What we learned – Tuesday, 20 December

With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening.

Just five sleeps till Christmas, for those who partake!

Here were the major events of the day:

  • Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been announced as the ambassador to the US in a suite of new diplomatic announcements. The shadow foreign affairs minister, Simon Birmingham, released a cautious but optimistic statement in response to the Albanese government’s appointments.

  • The opposition has accused the Labor government of breaking a promise to aged care workers by delaying the full 15% wage increase backed by the Fair Work Commission.

  • Four teenagers have been found alive after going missing in waters off Victoria’s Mornington peninsula.

  • South Australia’s premier Peter Malinauskas closed the Murray River to all non-essential activities to confront the “ever increasing flows of water” coming down from New South Wales. It is projected to be the largest flood in 50 years.

  • And the privatisation of bus routes across Sydney and Newcastle is amping up capacity and improving services, the NSW government says, despite a recent report calling it an “absolute disaster”.


‘We are passing on the full 15%’ pay rise, aged care minister stresses

In the face of growing concern about aged care wages, the federal government is stressing its commitment to deliver the full 15% pay rise to workers that the Fair Work Commission has ordered.

The aged care minister, Anika Wells, pointed out this morning the FWC process hasn’t yet concluded, and again promised workers would get a 15% pay bump - albeit spaced out over two years, instead of in one hit.

“We are passing on the full 15%,” she told Sunrise.

Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston claimed the decision to space out the pay rise, with 10% next year and 5% more in 2024, was a broken promise. Government sources pushed back on that claim, saying they’d never promised the full pay rise would come all at once.

Wells also pointed out in morning TV interviews that the process “isn’t even finished yet”, noting there were still two further stages of the FWC process that could make further recommendations beyond the 15% pay rise:

We are getting our ducks in a row so that once that process concludes, some months into the new year, come 1 July, a 10% pay rise will be there for aged care workers and another 5% 12 months after that.

It’s being staggered because we’ve got to get our ducks in a row and we have to make sure when we are giving hundreds of millions of Australian taxpayer dollars, we’re doing it in a way that’s accountable and that money is going to where it’s most needed, which is in the pockets of aged care workers.

Wells called it a “historic” pay rise.

“It’s a big deal. We promised it and we’re getting it done,” she said.


More details on death of child, 11, in NT crash

The Northern Territory Police has released an update on a fatal crash in Palmerston earlier today.

At 12.45pm, police received reports that a vehicle had struck an 11-year-old child in the vicinity of a shopping centre of Moulden Terrace.

Police and St John Ambulance attended and the child was unable to be revived.

The 54-year-old driver was arrested for the purpose providing a blood sample and has been released pending further investigation.

The family of the child is being provided support.

Detective senior sergeant Brendan Lindner said it was a “tragic incident” and detectives were investigating its cause.

We urge all motorists to take care over the holiday period.


Victorian upper house MPs begin maiden speeches

Newly-elected MPs in Victoria’s upper house have begun making their maiden speeches on the first sitting day of the new term.

First up is Labor MP Michael Galea, who was elected to represent the south eastern metropolitan region. The former union organiser of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association began by paying tribute to his mother, Heather:

Mum gave me everything. As a working mother, she single handedly raised me, gave me undying love, taught me independence and made sure that I had the best childhood possible.

When he was a child, Galea said they lived “week to week” and moved across the state every few years:

She always put my needs first, often at her own expense. Mum recently reminded me of a story from when I was six years old, which I had forgotten. Apparently some people were driving too fast in the residential street that our house was on. And I was worried someone would get hurt.

Mum suggested that I call the councillor myself. So I did and asked them to do something about it. Council ended up putting in speed bumps as mom says that she’s the one who first sparked my interest in politics. Or as she puts it, it’s her fault.


Gold Coast ‘Finfluencer’ charged with offering financial advice without a licence

A popular “finfluencer” who posted about stocks on Instagram under the name “ASX Wolf” and offered online training sessions was found to have breached laws requiring people offering financial advice to hold a licence.

Tyson Scholz, 37, from the Gold Coast, began promoting stocks he had invested in on his Instagram stories from March 2020.

In a ruling on Tuesday, from the federal court on a case brought against Scholz by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (Asic), Justice Kylie Downes found that a consequence of the posts was that it “would influence viewers of his stories to acquire the shares and his shareholding would increase in value when that occurred.”

Downes said Scholz had admitted in messages obtained with another person that he used Instagram to “engage in a ‘clever way of pumping’ (that is increasing the price of shares.”

He would then use the DM function on Instagram to promote private zoom training courses charged at $500 or $1,000 for stage one and stage two, respectively, the court found.

People who paid for stage two were given advance notice of stocks he would post about on Instagram, Downes said.

Downes found the Instagram stories constituted financial product advice, and had contravened the Corporations Act by carrying on a financial services business without an Australian financial services licence.

She said:

Mr Scholz had established a reputation as a successful share trader who had the ability to identify worthwhile companies in which an investment should be made. It did not matter that the stories did not contain any overt recommendation to acquire the shares: it was enough that Mr Scholz referred to a company or its shares in the stories, which was usually done in a way which indicated that he liked that company.

Further, the posting of these stories was intended, or was reasonably capable of being regarded as intended, to influence persons in making a decision in relation to a particular financial product – namely, investing in the shares of the company referred to in the stories.

Mr Scholz’s intention was usually apparent from the stories themselves; that is, it was apparent from the content of the stories that Mr Scholz intended to exert such influence.

Scholz has contested the claims made by Asic.


WA Fire Services issues bushfire warnings for Henderson and Mumballup

A bushfire advice warning has been issued north of a naval base in Henderson, Western Australia.

02:09 PM -Bushfire ADVICE for parts of HENDERSON and WATTLEUP in the CITY OF KWINANA: https://t.co/ZSEIQCTb4B

— DFES (@dfes_wa) December 20, 2022

It comes amid a bushfire watch and act warning for parts of Mumballup.


The alert level for this fire has been upgraded due to the change in bushfire behaviour.

There is a possible threat to lives and homes as a fire is approaching in the area and conditions are changing.


Daniel Andrews on raising the criminal age: ‘The government reserves the right to make further announcements’

Over in Victoria, premier Daniel Andrews has quite cryptically responded to a question from Greens deputy Ellen Sandell as to whether Labor would go ahead alone in pushing to raise the age of criminality to 14.

Greens deputy Ellen Sandell asks the Premier if the age of criminality in Vic will be raised to 14 within this term.

Premier responds that a national approach is important but adds if that fails “the government reserves the right to make further announcements”. #springst

— Mitch Clarke (@96mitchclarke) December 20, 2022

Question time in the state has just wrapped up for the year. Pauline Hanson is also present.

Pauline Hanson is in Melbourne with Rikkie-Lee Tyrell sworn in as the first ever Victorian One Nation MP @6NewsAU pic.twitter.com/Uxb1wg9WAd

— Leonardo Puglisi (@Leo_Puglisi6) December 20, 2022


Child dies after being hit by vehicle outside shops in NT

A child has died after being hit by a vehicle in Palmerston in the Northern Territory.

