Scott Morrison sends message to Australians stuck overseas

In a video message to an awards ceremony held by a global network for Australian expats,, Morrison said they had carried a "very heavy burden" over the past year and a half.

"I know for Australians overseas, it has been a very difficult and frustrating time," he said.

"It's tough, living through a pandemic, and being separated from your family, and that's brought its own heartbreak.

"Life's moments missed that you will never get back. Zoom can't do justice to these moments."

Joint Tonga and Australia navy operation ensures rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ha’apai

The High Commission said the ministry requested the assistance of HMAF’s two Guardian Class Patrol Boats VOEA Ngahau Koula and VOEA Ngahau Siliva, which were gifted to HMAF through the Australian Defence Pacific Maritime Security Program in 2019 and 2020.

This is the first time the two Guardian Class Patrol Boats have operated and trained together since their commissioning.

Small teams of doctors and nurses from MOH were safely transported to all inhabited islands throughout the Ha’apai Group.

Victoria records 246 COVID-19 cases as regional restrictions may ease

Contact tracers have so far linked 121 of the new cases to existing outbreaks, but the number of cases who were in the community while infectious is no longer being reported each day.

The new cases resulted from 42,258 test results processed on Sunday, when 29,955 vaccine doses were delivered at state-run sites.

Last week the Victorian government shifted away from trying to reach zero cases of coronavirus in the community, and is instead focusing on keeping case numbers as low as possible while getting people vaccinated.

Rugby Australia expect NZR support for World Cup bid

The Australians are bidding to hold the tournament for the first time since 2003 and are favourites ahead of competing bids from Russia and the United States, with a decision due early next year.

McLennan said the replacement of Brent Impey as NZR chairman by Stewart Mitchell should help the Australian bid.

"I'm not sure Brent would have supported us, but Stewart Mitchell is a good guy, an old school Kiwi, and I'd be disappointed if they didn't support us under his regime," McLennan told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"He's a guy who has shown his word is his bond."

Tonga asks Australia, NZ to rehabilitate deportees to help with local drug problems

Samiu Vaipulu says that includes getting countries like Australia to rehabilitate convicted criminals before they're deported to Pacific island countries like his.

Tonga's Speaker had tried to introduce the death penalty for certain drugs offences, to crack down on drug traffickers in the Kingdom.

Concerns continue to mount that Tonga is facing a local crisis, with a growing number of people, including children, becoming addicted to illegal substances.

Off-field stoush looms over final Bledisloe between All Blacks and Wallabies

The All Blacks had chosen not to travel to Perth due to the uncertainty surrounding the Rugby Championship, a decision Rugby Australia described as "unilateral", with boss Andy Marinos essentially accusing his New Zealand Rugby counterpart Mark Robinson of deceit.

"It's incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention," Marinos said in a statement after NZ Rugby announced it would not travel for the August 28 fixture.

Australia says it's given 2.1 million vaccines doses to the region

The Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja told parliament this was one of the reasons why assistance to the Pacific remains critical.

He said on pandemic response, Australia had fronted up with COVID-19 vaccines.

"We have now gifted over 2.1 million life-saving vaccines to our neighbourhood. Because until everyone is safe from COVID, nobody is safe.

"And similarly, hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs depend on strong economic growth across our region."

New Australia visa could be a threat for Pacific workers

Professor Howes said if the Australian Agricultural Visa was not implemented with same types of safeguards as the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme, then many farmers across Australia were likely to switch to the new visa.

"Although its termed an agricultural visa it is actually going to allow employers to bring in workers, not only for agriculture but also for other region industries, including meat processing, and meat processing jobs are actually 71% of Pacific Labour Scheme jobs.

Afghan women footballers evacuated by Australian government after plea

A statement by the international footballers' federation Fifpro expressed gratitude to Australia.

Following the retaking of Kabul by the Taliban, many Afghan sportswomen went into hiding.

The statement said work was still needed to settle the women abroad.

"These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid," Fifpro said of an evacuation that was for more than 50 people according to news sources including ABC.

Australian police clash with anti-lockdown protesters

In Melbourne, mounted officers used pepper spray when elements of a 4,000-strong rally broke through police lines.

Police arrested 218 people, and at least seven officers were injured.

In Sydney, where lockdown measures have been extended for another month, more than 1,000 officers dispersed protests.

It came as the state of New South Wales (NSW), of which Sydney is the capital, recorded 825 new locally-acquired cases, the highest number for any Australian territory in a 24-hour period.