Week in Brief: 22–28 April 2018

29 April 2018

Week in Brief: 22–28 April 2018

Story of the week

Historic meeting between Korean leaders

Kim Jong-un became the first leader of North Korea to step over the military demarcation line into South Korea for 65 years last Friday.

The meeting between Chairman Kim and South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, is the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years.

After stepping over the line into South Korea, Kim also invited Moon to step back over into North Korea with him, which they did together. They then walked into the Peace House in Panmunjom south of the border, where Kim signed the visitor’s book, and the two leaders had some productive and positive discussion.

Two large items discussed were the denuclearisation of North Korea, and the official declaration of the end of the Korean War. The leaders also voiced interest in meeting like this more often, both talking about visiting the other’s country.

Leaders around the world have applauded the meeting, and many people around the world tuned in to the live video feed to watch the historic proceedings.


Australians commemorate ANZAC Day

Thousands of Australians turned out in capital cities across Australia to commemorate the 25th of April.

38,000 people attended the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, with 6000 attending in Adelaide, 40,000 in Perth, and thousands more attending the Sydney and Hobart dawn services.

Immediately following the Dawn Service in Perth, hundreds of dancers took part in a performance of a tradition Aboriginal corroboree and the Maori Haka, in reference to the Australian and New Zealand cooperation at Gallipolli.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, attended the dawn service at the war cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux in northern France, also visiting the grave of the great-uncle of his wife Lucy, a military doctor who was killed by German artillery in 1916.

He also opened the Sir John Monash Centre with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

The Centre makes Villers-Bretonneux home to the main Australian Memorial on the Western Front.

Government ditches 0.5% increase in Medicare levy

Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced the Government will abandon its proposal to increase the Medicare levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Justifying the move by citing improved revenue figures in the upcoming Budget, the Treasurer — who had introduced the increase in the Medicare levy as a signature policy in the 2017 budget, and defended it with emotional references his brother-in-law, Gary Warren, who suffers from multiple sclerosis — described the policy reversal as a win for “families and people suffering with disabilities.”

The response from the disability sector has been tentatively supportive, with Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Alastair McEwin, stating that adequate funding was the key priority.

This view was backed by the Australian Medical Association, with the AMA’s President Michael Gannon stating that “as long as this means the NDIS has robust and sustainable funding, we are agnostic about where that money comes from.”

Recycling crisis after China alters contamination standards

Beijing has recently changed the acceptable level of contamination in recyclable material that they will receive to under one per cent, which has resulted in a problem for councils Australia-wide.

One council decided to send all recycling to landfill, but quickly reversed this decision after significant adverse reaction to the move.

Ministers met on Friday to propose various solutions to the problem. There are options of selling the material to other countries but for not as much; of cleaning the recycling material before it is sold; or setting up stricter recycling schemes on the household level.

But as it sits currently, any solution is likely going to be expensive.

The Greens have also proposed a model where recycling could be processed and re-used domestically rather than internationally; however, this would also require some investment.


George HW Bush hospitalised after wife’s funeral

It was announced on Tuesday that the 41st President of the United States, George HW Bush, was hospitalised with a blood infection.

The former President was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Sunday, shortly after the Saturday funeral of his wife, Barbara Bush, who passed away on 17 April at the age of 73 years.

The 93-year-old former President has been using a wheelchair and electric scooter since developing a form of Parkinson’s disease, and has experienced several health issues in the past year, including treatment for pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.

Incoming US Ambassador reposted to South Korea

Admiral Harry Harris, set to be the incoming United States Ambassador to Australia, has been posted instead to South Korea.

Due for a confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, which has now been postponed until May, the Admiral will now serve as the Ambassador to South Korea, in a move intended to shore up the US contingent on the Korean peninsula ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, later this year.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, expressed his disappointment at the decision from Villers-Bretonneux after ANZAC Day services, but said he understood why the Trump administration had made the decision, and that “the Admiral’s expertise is going to be able to be put to better use in Korea than in Australia.”

ABBA announces two new songs

In a surprise move last Friday, well-known Swedish musical group ABBA announced that they had recently gone into the recording studio together and recorded two new songs.

Their last single “Under Attack” was released 35 years ago, though their last recorded song was “The Day Before You Came”.

One of the songs, titled “I Still Have Faith In You”, will be performed in a special BBC broadcast in December by computerised avatars.