Categories
-Top News Asia News Sri Lanka

Australia men’s cricket team donate tour prize money to crisis-hit Lanka

The tour of Sri Lanka in June-July 2021 was Australia’s first trip to the island nation since 2016. Australia won the T20I series 2-1 before Sri Lanka clinched the ODI series 3-2. The tour ended with the two-match Test series in Galle at 1-1…reports Asian Lite News

Australia’s men’s cricket team players on Thursday said they have donated their prize money from the recent all-format tour of Sri Lanka to support children and families impacted by the island nation’s economic crisis, the worst in decades for the country.

The donation will be led by Test captain Pat Cummins, who is a UNICEF Australia ambassador, and white-ball skipper Aaron Finch. In all, the team will donate 45,000 Australia dollars (25,36,294 lakhs in INR) to the organisation’s Sri Lanka appeal.

The donation made by Australia men’s cricketers will go towards UNICEF’s programs to support nutrition, healthcare, safe drinking water, education, and mental health services for 1.7 million vulnerable Sri Lankan children in need.

“It was very clear to us how much day-to-day life for Sri Lankans is being impacted. When the team saw what was happening it was an easy decision to donate our prize money to UNICEF, who have been in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years supporting the needs of children and families,” Cummins was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

The tour of Sri Lanka in June-July 2021 was Australia’s first trip to the island nation since 2016. Australia won the T20I series 2-1 before Sri Lanka clinched the ODI series 3-2. The tour ended with the two-match Test series in Galle at 1-1.

Since April this year, Sri Lanka has been in acute economic and social crisis due to daily power cuts, rising fuel prices and massive shortages of basic essentials like food and medicines. During Australia’s second Test against Sri Lanka, peaceful protests happened around Galle International Cricket Stadium and in capital city Colombo apart from long lines by people for filing petrol in vehicles.

In 2021, Cummins and Cricket Australia both donated 50,000 Australian dollars (28,18,621 lakhs in INR) for oxygen supplies during India’s Covid-19 crisis, when the second wave wreaked havoc in 2021, that resulted in the postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) mid-way when the bio-bubbles were breached by the virus.

“Last year Australian cricketers got behind India in its time of crisis during the peak of the COVID-19 Delta wave and we thank them for again giving generously to help Sri Lankans impacted by the current crisis. Australia has a strong bond with Sri Lanka that goes beyond the match days and this donation is gratefully received to support the long-term wellbeing of Sri Lanka’s families,” said Tony Stuart, UNICEF Australia CEO.

ALSO READ-Australia assures speedy resolution of visa issues for Indian students

Categories
-Top News India News

India to be part of 17-nation Exercise Pitch Black 2022

 With a four-year hiatus since the last Pitch Black due to the global pandemic, this year’s exercise will see a return of the combined force to Australian skies…reports Asian Lite News

Australia on Monday announced the participation of 17 nations in Exercise Pitch Black 2022 (PBK22), after a hiatus of four-year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 100 aircraft and 2500 military personnel from 17 nations will arrive in the Northern Territory in two weeks to commence Exercise Pitch Black 2022 (PBK22), said the Australian Government – Defence press release.

 With a four-year hiatus since the last Pitch Black due to the global pandemic, this year’s exercise will see a return of the combined force to Australian skies, enhancing interoperability and strengthening relationships.

PBK22 is Air Force’s biennial capstone international engagement activity with key strategic partners.

This year’s participants include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the US.

Significantly, Germany, Japan, and the Republic of Korea will be participating fully for the first time.

PBK22 Director Engagement Group Captain Peter Wood said he was pleased to see a return to Pitch Black after the extended break, added the release.

“International participation in Exercise Pitch Black, from within the Indo-Pacific region and further abroad, provides all nations’ personnel with experience in working with aircraft, systems and work practices, in northern Australia’s unique environment, that would otherwise be unfamiliar,” Group Captain Wood said.

“Exercising with our international partners in combined air combat operations is pivotal to ensuring Air Force remains ready to respond whenever the Australian Government requires,” added Wood.

The exercise is a biennial three-week multi-national large force employment exercise conducted primarily from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal. RAAF Base Amberley, located near Ipswich will also be included in the exercise this year.

Exercise Pitch Black will run from August 19 – September 8, 2022.

“The training and integration of forces that occurs during this exercise directly supports Air Force’s ability to conduct operations,” said Group Captain Wood.

“We’ll have nations operating out of RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal primarily, supported by RAAF Base Amberley,” he added.

