Terrorist magazine praises siege gunman

A propaganda magazine of the Islamic State extremist group has praised gunman Man Haron Monis for taking 18 hostages in a Sydney cafe.

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It’s also reissued a call for lone wolf attacks in Australia and taunted Western helplessness in the face of the threat.

Monis and two of his hostages, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, were killed in the violent conclusion to the siege in the early hours of December 16.

In the foreword to its sixth edition, the IS magazine Dabiq described Monis as a brother and said he was fighting in the path of Allah.

He did so “by acting alone and striking the kuffar (non-believers) where it would hurt them most – in their own lands and on the very streets that they presumptively walk in safety,” the magazine states.

“It didn’t take much; he got hold of a gun and stormed a cafe taking everyone inside hostage.

“Yet in doing so, he prompted mass panic, brought terror to the entire nation … The blessings in his efforts were apparent from the very outset.”

At the start of the siege, a black flag with Arabic writing was visible in a window of the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Dabiq declared this was “a testament to his sincerity”.

It said Monis joined other Muslims who answered a jihadist call “to strike those waging war against the Islamic State wherever they may be”.

In October, Dabiq published calls for lone wolf attacks across western nations, especially US, UK, France, Australia and Germany.

It repeated that statement in the latest edition.

“There will be others who follow the examples set by Man Haron Monis and Numan Haider in Australia,” it said.

Melbourne teenager Haider was shot dead after stabbing two police officers.

“All that the West will be able to do is to anxiously await the next round of slaughter and then issue the same tired, cliche statements in condemnation of it when it occurs.”

A week ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned there had been a heightened level of “terrorist chatter” in the aftermath of the Sydney siege tragedy.

However, Australia’s terror threat level hasn’t been lifted – remaining at high, which means an attack is likely.

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Porte aims to win cycling nationals

Australian cycling star Richie Porte remains determined to contend at the Giro d’Italia, despite a season cruelled by poor health.

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The 29-year-old Tasmanian aims to put this year’s woes behind him by winning the January 11 Australian road title at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

His main targets next year will be to lead the powerful Sky team at the Giro in May and then support his good friend Chris Froome in July at the Tour de France.

“I’d love to compete in the Giro as the new Australian champion,” Porte said.

“My health is back where it needs to be and I want to lead in a grand tour and the Giro is the target for me.

“Nothing is a given yet, but it looks like that will be my race.

“Chris has also had an up and down season and it’s his goal to go back and win the Tour de France.

“I’d love to be there supporting him, but I’m also going to take my opportunities next season.”

Porte’s 2014 campaign started brilliantly when he finished third behind Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans in a pulsating road race at the Buninyong nationals.

He then won the prestigious Willunga stage on the way to fourth overall at the Tour Down Under.

After a promising second overall in February at Spain’s Ruta del Sol stage race, Porte had to pull out miday through Tirreno-Adriatico because of illness.

He would eventually abandon his plans to ride at the Giro.

Porte then took over leadership of the Sky team when Froome had to pull out of the Tour de France.

The Australian at one point was third overall in the race, but again ill health dogged him and he finished 23rd.

Porte, who also finished third behind Gerrans at the 2012 nationals, will not have to worry about the Orica-GreenEDGE on January 11.

Gerrans broke his collarbone in a pre-Christmas training crash, ruling him out of title defences at the road nationals and the Tour Down Under.

His absence clearly opens the race up for Porte and Evans, who will retire in early February.

“I love the Buninyong course and I don’t think that GreenEDGE has got quite the numbers they’ve had in other years,” he said.

“It would be very nice to have a podium like we had this year and anybody that wins on that circuit is a worthy winner.

“So it’s a big goal to go there and try and take that jersey.”

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Debris found after light plane crash in Tasmania

‘We’ve a plane in the water’: Sydney to Hobart yacht witnesses plane crash

Sydney to Hobart yacht race competitors fished aviation headphones and an aircraft headrest out of the sea near where a light plane crashed into water in southeast Tasmania.

