Pacific

  • Erdogan’s Christchurch comments “taken out of context”

    The senior spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the leader was “unfortunately taken out of context” in comments in which he appeared to threaten violence to Australians and New Zealanders after the Christchurch massacre. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder after a lone gunman opened fire in attacks on the two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people. In a campaign rally ahead of local elections on 31 ... ► 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

  • The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

    As an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged by the events in Christchurch. The apparent innocence of New Zealand has been stripped away by acts of cowardice and evil. Police remain on high alert and authorities are still responding to events following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch that took the lives of 50 people and seriously injured many more. Three people have been arrested, and one, an Australian living in ... ► 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

  • Australia, Indonesia to sign delayed free trade deal

    Australia and Indonesia are just days away from signing a landmark free trade deal to bring new access to markets for agriculture and education. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, accompanied by Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo, will sign the deal alongside his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Monday. “This is a good deal for Indonesia in terms of growing their economic opportunity and investment,” Senator Birmingham told reporters in Launceston on Friday. “This is ... ► Read more

  • BOM: Tropical Cyclone Oma could hit southern Queensland coast

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Oma could possibly cross the southern Queensland coast, after changing direction overnight, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says. The category three system is currently off New Caledonia, about 1,120 kilometres north-east of Brisbane. BOM said it was no longer expected to turn south-east towards New Zealand over the weekend. Forecaster Sam Campbell said instead the system was moving south-west. He said a cyclone watch may be issued this afternoon ahead of gale ... ► Read more

  • Labor, crossbench to probe Government for awarding security contracts to Paladin Group

    Labor and the crossbench plan to zero in on the awarding of contracts for security services on Manus Island as Senate estimates gets underway today. It is the final week of estimates hearings before the federal election, and the answers provided will help shape the debate around border protection in the upcoming election campaign. More than $420 million over nearly two years is going to a relatively unknown company, the Paladin Group, that was registered ... ► 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

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► 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

  • APEC 2018: US-China divisions deepen worrying world leaders

    Deep divisions between the United States and China have derailed the APEC meeting in Port Moresby, with regional leaders failing to agree on a final communique for the first time in the summit’s history. The two superpowers clashed repeatedly over the language on trade in the final document, with Beijing angrily rejecting paragraphs that called for an overhaul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and warned against unfair trade tactics. The Trump Administration has repeatedly ... ► Read more

  • Fiji votes in second democratic election since 2006 coup

    Polls have opened in Fiji, which is holding its second democratic election since a military coup ousted the Government 12 years ago. While the Pacific island nation has made strides away from its troubled political history, which saw the military overthrow four governments in the space of two decades, today’s general election sees two former coup leaders vying for the prime ministership. Incumbent Frank Bainimarama leads the FijiFirst party, which is looking to retain power ... ► 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

  • New Caledonia votes to remain French territory

    Islanders on the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia rejected independence on Sunday in a referendum, but the results showed weaker-than-expected support for Paris. Some 18,000 kilometres from the French mainland, New Caledonia is home to a quarter of the world’s known supplies of nickel — a vital electronics component — and is a foothold for France in the Pacific where China is gaining influence. On the final count, 56.4% of people rejected the proposition that New ... ► Read more

  • Australia ratifies CPTPP membership

    Australia has officially joined a massive trade deal that the Federal Government says will deliver a windfall to farmers and businesses. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Wednesday, making it the sixth country to come on board. The step means the CPTPP will come into effect on December 30. The deal strips 98% of tariffs for 11 countries with a combined GDP of more than ... ► Read more

  • Refugee advocates: Nauru detainees quietly flown to Adelaide

    Asylum-seeker families are being quietly flown from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru to Adelaide, according to some advocates. Nauru Airlines does not fly commercially to Adelaide, but its planes have been seen at the airport as recently as Monday. The latest monthly figures from Border Force are for the month from September 1 to September 30, when there were no asylum seekers transferred to Australia or any other country. However, some families may have ... ► 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