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Australia Grapples With Unemployment Woes


Despite a rise in the unemployment rate, the number of employed Australians grew by 38,500 between March and April….reports Asian Lite News

The rise in the unemployment rate came despite the number of employed Australians increasing by 38,500 people between March and April

Australia’s unemployment rate rose for a second straight month to 4.1 per cent in April.

According to official figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday, the unemployment rate rose from 3.9 percent in March to 4.1 percent in April — the equal-highest rate since January 2022, Xinhua news agency reported.

The rise in the unemployment rate came despite the number of employed Australians increasing by 38,500 people between March and April, with a 44,600 rise in part-time positions partially offset by a 6,100 fall in full-time roles.

In the same period, the number of unemployed people — meaning those who are not employed but are actively looking for work — rose by 30,300 to 604,200.

The participation rate, which measures the proportion of the working-age population who are either employed or looking for work, rose slightly to 66.7 percent in April from 66.6 per cent in March.

“The employment-to-population ratio remained steady at 64.0 per cent in April, indicating that recent employment growth is broadly keeping pace with population growth,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of labor statistics at the ABS, said in a media release.

“This suggests that the labour market remains tight, though less tight than late 2022 and early 2023.”

The total number of hours worked by Australians was 1.96 billion in April — 15 million fewer than in April 2023.

The federal budget handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday projected that unemployment would rise to 4.25 per cent by June 2024 and to 4.5 per cent by June 2025.

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-Top News Australia Crime

Musk gets reprieve in fight against Australian govt 

The Australian government insisted that videos of the attack, classified as a “terrorist incident” where four people were injured, should be deleted from all X users’ accounts….reports Asian Lite News

Elon Musk’s X has won a court reprieve in Australia after a judge refused to extend an injunction banning graphic videos of an attack on a Sydney church last month.

Justice Geoffrey Kennett on Monday denied an application by Australia’s eSafety commissioner, the internet safety watchdog, to extend a ban on the videos, without immediately providing justification for his reasoning. A federal court had issued an interim injunction last month ordering the platform to hide all videos of the incident within 24 hours.

The Australian government argued that videos of the attack — in which four people were injured and which authorities have ruled was a “terrorist incident” — should be removed for all X users. Musk countered that such an act would be tantamount to censoring the internet.

X had blocked access to the video for its Australian users, but it remained accessible to users in the country who used a virtual private network, which the eSafety commissioner’s lawyers argued undermined efforts to block content that it had classified as “class 1”, or relating to high-impact violence or child abuse material.

A further hearing on the case will be held on Wednesday, ahead of a final ruling on the issue at an unspecified future date.

Tim Begbie KC, who represented the eSafety commissioner, noted during the hearing that X had taken down content in the past by its own volition but had resisted the order to do so from the Australian watchdog.

“X says . . . global removal is reasonable when X does it because X wants to do it, but it becomes unreasonable when it is told to do it by the laws of Australia,” he told the judge on Friday.

X had dubbed the eSafety commissioner’s application a “dangerous precedent” that could threaten the concept of an open internet and empower repressive governments around the world to try to censor content. 

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, who was stabbed in the head during an attack on the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, west of Sydney, publicly opposed removal of the videos ahead of the hearing, saying he would be greatly concerned if the incident were used to control free speech.

Dana McKay, a lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, said X’s case was strengthened by its decision to “geo-block” access to the videos in Australia. This meant that only users in the country connected to a VPN and searching for it were likely to see it, while most internet users, including children, were much less likely to inadvertently come across it.

She added that if the judge ruled that the Australian watchdog’s bid to extend the injunction globally represented over-reach, it could have implications for other social media companies and governments.

“It would set the precedent that each country would decide for itself what is visible online,” she said. 

The eSafety commissioner said in a statement that the interim injunction would now lapse on Monday after the court declined to grand its application to extend the injunction “to hide the material identified in the removal notice given to X Corp”.

It added that the removal notice included specific video links and “did not extend to commentary, public debate or other posts about the event”.

