Australasia & Pacific Islands, June 15, 2021: Daily Developments

13 Developments Today
AUSTRALIA

1. Australia and the UK reached an in-principle agreement for a free trade deal between the two countries. The agreement was reached between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson. The two leaders met overnight in London. The trade deal is set to be the UK’s first major post-Brexit agreement.

2. More than 4,000 properties at Ipswich, Toowoomba and Mango Hill in Queensland lost power this morning when a storm hit the south-east of the state. Energex Spokesperson Justin Coomber said a power pole was struck by lightning at High Street in Brassall.

3. Residents in more than 20 Queensland suburbs are on high alert after COVID-19 fragments were detected in wastewater catchments over the past week. The Queensland Health said yesterday that sewage from four suburbs in Brisbane and 23 on the Sunshine Coast had tested positive to traces of the virus.

FIJI

4. Residents of Coral Coast protested yesterday against plans to open a COVID-19 quarantine facility in Sigatoka. They said that their community was currently COVID-19-free and that the facility would raise the risk of transmissions in the area.

NEW CALEDONIA

5. France’s new High Commissioner to New Caledonia Patrice Faure plans to meet Congress members from today to draw up an agenda in the lead-up to the next independence referendum. Faure, who assumed his duties on June 12, said he wants to develop a dialogue to help prepare the third and final referendum under the Noumea Accord on December 12. The meetings come amid a political stalemate which has left New Caledonia without a properly constituted government since early February.

NEW ZEALAND

6. Air New Zealand flights across much of the South Island, and into and out of New Plymouth, continue to be disrupted after heavy morning fog. Multiple arrivals and departures of Air New Zealand, Air Chathams, Jetstar and Sounds Air services were either delayed or cancelled to and from Christchurch Airport.

7. The Auckland chapter of the international youth climate action group School Strike 4 Climate has admitted it is racist and is disbanding itself. The group helped organize the annual school strikes which have become the largest mass climate protest movement in the country. However, Maori and Pacific people have also been saying for some time they have been marginalized and shut out of the movement.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

8. Police shot dead two of Tommy Baker’s gang members in a recent gun battle on the mountains of Gudugudu Babana in Milne Bay’s Alotau. This brings the number of Baker’s gangsters arrested or shot dead, since they attacked the police on April 30, to 45. The police also rescued a 13-year-old girl. The minor was abducted from Alia village, held captive and repeatedly raped by the gang members for about a week.

9. Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama has set September 1, 2025, as the tentative date for the declaration of independence for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. He told the House of Representatives that the Bougainville position had been tabled at the Kokopo consultation which detailed a five-year timeline from this year to 2025.

10. A mass eviction has been scheduled in three locations in the Moresby South electorate. The eviction of people in the Rabiagini Block, Sabama and Vandavada was set after several attacks on other residents of Moresby South and on Badili Police Station Commander Insp. Jerry Obert last week.

SAMOA

11. The police may step in over a contempt of court suit against caretaker Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. He is named alongside the speaker of parliament, the clerk of the legislative assembly and the attorney general for ignoring a Supreme Court order to convene parliament. In the motion, Tuila’epa is also accused of undermining the judiciary through disparaging comments.

SOLOMON ISLANDS

12. The Central Bank of Solomon Islands published a warning about a fake currency dubbed ‘Sol York’, which has no legal approval by the local authorities. According to the public alert, the central bank stated that no other legal currencies, aside from the Solomon Islands Dollar, have a legal endorsement within the nation.

VANUATU

13. Two government constitutional applications related to the political crisis will be heard by the Supreme Court this week. This came after meetings yesterday between lawyers of the government and the Speaker of Parliament, Gracia Shadrack, the two parties at odds in a political fracas that could unseat the administration of Prime Minister Bob Loughman. The court is to hear an urgent government application this afternoon to remove Shadrak as speaker of Parliament and to elect a new speaker. The other constitutional application is the government challenging the speaker’s decision that 19 Member of Parliament seats are vacant. The members claimed that the action of Shadrack was in breach of their constitutional rights.

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