Australia and Oceania

Locked down Sydney left leaderless after corruption resignation

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The leader of Australia’s most populous state resigned Friday amid a corruption investigation, leaving Sydneysiders — deep in months of lockdown — without a political leader. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would leave parliament after an anti-corruption body announced an inquiry into allegations against her. “My resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time, but the timing is completely outside of my control,” Berejiklian told media […]

Australia to ease 18-month-old border closure ‘within weeks’

by Andrew BEATTY SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia will begin to reopen its borders next month, the country’s prime minister said Friday, 18 months after citizens were banned from travelling overseas without permission. Scott Morrison said vaccinated Australians would be able to return home and travel overseas “within weeks” as 80 percent vaccination targets are met. On March 20 last year Australia introduced some of the world’s toughest border restrictions in response to the coronavirus […]

Tornado damages Australian homes, power lines

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A tornado ploughed through a rural area west of Sydney on Thursday, damaging homes and scarring a tract of countryside. The Bureau of Meteorology said the tornado formed west of Australia’s largest city, damaging a broad area near the town of Bathurst. “There are reports of damage to houses, power lines and trees,” the bureau said. “From current reports, we have indications of damage over a 25 to 30-kilometre line, running […]

Sydney gets ‘blueprint for freedom’ as virus cases fall

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Vaccinated Sydney residents will finally emerge from a lengthy Covid lockdown by mid-October, Australian officials said Monday, outlining a “blueprint for freedom” as case numbers fell in the city. Stay-at-home orders are set to be lifted in Sydney and surrounding New South Wales when the double-dose vaccination rate hits 70 percent, with state premier Gladys Berejiklian saying “quite confidently” that was now expected to occur on October 11. Shuttered pubs, restaurants […]

Rare Australia earthquake triggers panic in Melbourne

by William WEST MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — A rare quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked Melbourne residents running into the streets. The shallow tremor hit east of the country’s second-largest city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8, later revised up to 5.9, and said it struck […]

JUST IN: Shallow 5.8-magnitude quake rattles southern Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — A shallow quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, with reports saying people ran into the streets of the second-largest city of Melbourne after the tremor shook buildings there. The rare quake hit east of the city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8 and said it struck at a depth of […]

Melbourne police fire to disperse violent anti-vaccine protest

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Melbourne riot police used pepper spray, foam baton rounds and rubber ball grenades to disperse a violent protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for construction workers Tuesday. More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing work boots and hi-vis jackets rampaged through the centre of Australia’s second-largest city, lighting flares, throwing bottles, attacking police cars and chanting their opposition to vaccines and lockdown restrictions. Melbourne has been in strict lockdown for seven weeks, as the […]

Auckland extends Covid-19 lockdown

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will remain in a Covid-19 lockdown for at least another two weeks, although some restrictions will be eased, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday. Ardern said the city of two million would move down to level three on New Zealand’s four-tier coronavirus response system by late Tuesday, even as authorities remain committed to eliminating a Delta-variant outbreak. “We’re moving now because the advice we have […]

Virus lockdown end in sight for Australia’s second-largest city

Australia’s second-largest city will exit its coronavirus lockdown in late October if vaccine targets are met under an official roadmap released Sunday. About five million people in Melbourne have been under stay-at-home orders since August 5, the sixth lockdown they have endured so far during the Covid-19 pandemic. Officials in Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, announced those orders would be lifted when 70 percent of over-16s are fully vaccinated. They projected that target would be […]

Police wounded, hundreds arrested in Melbourne anti-lockdown protest

  MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Several police officers were wounded and hundreds of protesters were arrested in Australia’s second-most-populous city Saturday in violent clashes at an anti-lockdown march. Officers used pepper spray and made over 200 arrests in Melbourne as several hundred attendees flouted stay-at-home orders and marched through an inner-city suburb. The illegal gathering comes as the city goes through its sixth lockdown since the pandemic started, with the wider state of Victoria reporting […]

Australian nuclear subs will be banned from New Zealand waters: Ardern

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand will not lift a decades-long ban on nuclear-powered vessels entering its waters in the wake of key ally Australia’s decision to develop a nuclear submarine fleet, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday. Ardern said her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison had briefed her on Canberra’s plan to develop nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the United States and Britain. She described the deal as “primarily around technology and defence […]

Australia to acquire US Tomahawk cruise missiles: PM

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday the country would acquire long-range US Tomahawk cruise missiles, as it strengthens military defenses in the face of a rising China. “We will be enhancing our long-range strike capability including Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fielded on the Royal Australian Navy Hobart class destroyers and joint air-to-surface standoff missiles extended range for our Royal Australian Air Force capabilities,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. […]