What happened on Monday 14 November, 2022

With that, we’ll wrap up our live coverage of the day’s news.

Here’s a summary of the day’s main news developments:

  • Following years of souring relations between Australia and China, Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will meet with China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Indonesia as the leaders arrive in Bali for the G20 summit.

  • As early voting centres opened in Victoria ahead of the state’s election, Glenn Druery, a so-called preference whisperer, has told Guardian Australia he was the victim of “the most elaborate sting in minor party history” after the Animal Justice party switched its allegiances at the last minute to unravel a deal he had orchestrated.

  • The Queensland police officer in charge of the state’s watch houses has publicly apologised for the “sickening and disturbing” remarks by officers in leaked audio recordings published by Guardian Australia.

  • Residents have described how flood waters moved through the small rural town of Molong in central-west New South Wales “like an ocean”, flooding homes and businesses overnight. Meanwhile in the town of Eugowra, more than one in five of the roughly 700 residents had to be rescued from flood waters in the past 24 hours. Victoria was also hit with flash flooding, while storms wreaked havoc in South Australia, triggering blackouts.

  • An AFL umpire is among four people to have been arrested by Victorian police as they investigate allegations that someone with inside knowledge of the Brownlow medal tallies leaked information to a betting ring.

  • The crew on an army helicopter that started Canberra’s devastating 2020 bushfires were landing for a toilet break when they inadvertently ignited the monster blaze, an inquest has heard.

  • More than a tonne of antibiotics was used to control a potentially deadly fish disease at two salmon farms in southern Tasmania earlier this year, but the companies and government made no public announcements at the time.

Have a great evening, we’ll be back to do it all again tomorrow.


For all you Neighbours fans out there. Lior Harel, the Labor candidate in the battleground seat of Caulfield, appears to count Ian Smith, who played Harold Bishop on the long-running TV show, as a supporter.

Caulfield has some good neighbours. Now it just needs an MP who represents its modern values. Thanks to Ian Smith aka Harold Bishop for the support! Lior4caulfield pic.twitter.com/D0jWZIS9HJ

— Lior Harel - Labor4Caulfield (@lior4caulfield) November 14, 2022

Early voting centres opened in Victoria today ahead of the state’s election on 26 November.

You can read the latest election coverage from Guardian Australia’s Victorian state team, Benita Kolovos and Adeshola Ore, here and here.


NSW government scraps koala bill

The New South Wales government’s native forestry bill has been scrapped just days after it was announced, after a number of key parliamentarians confirmed they would vote against it.

The agriculture minister, Dugald Saunders, on Monday evening announced the decision to scrap the bill that would have made it easier for private farmers to clear koala habitat.

He said:

While this bill upholds all existing protections for the environment, we will continue to have further conversations with local councils to progress legislation that unites communities and industry.

There is significant public interest in this bill that warrants further consultation.

A short time before, upper house independent Fred Nile confirmed he would not support the legislation because it would be a “legislative precedent winding back the role of local government” in the state, and that he was also concerned about koala habitats.

I note that local councils are already able to divulge their local decision making powers to the Local Land Service. If a specific local council seeks to do this then they can do so but to impose that system on all local councils is undemocratic and disrespectful.

You can read more about the so-called ‘koala wars’ here:


Victoria’s preference whisperer Glenn Druery falls victim to minor party sting

It is, as victim Glenn Druery puts it, the “most elaborate sting in minor party history”. For months the Animal Justice party was “negotiating” with the so-called preference whisper to gain the support of other parties working with him – only to direct its own preferences to others at the last minute.

But for Ben Schultz, the state election manager for the Animal Justice party and its lead candidate in the southern metropolitan region, undermining Druery’s preference arrangements just minutes before group voting ticket registration closed on Sunday was a case of righting what he described as some “wrongs”.

“The Animal Justice party does not agree with the wheelings and dealings of a preference whisperer and the backroom deals of predominantly older, white males. That time has come to an end,” Schultz said.

Read more of this exclusive here:


As Anthony Albanese confirms he will be meeting China’s president, Xi Jinping, Guardian Australia’s Paul Karp has the latest on the meeting and state of the bilateral relationship.


Leaders from the world's largest economies are meeting at the G20 in Bali to find solutions to our shared challenges. Over the coming days, I'll be holding meetings with leaders from Indonesia, China, France, India, the UK, and others. pic.twitter.com/uQQrmkFC1S

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 14, 2022

Careful preparations prior to Albanese’s announcement

Australian officials have been very coy as we loitered on the sidelines of the Asean and East Asia Summits on Saturday and Sunday about the prospect of a meeting.

But the sequence leading up to today’s confirmation has been carefully choreographed.

Step one: see the Chinese premier.
Step two: signal willingness for a conversation without preconditions.
Step three: compare notes with Joe Biden.
Step four: lock in the conversation.
Step five: touch down in Bali and park your plane next to Biden.
Step six: wander along the red carpet to a pool of waiting journalists.
Step seven: confirm you’ll have the first significant leader-level dialogue with the Chinese regime in three years.


Albanese confirms Xi meeting as he arrives in Bali for G20

It looks like the waiting game is over. A few minutes after touching down in Bali, Anthony Albanese confirmed he will meet the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, tomorrow at the G20.

We’ve been building up to this moment for the best part of a week. The prime minister broke the ice on Saturday night with Chinese premier Li Keqiang. This is a big breakthrough. But the bilateral relationship remains chock full of irritants.


Breaking: Albanese confirms he’ll meet Xi Jinping tomorrow afternoon #auspol

— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) November 14, 2022


A flash-flooding event on Sunday left the town of Molong in the central-west region of New South Wales inundated. Video shows debris crashing into the pub.


Chinese premier told Albanese China ready to meet Australia 'halfway'

Chinese premier Li Keqiang told Anthony Albanese that China is ready to meet Australia halfway in strengthening bilateral relations, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports.

Li and Albanese spoke during a brief meeting after arriving at a dinner in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the weekend, on the sidelines of the Asean summit. Before the dinner, Albanese had said he was prepared to have a conversation without “preconditions”.

According to the Xinhua report published on Monday, Albanese noted the upcoming 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia forged under Gough Whitlam’s Labor government.

The Xinhua report said “noting that he has visited China several times, Albanese said his country is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with China and jointly promote the healthy development of bilateral relations”.

Xinhua paraphrased Li as saying “Chinese and Australian peoples enjoy traditional friendship, however, bilateral relations have gone through a difficult patch”.

The report also attributes one direct quote to Li: “Taking office as the prime minister of the new Labor government, you expressed Australia’s readiness to work with China to bring the bilateral relationship back on track”.

Xinhua also paraphrased Li as saying “China is ready to meet Australia halfway, and work with Australia to seize the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations to promote sustained, sound and steady growth of China-Australia relations”.


SES perform 204 rescues across NSW in 24 hours

State Emergency Services have performed more than 200 flood rescues across New South Wales in the past 24 hours, after widespread rainfall and thunderstorms triggered dangerous flash flooding across much of southern and western parts of the state. Overnight, over 120mm of rain fell in the Central West.

SES NSW said more than 204 flood rescues had been performed across the state, and that it had received more than 855 requests for assistance in the past day.

Warnings for 116 locations have been issued by the SES, including 16 current emergency warnings for residents to evacuate now to higher ground that are in place in Cowra, Canowindra, Derrinwong and Eugowra.


Nine major NSW flood warnings in place: SES

Nine major flood warnings are in place across New South Wales, as authorities brace for worsening conditions in some communities across the central west, west and southern parts of the state.

At a NSW flood update a short time ago, New South Wales emergency services minister Steph Cooke said that in the hours between midnight and 5am, 140 flood rescues were performed in the small town of Eugowra alone. More than 100 of the rescuers were from a roof.

