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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inaugurates the "Defence Development Exhibition 'Self-Defence-2021'"

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 

On Monday, on the 76th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's founding, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inaugurated a new weapons exhibition in the Three-Revolutions Exhibition House, Pyongyang. Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported the event next day. According to Chinese travel agency Young Pioneer Tours, North Korea closed its border to tourists in January 2020.

The Three-Revolutions Exhibition House in Pyongyang.
Image: Laika ac.

The outside ceremony started when Kim Jong Un arrived. Attendees, mainly Korean People's Army (KPA) officers, party officials and invited defence industry personnel, greeted Kim with "Manse!" (Long Live!). High-ranking party officials Choe Ryong Hae, Jo Yong Won and Hyon Song Wol, premier Kim Tok Hun, Marshal Pak Jong Chon and Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong were also there.

A musical performance by the KPA military band and the Orchestra of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK came before a KPA martial arts demonstration, in it brick breaking with bare fists, bending steel bars with the sternum and jumping over cars. A flypast closed the outdoor sequence, rendering the colours of the North Korean flag with smoke on the sky.

Kim Jong Un's opening speech indoors remarked that "the US tacit sponsorship [of South Korea] continue to damage the inter-Korean feelings and emotions" and that "South Korea has been unhesitant on several occasions in disclosing its ambition for securing military supremacy over us under the preposterous excuse of deterring threat from us", but called their military build-up a war deterrence effort. He also called on people to support to the defence capabilities of the country, and dedicated the event to analyze their recent achievements in the field.

An award ceremony for servicepersons and others followed with high decorations handed over, including the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Orders, the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Prizes, the title of Labour Hero, the Order of the National Flag and watches signed with the names of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

After touring the exhibition, Kim Jong Un met with the jet pilots who performed earlier, then left in a limousine.

The exhibition featured missiles, including editions 14, 15 and 16 of the Hwasong intercontinental ballistic missile series.

In reaction on Tuesday, Moon Hong-sik, a spokesperson for South Korea's Ministry of Defence said that both the United States and South Korea are analyzing the displayed equipment.


Sources[edit]

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Texas governor bans COVID-19 vaccine mandate by any 'entity'

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 

Governor Abbott in August 2020.
Image: The White House.

In an executive order on Monday, Texas governor Greg Abbott banned any "entity in Texas" from requiring vaccination against the COVID-19 virus, claiming that "countless Texans" object to receiving a vaccine against COVID-19 on grounds related to "personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19."

In Executive Order GA-40, Abbott states, "COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must always be voluntary for Texans."

The governor's order comes after United States President Joe Biden announced last month that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the U.S. Department of Labor was developing an emergency rule to mandate vaccination or weekly testing for employers with 100 or more employees.

Abbott's order cites that "in yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas's continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster."

Abbott called on the Texas Legislature to pass a law against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and has said he would rescind the order if the Legislature did so.

Previously, Abbott blocked state and local agencies from requiring vaccines for their employees, but allowed private businesses to require mandates of their own.

The Texas Tribune noted that while Abbott has barred COVID-19 vaccination mandates, the state allows primary and secondary schools as well as post-secondary institutions to require vaccinations for a variety of diseases for their students.

Facebook Inc. and Google parent company Alphabet Inc. both employ large numbers of people in Texas, and both companies have called for proof of vaccination from their employees. The largest U.S. air carrier American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, last week called for its 100,000 employees to be vaccinated or face termination.


Sources[edit]

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California to require large retailers to have gender-neutral toy sections from 2024

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This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2021-10-10 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)

Sunday, October 10, 2021 

On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1084 (AB1084), which requires retailers with 500 or more employees throughout the state to keep a gender-neutral area for childcare products and toys. The law is set to take effect in 2024.

A JCPenney department store in Carlsbad, California.
Image: Amin Eshaiker.

The bill says that "a retail department store that offers childcare items or toys for sale shall maintain a gender neutral section or area, to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer, in which a reasonable selection of the items and toys for children that it sells shall be displayed, regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys." Boy and girl sections are not prohibited, but a common section alongside them is required. While the original version included clothing, during California Senate proceedings that part was removed from the text.

Non-compliance calls for a US$250 civil penalty for a first case, and US$500 for subsequent violations. Courts could order the violator to pay court costs and attorney's fees.

Assembly members Evan Low and Cristina Garcia, both members of the Democratic Party, introduced the bill into the California Assembly, the lower house of the state's legislature. AB1084 was amended by both houses, then passed the Assembly in a 49-16 vote on September 2 before being sent to the governor's desk for approval.

Speaking about the bill, Low said, "Part of it is to make sure if you're a young girl that you can find a police car, fire truck, a periodic table or a dinosaur. And then similarly, if you're a boy, if you're more artistic and want to play with glitter, why not? Why should you feel the stigma of saying, 'Oh, this should be shamed', and going to a different location?"

On July 25, Garcia noted in a Facebook post, "As a math teacher I saw 1st hand how playtime creates the building blocks for attaining spatial awareness that’s important for studying geometry, unfortunately these toys are often labeled as boy toys. Removing the gender identity from these toys will hopefully lead to more boys & girls entering STEM fields."

The bill was opposed by members of the Republican Party: Republican state Senator Melissa Melendez said, "I don't think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children". In opposition of the bill, the Capitol Resource Institute argued that "it is not the business of the government to instruct retail stores how they should display and market their merchandise."

On April 6, during a public hearing before the Business and Professions Committee of the Assembly, Greg Burt of the California Family Council called AB1084 "impossible to comply with" as it does not define the intended meaning of "reasonable amount" and "a bill like this opens the door to a never-ending number of complaints from activist groups who don’t like the way stores are marketing their products to one sex or another".

Assembly Bill 2826, introduced to the Assembly by Low in 2020, which targeted a similar goal, died in the Legislature.

Retail corporation Target, with 1915 stores in the United States, dropped traditional toy section labeling in 2015. "In fact it would be more difficult to find a large retailer today that segregates toys by gender", noted the Southwest California Legislative Council, an opponent of the bill.


Sources[edit]

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Inter-Korean communication lines restored

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 

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Leader Kim Jong Un in September 2021.
Image: Korean Central News Agency.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

After almost two months of radio silence over the telephone and fax lines that serve as a hotline between North Korea and South Korea, communication was restored between the two countries on Monday.

In a speech made at a Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the North-South communication lines to be reopened, wishing for an "early recovery of the present inter-Korean relations and settlement of durable peace on the Korean peninsula."

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a statement where Kim Jong Un's wishes were expressed, and closed the short article with a cautionary statement directed at the South Korean government. This statement warned authorities in South Korea they "should keep in mind the meaning of reopening of the communication lines and make active efforts to solve pending important issues for saving the inter-Korean relations and opening its bright prospect."

The communication lines had been severed on the North's order in August as a method of protest exercised during US-South Korea joint military drills. The KCNA had previously stated communication would be re-established 9 AM on Monday KST (UTC midnight). In an article by CTV News, it is said officials exchanged greetings over telephone lines and discussed fishing activities in their disputed western maritime border.

