Australia

Australia set to benefit from $167m Tongan airport development

The new development will allow Aussie tourists to fly direct to Tonga’s main tourism hub Vavaʻu for the first time as well as expanding trade access for a wider range of goods and services. Australia is Tonga’s second largest tourism market, making up a fifth (19%) of visitor numbers.

Australia is also a key export market for Tonga with two-way trade between the countries valued at AUD$21 million per annum.

Aust To Keep Making AstraZeneca Doses

Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt on Thursday rejected reports CSL would stop producing the vaccine in Melbourne this year, as coronavirus cases reached a new national daily record.

“CSL and AstraZeneca are on track to complete the full 50 million-dose production run in Australia and the 3.8 million supply from overseas,” he told reporters.

“Our expectation and our plan is that that program will be completed in full. All of those extra doses are being supplied to the region.”

Australia, NZ miss out on World Sevens Series event due to Covid-19

The 2022 schedule was announced on Tuesday with the series to kick off with a pair of men’s and women’s rounds in Dubai starting in November.

But while Hong Kong returns as a stop, Sydney and Hamilton (New Zealand) have missed out because of its stringent pandemic protocols.

Instead, Spain will play host for the first time with men’s and women’s events scheduled in Malaga and Seville from January 21-23 and January 28-30.

Toulouse in France will also welcome teams in May next year.

MoU to grow agricultural trade between Pacific Island Countries and Australia

Signed 6 October by Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Gabrielle Vivian-Smith and DT Global Asia Pacific Managing Director, Frank Maiolo the MoU will strengthen the partnership between the department and DT Global through the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA Plus) program.

The PHAMA Plus program is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Australia ends controversial asylum detention deal with Papua New Guinea

PNG is one of two Pacific countries paid by Canberra to detain asylum seekers and refugees who attempt to reach Australia by boat.

Australia said its arrangement with PNG would conclude by the end of the year.

But it will continue its divisive "offshore processing" policy on the remote island nation of Nauru.

"Australia's strong border protection policies… have not changed," Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said on Wednesday.

Kylie Minogue confirms she is moving back to Australia

She told BBC Radio 2's Zoe Ball she "couldn't believe" the public reaction to the news.

But Minogue said she will "always" want to regularly visit the UK after she moves back to the country of her birth.

She said: "I've had friends call me, my friend at my local restaurant was like: 'Kylie, what do you mean? You can't go'."

"I said: 'I'm not really going. I've lived here for 30 years, I'm always going to be back."'

The 53-year-old said she does not think "too much will change" after her move as she will come back often.

Australia to end offshore processing in Papua New Guinea

The federal government is ending offshore processing in Papua New Guinea for asylum seekers detained after trying to reach Australia by boat.

The arrangement was set up in 2013 under the then-Labor government and authorised regional processing in PNG.

Under a timeline announced on Wednesday, processing in PNG will permanently end on 31 December.

As of July this year, there were 124 asylum seekers in PNG, of whom 88 have been found to be refugees.

Australian researchers uncover fossil of new eagle species

Dozens of bone fragments were uncovered by a dry lake in 2016 by researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide.

A new study says the skeletal remains were of the Archaehierax sylvestris, or ancient hawk of the forest.

Scientists believe the ancient raptor species survived by swooping on prey, including birds, possums and koalas.

They say the eagle had adapted to hunting and flying within forests, with short robust wings, long legs and a wide foot-span.

Australia PM undecided on attending crucial climate summit

In an interview, Scott Morrison said he had "not made any final decisions" on attending, suggesting it was a burden.

"It's another trip overseas... and I've spent a lot of time in quarantine," he told the West Australian newspaper.

The COP26 summit will be the biggest global climate crisis talks in years.

It is hoped that the 12-day meeting between world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland will produce the next emissions standards to slow global warming and keep temperature rise below 1.5C.

Australia's big gamble on the US over China

It's a definitive move for a country in the Asia-Pacific region, experts say.

The security deal with the US and the UK gives Australia a huge defence upgrade from the world's most powerful military.

But it's a gift with strings attached. And there is debate over whether such a decision - made without public consultation - will play out in Australia's national interests.

As China has grown in power, it has begun to challenge US dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.