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.”
The government of Vanuatu says that evacuation of Ambae Island will begin this week. The compulsory evacuation order was issued late last week as ash from the eruption of the Manaro volcano buried houses, killed crops and polluted water supplies.
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.
Worldwide interest in the eruption of Kīlauea remains high, as lava flows continue to destroy buildings and reshape Hawaiʻi Island. Less attention is focused on Ambae Island in Vanuatu, where the Manaro volcano has been erupting on and off for more than ten months.
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.
Earlier this year, Hawaiʻi joined the Polynesian Leaders Group, a sub-regional organization in the Pacific modeled on the Melanesian Spearhead Group. But the MSG is having its problems and the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu now says the organization is failing.
You’ve probably heard about Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, a fungal disease that threatens an iconic tree species here in Hawaii. But another fungal disease is threatening the majestic kauri trees of New Zealand.
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.
The diplomatic rivalry between China and Australia has stepped up in recent days. The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea just made a state visit to Beijing, while the leaders of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu went to Canberra. China’s also taken over some former Australian territory. . . on the radio.
Australia’s main political parties have reached agreement on the controversial Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill, which, when it passes, will further cool Australia’s already frosty relations with China.
Here in Hawaii, the noxious gas belching from the eruption of Kilauea continues to be a major concern. In New Zealand, the belches of sheep are a major problem, and scientists there have developed a new breed that burps less.
As you’ve probably heard over the last few weeks, Chinese phone giant ZTE is caught up in controversial negotiations as part of President Trump’s on-again off-again trade war with China. This week, an Australian news agency reports that ZTE bribed the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to win a contract back in 2010.
This week, we got updates on the loss of two Malaysia Airlines jets four years ago. One disappeared on a flight to Beijing, the other was shot down over Ukraine. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.