This thawing of Korean relations comes at a heated time, with the North having conducted multiple missile tests last week. One of the said launches was confirmed by Japanese and South Korean defense ministries to be an early-stage hypersonic missile, launched only minutes before the representative of North Korea spoke before the UN General Assembly, heavily criticizing the US.


Sources[edit]

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Rosemary Cousin, Greens candidate in South Gippsland, Australia, speaks to Wikinews about democracy, transport, forests and other local issues

Sunday, October 3, 2021 

Rosemary Cousin, Greens candidate for Tarwin Valley ward.
Image: Australian Greens.

Nominations were declared on September 21 for South Gippsland Shire's upcoming council elections, to be held by post from October 5-22. A total of 24 people in the Australian council's three wards have put themselves forward to stand as candidates. The shire has been governed by administrators appointed by the Victorian state government since August 2019, when the council was sacked after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Rosemary Cousin, via email. Cousin is endorsed by the Australian Greens, and is contesting the Tarwin Valley ward, which elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council, and includes the towns of Leongatha and Mirboo North.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) I care about South Gippsland and local democracy and want to see our community, economy and environment thrive and be far more resilient. South Gippsland deserves a Council that listens and engages the community and is wise in using and developing the community's resources. It deserves councilors who work together for the whole community's benefit. So, I'm making a commitment to Tarwin Valley and South Gippsland if I'm elected to work hard to:

1. Restore community confidence in local government, focusing on openness, participation, and ethical behaviour.

2. Increase community involvement in Council's policies, plans and strategies to deal with climate change and public health, economic and environmental challenges.

3. Find better ways of managing Council's business to improve rate fairness and standards accountability and service.

4. Provide leadership and advocacy to improve our country, economy, and community wellbeing.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) The Administrators virtually closed-off public participation and engagement in Council decision making. Councillors play an important role in listening to residents and ratepayers, bringing their concerns to Council and the CEO for resolution. Three Melbourne-based Commissioners just can’t perform the roles and duties of 9 elected councillors. The Administrators have made long term decisions on many things, including tourism and economic development plans and the Council Plan that really should have been formulated with community direction and widespread collaboration and participation. Many who made submissions on these plans didn’t get a response to their issues. Other important Council plans need urgent refresh including the Health and Wellbeing Plan which is now out of date. Priority should be given to refreshing these plans to help our community towards a better future.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Since 1993, South Gippsland has not had a passenger railway service, when the V/Line service to Leongatha was closed. Do you think that these services should be brought back, and why/why not?

The Great Southern Rail Trail in Leongatha.
Image: Glen Pringle.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) It's difficult to reinstate V/Line rail services now the railway corridor has been converted into the Great Southern Rail Trail. The Leongatha to Port Welshpool section is increasingly popular for locals tourists; and the Nyora to Leongatha section is now being constructed. One of my wish projects is to ensure this trail is continuous and passes safely through Leongatha.

In the last Council, Andrew McEwan was Council's nominee on the Regional Transport Forum, which collated residents’ public transport needs. Our community is very supportive of improved public transport within the Shire's townships, between the Shire's and other regional centres - especially the Latrobe Valley where a lot of people work. Some said the services to and from Melbourne were ok. What people mostly asked for was better timetabling and more stop off and pick up points on all routes with the possibility of feeder mini-buses linking in to key drop off points were needed to provide finer grain transport services. The Grand Ridge Rail Trail itself is generating further demand for public transport to return walkers and riders back-to-their starting points.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) The Local Government Act requires Council to promote action on climate change. Council has already started this. Faced with more frequent natural events and disasters we need to fast-track a community-based response to climate change and biodiversity loss. Initiatives to improve community resilience will help manage the impacts on Council roads and services and reduce business and resident disruptions to energy, water and transport networks.

Council already does some fine collaborative work in natural disaster preparedness, and this should continue, engaging farmers, and community organisations as well to increase resilience and improve our disaster preparedness.

Nature's beauty is a cornerstone of South Gippsland's tourism - our native forests, rolling hills and coastlines. Look closer you'll see landscapes on both public and private land that need regeneration and native flora and fauna need protection. Council can play a role in this, principally through collaboration and advocacy. Agencies working together, joining the dots, can achieve a lot more than working alone. For example, to better fulfil obligations under the Catchment and Land Protection Act and Planning Scheme I'd like to see Council improve the way it works with landcare groups, the CMA and other water authorities.

We need to take a shire-wide look at ways to improve roads and roadside safety rather than the piecemeal approach to works that creates more problems than they solve. Through regional collaboration with government agencies and the private sector Council can set out a Transport Plan for heavy vehicles and other traffic, road and intersection upgrades and public transport. Again, collaboration and advocacy are the key.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) I have a mix of skills and experience which give me a great grounding to be a local councillor. I'm qualified in urban and regional planning and I've worked in local government across three states. My approach to planning focuses on problem solving, advocacy and community engagement. My knowledge of Victoria's planning system means I can respond capably to planning matters that come to Council for a decision. My strategic skills mean I can take a holistic, fact-based approach to the issues that come before Council.

I have a degree in public administration, and experience at senior levels in Victorian and Commonwealth governments, so I know how governments work, the separation of powers and the laws that govern Council. With this knowledge comes a close adherence to ethical behaviour.

I grew up on a dairy farm in Gippsland and have strong connections to many of the Shire's food producers and farmers. More recently I've focused on natural resource management, water governance, regenerative agriculture, and biodiversity conservation, so I know the whole of the Shire quite well, and some of the nuts and bolts of South Gippsland's economy.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Mirboo North signpost.
Image: User:Dscalder.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) For the last four years, I've been volunteering with the Mirboo North district community to help preserve our native forests. A beautiful citizen-science report will soon been released on the rich biodiversity of the Mirboo North State Forest, which plays a big role in community wellbeing and water supply, attracts many visitors which many of the businesses in the Tarwin Valley rely on.

I'd like to see rail trails, continuous and promoted as a unique tourism experience which invites visitors and residents alike to experience the fine foods grown and produced here, visit our towns and natural areas and take advantage of the array of bed and breakfast and health retreats and cultural events.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) Early last year, I coordinated Mirboo North and district's fantastic community response to the bushfires to help East Gippsland's remote communities. As a food producer I keep in contact with a lot of small traders and customers across the Shire and region. I love talking with people at farmers markets. During the lockdowns, I'm taking to social media to reach out. I've kept up with people engaged in regenerative agriculture and climate change via zoom and the occasional meeting during breaks in lockdown. But now that we can move around more freely, I'm to getting back to driving to each local area in the ward and having great face to face discussions. We all need social contact.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why did you choose to run as a Greens candidate for local council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rosemary CousinWikinews waves Right.png)) In 2016, I became very concerned about the overuse of toxic chemicals in Council's day-to-day operations and was unhappy with the dismissive way my concerns were treated by Council. I felt Council could make some basic changes to improve customer and community responsiveness, so I threw my hat in the ring for the 2016 election as an independent candidate for South Gippsland Council. I had a good community response, but not enough to take a seat on Council at that time.