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Two men – a 29-year old pilot and a 61-year-old photographer – were on board the single-engine Cessna when it plunged into waters off the Tasman peninsula about 6.20pm on Monday.

They had been taking photos of race yachts on the approach to Hobart.

Police commander Tony Cerritelli said the plane was flying in less than ideal weather conditions and was just 300 metres from a race competitor when it went down.

“It was flying at around mast level and plunged nose-first into the water,” he said on Tuesday.

“Ocean racing is of secondary importance to the safety of people” CYC commodore on last night’s plane crash @SBSNews pic.twitter广西桑拿,/vr1g9PRSgt

— Nick Vindin (@Nick_Vindin) December 30, 2014

Race competitor Mistraal radioed for help as it rushed to where crew members saw the plane’s tail disappear beneath the waves.

An oil slick has been found in the area and there is still oil coming to the surface, marine rescue services inspector Lee Renshaw said.

A few “unique” items have also been retrieved.

“It’s a headrest, a set of headphones and a cover off one of the earpieces on aviation headphones with a boom microphone,” Insp Renshaw said.

However, there has been no sign of the plane or the men as an extensive search continues.

Waters in the area are up to 90 metres and too deep for divers.

Police boats are using sonar and Insp Renshaw insisted the operation remains a search, not a recovery operation.

“We are pretty confident we can pinpoint the location of the aircraft.”

The seven race yachts which detoured to assist in the search for the plane were praised by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Cameron.

“An ocean race is of secondary importance to the safety of people and at the moment, we are all thinking of those affected by this event,” he said at the Hobart waterfront

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman also commended the quick-thinking crew members.

“The mayday call from Mistraal enabled emergency personnel to get to the area quickly,” he said.

A police boat was on the scene within 25 minutes.

The yacht Mistraal witnessed last night’s plane crash & issued the MAYDAY call. The search continues. @SBSNews pic.twitter广西桑拿,/F8yj5hFRuk

— Nick Vindin (@Nick_Vindin) December 30, 2014

 

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‘Love-hate relationship’: Secret cabinet papers reveal ‘bitter’ clashes of Thatcher, Hawke

“Often deliberately abrasive and even arrogant” with “a widely known weakness for drink and women” and “a studiously cultivated ‘ocker’ image”.

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These are the colourful words chosen by Britain’s Foreign Office to describe former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke to his British counterpart Margaret Thatcher.

“It’s a really interesting way of describing a Prime Minister of a foreign country,” Simon Demissie from Britain’s National Archives admits.

“These assessments often tried to paint as complete a picture as possible for the Prime Minister so that she could understand and wouldn’t be surprised when someone behaved in a particular way.”

“We didn’t muck around when we had a fight, Margaret and I.”

The two neat manila folders, unopened since they were sealed and stored deep in the vast vaults of Britain’s National Archives in 1986, reveal the turbulent relationship between two of the biggest personalities in the Commonwealth’s political history.

When asked this week by SBS World News to describe his relationship with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said simply: “We had a love-hate relationship.”

“We didn’t muck around when we had a fight, Margaret and I.”

In her memoirs, the late British Conservative Party Leader described their “famous rows” as “bitter”, which Mrs Thatcher put down to their equally “blunt” personalities.

“I think it’s fair to say a slight clash of characters and certainly of political philosophies,” Mr Demissie said.

The previously secret British Government documents, seen for the first time by SBS World News, detail the Prime Ministers’ first meeting at Number 10 Downing Street in London on April 21, 1986.

Mr Hawke had attempted to meet with Mrs Thatcher on a previous visit to London three years earlier, having just been elected Prime Minister.

“Hawke is shrewd, articulate and a formidable negotiator.”

Despite staying in a hotel a few blocks from Downing Street, the pair only spoke by telephone.

