Australia and Oceania

Abuse rife in Australian immigration centre: leaked reports

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – More than 2,000 leaked reports detailing allegations of sexual assault, child abuse and self-harm in Australian immigration centres on Nauru were published Wednesday, prompting rights groups to renew calls for refugees to be resettled elsewhere. Under Canberra’s current policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat are sent to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru or to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. They will not be allowed to resettle in Australia even if […]

Australia probes youth detention abuse likened to Guantanamo

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) by Martin PARRY The Australian government ordered an inquiry Tuesday after graphic evidence emerged of prison guards assaulting teenage boys, with one shown hooded and shackled in scenes likened to Guantanamo Bay. National broadcaster ABC on Monday night showed footage of offenders, many indigenous, being stripped naked, tear-gassed and held in solitary confinement for weeks at a youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in 2014 and 2015. In one video from last […]

Pokemon Go players held at gunpoint in Australia park

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A couple playing Pokemon Go were threatened at gunpoint in a town park south of Sydney, Australian police said Friday, as they blamed the game for a wave of crimes, traffic violations and complaints. Two masked men carrying a rifle held up the couple who had gone to the park in the small town Wednesday night to search for virtual “pocket monsters”. The would-be robbers fled empty handed and New South […]

Australia urges China and the Philippines to follow South China Sea ruling

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Wednesday (July 13) urged China and the Philippines to follow the South China Sea Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling. In a case that was seen as a test of China’s rising power and its economic and strategic rivalry with the United States, the court in The Hague ruled China had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by endangering its ships and […]

Pokemon Go craze crashes Aussie servers, draws police warnings

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — High demand for the mobile augmented-reality game Pokemon Go crashed the app’s servers in Australia Tuesday, while attracting safety and trespassing warnings from police. The game has been a huge hit with players since it was rolled out in Australia, New Zealand and the United States late last week, with more than five million downloads on the Android Google Play app store. It has also topped Apple’s app charts. A Pokemon […]

6.0-magnitude quake hits off Tonga: USGS

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific nation of Tonga late Sunday, US seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued. The US Geological Survey said the quake was shallow, striking 140 kilometres (87 miles) northeast from the town of Hihifo. A second 5.5 quake struck shortly afterwards in the sea 110 kilometres away from Hihifo, USGS reported. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not immediately issue any warnings. Tonga sits […]

Australian PM brushes off calls to quit

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull Tuesday rejected calls for him to resign after the weekend’s disastrous election, as senior government figures pleaded against infighting. Three days after polls closed the result is still too close to call, with Turnbull’s Liberal/National coalition and the opposition Labor each short of the 76 seats needed to govern, raising the prospect of a hung parliament. On Monday, Labor leader Bill Shorten urged the prime minister to […]

Cocaine seized from inside diamante-encrusted horse head in New Zealand

New Zealand Customs and Police say they have seized 35 kilogrammes of cocaine brought into the country inside a diamante-encrusted horse head. “There is a significant organised crime group offshore that will be responsible for this and who have now lost a whole lot of money,” said National Organised Crime Manager, Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas in Auckland on Saturday (July 2). The discovery was made in May with the airfreight package delivered to an […]

Australia in political limbo after voters punish government

  by Martin Parry SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia was in political limbo Sunday after voters failed to hand Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the stability he craved in calling an election, with the nation instead facing the prospect of a hung parliament. The former banker went to the polls early looking to shore up support and deliver a strong government based on a “jobs and growth” agenda after ousting fellow Liberal Tony Abbott in a party […]

Australian conservatives edge ahead in Brexit shadow

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s ruling party Monday used the Brexit vote to warn against voting for Labor in upcoming elections as a poll showed the Liberals ahead for the first time in a drawn-out campaign. The country goes to the polls on Saturday with economic management assuming added significance in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, sparking global instability. “There will be considerable uncertainty for some time. You’re seeing that […]

Man arrested after climbing into arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — A man has been arrested after climbing up an arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Friday (June 17) with the incident bringing traffic to a standstill. According to local media, the man had taken a taxi to the bridge, left the taxi and proceeded to climb the iconic Sydney landmark. A police operation was launched, with the assistance of Police Rescue, Police Negotiators, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, and the […]

Australian rodent species first victim of climate change?

SYDNEY, Australia  (AFP) — Climate change appears to have driven to extinction an Australian Great Barrier Reef rodent, according to a new study, which suggests the species may be the first mammal lost to the global phenomenon. Extensive searches for the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rat-like animal, have failed to find a single specimen from its only known habitat on a sandy island in far northern Australia. Researchers said the key factor behind the […]