With a population of 700, Cooke said that more than one in five residents have had to be rescued by helicopter or by boat.

Cooke also said 12 flood rescue operators from New Zealand are arriving in Sydney tonight and will head to Parkes on Tuesday to support emergency services. The State Emergency Services is appealing to its counterparts in Singapore and the United States to secure additional support.


Banks to pay $126m over dodgy insurance

Up to one million ANZ, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank customers will share in settlements worth $126m after being sold consumer credit insurance of little use, AAP reports.

The CBA has agreed to pay $50m, ANZ $42m and Westpac $29m, without admitting any wrongdoing, over the sale of insurance when customers took out credit cards or personal loans. A $5m payment is being made by QBE Insurance regarding policies sold in relation to ANZ products.

The settlements remain subject to court approval and follow similar action against National Australia Bank in 2019 which netted 50,000 customers $49.5m.

Lawyers Slater and Gordon said many of the banks’ customers were unlikely to be able to make a claim because they were already unemployed or had pre-existing health conditions or disabilities.

Some never provided their consent to purchase the policies, were not informed that the insurance was optional, or were not told they would be charged for it.


‘We’re open to possible off ramps’ in trade disputes with China, government says

The trade minister, Don Farrell, has delivered a speech to the Australian APEC Study Centre, warning that “great power rivalry is undermining international rules based order”.

He said:

“It is no longer possible – if it ever was – to insulate our trade policy from geopolitics.

Attempts at economic coercion and unfair targeting of Australian goods in recent years have demonstrated the risks to our economy when the rules of the road are ignored.

Increasingly, economic policy and national security policy are intertwined – a resilient Australian economy underpins national security.”

Farrell also reprised comments he made to Guardian Australia in July suggesting a “compromise situation” or “alternative way” to settle trade disputes might emerge in talks with China.

On Monday Farrell said that “as with any WTO disputes, we’re open to possible off ramps that result in a mutually agreed solution”.

Farrell set out a series of principles of Australia’s trade policy, including:

  • To “deepen and diversify trading relationships in our own region” because “overreliance on any partner is a significant risk”

  • Reform the international trade system, particularly the functions of the World Trade Organisation

  • Use trade to help create jobs and higher wages

  • The benefits of trade must be shared amongst the community

Farrell confirmed that Labor won’t include investor state dispute mechanisms in future trade agreements, and will review the use of ISDS clauses in existing deals.


Farmer found in mud dies in hospital

A Queensland farmer who survived for more than two days stuck in mud after falling off his tractor has died in hospital on the Sunshine Coast, reports the ABC.

Emergency services found Tom Killen covered head to toe in mud and took him to hospital last Tuesday morning, after a friend of the 95-year-old discovered him by a dam on his property in south-east Queensland when going to check on him after days of silence.

Killen remained in hospital. The ABC reports that police today said he died over the weekend.


AFL umpire one of four arrested in Brownlow betting probe

An AFL umpire was one of the four men arrested in relation to suspicious betting activity connected to this season’s Brownlow Medal.

On Monday, Victoria police detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit arrested and interviewed four men as part of an investigation, with one person with inside knowledge of the Brownlow medal tallies accused of leaking the information to a betting ring.

Police are investigating how many matches may have had votes released and exactly how much money was awarded from the bets, reports AAP. At this stage, police have no information to suggest that the outcome of the votes was impacted as the allegations relate solely to the distribution of information.

On Monday afternoon, a statement from the AFL said that “one of the four persons arrested this morning is an AFL umpire”.

Talk about burying the lede...

Look at the SECOND LAST LINE of the AFL statement on Brownlow Medal betting... pic.twitter.com/kL4vIdB5mN

— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshMedia) November 14, 2022

“The suspicious betting activity, on bets placed on round-by-round vote getters, triggered a response and notification by one of the AFL’s betting agency partners,” the statement said.

“The AFL and Victoria Police have no information to suggest that the awarding of match day votes was impacted in connection with the suspicious betting activity, as the allegations relate solely to the distribution leaking or improper communication of the 3,2,1 voting outcomes post some specific matches during the season to unauthorised persons,” the statement said.

AFL EGM Football and General Counsel Andrew Dillon said: “I want to stress that neither Victoria Police, nor the AFL have information to suggest that the outcome of the Brownlow Medal was impacted”.

“Post-game, the Brownlow votes are sealed and stored in a secure off-site location and not opened until they are delivered on stage on Brownlow night. The sealed vote cards are audited throughout the season by KPMG,” Dillon said.


Victoria flood emergency 'far from over': SES

Tim Wiebusch from the SES says the emergency is “far from over”, with parts of the Murray not to peak until the end of the week.

There are 85 warnings active across Victoria as river systems respond to heavy rainfall across the state.

Overnight, we saw flash flooding … at Mount Martha through to Mornington all the way across to Hastings around 300 requests for assistance as a result of flash flooding through a storm cell that went through, leading to around 40mm of rain in a couple of hours. SES volunteers and other emergency services are still in the area assessing those impacts and still responding to around about 80 requests for assistance.

There are seven homes that have been flooded above floor level, while parts of the Hume Freeway remain closed between Purnell and Chilton.

We have also seen a range of roads that remain closed in the north of the state, there are almost 450 roads closed at this time. In particular, the Murray Valley Highway is currently closed as well. Across the state, we are now starting to see a range of our river systems reach the major flood levels. We have the Murray River at major flood level in various areas … we also have a range of rivers at the moderate flood level.

For our Murray River communities, there is still some time to go with the flooding that is occurring.


Rainfall totals up to 150mm in north-east Victoria

Christie Johnson from the Bureau of Meteorology said there had been rainfall totals up to 150mm in north-east Victoria including 147mm in Mount Hotham.

With that system that came in from the west, we saw some severe thunderstorms with that and did have warnings issued for parts of the south-west district, the central district and in particular, we saw some severe storms … that intensified as it moved over the bay and over the Mornington Peninsula.

We did see flash flooding and heavy rainfall … we also saw rainfall totals in the north-east over the course of the last 24-36 hours and we have seen 100-150 mm up there. At the moment, the highest rainfall for the system is about 147mm at Mount Hotham.

She said the system was now moving away, with a cold south-westerly moving in bringing showers across the state and isolated thunderstorms across the north.

We’ll see showers continue probably tomorrow also contracting to the south of the ranges but very cold air moving up. We will see snow level drop from perhaps tonight, and perhaps down as low as 800m above sea level. We can also see some small hail with some of those showers in the very cold air … that will continue on Wednesday when we will see snow level above around 1,000 metres and that will continue to move away and the showers.

Another system may develop over the coming weekend but with far lower rainfall totals.


‘Still some time to go’ with ongoing flooding in Victoria

Emergency services are providing an update in Victoria. They say there’s “still some time to go” with the ongoing flooding events.

There have been more than 650 calls for assistance in the past 24 hours, the bulk of which were from the Mornington Peninsula area.

300 requests for assistance around the Mornington Peninsula area over the course of a few hours. Still about 80 calls for assistance active says SES CEO Tim Wiebusch @9NewsMelb @vicsesnews pic.twitter.com/JMVIlVOGBE

— Elisabeth Moss (@Elisabeth_Moss9) November 14, 2022

Andrew Crisp said there’d been “significant rainfall” across the state, with a number of flood rescues and a derailed train in Geelong.

What we did see … at about 5.30 this morning near Geelong was a 1.7km train with about 55 carriages, 16 of those carriages derailed down in that area. Fortunately, we have been advised there was no one injured as a result of that particular derailment. We know the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is on scene and undertaking investigation in relation of what caused the development itself. We do not have any further details of this at this point in time and will let them undergo their investigation.


Army helicopter sparked massive Canberra bushfire after crew stopped for toilet break

The crew on an army helicopter that started Canberra’s devastating 2020 bushfires were landing for a toilet break when they inadvertently ignited the monster blaze.

