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New Zealand Assures Australia There Is No Rift Over China

New Zealand Assures Australia There Is No Rift Over China

SYDNEY – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has insisted relations with close ally Australia are not going to be negatively impacted by China. The Ardern government has been accused of going soft on Beijing in order to profit from better trade relations with the East Asian nation.

Ardern has also been holding annual talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to discuss trade, security and the challenges linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the New Zealand skiing and adventure sports resort of Queenstown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, have downplayed signs of division over relations with China.

Earlier this year, New Zealand said it was “uncomfortable” using the 70-year-old Five Eyes intelligence grouping, which includes the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, to criticize China. That was widely interpreted as an attempt by Wellington to avoid damaging its lucrative trading relationship with Beijing.

A television news documentary accused New Zealand of abandoning Australia “for a fast Chinese buck.”

New Zealand was reluctant to sign joint statements from its alliance partners condemning China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and its treatment of its minority Uyghur Muslim population. The declarations have angered China’s government.

But after annual talks Monday with the Australian prime minister, Ardern said she stood in solidarity with her trans-Tasman neighbor.

“At no point in our discussions today did I detect any difference in our relative positions on the importance of maintaining a very strong and principled perspective on issues around trade, on issues around human rights, and you will see that Australia and New Zealand have broadly been positioned in exactly the same place on these issues consistently. So, I really push back on any suggestion that we are not taking a strong stance on these incredibly important issues,” Ardern said.

New Zealand has also indicated it will support Australia in its ongoing trade dispute with China. Tensions between Canberra and Beijing have increased in recent years over geopolitical disputes and allegations of Chinese interference in Australian politics. Canberra’s call for a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late 2019, sent the relationship into a tailspin, resulting in sweeping Chinese tariffs on many Australian exports, including wine, barley and coal.

Morrison said his country’s relationship with New Zealand remained strong.

“As great partners, friends, allies and indeed family, there will be those far from here who would seek to divide us, and they will not succeed,» Morrison said.

There are, however, areas of disagreement.

Canberra’s controversial deportation of New Zealanders convicted of crimes, including children, has strained the two countries’ relationship. A senior Australian minister compared the policy to “taking the trash out.” In response, New Zealand officials said practice was «deplorable» and that the minister’s inflammatory remarks served only to «trash his reputation.»

Both countries also discussed how to ease tough COVID-19 border controls to eventually reconnect with the rest of the world.

In a joint statement, Ardern and Morrison urged China to respect human rights in Hong Kong and criticized its incarceration of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

In response, China said that Australian and New Zealand leaders had made “irresponsible remarks” on its internal affairs and made groundless accusations against Beijing.

China has been a subject of global condemnation over the treatment of a million Muslim Uyghurs held in internment camps, including a U.S. classification of Chinese policies toward Uyghurs as ‘genocide.’

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La justicia de Samoa abre la puerta a la primera mujer al frente del Gobierno

La justicia de Samoa abre la puerta a la primera mujer al frente del Gobierno

La decisión judicial pone fin a una crisis política en uno de los países más estables de una región acostumbrada a conflictos y golpes militares

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Australia: Armed with a bright green beetle, these Darwin children are weeding out a serious ecological threat

Armed with a bright green beetle, these Darwin children are weeding out a serious ecological threat

Budding young entrepreneurs Jack Barker and his sister Kelly have come up with a unique plan to tackle the spread of one of northern Australia’s most serious weeds — and make some money while doing it.

During the school holidays, the pair from Darwin’s rural area collected a bright green beetle that can be found lurking along the stems of the spinyhead sida, a weed introduced into Australia last century.

«I have always been dreaming of starting my own business,» Jack, 12 years old, said.

«I didn’t know that these bugs were worth $2 each.»

Jack and his 10 year-old sister have sold 150 beetles to neighbouring land owners who are battling to control the 1.5 metre sida plants, which grow rapidly during the Top End wet season.

The beetle is a native of north America called Calligrapha.

Experts from the CSIRO and NT government agencies discovered in the 1980s it was the weapon they needed to contain the spread of sida in the Territory.