As a farmer and food producer who cares for the environment, I found most political parties were very slow to act, or worse, denying the existence of the huge issues I saw threatening our wellbeing and existence, which left me deeply unsatisfied. I joined the Greens because I found they have many values that I agree with and positive proposals to deal with the big issues I'm concerned about; and they and are open to new ideas and continuous learning, all of which appealed to me. I see myself now as a Country Green, grounded in agriculture, our environment, and the South Gippsland community. I'm ready to listen, to learn, and to focus on practical action to make a positive difference to our community and planet.

After joining the Greens, in October 2018 I was elected by countback to Council after a sitting Councillor resigned. I did the right thing and openly declared my political affiliation. While people generally believe that local government is not party political, in my experience most councillors don't openly declare their political affiliations even though they have one. The laws governing being a councillor are clear about declaring personal interests and conflicts of interest. This transparency and honesty to the public is vital, and in my view extends to party political affiliations too.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Australia: Wikinews interviews Les Harmer, South Gippsland local election candidate

Sunday, October 3, 2021 

South Gippsland Shire Council wards.
Image: Victorian Electoral Commission.

Nominations were declared on September 21 for South Gippsland Shire's upcoming council elections, to be held by post from October 5-22. A total of 24 people in the Australian council's three wards have put themselves forward to stand as candidates. The shire has been governed by administrators appointed by the Victorian state government since August 2019, when the council was sacked after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Les Harmer, via email. Harmer is contesting the Tarwin Valley ward, which elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council, and includes the towns of Leongatha and Mirboo North.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Improved communication between the community and council.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) No, things needed to settle down after the turmoil that occurred, I believe the Administrators have done just that, the path is now set for refreshed councillors to take the council into the future.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Since 1993, South Gippsland has not had a passenger railway service, when the V/Line service to Leongatha was closed. Do you think that these services should be brought back, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Only if economically viable, the public purse is such a valuable commodity the days of accepting unprofitable ventures are gone.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) What we would like to see and what can be achieve as a councillor is a tough one, as a councillor we deal mainly with what effects the community on a daily basis, personally I would like to see more emphasis put on renewables in longer term planning.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Great empathy with the local community and management qualifications.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Becoming an official tourist friendly town, the benefits to local businesses are huge.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Keeping the contact through email, newspaper articles, coffee meetings when allowed continuing connection with local groups of which I am connected.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Les HarmerWikinews waves Right.png)) Yes, some years ago stood for local council in the Shire of Yarra Ranges, was unsuccessful.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Australia: Wikinews interviews David Liebelt, South Gippsland local election candidate

Monday, September 27, 2021 

Since June 2019, the people of South Gippsland Shire, located at the southernmost tip of Australia, have been without a local council, after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council. Administrators were appointed by the Victorian state government in July 2019, who have governed the shire since then. However, South Gippsland's council is scheduled to be restored with an election to be held via post from October 5-22, 2021.

Port Welshpool in Victoria.
Image: Phillip Capper.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, David Liebelt, an independent candidate running in the Coastal-Promontory Ward. The Coastal-Promontory ward covers towns such as Venus Bay, Waratah Bay, Yanakie, Foster, Port Welshpool, and Toora, and elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) As a councillor I hope to represent the all the people of the Coastal Ward as well as the people of the entire South Gippsland Shire. I believe I can represent the "Quiet Majority". The employees; farmers; small business people; the tradies; the retired and the holidays makers. We have, for too long been represented by people with narrow agendas. My focus will be on local community issues and not Federal and State Government distractions. I will work to ensure the most appropriate allocation of resources so that the Council can be seen as delivering value for money.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) The two year period under administration has been too long and the Administrators have performed poorly in their duties when it comes to listening to the community and delivering on community needs. Decision have been made against community wishes; extensive waste on reviews; consultants and feasibility studies that have not delivered the appropriate outcomes.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Wilsons Promontory National Park, which takes up the majority of Coastal-Promontory ward's land area, attracts a significant amount of tourists on a yearly basis. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the current lockdown, there has been a large impact on local businesses. What do you think needs to be done to help business recovery?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) The Prom is not the only tourist attraction affected by COVID-19. We have for too long neglected other valuable tourist attractions in preference for the Prom. I am currently looking into the allocation of the Council's $2 million community support package. Very few small businesses have seen any benefit from this package. I think the Council needs to immediately provide support for all outdoor community activities that any business wants to develop. We need to reduce the red tape involved in getting these projects off the ground; let's think outside the square for a change and stop relying on developing compliance checklists to justify the bureaucrats existence.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Cattle grazing on a Yarra Valley farm.
Image: CSIRO.

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) We need to recognises that our farmers are strong environmentalists. We need to support our farmers better by providing rate relief for environmental initiatives. I am a strong believer in Habitat Corridors. These link wildlife communities and strengthen biodiversity. I would encourage a masterplan of Habitat Corridors across the Shire. Corridors that link our coastal reserves to our ranges.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) I have extensive small business management experience. I have extensive experience in people management and community involvement. I have an education in Economics, Finance and Small Business. I have completed studies in Climatology and Coastal & Fluvial Geomorphology. I have the ability to listen. My life experiences have taught me patience and empathy. Not all decisions will be popular, but they will be delivered honestly.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) I will advocate for a better allocation of resources to our small communities. Better value for the rate dollars spent. I will look to improve the services delivered by the small community Centres and community Health Centres. I will look to improve the services available for our elderly to try to assist them to stay longer in the community cities they love. As I mentioned I would look to be part of a Masterplan for Habitat Corridors in conjunction with the farming community and Parks Victoria.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) Contact is made via the local small businesses and hospitality businesses. Social media has become a part of life; now it becomes an important conduit for ideas, advice and information.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((David LiebeltWikinews waves Right.png)) I have never run for a political position in any form before this.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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'The Administrators were a disaster for the Shire': Wikinews interviews Lindsay Love, Tarwin Valley ward candidate in South Gippsland, Australia

Sunday, September 26, 2021 

South Gippsland Shire Council wards.
Image: Victorian Electoral Commission.

Nominations were declared on Tuesday for South Gippsland Shire's upcoming council elections, to be held by post from October 5-22. A total of 24 people in the Australian council's three wards have put themselves forward to stand as candidates. The shire has been governed by administrators appointed by the Victorian state government since August 2019, when the council was sacked after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Lindsay Love, via email. Love is contesting the Tarwin Valley ward, which elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council, and includes the towns of Leongatha and Mirboo North. In addition to her answers to the questions from Wikinews, Love also provided the following statement in regards to the state of the council:

"I also note that the Council satisfaction rating has been dismal for over ten years. That is a period covering various Council terms and the Administrators. The only constant has been the Administration. That would suggest that to improve the culture the change needs to be in the Administration. That means the Council has to operate like a corporate Board and give the CEO the required directions to effect a change."