The child was declared dead at the scene, police say.

A crime scene has been established in a carpark on Moulden Terrace, where police are present.

#BREAKING A child has been hit and killed by a vehicle outside the Moulden shops after midday today. pic.twitter.com/XnvMT96Isx

— Georgie Dickerson (@GdDickerson) December 20, 2022


This Christmas, give yourself time to get to Sydney airport

Holiday fun!

Sydneysiders are being urged to plan for heavy traffic over the busy Christmas period around the airport.

Sydney Airport advises travellers to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights, to check-in online and pre-book parking.

🛫 HOLIDAY TRAFFIC: Leaving on a jet plane over the festive season? Expect heavy traffic on various roads approaching @SydneyAirport's Domestic & International terminals.

Check conditions & plan ahead: https://t.co/WSudXEGjRL pic.twitter.com/RJMMOB7mld

— Live Traffic Sydney (@LiveTrafficSyd) December 20, 2022


La Niña could ease early next year, BoM says

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest climate update suggests La Niña may be declining, but it may not mean the end of higher than average rainfall.

Indicators suggest La Niña is continuing in the tropical Pacific, but its strength may be weakening and could neutralise during January or February and remain at neutral levels until at least April, the weather bureau says.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is in a positive phase and is likely to be neutral to positive through January and February. During summer, a positive SAM increases the chance of above average rainfall for parts of eastern Australia and below average rainfall for western Tasmania.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is expected to move across the Maritime Continent and Western Pacific regions over the coming fortnight, which may lead to increased westerly flow and rainfall across parts of northern Australia. The influence of the MJO may lead to the onset of the Australian monsoon during this time, while also increasing the risk of tropical low and cyclone formation across the region.

Showers and thunderstorms are spreading across northern Australia this week mainly for the Top End, Kimberley and NT due to a developing low-pressure system and a monsoon trough near northern Top End coast by Thursday.

Latest forecasts and warnings: https://t.co/jlOoTZL1iF pic.twitter.com/dycCyCEJIt

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) December 20, 2022

And climate change continues to be the elephant in the room.

Climate change continues to influence Australian and global climates. Australia’s climate has warmed by around 1.47 °C in the period 1910–2021. There has also been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.


Many thanks to the simply unparalleled Mostafa Rachwani for keeping the blog company on a surprisingly busy news day. I’ll be with you for the rest of the evening.

And with that, I shall leave the blog in Caitlin Cassidy’s capable hands. Thanks for reading.

The former government left Australia's privacy laws out of date and not fit-for-purpose in our digital age.
I’ve now received the review of the Privacy Act by my Department, which I will carefully consider as I prepare to overhaul the Act next year.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) December 20, 2022

Splendour in the Grass fined $100,000 over traffic management failures

Splendour in the Grass has been fined $100,000 for failing to follow its own traffic management plan at the event earlier this year.

The festival returned to the North Byron Parklands this year, increasing its capacity from 35,000 to 50,000. But at the event in July, some people lined up for over 12 hours before being turned away, with some forced to sleep in cars as traffic piled up.

The Department of Planning and Environment issued the $100,000 fine, with the money to be allocated to local schools.

Festival goers faced long queues at this year’s Splendour in the Grass.
Festival goers faced long queues at this year’s Splendour in the Grass. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/AAP


Socceroos to rise to decade-high Fifa world ranking

In some great news for football in Australia, the Socceroos are set to reach their highest level in the Fifa men’s world rankings in more than a decade.

The team, which won two matches on their way to a narrow round of 16 loss to champions Argentina, will climb 11 places to 27th in the rankings. It is their best placing since being 25th in September 2012 under Holger Osieck.

You can read more on the climb at the story below:


Canavan says ‘not holding my breath’ on Wong’s China meetings

The Nationals senator Matt Canavan has responded to Penny Wong’s future meeting with Chinese leaders, saying “we’ve got to be careful not to set too high expectations here”.

Canavan warned of receiving an “empty package” and said Australian-Chinese relations haven’t moved “one iota” since China issued a list of 14 grievances in 2020.

He told Sky News:

You’ve always got to be wary of foreigners bearing gifts, it might be an empty package.

I mean there is no real delivery at this stage of any change to the illegal sanctions that the Chinese government on Australian exporters a few years ago.

We should never forget that we’re in this position right now, and we’re all reporting this amazing news that someone from the government is travelling to China, because a few years ago because the Chinese government issued our government – a list of 14 demands that they wanted done, or else.

We haven’t really moved one iota apart from some meetings, so I’m not going to be holding my breath.

I just hope the new government does not give any ground on those 14 demands. There should be no quid pro quo that could be a very dangerous precedent for our country.


Delayed pay rise for aged care staff a ‘shocking broken promise’, Coalition says

The opposition has accused the Labor government of breaking a promise to aged care workers by delaying the full 15% wage increase backed by the Fair Work Commission.

The FWC this year ruled the government should deliver 15% pay rises, but the government has confirmed it won’t come all at once, instead being split over two years: 10% next year and 5% the year after. In opposition and in government, Labor had expressed concern about low wages forcing workers to quit the sector, leading to huge issues in the workforce.

Unions are furious at the decision. Guardian Australia understands key unions, including those who had been hugely supportive of Labor and prime minister Albanese at the May election, are planning further protests in coming weeks.

The government has also committed to increasing mandated care minutes for aged care residents, meaning it needs to actually increase the number of staff in the industry – with pay rises seen as a key factor in stemming the resignations and then attracting new staff.

The Coalition’s health spokesperson, Anne Ruston, called the pay decision a “shocking broken promise” after Labor had repeatedly pledged to fund the wage rise.

“During the election campaign, Labor said it would put ‘the care back into aged care’, but instead they have delayed the delivery of the Fair Work Commission’s 15% pay raise for Australia’s hard-working and dedicated aged care staff,” she said on Tuesday.

Labor is prioritising their budget bottom line over delivering an important pay rise to our loyal aged care staff, who work day-in-day-out to care for our older Australians.

Aged care minister Anika Wells told The Australian newspaper today that the government faced “a backdrop of some fairly significant fiscal challenges” in delivering pay rises, in defending the decision to split the 15% rise over two years.

In interviews this morning she called it a “historic” pay rise, but that the government had to run the process in an “accountable” way.

The Albanese Government are ready to deliver a historic pay rise for aged care workers. pic.twitter.com/JB6nTtcwCV

— Anika Wells MP (@AnikaWells) December 19, 2022


Murray River closure in SA for safety, power security and to protect levy banks

Malinauskas has continued, listing all the reasons for the closure, including public safety and giving more flexibility with power disconnections:

First and foremost is public safety. We have had instances recently where people have put themselves at risk, and emergency services had to respond, that is a drain on our emergency services who could otherwise be deployed out in the community.

The second thing that the closure allows for is a degree more flexibility regarding power disconnections. You will recall that we put in place a 50 metre exclusion zone around power assets previously, and that meant that disconnections of some premises was prevented.

