Oceania

Regional News • Oceania
One new COVID-19 case in Sydney after state 26 days virus-free
One new COVID-19 case in Sydney after state 26 days virus-free
Credit: unsplash.com / Road Trip with Raj

A hotel worker in Sydney has tested positive for coronavirus. She was employed by two hotels in Darling Harbour, one of which is a quarantine hotel for returned international travellers.

It is the first case of COVID-19 in the state for 26 days.

New South Wales Health is asking anyone who worked at the hotels on these dates to get tested and self-isolate.

It is unclear how other states will respond to the announcement, with New South Wales open to all states besides Western Australia, which was due to ease restrictions on the 8th of December.

Regional News • Oceania
Qantas lays off 2,000 more employees
Qantas lays off 2,000 more employees
Credit: Adam Moreira (AEMoreira042281) / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

All of Qantas' ground handling staff will be outsourced, laying off 2,000 employees to save the company more than $100 million a year.

Around 8,500 positions have been ditched by Qantas since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

The Transport Workers' Union criticized the move by Qantas, despite a bid by the 2,000 workers to keep their jobs.

“This is a dark day as Qantas management rejects a thorough and competitive bid by its highly skilled and dedicated workers to keep their own jobs,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

Regional News • Oceania
Records broken as heatwave sweeps Australia
Records broken as heatwave sweeps Australia
Credit: unsplash.com / April Pethybridge

Sydneysiders sweated through the past 24 hours - including last night, as the record was broken for hottest November night since 1967, staying above 25.4°C (77.2°F) all evening.

Temperatures yesterday reached 47.2°C (117°F) in Marree, South Australia. Every state across the country besides Tasmania passed 40°C (104°F).

Today, temperatures are forecast to reach up to 42°C (107.6°F) in parts of Sydney.

Regional News • Oceania
Victoria "eliminates" coronavirus after recording 28 days with no new cases
Victoria "eliminates" coronavirus after recording 28 days with no new cases
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Daniel Andrews

It has been 28 days since Victoria, Australia last recorded a local case of COVID-19 - classified by epidemiologists as the virus being eliminated.

"That is something all Victorians should be fundamentally proud of," said Premier Daniel Andrews, after the state's residents endured 112 days of lockdown.

The state also has no local cases currently.

At the peak of its second wave in August, Victoria was recording up to 687 cases a day.

Regional News • Oceania
Australian hostage Kylie Moore-Gilbert released from Iran prison
Australian hostage Kylie Moore-Gilbert released from Iran prison
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian who has been imprisoned in Iran for two years, has been freed.

She says she has nothing but love for the people of Iran.

Iranian authorities released Dr. Moore-Gilbert on Wednesday night in an alledged prisoner swap and is on her way back to Australia.

Regional News • Oceania
Queensland borders to open to NSW and Victoria from start of December
Queensland borders to open to NSW and Victoria from start of December
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland will open its borders to Victoria on December 1 after the state recorded 26 days with no new coronavirus cases, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today.

Ms Palaszczuk announced yesterday that Queensland would also open up to all of New South Wales on the same date.

No decision has been made about when Queensland will open borders to South Australia. Parts of the state were declared a hotspot following a coronavirus cluster outbreak last week.

Regional News • Oceania
South Australia to enter "circuit breaker" lockdown after coronavirus cluster grows
South Australia to enter "circuit breaker" lockdown after coronavirus cluster grows
Credit: unsplash.com / Marcus Wallis

South Australia will begin a six-day lockdown from midnight on Wednesday night to prevent the further spread of a coronavirus cluster.

It's set to be the harshest lockdown implemented anywhere in Australia, with the closure of schools, universities, cafes, pubs, takeaway shops and restaurants.

The cluster originated at a hotel quarantine, with a worker spreading the virus to family members.

There have been 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state after Australia had recorded over a week with no local cases.

Regional News • Oceania
Australia hits a week with no local COVID-19 cases
Australia hits a week with no local COVID-19 cases
Credit: unsplash.com / Dan Freeman

It has been seven days since Australia last recorded a local coronavirus case.