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) I would like to see a change in the culture of the Administration so that it is open, transparent and has a much better community engagement profile. We need to allow people to have much greater input into the decisions that impact them.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) The Administrators were a disaster for the Shire. Perhaps this has been compounded by the arrival of COVID[-19] but we lost the "local" out of local government. However, the performance of the Administration has continued upon its poor path of over 10 years.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Since 1993, South Gippsland has not had a passenger railway service, when the V/Line service to Leongatha was closed. Do you think that these services should be brought back, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) The Administrators had an opportunity to keep the railway and establish the rail trail but chose to ignore that option. Now that the line is removed it is most unlikely a train will return given the State are trying to build a line to the airport plus a suburban ring line. They will get much more bang for the buck on those projects.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) The Environment protection is largely a state area of responsibility. Local government involvement mostly leads to increased costs and administration issues which is counter to running a lean and efficient local government delivering the core remits.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) I have a long history of involvement in some of the issues impacting the Shire so a local history can be an assistance. I have a varied life history having been a farmer, business operator and volunteer in the community. I have professional training as a Civil Engineer, planner and building designer and I have also had ten years working in local government.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Image: User:Pimlico27.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) The Shire has options to tackle a large number of projects. I have recently published a new vision for Coal Creek in the hope that it would lead to some new community engagement on that facility. I have also promoted the idea of a water supply to Yanakie and hence a bike trail from Foster to Yanakie using the water pipeline as a basis for the rail trail. I have promoted further work on the marina concept at Port Welshpool, improved facilities at Wilsons Prom for disabled people so that they can access other areas at the Prom than just Tidal River.

I have pushed the idea of a state Significant Mountain Bike Park for the Reserves around Waratah Bay. I also support building the Agnes Falls viewing platform and supporting the equestrian community to explore the Expo facility concept for Stony Creek. The Council are also supposed to start planning for a Integrated Children's centre at Nyora. I have also been trying to have an Underpass built for the rail trail at Leongatha to facilitate joining the new and old sections of the trail in order to have a safe trail.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) During COVID[-19] I have been involved in monitoring Council activities and writing various press releases to give the community a different viewpoint than the media releases from Council.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Lindsay LoveWikinews waves Right.png)) I have not previously run for Council. I have been secretary for the South Gippsland Action Group Inc who have tried to work for the residents of the Shire. During 2018 and 2019 we assisted in building the case for reduced rates and a better hardship policy. However, that work was undermined by the appointment of Administrators. I am not supported by any group.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Wikinews interviews Anda Banikos, local council candidate in South Gippsland, Australia

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 

Anda Banikos, candidate for Coastal-Promontory ward.
Image: Yianni Banikos.

Since June 2019, the people of South Gippsland Shire, located at the southernmost tip of Australia, have been without a local council, after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council. Administrators were appointed by the Victorian state government in July 2019, who have governed the shire since then. However, South Gippsland's council is scheduled to be restored with an election to be held via post from October 5-22, 2021.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Anda Banikos, an independent candidate running in the Coastal-Promontory Ward. The Coastal-Promontory ward covers towns such as Venus Bay, Waratah Bay, Yanakie, Foster, Port Welshpool, and Toora, and elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) As a South Gippsland Shire councillor, my priorities will be:

  • Restore trust in Council:
    • respectfully connect Council with the individuals and organisations that are already doing great work in our Shire;
    • advocate for a democratic people's voice in Shire decisions.
  • Recognise the climate emergency and plan a sustainable future for South Gippsland that is fair for all. We must find creative, practical ways to decarbonise our region, to support biodiversity and the many local businesses that rely on our natural environment.
  • Advocate for fair housing. We need affordable, sustainably-designed public housing precincts close to amenities, and sustainably remodelled existing houses.
  • Support regenerative farming. Provide biodiversity credits, carbon credits, or other rate offset options for regenerative farming practices.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) Two years is too long, as the administrators are not a democratically elected people's voice. After the elected council was dismissed, it was appropriate to appoint administrators without connections to our Shire. However, in my view, the administrators should have been able to get their job done and new elections organised within a year, not the two years it has taken. During these two years, the administrators have made decisions and implemented plans without transparent community scrutiny or input. I look forward to the new Council working effectively with the community on future plans for our Shire.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Wilsons Promontory National Park, which takes up the majority of Coastal-Promontory ward's land area, attracts a significant amount of tourists on a yearly basis. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the current lockdown, there has been a large impact on local businesses. What do you think needs to be done to help business recovery?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) Ways our Shire can support small businesses recover are:

  • Promoting our region as a tourist destination and providing a public transport system linking the V-Line service from Melbourne with Wilson's Promontory National Park.
  • Assisting business groups that are seeking funding from sources outside the Shire (e.g. State and Federal funding opportunities) with grant writing.
  • Streamlining planning approvals and expanding services to support our increasing resident population.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Anda Banikos at Walkerville.
Image: Yianni Banikos.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png))

  • Short and long-term environmental & biodiversity effects should be considered a priority in all aspects of planning.
  • Funding with the long-term in view, including working with neighbouring shires to attract Federal & State funding.
  • Establishment of biolinks between existing wildlife habitats (e.g. completing the Lyrebird Link to connect Cape Liptrap Coastal Park with the Strzelecki Ranges).
  • Protecting and supporting the Strzelecki koala population, the most genetically diverse koalas in Victoria. These koalas are found from the Strzelecki Ranges through the Shire to the coast.
  • A moratorium on native forest logging in our Shire, with a plan to support the transition of existing workers in these industries to other jobs, such as in infrastructure, tourism or fire management.
  • Protecting and restoring the seagrass beds, intertidal marshes and mangroves along our coast. These ecosystems are fish nurseries for recreational fishers, rich sources of biodiversity and effective carbon capture ecosystems.
  • Rate discounts or rebates for landholders participating in specific conservation programs, such as putting areas of habitat under conservation covenants.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Anda Banikos at the Foster Show, as part of the HorseArtsAnzac project commemorating horses in war.
Image: Yianni Banikos.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) I have lived in South Gippsland for three decades, moving here with a young family in the 1990s. I currently teach at Fish Creek PS and have worked in most of the schools in Coastal Promontory Ward over the past 25 years. I have experience with mixed ability education and have been a carer for young people with disabilities.

My community involvement has been with an arts and environment focus. As an active member of Prom Coast Arts, I have been involved in organising wide-ranging community arts events such as The Prom Coast Festival, The Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival, The Great Southern Portrait Prize and the HorseArtsAnzac project. I am also an active member of Landcare and Friends of the Prom.

My community involvement and work have all involved respect, goodwill, listening, creative thinking, collaboration and bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and views to produce a mutually worthwhile outcome. I will work with integrity and respect for a better future for all of South Gippsland.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png))

  • Public transport to connect the Prom with V-Line services.
  • Completion of the Lyrebird Link between Cape Liptrap Coastal Park & the Strzelecki Ranges, to secure our lyrebirds and unique Strzelecki koalas.
  • Sewerage for Fish Creek.
  • 'Putting the Fish back into Fish Creek' project to clean up the Fish Creek water catchment.
  • Watch for Wildlife signage on roads.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) It has been a challenge to connect with voters during lockdown! Some of the strategies I am using are:

  • Facebook: AndaBanikosIndependent
  • Website: andabanikosindependent.org
  • Articles in our local newspapers.
  • Emails, phone calls and Zooms with existing contacts and as many representatives of community groups as possible.
  • Participation in online candidate forums.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Anda BanikosWikinews waves Right.png)) I have never before run for political office, but am a strong supporter of the democratic process and have worked for the AEC and VEC as an electoral officer. I have no political affiliations or vested business interests in our Shire. I decided to run for Council because I care about our community and environment and can see unavoidable changes and threats posed by climate change. I can also see the opportunities offered by new technologies and creative communities to make South Gippsland more resilient and productive.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

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Australia: Wikinews interviews Rebecca Jennings, independent candidate for Daly by-election

Friday, September 10, 2021 

The electoral division of Daly within the Northern Territory, highlighted in green.
Image: User:Canley.