By having a total ban on activity on the river, that will allow for South Australian power networks, in conjunction with the office of the temporary regulator, to have a bit more flexibility around what homes and businesses will be disconnected from power to prevent those disconnections, so that is a good thing.

And the third element that underpinned this decision was damage to levy banks. To sum that up, the river has been closed to non-essential activity to protect people’s safety, to protect levy banks from damage, particular from waves that are created by motorised vessels going up and down the river, and then thirdly it actually provides more security around the energy connections that we need to see in place for as long as possible.

South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas.
South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas. Photograph: Matt Turner/AAP


SA premier closes Murray River to all non-essential activity as waters peak

Good afternoon, Mostafa Rachwani with you for a short while, and we begin in South Australia, where premier Peter Malinauskas is addressing the media on the flooding situation along the Murray River.

Malinauskas has announced that the river has been closed to all non-essential activities:

This is a closure that takes effect immediately and will be in place for some time to come as we confront the ever increasing flows of water coming down across the border.

This is a decision that hasn’t been taken lightly. As South Australians, we are well aware we have had a speed limit in place of four knots for some time, but unfortunately as the water continues to peak, we are now at a point where we need to close the river to all non-essential activity.

So that is all motorised use of vessels, but also non-motorised as well, banning swimming, banding fishing activity. This is now in place from the border down to Wellington.


I am signing off for the day and leaving you in the hands of the inimitable Mostafa Rachwani. See you back here tomorrow!

Frustration as Australian native forests still threatened despite Cop15 deals

Cop15 has wrapped up with historic biodiversity deals, but as the Greens’ environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young and independent MP Sophie Scamps have pointed out, the habitat of Australian animals is still under threat.

Hanson-Young said:

Here in Australia halting extinction means governments must stop allowing the destruction of habitat and stop mining or logging in our native forests.

We must use this new agreement as the impetus for immediate action. Our koalas need their homes saved now, not just what’s left in 10 years’ time.

Many Australians have taken to social media to express their frustration that habitats continue to be compromised.

Our resident endangered Gang gang cockatoos don’t seem at all perturbed by the neighbour’s whipper-snipper this morning. But they do need more habitat and #biodiversity. #COP15 #birdwatching #birdphotography pic.twitter.com/cH5ZMb2WM9

— Gregory Andrews (@LyrebirdDream) December 19, 2022

Great news from #COP15 but how will it gel with NSW govt's approval of 16000 new houses on Sydney's last koala habitat, its destruction of 750 trees for a tollway at Warringah or its support of new coal mines in the Pilliga ecosystem at Narrabri? #nswpolhttps://t.co/j6nBx0C02D

— Elizabeth Farrelly Independents (@emfarrelly) December 20, 2022


‘A difficult day’: Queensland to hold memorials for police officers killed in Wieambilla

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, says the memorial services on Wednesday for the two constables killed in the Wieambilla shooting will be a “difficult day” for the state’s police community.

About 8,000 people are expected to attend a public memorial at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre tomorrow before family and friends farewell the constables at private ceremonies.

Members of the public are invited to attend the ceremony alongside family, friends, dignitaries and police officers.

The service will also be live-streamed online and on TV, and Queenslanders will be able to watch the event at a number of public venues around the state, including in communities near Wieambilla such as Tara, Dalby and Chinchilla.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day for our Queensland police community as Constable Rachel McCrow and Constable Matthew Arnold are farewelled at a service at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

You can purchase a ribbon from your local police station for a small donation.

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) December 20, 2022

- with AAP


NSW government defends privatisation of bus routes

The privatisation of bus routes across Sydney and Newcastle is amping up capacity and improving services, the NSW government says, despite a recent report calling it an “absolute disaster”.

The government rejected a recommendation to return privately owned bus lines in Sydney and Newcastle to public hands, saying putting those routes out to tender allows for further reinvestment in services.

It comes after an upper house inquiry into the privatisation of bus services handed down its recommendations earlier this year, urging the government to consider returning bus routes to public hands.

But the government said operators in Sydney and Newcastle were offering services beyond the “one-size-fits-all model of service delivery”, including high capacity routes in some areas, and on demand travel in others.

The government said in its response, tabled last week:

Sydney metropolitan customers have been able to benefit from improvements in bus services using leading technologies and service offerings seen in other major global cities, such as Singapore.

A call for the implementation of an industry-wide enterprise agreement for all bus businesses, developed with relevant unions, was also rejected by the government, along with mandated minimum pay and working conditions.

The government said it did not think it was necessary to introduce a multi-industry employment agreement to ensure good employment outcomes for bus workers.

The government supported in principle the report’s other recommendations, which were mainly concerned with fair accessibility to buses.

It comes after the transport committee released its scathing report into the privatisation of the state’s bus services, saying it had been an “absolute disaster” that had let down the community and the state’s workers.

“There has been a continual degradation of services following privatisation and workers and the community are furious,” committee chair Abigail Boyd wrote in September.

The committee found selling off the routes had led to fewer services, longer travel times and worse experiences for workers.

The government’s committee members dismissed the report as a “political document” in a dissenting statement at the time.

– via AAP


Attorney general receives review of privacy laws as he prepares to overhaul act

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has received the review of the Privacy Act carried out by his department. He says one of the major problems is the fact that the act is “not fit for purpose in our digital age.”

The review will provide some light summer reading for Dreyfus who says he’ll be carefully considering ahead of the overhaul of the act to take place next year.

The former government left Australia's privacy laws out of date and not fit-for-purpose in our digital age.
I’ve now received the review of the Privacy Act by my Department, which I will carefully consider as I prepare to overhaul the Act next year.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) December 20, 2022


Coalition wishes Rudd and new diplomats well in 'important' roles

The shadow foreign affairs minister, Simon Birmingham, has released a statement in response to the Albanese government’s new diplomatic appointments, including former prime minister Kevin Rudd as the ambassador the US – and it’s cautious but overall pretty optimistic.

While the journalists at the press conference in Canberra where the announcement was made brought up the fact that Rudd has been a divisive figure in the party, Birmingham had only positive words about Anthony Albanese choosing a colleague in whom he “clearly has faith and confidence.”

Birmingham emphasised the primacy of the role of the ambassador to the US, especially over the coming years as the countries work upon delivering the Aukus agreement.


The Albanese Government has today announced a number of important diplomatic appointments and I wish all of those appointed well in their new postings.

None is more important than the appointment of Australia’s new Ambassador to the United States of America, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Over the years Australia’s Ambassador in Washington has been ably filled by many who, in representing Australia’s interests, are close to and carry the ear of the Prime Minister of the day.

In appointing former Prime Minister Rudd, Prime Minister Albanese has personally chosen a friend and confidante, a former parliamentary and ministerial colleague, and someone in whom Mr Albanese clearly has faith and confidence.

The next few years in the Australia–America relationship are as important as any in recent times, as we work together to deliver upon the Aukus partnership and respond to the strategic challenges of our times. They will require discipline, sensitivity and drive. Aukus is essential to our national security interests and will be a most challenging undertaking. That will require the unqualified support and attention of our Ambassador.

