Samoa’s Patrol Boat Nafanua II “beyond economical repair”

A joint statement by the Samoa Government and the Australia High Commission said the ownership of Nafanua II is being transferred from the Government of Samoa to the Australian Government “as we look at options for disposal.”

The Australian-donated vessel which is worth T$30 million is in Cairns.

It was towed from a reef near Salelologa Wharf in Savaii where it ran aground in August, 2021.

The patrol boat was transporting police officers to help quell tensions between some villagers and supporters of the Human Rights Protection Party on Savaii went it hit the reef.

Samoa's Nafanua II remains in dry dock in Australia

The patrol boat remains "high and dry" at Portsmith shipyard allegedly "amid an international stalemate about who is going to pick up a multi-million-dollar repair bill."

An Australia Defence spokesman is quoted by the Samoa Observer saying that Samoan authorities had been provided with an assessment of the damage but he did not say if the Australian taxpayers would pay the bill.

Samoa Minister of Police, Faualo Harry Schuster, told the Samoa Observer that government was still awaiting a report from Australia on the Nafanua II maintenance status.

Australia floods kill seven as severe weather pummels Queensland

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk compared the weather to a cyclone event, as Brisbane, the Queensland capital, was bracing for flooding on Sunday, before the rainfalls ease by Monday.

Samoa Cabinet approves charter flights for seasonal workers

Cabinet approved the charter flights at its latest meeting.

There will be four flights to Australia and another four to New Zealand.

The flights to Australia are scheduled to depart Samoa on 1,7,23 and 25 March.

The dates for flights to New Zealand are 8, 15, 27 and 29 March.

Australia PM: There must be a price

They will target specific Russian individuals and corporations "who are at the heart of this bullying and aggressive behaviour".

"The reason we're doing this is there must be a price for the unprovoked, unlawful, unwarranted, unjustified attacks and threats and intimidation that has been imposed by Russia on Ukraine," Morrison tells reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

Ukrainians currently in Australia and with visas that expire by 30 June will have them extended by six months.

Claim that Russian troops are peacekeeping is nonsense, says Australia's PM

He's dismissive of Vladimir Putin's claim that he is sending troops to separatist areas for a peacekeeping mission.

The "suggestion they are peacekeeping is nonsense", he says.

He says he hopes that diplomatic efforts can avoid a violent confrontation and says he will be "in lock-step" with other countries in quickly putting in place sanctions on Russia.

"Russia should step back. It should unconditionally withdraw. It's unacceptable, it's unprovoked, it's unwarranted," he says.


Australia's border reopens to international visitors

The country imposed some of the world's strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid.

Australians and some others were allowed to return from late last year, but most foreigners have had to wait.

There were tearful reunions at Sydney Airport on Monday as hundreds of people began arriving on flights.

One young girl, Charlotte, shared an emotional hug with her grandfather. She told the local Nine Network: "I've missed him so much and I've looked forward to this trip for so long."

More than 100 bikes heading from Griffith to Samoa to improve the lives of girls

The 110 bikes were gathered by the Soroptimist group in Griffith, part of an international movement to improve the lives of women and girls, as part of the organisation's 100th birthday.

The local community were asked to donate bikes in good condition with a volunteer restoring each one.

Buying a new or second-hand bike can be difficult for Samoans earning a small income of less than 10 tala (or $A5) a day, said the president of Soroptimist International Samoa, Leniu Asaua Faasino.

Simon Nellist: Sydney shark victim named locally as British man

A friend confirmed Simon Nellist died in the attack on Wednesday.

Police have not yet formally identified the victim and his family have not commented.

Australian authorities are still searching for the great white shark, with swimmers banned from the water and most city beaches shut after Wednesday's attack.

Mr Nellist - who was a diving instructor - was mauled by a great white shark just off Little Bay in east Sydney. He was a member of the city's Scuba Diving Social Club and a regular swimmer at the beach, BBC Sydney correspondent Shaimaa Khalil reports.

Swimmer dies in first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963

Emergency services were called to Little Bay beach near Malabar on Wednesday afternoon where human remains were found in the water, police say.

Authorities in the New South Wales state have not named the victim, and an investigation is under way.

Little Bay and several nearby beaches are now closed.

At the time of the attack at 16:30 local time (05:30 GMT) on Wednesday, there were dozens of people swimming, paddle boarding and fishing on the nearby rocks, according to Sky News Australia.