What we learned – Tuesday, 13 December

With that, we will wrap the blog for the evening. Today has been dominated by the deaths of two police officers and a neighbour in a shooting in rural Queensland.

Here were the major headlines:

  • Anthony Albanese paid tribute to the officers Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow, who died in the line of duty, labelling it a “devastating day” for the tight-knit Wieambilla community.

  • Missing NSW principal Nathaniel Train and his brother Gareth Train, who had become entangled in an online conspiracy community, were both shot by police during a siege at the Queensland property, as did Gareth’s wife.

  • It was revealed Scott Morrison sought to be sworn in as treasurer so he could hold foreign investment powers. Morrison has been criticised and censured for secretly taking on six portfolios when he was prime minister.

  • Australia and Vanuatu have signed a bilateral security agreement during the foreign minister Penny Wong’s visit to the Pacific nation.

  • Climate activist Deanna “Violet” Coco, who was handed a 15-month jail sentence after a protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has been released from jail after a judge approved her bail appeal.

  • And the report from an inquiry into Queensland’s troubled forensic DNA laboratory was handed down to the government. Commissioner Walter Sofronoff said some “very, very disturbing and troubling things” were found.


A bushfire warning has been upgraded to watch and act in Geraldton in WA


— DFES (@dfes_wa) December 13, 2022

Meanwhile, parts of WA’s Goldfields, South Interior and Gascoyne districts are being urged to take action and stay safe with severe thunderstorms to come.

Locations which may be affected include Carnegie and Wiluna.


Bushfire near Perth yet to be controlled

Back in Western Australia, there are a number of warnings in place for a bushfire yet to be under control north of Perth. Residents are being urged to evacuate and not to return to their homes if they are outside the danger zone.

A bushfire warning remains active for Cervantes and southern parts of Jurien Bay.

There is also a bushfire watch and act warning for Jurien Bay, east of Cervantes and part of Nambung.

And parts of Green Head, Grey, Hill River, Jurien Bay and Nambung are under bushfire advice.

Here’s the latest from authorities:

A bushfire EMERGENCY WARNING is in place for people between Mosman Parade and Hangover Bay in CERVANTES and southern parts of JURIEN BAY in the SHIRE OF DANDARAGAN.

You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.

The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as fire behaviour is escalating.


Consumer sentiment holding up despite RBA rate hikes

The Reserve Bank can fade a bit into the background now that we don’t have a monthly rates meeting by them until 7 February.

In the meantime, though, there have been a couple of indicators of how consumer sentiment is holding up as we rush into the annual spending spree aka Christmas.

ANZ and Roy Morgan in their weekly survey found confidence perking up even after the eighth RBA rate rise (a record series) in as many months.

Senior ANZ economist Catherine Birch reckons it might be because consumers reckon the central bank might be inclined to pause come next February at least, and leave the cash rate at 3.1% while it studies the effects of rate hikes.

ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence increased 0.2pts last week. This is the first time confidence has improved in the same week the RBA hiked the cash rate, in this tightening cycle; perhaps a sign that households expect a pause soon. #ausecon @cfbirch @arindam_chky pic.twitter.com/Ra4slWuaII

— ANZ_Research (@ANZ_Research) December 12, 2022

As it happens, investors have been rating the chance of a 25 basis point rate rise come February as slightly less than 50:50.

On a similar tack, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute’s monthly Consumer Sentiment Index also increased 3% to 80.3 in December.

While heading in the right direction, Westpac notes that the level of confidence is similar to the lows of both the Covid pandemic and also the Global Financial Crisis.

Still, the result was way better than the “disastrous 6.9% drop in November that saw the Index collapse to just 78 – one of the weakest reads recorded outside of a recession”.

And rounding things out, businesses seem to be turning more gloomy, according to NAB.

Confidence by firms turned negative last month for the first time since December 2021. Business conditions, though, remained at 20, down 2 points in November.

“Conditions remain strong across industries with only construction and finance, business & property below 20pts in trend terms, and conditions have also held up across the states,” NAB said.

“With activity holding up there are few signs of any turnaround in inflation, with cost growth largely unchanged at elevated levels on both the labour and purchase cost side, and retail prices continuing to rise at a rapid rate,” the bank said.

In other words, the tidings – including the prospect of higher interest rates – suggest the outlook is not as promising as the present.


It’s summer, but you wouldn’t know this by this string of weather warnings, from dangerous roads to heavy winds and cold snaps.

⚠️ #Road Weather Alert issued reduced visibility in heavy rain, making road conditions dangerous Tues evening and early Wed in parts of the Central Plateau, Midlands, East Coast, Upper Derwent Valley and South East forecast districts. Check https://t.co/Qi8gAP9GnD for details. pic.twitter.com/cQXk4y1VZx

— Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania (@BOM_Tas) December 13, 2022

Cold fronts continue to bring winter weather across much of south-eastern Australia this week, with showers, storms, strong and gusty winds and well below average temperatures for this time of the year.

Stay up to date with the latest forecast https://t.co/zpBlIKZkHN pic.twitter.com/TMdv4OI3x5

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) December 13, 2022

⚠️Severe Thunderstorm Warning⚠️
for DAMAGING WINDS across parts of the Daly District including #Darwin and Palmerston. Find the latest warning update at https://t.co/mMrq2YNY0y pic.twitter.com/vACGAUqe76

— Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory (@BOM_NT) December 13, 2022

60th Victorian parliament officially opened

A round of applause for the official proclamation summoning the open of the 60th parliament. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this!

We’ve received the proclamation officially summoning the Council and Assembly to meet on Tuesday 20 December 2022 for the opening of the 60th Parliament #springst pic.twitter.com/u30PXffJw0

— Parliament of Victoria (@VicParliament) December 13, 2022


WA bushfire emergency warning updated

Back in Western Australia, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has updated an active bushfire emergency warning in Cervantes and southern parts of Jurien Bay, north of Perth.

A number of residents are under evacuation orders as the blaze continues.

Please note changes to Bushfire Behaviour. People in the Marine Fields Estate need to evacuate north on Indian Ocean Drive towards Jurien Bay.

People south of the Cervantes Road and Indian Ocean Drive intersection need to leave in a southerly direction towards Lancelin on Indian Ocean Drive

You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes. The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as fire behaviour is escalating.

It is too dangerous to return home if outside of the bushfire zone.


RBA’s Covid funding intervention had limited effect on boosting loans to business

The Reserve Bank is the subject of an independent review but that doesn’t mean it’s not doing a bit of self-reflection of its own.

One instance is contained in a paper released by the central bank today that examines the effectiveness of its Term Funding Facility, which was deployed during the pandemic from March 2020.

Indeed, more than 130 Australian banks, credit unions and building societies, as well as foreign bank branches and subsidiaries operating in Australia, had access to the three-year funding at a fixed rate well below their cost of wholesale market funding at the time.

The measure, used by central banks elsewhere, was part of the emergency response by authorities to stop the economy stalling during the Covid lockdowns.

The paper, by Sharon Lai, Kevin Lane and Laura Nunn using confidential data supplied by banking regulators, explored whether the extraordinary measures were effective, particularly in boosting credit to businesses.

“Overall, we find little evidence that the TFF caused the amount of lending to businesses, including to [small-, medium-sized enterprises], to be higher than would have occurred if the policy were not introduced,” the authors found.

Some large businesses ended up tapping the resource, but there was “[no] evidence that a lender’s take-up of the TFF increased their business lending”.

It’s perhaps less clear whether the failure of the funding was because companies were generally not in the mood to increase borrowing even amid record low interest rates. Still, the study might prove useful should we go down this perilous path again.


Richard Marles says Australia-Vanuatu deal a ‘family first’ approach to security

We have some more detail on the new bilateral security deal signed between Australia and Vanuatu today.

A joint release between the defence minister, the minister for foreign affairs, the attorney general and minister for international development and the Pacific said the agreement recognised security cooperation between the two nations “must continue to adapt” on a string of points including climate and the “security effects” of Covid.