Above all else, the Coalition looks to Mr Rudd and all of the new appointments to deliver on Australia’s national interests first and foremost.

We also pay tribute to outgoing Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos, who has delivered for Australia by working collaboratively and cooperatively with both the Trump and Biden Administrations, during which time the national security and economic bonds between Australia and the US have been successfully strengthened. Arthur leaves a legacy to be proud of and built upon.

Simon Birmingham and Penny Wong in the Senate.
Simon Birmingham and Penny Wong in the Senate. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Victorian teenagers conveyed to hospital after night stranded in hut

Victorian police have released more details behind the four teenagers who were found alive this morning on Swan Island after getting caught up in strong winds which swept them across Port Phillip Bay.

The four teens miraculously found alive on Swan Island this morning spent the night drifting in the cold choppy bay.

They set out on two standup paddle boards from Rosebud Foreshore yesterday evening and after getting caught in strong winds, drifted into the middle of the bay.

The four couldn’t fight against the easterly wind so floated with the tide and ended up on Swan Island – the opposite side of the bay – around 2am.

Cold and disorientated, the four found shelter in a hut. Once the sun rose, they wandered the island and were located by security.

The teenagers drifted right across Port Phillip Bay, having left from Rosebud beach off the Mornington Peninsula yesterday, they were found on Swan Island off the Bellarine Peninsula this morning. pic.twitter.com/MqLZnVYw2d

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) December 19, 2022

Police say the teenagers have been conveyed to hospital following the rescue. They’ve also provided some tips to help others have a safe summer as they hit the beach.

They’ve been conveyed to hospital.

As we enjoy the beach over the Christmas period, we remind you to
🏖Check weather & water conditions regularly
🏖Tell friends and family your plans – where you’re going and when you’ll return
🏖Check the beach hazard safety rating of your beach

— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) December 20, 2022


All options on the table in 2023, RBA minutes reveal

The Reserve Bank is keeping its options open going into the new year as uncertainties continue to complicate its soft landing for the economy.

At its last meeting in December, the central bank board considered a pause, a 25 basis point hike and a larger 50 basis point lift as possible options.

The central bank ultimately landed on the 0.25 percentage point lift to the official cash rate in December in its bid to chase down inflation that’s still “too high”.

In the minutes from the December meeting, board members again pointed to the lagging effect of rate hikes on economic activity.

The minutes said:

Moreover, it was possible that the policy changes might be transmitted to the economy more slowly than usual, given the higher share of mortgages taken out with fixed interest rates, households’ large savings buffers and a summer holiday season without social restrictions for the first time in several years.

Despite the delayed impact of rate hikes, board members said it was still too early to hit the brakes given it would take “several years” to return inflation to the target range and there was no new evidence to the contrary.

The board also said no other central bank had paused yet.

A return to the larger 50 basis point increments seen earlier in the year was also discussed, with the possibility of strong wages growth triggered by the enduringly tight labour market a key point of concern.

RBA board members said some countries were starting to see evidence of a wage-price spiral and would potentially be forced to inflict a recession to return inflation to target.

Australia was not yet in such a situation, but the inflation mindset was shifting, with firms more willing to put up prices than a year earlier and upside risks to wages growth potentially building.

For policy setting into the new year, the board has not ruled out any options.

The board did not rule out returning to larger increases if the situation warranted.

Conversely, the board is prepared to keep the cash rate unchanged for a period while it assesses the state of the economy and the inflation outlook.

- from AAP


We can grow relationship with China and uphold our national interests, PM writes in the Australian

Anthony Albanese has written an opinion piece for the Australian in which he says it is the “principles” behind Gough Whitlam’s vision for China relations that continue to drive the Albanese government.

Albanese wrote that when he met China’s president, Xi Jinping, in November, they spoke about “our highly complementary economies” and that it “is clearly in Australia’s best economic interests to be able to export our high-quality barley, wine, meat, seafood, resources and more to China”.

We spoke honestly and frankly about our differences, and I made clear Australia would always be guided by our interests and values.

Australia seeks a stable relationship with China between two equal partners; we will co-operate where we can, disagree where we must and always act in the national interest. We will continue to support the rules-based order and regional stability.

As Penny Wong has said, we can grow our bilateral relationship alongside upholding our national interests if both countries navigate our differences wisely.

The Foreign Minister’s visit to China on Tuesday to commemorate the 50-year anniversary is part of the effort to continue to move us down that path.

You can read the rest of the piece here.


And right below Rudd’s tweet is none other than Malcolm Turnbull, another former PM, congratulating Rudd and saying he could not think of “any Australian with better connections”.

Congratulations Kevin - great appointment!

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 19, 2022

And I should add congrats to @AlboMP and @SenatorWong for appointing @MrKRudd to DC and Heather Ridout to NY. Both will do a great job representing Australia.

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 19, 2022

I cannot think of any Australian with better connections than Rudd has in the Biden administration or with more influence on geopolitical issues in DC. He is also keenly aware of the external, and internal, threats to US democracy.

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 19, 2022


Kevin Rudd ‘greatly honoured’ to be appointed ambassador to US

Former PM Kevin Rudd has responded to his appointment as the next ambassador to the US in a statement, saying he is “great honoured” and that Australia currently faces “its most challenging security and diplomatic environment for many decades”.

Rudd posted the statement on Twitter, where he also espoused his credentials for the job, mentioning his work at the Harvard Kennedy School (researching US-China relations) and serving as the inaugural president of the Asia Society Policy Institute at the Asia Society in New York.

I also look forward to returning to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where my diplomatic career began in 1981. I will of course comply fully with all DFAT and APS guidelines to ensure any institutional associations I retain are consistent with my obligations as Ambassador.

I am greatly honoured by the Australian Government’s decision to nominate me as our country’s next Ambassador to the United States of America commencing in March. pic.twitter.com/vIz1KckSv4

— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) December 19, 2022


Wong en route to Beijing

Sky News are showing footage of the foreign minister Penny Wong boarding the Royal Australian Air Force plane headed to China after that press conference.

‘Fantastic outcome for the family’: Victoria police’s relief at teenagers’ rescue

Supt Terry Rowlands tells the media the four teenagers who set out paddleboarding from Rosebud beach on the Mornington peninsula were carried by the tide across Port Phillip Bay. They were found on Swan Island on the Bellarine peninsula by a local doing their routine walk this morning.


What an absolutely fantastic outcome. All too often, members of Victoria police in these circumstances see tragedy, but on this occasion, I’m happy to say that the four missing people that went missing yesterday have been found safe and well across the other side of Port Phillip Bay. So absolutely sensational, a fantastic outcome for the family.