Exercise Pitch Black 2022 is the Royal Australian Air Force’s most significant International Engagement activity with forces participating from a wide range of partner and allied nations developing and enhancing military relationships at all levels.

“We are very much looking forward to working with our international partners once again for Exercise Pitch Black,” said Wood.

Exercise Pitch Black features a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and is an opportunity to test and improve our force integration, utilising one of the largest training airspace areas in the world — Bradshaw Field Training Area and Delamere Air Weapons Range.

Activities such as Exercise Pitch Black recognize Australia’s strong relationships and the high value on regional security and fostering closer ties throughout the Indo- Pacific region.

The exercise will also support a concurrent International Observer Group program in order to provide an opportunity for foreign forces to gain an appreciation of how Australia prepares for and executes major activities.

The exercise will include day and night flying. There will not be any overarching scenario for the exercise. Each mission will be executed as a stand-alone serial with distinct training objectives. (ANI)

ALSO READ: India set to turn the tables on Oppn over price rise, inflation

Categories
-Top News India News UK News

Alok Sharma to visit Australia

This visit by the COP President to Australia and Fiji outlines how important the Indo Pacific is to tackling climate change within the decade.”…reports Asian Lite News

COP President Alok Sharma will travel to Sydney and Canberra from 24-26 July 2022 to meet ministers in the first week of the new Australian government as he continues to press for the delivery of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Sharma will discuss Australia’s potential as an international climate leader in a number of areas, including climate finance and zero-emission vehicles. He will also engage with Australian states and hold discussions with banks, businesses and civil society groups in support of stronger action on climate.

In recent months, more frequent and severe natural disasters have shown the impacts of climate change in Australia, including severe flooding in New South Wales. Mr Sharma will speak with first responders to these disasters at New South Wales Rural Fire Service State Operations Centre

On Monday, the COP26 President will be in Canberra, where he will visit a local nature reserve. He will hear first-hand from Ngunnawal Indigenous leaders who will explain the impacts of climate change in Australia, as well as traditional land management practices.

COP26 recognised the role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in the Glasgow Climate Pact. As stewards of 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples are leaders in how to develop nature-based, resilient and effective solutions to climate change, through their knowledge and innovations, technologies, and spiritual values.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President, said, “Australia is turning a fresh page with its climate commitments and I look forward to working with the new Australian government on its path towards increased commitments and leadership in crucial areas such as climate finance, deforestation and support for less developed nations in the Indo-Pacific. The “Powering Australia Plan’’ is an innovative centrepiece of the new government’s clean energy and industrial decarbonisation policy and paves the country’s path to net-zero by 2050 and increasing its clean energy capacity. During my time in Australia I will meet Indigenous representatives, business leaders, government ministers and more, providing a great opportunity to discuss ways we can work together for effective climate action.”

UK High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell said, “We’re delighted to welcome Alok Sharma to Australia where he’ll hear first-hand how the region is impacted by the climate emergency. We know that the Glasgow Climate Pact was a historic collective achievement, keeping 1.5C alive. Now is the time to deliver on those commitments. This visit by the COP President to Australia and Fiji outlines how important the Indo Pacific is to tackling climate change within the decade.”

Following the COP President’s visit to Australia, he will travel on to Fiji, a climate leader in the Pacific region. Like other Pacific countries, Fiji is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The UK is focussed on working with Fiji and Pacific countries to keep adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance on the top of the agenda in the lead up to and at COP27 in Egypt.

ALSO READ-Stakeholders on a ‘race to zero’ after COP26

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

Australia assures speedy resolution of visa issues for Indian students

Last month, officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had taken up the issue of visa appointments for Indian students with a number of countries, including Australia….reports Asian Lite News

Australia has assured speedy resolution of visa issues for Indian students enrolled in universities and educational institutions in Australia.

The assurance was given on Thursday by Australia’s Minister of Education Jason Clare during a discussion with Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who welcomed the step.

Last month, officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had taken up the issue of visa appointments for Indian students with a number of countries, including Australia. This followed complaints from many students about long delays in the visa-granting process.

Tweeting about the meeting, Pradhan wrote, “Had a wonderful discussion with my Australian counterpart H.E. Mr. Jason Clare. Congratulated him on the assumption of his portfolio under the new Labour Party govt. @JasonClareMP”

Additionally, Education Minister Pradhan also discussed how closer partnerships in the fields of higher education, schooling, and skill development may benefit both nations by providing the Indian workforce with the world-class skills that Australia is renowned for.

