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What is the Indigenous voice to parliament and how would it work?
Future Directions Research Institute
New York Times Topics: Australia ;
BBC Australia country profile ;
Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

11-12 November
Australia: Neo-imperialist or climate change saviour?
By Cleo Paskal and Grant Newsham
Australia gets a remarkable set of rights from the Pacific island country of Tuvalu in exchange
for things it can mostly find a reason to not do if it wants.

(The Sunday Guardian) Australia and the Pacific island country of Tuvalu have entered into an agreement that seems to give Australia extensive and exclusive defence and security rights in Tuvalu. This includes the possibility of invoking “security” in ways that could give Australian companies competitive
advantage, and could even result in Australia vetoing activity by the U.S. military.
The Australia-Tuvalu Falepili Union treaty reads in part: “Tuvalu shall mutually agree with
Australia any partnership, arrangement or engagement with any other State or entity on security and defence-related matters. Such matters include but are not limited to defence, policing, border
protection, cyber security and critical infrastructure, including ports, telecommunications and
energy infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, 280 Tuvaluans, out of a population of around 12,000, get to migrate to Australia
each year (Tuvalu is a low-lying island nation with serious concerns about the effects of sea level
rise and the agreement is often being framed in the media as a benevolent Australia helping out
with climate change).
But the relocation comes with a catch. “To support the implementation of the pathway, Tuvalu
shall ensure that its immigration, passport, citizenship and border controls are robust and meet
international standards for integrity and security and are compatible with and ACCESSIBLE TO
Australia.” (Emphasis added.)

23 October
Australia Gender Bias Costs Economy $80 Billion, Taskforce Says
Report argues Australians need 52 weeks paid parental leave
Firms will be forced to reveal their gender pay gaps from 2024
(Bloomberg) Economic inequality between men and women is costing the Australian economy $80 billion a year, a government taskforce said in a report today. It showed that women who have at least one child earn $1.3 million less over their lifetime than male counterparts and recommended doubling state-funded paid parental leave to 52 weeks and encouraging men to use the system. “Gender equality is not just about women, it’s about creating communities where everyone is equal, everyone can prosper,” said taskforce chair Sam Mostyn.

21 October
After Bruising Vote, Indigenous Australians Say ‘Reconciliation Is Dead’
The rejection of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament is likely to lead to an irreversible shift in the nation’s relationship with its first peoples.
(NYT) The result of the referendum was decisive, and at the same time, divisive. It bruised Indigenous Australians who for decades had hoped that a conciliatory approach would help right the wrongs of the country’s colonial history. So, the nation’s leader made a plea.
“This moment of disagreement does not define us. And it will not divide us,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, visibly emotional, said this month, after voters in every state and territory except one rejected the constitutional referendum. “This is not the end for reconciliation.”
But that was a difficult proposition to accept for Indigenous leaders who saw the result as a vote for a tortured status quo in a country that is already far behind other colonized nations in reconciling with its first inhabitants.

Indigenous campaigners in Australia have spoken out to say that the result of the Oct. 14 constitutional referendum was a “shameful act.” Many of them had maintained a week of silence after the vote, flying Aboriginal flags at half-staff across the country. Proponents had pushed for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament that would create an advisory body in the constitution representing its most disadvantaged ethnic minority. Campaigners sent an open letter to federal lawmakers on Sunday calling the move “so appalling and mean-spirited as to be utterly unbelievable.” Many perceive that the defeat will only threaten to derail any further reconciliation