The teenagers drifted right across Port Phillip Bay, having left from Rosebud beach off the Mornington Peninsula yesterday, they were found on Swan Island off the Bellarine Peninsula this morning. pic.twitter.com/MqLZnVYw2d

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) December 19, 2022

He has a reminder for Australians who will be hitting the beach this summer to stay safe:

Can I just highlight, though, as we enter summer, the dangers that swimming on our beaches can and do pose. Highlighted particularly today or last night is the fact that four people have entered Port Phillip Bay to have some fun and they have ended up in what could have been tragic circumstances. So a sensational outcome, but just to remind everybody, please, about the dangers that our waters pose, particular over the summer period.

He says the teenagers were found by a local on their routine walk.

So they were actually found by a local on a beach across near Queenscliff, so that’s how we were alerted to the fact that they had been found … it was part of their routine walk.


PM thanks press for ‘constructive engagement’ and says ‘politeness incentive scheme’ will continue

Albanese (wearing a red and white festive tie) finished the press conference wishing everyone a merry Christmas, as well as reflecting on media conference protocol. Guardian’s very own Paul Karp gets a shout out for his politeness, but not his question answered.

I conclude by wishing everybody here – … a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. I thank you for your constructive engagement all year. All of you – each and everyone of you – have been constructive at all times, and I thank you for that.

Paul Karp expresses some cynicism at this, and he’s still very hopeful with a polite hand in the air. I intend to continue to have my politeness incentive scheme in the way that we hold as conferences next year.

I thank you for noticing, by the way, that I do give gender equality at these press conferences as well. It’s taken a while for you to notice that that happens, but now that you’ve all noticed, maybe next year you can bear that in mind as we flow through. The loudest bloke shouting at the front won’t get the first question every time.

Thanks very much and have a great Christmas.


Government defends Rudd appointment following abolishing AAT


Last week the attorney general announced abolishing the AAT [administrative appeals tribunal] because it had been too much stacked with mates. How does the appointment of Kevin Rudd gel with that rhetoric?


I have appointed a great many career diplomats in the short time that I’ve been in this job. The government has. I made clear when we made an announcement, along with a whole range of appointments that were political appointments under the former government being replaced with career diplomats.

I also made clear that there would be a few occasions when we would be looking to former experienced political appointments, and this is one of the posts I identified.

But I’d invite you to look at the list of people who we’ve appointed since we’ve come to government.


We have appointed now former foreign ministers to both the UK and the United States. It’s no accident that we are engaged in Aukus, and those decisions require significant diplomatic [knowledge], but also, of course, a knowledge of the political structures that are in place. Kevin Rudd is an entirely appropriate appointment to the US.

Can I make a point about the AAT. The AAT has been abolished because it is dysfunctional. It is not getting decisions made and people are waiting for decisions about their social security, about their engagement with government, for considerable periods of time

The political appointments on the AAT number into the triple figures. If you were someone who had run for council in some part of Australia, or you were vice-president of a local Liberal party branch, you are eligible for appointment to the AAT. The lists and the appointments that were made to the AAT are absurd.

My government is appointing people on merit … I want the best people representing Australia. Today’s announcements, whether it be career public servants [like] Heather Ridout, or Kevin Rudd, they certainly fit that bill.


Reporter asks about ‘delicate issues’ of Rudd’s opinions of Murdoch and Trump

Questions return to whether Kevin Rudd is suitable to be appointed as ambassador to the US.


There’s no doubting the former PM Kevin Rudd’s knowledge of China and the US. There are also delicate issues here. He’s been particularly critical of two US citizens, one of whom is Rupert Murdoch [into whom Rudd is] calling for a royal commission, and the other is Donald Trump, who could be the next president. What are your expectations on Mr Rudd in terms of managing the strong opinions he has of those two men?


My expectations are very clear: that Kevin Rudd will be an outstanding Australian representative in Washington DC. And that he will conduct himself in a way that brings great credit to Australia. Kevin Rudd will be seen in the United States as a very significant appointment by appointing a former prime minister. I am very pleased that Kevin Rudd is prepared to do this. He certainly doesn’t need to do this. He’s doing it out of a part of – what he sees – as his service obligation to the country that he loves. I am sure that he will serve very well.


Release of Australian detainees ‘would be beneficial’ to Australia-China relationship: Wong

The Australian’s Sarah Ison asks if Wong’s visit to China will be a precursor to a prime ministerial/ presidential visit. She also asks a second question:

If I may, without previewing the outcome, do you think the Australian-Chinese relationship can move forward in the medium term without the release of the detainees?


As I said, I will visit the United States next year at some stage. The president will visit Australia when I host the Quad leaders meeting next year.


In relation to the second part of your question, I agree with you. It would be beneficial not just for the individuals, which is, I think, important in its own right, but it would be beneficial to the relationship for those consular matters to be dealt with.


‘Not all countries in the world share our views’ on human rights: Wong

Our own Daniel Hurst asks the foreign minister for more details about her intentions to raise human rights issues in Beijing:

What specifically will you be asking for when it comes to Xinjiang and Hong Kong? And has the government ruled out sanctions in relation to Xinjiang?

Penny Wong:

As I said in my announcement on human rights day, where we announced a number of things, I also set out the Magnitsky sanctions that were put in place on Russia and Iran, but I made the point that you have to have a broad set of strategies with how you deal with advocacy for human rights.

Obviously not all countries in the world share our views on these issues, and we have to think through how we press for the observation of human rights. Dialogue is part of it.

Of course, we will, as always, be advocating our views in relation to the observance of human rights, as a principle.


Albanese responds to question on Rudd being ‘essentially a second foreign minister’ in US

Kevin Rudd’s appointment as US ambassador is coming under quite a bit of heat with questions from reporters.

ABC’s Andrew Greene asks about the criticisms that the former PM has copped from within the Labor party.

Is this the person who your government needs to have in Washington? Are you worried about essentially having a second foreign minister in the United States?

Albanese backs Rudd:

Kevin Rudd is an outstanding appointment. He brings a great deal of credit to Australia by agreeing to take up this position as a former prime minister, as a former foreign minister, as someone who’s been head of the Asia Society, and as someone who has links with the global community, based in Washington DC, will be a major asset in working to assist the foreign minister, as other ambassadors do in their job.


Gun reform will be on agenda at next national cabinet meeting

Now the PM and foreign minister are taking questions. First up is the issue of gun reform as the nation still reels from the Wieambilla shooting.

Albanese says:

On the issue of guns in the wake of the tragedy on the Darling Downs that occurred just a week ago, this tragedy is still, of course, the subject of ongoing investigations.

My government will take any advice, particularly from police and law enforcement, about better ways in which we can have coordination and better laws to protect people.

I am certainly up for dialogue with the states and territories about how there can be a better national consistency and national information that can serve the interests of police going about their duty.

… When we have a meeting of national cabinet next year … I will be asking for a briefing to go to that national cabinet meeting for practical ways in which we can – not change the nature of the gun laws – but change the nature of the way that information is coordinated.


Albanese government appoints first human rights ambassador

There are more diplomatic postings to be announced.

Wong says:

First, we are delivering on our commitment to appoint an ambassador for human rights, to restore Australia’s commitment to human rights around the world. Bronte Moules has been appointed Australia’s inaugural ambassador for human rights.

