Pacific

  • Deputy PM apologies for saying Pacific islanders will survive climate change by picking fruit

    Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has apologised for saying that Pacific Islanders will be able to survive climate change by working as fruit-pickers in Australia. Mr McCormack made the comments last Friday in response to criticism at the Pacific Islanders Forum that Australia is ignoring the threat of climate change to low-lying island nations. On Friday last week the Deputy Prime Minister said he got “a little bit annoyed when we have these sorts of ... ► Read more

  • Diplomatic row after MP Andrew Hastie warns of Chinese mobilisation

    Coalition backbench MP Andrew Hastie has sparked a diplomatic row after he compared China’s mobilisation to that of Nazi Germany. Mr Hastie, who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, warned that Australia’s economic and national security will be tested by China’s expanding regional influence. “Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure but in our thinking. That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak,” Mr Hastie wrote in an opinion piece ... ► Read more

  • Five Eyes nations vow to step up efforts to counter online child abuse material

    Security officials from the Five Eyes security alliance have called for tech giants to allow backdoor access to encrypted content on WhatsApp and other communications platforms in order to combat sex offenders and the circulation of child abuse material. The “Five Eyes” nations — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States — say urgent action is needed from the companies to combat live-streaming of child sexual abuse. Executives from Google, Facebook, ... ► Read more

  • Dutton to push for child abuse material crack down at Five Eyes meeting

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will push for the Five Eyes (FVEY) countries to prioritise preventing online child exploitation material at a meeting in London on Monday. FVEY is an intelligence-sharing network which includes Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada and the United States. “There needs to be greater international engagement in the battle against child exploitation,” Mr Dutton told The Australian ahead of flying to London. “Now with the internet, pay-per-view, [offenders] can direct material ... ► Read more

  • PNG Prime Minister to discuss Manus Island with Morrison and Albanese

    Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has arrived in Australia for his first official visit since being elected in late May. Mr Marape wants a deadline for the ending of the offshore detention on Manus Island. “We would like it to end as soon as possible,” Mr Marape said. Mr Marape will receive a ceremonial welcome in Canberra before meeting for talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. However, he ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia arrest suspected leader of terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah

    Indonesian police have arrested the man believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Para Wijayanto was arrested on Saturday (local time) by counter-terrorism police at a hotel in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi. National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Wijayanto was responsible in helping make bombs that were used in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, and the attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, ... ► Read more

  • Paladin to have its security contract temporarily extended

    Paladin Solutions will have its Manus Island security contract temporarily extended by the Australian Government in a new agreement struck with the Papua New Guinean Government. The group, which oversees security on the offshore detention centre on Manus Island, have had their $20-million a month contract extended for a further 12 months. However, it is expected to only last until the end of the year. After that period, a PNG company will operate security at ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

    “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put ... ► Read more

  • PNG at odds with Australia over Paladin contract renewal

    Papua New Guinea’s Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has revealed the PNG Government is against the Morrison Government’s plan to renew Paladin Solution’s $20 million-a-month Manus ­Island security contract. Mr Thomas told The Australian on Sunday that PNG wants a locally owned company to be awarded the contract instead. “The PNG government position is to … terminate the Paladin contract by end of this month,” Mr Thomas said. “The PNG [Government] wants a transparent tender process and ... ► Read more

  • Morrison pledges $250 million toward Solom Islands infrastructure

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $250 million in infrastructure aid to the Solomon Islands in a bid to shore up diplomatic capital. During his visit to Honiara, Mr Morrison also announced Canberra will fund the construction of a new office complex which will house the Pacific nation’s prime ministerial office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and promised loans of nearly $3 million for temporary Solomon Island workers coming to Australia under labour mobility ... ► Read more

  • Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

    A delegation of Pacific Island nations has called on “bigger countries” in the region to take a stronger approach to climate change. During a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, Australia’s pacific neighbours warned that rising sea levels will destroy their communities unless more is done to respond to climate change. Nauruan President and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Baron Waqa implied Australia could be doing more to make climate change ... ► Read more