14 October
Australia rejects proposal to recognise Aboriginal people in constitution
Voice to parliament referendum fails in defeat that Indigenous advocates will see as a blow to progress towards reconciliation
(The Guardian) Saturday’s voice to parliament referendum failed, with the defeat clear shortly after polls closed.
To succeed, the yes campaign – advocating for the voice – needed to secure a double majority, meaning it needed both a majority of the national vote, as well as majorities in four of Australia’s six states.
While such an advisory body could have been created through legislation, the proposal was designed to enshrine its existence in the constitution so it could not be removed by future governments.
… Arguments against the proposal included that no such representative body was needed, that it was introducing race into the constitution, and that the voice would divide the nation.
Opposition also emerged from the far left of progressive politics and a minority of grassroots Indigenous activists, who rejected the voice while calling for more significant reconciliation measures, including a treaty with Aboriginal Australians.
Australian vote to give Indigenous peoples a voice to parliament fails
(WaPo) Australians voted against a constitutional amendment on Saturday that would have recognized the country’s Indigenous peoples and provided them with an advisory body, or “Voice,” to Parliament.
The result had been predicted by polls but nonetheless came as a crushing blow for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who saw the referendum as an opportunity for Australia to turn the page on its colonial and racist past.
The Voice, deliberately drafted as a “modest proposal,” would have advised Parliament on issues relating to Indigenous peoples, such as housing, health care and employment, but would not have had veto power.
Instead, the opposition appeared to have successfully stirred fears over the proposal’s consequences with the slogan “If you don’t know, vote no” and claims that it was divisive, as well as targeted social media posts that were sometimes misleading or false.

12 October
Will Australians back Indigenous referendum?
(GZEROmedia) Australians will vote on Saturday in a referendum on whether an Indigenous Voice to Parliament should be enshrined in the constitution. “The Voice,” as it has become known, would establish an advisory body to the government on issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Importantly, it would have no legal power to enforce its recommendations.
Background. Indigenous Australians, also known as the First Australians, include hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people  who have lived on what is now Australian territory for thousands of years. Currently, they make up about 3.8% of the country’s 26 million people.
For much of the first half of the twentieth century, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families as part of a government scheme to hasten the disappearance of Indigenous culture. These children, who were often placed in state-run institutions rife with abuse, became known as The Stolen Generation.
Since then, Indigenous Australians have been stuck in a cycle of poverty and are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates, currently making up 32% of the prison population.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, for his part, has been pushing hard for Aussies to vote “yes” in order to address historic wounds and improve living conditions for impoverished Indigenous communities.

29 August
A divided Australia will soon vote on the most significant referendum on Indigenous rights in 50 years
Sana Nakata, Principal Research Fellow, James Cook University
(The Conversation) Today, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced an October 14 date for a national referendum on whether to amend the Constitution to establish a new advisory body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Called the “Voice to Parliament”, the new body would provide advice and make representations to parliament and the government on any issues relating to First Nations people.
The Voice to Parliament has been toted as a vital step toward redressing Australia’s painful history of discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, has said it would also remedy a “long legacy” of failed policies on a variety of issues, from the over-representation of First Nations people in the prison system to poorer outcomes for First Nations people in health, employment and education.
The Voice represents a new approach. Initially proposed in a document called the Uluru Statement from the Heart following a First Nations constitutional convention in 2017, the Voice would be enshrined in the Constitution to ensure it would have a permanent presence and role in Australian government.
This is why a referendum is needed – and why this particular one has been so fiercely debated for years.

17 June
Australia’s volunteer ‘firies’ offer lessons on taming wildfires in Canada
Fire-prone Australia relies on mostly unpaid, local brigades to defend against disaster. Canada could look to them for lessons as climate change heats up

15 May
Australia ‘diminished’: Penny Wong’s frenetic mission to repair regional ties
Penny Wong, will have visited every member of the Pacific Island Forum and every member of Asean, except for Myanmar, in her first year in office.
Exclusive: As Wong marks one year in the job, the foreign affairs minister is determined to make a ‘clear statement of our priorities in the region’
Guardian Essential poll: Labor maintains large lead over Coalition despite budget failing to impress voters
Anthony Albanese records strong approval of his performance, but only about one-third of voters thought the budget would help families
In the wake of King Charles the third’s coronation, the poll also found majority support for Australia to become a republic, with 54% saying if there were a referendum on becoming a republic they would vote yes, against 46% who said they would vote no.
On the republic, the sample was split between those who were a hard yes (29%), hard no (27%), soft yes (25%) and soft no (20%).
Albanese recorded majority approval, with 54% of respondents approving of the job he is doing as prime minister, up three points, and 35% disapproving, down two, and 11% say they don’t know how he is faring.