Australia has appointed an ambassador for gender equality, Stephanie Copus-Campbell, to deepen Australia’s international engagement on gender equality with her expertise in development and health.

There are also career diplomats announced:

  • Sophie Davies as Australia’s ambassador to Brazil

  • Dr Ralph King as Australia’s ambassador to Israel

  • Sonya Koppe as Australia’s high commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago

  • Minoli Perera as Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe

  • Richard Rodgers as Australia’s ambassador to Croatia

  • Phoebe Smith as Australia’s high commissioner to the Cook Islands


Wong to advocate on consular cases and lifting of trade sanctions

On consular cases and trade, Wong says:

I will be advocating on the consular cases as I always do, just as I will be advocating for trade sanctions to be lifted, because we do believe, as the prime minister said, it is in both countries’ interests to do so.

I want to emphasise that Australian business has done an outstanding job in diversifying its markets. It is always going to be in our interest to continue to prioritise that diversification.


‘We will cooperate where we can, we will disagree where we must’: Wong on China dialogue

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, steps up after the prime minister.

First, on today’s visit to China, I certainly welcome the opportunity to continue dialogue, as the prime minister said. We have been working very carefully and methodically and patiently towards stabilising the relationship between our two countries.

As I have said in the past, this will take time, but I do see this visit as another step in the road. The visit will see us hold the sixth Australia-China foreign and strategic dialogue, dialogue that was last held in 2018. It obviously builds on recent very constructive meetings that the prime minister had with President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

The prime minister has made it very clear we seek a stable relationship with China. We will cooperate where we can, we will disagree where we must and we will engage in our national interest.

There has been a lot of speculation in the last 24 hours or more about what will happen. I will say this: The expectation should be that we will have a meeting, and that dialogue itself is essential to stabilising the relationship. Many of the hard issues in the relationship will take time to resolve in our interests. Speculation about outcomes obviously has implications for leverage, and I am not interested in giving any country leverage other than Australia.


Kevin Rudd appointed as Australian ambassador to US

Albanese announces new diplomatic postings, including that the former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd will become ambassador to the US.

Can I also announce today that Kevin Rudd will be appointed as Australia’s ambassador to the United States of America. Dr Rudd brings unmatched experience to the role. He has served as prime minister, foreign minister, held prominent academic roles and worked extensively in the United States. It is intended that he will commence his posting in early 2023.

Joining Dr Rudd in the United States is Heather Ridout AO, as Australia’s consul general in New York. She is the first woman to be appointed to the role. A former chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout brings four decades of experience to the role.

The consulate general in New York is an important position for Australia’s business relations not just in the United States but, indeed, throughout the world, given the role that New York plays in our international economy. I can think of no one better than Heather Ridout to fulfil this role.

You can read more from our foreign affairs correspondent Daniel Hurst:


Anthony Albanese: 50th anniversary of China-Australia relations an opportunity to reflect

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has stepped up to speak in a press conference before the foreign minister, Penny Wong, heads off to Beijing:

This year my government has taken action to stabilise Australia’s relationships around the world. It is about better outcomes for Australia, but it is also about better outcomes for Australians.

I am proud to stand here today with foreign minister Penny Wong on a day we’re taking another important step. Her visit to Beijing on the anniversary of Australia’s diplomatic relationship with the people’s Republic of China, the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations on 21 December, is a significant milestone.

The decision to establish diplomatic relations took ambition and courage, but it was the right decision, and the relationship has delivered benefits to both our countries, including through our strong economic, people to people academic and business links. And the anniversary tomorrow provides an opportunity for both sides to reflect on the relationship and how it can be more constructive in the future.


Hanson-Young says ‘now the real work begins’ following biodiversity Cop15

The Greens spokesperson for the environment, Sarah Hanson-Young, was also in attendance at the biodiversity Cop15 in Montreal. As the conference wrapped up overnight, she’s taken to social media with her own statement expressing hope that “Mother Nature [has] a fighting chance”.

#COP15 has just finished and the global framework on protecting nature has just been agreed.
A commitment to protect 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the oceans.
And an agreement from countries to halt extinction of species by 2030.

— 💚🌏 Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) December 19, 2022

The world has just agreed to increase efforts to protect nature and give Mother Nature a fighting chance. Now the real work begins and it needs to be funded. To stop extinction we must stop destroying habitat and polluting our waterways and atmosphere.

Here in Australia halting extinction means governments must stop allowing the destruction of habitat and stop mining or logging in our native forests. It means a climate trigger to stop fossil fuels making climate change worse!

We only have one planet. There is no planet B. We are at a tipping point. We must use this new agreement as the impetus for immediate action. Our koalas need their homes saved now, not just what’s left in 10 years’ time. Our children and grandchildren need us to act now.

Read more from Guardian’s own team in Montreal:


Albanese and Wong to speak shortly before foreign minister heads to China

We’re expecting the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, to hold a press conference in Canberra in half an hour (10.30am AEDT) shortly before Wong departs for Beijing.


The teenagers found alive managed to drift right across Port Phillip Bay having left on their inflatable paddle boards from Rosebud beach off the Mornington peninsula yesterday. They were found on the opposite side, on the Bellarine peninsula, this morning.

Four missing teenagers found alive on Swan Island, after they left paddle boarding from Rosebud beach pic.twitter.com/GsDQezWpka

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) December 19, 2022

Zoomed out that looks like:

The teenagers drifted right across the bay having left on their inflatable paddle boards from Rosebud beach off the Mornington Peninsula yesterday, they were found on the opposite side off the Bellarine Peninsula peninsula this morning. pic.twitter.com/xuV5pFLmW7

— Natasha May (@natasha__may) December 19, 2022


Four teenagers found alive on Swan Island

Four teenagers have been found alive after going missing in waters off Victoria’s Mornington peninsula.

The 18-year-old woman, two 18-year-old men and a 19-year-old woman were found across the bay on Swan Island on the Barwon peninsula on Tuesday morning.

The group were using inflatable paddle boards off Rosebud beach on Monday.

Their belongings including phones and IDs were found on the beach by a passerby at about 8pm.

A man who said he was the father of one of the boys told Seven’s Sunrise program on Tuesday the teens had just completed their final school exams and came to Rosebud for an end-of-year celebration.

An air and sea search scoured the area for the group, but the search was halted at 4am due to deteriorating conditions before starting up again at 7am.

– from AAP


Queensland government reportedly considering police union plan to buy shooting site

The remote bushland property where two police officers were murdered could be used as a retreat or training centre if the Queensland government clears the way and ensures it never falls into the hands of conspiracy theorists.

Constables Matthew Arnold, 26 and Rachel McCrow, 29, died in a hail of gunfire after pulling up to the rural property at Wieambilla, three hours west of Brisbane, on 12 December.

Neighbour Alan Dare was also gunned down in the melee sparked when conspiracy theorists Gareth Train, his partner Stacey Train and brother Nathaniel Train opened fire upon their approach.

The officers were checking the property, owned by Gareth and Stacey Train, while conducting a missing persons check for Nathaniel Train.