Since 1989, the beetle has been released in hundreds of locations across the Top End under a biological control program.

The sida does not have a natural predator and it tends to quickly dominate native plants, preventing livestock, which do not eat it, from grazing on grass.

Jack Barker and beetle

Chinese prospectors who used its tough stems to make brooms are thought to have brought it to the Territory in the early 1900s.

Today, the invasive plant is common in the Darwin, Katherine, Gulf and Victoria River regions.

«Anywhere where you have cattle or horses, it’s really common,» Michelle Franklin from the NT government’s weed management branch said.

Jack said he and Kelly put their collected beetles in 50-batch containers and sold them for $100.

He said the beetles quickly got to work once they were released.

«After a few weeks, you can actually see the stick of the old sida plant,» he said.

Jack Barker and Sally Isberg

Jack Barker, pictured with his mother Sally Isberg, shows some sida that Calligrapha beetles have been eating.(ABC News: Peter Lacey


According to the government’s weed management branch, the beetle reduces sida density from 22 plants per square metre to six over a year in some areas.

Jack and Kelly’s mother, Sally Isberg, said she was proud her children were selling and farming beetles and improving the environment.

«We have actually noticed the beetle population completely decimated our sida weeds crop, which means we haven’t had to spray with chemicals and that’s just a fantastic solution,» she said.

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Australia: Unplaced Western Cape pupils caught in middle of MEC and activists spat

Unplaced Western Cape pupils caught in middle of MEC and activists spat

Cape Town – Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) dismissed claims by the Education MEC Debbie Schäfer that they were unwilling to help resolve the school admissions crisis.

The groups said Schäfer must fulfil her responsibility to develop long-term solutions to the yearly admissions crisis instead of making false claims about them.

In a statement, the groups said last week, Schäfer claimed that EE had not provided the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) with “any verifiable data” on the number of pupils in the province who had not yet been enrolled at schools.

“This is most unfortunate as we (the WCED) had hoped to have assistance in this regard,” she said.

EE and the EELC said they wanted to put it on record that Schäfer’s comments were false.

«At the start of every year, there are thousands of learners who are unplaced at schools in the Western Cape, and in anticipation of this we wrote to Schäfer on October 23, 2020, to raise our concerns and to ask about the WCED’s plans for the placement of learners for 2021.»

They said their two organisations stressed the need for the WCED to develop well-thought through, clear plans to address the yearly crisis, and that Schäfer’s response to their letter was dismissive and did not provide a plan.

Schäfer said the list provided by the EELC contained no ID numbers or Centralised Educational Management Information System (Cemis) numbers, and in one instance, not even the surname was provided.

She said no phone numbers were provided for the parents of 10 of the pupils, preventing the department from accessing the required information to place pupils.

«There are further concerns – a 30-year-old ‘learner’ appears on the list, for whom the parents allegedly applied to a primary school. A 6-year-old is listed as needing a place in Grade 5. One child is 4 years old – not even of school-going age,» said Schäfer.

She said most tellingly, for 28 learners, the parents stated that they never applied for a school, and for a further 14 pupils, they did not respond to the question as to whether and where they had applied

«It is not clear how a learner can be unplaced if they have not even applied for a place in a school. Yet EELC claims they are unplaced,» she said.

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Manifestación contra la violencia sexual en Australia

Manifestación contra la violencia sexual en Australia

Miles de australianos manifestaron el domingo en Perth contra la violencia sexual que afecta a las mujeres, primera movilización de una campaña nacional para reivindicar una ley de igualdad de género, en momentos en que Australia se ve sacudida por acusaciones de violación contra responsables políticos.

El lunes, más de 40 manifestaciones serán organizadas en todo el país, en particular delante del Parlamento en Camberra, donde recientemente hubo acusaciones de agresiones sexuales.

En febrero, una ex colaboradora del gobierno, Brittany Higgins, afirmó que había sido violada por un colega en la oficina de la ministra de Defensa, Linda Reynolds, poco meses antes de las elecciones legislativas de 2019.

En su momento, Reynolds acusó a su excolaborada de mentirosa, pero recientemente se disculpó.

