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Australian state warns of severe ‘bushfire’

Australian Bureau of Meteorology scientists added that the unseasonably hot weather could see several temperature records broken..reports Asian Lite News

Residents in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) were warned on Thursday to prepare for a weekend of unusually high temperatures with a “severe” chance of bushfires.

Maximum temperatures were forecast to be over 40 degrees centigrade in some places, with maximum temperatures 15 to 18 degrees hotter than the November average, Xinhua reported.

“This will increase the fire risk across much of state with very high and severe fire danger likely on the weekend. Plan and prepare now,” the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

The severe heat, combined with hot winds being blown across from the middle of the country, was expected to create “volatile” conditions similar to those experienced during the worst days of Australia’s deadly 2019-2020 bushfire season.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology scientists added that the unseasonably hot weather could see several temperature records broken.

“Numerous November records may be equaled or broken, as severe heatwave conditions are likely for much of inland South Australia, New South Wales and Northern Victoria,” Meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

The heatwave was expected to continue throughout the weekend and into the beginning of next week, with extremely hot daytime temperatures and little relief overnight.

Also read:South Australia evades 2nd Covid-19 wave

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Aus state eases more curbs ahead of Xmas

From Monday, Victoria residents will be able to host up to 15 visitors to their homes per day and the limit on outdoor gatherings eased to allow 50 people…reports Asian Lite News

More restrictions in Victoria, the worst-hit Australian state by the pandemic, were eased on Monday as it has remained case-free for more than three weeks.

Victoria, the epicentre of the country’s second wave of the pandemic recorded its 24th straight day of zero new Covid-19 cases and deaths on Monday, with only one active case left,, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Three months ago, Victoria had 4,293 active cases. Today we have one,” state Premier Daniel Andrews said while announcing a series of changes on Sunday.

“It’s an incredible achievement. Back then, the goal was something a little more ‘normal’ for Christmas. Today, because of the efforts of every Victorian, that’s exactly what we’ve been able to achieve,” he said in a statement.

From Monday, Victoria residents will be able to host up to 15 visitors to their homes per day and the limit on outdoor gatherings eased to allow 50 people.

Restaurants, cafes, bars will now be allowed to host up to 300 patrons, including a maximum of 150 people indoors as long as the four-square-meter-rule is maintained.

Weddings, funerals and indoor religious ceremonies also had their attendance caps increased to 150 people, as did cinemas, galleries and museums.

Community sports resumed, and wearing masks was no longer mandatory outside if physically distancing can be maintained.

Andrews said the state’s residents will be able to have up to 30 visitors to their home per day from December 13, and 25 per cent of staff will return to workplaces from November 30.

Also from Monday, Victorians can travel freely to the state of New South Wales (NSW) without quarantine, for the first time in more than four months.

NSW, which recorded no new locally acquired Covid-19 cases for the 16th day in a row on Monday, however, was however still in a feud with the neighbouring state of Queensland over border lockdown rules.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged her Queensland counterpart to show compassion as Christmas is around the corner.

“So again I just ask other premiers to consider some compassion because I know when I’m visiting communities and people come up to me and burst into tears when they think about the fact that they can’t visit their relatives,” she said.

Nevertheless, a couple of restrictions were lifted within NSW from Monday.

Up to 3,000 people were allowed to gather for outdoor ticketed events such as concerts. Berejiklian said further easing of restrictions was imminent this week.

Australia has so far confirmed 27,821 coronavirus cases and 907 deaths.

Also read:South Australia evades 2nd Covid-19 wave

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-Top News Australia COVID-19

South Australia evades 2nd Covid-19 wave

The state-wide “circuit breaker” lockdown ended at midnight on November 21, three days earlier than previously planned…reports Asian Lite News

South Australia (SA) Premier Steven Marshall on Monday said that the state has avoided a second Covid-19 wave by acting on an outbreak early.

