Australia

Vanuatu receives mobile crushers for road maintenance

 The ‘Red Rhinos’ are mobile crushers used to prepare high quality materials for small-scale road maintenance.

Australian High Commissioner, Sarah deZoeten, officially handed over the crushers to the Public Works Department team in Tanna with Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Bob Loughman Weibur, the Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jay Ngwele, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Ati and senior officials.

Australia offers further support to Vanuatu’s Covid-19 response and recovery

The new package includes Vt 730 million to subsidise tuition, exam and boarding fees for senior secondary school students, and subsidise boarding fees for secondary students.

According to the Australian High Commission, this will help to keep students in school and take pressure off family budgets.

High Commissioner, Sarah deZoeten announced the assistance to Prime Minister Bob Loughman Weibur in Tanna yesterday.

Tropical Cyclone Seroja makes landfall in Western Australia

The storm hit the Western Australian coast south of Kalbarri at 8.00pm AWST on Sunday as a category three system.

At 10.00pm AWST the storm weakened to a category two system as it continued moving inland.

Cyclone Seroja is travelling at around 55km/h and significant impacts are expected to extend south and inland through to Wheat Belt communities overnight.

The cyclone will weaken as it moves further inland today but is still likely to result in damaging wind gusts and heavy rain.

Travellers to Western Australia still required to quarantine

Western Australia plans to keep treating New Zealand arrivals like international travellers and enforcing mandatory quarantine - bursting some potential travellers' hopes of travel bubble bliss.

Among them is Moira Green, who launched straight into plans to see her two sons and granddaughter in Fremantle after the announcement of quarantine-free trans-Tasman trips on Tuesday.

Her travel agent broke the news she'd still have to spend two weeks and at least $2500 staying in government-run quarantine if she wanted to get to the state.

New reintegration programme for Vanuatu’s returned seasonal workers

The programme is jointly funded by the Governments of New Zealand and Australia and it is aimed at helping 37 budding entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground.

According to the High Commissioner, New Zealand’s support recognises that many returning RSE workers have skills, ideas, and capital to invest here in Vanuatu - for the good of the economy, their communities and families.

NZ, Australia travel no-quarantine bubble to start on 19 April - Ardern, Hipkins

The new settings will begin from 11.59pm on 18 April.

Ardern said the position New Zealand found itself in had still come at a cost.

Cabinet has been meeting today to decide the date the two-way quarantine-free travel will start. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised last month to announce on 6 April when the bubble could begin operating.

She today said airlines had not been given any forewarning about when a bubble with Australia would be opened.

Ardern had previously said the government had carefully worked through the framework of a trans-Tasman bubble.

Australia's Health Minister reassures public over AstraZeneca safety

Health authorities have said it is "likely" the vaccine is linked to a 44-year-old Melbourne man being hospitalised with blood clots, almost a fortnight after he received his injection.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia's medicine regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and an expert advisory group on vaccines maintain the AstraZeneca jab is safe - but are continuing to investigate the incident.

He said authorities had put the vaccine through rigorous testing before allowing its use across the country.

Workers from Vanuatu back on Bundaberg farms, but others risk deportation for absconding

Last month Vanuatu's High Commissioner to Australia revealed details about an employment dispute involving 51 workers who were no longer employed under the federal seasonal worker program (SWP).

It is understood many of them absconded from their employer in Bundaberg in September in search of better pay and work conditions and had been living in various backpacker hostels until recently.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment said some had rejoined the SWP with an approved employer based in Childers.

Australia falls 85% short of vaccine delivery goal

The 85% shortfall comes two days after Brisbane entered another snap lockdown to combat a small outbreak.

Last week the government said the vaccine rollout did not demand urgency given Australia's low infection rates.

The country has recorded 909 deaths and 29,300 cases since the pandemic began - far fewer than many other nations.

But sporadic outbreaks have led to six lockdowns in cities in recent months. Critics say situations like Brisbane's outbreak show why a quick vaccine programme is still needed.

Channel Nine cyber-attack disrupts live broadcasts in Australia

The broadcaster said it was unable to air several shows on Sunday, including Weekend Today.

Nine said it was investigating whether the hack was "criminal sabotage or the work of a foreign nation".

Australia's Parliament was also investigating a possible cyber-attack in Canberra on Sunday.

Assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie said access to IT and emails at Parliament House had been cut as a precaution. He said this was done in response to issues affecting an "external provider", without elaborating.