12 May
How Indonesia and Australia view South Korea’s “everything, everywhere, all at once” Indo-Pacific strategy
Natalie Sambhi
South Korea now brands itself as a “Global Pivotal State that actively seeks out an agenda for cooperation and shapes discussions in the region and the wider world.” Its expanded vision is vast; … How might Indonesia and Australia view South Korea’s intentions to play a bigger role in the Indo-Pacific? For Jakarta and Canberra, who have divergent visions of the regional order, how does the new strategy fit into their respective approaches — and how do they fit into Seoul’s?
While Southeast Asia and ASEAN constitute important elements of Australia’s own Indo-Pacific vision, key for Canberra is the strategy’s strengthening of the South Korea-U.S. alliance at a time of heightened strategic anxiety about Taiwan’s future. The intent to deepen Australia-U.S.-South Korea cooperation in areas like supply chains, climate change, and allied security cooperation with Japan will provide further dividends for Australia through greater policy alignment, socialization between officials, and deepening of interoperability.
The strategy also expressly declares its desire to “gradually expand nodes of cooperation with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad),” first in areas such as infectious disease, climate change, and emerging technologies. The addition of South Korea’s financial and technical support in these areas will certainly be advantageous to Australia’s strategic interests while deepening a “security network” between Seoul, Canberra, Washington, New Delhi, and Tokyo.
Of specific interest to Canberra is the strategy’s intent to increase engagement with the Pacific Islands

24 April
These are the 10 points of tension Australia wants to reconcile with its defence strategic review
As global issues drive regional security concerns, the country also has to balance its defence priorities with domestic pressures

17 April
If you buy it, why can’t you fix it? Here’s why we still don’t have the ‘right to repair’
(The Conversation) When you buy a product, you expect to be able to repair it. The problem is, many modern products are designed so that you can’t fix them. Vital parts are inaccessible. Or you have to go through the manufacturer, which may well just give you a new one. The end result: millions of expensive products, from cars to phones to appliances, end up in the rubbish tip. At the most extreme, manufacturers actively prevent you from repairing their products at the local mechanics.
You can see why some manufacturers prefer the world to work like this. If you can’t repair your washing machine, you have to buy a new one. But it’s a hidden cost to all of us – and a huge source of avoidable waste.
That’s why many countries and jurisdictions are introducing laws enshrining your right to repair products. Last month, the EU passed a “right to repair” policy. In the United States, 26 states have proposed laws.
But Australia is dragging its heels.

15 March
Voice to parliament explainer: the outstanding issues, concerns, and what happens next
Direct contact with cabinet and officials is a crucial remaining questions for the referendum working group to finalise in Adelaide on Thursday
A group of Indigenous leaders will meet in Adelaide on Thursday to finalise advice to the government on the voice to parliament referendum, including what they want the constitutional amendment to say.
The voice referendum working group – which was set up by the government – will make recommendations on the referendum question that will be posed to Australia and the exact wording of the voice amendment.
Could a Donald Trump-shaped torpedo sink Australia’s $368bn Aukus submarine plans?
Daniel Hurst
Technical risks abound in multi-decade plan for Australia to obtain nuclear-powered submarines. There are plenty of political ones, too
What is the Aukus submarine deal and what does it mean? – the key facts
The four-phase plan has made nuclear arms control experts nervous … here’s why
Paul Keating labels Aukus submarine pact ‘worst deal in all history’ in attack on Albanese government
Former Labor PM blasts ‘incompetence’ of his party for backing nuclear submarine agreement with US and UK
Aukus: nuclear submarines deal will cost Australia up to $368bn
Australia is to embark on one of its most significant, expensive and geopolitically consequential military tasks in a century: the push to acquire, operate – and eventually build – nuclear-powered submarines.
The program is forecast to cost $268bn to $368bn between now and the mid 2050s, most of it beyond the first four-year budget period, and will depend on help from the US and the UK.
As part of the multidecade nuclear-powered submarine plan unveiled on Tuesday, Australian taxpayers will pour “substantial” funds into expanding American shipbuilding capacity, understood to be about $3bn in the first four years.
Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said Aukus plan marked “a new chapter” in the relationship between the three countries, as he joined the US president, Joe Biden, and the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, for the announcement in San Diego.