He also briefed Minister Clare about the new National Education Policy 2020 and its various facets. They also discussed GIFT City’s supportive environment for universities as well as the improved opportunities for internationalisation in education through a variety of modalities.

Deeper collaboration

Union Minister for Education and Skill Development Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday held a virtual meeting with his Australian counterpart Jason Clare to further strengthen collaboration between the countries in education and skill development sectors.

The minister called for deeper collaboration between the two countries in the areas of skill development. Australian minister gave assurance of providing support in ensuring world-class skilling of Indian workforce.

We also spoke about deeper collaborations in the skills, higher education and school education sector, and imparting world-class skilling, that Australia is known for, to the Indian workforce, Pradhan said after the meeting.

Pradhan said the collaboration would help create a positive synergy for both the countries. (ANI)

ALSO READ: India Inc deal activity rises amid uncertainties

Categories
Sport Sports

India, Aus to play five-match Test series in next FTP

India’s bilateral matches will be known only after the FTP is made public but it is understood that the revamped series will be from late 2024, when India will visit Australia for a bilateral series…reports Asian Lite News

The India-Australia Test series, which is played for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, will comprise of five matches on a reciprocal basis in the next cycle of the Future Tours Programme (FTP).

The expanded bilateral series will kick in from 2024 season, when India are scheduled to visit Australia. The 2023 home series in India, to be played in February-March, will remain a four-Test contest, a Cricbuzz report said.

“I think it’s a great initiative as it’s the closest contest to an Ashes series for the Australian team,” said former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who was involved in seven Test series against India, including three as a captain.

Notably, Australia and England regularly play each other over five Tests for the Ashes trophy. On the other hand, India, in recent years, have also played England across five Tests both home and away, and now the same will apply to the series involving them and Australia.

The next cycle of the FTP, coming into effect after the World Test Championship (WTC) final in June 2023, is being given finishing touches by various boards. It is expected to be approved at the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) annual conference in Birmingham.

India’s bilateral matches will be known only after the FTP is made public but it is understood that the revamped series will be from late 2024, when India will visit Australia for a bilateral series.

It will not be the first time the two countries will be involved in five Tests. India have had five-Test series Down Under thrice, the last one in 1991-92 when Australia had won 4-0. In 1959 and 1969, India had hosted Australia for five games while the 1979-80 series ran for six Tests. India are the current holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having famously won in 2020-21.

The four-Test 2023 home series is part of the current WTC and is crucial to both teams’ chances of qualifying for the final. Before that, the Australian team is scheduled to visit India for a six white ball games — three ODIs and three T20Is — in September-October. But, with the T20 World Cup is in October, a final decision on whether the teams will play the ODIs is yet to be made.

ALSO READ-First-Ever Delhi Premier League to Kick Off on July 15

Categories
-Top News Australia UK News

UK govt overselling Australia trade deal, warns MPs

The accord was the first free trade deal to be signed since Britain’s formal departure from the European Union at the start of 2021…reports Asian Lite News

The UK is overselling its free trade deal struck with Australia in the wake of Brexit, British MPs have concluded in a report published Wednesday.

The cross-party International Trade Committee has warned the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson “against overselling the benefits of trade deals” in general after analysing the Australia agreement finalised in December 2021.

Its findings come as International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was Wednesday to face questions from the committee regarding the deal struck with the former British colony.

“The government must level with the public — this trade deal will not have the transformative effects ministers would like to claim,” committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil said in a statement.

The accord was the first free trade deal to be signed since Britain’s formal departure from the European Union at the start of 2021.

Britain has said the deal is expected to unlock annual bilateral trade worth £10.4 billion (US$12.4 billion).

“As the first wholly new trade deal since Brexit, this agreement sets a precedent for the future,” added MacNeil, an MP for the Scottish National Party seeking Scotland’s independence from the UK.

“It is vital that the government learns from this experience and negotiates harder next time around to maximise gains and minimise losses for all economic sectors and parts of the UK.”

The deal with Australia is seen as low hanging fruit amid more difficult free trade talks with the United States.

Regarding the Australia deal, the committee noted that “lifting almost all tariffs on agricultural imports is a significant change, and potentially sets an important precedent for deals with major food-exporting nations”.

But it added that tariff reductions on goods including Australian wines were “unlikely to make a noticeable difference at supermarket checkouts”.

MPs also expressed “disappointment that tariff-free Australian food will not be required to meet core UK food production standards, for example regarding pesticide use”.

But they welcomed assessment, albeit limited, of the deal’s environmental impact and the “inclusion of provisions on forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking”.