The Queensland Police Union said today it wanted to buy the block and had asked the government for help resuming the land. Union head, Ian Leavers, said in a statement:

The QPU would never want to see this land fall into the hands of any other anti-vaxxer, pro-gun, conspiracy theorist sovereign citizens who may seek to utilise the reputation of this site to promote their own dangerous and warped views.

This site is one that we as police have a duty to protect, and we will ensure its future usage is both appropriate and sympathetic.

Leavers hoped the land could be used for a retreat for officers, a training centre and be the site of a memorial.

The government is reportedly considering the proposal.

– from AAP


Earthquake in Victoria

An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.2 occurred an hour ago, with an epicentre near Rawson, the SES says.

A magnitude 3.2 #Earthquake has occurred today at 8:19am, with an epicentre near Rawson, Victoria. Currently there are 2 felt reports. If you require SES assistance, phone 132500. For more info, visit: https://t.co/7v6QNSXsaQ pic.twitter.com/aW1RpJxljv

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) December 19, 2022


Coalition would not know transparency if ‘they looked through a window’, aged care minister says

Anika Wells is defending the new aged care star rating system against criticism it should be pulled down, accusing the Coalition of trying to undermine transparency and drag the sector back into “darkness”.

The opposition says the information being used for the rating tool is out of date and has caused distress for older Australians.

The system ranks aged care providers from one to five, with providers given a three-star rating considered acceptable, four stars listed as good, and two as needing improvement.

Wells lashed the Coalition over its criticism, saying its members would not know transparency if “they looked through a window” and saying the opposition was trying to take the sector back “into darkness”.

The aged care minister told the ABC this morning:

The data is absolutely not inaccurate. Sunshine is the best disinfectant and this is the first time Australian families have ever had the opportunity to see this kind of data and feedback about residential aged care facilities.

The aged care minister said more than 60% of the data used for the rating system was independent, and included surveying aged care home residents to record their experiences and gauge the quality of care for particular facilities:

I’m ambitious for aged care, I don’t want three stars ... to be the ceiling ... I want three stars, an acceptable standard, to be the floor.

I want to lift the standard of aged care in Australia but we can’t improve what we can’t measure and that’s why our star rating ... is a vital part of that process.

– from AAP


Scamps calls for end to native forest logging after historic Cop15

Independent MP for Mackellar Sophie Scamps is echoing some of the concerns we heard from Greens spokesperson for the environment Sarah Hanson-Young yesterday – the plan to protect 30% of Earth sounds all well and good until you wonder what happens to the other 70%?

We won’t halt the extinction crisis and biodiversity decline if we don’t also pay close attention to the management of the other 70%.

Australia will need to address our current forestry and agriculture practices if we are to live up to our #COP15 promise.

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 19, 2022

Scamps is saying in Australia the first step to better protecting our natural environment needs to address the environmental laws which continue to allow the destruction of native forests.

First step - remove the Regional Forestry Agreement carve ours from the EPBC Act - our national environmental laws as they stand are a abject failure!! #auspol #COP2022 #Biodiversity2022 #BiodiversityCrisis

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 19, 2022


Crossbench say Australia needs to ‘get cracking’ on Cop15 commitments

More reactions are coming in after the close of the biodiversity Cop15 – which leading scientists have called vastly more important” than the Cop27 climate meeting, because it decides the “fate of the living world”.

Independent senator for the ACT David Pocock was at the meeting in Montreal. He says important elements are missing from the deal “but it’s a start”.

We need to get cracking on implementation to deliver on commitments.

Global deal to halt & reverse the destruction of Nature agreed at #COP15.

A step forward, recognising the urgent need to protect & restore Nature.

Important elements missing from the deal but it's a start - we need to get cracking on implementation to deliver on commitments. https://t.co/7p3yRHrzz1

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) December 19, 2022

Independent MP for Kooyong Monique Ryan says Australia signing on to commitments won’t “mean much” unless specific aims and timelines are also agreed upon.

Great to see we’ve now got a seat at the table at meetings like the UN biodiversity conference.

We’ve signed up for some important commitments. Now, we need to commit to specific aims and timelines - without those, these agreements don’t mean much. https://t.co/yq24uLbOQA

— Dr Monique Ryan MP (@Mon4Kooyong) December 19, 2022


Morning Mail: hopes for China ‘off-ramp’ in trade talks, David Jones sale, Victory’s reckoning

Martin Farrer has put together another brilliant Morning Mail, wrapping up all the national and international news you need to know this morning in a digestible read.

Get up to date on the Dutch state’s apology for its historical role in the slave trade, what on earth is going on with Twitter after Elon Musk’s poll, as well as Melbourne Victory’s reckoning.


Australia ‘didn’t get everything we wanted’ at biodiversity Cop15 but ‘can be proud’, Plibersek says

The biodiversity Cop15 has wrapped up in Montreal with a historic deal struck to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. Although many environmentalists say the protections agreed upon could have been stronger, nearly 200 countries have signed up for targets with national biodiversity plans. It means nature will have the equivalent of the Paris climate agreement which required countries show progress on emissions. You can read more about what the summit has achieved here:

Australia’s environment minister Tanya Plibersek has taken to social media with a statement outlining the conference’s achievements and saying Australia “can be proud” being one of the nations which pushed for more ambitious action at the conference:

We secured high ambition on restoring degraded land, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems.

We agreed a good target on reducing invasive species, recognising island sites, including in the Pacific, as a priority.

We successfully advocated for placing the rights and interests of First Nations peoples at the forefront of nature conservation.

And large companies will be required to disclose their nature related risks and impacts.

Australia led the way in the negotiations, pushing for an ambitious agreement. We can be proud.

We didn’t get everything we wanted. Others didn’t either. But with a bit of cooperation, compromise and common sense, we have achieved a lot for the world.

Now it’s back home to Australia to get on with delivering our own ambitious plans to protect and repair nature.

History has been made.

For the first time ever, we have a global agreement to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

This is a big step towards achieving a nature positive planet.#COP15 pic.twitter.com/6BThxkiVIX

— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) December 19, 2022


Ausgrid reveals plan for power pole network to charge electric cars

Australian drivers will be able to “fill” their electric vehicles at up to 30,000 new charging stations by 2029 under a plan by one of the country’s largest electricity distributors.

Ausgrid has revealed its project to install thousands of chargers on power poles around the country, in urban and suburban locations as well as tourist hotspots and regional towns.

The plan announced in Newcastle today is one of several big investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure revealed in recent weeks.

The first of Ausgrid’s chargers will be unveiled at Dixon Park beach in Merewether, NSW, in a move chief executive Richard Gross said it would give electric car buyers greater confidence:

We know the uptake of EVs is only going to increase in the coming years and projects like this show that if industry and communities work together we can use existing infrastructure to roll out this technology quickly and conveniently.

We believe we have a role to play to help our customers get ready for the energy transition, while making it as affordable and as convenient as possible.

The first chargers will be installed in a partnership between Ausgrid, charging firm EVX and the City of Newcastle.

