of recovering from two sets down

for the second time in three days.

Murray further tightened his grip when he made it a hat-trick of unplayable lobs on the way to breaking for 4-2 in the third, only to slip up with the finish line in sight.

It took nearly two hours for Kyrgios to earn a break point but he converted his second when a distracted Murray netted a backhand, and the crowd came to life.

Murray needed to snuff out the danger quickly and he did just that, thanks in part to a poor line call at 30-0 down which he capitalised on with two thumping cross-court forehand winners.

It left the British number one serving for the match, and there were no alarms this time as he sealed it with a smooth forehand winner down the line.

“It was a really good experience,” said Kyrgios, who was aiming to become the first Australian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

“That was my first Aussie Open Grand Slam match playing on Rod Laver, so that was really cool. But he was way too good for me tonight.

“I thought he served really well. A lot of variety. I thought if I could get that second set it’s a totally different match, but he won the second set and he was too good.”

Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios

Murray took his winning record against Australian players to 11-0 with victory over Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

Aged 19 years and 280 days, Kyrgios was bidding to become the second youngest man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals. Sweden’s Mats Wilander was 19 years and 111 days in 1983

Amelie Mauresmo

Murray’s coach Amelie Mauresmo has watched her player drop just one set so far in the tournament

One Direction's Niall Horan

Pop star Niall Horan, of chart-topping boy band One Direction, was among the crowd at Rod Laver Arena

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Ireland considers Aer Lingus bid

Aer Lingus cabin crew

The Irish government is looking at a revised offer for airline Aer Lingus from British Airways owner IAG.

Ireland is considering the proposed deal in terms of its effects on competition, transport links, and jobs, its transport ministry said.

The Irish government has a 25.1% share in Aer Lingus, and must agree to any deal before it can go through.

Ryanair has a 29.8% stake in the airline, and also has a power of veto.

Irish transport minister Paschal Donohoe said the government would give the proposed deal “very careful examination” before taking a decision.

“There are important considerations to be taken into account in addition to price,” he said.

The effects on competition in the market, transport links to Europe and the US, and jobs associated with those transport links must be taken into account before a decision is made, a spokesman for the department said.

Aer Lingus deal

Irish airline Aer Lingus has said it is willing to accept a €1.36bn (£1bn) takeover offer from British Airways owner IAG.

But Aer Lingus said before it formally recommends the offer, IAG must “address the interests of relevant parties”.

That is thought to mean its two biggest shareholders – the Irish government and Ryanair – and the unions.

The Irish cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday, where the IAG offer was discussed.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said: “The board has indicated to IAG that the financial terms are at a level at which it would be willing to recommend [the offer] subject to being satisfied with the manner in which IAG proposes to address the interests of relevant parties”.

Aer Lingus also stressed that IAG plans to operate Aer Lingus as a separate business, with its own brand, management and operations, should the takeover go ahead.

The trade union representing most Aer Lingus staff, Impact, has said that a takeover could lead to the loss of up to 1,200 jobs – a quarter of the workforce.

IAG’s primary interest in the Irish carrier is its 23 pairs of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow airport – valued at about £30m apiece – allowing it to operate more flights.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister warned at the weekend that protecting the country’s air links with Europe and the US was vitally important in terms of inward investment, exports, business and tourism.

Joan Burton told RTE Radio: “What we will want to do as a government, and what’s absolutely important, is to protect these slots and the connections of direct flights in and out of Ireland.”

Aer Lingus and Ryanair aircraft
Previous bids

Aer Lingus directly employs 3,900 people, mostly in Dublin, with 2,100 of these described as ground staff in areas such as clerical, operative and back office roles.

A takeover may also face competition concerns from European regulators. If IAG, which owns Spanish carrier Iberia, was forced to sell some Heathrow landing slots owned by Aer Lingus it could undermine the rationale for the deal.

Aer Lingus is the fourth-largest operator at Heathrow after BA, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

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Analysis: Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

Here’s what I believe to be IAG’s game plan.

On Aer Lingus, IAG has revealed that the airline will remain as a separate entity with its own brand and own management.

That will allay concerns within Aer Lingus that IAG would swallow up the airline as it did with the old British Midland carrier, bmi. That loss making airline, formerly owned by Lufthansa, became part of BA.

And given that Aer Lingus has already been through a significant restructuring and is making money, any efficiency drive (and IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, is famous for them) will be limited.

For Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, the chief executive, will want to ensure that he receives the best price possible for his 30% stake.