In the Northern Territory of Australia (NT), voters in the electoral division of Daly are scheduled to vote for a new Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) tomorrow. The previous Member, Ian Sloan of the Country Liberal Party (CLP), resigned in August. Daly covers communities near Darwin, as well as more remote places such as Timber Creek and Wadeye.

Via email, Wikinews interviewed Rebecca Jennings, who is standing in the Daly by-election as an independent candidate. Jennings previously contested the 2020 Northern Territory general election as a candidate for the Territory Alliance party. She ran in the Fannie Bay, and received 242 votes (5.6% of the vote).

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why do you want to represent Daly?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) I am a born and raised Territorian who grew up in Darwin's rural area, attending the local schools, and I’ve represented and been actively involved in the community through sport, youth advocacy and local issues for many years. I have been very lucky to work right across the entire Daly region, from Timber Creek through to Wagait Beach and everything in between. We need a stronger and independent regional voice, someone who is willing to speak up, isn't afraid of challenging the status quo and someone who has lived and breathed the Daly region. I believe I can provide a strong and informed local voice for Daly.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Daly covers a mix of more urban suburbs on Darwin's outskirts and more rural and remote communities such as Timber Creek and Wadeye. How would you, as the MP for Daly, balance these interests?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) The Daly is a mix of rural, regional and remote areas, as well as small towns scattered throughout as service areas. All are unique and need adequate attention; we have seen many regions neglected in the past and during campaigning many constituents have stated that previous members were never present in their communities and contacting them was extremely difficult. Being present, knowing your constituents and being readily available in a multitude of ways, be it print, phone, social media or regular forums, will give you the upper hand to make informed decisions about what to prioritise to ensure no community goes without.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for an election before?

Fannie Bay in 2008.
Image: User:Bidgee.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) I have – I ran with Territory Alliance in 2020 for the seat of Fannie Bay as I lived in Darwin at the time and was deeply disgruntled with a few things in the local area. It was an excellent opportunity to dip my feet into politics in the NT and the team were so supportive I couldn't fault them.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) At the moment, in New South Wales, we are seeing a COVID-19 outbreak in the remote town of Wilcannia, which is majority Indigenous. What are your thoughts on how the vaccine rollout is progressing in regards to Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) The vaccine rollout has been slow in part due to the remoteness of our communities and people not wanting to have the COVID vaccine; which I agree that people should have the full autonomy to choose what happens to their bodies, but if you are at risk or want to protect your family and community, it would be good to see the vaccine uptake increase. It's unfortunate that Wilcannia has experienced these problems, but overcrowding and the general disadvantage in healthcare we see in Aboriginal communities across Australia makes any community susceptible to an outbreak.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What experience have you had within your community that qualify you to be an MP?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) I've worked across government agencies, not for profit organisations and the private sector, including event management and hospitality. I have also represented on numerous community committees, including local sporting committees, youth committees and women advisory committees in the NT. Understanding a variety of industries, government processes, legislation and community-driven projects I believe is necessary for standing as a MP (or MLA in the NT). In addition to the professional qualities, someone who has lived, worked and understands the region is more suitable to stand as a spokesperson for their community; someone with local knowledge and real passion to drive progress in a sustainable way.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How have you been running your campaign as an independent?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) My messaging has been concise, local and achievable making it easy to get my voice across via social media (Facebook and Instagram) as well as local radio and podcasts. Social media has been the best tool in this day, but face-to-face stalls at markets and local shops are always received well by the community and gives people the opportunity to discuss things with you. If there were more lead-up time prior to the election it would have been ideal to do online Q&As to allow people from the remote areas (and in a time of COVID) to meet their candidate in a 'public' forum.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How do you think the delivery of health services could be improved in the Northern Territory?

A bus in Darwin, operated under the Darwinbus public transport network.
Image: User:Bidgee.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) Connectivity has been a continual theme throughout my campaign, we need to be able to connect people to remote service health hubs, whether that be via public bus services, better roads, roaming health care or even investing in the technology to talk to health practitioners via videolink for non-urgent appointments. This would reduce the reactivity in the healthcare sector as people would be able to regularly access providers.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are your thoughts on the criminal justice system?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) This is a complicated and multi-faceted issue, one of which I don't have all the answers, but what I am frustrated about is the lack of alternative sentencing arrangements and incarceration for crimes that might be better suited to non-jailable sentences, such as community service.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How are you funding your campaign?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) I am self-funding the campaign and have needed to be strategic with my spending. I luckily have had strong support from family, friends and volunteers who have given their time (the most precious resource in a campaign), but it would have been easier having sponsors and been able to receive donations like the bigger parties.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What's one key law reform you'd like to pursue as an MP?

The Daly River in 2009.
Image: Stephen Michael Barnett.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Rebecca JenningsWikinews waves Right.png)) As an independent it can be tricky to pass private member bills, but some big reforms I would like to see passed in my lifetime include, reinstating the euthanasia law, legalizing cannabis, decriminalising other drugs, strengthening the environmental protection legislation and removing floor pricing from alcohol sales (as it only benefits the suppliers and bottle shops). But I think one of the key reforms I would love to action immediately is strengthening of the Water Act to protect our waterways and water sources; we would need to see appropriate penalties for illegal extraction and a tightened control on licensing to reduce overuse. We need to keep our precious resources intact and available for future generations.


Sister links[edit]

Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

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Australia: Wikinews interviews Wayne Connop, independent candidate for Daly by-election

Monday, September 6, 2021 

The electoral division of Daly within the Northern Territory, highlighted in green.
Image: User:Canley.

In the Northern Territory of Australia, voters in the electoral division of Daly are scheduled to vote for a new Member of the Legislative Assembly on September 11. The previous Member, Ian Sloan of the Country Liberal Party (CLP), resigned in August. Daly covers communities near Darwin, as well as more remote places such as Timber Creek and Wadeye.

Wikinews spoke to one of the four candidates in Daly, Wayne Connop, who is running as an independent candidate. Connop has previously stood for both the Labor Party (ALP) and the CLP. He pleaded guilty to perjury in 2018 after inaccurately claiming on his website that his legal expertise covered work, health, and safety law.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why do you want to represent Daly?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) The people of Daly have raised issues close to their hearts and they’ve been ignored and sold out by the ALP and CLP governments. I want to give members of the Daly electorate a voice. I want to take the issues important to them to the government and work in collaboration with the community.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Daly covers a mix of more urban suburbs on Darwin's outskirts and more rural and remote communities such as Timber Creek and Wadeye. How would you, as the MP for Daly, balance these interests?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) There are so many unique interests within the region which is why we need direct consultation instead of playing to the political circus. Genuine collaboration is needed to put forward all the diverse voices of the Daly to the government.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) You've run in many previous elections, including a 2008 run here in Daly as a Country Liberal candidate. What drives you to run for office?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) I want to serve the people and the people feel the ALP and CLP policies don't reflect their wants, needs, or lifestyles.

