Australia increases pressure, cash offers for PNG asylum seekers to return home

SYDNEY, (REUTERS): Officials at an Australian immigration center in Papua New Guinea are increasing pressure on asylum seekers to return to their home countries voluntarily, including offering large sums of money, amid fears a deal for the United States to take refugees has fallen through. About a dozen Bangladeshi and Nepalese asylum seekers on Manus Island told Reuters they are being repeatedly called to meet with Australian officials and pressured to take amounts of up to $25,000 to return..

Australia struggles to improve lives of indigenous population

SYDNEY, (REUTERS): Australia is failing to meet almost every target for improving the lives of its indigenous population, including reducing the infant mortality rate, getting children in school and adults in jobs, according to a government report released on Tuesday. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders make up just three percent of Australia's population of 23 million people but have disproportionately high rates of suicide and incarceration, tracking near the bottom in almost every..

Australia, China vow to deepen ties on trade

SYDNEY, (AP): Australia and China have pledged to deepen their ties on everything from trade to tourism. The show of unity comes at a delicate time in Australia's relationship with China's chief rival for Pacific power, the United States. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Australia's capital, Canberra, on Tuesday for talks with his Australian counterpart. Wang touted a free trade agreement the two nations signed a year ago as a success, while vowing to take a "firm stand" against..

US President Donald Trump Says To Study ‘Dumb’ Refugee Deal With Australia

SYDNEY, (REUTERS): US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will review a "dumb deal" to take hundreds of Australian asylum seekers after the Washington Post reported he had angrily berated Australia's prime minister and abruptly ended a tense telephone call. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters the call on Saturday had been frank and candid but refused to provide further details on a "private" conversation that has hit headlines on both sides of the world. The..

U.S. officials arrive in Australia to begin assessing asylum seekers

By Harry Pearl, SYDNEY, (REUTERS): U.S. officials have arrived in Australia to begin assessing asylum seekers held on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru for resettlement in the United States, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday. Australia announced last week it had reached a deal in which the United States would take a substantial number of the 1,200 refugees held at the Australian-funded offshore processing centers, although the election of Donald Trump has injected..

Former Australia PM Tony Abbott defends Trump’s ‘reasonable’ policies

By Ben Westcott, (CNN): Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is defending embattled Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying his policies are "reasonable enough." Speaking to Australia's Sky News in an interview on Thursday, Abbott also dismissed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's comments that half of Trump supporters were "deplorables." "The vast majority of Trump supporters are not deplorables, they really aren't. They're decent people who want to see change inside..

Bill Shorten: Coalition’s ‘trickle-down economics’ risks Brexit-style alienation

By Lenore Taylor, (The Guardian): Bill Shorten has used the Brexit upheaval to try to bolster Labor’s economic arguments, saying the Coalition’s “radical ... trickle-down economics” risked creating the same social marginalisation that fuelled the British vote to leave the European Union. The Coalition believes the international economic uncertainty of Brexit has boosted its bid for re-election and ever since the shock vote last Friday Malcolm Turnbull has argued it underlines the need..

Why Australia is stingy and getting stingier

Australians like to think their government is a big-hearted foreign aid donor. A recent opinion poll found voters believed our overseas aid budget to be about 10 times bigger, on average, than it actually was. In fact, Australia has never been an especially open-handed donor compared with many other wealthy countries. And during this term of government, foreign aid spending has shifted from moderately generous to downright miserly with little prospect for improvement any time soon. While aid..

Australia toughens helmet standards after Hughes review

(REUTERS): Australia's cricket board will make it compulsory for players to wear helmets when facing fast and medium-paced bowling in line with recommendations from a review into the death of test batsman Phillip Hughes. Wicketkeepers and players fielding close to the wicket will also have to wear helmets in first class matches in accordance with the David Curtain review, which was released on Wednesday. The helmets, mandatory in games and during practice, must adhere to the highest British..

Australia Rules out Sale of Cattle Empire to Foreigners

By ROD MCGUIRK, CANBERRA, Australia, (AP): Australia's current government will never sell its largest cattle empire to foreigners, the treasurer said on Wednesday after blocking a takeover by a Chinese-led consortium. Chinese-based Dakang Australia Holdings on Tuesday withdrew its application to buy an 80 percent stake in Australia's largest private landholding, S. Kidman & Co. Ltd., after Treasurer Scott Morrison last week announced a preliminary view that the sale was contrary to the..

