Latest National news

Volunteers decline for the first time

Girl guide Emily Smith says volunteering is "part of the lifeblood of our community".

Michael Koziol 4:22 PM   The number of Australians doing voluntary work has fallen to 31 per cent from 36 per cent, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Drought spreads into key farming areas as El Nino gets going

Drought conditions are spreading into the lower Murray-Darling Basin.

Peter Hannam 2:58 PM   Australia's drought-hit regions are expanding in the lower Murray-Darling Basin as key climate influences in the Indian and Pacific oceans tilt towards drier conditions.

'Crowning a king is not something I've done before'

His Majesty King Tupou V1 arriving for tradional entertainment by school children.

Peter Munro 2:20 PM   The king is everywhere. On street posters and water bottles and archways lit up like Christmas trees across Tonga. Bright balloons, flags and bunting line homes from the airport to the capital of Nuku'alofa. King Tupou VI's face – looking a little bored and bemused by the fuss – is on every crisp banknote.

Where have the women gone? The town at the heart of regional Australia's woman drought

Merv Hall (left) and Billy Hackett lament the fact that men outnumber women in Junee over beers at the Commercial Hotel.

Inga Ting 1:26 PM   From the shire with the most campervans to the community where women give birth at four times the national rate, this is "the Lucky Country" you won't find in tourist brochures.

ATO under fire as myGov, myTax site problems prevent lodging of returns

Website problems are plaguing the tax office at tax time – and not for the first time.

Hannah Francis 1:24 PM   Insider describes ongoing system failures around tax-time as 'farcical', while taxpayers pillory the office on social media.

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Treasury staff vote 'yes' to new wage deal

Government leader in the Senate Eric Abetz opposes same-sex marriage.

Markus Mannheim 12:45 PM   58 per cent vote in favour of agreement that is likely to prove less than inflation.

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Priceless public libraries thriving in digital age

By embracing digital technology, libraries have held their own.

Nicholas Adams-Dzierzba 11:59 AM   Public libraries are thriving in the digital age.

Defence dept's DIE killed-off after a day

Defence worker

Noel Towell 11:43 AM   Giant department's new DIE acronym doesn't even last a day.

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Demand for omega-3 wiping out krill stocks: Sea Shepherd

Krill stocks threatened by demand for omega-3, Sea Shepherd claims.

10:01 AM   Australia's production of omega-3 health supplements is having a devastating impact on krill stocks in Antarctic waters, a marine conservation group says.

Canberra calls dibs on frequent flyer points

The federal government is the largest air travel user in Australia.

Jamie Freed 5:14 AM   The government has expressed interested in receiving the pool of frequent flyer points earned by its travellers to be used at a department or agency level.

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Howard defends top bureaucrat over China remarks

John Howard said it was "one of the most ridiculous propositions" that Australia had to choose between having a strong relationship with the US or China.

David Wroe 8:23 PM   Former prime minister John Howard has moved to defuse the controversy over top bureaucrat Michael Thawley's dismissal of China's global leadership qualities, saying the official has played a key role in developing Australia's relationship with Beijing.

A movie with Elvis, golf with Jack Benny

Jack Carter.

7:46 PM   Jack Carter was an American TV and stage comedian with a career spanning eight decades.

Dental surgery breaches endanger thousands

The Gentle Dentist clinic at Campsie. Photo: Facebook.

Amy Corderoy and Kate Aubusson 6:36 PM   NSW health authorities fear 11,000 patients from two Sydney dental clinics could have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis because of poor cleaning and equipment sterilisation.

Ministers halt DHS's $600,000 pursuit of $6000

Minister for social services Scott Morrison has halted a legal case that saw the Child Support Agency spend $600,000 in legal fees.

Noel Towell 11:30 PM   Four years and $600,000 later, Child Support Agency 'litigation nightmare' is over.

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Plan to send public servants to Woolies, Maccas

John Lloyd had dismissed the industrial action that had taken place so far, saying it had little effect.

Phillip Thomson 11:30 PM   Would you like fries with that? How impartial public service are becoming more like private companies.

White House lifts 40-year-old ban on cameras during public tours

The White House stands illuminated in rainbow coloured light at dusk in Washington, D.C.

By Megan Cassella 5:19 PM   Tourists may now use their smart phones and compact cameras to photograph inside the presidential mansion

Shock horror: A wedding portrait unlike any other

This wedding photographer managed to catch a perfectly timed shot during his backwards slip.

5:03 PM   Sometimes the best photographs are the ones we take by accident.

Identity of mystery 'Australian' woman with amnesia revealed

"Sam" appeared on US television to try to solve the mystery of her past. She has now been identified as Ashley Menatta.

Lisa Visentin   A mystery woman, whose identity had perplexed the FBI, Interpol and thousands of online amateur sleuths, has been named after her nephew saw her call for help in the avalanche of media coverage that her plight generated.

Australian photographers take the plunge

Evoking a dreamlike state: Eau 4 by Graham Shearer.

Ella Rubeli   Some photographers hold their breath while pressing the shutter, but Michaela Skovranova has to deprive herself of oxygen for minutes at a time.

Entries open now: Bill Henson to judge prestigious Bowness Photography Prize

Previous winner of the Bowness Photography Prize, 'Venus' by Petrina Hicks

Ella Rubeli   The prestigious Bowness Photography Prize is open for entries and will be judged by Australian artist Bill Henson.

'If they don't attend their visits here I go after them'

 Kiara Bloxsome, and her six-month-old son Carter, whose family have been patients of the  Mount Druitt Aboriginal Medical Service for four generations. The service has lost funding.

Harriet Alexander 4:30 PM   For decades it has looked after the health of much of Sydney's Indigenous community from Ermington to Lithgow. But the days are numbered now for the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney.

'War for people' to break out in public service

The proportion of public service workers 50 years of age and over has increased over time.

Noel Towell   Public service bosses warned to hold on to what they've got as a "retirement tsunami" looms

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'He had a real spark for life'

Reece Harding.

Rory Callinan   His parents believed it was the rapes and beheadings by Islamic State fighters that prompted Reece Harding to die fighting for the Kurdish peshmerga in Syria.

Hillsong critic arrested at conference

Tanya Levin was arrested outside a Hillsong conference.

Kate Aubusson   An outspoken critic and former church member was arrested for trespassing at Hillsong's national conference in Homebush on Tuesday.

Public servants 'played god with Vietnam ballot'

Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer wants those responsible for National Service ballots used to draft men into the army during the Vietnam War to come clean.

David Ellery   National Service ballot organisers 'played god' in drafting over 60,000 men says former deputy PM.

Immigration and Customs public servants strike

Customs and Immigration CPSU members hold a stopwork rally in Belconnen.

Latika Bourke and Phillip Thomson   Stopworks have been held across the country on the first day of the Australian Border Force.

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Defamation case highlights need for law to adapt to social media

Treasurer Joe Hockey leaves court during the defamation case against Fairfax Media.

Michaela Whitbourn   Treasurer Joe Hockey's defamation win against Fairfax Media over posts on Twitter has highlighted the need for Australian law to evolve to deal with defamation on social media, legal experts say.

Bans on smoking and poor living conditions may spark riots, bosses warned

Members of Victoria Police and paramedics at Ravenhall prison where inmates rioted.

Rachel Olding   Prison bosses in NSW have been given repeated warnings that smoking bans, crammed prison cells and terrible conditions may spark a riot similar to events in Victoria.

John Slater and his ‘Queen Mother with a common accent’: priceless

John Slater.

Richard Peterson   John Slater was a man of great intellect and even greater facial impressions.