The agreement cements our ability to work together across … humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; policing, law enforcement and justice; defence; border security, human security; environment and resource security; biosecurity; cybersecurity; maritime safety and security; and aviation safety and security.

It also enables strengthened information and assessment exchange.

The agreement will be publicly available as nations “committed to democracy, accountability and transparency”.

The defence minister, Richard Marles, said the agreement was an expression of the “family first” approach to peace and security in the region.

It reflects Australia and Vanuatu’s ongoing commitment to working together as members of the Pacific family to address shared security challenges.


Dutton says Wieambilla deaths would ‘send a shiver down the spine of any police officer’

The opposition leader has also paid tribute to the two police officers who died in Wieambilla yesterday, reflecting on his own time with the force.

When you have a few police officers who are turning up to check an address, walking up the driveway and they’re gunned down in a cold-blooded style, that will send a shiver down the spine of any police officer attending any job today right around the country.

It’s time for our community, our country to come around police and support them … they go into the line of fire and that danger zone so we don’t have to.

A former @QldPolice officer himself, opposition leader @PeterDutton_MP has paid tribute to the sacrifices made by police across Australia everyday.

His comments come after the shooting murders of Constables Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow yesterday.#9News pic.twitter.com/2uJTWktED0

— 9News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) December 13, 2022

Meanwhile, the shower of bouquets is growing outside Chinchilla Police Station.

From 2 bouquets to dozens. This is the growing tribute outside Chinchilla Police Station for two officers gunned down in the line of duty.@7NewsBrisbane @sunriseon7 pic.twitter.com/KwG5A3DAgR

— Bianca Stone (@Bianca_Stone) December 13, 2022


Brisbane bridges to be lit up in blue and white

Two bridges in Brisbane will be lit up in blue and white this evening in tribute to the two police officers killed in line of duty.

Brisbane's iconic Story Bridge and Victoria Bridge will tonight beam blue and white as a tribute to two young @QldPolice officers who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty yesterday.

READ MORE: https://t.co/0M5XKJXAYq#9News pic.twitter.com/0todbiZypk

— 9News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) December 13, 2022


BoM says La Niña will continue until mid-to-late summer

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its latest tropical climate update and, some good news, the Indian Ocean Dipole has returned to neutral and is expected to remain so for the coming months.

La Niña, though, is predicted to continue until mid-to-late summer.

The bureau’s long-range forecast indicates roughly equal chances of above or below-median rainfall across northern Australia in the coming months.

Rainfall in Northern Australia is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks following a string of dry and hot days, bringing possible monsoon weather.

Models indicate that atmospheric conditions are likely to become more favourable for widespread rainfall and cooler weather in the next fortnight. The Australian monsoon may become established over northern Australia during this time.


Adam Bandt says Greens negotiating with Labor in ‘good faith’ over energy bill

Bandt is asked if the Greens will “stand in the way” of the “relief” the government has outlined in its bill – which is aiming to drive down energy prices – if Labor doesn’t agree to the party’s amendments.

He says efforts over the next 24 hours will be to talk to the government in “good faith” and come to a position “where we get at least some of those concerns addressed”.

It is disappointing that today the government still doesn’t want to put a windfall tax on these coal and gas corporations and freeze power bills. Our view is we are not going to die wondering on this, we’re going to keep pushing to do our best to get the most amount of money in people’s pockets and to make these coal and gas corporations pay their fair share of tax. Ultimately, if the government goes in a different way, then of course we will have to consider that but the plan at the moment is to try and get the government to address those areas of concern for us.


Greens want ‘freeze on power bills at pre-crisis levels’

Bandt says he will continue to have discussions and negotiations with the federal government over the next 24 hours and hopes the party’s concerns will be addressed by Thursday, when the final legislation is put to the parliament.

The Greens want to see a freeze on power bills at pre-crisis levels and the government is offering a different approach. We want to have further discussions with the government about the level of support that is going to be provided to people because we are worried people will end up doing it tough.

Another area of concern for us is that we don’t want to be in a situation in 12 months’ time where people are still stuck on expensive and dirty gas appliances because if the price caps lift – then the price of gas will go up as well.

We’re still waiting to see the final legislation … Hopefully, our concerns can be addressed by the time legislation comes to parliament on Thursday. We will continue having discussions in good faith with the government. Obviously, this is all moving quickly and we are responding to it very quickly.


Adam Bandt says energy companies aren’t paying enough tax

Greens leader Adam Bandt is speaking now on the federal government’s proposed energy bill in response to rising cost of living pressures.

Bandt – who is rocking some serious holiday-mode facial hair – says the party has two main concerns – that energy bills will continue to rise and that corporations aren’t paying adequate tax.

Firstly, it appears that even under the government’s plan, energy bills and electricity bills in particular will continue to rise in a way that will put a lot of pressure on people.

The Greens have been proposing that energy bills be frozen for two years and that we fund it by a windfall tax on the greedy coal and gas corporations. That will deliver relief to people - $750 over the next couple of years.

We are concerned that … if electricity bills continue to rise it will put a lot of pressure on a lot of people. We want to see … the big corporations pay their fair share of tax. They are making record profits off the back of a war in Ukraine and people in Australia’s household pain. Energy bills are going up, driven by these coal and gas corporations.


MPs pay tribute to those who died in Wieambilla

MPs are continuing to pay tribute to the two police officers and neighbour who died in Wieambilla yesterday.

Devastating. Three lives tragically cut short in Wieambilla - two young police officers dutifully serving their community, and a neighbour compelled to help.

Thinking of those who loved them, and the community they belonged to, as you grieve.

— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) December 13, 2022

You can watch the prime minister’s address here:

With honour they served. pic.twitter.com/Bgsgp6VYma

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) December 13, 2022


Bushfire north of Perth worsens

An evacuation centre has been opened at Jurien Bay Sport & Recreation Centre as a bushfire continues north of Perth in Western Australia.

An emergency warning is in place for people between Mosman Parade and Hamptons Bay Lookout in Cervantes and southern parts of Jurien Bay.

12:35 PM -Evacuation Centre open at Jurien Bay Sport & Recreation Centre Find out more information on the Emergency WA website, https://t.co/HvGJ15SWV8

— DFES (@dfes_wa) December 13, 2022

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES):

You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.

The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as fire behaviour is escalating.


New details on Australia’s other giant wombat

If you’re a wombat fan – and let’s be real, who isn’t! - cast your eyes on this intriguing report from AAP:

A complete skull of Australia’s lesser-known giant wombat has revealed new insights into the biology and appearance of the extinct megafauna species.

Although the more famous hatchback-sized Diprotodon is commonly referred to as a giant wombat, there’s a more perfect match, associate professor Julien Louys from Griffith’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution says.

Diprotodon belongs to an entirely different family - equivalent to saying a hippo is just a giant pig.

“True” giant wombats have traditionally been poorly known, but the discovery of the most complete skull of one of these giants, Ramsayia, gave researchers the chance to reconstruct what this creature looked like, where and when it lived, and how evolution unfolded.

Ramsayia had extensive cranial sinuses, which hadn’t been previously reported for a wombat.


This indicates that the wombat had a large, rounded skull for the attachment of specific and strong chewing muscles.

The giant wombat also possessed a premaxillary spine, an indication that it had a large, fleshy nose.

Research shows that all “true” giant wombats first evolved large body sizes before becoming more specialised to eat different types of grasses.

We also dated this species as being about 80,000 years old. This is the first date for this species and is much earlier than human arrival in Australia, although we still don’t know exactly when or why this species became extinct.

Climate activist Violet Coco granted bail

A climate activist jailed for 15-months after a protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been released from jail after a judge approved her bail appeal.

District court judge Timothy Gartelmann on Tuesday granted bail to 32-year-old Deanna “Violet” Coco, who was handed a 15-month jail sentence with a non-parole period of eight months earlier in December.

“I am not satisfied the applicant would represent an unacceptable risk of endangering the community,” Gartlemann said.

Appearing via audio-visual link from Silverwater prison wearing a green skivvy, Coco thanked the judge as Gartlemann overturned that decision, allowing her to walk free before a March appeal of her prison sentence.