13 December
Australia, Vanuatu Signal Closer Security Ties Amid Ongoing Beijing Competition in the South Pacific
(Epoch Times) The CCP’s links to the region continue to trouble policymakers in Australia and the United States, with leaders stepping up diplomatic efforts to try to curb Beijing’s influence, including extensive aid donations, deployment of the U.S. Peace Corps, and building infrastructure.
In November, the Australian government even donated rifles and armoured vehicles to the Solomon Islands police force as part of its diplomatic offensive to win over the country’s leadership.
In April, Beijing and the Solomon Islands signed a security deal that would effectively allow the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to station troops, weapons, and naval ships in the region.
The move, however, has drawn criticism from Pacific expert Cleo Paskal who said there was little chance democratic allies could out-donate Beijing.
“Canberra is in an elite capture race with China that it will lose,” she previously told The Epoch Times.

21-22 November
Australia faces worsening extreme weather events latest BoM and CSIRO climate report finds
(The Guardian) Extreme weather events including torrential downpours, searing heat and dangerous bushfire conditions are all getting worse across Australia, with even more challenging events to come, according to the latest snapshot of the nation’s climate.
The continent is now 1.47C hotter than it was in 1910 and sea levels around the coastline are rising at an accelerating rate, according to the 2022 State of the Climate report, a series released every second year.
Many of the changes are being driven by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused mostly by the burning of fossil fuels.
Australia’s new approach was a rare positive at Cop27 – but now the need for action is all the more acute
Adam Morton
The Cop27 climate summit ended in a desperate and confused flurry more than 40 hours late with a qualified victory clutched from the jaws of complete failure, but with the big issues unresolved.
If this sounds familiar, like so many climate summits before it, well … yes. There were genuine developments over the past week, some of which could reshape the global response to the crisis. But there was also intransigence and blocking where it mattered most. Some of that is getting worse.
Here are five takeaways from the conference, including Australia’s role.

19 July
Australian animals at risk as environment worsens (video)
Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world’s richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released by the government on Tuesday (July 19) said. Olivia Chan reports.

23 May
Anthony Albanese in Tokyo for tense Quad talks after Joe Biden says US would defend Taiwan
Labor leader in tight position after China said dialogue with US, India and Japan would be test of new Australian prime minister’s ‘political wisdom’

20-21 May
Australia election: conservative government voted out after nearly a decade
Anthony Albanese’s Labor party defeats the ruling Coalition, but may lack the numbers to form majority government
(The Guardian) The biggest surprise of the night was the surge in support for the Greens. By Saturday evening, the party – which has struggled to win more than the one seat it first picked up more than a decade ago – was on track to win as many as three more, all in progressive areas of Brisbane.
Australia ousts conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison
(WaPo) Australia delivered a stinging defeat to the country’s ruling conservative coalition on Saturday in what amounted to a personal rebuke of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s abrasive brand of leadership.

8 May
Australia PM to ‘ensure’ no Chinese base on Solomon Islands
China’s growing clout in the Pacific has become a hot political issue in Australia ahead of May 21 elections.
(Al Jazeera) The China-Solomons deal has not been publicly released but a leaked draft alarmed countries in the region, particularly sections that would allow Chinese naval deployments to the Solomons, located less than 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Australia.

4 April
In Solomon Islands, Australia’s largesse faces China challenge
Canberra is facing questions about the limits of its economic diplomacy as Pacific neighbour boosts ties with Beijing.
(Al Jazeera) When the Solomon Islands, an impoverished nation located 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) east of Australia, announced the drafting of a new security deal with China late last month, Australian officials warned the move could undermine security in the South Pacific and manifest Canberra’s long-held fears of a Chinese military base in its back yard.
As the region’s largest aid donor – Australia last year spent a record 1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.3bn) in development assistance in the South Pacific, as well as billions more on security, health, logistics and telecommunications in the Solomon Islands – Canberra could have imposed economic penalties to pressure Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to rethink the deal.

16 January
Serbia’s Leader Denounces Australia’s Treatment of Djokovic as ‘Orwellian’
In the tennis star’s homeland, even those who didn’t support his decision to remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus said that he had been mistreated.