Wilcannia's Club Hotel in 2017.
Image: User:Bahnfrend.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) At the moment, in New South Wales, we are seeing a COVID-19 outbreak in the remote town of Wilcannia, which is majority Indigenous. What are your thoughts on how the vaccine rollout is progressing in regards to Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) Indigenous people have been eligible since the beginning of the year, so it's disappointing to see such low vaccination rates in remote communities. Everyone who wants to be vaccinated should have access to it; the government needs to do better.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What experience have you had within your community that qualify you to be an MP?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) I have 27 years of experience in federal and state public service as well as decades of experience as a lawyer. I've run several businesses in the Top End and provided service delivery directly to many communities in the Daly region. Most of all, I'm a fair dinkum Territorian; not a blow in like these other mob. I know what the issues are, I know where the gaps are, and I'm willing to listen.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How have you been running your campaign as an independent?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) I've taken a grassroots approach, and I've been running this campaign independently with the support of friends, family members, and members of the community who are ready for change.

Darwin Private Hospital in 2008.
Image: User:Bidgee.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How do you think the delivery of health services could be improved in the Northern Territory?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) One of my policies is to create a regional health board so people of the Daly electorate can access allied health services.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What are your thoughts on the criminal justice system?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) I've worked within the justice system for decades. It's broken and doesn't reflect community expectations. We need a full-blown review of our current policies to fix what's not working.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) How are you funding your campaign?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) My campaign is entirely self-funded.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What's one key law reform you'd like to pursue as an MP?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Wayne ConnopWikinews waves Right.png)) There are so many issues to consider, not just one. However, I think economic recovery from COVID-19 should be a priority; no more wasteful spending on unnecessary things. I'm also interested in youth justice reform, as many community members have raised their concerns.


Sister links[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

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Australia: Mat Morgan, Greens candidate in South Gippsland, talks climate, tourism, and local issues with Wikinews

Sunday, September 5, 2021 

Mat Morgan, Greens candidate for Coastal-Promontory ward.
Image: Australian Greens.

Since June 2019, the people of South Gippsland Shire, located at the southernmost tip of Australia, have been without a local council, after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council. Administrators were appointed by the Victorian state government in July 2019, who have governed the shire since then. However, South Gippsland's council is scheduled to be restored with an election to be held via post from October 5-22, 2021.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Mat Morgan. He is running as a candidate in the Coastal-Promontory Ward, and is endorsed by the Australian Greens. The Coastal-Promontory ward covers towns such as Venus Bay, Waratah Bay, Yanakie, Foster, Port Welshpool, and Toora, and elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) As a South Gippsland Shire councillor, my priorities will be:

1) Declare a climate emergency and forming a community-led climate action plan to address climate change, reduce emissions and invest in renewable energy.
2) Deliver the quality services that care for our community's health and wellbeing, while rebuilding small businesses and supporting local arts and tourism.
3) Protect our natural environment.
4) Address gendered violence along with all forms of discrimination and promote respect and equality for all.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since the 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) The two years without a democratically elected body has been far from ideal as were the operations of the dismissed council. I think South Gippsland is more than ready for a fresh start and to have some new faces sitting at the table.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Wilsons Promontory National Park, which takes up the majority of Coastal-Promontory ward's land area, attracts a significant amount of tourists on a yearly basis. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the current lockdown, there has been a large impact on local businesses. What do you think needs to be done to help business recovery?

Squeaky Beach, located in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Image: Dietmar Rabich.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) Businesses in the tourism sector have suffered inevitably and continue to in times of COVID. What we need to ensure; is that when we do open up again, we do it better than ever. We need more camping spots to bring people here, and we need more things to see and do, in order to keep them in this beautiful part of the world. Let's put live music back in our cafes and bars, let's bring more attention to our incredible food and wine, there's so much to do including protecting the Prom from ecological decline.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) I'd like to see a climate emergency declaration and subsequent action plan. This has been achieved with overwhelming support by our neighbours in Bass Coast, and can be tailored to the needs of South Gippsland. ACF's Prom Area Climate Action and their sister group Just Transition have already drafted a plan and are looking for some genuine leadership on grass roots climate action. I can bring that leadership, not just write about climate action on my advertising material.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) Our council should be representative of South Gippsland's residents. I don’t know when the last time someone my age had a seat at this table, but I can promise you that a certain age and wealth bracket has been over represented for a long time, I live and work in this community, I study politics and philosophy and I want to represent the people of my ward, not vested interests.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Welcome sign outside Fish Creek.
Image: Dietmar Rabich.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) There are many fantastic initiatives already, from the Fish Creek composter, to our 24/7 library in Foster. I'd like to advocate for more accessibility, from more footpaths and bike trails, to sealing Mt Best Road and others. I'd also like to advocate for more shelter belts and wildlife corridors away from roads; this will reduce the animal population density on the side of our rural highways.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) I'm lucky to have been working as a barista in Foster and we have managed to stay open through most of these lockdowns. So I have been enjoying hearing what people are looking forward to from their newly elected council reps. For those who don't drink coffee, I am posting every day on my Facebook page which can be found at: @MatMorganGreens.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Why did you choose to run as a Greens candidate for local council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Mat MorganWikinews waves Right.png)) I am endorsed by the Greens and generally support their policies, though there are no specific local council Greens policies. They are helping me fundraise and run my campaign as I don't have endless financial resources like some other councillors (unfortunately). Also, many council candidates are often endorsed by political parties though choose not to disclose it. I believe in bringing transparency to this council and so I'm freely disclosing my affiliation.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

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South Gippsland, Australia local council candidate Sue Plowright speaks with Wikinews about environment, education, and other local issues

Saturday, September 4, 2021 

South Gippsland Shire Council wards.
Image: Victorian Electoral Commission.

Since June 2019, the people of South Gippsland Shire, located at the southernmost tip of Australia, have been without a local council, after a state government inquiry found "high levels of tension" within the council. Administrators were appointed by the Victorian state government in July 2019, who have governed the shire since then. However, South Gippsland's council is scheduled to be restored with an election to be held via post from October 5-22, 2021.

Wikinews interviewed one of the candidates standing in this election, Sue Plowright. She is an independent contesting the Coastal-Promontory ward, which covers towns such as Venus Bay, Waratah Bay, Yanakie, Foster, Port Welshpool, and Toora. The Coastal-Promontory Ward elects three councillors to the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Interview[edit]

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) I have four initial priorities to achieve in the three years the new Council will serve. The first is to contribute my ethical governance skills and knowledge to build a trusted and dynamic Council that is widely recognised for applying due process and being diligently accountable. South Gippslanders deserve a Council that acts with dignity and respect for the people and democratic processes. Achieving widespread recognition for very good governance practices, will, among other gains, enable Council to better attract funding, public, private and philanthropic, to resource opportunities such as community power projects, widespread shifts to regenerative farming, ensuring tourism is sustainable and sustainably supported and adequate community services care for the people of the Shire.