Australia teen charged with Anzac day terror plot

AUSTRALIA, (BBC): Police in Australia have charged a 16-year-old with preparing an act of terrorism, saying they believe he was plotting to target Anzac Day services. It is the second year in a row that authorities say they have intercepted an attack linked to the holiday. Anzac Day commemorates the first major battle involving Australian and New Zealand forces during World War One. The 16-year-old was denied bail and is due to appear in a children's court on Monday. If convicted he faces..

60 Minutes mum sorry way it worked out

AUSTRALIA, (AAP): A 60 Minutes crew is on their way back to Australia after spending two weeks in a Beirut prison, as the mum at the centre of the case stays on. Brisbane woman Sally Faulkner wants her two children to know mummy's sorry they won't be together. The woman at the centre of the Lebanon child abduction case involving 60 Minutes hopes she will get to see her children in Australia one day, although her estranged husband Ali Elamine will not let that happen any time soon. Ms..

Turnbull sets stage for early election in Australia

Jamie Smyth, Cairns, (FT):  Malcolm Turnbull is poised to call an early Australian election in July following a move to bring forward the budget and threat to dissolve parliament unless it passes stalled legislation. The prime minister’s political gamble, which he announced on Monday, follows recent electoral reforms for the upper house of parliament that are expected to make it more difficult for minor parties to be re-elected or block reforms. “The time for playing games is over,”..

U.S. says in talks to base long-range bombers in Australia

SYDNEY-WASHINGTON, (REUTERS): The United States is in talks to base long-range bombers in Australia, U.S. defense officials said, within striking distance of the disputed South China Sea, a move that could inflame tensions with China. The deployments could include B-1 bombers and an expansion of B-52 bomber missions, said Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific, stressing that discussions were continuing and no decisions had yet been reached. "These bomber..

Australia’s trade deficit narrowed in January

Australia’s trade deficit narrowed to $2.937 billion in January in seasonally adjusted terms, coming in below the $3.524 billion figure of December and expectations for a decline to $3.1 billion. According to the ABS, exports rose by 1.0%, or $266 million, to $25.549 billion. Non-rural goods exports increased by $184 million, offsetting declines of $39 million and $2 million for rural goods and services. Non-monetary gold exports – often volatile – rose by $126 million, partially..

Cardinal: Australia ‘Mucked Things Up’ in Handling Pedophile Priests

ROME, (VOA): The Vatican's chief finance officer said the Catholic church in Australia "mucked things up" in its dealings with pedophile priests. Australian Cardinal George Pell, too weak to travel to his homeland, testified Sunday from a hotel in Rome via a videolink to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney. Pell told the commission: "I am not here to defend the indefensible." The cardinal said the Australian church had made "enormous mistakes"..

Australia to send asylum baby to Nauru

Sydney (AFP): Australia said Monday an asylum-seeker baby brought from a Pacific detention camp for hospital treatment is expected to be returned to the camp as a deterrent to people-smugglers, despite protests from doctors and others. Under Canberra's tough immigration policy, asylum-seekers attempting to arrive in Australia by boat are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they are held while their refugee applications are processed. They are blocked from resettlement in..

Australia’s population set to hit 24 million

Tessa Akerman, Melbourne: Australia’s population is pro­­jected to reach 24 million at 12.51am on Tuesday, with midwife Ashlee McConnell waiting anxiously for her firstborn to join the millions living down under. Only 72 per cent of Australia’s population was Australian-born as of June last year and Ms McConnell, from Macleod in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, said she looked forward to her baby being born in a multicult­ural and diverse Australia with seemingly endless..

NRNA China, Australia Chapter provided life saving drugs

KATHMANDU: Non Residents Nepali Association (NRNA) in China and Australia chapter have provided life-saving drugs worth Rs 16 million to the government in view of its scarcity in the country resulted from the Nepal-India border obstructions. Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) President Shesh Ghale today called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa at his office and handed over the consignment of drugs. It may be noted that earlier too the Association had..

Australia Resists International Pressure Not To Deport Child Migrants, Says Allowing Them To Stay Encourages More To Come By Boat

CANBERRA, Australia (AP): Australia is resisting mounting international pressure not to deport child asylum seekers, with a minister warning Thursday that allowing them to stay could attract more refugees to come by boat. Australia’s 3-year-old policy of paying the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru to accommodate asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australian shores by boat survived a challenge in the High Court on Wednesday. The test case ruling means 267 asylum seekers, most of whom came from..

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