Gross said the company would confer with other local councils and technology providers to determine the best locations for its charging network, identifying areas in “busy suburban streets to popular tourist destinations and small regional towns”.

EVX chief executive Andrew Forster said the chargers, which will offer power at a flat rate of 50c per kilowatt hour, would make charging “more accessible and affordable for both residents and visitors to Newcastle”.

– from AAP


Families of missing teenagers wait for search to resume

Victoria police are set to return to the search for four teenagers who went missing paddleboarding in the Morning Peninsula yesterday.

A passerby located belongings on the beach about 8pm, after which a large-scale air, sea and land search of the area began but due to deteriorating conditions was paused about 4am.

Family members of those teenagers are waiting on the beach for the full-scale search to resume. Nine news journalist Izabella Staskowski has shared an image of that nervous wait:

Family of missing teenagers here at Rosebud beach waiting for full scale search to resume. Two teenage boys and two teenage girls still missing after going paddle boarding yesterday. Incredibly difficult for these parents. @TheTodayShow pic.twitter.com/FdtI0EEjFV

— Izabella Staskowski (@IzaStaskowski) December 19, 2022


Malinauskas backs stricter gun laws

Peter Malinauskas has also backed stricter gun safety laws after last week’s Wieambilla shooting. The SA premier told ABC Radio:

When I was police minister a few years ago we went through an extraordinary exercise of completely reframing gun laws in SA to make sure they are up to standard as being some of the best in the world in terms of restrictiveness ... but I think we should always be looking for opportunities to improve gun safety laws.

Asked about whether he would bring it up at the next national cabinet meeting, Malinauskas indicated he thought energy was a more pressing issue.


South Australia prepares for largest flood in 50 years

The premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas, is speaking to ABC Radio about the flooding his state is seeing.

Malinauskas says the peak flow is approaching the state border, with the town of Renmark expecting its peak on Boxing Day. The premier says significant preparations have been under way for “an event they’ve known is coming their way for six to eight weeks”.

He says the current prediction of 1,000 homes inundated is likely to increase closer to 4,000 homes over the days ahead.

While he acknowledges thethe trauma of people who will lose homes and businesses, he says it will also be an “extraordinary environmental event”.

We’ve got an imminent human tragedy on our hands.. and addressing that naturally is our main priority.

But, this is the first time in 50 years we’ve had this volume of water coming across the river and it will bring with it profound environmental benefits.

This event will naturally widen and open .. the Murray mouth and that has a massive flow on benefit into the fisheries.

Further up the river, he says frog life has also been “coming to the fore that has otherwise been endangered”.


Four teenagers missing off Victorian beach

A search is under way for four teenagers missing in waters off Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

It’s believed an 18-year-old woman, two 18-year-old men and a 19-year-old woman were using inflatable paddleboards off Rosebud Beach yesterday.

Their belongings were found on the beach by a passerby about 8pm.

A man who said he was the father of one of the boys told Seven’s Sunrise program this morning the teens had just completed their final school exams and were in Rosebud for an end-of-year celebration.

Specialist police immediately scoured the area for the group but the search was halted at 4am due to deteriorating conditions. It started up again at daybreak.

– from AAP


RBA board meeting minutes to be released today

The Reserve Bank has been careful to keep its options open before its February cash rate decision, with analysts hopeful the minutes from the board’s last meeting will shed some light on the path ahead.

Due today, the minutes from the central bank’s December board meeting will confirm if the 25 basis point rate hike was the only option discussed.

NAB markets economist Taylor Nugent said a discussion of a return to a 50 basis point rise would bolster the case for more rate hikes in the new year.

Conversely, the consideration of a pause in December could support the argument that the RBA has already done enough to counter inflation and could hold rates steady when it meets in February.

St George economist Jameson Coombs said the bank’s 25bp cash rate rise in December – the latest in a series of hikes designed to cool sky-high inflation – was accompanied by “deliberately vague but decidedly balanced” commentary” from governor Philip Lowe:

Ultimately, the message was clear, the RBA expects to “increase interest rates further over the period ahead”, but the path to get there may not necessarily be a straight one.

– from AAP


Good morning!

Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong is due to touch down in Beijing tonight. Tomorrow she will attend events marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China.

Wong will also meet her counterpart Wang Yi to hold the Australia-China foreign and strategic dialogue – last held in 2018.

The trade sanctions imposed by China on Australian products including wine and barley are expected to be high on the agenda, as well as human rights and consular cases such as the plight of detained Australians Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun.

You can read more about what we can expect of Wong’s visit from our foreign affairs correspondent, Daniel Hurst:

In Victoria police are still searching for four teenagers who went missing paddleboarding in the Morning Peninsula yesterday.

A passerby located belongings on the beach about 8pm last night, with police and emergency services beginning the search in waters off Rosebud overnight for the two 18-year-old men, an 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman.

Also today, the minutes from the central bank’s last board meeting are due to be released, which will confirm if the 25 basis point rate hike was the only option discussed.

The minutes could shed light on whether Australians can expect more rate rises in the new year.

In Queensland the state’s police union has revealed its intention to buy the block of land which was the site of the Wieambilla shooting, at which constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, were killed.

Union head Ian Leavers told this morning’s edition of the Courier-Mail:

The QPU would never want to see this land fall into the hands of any other anti-vaxxer, pro-gun conspiracy theorist, sovereign citizens who may seek to utilise the reputation of this site to promote their own dangerous and warped views.

The union has asked the government for help resuming the land.

Let’s get going!



Caitlin Cassidy and Mostafa Rachwani and Natasha May (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

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
PM says prospect of Chinese naval base in Cambodia ‘concerning’ – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor, Mostafa Rachwani and Caitlin Cassidy (earlier)

07, Jun, 2022 @8:33 AM

Article image
Treasurer says inflation ‘number one challenge’ – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Cait Kelly and Natasha May (earlier)

01, Nov, 2022 @8:10 AM

Article image
PM’s meeting with Chinese president confirmed – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Elias Visontay and Natasha May (earlier)

14, Nov, 2022 @8:05 AM

Article image
Labor says Dutton ‘desperate’ to distract from defence failures – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor (now) and Cait Kelly and Caitlin Cassidy (earlier)

10, Jun, 2022 @8:19 AM

Article image
Nation records 33 Covid deaths as Victoria reports fifth monkeypox case – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Elias Visontay (now) and Stephanie Convery (earlier)

01, Jul, 2022 @7:39 AM

Article image
Pacific nations ‘very positive’ on re-engagement, PM says – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Royce Kurmelovs and Stephanie Convery (earlier)

29, May, 2022 @7:10 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
ANZ and CBA to raise after central bank decision – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Tory Shepherd and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

03, May, 2022 @10:23 AM

Article image
Morrison says Qld premier ‘consulted’ on emergency; Rio Tinto ditching Russia; 21 Covid deaths – As it happened
All the day’s news as it unfolded

Stephanie Convery and Matilda Boseley

10, Mar, 2022 @8:04 AM