Daily Archives: January 17, 2014

Jakarta demands: stop your boats


Jakarta has demanded an immediate halt to the Abbott government’s asylum-seeker turnbacks policy and announced it will send a frigate to bolster its southern defences after Australian ships repeatedly breached Indonesian territorial waters.

In a dramatic escalation of the diplomatic tensions over border protection, Indonesia drew a line in the sand, saying it would step up its own maritime patrols.

After the Abbott government was forced to apologise  over the incidents, Agus Barnas, the spokesman for the Co-ordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs, said the Indonesian government branded the incursions “a serious matter in bilateral relations”.

“Indonesia demands that such operations conducted by the Australian government that led to these incidents be suspended until formal clarification is received and assurances of no recurrence of such incidents has been provided,” he said. “The government of Indonesia has the right to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with international laws and the charter of the United Nations.”

Fairfax Media understands that three navy ships – including the heavily-armed frigate HMAS Stuart – and one Customs ship have crossed the 12-nautical-mile limit on a total of five occasions since December 13.

The incursions have raised questions as to whether the Abbott government’s tough policies are pushing navy and Customs ships too close to the  maritime boundary.

Sources told Fairfax Media there had been concerns raised that the Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Taskforce – the border protection leadership – was ordering navy and Customs ships to positions too close to the maritime boundary  in order  to carry out the government’s tough policies.

In some cases, ship commanders even raised questions at the time whether positions to which they were directed put them at risk of crossing the boundary.

One source said a review announced on Friday by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison would clarify whether border protection command and control was “playing too fine a line in positioning the ships too close to Indonesian waters”.

Mr Barnas told a news conference in Jakarta on Friday afternoon that Indonesia “deplores and rejects the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Australian vessels”.

“The government of Indonesia underlines that any  such violation on whatever basis constitutes a serious matter in bilateral relations of the two countries,” he said. “Indonesia for its part will intensify its maritime patrols in areas where violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity are at risk.”

Mr Morrison and the head  of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, refused to give details of the incursions.

One of the incidents is understood to have happened while an Australian ship was rescuing asylum seekers from their foundering vessel. But a recently retired navy captain,  Lieutenant Commander Barry Learoyd, who served on border protection operations, told Fairfax Media at least some of the incursions had most likely happened while controversial boat turnbacks were being carried out.

“That’s probably the only really plausible thing I can see happening … If they’d inadvertently gone over the line, it would be because they’ve stopped, put their seaboats in the water and made sure these vessels are being pointed in the right direction and maybe the tide or the current has taken them over the line inadvertently.”

Mr Morrison said the government had swiftly apologised to Jakarta. The Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs – who is known to have good relations with his Indonesian counterpart – also made a personal apology.

A defiant Mr Morrison insisted the government would stick with its tough approach.  “We deeply regret the events. However, the Australian government remains committed to continuing to implement our policies to stop the boats,” Mr Morrison said.

“There has been an inadvertent incursion into Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty. That was not the policy of the government. This was actually in direct contradiction to the government’s policy.”

The Australian deputy ambassador, David Engel, conveyed the Abbott government’s apology to Indonesia in a 35-minute meeting with a senior official in Jakarta late on Friday.

Mr Engel did not comment as he emerged, except to say: “I just had a constructive, cordial meeting, i conveyed the government’s apology … Now I have to get back to the embassy and report back to my government”.

Fairfax Media was seeking a response from Mr Morrison on Friday night but a spokeswoman said the minister was travelling and could not be reached.

source: smh.com.au

30.000 άτομα θα παρευρεθούν στο Ελληνικό Φεστιβάλ Semaphore


Η ψυχαγωγία και η διασκέδαση αναμένεται να έχουν τιμητική τους στο Ελληνικό Φεστιβάλ Semaphore, αυτό το Σαββατοκύριακο.

