WELLINGTON: Australia and Fiji pledged closer defence and economic ties Thursday as prime ministers Scott Morrison and Voreqe Bainimarama held landmark talks against the backdrop of an increased China presence in the South Pacific. In the historic first bilateral visit by an Australian leader to Fiji, Morrison said they had taken their relationship to “a landmark” level. “We share a very strong commitment to understanding that unless our countries have strong economies then we cannot achieve what we want to achieve for our people,“ he said. Morrison pledged border security assistance to “help reinforce the integrity of Fiji’s borders”. His Fiji counterpart Bainimarama spoke of “security and defence cooperation including peacekeeping, order and maritime security”. The leaders signed what they called a “vuvale” or “family” partnership to emphasise a new era of cooperation, far removed from when Australia was … [Read more...] about Fiji, Australia pledge closer defence ties
Australia border security
In 2015, Australian doctors treating the traumatized children of asylum-seekers at a Melbourne hospital refused to return them to an offshore detention center, as they feared for their well-being in the appalling conditions. Bizarrely, the doctors were accused by local politicians of putting the lives of boatpeople at risk because it was claimed that allowing children sanctuary would encourage others to make the perilous sea crossing to Australia. The dailyReport Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox Three years on, the government is again saying it won’t relocate children facing “catastrophic” medical issues from offshore detention centers to Australia. It will also stop giving welfare support to 30,000 already allowed to live in Australia under earlier more lenient rules while their cases were heard: hundreds say they will be left destitute. There is a boatload of evidence that asylum-seekers now rarely try to reach Australia by sea, yet … [Read more...] about Australia’s cruel closed door to child refugees
SYDNEY: Australia's next prime minister is a career public servant from Sydney's southern suburbs who rose to prominence by stopping asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat and has steered the country's fiscal direction for the past three years.Scott Morrison, who has served as the country's treasurer since 2015, represents the predominantly Anglo-Saxon electorate of Cook in Sydney's south - a formerly blue-collar seaside suburban region now extensively gentrified.Morrison won a Liberal party leadership vote on Friday - and with it the prime ministership - ending a skirmish for control of the party pursued by the government's right wing.He opened his first speech as prime minister-elect on Friday with a conciliatory tone, acknowledging the pressures felt by families, and the plight of the country's drought-hit farmers.Morrison, who has a reputation as an ambitious and accomplished politician, drew on the well-worn colloquialism "to have a go" to punctuate the address."If you have … [Read more...] about Australia’s new PM: ‘Netball dad’, advertising boss and tax cutter
A 17-year-old boy is at the center of a diplomatic row over Australian deportations of New Zealanders on “character” grounds, with reports of separated families, prolonged detentions and mistreatment of minors. Bound by deep economic ties and a century of wartime comraderie stretching back to the World War I bloodbath at Gallipoli, relations have sunk to their lowest point in years. Kiwi politicians are furious, claiming their country has become the unwitting victim of Australian domestic affairs. The dailyReport Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox “Look, it might suit Aussie politics, and it seems to me that there is a venal, political strain to all this,” New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little said this week about the deportations. “[But] it’s certainly not consistent with any humanitarian ideals that I thought both countries once shared.” New Zealanders get preferential treatment in Australia as part of a trade … [Read more...] about Australia, New Zealand in a duel over deportations
SYDNEY: As populists in the United States and Europe embrace increasingly hardline immigration policies, Australia is touting its own uncompromising stance, a controversial yet effective campaign that has largely stopped boatpeople reaching its shores.Canberra has courted both praise and outrage in the last five years after its conservative government adopted tough tactics to halt the flood of arrivals.Faced with boatloads of desperate people from war-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East setting sail from Indonesia and arriving almost daily on its northern shores - with some 1,200 drowned at sea - the government opted for zero tolerance.Vessels filled with asylum-seekers were turned back, strict secrecy blanketed operations on the high seas, and those who made it to Australia were promptly shipped off to remote camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.The policy worked with boat arrivals plummeting - even if it did provoke a visceral division among the Australian public and … [Read more...] about Australia: Immigration blueprint or reputational blot?