Melbourne, Jun 4 (AP/UNB) — A gunman was arrested after killing at least four people and wounding several others Tuesday in the tropical Australian city of Darwin, officials and media said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the incident was not terrorism related. "This is a terrible act of violence that has already, I'm advised, taken the lives of four people," Morrison told reporters in London.
A 45-year-old man was in custody following the shooting, Northern Territory Police Duty Superintendent Lee Morgan told Guardian Australia.
"At this stage, we've got reports of four deceased and a number of other people who have been shot," Morgan said.
Police contacted by The Associated Press declined to comment.
A man fired a pump action shotgun at the Palms Hotel in the Darwin suburb of Woolner in the late afternoon, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Police attended three crime scenes in the city of 100,000 related to the gunman, ABC said.
Police earlier said the suspect was described as wearing a high-visibility shirt and driving a white dual-cab pickup truck, Australian Associated Press reported.
Sydney, May 29 (AP/UNB)— The Australian teenager who cracked an egg on the head of a politician for his remarks about the New Zealand mosque massacre has donated almost $70,000 to people affected by the killings.
Will Connolly, 17, became known worldwide as "Egg Boy" for assaulting right-wing federal Sen. Fraser Anning, who had drawn scorn for saying Muslim immigration was to blame for the March massacre, in which 51 people were killed.
As police investigated the incident, supporters of Connolly raised 99,922 Australian dollars ($69,171) through two crowdfunding accounts to pay for his envisaged legal fees.
But a law firm volunteered to handle the case for free in which Connolly escaped charge.The Melbourne youth announced on Instagram on Wednesday he had donated the money to two support groups for people affected by the Christchurch shootings — the Christchurch Foundation, and Victim Support.
"Finally!!! After a huge amount of red tape, $99,922.36 has today been transferred to the Christchurch Foundation and Victims Support," Connolly posted.
"I decided to donate all monies to help provide some relief to the victims of the massacre ... it wasn't mine to keep."
He added: "To the victims of the Tragedy, I whole heartedly hope that this can bring some relief to you.
"Keep spreading the love."
Victim Support confirmed it had received a portion of Connolly's fund, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Police issued an official caution to Connolly over the incident, which occurred at a political rally in Melbourne. They also investigated Anning, who twice struck the teen after being egged, but also opted not to charge the 69-year-old, saying he'd acted in self-defense.
Anning, who had sat in Australia's Senate as an independent lawmaker after quitting the One Nation party early last year, is no longer in Parliament after he was voted out in the country's May 18 general election.
Beijing, May 29 (AP/UNB) — Australian navy helicopter pilots were hit by lasers while exercising in the South China Sea, forcing them to land as a precaution, a witness said, describing the latest incident in the disputed waters where China has stepped up the defense of its sweeping territorial claims.
Scholar Euan Graham, who was onboard the Royal Australian Navy flagship HMAS Canberra on a voyage from Vietnam to Singapore, said that the lasers had been pointed from passing fishing vessels while the Canberra was being trailed by a Chinese warship.
China maintains a robust maritime militia in the South China Sea composed of fishing vessels equipped to carry out missions just short of combat. China claims the strategic waterway virtually in its entirety and is sensitive to all foreign naval action in the area, especially by the U.S. and allies such as Australia.
"Was this startled fishermen reacting to the unexpected? Or was it the sort of coordinated harassment more suggestive of China's maritime militia? It's hard to say for sure, but similar incidents have occurred in the western Pacific," Euan Graham wrote on the website The Strategist run by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute , an independent, non-partisan think tank based in Canberra. The account of the incident appeared Tuesday.
Similar incidents involving lasers and the Chinese military have also been reported as far away as Djibouti, where the U.S. and China have bases. Last year, the U.S. complained to China after lasers were directed at aircraft in the Horn of Africa nation that resulted in minor injuries to two American pilots.
China denied that its forces targeted the U.S. military aircraft.
Graham said that while bridge-to-bridge communications with the Chinese during the voyage were courteous, the Chinese requested the Australian warships notify them in advance of any corrections to their course.
