Syndicated News from Australia
Fri, 06 Dec 2013 19:06:55 GMT
23 Reasons Life Is Better In AustraliaHuffington PostThere are more kangaroos than humans in Australia, which makes life more adorable. To deal with all those marsupials, experts have concocted kangaroo birth control and a national Kangaroo Management Plan. Another population control -- sniffle, tear, ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 03:36:59 GMT
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 08:16:54 GMT
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Sun, 08 Dec 2013 04:12:26 GMT
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 13:10:31 GMT
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 12:25:18 GMT
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 03:43:40 GMT
First Australian gay weddings held in capital cityUSA TODAYCANBERRA, Australia (AP) ? Gay and lesbian couples from around Australia joined in fragile marriages in Canberra on Saturday under the nation's beleaguered same-sex union laws that face a challenge in the courts within a week. The hastily-arranged ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 06:19:41 GMT
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 13:01:22 GMT
Spy bugs found in Australia and AsiaThe AgeAn Australian surveillance executive whose firm was contracted by several clients to sweep for hidden mobile interceptors and other spying devices in Australia and Asia has found dozens of them. Les Goldsmith, chief executive of ESD Group, told Fairfax ...and more »
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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for Australia
Monday, December 9th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Australia has extended the ratification deadline for the Timor Sea Treaty from Dec. 31 until February. The decision is another move by Canberra to force Dili to agree to Australia’s terms regarding gas developments in the Timor Sea. Australia loses nothing by waiting for East Timor to come around, but the smaller country stands to lose valuable development contracts as negotiations drag on. Until Dili agrees to Canberra’s terms, much of the natural gas in the Timor Sea will remain unexploited.
Australia is turning up the heat in negotiations with East Timor over ownership of natural gas deposits in the Timor Sea. In late November, Canberra extended its deadline for ratifying the Timor Sea Treaty from Dec. 31 until February.
Ownership of the Greater Sunrise gas field is the main point of disagreement between the two countries. Australia claims that 80 percent of the field lies within its maritime borders, but East Timor disputes Australia’s interpretation of maritime boundaries, saying it is entitled to more than 20 percent of the field. Dili also says negotiations over the Greater Sunrise field need not be concluded before Canberra signs the Timor Sea Treaty, but the Australian government takes a different view.
Australia is negotiating from a position of strength, and the deadline extension is a wily card to play. In addition to its claims for a bigger share of Greater Sunrise, Dili desperately needs the treaty to be signed before the end of the year in order to begin realizing revenue from the potentially lucrative Bayu-Undan gas field, which the two countries share.
Bayu-Undan lies inside the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) -- the resources of which are shared between Australia and East Timor. Production from the field could earn Dili some $3.5 billion over the next 20 years. With unemployment rates of 65 percent and money from the United Nations running out in 2004, the fledgling state urgently needs development of the gas field to get under way.
Timorese officials have indicated that supply contracts between ConocoPhillips, the leading developer of the Bayu-Undan field, and customers for the field’s gas will expire in early March if the Timor Sea Treaty is not ratified. This would cripple East Timor’s intended revenue mainstay and its attempts to become economically viable.
Australia, however, does not depend on the revenue from Bayu-Undan. The field is worth only a little more than $6 billion -- hardly enough to convince Canberra to grant East Timor concessions that would jumpstart production at the field. The Greater Sunrise field, however, is potentially worth as much as $40 billion, so Canberra is not likely to budge on its claim to those resources.Results Page:
Thursday, December 5th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
East Timorese leaders are raising the possibility that Indonesian-backed militias instigated riots this week in Dili. The violence exposed the weakness of the Timorese security forces and may leave Dili looking for outside security assistance. Australia is the obvious choice, but its involvement could stir up even more trouble with Indonesia.
East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta told Reuters Dec. 6 that "there are growing suspicions" about the involvement of Indonesia-backed militias in student demonstrations in Dili earlier this week. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, whose house was burned down in the violence, also blamed "outside influences" for triggering the riots which killed at least two students.
Setting the aside the question of whether Indonesian agents truly did instigate the violence, the use of deadly force by Timorese police exposed the unreadiness of the fledgling nation’s security forces to deal with civil disobedience. East Timor needs to develop its economy to become a viable state, and to do that it must ensure security and stability both for its own citizens and for potential foreign investors.
Dili is likely to look elsewhere for security assistance in the aftermath of the riots. Although the United Nations maintains a presence in East Timor, Australia is the likely candidate, especially given recent comments by Prime Minister John Howard about taking a more active role in Southeast Asia. But if East Timor turns closer to Australia, the three-way tensions between Dili, Canberra and Jakarta are only likely to grow worse.