ALSO READ-Sajid, Rishi Desert Sinking Boris Ship

Categories
-Top News UK News

France, Australia move beyond AUKUS

For his part, Albanese noted that his visit “represents a new start for our countries’ relationship.”…reports Asian Lite News

French President Emmanuel Macron received Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss the future ties between the two countries, in an effort to rebuild relations, strained by Canberra’s decision to ditch a submarine contract with Paris.

The bilateral relationship deteriorated when Australia last year cancelled a billion-dollar deal for submarines with French-owned shipbuilder Naval Group for a trilateral security pact with the US and the UK, leading to one of the most heated diplomatic crises between the two countries.

The French presidential palace, the Elysee, said Macron and Albanese reaffirmed their commitment to build a “closer and stronger bilateral relationship based on mutual trust and respect.”

“The new Australia position, proactive, ambitious, offers us an opportunity to move forward together on new projects within the framework of initiatives launched these recent years,” Macron said.

For his part, Albanese noted that his visit “represents a new start for our countries’ relationship.”

“Australia’s relationship with France matters. Trust, respect and honesty matter. This is how I will approach my relations,” he said. In response, Macron said to the press that “we will speak about the future, not the past.”

In a joint statement, the two countries said that they have agreed to establish a new agenda for cooperation.

“To take the bilateral relationship forward, we agree to establish a new agenda for cooperation based on three pillars: defence and security; resilience and climate action; and education and culture,” the statement said.

“Australia and France will shape a new defence relationship and strengthen our collaboration and exchange on shared security interests, including through operational engagement and intelligence sharing,” it added.

The two countries said they are determined to be active in regional fora and to enhance security cooperation with Pacific countries, in particular on maritime surveillance with regional agencies, and in the Indian Ocean, including in partnership with India.

“We will support each other’s deployments and conduct more joint maritime activities in support of the rules-based global order. We will also explore initiatives to deepen and facilitate better reciprocal access to our defence facilities. This will build on our long-established mutual logistical support arrangements,” the statement added.

It said that the two countries will explore initiatives to increase defence industry cooperation to support and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces.

“We will explore cooperation on strategic space issues, such as space domain awareness, to promote a safe, stable and secure space domain, and ensure freedom of access to, and action in, space,” the joint statement read.

It also vowed to deepen cooperation on a range of civilian and defence issues of common interest, including through the FRANZ (France-Australia-New Zealand) arrangement to deliver coordinated humanitarian assistance to support the Pacific to respond to disasters.

“Enhanced dialogue will foster new prospects for economic and scientific cooperation in sectors such as maritime transport, space, artificial intelligence and quantum,” the statement said. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Australian PM to visit France to mend ties

Categories
-Top News Australia

Australian PM to visit France to mend ties

The development comes weeks after Albanese announced his new government had agreed to pay compensation for a cancelled submarine contract….reports Asian Lite News

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday confirmed he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to “reset” relations.

Albanese said that he has accepted Macron’s invitation to visit France, reports Xinhua news agency.

It comes weeks after Albanese announced his new government had agreed to pay French shipbuilder Naval Group around A$830 million ($573 million ) in compensation for a cancelled submarine contract.

The relationship between Australia and France deteriorated when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison scrapped the deal.

Australia instead signed a new defence pact with the US and the UK called Aukus, infuriating Macron who accused Morrison of lying to him, briefly recalling France’s Ambassador in protest.

Albanese, who defeated Morrison in the May 21 general election, said he expected a welcome in France.

“I’ve been invited by President Macron to meet with him in France and I’ll be doing that in a week’s time. We do need to reset, we’ve already had very constructive discussions,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV.

“What we can offer is a relationship between our respective leaders that won’t be leaked, in order to make an opportunistic headline in the newspaper. One of respect and honesty in the way that we deal with each other.

“We’ve already had very constructive discussions… Next week’s visit is a very concrete sign of the repair that’s been done already,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, Australia announced a $584 million settlement with France’s Naval Group as compensation for scrapping the contract in favour of the Aukus deal.

ALSO READ: Australia donates $15 mn to World Food Programme for Sri Lanka

Categories
-Top News Australia Sri Lanka

Australia donates $15 mn to World Food Programme for Sri Lanka

The Australian funding will help WFP provide critical assistance to the most at-risk Sri Lankans, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and school children….reports Asian Lite News

A week after the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched a $60 million emergency food and nutrition assistance for three million of the most at-risk Sri Lankan nationals, Australia came forward with 22 million Australian dollar aid (equivalent to $15 million) on Wednesday.

