Pets left in limbo as Australian owners get cold feet

Pets left in limbo as Australian owners get cold feet

SYDNEY, (Reuters) - Australian animal shelters are overflowing, and the wait to return animals can be as long as eight months as pet owners return to work and face rising costs. "In all the 20 years that I've been in rescue I have never seen it like this," says Monika Biernacki, founder of Monika's Doggie Rescue from the shelter in Sydney's northern suburbs. "The number of animals in the pounds and shelters that are just desperate to get out. The number of calls, emails, texts that we get here of people wanting to surrender their animals and it's just never-ending...…
Read More Here
Australia seeks stable ties with ‘great power’ China, minister says

Australia seeks stable ties with ‘great power’ China, minister says

SYDNEY, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Australia is aiming for a stable relationship with China despite differences, especially on trade, Australia's foreign minister said, as she called on Beijing to use its influence as a great power to help end the war in Ukraine. Australia's ties with its largest trading partner are at a low after disputes over a number of issues, including the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and Australian accusations of Chinese interference. "I think it is a long road on which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship," Foreign…
Read More Here
Cyber attack on Australia’s Optus puts addresses, passport info at risk

Cyber attack on Australia’s Optus puts addresses, passport info at risk

SYDNEY, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Optus, the Australian unit of telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications , said it was investigating the possible unauthorised access of home addresses, passport numbers and phone numbers of customers after a cyberattack. Wireless carrier Optus said in a statement on Thursday it had immediately shut down the attack after discovering it, and that payment details and account passwords had not been compromised. It said it had notified Australian Federal Police, and that the investigation into whether current and former customers' information were accessed was underway. "Optus is working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to mitigate…
Read More Here
Photo Story: Over 200 whales found stranded in Tasmania, Australia

Photo Story: Over 200 whales found stranded in Tasmania, Australia

A handout photo made available by the Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) on 21 September 2022 shows a mass stranding of whales near Macquarie Heads, on Tasmania's west coast, Australia. More whales have been stranded on Tasmania's west coast, just days after King Island had dead sperm whales wash ashore. The Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment said in a statement on 21 September 2022, that a pod of approximately 230 whales was stranded on Tasmania's west coast. Via EPA-EFE/TASMANIAN DEPT. NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
Read More Here
Australia lowers budget deficit as higher coal prices support revenue

Australia lowers budget deficit as higher coal prices support revenue

Robust commodity prices have helped narrow Australia's budget deficit for the last fiscal year by about A$50 billion ($34 billion), Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Tuesday, highlighting that most of the improvement was due to temporary factors. In a preview of the federal budget due to be presented in full next month, Chalmers said more than half of the improvement was from higher iron ore and coal prices that have benefited Australia - one of the top producers of iron ore and coal in the world. Chalmers does not see a similar boost ahead with the benchmark October iron ore on the Singapore…
Read More Here
Australia rules out ban on Russian tourists as part of sanctions

Australia rules out ban on Russian tourists as part of sanctions

SYDNEY, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Australia will not ban Russian tourists from entering the country as part of sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, Defence Minister Richard Marles said on Sunday. Since the start of the conflict, Australia has sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, including most of Russia's banking sector and all organisations responsible for the country's sovereign debt. It has also supplied defence equipment and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, while outlawing exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia. Asked if Australia would also ban Russian tourists, Marles said sanctions were aimed at…
Read More Here
New Zealand economy rebounds in Q2 as tourists return

New Zealand economy rebounds in Q2 as tourists return

 (Reuters) - New Zealand's economy rebounded sharply last quarter as a lifting of coronavirus restrictions and the return of tourists helped it dodge recession, though it may be a last hurrah for strong growth as surging interest rates steamroll demand. Official data out on Thursday showed gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.7% in the June quarter, beating forecasts of a 1.0% gain and a timely recovery from the first quarter's 0.2% drop. Annual growth slowed to just 0.4%, but that was biased down by the timing of various lockdowns and the main message was one of an economy running with…
Read More Here
Australia fully employed as jobs bounces back in August

Australia fully employed as jobs bounces back in August

SYDNEY, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Australian employment bounced back in August after a surprise dip the month before and the jobless rate edged up just a tick from a 48-year low, underlining the resilience of the labour market in the face of rising interest rates. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed net employment rose 33,500 in August, in line with market forecasts and mostly reversing a 41,000 fall in July. The jobless rate inched up to 3.5%, from 3.4%, but only because more people went looking for work. It remained comfortably below most estimates of full…
Read More Here
Australia braces for more pain from rain after La Nina confirmed