But given that he is likely to be a willing seller following competition concerns over the size of his holding, IAG will argue that €2.55 a share is not too shabby.

Ahmed: IAG in Irish charm offensive

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In a separate statement, IAG said that Aer Lingus had now allowed it access to its financial books to “perform a limited period of confirmatory due diligence”.

IAG’s offer is worth €2.55 a share. Aer Lingus had rejected two previous IAG offers – pitched at €2.30 and €2.40 a share.

Aer Lingus shares were up 1.9% at €2.41 in afternoon trading on Tuesday, while IAG shares were also up 2.2% at 561p.

Ryanair built its stake in Aer Lingus as part of three failed attempts to buy the carrier. Competition regulators blocked the takeover bids and told Ryanair it must sell all but 5% of its shareholding. However, an immediate sale was delayed by a lengthy appeals process.

Robin Byde, a transport analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald stockbrokers, said IAG was seeking to build on Aer Lingus’s lucrative niche on transatlantic routes, which offers customs and immigration clearance in Dublin and Shannon for flights to the US.

But he was wary about the politics of the deal and the potential for IAG to get “dragged into prolonged and distracting negotiations”.

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Australia knights Prince Philip

Prince Philip, London, 2014The knighthood is the latest addition to Prince Philip’s many titles and honours

Australia is awarding a knighthood to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, a year after the honour was reintroduced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Abbott said the Prince deserved Australia’s highest honour for a “long life of service and dedication”.

Opposition politicians described the decision as out-of-step with the times.

The leader of the opposition Labor party, Bill Shorten, has said Australians should make a fresh effort to declare their country a republic.

Australians voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum. The country is a parliamentary democracy that retains Britain’s monarch as its head of state.

Last year, Mr Abbott reintroduced the appointment of knights and dames. Australia had discontinued the honour in 1986.

Mr Abbott announced the knighthood for Prince Philip on Australia Day, the official national day.

He praised the Prince’s work as a campaigner, highlighting the achievements in Australia of his youth charity, the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Queen Elizabeth in Australia, 2006Queen Elizabeth II is Australia’s head of state

Mr Abbott also awarded a knighthood to Sir Angus Houston, a former defence force chief who was involved in the investigations last year into the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, MH370, as well as the MH17 jet that was brought down over Ukraine.

The knighthoods are signed off by Queen Elizabeth II, the wife of Prince Philip.

‘Grab-bag of cliches’

Opposition politicians, some of them known for their Republican views, criticised Mr Abbott’s decision to give Australia’s highest honour to a foreign citizen.

“As we try to reflect upon our nation… one of Australia’s highest honours goes to someone who’s not part of our community really,” the former premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“In effect this is the eccentricity of Tony Abbott’s views on our constitution coming through,” he was quoted as saying. “It certainly doesn’t reflect the view of the Australian people through a meritocratic process.”

Meanwhile, Greens leader Christine Milne told Fairfax Media: “There are plenty of wonderful people right here who are worthy of recognition.”

“But this is Tony Abbott – stuck on what Australia was and failing to notice all that we are, or have any vision or pathway towards all that we can be.”

In a speech on Sunday, Mr Shorten argued that Australians should rally behind the idea of a republic.

“Let us have the courage to ask ourselves if we measure up to more than just a grab-bag of cliches,” he said. “Let us declare that our head of state should be one of us.”

Recent polls suggest enthusiasm for making Australia a republic has dwindled since the 1999 referendum, when 45% of voters were in favour.

Most Australians at the time elected to maintain the status quo. The republican movement was split between those who wanted an elected president and those who preferred a parliamentary appointee.

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Australian Open: Federer upset by Seppi

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(CNN)Roger Federer was back in the mix as a grand slam contender after a superb 2014 season.

He reached the Wimbledon final — taking the world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to five sets — and ended the campaign by helping Switzerland to a maiden Davis Cup title.

But did all the tennis last year cost Federer — and his 33-year-old body — at the Australian Open this year?

Was it a hand injury that he sustained earlier this week? Or was his opponent simply too good?

No matter what the potential reasons, the end result is that Federer will have to wait for a record-extending 18th grand slam title after he lost to Andreas Seppi 6-4 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (5) in the third round in Melbourne on Friday.

    There were no such troubles for Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova.

    That Seppi was the man who knocked out Federer was a surprise — in their 10 previous matches, the Italian had never won. He had claimed just one set.

    And against tennis’ big three of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, Seppi owned a dismal 1-25 record.