With the last recorded case originating in New South Wales a week ago, the country is on track to open most borders by Christmas.

Comparatively, it has been 224 days since the Northern Territory last had an active local case.

Regional News • Oceania
Expert evaluation: Australia could be COVID-free in weeks
Expert evaluation: Australia could be COVID-free in weeks
Credit: unsplash.com / Kate Trifo

Coronavirus could "die out" in Australia in weeks if New South Wales and Victoria continue with low infection numbers, experts believe.

Victoria has recorded eight days straight with no new cases, and all of New South Wales' recent infections have been tracked from known sources.

However, Australia had also managed to flatten the curve in May, before cases escalated again.

Regional News • Oceania
Government of New Zealand Sworn In
Government of New Zealand Sworn In
Credit: Foundations World Economic Forum / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The ministers of the new government for New Zealand and the now second-term prime minister Jacinda Ardern have been sworn in. During a ceremony at Wellington's Government House, they took their oaths of office in English and Maori.

Prime Minister Ardern stated that "There are significant challenges for us to overcome together, but I am confident we have the team to do it and it is great to be officially able to now crack on with it".

Regional News • Oceania
Nanaia Mahuta named New Zealand's first Indigenous female foreign minister
Nanaia Mahuta named New Zealand's first Indigenous female foreign minister
Credit: New Zealand Labour Party., / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Nanaia Mahuta will be New Zealand's foreign affairs minister, the first woman and the first Indigenous woman to take that job. Jacinda Ardern promoted Mahuta, who has served as the country's first female member of parliament to wear a moko kauae, a traditional tattoo on her chin, for the past four years.

"I'm privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space," so Mahuta.

"This is a cabinet and an executive that is based on merit that also happens to be incredibly diverse and I am proud of that," Ardern said Monday.

Regional News • Oceania
13-year-old attacked by shark off East Australian coast
13-year-old attacked by shark off East Australian coast
Credit: unsplash.com / Jack Bassingthwaighte

A 13-year-old boy has been bitten by a shark at Town Beach in Port Macquarie, off the New South Wales coast in Australia.

He was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital where he is currently in a stable condition.

Town Beach has been closed, after the fourth shark attack on the Mid North Coast since April.

Regional News • Oceania
Annastacia Palaszczuk retains leadership in Queensland election
Annastacia Palaszczuk
Annastacia Palaszczuk Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

Labour will retain a majority government in Queensland after Annastacia Palaszczuk claimed victory in the state election.

With votes currently counted, Labor will take at least 47 of the state's 93 seats. The party may claim as many as 51.

With the Greens taking 2 seats, the Liberal National Party may be left with as few as 35 seats, 3 fewer than it went into the election with.

Regional News • Oceania
Australia records zero local Coronavirus cases for the first time since June
Australia records zero local Coronavirus cases for the first time since June
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

With Victoria recording zero cases today, and the rest of the country reporting only cases from returned travellers, Australia has recorded no locally transmitted COVID-19 infections for the first time since the 9th of June 2020.

Health Minister Greg Hunt shared the good news at a press conference today.

Mr Hunt said the country was on track to open its international borders in time for Christmas.

Regional News • Oceania
NSW records five locally transmitted Covid-19 cases; 17 New Zealand travellers entered Melbourne despite state's lockdown

New South Wales reports seven new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, five of which were locally transmitted.

Premier Daniel Andrews expressed frustration with the Australian Border Force and Kingsford Smith Airport during a press conference over a technicality that allowed 17 travellers from New Zealand to enter Victoria despite the state's lockdown. The identity of the travellers has yet to be determined.

Regional News • Oceania
Jacinda Ardern's party scores a landslide win in New Zealand's election
Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern Credit: Nevada Halbert (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a second term after a landslide victory in the country's general election. Preliminary results show that Ardern's centre-left Labour Party has won 49% of the vote.

Saturday's result means the Labour Party is projected to win 64 out of 120 parliamentary seats, and be the first party in 24 years with a clear majority.