In a statement, Marshall said the state could have been facing 100 new cases per day in December if swift action was not taken to suppress the outbreak linked to the cluster in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, capital city of the state, reports Xinhua news agency.

The state-wide “circuit breaker” lockdown ended at midnight on November 21, three days earlier than previously planned.

It reported one new case on Monday, bringing the total number of infection associated to the cluster to 27.

“We have avoided this second wave, avoiding 100 cases per day by mid-December,” Marshall said.

“I’m feeling very positive and very optimistic that and as we head into Christmas that we will be experiencing newfound freedoms and celebrating well, with all of our family and friends.”

Nicola Spurrier, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, said the new case had been in quarantine since November 16.

And the woman had returned two negative tests before testing positive on this Monday morning.

“It absolutely tells us that anybody who has been asked to be in quarantine needs to be in quarantine for the whole 14 days because there are people who have that very much longer incubation period,” Spurrier said.

Australia has so far confirmed 27,821 coronavirus cases and 907 deaths.

Also read:Climate change: Experts ask Australian PM to take action

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Australia announces koala conservation policy

The Australian government on Monday announced a new strategy to protect the country’s iconic koalas.

In a statement, Environment Minister Sussan Ley said that under the new strategy a national koala population census will be undertaken to identify key habitat areas and protect them, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This is a line in the sand, we’re ruling a line under where we are on koalas right now.

“We are doing this because it needs to happen. I have been so frustrated that no one could give me the data I needed… It’s just not there – only in patches.

“I don’t think there’s been enough national leadership on this iconic species before,” she added.

The policy includes A$14 million in funding for habitat restoration and A$4 million for koala health research and the census.

It will also make it mandatory for state and territory governments to report on koala populations and conservation strategies on an annual basis.

The data collected in the initial census will be used by the government to prevent state and territory governments from weakening habitat protection, potentially putting the federal government on a collision course with state planning regimes for agricultural land clearing and urban development.

Helene Marsh, the chair of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, described the census as a “very significant move,” saying that there were “lots of places where koalas occur where we know very, very little” about the population.

“It will enable us to have the empirical data on what are the most important populations in the region, and will set a firm baseline for trends,” she said.

“It will put the whole koala strategy at national level on a completely different footing than it’s been in the past.”

In the 2019-20 “Black Summer” wildfires, roughly 5,000 koalas had perished.

Also read:Climate change: Experts ask Australian PM to take action

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Aus Defence chief supports mandatory body cameras for soldiers

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed that allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers would be pursued until “justice is indeed served”….reports Asian Lite News

Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Angus Campbell on Sunday threw his support behind mandatory body cameras for soldiers in the wake of a landmark war crimes inquiry.

Addressing the media, Campbell said that introducing body cameras would increase accountability within the special forces serving in Afghanistan after a four-year inquiry found “credible evidence” that Australian soldiers committed 39 unlawful killings in the country between 2005 and 2016, reports Xinhua news agency.

The inquiry also uncovered a series of cover-ups undertaken by the Australian soldiers.

“We will work through that recommendation (of body cameras). I think it is a very good idea. It creates a degree of objectivity and a capacity for learning, development and record keeping,” Campbell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in his first interview since the report was released on November 19.

“That material would become a digital archive, permanently and securely held so that if claims were to arise, they would be, they would contribute to understanding what may have happened,” he said.

The alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan during their military mission have drawn strong reaction from Kabul government, which condemned the killings of innocent people.

It has asked for more investigations into the issue, the punishment of the perpetrators and compensation from the Australian government to the Afghan victims’ families.

The ABC has previously published eyewitness accounts of shootings of unarmed Afghan civilians by Australian special forces soldiers.

The Inspector-General of the ADF (IGADF) has been conducting a wide-ranging but highly secretive inquiry into allegations that Australian special forces members committed war crimes, including the murder of civilians, in Afghanistan since early 2016, according to the ABC.

The report is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed that allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers would be pursued until “justice is indeed served”.