Coco was jailed after she blocked a lane of traffic on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge during a protest in April, one of a string of climate demonstrations which caused gridlock in Sydney’s CBD earlier this year.

She parked a truck and stood holding a lit flare on the bridge during the protest, along with three others arrested at the same time.

Violet Coco will walk free before a March appeal of her prison sentence.
Violet Coco will walk free before a March appeal of her prison sentence. Photograph: Carly Earl/The Guardian

She had pleaded guilty to seven charges including using or modifying an authorised explosive not as prescribed and resisting a police officer during arrest. She was also fined $2,500.

Gartlemann noted that one of Coco’s co-offenders, Jay Larbalestier, had not received a jail sentence, and noted that a “sentence other than full-time imprisonment may be within range” when the appeal is heard next year.

While Gartlemann said it was not for him to decide whether the appeal might succeed, her offences were “well within range for consideration” of a sentence served in the community rather than in prison:

It is far from inevitable that the sentence of full-time imprisonment will be imposed in the hearing of the appeal.

Coco was the first person to be jailed under controversial laws passed earlier this year which introduced a possible two-year prison sentence or $22,000 fine for people who block major roads, bridges or ports.


Police issue more details about Queensland shootings

Queensland police have issued a third update on the police investigation into the six deaths at Western Downs.

Around 4.30pm four officers were in attendance at a property on Wains Road at Wieambilla in relation to a missing person investigation when two officers and a member of the public were fatally shot.

Tara police officers Constable Matthew Arnold, 26, and Constable Rachel McCrow, 29, died at the scene. A 58-year-old local man from a neighbouring property also died during the incident.

Constable Randall Kirk sustained a gunshot injury and is continuing to receive treatment in hospital. Constable Keely Brough was transported to hospital as a precaution and has since been released. Both officers are aged 28 and from Chinchilla police station.

Three people at the property, a 46-year-old Kewarra Beach man, a 47-year-old Wieambilla man and a 45-year-old Wieambilla woman, were fatally shot by specialist police at the scene around 10.30pm.

Forensic officers continue to process the crime scene at the property.


PM praises the ‘courage’ of police officers after Queensland shooting

Albanese says the loss of life is not a price “anyone who puts on the uniform should ever have to pay”, commending officers in Tara and around the nation.

Our hearts go out to those in the grip of terrible grief. We know that this news has fallen hard on a close-knit and caring Queensland community. As well as, of course, the community to which all police officers belong.

Today is a rough day indeed for all police officers and their families. Every officer knows the risk that they face in the life of duty. They are all too aware of the dangers that they face. Yet they do their job, they do it for our communities.

That is courage and it is public service at the highest level, and today and every day I pay tribute to each and every one of the police officers who serve their local communities and who serve their nation.

This is not a price that anyone who puts on the uniform should ever pay. We can never count the true cost. My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those affected by this tragedy. With honour, they served, and Australia mourns with you today. We stand with you always.


Anthony Albanese pays tribute to officers who died in Queensland shooting

The prime minister is speaking in Canberra now, paying tribute to the officers who lost their lives in service.

All Australians are shocked and saddened by this tragic loss of life.

Two Queensland police officers, their lives cut short by this atrocity. Constable Matthew Arnold, just 26 years of age, Constable Rachel McCrow, just 29. Constables from Tara Police Station, who lost their lives in this tragedy.

I pay tribute to them. I pay tribute as well to their surviving fellow officers, Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keeley Brough. In addition I pay tribute to a neighbour driven by the instinct to help, Alan Dare also lost his life in this tragedy. Three lives cruelly cut short. This is, indeed, a devastating day for everyone who loved these Australians.


Bushfire warning north of Perth

Over in Western Australia, a bushfire emergency warning has been issued for Cervantes north of Perth.


— DFES (@dfes_wa) December 13, 2022

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned the fire was threatening lives and homes.

A bushfire emergency warning is in place for people between Marine Drive and Kangaroo Point in Cervantes in the Shire of Dandaragan.

You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. There is a threat to lives and homes.

The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as fire behaviour is escalating.


Thanks as always to Natasha May for keeping us up to date on a tough day of news. I’ll be with you for the rest of the afternoon.

I am saying sayonara and handing over to the lovely Caitlin Cassidy. She’ll be bringing you what the prime minister Anthony Albanese has to say on the Queensland shooting shortly.

Morrison sought foreign investment powers, FoI reveals

The former prime minister Scott Morrison sought to be sworn in as treasurer so he could hold foreign investment powers, AAP reports.

Morrison has been criticised and censured for secretly taking on six portfolios when he was prime minister.

But until now it has been unclear why he took on the treasury portfolio, held by Josh Frydenberg.

Documents released under freedom of information laws show the treasury swearing-in related to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

The email, dated 21 April 2021, read:

We are advised the Treasury swearing relates to FIRB.

The role of the FIRB is to examine proposed investments in Australia that are subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act and to make recommendations to the treasurer on the proposals.

The same email, written by senior Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet official John Reid and circulated to senior colleagues, showed Morrison had sought home affairs in relation to “decisions on citizenship loss”.

Morrison told parliament on 30 November he had taken on the treasury role “as a dormant redundancy for decisions that were not subject to cabinet oversight, was to be able to take swift action, if necessary, in the national interest in a time when Australia’s interests were under constant threat”.

He told parliament:

I consider that these decisions, in hindsight, were unnecessary and that insufficient consideration was given to these decisions at the time, including non-disclosure.

A report by former high court judge Virginia Bell triggered changes to the transparency of ministerial appointments and led to Morrison becoming the first former prime minister to be censured by the parliament.

Morrison has admitted to using his extra powers only once – as resources minister in overturning Asset Energy’s Pep11 gas exploration permit off the NSW coast.

The then resources minister Keith Pitt was in favour of the project.


Some more tributes from the Tara community for the two police constables and the civilian killed last night at a remote property,

Tara is a community united in grief today .. as they come to terms with the loss of 3 of their own. @7NewsBrisbane @sunriseon7 pic.twitter.com/AwXiofghuo

— Bianca Stone (@Bianca_Stone) December 13, 2022

Flowers have also been left at the police station.

Tributes are seen at Tara Police station in Tara, Queensland. Police have shot dead three people at a remote property on Queensland’s Darling Downs after an ambush in which two officers and a bystander were killed.
Floral tributes are seen at Tara police station in Queensland. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/AAP
Tributes are seen at Tara Police station in Tara, Queensland, Australia, 13 December 2022. Police have shot dead three people at a remote property on Queensland’s Darling Downs after an ambush in which two officers and a bystander were killed.


Prime minister’s literary awards announced for 2022

Looking for recommendations for your summer reading list?

The prime minister’s literary awards for this year have been announced. Most aren’t exactly light beach reading, but should make for interesting discussion around the table at your holiday gatherings.

Have a read of Kelly Burke’s article to see which works have won across the different categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, childrens and history prizes.


Minute’s silence at Tara police station after police deaths

The community of Tara have gathered for a minute’s silence at the local police station following the deaths of Constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, last night.

The deceased police officers were new to the force, and both were stationed in the close-knit community of Tara, Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll told a press conference this morning.

Matthew was sworn in as a police officer in March 2020, while Rachel was sworn in last year in June 2021.

Nick Kelly of Nine News shared this image:

Locals have gathered at Tara Police Station for a minutes silence in honour of the two fallen officers. @9NewsQueensland pic.twitter.com/EKpuo0e85s

— Nick Kelly (@njkelly9) December 13, 2022


Dan Andrews expresses sympathies on behalf of Victoria to all Queenslanders

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has taken to social media to express his sympathies to Queenslanders following the deaths of police officers Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow.

Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow had their lives tragically cut short at work.

They served to keep their community safe.

And they did so with honour.

I extend the sympathies of all Victorians to their families, and to all Queenslanders.

— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) December 13, 2022

As we mentioned on the blog earlier, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, mentioned in her press conference that the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, had reached out earlier this morning:

I also want to thank the New South Wales premier who also reached out today offering his condolences to the two officers that were tragically killed, as it was a request from the New South Wales police.