Australia braces for more pain from rain after La Nina confirmed

Much of Australia will face unusually heavy rains in coming months, the country's weather forecaster said on Tuesday, after confirming that a La Nina weather event is under way for the third year in a row and would likely last into next year. The Bureau of Meteorology firmed up its guidance for this year for the weather pattern known in Australia to produce wet, windy summers, saying it was now under way after it previously had forecast a high chance. The warning puts the country's densely populated east coast on alert when many residents are still rebuilding after floods linked…
Read More Here
New Zealand may become a republic but not anytime soon, Ardern says

New Zealand may become a republic but not anytime soon, Ardern says

New Zealand will not actively take any measures to become a republic in the short-term after the death of Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, though she expects the Pacific nation will eventually become one. "I've never sensed the urgency. There's so many challenges we face. This is a large, significant debate. Don't think it's one that would or should occur quickly," Ardern told reporters on Monday when asked whether the change in the British monarch will spark talks of republicanism in the country. New Zealand is one of 15 realms to count the British Monarch as head of state including Australia and…
Read More Here
Deaths from Papua New Guinea earthquake rise to seven

Deaths from Papua New Guinea earthquake rise to seven

SYDNEY, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The death toll from a "significant" earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea on Sunday has risen to seven, the Pacific island nation's police commissioner said, adding that it occurred deep below ground which limited damage. An initial earthquake of 7.6 magnitude struck the Markham Valley at 9:46am on Sunday, followed by a 5.0 magnitude earthquake 70 km (45 miles) north an hour later, Commissioner of Police David Manning said in a statement on Monday. The two earthquakes were reported at a depth of 90 km and 101 km underground, he said. Significant damage to buildings…
Read More Here
Australian PM rules out referendum on republic… for now

Australian PM rules out referendum on republic… for now

Australia’s prime minister has ruled out holding a referendum on the country becoming a republic any time soon, saying now is the time to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Anthony Albanese said it was too early to tackle the “bigger questions about our constitution” and that now was instead a time to remember the late Queen and her devotion to Australia. He himself is in favour of Australia ditching the monarchy, speaking two years ago of “the need for us to have an Australian head of state…the need for us to stand on our own two feet”. The…
Read More Here
King Charles proclaimed monarch of Australia, New Zealand

King Charles proclaimed monarch of Australia, New Zealand

SYDNEY, Sept 11 (Reuters) - King Charles was officially proclaimed head of state of both Australia and New Zealand at ceremonies on Sunday in the nations' capitals. In New Zealand, the proclamation of Charles as monarch, taking over from Queen Elizabeth who died on Thursday aged 96, took place in the parliament in Wellington. Speaking from parliament's steps, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the event acknowledged the queen's son, "His Majesty King Charles III as our sovereign". Ardern told a crowd that in the wake of the queen's death, New Zealand had entered a time of change. "King Charles ... has consistently…
Read More Here
Australian PM honours Queen Elizabeth with wreath-laying ceremony

Australian PM honours Queen Elizabeth with wreath-laying ceremony

SYDNEY, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Britain's Queen Elizabeth after a wreath-laying ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday, saying Australians were mourning an "enormous loss". Albanese, Governor General David Hurley and other dignitaries laid floral wreaths at the foot of a bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth at the parliament's Queen's Terrace. The queen, who died on Thursday aged 96, unveiled the bronze statue of herself in 1988 during a visit to open the nation's new parliament house. Speaking after the ceremony, which was conducted in silence, Albanese said King Charles' reflections…
Read More Here
Australia passes a law for net zero emissions by 2050

Australia passes a law for net zero emissions by 2050

MELBOURNE, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Australia's parliament on Thursday passed government legislation enshrining a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050, with the support of the Greens party and independents. The law marked a first step on climate action since the Labor Party won power in May, defeating a conservative government that was scorned as a global laggard in the battle against climate change. But the government will face tougher fights in passing more environmental bills. "The passage of the climate change legislation sends a message to the world that Australia is…
Read More Here
Australia grapples with rising living costs as rates touch seven-year high

