PM urges climate ‘wake up’ amid floods; man mauled to death by dogs – as it happened

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What we learned today, Saturday 3 December

We’ll close this blog now. Thanks all for your comments, correspondence and company.

As we go, a summary of today’s major developments:


Penny Wong and Richard Marles to travel for talks with US and Japan

The deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Richard Marles, and minister for foreign affairs, Penny Wong, will travel to the US and Japan next week.

The Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (Ausmin) will take place on 6 December, ahead of the Australia-Japan Foreign Minister and Defence Ministerial Consultations (2+2) on 9 December.

“Australia is committed to working closely with the United States and Japan to foster an Indo-Pacific that is peaceful, stable and prosperous, and in which sovereignty is respected,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

Wong said the US was Australia’s vital security ally and closest global partner.

“US engagement in the Indo-Pacific makes an indispensable contribution to regional prosperity and strategic balance.”

Australia’s minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong
Foreign minister Penny Wong and deputy PM Richard Marles will hold talks with the US and Japan over the coming week. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Wong said Australia’s relationship with Japan was more comprehensive and more important than ever.

“Australia, the United States and Japan are partnering on shared priorities in our region, including climate change, economic development and security – helping create a region that is stable, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty.”


Jailing of Australian climate activist prompts global concerns

A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months – and refused bail before her appeal – amid global concern at her “disproportionate” punishment.


G7 agreement to cap Russian oil at US$60 will help ease energy prices, Chalmers says

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, says a G7 agreement to cap Russian crude oil at US$60 a barrel will help support stability in global energy markets and ease pressure on prices.

The Group of Seven, which Australia is aligned to but not a member of, moved to limit the Russian price overnight, shortly after the European Union unanimously decided upon the same measure.

The strategy is viewed as a key step as western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market, prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine.

Europe needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced up global energy prices and wrought havoc on global energy markets,” Chalmers said on Saturday.

“We’ll do what we responsibly can to limit the impact of cost-of-living pressures exacerbated by Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers
Treasurer Jim Chalmers says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced up global energy prices. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

While the cap would not completely address the impact of Russia’s “war on global energy prices”, Chalmers said Australia would continue to work with the G7 and hold the Putin regime accountable.

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, said the price cap was “part of a comprehensive package of measures and sanctions designed to hurt Russia financially and limit its ability to fund its reign of terror”.

The US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, said it was hoped Putin’s “primary source of revenue for his illegal war” would be restricted along with the stability of international energy supplies.


How Victoria’s election result dispels the myth of Dan Andrews’ unpopularity

There is a bias all journalists share. It is baked into the profession, inseparable from craft skills, such as news sense. It is not ideological or party political. Rather, it skews the judgment towards whatever interpretation of the evidence makes for the best, most exciting story.

This, surely, is one of the reasons that so much of the media reporting of the Victorian election campaign was off the mark – particularly in the last week, when multiple outlets were predicting a late swing to the Coalition and against Labor.

Now the results are in, and while there has been a slight shuffle in the deck of Victoria’s electorates, the main message is that Victoria has not changed much since 2018, when Labor won a landslide victory and the Liberal party was humiliated.

That’s despite the trauma of lockdowns, the government involvement in several Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiries and the rising levels of debt.

But “nothing changes” does not a headline make.


Family pays tribute to pregnant woman who died in Perth after being hit by concrete block

Instead of planning a baby shower, Diane Miller’s family is preparing for her funeral.

The pregnant 30-year-old Noongar woman’s life support was switched off at 2am on Friday, three days after she was struck in the head with a concrete missile that was launched into her open passenger-side window at a Karawara shopping centre in Perth’s south-east.

Police said Miller went into cardiac arrest when she was hit by the rock and that police and those nearby tried to resuscitate her for 20 minutes as they waited for ambulance crews to arrive.

The unborn baby she was carrying at five months was too young to be saved.


Brisbane dog attack victim dies from injuries

The victim of a dog attack south of Brisbane has reportedly died of his injuries.