Penny Wong asked about Australia’s negotiation of security deals in contrast with China’s efforts in Pacific

Penny Wong, in her press conference in Vanuatu, is asked whether Australia is negotiating similar agreements with other Pacific nations (we already know there are ongoing talks with PNG about a security agreement). The foreign affairs minister replies:

Decisions about how a country wishes to engage with us, what level of cooperation, what priorities that country articulates are issues for that sovereign nation … we as Australia come to that discussion with respect – mutual respect. We come to it with a recognition that we are equal partners and we come to listen, and that is how we’ll deal with these issues. This is a result of that approach.

There is a question about how Australia’s efforts to sign security agreements in the Pacific contrast with China’s own efforts. Wong says of the Australian push:

This is the embodiment of what Australia and Vanuatu do, which is we work together to secure our future.

The minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, says Australia is working through some identified problems with the Australian-supplied Guardian-class patrol vessels (these problems were announced months ago). Conroy says that when Australia supplies such vessels to the Pacific, it isn’t the end of the story, and Australia is involved in fixing any problems:

We are committed to resolving all those issues.


Simon Birmingham highlights ‘Pacific-led solutions to security’ in Vanuatu

The Coalition’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Simon Birmingham, who is part of the bipartisan delegation to Vanuatu, is at the joint press conference with Penny Wong.

Birmingham adds:

Can I warmly welcome and celebrate the signing today of the agreement … This is an agreement that has been in the making since it was announced in 2018, just as the wharf behind us has been in the making since it was announced in 2021. The Guardian-class patrol vessels have been in the making for a number of years and continue to be produced to support our Pacific island nations and partners.

In a challenging and contested world, Australia and Vanuatu are at our strongest when we stand together and when we work together. The signing of this partnership and the delivery of these tangible results of our cooperation and partnership are a demonstration of how effectively we are standing together as nations.

Birmingham stresses the importance of “Pacific-led solutions to security and stability in the Pacific” (that is another reference to the contest for influence with China).


Penny Wong speaking in Vanuatu

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has begun a press conference in Vanuatu. She is talking about an agreement to deepen security ties and says:

Our history is rooted in 40 years of cooperation between our security forces … and [that] will continue. And as two nations committed to democracy, accountability and transparency, we will ensure that the agreement is made publicly available.

That is clearly a reference to China, whose agreement with Solomon Islands has not been released publicly.

Wong adds:

We’re deeply proud to be the Vanuatu principal security partner of choice.


Gareth Train posted regularly on online conspiracy website before police killed

Our Queensland correspondent Ben Smee brings you this exclusive report on the Wieambilla shooting.

Gareth Train, the owner of a rural Queensland property where six people, including two police officers, were shot and killed on Monday, had become deeply entangled in an online conspiracy community, where he posted about a mistrust of police and claims the Port Arthur massacre was a false-flag operation.

Read the full story here:

Civilian killed in Queensland shooting was ‘lovely’, neighbour says

The smell of smoke is still thick in the air on Wains Road in Wieambilla.

Cassy lives with her daughter Jess on the property neighbouring the scene of the shooting.

Last night she chose to stay in the town of Tara with a friend, as her daughter had a shift at the local co-op.

I’m just lucky I wasn’t home last night. I would have been by myself.

Cassy has a small hobby farm on her 125-acre block, and had to come back in the morning to feed her menagerie of pigs, goats, guinea fowl and chickens which ran amid the caravans and play equipment and run-down machinery.

I’m shaken. This is a small country community. These things don’t happen here.

Cassy says she never saw her neighbours and didn’t know them. But she did know her other neighbour, Alan Dare, who was shot dead when he heard the gunfight and went to investigate.

He always seemed lovely. He was just out here, trying to do what you do.

Another Wieambilla resident, Jen, says she didn’t know the people involved in the shooting but the community and those in the nearby town of Tara are in shock.

The whole town is shocked. You get your robberies and things like that around here … but shooting cops? Things like that don’t happen.


Pocock calls on government to rethink cutting back Medicare-backed psychologist appointments

Senator David Pocock is calling on the government to rethink its plans to cut Medicare-backed psychologist appointments from 20 to 10, urging health minister Mark Butler to either reverse course or to reinvest any savings in other mental health supports.

Butler announced yesterday that the temporary expansion of the Better Access system, which temporarily doubled the amount of subsidised mental health appointments for Covid reasons, would end this year. A review of the system said the expansion had created delays and barriers to new clients accessing psychological help, and that it had made it harder for some lower income people to access assistance.

But health and suicide prevention groups said they were “baffled” at the decision, coming as Australia still faces two years of Covid waves, according to the chief medical officer, Paul Kelly.

Pocock, a crucial linchpin vote in the Senate for the government, today demanded the government reinvest in the assistance. He said in a statement:

We are still in the midst of a mental health crisis, now is not the time to be removing funding without a solid plan to address the significant issues with our mental health system.

Pocock acknowledged the report’s findings that the 20 sessions may have some adverse effects on new patients, but pointed out the report had actually recommended the maintenance of the extra sessions – albeit better targeting them to people with complex needs. He said mental health services were crying out for more support, not less.

I am concerned that despite all of this evidence, and all of these recommendations, the government is letting multiple mental health programs come to an end without a plan for what comes next.

Pocock said that if the government failed to reinstate the full 20 sessions, then he wanted to see any funding savings be reinvested into other mental health programs.

I understand that the budget is in bad shape, but healthcare is core business and these types of investments should be made.


Robodebt inquiry shown Marise Payne’s ‘You’re next’ letter

The former human services minister, Marise Payne, toughened up language on a brief spruiking robodebt and other compliance proposals for Scott Morrison, writing: “You’re next”.

Payne, who is appearing at the royal commission this morning, was the junior minister in the portfolio under Morrison in early 2015 when the plan was being developed.

She worked with Department of Human Services officials on a brief for the proposals which eventually went to Morrison in February 2015.

A draft of the executive minutes that had been marked up by Payne was shown to the commission on Tuesday.

The version prepared by public servants noted:

The comprehensive nature of these reviews will send an important message to those all around the country that they could be next and there is very little chance they will avoid punishment.

Payne’s annotation changed “they could be next” to “you’re next”.

Senior counsel assisting Justin Greggery KC said it was a correction of “intent” and that Payne had put the proposal in more “direct language”.

The annotation related to a proposal separate to robodebt that targeted fraud which was eventually put in place as “taskforce integrity”. Payne’s annotations also suggested the use of the word “taskforce” rather than “strikeforce”.

In the draft, what became the robodebt program was yet to be named and was described only as “(Operation XXXX2)”.

Payne marked up the document so it said "you're next" - in relation to people said to be defrauding the system. pic.twitter.com/Aezqsw6Jk2

— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) December 13, 2022


Wieambilla shooting deaths ‘going to take a lot of processing’: Littleproud

The Nationals leader, David Littleproud, is the local MP for Wieambilla where six people were killed last night. He’s just spoken with ABC News about how the local area is feeling in the aftermath of the event.

I grew up in Chinchilla, it’s my home town, and I know that the community out there has been rocked by this. We feel numb. We don’t know how or why, and obviously it’s going take a lot of processing, but it’s about the community now coming together.

The people in this community that I grew up in, we’re law-abiding citizens, so we don’t expect this to happen in Australia let alone in Chinchilla and Tara.

With two police officers killed, Littleproud speaks about the role law enforcement plays in rural communities and the ripples these deaths will create.

When you become a copper you’re part of the community. You’re revered. You’re held in an exalted position, looked up to, supported – because we know that in the darkest hours of these small communities it’s their leadership, their professionalism, that gets us through, and so when you become a country copper you become ensconced in that community. You’re looked up to from the small children right through, and if something happens to your local police, the whole community feels it because we also feel this sense of protection around them because of the protection they give us.


Man charged over alleged concealment of Cheryl Ardler’s death in Sydney’s west

A man has been charged over allegedly concealing information related to the suspicious death of a woman in Sydney’s west a decade ago.

