The Guardian 2024-04-24 10:01:32


Seven juveniles with alleged ‘violent extremist ideology’ arrested in Sydney counter-terror raids

NSW police deputy commissioner says more than 400 police were involved in the raids

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Seven juveniles have been arrested as part of extensive counter-terrorism raids across south-western Sydney, with police alleging they adhere to a “religiously motivated violent extremist ideology”.

New South Wales police said 13 search warrants were executed on Wednesday, leading to the arrest of seven “juveniles” including 15, 16 and 17-year-olds. Five others are assisting police with their inquiries.

The arrests come amid the ongoing investigation into the alleged stabbing of bishop Mar Mari Emmanual at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley last week. A 16-year-old has been charged with a terrorist offence over the alleged attack.

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Deputy commissioner Krissy Barrett of the Australian federal police, who were aiding investigations and in the execution of the warrants, said that there was “no evidence” of any planned attack.

She said the arrests come as part of the NSW joint counter-terrorism team’s (JCTT) investigation into the alleged offender and his associates.

“We identified links between the alleged offender and a network of associates and peers who would believe shared a similar violent extremist ideology.

“At this time, we have no evidence of specific locations, times, or targets of a violent act,” she said.

The NSW police deputy commissioner, David Hudson, said that the arrests come amid concerns that “it was likely that an attack might ensue”.

“It was considered that the group, subject of our attention, posed an unacceptable risk to the people of New South Wales, and our current purely investigative strategies could not adequately ensure public safety.”

“Their behaviour, whilst under that surveillance, led us to believe that, if they were to commit any act, we would not be able to prevent that.”

He repeated that police investigations had failed to identify if the group had any specific target, adding that the group was “loose” in nature.

“No specific targets had been nominated. However, it’s just the ongoing threat and loose nature of the group as well. Whilst coordinated to some degree, there were splinter factions doing their own thing as well.”

Hudson said more than 400 members of the joint counter-terrorism team from the state and federal police forces, as well as the NSW crime commission, were part of the action that began at about 11.15am.

Both Hudson and Barrett said there was no current ongoing threat to community.

Hudson said the group all “come from the same area” when asked if they all attended the same school.

“They’re all obviously from very similar areas in the community. And there’s a crossover on individuals between different groups. But they are all known to each other – some quite closely, some loosely.”

The JCTT that is investigating the alleged attack last week comprises of the NSW police, the Australian federal police, Asio and the NSW Crime Commission.

At a National Press Club address on Wednesday, the Australian federal police commissioner, Reece Kershaw, confirmed the raids were in relation to the alleged attack by a 16-year-old boy at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church.

The bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was allegedly stabbed during a livestreamed memorial service at the church, sparking a riot outside the church. The stabbing incident was later designated a terror incident.

Mike Burgess, the director general of Asio, was also at the National Press Club on Wednesday and said his officers were involved in the investigation.

“Asio is a part of the joint counter-terrorism in every state and territory,” he said. “My officers are connected and involved and embedded inside the joint counter-terrorism team.”

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With that, we’ll end our live coverage of the day’s news.

Here’s a summary of the main news developments:

  • Seven juveniles have been arrested as part of extensive counter-terrorism raids across south-western Sydney, with police alleging they adhere to a “religiously motivated violent extremist ideology”.

  • The bishop who was allegedly stabbed in his Sydney church last week has written an affidavit for Elon Musk’s X, arguing video of the attack should not be censored as ordered by the Australian online safety regulator, the federal court has heard.

  • Woodside Energy has suffered an embarrassing rebuke of its climate credentials after its emissions plan was overwhelmingly rejected by shareholders at its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

  • Having pleaded guilty to maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child, a former teacher now wants the conviction overturned on the basis she cannot be held legally responsible due to her gender.

  • Victorian homicide detectives are investigating the death of a woman after her body was discovered in the state’s north on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading, and have a pleasant evening.