Secondly, turning climate change into exciting opportunities rather than a divisive issue is a key goal I want to achieve. At a minimum, all councils have a legal obligation to tackle climate change as per the Local Government Act 2020, but the situation is urgent and so minimal responses are not enough but organisations like Landcare are a great role model - they’ve been working bit by bit for example to fence off and revegetate rivers flowing into Corner Inlet for 20 years or more through providing information, incentives and value adding for farmers and landowners.

A beach in Sandy Point.
Image: User:Tamlynavery.

The leadership of a switched on and dedicated Council can play a similar role, by connecting and enhancing all the small projects and initiatives that locals are already doing like the shared power project at Sandy Point. As a first action therefore, I will support a declaration of a climate emergency, accompanied by development of a community-led action plan that is then resourced in subsequent budgets, strategic plans and works to support and increase individuals and community initiatives.

My third priority is support for a full time youth officer/coordinator position in Council in order to facilitate a strong network of young people, services and volunteers to create spaces and events for young people, because I see shires like nearby Wellington Shire providing so many more opportunities. And fourthly, I’m working with a group we’re calling Mayday Projects to better utilise existing properties in the area to help alleviate the affordable housing emergency that we, along with many regional areas, are facing. I provide more detail about these two projects in question 6.

In summary, there are of course so many aspects to life in South Gippsland councillors will need to consider and address, thus a councillor’s approach to decision making is important. My own golden rules are to seek out diverse perspectives though listening and talking to a wide range of community members and experts; thoroughly prepare for meetings through diligently reading briefings, research reports and doing my own research; being prepared to consider new possibilities; and work to enhance existing initiatives and good will by making connections.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Do you think the two-year period that South Gippsland Shire has been governed by administrators since its 2019 sacking has been too long, and why/why not?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) From my position as a new observer of the Council when I moved to live full time in Toora in 2016, it became clear by 2019 that a circuit breaker was required. In the end, with so many resignations and countbacks the Council make up no longer reflected the choices of the people at the 2016 election, while acrimony and dysfunction appeared to overshadow any initiatives that were achieved. I think democratic elections are always a priority over any other model or arrangement of governance and so I do think elections in 2020 along with the majority of Councils in Victoria would have been desirable. However, the two years has given South Gippslanders time to rethink and reinvigorate how we do democracy and I lend my support to this important cause through standing myself and encouraging diverse others to do so also.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Wilsons Promontory National Park, which takes up the majority of Coastal-Promontory ward's land area, attracts a significant amount of tourists on a yearly basis. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the current lockdown, there has been a large impact on local businesses. What do you think needs to be done to help business recover?

Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Image: Dietmar Rabich.

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) Businesses facing the COVID pandemic are like a batsman/woman facing an incoming bouncer in cricket. Some have been able to put bat to ball and belt out a six and are thriving in the new circumstances, while for others the ball has bounced awkwardly. I'm a sole trader, having started my own educational consultancy practice in mid-2019. By the end of that year I was getting excited about what I could achieve with some interesting work in schools coming my way. But just when I was about to get cracking after the summer holidays in Term 1 2020, the first COVID lockdown hit, and the rest as they say, is history. I was not in a position to 'pivot' online as I did not yet have the recognition and networks required to shift from face to face professional development delivery to online.

It was demoralising but I’m not alone, many businesses relying on tourism for example have copped a difficult bouncer too. Business recovery strategies will therefore necessarily need to be diverse and targeted, because one size will not fit all. Some might benefit from working through a reinventing process where they’re supported through mentoring or education strategies such as a Deloittes COVID-19 recovery workbook that suggests business owners reflect, restart and revitalise. Some might benefit from re-establishment or revitalisation of traders associations and Chambers of Commerce where the focus is on a whole-of-town or district strategy. Others might benefit from provision of training and retraining opportunities, which might require lobbying TAFE providers and state government to provide appropriate courses. Multiple efforts and strategies will be required to recover, reinvent and revitalise adversely impacted businesses.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What changes and reforms would you like to see in regards to environmental protection?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) There are so many issues around environmental protection that both need to be tackled and can also offer opportunities for farmers, communities, individuals and the beautiful South Gippsland environment. Environmental protection is a delicate balance between carrot and stick approaches. As an educator, I favour the first approach but of course regulations and legislation with ‘teeth’ are also required. In relation to the carrot approach though, one of the reforms required is to address the short term nature, and very often narrow focus, of funding for environmental projects.

A farm in Ensay, Victoria.
Image: CSIRO.

Many are funded for a year or two but it takes a tree much longer to grow than that and much longer to eradicate weeds and pest animals such as rabbits. Individuals and organisations end up spending hours hunting for funding sources and writing detailed and exacting submissions with no guarantee of a result. Then reporting and aquittal requirements don’t always respond to circumstances - such as COVID lockdowns. A whole of government and systematic review of how projects are identified, supported and funded to recognise the long term nature of environmental protection projects is required, and a dynamic Council can play a role in achieving that.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) What do you think qualifies you to be a local councillor?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) Councils are often associated with rates, roads and rubbish. Education is often said to be the three r’s of reading, (w)riting, and ‘rithmetic. So as an educator who wants to be elected to Council, I propose I have three qualifications for being a councillor: experience, expertise, and energy.

In terms of experience, I have 35+ years experience as a manager, leader, educator and administrator in a wide range of organisations, including a Shire Council as a Social Planner where I started a Youth Council and a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. I’ve been a senior project officer in the Victorian Department of Human Services, as it was called when I was there and managed a large team in a faculty of education in a large Victorian university.

Corner Inlet in 2017.
Image: User:ChineseChequers.

In terms of expertise, I have a PhD in democracy, governance and education that adds extensive and in-depth knowledge to my experiences, that I think is very important for a new Council starting afresh after administrators. I also bring energy and commitment to community as demonstrated by my involvement and leadership in many community service activities. For example I co-founded and still run Corner Inlet Youth Council and co-founded and help run Mayday Projects, a group that works on practical projects and advocacy at levels of government to increase women’s safety.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) In your local community, are there any specific projects you'd like to highlight and advocate for?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) I have two particular projects to highlight and advocate for, among many. The first is opportunities for young people. South Gippsland Shire Council doesn’t have a dedicated youth officer or coordinator and I have joined with others to previously submit that a full time position be created through the latest Council budget consultation process.

We were unsuccessful but young people need to be a high priority, always, but never more so given the COVID lockdowns, which is severely restricting their opportunities to develop socially and emotionally and just have the fun that young people should have. As soon as we can, we as a society and community need to make quick opportunities for our young folk to catch up on all the fun they’re missing out on. There are several mental health support and education strategies in place which is important, but so is having a good time.

A second project is finding a practical model for fixing and kitting out some of the empty properties around small towns and on farms etc. There is a housing affordability and availability emergency in many regional areas, including South Gippsland. SGSC is developing proposals to the State Government’s Big Build initiative and I fully support that. In the meantime as a founding member of Mayday Projects smaller, targeted and tailored projects to the needs of particular people and families and landlords could also make an impact through the cumulative effect of multiple small projects. This could also reduce the environmental impact that large new developments tend to create unless very carefully designed.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) During the COVID-19 lockdown, how have you reached out to local voters?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) I began campaigning just before the latest regional Victoria lockdown. Restrictions were in place so I was busy having lots of coffee catch ups in cafes around Coastal Promontory Ward and indeed around the shire. I was also having a crash course in social media, which is just as well given this current lockdown looks like it might last for much, if not all, of the campaign.