Ms Thatcher had called a general election after Mr Hawke’s trip was scheduled, a decision labelled as a snub of a major ally by Australian media.

Given the backlash years earlier, Mrs Thatcher was given detailed briefings ahead of their afternoon tea at her official residence, including typed cue-cards with key dot points to help guide the negotiations.

“Our relationship with the Australian Government, while good, is much less close than it was in the Menzies era,” Mrs Thatcher was told by the Foreign Office.

“The Australians are now more likely to seek advice in Washington than in London,” the briefing continued.

A two-page character assessment noted a “normally tense” Mr Hawke was “proud of his prowess” and “used to relax over a glass of beer or almost any other beverage.”

“He is shrewd, articulate and a formidable negotiator.”

Despite these observations, minutes of the meeting reveal Mrs Thatcher agreed to little, if any, of what Australia sought, including the relaxing of agricultural trade policy in Europe.

Mrs Thatcher was warned by advisers that “the main purpose of Mr Hawke’s visit is to show Australians that he is out there and battling for Australia’s agricultural exports.”

If those negotiations were to become tricky, Mrs Thatcher’s cue-cards suggested: “you will not want to let him forget Australia’s high tariffs on industrial products – average 24% as against Europe’s 4.9%”.

Mrs Thatcher would not support Australia’s bid for a wider contribution to the G7 and G10.

Her cue cards, preserved and included in the files, read: “(Hawke) will press you to support Australia’s involvement in the Economic Summit. You will want to let him down gently.”

“I never drank while I was Prime Minister – so you can throw that in the bucket.”

The British Prime Minister was “sceptical” of Australia’s “unrealistic” plans for a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, telling Mr Hawke “you do not create a nuclear free zone simply by declaring one.”

“The Soviet Union would not take the slightest notice.”

The minutes note Mrs Thatcher “could give no commitment” to the Australian Government’s request for support.

“We agreed on many things but our big point of difference was the apartheid regime in South Africa,” Mr Hawke told SBS.

“I led the fight in the Commonwealth against that, trying to smash it, which we would finally be successful in doing, but Margaret would never join that fight and so I had some famous stouches with her.”

“She worked very, very hard so you always knew that when you had a meeting with Margaret she’d be well prepared,” the former Labor Leader said.

The minutes reveal Mrs Thatcher “congratulated Mr Hawke on the success of the Australian economy” and that a large portion of their time together was devoted to what Downing Street advisers called Mr Hawke’s “hankering” for one of two original copies of the Australian Constitution to be permanently loaned to Australia to mark the nation’s bicentenary celebrations in 1988.

Mrs Thatcher refused Mr Hawke’s repeated requests, on advice that releasing the document “would set an undesirable precedent” within the Commonwealth.

“Mr Hawke expressed deep disappointment at the United Kingdom’s inability to allow Australia to have one of the two originals of the Constitution,” the minutes read.

“The Prime Minister (Mrs Thatcher) acknowledged the disappointment, but pointed to the difficult precedent which would be created.”

Despite leaving the 75-minute meeting empty handed, Mr Hawke would continue the fight for possession of the Australian constitution for four years, repeatedly rejecting offers of a temporary loan or replica.

In one of several letters written personally to Mrs Thatcher, Mr Hawke stressed “possession of the original document is a matter of great consequence for all Australians.”

The requests created an administrative and legal nightmare for British bureaucrats.

The United Kingdom’s Public Records Act (1958) stipulates original copies of every Act of Parliament must be retained by the Government.

Mr Hawke was clearly determined and after years of negotiations, Australia finally wrestled one of the two original documents from Westminster.

After further requests to Queen Elizabeth II, in 1990 the British Parliament voted to change the law and allow the permanent loan to proceed.

The Australian Constitution (Public Record Copy) Act 1990 is now on public display at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra. A second copy of the historic document remains in Britain’s House of Lords.