Regional News • Oceania
Legalizing of marijuana and euthanasia to be voted on in New Zealand
Legalizing of marijuana and euthanasia to be voted on in New Zealand
Credit: unsplash.com / Arnaud Jaegers

The citizens of New Zealand are set to vote on two social issues during the national elections that are set to happen on Sunday.

They can decide if recreational marijuana and euthanasia should be legalized in the country. Recent polls indicate that the outcome of the marijuana referendum remains uncertain while the euthanasia referendum is likely to pass.

Regional News • Oceania
Māori party wants to change New Zealand name to Aotearoa
New Zealand Maori rowing ceremonial coreography
New Zealand Maori rowing ceremonial coreography Credit: Jorge Royan (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

New Zealand's Māori Party stated Monday the country should be renamed "Aotearoa" by 2026, to better reflect the country's indigenous culture. Rawiri Waititi, a candidate Waiariki on next months' election was "a bold move towards making Te Reo Māori a language for all of Aotearoa".

Aotearoa means 'the land of white cloud' in the nation's indigenous language, also known as te reo.

Both English and Māori are official languages in New Zealand. The Maoris are the largest ethnic minatory, representing 16.5 per cent of the population.

Regional News • Oceania
Rio Tinto CEO resigns after the destruction of ancient aboriginal caves
Jean-Sébastien Jacques
Jean-Sébastien Jacques Credit: Rio Tinto

Jean-Sébastien Jacques has resigned as the CEO of Rio Tinto after the company destroyed a 46,000-year-old sacred aboriginal site in Australia. Jacques will leave once his successor is chosen or at the end of March 2021, whichever comes first.

The company also announced the departure of the head of the iron ore business, Chris Salisbury, and the group expand for corporate relations, Simone Niven.

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson released a statement saying: "We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again at a Rio Tinto operation."

Regional News • Oceania
Melbourne lockdown extended by two weeks
Empty Swanston Street during Friday morning, Melbourne
Empty Swanston Street during Friday morning, Melbourne Credit: Philip Mallis from Melbourne / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Despite dropping daily numbers of COVID-19 infections, Melbourne will remain in a "Stage 4" lockdown until at least September 28.

“I apologise for the circumstances we find ourselves in; I apologise for the reality we find ourselves in,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday. “Pretending it’s over because we want it to be, that is not something I will do.”

Regional News • Oceania
Not wearing a mask on public transport to be a finable offense in New Zealand
Not wearing a mask on public transport to be a finable offense in New Zealand
Credit: unsplash.com/Marco Testi

Starting Monday, face coverings will become compulsory on public transport in New Zealand. Offenders can be fined either NZ$300 infringement notice or up to NZ$1,000 imposed by a court.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said there will be an exemption for people with a disability or physical or mental condition and children under the age of 12.

Regional News • Oceania
Christchurch mosque terrorist sentenced to life without parole
Vigil after the Christchurch mosque shooting, March 2019
Vigil after the Christchurch mosque shooting, March 2019 Credit: Charles Edward Miller from Chicago, United States / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The Christchurch mosque gunman and far-right terrorist Brenton Tarrant has been sentenced to life without parole in a Christchurch court on Thursday. He pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism. Tarrant is the first person in New Zealand's history to be convicted of terrorism and to receive life with parole.

"As far as I am able to gauge you are empty of any empathy to your victims," said Justice Cameron Mander. "Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment."

On March 15, 2019, Tarrant opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 Muslim worshipers and injuring 40.

Regional News • Oceania
New Zealand moves elections over new Covid-19 cases
New Zealand moves elections over new Covid-19 cases
Credit: Paasikivi (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The general elections in New Zealand have been postponed from the 19 September to the 17 October. Reason are the new Covid-19 cases and the extended lockdown for Auckland and the higehr alert in the remaining country.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that "this decision gives all parties enough time for their election campaign over the next nine weeks and the Election Commission enough time to ensure that the election can take place".

