Perth's drive to compete with Australian's east coast cities and a flag furore in New Caledonia.
Australia is a country dominated by its east coast’s glamorous city waterfronts. On the other side of the country Perth has suffered in comparison, but the city’s mayor believes a long-planned waterfront project of its own, which will finally get under way early next year, will breathe new life into Perth’s economy.
Costing AU$440m (€316m), the new Swan River development will have around 1,700 apartments, 100,000 sq m of commercial floor space and 39,000 sq m of retail space. There will also be plenty of flora on show, with native trees and plants occupying the park entrance to the development and an “island” of greenery accessible by a pedestrian and cycle bridge.
“I believe the waterfront will be worth every cent spent on it,” says mayor Lisa Scaffidi. “Considering our city has not yet celebrated its bicentenary, it is exciting to see how far we have come and how successful and in demand our city spaces are.
“Whereas we may have compared ourselves to Sydney and Melbourne in years gone by, I can see a new-found maturity through our realisation that we need not compare but instead celebrate our differences,” continues Scaffidi. “We are the capital city of the nation’s wealthiest state, as well as a city in the same time zone as 60 per cent of the world’s population. Perth has a new confidence and a new sense of self.”
- Rail link: Plans for an AU$360m (€254m) City Link railway, running from east to west through the heart of the city, have recently been finalised. The rail link is due for completion in 2014.
- Residences: Proposals are being considered for the redevelopment of the Hamilton precinct in the west of the city, which will provide much-needed residential growth and employment opportunities.
- New library: As part of the revival of Cathedral Square, the council is committed to creating a state-of-the-art library at an overall cost of AU$42.2m (€30m).
Access to the world’s last remaining major tuna stocks has been the subject of terse negotiations at a Marshall Islands summit. The South Pacific Tuna Treaty between the US and 16 Pacific nations grants American boats fishing rights in return for $18m in annual development aid to the region. With tuna stocks exhausted elsewhere in the world, other foreign nations are seeking bilateral agreements, raising the spectre of overfishing in the area.
The current agreement lapses in 2013 and eight Pacific island signatories want to renegotiate the terms by closing some fishing grounds, cutting catch sizes and increasing revenue.
Tasmania was the historical dumping ground for Australia’s worst criminals, but the state’s minister for corrections, Nick McKim – who is also the regional Green party leader – hopes that Hobart will soon be known for its liberal prisons policy. McKim’s aim is to maximise prisoners’ freedom while in jail in the hope that it will increase their opportunity for rehabilitation.
A rural New Zealand town is struggling with a growing gang problem. Whanganui, home to around 40,000 people in the country’s North Island, passed a bylaw in 2009 outlawing the wearing of gang paraphernalia, including the ubiquitous biker jacket patches that are the most visible aspect of the problem
in New Zealand towns.
But an appeal by a Hell’s Angels member has been upheld in the High Court, partly on the grounds that the council had not adequately allowed for freedom of expression. The council says it will attempt to reframe its contentious legislation in a way that passes judicial muster.
The issue of New Caledonia’s second flag, representing the island nation’s indigenous Melanesian population, has triggered successive government collapses in recent months. One adminstration lasted just minutes, before a disagreement over the flag sparked resignations. The Kanak flag, featuring red, blue and green stripes with a sun and totem, was adopted last year to fly alongside Le Tricolore, making the “internally governing self-dependency” within the French Republic one of only a few countries to have two official flags. The “two flags” policy has proved so unpopular that calls for a single replacement are growing.
International education is Australia’s largest export services industry – worth AU$18.5bn (€13bn) last year – but the country is struggling to protect it amid competition from the UK, US and Canada. Enrolment fell by around 10 per cent last year and, with China boosting its domestic capacity, Australia may soon get a lesson in subtraction, not addition.
When Australia’s SBS news network launched its Mandarin-language TV programme late last year, the first guest was former prime minister Kevin Rudd, a fluent Mandarin speaker. He discussed Australian and Chinese trade and economic relations with presenter Zhou Li.