As for those unflattering briefing notes prepared for “The Iron Lady” three decades ago?

“I never drank while I was Prime Minister – so you can throw that in the bucket,” said a clearly unamused Mr Hawke.

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Aust sends more help in AirAsia search

Australia has added an extra plane in its contribution to the search for the AirAsia flight that went missing in bad weather in the Java Sea with 162 people on board.

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Two RAAF P3 Orion planes with specialist search equipment are now part of the international search to find AirAsia flight QZ8501 that disappeared on Sunday morning.

Their search is focussed to the west of the island of Kalimantan, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.

Ms Bishop wouldn’t comment on reports the RAAF had spotted debris and an oil slick during its search on Monday.

“I’m sure there will be sightings of all sorts of debris in the ocean, but we will wait until there’s actual confirmation of the plane sighting before we make any official comment on that,” she said in Adelaide on Tuesday.

The two planes are part of a broader offer of support from the Australian government to Indonesian authorities.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the AirAsia plane on Sunday morning after it left Indonesia en route to Singapore.

Ms Bishop confirmed there were no Australian citizens, permanent residents or dual nationals among those on board.

But she said officials were still trying to confirm reports Indonesian student Kevin Alexander Soetjipto, who’s been studying in Melbourne, was on board.

Mr Soetjipto, from Malang in East Java, was studying finance at Monash University’s Clayton campus, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was due to graduate next year.

Monash spokeswoman Stacey Mair said the university was also still seeking official confirmation from authorities.

“We are deeply saddened to learn this news in relation to one of our valued student community,” she told AAP.

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NZ shares fall in light trading

New Zealand shares have fallen in light trading, led by Auckland International Airport and Vector, with many institutional investors absent from the market for summer holidays.

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The NZX 50 Index fell 15.128 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5577.201. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 13 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was about $53 million, compared to a daily average $162 million in November.

The index has gained about 18 per cent this year, adding to 2013’s 24 per cent advance.

Auckland Airport fell 2.3 per cent to $4.30 and Vector fell 2.1 per cent to $2.78. Trade Me, the online auction company, fell 1.9 per cent to $3.60 and A2 Milk dropped 1.7 per cent to 57 cents.

“Most institutions have pretty much packed up and headed off for the next week or so – volumes are extremely light,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Infratil fell for a second day, down 0.3 per cent to $3, even though its plan to buy Australian retirement village operator RetireAustralia with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund had been well received.

Retirement villages were a sector investors “liked very much, with very good potential for future growth” and Infratil had shown with investments such as Z Energy and Metlifecare that it could generate good returns, Mr Williamson said.

Metlifecare was unchanged at $4.71. Ryman Healthcare rose 1.3 per cent to $8.60 and Summerset Group fell 1.4 per cent to $2.83.

Guinness Peat Group was the biggest gainer, rising 4.7 per cent to 45 cents. Diligent Board member Services gained 3.1 per cent to $5.30.

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Some of the quirkier events of 2014

From advances in the design of women’s lingerie to surgical developments in the treatment of fish, 2014 was another interesting year for humans and other creatures.

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From technology and science to politics and beards,… takes a look at some of the oddest and quirkiest moments of 2014.

Peggy Giakoumelos reports.

(Transcript from World News Radio)

The year started with a Japanese lingerie company launching what it called the “True Love Tester” – a bra which the company claims will only unhook when the wearer is really in love.

The product’s designer explains how the bra works.

“A built in sensor reads the woman’s heart rate signal and sends it to a special app via bluetooth for analysis. The app then calculates the truelove rate based on changes in the heart rate over time. When this heart or love rate exceeds a certain value, the bra will unlock automatically.”

In March, a Danish travel company launched a marketing campaign urging Danish couples to “Do it for Denmark”.

That is book a holiday through their travel company as a way of helping raise Denmark’s dwindling birthrate.

