Australia and Oceania

Fear of change: Negative politics wins Australia election

Australia’s conservative government held on to power at national elections thanks to a highly effective negative campaign warning voters against the centre-left Labor Party’s large policy reform agenda, analysts said Sunday. Labor led every opinion poll in the two years prior to Saturday’s election but fell well short of a parliamentary majority after the vote, in a surprise result for the ruling Liberal-National coalition. Analysts said opposition leader Bill Shorten’s unpopularity with voters and his […]

First exit polls indicate Labor win in Australian election

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The first exit polls from Australia’s climate-dominated election Saturday showed a victory for the opposition Labor party. A Nine-Galaxy poll showed Labor beating the governing Liberal coalition 52-48, which would signal a clear parliamentary majority. It would see former union leader Bill Shorten become prime minister after six years of conservative government. The poll canvased 3,300 voters in 33 seats and echo pre-vote surveys that tipped Labor to win. The […]

7.2 quake hits Papua New Guinea, no early damage reports

  PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AFP) — A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Papua New Guinea on Tuesday at a depth of 127 kilometers (80 miles), officials said, although there were no immediate reports of damage. The quake struck 33 kilometers (21 miles) from the town of Bulolo at 2119 GMT according to the US Geological Survey, and was felt in the capital Port Moresby about 250 kilometres away. Because of the depth of the […]

Judge orders psychiatric test for Christchurch shooting suspect

  by Chris Foley Agence France Presse CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) — The man accused of shooting dead 50 Muslim worshippers in a Christchurch mosque sat impassively Friday as a New Zealand judge ordered him to undergo tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial for murder. Survivors and relatives of those killed in the March 15 attacks packed into a Christchurch courtroom as alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant appeared via audio-visual link […]

Christchurch accused to face 50 murder charges

  CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) — The man accused of attacking two mosques in Christchurch last month will face 50 murder charges when he appears in court on Friday, New Zealand police said. Australian Brenton Tarrant was previously charged with one murder as a holding measure, but police said Thursday that all the deaths and injuries in the March 15 attacks will be reflected in upgraded charges during his next appearance. “The man arrested in […]

Lights out in Sydney for Earth Hour conservation campaign

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge were plunged into darkness for an hour Saturday to raise awareness about climate change and its impact on the planet’s vanishing biodiversity. The 12th edition of Earth Hour, organised by the green group WWF, will see millions of people across 180 countries turn off their lights at 8:30 pm local time to highlight energy use and the need for conservation. “We are […]

PM Jacinda Ardern’s address to national ceremony for mosque attack victims

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) — Herewith the text of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s address to a national remembrance ceremony Friday for the 50 Muslims slain by a white supremacist in two Christchurch mosques on March 15: “We gather here, 14 days on from our darkest of hours. “In the days that have followed the terrorist attack on the 15th of March, we have often found ourselves without words. “What words adequately express the […]

New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attacks, asking whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the March 15 attack. Ardern said a royal commission — the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law — was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world. […]

NZ to hold national remembrance for Christchurch next Friday

New Zealand will hold a national remembrance service on March 29 for the victims of the Christchurch mosque massacre and their families, the prime minister’s office announced on Sunday. The interfaith service will take place in Christchurch two weeks after an Australian white supremacist shot and killed 50 Muslims who had arrived for Friday prayers at two mosques in the city on March 15. “The national remembrance service provides an opportunity for Cantabrians (Christchurch-area residents), […]

Emotional Muslims return to Christchurch mosque as NZ works to move on

  by Chris Foley / Glenda Kwek Agence France Presse CHRISTCHURCH,New Zealand (AFP) — Muslims held emotional prayers inside Christchurch’s main mosque on Saturday for the first time since a white supremacist massacred worshippers there, as New Zealand sought to return to normality after the tragedy. The Al Noor mosque had been taken over by police for investigations and security reasons after alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant gunned down Muslims gathered there and at a smaller […]

Wrong victim named in initial NZ gunman charge document: police

New Zealand police on Thursday admitted that the person they originally charged suspected mosques gunman Brenton Tarrant with murdering is actually still alive. “An error was made in the charging document prepared for the first court appearance of the man charged with murder in relation to the Christchurch terror attacks,” a police spokesman told AFP. “The error saw an incorrect victim name included in the charging document.” Tarrant appeared in court Saturday on the first […]

New Zealand bans assault weapons, triggering similar calls in US

  by Yelim Lee Agence France Presse WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons on Thursday, taking swift action in response to the Christchurch massacre and triggering renewed calls from leading American politicians for curbs in the United States. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making good on a pledge to ensure that nothing like last week’s […]