That was something the Australian navy was "not about to concede while exercising its high-seas freedoms," Graham wrote.
He wrote that the constant presence of Chinese vessels shadowing foreign ships appeared to indicate that the Chinese fleet had grown large enough to allow it to have vessels lying in wait for just such orders.
He said their trailing actions also appeared to show that China's over-the-horizon surveillance capability was also maturing, supported by technology based at points such as Fiery Cross Reef in the contested Spratly island group where China has built military installations and an airstrip atop coral reefs.
Five other governments have claims in the South China Sea that overlap with China's, and the U.S. and its allies insist on the right to sail and fly anywhere in the area is permitted under international law, despite China's differing interpretation of such guidelines.
Graham, who is executive director of La Trobe Asia at La Trobe University in Australia, was one of several academics invited to observe Australia's engagement exercise Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019.
Sydney, May 29 (AP/UNB) — Scott Morrison was sworn in as Australia's prime minister on Wednesday, 11 days after retaining the position in the country's general election.
Along with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Morrison was sworn in by Queen Elizabeth's official representative in Australia, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, at a ceremony in the capital, Canberra.
Also sworn in was Morrison's revamped Cabinet, which includes an equal-record seven women, and Australia's first Aboriginal federal cabinet minister, Ken Wyatt.
Wyatt, the new indigenous affairs minister, received a standing ovation from the small gathering at the ceremony when he stepped up to be sworn in. He wore a traditional kangaroo skin, called a "booka", given to him by indigenous people from his home state, Western Australia.
Morrison became Australia's 30th prime minister through an internal party vote last August in which he replaced Malcolm Turnbull as chief of the ruling Liberal Party.
It was the fourth switch of Australia's leader through an internal party vote in just eight years, sparking heated criticism from many voters. Yet Morrison was returned to his post in the May 18 election, and with an increased majority for the conservative Liberal-National party coalition.
With voting continuing in two close seats, the coalition was ahead in 77 seats, with the opposition Labor Party leading in 68, and with six seats having been secured by independent candidates and minor parties. A total of 76 seats is needed for majority government.
Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, Morrison said his "hungry, committed and united" team would focus on the aspirations of ordinary Australians during this coalition government's third successive term in power.
"They are the reason we have the opportunity and the great privilege to serve them each and every day," he told colleagues on Tuesday, at coalition lawmakers' first meeting since the election.
"We must burn for the Australian people every single day that we have this privilege of serving them, in this party room and as a government."
Australia's 46th Parliament is expected to open in the first week of July.
Sydney, May 20 (AP/UNB) — A jubilant Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed Sunday to get straight back to work after a shock election victory by his conservative government that has left bewildered voters wondering how they were taken by surprise.
The opposition Labor Party, meanwhile, began another bout of postelection soul searching while starting the task of finding a new leader, after Bill Shorten stepped down following an emphatic defeat Saturday in a poll many had seen as unlosable for his party.
Center-left Labor, which has governed Australia for only 38 of its 118 years as a federation, was rated an overwhelming favorite, both in opinion polls and with odds-makers, to topple the conservative Liberal-National coalition government after its six years in power.
Instead, Morrison — who became prime minister only last August when a contentious internal party vote dumped Malcolm Turnbull as its leader — swept the coalition to victory with what is likely to be an increased representation in Parliament.
The result is much the same as the last election, which delivered the government a single-seat majority in 2016. Since then, public expectations have taken a roller coaster ride based on the media's reporting of polls.
Opinion polling has been a factor in conservative and Labor governments ousting four of their own prime ministers in the past decade, mostly recently elevating Morrison to prime minister.
Sydney University political scientist Stewart Jackson said the polls that had put Labor ahead of the government for the past two years were too consistent for too long to be credible.
"That indicates 'herding,' where the pollsters themselves are getting results that they don't think are right and are adjusting them," Jackson said. "Because statistically, polls should never come up like that."
Martin O'Shannessy, who headed the respected Newspoll market research company in Sydney for a decade until 2015, said he was "shocked" by the government's victory, given the polling.
