Australia

Freight Assistance grant reopens

The initiative provides all eligible Pacific exporters assistance towards freight costs incurred in the prior 6 months with grants of up to a maximum of A$2,500 per enterprise on a 50/50 cost share basis awarded to successful applicants.

Informed by PTI Australia’s Pacific Islands Export Survey 2020 report which revealed that freight costs were one of the top three barriers to export faced by Pacific businesses, PTI Australia’s COVID-19 Freight Assistance Package was launched later that same year and since then, has seen over 40 successful applicants receive the monetary grant.

Pre-departure COVID test for international travellers to Australia ditched

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government would no longer make it a condition of entry that people had to show they had tested negative for the virus before they travelled here.

The change will come into effect on April 17.

"Given that the vaccination requirements remain and the masking requirements, the medical advice is that [the test] would no longer be required," Mr Hunt said.

"Particularly as there are some challenges in some jurisdictions in having access to those tests or proving those tests."

Australian Prime Minister to declare floods a national emergency

The declaration gives the federal government power to intervene and deploy resources.

It is a legislative power that Morrison sought after the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis.

Morrison is also set to outline more money to help communities recover from floods on the east coast when he visits Lismore today, as government ministers expect anger from residents whose lives have been upturned.

The federal government has been criticised for the pace and scale of its response to the floods.

PM makes short visit to Australia

The Deputy Prime Minister saw him the Prime Minister off at the airport this morning.

“I welcome my brother Basil back to the country after his delegation successfully raised awareness of Papua New Guinea products at the Dubai trade expo and the connections done, especially for our agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors," PM Marape said before his departure.

Australia floods kill seven as severe weather pummels Queensland

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk compared the weather to a cyclone event, as Brisbane, the Queensland capital, was bracing for flooding on Sunday, before the rainfalls ease by Monday.

Australia PM: There must be a price

They will target specific Russian individuals and corporations "who are at the heart of this bullying and aggressive behaviour".

"The reason we're doing this is there must be a price for the unprovoked, unlawful, unwarranted, unjustified attacks and threats and intimidation that has been imposed by Russia on Ukraine," Morrison tells reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

Ukrainians currently in Australia and with visas that expire by 30 June will have them extended by six months.

Claim that Russian troops are peacekeeping is nonsense, says Australia's PM

He's dismissive of Vladimir Putin's claim that he is sending troops to separatist areas for a peacekeeping mission.

The "suggestion they are peacekeeping is nonsense", he says.

He says he hopes that diplomatic efforts can avoid a violent confrontation and says he will be "in lock-step" with other countries in quickly putting in place sanctions on Russia.

"Russia should step back. It should unconditionally withdraw. It's unacceptable, it's unprovoked, it's unwarranted," he says.

     

Australia's border reopens to international visitors

The country imposed some of the world's strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid.

Australians and some others were allowed to return from late last year, but most foreigners have had to wait.

There were tearful reunions at Sydney Airport on Monday as hundreds of people began arriving on flights.

One young girl, Charlotte, shared an emotional hug with her grandfather. She told the local Nine Network: "I've missed him so much and I've looked forward to this trip for so long."

Simon Nellist: Sydney shark victim named locally as British man

A friend confirmed Simon Nellist died in the attack on Wednesday.

Police have not yet formally identified the victim and his family have not commented.

Australian authorities are still searching for the great white shark, with swimmers banned from the water and most city beaches shut after Wednesday's attack.

Mr Nellist - who was a diving instructor - was mauled by a great white shark just off Little Bay in east Sydney. He was a member of the city's Scuba Diving Social Club and a regular swimmer at the beach, BBC Sydney correspondent Shaimaa Khalil reports.

Swimmer dies in first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963

Emergency services were called to Little Bay beach near Malabar on Wednesday afternoon where human remains were found in the water, police say.

Authorities in the New South Wales state have not named the victim, and an investigation is under way.

Little Bay and several nearby beaches are now closed.

At the time of the attack at 16:30 local time (05:30 GMT) on Wednesday, there were dozens of people swimming, paddle boarding and fishing on the nearby rocks, according to Sky News Australia.