It claimed a romantic holiday could be just the thing to raise the birthrate and offered to give away a family friendly holiday for families with babies conceived during a trip booked through its company.

It also encouraged same sex and older Danish couples who might not be in the baby-making game – to just do it anyway.

On the Australian political front, 2014 introduced Australia to the Palmer United Party.

Media interview walkouts and large packages characterised the more quirky moments of the party.

The party’s head Clive Palmer and former P-U-P Senator and now Independent Jacqui Lambie, bucked the current trend of politicians scripting every soundbite.

Ms Lambie got all personal during an interview with Heart FM in Hobart, outlining her requirements for a mail partner.

“Let’s find love now. They’ve got to have heaps of cash and a package of between their legs, let’s be honest. And they don’t need to speak. I don’t even need them to speak.”

While Mr Palmer walked out of two ABC Interviews, frustrated with the line of questioning.

“PALMER: I’m not answering in more from you so goodbye. We will see you later.

ALBERICI: You’re a public figure Mr. Palmer, the audience has a right to know, what’s happening in legal cases against you.

PALMER: Sorry goodnight. I don’t want to talk to you any more. See you later.”

The world of science and medicine in 2014 saw just how far humans have progressed.

In September, a goldfish called George underwent “high risk” brain surgery to remove a large tumour in Melbourne.

The owner of the 10-year-old fish decided to have it operated on rather than having it put to sleep.

Dr Tristan Rich was the vet who performed the surgery and told Radio 3AW that George did well after the operation.

He also explained how the fish was kept alive during the surgery.

“Basically we set up three buckets of water. You’ve got to make sure it’s pond water or tank water. You don’t want any shock from the tap water and using anaesthetic, different concentrations of anaesthetic, the first bucket being more concentrated too put him to sleep. The second bucket medium strength and that ws syphoned through a tube through the fishes mouth and that’s what kept him asleep and the water itself was oxygenated.”

The Australian Science Media Centre’s list of the weirdest stories for 2014, included the discovery in Spain of 50,000-year-old fossilised human faeces, the oldest sample ever found.

The faeces showed that this particular human wasn’t living off fast food like many of his or her modern day descendants.

Rather he or she had enjoyed a meal of berries, nuts and vegetables along with some meat.

Male facial hair also emerged as a force to be reckoned with in western culture at least – but only certain types of beards.

Not everyone though, especially these women who spoke to the BBC, was impressed.

Vox 1: Just the amount of beards needs to go. It just seems like it’s trending.

Vox: 2: It’s a bit like tattoos. If there’s too many they just become common.

Vox 3: I’m not a really big fan of beards, so just feel like it’s really hiding the face. So I’m always like if the guy’s going to shave is he going to be ugly or not.”?

The Australian Science Media Centre said Australian researchers found that beards were only attractive to women if they were a rarity.

The researchers said their findings reflect patterns seen in other animals – females tend to find rare features attractive in potential mates.

 

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Injury-hit Kruse never lost sight of Asian Cup goal

The 26-year-old tore his anterior cruciate ligament in January and was forced to watch from afar as the Socceroos lost to Spain, Netherlands and Chile in Brazil.

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Kruse acknowledged nothing would make up for missing out on a first World Cup but added the carrot of competing at a home Asian Cup kept him going as he battled back to full fitness.

“My rehab went for about seven or eight months… this tournament I was working towards the whole time,” Kruse told reporters on Tuesday.

“I was at rehab for seven, eight hours a day and I’ve never had to work that long in my life.

“I can’t right the wrong of not being able to go to the World Cup. You go through so many emotions when you miss out on a big tournament like a World Cup and I’m thankful that this has come around just six months later.

“Hopefully this Asian Cup I can really stamp my authority on the competition.”

Kruse made his debut for the Socceroos prior to the 2011 Asian Cup and scored the final goal in a 6-0 rout of Uzbekistan in the semi-finals of the tournament in Qatar where Australia finished as runners-up to Japan.