Police say officers were called to the scene, in Ison Rd at Greenbank, shortly before 11am on Saturday where they found a critically injured man.

A crime scene was declared and the street closed, a spokesman said.

Brisbane’s Courier-Mail reports paramedics administered emergency treatment but the man died at the scene.

Other reports suggest the residence is not believed to be the home of the victim and that the dogs did not belong to him.

#BREAKING A man has been mauled to death by at least 2 dogs at a property in Greenbank south of Brisbane. @QldPolice were called to Ison Road shortly before 11am where the man was found with horrific injuries.
More to come. @10NewsFirstQLD @10NewsFirst

— 🌻 Kate Banville (@katebanville) December 3, 2022


West Indies paceman Kemar Roach exits with injury early on day four first Test

The West Indies have taken a battering in this First Test … this injury does not augur well for the rest of the series (they were also unlucky not to have Labuschagne caught out cheaply – no-ball by millimetres)

Kemar Roach of the West Indies leaves the field injured after bowling during Day 4 of the First Test between Australia and the West Indies
Kemar Roach of the West Indies leaves the field injured after bowling during Day 4 of the First Test between Australia and the West Indies Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

West Indies paceman Kemar Roach has limped off with injury early on day four of the first Test against Australia in Perth.

Roach hurt something on his left leg while bowling the fifth ball of his seventh over on Saturday.

The 34-year-old bowled one more delivery before slowly trudging off the ground at the drinks break.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the injury was, but it’s another blow to a West Indies outfit that has been left bruised and battered in Perth.

Batsman Nkrumah Bonner was ruled out with concussion after copping a 140km/h bouncer to the helmet from Cameron Green.

Allrounder Kyle Mayers won’t be able to bowl again in the match after injuring his shoulder.

Debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul needed several minutes of treatment after being struck in the testicles early in his innings.

Chanderpaul was on eight at the time, but recovered to make 51.

Roach’s injury places him in doubt for the second Test in Adelaide, starting on December 8.

The 74-Test veteran had 1-30 to his name in Australia’s second innings after returning figures of 0-91 in the first dig.


Prosecutor warns of potentially ‘unlawful’ disclosures about Brittany Higgins

The ACT director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, has expressed serious concern about the “potentially unlawful” sharing of police material about a still-hospitalised Brittany Higgins, revealing he has previously lodged a related complaint and that there are active investigations under way.

On Saturday morning, News Corp used internal police notes and briefing documents to report that investigators held doubts about Higgins’ credibility, but that the DPP pressed ahead with the prosecution of Bruce Lehrmann.

The material was published less than 24 hours after Drumgold expressed serious concern for the life of Higgins, who is hospitalised and receiving mental health treatment. He dropped charges against Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Higgins, saying a retrial would pose an “unacceptable risk” to her health.

Read the full exclusive here:

Meningococcal alert issued after Spilt Milk festival in Canberra

The ACT government has issued a health alert regarding meningococcal disease:

ACT Health urges people who attended the Spilt Milk festival in Canberra last weekend (Saturday 26 November 2022) to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease and act immediately if they appear.

There is a case of meningococcal disease in an individual who is currently in Canberra hospital who attended the Spilt Milk festival. Any close contacts of the individual who are at higher risk are being identified and contacted directly.

ACT chief cealth officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said that although meningococcal disease is uncommon, it can be severe and lead to life-long complications or death.

We are urging people who attended the Spilt Milk festival at Exhibition Park in Canberra on the weekend to be aware of the symptoms of meningococcal disease. One of the more well-known symptoms is a rash but this may not be present at all, or may come very late in the illness.

People can carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats and not have symptoms, but pass it on to close contacts. If you suspect symptoms of meningococcal disease, please seek medical review immediately.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease are non-specific but include:

  • Sudden onset of fever

  • Headache

  • Neck stiffness

  • Joint pain

  • A rash of red-purple spots or bruises

  • Dislike of bright lights

  • Nausea and vomiting

Young children may have less specific symptoms, these may include:

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty waking

  • High-pitched crying

  • Refusal to eat

Not all of the symptoms may be present at once.