13 January
Australia’s stances on climate crisis and asylum seekers ‘backwards’, Human Rights Watch says
Human rights report slams Australian treatment of refugees as in previous years, and addresses climate for the first time
Australia’s “backwards” positions on global heating and asylum seekers are becoming increasingly unacceptable to the world, a leading human rights group says.
Human Rights Watch launched its annual world report on Thursday, again finding “serious human rights issues” in Australia, despite its overall record as a strong, multicultural democracy.
For the first time, Human Rights Watch focused on climate, an area where Australia was found particularly wanting. The report criticised Australia’s per capita emissions, among the worst in the globe, its huge exports of fossil fuels, and the tax breaks afforded to fossil fuel companies, which have increased 48% since the Paris agreement in 2015.
The report yet again slammed Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, including those transferred to Australia and detained in hotel rooms for extended periods, where “access to sunlight, space to exercise, and fresh air is limited”. The plight of asylum seekers was given recent global exposure by the short-term detention of tennis star Novak Djokovic.
Australia’s rates of Indigenous incarceration – accounting for 30% of all adult prisoners, despite making up just 3% of the general population – and the at least 11 deaths in custody last year were also condemned. The report included the shocking statistic that Indigenous children are 17 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous children, and criticised Australia for ignoring calls by 31 United Nations member states to raise the age of criminal responsibility to the internationally recommended minimum of 14.

6 January
Novak Djokovic: refugees hope tennis star’s hotel detention will cast light on their ‘torture’
‘We came for safety, not to play tennis’. Refugees and asylum seekers speak out against their harsh treatment
(The Guardian) Novak Djokovic’s wrangling with authorities over entering Australia has inadvertently highlighted a different plight: those of the refugees and asylum seekers stuck for months, and years, at the Park Hotel.
The infamous detention hotel in Carlton, Melbourne, where the tennis star is likely to spend the weekend as he awaits a court hearing over his visa cancellation has been described by detainees as a “torture cell”.


11 December
First Fires, Then Floods: Climate Extremes Batter Australia
By Damien Cave
(NYT) Life on the land has always been hard in Australia, but the past few years have delivered one extreme after another, demanding new levels of resilience and pointing to the rising costs of a warming planet….
The Black Summer bush fires of 2019 and 2020 were the worst in Australia’s recorded history. This year, many of the same areas that suffered through those epic blazes endured the wettest, coldest November since at least 1900. Hundreds of people, across several states, have been forced to evacuate. Many more, like Ms. Southwell, are stranded on floodplain islands with no way to leave except by boat or helicopter, possibly until after Christmas.
Many of the same areas that suffered through horrific bush fires in 2019 and 2020 are now dealing with prodigious rainfall that could leave some people stranded for weeks.
There’s a tendency to think of such extremes as “natural disasters” or “acts of God” that come and go with news reports. But Australia’s nightmares of nature ebb and flow. Its droughts and floods, though weather opposites, are driven by the same forces — some of them timeless, others newer and caused by humans.

Australia joins Beijing Winter Olympics diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses
Scott Morrison says athletes will compete in next year’s games because sport and politics should not mix
(The Guardian) Confirming the diplomatic boycott, Morrison raised human rights abuses in Xinjiang as one of the factors Australia had “consistently raised”. He said the Chinese government had not made itself available to talk through Australia’s concerns about human rights.