Also read:Climate change: Experts ask Australian PM to take action

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Aus PM promises justice for Afghan war crimes

Morrison, who previously warned that the report contained “difficult and hard news” for Australians, said the allegations would be pursued until “justice is indeed served”…reports Asian Lite News

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed that allegations of war crimes committed by his country’s soldiers in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 will be taken “very seriously”.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) on Thursday released the findings of a landmark four-year inquiry that found “credible evidence” of the special forces soldiers’ murdering 39 prisoners, farmers and civilians during the war in Afghanistan, reports Xinhua news agency.

It recommended that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) open criminal investigations into 19 individuals for their roles in the incidents.

Morrison, who previously warned that the report contained “difficult and hard news” for Australians, said the allegations would be pursued until “justice is indeed served”.

“Where things don’t measure up to those standards as a country and indeed as a Defence Force, we look seriously at those issues, take them seriously and deal with them seriously to uphold those standards,” he told Sky News Australia.

“And that this report will be received and provided to the office of a special investigator to pursue any matters that must be pursued and can be pursued under our rule of law and that justice is indeed served.

“And these are the assurances that I have provided to the Afghan government, that this is the process that we will follow,” he added.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was Australia’s leader for about three of the years covered by the inquiry, said he was “disgusted” by the findings.

“It beggars belief that following the atrocities witnessed during the Iraq war at Abu Ghraib that such crimes could be repeated, and worse, by Australian forces in Afghanistan,” Rudd, who served as the prime minister between 2007 and 2010 and again in 2013, said in the statement.

“Those who are responsible for these crimes, and any efforts to conceal them, must be brought to justice.

“Behind every unlawful killing is a family grieving for someone they love. The families of those victims must be compensated for their unjust loss, the former leader added.

The report recommends that compensation be paid to the families of the Afghan victims before any criminal prosecutions and that the honors awarded to those implicated in the report be revoked.

The inquiry, which was conducted by New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton, heard testimonies from more than 400 witnesses.

One witness, former special forces medic Dusty Miller, said his decision to speak out was vindicated by the report.

“It’s all true. It happened. It’s factual. It’s what happened over there, it’s something that I witnessed on a number of occasions,” he said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

“It’s been approximately eight years of knowing what certain individuals got up to over there and to hear the Chief of Defence Force publicly confirm those allegations. It’s complete vindication.”

Also read:Climate change: Experts ask Australian PM to take action

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Australia World News

Climate change: Experts ask Australian PM to take action

Chief Executive of the PHAA Terry Slevin said while the pandemic has received much attention in 2020, climate change is a greater threat to humanity….reports Asian Lite News

A coalition of health groups have written an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for urgent action on climate change.

The letter from 29 groups including the Climate and Health Alliance (CHA), the Australian Epidemiological Association (AEA) and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) warned that climate change is accelerating and posing an “existential threat to humanity”, Xinhua news agency reported

“To avoid further health and environmental disasters, governments must take heed of the science, listen to health experts and act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the natural environment,” it said.

Chief Executive of the PHAA Terry Slevin said while the pandemic has received much attention in 2020, climate change is a greater threat to humanity.

“Climate change is something which poses just as significant, if not a greater, challenge in terms of the impacts on human health, societies and economies,” he said.

“We are already witnessing the public health impacts of climate change through bushfires and smoke, through heatwaves, through communities devastated by drought.”

Morrison has repeatedly declared that he will not be pressured into adopting a 2050 net-zero emissions target.

The open letter came days after the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) published their sixth biennial State of the Climate report.

The landmark report found that Australia is already under the effects of climate change, with the country experiencing more extremely hot days in 2019 than triple the number in any of the years prior to 2000, leading to an increased threat from bushfires, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.

Also read:Australian vaccine ready for clinical trials

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Australia World News

Melbourne cancels iconic New Year fireworks

The annual New Year Eve fireworks show in Melbourne has been cancelled and replaced with a two-day street food festival this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the City Council said on Monday.

