Australia

NASA Earth Observatory

January typically brings cold weather to much of the mainland U.S. and some rain to Hawaii. But in the southern hemisphere, it’s summer time. And for much of Australia, the weather lately has included broiling heat waves.

Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

It’s a scary scenario for anyone who lives in a condo or apartment building: a crack in a wall that begins to spread. In Australia, the experience of residents in one building has now turned into an international story.

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Every travel destination uses marketing to reach an audience of potential visitors. That includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, as well as the government of Australia. But in the case of the land down under, there’s a bit of controversy about how some of that marketing money is being spent.

Normangerman / Wikimedia Commons

Australia has big plans for developing the business of space. The launching of satellites alone has become a multi-billion dollar operation around the world, and Australia wants a bigger piece of the market.

Petar Milošević / Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese technology company Huawei has been accused of fraud by the U.S. government – trying to get around trade sanctions on Iran. While the company was unfamiliar to many Americans until recently, it’s already had a controversial history with Australia.

Trosmisiek / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The list of places banning single-use plastic bags is growing. This week, Charleston, South Carolina joined 10 other state coastal communities in stopping their use. Next month, Boston will join the list. And in the Asia Pacific, recent developments about plastic in two countries are getting broader attention.

Wise Hok Wai Lum / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been a lot of focus on climate change this week. Part of that story involves coral reefs. And it’s not all bad news. There’s a project underway in Australia that could help restore reefs around the world.

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Ruling political parties in two countries suffered serious losses in local elections in the Asia Pacific over the weekend.

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Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne is in Beijing on an official visit that appears to mark a thaw in relations between the Asia-Pacific powers.

U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program / www.arm.gov

Yesterday, we reported that an election result in Australia over the weekend may have broken the deadlock on the transfer of at least some refugees held in notorious camps in Nauru, but now that compromise has run into snags. Meanwhile, a second set of migrants held on Manus Island lost a case in court.

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Over the weekend, voters in a parliamentary district outside Sydney handed the government a stinging defeat. The loss of the once safe seat will force some important changes in Canberra, including Australia’s controversial refugee policy.

Tom Reynolds / Flickr

What do you get when you combine American football, rugby, soccer, and a few other sports into one? A little game called Australian Rules Football. It’s one of the most popular, and rough, sports from the Land Down Under.

But the game isn’t confined to its native land. The US Australian Football League held its national finals in Wisconsin this past week and a Hawaii resident was on the championship team. He’s part of a local club trying to bring Aussie Rules to Hawaii.

Scott Morrison / Twitter (@ScottMorrisonMP)

As you may have heard, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said this week that he’s considering moving Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The controversial proposal may be more about the suburbs of Sydney than the Middle East.

craigsyd / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Authorities in New Zealand are trying a new tactic to better understand patterns of drug use in the country. They’re testing the water — waste water from sewers. It’s been done elsewhere, but for New Zealand this is a different approach.

sanjitbakshi / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

As you’ve heard on NPR this week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued dire warnings of extreme weather, rising sea levels, food shortages and climate migration unless urgent and unprecedented economic measures hold the average temperature rise under 1.5℃ – a goal many scientists believe is already out of reach. 

ABC (Australia) logo / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a dramatic week at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The public broadcaster is now under investigation following two high profile departures and allegations of improper government influence.

Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michelle R. Hammond / U.S. Navy

Over the summer, Australia moved to block the development of potential Chinese military facilities in Fiji and Vanuatu; now media reports say that Australia will build a naval base of its own in a Pacific Island nation.

Ryan Finnerty

This summer marked the 100th Anniversary of the first time American and Australian troops fought together on the battlefield. What began as an alliance of necessity in the trenches of Europe has evolved into a strategic partnership that spans the Indo-Pacific.

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Australia is still recovering from last month’s political crisis, where the Liberal party ousted Malcolm Turnbull as its leader – which meant he also lost his job as Prime Minister. It turns out, that one of his last acts in office, was to outmaneuver China on a military base in Fiji.

Wikipedia

Solar power continues to become a bigger part of the energy picture for Hawai‘i and for the country. Part of that growth is pushed by developments in technology—from advances in batteries to a different kind of progress now reported in Australia. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

apnear40 / Pixabay

The United States, Mexico, and Canada aren’t the only neighbors working on Free Trade Agreements. Just a few days after taking office, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will travel to Indonesia this week to announce what’s being described as an historic deal.

Gregory / Pexels

Immigration remains a hot button issue in many countries around the world, including Australia. Earlier this week, a little known law maker prompted outrage after he called for a “final solution” on Muslim immigration. Yes, he really did say “final solution”.

Brodie Miller / Pexels

Big infrastructure projects built with Chinese loans are rising across the Pacific – a new government office building in Tonga and Samoa’s new police academy, for example. But new statistics from an Australian think tank suggest that China’s overall role is smaller than thought.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Hawai‘i remains the state with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country. In Australia, the numbers are nearly as bad—and the situation is getting worse. It’s getting more attention right now because this is National Homelessness Week in Australia.

Australian Human Rights Commission / Flickr

In a speech last night, Australia’s Race Commissioner blasted the government and parts of the media. “There has never been a more exciting time to be a dog-whistling politician or race-baiting commentator in Australia.”

Keng Susumpow / Flickr

It’s been just over a month since customers at stores on O‘ahu started paying 15 cents for plastic bags. This week in Australia, one of the country’s leading grocery store chains reversed its policy on plastic bags — and environmentalists are angry.

Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff / Flickr

In Australia, the ruling Liberal National coalition took sobering losses in special parliamentary elections over the weekend. In today’s Pacific News Minute, Neal Conan considers the x-factor: Pie-gate.

Leo Hidalgo / Flickr

An Asia Pacific nation is facing international sanctions because of a policy decision. This doesn’t have anything to do with international trade, and it definitely has nothing to do with President Trump. But it does have to do with basketball.

Nick Kean / Flickr

It’s easy to confuse the flags of New Zealand and Australia. Both feature the British Union Jack and stars on a dark blue background. Now, in the latest eruption in a war of words between the two old allies, New Zealand’s acting Prime Minster said Australia had copied New Zealand’s flag, and ought to change it.

Henning Blatt / Wikimedia Commons

Australian media report that members of the Pacific Islands Forum will sign a new security pact at this year’s summit in September. A Chinese newspaper said that if the agreement is aimed at containing China, that would be a strategic mistake.

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