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Australian Current Affairs

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Malaysian rights campaigner to be guest of Australian senator deported from Malaysia


Independent senator Nick Xenophon still smarts from being deported and banned from Malaysia earlier this year. The South Australian senator has got his own back by arranging for Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to join him in Adelaide this week as a speaker at the Festival of Ideas. Senator Xenophon described Mr Anwar as a … Continue reading

UN slams Australia for plan to send asylum seekers home


The United Nations has slammed as a possible breach of the Refugee Convention the Australian government’s plans to speedily send a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers home. The boatload of asylum seekers believed to be from Sri Lanka arrived at the far-flung Australian territory of Cocos Islands on Thursday – the first such group … Continue reading

Australian government fails to honour promised crime prevention program grants


The Australian Coalition government has backed away from distributing millions of dollars in grants promised to dozens of charities, community groups and local councils under Labor’s national crime prevention program. In some cases, small charities say their existence is under threat because they have spent money based on draft funding agreements that will no longer … Continue reading

Australia to offer more jobs to international graduates


Australian Education Minister Christopher Pyne has promised to open the jobs market to more overseas students who have graduated from Australian universities, as a means of rehabilitating the stagnant $14 billion international education industry. In his first speech on the industry since he was sworn in as minister, Mr Pyne said yesterday the Abbott government … Continue reading

Australian government to drastically lower foreign investment thresholds as bargaining chip against China


Coalition tensions are growing, with the Nationals expected to insist on a lowering of foreign investment thresholds as Liberals push for them to be used as a bargaining chip with China. The Nationals partyroom meeting next Thursday is expected to endorse the lowering of the threshold for purchases of farmland from $248 million to $15m, … Continue reading

Australian Prime Minister says “Japan is our closest friend in Asia”


Tony Abbott has declared Japan Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”, elevating the former World War II aggressor past both China and Indonesia as he continued his regional charm offensive. Mr Abbott met the conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the 18-member East Asia Summit being held over two days in the tiny … Continue reading

Australia’s Prime Minister apologises to Malaysia for second time in a week


Tony Abbott has apologised to an Asian leader for the second time in a week over his robust political campaigning before he was elected, offering an “act of contrition” for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The Australian Prime Minister acknowledged in a meeting with Mr Najib at the APEC conference late on Monday that … Continue reading

Australia’s defence forces must gear up for South China Sea, says expert


Naval tensions over territorial disputes in northeast Asia and the South China Sea are nearing the dangerous point where serious incidents or armed conflict could become inevitable, one of Australia‘s most respected strategists says. Paul Dibb, key architect of the defence of Australia strategy, will warn in a speech to a naval conference this week … Continue reading

Australian government’s information control policy fails dismally, reflects badly


Despite his habit of making bewildering proclamations (”Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts”), Jim Morrison is responsible for a piece of wisdom that has resonated through the ages: ”Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”. Control or limit the information available to people, and you frame the debate to your … Continue reading

Australian senator wants to charge asylum seekers $50,000


  Australia‘s Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm has proposed a radical plan to charge asylum-seekers $50,000 to come to Australia “through the front door”. Mr Leyonhjelm, who will join the Senate on July 1, will be one of eight crossbench senators who will hold the balance of power in the new Senate. Speaking on Sky … Continue reading

Sex-for-secrets spy scandal prompts Australian navy inquiry


A company that services US warships when they visit Australian ports has been accused of providing prostitutes to an American naval commander in return for secret intelligence on US naval movements to extort money from the US Seventh Fleet. The Royal Australian Navy is investigating whether the alleged bribery and prostitution scam has had an … Continue reading

Recognition of Aborigines in Australia’s Constitution is a priority


Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis, has declared that despite being a constitutional conservative, he has an “open mind” about the way the Constitution should be altered to recognise indigenous Australians, vowing to have a form of words settled by July next year. Senator Brandis revealed that work on developing constitutional change would begin immediately and be … Continue reading

Australia will take 500 refugees from Syria


The Coalition government will set aside 500 places for Syrian refugees in response to an appeal from the United Nations Refugee agency for help accommodating the displaced Syrians. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that “a further 500” Syrian refugees will be settled in Australia in 2013-14. The places will come from within the … Continue reading