Australia grapples with rising living costs as rates touch seven-year high

SYDNEY, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The Australian government on Wednesday unveiled measures to lower the cost of medicines and make the downsizing of homes cheaper for pensioners amid soaring inflation and interest rates touching their highest levels in seven years. Australia's central bank raised its cash rate 50 basis points to 2.35% on Tuesday and left the door wide open for yet more tightening ahead to tame inflation which has spurred a sharp rise in living costs. In a bid to ease the pain on families and ahead of a federal budget next month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the…
Read More Here
Eastern Australia areas hit by March storms under severe weather warnings

Eastern Australia areas hit by March storms under severe weather warnings

SYDNEY, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Parts of eastern Australia were under severe weather and flood warnings, the country's weather forecaster said on Sunday, months after massive floods hit the country's east coast. In March at least 13 people were killed and tens of thousands evacuated due to extreme weather in Queensland and New South Wales, which submerged town centres, washed away homes and cut power. The Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for parts southeast Queensland, saying damaging gusts with peaks around 100 km (60 miles) per hour were possible through the day.…
Read More Here
Australia raises migration target amid labour squeeze, global talent race

Australia raises migration target amid labour squeeze, global talent race

SYDNEY, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Australia on Friday increased its intake of permanent migrants to 195,000 this financial year, up by 35,000, in a bid to help businesses and industries battling widespread staff shortages and reduce reliance on short-term workers. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the country's borders for nearly two years and along with an exodus of holiday workers and foreign students left businesses struggling to find staff to keep afloat. "It makes no sense to bring people in, have them for a few years, then get a new cohort in to adapt to the Australian work environment," Prime Minister…
Read More Here
Australians to train on British nuclear submarines for the first time

Australians to train on British nuclear submarines for the first time

 (Reuters) - Australian naval officers will be allowed to train inside British submarines for the first time as they prepare for the arrival of nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new security partnership with Britain and the United States. The alliance, launched last September, prompted Australia to cancel a contract for a conventional French submarine in favour of nuclear submarines supported by the United States and Britain, damaging relations with French President Emmanuel Macron. The training plan was announced as Britain's defence minister Ben Wallace hosted his Australian counterpart Richard Marles, who was on his first visit to the United…
Read More Here
Royal Australian Mint releases coin with secret code to mark cyber-spy agency’s 75th anniversary

Royal Australian Mint releases coin with secret code to mark cyber-spy agency’s 75th anniversary

On 1 September 2022, the Royal Australian Mint released a limited edition 50 cent commemorative coin to celebrate the Australian Signals Directorate's (ASD) 75th anniversary. Fifty thousand coins have been produced and are available for purchase by coin collectors and the Australian public. The 50 cent coin marks 75 years of ASD, reflecting on our mission defending Australia from global threats. It commemorates our historical roots in World War II, harnessing and mastering technology to reveal foreign secrets and protect Australia’s own. While the coin is not intended for circulation, 50,000 specialty coins will be available for purchase from the…
Read More Here
Australian police seize record $1.1 bln of crystal meth

Australian police seize record $1.1 bln of crystal meth

SYDNEY, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Australian police said on Friday it had seized some A$1.6 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of crystal meth, also known as 'ice', concealed within marble stones in several sea freight containers, in what it said was the biggest ever haul of the drug in the country. More than 1,800 kg of methylamphetamine was found in containers arriving in Sydney port over recent weeks hidden in marble stone slabs, New South Wales (NSW) state police said in a statement. Just over 1,000 kg of methylamphetamine was found in the latest seizure, police said on Friday, after about…
Read More Here
Former Australia PM ‘undermined’ responsible government with secret appointments -solicitor general

Former Australia PM ‘undermined’ responsible government with secret appointments -solicitor general

Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's secret appointments to ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic "fundamentally undermined" responsible government despite being legally valid, according to advice from the solicitor general. The advice from the country's second-highest law officer was a "very clear criticism" of the implications for Australia's parliamentary democracy, current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters on Tuesday. Morrison, who stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party after losing a general election in May, has faced a barrage of criticism from the Labor government and his own party, after it was revealed he was secretly sworn in to five…
Read More Here
Relative of New Zealand children found dead in suitcases believed to be in South Korea

Relative of New Zealand children found dead in suitcases believed to be in South Korea