Σύμφωνα με τον διοργανωτή John Douvartzidis, αναμένεται να παρευρεθούν στο Φεστιβάλ περισσότερα από 30.000 άτομα. Ο ίδιος, υποστηρίζει ότι ένα από τα πρόσωπα που θα ξεχωρίσει φέτος μέσα από το Φεστιβάλ είναι η Μαρία Σταυροπούλου, η κοπέλα που το 2009 είχε πάρει μέρος στο ελληνικό XFactor.Σήμερα, η Μαρία Σταυροπούλου ζει στο Σύδνεϋ αλλά το 2009 είχε ταξιδέψει στην Ελλάδα για να συμμετάσχει στο διαγωνισμό. Ο κ. Douvartzidis δήλωσε πως είναι η πρώτη Ελληνίδα τραγουδίστρια της Αυστραλίας και ότι θα αποκτήσει πολλούς φαν αφού ήδη έχει μεγάλο φανατικό κοινό στην Αυστραλία.

Επίσης, οι παρευρισκόμενοι θα έχουν τη δυνατότητα να παρακολουθήσουν και ένα πρόγραμμα με παραδοσιακούς ελληνικούς χορούς. Επίσης, τέσσερις ορχήστρες θα παίξουν μουσική.

Ο κ. Douvartzidis τόνισε επίσης πως το αποκορύφωμα του Φεστιβάλ θα είναι το νόστιμο ελληνικό φαγητό. Το μενού θα περιλαμβάνει γυρο, σουβλάκι, καλαμάρια, σπανακόπιτα αλλά δεν θα λείπουν και τα ελληνικά γλυκά όπως οι λουκουμάδες.

Η εθελόντρια Alexandra Vakitsidis δήλωσε ότι δεν έχουν όλοι τη δυνατότητα να επισκεφθούν την Ελλάδα και τα νησιά της, έτσι, αυτοί φροντίζουν ώστε να μπορέσουν να πάρουν μια γεύση από την Ελλάδα.

Το Φεστιβάλ διεξάγεται για 35η χρονιά και πραγματοποιείται από 250 εθελοντές. Οι εκδηλώσεις ξεκινούν το Σάββατο στις 11 και την Κυριακή στις 10 και θα ολοκληρωθούν  και τις δυο μέρες τα μεσάνυχτα.

Πηγή: greekreporter.gr

Crews battle huge Grampians bushfire as Victoria enters fourth day of heatwave


DOZENS of new bushfires have started overnight as firefighters battle infernos across Victoria with the most alarming in the northern Grampians.

Emergency warnings remain in place for the towns of Brimpaen, Heathvale, Laharum and Wartook in the northwest entrance of the Grampians National Park as an out-of-control bushfire dramatically escalated overnight to 11500ha.

Residents have been warned it’s too late to leave their homes, and summer holidaymakers have been told to leave the popular destination.

A Watch and Act alert has been issued for Glenisla, Cherrypool and Glenisla Crossing in the northern Grampians as the bushfire travels towards the communities in a south-westerly direction from Pohlners Rd.

The CFA said the fire was moving quickly and strong north-westerly winds ahead of a late gusty south-westerly change this afternoon will bring worse conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the cool change is expected to hit the Grampians by about 5pm.

The CFA said 25 new bushfires started overnight in the southern and northern ends of the Grampians, East Gippsland and southwest Victoria. All regions were hit with lightning.

The CFA expects to focus most of its attention on the Grampians, Gippsland and the Otways today as the severe heatwave enters its fourth day.

The alert for a bushfire that threatened the communities of Trafalgar and Westbury in West Gippsland yesterday has been downgraded to Advice.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said predictions for today of 44C-plus temperatures, strong winds and the late change made for some of the state’s worst conditions since 2009.

“It’s certainly up there – the fact that we’ve had a pre-run of three, four days of this sort of weather,” he said.

A total fire ban has been declared for the entire state today.

A CFA State Control Centre spokeswoman said 43 fires were going across the state this morning and a further five were controlled, with the largest a 25,000ha collective of desert fires at Lake Albacutya in the state’s northwest.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Terry Ryan said the mercury was expected to rise steadily in Melbourne throughout the day to reach 30C by about 9am, 40C by 1pm and the maximum forecast temperature of 44C by 4pm or 5pm.