Horta and Alkatiri are using Indonesia as a scapegoat for the inability of their own forces to control internal stability. By shifting blame for the riots away from Dili’s domestic economic troubles or the lack of proper training for the security forces, Timorese leaders are trying to reassure foreign businesses and investors that East Timor remains stable enough for investment.
But Jakarta has also been leveling accusations at its newly created neighbor, including picking up at least one Timorese security official in the past few weeks on suspicion of spying. The Indonesian government -- particularly under President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the military -- will never fully accept East Timor’s succession, and tensions between the two states remain high, though not spilling over into overt acts of aggression.
For Jakarta, East Timor’s survival as an independent state threatens the territorial integrity of the entire Republic of Indonesia, offering hope to numerous other separatist movements such as in Aceh. However, the instability and economic failings in East Timor, and the perpetual need for a U.N. presence there, leaves Jakarta with some hope that other provinces will refrain from breaking away.
This does not necessarily mean that the Indonesian government actively participated in this week’s demonstrations in Dili. The violence was just as likely the outgrowth of a weak and economically strapped social system in East Timor. Of course, Jakarta is by no means distraught by unrest in its former province.
But the involvement of Australia in the situation would trigger serious concern in Jakarta. Many Indonesian politicians still feel betrayed by Australia for abandoning an unwritten agreement to refrain from backing Timorese secessionism, and instead leading the first peacekeeping force into the breakaway province in 1999. And officials have long-worried that Australia is interested in slowly picking apart Indonesia for its own national interest.
Such concerns were certainly not eased when the Australian prime minister recently reiterated and modified his so-called Howard Doctrine, suggesting Australia had a natural, defensive right to launch pre-emptive attacks on suspected terrorists anywhere in Southeast Asia. This is simply a rephrasing, under the current context of the global war against terrorism, of his doctrine outlined three years ago that called for Australia to take a greater role in ensuring security and stability in the region.
If Dili does call on Canberra, or if Canberra determines it is in its own best interest to offer its services, relations between the three nations will take another turn for the worse.
Thursday, August 29th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The Australian foreign minister announced Aug. 29 that a key third term priority for Canberra is signing a free trade agreement with the United States. Although it would be a boost for bilateral economic and political relations, the biggest stumbling block -- agriculture -- will not be easily overcome, putting actual implementation of a deal far in the future.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced Aug. 29 that a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States has become a "key third-term priority" for his government. Support for a deal is growing on both sides of the Pacific, as it would greatly enhance economic and political cooperation between the two allies.
However, despite the fact that U.S. President George W. Bush recently received congressional approval for trade promotion authority -- giving him the power to negotiate trade deals that Congress cannot amend -- negotiations with Canberra will not proceed as quickly as they recently have with Singapore or Morocco. There are several obstacles in place that will prevent any deal from being finalized before 2005 or implemented before 2008.
An FTA between Canberra and Washington would invigorate an already robust and friendly relationship. Australia was one of the first states to commit forces to the U.S. war on terrorism, as well as to the campaign in Afghanistan. Australia also has accepted the role of America’s deputy in the region and of the southern anchor in Washington’s Asia-Pacific defense strategy. In addition, Canberra enjoys nearly unfettered access to U.S. military technology and intelligence.
A free trade deal is the next logical step for both sides. Ultimately, this could lead to Australia’s inclusion in North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, negotiations, especially since the United States is Canberra’s largest trading partner and Australia has a more free-market philosophy than, for instance, Europe. Total bilateral trade hit $17.4 billion last year, and the two states have steadily developed economic relations for decades, with across-the-board trade in areas such as agriculture, machinery, finance and services.
However, FTA negations will be contentious. The problem is that the United States cannot simply offer Australia a trade deal like it recently has for Morocco, which got such consideration mainly due to its status as an accommodating Middle Eastern ally. Australia’s economy is much bigger, more developed and more diverse than Morocco’s, and the implications that an FTA could have on the U.S. market will result in longer negotiations.
While the Australian-American relationship is very friendly, trade is one issue that creates considerable angst. Australians contend that U.S. agricultural subsidies are anti-competitive and limit their country’s ability to play a larger role in international agricultural markets. The Bush administration’s new farm subsidies, which roughly double outlays to U.S. farmers through the next six years, did not go down well in relatively subsidy-free Australia.