26-29 November
Cleo Paskal: Foreign Intervention Complicates Solomon Islands Unrest
The problem was sparked by perceived CCP interference. It can’t be solved by Australia taking a similarly heavy hand.
(The Diplomat) After days of unrest and looting in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, security personnel from Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) have now arrived, responding to a request to “secure” the country from Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare. More are scheduled to come, including from Fiji.
But even before the forces landed, there were concerns that the move was not only unnecessary but unwise, and possibly even dangerous.
…the political position of many in the Solomons is based on their sense of self. In this case, it means that, as devout Christians, their interpretation of their faith doesn’t allow them to deal with a system that they view as anti-faith. Communist China is viewed as actively persecuting people of faith and as “systemically atheist,” as per communist doctrine.
Taiwan, as a democracy, is viewed as part of a system that respects the faith of individuals, and so is fine.
That’s why a man like Malaita’s Premier Daniel Suidani is such a problem for the CCP and its proxies in the Solomons. His geopolitical position is a by-product of his deep faith. It’s not his stand on China that defines him, it’s his faith in God. And it’s because of his faith in God that he feels he has to stand up to China, no matter the personal cost.
So, when [Malaita’s Premier Daniel] Suidani  fell sick a year ago, and needed medical care outside the country, and the central government tried to make him bow to China in order to get the funds for his care, he said no. He effectively showed he’d rather die than take money from China. That kind of inner strength is exactly why the CCP is petrified of people of faith, and is trying to destroy Tibetan and Uyghur culture, both of which are strongly rooted in religious faith.
In the end, through friends as far away as India, and the personal intervention of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on compassionate grounds, Suidani made it to Taiwan for the medical care he needed. There was no financial assistance from Australia, New Zealand, or any of the other regional powers that send streams of consultants to the region to talk about democracy and fighting corruption.
Cleo Paskal: Solomon Islanders need freedom from PRC, not Australian troops
What we have is an expeditionary force seemingly acting at the behest of a despised local administration backed by a callous and rapacious foreign power. Beijing must be sitting back, munching on popcorn and enjoying the show.
(Sunday Guardian) Last week in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, demonstrations against the corrupt, CCP-linked Prime Minister Sogavare turned violent. At the request of Sogavare, Australia and Papua New Guinea have sent troops to “restore order”.
But in another part of the Solomons, less than two weeks before, locals were showing they could create the sort of peace that is truly durable.
Too bad no one outside the country noticed because how they did it holds the key for resolving the current crisis. And it doesn’t involve Australians. Or Chinese. Or even Papua New Guineans. It involves Solomon Islanders.
… a couple of weeks ago, in Malaita, they held a deeply important, open to all, reconciliation ceremony to heal the wounds left festering after the Malaita Massacre.
At the same gathering they unveiled a memorial to Maasina Ruru (roughly “rule of relationship of siblings together”), the multiethnic network that fought for independence from the British.
The current foreign power distorting local economics and politics is China. Again, there has been concern and pushback across the country about the effects of CCP influence.
In 2019, soon after the central government switched from Taiwan to China, the Malaita Provincial Government (MPG) issued the Auki Declaration which read: “MPG strongly resolves to put in place a Moratorium on Business Licenses to new investors connected directly or indirectly with the Chinese Communist Party.”
… The leaders and people of Malaita, through a deep understanding of each other—and under a shared canopy of respect and faith that leads them towards reconciliation—have been working towards healing wounds created almost a century ago by a callous and rapacious foreign power. They are strengthening themselves to face up to the next one, alongside their similarly concerned siblings in the rest of the country.
And this is the situation the Australians walked into —fully armed and ignoring the quarantines they’ve been saying are so important. It is possible few of the young soldiers on the streets on Honiara have ever heard of the Malaita Massacre. But you can be sure locals looking at them remember.
The only foreign engagement needed is the sort of thing that helps at a community level—humanitarian response, transparent and accountable investment, some sound journalism that helps clear up and dissuade corruption. That sort of thing.
The Australians will need to tread very carefully if they don’t want to create the sort of situation that will require Solomon Islanders to once again knit their country back together in a reconciliation ceremony a hundred years from now.
Solomon Islands violence recedes but not underlying tension
(AP) — Violence receded Friday in the capital of the Solomon Islands, but the government showed no signs of addressing the underlying grievances that sparked two days of riots, including concerns about the country’s increasing links with China.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare sought to deflect attention from domestic issues by blaming outside interference for stirring up the protesters, with a thinly veiled reference to Taiwan and the United States.
External pressures were a “very big … influence. I don’t want to name names. We’ll leave it there,” Sogavare said.
Honiara’s Chinatown and its downtown precinct were focuses of rioters, looters and protesters who demanded the resignation of Sogavare, who has been prime minister intermittently since 2000.
Sogavare has been widely criticized by leaders of the country’s most populous island of Malaita for a 2019 decision to drop diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of mainland China. His government, meanwhile, has been upset over millions in U.S. aid promised directly to Malaita, rather than through the central government.

24 November
AUKUS’ Reception in the Indo-Pacific
Shihoko Goto, Manjari Chatterjee Miller, and Susannah Patton discuss the implications of AUKUS for countries in the region.
(The Diplomat) AUKUS adds to growing array of minilateral arrangements in Asia today and has drawn a variety of reactions from across the region, ranging from wary to enthusiastic. What are the regional sensitivities around AUKUS? What does AUKUS mean for Australia’s broader regional role? How will AUKUS contribute to regional debates on a security architecture? In this webinar, recorded on November 17, 2021 three experts from the region discuss these and other questions.