Woodside Energy’s climate plan rejected by shareholders in ‘globally unprecedented’ rebuke

Investors lodge 58% protest vote against emissions report but defiant chair Richard Goyder maintains company is part of solution to climate change

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Woodside Energy has suffered an embarrassing rebuke of its climate credentials after its emissions plan was overwhelmingly rejected by shareholders at its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Investors lodged a 58% vote against Woodside’s climate report, representing the strongest protest recorded against any of the dozens of listed companies around the world that regularly put climate-related resolutions to shareholders.

The Woodside chair, Richard Goyder, who survived a push against his own re-election at the AGM, said he was disappointed by the result, which was non-binding.

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“The board will seriously consider the outcome when reviewing our approach to climate change,” Goyder told shareholders in Perth. “We take the shareholder feedback seriously.”

The well-known businessman, who also chairs Qantas and the AFL, was defiant, telling investors that Woodside’s operations were part of the solution to climate change.

“The world’s going to be a heck of a lot better off if it moves from coal-fired power to gas-fired power as soon as it can,” he said.

The battle over Woodside’s climate plan pitted the country’s biggest oil and gas producer against global and Australian investors increasingly concerned about the energy sector’s contribution to global warming.

Critics believe Woodside’s strategy is overly reliant on offsets, not aligned with Paris climate agreements, and does not seriously consider emissions produced by those using its gas.

The producer has also been criticised for pursuing plans to develop new fields, representing an expansion in fossil fuel production at a time opponents say the sector must rein in emissions.

The criticism rubs against the position laid out by Woodside representatives, who repeatedly said the company was poised to “thrive through the energy transition” and was required for energy security.

The Woodside chief executive, Meg O’Neill, said the company was proud of the role gas was playing to support decarbonisation. She said some rivals had retreated on their climate goals after being unrealistic.

“At Woodside, we are determined to play our role in addressing climate change, but we won’t make promises that we can’t deliver,” she said on Wednesday.

Climate reports, which detail how a company plans to align operations with rising environmental concerns, are subject to non-binding votes and therefore don’t automatically trigger a policy change.

They are, however, a way for shareholders to express their disapproval, placing pressure on directors to change direction, especially given some of the world’s biggest investment and pension funds, including AustralianSuper, have now voted against Woodside’s plans.

Harriet Kater from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a shareholder advocacy group, said the scale of the report’s rejection was “globally unprecedented” and that the board must now act.

“It is inconceivable for Richard Goyder’s board to continue its trend of dismissing shareholder concerns following this overwhelming rejection of Woodside’s climate plan,” Kater said.

The AGM attracted a significant protest, with about 200 activists outside the meeting, flanked by police, chanting and holding placards with anti-Woodside messaging.

“Shame on Woodside, when you gonna learn, you can’t make money on a planet that burns,” they chanted, AAP reported. “Six months no rain, Woodside are to blame.”

The AGM was briefly suspended at one stage to remove protesters who were in the meeting.

–AAP contributed to this report

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Anne Enright, Kate Grenville and Isabella Hammad shortlisted for Women’s prize for fiction

Capturing ‘an enormous breadth of the human experience’, the six shortlisted novels compete for a £30,000 prize to be awarded in June

Monica Ali on how the judges chose the shortlist

Anne Enright, Kate Grenville and Isabella Hammad are among the contenders for this year’s Women’s prize for fiction, on a shortlist that features migration as a recurring theme.

French-Chinese-American writer Aube Rey Lescure was shortlisted for River East, River West, a reversal of the east-to-west immigrant narrative, set against China’s economic boom. Lescure is the only debut writer on this year’s shortlist, despite the fact that debuts made up half of the longlist.

British writer Hammad, whose father is Palestinian, was shortlisted for Enter Ghost, which follows actor Sonia as she travels from London to Haifa to visit her sister and joins an Arabic production of Hamlet in the West Bank. The novel “takes you deep inside the protagonist’s experience while opening a wider window on to life for Palestinians and their exhausting day-to-day struggles”, wrote Holly Williams in the Guardian.

American writer VV Ganeshananthan, who is of Ilankai Tamil descent, was shortlisted for Brotherless Night, about a girl born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, who dreams of becoming a doctor before civil war subsumes the country and those around her are swept up in violent political ideologies. “A powerful book that has the intimacy of memoir, the range and ambition of an epic, and tells a truly unforgettable story about the Sri Lankan civil war,” said judge and author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀.