While meningococcal disease is now uncommon thanks to vaccination, children under five and people between the ages of 15 to 25 are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the community from the harmful effects of meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccination is provided free for all children at 12 months of age, adolescents and people of all ages with certain medical conditions as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Meningococcal ACWY is delivered to Year 10 students in the ACT through the school immunisation program.

For more information on meningococcal disease visit:


If you live in the River Murray flood affected communities and preparing your property whilst the sun is shining, we have sandbag locations open every day until the foreseeable future.


— SASES (@SA_SES) December 3, 2022

That’s my time – I’m handing the blog reins to my excellent colleague Ben Doherty, who will take you into Saturday evening. Thanks for tuning in!


Australia returns to nicotine frontline with vaping reform

Rates of children vaping in Australia doubled between 2016 and 2019, and data from New South Wales indicates about 33% of 16 to 24-year-olds used an e-cigarette in 2021.

Australia’s health minister, Mark Butler, says educators and health practitioners have told him youth vaping rates have “skyrocketed” further since the pandemic. Significant funding will be required to develop health and educational resources to treat a generation of nicotine-addicted youth, he says.

On Wednesday, marking the 10th anniversary of plain packaging reforms coming into force, Butler announced that the Therapeutic Goods Administration would begin public consultation on vaping reforms.

He wants to stop illegal products entering Australia, create a regulated source of vapes with known ingredients for those prescribed vaping products to quit tobacco, and tackle the intensive marketing of the products to children through product designs, flavourings and advertising.

Read Melissa Davey’s full story, the latest in our Generation Vape series, here:


Art Gallery of NSW's new building opens to public

The Art Gallery of NSW’s new building has opened its doors to the public, AAP reports.

The venue, part of the $344m Sydney Modern project, was officially declared open this morning by the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, who described the extension as a major investment in art, artists and culture that would attract the world’s biggest touring art exhibitions to Sydney.

The building is the most significant cultural development in the city since the opening of the Opera House in 1973. More than half the work inside is by women.

More than 15,000 people are registered to attend on the opening weekend alone.

Dominic Perrottet during a media preview of the Art Gallery of NSW’s new building on Tuesday
Dominic Perrottet during a media preview of the Art Gallery of NSW’s new building on Tuesday. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Ricky Ponting returns to commentary box after chest pains

Ricky Ponting has revealed short, sharp pains in his chest led to him being taken to hospital before getting the all-clear to return to Optus Stadium for commentary 18 hours later, AAP reports.

Ponting was a welcome figure back at Perth’s main stadium on Saturday morning, after sending a scare through the cricket fraternity late during Friday’s play.

After feeling discomfort during his stint and light-headed after it, Ponting raised his concerns with colleague and former teammate Justin Langer before he was taken straight to hospital.

Ponting recalled on Seven:

I was sitting in the comms box halfway through the stint and got a couple of really short and sharp pains to my chest.

I tried to stretch it out and get rid of it, and probably didn’t want to give too much away when I was on air.

I had a couple of those incidents, got through the stint, got up and went to walk to the back of the commentary box and got light-headed and dizzy and grabbed the bench.

I mentioned to JL on the way out, who was commentating with me, that I had had these pains in my chest.

[Executive producer] Chris Jones heard me and just reacted straight away and got me out of there 10 or 15 minutes later.

Ponting said he had a “relaxing” afternoon in hospital and a good sleep, and was returning “all shiny and new” on Saturday morning.

Ricky Ponting was taken to hospital in Perth after feeling unwell while commentating
Ricky Ponting was taken to hospital in Perth after feeling unwell while commentating. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

But the 47-year-old Test great said he had been put on high alert after a horror year in Australian cricket, with Shane Warne and Rod Marsh dying from shock heart attacks and Ryan Campbell also placed into an induced coma.

Ponting added:

As people of our age, we are a little reluctant to share much or talk about our health and that is a good learning curve for me yesterday.