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-Top News Australia

India, Australia Discuss Pharma Pricing, Critical Minerals in Trade Talks

India and Australia have already signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that came into effect on December 29, 2022…reports Asian Lite News

India has discussed the issues of pharmaceutical pricing control in generic drugs and the need for closer cooperation in critical minerals with Australia, the Union Commerce Ministry said on Saturday.

The need for closer collaboration for establishing disease-free zones for shrimps and prawns in India also came up for discussion at the first Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Canberra under the India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA), the ministry said.

Besides, the JCM meeting also addressed certain critical services issues, including the consideration of India’s request for facilitation of cross-border e-payments and mutual recognition of qualifications in professions like nursing and dentistry.

India and Australia are looking at joint investments to build new supply chains underpinned by critical minerals processed in Australia that will help India’s plans to lower emissions from its electricity network and become a global manufacturing hub, for electric vehicles and smartphones.

Critical minerals are a key raw material in these hi-tech products. Currently, China has a near-monopoly on critical minerals. India and Australia are both keen to set up a strong alternative supply chain to break China’s dominance of the market.

“The two sides have decided to work closely on timely resolution of market access issues, deepen people-to-people contacts, and create an institutional mechanism for sharing of preferential import data,” according to the ministry statement.

India and Australia have already signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that came into effect on December 29, 2022.

“Both sides while acknowledging the smooth implementation of the ECTA, briefly elaborated on ECTA implementation issues including MRAs (mutual recognition agreements) on organic products, market access issues related to products like okra, pomegranate, grapes, cottage cheese, .pharmaceutical pricing control in Australia particularly on generics, progress made by the working group on whisky and wine,” the ministry said.

The meeting also touched upon the WTO issues wherein both sides appreciated the Commerce Secretary’s stand on the importance of the support of Australia for early resolution of the long pending issue of a permanent solution to public stock holding (PSH).

Australia sought the support of India for the plurilateral arrangement for domestic support for services. Both sides agreed to discuss these matters intersessionally if required.

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Australia Defence India News

MEA declines to comment on reports that Australia expelled 2 Indian spies

Earlier, Australian media reported that Canberra expelled two Indian spies after being caught trying to steal secrets about sensitive defence projects …reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday refused to comment on Australian media reports that alleged that the Commonwealth country expelled two Indian spies who were trying to ‘steal secrets’ and termed them as “speculative reports.”

“We see them as speculative reports. We really have no comments to make on those reports,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Earlier, Australian media reported that Canberra expelled two Indian spies after being caught trying to steal secrets about sensitive defence projects and airport security, as well as classified information on Australia’s trade relationships.

ABC News reported that the so-called foreign “nest of spies” disrupted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2020 was also accused of closely monitoring Indians living here and developing close relationships with current and former politicians.

ABC News reported citing the ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess who first alluded to the spy ring in his annual threat assessment delivered in 2021, but, he did not disclose which country was behind the activity, saying to do so would be an “unnecessary distraction”.

“The spies developed targeted relationships with current and former politicians, a foreign embassy and a state police service,” Burgess said during his March 2021 speech inside ASIO’s Canberra headquarters.

“They monitored their country’s diaspora community. They tried to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships.

“They asked a public servant to provide information on security protocols at a major airport,” ABC reported.

On Wednesday, on being asked about the matter, Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong reaffirmed bilateral ties with India and said that Australia remains consistent with interests and values of engagement, adding that they don’t comment on Intelligence matters.

“Well, you would be unsurprised to hear me respond that we don’t comment on intelligence matters. But at a level of principle about the democracy, I think you would have heard me and other Ministers on many occasions assert the importance of our democratic principles, assert the importance of ensuring that we maintain the resilience of our democracy, including in the face of any suggestion of foreign interference, and we have laws to deal with that. And to continue to say that we deeply value the multicultural fabric of the Australian community. It is a strength and we welcome people’s continued engagement in our democracy,” she said.

“Well, again, say we don’t comment on intelligence matters, but as a matter of general principles, Australia remains consistent to our interests and to our values in all of our engagements,” she added. (ANI)

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-Top News Australia USA

Biden considers Australia’s request to drop Assange case

The 52-year-old is currently in Britain awaiting extradition to the US. It has been five years since he was incarcerated in the Belmarsh prison…reports Asian Lite News

The US is “considering” Australia’s request to drop its persecution push against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Assange is wanted in the US on criminal charges over the release of confidential US military and diplomatic records in 2010. He has been indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse.

