Australian bushfires extinguished, but climate rows rage on

15 February 2020; AFP: Australia's "black summer" of devastating bushfires is finally coming to a close, but bitter arguments over how to tackle climate-fuelled disasters are raging on.

When firefighters announced this week that all blazes in the hard-hit state of New South Wales were under control for the first time since September, the relief was palpable.

China threatens stability in the Pacific: U.S. commander

SYDNEY (Reuters) - China is threatening the sovereignty of small Pacific Islands and undermining the region’s stability, a top U.S. military commander said on Thursday, in comments likely to inflame tension with China.

U.S.-China relations improved in January with the signing of a trade deal that defused an 18-month row that has hit global growth but strains remain.

Australian Military To Assist Flood Recovery Efforts, As Cyclone Bears Down On East Coast

SYDNEY, Feb 12 (NNN-AGENCIES) – With homes and businesses battered by the extreme weather on Australia’s east coast, energy provider Ausgrid asked for help from the military, to clear debris and repair electricity.

Speaking with Sky News Wednesday (this) morning, New South Wales (NSW) Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, confirmed that a request had been made to the Australian military.

“Their CEO (Richard Gross) raised it with me yesterday and I fully support it,” he said, adding, the state government would expedite the call out of the army.

Over 100 native species in need of urgent help following Australian bushfire crisis

CANBERRA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has released a list of 113 animal species hit hardest by the nation's bushfire crisis.

The list, which was compiled by a panel of experts convened by Environment Minister Sussan Ley, includes 19 mammals, 20 reptiles, 13 birds, 17 frogs, 17 freshwater fish species, 22 spiny crayfish and five invertebrates.

Every species on the list has been prioritized for "urgent management intervention" over the next 12 months.

Australian court rules indigenous people can’t be deported

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court ruled Tuesday the government can’t deport Aboriginal people as part of its policy of ridding the country of foreign criminals.

The High Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that indigenous Australians cannot be deported even if they do not hold Australian citizenship.

The court had heard the case of two men who were born overseas but identified as being from indigenous tribes: Brendan Thoms and Daniel Love.

Australian, Indonesian leaders unveil plan to implement landmark trade deal

CANBERRA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has identified Indonesia as a key player in his push to diversify the Australian economy.

Morrison on Monday met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Canberra days after the Indonesian parliament ratified a comprehensive free trade deal between the two countries.

Widodo became the first Indonesian leader to address the Australian parliament since Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did so in 2010.

Support for nuclear energy growing in Australian government

CANBERRA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Members of Australia's governing coalition has called for a re-think of the nation's ban on nuclear energy.

Katie Allen, a government member of parliament (MP) representing inner-city Melbourne, wrote in a column for Nine Entertainment newspapers that Australia has an opportunity to lead the way on developing "safer and more effective" nuclear energy.

UK and Australia commit to free trade negotiations

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made his first overseas trip since Brexit on Thursday to faraway Australia, where he reaffirmed Britain’s desire for a free trade deal and gave assurances that the countries’ differing views on Chinese tech giant Huawei would not stand in the way of closer relations.

Raab’s first stop was the capital Canberra on a trip that will also take him to Japan as well as former British colonies Malaysia and Singapore.

Bodies of two U.S. firefighters killed Australia sent home

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The bodies of two U.S. firefighters killed battling Australian blazes were sent home on Wednesday in emotional ceremonies attended by officials and relatives.

Mourners gathered on the tarmac at Sydney Airport to see off Captain Ian H. McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, Montana, and First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona, as their flag-draped caskets were lifted into aircraft for the journey home.

Fire trucks were parked nearby with their emergency lights flashing.

Australia's deputy PM survives leadership challenge

CANBERRA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Australia's deputy prime minister Michael McCormack on Tuesday survived a challenge to his leadership, re-elected to lead the Nationals Party, defeating former leader Barnaby Joyce.

Addressing the media after the vote, McCormack said it was a great honour to lead the Nationals, which traditionally represents rural voters.

"I have never shied from the responsibility of making sure that every waking minute of every day I work hard for regional Australians," he said.

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