Canberra has not yet forgotten how the Clinton administration dumped surplus grain on Indonesia as "food aid" in 1998, -- even though famine was not a major threat at the time -- gouging what traditionally had been a captive market for Australia. Australia has one of the most efficient agriculture sectors in the world, and although the United States consumes a large amount of wheat, its subsidies largely shut off Canberra from this market.
The United States also has trade issues with its Pacific partner. Australia’s animal quarantine laws make it next to impossible to export livestock to the country, and its foreign ownership laws keep prime sectors such as telecommunications and aviation firmly out of the reach of American firms.
But although it represents an obstacle, both sides are working to resolve the agriculture dispute. The United States and Australia are strong supporters of a new round of World Trade Organization trade liberalization talks, of which agriculture will be perhaps the single biggest issue. Both countries hope that the talks will result in the European Union finally dismantling its outdated and inefficient Common Agricultural Policy, -- a $40 billion a year agricultural subsidy regime -- which would then allow the United States to drop its agricultural subsidies.
But this is hardly a quick process. Most movement in trade talks generally does not occur until the final weeks, and the scheduled completion date for a global WTO trade agreement isn’t until 2005. The fact that the U.S. subsidies will run for another 10 years unless amended puts any developing U.S.-Australian deal many years away from implementation. Singapore is close to finalizing an FTA with the United States very quickly, but that is because the city-state does not even have an agricultural sector.
The strong Australian-American friendship nearly ensures that a far-reaching deal will happen, but it will be a long time coming.
Tuesday, July 16th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
MELBOURNE, Australia-Gun-toting granny Ava Estelle, 81, was so kicked-off when two thugs raped her 18-year-old granddaughter that she racked the unsuspecting ex-cons down and shot off their testicles.
"The old lady spent a week hunting those men down and when she found them, she took revenge on them in her own special way," said Melbourne police investigator Evan Delp.
Then she took a taxi to the nearest police station, laid the gun on the
sergeant’s desk and told him as calm as could be: ’Those bastards will never rape anybody again, by God.’ Cops say convicted rapist and robber Davis Furth, 33, lost both his penis and his testicles when outraged Ava opened fire with a 9-mm pistol in the hotel room where he and former prison cellmate Stanley Thomas, 29, were holed up. The wrinkled avenger
also blew Thomas’ testicles to kingdom come, but doctors managed to save
his mangled penis, police said. The one guy, Thomas, didn’t lose his manhood, but the doctor I talked to said he won’t be using it the way he used to, Detective Delp told reporters. Both men are still in pretty bad shape, but I think they’re just happy to be alive after what they’ve been through. The Rambo Granny swung into
action August 21st after her granddaughter Debbie was carjacked and
raped in broad daylight by two knife-wielding creeps in a section of
town bordering on skid row.
"When I saw the look on my Debbie’s face that night in the hospital, I decided I was going to go out and get those bastards myself ’cause I figured the law would go easy on them," recalled the retired library worker. "And I wasn’t scared of them, either because I’ve got me a gun and I’ve been shootin’ all my life. And I wasn’t dumb enough to turn it
in when the law changed about owning one."
So, using a police artist’s sketch of the suspects and Debbie’s description of the sickos, tough-as-nails Ava spent seven days prowling the wino-infested neighborhood where the crime took place until she spotted the ill-fated rapists entering their flophouse hotel.
"I knew it was them the minute I saw ’em, but I shot a picture of ’em anyway and took it back to Debbie and she said sure as hell, it was them," the oldster recalled. "So I went back to that hotel and found their room and knocked on the door. And, the minute the big one, Furth,
opened the door, I shot ’em right square between the legs - right where it would really hurt ’em most, you know. Then I went in and shot the other one as he backed up pleading to me to spare him. Then I went down to the police station and turned myself in."
Now, baffled lawmen are trying to figure out exactly how to deal with the vigilante granny. "What she did was wrong and she broke the law. But it is difficult to throw an 81-year-old woman in prison," Detective Delp said, "especially when 3 million people in the city want to nominate her for sainthood and a medal."
Thursday, July 11th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Great Britain were given a painful lesson in basic rugby league skills as Australia handed the tourists a record Test defeat in Sydney.
The Kangaroos confirmed their status as the world’s dominant side in an embarassingly one-sided contest at the Aussie Stadium.
All the action as it happened
Captain Andrew Johns sparked an 11 try-rout, having a hand in eight of them and converting all but one for a 20-point personal haul.
There were also notable contributions from powerhouse prop Shane Webcke, replacement Willie Mason and full-back Darren Lockyer.
