Australia

Call for bold move by Australia to improve Pacific relationship

But observers said no substantial change is expected for Australia's engagement in the region after the Coalition's surprise win at the weekend.

Shane McLeod of the Australian think-tank, the Lowy Institute, said Australia's so-called Pacific step up, a suite of policies and funding initiatives brought in in 2017, will likely continue.

But he said with losses on the hard right, there may be more room for the government to manoeuvre on climate change.

2019 Australia election: Polls open for 'generational' vote

PM Scott Morrison says he has united his conservative government in the nine months since he replaced Malcolm Turnbull.

Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has pressed his case with stark policy alternatives.

Australia has mandatory voting and a record 16.4 million enrolled voters.

The nation holds elections every three years, but no prime minister has succeeded in serving a full term since 2007.

Kiwis to play British Lions, Tonga in 2019

New Zealand will play Mate Ma'a Tonga on 22 June at Mt Smart Stadium in the first match of the new Oceania Cup.

The Kiwi Ferns will also play against an unnamed opponent in the double header - they'll play a second match against Australia in October.

The Oceania Cup will be played in June and November during the international Test windows.

Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Australia make up the six-nation competition.

Cardinal found guilty of sexual offences in Australia

Pell abused two choir boys in the rooms of a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, a jury found. He had pleaded not guilty.

The verdict was handed down in December, but it could not be reported until now due to legal reasons.

Pell is due to be sentenced on Wednesday. He has lodged an appeal against his conviction.

As Vatican treasurer, the 77-year-old cardinal was one of the Church's most powerful officials.

His trial was heard twice last year because a first jury failed to reach a verdict.

Kangaroos to face Kiwis in Wollongong in October

The announcement of the trans-Tasman Test provides the first details of the international calendar which is expected to include an Oceania series and Great Britain Lions tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

It will be the first time the Kangaroos have hosted the Kiwis in Australia since the mid-season ANZAC Test was cancelled in 2017.

The two nations have only met once since, with New Zealand defeating Australia in Auckland last October.

PNG to attend Peace Summit

The event will be attended on PNG’s behalf by the Chief Justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jeffrey Komal, and Acting PNG High Commissioner to Australia, Sakias Tameo.

They will be accompanied by other Pacific Islands Nation dignitaries to attend the event which aims to promote peace around the world.

Australian stripper under fire for drinking beer from didgeridoo

Video posted to Instagram shows Bambi Le Fist drinking out of the instrument during Australia Day celebrations.

She was wearing a floral bikini and shouted "straya" after finishing. Perth model Cassy Walker filmed the video and quickly faced criticism for the stunt, the Daily Mail reports.

"This is so disrespectful to our culture," one person wrote. "This is wrong on so many levels."

Ms Walker's Instagram is now private and cannot be accessed unless she has given people permission to view it.

India defeat Australia in ODI decider

Set 231 to win Friday's decider, India chased their target with four balls to spare to claim a 2-1 series victory and cap off a summer of unprecedented triumph.

Superstar veteran Dhoni again steered India to victory, scoring an unbeaten 87 off 114 balls - his third fifty from as many games - to repeat his match-winning heroics in Adelaide.

In a gripping finish, Dhoni was dropped on 74 by Aaron Finch at mid-off, then partner Kedar Jadhav (61 not out) barely survived a run-out attempt at the non- striker's end.

Australia's Foreign Ministry appoints new head of Pacific office

Ewen McDonald, who is currently Australia's High Commissioner to New Zealand the Cook Islands and Niue, will take up the role.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the office, which was announced in November, will help Australia to better engage with the Pacific.

"This will build on our already deep relationship with the region and support the delivery of the Australian Government's package of innovative new initiatives in the Pacific, including labour mobility and infrastructure financing," Ms Payne said in a statement.

 

     

How one heatwave killed 'a third' of a bat species in Australia

The animals, also known as spectacled fruit bats, were unable to survive in temperatures which exceeded 42C.

In the city of Cairns, locals saw bats toppling from trees into backyards, swimming pools and other locations.

Wildlife rescuers found surviving animals clumped together, usually on branches closer to the ground.

"It was totally depressing," one rescuer, David White, told the BBC.

Last week, researchers from Western Sydney University finalised their conclusion that about 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in the event on 26 and 27 November.