Category Archives: Oceania

Church fate

When the royal commission sat for the final time, the church was not there. Senior figures were not present. It fell to a layperson to attend, to Francis Sullivan, whose self-critical stewardship of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council has been the only redemption of an institution built on the preaching of forgiveness.

“I think it would have been a real sign of solidarity with the victims if we’d had some members of the hierarchy and senior figures from the church here,” Sullivan said afterwards. “One can only assume they didn’t feel comfortable coming here.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Oceania


Tags: ,

New Caledonia’s date with destiny

It’s early Monday morning and we’re on the road to the capital Noumea from New Caledonia’s Northern Province. The bus is full of young people heading back to school or work, after a weekend visiting their families in their home villages.

On the outskirts of town, we’re halted by a contingent of French gendarmes. The police block both exits from the bus and send a sniffer dog through, searching for drugs. After the dog reacts to one bag, a young Kanak girl is taken off for questioning. She returns shamefaced after the gendarmes had rummaged through her bag in front of everyone, waving her underclothes in the air, without finding any pakalolo.

New Caledonia has changed a lot since the armed conflict of the mid 1980s, known as les évènements (the Troubles). But interactions like this suggest that inter-community reconciliation still has a way to go.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2017 in European Union, Oceania


Tags: ,

Australia is at a point where it has to choose between its ally America and its economic backer China 

With America’s commitment to Asia-Pacific security looking shaky and China’s economic—and military—might rising, a peculiarly Australian question is at the forefront: Are we Asian or Western? It’s a dilemma not just of cultural identity—but about which major power Australia’s future hinges on.“We haven’t had to choose in the past,” said Hugh White, a former official in Australia’s defense department who now teaches at Australian National University (ANU). But with a more isolationist Trump administration in power in the US, “Australia now has to think for the first time in its history what kind of place it wants to make for itself when Asia is not dominated by an Anglo-Saxon power.”

Source: Australia is at a point where it has to choose between its ally America and its economic backer China — Quartz

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 10, 2017 in Oceania



Australia Beckons a war with China

Australia is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with an unstable superpower.The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria – following his bombing of a mosque and a school – he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.


Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Asia, Oceania


Tags: ,

Rough times

It’s a cold, wet Monday night in Melbourne, but the confluence of Flinders Lane, Degraves Street and Centre Place – the centre of “the world’s most liveable city” – is swirling with activity. In the shadows, just beyond the clip of foot traffic, Peter slumps in his brown woollen poncho on a thick square of cardboard. In front of him is a small wicker basket speckled with silver coins, and a cardboard sign on which is handwritten a tale of personal tragedy and an appeal for charity. In the darkened doorway behind him stands a shopping trolley filled with his life’s possessions: two sleeping bags, a swag, a coat, bundles of clothes and, for bartering purposes, four cans of Canadian Club whisky and two bottles of wine that he found on his night-time wanderings.

Source: Egypt: Laughter in the Dark | by Zadie Smith | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Oceania



Ambiguity over refugee deal is tough for people who have little resilience left 

While it is encouraging to see the inertia around durable resettlement solutions for refugees on Manus and Nauru broken, Sunday’s announcement that they will be resettled in the United States raises more questions for those involved than it answers, particularly in the current political climate, and in light of Trump’s plans to ban Muslim immigration. This kind of ambiguity, while not unfamiliar, is particularly tough for a cohort who have already lived through three years of uncertainty and have scarce resilience left to draw upon.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2016 in North America, Oceania


Tags: , ,

New Zealand’s Tectonic Dragon Awakens

New Zealand is a country in which sheep outnumber people by a factor of six, and its serene pastures have a timelessness that feels exempt from change. But Monday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake, centered near Kaikoura, sixty miles north of Christchurch, was a brutal reminder that, beneath its verdant carpet, New Zealand is still under active construction. It occupies one of the most complex geologic venues on the globe, at the messy boundary of two tectonic plates. The North Island, where the capital, Wellington, lies, is part of the Australian plate, and its landscape is dominated by two dozen active volcanoes. (One of these, the Taupo caldera, is notorious in the annals of volcanology as the site of Earth’s most recent super-eruption, twenty-six thousand years ago, which covered parts of the island in ejecta six hundred feet deep. Outside geophysical circles, the region is more generally famous as the home of Mt. Doom in the “Lord of the Rings” films.) The plate boundary lies about forty miles offshore, at the Hikurangi trench, a deep warp in the ocean floor where the Pacific crust slides westward beneath the Australian plate. Meanwhile, off the southern end of the South Island, the configuration is reversed—that is, the Australian plate sinks eastward beneath the Pacific plate.

Source: New Zealand’s Tectonic Dragon Awakens – The New Yorker

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Oceania


Tags: ,

The art of tour guiding 

Tour guiding in Australia is easy on some levels: you feed your charges well, take them to the right places, and try to keep their feet warm. But extreme weather, mechanical problems, flies in the daytime, mosquitoes at night, the Germans, the lack of sleep, the feelings of deep existential loneliness … all these things will conspire against you.
You should never, or almost never, give your tourists the choice between two options. This is a mistake inexperienced guides often make. Are you not the leader of this expedition? Have you not been here a hundred times before and know what it’s about? Don’t go inflicting the misery of democracy on them. It may seem generous and noble, but in the middle of an Australian summer I have seen some people reduced to tears.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Oceania, Reportages


Tags: ,

Offshore detention’s callous, brutal bureaucracy damns itself 

Australia’s grubby little secret is secret no more.
The truth of the offshore detention regime financed, controlled and run by Australian government on the remote Pacific island of Nauru has been brutally exposed by the revelation by the Guardian of the Nauru files.
For all of the extreme measures to which the Australian government has gone to keep its offshore detention regime from public eye – moving detention centres to remote foreign islands where compliant local governments keep journalists away; an extreme and unapologetic secrecy about the “on-water matters” of boat turnbacks; legislation to jail doctors and detention centre workers who speak out on behalf of those held; and restricting access for international agencies such as the United Nations – the truth about its remote camps has continued to leak out over the four years of offshore detention. Now, it is laid bare.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2016 in Oceania, Reportages


Tags: , , ,

Manus, Omid and the campaign against offshore detention and resettlement

After three years of murders, hunger strikes, mass protests and forcing people to live in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled on April 26 that detaining asylum seekers in the Manus Island Detention Centre is a breach of the country’s constitution.

In the same week, Omid, an Iranian refugee who had been forcibly resettled on Nauru, self-immolated in front of UNHCR inspectors because he could not “take it anymore”.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Oceania


Tags: , , ,