Tries: McKenna, Hill 2, Lockyer 2, Mason, Tallis, Timmins, Buderus, Tuqiri, Tahu
Cons: Johns 10
G Britain (10):
Tries: Pratt, Sinfield
But Great Britain contributed greatly to their own downfall, missing 27 tackles in the first-half alone as Australia were out of sight after half an hour.
The visitors’ capitulation surpassed their previous record 50-12 defeat by the Australians at Swinton in 1963.
And it followed a promising opening period in which they displayed tenacity in defence and a willingness to match the world champions in the physical exchanges.
Your say: What can Lions do to improve?
But when Australian stand-off Trent Barrett broke clear from deep inside his own half in the 13th minute, the danger signs were ominous.
That move failed to result in a try, but when the first from Chris McKenna came in the 18th minute, the floodgates opened to an alarming degree.
Five more followed in the next 20 minutes, with Australia exploiting the gaping holes in Britain’s defence at will.
A four-to-three overlap saw McKenna dive over in the right corner from a low pass from Scott Hill, who added the second swiftly afterwards as the Kangaroos swamped the blindside.
Johns converted both, and was at the heart of every Australian move with his penetrative range of passing constantly finding gaps.
A sublime dummy and sidestep baffled two would-be British tacklers as he broke away to send Lockyer over for the third after 25 minutes.
Four minutes later it was the bouffon-haired Mason who took an inside pass from Johns to barge over from close range, the captain converting again for a 24-0 lead.
Hill grabbed his second try from another short-side move before the formidable Gorden Tallis got in on the action just before half-time.
There was little respite for Great Britain after the interval, as centre Shaun Timmins barged through two half-hearted tackles within minutes of the resumption.
The visitors did manage to stage a mini fightback with two tries in as many minutes, but the revival was all too brief.
First Andy Farrell created space for debutant Karl Pratt to score in the left corner, before Britain’s best performer Paul Sculthorpe set up Kevin Sinfield.
But that only served to rouse Australia once more, as they reeled off four tries in seven minutes around the hour mark.
Webcke played a major part in three of them with decisive bursts as Buderus and wings Lote Tuqiri and Timana Tahu all made it onto the scoresheet.
The outstanding Lockyer then added a spectacular 11th try for the home side in the 66th minute after more naive defending allowed Johns the space to weave his magic.
Barrett was carried off with a knee injury eight minutes from time, and the Kangaroos eased off to spare any further British blushes.
Australia: Lockyer, Tuqiri, Timmins, McKenna, Tahu, Barrett, Johns, Webcke, Buderus, Ryles, Tallis, Simpson, Hill.
Replacements: Tate, Mason, Menzies, Stevens.
Great Britain: Radlinski, Johnson, Wellens, Senior, Pratt, Sculthorpe, Sheridan, O’Connor, Cunningham, McDermott, Peacock, Fielden, Farrell.
Replacements: Joynt, Gleeson, Newton, Sinfield.
Referee: Russell Smith (England)
Sunday, July 7th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The commanding officer of the Royal Navy destroyer which ran into rocks off the coast of Australia has described the moment of collision as "the worst feeling in the world".
Commander Richard Farrington said the crew of HMS Nottingham responded rapidly to the accident as water gushed aboard.
"It felt like a series of very heavy judders. I knew that we had collided with something," he said.
I had no idea it would be the world’s biggest rock
Commander Richard Farrington
"I prayed to God it was a container, or even God forbid a small boat or something. I had no idea it would be the world’s biggest rock.
"It is the worst feeling in the world.
"We have done some significant damage to a major British warship. This is not a good day for me."
The accident on Sunday happened in poor weather near Lord Howe Island, 300 miles north-east of Sydney in the Tasman Sea.
The 3,500-tonne ship is now at anchor while divers assess the damage and water is pumped out with the help of equipment provided by the Australian Defence Force.
Risk of sinking
The commander, who has been in charge of the ship for 18 months, said water began gushing into the ship and the swell beneath it created urgent problems.
"I remember running up to the bridge and there was white water on both sides, probably about 30 metres back from the bow and the ship was sitting up and dropping down on to the rock with a swell, there was a big swell."
The commander said his crew of 253 faced the difficulty of securing the vessel off the rock, but facing a high risk of sinking.
The surge of water under the ship made remaining atop the rocks impossible.
"At the right moment [we] came hard of stern, off she came without too much problem," he said.
But he added: "It was an interesting call as to whether to sit on the rock and know that we would not sink, or get off it and run the risk of sinking.
"My view is that if I had stayed on the rock she would have broken her back very quickly because the swell was big."
The vessel was on a routine trip from Cairns, in Queensland, north-east Australia, to Wellington, in New Zealand.
