Our Prime Minister has won a few favours in trans-Tasman talks today, but commentators are questioning whether he could have done more.
John Key met with his Australian counterpart today to discuss several issues, including the twin economies, trade and the rights of New Zealand citizens across the ditch.
The outcome of those bilateral talks led political editor Barry Soper to tweet that Kiwis living in Australia will now qualify for student loans...but not much else.
While the Australian Prime Minister is not budging on other aspects of social welfare, he has agreed to uphold the proposal made by the previous Australian Labor Government. Mr Abbott's Coalition government has agreed to extend access to student loans for the children of long-term Kiwi expats.
When questioned over the fairness of Kiwis paying Australian taxes without any of the benefits, the Australian PM says they are lucky to be given unbarred access to a life in Australia. Mr Abbott pointed out that despite not having access to social welfare there, they do have the same automatic right as citizens to live and work in Australia - unlike residents from any other country.
Tony Abbott says he expects New Zealanders in his country to be "lifters not leaners".
All things considered, New Zealand's Prime Minister has come away with a sense of a growing economic relationship between the two countries. The talks have yielded an invitation to this year's G20 meetings, hosted by Australia and commencing later this month.
John Key says he is grateful for the honour and believes it will be of economic significance to this country.
- Newstalk ZB
Australia's most succesful Olympian Ian Thorpe, has reportedly checked himself into rehab in Sydney while battling depression and alcohol abuse.
The swimming great was injured in a fall earlier this week and was admitted to hospital on Wednesday night.
Friends say the 31-year-old has struggled to adjust to life after swimming and with the disappointment of a failed comeback attempt at qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012.
The 31-year-old remains under the care of specialists, facing a long, lonely battle to find a settled life after swimming.
In his autobiography published last year, Thorpe opened up about his struggles.
"Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as crippling depression," he wrote.
- Rhema Media/Newstalk ZB
There could be a new Grand Slam men's champion at the Australian Open, with the reign of Novak Djokovic over at the Australian Tennis Open.
Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka has stunned the four time champion 9-7 in the fifth set of a four hour battle to reach the semi finals for the first time.
After losing 12-10 to Djokovic in Melbourne last year, Wawrinka was determined history wouldn't repeat in the fifth set.
The eighth seeded Wawrinka says he stayed aggressive throughout and got a bit lucky when Djokovic missed some easy shots in the last game.
Wawrinka had nine wins over top 10 seeded players in 2013, but has never won a grand slam event; he will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi finals after he ousted third seed David Ferrer in four sets.
Meanwhile Canadian Eugenie Bouchard says her first grand slam semi-final appearance after beating Ana Ivanovic doesn't really come as a shock.
She says she's been working for it her whole life, but it's great to get to that step.
Bouchard meets fourth seed Li Na for a place in the women's final.
Today’s match up on the other side of the men’s singles draw will see Andy Murray face Roger Federer in an epic match up, while top seed Rafael Nadal will play Grigor Dimitrov.
In the womens quarter finals this afternoon, Simona Halep will play Dominika Cibulkova while fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska takes on the second seed Victoria Azarenka.
- RBG News/Newstalk ZB
Five children have been stranded for four days in a car with little food and water amid floodwaters in remote Western Australia.
The youngsters are aged between three and 11 years-old, and were travelling from Darwin to Halls Creek along an unsealed road when the vehicle became stranded by floodwaters on Friday.
A search plane located their vehicle this morning, but WA police say they have little food left and are boiling water to drink.
An operation to rescue the children and their father is underway.
- RBG News
Serena Williams is philosophical after her shock fourth round exit from the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne.
The world number one's blaming a back injury in part for her three sets defeat to inform Serb Ana Ivanovic, the ASB Classic champion.
Five times Australian Open champion Williams is trying to turn the defeat into a positive.
She says she's always disappointed when she loses but says it could be a good thing because now she knows what to work on.
While the women's draw appears wide open, Novak Djokovic has enhanced his favouritism for the men's title with a straight sets drubbing of Italian Fabio Fognini to join David Ferrer, Thomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter finals.
This afternoon Dominika Cibulkova will play the third seed Maria Sharapova, and
American Sloane Stephens takes on the second seed in Victoria Azarenka.
IN the men’s singles today’s in Melbourne will see the other half of the mens draw complete the fourth found with Roger Federer taking on Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while Scotsman Andy Murray plays another Frenchman Stephane Robert.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal will play Japan’s Kei Nishikori and 22nd seed Grigor Dimitrov will meet Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain for his chance to make the quarter finals.
- RBG News
Police have confirmed the discovery of a body at Roses Gap in the Grampians National Park, about 45 kilometres from Horsham in Victoria.
A spokesman says the death is being treated as occurring as a result of the fires.
Arson and explosives squad investigators are heading to the scene.
Approximately 40 blazes are currently burning across Victoria - two threatening homes - but it is the Grampians fire that is causing the most concern for authorities, feeding speculation there could be another Black Saturday if things get out of hand.
Euan Ferguson from the State Control Centre says a changeable wind sweeping through the area is keeping crews on their toes.
"As the wind-change tracks across Victoria, any fires that we have in the landscape are going to potentially change direction under the influence of this south-westerly wind change. It's going to be a very significant event."