An inquest began at the ACT coroner’s court on Monday with evidence from the man in command of the helicopter that started the fire.

An MRH-90 Taipan helicopter – codenamed ANGEL21 – was scouting remote helipads that could be used by outside firefighting teams on 27 January when its searchlight ignited the blaze in the Orroral Valley.

Read more:


Jackie O steps away from radio show to recover from long Covid

Radio host Jackie O is stepping away from her long-running breakfast show with co-host Kyle Sandilands in order to recover from health issues months after contracting Covid-19.

While presenting the Kyle & Jackie O Show on KIIS FM on Monday, Jackie O, real name Jackie Henderson, said she had been struggling to recover after she contracted Covid-19 earlier this year, and that she had received medical advice to stop working in order to address an enduring cough and fatigue.

“I’ve been not very well ever since I’ve had Covid, I’ve been struggling with this fatigue,” Henderson said. “Ever since picking up that virus, I’ve been to the doctor several times, and he said because I’ve been pushing myself every day, after the show, all I’ve been doing is sleeping, and I’m not getting better.”

“I just have to take some time off, so I’m ending the show today. As in now … you know how much this show means to me; you know how much I push through everything, and I would not be doing this unless I absolutely had to.

Read more:


Japan offers to host Australia’s nuclear submarines

Japan has offered to host Australia’s nuclear submarines when they arrive as Tokyo’s envoy extended further defence support to Canberra, reports AAP.

Ambassador Shingo Yamagami said Tokyo stood ready to cooperate on cutting-edge defence technology with the trilateral Aukus alliance between Australia, the US and UK.

Yamagami said Japan’s place may not be obvious in an alliance between three English-speaking nations with a long history of military interoperability and integrated defence industries.

“At first glance, some may argue Japan has no skin in this game,” the ambassador told the Advancing Aukus conference on Monday. “Why should Aukus matter to Japan? Aukus matters to us a lot.”

He said the primary role of the agreement through which Australia will acquire nuclear-propelled submarines was to act as a deterrent in the Indo-Pacific. This included the prospect of hosting Australia’s nuclear submarines when the time came.

“We are a frontline state facing challenging circumstances in the dangerous neighbourhood of Southeast Asia,” he said. “Such submarines will increase regional deterrence.”

While not directly referring to China as a threat, Tokyo’s envoy spoke of the need for alliances to manage a more dangerous region, noting Japan’s future was tied to the west’s force projection. “In other words, what matters to you matters to us too,” he said.


Severe storms caused flash flooding in New South Wales, with the town of Forbes receiving 118mm – its heaviest rain on record this months.

Devastating floods in central NSW. Forbes has recorded its heaviest rain on record - for any month. #NSWFloods #forbes #orangensw #Bathurst #Cowra pic.twitter.com/V1lQgvgeTY

— Thomas Saunders (@TomSaundersABC) November 14, 2022

River levels have risen sharply as a result of the recent weather events.

The Macquarie River at Bathurst has steeply risen and is above major flood levels (again) https://t.co/zEQETq72Vp pic.twitter.com/mvflDLW1cB

— Ian Wright (@drianwright) November 14, 2022


Footage of flooding at Safety Beach on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, according to Channel 7 reporter Paul Dowsley.

Safety Beach streets still swamped after this morning’s deluge. Some residents stuck in their homes - one is paddling to check on his neighbours. #safetybeach #Melbourne pic.twitter.com/rDiJktfWUE

— Paul Dowsley (@paul_dowsley) November 14, 2022


Reports of Iran protester sentenced to death ‘deeply disturbing’, Wong says

Foreign minister Penny Wong has responded to reports that a protester in Iran has been sentenced to death as “deeply disturbing”.

In a tweet, Wong reiterated that Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

“We continue to support the people of Iran and their right to freedom of expression and equality for women and girls,” Wong said.

Reports a protester has been sentenced to death in Iran are deeply disturbing.

Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people.

We continue to support the people of Iran and their right to freedom of expression and equality for women and girls.

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) November 14, 2022


Ukraine asks Australia for more coal, energy generators

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has made an appeal to Australia for coal supply and energy infrastructure including generators, after the war-torn country suffered recent damage to its energy system.

Kuleba asked Anthony Albanese for the assistance in person when the pair met at the Asean summit in Cambodia in recent days, following missile attacks last weekend that damaged more than 40% of Ukraine’s energy network and led to blackouts and “catastrophic” problems with heating and water supply, according to the Ukraine government.

In a statement released by the embassy of Ukraine in Canberra, ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko said Albanese and Kuleba had a “very positive” discussion in Phnom Penh.

Myroshnychenko said:

It shows the mateship of Australia and Ukraine in standing up for democracy and sovereignty against autocracy and illegality. Ukraine really needs the mateship now.

Our goal is to help our people through immediate recovery of critical energy supply, diversification of energy sources, and the development of crisis stock.

It would be invaluable to Ukraine to again receive coal supply from Australia, a world leader. It is also a great engineering nation, and can help us with generators – to keep essential services like hospitals and water treatments plants going – and via transformers to restore the overall system.

While Ukrainians are determined to survive this hard winter, and while our troops are making advances on the battlefield, the additional support we request from Australia would have life-saving impact.


Australia could free a third of its prisoners with little risk to community, new research finds

Exclusive: Australia’s prison population could be reduced by one-third with little risk to community safety, according to research conducted for the Institute of Public Affairs.

The research paper by Prof Mirko Bagaric, the dean of law at the Swinburne University of Technology, recommends law reform to prevent imprisonment of non-violent offenders.

It adds to calls from Labor’s assistant treasury minister, Andrew Leigh, and the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to tackle Australia’s rising incarceration rates, particularly among women and Indigenous women.

Read more:

Free NSW pre-kindergarten year to start in 2023

A landmark program introducing universal free childcare the year before New South Wales children start school will be rolled out next year, with “childcare deserts” the first to benefit, reports AAP.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says families in Mount Druitt in Sydney’s west, Wagga Wagga in the Riverina, Kempsey and Nambucca in the north, Bourke in the far west, and Cobar and Coonamble in the central west will be first to get on board with the program.

Early childhood services in the seven locations will begin rolling out the first stage of the universal pre-kindergarten policy early next year, with interested providers urged to register now.

The $5.9bn 10-year investment in universal pre-kindergarten was the centrepiece of the NSW 2022-23 budget, and was touted as a way to get women back into the workforce and tackle the gender pay gap.

The government promised places would be created in Sydney’s west, south-west and regional NSW, where there is less than one childcare placement for every three children. More locations will be added ahead of the state-wide implementation of a full new year of education for children by 2030.


That’s it from me for today – you have the wonderful Elias Visontay with you for the rest of the afternoon.

In more official tweet news…

Although the prime minister Anthony Albanese is overseas, he’s taken to social media to acknowledge the extreme weather in the country’s south east over the weekend.

Many Australians have experienced extreme storms over the weekend.

In SA the storms have downed power lines, caused blackouts for tens of thousands and closed schools. In parts of NSW and VIC, flash flooding is creating dangerous conditions.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 14, 2022

We know these repeated extreme weather events are very tough on people. We're working closely with state and local government on clean up and recovery.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 14, 2022

Please stay safe and listen to advice from authorities. Call 000 in a life-threatening situation, and the SES on 132 500 for emergency assistance.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 14, 2022

Australia sends condolences to Turkey following explosion in Istanbul

Six people have been killed and 81 injured in Istanbul after an explosion that Turkey’s president described as an act of terrorism.

The minister for foreign affairs, Penny Wong, expressed Australia’s condolences to Turkey on Twitter:

Australia extends sincere condolences to the people of the Republic of Türkiye following the explosion in Istanbul.

Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and those injured.

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) November 14, 2022

G20 preview: all eyes on Albanese's potential meeting with president Xi

Good morning from Phnom Penh. Anthony Albanese is on his way to the airport after two days in the Cambodian capital for the Asean and East Asia Summits.

We fly today to the G20 in Bali, where today’s focus is on the critical bilateral meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. This will be Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart since winning the presidency.

On Sunday, Biden met Albanese for about 40 minutes on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. As we reported overnight, and senior US official Jake Sullivan confirmed with US reporters afterwards, yesterday’s conversation between the US and Australia was about comparing notes ahead of today’s bilateral in Bali.

Sullivan said Biden wanted to be “well coordinated with his closest allies”. Albanese will meet the summit host Joko Widodo shortly after we land this evening, before pushing on to a business event on the sidelines of the G20.

From the Australian perspective, all eyes will be on whether Albanese gets his own conversation with Xi during the G20 summit after breaking the ice with the Chinese premier at a gala dinner in Phnom Penh on Saturday night.


Resource sector concedes threat from corporate ‘gorillas’ was unfortunate

The Australian Resources & Energy Employer Association head of policy and public affairs, Tom Reid, has appeared at the Senate inquiry into Labor’s IR bill.

Labor’s Karen Grogan asked about comments from the AREEA chief executive Steve Knott that “corporate gorillas in the mining, oil and gas sector have said this is not on” and are threatening a multi-million dollar campaign “like the mining tax on steroids”.

Reid said the use of the term “gorilla'” was “unfortunate”:

[Knott] likes to speak freely, he is quite colourful and open when talking to stakeholders about issues that have got him animated and concerned. That media comment was in the immediate aftermath of the bill coming in – Steve [Knott] was very shocked by the size of the bill, the inclusion of things with no evidence base. It was a bit unfortunate.

But as for the campaign? Reid said:

We have the full support of AREEA’s board and broad support of the membership. We are very actively and very publicly trying to explain to the general community and parliament just how damaging parts of the bill could be. We don’t apologise [for] going ahead with that, given the enormous contribution to employment and economy from our sector.

Grogan then tried to cross-examine him on the revenue and tax paid by some of AREEA’s larger members, but Reid said he had “limited insights” to offer.

Reid said part of the industry’s campaign would highlight that the parts of the bill aiming to lift low paid workers’ pay is completely different to broader changes to greenfields agreements and the single-interest, multi-employer bargaining stream, warning that the bill risks “pulling the highest paid and most productive sectors of the economy” into increased complexity.

Labor’s chair, Tony Sheldon, then attacked the “highly profitable” and influential miners, questioning whether AREEA were “a bunch of extremists” and labelling them the “monkey grinder of corporate gorilla munsters”. There was a question in there – are they the “overpaid gorillas of the Australian economy, telling everyone else to get out of their way?”

Reid again thanked Knott for the “unfortunate use of the term gorillas in the press” and pivoted to a very gracious answer about AREEA’s concerns about the bill, refusing to take the bait.


Power outages continue in SA after storms

More than 33,000 properties across South Australia remain without power after weekend storms blacked out 163,000 homes and businesses in the worst outage since the statewide blackout in 2016.

SA was hit with more than 423,000 lightning strikes, damaging winds and torrential rain on Saturday causing widespread damage, with 500 reports of wires down, and minor flooding.

Blackouts have persisted in areas of the Eyre and York peninsulas, across the Adelaide Hills and suburbs and through the Riverland.

Head of corporate affairs at SA Power Networks Paul Roberts said:

SA Power Networks has mobilised all possible resources and has called in interstate field resources to assist. Rebuilding and repairing the network and restoring power will continue into Tuesday and possibly beyond.

Roberts said SA Power Networks understood long delays in restoring the grid were frustrating for customers but those still without power on Monday should plan for an extended outage.

– from AAP


Major flooding at Bathurst could overtop levees this afternoon: BoM

⚠️UPDATE: Major #Flood Warning for the #Macquarie River, with Major flooding occurring at #Bathurst. OVERTOPPING OF LEVEES POSSIBLE EARLY THIS AFTERNOON. See https://t.co/P0wo2ZYC0K for details and updates; follow advice from @NSWSES #NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/KTkVh2iAzT

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) November 14, 2022

Adelaide to host first Australian LIV Golf tournament

Adelaide has been chosen to host the first LIV Golf tournament on Australian soil with the controversial rebel tour to be held at the Grange Golf Club next year.

Greg Norman, LIV Golf’s figurehead, announced the venue as one of 14 on the tour’s calendar on Monday and said his home country was “deserving of the world’s top competition”.

The likes of former world No 1 Cameron Smith, and other major winners Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, will head to Australia for the event running from 21 to 23 April.

Many of the world’s top golfers have eschewed playing in the hugely lucrative league, but those who have made the switch to the Saudi-backed competition have been indefinitely barred from playing on the PGA Tour.

British Open winner Smith and Marc Leishman are the two most high profile Australians to have jumped ship and both are expected to return home for the event in Adelaide. Norman said:

This is an opportunity to grow the game with generations of Australians while connecting them with star players like Cameron Smith who are building a new platform for golf around the globe.

There is massive potential for Australia to play a bigger role in this great sport, and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase Adelaide for our league’s debut year.

Smith, who is expected to be able to defend his Open crown next year given his victory gave him a five-year exemption, told the Sydney Morning Herald this morning he wanted the warring tours to “rise above politics and let us play” at the majors.

South-eastern flood risk to weaken in January 2023, BoM says

The Bureau of Meteorology expects flooding to continue throughout the summer.

Forecaster Jonathan How has told ABC News this morning:

Above average rainfall with tropical moisture falling down from the north increases flooding risk. It is expected to weaken off in January 2023 and should be done and dusted with in February. A couple more months of above average rainfall.

The NSW premier Dominic Perrottet also reminded Australians to follow instructions from emergency services at a press conference this morning:

When the orders are made, please follow those instructions. They are not there for the sake of it. They are there to keep you and your family safe as it may be the case you don’t see flooding around when the orders are in place, that is because we expect and predict further flooding moving forward.


‘All efforts on stability’: Jim Chalmers on China relationship

The Australian treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has been asked on Bloomberg TV about the thawing of relations with China.

He said:

All of our efforts are into making this relationship between Australia and China more stable. The prime minister’s schedule hasn’t been finalised for the next couple of days, but we’ve made it very clear we think engaging in a calm, considered, respectful and meaningful way would make a contribution to stabilising the relationship. I think it’s in everyone’s interest for our region to be peaceful, prosperous, stable and secure. To the extent we can engage to help ensure that, we’re obviously very interested in doing that. To the extent we need to stand up for our national interest when it comes to trade interests, we’ll do that too.

Asked about China’s easing of Covid zero policies, Chalmers said:

One of the reasons why the Chinese economy is slowing is these Covid restrictions, and that has big implications for Australia … We don’t pretend to take domestic decisions about Covid management on behalf of other countries. But the Chinese slowdown has big implications for us. We’d like to see as part of the stabilising of out relationship some of those trade restrictions lifted – that’s important for us, it’s important for our economy.

Chalmers said the Albanese government is responding to the invasion of Ukraine, high prices of fuel and food, and the China slowdown by “rebuilding our buffers” with a “more responsibly budget”.


New emergency flood warnings for inland NSW

NSW SES have issued several new emergency warnings in the last hour:

  • Eugowra have been warned to move to higher ground.

  • Western Plains tourist park and Derriwong has been warned to prepare to evacuate.

  • Jemalong Weir and Euabalong township have been told to prepare to isolate.

Move to higher ground | Emergency Warning 🔺

People in #Eugowra and surrounds - MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND due to dangerous major flooding.

Flash flooding is making it unsafe to #evacuate the area.