The much anticipated cool change is expected to kick in from late afternoon to evening across Victoria, with the exception of the state’s northeast which is forecast to remain about 40C.

Mr Ryan said the temperature would drop almost instantly from about 40C to 25C in Melbourne between 8pm and 9pm.

“It’s a bit late for an enjoyable night out, but we should lose almost 15C straight away,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the change would bring with it a chance of thunderstorms and a wind change from a north-westerly to south-westerly.

“That will factor in the fires,” the forecaster said.

“Wind changes cause difficulties – it grabs the whole fire and shoves it in a different direction.”

Source: heraldsun.com.au


Skapetis strike secures Olyroos win


1-0 win against I.R. Iran thanks to Peter Skapetis sees Olyroos progress.

The Olyroos have claimed top spot of Group C and a quarter finals berth at the AFC U-22 Championship following a 1-0 victory over I.R. Iran at Royal Police Stadium in Muscat on Wednesday.

The only goal of the match came from Peter Skapetis who latched on to a loose ball in the 56th minute and fired home after Iranian goalkeeper Ali Reza Beiranvand could only parry defender Curtis Good’s header from a corner.

Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar made a large number of changes to the starting line-up from the team that defeated Kuwait on Sunday, to give all players some international tournament experience.

In a tight first half with chances at a premium, Olyroos striker Adam Taggart, had the first chance on goal inside the first 10 minutes as his free-kick from just outside the penalty area went narrowly over the crossbar.

Mehdi Shiri then went close for Iran with a deflected effort that Olyroos goalkeeper Aaron Lennox pushed out, and a swerving long range effort that was just off target.

Taggart had another chance in the 23rd minute but his curling shot drifted wide of the goal.

The Olyroos came out stronger in the second half and in the first minute after the restart Andrew Hoole made a penetrating run down the right side was followed by a shot from the right winger that needed to be punched clear by an alert Beiranvand at his near post.

Olyroos Captain Curtis Good was then forced to leave the field for treatment to a nasty gash above his eye following a clash of heads, and with the big centre-back off the field, Iran had their best chance to open the scoring as Kaveh Rezaei slipped in Benham Barzay for a low shot from inside the penalty area that was parried wide by Lennox.

When Curtis Good returned to the field with a heavily bandaged forehead, it was then that the Olyroos took the lead.

Awarded a free-kick in a central area in the 55th minute, Hoole skimmed a low shot off that was pushed wide by the Iranian custodian.

From the resulting corner, Good connected with a header that Beiranvand could only parry as far as the waiting Skapetis, who hooked the ball into an empty net.

In a bid to seek an equaliser, Iran brought on strikers Arsalan Motahhari and Seyed Miri and it was the former who had his side’s best chance with a low shot into the arms of a sprawling Lennox following good work from Rezaei.

The Olyroos dominated possession for the remainder of the second half, although Motahhari had time for another effort at the death but this time his shot from the edge of the penalty area went wide of Lennox’s right-hand post.

With a lengthy seven minutes of time added on due to Good’s extended treatment, Stefan Mauk could have put the game to bed, but a good save from Beiranvand prevented the second half substitute from doubling the advantage.

Vidmar was very satisfied with the efforts of his team post-match.

“We knew it would be a hard and physical game but I’m happy with the performance of my players” said Vidmar.

“We need to get a bit more composure, especially through the midfield, as the game got very stretched at times. But overall, I’m very pleased.”

“Every team has the same amount of players, our philosophy is to give everyone an opportunity.

“We wanted everyone to each get a full game, and we’ve achieved that so far.

“There’s no first team or second team, I’m just trying to build one team,” concluded Vidmar.

In the other group C match Japan and Kuwait played out a 0-0 draw which confirmed the Olyroos position at the top of the group.

In their final Group C match against Japan on Thursday evening the Olyroos were defeated 4-0 and will meet the runner-up of Group D in the Quarter-Finals on Sunday evening.

Source: FFA.