SEOUL, Aug 22 (Reuters) - A woman believed to be a family member of the two children whose remains were found in suitcases in New Zealand is in South Korea, Seoul police said on Monday. The woman, a Korean-born New Zealander, arrived in South Korea in 2018 and had no record of departure since then, a police officer told Reuters. Her whereabouts and whether she had other relatives with her when she arrived in South Korea were not immediately known. "New Zealand police had requested confirmation whether the person who might be related to a crime case was in South…
Read More Here
New Zealand to temporarily boost worker intake amid shortfall

New Zealand to temporarily boost worker intake amid shortfall

Aug 21 (Reuters) - New Zealand will make temporary changes to immigration rules, a minister said on Sunday, aiming to lure 12,000 workers over the next year with a working holiday scheme designed to fill labour gaps as businesses scramble to find staff. The jostling for workers is part of a global trend that has helped push up wages in New Zealand, posing a challenge to the fight on inflation by the central bank, which raised interest rates last week to their highest since Sept. 2015. "These measures are about providing immediate relief to those businesses hardest hit by the…
Read More Here
Australia’s Morrison says he secretly took five ministries because responsibility was his

Australia’s Morrison says he secretly took five ministries because responsibility was his

SYDNEY, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Australia's former prime minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday he decided to be secretly sworn in to five key ministries during the coronavirus pandemic because he felt responsibility for the nation was his alone. Morrison, who stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party after losing a general election in May, addressed a news conference to answer a barrage of criticism from the Labor government and his own party over the unprecedented assumption of powers. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Morrison had attacked the Westminster system of government by secretly appointing himself to five portfolios…
Read More Here
Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger from extinction

Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger from extinction

Researchers in Australia and the US are embarking on a multi-million dollar project to bring the Tasmanian tiger back from extinction. The last known one, officially called a thylacine, died in the 1930s. The team behind the bid say it can be recreated using stem cells and gene-editing technology, and the first thylacine could be reintroduced to the wild in 10 years' time. Other experts are sceptical and suggest de-extinction is just science fiction. The thylacine earned its nickname of Tasmanian tiger for the stripes along its back - but it was actually a marsupial, the type of Australian mammal…
Read More Here
Australia’s PM says predecessor ‘undermined democracy’ with secret roles

Australia’s PM says predecessor ‘undermined democracy’ with secret roles

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his predecessor Scott Morrison had "undermined our democracy" by secretly appointing himself minister for home affairs and treasury during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the health, finance and resources portfolios previously revealed. Morrison, who stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party after losing a general election in May, has come under fire from senior members of his own party and its coalition partner, the National Party, who were unaware of the arrangements. After a review of the matter by the Prime Minister's department, Albanese told reporters Morrison had taken on the health…
Read More Here
Australia’s PM says former PM Morrison took on secret ministerial roles during COVID

Australia’s PM says former PM Morrison took on secret ministerial roles during COVID

SYDNEY, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sought legal advice following reports that his predecessor Scott Morrison was secretly appointed to key ministerial roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, duplicating some portfolios. Although ministers are traditionally sworn in at a ceremony by the governor-general, this did not occur in the case of Morrison's additional roles and Albanese said it appeared key cabinet members were not aware of the appointments. "This was a centralisation of power by the former Prime Minister," Albanese, who has sought advice from the solicitor-general, Australia's second law officer, told reporters on Monday. "This…
Read More Here
NZ to deploy 120 troops to Britain to train Ukrainian troops

NZ to deploy 120 troops to Britain to train Ukrainian troops

WELLINGTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - New Zealand is sending 120 military personnel to Britain to help train Ukrainians in front-line combat, the government said on Monday. The deployment will enable two infantry training teams to equip Ukrainian personnel with the core skills to be effective in combat, including weapon handling, combat first aid, operational law and other skills. The training of about 800 Ukrainian soldiers will be conducted exclusively at one of four locations in Britain, and New Zealand defence personnel will not travel to Ukraine, the government said in a statement. "We have been clear that a blatant attack…
Read More Here
Jacinda Ardern under pressure as approval rating slumps to record low

Jacinda Ardern under pressure as approval rating slumps to record low

The approval rating for Jacinda Ardern’s government has plunged to its lowest level since her election victory, as New Zealand’s economy struggles to recover from her harsh pandemic restrictions. Amid rising inflation and a bleak economic outlook, Ms Ardern - who became the world’s youngest female head of government at the age of 37 - could lose power to a coalition of the centre-Right National party and the Right-wing ACT at the next election, the latest opinion polls have shown. ACT, which is an acronym of Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, is soaring in popularity - with support leaping from…
Read More Here
Australians kept shopping, but wallets may now be closing