The winner of the prize, worth £30,000, will be announced at a ceremony in London on 13 June, alongside the announcement of the inaugural Women’s prize for nonfiction winner.

The shortlist “features six brilliant, thought-provoking and spellbinding novels that between them capture an enormous breadth of the human experience,” said judging chair and author Monica Ali. “Readers will be captivated by the characters, the luminous writing and the exquisite storytelling. Each book is gloriously compelling and inventive and lingers in the heart and mind long after the final page.”

Australian author Grenville, who won the Women’s prize – then called the Orange prize – in 2001 for The Idea of Perfection, has been shortlisted for Restless Dolly Maunder, the imagined story of Grenville’s maternal grandmother, born at the end of the 19th century, and her search for independence. “The writing sparkles with Grenville’s gift for transcendently clear imagery,” wrote Kirsten Tranter in her Guardian review. The book is “a work of history, biography, story and memoir, all fused into a novel that suggests the great potential of literary art as redeemer, healer and pathway to understanding”.

Enright’s shortlisted novel The Wren, The Wren is about the relationship between the daughter and granddaughter of a deceased poet. “All the vividness of characterisation that her readers have come to expect is here, and so is the wry, almost surreal wit with which she has always laced her acute observations of human folly,” wrote Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian.

Fellow Irish writer Claire Kilroy also made the list with Soldier Sailor, an account of early motherhood in the form of an internal monologue addressed from mother to son. Kilroy’s “first novel in 10 years is a whole-body experience”, wrote Sarah Crown in the Guardian. “The novel is brief but utterly remorseless – it comes at you full-throttle, as if delivered on a single breath.”

Joining Ali and Adébáyọ̀ on the judging panel were author and illustrator Laura Dockrill, actor Indira Varma, and presenter and author Anna Whitehouse.

The 10 longlisted titles that did not make the shortlist were Hangman by Maya Binyam, In Defence of the Act by Effie Black, And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott, The Maiden by Kate Foster, 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster by Mirinae Lee, The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord, Western Lane by Chetna Maroo, Nightbloom by Peace Adzo Medie, Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan and A Trace of Sun by Pam Williams.

Recent winners of the prize include Ruth Ozeki for The Book of Form and Emptiness, Susanna Clarke for Piranesi and Maggie O’Farrell for Hamnet. In 2023, Barbara Kingsolver won the award for Demon Copperhead, which also won the Pulitzer prize for fiction.

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‘Six spellbinding and thought-provoking novels’: why we chose the Women’s prize for fiction shortlist

From Sri Lanka to New South Wales and Shanghai, these wide-ranging stories are united by a compelling focus on women’s experience

Anne Enright, Kate Grenville and Isabella Hammad shortlisted for Women’s prize for fiction

Very few literary prizes have the power to significantly move the needle in terms of securing a larger readership for the books they champion. One of those is the Women’s prize for fiction, and therefore it has been a great responsibility and honour for me and my fellow judges – Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Laura Dockrill, Indira Varma and Anna Whitehouse – to select this year’s shortlist. It features six spellbinding and thought-provoking novels.

Isabella Hammad’s Enter Ghost tells the story of Sonia, a British-Palestinian actor, who goes to visit her sister in Israel. She is persuaded to join a local theatre troupe that is attempting, against the odds, to stage a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. It’s an exquisite piece of storytelling that weaves history and politics and family with a profound meditation on the purpose of art. It’s nuanced, multilayered and gorgeously written and, as with all great novels, rewards multiple readings.

River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure is set in Shanghai in the mid 2000s and opens with a wedding. Fourteen-year-old Alva is dismayed that her American mother, Sloan, is marrying Lu Fang, a local businessman. The narrative flips between Alva and Lu Fang, bringing to life Chinese history and society from the Cultural Revolution onwards. It’s an inversion of the cross-cultural or immigrant story, that examines identity and what it means to belong or be an outsider. It’s original, it’s often funny and it’s sometimes heartbreaking too.

Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, beginning on a sheep farm in New South Wales in 1881. Dolly fights constantly against the constraints placed on her as a woman in a man’s world, and pays a high price for her nonconformity. She builds a business, then loses everything and is forced to start over – but she never loses her fighting spirit. Grenville writes prose that is simultaneously plain and poetic, and we are transported to those harsh and beautiful landscapes that mirror the pain and beauty of Dolly’s struggles.

Sashi, the protagonist of Brotherless Night by VV Ganeshananthan, begins her account of the Sri Lankan civil war with a prologue set in New York in 2009, before circling back to her childhood in Jaffna. She and her four brothers have bright futures ahead of them. Sashi is determined to become a doctor, an ambition she fulfils despite the war. But all of her brothers become, in very different ways, lost to her because of the conflict. This is a searing, deeply moving novel that centres on women’s experience of war, that bears witness to the suffering and brutality of all sides, and is unflinching in its commitment to complexity and clear-eyed moral scrutiny.

The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright explores the messy, often fraught relationship between Carmel and her daughter, Nell, and the long shadow thrown over the family by Carmel’s famous poet father, Phil. In scalpel-sharp prose, Enright evokes trauma, anger, resentments and even violence, and also the river of love that flows beneath it all. There are wider themes here too, such as if and how art can be viewed separately from the artist, and the nature of memory. It is a dazzling achievement.

Another book that examines motherhood with searing honesty and originality is Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy. Addressed by a new mother to her infant son, it examines the unexpected grief about the life she’s lost, the brutal banalities of childcare and the overwhelming love she experiences. Raw, funny and angry, it is a novel that provokes a huge range of emotions in the reader: sorrow for the agony that the new mum endures, laughter and tenderness, and awe at the elemental and universal aspects of parenthood.

While some of the titles we have chosen focus on intimate family relationships, others encompass a sweep of history. Yet in all six novels on the shortlist, whether in the home or in the context of war and political upheaval, there is an eye on the particularity of women’s experience.

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Two horses running loose in central London caught by police

Pictures and videos of riderless horses in centre of English capital shared on social media

Two escaped horses have been contained after they were seen running around central London, the City of London police have said.

The force said officers were waiting for an army horse box to collect the animals and take them to a vet.

In a statement, police said: “At around 8.40am, we were called about horses that had become loose and were travelling through the City. Our officers have contained two horses on the highway near Limehouse.

“We’re waiting for an army horse box to collect the horses and transport them to veterinary care.”

Earlier, the animals, wearing saddles and bridles, were seen running in the road near Aldwych on Wednesday morning.

Pictures and videos of the horses were shared on social media, one of which showed a black 4×4 with blue lights following the animals.

A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “We are aware of a number of horses on the loose in central London. We are working with colleagues in the army to locate them.”

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Terry Hill: Australian rugby league mourns death of cult hero aged 52

  • NSW Origin and Kangaroos star dies from heart attack
  • Hill played 246 first grade games, the majority with Manly

New South Wales State of Origin great, “giant personality” and rugby league revolutionary Terry Hill has died aged 52.

The stout centre with an effervescent character played for five Sydney clubs in a career spanning the end of the old NSWRL to the dawn of the merged NRL.

The Manly Sea Eagles said it was understood he died from a heart attack while travelling in the Philippines.

The Australian Rugby League Commission chair, Peter V’Landys, said Hill was a “prodigiously talented footballer”.

“As well as being one of the game’s great centres he was also one of its most popular characters, a giant personality who was universally loved by the players he played alongside over his long career in the top grade,” V’Landys said.

Hill was at his most dangerous just as the Super League war splintered the code, representing the Blues 14 times and the Kangaroos in nine tests, winning the World Cup in 1995.

But his supporters appreciated his off-field exploits just as much as his tries, fends and tackles.

His most successful playing stint came at Manly, where he played between 1994 and 1999.

“Terry was a much loved and respected figure at not only at the Sea Eagles, but across rugby league, where he played for several clubs,” Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov said.

“On behalf of everyone at the Sea Eagles, we offer our deepest and sincere condolences to Terry’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“Terry will always be fondly remembered at Manly.”

Geoff Toovey, who captained Hill in Manly’s 1996 premiership, said Hill was a “good friend”.