Cheryl Ardler, 41, was last seen by neighbours on Greenhalgh Road in Cranebook on 12 December, 2012.

After failing to hear from her, her family reported her missing in June the following year with concerns for her welfare. Extensive inquiries and searches were unsuccessful.

On 6 May 2018, human remains were located in bushland near Laycock Street, Cranebrook, which were later forensically confirmed to be Ardler.

A renewed investigation led to the arrest and charge of a man in April 2019. He has since been convicted of manslaughter.

Yesterday evening, a 38-year-old man spoke with detectives at a Sydney police station. He was arrested and charged with “improperly interfere with corpse or human remains”, and “conceal serious indictable offence of another person”.

He has been refused bail and will face court today.


NSW energy regulators push for crackdown on embedded networks

New South Wales energy regulators are lobbying to crack down on embedded networks in the wake of rising prices and concerns over consumer protections.

One in 10 Australians live in embedded networks – private electricity networks which supply multiple homes or businesses, common to apartment complexes and retirement villages.

Its operators buy-bulk energy for the entire complex from the grid and sell it on to residents, typically reducing their capacity to access market competition and consumer protections.

On Tuesday, the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW and the Australian Energy Regulator launched a campaign pushing for residents, more vulnerable to the energy crisis due to lack of choice, to access dispute resolutions amid price hikes.

Four years ago, membership of embedded network operators to the ombudsman was mandated in NSW. In Victoria, the Labor government has gone a step further, moving to ban the private networks in new apartment buildings.

Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW’s Janine Young:

Billing concerns made up 80% of complaints raised by residents in embedded networks to EWON in the last financial year …. but many residents are not aware of their right to complain to us.

Energy prices are rising for all customers in NSW, but customers within embedded networks are particularly exposed due to the lack of retailer choice and many aren’t protected.

AER chair Clare Savage said customers were “vulnerable” under the embedded network system.

We have been working with EWON to increase awareness of dispute resolution options for these customers and this multilingual education campaign will help promote this important consumer right.


Cindy Cook appointed CEO of Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics Organising Committee

Cindy Cook will be the CEO of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics Organising Committee, it has been announced.

The Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics Organising Committee CEO has been announced as Cindy Hook. Ex Deloitte Aus CEO, American Cindy will make her home Brisbane to help deliver the games. @7NewsBrisbane pic.twitter.com/barOSVwR3Y

— Joel Dry (@JoelDry7) December 13, 2022


Australia and Vanuatu sign bilateral security agreement – reports

Australia and Vanuatu have signed a bilateral security agreement, according to reports in the Australian newspaper, although the scope of the deal is unclear ahead of a press conference later today.

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, and minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, are visiting Vanuatu on a bipartisan trip with their opposition counterparts, Simon Birmingham and Michael McCormack.

Later today they will participate in an official handover ceremony for the newly constructed Mala Base Wharf and police boat RVS Mataweli, in what the Australian government says shows Australia’s enduring cooperation on shared regional security interests.

The upgrade to the wharf in Port Vila was announced a year and a half ago and was supported through Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

A press conference is scheduled for shortly after 1pm AEDT. Ahead of that press conference, reports have suggested that a bilateral security agreement has been signed.

Conroy was asked during an interview with ABC TV this morning whether Australia’s push for closer security ties reflected an intent to prevent China from doing so.

Conroy said he had been open that Australia was dealing with three Cs in the Pacific, climate, Covid and (geostrategic) competition:

There’s never been a time where more powers are interested in being in the Pacific, but one of the key findings for the Pacific Islands Forum was that Pacific nations should look to the Pacific family first for their security needs and Australia is a proud member of the Pacific family. And that wharf you mentioned that we’re opening today is to support the Guardian class patrol boats ...

So our security relationships with the Pacific and Vanuatu, for example, have been for over the 50 or 60 years. And that will continue. So, yes, there is competition in the region. I’m not denying that we’re being very open about that. But in Australia, the nations and governments of the Pacific and the people of the Pacific will always have an enduring partner, no matter who’s in power. And we are committed to advancing peace and prosperity in the Pacific.

Minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy.
Minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Opposition to energy plan is ‘voting against for Australian families’: Bowen

The energy minister Chris Bowen has fronted the media spruiking the government’s plan to cap energy prices, which parliament will debate Thursday.

Bowen said:

If people vote against real relief they are voting against for Australian families. Gas companies want to protect their profits. We want to protect the Australian people. That’s the essential difference.

The opposition is yet to say whether they will support the energy plan but Bowen says the opposition is “all over the place” with differing opinions among ministers. He says the government however is “clear and consistent working with the states”.

Federal minister for climate change and energy, Chris Bowen.
Federal minister for climate change and energy, Chris Bowen. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


‘Accuracy is on both sides of the coin’: Payne

Marise Payne’s evidence continues at the robodebt royal commission questioned by counsel assisting the royal commission, Justin Greggery KC.


And did you understand that responsibility to extend to this particular measure in the sense that it created – not only ultimately was it a budget measure, but because it emanated from the department and related to the calculation of overpayments for recipients of social security benefits?


Yes, because compliant and integrity were core business for the Department of Human Services in the making of payments to ensure that the right people were being paid the right amount, people were not able to defraud the commonwealth if they set out to do so. And that where incorrect payments were made, no matter where the error lay, that they could be corrected.


And the use of the word “integrity” relates to either overpayments or deliberate fraud in that sense?




It seems to be used generally by the department as if it were interchangeable with accuracy, Ms Payne. Is that right?


Commissioner, I’ve not seen it used in that way in the context of my preparation with these documents for this royal commission ... Accuracy is, on both sides of the coin, for both the recipient of the payment and the department as the issuing body.


Marise Payne has begun giving evidence at the robodebt royal commission

Former human services minister Marise Payne is being questioned by counsel assisting the royal commission, Justin Greggery KC.

Payne is being asked about a series of documents from January 2015 when she was a junior minister while the former prime minister, Scott Morrison, was senior minister.


You just described the process of a proposal or a brief coming through the junior minister – and we’re about to go through a number of the versions of the draft. What role did you have to play as the junior minister in response to Mr Morrison’s request of Ms Campbell?


A junior minister in a portfolio would be working with, and encouraged their department and this is a slightly unique situation to extent that a portfolio contains two separate departments, standalone departments, would, as I said, encourage and work with the department to produce the material that had been requested in response to the cabinet minister’s meeting, the meeting with the cabinet minister, with my secretary, and I would expect that to include engagement with my staff, with me from time to time, but overwhelmingly, the work is done within the department, and led by the appropriate member of the SES.

Marise Payne is giving evidence to the robodebt royal commission.
Marise Payne is giving evidence to the robodebt royal commission. Photograph: Royal commission


Department of education confirm missing NSW principal died in shooting

The New South Wales department of education has confirmed that missing NSW principal, Nathaniel Train, died in the Queensland shooting last night.

A spokesperson for the department said Train had not been working at the school since August last year before formally leaving in March this year. Support was being provided to staff and students who knew him.

A spokesperson said:

One of the deceased was a former NSW Education employee who had not been working at a NSW school since August 2021. He officially left our employment in March this year.

Extra counselling will be provided at the impacted school today and for as long as staff and students require support.

Train was the principal at the local community primary school in Walgett.


Images of police working near scene of fatal shooting

We have some pictures coming through of police working near the scene of the fatal shooting in Wieambilla, Queensland.

Police work near the property where six people were shot dead near Wieambilla, Queensland.
Police work near the property where six people were shot dead near Wieambilla, Queensland. Photograph: Jason O'Brien/AAP
Police work near the scene of a fatal shooting in Wieambilla, Queensland, Tuesday, December 13, 2022.
Police work near the scene of a fatal shooting in Wieambilla, Queensland, Tuesday, December 13, 2022.


First Peoples’ Assembly at Yoorrook seeks overhaul of child protection system

Victoria’s First Peoples’ Assembly has flagged it will seek an interim agreement with the state government to overhaul the child protections system, warning reform cannot wait for treaty negotiations to begin.

