Canberra, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) -Australia's prime minister said Tuesday that he was open to shifting the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in line with President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the contested holy city as Israel's capital.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the idea was suggested to him by a former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, who is a candidate for Morrison's conservative Liberal Party in a crucial by-election Saturday in a Sydney electorate with a large Jewish population.
Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.
"When sensible suggestions are put forward that are consistent with your policy positioning and in this case pursuing a two-state solution, Australia should be open-minded to this and I am open-minded to this and our government is open-minded to this," Morrison told reporters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had recently spoken to Morrison and welcomed the Australian policy shift.
Morrison "informed me that he is considering officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem. I'm very thankful to him for this," Netanyahu tweeted. "We will continue to strengthen ties" between Israel and Australia.
Morrison also announced that Australia would vote against a United Nations resolution this week to recognize the Palestinian Authority as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and would review the three-year-old Iran nuclear deal.
The opposition center-left Labor Party said the announcement was a desperate attempt to win the by-election in the Wentworth electorate.
When the government forced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from office in August, he quit Parliament. If Sharma is not elected as the new lawmaker for Wentworth, the government will lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.
"Foreign policy, and Australia's national interest are far too important to be played with in this fashion," Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.
"The people of Wentworth, and all Australians, deserve a leader who puts the national interest ahead of his self-interest, and governs in the best long-term interest of the nation," she added.
The Trump administration turned its back on decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv in May.
George Browning, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, accused the government of "aligning itself with the most erratic, reactionary and bullish U.S. foreign policy ever."
"This is an irresponsible policy that compromises the future of millions of people in the Middle East for a handful of votes in Wentworth," Browning said in a statement.
Morrison denied that the United States or the by-election had influenced his announcement.
"I have made this decision without any reference to the United States. It has not come up in any discussion I have had with the president or with officials," Morrison said.
"There has been no request, and there has been no discussion with the United States. Australia makes its decisions about its foreign policy independently. We do so in our own national interests consistent with our own beliefs and our own values," he added.
Canberra, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — The chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. resigned on Thursday over allegations that he pressured the independent national broadcaster to fire two political journalists because the ruling conservative government disliked them.
The scandal has damaged the credibility of both the governing coalition and the ABC, which is government-funded but is required by law to operate independently of party politics. The ABC is many Australians' most trusted news source.
ABC chairman Justin Milne announced on Monday that ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, who is also the broadcaster's editor-in-chief, had been fired halfway through her five-year contract because the board did not like her leadership style.
Media reports have since alleged that Milne, who is responsible for maintaining ABC independence, had unsuccessfully pressured Guthrie to fire political editor Andrew Probyn and chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici to prevent potential cuts in government funding.
Milne, who was appointed by the conservative government last year and is a friend of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said he had quit for the good the corporation.
"It's clearly not a good thing for everybody to be trying to do their job with this kind of fire storm going on, so I wanted to provide a release valve," Milne told the ABC in a television interview.
Milne said his resignation was "absolutely, 100 percent not" an admission that he had failed to safeguard the ABC's editorial independence.
"There was absolutely no interference in the independence of the ABC by the government. Nobody from the government has ever rung me and told me what to do in relation to the ABC. Nobody ever told me to hire anybody, fire anybody or do anything else," Milne said.
Fairfax Media has reported that Milne wrote an email to Guthrie calling for Alberici be fired on May 8, a day after Turnbull complained to the ABC's news director about an Alberici report on government spending.
"They (the government) hate her," Milne reportedly wrote to Guthrie.
"Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC — not Emma," he added.
News Corp., citing ABC board documents, reported Milne told Guthrie in a June 15 telephone conversation that Turnbull "hates" Probyn and: "You have to shoot him."
Turnbull, who has lived in New York since he was ousted as prime minister on Aug. 24, said on Thursday that while he had complained about the two reporters' journalism, he had never asked for them to be fired.
"The bottom line is I've never called for anybody to be fired. My concern has been on the accuracy and impartiality of reporting," Turnbull told reporters.
The government on Wednesday ordered a communications department investigation into the published allegations that Milne had pressured Guthrie to fire the two journalists, warning she was "putting the future of the ABC at risk" and jeopardizing 500 million Australian dollars (360 million) in government funding the chairman wanted for his pet project to digitize the broadcaster.
The minor Greens Party has called for a Senate inquiry into the entire ABC board, not trusting a government inquiry into the government's potential involvement in the scandal.
The conservative coalition has long complained of a leftist bias in ABC reporting. But center-left governments have also complained of unbalanced reporting in the past.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted that Milne's resignation was the right decision.
Earlier, Morrison had described the interference allegations against Milne as "pretty serious" and "very concerning."
"The idea that the government has somehow got some list and is telling the ABC who should work there and who shouldn't — that's complete rubbish," Morrison told reporters.
Perth, Sep 10 (AP/UNB)— Three children, their mother and grandmother have been found dead in a house in the Australian city of Perth after a man alerted police, detectives said Monday.
The children were twin girls aged 2 and their 3-year-old sister, a police statement said. Police have not said how the five died. A man aged in his 20s alerted police on Sunday morning.
"The man currently assisting police remains in custody," a police statement said, adding "no charges have been laid at this time."
Homicide detectives and specialist forensic police will continue to comb the address in the suburb of Bedford for evidence and clues to what happened.
"That will take a period of time and it could be a number of days," Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Steel said.
"It is a tragic thing when incidents like this occur. It does send a ripple through the community of Western Australia," Steele said.