“He did a lot of good things for his team-mates,” Toovey said. “My sincere condolences to his family.”

His beaming smile and seemingly endless enthusiasm was a perfect fit for menswear retailer Lowes, for whom he starred in lightly comedic television advertisements for much of his playing career.

He was also a regular on Channel Nine’s The Footy Show with his mock crosses, dressed in a gold jacket, from the Dapto greyhound racing track.

Former prop and rugby league commentator Darryl Brohman posted on X saying the news was “sad”.

“Originally I had my doubts as to if I liked him or not,” he said. “However once I spent time with him at both Lowes and The Footy Show my respect for him grew.

“He was a larrikin but deep down a good guy. RIP Tezza.”

Hill was happy to make fun of himself, but through 246 top grade matches proved himself as one of rugby league’s most fierce competitors and effective right centres.

In a famous Origin clash in 1999, he went nose-to-nose with Queensland enforcer Gorden Tallis.

Even before the television fame and on-field exploits, Hill had already left his mark on the game.

He started his career at Souths, but agreed to join Wests before the NSWRL draft forced him to play for the Roosters in 1991.

Hill was one the most prominent players among more than 100 who were plaintiffs in a successful legal case against the NSWRL, which was the end of the draft in rugby league.

He was able to join Wests after playing a single season at Bondi, that was limited to 13 matches by a diagnosis of pericarditis – swelling of the tissue surrounding the heart.

After a stop at the newly merged Wests Tigers, he announced his retirement before a brief comeback back at Manly in 2005.

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Terry Hill: Australian rugby league mourns death of cult hero aged 52

  • NSW Origin and Kangaroos star dies from heart attack
  • Hill played 246 first grade games, the majority with Manly

New South Wales State of Origin great, “giant personality” and rugby league revolutionary Terry Hill has died aged 52.

The stout centre with an effervescent character played for five Sydney clubs in a career spanning the end of the old NSWRL to the dawn of the merged NRL.

The Manly Sea Eagles said it was understood he died from a heart attack while travelling in the Philippines.

The Australian Rugby League Commission chair, Peter V’Landys, said Hill was a “prodigiously talented footballer”.

“As well as being one of the game’s great centres he was also one of its most popular characters, a giant personality who was universally loved by the players he played alongside over his long career in the top grade,” V’Landys said.

Hill was at his most dangerous just as the Super League war splintered the code, representing the Blues 14 times and the Kangaroos in nine tests, winning the World Cup in 1995.

But his supporters appreciated his off-field exploits just as much as his tries, fends and tackles.

His most successful playing stint came at Manly, where he played between 1994 and 1999.

“Terry was a much loved and respected figure at not only at the Sea Eagles, but across rugby league, where he played for several clubs,” Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov said.

“On behalf of everyone at the Sea Eagles, we offer our deepest and sincere condolences to Terry’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“Terry will always be fondly remembered at Manly.”

Geoff Toovey, who captained Hill in Manly’s 1996 premiership, said Hill was a “good friend”.

“He did a lot of good things for his team-mates,” Toovey said. “My sincere condolences to his family.”

His beaming smile and seemingly endless enthusiasm was a perfect fit for menswear retailer Lowes, for whom he starred in lightly comedic television advertisements for much of his playing career.

He was also a regular on Channel Nine’s The Footy Show with his mock crosses, dressed in a gold jacket, from the Dapto greyhound racing track.

Former prop and rugby league commentator Darryl Brohman posted on X saying the news was “sad”.

“Originally I had my doubts as to if I liked him or not,” he said. “However once I spent time with him at both Lowes and The Footy Show my respect for him grew.

“He was a larrikin but deep down a good guy. RIP Tezza.”

Hill was happy to make fun of himself, but through 246 top grade matches proved himself as one of rugby league’s most fierce competitors and effective right centres.

In a famous Origin clash in 1999, he went nose-to-nose with Queensland enforcer Gorden Tallis.

Even before the television fame and on-field exploits, Hill had already left his mark on the game.

He started his career at Souths, but agreed to join Wests before the NSWRL draft forced him to play for the Roosters in 1991.