The 52-year-old is currently in Britain awaiting extradition to the US. It has been five years since he was incarcerated in the Belmarsh prison.

If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

He was supposed to be extradited in March, but it was put on hold after the UK High Court said the US must assure he would not face the death penalty.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been supportive of Assange’s release and said the issue had been raised with the US government at all levels. He said the comment from Biden was “encouraging.”

“I believe this must be brought to a conclusion and that Mr Assange has already paid a significant price, and enough is enough. There’s nothing to be gained by Mr Assange’s continued incarceration, in my very strong view. And I’ve put that as the view of the Australian government,” Albanese said.

Australia argues there are discrepancies between the treatment of Assange and US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of stealing diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published.

Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted to seven years by former US President Barack Obama, and she was released in 2017.

One of Assange’s lawyers, Barry Pollack, said also Biden’s remarks were encouraging.

Supporters of Assange say he is being persecuted as his work revealed US wrongdoing, especially in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They argue he is an anti-establishment journalist, who remains protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Several rights groups and countries such as Germany, Mexico and Brazil have also opposed his extradition to the US.

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-Top News Australia USA

Australian PM Backs US Review on WikiLeaks Founder

Albanese expressed encouragement after Biden’s remark in Washington that the US is mulling over Australia’s request to drop the charges against Assange…reports Asian Lite News

 Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday welcomed news that US President Joe Biden is considering a request to drop the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Albanese expressed encouragement after Biden’s remark in Washington that the US is mulling over Australia’s request to drop the charges against Assange for the release of confidential records in 2010, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I believe this must be brought to a conclusion and that Mr. Assange has already paid a significant price and enough is enough,” Albanese told state media Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

“There’s nothing to be gained by Mr. Assange’s continued incarceration, in my very strong view.”

An Australian citizen who founded WikiLeaks in Australia in 2006, Assange is currently trying to appeal his extradition from the UK to the US to face trial for the 2010 leaks.

The UK High Court in March asked the US for assurances that Assange would have a fair trial and not face the death penalty if convicted before making a final decision in May on whether he can appeal the extradition order.

Albanese in February supported a motion raised in the federal parliament by independent MP Andrew Wilkie calling for Assange’s return to Australia.

Wilkie was among a delegation of MPs who in September traveled to Washington where they urged politicians and officials to abandon extradition efforts for Assange.

On Thursday, Wilkie told ABC radio that Biden’s comment was very encouraging.

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Australia Taps Special Advisor for Israeli Airstrike Probe

Australia has made clear to the Israeli government our expectation and trust that this engagement will be facilitated…reports Asian Lite News

A former head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been appointed as the country’s special advisor on Israel’s response to strikes that killed aid workers in Gaza.

Penny Wong, Australian minister for foreign affairs, on Monday announced that retired Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mark Binskin will oversee official investigations into the strikes that killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) staff in Gaza, Xinhua news agency reported.

Australian citizen Zomi Frankcom was among the WCK humanitarian workers who were killed when the convoy they were travelling in was hit by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) airstrike in central Gaza on April 1 local time.

Wong said on Monday that Binskin was eminently qualified to advise the government on the sufficiency and appropriateness of the steps taken by Israel and on any further actions that could be taken to hold those responsible to account.

ACM Binskin will engage with Israel and the Israel Defense Forces on the response to the attack which killed Zomi and her colleagues. Australia has made clear to the Israeli government our expectation and trust that this engagement will be facilitated,” she said in a statement.

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-Top News Arab News Australia

Australia Accuses Israel of Violating Laws of War in Gaza


Husic, Australia’s Industry and Science Minister, a member of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s cabinet, remarked that the loss of almost 200 humanitarian workers in Gaza signifies Israel’s failure to differentiate between combatants and civilians….reports Asian Lite News

Australian government minister Ed Husic on Sunday accused Israel of a systematic failure to adhere to the laws of war in Gaza.