You should immediately go to higher ground

👉More https://t.co/BCnxAe6tsR pic.twitter.com/ZMBFPkCqoB

— NSW SES (@NSWSES) November 13, 2022


GPs tell NSW government to ‘stop this madness’ on expanded pharmacist role

We brought you what the New South Wales health minister, Brad Hazzard, had to say earlier in defence of the new scheme that will see pharmacists play an expanded role in the NSW health system.

From today, pharmacists will be able to administer a wider range of vaccinations. In the next stage, pharmacists will be able to prescribe medication for antibiotics for urinary tract infections and the final stage will allow trained pharmacists to prescribe medications for a range of conditions such as gastro, nausea and vomiting, allergies, shingles, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and hormonal contraception.

This is what the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) had to say on the issue, warning the state government “in the strongest possible terms to abandon its plan”.

The RACGP president, Prof Karen Price, urged the government to:

Stop this madness before it’s too late, this is a recipe for disaster plain and simple.

Price warned that the NSW scheme could put patients’ safety in jeopardy, highlighting that “incidents have emerged from Queensland’s urinary tract infection pharmacy pilot, which should make policymakers second guess expanding pharmacy scope of practice.”

GPs have reported many concerning incidents including a patient in their 50s prescribed antibiotics for a presumed UTI who turned out to have a 15-centimetre pelvic mass. There was also another patient in their 60s with a recurrent UTI being prescribed the antibiotic trimethoprim despite known resistance to the drug. Keep in mind too these are just some of the cases we know about. Meanwhile, in the UK the British pharmacists’ own defence union warned of incidents of unsafe practice that have emerged with the rise of independent pharmacist prescribers.

Price also said that patient care would become fragmented as a result of the plan.

The shortage of GPs was one of the justifications for the plan, which Price acknowledged but said increased investment in general practice was a better answer. What’s more she said handing pharmacists more responsibility “doesn’t make sense” when their profession too is also experiencing shortages.

If the NSW Government is to proceed with his pilot or something similar, the focus should be on pharmacists working as part of a team in the hospital or medical practice setting with doctors and other healthcare workers, rather than operating in an unsupervised retail space.


Five teens in critical condition after crash in NSW

Police have opened a critical incident investigation after a car crash in Sydney’s north left five teenagers in hospital.

NSW police says the single-vehicle crash occurred about 4.40pm yesterday in Cammeray shortly after police had terminated a pursuit of the car:

Police had initiated, then terminated, a pursuit involving a Holden Commodore shortly before it left the road and struck a tree.

A 16-year-old girl, who was allegedly driving the sedan, suffered head and spinal injuries, while a second 16-year-old girl suffered head and facial injuries.

Back-seat passengers included an 18-year-old man, who has suffered head and chest injuries, and two male youths, both aged 17. They are suffering spinal injuries, with one also being treated for abdominal injuries.

All are reported to be in a critical condition in Royal North Shore hospital.

A critical incident team from Blue Mountains police area command is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident under Strike Force Mulvany.

The investigation will be subject to independent review.

Police are appealing for anyone with dashcam vision or who witnessed the crash to come forward.


Wages, jobs and a bit of energy to stir debate this week

It’s one of the quirks about the Australian Bureau of Statistics that it releases numbers on consumer prices for each quarter about three weeks before it gets around to giving us the lowdown on wages.

So, back on 26 October, we learned consumer price inflation had increased to 7.3% – its highest level since 1990 – but it’s only this Wednesday that we find out how far wages have been lagging in “real” terms.

The ABS now releases monthly CPI numbers (though, without a lot of coverage as they’re not quite as thorough as quarterly figures). We asked why they don’t give us monthly wage price index (WPI) figures too but were told it would be too costly to do so.

Anyway, back to this week. Economists are estimating the WPI will come in at about 3% or just above, accelerating from 2.6% in the June quarter (itself the highest since the September quarter of 2014).

Australia's wages growth - or the lack of it - will be back in the spotlight this week. Economists tip a modest uptick in the annual wage price index to about 3% in the September quarter. That would be up from 2.6% in the June quarter, and compares to the 3Q 7.3% CPI increase. pic.twitter.com/WWlb8500Vy

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) November 13, 2022

A real wage decline of 4%-plus doesn’t look good for workers. (Even against the Reserve Bank’s (RBA) preferred inflation gauge, the gap would be about three percentage points.)

We’ll get a reminder of how tight the labour market is on Thursday when the ABS releases its jobless data for October. This figure is subject to various winds, such as whether the participation rate ebbs or flows.

But economists think the unemployment rate will tick up to 3.6% (from 3.5%) – still not far off its lowest in half a century despite seven interest rate rises by the RBA in as many months.

Speaking of which, recent comments by bank officials (and easing inflation numbers abroad) have seen expectations about how much more the central bank will need to move. A pre-Christmas cash rate rise is now just over an even bet:

Meanwhile, investors have been paring back their view of how high the RBA's cash rate will go. They're now tipping just over a 50:50 chance of a rate rise in December, and are now pencilling in a peak of about 3.75% in the second half of 2023. pic.twitter.com/nfTxmDbv7E

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) November 13, 2022

Another issue to watch this week will be tomorrow’s AGL Energy’s annual general meeting in Melbourne. There is quite a lot on the line, and not just who’s on the board of Australia’s biggest electricity generator.

We previewed the action at Melbourne’s Recital Hall (while noting the meeting of shareholders is jostling on this month’s billing with acts called: big fiddle little fiddle and big thief).


Victorian Liberals don’t rule out deal with independents

As early voting opens in Victoria, the state’s opposition leader, Matthew Guy, joined 3AW’s Neil Mitchell for a lengthy interview.

Mitchell asks why the Coalition has preferenced the Greens above Labor. Guy says:

We’re talking about who’s last and second last, so I’d hardly say we’re referencing one of the two - one’s last, one’s second last. But Neil, I don’t intend to do any political deals with the Australian Greens and I don’t intend to do any with the Australian Labor party either.


And what about independents if you have to?


Well whatever the contents of the parliament, we have to work with it. The public would expect us to do what is right for them and that is make a parliament work.


So if you’re in a position to form government, which does seem unlikely, doesn’t it? It’s more likely to be a Labor minority government?


The media says that – you were writing me off two months ago and now every poll says is our primary votes are the same or better than the government … I’ve been written off but everyone but we are in a position where they were absolutely winnable, I’ve been saying that all along.


Murray River communities warned to be on alert for flooding

The Victorian SES has issued multiple watch and act warnings along the Murray River on the state’s border.

Incident Location: the Murray River between Yelta and the South Australian Border
For more info: https://t.co/AX34lhoSQd pic.twitter.com/hxXSo2Sy01

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) November 13, 2022

WATCH & ACT - FLASH FLOOD - Stay Indoors
Incident Location: Beaufort
If you are located in Beaufort, you are in danger. You should immediately move indoors, away from floodwater. Do not enter floodwater.
For more info: https://t.co/DfohAgClIh pic.twitter.com/7ionkx5U5D

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) November 13, 2022

Closures remain in place on the Hamilton Highway between Inverleigh and Burnside Road, Stonehaven due to flooding. Use the Princes Highway or Midland Highway and Bannockburn-Shelford Road as alternatives. Allow extra time through the area. #victraffic pic.twitter.com/znNIzdlLFL

— VicTraffic (@VicTraffic) November 13, 2022


ASIS chief defends ‘respect for open justice’ in interview about Collaery case

The outgoing head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Paul Symon, says he sought to make clear “my respect for open justice” during his involvement in the Bernard Collaery case.

Speaking to the ABC, Symon was asked whether the Collaery case had harmed the agency’s reputation.

The commonwealth repeatedly intervened in the case in an attempt to shroud parts of proceedings in remarkable secrecy, in some cases keeping material even from Collaery and his legal team.

