Australia and Oceania

Several buildings ablaze in Solomon Islands’ capital riots

HONIARA, Solomon Islands  (AFP) — Several buildings were set alight in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara Thursday as thousands of protestors swarmed the city’s Chinatown district in a second day of anti-government riots. Eyewitnesses and local media reported crowds had defied a government lockdown to take to the streets. Live images showed several buildings engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke billowing high above the capital. © Agence France-Presse

Tens of thousands rally against Covid curbs in Europe and Australia

  by Danny Kemp and Julie Capelle, with AFP bureaus DEN HAAG, Netherlands (AFP) — Tens of thousands took to the streets in cities across Europe and Australia Saturday as anger mounted over fresh Covid restrictions imposed against a resurgent pandemic. And Dutch police faced a second night of rioting — this time in The Hague — after the previous night’s violence in the port city of Rotterdam. Clashes erupted after a day of mainly […]

APEC meeting to put climate rhetoric to the test

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Pacific Rim leaders will begin a virtual summit Friday, facing pressure to back up ambitious rhetoric on climate change and chart a path to pandemic recovery. The annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit brings together leaders from 21 nations, including US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Xi is among those who have talked on the sidelines of the New Zealand-hosted event, stressing the need for the […]

New Zealand’s APEC host Ardern calls for ‘bold’ climate action

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Pacific Rim trade and foreign ministers agreed to push for a freeze on fossil fuel subsidies at a virtual summit Wednesday but host Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand said more “bold” action on climate change was needed. Ministers from the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group met online to discuss their Covid-19 response ahead of a meeting of national leaders on Saturday including US President Joe Biden and […]

Thousands protest Covid restrictions in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Thousands of demonstrators marched on the New Zealand parliament to protest against Covid-19 restrictions Tuesday, prompting a major police deployment at the Wellington building known as the Beehive. About 3,000 people, most not wearing masks, made their way through the capital’s city centre, including dozens of motorcyclists in biker gang regalia performing burnouts. Some attendees carried “Trump 2020” flags, while others bore signs carrying messages from Maori groups, those impacted […]

Flowers, cheers and tears as Australia’s border reopens

by Andrew LEESON Australia’s international border reopened on Monday almost 600 days after a pandemic closure began, sparking emotional scenes at Sydney airport as loved ones reunited. Shortly after dawn, bleary-eyed passengers began to trickle into the arrivals terminal at Kingsford Smith International and were quickly wrapped up in the tearful embraces of flower-clutching relatives. On March 20 last year, Australia introduced some of the world’s toughest border restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. […]

Australia approves vaccine booster shots for adults

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Wednesday authorized booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines for over-18s, with the third dose expected to be offered to the entire population from next month. The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulatory authority said it had granted provisional approval for one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be given as a booster shot to adults. “The provisional approval means that individuals aged 18 years and older may receive a booster (third dose), […]

New Zealand sets 90% vaccine target to end lockdown

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand set a 90-percent vaccination target Friday for scrapping lockdowns as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a plan to open up despite the stubborn grip of the Delta variant. Ardern said her goal had shifted from eliminating Covid-19 to minimising its spread in the community by ramping up vaccinations. She said the change meant New Zealanders would not be subject to stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, provided they were […]

Australia sets $1 million reward for missing four-year-old

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian authorities on Thursday offered Aus$1 million (US$750,000) for information leading to the discovery of a missing four-year-old girl feared abducted from a remote campsite last weekend. Cleo Smith disappeared from her family’s tent in Western Australia during the early hours of Saturday, sparking an extensive air, sea and ground search. But after six days of fruitlessly combing in the area surrounding the Blowholes campsite — a coastal tourist spot about […]

Melbourne eases months-long Covid lockdown restrictions

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — One of the world’s most locked-down cities will reopen late Thursday, with Melbourne residents hoping this sixth bout of stay-at-home restrictions will be their last. Five million people in Australia’s second-biggest city have endured lockdowns totalling more than 260 days since the beginning of the pandemic. But now that 70 percent of eligible people in Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state are fully vaccinated, restrictions that began on August 5 will be […]