Australia cuts defence force anti-terrorist unit


The anti-terrorism protection force at some of Australia’s key military bases is to be slashed, as the Defence Department struggles to find budget savings. Australian Protective Service officers will be taken off guard duty at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, Sydney’s Holsworthy Barracks, the navy’s Garden Island base and the army’s officer training college at Duntroon … Continue reading

Australian Aboriginal school kids treated like rubbish


Walgett Community High and Moree East Public are the schools that bureaucracies forgot, in physically deplorable condition and battling the pathogen of low expectations from all quarters. By NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli’s own admission, the schools have been failed from the top by hulking institutions run from Sydney that swept them out of sight, … Continue reading

Bad teaching in Australian schools causes low literacy rates


In his 1955 book Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolph Flesch explained that quality of instruction was the key to improving children’s literacy. Almost 60 years later, children’s names may have changed but the story remains the same. Billions of dollars have been spent in the past decade on programs aimed at improving literacy, yet thousands … Continue reading

New Australian government adopts policy of media silence


You can tell that something has shifted in Canberra. The hourly, daily thunder of the hung parliament and campaign and the whirl of the election result have been replaced with something more subdued, even mild-mannered. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signalled a desire to take politics off the front pages. Parliament may not be back … Continue reading

Asylum seekers drown on way to Australia


About 20 people, mostly children under 15 years old, died when an asylum seeker vessel sank off the southern coast of Java on its way to Australia. Adjunct Commissioner Warsono from the Agrabinta Police has confirmed that 25 people were rescued before the search was called off at nightfall. He could not say how many … Continue reading

Australia bans Malaysian human rights activist; government’s new stance


A leading Malaysian rights activist who faces sedition charges at home says he was denied a visa to enter Australia, raising suggestions Canberra had buckled to pressure from Kuala Lumpur. Haris Ibrahim, a strident campaigner against the Malaysian government now headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, said he was seeking a meeting with Australian officials … Continue reading

Indonesia warns Australia against turning back asylum-seeker boats


Indonesia has raised the ante in its dispute with the Abbott government over turning back asylum-seeker boats, saying its plan puts at risk Jakarta‘s “close cooperation and trust”. The warning came as Tony Abbot sought to reassure the Jakarta “we absolutely respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and we would never do or propose anything which is contrary … Continue reading

Indonesia wants more of Australia’s land; 1.5 million hectares not enough


The Indonesian government may be in the market for an even larger slice of Australian land than the 1.5 million hectares it has proposed. Comments from the Finance Minister Chatib Basri and Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi indicate large parcels of Australian land may play a crucial role in the security of Indonesia’s beef supply. … Continue reading

Australia to decide between aid or retaliation for Syria


Julie Bishop, Australia’s new Foreign Minister, faces perhaps the most important first week on the job of any previous incumbent for a generation. Bishop will travel to New York to participate in United Nations Security Council deliberations seeking to resolve the terrible conflict in Syria, and in particular ensure that chemical weapons play no further … Continue reading

Indonesia becomes fifth country in WTO fight over Australia’s tobacco law


The Australian Government has re-affirmed its commitment to tobacco plain packaging laws, in the face of a new challenge to the policy by Indonesia. The World Trade Organisation says Indonesia has made a formal request for consultations with Australia on the issue, which under the Geneva-based organisation’s rules is the first step towards a full-blown … Continue reading

Australian navy to protect sea lanes to China, Japan and South Korea


Protecting the massive resources projects in northern and Western Australia and export supply lines to China, Japan and South Korea will be a major Defence priority for the Abbott government. New Defence Minister David Johnston said last night that this was one reason the navy needed highly capable long-range submarines to complement its surface warships. … Continue reading

Australian government stops flow of information about asylum seekers


The Australian Coalition government has shut down the flow of information on the arrival of asylum vessels and the transfer of people offshore under the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders. Despite seizing on public information to attack the Labor government for every unauthorised vessel intercepted over the last six years, newly sworn-in Immigration Minister Scott Morrison … Continue reading

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