The change has been made to avoid large-scale outdoor gathering as the fireworks show usually attracts about 400,000 people to the second largest Australian city which could become a public health threat during a pandemic, Xinhua news agency quoted the Council as saying in a statement.

Instead, dining precincts will be set up across the city of Melbourne, encouraging people to enjoy their New Year celebrations at more than 50 venues, some are located at the most popular eat streets such as Flinders Lane and Little Bourke Street.

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp said the New Year Street Feasts will support local hospitality businesses that had been hit hard during the pandemic lockdown.

Melbourne

“This has been an incredibly tough year and we want to mark its end by celebrating and supporting Melbourne’s wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants,” Capp said.

“We are tailoring a program to safely encourage more patrons into our incredible and deserving hospitality businesses that have struggled through lockdown restrictions.”

The cancellation came after Melbourne ended its Covid-19 lockdown which lasted for almost four months.

As of Monday, the Australian state of Victoria, where Melbourne is the capital, recorded its 17th consecutive day without any new case or virus-related deaths.

In a similar move last week, New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian had announced that Sydney’s New Year’s Eve firework display will be scaled down by several minutes and spectators will be banned from harbour-side vantage points in the wake of the pandemic.

Due to its time zone, Sydney usually hosts the first major New Year’s Eve celebrations of the globe, centering on the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, in a display which attracts thousands of people to the harbour and surrounding area.

Also Read: Australian vaccine ready for clinical trials

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Australian vaccine ready for clinical trials

Phase 1 clinical trials had shown the vaccine to be safe and effective at eliciting an antibody response.said UQ vaccine project Co-leader Professor Paul Young ..reports Asian Lite News

A Covid-19 vaccine in development by Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) was declared ready to progress to later-stage clinical trials ahead of schedule on Friday, following promising Phase 1 results.

Regulatory approval was being sought for the vaccine to progress to Phase 3 clinical trials before the end of the year, with a timeline for widespread distribution to occur in late 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

Co-leader of the UQ vaccine project and leading Australian virologist, Professor Paul Young said that Phase 1 clinical trials had shown the vaccine to be safe and effective at eliciting an antibody response.

“Early data out of Phase 1 clinical trial says that the vaccine is safe and well-tolerated when given, there’s very little in the way of adverse events on injection of the vaccine,” Young said.

“And it also induces a strong immune response, particularly a neutralizing antibody response, that is equivalent to or in excess of what is seen in patients who have recovered from live virus infection.”

Additionally Young said that lower doses of the vaccine had proved equally effective at inducing the immune response, meaning the manufacturing of the vaccine will be more efficient in terms of dosage numbers.

The university was partnered with local biotech firm CSL, to undertake manufacturing of the vaccine, with the capacity to rapidly produce tens of millions of doses at the company’s Australian facilities.

“Our national goal is to ensure that all Australians who seek to be vaccinated, are vaccinated by the end of 2021,” said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Also read:Australia to reinitiate ‘trans-Tasman’ travel bubble plans

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Australia UAE News

UAE, Australia discuss cooperation relations

The Minister welcomed the Australian ambassador and discussed with her issues of common interest and means to enhance cooperation relations..reports Asian Lite News

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, received Ambassador of the Commonwealth of Australia to the UAE in his Palace Heidi Venamor on Monday

The Minister welcomed the Australian ambassador and discussed with her issues of common interest and means to enhance cooperation relations between the UAE and Australia in various fields.

Sheikh Nahyan said that the relations between the UAE and Australia are distinguished and are witnessing continuous development thanks to the support of their countries’ leaderships.

He commended the efforts made by the Australian ambassador in strengthening cooperation ties between the UAE and Australia in various fields and pushing them towards broader horizons in order to achieve development and prosperity.

For her part, Venamor reiterated her country’s keenness to further develop cooperation with the UAE in a way that serves the interests of the two friendly countries, praising the progress and development of the UAE in various fields.

Also read:‘Peace and coexistence are strategic goals for humanity’: UAE