El Attorney-general (principal consejero jurídico del gobierno), Christian Porter reveló que se lo acusaba de violación de una adolescente de 16 años en 1988, acusación que rechazó categóricamente.

Según los medios de prensa, la víctima de esa violación se suicidó en junio pasado.

Ante la creciente presión de la opinión pública, el primer ministro Scott Morrison anunció que va a recibir a una delegación del movimiento.

“Actualmente, la cuestión de las violencia contra las mujeres continúa siendo una gran prioridad de mi gobierno”, declaró Morrison a la prensa.

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Nueva Zelanda dará productos menstruales gratuitos en las escuelas

La medida es una forma de combatir la «pobreza menstrual», aseguró la primera ministra, Jacinda Ardern.

El Gobierno de Nueva Zelanda anunció este jueves que proporcionará productos de higiene femenina gratis en todos los colegios del país a partir de junio con el objetivo de atajar la «pobreza menstrual».

La medida da continuidad y amplia a escala nacional el exitoso programa piloto implementado el año pasado en 15 escuelas de la región de Waikato, en la Isla Norte, en el que participaron unas 3.200 alumnas, apuntó la primera ministra, Jacinda Ardern.

«Las jóvenes no deberían perder parte de su educación por algo normal para más de la mitad de la población (…) La respuesta positiva de las escuelas y los estudiantes nos ha animado a expandir la iniciativa a todos los colegios de Nueva Zelanda», dijo la mandataria en el colegio Fairfield, parte del programa piloto.

La primera ministra incidió en que «proveer de productos de higiene femenina de manera gratuita en los colegios es un camino para que el gobierno aborde directamente la pobreza, ayude a incrementar la asistencia en las escuelas y lograr un impacto positivo en el bienestar de las niñas».

La mandataria señaló que una de cada doce estudiantes no acude a la escuela por problemas relacionados con la «pobreza menstrual», como se denomina la falta de acceso a productos de higiene femenina.

El programa contará con un fondo de 25 millones de dólares neozelandeses (cerca de 18 millones de dólares estadounidenses o casi 15 millones de euros) para funcionar hasta 2024.

La ministra para Asuntos de la Mujer, Jan Tinetti, indicó junto a Ardern que los problemas derivados de la menstruación incluyen la vergüenza, los estigmas, faltar a clase o no poder afrontar el costo de los productos.

En noviembre, Escocia se convirtió en el primer país del mundo en ofrecer de manera gratuita productos de higiene femenina a todo el que lo necesite, incluido en lugares públicos.


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Australian universities offer rebates to foreign students stranded overseas due to the coronavirus

Australian universities offer rebates to foreign students stranded overseas due to the coronavirus

As Australian universities gear up for another academic year amid a global pandemic, some institutions are offering fee rebates for foreign students.

More than 140,000 enrolled international students were unable to study at Australian campuses after the Federal Government imposed border restrictions last year, according to data from Universities Australia (UA), the peak body for the sector.

Australia’s international border restrictions are expected to stay for the remainder of the year, as it’s still unclear if the vaccines approved so far prevent virus transmission. It is also unclear how effective they will be against new coronavirus strains.

The tertiary sector has been hard hit by the pandemic, with 2020 seeing a raft of cuts to staff and courses, and this trend is unlikely to reverse in 2021.

And as many international students currently studying Australian courses online may not set foot in the country for many months, institutions are coming up with ways to keep students from switching to courses in North America and Europe.

‘It’s very disappointing’

University of Wollongong

Indonesian student Naufal Muhammad Zavier was set to spend his last semester of study in Australia at the University of Wollongong (UOW), until last March’s international border closures made that impossible.

Mr Zavier has instead been doing classes with UOW online and has received a 10 per cent reduction on his overall tuition fees as a result of the move to remote learning.

The university also awarded him an international student scholarship which equated to a further 30 per cent reduction in fees.

«Due to the pandemic, my parents’ source of income as freelancers was also affected … UOW was also very generous by allowing us to pay the tuition fee through instalments,» he said.

UOW is just one of several universities offering incentives to international students to stay competitive.

«International students can still fly into the UK and Canada for face-to-face studies,» Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), told the ABC.

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