Especially with what has happened in the last 12 to 18 months to really close people around us.


This WATCH & ACT - RIVERINE FLOOD - Avoid the Flooded Area is for Loddon River downstream of Kerang
Stay safe - avoid the flooded area. Be aware of potential hazards caused by flooding and never enter floodwater.
For more info:

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) December 3, 2022

‘The banter will be brutal’: an Australian in Argentina prepares for World Cup face-off

This is a lovely piece on the World Cup by my colleague Eden Gillespie, who has been in Argentina for the last three weeks.

As an Australian, my Argentinian partner was worried that if I watched the matches with him I would bring mufa (bad luck). “A los Australianos les falta la pasión” (Australians lack passion), he told me ahead of our first match.

The 3am crowds at Melbourne’s Federation Square say otherwise. But it’s true that Australia can’t compete with the incredible way in which football pervades Argentine culture …

Win or lose, as a Socceroos fan in Argentina, I know the banter to come will be brutal. But like they say in Argentina: Que gane el mejor (may the best win).


Baggage handlers filmed throwing luggage around

Baggage handlers throwing bags around
Screenshot of video of baggage handlers throwing bags around. Photograph: TikTok user RexRoss79 via Twitter user @RachaelHasIdeas

Baggage handlers filmed throwing luggage and slamming bags onto a conveyor belt at Melbourne airport have been immediately stood down pending an investigation.

The minute-long footage, reportedly filmed at Melbourne airport, shows baggage handlers deliberately slamming luggage into a conveyor belt, throwing suitcases high into the air, and hurling one bag so forcefully it falls off the conveyor belt altogether.

The three men, in hi-vis jackets, are unloading a Qantas-branded luggage container. They can be seen smiling as they throw luggage on to the conveyor belt.


Federal politicians to fly to Taiwan for five-day visit

A group of federal politicians will on Sunday fly to Taiwan for a five-day visit aimed at conveying Australia’s wish to maintain peace in the Indo-Pacific, Reuters reports.

The group, which includes both Labor and Coalition MPs, is the first delegation of its type to visit Taiwan since 2019, according to a report in The Australian.

It will include meetings with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and has support from Taiwan’s foreign ministry.

The trip – reportedly kept secret to stop Chinese diplomats in Canberra lobbying for its cancellation – is said also to include meetings on security, trade, agriculture and Indigenous affairs.

Australia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the report.

The visit to Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, comes as Australia’s recently elected Labor government has moved to repair its strained diplomatic relations with China.

Australia has clashed with China – its largest trading partner – over trade disputes and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid a growing Chinese presence in the Pacific.

However, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, last month met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, raising expectations of closer bilateral ties.

China’s embassy in Australia last year denounced the former prime minister Tony Abbott as “pitiful” after he decried Chinese pressure against Taiwan when he visited the island in a personal capacity.

Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has previously joined its ally the United States in expressing concern over Chinese pressure, especially military.


Bit more info here

— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) December 3, 2022

Socceroos match to be shown live at AAMI Park in Melbourne

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has just announced that authorities are planning to open up AAMI Park tomorrow morning as an additional live site to broadcast the knockout World Cup match between the Socceroos and Argentina.

I reckon we might need a bit more space than just Fed Square to watch the @Socceroos take on Argentina.

So we're going to open up AAMI Park and put the game on the big screens.

And it'll be completely free.

— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) December 3, 2022

In Sydney, the match will be live broadcast at Darling Harbour, with a big screen at Tumbalong Park.


‘Our poor customers’: meet the Centrelink worker who tried to stop robodebt

This exclusive from Luke Henriques-Gomes, our social affairs and inequality editor, is really worth a read.

Luke spoke to the former frontline Centrelink worker Colleen Taylor, who tried to stop robodebt as it started, but was ignored.

Her explosive emails to the boss of the Department of Human Services were released among a tranche of hundreds of documents by a royal commission this week. She was shocked and initially unnerved to learn her emails and name had been published, but insists that she is not a victim. She told Luke:

Our poor customers, they’re the ones that suffered.