Australians kept shopping, but wallets may now be closing

SYDNEY, (Reuters) - Australian retail sales posted a solid rise in real terms last quarter even as swelling prices ate up more of the consumer dollar, though there are signs that higher borrowing costs are finally turning the tide on spending. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week showed inflation-adjusted retail sales had risen 1.4% in the June quarter to A$94.3 billion ($65.1 billion). That topped market forecasts of a 1.2% increase and will make a valuable contribution to economic growth. Spending was strongest in eating out, continuing a recovery since the easing of coronavirus restrictions, while sales of household goods and food fell back. The upbeat result…
Read More Here
New Zealand industries struggle to find workers

New Zealand industries struggle to find workers

WELLINGTON, (Reuters) - New Zealand video game developer PikPok found a solution to prolonged difficulty in finding experienced workers: Colombia. The company, which is behind such mobile game apps as Clusterduck and Into the Dead, bought a studio in Medellin, Colombia, in February, increasing its staff of 180 by 35. "It's incredibly difficult to get to people with experience," said Mario Wynands, managing director of PikPok. "By acquiring the studio in Colombia, that's given us the opportunity to recruit talent from Latin America and scale up that way." Other industries do not have that solution. Businesses from farms to retirement villages and…
Read More Here
Australia’s trade surplus jumps to record high

Australia’s trade surplus jumps to record high

SYDNEY, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Australia's trade surplus climbed to a fresh record high in June thanks to strength in gold and iron ore exports that looks set to deliver a significant contribution to economic growth in the second quarter. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics out on Thursday showed the trade surplus shot to A$17.7 billion ($12.32 billion) in June, up from A$15 billion in May and well above forecasts of A$14 billion. Exports climbed 5.1% to an all-time high of A$61.5 billion, led by gains in gold, metals and cereals, while imports rose 0.7% to A$43.9 billion. ($1 =…
Read More Here
Australian Comancheros motorcycle gang boss extradited from Turkey

Australian Comancheros motorcycle gang boss extradited from Turkey

The boss of one of Australia's biggest motorcycle gangs has been extradited from Turkey to face criminal charges in his home country. Mark Buddle - head of the Comancheros and sometimes described as Australia's most wanted man - was taken into custody at Darwin Airport on Wednesday. He will face charges of importing drugs - allegations he is yet to respond to. Mr Buddle fled to the Middle East in 2016 after he was named as a person of interest in a murder investigation. The 37-year-old spent time in Dubai before settling in northern Cyprus, which does not have an…
Read More Here
Australia PM says Indigenous voice details to follow referendum

Australia PM says Indigenous voice details to follow referendum

SYDNEY, July 31 (Reuters) - Details for giving Australia's Indigenous people a voice in parliament will follow a national referendum on the question, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday. Albanese's centre-left Labor Party government is seeking a referendum, required to alter the constitution, on recognising Indigenous people in the constitution and requiring consultation with them on decisions that affect their lives. Australia's Indigenous people have toiled for generations to win recognition for injustices suffered since European colonisation in the 1700s. The constitution, which came into effect in January 1901, does not refer to the country's Indigenous people. The prime minister revealed…
Read More Here
Australia makes monkeypox a disease of national significance

Australia makes monkeypox a disease of national significance

SYDNEY, July 28 (Reuters) - Australia said on Thursday the spread of monkeypox was now a "communicable disease incident of national significance" to allow for a more coordinated response, following the World Health Organization's declaration of a global health emergency. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said in a statement that the National Incident Centre had been activated to enhance coordination across Australia's states and territories to manage the outbreak. Kelly said there had been 44 cases of monkeypox in Australia, with most cases in returned international travellers, and around the world this year there had been 20,311 cases in 71…
Read More Here
Australia’s COVID hospital admissions, deaths rise as variant surges

