Australian storm moves south

RNZI reports the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) cancelled a severe weather warning for New South Wales, but flood warnings remained in place for many rivers around the state.

The wild weather prompted evacuation notices for Northern Lismore, Chipping Norton, Billinudgel, Ocean Shores, Golden Beach, New Brighton and Coffs Creek last night.

State officials said emergency services had received more than 8000 calls for help and carried out more than 250 flood rescues over 48 hours.

Vietnam jails four asylum seekers over voyage to Australia

According to Voice Australia — a group helping Vietnamese asylum seekers — 42-year-old Nguyen Dinh Quy was sentenced to 24 months in jail and his 39-year-old wife Huynh Thi Kieu was jailed for 27 months for leaving Vietnam without official approval.

Their fellow accused Tran Thi Lua, 37, and 35-year-old Nguyen Minh Quyet were also convicted and jailed for 30 and 24 months respectively.

Australian Government assist Tonga with budget support

The agreement was signed by the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga Mr. Andrew Ford and the Minister of Revenue & Customs and Acting Minister of Finance and National Planning Tevita Lavemaau.

The assistance was part of Donor’s Harmonized Policy Reform matrix led by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Commission and the Government of New Zealand as a new entrant.

Changes to Australian visa processing in Tonga

Most clients lodging a visa application for Australia in Tonga will need to attend the Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) in person to provide biometrics unless they

Australia supports Tonga’s Zika Virus outbreak response efforts

The vehicle will support Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Environmental Health Unit, in their efforts to combat the spread of the Zika virus, and other vector borne diseases in Tonga.

Tonga, through their National Zika Response Plan, has been working to reduce the spread of the Zika epidemic in Tonga.

Tonga has reported a cumulative total of 2299 cases including 41 cases of suspected Zika in pregnant women.

Australia's FM to open new diplomatic post in Indonesia's Makassar

Julie Bishop says she will formally open the new emabssy in Jakarta and also visit the Eastern city of Makassar to open a consulate-general there.

She says Makassar, on Sulawesi Island, is a key commercial hub for Australians doing business in the east of Indonesia.

Australia stands ready to help Fiji long-term: Bishop

PACNEWS reports this was revealed by Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop after meetings with Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola in Suva. 

Pacific countries to benefit more from Australia’s seasonal workers programme

That’s over and above those who came to Australia under the earlier seasonal worker pilot programme, said Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Richard Colbeck.

“We are in the process of negotiating an updated seasonal worker programme MOU with participant countries and we will sign an updated MOU with the Solomon Islands, and we're very pleased to be doing that.

Australia gives more funding to fight Pacific drought

It gave US$6.5 million dollars last year and has just announced another US$359,000 dollars in additional support for the North Pacific.

The foreign minister Julie Bishop said the money will focus initially on the Marshall Islands where a state of emergency is in force.

Australia and NZ provide assistance to cyclone-hit Vava’u

The island group was affected by the close passage of Cyclone Winston on Tuesday 16 February and again on Friday 19 February.

While there has been damage to agricultural food crops, some schools, military camp and hospital, Vava’u has emerged without significant damage to major infrastructure.