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Israeli warplanes batter Gaza with missiles

Terrorists fired rockets from the Gaza strip to Israel last night – one fell short, one was stopped,..

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  • Terrorists fired rockets from the Gaza strip to Israel last night – one fell short, one was stopped, one hit city
  • In retaliation, Israeli warplanes hit Gaza with missiles targeting military bases and killing two Hamas members
  • Today Palestinian protesters march on Israel border after Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital

By By Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Global Editor, In Jerusalem

Published: 03:29 EST, 9 December 2017 | Updated: 07:49 EST, 9 December 2017

Israeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel as violent protests continued today following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the country's capital.

Targets included two weapons manufacturing sites, a military compound and an arsenal. Reports in Gaza said that 15 people were injured in the strikes, including a six-month-old boy.

Two members of Hamas were killed by strikes on the Hamas facility at Nusseirat in central Gaza, officials said.

The attack was a response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Friday which forced Israeli civilians in the south of the country to run for cover as air raid sirens blared for the first time since the unrest began.

One rocket fell short, the second was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, and one landed in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, damaging property but causing no casualties.

The Israeli Defence Force blamed Palestine for the deaths and injuries caused by its retaliation. It said in a statement: 'The IDF views the shooting at Israeli communities severely. Hamas is solely responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip.'

Israeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel from terrorists in the coastal enclave. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

Israeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel from terrorists in the coastal enclave. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

Gaza's health ministry reported that two were killed, both at the Hamas facility at Nusseirat in central Gaza. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on SaturdayGaza's health ministry reported that two were killed, both at the Hamas facility at Nusseirat in central Gaza. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

Gaza's health ministry reported that two were killed, both at the Hamas facility at Nusseirat in central Gaza. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

The attack was a response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Friday night. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on SaturdayThe attack was a response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Friday night. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

The attack was a response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Friday night. Pictured: The damage in Gaza on Saturday

A wounded baby waits for treatment at Indonesia hospital after Israeli army carried out airstrikes on Gaza on FridayA wounded baby waits for treatment at Indonesia hospital after Israeli army carried out airstrikes on Gaza on Friday

A wounded baby waits for treatment at Indonesia hospital after Israeli army carried out airstrikes on Gaza on Friday

Today hundreds of Palestinian protesters marched from the town of Khan Younis, in Gaza, towards the Israeli border fence, with ambulances standing by in anticipation of casualties.

As the violence intensified, police forcibly closed shops along the streets. Dramatic video taken by MailOnline reporter Jake Wallis Simons showed mounted Israeli police, backed up by officers shooting teargas, violently dispersing a demonstration in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem.

About 100 demonstrators gathered at lunchtime, chanting 'Jerusalem is Palestine' and stopping traffic. Their intention was to march on the Old City, a short walk away.

Police moved in quickly as the tension mounted. One woman was injured before officers on horseback charged the growing crowds, demonstrators and bystanders alike.

Teargas and stun grenades were deployed as increasing numbers of protestors fled into nearby buildings and down Salah e-Din Street, the main commercial street of East Jerusalem.

Dramatic video showed mounted Israeli police, backed up by officers shooting teargas, violently dispersing a demonstration in the heart of Arab East JerusalemDramatic video showed mounted Israeli police, backed up by officers shooting teargas, violently dispersing a demonstration in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem

Dramatic video showed mounted Israeli police, backed up by officers shooting teargas, violently dispersing a demonstration in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem

About 100 demonstrators gathered at lunchtime, chanting 'Jerusalem is Palestine' and stopping traffic. Their intention was to march on the Old City, a short walk awayAbout 100 demonstrators gathered at lunchtime, chanting 'Jerusalem is Palestine' and stopping traffic. Their intention was to march on the Old City, a short walk away

About 100 demonstrators gathered at lunchtime, chanting 'Jerusalem is Palestine' and stopping traffic. Their intention was to march on the Old City, a short walk away

Police moved in quickly as the tension mounted. One woman was injured before officers on horseback charged the growing crowds, demonstrators and bystanders alikePolice moved in quickly as the tension mounted. One woman was injured before officers on horseback charged the growing crowds, demonstrators and bystanders alike

Police moved in quickly as the tension mounted. One woman was injured before officers on horseback charged the growing crowds, demonstrators and bystanders alike

Police tore down Palestinian flags and made two arrests before blocking off the street. They then charged with a volley of stun grenades, followed by mounted officers, to push protestors backPolice tore down Palestinian flags and made two arrests before blocking off the street. They then charged with a volley of stun grenades, followed by mounted officers, to push protestors back

Police tore down Palestinian flags and made two arrests before blocking off the street. They then charged with a volley of stun grenades, followed by mounted officers, to push protestors back

Police tore down Palestinian flags and made two arrests before blocking off the street. They then charged with a volley of stun grenades, followed by mounted officers, to push protestors back.