A closed cafe in Canberra during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image: User:Nick D.

I have a campaign website and Facebook page and am slowly building up followers, but I do struggle as usually my daughters would help me but they’re in Melbourne and very busy with home schooling, study, etc etc and I don’t want to add more work to their to do lists. I’m increasing the number of local groups I follow on Facebook, which helps me learn what’s happening and what people are talking about.

I’m running open Zoom meet and greets on Mondays at 12 noon and 8pm. In addition, I’m arranging many Zoom meet and greets with groups of friends, neighbours, interest groups, community groups, organisations, businesses etc. to hear a diverse range of ideas, wish lists and concerns. I have freely provided my phone number to anyone and everyone and a few people are taking the opportunity to call me, as well as contact me via my website and Facebook page.

Wikinews waves Left.png((WNWikinews waves Right.png)) Have you ever run for a political office prior to your current candidacy for council?

Wikinews waves Left.png((Sue PlowrightWikinews waves Right.png)) I have run for political office twice prior to my current candidacy for Coastal Promontory Ward in the South Gippsland Shire Council elections of 2021. In 2008 I ran for Sandridge Ward of City of Port Phillip Council elections, and in 2010 I ran for the federal electorate of Melbourne Ports - it’s had a name and boundary change since then. In both of these instances I ran for the Greens, but I resigned from that party in early 2012 because while doing my PhD in democracy, I developed a strong conviction that independent thinking and community voice should drive democracy rather than party loyalties. Thus, I’m now a very dedicated independent, committed to working closely with communities, other councillors, the CEO, other Councils and levels of government in order to respond to, and represent, the people of South Gippsland.


Related news[edit]

Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links[edit]

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Latrobe City, Australia records first COVID-19 case since January 12 with new Traralgon case

Saturday, September 4, 2021 

Traralgon Post Office in 2011.
Image: Michael Gorey.

Latrobe City in Victoria, Australia recorded its first COVID-19 case in over seven months, after it was announced a person in Traralgon had tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday.

The case has been linked to Melbourne's current outbreak. The Victorian government's COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed "this individual travelled to a funeral in Melbourne", and no other people within the person's household are at risk.

The case - which is Latrobe City's first active case since January 12 - is one of 92 community transmission cases recorded on Sunday in Victoria. There are currently two COVID-19 testing sites in Latrobe City - one at The Healthcare Centre at 185-189 Princes Drive in Morwell, the other at Australian Clinical Labs at 10-12 Grey Street in Traralgon.

A drive-through testing site began operating at 12PM on Sunday, which is located at Dorevitch Pathology in Latrobe Regional Hospital. A pop-up testing site has also been established at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium. Both sites are located in Traralgon.

Concerning COVID-19 testing, Latrobe City mayor Sharon Gibson told Wikinews via email "I would like to see support from the Government for further Testing Stations to be opened across our City and additional Vaccination doses made available, so that anybody wanting to be vaccinated is able to do so as quickly as possible. We are willing to work with the relevant Agencies to ensure this can be rolled out ASAP."

Independent state MP for Morwell Russell Northe called for more government support in testing Latrobe City residents. Through email, Northe told Wikinews "I have called upon the State Government to increase the number of testing options for our community given the current demand. Unfortunately despite the best efforts of testers many locals have been turned away from being tested [on Sunday] which understandably has left quite a few residents feeling upset and anxious."

On Sunday, two COVID-19 exposure sites were recorded in Traralgon, both located at the Traralgon Centre Plaza. One was the Coles supermarket, exposed on August 22 between 11:45AM and 12:05PM, and the other is the food court, exposed on August 27 between 11:10AM and 11:15AM.

Two more exposure incidents were added yesterday - an additional exposure at the above food court between 12:25PM and 2:45PM on August 22, and an exposure at the Traralgon Woolworths on Seymour Street on August 23 between 5:20PM and 5:45PM. Anyone who visited these sites has been urgently advised to receive a COVID-19 test and self-isolate until they receive their results.

In regards to the earlier announcement of exposure sites, Sharon Gibson called upon people who had visited them or had symptoms to get tested. She said "I would urge people to be tested if they were anywhere near the Exposure Sites and if they have any symptoms at all, please go and get tested. Now it is especially important to follow the public health advice." Gibson added "I would hope the person who has tested positive recovers quickly. As this is the last thing they need, considering they were at a funeral and would be grieving."

Darren Chester, federal MP for Gippsland.
Image: John O'Neill.

National Party federal MP for Gippsland Darren Chester spoke to Wikinews via email, stating "with [Sunday]'s news of a positive case in Traralgon, it’s important to follow the public health advice, particularly around checking in, physical distancing and hand hygiene. The advice is clear, if you have symptoms, please get tested. Thanks to our frontline staff who are working hard to keep our community safe. I encourage everyone who is eligible for vaccination to make a booking and get the jab, to protect you, your family, and the wider community."

Russell Northe expressed his hope the circumstances would be handled well in regards to the exposure sites. He wrote "there are a number of local exposure sites which have been announced and hopefully health authorities and contact tracers are able to get on top of the situation prior to it becoming a major issue like we have seen in other communities such as Shepparton." The City of Greater Shepparton recorded nine COVID-19 cases on Sunday, adding to a total of 92 active cases in the area.

Shops on Wyndham Street, Shepparton.
Image: User:Mattinbgn.

Northe also stated "many community members were shocked to learn on Sunday of an active COVID case in the region. The Latrobe Valley has been without COVID for many months and people are drained and tired by the continuation of lockdowns particularly given the absence of COVID in our community. Obviously the news [on Sunday] is very concerning but I thank local residents who have responded by going to get tested at the earliest possible opportunity."


Sources[edit]

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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United States Indo-Pacific Commander meets with Philippine senior officials for 70th anniversary of Mutual Defense Treaty

Thursday, August 26, 2021 

US-INDOPACOM chief Admiral John Aquilino and AFP Inspector General Lieutenant General Franco Nemesio Gacal on Monday.
Image: Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Admiral John C. Aquilino, head of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (US-INDOPACOM), arrived in Manila to meet with top Filipino military officials on Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said in a statement.

Among those present in the meeting were Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, Inspector General Lieutenant General Franco Nemesio Gacal of the AFP, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. The visit commemorates the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the United States and the Philippines.

Aquilino reiterated the importance and commitment of the U.S. in maintaining the military alliance with the Philippines. "We remain prepared to fight alongside and defend each other using all of our capabilities to preserve the region's peace and stability," he added.

Gacal agreed and said the armed forces sees the treaty as "the birth of our defense alliance". Gacal was there on behalf of AFP Chief Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr., who wasn't able to attend the meeting due to testing positive for COVID-19. The chief of staff is currently in self-isolation.

The MDT was signed on August 30, 1951. The accord, containing eight articles, states both countries will support each other if an attack by another country occurs on each other's territory, armed forces, public vessels or aircraft.

This is Aquilino's first visit to the country as commander of US-INDOPACOM, Manila Bulletin reported. He also visited the country back in August 2018, as commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet.


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