Kruse went on to establish himself as a regular under former coach Holger Osieck, who was axed shortly before the World Cup following back-to-back 6-0 friendly defeats by Brazil and France.

Kruse returned to action following the length injury lay off in October with Leverkusen but has been used infrequently since.

Despite that, he was named in Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man Asian Cup squad and is likely to feature regularly along with central striker Tim Cahill when the Socceroos take on South Korea, Kuwait and Oman in Group A matches.

However, nothing will be taken for granted.

“Learning how to walk and contract your muscles again, it’s quite taxing. You miss out on so many things and you start to appreciate how good of a life you have as a footballer,” he said.

“Sometimes I used to get annoyed at having to train all the time but now I’m just happy to be able to run on the field.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Borrowers seeking help despite low rates

More home borrowers are seeking help from welfare services despite record low interest rates.

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Some economists are expecting the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut interest rates next year, as unemployment rises.

Official interest rates have been at a record low of 2.5 per cent since August 2013, but the peak body for the homeless welfare sector says this has done little to help low-income earners pay off a mortgage.

“More and more people who are actually home owners are starting to come to homelessness services for support,” Homelessness Australia chief executive Glenda Stevens told AAP.

“If you’re a low income earner, a mortgage is still quite a large percentage of your income even if interest rates are low.”

Unemployment is expected to rise next year, as the economy slows, which would also strain welfare service providers, who help the needy with shelter and food.

Charity donors, however, continue to see sick children and medical research as more worthy causes than homelessness, says Philanthropy Australia, a group which helps wealthy individuals channel their donations.

“Something like homelessness is unfortunately not as sexy a charity or area to give to,” the group’s chief executive Louise Walsh said.

Ms Walsh said many wealthy Australians also were yet to discover the joy of giving to charity.

“Maybe there is this phenomenon that the more they have of everything, the more they want of those same things whether it’s cars, boats, houses, holidays,” she said.

The jobless rate hit a 12-year high of 6.3 per cent in November.

National Australia Bank is forecasting the unemployment rate touching 6.75 per cent in late 2015, which could lead to rate cuts in March, with another to follow a few months later.

“The economy, generally, is going to struggle through all of next year,” the bank’s global head of research Peter Jolly said.

“With an unemployment rate that high, and with inflation being super benign, there’s really no reason to stop the RBA cutting rates again.”

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F1 young gun Kvyat not scared by Ricciardo

Formula One youngster Daniil Kvyat is not interested in watching new teammate Daniel Ricciardo do well next season – he wants to be the one winning.

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Ricciardo outperformed four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in their first year together at Red Bull in 2014, finishing third overall with three grand prix victories.

With Vettel off to Ferrari in 2015, 20-year-old Kvyat step ups from sister outfit Toro Rosso.

But he’s not intimidated by Ricciardo or matching his achievements in only his second season in F1.

“He proved to be a driver of an extremely high level this year,” Russian Kvyat told Autosport.

“I will be at Red Bull not to watch him do well, but to do my best and be in front of him and everybody; that’s how it’s going to be.

“I wouldn’t go there if I was scared.

“I know what he can do, but I will also do my best and my best isn’t that bad.

“People outside will look at one thing and draw comparisons, but I am only looking at what makes me go faster.

“I feel absolutely ready. It’s a challenge, but it’s an opportunity as well.”

Kvyat’s best finish in 2014 was ninth, but he also never finished lower than 15th, excluding retirements.

Despite his lack of experience at the front of the field, he is unfazed by the prospect of racing against established drivers for a championship-winning team.

“I have been wheel-to-wheel with some of them this year as it’s been an up and down season for everyone, but next year is an opportunity to fight at a high level,” said Kvyat.

“It’s never going to be easy for anyone and I am aware of this, but everyone started from where I started.

“I have to have confidence as there is no point doing it otherwise.”

The 2015 season begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

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