Indigenous women rangers win Earthshot prize

The Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has been awarded a £1m (about A$1.8m) Earthshot prize, for its work on protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The network was awarded the revive our oceans category of the prizes, which are now in their second year.

The initiative is described by the Earthshot prize as “an inspiring women led program” that combines 60,000 years of First Nations knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea.

In Queensland, only an estimated 20% of Indigenous rangers are women. The QIWRN, established in 2018, has trained more than 60 women – many have subsequently found work as rangers or in conservation in Queensland or elsewhere.

The Earthshot prize describes the program as “vital”:

The data they have collected has given us critical insight into one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. As custodians of the land, the rangers have also protected sites of great cultural and spiritual significance.

With greater support, Indigenous women rangers could span the planet, helping to repair ecosystems from Hawaii to Nepal and Tanzania.

The network’s managing director, Larissa Hale, said in a statement:

This place has always been our home, but today we risk losing it and the unique culture that has existed here for millennia. Our Women Rangers Network exists to protect our home and continue our traditions.

We have made big first steps, but we have a long way still to go. Thank you to the Earthshot Prize, for supporting us.

The Earthshot prize was launched by Prince William and David Attenborough in 2020. The council that selects its prize winners also includes Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Cate Blanchett, among others.


Locals call for rebuilding of bridges around flooded NSW town of Moulamein

Jeremy Morton on his property, Bundarool, 8km south-west of Moulamein
Moulamein grower Jeremy Morton has questioned why the council has removed dozens of bridges and lowered the road level. Photograph: Jeremy Morton

A council decision to remove dozens of bridges and lower the road level around Moulamein is under scrutiny as unprecedented flood waters cause millions of dollars in damage.

The small Riverina town has been cut off for 10 days due to record flooding of the Edward River, which is predicted to reach 6.3 metres over the weekend. It is expected to remain isolated through December.

The main road from Moulamein to the nearby town of Barham is now under water. It used to be higher and had “50 bridges in 50 miles”, says the Moulamein grower Jeremy Morton. But over the last 30 years, as the bridges began to reach the end of their life, the council decided to remove them and lower the road level.

Read the full story here:


All Australians will be cheering the Socceroos, PM says

Albanese is also asked the unavoidable question (about tomorrow’s Socceroos match):

I stayed up the other night to watch the Socceroos and a few people were a bit dusty in the parliament the morning after. It was a magnificent victory …

All Australians will be standing and cheering with the Socceroos tomorrow. I sent a message to the Socceroos overnight, and I look forward to tomorrow morning … [Argentina’s] Lionel Messi is, of course, a legend of the game, but a good team always beats a good individual and I look forward to the Socceroos continuing to make Australia proud.


Anthony Albanese wishes Brittany Higgins well

Anthony Albanese, taking questions from reporters, is asked about Brittany Higgins. He wants to be “careful about comments” given the circumstances, but says:

What I would say is that I wish Brittany Higgins well. She is a woman of considerable courage …

I think the appropriate response that I have, as someone who has had the privilege of meeting with Brittany Higgins … on a couple of occasions and seeing what a brave, smart, resilient woman she is, is just to wish her all of the best.


PM urges everyone in parliament to ‘wake up’ to climate crisis amid ongoing floods

Anthony Albanese continues, on climate change and mitigation:

It is far better to mitigate and to get ahead of disasters than it is to respond to them after the event. Now sometimes that’s not possible. Eugowra – that was not anticipated that would occur. Forbes has had five floods in recent times.

I don’t know what it takes to have all of the parliament wake up that climate change is real. Climate change is real. We need a long-term response and it needs to be a global response and Australia has got to be a part of it …

Since I’ve been leader of the Labor party, I’ve visited areas of tropical rainforest that have never burnt before that have burned during the bushfires during the summer of 2019-2020 … Now we’re seeing flooding in areas where when you have a one-in-100-year flood that happens every few months. There is something happening with the climate; we need to address it.