The co-chair of the assembly Geraldine Atkinson is appearing at the Yoorrook Justice Commission – Victoria’s Indigenous truth-telling commission – this morning. Her appearance comes after the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, last week vowed to reform the state’s child protection system, saying too many First Nations children were being taken away from their families by the state.

Atkinson told the inquiry the assembly could play a leadership and coordinating role in the reform:

We can’t wait until 2024 for a state-wide treaty and then begin negotiations on this work. This work needs to start now.

Under Victoria’s treaty framework, traditional owners can enter into interim agreements during negotiations.


PCR tests will be available for the vulnerable, Albanese says

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has denied Australians will be discouraged from getting PCR tests for Covid after government changes to require referrals for some screenings, even as doctor’s groups raise concerns.

He told ABC Brisbane radio:

PCR tests will still be very much available to people who are immunocompromised and people who are vulnerable.

On the advice of health professionals, [we are] gradually moving toward treating this like other respiratory diseases are treated.

Yesterday the health minister, Mark Butler, released a 2023 Covid management stating “From 1 January 2023, to obtain a Medicare-funded PCR test you will require a referral from a medical or nurse practitioner.”

After criticism at the change, the minister’s office later clarified that PCR tests could be obtained through GP respiratory clinics, state-run testing clinics or hospitals without a referral, and would “remain free for everyone who needs them”.

In an interview this morning, the ABC Brisbane host put it to Albanese that the referral would create a barrier to people seeking PCR tests, noting some people could wait days for a GP appointment to even obtain the referral.

Albanese said:

That’s not right. People now take rapid antigen tests, PCRs are still available but they’ve been gradually wound down, the centres where people can go, the drive-through centres, over a period of time, many of them have been closed.

This is just recognising the changes that are occurring over a period of time.

The Australian Medical Association yesterday told Guardian Australia it had concerns about the knock-on effects.

The AMA president, Dr Steve Robson, said:

We are concerned it could create barriers for people to get tested.


Report into forensic DNA lab finds 'very, very disturbing and troubling' things

The report from an inquiry into Queensland’s troubled forensic DNA laboratory was also officially handed down to the government at that press conference by commissioner Walter Sofronoff.

Sofronoff said in summary:

We found some very, very disturbing and troubling things that were happening in the DNA laboratory. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the scientists at the laboratory, people of very high talent, skill, and great devotion and dedication to their work, and they’re people whom I was proud to meet.

He also recommended structural and personnel changes.

The premier, state health minister and attorney general will respond to the report and its recommendations in the next 48 hours.

Here’s an explainer on the issue from my colleague Eden Gillespie:



We do know that there will be a thorough investigation, ethical standards and homicide investigation in relation to these matters as well. Just something that no-one wants to wake up to or hear about.

You know, these are things that we often hear about happening in other countries. But to happen here with such a routine matter.

These young constables were just going about their normal job. It was just a routine matter. And to be confronted with this is beyond imagination.

Palaszczuk thanks Perrottet for his call


I also want to thank the New South Wales Premier who also reached out today offering his condolences to the two officers that were tragically killed, as it was a request from the New South Wales police.

Flags on government buildings to fly at half-mast, premier says


Tonight, and today, flags on government buildings will fly at half-mast. Hopefully, it will give the QPS family some comfort to know that the people of their state absolutely respect and appreciate every single thing that they do.

I doubt that this will bring much comfort to the families and loved ones of those who were killed. They were so young. So young. They were incredibly brave. These were absolutely callous, brutal acts. And with honour, they served.

We will also, as a sign of respect, the lord mayor has advised me that the Storey Bridge will be in blue and white, and we will light our government buildings in blue and white today also as a mark of respect.


Palaszczuk offers condolences to families of dead police officers on behalf of state

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is now speaking from Brisbane:

I have this morning been in contact with the police commissioner and last night, regularly with the police minister.

I’m advised that four police went to a remote property around 4.30 yesterday in relation to a missing person investigation at the request of New South Wales police.

Tragically, two of the police, 26-year-old constable Matthew Arnold and 29-year-old Constable Rachel McCrow were shot dead. Their two colleagues were lucky to escape. A bystander was also tragically killed. The offenders – the two men and women on the property – were killed during the confrontation with the police.

This is, indeed, a horrific tragedy, and on behalf of the entire state of Queensland, I offer my deep, deep condolences to the families and loved ones of those two young constables who were tragically killed.


Further tributes

That press conference in Chinchilla is over now but the tributes from leaders to the officers killed continue to flow in.

Queenslanders have awoken to heartbreaking news of the tragic deaths of Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow, killed while serving our community. My condolences go out to their families and friends of the victims, and to their QPS colleagues. pic.twitter.com/Y6ay3HgSrv

— Karen Andrews MP (@karenandrewsmp) December 12, 2022

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the brave Queensland Police Officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

It’s another tragic reminder of the dangers police face every day.

My condolences to all who are grieving.

— Clare O'Neil MP (@ClareONeilMP) December 12, 2022


Final question


The three people shot by police. Are they all considered offenders or any innocent party in that group?


They’re all considered offenders.


‘I cannot believe that two officers got out alive’


When you walked the scene, can you describe what you found?


Look, I won’t go into too much of that, other than to say that when you are in that scene, walking towards the house and where this apparently took place, they were in an exposed area where I would go back to say that I cannot believe that two officers got out alive.


‘One of the most complex and horrendous environments’

Carroll has flagged it could take weeks to understand what happened:

As things unravel that quickly, in what is one of the most complex and horrendous environments that you can be in, it is going to take us a number of days, if not weeks unravel every single aspect of the scene, but every single second of what took place.


Surviving female constable in hospital

Commissioner Carroll paid tribute to the other two officers who attended, Constable Keeley Brough and Constable Randall Kirk.


The two surviving officers. The female first-year constable. Can you speak of their bravery?


The bravery of those officers is just unbelievable. To think that they survived the scene, let alone then got out to make phone calls and call for assistance, was just extraordinary. I will shortly meet with Keeley, and I know that she’s already talked people through what took place. And the people that I have spoken to cannot believe how she survived and what she did during that period of time.


Has Keeley been in hospital?


She has at the moment and I will take up with her shortly.


‘Considerable weaponry involved’: Carroll


There’s considerable and I think, we’d all know this from just the messaging that’s going out, but there’s considerable weaponry involved in what took place there.

The missing person check

Carroll is asked about the missing person, who was the reason officers attended the property:

We, as I said, got a request from New South Wales that a person had been missing for a considerable period of time and then that request was given to the local police to go to this address to check on that missing person. I understand from my brief that that person had been missing from up to about 12 months but people had been in contact with him. However, that contact was lost in recent days and they just wanted to check on that missing person.


‘Those officers did not stand a chance’: Carroll

Taking questions Carroll gives more detail:

So two sets of officers went, two from Chinchilla and two from Tara. As I said. I went to the scene. It’s confronting as you can appreciate.

In my opinion, those officers did not stand a chance. The fact that two got out alive is a miracle.

‘They will never be forgotten’: officers killed will be remembered in Brisbane and Canberra

Ian Leavers, the general president and CEO of the Queensland Police Union, steps up next:

Many members of the community have wanted to know if they can donate to assist their families. We’ve established a fund and every cent will go to the families of Rachel and Matthew. One thing as a union we will do is not only look after our own and the entire blue family but we’ll continue to do our job but as well we will ensure that their memories are never forgotten. They will be honoured.

No police officers ever wants to go on the memorial wall, but sadly, Matthew and Rachel, their memory will be honoured and on our police remembrance wall in the botanical gardens in Brisbane, their names will be added as it will be in the national capital in Canberra, so they will never be forgotten.

We will remember the courage and their diligence and their sense of community they displayed and they put their lives on the line.

As we moved forward, we are coming into the festive season, not that any time is good but as we come into the festive season, it’s even worse because families come together and I can only think for Matthew and Rachel’s families and close colleagues the hurt and the pain they are going to go through as we lead into Christmas which is only 12 days away.


Police commissioner to visit families of officers killed

Carroll finishes her speech saying:

We have dedicated family liaison officers in place supporting their families. I will be visiting their families in the very near future.