Commander David Heley, from the MoD said the vessel was in "good hands" with Commander Farrington.
"He is a cool, phlegmatic individual," he said.
"Obviously, this will be a major challenge but I have every reason to suspect he’ll handle this incident with great professionalism."
Friday, December 14th, 2001
: RCN Administrator
A man believed to be in his 30s was killed yesterday after detonating explosives strapped to his body near Lara railway station near Geelong.
Police were alerted after a Lara resident heard four explosions about 6.15am. The resident, a retired police sergeant, arrived at the scene near the station to find the man alive but in possession of more explosives.
Rural Ambulance Victoria senior operations officer Ian Crocos said the man died several hours after the first explosions.
Ambulance officers were unable to treat the man because of the threat of the explosives.
V/Line cancelled morning peak-hour trains on the Melbourne-Geelong line after police cordoned off the area near the station. West Coast Railway, which runs trains to Warrnambool, replaced trains with buses.
A V/Line spokesman said 14 buses were hired to take passengers from North Geelong to Spencer Street, but many of the 6000 Melbourne-bound commuters missed out. Services, which were disrupted at 6.30am, resumed four hours later.
The identity of the man has not been released.
People needing help can call Care Ring on 136 169 or Lifeline on 131 114 and 1300 651 251.
- with AAP
Thursday, December 13th, 2001
: RCN Administrator
David Hicks, the Australian captured with al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, will be handed over to United States forces by the Northern Alliance and interrogated by Australian authorities, the Federal Government said yesterday.
The government has vowed it will do everything possible to bring Hicks back to Australia for trial if it believes he is guilty of a criminal offence.
"Handover would take place within the next few days," Defence Minister Robert Hill said. "We are confident we will be able to get access for purposes of an interview. It was very difficult for us when he was with the Northern Alliance somewhere in northern Afghanistan."
ASIO and federal police agents are believed to be on standby to interrogate Hicks, and would be flown into Afghanistan from Pakistan or India.
There was no official confirmation of where Hicks would be held, but he is likely to be detained alongside captured American John Walker at the US Rhino base south of Kandahar. A prison has been built to hold and interrogate captured al Qaeda members at the base.
Senator Hill described the handover as a significant step. Interrogation of Hicks was vital as it could provide evidence of what offences he may have committed.
The government is considering charging Hicks with treason, which is punishable by life imprisonment, or participating in a foreign incursion, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
"We are concentrating on getting access to him as soon as possible," Senator Hill said. "If he is in breach of Australian law we would wish him to be prosecuted by Australian authorities."
Beginning the interrogation may "take a little time because a whole range of security clearances are necessary", he said. "Obviously there is a lot of complex legal work being done in the meantime."
The US has insisted that foreigners captured fighting with al Qaeda would be released to their own countries only if it was satisfied that they would be dealt with severely. If Hicks were to go before specially formed US military tribunals he could face execution or life imprisonment if connected to serious terrorism offences.
Senator Hill dismissed reports that Hicks had attempted to join the Australian Defence Force, saying there was no record of any application. He also denied claims that intelligence agencies were aware of Hicks before his capture.
Hicks had obviously converted to the most extreme form of Islam and "decided to progress his beliefs through violence", Senator Hill said.
In Adelaide, Hicks prayed at the Gilles Plains mosque. In the week of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States the mosque was the target of an arson attack. The South Australian president of the Islamic Society, Wali Hanifi, was concerned this week that anti-Muslim sentiment would be revived.
"It wasn’t for us to really make a judgment about David Hicks as a person," Mr Hanifi said. "He was a polite, respectful, serious young man."
Interviews with friends, relatives and co-workers this week portrayed a restless man with a taste for adventure. In 1994 he went to the isolated Barkly Tablelands, almost 1000 kilometres south-west of Darwin, where he was a rodeo rider and later a station hand.
In the early 1990s Hicks had fallen in love with a young Aboriginal girl, Jodie Sparrow, and they had two children, a girl, now 9, and a boy, 7.
But the relationship foundered after Hicks lost his job and his defacto’s father, Dennis Sparrow, said he preferred to go fishing. He redeemed himself partially by caring for his children, but over time the contact had been lost. Mr Sparrow said the break-up affected Hicks and he never got over Jodie.
Having failed as an amateur boxer, Hicks flirted with martial arts and became skilled with short bamboo sticks wielded at great speed. He was good at his job of carving up kangaroos and removing their offal
and was a passionate shark fisherman who wrote a fishing manual.
- with STEVE GIBBS
Thursday, November 29th, 2001
: RCN Administrator