It is estimated more than 100 bushfires are burning across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.
Homes destroyed by fire now total 56.
According to Sky News Australia, South Australia is dealing with about 16 fires - including two major blazes that have been burning for several days.
A lightning strike is sweeping across the state and South Australia Chief Officer, Greg Nettleton, says the approaching thunderstorms will only add to the fire tally.
ABC News says residents in some communities have been told to leave while they still can, but others have been advised it is too late and they must take shelter immediately.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology says a squally cool change is expected across the country's south-east over the weekend which should lower temperatures - a welcome reprieve.
Melbourne has been sweltering for the past few days with temperatures reaching as high as 43 degrees; evenings have offered little respite, as the lowest temperatures sit around the mid 30’s.
Dozens in Victoria have been calling for ambulances today as the heat climbs towards the anticipated 44 degrees.
Before midday, 30 calls had been received from patients suffering heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and 37 people had suffered heart attacks.
Paramedics were also called to treat three children locked in cars.
Paul Hollman of Ambulance Victoria says people need to take care. "We have to keep vigilant, we have to respect this heat and we need to take precautions."
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott has accused the current English team of batting like "one-day clowns" during their five-nil Ashes series loss.
In his column in the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Boycott says England were totally humiliated by an Australian team that is good, but not great.
Boycott says the last whitewash was achieved by a team containing Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist, who were once-in-a-lifetime players.
He says England should be ashamed and embarrassed to lose so abjectly to this Australian team, which he describes as 'good but not great'.
He accuses the England and Wales Cricket Board of giving England coach Andy Flower a chance "because it likes nice people who do not cause it any problems". He says if Flower was a manager in the [Soccer] Premier League "he would have had the sack long ago".
Meanwhile, Australia's Ashes heroes are among the big movers in the latest International Cricket Council's test player rankings.
Ryan Harris has moved up two spots to a career-best third in the bowling charts, while fellow fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has climbed to eighth.
Opening batsman Chris Rogers has jumped 10 players to a best-ever 12th after scoring 119 in the second innings of his side's 281-run victory at the SCG.
Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor remains third, while Trent Boult is the best placed of the New Zealand bowlers in 10th.
The Newcastle Knights will support Russell Packer and his family during his appeal against a two-year prison sentence.
The former Warriors and Kiwis prop punched a man in the face multiple times and stomped on his head as he lay motionless on the ground.
The victim suffered two fractured bones to his face, with the sentencing magistrate labelling his actions "cowardly and deplorable".
Packer pleaded guilty to assault in court today, with the sentence reportedly coming as a surprise to his legal team.
Packer has been refused bail by the Sydney magistrate.
Packer signed a four-year deal with the Knights last year, but the NRL has refused to register the contract because of behavioural breaches.
Knights football manager Warren Smiles says Packer has two young children and they'll help support them.
NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle says that as Packer is not currently a registered NRL player it would not be appropriate for them to make further comment on the matter.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett didn't want to comment but has told The Australian newspaper that everyone at the Knights is stunned, not just by the sentence but the magistrate's decision to refuse Packer bail until his appeal is heard in six weeks.
Bennett's confirmed the Knights will continue to support Packer as best as they can, despite the fact the former Kiwis test forward has yet to play a game for the club or even have his contract with the Knights registered by the NRL.
Newstalk ZB/RBG News
Australia's set its sights on the world number one ranking in test cricket following its Ashes series sweep.
The Aussies have jumped two spots to third place on the rankings after thrashing England by 281 runs in the fifth and final test in Sydney.
Australian captain Michael Clarke believes Australia have the world's best bowling attack and can challenge the number one test side South Africa and then Pakistan on the road this year.
Clarke says they have the side to have success wherever they play.
Australia will play five one-dayers and three Twenty20 internationals against England before touring South Africa next month.
Meanwhile England cricket captain Alastair Cook believes he and coach Andy Flower are the right combination to lead team forward, despite their Ashes series disaster.
The pair have overseen England's five-nil series loss in Australia, which has seen the tourists slip to fourth in the test rankings.
Cook says he wants to continue working with Flower, and feels they're the best pair to stay on.
He says the captain and coach naturally receive criticisms when they lose, but Flower's a fantastic coach.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier has offered his full support for both Cook and Flower.
Newstalk ZB / RBG News
Autopsies are yet to be carried out on a Queensland mother and daughter who died from suspected food poisoning in Bali.
Noelene Bischoff and 14-year-old daughter Yvana died less than a day after checking into their Bali resort over the weekend.
Indonesian authorities say they're waiting on permission to carry out further tests.
Brother-in-law Kevin Bowe says the family is keen for answers, and would be happy for an autopsy to be carried out so as to identify what had actually happened. He says now they want to get them back to Australia to give them a proper farewell.Ms Bischoff's mother Jean says it's a blessing to the family that they've been taken together because one couldn't have coped without the other.
Doctors in Bali claim food allergies were to blame for the deaths and family members had been told by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that toxic food caused the deaths.
But Australian Correspondent Keegan Buzzer says the hotel manager's been told by the doctor who treated the pair that the deaths were because of food allergies.