Tara is small station within a very tight-knit community. We have support mechanisms in place to assist those and their close colleagues who were involved in this incident. Unfortunately, this incident is a tragic reminder of the unpredictable nature of policing. Every day, our officers face very real dangers while protecting their communities.

I know the days and weeks ahead will be extremely difficult for us as a police family. To all our officers and their loved ones, please look out for each other.

I would like to thank the local community here as well as everyone across Queensland and Australia for their support – the texts, the messages, the phone calls, the emails have been endless. A sincere thank you to all of you. I know we are all thinking of the victims’ families who are grieving at this difficult time. With honour, they served.


Police officers killed yesterday had only just started careers, commissioner says

Carroll is speaking more about the two police officers killed:

Matthew and Rachel were highly respected and much loved members of the Queensland police service. They were both committed and courageous young people who had a passion for policing and for serving their community.

Both under 30 years of age. Both had wonderful careers and lives ahead of them.

Yesterday, as they did every day, they put their lives on the line to serve their community. In this awful incident, they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sadly, both Matthew and Rachel had only recently commenced their policing careers. Matthew was sworn in as a police officer in March 2020, while Rachel was sworn in last year in June 2021. Both officers started their careers in the Dalby division before transferring to Tara police station.


‘Unimaginable tragedy’: Queensland police commissioner names officers killed

A press conference has started in Chinchilla where the police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, is speaking.

The operational response to the siege incident at Wieambilla concluded late last night. Despite police efforts, the matter was unable to be resolved peacefully and all three offenders were fatally shot by specialist officers. An ethical standards investigation is under way into the police response with oversight from the CCC. In total, six people have lost their lives.

I travelled to the scene this morning and have been further briefed on the incident. It is an unimaginable tragedy. This has been incredibly distressing and tragic for everyone, particularly family, officers involved, colleagues, the organisation and the community.

As you would appreciate. It is an extremely emotional and challenging time for the Queensland police service. Losing one of our own has a profound impact on every single officer and their families. To lose two officers in one incident is absolutely devastating.

This event is the largest loss of police life we have suffered in a single incident in many years. I can confirm the two officers who lost their life overnight were Constable Matthew Arnold, 26 years old, Constable Rachel McCrow, 29 years old, and they were both from Tara police station.

My heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to their loved ones, friends and colleagues. The thoughts of the entire police family are with them at this extremely difficult time. I would also like to extend my condolences to the family of the 58-year-old man from a neighbouring property who was also killed during this incident.


Queensland police confirm deaths of Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow

Speaking at a press conference this morning Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll gave more details about 26 years old Constable Matthew Arnold and 29 year old Constable Rachel McCrow both from Tara police station killed last night.

Matthew and Rachel were highly respected and much loved members of the Queensland police service. They were both committed and courageous young people who had a passion for policing and for serving their community.

Both under 30 years of age. Both had wonderful careers and lives ahead of them.

Yesterday, as they did every day, they put their lives on the line to serve their community. In this awful incident, they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sadly, both Matthew and Rachel had only recently commenced their policing careers. Matthew was sworn in as a police officer in March 2020, while Rachel was sworn in last year in June 2021. Both officers started their careers in the Dalby division before transferring to Tara police station.

It is with a heavy heart we confirm the deaths of Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow.

Their lives were cut tragically short in the line of duty at Wieambilla yesterday.

With Honour They Served. pic.twitter.com/XIahH0zGUX

— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) December 12, 2022


Coalition has ‘open mind’ on energy relief

The federal opposition might be open to supporting the government’s energy bill relief measures but is critical of the lack of detail.

Parliament will be recalled on Thursday to debate the laws, which provide for a 12-month price cap of $12 per gigajoule through a “gas market emergency price order”, applying to uncontracted gas offered on the wholesale market.

Opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien said the coalition was “open minded” to the energy relief measures but was still sceptical about some of the plans put forward.

He told ABC Radio this morning:

We want to help families out and we’ve been calling for this. We are on the side of Australian families and businesses.

We want to see the details but what I’m saying is we’re very open minded to it.

If there is targeted relief, as mangled and messy as Anthony Albanese has made it, we want to see that relief hit people’s pockets because they are in pain.

– from AAP


‘Utterly heartbreaking’: Perrottet pays tribute to Queensland police officers killed

Ian Leavers, the general president and CEO of the Queensland Police Union, told ABC Radio that Queensland police were responding to a “routine call for a missing persons enquiry on behalf of NSW police.”

The NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has now also paid tribute to the Queensland officers on social media. Perrottet says he’s also picked up the phone to his Queensland counterpart, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Incredibly sad and shocking news out of Queensland with two officers killed in the line of duty.

Those two young officers went to work yesterday and did not return home and that is utterly heartbreaking.

— Dom Perrottet (@Dom_Perrottet) December 12, 2022

My heart goes out to their families, colleagues and the entire police force family in Queensland.

I’ve have spoken to the Queensland Premier this morning and extended my condolences.

We should never take the service and protection of our police force for granted.

— Dom Perrottet (@Dom_Perrottet) December 12, 2022


Police officers killed searching for missing man Nathaniel Train

Police officers who were shot and killed on a regional Queensland property were searching for a New South Wales man last seen by his family almost a year ago, Guardian Australia understands.

On Monday, four officers attended the remote property at Wieambilla in the Western Downs region in connection with the disappearance of Nathaniel Train, 46, from Dubbo in NSW.

Train had been living in the NSW town of Walgett, where he was recently working as the principal of the local community primary school.

He was last seen by his family in nearby Dubbo on 16 December, 2021, however he was not formally reported missing until 4 December this year.

A statement by NSW police issued five days ago said that Train had been in contact with family members in October, but that they had been unable to contact him recently and held “serious concerns” for his welfare.

Sources say the Queensland officers went to the Wieambilla property at the request of NSW police. The Queensland police union says the inquiry was “routine” until unknown people at the property began shooting at officers.

It is not known whether Train was at the property.

Two of the officers, aged in their 20s, were killed and a third officer injured and taken to hospital.

Nathaniel Train, aged 46, from Dubbo.
Nathaniel Train, aged 46, from Dubbo. Photograph: NSW police


Keep across the news with morning mail

Just a reminder that we have a weekday morning email that can get you up to date across a whole range of national and international issues.

Martin Farrer has put together today’s Morning Mail on everything from passport problems at home to capital punishment in Iran.


Tributes to Queensland police officers killed at Wieambilla

Members of parliament continue to pay tribute to the Queensland police officers killed overnight, including the federal attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, and the treasurer, Jim Chalmers.

Police run to crises when others run away. They do what they are asked to do by the community. And we should always be mindful of and thankful for that. The Police shootings in Queensland are shocking. Gutted for their loved ones and the Police family.

— Michael McCormack (@M_McCormackMP) December 12, 2022

I extend my heartfelt condolences to those families who have lost a loved one in the terrible events at Wieambilla.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) December 12, 2022

To the Queensland Police Service and all police across Australia - I acknowledge the coming days will be difficult as you mourn colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Thank you for your ongoing service to keep us all safe.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) December 12, 2022

Thinking of the police and affected families and loved ones this morning. Awful, awful events on the Western Downs yesterday and overnight. Unfathomable.

— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) December 12, 2022


Police union head spoke to father of police officer killed

Circling back to the interview with Leavers who said he spoke to the distraught father of the male police officer killed last night.

He’s just lost for words and the pain that goes out to police families across Queensland and across the country is immense.

The father said his son “loved his job”.

We’ve got to support the families and support our colleagues. They were distraught last night.


‘Our community is numb’: Littleproud

The National party leader, David Littleproud, is the MP for Maranoa, which includes Wieambilla, the location of the fatal shooting last night.

He has taken to social media paying tribute to the police officers who lost their lives and saying the local community is shocked by the tragedy.

Today our community is numb.

Chinchilla and Tara are both quiet, peaceful country towns. The shocking event that unfolded yesterday is not what our community is.