Australia’s COVID hospital admissions, deaths rise as variant surges

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Australia have reached a new high for a second straight day, data showed on Tuesday, while the daily death toll rose to its second-highest as an outbreak fuelled by a coronavirus sub-variant sweeps the country. Nearly 5,600 patients infected with COVID are in hospital while 100 new deaths were reported, just short of a record 102 deaths on Saturday. Nearly 330,000 infections have been reported over the last seven days but authorities say the real numbers could be double that. "It's time to come together again and fight: get vaccinated, use a mask in crowds…
Read More Here
Australia battles fresh Omicron outbreak as COVID deaths rise

Australia battles fresh Omicron outbreak as COVID deaths rise

SYDNEY, July 21 (Reuters) - Australia reported one of its highest daily death tolls from the novel coronavirus on Thursday while hospital admissions hovered near record levels, as authorities struggle to get ahead of highly contagious Omicron variants. The BA.4/5 variants are good at evading immune protection from vaccination or prior infection and have been driving a surge of new infections globally. Australia is reporting the highest daily numbers since the first Omicron wave earlier this year, with 89 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday and 90 on Wednesday. Just over 55,600 new cases were recorded on Thursday, the highest…
Read More Here
New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels

New Zealand COVID-19 death rate at record levels

WELLINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - New Zealanders are dying from COVID-19 at record rates as the country battles a new wave of the Omicron strain that is particularly affecting the older population. Deaths from the virus reached 151 in the seven days to July 16, compared with 115 in the worst week of the previous wave, in March, according to Health Ministry data. In the latest 24 hours, 26 people died from COVID, all aged over 60, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. The Omicron BA.5 sub-variant is driving the current wave in New Zealand, which has 5.1…
Read More Here
New Zealand Navy deploys two ships to Pacific to aid region’s security

New Zealand Navy deploys two ships to Pacific to aid region’s security

WELLINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) - Two New Zealand naval ships are headed to the Pacific Islands next week on a three-month deployment to provide maritime security and other support for Pacific Island partners, Minister of Defence Peeni Henare in a statement said on Friday. The HMNZS Wellington, an offshore patrol vessel, and the HMNZS Manawanui, a dive and hydrographic ship, will deploy to the region along with a P-3 Orion surveillance plane to patrol and deter illegal fishing and look for unexploded ordnance from earlier wars, among other duties, the statement said. "Now that most Pacific borders are open we are able…
Read More Here
Australia raises guard against foot and mouth disease after Indonesia cases

Australia raises guard against foot and mouth disease after Indonesia cases

SYDNEY, July 20 (Reuters) - Australia on Wednesday said it has stepped up protection against foot and mouth disease at its international airports following an outbreak of the disease in Indonesia. Travellers arriving in Australia from Indonesia will now be asked to walk across sanitation foot mats at airports, the latest measure to ramp up Australia’s biosecurity measures, the government said. The mats will contain a citric acid solution designed to dislodge any dirt from the sole of the shoe and cover it in the acid. The move comes after foot and mouth viral fragments were detected in meat goods that came…
Read More Here
New Zealand launches new investor migrant visa

New Zealand launches new investor migrant visa

WELLINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The New Zealand government said on Wednesday that it had created a new investor migrant visa to attract experienced, high-value investors to invest in domestic businesses. The new Active Investor Plus visa will replace the old investment visa categories and would require migrants to make investments in New Zealand businesses, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement. He said the old visas had often resulted in migrants investing in shares and bonds rather than directly into New Zealand companies. "We want to encourage active investment into New Zealand, which generates more high-skilled jobs…
Read More Here
Australia reinstates COVID quarantine pay amid fresh Omicron wave

Australia reinstates COVID quarantine pay amid fresh Omicron wave

SYDNEY, July 16 (Reuters) - Australia will reinstate support payments for casual workers who have to quarantine due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday, as a fresh wave of Omicron-driven infections sweeps the country. Australia is battling a major virus outbreak driven by the highly transmissible new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, with authorities warning it could lead to more people ending up in hospitals and further straining the health system. "I want to make sure that people aren't left behind, that vulnerable people are looked after," Albanese told reporters after a snap meeting with state leaders. "No one…
Read More Here
Australia gov’t faces pressure to reinstate COVID quarantine pay amid fresh wave

