US military wants to increase presence in Australia

The United States government has raised the possibility of increasing the US military presence in the top end of Australia, including having long-range strike bombers at Darwin air base

Early election not ruled out, despite referendum push for longer terms

Despite asking Queensland voters to support a referendum that would give governments four years between elections, the Queensland Premier has not ruled out calling an early election this year, less than two years into her current term.  Following the decision by Cairns based MP Rob Pyne to quit the Labor Party and sit as an independent, Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk has been reported as saying she would "absolutely" call an early election if her legislative agenda is frustrated by the current Parliament.

 

Brisbane City Council campaigning continues

Pre-poll voting in the Brisbane City Council elections has commenced this week, while the three parties contesting the poll continue to release election pledges in the lead up to the actual election day on Saturday 19th March. The LNP yesterday announced funding for two hundred LED-lit street signs across Brisbane, the Labor Party marked International Women's Day by promising equal representation of women on Brisbane City Council boards, while the Greens have promised two new, car-free bridge crossings from Bulimba to Newstead and from West End to Toowong.

 

US military wants to increase presence in Australia

The United States government has raised the possibility of increasing the US military presence in the top end of Australia, including having long-range strike bombers at Darwin air base. A US military spokesperson said the US had to "maintain a credible combat power" in the face of concerns about China’s militarisation of the South China Sea.  Meanwhile, peace groups around Australia are planning to converge on Alice Springs later this year for a Peace and Anti-War Gathering to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the nearby US Pine Gap spy base and to highlight Australia’s growing integration with the US military machine.

 

Refugee Body claims European asylum deal with Turkey is illegal

The regional director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Europe, Vincent Cochetel, says a proposed deal to return large numbers of asylum seekers in Europe back to Turkey would contravene European and international human rights laws.  Mr Cochetel said the collective expulsion of people is prohibited under the European Convention of Human Rights, and a commitment by European Union countries to resettle 20 000 refugees over the next two yearswas "very low". The United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also expressed strong concerns about such an arrangement.

 

Indigenous people in Ecuador protest loss of rainforest homelands

In Ecuador, hundreds of indigenous women from the Amazon region are protesting an agreement by the Ecuador government with a Chinese government-owned oil company which threatens over four hundred thousand hectares of rainforest, including the territory of the Sápara indigenous people.  President of the Sápara Federation, Manari Ushigua, said the government had not conducted free, prior, and informed consultation with her people, as required under Ecuador’s Constitution and the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.