Australia

Australia to increase military and police cooperation in Pacific

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a new foreign policy strategy for the Pacific region, including increased military cooperation.

But Defence Minister Christopher Pyne told Fairfax Media this strategy also includes a new vessel to operate semi-permanently in the south west Pacific.

He said the ship could assist with preparation for and response to natural disasters and other resilience support.

Australia will also strengthen its links with police forces in the Pacific.

Australia lifting Pacific work scheme numbers

The assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, Anne Ruston, said under Australia's pledge to step up its relationship with Pacific nations it recognised that labour mobility was a key issue for them.

This was reflected in the 40 percent annual growth of the seasonal worker scheme, while a new Pacific labour scheme would also bring in 2000 workers over the next year, she said.

Pakistan cruise to series whitewash over Australia

Having dominated throughout Australia's tour of the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan inflicted more misery on Aaron Finch's side to complete a 3-0 success with five balls to spare.

Babar Azam starred again at the top of the order with his second half century of the series as Pakistan made a superb start under the lights, the hosts racing to 93-0 in the 13th over.

Babar's 50 came off just 40 balls and included a superbly executed upper cut for six off Nathan Coulter-Nile, the bowler only able to watch on as the ball sailed over the third-man boundary.

All Blacks complete Bledisloe Cup clean sweep

The Wallabies have fallen 37-20 to the All Blacks in Yokohama despite a vastly improved performance from their first two Bledisloe showings of the year.

The first half in Sydney, Auckland and on Saturday, Yokohama, all had a similar feel to them.

The Wallabies were able to slow the game down and defended quite well, tries to Liam Squire and Kieran Read coming at the end of five minute patches in which the All Blacks did not leave the Australian 22.

The attack looked dangerous and was caused genuine headaches for the world champions.

New UN human rights chief blasts Australia over offshore processing

Michelle Bachelet included criticism of the centres on Nauru and Manus Island in her maiden speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The former president of Chile said the council had a responsibility to speak out against human rights violations without fear or favour.

She focused on migration in her address, saying an international agreement due to be signed this year provides for regional and international cooperation to set up prompt and humane reception for all arrivals.

Forum head hits out at Australian fossil fuel support

In a speech in Canberra, Dame Meg Taylor warned that climate change had brought truly desperate times to the Pacific Islands.

Dame Meg urged unity from Australia, saying the region could not afford to have one or two acting in ways that place the wellbeing of the region at risk.

At the Forum Leaders' Summit last week, Australia was the country that tried to water down a commitment to climate change action.

The government of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was also planning to officially dump emissions reduction targets.

Tonga vs Australia league test finally confirmed

Mate Ma'a Tonga will take on the Kangaroos at Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium on October 20th, almost 11 months after a sold out crowd watched the Kingdom pipped by England at the same venue in the World Cup semifinals.

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf and Australia's Mal Meninga have both been supportive of the fixture but confirmation was delayed after New Zealand Rugby League officials expressed concerns the test could overshadow or affect ticket sales for the Kiwis vs Kangaroos clash at the same venue a week earlier.

RLPA concerned over Tonga Test pay cut

However, the RLPA will push for greater player input on international scheduling to ensure such a sacrifice is not needed in future.

The Kangaroos have agreed in principle to the significant pay cut in which they will sacrifice the lion's share of their standard $20,000 match payments for Tests.

The Mate Ma'a will likely receive the same payment - expected to be less than $5000 per player - when the two nations meet for the first time at international level.

Crocodile swamp search a 'people smuggling' case

Authorities have detained 15 people and think more are hiding in mangroves north of Cairns, say police.

The boat, believed to be from Vietnam, is the first people-smuggling vessel to make it to Australia "in more than 1,400 days", according to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Authorities are continuing a search.

They did not say how many people were aboard when the boat ran aground near Daintree on Sunday, nor if any have plans to appeal for asylum.

Local mayor Julia Leu told ABC that they were "putting themselves at risk in known crocodile habitat".

Time ticking on Tonga vs Australia test

It's been nine months since Mate Ma'a Tonga's memorable run to the World Cup semi finals, which included a famous victory over New Zealand in Hamilton.

The Kingdom's request for a rematch against the Kiwis in October was rejected by New Zealand Rugby League, who also vetoed Tonga's desire to host the Kangaroos in Auckland.

Woolf said despite both sides wanting the match to go ahead roadblocks keep getting in the way.

"Our first option was that we wanted to play against New Zealand but it was very clear early on that that was not going to happen," he said.