Australia gov’t faces pressure to reinstate COVID quarantine pay amid fresh wave

SYDNEY, July 15 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called a snap meeting of federal and state leaders next week as he faces pressure to reinstate compensation pay for casual workers forced to isolate due to COVID-19 amid a fresh wave of infections. A renewed surge in cases fuelled by the BA.4/5 Omicron coronavirus variants have put Australia's health system on alert with the total number of people admitted to hospitals from COVID-19 not far away from record levels seen earlier this year. "I've said to the (state leaders) that we'll meet from time to time. And it's appropriate that we…
Read More Here
Cardinal George Pell sued by father of Australian choirboy

Cardinal George Pell sued by father of Australian choirboy

The father of a choirboy who prosecutors alleged was sexually abused by Cardinal George Pell has launched a lawsuit against the cleric and the Catholic Church. The man is seeking damages for mental injury that he suffered after learning of the allegations, his lawyers said. In 2018 Cardinal Pell was convicted of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. But Australia's top court later quashed the convictions. Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence. The Australian cleric had spent more than a year in prison when he was released in 2020 following a successful appeal. One of the choirboys' fathers has…
Read More Here
Australia unemployment dives to 48-year low as jobs boom

Australia unemployment dives to 48-year low as jobs boom

SYDNEY, July 14 (Reuters) - Australia's unemployment rate dived to a 48-year low in June as hiring outstripped all expectations, while record vacancies suggested the labour market was set to tighten yet further and perhaps justify even larger increases in interest rates. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed net employment had surged 88,400 in June from May, when it jumped 60,600. That blew away market forecasts of a 30,000 rise in June and brought gains for the year to a rousing 438,000. The jobless rate slid to 3.5% from 3.9%, well below forecasts of 3.8% and the lowest since August 1974. The dive came even as more…
Read More Here
Australia expands fourth COVID dose rollout amid fresh Omicron threat

Australia expands fourth COVID dose rollout amid fresh Omicron threat

SYDNEY, July 7 (Reuters) - Australia said on Thursday it would expand the rollout of the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines from next week as it battles a steady rise in hospital admissions fuelled by the highly transmissible new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. The new subvariants have now become the dominant coronavirus strains in several countries, with pandemic experts warning they could lead to more hospitalisations and deaths because they spread more quickly than other coronavirus variants. New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, warned it was experiencing a fresh wave of infections driven by the BA.4 and BA.5…
Read More Here
Sydney residents assess flood damage as wild weather eases

Sydney residents assess flood damage as wild weather eases

SYDNEY, July 7 (Reuters) - Heavy rain that pummelled Sydney over the last five days eased on Thursday as flood-weary residents looked to return to homes to take stock of the damage, some for the third time this year. An intense low-pressure system formed off Australia's east coast over the weekend has weakened, satellite images showed, but major flooding could continue for several days with rivers and dams already at full capacity even before the latest storm. Water levels in Hawkesbury River in Sydney's west began to recede bringing relief to residents in Windsor, one of the worst-hit suburbs. But heavy rain…
Read More Here
Rents rise at fastest rate in 14 years across Australia

Rents rise at fastest rate in 14 years across Australia

Rents have risen at the fastest rate for 14 years as Australia’s landlords seek to recoup costs in the face of rising interest rates and higher inflation. According research firm CoreLogic’s quarterly rental review, the national rental index increased 0.9% in the month to June and 2.9% over the June quarter. Rents are 9.1% higher across capital cities and are up 10.8% in regional areas compared with June 2021. Canberra remains the country’s most expensive rental market, with the typical home renting for $690 per week, ahead of Sydney which recorded a median rental value of $643 per week, and…
Read More Here
Qantas engineers vote on work stoppages as they seek higher pay

Qantas engineers vote on work stoppages as they seek higher pay

SYDNEY, July 6 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd's  unionised licensed aircraft engineers are voting on work stoppages of up to 12 hours and overtime bans from next month after failing to reach a pay agreement with the airline, the union's head said on Wednesday. The move which affects around 1,000 engineers across Qantas and subsidiaries Jetstar and Network Aviation, comes as the airline is trying to minimise disruption to customers from worker shortages at airports that have led to increased flight delays and cancellations.  "With the industry still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, the last thing it needs is the threat…
Read More Here
Thousands more evacuate in Sydney even though heavy rains ease

Thousands more evacuate in Sydney even though heavy rains ease

SYDNEY, July 6 (Reuters) - A wild storm system that has pounded several parts of Sydney with torrential rain for four days has moved away from the city, satellite images showed on Wednesday, although rivers remained above danger levels, forcing more evacuations. More than 85,000 people in New South Wales, most in Sydney's western suburbs, have been asked to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders, up from Tuesday's 50,000, authorities said. Members of the public look on as the Windsor Bridge is submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River, in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia, 06 July 2022.…
Read More Here
Australia floods worsen as thousands more flee Sydney homes