Hill was one the most prominent players among more than 100 who were plaintiffs in a successful legal case against the NSWRL, which was the end of the draft in rugby league.

He was able to join Wests after playing a single season at Bondi, that was limited to 13 matches by a diagnosis of pericarditis – swelling of the tissue surrounding the heart.

After a stop at the newly merged Wests Tigers, he announced his retirement before a brief comeback back at Manly in 2005.

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Convicted paedophile teacher appeals to overturn conviction on basis of her gender

Gaye Grant argues conviction for unlawful sexual relationship with a child should be quashed as women could not be held legally responsible for the crime at the time

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Having pleaded guilty to maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child, a former teacher now wants the conviction overturned on the basis she cannot be held legally responsible due to her gender.

Gaye Grant is appealing in the court of criminal appeal for her conviction to be quashed, rather than face a retrial, arguing that as a woman she could not be legally responsible for the crime under laws at the time.

Grant arrived at court in Sydney on Wednesday wearing a black hat, sunglasses, black veil and a face mask.

Her lawyer Stephen Boland argued there was legal precedent for a conviction appeal to be entertained despite a guilty plea, if the appellant could not be legally convicted of the offence.

Boland said while it was open for the court to return Grant’s case to the district court for the purpose of a new trial, the preferred course was for the conviction to be simply dismissed.

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Grant, who is now in her late 70s, was sentenced to jail in December 2022 for the two-year long abuse of one of her male students in the 1970s.

The boy first met Grant when he was 10 and confided in her about being bullied.

The alleged abuse began with the student sitting on Grant’s lap and fondling her, before escalating to kissing and eventually into sexual intercourse.

After the boy tried to distance himself from the teacher in the late 1970s, she wrote to him saying she loved him.

After spending almost 15 months behind bars, Grant was released on bail and given leave to appeal against her conviction after the release of another teacher, Helga Lam, who successfully had her historical sex abuse charges quashed in February.

Lam had been charged with 15 counts of indecent assault on four school boys for offences dating back to 1978.

The NSW court of criminal appeal found Lam had been convicted based on a law in force at the time which did not apply to “conduct committed by a female upon a male”.

That law was repealed and replaced in 1984.

A decision in Grant’s appeal has been reserved until a later date.

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Percentage of Australians born overseas at highest level since 1893

The Indian-born population grew the most, rising by more than 90,000 people to take the diaspora to almost 846,000 in total at June 2023

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The share of Australians born overseas has surpassed 30% for the first time since 1893, after record migration in the year to June 2023 pushed the figure out of its Covid-induced plateau.

Australia drew in an additional 500,000 foreign-born residents, taking the total to 8.2 million out of the 26.6 million in the country in June, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics latest data, released on Wednesday.

The 494,000-person boost to Australia’s overseas-born population signals immigration’s full recovery from pandemic-era border restrictions, after the figure grew by only 155,000 in the preceding year.

The sharp increase amounts to a 6% rise in the total number of residents born overseas, more than double the annual increases observed in the decade before the pandemic.

The Indian-born population grew the most, rising by more than 90,000 to take the diaspora to almost 846,000 in total by June 2023.

The south Asian nation has narrowed the gap with England, which remains the biggest source of Australia’s overseas-born residents (962,000 residents), after peaking a decade ago with a contribution of more than 1 million.

China remains the third-largest source of overseas-born residents, ticking over to more than 655,000 residents, after pandemic border restrictions saw the total slip below 585,000 in 2021.

The steadier growth in the Indian diaspora compared with China’s reflects Australia’s shifting diplomatic relations, according to Dr Aude Bernard from the Queensland Centre for Population Research.

“[China] really started slowing down with Covid … but this was overlaid by the geopolitical tensions, which means that there was growing concern,” she said.

“It’s gone the other way with India – we’ve seen a deepening of the relationship between Australia and India.”

Indian people have increasingly come to Australia in search of work as India’s population growth surpasses its job prospects for tertiary-educated people, according to University of Melbourne associate professor Val Colic-Peisker.

“There’s a lot of people who study at universities and come out and they just don’t have great opportunities … and then they choose to emigrate,” she said.

