MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo dies aged 46

Zonfrillo died in Melbourne on Sunday, MasterChef Australia confirmed on Monday afternoon.

"Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef family," a statement from the program said.

"Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son."

Ni-Vanuatu workers are putting Pacific values into practice in regional Australia through community service

So after moving to Stawell in 2020, Junior Issachar made a conscious effort to get involved with his new community.

"Our passion is to be a blessing … and put a smile on someone's face," he said. 

ABC Pacific reports Issachar is one of a growing number of workers from Vanuatu who have moved to the small town in regional Victoria under the federal government's Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

And when they are not working at the town's meatworks, they can often be found out in the community visiting the elderly and people living with disabilities.  

Australia to accelerate missile build-up as defence industry anxiously awaits review recommendations

The public version of the Albanese government's long-awaited Defence Strategic Review will confirm cuts to several projects such as new Army vehicles, while funding more immediate priorities that deliver "impactful projection" well beyond Australia.

An unclassified 110-page version of the "National Defence" document, prepared by former defence chief Angus Houston and former minister Stephen Smith, will be released on Monday, two months after being handed to the prime minister.

Princess Mary to make whirlwind trip back to Australia

The Danish royal family has released a statement on its official Instagram account confirming that Mary will visit Australia, Vanuatu and Fiji from April 23 to 28.

The visit is to “highlight the consequences of climate change in the Pacific region”, the English translation of the statement reads.

Princess Mary will spend time in Sydney on April 28, where she will participate in an event with Danish business representatives involved in “the green transition in Australia”.

She will also visit a number of projects related to construction and transport.

Melbourne overtakes Sydney as Australia's biggest city

Sydney has proudly held the title for more than 100 years.

But with populations rapidly growing on Melbourne's fringe, the city limits have been expanded to include the area of Melton.

The latest government figures, from June 2021, put Melbourne's population at 4,875,400 - 18,700 more than Sydney.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a city's "significant urban area", by including all connecting suburbs with more than 10,000 people.

Air Vanuatu flights continue to be disrupted

The airline's one international plane has been out of action awaiting parts, which have been sourced via partners in Asia.

RNZ Pacific reports Air Vanuatu has offered full re-ticketing and refund policies, and is scheduling staff to work over Easter to further assist customers.

It has apologised for the disruptions.


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Vanuatu Beach Volleyball team ready for Australian Championships

The team, which is accompanied by Vice President Debbie Masauvakalo, has arrived in Gold Coast Queensland ahead of the Championships that will start on Friday.

The Gold Coast will be hosting the best athletes at the 2023 Australian Beach Championships squaring off on iconic Coolangatta Beach this week.

The tournament seedings will be released today and the draws will be released on Thursday.


Australian shreds record for longest surf session

At the end, Blake Johnston was carried on the shoulders of friends up Cronulla beach in south Sydney, describing himself as "pretty cooked".

Johnston began surfing early on Thursday morning in aid of mental health awareness.

His effort has raised some A$335,000 (£185,000; $225,000) for charity.

With spotlights to illuminate a section of Cronulla's surf known as "The Alley", Johnston kept going overnight and had ridden over 700 waves by the end.

The previous record of 30 hours and 11 minutes was held by South African Josh Enslin.

AUKUS details unveiled: Australian nuclear submarine programme to cost up to $394.5 billion

The Australian government will take three, potentially second-hand Virginia-class submarines early next decade, pending the approval of the US Congress.

The nuclear submarine programme will cost up to A$368 billion (NZ$394.5b) over the next three decades.

There will also be an option to purchase another two under the landmark AUKUS defence and security pact, announced in San Diego on Tuesday morning.

Dozens of bushfires spread as heat grips Australia's east

After two years of rains and floods, a return to warmer conditions has sparked the country's worst fires since the 2019/2020 'Black Summer' season.

BBC reports a blaze 250km north-west of Sydney triggered the region's first emergency fire warning in two years.

Firefighters reported battling 10-15m high flames.

Residents in affected areas across New South Wales state - Australia's most populous - have been urged to evacuate, and there are reports of damage to some properties.