Australia and Oceania

Boat refugees to leave PNG despite US uncertainty: Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Hundreds of refugees being held at a remote Papua New Guinea detention camp will be moved by October despite uncertainty over a resettlement deal with the United States, Australia’s immigration minister said Thursday. Canberra sends asylum-seekers who try to enter the country by boat to camps on Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island, with those found to be refugees barred from resettling in Australia. They are instead relocated to third countries, or resettled elsewhere in PNG. But the sudden withdrawal from PNG […]

Australia military powers beefed up for terror attacks

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s military will be given greater power to act during terror attacks, the prime minister said Monday, following a review of security forces’ responses to a spate of local and international incidents. Among a raft of changes, police will no longer have to wait until they have exhausted their capacity to call on the army during a terror attack, while special forces will be embedded in law enforcement agencies for better […]

6.4-magnitude quake hits off PNG

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea on Thursday, officials said, but no Pacific-wide tsunami warning was issued. The tremor hit at a depth of 46 kilometers (28 miles) near the sparsely-populated New Ireland region, 110 kilometers southeast of the town Kokopo, the United States Geological Survey said. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center ruled out a widespread tsunami and Geoscience Australia estimated any damage would only be within a […]

AirAsia flight grounded after apparent bird strike damages engine

BRISBANE, Australia (Reuters) — Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia X said on Tuesday (July 4) a flight from Australia to Malaysia was diverted and forced to land in Brisbane because an engine was damaged during take-off by what was thought to be a bird strike. AirAsia X Flight D7207 was carrying 345 passengers and 14 crew when it took off from the Gold Coast tourist hub in northern Queensland state en route to Kuala Lumpur late […]

Top Catholic cardinal charged with sexual assault, brings taint of abuse to top of the Church

by Angus Mackinnon Agence France Presse VATICAN CITY (AFP) — Australia’s move to bring sexual assault charges against Cardinal George Pell is the latest chapter in a damaging saga of abuse that the Catholic church has struggled to draw a line under. Pell has been ordered to appear on July 18 before a Melbourne judge to answer unspecified multiple counts arising from his country’s extensive inquiry into decades of abuse in institutions dealing with children. […]

Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander flags raised permanently over Sydney’s Government House

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (Reuters) — The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised on a permanent basis at Sydney’s Government House on Wednesday (June 28) in support of national reconciliation. The governor of New South Wales, David Hurley, said that the event was significant especially in light of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum that saw Aborigines included in population census figures. He said it was significant also in the wake of the 25th anniversary […]

New Zealand opposition plans to slash immigration

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand’s main opposition party Monday announced plans to almost halve immigration numbers if it wins a September election, with the clampdown focused on international students. Labor Party leader Andrew Little said it was “time for a breather on immigration” in the nation, which has experienced record annual net arrivals of about 70,000 in recent years. Little said his center-left party would cut that by up to 30,000 a year, […]

China Eastern plane makes emergency landing in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A China Eastern passenger plane suffered a serious fault that tore a huge hole in one of its engine casings and forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Sydney, the carrier said Monday. Terrified passengers described a massive din soon after flight MU736 took off from Sydney Airport at 8.30pm (1030 GMT) on Sunday, as crew cleared seats near the affected engine and turned the flight back. No one […]

Islamic State jihadists claim Melbourne hostage incident

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for taking a woman hostage in a Melbourne apartment during an incident in which three police officers were injured by gunfire. Australian police on Monday shot dead the man who had taken the woman hostage and said they were investigating whether the incident was terror-related. Hours later, the Amaq news agency — which is affiliated with the Islamic State group — said: “The executor […]

Great white shark jumps into Australian fisherman’s boat

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An elderly Australian fisherman has lived to tell the tale after a great white shark leapt into his boat, surviving with only an injured arm after he was sent flying by the thrashing beast. Terry Selwood, 73, was enjoying some quiet time on the water off Evans Head in northern New South Wales state when he was given the fright of his life. “I caught a blur of something coming over […]

US fears nuclear arms race in Asia-Pacific: Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Senior Trump administration officials fear a nuclear arms race in Asia-Pacific if an increasingly belligerent North Korea is not reined in, Australia’s foreign minister said Friday after talks in New York. Pyongyang has launched a series of missiles this year, including a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range projectile this month which the North claimed was capable of carrying a “heavy” nuclear warhead, fueling tensions with Washington. It has carried out two atomic tests since […]

Australia’s Omar in the running to be crowned the world’s longest cat

MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) — Omar, the Maine Coon cat from Melbourne, is in the running to be named the world’s longest cat after Guinness World Records contacted his owner, Stephy Hirst, following a picture she posted of him on Instagram. Measuring 120 cm (47.4 inches) in length and tipping the scales at 14 kilograms (30 pounds), Omar is hoping to beat current world record holder, Ludo from the United Kingdom, who measures 118.3 cm (46.6 […]