Across the Ditch: News from Australia

International travellers will face delays at airports across Australia as border force staff go on strike. Photo / Bloomberg
International travellers will face delays at airports across Australia as border force staff go on strike. Photo / Bloomberg

Border delays
International travellers will face delays at airports across Australia as border force staff go on strike as part of ongoing pay disputes. Unionised employees will walk off the job at Cairns, Townsville, Perth, Darwin and Adelaide airports today, with Brisbane and Melbourne workers to take action tomorrow. These come ahead of Thursday's major 24-hour stoppage at airports and cruise ship terminals across the country. The Community and Public Sector Union says the campaign is the latest step towards resolving a long-running industrial dispute with the federal Government over work conditions. More airport strikes are planned for the weeks to come. Passengers have been warned to expect delays and are advised to arrive at least three hours before their departure time.
Who gets the credit?
Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers are walking a fine line on whose record the Australian coalition is running on for re-election. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists it's the strong record of his Government, citing boat turnbacks, finalising free-trade agreements and a strong national security policy. The Prime Minister was more circumspect as he responded to the claim of the man he toppled six months ago. "The bottom line is there is continuity and there is change," Turnbull told ABC Radio. He played down criticism there were minimal policy differences between his Government and Abbott's. "Of course, I was part of his government, part of his cabinet but there is also a great deal of change," Turnbull said. He pointed to media ownership law changes and his innovation strategy as key policy differences between the two governments.

Abbott, speaking from London, told Sky News: "The Turnbull Government is running on the Abbott Government's record and it's a very strong record".
Tribute to lawyer
The partner of a gangland lawyer gunned down as he left his Melbourne cafe has paid tribute to her "knight in shining armour". Joseph "Pino" Acquaro, 55, was shot dead as he walked towards his car after closing his Gelobar cafe a week ago. As friends and family prepare to farewell Acquaro tomorrow, Marisa Di Liso posted a tribute in the Herald Sun. "What a beautiful world this would be if there were more people like you, a gentleman in every sense of the word," she wrote. "How blessed and thankful I am to have experienced a love so true." Acquaro was a criminal lawyer who had represented a raft of prominent gangland figures in Victoria. Court documents show there was a A$200,000 contract on his head, and he had been warned by police his life was in danger.
Hostels targeted
Authorities in Queensland's north are targeting backpacker hostels in a bid to prevent any local spread of the Zika virus. A resident from the town of Bowen, south of Townsville, has tested positive for the virus after returning from a trip to Tonga. It's the 13th recent Queensland case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus which has been spreading quickly overseas and has been linked to birth defects. Director of Tropical Public Health Services in Cairns, Dr Richard Gair, says preventive mosquito spraying is under way. "We've made a point of treating backpacker accommodation because obviously a lot of people in backpacker accommodation have recently come in from overseas," he told ABC radio. The Zika-carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is found in north Queensland. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
Search for small plane
A large-scale search is under way for a single-engine light plane missing off the coast of northern New South Wales. The small Cessna took off from Lismore Airport on Monday afternoon with one person on board, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. The airport raised the alarm about four hours later when the plane never returned. Radar tapes reveal the plane was last spotted about 9km northeast of Byron Bay. A fleet of about five helicopters, a light plane and two rescue boats set out at first light to scour waters in the area.

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