Anthony Albanese and South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas visit Renmark to see levees built to mitigate rising flood waters
Anthony Albanese and South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas visit Renmark to see levees built to mitigate rising flood waters. Photograph: Dean Martin/AAP


Albanese again:

This morning, I flew into Mildura and then flew along the Murray to here at Renmark. So you could really see the rising water levels and some of the flooding that’s occurred right along the length of the Murray. Over the past couple of months of being to Parkes, Forbes, Lismore, Eugowra, Rochester, Bendigo, too many places, as well as northern Tasmania, and seen the impact of the floods.

The Murray-Darling Basin is a great national asset. It’s an environmental treasure, but with it comes, of course, the third season that we’ve seen of additional rains [that] is having an enormous impact.


The South Australian premier, Peter Malinauskas, says it is an “inevitability” that between 3,500 and 4,000 properties will be inundated as the river peaks at Renmark, and the focus is on preparedness ahead of the expected flooding.

We announced … at the beginning of the week that an unprecedented effort by the South Australian police would see to the door-knocking of every home that we reasonably know will be affected to make sure they are aware of what is coming, to make sure plans are in place for those individuals.

The door-knocking effort will be led by police with assistance from the State Emergency Service, the Country Fire Service, and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

Malinauskas also praised the “extraordinary work” undertaken by local and state governments to rapidly build levee banks to try to protect the Renmark township.


Albanese and Malinauskas provide South Australian flood update

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is speaking to reporters at Renmark in South Australia’s rural Riverland area, where he is providing an update on the Murray River flood with the premier, Peter Malinauskas:

It is expected that the waters here will peak for the first time on 14 December. What we have seen is a preparedness that is being put in place for that event … I want to pay tribute to all of those who have made an astonishing effort to prepare this community for the coming days, weeks and indeed months …

This week the commonwealth provided a declaration of eight local government areas for disaster relief payments …

What you are seeing here is the flood waters going into the Murray from both the north and the south, from both NSW and Victoria throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, that will all flow through here into South Australia. This is a difficult time, but I have been really heartened by the optimism of this local community.

Anthony Albanese and Peter Malinauskas stand on the levee at the Big4 caravan park in Renmark
Anthony Albanese and Peter Malinauskas stand on the levee at the Big4 caravan park in Renmark. Photograph: Dean Martin/AAP


🇦🇺 Australia 🇯🇵 Japan and 🇰🇷 Korea Republic are heading to the knockout stage.

This is the first time in men’s #FIFAWorldCup history that three AFC teams are in the last 16.

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 2, 2022

It's International Day of People with Disability. @DylanAlcott shares 3 tips to make schools more inclusive for all students.

Shout-out to our superstar students at Port Melbourne Primary, @PortMelbSC and Elwood College for their cameo appearances.#IDPwD #InclusiveEducation

— DET (@DETVic) December 2, 2022

'Absolutely tragic': details emerge about Sydney four-car crash

We now have more details from NSW authorities about the four-vehicle crash on Sydney’s Anzac Bridge shortly before midnight last night, which killed two people.

NSW police have named the two victims as a 25-year-old female from the local area and a 38-year-old man from Sydney’s south-west. A police representative has been speaking to reporters:

At about 11:45 last night, there was a minor collision on the Anzac Bridge involving two vehicles. A 25-year-old female and a 38-year-old male were exchanging details or doing what you need to do after you’ve had a minor collision.

At that point, there’s been another two vehicles that have become involved in that stationary collision. One was a taxi and the second was a Commodore. Tragically, the way those vehicles have collided into the stationary cars has impacted with the two pedestrians who were out on the road exchanging details and unfortunately those two people have been killed.

This is … absolutely tragic for the families of those people that are now going to be grieving the loss of family members this close to Christmas.

Police say their investigation will focus on what the third and four vehicles were doing prior to the collision, and whether speed, alcohol and drugs were factors. The spokesperson added:

The last 12 hours have seen an absolute tragic number of road trauma incidents in NSW. Six people have lost their lives. Six families are grieving the loss of family members.


