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Tuesday 7 June 2016 | Published in Regional


WEST PAPUA – A large anti-independence rally has been held by transmigrants in the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, Jayapura.

The demonstrators, who numbered over a thousand, were mainly non-Papuans who carried Indonesian flags as they called for authorities to ban groups pushing for an independence referendum.

This comes after a series of large demonstrations over the past two months in urban centres across Papua in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

Tabloid Jubi reported a spokesman for the People’s Front of Indonesia Sovereignty, Umar, as saying that people from many parts of society joined their demonstration because they all wanted communities to work together to develop a better Papua.

“We’ve always been silent and now we want to show to Papua that we exist and continue to support Papua to keep integrating with Indonesia,” he said.

Umar urged people to support the Special Autonomy arrangements that Jakarta had granted Papua fifteen years ago.

“We also ask the British government to arrest (Liberation movement international spokesman) Benny Wenda and transfer him to the Indonesian government because he is a wanted person,” he told Jubi.

Storm wreaks havoc in Australia

AUSTRALIA – Three people remain missing and three people are known to be dead, after a massive storm cell that devastated parts of Australia’s east coast and caused record flooding in Tasmania.

A huge low pressure system that brought flooding and strong winds to New South Wales over the weekend combined with a king tide to bring widespread coastal destruction, forcing people to flee homes.

Emergency services in NSW said it was too early to assess the damage after the tide peaked along the New South Wales east coast on Monday night.

As towns from Lismore in the state’s north to Wollongong and south-west Sydney dealt with flooding, on Sydney’s northern beaches, a number of houses and a unit block were evacuated when the wild weather battered the coast.

People were removed from about seven houses and the unit block at Collaroy as large waves up to eight metres high continued to erode the coast, crossing 50 metres over the coastal road, police said.

A number of properties have been damaged with backyards washed away, police said.

“One of the properties along that strip actually lost an entire in-ground pool which had moved above five metres out to sea,” Inspector Jason Reimer said.

On Sunday night, a number of sinkholes opened up along the foreshore and emergency services worked into the night to save the homes.

One local resident, David, said the erosion was immense.

“There is no beach at Collaroy,” he said. “I wouldn’t be calling it Collaroy Beach anymore, I’d be calling it Collaroy Point.”

Sydney’s eastern suburbs were also badly hit, with Coogee’s historic surf club suffering extensive damage.

The eastern wall of the club, which has stood since 1907, has collapsed and fire crews were trying to secure the first floor.

“We’ve had significant damage in our boat shed, we’ve lost almost all of our lifesaving gear,” the club’s president, Mark Dopell, said.

Elsewhere in the state two people were found dead after floodwaters swept away their cars.

Police recovered the body of a man from floodwaters at Leppington, in Sydney’s south-west, while another man’s body was found in Bowral in the Southern Highlands.

In the ACT, the body of man who was trapped in a car and swept away in floodwaters near Canberra has been recovered.

Across NSW, 21 flood warnings were in place and thousands were without power on Monday.

In Lismore, the river peaked at 9.1 metres, damaging roads, parks and infrastructure.

In Sydney’s west and south-west, residents were evacuated from low-lying areas near the Georges River, Chipping Norton and Woronora due to flooding and several roads in the area were closed.

On the Central Coast, Terrigal was badly hit by the tidal surge when the rising lagoon forced the evacuation of a motel.

By Monday afternoon there had been about 10,000 calls for assistance statewide, the State Emergency Service said.

The heaviest rainfall in Sydney’s metropolitan area was Ingleburn in the south-west, with 379 millimetres falling.

On the South Coast, Jervis Bay received 400mm while Robertson in the Southern Highlands received 618mm.

Conditions are said to be worse than Tasmania’s deadliest floods on record, in 1929, with flood warnings still in place for several rivers around the state.

More than 500 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers are continuing efforts to assist flood-affected residents.

The SES said it had attended to more that 270 calls for help, and dozens of people had been evacuated from their homes.

More than 100 homes have been inundated, mostly in Launceston and Latrobe, in the state’s north-west. - PNC