Fires continue in Christchurch and more zedlines

A state of emergency continues in Christchurch, New Zealand, as more than 200 firefighters battle a raging bushfire heading into its fourth day. Image source: Wikimedia

At least 1,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes, while more than 11 houses having been destroyed by the blaze, which covers more than 1,800 hectares.

Emergency workers said a change in wind direction is predicted for later in the week, hopefully lowering temperatures and humidity to slow the fire’s progress.


Full-time employment plunges

Full-time employment has plummeted to its weakest point in 16 months, despite a small decrease in the rate of unemployment.

Market figures are currently indicating a loss of nearly 56,100 full time jobs since January 2015, which Bill Mitchell, director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle, said is showing little sign of improvement.

This comes after the unemployment rate dropped from 5.8 to 5.7 percent, well below the treasury forecast from June last year.

Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales said the changes can be expected due to many people working part-time because they are unable to find full-time work.


Sunshine Coast to get a new theme park

A new theme park is set to be built at the Sunshine Coast, with an abundance of amusement rides, sports precincts, water parks, 4-star hotels with shops and restaurants, spanning an area of 24 hectares.

The whole project will cost around 400 million dollars and was given approval by the Sunshine Coast Council earlier this month, with the construction for stage one to begin mid year.

This project is an endeavour by Sanad Capital, a division of Dubai based business conglomerate, Najibi.


'Gold pass' set to be scrapped following Senate vote

Former Federal politicians will no longer be entitled to free flights funded by the taxpayer, following a vote in the Senate.

The Upper House elected to abandon the ‘gold pass’, which entitled former parliamentarians to 10 return flights each year.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan said the changes, which includes the establishment of the Parliamentary Expenses Authority to oversee politician’s spending, are necessary to restore public faith in the use of taxpayer resources.

The changes come following last month’s travel expenses scandal, which forced Sussan Ley to resign as Health Minister following investigations into her use of taxpayer money for private travel.


Manus Island Detention Centre to close by end of 2017

The Manus Island Detention centre is set to close by the end of 2017, a senior member of the government has told court.

Assistant Secretary with the Department of Immigration and Border Security Paul Douglas said the Papua New Guinean High Court are pushing to have the centre closed as soon as possible.

Douglas’s comments coincide with the recent escalation of deportations on the island, as well as the ongoing discussions of resettlement deals with the US.

PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, also approves the closure and said the detention centre has been a “problem” that has damaged his country’s reputation.


US President backs away from two-state solution

US President Donald Trump has backed away from the US’s longstanding commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Trump told reporters he could live with a two-state or a one state solution, with Palestinians reacting with alarm to the possibility of Washington abandoning its support for an independent Palestinian state.

Mr Trump vowed to work towards a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, but said it would require compromise from both parties, calling on Mr Netanyahu to “pull back” on settlements.

The right wing Israeli leader insisted Jewish settlements were not the core of the conflict, and made no commitment to reduce settlement building.