It comes after Palestinian group Hamas called for an intensification of conflict following Trump's decision on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The city is claimed by both Palestine and Israel.

Israeli army reinforcements have been deployed in significant numbers to the settlements on the West Bank in an attempt to defend against possible terror attacks on the Jewish outposts.

The army put the overall number of demonstrators during yesterday's 'day of rage' at 5,000, which was lower than feared, but emphasised that clashes may continue for several days.

Commanders are due to meet tonight to review the situation on the ground and make a decision about troop numbers in the coming days.

An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza StripAn injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip

An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of IsraelPalestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Palestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

A Palestinian protester throws stones to Israeli security forces during a demonstration in Bethlehem on SaturdayA Palestinian protester throws stones to Israeli security forces during a demonstration in Bethlehem on Saturday

A Palestinian protester throws stones to Israeli security forces during a demonstration in Bethlehem on Saturday

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on SaturdayPalestinian protestors clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Saturday

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Saturday

Today hundreds of Palestinian protesters are marching from the town of Khan Younis, in Gaza, towards the Israeli border fenceToday hundreds of Palestinian protesters are marching from the town of Khan Younis, in Gaza, towards the Israeli border fence

Today hundreds of Palestinian protesters are marching from the town of Khan Younis, in Gaza, towards the Israeli border fence

A Palestinian kicks away a tear gas grenade shot by Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of BethlehemA Palestinian kicks away a tear gas grenade shot by Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

A Palestinian kicks away a tear gas grenade shot by Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Anger: A Palestinian protester throws stones towards Israeli forces during clashes on Saturday morning in IsraelAnger: A Palestinian protester throws stones towards Israeli forces during clashes on Saturday morning in Israel

Anger: A Palestinian protester throws stones towards Israeli forces during clashes on Saturday morning in Israel

Israel prepares for a second wave of violent protests this morning after Hamas has called for an intensification of the conflict. Pictured: Palestinian protests on SaturdayIsrael prepares for a second wave of violent protests this morning after Hamas has called for an intensification of the conflict. Pictured: Palestinian protests on Saturday

Israel prepares for a second wave of violent protests this morning after Hamas has called for an intensification of the conflict. Pictured: Palestinian protests on Saturday

Israeli army reinforcements have been deployed in significant numbers to the settlements on the West Bank. Pictured: Palestinian protests on SaturdayIsraeli army reinforcements have been deployed in significant numbers to the settlements on the West Bank. Pictured: Palestinian protests on Saturday

Israeli army reinforcements have been deployed in significant numbers to the settlements on the West Bank. Pictured: Palestinian protests on Saturday

Israeli troops during clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank city of BethlehemIsraeli troops during clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Israeli troops during clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

Yesterday two Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded during about 30 violent protests in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The majority suffered from tear gas inhalation. Eleven were wounded by live fire.

The clashes were less intense than had been feared, however, and appeared to fall well short of another intifada, or Palestinian uprising.

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, called for mass violence against Israelis until the Jewish State was destroyed, saying: 'We will stick to the strategic plan until we reach the final point, the liberation of Jerusalem and all the land of Palestine.'

The Israeli official in charge of Palestinian areas wrote a Facebook post in Arabic appealing for calm.

'Extremists want to ferment the street with lies and distortions because this is a religious war,' Major General Yoav Mordechai wrote. 'I urge you not to let the extremists destroy the Christmas holidays… Israel preserves access to the holy sites for all, and anybody who says otherwise is a liar'.

Israeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel from terrorists in the coastal enclave. Pictured: A Palestinian protester pushes a tire onto a fire barricade as they clashed with Israeli border guardsIsraeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel from terrorists in the coastal enclave. Pictured: A Palestinian protester pushes a tire onto a fire barricade as they clashed with Israeli border guards

Israeli warplanes rained down missiles on Gaza overnight in retaliation for rockets shot into Israel from terrorists in the coastal enclave. Pictured: A Palestinian protester pushes a tire onto a fire barricade as they clashed with Israeli border guards

A masked Palestinian woman gestures during clashes with Israeli troops at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Friday prayers today. Protests have taken place around the world against Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of IsraelA masked Palestinian woman gestures during clashes with Israeli troops at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Friday prayers today. Protests have taken place around the world against Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

A masked Palestinian woman gestures during clashes with Israeli troops at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah after Friday prayers today. Protests have taken place around the world against Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

This was the scene in Bethlehem yesterday as Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the second day of unrest in the townThis was the scene in Bethlehem yesterday as Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the second day of unrest in the town

This was the scene in Bethlehem yesterday as Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the second day of unrest in the town

Flashpoint: Israeli forces used power jets to control and disperse crowds in Bethlehem following Friday prayers yesterdayFlashpoint: Israeli forces used power jets to control and disperse crowds in Bethlehem following Friday prayers yesterday

Flashpoint: Israeli forces used power jets to control and disperse crowds in Bethlehem following Friday prayers yesterday

Kashmiri Shitte Muslims burnt an effigy of Donald Trump as they marched through the streets of Srinagar this morningKashmiri Shitte Muslims burnt an effigy of Donald Trump as they marched through the streets of Srinagar this morning

Kashmiri Shitte Muslims burnt an effigy of Donald Trump as they marched through the streets of Srinagar this morning

Furious campaigners are pictured torching a US flag during protests in Kabul, Afghanistan after Friday prayers this morningFurious campaigners are pictured torching a US flag during protests in Kabul, Afghanistan after Friday prayers this morning

Furious campaigners are pictured torching a US flag during protests in Kabul, Afghanistan after Friday prayers this morning

A protester jumps over the burning effigy of US President Donald Trump during an anti-US and Israeli protest in Peshawar, Pakistan, todayA protester jumps over the burning effigy of US President Donald Trump during an anti-US and Israeli protest in Peshawar, Pakistan, today

A protester jumps over the burning effigy of US President Donald Trump during an anti-US and Israeli protest in Peshawar, Pakistan, today

Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem (pictured) today while there were also confrontations in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah in the wake of Donald Trump's new stance on JerusalemPalestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem (pictured) today while there were also confrontations in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah in the wake of Donald Trump's new stance on Jerusalem

Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem (pictured) today while there were also confrontations in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah in the wake of Donald Trump's new stance on Jerusalem

Israeli officials continued to praise Mr Trump's move on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as its capital, with the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, calling it 'the date that the President of the free world stood on the side of truth'.

Mr Berkat, who is famous for neutralising a knife-wielding terrorist on the streets of Jerusalem with his bare hands in 2015, praised 'leaders who will do what is right in spite of threats and incitement from the region.'

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, praised the vociferous condemnation of Mr Trump's decision by the international community. 'The United States of America is no longer qualified to act as a broker and mediator of the peace process,' he said.

Protesters burn a mock US flag as they take part in an anti-Trump anti-Israel march outside the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan on FridayProtesters burn a mock US flag as they take part in an anti-Trump anti-Israel march outside the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan on Friday

Protesters burn a mock US flag as they take part in an anti-Trump anti-Israel march outside the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan on Friday

'Jerusalem!' Trump was cheered as he entered the East Room and when he started a speech Thursday, said 'there were a lot of very happy people' before saying 'Jerusalem''Jerusalem!' Trump was cheered as he entered the East Room and when he started a speech Thursday, said 'there were a lot of very happy people' before saying 'Jerusalem'

'Jerusalem!' Trump was cheered as he entered the East Room and when he started a speech Thursday, said 'there were a lot of very happy people' before saying 'Jerusalem'

Dina Powell, a veteran Middle East expert who has been a key part of Mr Trump's Israel-Palestine team, dramatically resigned, though she did state that she was leaving 'on good terms'.

Ms Powell, who speaks fluent Arabic, was previously an adviser to Jared Kushner and worked in the State Department under George W Bush, focussing on relations with Arab countries.