Evidence from ASIS was used to help justify that secrecy by arguing that the open hearing of sensitive material would put Australia’s national security at risk. But Symon said his affidavits to the court always made clear his respect for the need for open justice. He also said he had a legal responsibility to protect the work of ASIS.

And ultimately the government has decided to drop the matter, and my comment would be that, because I had to fulfil responsibilities, and because the law has a disposition to open justice, we only got as far in this matter as a judge who’s the appropriate person – not me or government – a judge was trying to balance this, on one hand, open justice and on the other hand in affidavits that I was presenting to the judge the very real concerns that I had in relation to this particular matter.

And the judge – justice Mossop – was dealing with these issues, I think, with great care and attention. My approach to the affidavits I wrote absolutely and very centrally highlighted my respect for open justice as a key premise of the legal system. These are not absolute matters and it really fell to a judge — he was working through the process of how to deal with sensitive information.

And now the matter is closed. I feel that with the responsibilities that I carried did that conscientiously to navigate through the precept of open justice but also the legal responsibilities that I carry in my job.

Collaery was accused of unlawfully disclosing protected information about a 2004 mission to spy on Timor-Leste during negotiations to split oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. The case against Collaery was dropped earlier this year following an intervention by the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus.

One limb of the case remains ongoing – the commonwealth’s attempt to suppress a pretrial judgment that it believes would disclose sensitive information. The Guardian revealed last week that the Commonwealth has spent another $250,000 on the case since Collaery’s prosecution was dropped.


Molong residents rescued from floods as homes and shops damaged

The central west NSW town of Molong has been isolated because of flooding, and emergency services say the force of the flood waters has smashed shop windows and knocked out the back wall of a local supermarket.

At least two large shipping containers were carried by floodwaters through the centre of the township, according to Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

A shipping container making its way down main street, is not a sight you see everyday in the little village of Molong. Nearly 90mms of rain in Orange hasn’t helped it’s cause either. @7NEWSCentWest @7NewsSydney @7NewsAustralia #nswfloods pic.twitter.com/2bES1FzaSN

— Christopher Tan (@christophert77) November 13, 2022

In response to the disaster, local FRNSW crews have been out rescuing trapped residents, stranded in roof-high floodwaters overnight.

The Molong team of firefighters rushed into action around midnight, assisting the State Emergency Service and other agencies, door-knocking homes under threat and evacuating residents.

The fire crew established an evacuation centre at the town’s RSL club and set up a makeshift helicopter landing strip, with flashing guidance lights, on the oval of the Molong Central School, helping to vector in an Australian Defence Force chopper, tasked with rescuing locals from roof tops.

They also rescued two people and their dog from knee-deep water inside a house in Watson Street and another couple from the top floor of the old motel.

The firefighters and a police officer, from nearby Manildra, then waded through chest-high water to reach another woman, stranded in her Watson Street home.

The crew helped to establish roadblocks overnight to prevent heavy vehicles passing through the floodwaters and causing further damage.

The firefighters now report the floodwaters are receding as they begin clean-up operations to clear a large amount of mud and debris from Molong’s streets.


Train derails in Victoria west of Geelong

A train has derailed at Inverleigh, west of Geelong, this morning with multiple of containers smashed and substantially damaged.

An Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) spokesperson said no one was injured in the incident and that none of the wagons were carrying dangerous goods.

Guardian Australia understands between eight and 10 wagons were derailed.

An ARTC spokesperson said the incident occurred about 5.30am this morning between Inverleigh and Gheringhap, approximately 30km west of Geelong.

The service derailed with containers displaced on both sides of the track and some within an adjoining paddock.

The incident has resulted in the closure of the Melbourne-Adelaide rail corridor. Affected customers have been notified.

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator has been notified and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has taken control of the site.

ARTC says it has immediately commenced working with customers on a recovery plan, and that further details will be provided once a full assessment of the area is complete.

Freight train derails at Inverleigh, west of Geelong, leaving dozens of containers strewn across tracks
MORE: https://t.co/FKKWiYZYMe pic.twitter.com/mTZedawkbW

— ABC Melbourne (@abcmelbourne) November 13, 2022


Media regulator asked to create new measures of diversity

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, has announced that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) will be asked to develop new measures of media diversity.

Traditional measures of media diversity currently measure and regulate ownership and control of traditional TV, print and radio – but not the consumption and popularity of news sources. They do not account for digital news services.

In 2020 Acma released a research paper, discussing the need to measure:

  • Source diversity – the extent to which the news media market is populated by a diverse array of content providers,

  • Content diversity – the extent to which news media content presents different voices, viewpoints and demographic profiles, and

  • Consumption diversity – the extent to which audiences consume a diverse array of news media content.

This work will be updated with a new consultation paper about promoting media diversity and protecting our democratic processes in early 2023.

Rowland said:

The issue of media diversity and news media concentration is a matter of concern to many Australians.

Australia needs a new framework for measuring news media diversity, one that takes account of the contemporary media environment and changing news media consumption patterns over time.

This process reinforces the Albanese Government’s expressed intent to pursue a principled, evidence-based and consultative approach to supporting media diversity and public interest journalism in Australia.

Michelle Rowland says media diversity is a concern to many.
Michelle Rowland says media diversity is a concern to many. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


‘Personally I’m for the koalas,’ Hazzard says, but suggests he won’t cross the floor on forestry bill

As a final question, Hazzard is asked about koalas once again dominating NSW politics with the National party bringing in legislation to make it easier for landholder it is to clear land.

With reports some liberal MPs may cross the floor to oppose this legislation, Hazzard says he is not concerned about any display of disunity.

No. What I’m worried about is that people would be concerned about democracy taking its normal course. And of course people are entitled to argue the case both ways. Personally I’m for the koalas, but, you know, I’ll see what happens.


Will you cross the floor then?


I don’t think I have done that in 32 years. I’m about to finish up my career in 32 years in politics.


‘We’ve got the tools, we just now have to behave like sensible human beings’: Hazzard on Covid measures

ABC News breakfast asked Hazzard about the WA government not ruling out bringing back mandatory mask-wearing, and whether NSW will be leaving the option on the table. He says he is not, and uses the opportunity to say NSW did the heavy lifting when borders were shut.

No. No, we’re not looking – look, New South Wales led the country, let’s be honest about this. We led the country, we were the ones that were taking everybody from overseas for WA because they locked their borders, for Queensland, for Victoria, we struck the balance all the way through, our economy as a result here in New South Wales is booming.

We are doing well. What are they doing in WA? No respect meant, but they put a gate across the Nullarbor. If they want to do that, that’s their business, I’m not going to criticise but that’s not what we’re going to do.

People in New South Wales know how to live with this virus and we’ll continue to live with it now and we’ll be cautious. I’d encourage people to be cautious. I’d encourage people to be cautious but not going to go down the path - I mean, three years ago, Michael, we had no vaccines, two years ago, we had vaccines, then we had antivirals, we got all those things available to us, we’ve got the tools, we just now have to behave like sensible human beings and don’t go to work if you’re sick, wear a mask if you’re in close proximity with other people. Try to get through the next five weeks of the rising numbers and we will get through it.


NSW Covid peak expected by December, health minister says

Michael Rowland:

Covid is on the rise again, new variants, infections are increasing. How worried should people in New South Wales should be as we head into Christmas?


There’s no question that the new variants and subvariants are here in New South Wales. Right across Australia, actually, and doesn’t matter where you are.

And in New South Wales, alone, last week on our weekly report, it was around 2,500 a day that were being reported. That’s a massive underassessment because there’s no longer compulsory for people to record their rapid antigen tests.

So we know it’s increasing. We’re expecting on the basis of the modelling that we’ll see a peak towards end of this month, early December or moving into early December.