    But the world No. 46 played one of his best matches, crucially not crumbling when the finish line was in sight.

    Instead it was Federer who blinked in the fourth-set tiebreak.

    He led 3-1 only to double fault at 3-2. Then leading 5-4, Federer made a costly backhand unforced error. Federer rued missed opportunities in the second set tiebreak, too, when Seppi was there for the taking.

    “It just broke me to lose that second set,” Federer told reporters. “And actually the fourth, I should win it, too. Just a brutal couple of sets to lose there.”

    Seppi completed the upset in stunning fashion, scrambling before hitting an instinctive forehand passing shot winner down the line.

    “For sure it was one of the important shots of my life,” said Seppi.

    Federer thus exited, despite winning more points in the match overall, 145 to 144.

    “I felt for some reason yesterday and this morning it was not going to be very simple today,” Federer said. “Even in practice I still felt the same way.

    “I was just hoping it was one of those feelings you sometimes have and it’s totally not true and you just come out and you play a routine match. I was aware of the test and was well prepared.

    “Just somehow couldn’t play my best tennis today. It was definitely partially because of Andreas playing very well.”

    Perhaps the warning signs were there from his previous round.

    Federer lost a set in the second round to Seppi’s fellow Italian, Simone Bolelli. He — and this is rare for Federer — called for the trainer to address an issue with his hand. Federer thought he might have been stung by a bee.

    He didn’t mention the hand or any other physical issue in his briefing with reporters.

    Federer also defended his decision to play exhibition matches in India in December during tennis’ notoriously short off-season.

    “I wanted to go to India,” said Federer. “I wanted to go back to Switzerland for Christmas. I practiced as hard as I possibly could.

    “Can’t do more than that. Sure, the year ended late, but one week later than normal. At the end of the day, honestly I’m confident that what I did was the right thing.”

    Federer’s exit means Murray’s path to the semifinals has become significantly easier. The two-time grand slam champion and Federer were, on paper, due to meet in the quarterfinals.

    While Federer was sent packing, Murray easily dispatched Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1 6-1 7-5.

    Murray’s performance wasn’t the only topic of conversation during his press conference, though. A particular tweet was mentioned, too.

    After Nadal visibly struggled on court in the second round and was close to vomiting in his five-set victory over Tim Smyczek, Murray appeared to criticize the Spaniard in this tweet: “When I cramped and won in the us open last year I was a ‘drama Queen, unfit, needs to see a shrink, faker’ weird…” Murray wrote.

    But he insisted Friday he wasn’t targeting Nadal.

    “I didn’t watch the whole match the other night, but clearly Rafa was struggling pretty badly,” Murray said. “It was a great effort to come through it, which rightly is what everyone was saying.

    “But that certainly wasn’t the case at the U.S. Open when I was in a similar state. And yeah, I just don’t understand why that would be the case.”

    Nadal looked better physically on court after suffering from cramps against Smyczek, eliminating Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-1 6-0 7-5 under the lights in Rod Laver Arena. He saved all seven break points he faced — and they all came in the third set.

    He said in an on-court interview that he slept a lot in a bid to recover but didn’t budge when asked for a percentage of how he felt physically.

    “Uh, I was never very good in mathematics,” Nadal joked.

    Nadal and Murray were joined in the fourth round by seventh-seed Tomas Berdych and 10th-seed Grigor Dimitrov.

    Dimitrov survived Marcos Baghdatis’ upset bid, edging the charismatic 2006 finalist 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3.

    Second-seed Sharapova, Dimitrov’s girlfriend, swept aside 31st-seed Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-1 two days after saving match points against a Russian qualifier.

    Other winners in the women’s draw included third-seed Simona Halep and seventh-seed Eugenie Bouchard.

    Read: Serena clicks into gear

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VIDEO: Australian Open feels like home

Japan’s Kei Nishikori says the Australian Open feels like “home” ahead of his

fourth round match against David Ferrer.

The 25-year-old, who reached the 2014 US Open final, is a superstar in his own country and has plenty of Japanese support in Melbourne.

Fifth seed Nishikori will play ninth seed Ferrer in the Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

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Kvitova out in Australian Open shock

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is out of the Australian Open after a 6-4 7-5 defeat by 19-year-old Madison Keys.

The American teenager broke the Czech fourth seed at 5-5 in the final set of the third-round match.

Keys, coached by three-time Grand Slam singles champion Lindsay Davenport, screamed with delight on sealing victory in Melbourne.

The world number 35 plays Madison Brengle in the fourth round as four United States players made the last 16.