Australia floods worsen as thousands more flee Sydney homes

SYDNEY, July 5 (Reuters) - Torrential rains kept battering Australia's east coast on Tuesday, intensifying the flood crisis in Sydney as thousands more residents were ordered to leave their homes after rivers swiftly rose past danger levels. About 50,000 residents in New South Wales, most in Sydney's western suburbs, have been told to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders, up from Monday's 30,000, authorities said. "This event is far from over, please don't be complacent," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters. "Wherever you are, please be careful when you're driving on our roads. There are still substantial…
Read More Here
Photo Story: Ship stranded off the cliffs in south of Sydney, Australia

Photo Story: Ship stranded off the cliffs in south of Sydney, Australia

The Portland Bay cargo ship sits stranded approximately one kilometre off the cliffs the of Royal National Park, south of Sydney, Australia.  A cargo ship is without power and stranded in heavy seas in waters off the Royal National Park in Sydney's south with rescue efforts put on hold due to the severe weather. Photo: EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS
Read More Here
More heavy rains set to drench Sydney as thousands evacuate

More heavy rains set to drench Sydney as thousands evacuate

SYDNEY, July 4 (Reuters) - Fresh evacuation orders were issued for tens of thousands of Sydney residents on Monday after relentless rains flooded several suburbs in Australia's largest city, with officials warning of more wild weather to come. An intense low-pressure system off Australia's east coast is forecast to bring more heavy rain through Monday across New South Wales after several places in the state were hit with about a month's rain over the weekend. With about 30,000 residents in New South Wales state facing evacuation, frustration swelled in several suburbs in Sydney's west after floods submerged homes, farms and bridges there,…
Read More Here
Australia’s Victoria state looks to wean households off gas

Australia’s Victoria state looks to wean households off gas

MELBOURNE, July 2 (Reuters) - Australia's Victoria government released a plan on Saturday aiming to wean the country's biggest gas-consuming state off the fossil fuel, halve carbon emissions by 2030 and drive down household energy bills. The state, where 80% of homes use gas for heating, cooking and hot water, wants to encourage homes to switch to electric appliances, use solar panels and batteries, and eventually get gas-reliant businesses to use hydrogen and biomethane. "Gas is no longer the cheap fuel it once was – we know renewables are the cheapest form of energy and we're making it easier for Victorian households…
Read More Here
Australia job vacancies surge as firms struggle to find staff

Australia job vacancies surge as firms struggle to find staff

SYDNEY, June 30 (Reuters) - Job vacancies in Australia surged to all-time highs in the May quarter as firms struggled to find staff amid a tightening labour market, another sign interest rates are likely to rise further next week. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) out on Thursday showed vacancies in the three months to May jumped 13.8%, from the previous quarter, to 480,100. That was 29.7% higher than the same period last year, and more than double the level in February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic first hit. "This reflected increasing demand for workers, particularly in customer facing roles,…
Read More Here
Photo Story: Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’ farewell

Photo Story: Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’ farewell

Cast members of TV show 'Neighbours' pose for a photograph at the Neighbours Studios in Melbourne, Australia, 29 June 2022. The Australian soap 'Neighbours' first aired in 1985 will ceases production after being dropped by its broadcaster. The show filmed nearly 9,000 episodes. The final slice of life from Ramsay Street, in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough, is due to be broadcast on 1 August. Via EPA-EFE/DIEGO FEDELE
Read More Here
Volt, Australia’s first online-only bank, shuts down due to fund-raising woes

Volt, Australia’s first online-only bank, shuts down due to fund-raising woes

June 29 (Reuters) - Volt Bank Ltd, the first exclusively online bank to gain an Australian banking licence, said it would shut down, returning deposits and selling its mortgage book as it had been unable to raise sufficient funds to support the business. Its collapse is a further blow to a business model that was promoted heavily by the Australian government and regulators after a 2018 inquiry into misconduct in the finance industry led to a loosening of rules for new banking entrants. Rising inflation and interest rates this year have made it harder for online-only banks, called neobanks in Australia, to…
Read More Here