28 September
World’s biggest clean energy project to power Singapore from Australia
A colossal US$22-billion infrastructure project will send Australian sunshine more than 3,100 miles (5,000 km) to Singapore, via high-voltage undersea cables. Opening in 2027, it’ll be the largest solar farm and battery storage facility in history.
Australia’s Northern Territory has abundant space and sun; Singapore is pressed for space, and looking to transition to renewable power. The two could soon be connected in one of the largest and most ambitious renewable energy projects ever attempted.
The Australia-Asia PowerLink project, led by Australia’s Sun Cable, plans to create a mammoth “Powell Creek Solar Precinct” on 12,000 hectares (29650 ac) of arid land about 800 km (500 miles) south of Darwin. The site, chosen because it’s one of the most consistently sunny places on Earth, would be home to a mind-boggling 17-20 gigawatts of peak solar power generation and some 36-42 GWh of battery storage.

23 September
Does AUKUS Augment or Diminish the Quad?
AUKUS fits into a growing network of minilaterials crisscrossing the Indo-Pacific and rooted in shared strategic interests.
(The Diplomat) The newly created trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) has become instantly, probably understandably, controversial across the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines clearly adds to the heft of Australia in terms of its naval deterrent capabilities against China’s growing naval power, which has been on aggressive display for the last few years, though it will take some time for Australia to deploy those new capabilities. More importantly, it also adds to a further strengthening of other minilaterals in the Indo-Pacific including the Quad involving Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.
in reality, AUKUS is both relevant and important in the context of the Quad for a couple of reasons. The three leaders themselves, while announcing the trilateral security partnership, emphasized the importance of ongoing partnerships such as with ASEAN, the Quad, and other Indo-Pacific partners including from Europe, including France, which has a direct material stake in the Indo-Pacific. Just as the Quad has a shared vision of ensuring a region that respects freedom and the rule of law, AUKUS is also founded on a similar vision.

18-21 September
Australian documents showed French submarine project was at risk for years
(Reuters) – France should not have been surprised that Australia cancelled a submarine contract, as major concerns about delays, cost overruns and suitability had been aired officially and publicly for years, Australian politicians said.
Paris has recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington, saying it was blindsided by Canberra’s decision to build nuclear-powered submarines with the United States and Britain rather than stick with its contract for French diesel submarines. read more
Yet as early as September 2018, an independent oversight board led by a former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter had advised Australia to look at alternatives, and questioned whether the project was in the national interest, a 2020 public report from the country’s Auditor-General shows.
Australia defends scrapping of French submarine deal, Macron and Biden to talk
(Reuters) – Australia on Sunday defended its decision to ditch a multi-billion-dollar order for French submarines and opt instead for an alternative deal with the United States and Britain, saying it had flagged its concerns to Paris months ago.
Canberra’s move enraged Paris, triggering an unprecedented diplomatic crisis that analysts say could do lasting damage to U.S. alliances with France and Europe. It has also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Cleo Paskal: AUKUS is a big deal, for everyone
The newly announced Australia, United Kingdom, United States defence and security partnership is about more than just the nuclear submarine fleet that the US and the UK will now help Australia to develop.
It will extend to deeper and broader cooperation in air, ordinance, AI, cyber, submarine cables and more. This is important as the Australian subs themselves may not be ready until 2040.
At the same time, the US and Australia announced a range of bilateral agreements. Prime Minister Scott Morrison saidAustralia will “rapidly acquire long-range strike capabilities to enhance the ADF’s ability to deliver strike effects across our air, land and maritime domains”. This will include Tomahawk cruise missiles “enabling our maritime assets to strike land targets at greater distances, with better precision”.

18 April
Canberra’s tired old script has led to a less democratic Solomon Islands and a less secure Australia
Celsus Irokwato Talifilu
In the absence of a realistic and clear-eyed strategy, Australia is again trying to buy leverage with the corrupt central elite
(The Guardian) China must be hoping that Australia persists in its “business as usual” approach to Solomon Islands.
An appeasement policy by Australia towards the Solomons prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has been outstandingly successful for Beijing over the past few years, and the CCP’s muscular actions in the South Pacific in the last six months seem to anticipate that it will continue.