Launching again for the first time since the start of the year is Five Great Reads, Guardian Australia’s weekend wrap of essential reading.

In this weekly dispatch, my colleague Kris Swales and I will take you through the best things we’ve read worldwide on the Guardian all week, from on-point analysis and startling confessions to recipes and reviews.

Take a look at the first five picks here:

Queensland man dies after suspected altercation

In south-east Queensland, a 24-year-old man has died following a suspected altercation with two others. AAP has the details:

Police are investigating his death and a crime scene has been declared after the man died at a home on Wisteria St at Ormiston, east of Brisbane, overnight.

Officers believe the Morningside man died about midnight after he was involved in an altercation with two other men he knew, police said on Saturday.

Two men, aged 20 and 70, are assisting with inquiries and police have urged anyone with information to contact them.


Campaigners pushing to save ‘butterflies of the sea’

More than 50 species of sea slug have been discovered residing in the waters flowing beneath a somewhat unremarkable arch bridge connecting Phillip Island to the Victorian mainland, AAP reports.

Researchers say about 125 varieties of nudibranch are exclusive to the area, otherwise famously known as the abode of the little penguins. That accounts for 25% of southern Australia’s known sea slug species, and more than 6% of the world’s.

Yet little is known about the so-called “butterflies of the sea”, except that some are critically endangered as a result of advancing urbanisation.

In response, some 50 business, tourism, environmental and community groups have backed a strategic plan to preserve the Western Port Bay precinct.

Victorian National Parks Association conservation campaigner Shannon Hurley said of the slugs:

These incredible creatures are a beautiful ... part of our precious marine ecosystem.

Most people probably think of penguins at Phillip Island, but the bay is home to this mind-blowing collection of colourful sea slugs.

Almost two-thirds of the state’s threatened bird species, along with seals and elephant fish, are also reliant on the area.

Hurley said a poll of 1,000 Victorians found 82% backed the preservation plan, with 34% showing strong support.

Citizen scientists have been at the heart of discovering and documenting the slug hotspot under the Phillip Island Bridge since their first foray there in 2018.

Sea Slug Census events, about 75 of which have been held across Australia since 2013, identify and monitor the eye-catching gastropods, collecting crucial information about environmental changes.


Clement Voule, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, says he is “alarmed” by the prison term for Deanna “Violet” Coco, a climate protester who blocked a lane of traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge for about 25 minutes in April.

#Australia - I am alarmed at #NSW court's prison term against #ClimateProtester 𝗗𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗮 𝗖𝗼𝗰𝗼 and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing. Peaceful protesters should never be criminalised or imprisoned.👇🏽

— UN Special Rapporteur Freedom of Association (@cvoule) December 2, 2022

Coco was sentenced on Friday to 15 months in prison with a non-parole period of eight months. You can read more about her case here:


Excitement builds over Socceroos v Argentina World Cup clash

Turning to the inescapable for a minute: the upcoming Socceroos match tomorrow against Argentina.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes the Australians can rise to the challenge as they gear up to play their first World Cup knockout in 16 years. He told AAP:

I do believe the short turnaround [of three days] is an advantage for us … because we don’t sit for five days wondering about the opposition or Argentina.

Former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has hailed the Australian team’s performance and is not ruling out the prospect they can now cause a sensation by knocking out Argentina:

Their chances against Argentina are, I guess, no different to their chance in any other game. They’ll go in an as underdogs, but as we’ve already seen in this World Cup, quite a few of the bigger nations have struggled for a number of reasons.

What you’ve got to do is be ready on the day to capitalise on that – and I’ve got no doubt the Aussies will.

Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, said he was not shocked by the performance of the 38th-ranked Australians and highlighted winger Mathew Leckie as among the chief threats:

Whether they are inferior or not ... I don’t fully agree …

They are a good team and this is football, it is 11 vs 11, this is the reality …

We need to leave aside the favourites and we need to play the game.

It’s all very exciting and even I (someone who has not watched a World Cup game to date) am considering going along to Federation Square tomorrow morning.