  • Christchurch terror suspect sent death threat two years before mosque attack

    A Melbourne man has revealed suspected Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant sent him a death threat after he criticised the far-right United Patriots Front (UPF) extremist group in 2016. Screenshots of a Facebook Messenger conversation between the man and Mr Tarrant show the alleged right-wing terrorist defended the anti-Islamic UPF as “the leading ethno-nationalist group within Australia.” “When you speak against the UPF you speak against my right to a home for my people and my ... ► Read more

  • “Very offended”: PM to summon Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s ANZAC comments

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will summon Turkey’s ambassador today after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mocked the Gallipoli campaign and threatened Australian and New Zealand citizens. Mr Erdogan said the terror attacks in Christchurch last Friday were part of a wider attack on Turkey and indicative of global anti-Muslim sentiment. The Turkish President took aim at the Anzacs’ participation in the Gallipoli campaign, threatening that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Islam sentiment who visit Turkey ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • 50 killed in NZ mosque shootings

    Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. Authorities have confirmed 50 people were killed and 48 are being treated after a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue and another mosque on Linwood Avenue. The attack resulted in 42 deaths at Al Noor Mosque, seven at the Linwood Islamic Centre, and one who died in Christchurch ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • Foreign Minister begins tour of the Pacific

    Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne began a tour of the Pacific with a visit to Solomon Islands yesterday. Senator Payne met with Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou “to discuss Australia’s Pacific initiatives and step-up in the region, as well as the upcoming [Solomon Islands] election”, she tweeted. The Foreign Minister joined Prime Minister Hou at a ground-breaking ceremony in the country’s capital Honiara to mark the next phase of the Coral Sea cable ... ► Read more

  • NZ Trade Minister visits Adelaide for talks

    New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker will land in Adelaide on Wednesday to discuss further integration of the Australian and New Zealand economies. Mr Parker will meet with Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Labor’s trade spokesman Jason Clare. “We will discuss the trade outlook for 2019, including the World Trade Organisation, Brexit, the CPTPP and other issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region such as progress on Pacer Plus and how we can work together,” Mr ... ► Read more

  • Australia retains ranking in anti-corruption index

    Australia has kept its ranking in Transparency International’s annual anti-corruption index among the top 20 cleanest countries in the world. Denmark, New Zealand and Finland took first, second and third respectively, with Australia sitting just between the UK and Austria at 13th. Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index shows more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50 — 100 being very clean and 0 being very corrupt. Australia has maintained its 2017 ranking of 77/100. While ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 13 January – 19 January 2019

    Theresa May: Government has confidence of Parliament, time to deliver Brexit British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for bipartisan talks to develop a Brexit deal that will pass the House of Commons. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a ... ► Read more

  • Morrison’s Pacific trip needs to be more than a one-off

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has kicked off the new year by visiting our Pacific neighbours Vanuatu and Fiji in a bid to bolster relations. It is undeniable that China’s growing influence in the region is at the core of this highly unusual trip. China’s expansion in the Pacific is unnerving to say the least, and the last prime ministerial visits to Vanuatu and Fiji were in 1990 and 2006 respectively, both of which were to ... ► Read more

  • Fijian workers able to work on Australian farms under expanded Pacific Labour Scheme

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce that Fijian workers will be able to work on Australian farms under the expanded Pacific Labour Scheme. “We will work with Fiji to help them access the Pacific Labour Scheme this year, boosting both economies while helping Australian farmers,” Mr Morrison said ahead of his visit. Under the expanded scheme, workers from certain Pacific countries are able to work in rural and regional Australia for up to ... ► Read more

  • Dozens of construction workers killed in Papua attacks

    Indonesian authorities are attempting to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier killed by gunmen in the province of Papua this week. Police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote village in the centre of the province’s Nduga district. According to officials, the workers had been brought from Sulawesi to help build the trans-Papuan highway. The following day, ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government announces $2 billion Pacific development fund to counter Chinese investment

    The Australian Government has announced it will establish a $2 billion fund for infrastructure development in the Pacific in response to increased Chinese investment in the region. The announcement comes ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Port Moresby next weekend. The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility will assist the Pacific in developing energy, communications and transport projects. Speaking in Townsville on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his Government would make sure Australia is ... ► Read more