The short message here is we have to live with Covid. It’s here, but be sensible. Everyone has learnt the lessons, if you’re indoors in an area you can’t distance yourself, wear a mask. If you’re feeling ill, stay home, don’t go and spread your germs around at work. Wash your hands regularly, just do what we have all learnt to do and we’ll do OK.


NSW health minister tells GPs to ‘settle down’ as pharmacists’ role expanded

The NSW health minister has explained more about the trial to expand the role of pharmacists to allow them to prescribe medications such as antibiotics.

How will the plan work in practice?


How it will work in practice is that if you have – anybody who knows mostly it’s women with UTIs, for example. If you get a UTI, it’s terribly, terribly painful – if you had to wait any more than a day, it’s agony. So to wait possibly six weeks is just, it’s out of the question.

So if we can actually make sure that person can go to their pharmacist, the pharmacist will have completed a module, a training program, and is able to prescribe the relevant antibiotic. Of course, that brings almost instantaneous relief in that situation.

Going back when Covid started, pharmacists weren’t vaccinating for Covid. They are now, vaccinating for Covid, meningoccocal, influenza, a range of other vaccinations. So we’re extending the vaccinations as of today. So they’ll be able to vaccinate in a variety of range.

It’s all based on the work that’s been done in Queensland as there’s a pilot and trial operating up there and it’s going well. So we think it’s going to relieve the pressure on patients and that’s what it should be about. Nut also … the pressure that goes on to our hospital EDs. If you can’t get to see your GP, where are you going to go? You’re going to sit in an emergency department.

As for the criticism from the Australian Medical Association describing this as a rogue health policy and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners saying it would put patients’ safety at risk, Hazzard says:

We’re absolutely convinced that this trial, this pilot, is going to be successful and I think the GPs just need to settle down, relax, and let the trial and the pilot take place. No one is suggesting for even a second that patients shouldn’t go and see their GPs regularly. Of course they should.

But if you need to get that antibiotic, for example, the UTI, you should be able to do it and you should be able to do it quickly and not wait for a GP for possibly six weeks.

My message to them is – love you dearly, but you need just to relax and look at what’s happening … and understand there’s a bigger world out there that we need to look after our patients and should be part of the equation.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


NSW pharmacists to prescribe some medications to help ease GP crisis

From today, pharmacists in NSW will be able to diagnose and prescribe medication for patients without consulting their GP, amid strong criticism from the Australian Medical Association.

A 12-month trial has been announced evaluating pharmacists prescribing medications, including antibiotics for urinary tract infections, treatments for skin conditions and infections, and birth control.

Pharmacists will have to complete additional training first.

The NSW health minister Brad Hazzard told ABC News this morning the plan was put in place to try to ease the shortage of GPs in the state:

We have got very low numbers who are coming out of medical school who now want to be GPs. Last figure I saw was about 14% of all new graduates are choosing to go into general practice. In areas like the Hunter, the local MPs up there tell me it could take six to eight weeks to see a GP. Certainly in the city, it takes at least a week and sometimes two or three. So it’s a huge problem for us and there are certain vaccinations and also other issues that need a much quicker response. Pharmacists are well placed, they have been doing this in New Zealand, in the UK, in Canada, and the world hasn’t fallen in. In fact, it works well.

While the AMA supported mass vaccinations through pharmacies, expanding the role of pharmacists to treat UTIs, shingles, gastroenteritis, nausea, psoriasis and prescribing oral contraceptives was not acceptable according to the peak body.

– with AAP


‘I have a responsibility … not to do just the popular things’: Daniel Andrews fends off criticisms

Dan Andrews has an interesting exchange with ABC News Breakfast host, Michael Rowland:


Daniel Andrews, like it or not, election contests these days are pretty much contests of personality, as they are battles of ideas. And with that in mind, do you accept you polarise people in Victoria?


Well, that’s a matter for commentators, Michael. And that’s a matter for others. I’ve got a positive and optimistic plan ...


You don’t think you trigger sharp views either side?


Again, that’s – Michael, I’m not here to talk about myself. I’m here to talk about and work for the people of Victoria. That’s what I’ve always done ... Today, just as yesterday when we made our announcements, we’re bringing back government-owned electricity. The state electricity commission is coming back. With 100% renewables to cut emissions, to cut bills, to create jobs, and to set our state up for the future. That’s positive. That’s optimistic.


Do you accept there are voters out there, possibly a lot of voters and possibly a lot of voters in Labor-held seats, just waiting with their figurative baseball bats wanting to punish you for the lockdowns and other Covid measures in Victoria?


Well, what I accept, Michael, is that I have a responsibility as the leader of this state not to do just the popular things, but to do the things that are right. And that meant that there were some very challenging decisions that had to be made. But people’s opinions, people’s views – that’s what elections are about. People will cast their votes, starting today, through until the 26th of November. My job is to put forward a positive and optimistic plan.

The premier referred to his “positive and optimistic plan” seven times in the five-minute interview.


Andrews rules out deal with the Greens and independents in event of minority government

Dan Andrews was also asked what would happen if Labor finds itself in a minority government situation – will it do a deal with the Greens?

He replies:

No deal will be offered and no deal will be done.

ABC News Breakfast’s Michael Rowland asks:

And independents – no deals with independents?


No deal will be offered and no deal will be done.


So if you’re in a minority situation and you hold more seats than the Liberal party, what happens? You go back to another election?


Well, I think what the best thing to do, and what happens, Michael, is we work hard for the next 13 days, we work hard to put a positive and optimistic plan out there, and we’ll see what the verdict of Victorian voters is. I’m arguing, I’m urging people to vote for a strong, stable majority Labor government, to vote for your local Labor candidate.

Victoria goes to the polls on 26 November, though early voting begins today.


State Electricity Commission dominates Labor’s bid for re-election in Victoria

Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, has done the rounds on breakfast TV this morning off the back of Labor’s campaign launch yesterday.

He was wearing a SEC-branded jacket – a nod to Labor’s commitment to bring back the State Electricity Commission if elected on 26 November, which he explained to ABC News Breakfast:

The new SEC – government-owned, not private for-profit, but government-owned electricity, so owned by every single Victorian – creates nearly 60,000 jobs – 6,000 of those will be apprentices. It will be 100% renewable electricity. These companies can’t be relied upon to replace themselves. They’ll just put another profit machine in place. We need to make sure that we’re looking after pensioners, we’re looking after families and, indeed, businesses. And without electricity, there is no economy, so we have to replace them. And we choose to replace them with a public option – a government-owned option. An option that’s owned by every single Victorian.

Premier wearing an SEC-branded jacket while doing the rounds on breakfast TV this morning pic.twitter.com/nXrSUM6MU8

— Benita Kolovos (@benitakolovos) November 13, 2022

Asked what the government will do to immediately help families with the rising cost of power bills, Andrews replies that 1.6 million Victorian households have applied for and received a $250 power-saving bonus. If re-elected, Labor has pledged to hand out another round of the bonus in March:

We’ll do another one of those next year – another $250 for every single Victorian household, and access to a trusted comparison site. Because the thing is, these big businesses rely on you not being on the best deal. They profit off that. They bank on you not being on the best deal. They don’t ring you up and say, “By the way, you’re paying too much for your energy.” That power-saving bonus is really important. We’ve done it: 1.6 million households have accessed that. And now, we’re gonna do another one in 2023. So that’s immediate action, as well as a medium- and long-term plan to take the profit out of your power bill. To bring back the SEC and to make sure we’ve got the jobs, the renewables, the lower emissions and lower bills that Victorians want.

The SEC dominated the party’s launch yesterday – probably because it appeals to so many different types of voters. Here’s my analysis on it:


Half of Victorians expected to vote early

The Victorian electoral commissioner says 21 of the state’s 155 early voting centres will open later than planned today due to ballot paper printing delays and wet weather.