Disability discrimination makes up 52% of complaints made to Australian Human Rights Commission

Today is the International Day of People with Disability. Speaking to the ABC earlier, the disability discrimination commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett, said 52% of all discrimination complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission related to disability discrimination. He said:

When you consider the Australian Human Rights Commission covers sex discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination and human rights complaints, that’s an incredible number of complaints relating to disability discrimination and something we need to change …

We need to have a focus on recruiting, retaining and advancing people with disability in employment … We need to also acknowledge that 80% of disability is invisible in nature, but you can’t be what you in a sense can’t see, or can’t see as reflective of yourself. We need to acknowledge that people with disability can be academics, can be artists, musicians, sportsmen or can just do something which they enjoy.


Julian Assange appeals US extradition

The Australian-born WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who is battling extradition from Britain to the US where he is wanted on criminal charges, has submitted an appeal to the European court of human rights, the court confirmed on Friday.

Britain has given the go-ahead for his extradition, but Assange has launched an appeal at London’s high court, with the first hearing expected early next year, Reuters reports.

Assange, 51, is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including one under a spying act, relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger.

His legal team have also launched a case against Britain at the ECHR, which could potentially order the extradition to be blocked.

In January 2021, a British judge ruled Assange should not be extradited, saying his mental health meant he would be at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.

But that decision was overturned after an appeal by US authorities who gave a package of assurances, including a pledge he could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, on Wednesday said he had raised the issue of Assange’s release with US officials, saying the matter should be brought to a close.

The case has gained prominence this week with major media outlets that had originally worked with Assange over the leaked material, including the Guardian, expressing in an open letter that his prosecution should end.

Assange spent seven years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for questioning over a sexual assault investigation that was later dropped.

However, he was dragged out and jailed in 2019 for breaching bail conditions, and has been held in prison in London ever since while his extradition case is decided.


Push for ‘victim advocates’ to support alleged rape survivors in court

There are growing calls for a major overhaul of the way rape complainants are treated within the justice system in the wake of the Bruce Lehrmann trial, with a former federal court judge urging governments to appoint victim advocates to support women through the process.

Prosecutors in the ACT on Friday announced they would not seek a second trial of Lehrmann because of the “significant and unacceptable risk to the life” of Brittany Higgins who is receiving mental health support in hospital.

The decision means Lehrmann, who pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent, will not face trial and retains the presumption of innocence.

But revelations about the impact of the court process on Higgins have prompted calls for changes to better support complainants.

The Australian National University’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, of which Higgins is a member, said the case underscored the “huge toll faced by complainants in sexual assault prosecutions”. It said in a statement:

There is a clear need for ongoing law reform and practical changes in both the criminal justice system and the laws, processes and institutions that prohibit workplace harassment and ensure safe, respectful workplaces.

Read the full story here:



Good morning. It’s Donna here, taking you through your Saturday from a sunny Melbourne/Naarm, where it’s finally starting to feel like summer. Here is a look at the day’s top stories:

  • The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has submitted an appeal to the European court of human rights over an extradition order from the UK to the US, where he is wanted on criminal charges.

  • Excitement is building ahead of the Socceroos match against Argentina tomorrow morning at the World Cup. It is only the second time that the Australians have progressed to the knockout stages of the finals.

  • Two people have died after a multi-car crash that closed Sydney’s Anzac Bridge. It occurred shortly before midnight.

  • Ambulance Victoria called a code red in metropolitan Melbourne for three hours overnight after experiencing “extremely high demand”.

  • A council decision to remove dozens of bridges and lower the road level around the NSW town of Moulamein is under scrutiny as unprecedented flood waters cause millions of dollars in damage.

  • Further down the Murray, locals in the South Australian town of Renmark are preparing for a surge of water. Flows down the Murray are expected to peak in the town in about two weeks, with water levels predicted to be the highest since the 1970s.

  • The former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting was taken to hospital on Friday after suffering a heart problem.

If you spot anything, do get in touch at or on Twitter at @donnadlu.


Donna Lu

The GuardianTramp

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