The international diplomatic community continued to make sense of Mr Trump's unprecedented move to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United Nations Security Council met yesterday at the request of eight of its 15 members, including Britain and France, declaring that 'the status of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations'.

Britain urged the US to put forward a detailed roadmap for peace between the two sides.

However, America's envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the UN has done more harm than good to peace in the middle east. 'Israel will never be, and should never be, bullied into an agreement by the United Nations,' she said.

The Israeli envoy emphasised that there could never be peace without Jerusalem being recognised as the capital of the Jewish State.

The Czech Republic, which had mustered a level of support for Mr Trump's position by saying it would recognise west Jerusalem as Israel's capital, appeared to climb down from this position.

The EU's foreign policy representative Federica Mogherini said that the Czech foreign minister had pledged to support the EU's policy of reserving such recognition until a peace agreement was achieved.

So far, only the Philippines has joined the United States in vowing to move its embassy to the disputed city, though Israeli diplomatic pressure is being applied to its allies – mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America – to follow suit.

South Africa is considering downgrading its embassy in Israel to a 'liaison office' in protest against 'the lack of commitment from Israel to finding a resolution to the Palestinian question', though that country's Jewish and Christian communities are campaigning against the move.

An Israeli cabinet minister said that Mr Trump's statement clearly left open a route to partition Jerusalem, a proposal that would be vehemently opposed by Israel.

Zeev Elkin, Jerusalem Affairs Minister, said: 'He hinted that borders in Jerusalem will also be set as a result of negotiations, which presupposes an option of partition.'

The world-wide Jewish community remained split on the issue. In a statement, the Reform movement said, 'we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process', a position that Israel's consul in New York, Dani Dayan, called 'deeply frustrating and disappointing'.

How first 'intifada' erupted almost exactly 30 years ago

Thirty years ago, on December 9, 1987, the first intifada or popular Palestinian uprising broke out, inflaming the occupied territories for six years.

Deadly accident sparks uprising

On December 8, 1987, four Palestinians from the Gaza Strip's Jabaliya refugee camp are crushed to death by an Israeli lorry.

The accident sparks violent clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinian demonstrators in eight camps the next day as the victims are buried.

It is the start of the first intifada, largely based on stone-throwing, which spreads like wildfire throughout the occupied territories.

Iron fist

Inhabitants of the Palestinian territories, under Israeli control since the Six-Day War in 1967, have been submitted since August 1985 to the 'iron fist' policy of Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin, seeking to end any show of resistance.

Surprised by the extent of the uprising, Rabin first gives the order to 'break the bones' of the Palestinian demonstrators, before going on the acknowledge that there is no military solution to the intifada.

Youths, some as young as 10, use their familiarity with the terrain to battle Israeli soldiers.

Troops who have not been trained for such conflicts respond to stones and petrol bombs with fire from automatic weapons.

For the first time since the Arab-Israeli conflict erupted 40 years earlier, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, around one and a half million people, engage in open conflict with Israel.

Israel accuses Syria, Iran and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) of fomenting the violence.

In fact, the intifada is a popular movement born of Palestinian frustration at two decades of occupation, and PLO leaders exiled in Tunis are among those taken by surprise.

More than 1,200 Palestinians killed

On September 13, 1993, the Oslo Accords are signed in Washington by Israel and the PLO, granting Palestinians limited autonomy over the territories where they live.

The signature leads to the historic handshake between Rabin, now prime minister, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

On September 24, the PLO orders militants to stop attacking Israeli troops.

In six years, 1,258 Palestinians have been killed by soldiers or Jewish settlers, according to an AFP tally based on Palestinian sources.

Most of the casualties, of whom nearly a quarter were under 16, were killed when Israeli troops broke up demonstrations.

Around 150 Israelis are killed, for the most part later in the uprising when it intensifies under the direction of Islamists from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organisation.

Rabin says in 1994 that between 120,000 and 140,000 people passed through Israeli prisons during the intifada.

Rabin is assassinated a year later by a Jewish extremist opposed to the peace process.

The second intifada erupts when right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon pays a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem on September 28, 2000.

The Israeli army was to reoccupy much of the West Bank, before launching a vast offensive in 2002.

In 2005, it withdrew its last soldier from Gaza under a unilateral disengagement.

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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