Regional News • Oceania
Queensland bans gay conversion therapy
Queensland bans gay conversion therapy
Credit: unsplash.com / Yoav Hornung

State politicians in Queensland, Australia have voted to criminalize gay conversion therapy. People that attempt "to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity" can under the new legislation face up to 18 months in prison.

Queensland's health minister has stated that "Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment".

Regional News • Oceania
New Zealand investigates into packaging of frozen food for possible Covid-19 transmission
New Zealand investigates into packaging of frozen food for possible Covid-19 transmission
Credit: unsplash.com / Bodie Pyndus

New Zealand's director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has announced that the country is currently investigating the transmission of Covid-19 by freight. He stated that "we know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time" and that one member of the family of four that recently got infected works in a cool store in Auckland.

Surface testing for the store is currently underway to determine if it could be the possible source for the infections. Over the past weeks China has already reported that they found Covid-19 on the packaging of imported frozen seafood.

Regional News • Oceania
New Zealand reports first Covid-19 community transmission in 102 days, Auckland goes into lockdown
New Zealand reports first Covid-19 community transmission in 102 days, Auckland goes into lockdown
Credit: unsplash.com / Kirsten Drew

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has stated that four locally transmitted Covid-19 cases have been detected in Auckland. As the source of the transmission is currently unknown, Auckland has moved into alert level three. All residents have been asked to stay home from Wednesday on, bars, restaurants and other businesses will be closed.

The remaining country will move back to alert level two, meaning that social gatherings inside and outside will be limited and services such as bars and restaurants can only serve seated and with separation between the costumers.

Regional News • Oceania
Australia: Victoria reports 466 new Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths
Dan Andrews
Dan Andrews Credit: Video Reproduction

Victorian premier Andrews reported 466 new COVID cases in the state. The state's COVID death toll has risen to 278, among the 12 people who have died in the past 24 hours is also a man his 30s. According to Andrews, there are now an additional 130 cases with no known source and a total of 998 Victorian healthcare workers who have contracted the virus.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton reported that the state is experiencing "some stabilisation", averaging around 400-500 daily cases for a week. "If we hadn't stabilised these numbers, we would have seen thousands of cases per day, and there are estimates that we've averted 20,000 or more cases by virtue of the stage 3 restrictions [in July] - but that hasn't been enough," he added.

Regional News • Oceania
State of disaster declared in Victoria, Australia over new Covid-19 infections
State of disaster declared in Victoria, Australia over new Covid-19 infections
Credit: unsplash.com / Shi Min Teh

After 671 new infections had been reported on Sunday, the Australian state Victoria has declared a state of emergency. The capital city Melbourne has imposed a nightly curfew and stay at home order which will last at least six weeks. The curfew will be active from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day and enable people to only leave the house for work or to receive care from others and provide care for others.

Restaurants will be able to continue with takeaway and delivery services and supermarkets will stay open.

Regional News • Oceania
Poll: New Zealand Labour Party at record 60,9% approval rating before November election
PM Jacinda Ardern in 2017
PM Jacinda Ardern in 2017 Credit: Governor-General of New Zealand / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

The governing Labour Party lead by prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been polled at a record number of 60,9% approval according to the Newshub-Reid Research Poll. Jacinda Ardern herself stands currently at an approval rating of 62% to the question of the preferred prime minister with her contender Judith Collins from the National Party standing at only 14,6%.

During the past months, the approval ratings of the Labour party and Ardern herself have significantly improved which Ardern attributed to the governments' reaction to the pandemic: "I would like to think the message we can take from this is the general support for the government’s COVID-19 recovery and response plan".

New Zealand is set to hold the next election in November.

Regional News • Oceania
100+ schools & early childhood services close in Victoria, Australia reports highest daily COVID case count
100+ schools & early childhood services close in Victoria, Australia reports highest daily COVID case count
Credit: unsplash.com/Kate Trifo

As Victoria sees a record daily COVID number of 484 cases, the state has closed over 100 schools and early childhood services. New South Wales reported 16 cases, while Queensland and South Australia only saw one case each, bringing the total cases in Australia to 502 – making it the country's highest daily COVID case count since March 28.