  • Prime Minister rejects proposed refugee compromise

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not compromise on the Government’s plan to introduce legislation that will ban refugees held on Nauru and Manus Island from ever entering Australia. Labor announced on Tuesday that it was willing to agree to the legislation if the Government accepts New Zealand’s offer to resettle up to 150 refugees, so long as the lifetime ban only applies to that group of refugees. But Mr Morrison maintains that the Government will ... ► Read more

  • Australian Special Forces deployed to PNG for APEC meeting

    Australia has deployed special forces soldiers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of the effort to secure Port Moresby ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled for November. Concerns that local military and police personnel are inadequate are behind the deployment. World leaders including United States Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are expected to attend the two-day summit. “We ... ► Read more

  • Report says “worst fears” surpassed in Nauru detention centre

    A report co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released on Monday details escalating levels of abuse, trauma, and desperation in Australia’s offshore detention centre in Nauru. According to the report, the situation for the 900 people detained on Nauru (including 109 children) has surpassed the “worst fears” of advocates when the policy of offshore detention was reinstated in 2012. Around 50 overseas medical requests have been actively blocked ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand passes law banning foreign non-residents from buying houses

    The New Zealand Parliament yesterday passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018, which bans many non-resident foreigners from buying existing housing, as part of the Labour Government’s election promise to tackle housing affordability. During the election campaign last September, now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to stem rising house prices and reduce growing homelessness, partly by banning foreign buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker, who introduced the bill in December last year, described the bill’s passing ... ► Read more

  • Australia and Japan join US Indo-Pacific infrastructure initiative

    Australia and Japan have formed a trilateral partnership with the United States to invest in infrastructure and development projects in the Indo-Pacific region, it was announced on Tuesday. The announcement follows months of talks regarding a joint scheme to respond to China’s Belt and Road Programme. Initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Belt and Road is a massive infrastructure investment programme across Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, but has been criticised for spreading Chinese political influence ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern gives birth to a baby girl

    New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has given birth to a baby girl on Thursday, making her one of only two women who have given birth while in public office. Ms Ardern, 37, shared a photo of her and her partner Clarke Gayford with their newborn on Instragram, captioning the photo, “Welcome to our village wee one.” She said the baby arrived at 4:45pm (local time) and weighed 3.31kg. “Thank you so much for your ... ► Read more

  • Governments agree to high-speed Internet link between Australia and Solomon Islands

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Solomon Islands counterpart Rick Houenipwela have agreed to construct an undersea high-speed Internet link between the two countries. Solomon Islands had previously signed a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in late-2016 to construct a cable to improve Internet and phone reliability in the impoverished Pacific nation. Concerns over cybersecurity resulted in the intervention of the Australian Government, which has effectively forced Huawei from the project. Canberra has indicated ... ► Read more

  • San Diego Zoo’s Maori dancer blunder could have been avoided so easily, it’s laughable

    One may wonder whether to laugh or be worried by San Diego’s Zoo cultural mix-up this week. During the opening of an Australian exhibition, typically featuring iconic ‘Aussie’ creatures including kangaroos and wallabies, there was another element that was definitely incongruous with that Australian theme: Maori dancers. The mix-up has sparked outrage, but the first and strongest reaction has been incredulity. Is it fair to assume that a zoo, whose job is to exhibit animals of the ... ► Read more

  • Australia signs CPTPP with 10 other countries

    Representatives from 11 countries including Australia signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) accord in Santiago on Thursday local time. The other 10 nations include Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and with a total population of 480 million, produce approximately 13.5% of the world’s economic output. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo says the CPTPP will have a positive impact on jobs growth in the trading area. Mr Ciobo ... ► Read more

  • A regional human rights system for Asia and the Pacific?

    In 1953 the Council of Europe adopted the European Convention on Human Rights, establishing a regional system to protect human rights in its member states, complete with domestic and regional courts to enforce it. Regional systems have also developed in the Americas through the Organisation of American States, and through the African Union. This leaves Asia and the Pacific as the only region without a human rights system. ► Read more