Bernard said the uptick was mostly “recuperation migration” making up for the pandemic-era border restrictions. “If there hadn’t been Covid, the share of people born overseas would probably be similar today,” she said.

Colic-Peisker said this was because Australia needed more workers to fill skill shortages in sectors such as construction and medicine.

“[Labour] is the point of the whole immigration program. Australia, without importing labour, is in crisis almost immediately.”

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Lost luggage leaves New Zealand’s band without instruments for Anzac Day at Gallipoli

Bags went missing in Dubai floods, with embassy staff only able to retrieve one instrument and a handful of dress uniforms for defence force musicians

Australia’s and New Zealand’s defence forces are once again coming together at Gallipoli – this time to ensure New Zealand’s military band can play on.

The band’s luggage was among thousands of bags lost during last week’s Dubai floods, with embassy staff only able to retrieve one instrument and a handful of dress uniforms ahead of the 25 April dawn service in Turkey.

While 35 of the missing 65 bags were located, only a handful had managed to be sent on to where the Anzac and Chunuk Bair commemorations were taking place, local media reported.

New Zealand media reported the group’s drummer had been practising making the drumbeat with two spoons, while plans were in place for vocalist Lance Corporal Bryony Williams to sing anthems without accompaniment.

Australian defence force members were assisting their New Zealand counterparts where they could, and had helped source a guitar to support the NZDF’s Māori cultural group in singing Māori song or waiata, a NZDF spokesperson said. Australia would also provide a bugler.

The contingent would evaluate what had and hadn’t arrived on Wednesday morning before deciding how it might take part in the dawn service and how the New Zealand Chunuk Bair service will be delivered,” an NZDF spokesperson told Guardian Australia.

“It will however be delivered.”

The NZDF contingent of 40 was preparing to “play a reduced role in the Anzac Day commemorations” with the loss of the dress uniforms a particular hindrance, the spokesperson said.

Under defence force protocol, members must be wearing their dress uniform to take part in official commemorations.

The ceremonies mark the 109th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. Australian and New Zealand soldiers were part of the British-French allied defences sent to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. The battle dragged on for eight months, ending with the allied forces being evacuated from Turkey. It is estimated at least 8,141 Australians were killed during the campaign, along with at least 2,721 New Zealanders. The number of Turkish killed is estimated at more than 220,000.

While officially considered a military defeat for the Allies, the Gallipoli campaign stands as a significant moment in the shared history of Turkey and the “Anzac” countries Australia and New Zealand, the latter two commemorating the landing as a national holiday with memorial services, parades and marches.

NZDF Gallipoli lead John McLeod said the lost luggage was “naturally disappointing for the personnel directly involved and all event staff” but the contingent would still be able to provide “some support to the services”.

McLeod said efforts to find instruments locally had also proven difficult, given local bands’ participation in Turkish services.

New Zealand Newshub correspondent Lisette Reymer told local media there had been “a lot of panic” in Gallipoli once it became clear the luggage may not arrive in time.

The group was still rehearsing as scheduled in the hope their instruments and uniforms would arrive in time for the services on Thursday.

It had still been an emotional and reflective experience for the contingent, with many having personal and family connections to this special place,” McLeod said.

The Australian defence force was contacted for comment.

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The US Senate voted resoundingly on Tuesday to approve $95bn in aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as a bipartisan super-majority united to send the long-stalled package to Joe Biden’s desk for signature. The final vote was 79 to 18.

The bill easily cleared a key procedural hurdle earlier in the day. The Senate overwhelmingly voted to advance the measure in a step hailed by the majority leader as “one of the greatest achievements the Senate has faced in years”.

“Today the Senate sends a unified message to the entire world: America will always defend democracy in its hour of need,” said Chuck Schumer in a floor speech on Tuesday afternoon.

“Make no mistake, America will deliver on its promise to act like a leader on the world stage, to hold the line against autocratic thugs like Vladimir Putin,” he continued. “We are showing Putin that betting against America is always, always a grave mistake.”

The legislation includes $60.8bn to replenish Ukraine’s war chest as it seeks to repel Russia from its territory; $26.3bn for Israel and humanitarian relief for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and $8.1bn for the Indo-Pacific region to bolster its defenses against China.