Husic, the minister for industry and science and a member of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s cabinet, said the deaths of nearly 200 humanitarian workers in Gaza reflect a failure by Israel to distinguish between combatants and civilians, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I believe this reflects a systematic failure within the Israeli government to genuinely commit to the observance of international humanitarian law,” he told Sky News Australia.

“That’s why you’ve seen 33,000 Palestinians killed, 14,500 of which are children, and 77,000 injured – and then on top of that, 200 aid workers and 100 journalists.”

Australian citizen Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom was killed along with six colleagues from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), an aid organization, in Israeli airstrikes in central Gaza on Monday local time.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday published a summary of an initial investigation into the incident, concluding that the strike on WCK aid vehicles was a grave mistake stemming from a mistaken identification.

Richard Marles, Australia’s deputy prime minister and minister for defence, and Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Friday announced Australia would appoint an independent special adviser to scrutinize the official investigation into the strikes.

Husic on Sunday said the decision to appoint the adviser was a big step that would ensure a thorough investigation.

Marles and Wong said on Friday that Israel’s response to the incident had not satisfied Australia’s expectations and asked that all evidence surrounding the strikes be preserved.

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-Top News Australia World News

Majority of Australians Favor Independence Over US Alliance

Twenty-five per cent said the nation should do its best not to engage in world affairs and 17 per cent were unsure….reports Asian Lite News

More Australians believe the nation should aim to become an independent middle power than primarily an ally of the US, a poll has found.

Published by the online Australian edition of British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ on Tuesday, the poll found that 38 per cent of Australians said the country’s role in global affairs should be as an independent middle power, Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty-five per cent said the nation should do its best not to engage in world affairs and 17 per cent were unsure.

The poll found that 63 per cent of Australians described themselves as concerned about Israel’s military action in Gaza.

Thirty-seven per cent of Australians said Israel should withdraw permanently from military action in Gaza, twice as many than 18 per cent who supported it continuing.

Two thirds of participants in the poll said they believed the world is either very or somewhat divided and 10 per cent described it as united.

Sixty-eight per cent agreed that global instability makes trade more expensive and 57 per cent said it would undermine efforts to solve problems including climate change.

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-Top News Australia India News

Jaishankar Visits Sailani Avenu, Meets Indian Community in Australia

Sailani was one of 12 known Indian Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) who served with the Australian Imperial Army during World War I…..reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Indian community leaders as he visited Sailani Avenue, a street in Australia’s Perth city named after Shimla-born soldier Nain Singh Sailani.

Sailani was one of 12 known Indian Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) who served with the Australian Imperial Army during World War I.

Enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916, he was killed in Belgium while on active duty in June 1917.

“Visited Sailani Avenue in Perth. Named after Nain Singh Sailani, an Indian-origin soldier honored in Australia,” Jaishankar, who is on a two-day visit to Australia to attend the 7th Indian Ocean Conference, wrote on X.

“Glad to meet some of our veterans and Indian community leaders there.”

The minister earlier joined his counterpart Penny Wong to discuss India-Australia ties, Indian Ocean architecture, and the shared interests of both countries in the Indo-Pacific.

Sailani Avenue was earlier known as Nelson Avenue and was renamed in honour of the Sikh war hero in 2023, following a personal request from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Sailani Avenue will act as a tangible reminder of the role Anzacs from the Indian community played in shaping our state’s history and paving the way for future generations,” Basil Zempilas, Lord Mayor of Perth, had said.

Born in Shimla in 1873, Sailani migrated to Australia in 1895 as a 22-year-old and initially lived in the town of Geraldton, about 400 kilometres north of Perth, where he found work as a labourer.

He was 43 when he volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 and was allotted to the 44th Battalion as the First World War broke out.

He served with his unit in France and was one of two Indian-Australian soldiers, the other being soldier Sarn Singh, killed in action on June 1, 1917.

Sailani was buried at the Strand Military Cemetery in Belgium alongside other Australian soldiers, and a plaque was put in Kings Park, Perth, in 2017 to honour his sacrifice.

He received the British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the 1914/15 Star in recognition of his service.

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