The Australian funding will help WFP provide critical assistance to the most at-risk Sri Lankans, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and school children.

“To boost existing social safety net programmes, WFP is working to assist one million children through the national school meal programme, while one million people are participating in the Thriposha programme, which provides fortified food to mothers and children,” WFP said in a statement.

The WFP had on June 16 launched its $60 million emergency food and nutrition assistance for three million of the most at-risk Sri Lankans who are facing food insecurity in the face of a record high food inflation, skyrocketing fuel prices and widespread shortage of key commodities.

Monthly food vouchers are being distributed to pregnant women from some of the poorest neighbourhoods, delivered alongside antenatal care provided by the local government in Sri Lanka.

Welcoming the aid by Australia, WFP said, “At a time when millions of people are struggling to meet their most basic food needs, and while families’ coping capacities are being stretched to the limit, we can avert a worsening humanitarian crisis by stepping up our response now.”

John Aylieff, WFP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said that nearly five million people — or 22 per cent of the Sri Lankan population — are food insecure and in need of assistance.

Nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits and protein-rich products, are now out of the reach of many low-income families.

WFP’s recent surveys indicated that 86 per cent of the families are resorting to at least one coping mechanism, including eating less, eating less nutritious food and even skipping meals altogether.

ALSO READ: Australia supports Sri Lanka with $50 million development assistance

Categories
India News

India, Australia review defence, strategic cooperation

The defence ministers discussed opportunities for industrial cooperation between the two countries to “increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces”…reports Asian Lite News

Australia’s new government reiterated its commitment to the strategic partnership with India by agreeing on Wednesday to work jointly on the shared objective of a free and open Indo-Pacific and to boost cooperation between the defence industries of the two sides.

Visiting Australian deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles met Union defence minister Rajnath Singh and reviewed the ongoing defence cooperation, which both sides said has increased despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and also discussed ways to enhance collaboration.

Marles is the first senior member of the new Australian government to visit India. Ahead of his arrival in the country on Monday, he described India as “one of Australia’s closest security partners”. His visit, less than a month after the formation of the new government in Canberra, reflects the importance attached by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to ties with India.

The defence ministers discussed opportunities for industrial cooperation between the two countries to “increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces”, according to a joint press statement. They agreed to explore ways to “grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases”.

Singh and Marles committed to give a fillip to a bilateral joint working group (JWG) on defence research and material cooperation, which will meet in Australia later this year. The JWG was described as a crucial mechanism for boosting ties between their defence industries.

The ministers reviewed strategic challenges and the regional security situation, and reaffirmed their “shared objective of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific”. They also discussed India’s participation in Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour military exercise in October.

Singh tweeted saying he and Marles reviewed the range of defence and strategic cooperation and paved the way for deepening it. Describing Australia as a close and trusted partner, he said bilateral defence cooperation is an important pillar of the comprehensive strategic partnership. “Our close partnership is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.

Marles described his talks with Singh as an “excellent first meeting” that was instrumental in advancing defence ties. “We discussed our defence partnership & our shared ambition to ensure a secure, prosperous & resilient #IndoPacific,” he said in a tweet.

Singh and Marles reviewed the defence and security pillars of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, including the growing diversity and frequency of defence exercises and exchanges between the two sides. They agreed to build on operational engagements through the Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement (MLSA).

The ministers also welcomed the plan to begin a young officer exchange programme, named after late Indian chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, in the latter half of 2022. The programme was announced at a virtual summit of the prime ministers of the two countries in March.

On Tuesday, Marles met external affairs minister S Jaishankar, who tweeted that they had agreed on the importance of strengthening the strategic partnership to address contemporary challenges. “Growing security cooperation has been a key facet of our expanding ties,” Jaishankar said.

Marles said in a tweet he and Jaishankar – “a great friend of Australia” – discussed a range of issues, including the “shared commitment to build together a stronger & resilient #IndoPacific”.

The Australian minister visited the National War Memorial earlier in the day and paid homage to India’s war heroes. He was given a ceremonial guard of honour before his meeting with Singh.

Marles began his visit to India on Monday by travelling to Goa, where he toured a state-run shipyard and was briefed on India’s capabilities in indigenous drone development and autonomous vehicle technology.

There has been a significant increase in defence cooperation between India and Australia in recent years, including the signing of the MLSA in 2020, which allows both sides to access each other’s military bases for logistical support. This cooperation has also been driven by shared concerns about China’s behaviour in the region.

ALSO READ: Australia supports Sri Lanka with $50 million development assistance