My thoughts are with the two brave police officers and the member of the public who lost their lives. The police community will be raw today and we grieve with them.

Our thoughts are with the families of two of Queensland’s finest and those that continue to serve us along with the family of the innocent member of the public who have lost their lives near Chinchilla. pic.twitter.com/UycjMsMBUY

— David Littleproud MP (@D_LittleproudMP) December 12, 2022


Police 'executed in cold blood', Queensland Police Union says

Ian Leavers, the general president and CEO of the Queensland Police Union, has just spoken to ABC Radio with more details about the shooting last night which claimed the lives of two officers. Leavers said the male police officer was 26 years old and the female officer 29 years old.

He gave more details about what happened on the scene when police arrived responding to a call for a missing person. The two police officers who died were shot and fell to the ground after jumping over a fence.

A third female police officer took cover in high grass but the responsible trio lit a fire to coax her out. She was eventually able to continue to communicate with a fourth male constable before other police arrived on the scene.

This is how Leavers described what occurred:

And upon jumping over the fence, they just entered into a hail of gunshots which were coming directly at them. They did not know what was coming. They were both - as a result of being shot – they fell to the ground.

Two colleagues behind them then took cover who were also under a heavy volume of bullets.

And what we do know is that the ruthless murderous trio have been gone and executed the two police, our fallen officers who are on the ground, they’ve executed them in cold blood. It was nothing that they would have ever seen.

And these three people when the young police woman with just over eight week service took cover in long grass, they lit grass on fire to try and coax her out. And which is just shows the lack of compassion and the type of people they actually are. She actually believed that she was either going to be shot or she was going to be burnt alive. She had come to terms with that was the end of her life.

What I do know, she’s a hero. They are all heroes and the other male constable, they continued to communicate. Other police came from surrounding areas and led by one of the local sergeants under heavy gunfire They have gone in to retrieve their colleagues to try and do all they could to try and see if they are alive, and get them medical assistance. But as they retrieved their colleagues, they were lifeless and they were gone.

And I do know a member of the public, a neighbour, who went to investigate the burning grass and he was shot in the back in cold blood as well.


Energy companies ‘need to consider their steps very carefully’: industry minister

The industry minister, Ed Husic, is speaking to ABC Radio at the moment about the government’s plan to cap wholesale coal and gas prices.

In the face of concerns the price cap will encourage gas companies to put more of their supply onto the spot market, Husic says the government will be watching the situation “very closely”.

Shell is suspending its role in a gas supply deal designed to prevent shortfalls on the east coast next year, as it assesses the impact of the plan. RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas asks Husic if developments like this show the plan is already having an impact on supply:

A lot of these players have made extraordinary profits, so, when these firms are making claims about the viability of projects, this is about them trying to maintain their profits in extraordinary times.

For [energy companies] to claim this is a shock, or to threaten the nation, effectively, by saying they’ll walk away from a heads of agreement they walked into, I think they will need to consider their steps very carefully.


Greens looking at government's energy plans 'in good faith': Bandt

A Greens party room meeting is being held today to determine the party’s position on the government’s proposed laws to push down energy prices.

The laws would provide a 12-month price cap of $12 per gigajoule applying to uncontracted gas offered on the wholesale market.

The Greens leader Adam Bandt was asked on ABC News Breakfast this morning whether there was a serious chance his party would vote against the plan. In response he said the party had been pushing for a freeze on electricity bills for two years.

Give people some money to get off expensive and dirty gas and onto cheaper and cleaner renewables and funded through a windfall tax on these corporations. The government is taking a different approach. They’re saying a bit less compensation than we would propose, they’re talking about over the weekend, potentially giving some money to the coal corporations, we think it should be the other way around.

Bandt is asked about the changes that would make it more palatable to his party.

We would like to see more money in people’s pockets … When the government brought up previous legislation around climate we were able to improve and pass it. We’re looking at this in good faith.

The opposition is saying they’re not interested. We got the legislation over the weekend, we had a briefing today, we’re working through it in good faith. We’re seriously concerned – this is a crisis. We do have to deal with it.

We don’t want to give people a sense that, you know, in 12 months’ time, that there’s not going to be a fix then as well. Because – even if the situation in Ukraine is resolved, gas will still be expensive.


Six dead after Queensland police ambush

AAP have more details on the fatal shooting in Queensland, including information about the missing person who was the original reason for the police visit:

Police have shot dead three people after an ambush at a remote property on Queensland’s Darling Downs in which two officers and a neighbour were killed.

Four officers went to the isolated rural residence earlier on Monday to investigate reports of a missing person believed to be a former NSW school teacher and were met with gunfire.

Police returned fire but the two officers were critically injured and died at the scene.

Another two officers were wounded when at least two gunmen opened fire at the property, at Wains Road in Wieambilla, at 4.45pm.

Authorities say a siege situation ensued and specialist police and PolAir responded.

The force said in a statement early this morning:

Two males and a female were fatally shot during a confrontation with police shortly after 10.30pm.

AAP has been told the three were killed in a firefight with police.

It is understood the officers who died during the earlier ambush – one male, one female – were constables in their 20s who had been stationed at nearby Tara.


Welcome to today's blog

A major police investigation continues this morning following the deaths of six people including two police officers during a shooting incident in the Western Downs yesterday.

Four officers attended an isolated rural property at Wieambilla to investigate reports of a missing person but a siege situation ensued, police say.

Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll said in a statement that the horrific incident was devastating for the victims’ families and the entire organisation.

Tragically, this is the largest loss of life the QPS has suffered in one single incident in recent times.

It is devastating news and I know it will be deeply felt across Queensland.

An emergency declaration remains in place this morning for the Wieambilla area. A press conference is expected later today – we’ll bring you any new details as they come in.

You can read more about this horrific story here:

In other news, debate continues on the energy front as parliament is due to be recalled Thursday to debate the government’s laws capping gas prices to bring down power bills.

The opposition have been critical of the government’s delay on revealing the final legislation but have yet to state whether they support it. The shadow energy minister, Ted O’Brien, appeared on ABC Radio this morning. He was sharply critical of the government’s plan to cap fossil fuel prices while saying he was open to the idea of direct power bill support for homes and businesses.

A virtual Greens party room meeting will take place today to decide their party’s position on the issue.

Also today, the former human service minister Marise Payne will front the royal commission into the botched robodebt scheme. Payne will become the first former Coalition minister to do so, with the former prime minister, then social services minister Scott Morrison due to face the commission tomorrow.

Let’s get into it.



Caitlin Cassidy and Natasha May (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Senator says plan ‘a Band-Aid on a festering wound’ – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Nino Bucci and Natasha May (earlier)

12, Dec, 2022 @8:01 AM

Article image
Man shot dead by police in Brisbane – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor (now), Natasha May and Mostafa Rachwani (earlier)

11, Oct, 2022 @7:54 AM

Article image
ABC staff to walk off job next week – as it happened
This blog is now closed.

Rafqa Touma and Natasha May (earlier)

15, Mar, 2023 @7:50 AM

Article image
TGA extends shelf life of Covid anti-viral stock – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Cait Kelly and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

02, Aug, 2022 @9:16 AM

Article image
Advice on voice a ‘cynical political tactic’ to confuse voters, Coalition claims – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Cait Kelly and Natasha May (earlier)

21, Apr, 2023 @9:01 AM

Article image
Dutton says he was not aware of former PM’s appointments– as it happened
Follow live

Mostafa Rachwani, Tory Shepherd and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

15, Aug, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
Man who fired gun inside Canberra airport was on parole for attempted murder – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Caitlin Cassidy, Emily Wind and Natasha May (earlier)

14, Dec, 2022 @7:47 AM

Article image
Albanese rallies against ‘fear and division’ at Labor campaign launch – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Tory Shepherd and Royce Kurmelovs

01, May, 2022 @7:57 AM

Article image
Dutton withdraws Albanese ‘liar’ allegation in question time – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

05, Sep, 2022 @8:37 AM

Article image
Cash claims IR law will lead to ‘chaos and confusion’ – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Lisa Cox and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

27, Nov, 2022 @6:48 AM