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TICKER VIEWS – Is New Zealand really cosying up to China?

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The diplomatic rift between Australia and China continues to worsen, exacerbated by Scott Morrison’s government tearing up controversial infrastructure agreements.

Canberra is bracing for retaliation from Beijing, after it torpedoed Belt and Road Initiative agreements China signed with the Australian state of Victoria.

Australia hasn’t hesitated to stand up to an increasingly assertive and powerful China. It led calls for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, much to China’s fury.

Beijing has even shared a 14-point list of grievances that it has against Australia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, April 1, 2019. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool Photo via AP)


TREADING CAREFULLY

New Zealand’s relationship with China has also been under the spotlight, but for completely different reasons.

New Zealand has been accused of turning its back on its “Five Eyes” allies, amid claims Jacinda Ardern’s government is soft on China.

There’s no question that Australia and New Zealand have fundamentally different approaches to handling the increasing assertiveness of China.

But is New Zealand moving closer to China?

Robert Ayson is a Professor of Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He says that while New Zealand doesn’t have a “hardline, zero sum approach to [its] relationship” with Beijing, it “… has taken a strong view on China compared to where it was 7-8 years ago.”

“New Zealand wants to maintain good relations with traditional partners, particularly in the Five Eyes context,” he told Ticker News.

“New Zealand also wants to keep room for a productive relationship with Beijing. New Zealand is unlikely to go down the path that Australia has…”

Australia’s actions have seen it become a victim of China’s economic coercion. New Zealand is seeking to tread carefully, mindful of its economic reliance on China.

FUTURE OF FIVE-EYES

New Zealand has on multiple occasions spoken out against China, including over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

But the island nation has also been conspicuously absent from some joint statements from its Five-Eyes allies, as it is wanting to chart its own course when it comes to its dealings with China.

The 70-year-old intelligence grouping is made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and United Kingdom.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister this week revealed that New Zealand was “uncomfortable” with expanding the remit of the alliance.

Nanaia Mahuta believes the focus of the group needs to remain on intelligence, not on pressuring or criticising China.

Robert Ayson says the “comments did catch out a few people”, given they were made “in a public forum”.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marine Payne travelled across the Tasman this week, taking advantage of the new travel bubble, for a face-to-face meeting with her Kiwi counterpart.Marise Payne was asked by a journalist if she would like to see the Ardern government take a tougher line on Beijing.

“One thing I have learnt in my role in this job as Australia’s Foreign Minister is not to give advice to other countries,” she responded.

It’s advice that New Zealand’s Trade Minister would have done well to heed in an interview earlier this year.

Appearing on CNBC, Damien O’Connor urged Australia to follow New Zealand and “show respect” and “a little more diplomacy” to China.

The comments went down like a lead balloon in Canberra, as the Minister was left to mop up a diplomatic mess of his own making.

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NASA confirms Odysseus lunar aircraft tipped over after failed moon landing

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NASA has confirmed that the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, named Odysseus, has tipped over onto its side after a failed landing.

Despite the setback, the spacecraft is reported to be “alive and well.”

Initial data received by Intuitive Machines, the company behind the spacecraft, indicated that Odysseus had successfully landed with all six feet on the lunar surface.

However, subsequent updates revealed that the lander is now laying on its side on the lunar landscape.

According to CEO Steve Altemus, the mishap occurred when one of the lander’s legs became caught, causing it to tip over onto a rock.

This unexpected turn of events occurred a day after what was initially confirmed as a soft landing.

Solar power

While laying on its side has hindered radio transmission and potentially impacted the craft’s ability to receive solar power, Altemus reassured during a press conference that much of Odysseus’ operating abilities remain intact.

“We do have communications with the lander,” Altemus stated, noting that commands are still being sent to the vehicle.

Efforts are underway to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface at the landing site.

Despite the setback, Intuitive Machines expressed confidence in Odysseus’ overall performance.

Mission director Tim Crain highlighted the spacecraft’s flawless flight to the moon, during which it utilized a propulsion fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space.

The journey to the lunar surface was not without its challenges, as a problem with the lander’s navigation system emerged during the final approach and descent. Ground engineers had to implement an untested workaround at the last minute to ensure a safe landing.

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Policeman charged with murdering TV presenter and his boyfriend

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A major update in the disappearance of a Channel 10 presenter and his Qantas flight attendant boyfriend, as a police officer with connections to the missing couple has been charged with two counts of murder.

NSW Police have released footage of constable Beau Lamarre-Condon handing himself in to Bondi police station.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a former celebrity blogger turned NSW Police officer, surrendered to authorities on Friday morning, following a frantic overnight search.

The charges stem from the mysterious disappearance of Lemarre’s ex-boyfriend, Jesse Baird, and Baird’s partner, Luke Davies, who were last seen on Monday.

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies are pictured.

Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty confirmed the charges, stating, “Charges have been submitted for two counts of murder.”

He further added that Lemarre is expected to be formally denied bail and brought before the court.

Jesse Baird on the set of Studio 10

Police weapon

Police allege that Lemarre used his service weapon to fatally shoot Baird and Davies at Baird’s home in Paddington on Monday night.

The bodies have yet to be found, but evidence collected at the crime scene, including bloodstained clothes discovered near a skip-bin in Cronulla, and a projectile matched to a NSW Police firearm, have led investigators to pursue charges against Lemarre.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a NSW Police officer and ex-celebrity blogger

A white van believed to be connected to the disappearance was located on Friday morning, prompting authorities to intensify their search efforts.

However, the whereabouts of Baird and Davies remain unknown.

The couple’s disappearance has sent shockwaves through the community, with friends expressing concern for their safety.

According to reports, Baird had previously voiced fears of being stalked, adding a layer of complexity to the investigation.

Police are searching for a white van (pictured) they believe was being driven by Mr Lamarre. It was captured on CCTV (pictured) driving past the couple in Paddington on Monday night

Major crime scene

Police sealed off a street in Lambton, Newcastle, located 165km away from the Paddington crime scene, on Friday after a white van matching the description of the one being sought was spotted in Karoola Road near Lambton Pool.

Local residents reported a heavy police presence in the area, with streets cordoned off and officers conducting door-to-door inquiries.

“There’s cops everywhere, walking the streets, door knocking,” said one resident.

“Got the road closed past the pool,” they added.

Another resident mentioned, “The park is taped off with police tape up near the bowling club and lots of police are walking the park at the moment.”

It is suspected that Beau Lamarre-Condon, the individual charged in connection with the disappearance, may have driven the van, registered as CW82PM, to a residence in the Newcastle suburb where it was sighted around 10pm the previous night. However, by 2am, the van had vanished again.

Prior to becoming a police officer, Lamarre-Condon was a celebrity blogger

These significant developments occurred after Lamarre-Condon’s phone showed signs of activity shortly before his arrest.

He had evaded authorities following the launch of a manhunt for the missing couple, after it was revealed that he was Jesse Baird’s ex-boyfriend.

Prior to his tenure with the NSW Police, Lamarre-Condon was known as a celebrity blogger, famous for capturing selfies with prominent figures such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

His entry into law enforcement in 2019 was not without controversy, as he garnered attention for tasering a man in the face during an arrest, which was captured on camera.

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Generative AI is threatening to kill off original music

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From original sounds to entire songs, generative AI is sparking debates on the future of the music industry.

Generative artificial intelligence can already produce original sounds, lyrics, and entire songs on its own.

So, as the new technology continues to develop, will AI mean the death of original music, or herald a new era of creativity?

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