"It's not possible to tell exactly how the current polls are being conducted because they don't have the same method statement that polls in the past have had," O'Shannessy said.
Until Saturday, Newspoll had accurately predicted the winner of every Australian state and federal election since its inception in 1985. Australia has made voting compulsory, so pollsters' surveys of Australians' party preferences usually come close to the election result.
Newspolls are published every few weeks and are reported by the Australian media like a game score of the government and opposition's popularity and achievements.
Morrison's predecessor, Turnbull, justified overthrowing his predecessor, Tony Abbott, in 2015 on the basis of "30 losing Newspolls."
Turnbull's administration had trailed Labor in more than 30 Newspolls before his government replaced him with Morrison as elections loomed.
O'Shannessy said Sunday, "You should never sack the prime minister on the basis of a Newspoll — ever."
Labor lawmaker Anthony Albanese, who was defeated by Shorten in a ballot of the party leadership in 2013 and will contest for the job again, said he had expected to be in government based on polling.
"The truth is that clearly there is a major gap between what the polling was showing and what the outcome was," Albanese said. "That is something that no doubt will be examined over coming days and weeks."
With just over 75% of votes counted by Sunday evening, the coalition had won 73 of the 76 seats needed to form a majority government, according to calculations from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. With seven seats still undecided, the coalition was expected to make further gains by the end of counting. The government had gone into the election as a minority government, with just 73 seats.
Labor was holding 65 seats, with independents and minor parties claiming six.
The possibility remains that the coalition will again have to govern in the minority, relying on agreements with independent and minor party lawmakers to do government business.
Still, Shorten's move to concede defeat late Saturday night confirmed a resounding victory for the Morrison administration.
Speaking before attending church in his electorate in southern Sydney on Sunday morning, Morrison thanked Australians for returning him to office.
"I give thanks to live in the greatest country in all the world," he said. "Thanks again to all Australians all across the country."
The 51-year-old, who received a congratulatory phone call from President Donald Trump earlier Sunday, said he was eager to return to work on Monday to form his new government.
A key Morrison ally, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, paid tribute to his leader's campaigning for securing the victory.
"The prime minister led from the front," Frydenberg told ABC TV. "From the minute the starter's gun was fired in this campaign, we knew we were behind, but we also knew we were in it, and no one knew this better than the prime minister."
"He crisscrossed the country with great energy, belief, and conviction. He was assured, he was confident, and he was across the detail, and he sold our economic plan to the Australian people, a plan that resonated with them," Frydenberg said.
Analysts credited the result also to a simple coalition platform centering on promises of keeping taxes to a minimum.
Labor entered the race grappling with a low popularity rating for Shorten, a 52-year-old former union boss widely seen as having a pallid personality. Rather than frame the election as a battle between him and the more outgoing Morrison, Labor strategists instead pushed a broad platform of policies.
Shorten campaigned heavily on reducing greenhouse emissions, while promising a range of other reforms, including the government paying all of a patient's costs for cancer treatment, and a reduction in tax breaks for landlords.
While senior Labor lawmaker Chris Bowen conceded his party may have suffered for what, for an opposition party, was an unusually detailed campaign, Shorten insisted it had been right to fight the election on issues rather than personalities.
"I'm disappointed for people who depend upon Labor, but I'm glad that we argued what was right, not what was easy," Shorten told supporters.
Shorten would have been Australia's sixth prime minister in six years had he been elected. Many Australians have at least welcomed Morrison's announcement of a change in Liberal policy in that the party can no longer dump a prime minister by internal party vote, meaning they will lead the country for a full three-year term unless an early election is called.
So high was public confidence of a Labor victory, Australian online bookmaker Sportsbet paid out 1.3 million Australian dollars ($900,000) to bettors who backed Labor two days before the vote. Sportsbet said 70% of wagers had been placed on Labor at the slender odds of $1.16 to $1.00.
As Labor absorbed the defeat, deputy leader Tanya Plibersek and Albanese told reporters they were considering running for the party's leadership.