Electoral commissioner Warwick Gately says the 21 affected voting centres are in metropolitan Melbourne and will open at midday:

It’s disappointing that printing delays, combined with the wet weather has impacted our ability to open every early voting centre on time. However, the 21 early voting centres affected are supplementary early voting centres we added to our standard complement this year. Importantly, there will still be at least one early voting centre in every district throughout the State opening as normal at 9am.

Gately urged all voters planning to vote early to check its online voting centre locator before they head off, to see which early voting centres are affected.

For the first time, Victorians do not need a reason to vote early. It’s expected half of voters will cast their ballot before the 26 November election.

Both major parties launched their campaigns yesterday, with Labor promising Victorians another $250 cash handout while the Coalition pledged to quarantine gas supplies.

Here’s our wrap:


Government to walk fine line on raising human rights issues with Beijing, trade minsiter says

Will the government be raising human rights issues if Anthony Albanese gets that meeting with China’s leader Xi Jinping?

Don Farrell:

We’re never going to do anything that effects our national interest or security … but, we’re never going to stop talking about those issues which we believe in as a democratic country and that is human rights.


Trade minister hopes UK free trade agreement to pass lower house next week

The new free trade agreement with the UK was signed a year ago, so what’s the hold-up?

Don Farrell explains:

Under our legal system, it has to be approved by the parliament. So when that wasn’t done in the last parliament, that whole process had to start over once again.

As soon as parliament resumed in August, I sent the agreement up to the treaties committee. I’m expecting next week that the committee will hand down its report and recommend the approval of that agreement.

In anticipation of that I’ve prepared all of the legislative changes that we need to things like customs rules in order to implement that agreement. And so when parliament resumes next week, I’m very hopeful that we can push those changes through and that from our side of the ledger, we’ve got that all approved by the end of November.

Now it also requires the United Kingdom to do to do the same. They’ve started that process. I’m hopeful that just as we’re going to finish it in the next week or two, that they’ll also finish their side of the process.


Solving differences with Beijing face to face will bring quicker results, trade minister says

Australia is challenging China’s duties on barley and wine in the World Trade Organization, but in a speech later today at the Australian Apec Centre, Don Farrell will say Australia is keen to discuss possible off-ramps.

We’d much prefer to sit down face to face with the Chinese government and sort out our problems that way rather than through using the the legal processes that are available to us. One of the problems of course, with these processes is that they’re very lengthy. They can take, in some cases, years to resolve so that even if you get a good result, and we’re very confident of the strength of our legal argument, it takes years to get that result.


Trade bans have to be lifted to to get back to normalised relationship with China, minister says

There’s rising hope that prime minister Anthony Albanese will meet China’s President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali.

If that happens, Albanese has said he intends to ask Xi to drop China’s trade restrictions against Australia.

The minister for trade and tourism, Don Farrell, spoke to ABC Radio National this morning about those trade tensions.

On Australia’s reliance on trade with China, Farrell said “it’s dangerous to have all of your eggs in one basket” in the trade space. The government’s strategy is to continue trading with China “but reducing our reliance on it”, he said.

Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas asked Farrell if Albanese met China’s president, what would his message, specifically around the trade ban, be?

I spoke to the prime minister yesterday in Cambodia. He’s hopeful of getting a meeting with the president.

His message will be a pretty simple one. We obviously want to have to have a stabilised, sensible relationship with China. But part of that means that the trade blockages that we currently have in things like wine, in barley, in meat, in crayfish, for instance, the Chinese have to live lift those bans so that we can get back to a normalised relationship.

And both countries can benefit we can sell our products into China, but more particularly, the Chinese consumer gets the advantage of wonderful produce that Australia can produce.

Farrell admitted it was unlikely one meeting would lift all of those bans.

I’m not sure that one meeting will solve all of the problems that have existed over the last five or six years … If we do get the meeting with the Chinese president, I think it starts the ball rolling in putting these problems behind us and starting a new relationship that will get us back to where we want to be in terms of our trading relationship with with that largest trading partner.


Flood waters carry shipping container down Molong’s main street

That first post mentioned the state of flooding in central west NSW. Among the towns under emergency warnings this morning, Molong is completely isolated by flood waters.

You can see just how strong the current is with a shipping container being carried along the historic town’s main street.

A shipping container making its way down main street, is not a sight you see everyday in the little village of Molong. Nearly 90mms of rain in Orange hasn’t helped it’s cause either. @7NEWSCentWest @7NewsSydney @7NewsAustralia #nswfloods pic.twitter.com/2bES1FzaSN

— Christopher Tan (@christophert77) November 13, 2022

Floodwaters receding at the Molong Bowling Club. Biggest since 2005 at least. Possibly longer. Power is gone. Mitchell Hwy under. All between 1am and now. Just steady rain for a few hours and bam.

@BOM_NSW⁩ had a riverine warning for weeks. Nailed it, gotta say. pic.twitter.com/5d1iZ7vAUo

— Rob Peffer (@RobPeffer) November 13, 2022


Early voting opens for Victorian election

Victorians will begin casting their ballots for the state election with fresh promises from the major parties ringing in their ears.

Early voting centres will open across the state today, operating from 8am to 6pm until the day before the 26 November election.

Unlike the federal election in May, Victorians do not need a reason to vote early or via post before polling day.

The Victorian Electoral Commission is preparing for more than 50% of the state’s 4.4 million enrolled voters to cast their ballot before election day.

Voting is compulsory for all people enrolled in Victoria, with those who don’t facing a $92 fine if their explanation is not deemed valid and sufficient.

Labor and the Liberal-National parties used their official campaign launch events yesterday to promise power bill relief and attack each other.

After the Coalition unveiled its “bill buster” policy, premier Daniel Andrews promised another round of the $250 power saving bonus if Labor is re-elected. The extra $250 payment would be made to every Victorian household that compares their energy offers from March next year.

In Port Melbourne, opposition leader Matthew Guy promised a Coalition government would cut up to $235 from household electricity bills by scrapping supply charges for the first half of 2023.

New gas projects in Victoria would also be quarantined to supply only the state under another new Coalition election policy.

Guy said told the crowd of 300-odd party supporters:

Each day I get up, I am more and more confident that we can, and we will win this election.

– from AAP


Good morning!

The prime minister Anthony Albanese will today travel to Indonesia for the G20 meeting, as speculation continues whether he will secure a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

If the meeting does go ahead, it will be the first time in six years leaders of Australia and China have had a formal meeting.

Albanese told reporters in Cambodia where he was attending the East Asia and Asean summits this past weekend:

[Australia] will engage constructively in dialogue with the countries that wish to engage with us.

I’ve said that we should cooperate with China where we can and that’s what we’re doing.

Albanese will also today give a keynote speech to business leaders in Bali as part of the B20 meeting, following an invitation from Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.

Closer to home, Australia’s south-east is seeing yet more severe weather and flooding.

The central west NSW town of Molong is completely isolated by flood waters, with flash flooding making it too dangerous to evacuate. The SES is warning people in the town’s low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

Evacuation orders have been issued for low-lying areas of Eugowra and Canowindra, as flooding continues across western and southern NSW, in towns including Collarenebri, Walgett, Bourke, Condobolin, Hay and Albury.

In South Australia, SES have received more than 2,000 calls for help over 24 hours as 30,000 homes and businesses remain without electricity after wild storms at the weekend.

SA Power Networks have told the ABC many will not be reconnected until at least Tuesday.

In Victoria, SES have responded to more than 400 requests for assistance as the state experiences storms and flash flooding.

There’s a “watch and act” warning out for Mount Martha and the Mornington Peninsula communities, which have seen flash flooding after 40mm to 50mm of rain in a couple of hours this morning.

Let’s kick off!



Elias Visontay and Natasha May (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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