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Early voting under way in Australia with opposition ahead in polls

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Early voting is under way in Australia two weeks ahead of election day, with surveys showing the opposition centre-left Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese extending lead and Prime Minister Scott Morrison suffering a fall in his approval rating.

Monday’s voting began a day after a televised debate between Morrison and Albanese who at times yelled at each other, making it hard for either to make a point.

“Scott Morrison didn’t have anything to say except shouting. He only had smears and that smirk throughout it all,” Albanese told reporters.

Amid a campaign dominated by cost-of-living pressure, national security and climate change, a widely watched survey conducted for The Australian newspaper showed Labor leading 54-46 percent on a two-party preferred basis against the Morrison-led Liberal Party-National Party coalition government.

Morrison’s rating as the country’s preferred leader fell a percentage point to 44 percent, the survey showed, leaving him narrowly in front of Albanese whose rating rose 3 points to 42 percent.

READ MORE: Election campaign kicks off in Australia, opposition ahead in polls

Surging inflation

Female voters have turned to Labor as the party they believe would better manage worsening cost-of-living pressure, the survey showed, after surging inflation forced the central bank last week to lift its official cash interest rate.

If the coalition’s shrinking lead is replicated in the May 21 election, Labor could govern on its own, a survey for the Australian Financial Review showed, revealing higher living costs as voters’ top issue.

The coalition has a one-seat majority in parliament’s lower house.

Millions of Australians are expected to cast their votes in person over the next two weeks at over 500 early-voting centres nationwide.

Advance voting has gained popularity in Australia. About 40 percent of the electorate voted either early or by post in the last national election.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers told ABC television he expected those numbers to increase during this election.

READ MORE: Anti-corruption watchdog becomes a hot topic in Australian elections

Source: TRT World 

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Maldives announces efforts to secure seat in UNSC

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has announced Maldives’ efforts to secure a seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Economic and Social Council, emphasising that Small Island Developing States (SIDs), despite their small size, have the power to shape their futures and drive change. He made the remarks speaking at the opening ceremony of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4).

Welcomed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, President Muizzu highlighted the need for SIDS to evaluate their achievements since the first roadmap was developed at the 1994 SIDS Summit in Barbados. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that landmark event.

In his address, President Muizzu pointed out the persistent challenges faced by SIDS, including poverty, increasing natural disasters, and environmental degradation. He also noted the growing debts, inequality, and injustice that undermine the hopes and confidence of the international community. “Our vulnerabilities should not be our downfall. They should be our armour. Our rallying call”, declared President Muizzu.

He called for the international community’s cooperation in providing guidance and support to SIDS, stressing the need for these nations to take a leading role in various activities. Key areas of focus should include increasing investments, strengthening institutional governance, and enhancing integrity and accountability in governments.

President underscored that SIDS can only become a powerful force in the international community if everyone stand together and lead by example in development and progress. He expressed confidence that through collective effort, SIDS can achieve their goals and objectives.

The SIDS4 Seminar, themed “Charting the Course Towards Resilient Prosperity,” brings together leaders and stakeholders from various sectors to discuss sustainable, prosperous, and vibrant futures for small island developing countries.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Government stresses importance of digital health in island nations

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Minister of Health Dr. Abdulla Khaleel has underscored the paramount importance of digital health for small island nations like the Maldives during one of the forums at the 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (36CHMM).

The Commonwealth, an international association of 56 member states, promotes cooperation and supports economic, social, and human rights development within member countries.

The 36CHMM is convened under the theme “Actionable Solutions to Building Resilience in Healthcare Systems within the Commonwealth, with an Emphasis on Small and Vulnerable States.” This theme further aims to address the healthcare challenges faced by vulnerable countries.

Representing the Maldives, Minister Khaleel emphasised the necessity of easy access to healthcare facilities in island countries and the efficient use of digital health systems, highlighting how the rapid transfer of patient information between health centers can expedite healthcare services.

Moreover, Minister Khaleel also detailed the Maldives’ ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive digital health system, aiming to enhance ease and convenience in the healthcare sector. The Maldives has submitted six proposals at the 36CHMM, focusing on policies that promote general health and ongoing initiatives to facilitate these goals. The minister noted that increasing early health screenings and the provision of health information could significantly reduce state expenditures on disease prevention.

Further discussions initiated by Minister Khaleel addressed making healthcare facilities safe from environmental hazards and improving the quality and retention of healthcare workers through increased community participation. These measures aim to substantially enhance overall general health.

The forum also discussed the impact of global environmental changes on health, stressing the need for renewable energy sources. Minister Khaleel urged stronger nations to support small, vulnerable countries, suggesting that the allocation of climate funds should consider the Multi Dimensional Vulnerability Index, rather than relying solely on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Accompanying Minister Khaleel were Minister of State for Health Khadeeja Abdul Samad Abdulla and two officials from the Ministry of Health and the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Minister Khaleel traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, for the 36CHMM and the World Health Assembly, which began on May 23.

Notably, the 77th World Health Assembly is slated to take place on May 28.

Source(s): PsmNews

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President calls world leaders to unite to end Gaza genocide

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has voiced out the urgent need for international action to address the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

Beginning his national address at the opening of the Plenary session, President Muizzu drew attention to Israel’s continued defiance of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order to halt its attacks on the Palestinian people in Rafah. He called on world leaders attending the conference to unite in their demand for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“As we speak, Israel is defying the ICJ’s order to immediately halt its attack on the Palestinian people in Rafah,” President Muizzu stated. “We, the world leaders at this Conference, must unite in calling on Israel to stop the war. Stop the apartheid. And stop the genocide immediately.”

Highlighting the shared vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States to climate change, President Muizzu expressed empathy with Palestine, noting that both feel marginalized by the international system. He stressed the necessity for Israeli leaders to face justice and be held accountable for their actions.

President Muizzu’s remarks underscored the gravity of the situation in Rafah and the broader implications for international peace and security. His call to action resonated with the conference’s theme of resilience and collaboration, urging global leaders to stand together against injustice and violence.

The SIDS4 conference, which brings together leaders and stakeholders from Small Island Developing States, serves as a crucial platform for addressing not only regional issues but also pressing global challenges. President Muizzu’s impassioned plea highlighted the interconnectedness of global peace efforts and the need for a unified response to crises affecting any part of the world.

The conference, themed “Charting the Course Towards Resilient Prosperity,” aims to foster sustainable development and resilience among small island nations. However, President Muizzu’s remarks poignantly reminded attendees that achieving these goals requires a collective stand against all forms of oppression and violence, wherever they occur.

Source(s): PsmNews

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