12 April
Michael Mann slams Murdoch press for “horrifying” misinformation on climate and bushfires
One of the world’s leading climate scientists has told a senate hearing into Australian media diversity that the Murdoch press has served as a “megaphone” for climate disinformation and has done so to aid the agendas of Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. … The senate committee is investigating the current state of media diversity in Australia generally, but has given significant attention to the dominant role of News Corp outlets in some segments of the media and how it as used this dominance for influence.
Ex-Australian PM: Murdoch and Trump Did Putin’s Job For Him

9 March
Australia’s Ex-PM Turnbull Renews Calls To Sever Ties With British Monarchy Following Meghan-Harry Interview
(Forbes) A referendum on Australia becoming a republic was defeated in 1999, despite being favored in opinion polls. The 1999 referendum, however, only proposed to replace the British monarch with another figurehead with limited powers, instead of a president with executive powers.

25 February
Australia passes law to make Google, Facebook pay for news
(AP) — Australia’s law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news is ready to take effect, though the laws’ architect said it will take time for the digital giants to strike media deals.
The Parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called News Media Bargaining Code agreed between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.
In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news.
Rod Sims, the competition regulator who drafted the code, said he was happy that the amended legislation would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and the two gateways to the internet.
The legislation was designed to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer.
Facebook last week prevented Australians from sharing news, but also blocked access to pandemic, public health and emergency services.
Australian scientists warn urgent action needed to save 19 ‘collapsing’ ecosystems
A ‘confronting and sobering’ report details degradation of coral reefs, outback deserts, tropical savanna, Murray-Darling waterways, mangroves and forests
(The Guardian) A groundbreaking report – the result of work by 38 scientists from 29 universities and government agencies – details the degradation of coral reefs, arid outback deserts, tropical savanna, the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin, mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and forests stretching from the rainforests of the far north to Gondwana-era conifers in Tasmania.
The list of damaged ecosystems extends beyond the continent to include subantarctic tundra of world heritage-listed Macquarie Island and moss beds in the east Antarctic.
The study’s lead author, Dr Dana Bergstrom from the Australian Antarctic Division, said 19 out of 20 ecosystems examined were experiencing potentially irreversible environmental changes, including the loss of species and the ability to perform important functions such as pollination.

19 February
Australia’s ABC News shot to the top of the App Store charts following Facebook’s news ban
(The Verge) Facebook’s ban was in response to an expansive Australian regulatory measure that will force tech platforms to pay Australian media companies for the content users share (and that platforms earn ad revenue from). Facebook took issue with the change and prohibited Australian news and media organizations from sharing news posts, and Australian users from seeing news from international sources as well. The ban also seemed to accidentally wipe out the posts from government pages and some other sites.

10 February
A Chinese City on Australia’s Northern Border?
Plans for the city on the PNG Torres Strait island of Daru are unlikely to come to fruition. It does, however, underscore ongoing interest from China for infrastructure projects in PNG and Australia’s political concerns.
(Future Directions) Reports on a leaked document detailing a proposal to build “New Daru City” on the Papua New Guinean Torres Strait island of Daru, circulated across Australian media on 5 February. The proposal was put forward in April 2020 by WYW Holding Ltd. (WYW), a private company registered in Hong Kong. A spokesman for Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, however, told media that the Prime Minister was unaware of the proposal while adding that PNG would welcome multi-billion-dollar foreign investment projects, as long as they comply with PNG laws and bring benefits to the local populace.
While the New Daru City Project looks unlikely to go ahead, its proposal does highlight ongoing strategic concerns for Australia. Such concerns were already raised in December 2020 when the PNG Government agreed for China to undertake a feasibility study to build an industrial fisheries complex on Daru Island. Sitting atop the Torres Strait and within 200 kilometres of the Australian mainland, there are concerns that Beijing’s interest for infrastructure projects on that island are more geopolitical than economic, especially if those projects were to include any kind of port facility.

9 February
Why Australia’s ‘world-class’ quarantine system has seen breaches
(BBC) Australia’s hotel quarantine system has been an extremely effective first line of defence against Covid-19. … But a series of isolated local cases in recent months – all from hotel quarantine leaks – have caused alarm.

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