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West Papua on the verge of further violence

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West Papua flag.

Western New Guinea, or West Papua, is part of the island of New Guinea, which Indonesia has controlled since 1962.

The nation lies 200 kilometres from Australia and borders Papua New Guinea. It is home to over 250 tribes, who all speak their own languages. West Papua has a range of mountains, forests and coastal mangrove swamps.

But West Papua is on the verge of a violent crackdown at the hands of the Indonesian military.

Dr Camellia Webb-Gannon is a lecturer at the University of Wollongong. She said the nation has been seeking independence from Indonesia for decades.

“The majority of the independence movement in West Papua are committed to achieving peace with justice and independence through non-violent means.”

Benny Wenda leads the independence movement, which seeks a peaceful transition to independence.

“About three weeks ago, the independence fighters were able to conduct a surprise attack and kill brigadier general Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha. He was head of intelligence in Papua.

“This is the biggest kill they’ve ever been able to do. The act was claimed by the liberation army as a victory but it infuriated Indonesia,” Dr Webb-Gannon explained.

However, this prompted a response from the chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly to the Indonesian military, Bambang Soesatyo.

“Destroy them first. We will discuss human rights matters later.”

This sparked serious concerns that West Papua may be close to another violent repression, at the hands of Indonesia’s military.

West Papua’s diverse environment

West Papua’s diverse landscape is also the home of the Grasberg mine, which has the world’s largest reserves of gold.

The mine reportedly has $40 billion in reserves and provides jobs for around 20,000 workers.

But Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo believes economic development and infrastructure will cease calls for West Papuan independence.

A highway from the highlands to the coast is one area that President Widodo is seeking to develop. But West Papuans currently retain control over these areas.

“He’s trying to build a highway in the hopes that this would open up West Papua to economic opportunities and try and solve some of the poverty.

“It’s simply not working. Economics are not at the crux of this, it’s politics,” Dr Webb-Gannon said.

Regional involvement

Dr Webb-Gannon said Australia and the broader region have a crucial role to play in de-escalating tensions.

“Australia needs to stop training Indonesian military forces until they can prove that they do worry about human rights.

“Vanuatu has always had West Papua’s back. Their government has said ‘we do not consider ourselves truly free and independent until the rest of Melanesia is’,” she said.

Global Politics

UK, Australia strike new free trade agreement

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Australia and the United Kingdom have agreed to a new trade deal, a first major deal post-Brexit.

The Australian Prime Minister had a working dinner with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street last night, with a formal announcement expected on Tuesday.

According to the BBC, the meal served up to the pair on Monday evening included Welsh lamb and Scottish smoked salmon, and was washed down with Australian wine.

It is the first trade deal to be negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU.

The new deal is expected to give UK and Australian food producers and other businesses easier access to each other’s markets.

However, the leaders were initially stuck on several issues, including a plan by the British to add tariffs to Australian farming imports for the next ten years.

Behind the scenes, bureaucrats have been working frantically to reach a deal, and now both leaders are believed to have made concessions.

The new trade deal is expected to give UK and Australian food producers and other businesses easier access to each other’s markets.

According to the National Farmers Union (NFU), Australian farmers are able to produce beef at a lower cost of production, and could undercut farmers in the UK.

Australia’s top 10 export markets

Australia still leads the world when it comes to exporting ironcoal and petroleum gases.

Australia’s biggest export products by value in 2020 were iron, coal, petroleum gases, gold and aluminium. In aggregate, those major exports account for 63.1% of overall exports sales from Australia.

The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.

  1. Ores, slag, ash: US$91.3 billion (35.9% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $65.4 billion (25.7%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $19.6 billion (7.7%)
  4. Meat: $10.4 billion (4.1%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $5.2 billion (2%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $4.4 billion (1.7%)
  7. Cereals: $3.8 billion (1.5%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: $3.4 billion (1.4%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.1 billion (1.2%)
  10. Aluminum: $3.1 billion (1.2%)

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Business

Wall street soars, investors countdown key Fed meeting.

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Investors appear to be buying what the Federal Reserve is selling at the minute, that is they’re shrugging off those pesky inflation concerns.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit fresh record-highs ahead of the Fed meeting this week.

VFS Group’s James Whelan says there’s one key question in all of this.

“Will the Fed care about the market reaction? That’s the playbook for the next six months. Inflation, Fed response, market response to the Fed, and then will the market actually care? We’ve had four years of the Fed caring about everything the market did.”

JAMES WHELAN, VFS GROUP

The four years Whelan’s referring to are the Donald Trump years, where the former President often boasted of how strongly Wall Street performed.

But not everyone trusts the central bank right now, billionaire hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones is cynical.

“He (Tudor) called the stock market crash in ’87. History is on his side for calling big things. He’s saying if he doesn’t see any sort of commentary from the Fed this week, he’s going all-in on every inflationary hedge there is”

DANIEL WEINER, MARKET STRATEGIST

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Expectations remain that the central bank will hold tight, and keep pace with their bond purchases.

James King of AFEX says the amount of stimulus that’s entered the market over the last 18 months is extraordinary.

“The last 18 months or so there’s been a meteoric rise in the Fed’s balance sheet. From four trillion dollars to almost eight trillion dollars in an 18 month period”

Federal Reserve Bank

The next update is due Wednesday US time, and all investors will be watching.

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Global Politics

Australian future unclear for detained family of asylum seekers

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A family of Tamil asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island since 2019 will be reunited in Australia.

The Murugappan family have been separated as youngest daughter Tharnicaa undergoes treatment in a Perth hospital, but their long-term future in Australia remains unclear.

“Today’s decision releases the family from held detention and facilitates ongoing treatment, while they pursue ongoing litigation before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Court and High Court.”

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement.

“Importantly, today’s decision does not create a pathway to a visa.”

WA Health had requested they be reunited while she receives treatment.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the move but it remains unknown if they will be granted new visas.

The family were removed from their home in Biloela in 2018 when their visas expired.

The family has been separated for more than a week after Tharnicaa and her mother were flown from Christmas Island to Perth.

Three-year-old Tharnicaa is believed to have developed a blood infection while in detention on Christmas Island.

“This is not ok, it needs to end”

Last week Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Ticker News “This is just not ok and it needs to end”

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