“My hands are still shaking, right now I can’t even process this, I’m just so excited,” said Keys.

Kvitova, winner of Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, has never made it past the last four of the Australian Open.

Last year she was beaten in her first match by Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum, playing in just her second Grand Slam tournament.

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This Saturday Night Live skit on Brooklyn’s gentrification is hilarious, even if somewhat controversial given the climate in New York these days. —Kristan Schiller, Editor, Cities and Cultural Destinations

A fan of Roddy Doyle since reading his 1994 novel, Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha, I recently picked up his 2011 short story collection, Bullfighting. The stories are about men in midlife in Ireland, many of whom lament that their kids are grown and out of the house. With a toddler on the loose, it has made me stop to savor these kid-focused days. His characters, as always, are vivid and funny—reading Doyle is like overhearing a great bit of craic at the pub. —Salwa Jabado, Senior Editor, Countryside and Adventure

Originally published in August, this Harvard Business Review article breaks down just how much time we have in a week. It’s refreshing to know that even with 7 hours of sleep nightly, there is an abundance of time for a healthy work/life balance. I know I need to avoid the pitfalls of “time confetti” mentioned here! —Amanda D’Acierno, Senior Vice President and Publisher

I’ve been reading The Girl on the Train on the subway and nearly missing my own train stop every day—it’s perfect for fans of Gone Girl and all the psychological twists and turns keep you guessing. It would be a great companion for a long flight! —Katie Punia, Director of Publicity

Issues of cultural coexistence are topical this days, but who’d think a little Peruvian bear in England could teach us a thing or so? With the opening of the new Paddington movie, Pico Iyer reflects on Michael Bond’s classic children’s books in “Please Look After This Bear” in The New York Times Book Review. Born to Indian parents, Iyer knew he had a friend and ally in Paddington, who struggles comically to deal with the intricacies of middle-class English life. Read this piece and you may want to look at those books, or the movie, yourself. —Linda Cabasin, Editorial Director

As a big fan of Jon Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, I especially enjoyed this Time article about Oliver’s impact on the different institutions he’s either critiqued or supported throughout the show’s first season. —Annie Bruce, Digital Editorial Intern

Photo Credit: NBC/”Saturday Night Live”

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The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, says his country is looking at ways to contribute to the international fight against the so-called Islamic State.

On a visit to the UK, Mr Key said New Zealand was likely to send troops to Iraq to train forces there, alongside Australia.

Speaking to the BBC’s Lucy Hockings, he said it was clear that, with IS, the world was facing a “very different terrorist group” and that it was not fair for other countries, including the US and the UK, to do all the “heavy lifting”.

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Australia citizenship for Baby Gammy

In this handout photo Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy at the Samitivej Hospital on August 6, 2014 in Chonburi province in Bangkok, Thailand.Baby Gammy’s case made headlines around the world and provoked debate over surrogacy

Baby Gammy, who was born with Down’s syndrome to a surrogate mother in Thailand, has been granted Australian citizenship, local media report.

Gammy was left behind while his twin sister Pipah went home with Australian parents David and Wendy Farnell last year.

The case sparked intense debate over international surrogacy agreements.

Surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua said she sought Australian citizenship to safeguard Gammy’s future.

Gammy, who turned one in December, is eligible for Australian citizenship because David Farnell is his biological father.

He will now have access to healthcare in Australia and is eligible for an Australian passport.

Baby aborted

The Farnells faced heavy criticism for leaving one baby behind and taking the other. Besides Down’s syndrome Gammy has a congenital heart condition.

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua (L) with her baby Gammy, born with Down Syndrome, at the Samitivej hospital, Sriracha district in Chonburi province on August 4, 2014Ms Chanbua said later she had not allowed Gammy to be taken by the Australian parents

Ms Chanbua, the 21-years-old surrogate mother, claimed that the Farnells wanted Gammy aborted when they found out he had Down’s syndrome, but that was against her Buddhist beliefs.

In a TV interview, the Farnells said after Gammy was born, they wanted to bring both infants home.

Ms Chanbua told the Associated Press that she had then not allowed Gammy to go with them.

It was later revealed that David Farnell had child sex convictions, prompting Australia’s Department of Child Protection to launch an investigation in August.

The Farnells retain custody of Pipah but with strict court conditions, according to Australian media reports.

Gammy’s case drew donations from around the world which are being managed by an Australian charity and have been used to pay for his hospital bills and a new home for Ms Chanbua’s family.

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