In a call on Monday, Biden informed the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that he would “move quickly” to send desperately needed military aid, including air defense weaponry, to the country after the bill’s passage by the Senate.

Much of the foreign aid section of the bill mirrors what the Senate passed in February, with the addition of a measure mandating the president seek repayment from Kyiv for roughly $10bn in economic assistance in the form of “forgivable loans”, an idea first floated by Donald Trump, who was initially opposed to aiding Ukraine.

You can read more of the report by Lauren Gambino in Washington and Joan E Greve here:

UK accused by Amnesty of ‘deliberately destabilising’ human rights globally

Rights chief also warns Britain will be ‘judged harshly by history for its failure to help prevent civilian slaughter in Gaza’

The UK has been accused by Amnesty International of “deliberately destabilising” human rights on the global stage for its own political ends.

In its annual global report, released today, the organisation said Britain was weakening human rights protections nationally and globally, amid a near-breakdown of international law.

“The UK is deliberately destabilising the entire concept of universal human rights through its appalling domestic policies and politicking,” said Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive.

The damning Amnesty report also criticises Israel’s allies for the failure to stop the “indescribable civilian bloodshed” in Gaza. In a stark warning to world leaders, the organisation said the world was reaping a harvest of “terrifying consequences” from escalating conflict and the near-breakdown of international law.

Referencing the development of international law and civilian protections after the second world war, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s general secretary, said: “In 2023, we were plunged back into a future we don’t want, back to a future we were promised ‘never again’.”

The 418-page report points to the US’s use of its veto to paralyse the UN security council for months by blocking the passing of a much-needed resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza, while it continues to arm Israel with weapons used to commit what may constitute war crimes.

Amnesty highlights the “grotesque double standards” of powerful western countries, including the UK and Germany, continuing to shield and thus bolster the actions of Israel, given those states’ well-founded protests over war crimes by Russia and Hamas.

The report also specifically condemns the UK for failing to use its leadership role within the UN to prevent human rights violations in Gaza and its weak support for the international criminal court (ICC) investigation into human rights violations in Israel and Palestine. It also highlights Britain’s involvement in arming Israel.

Deshmukh said of Israel: “We’ve got a very deep concern about the UK’s practice of supplying arms and significant components for arms.” About 15% of finished F-35 warplanes, used by Israel, are likely to contain UK parts or components, he said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the UK will be judged harshly by history for its failure to help prevent civilian slaughter in Gaza,” Deshmukh said.

The report paints a bleak picture of the state of human rights across the world, warning that the breakdown of the rule of law is likely to accelerate with the rapid advancement in artificial intelligence, which coupled with the dominance of big technology companies, risked “supercharging” human rights violations if regulation continues to lag behind technological advancement.

Alongside flagrant rule-breaking by Russian forces during their invasion of Ukraine, the growing number of conflicts and human rights violations witnessed in Sudan, where nearly 15,000 people have died in the civil war, as well as in Ethiopia and Myanmar, where more than 1,000 civilians died in conflict in 2023, are cited as major factors in the intensifying deterioration of global protection for civilians.

Neither Myanmar’s military nor the Russian authorities, both of which have received help from China, have agreed to investigate reports of violations.

Speaking at a press conference to launch the report, Callamard said: “When the powerful flout the rule of law, the shield of the law weakens. When the powerful state themselves [to be] above the law, betrayal of the law becomes a response by many more.”

Amnesty’s report found an increasing number of attacks on women, LGBTQ+ people and marginalised communities for political or electoral gain.

It predicted that, during a landmark year of elections around the world and amid increasingly stiff opposition to regulation by big tech companies, technological advances – such as spyware and facial recognition – could be weaponised to discriminate and disinform. For example, Amnesty exposed how Facebook’s algorithms had contributed to ethnically based violence in Ethiopia during the conflict in the country’s Tigray region.

Callamard said: “Amnesty International’s report paints a dismal picture of alarming human rights repression and prolific rule-breaking, all in the midst of deepening global inequality, superpowers vying for supremacy and an escalating climate crisis.”

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