What happened on Friday 18 November, 2022

Thanks for following the day’s news with us. With that, we’ll wrap up our live coverage.

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

Have a great evening and weekend.


MH17 guilty verdicts give ‘some justice’ for families of victims

For Matthew Horder, in an Amsterdam court to hear three men finally convicted of responsibility for the shooting down of commercial airline flight MH17, there is, finally, a sense of justice, tempered by the knowledge the men responsible for murdering his parents are not likely to see the inside of a prison cell.

Three men convicted over the fatal shooting down of MH17 on 17 July 2014 – Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Leonid Kharchenko – have been sentenced to life imprisonment. A Dutch court held them responsible for the Buk missile launch that downed the passenger jet, killing all 298 people on board.

Horder, still coming to terms with the death of his mother, Susan, and father, Howard, said the finding of guilt against the three men was a vital accountability for the families of those killed.

“Overall it’s a positive outcome, it’s what we came to hear, the missile downing mum and dad’s plane is true,” Horder said outside court. “There’s some justice – it’s not lost on us the three found guilty are unlikely to serve time behind bars – but we’ve known that since the beginning, they were tried in absentia…Still, something feels different.”

Read more:


PM calls for emergency session of UN security council over North Korea missile tests

Anthony Albanese has called for the an emergency session of the United Nations security council to be convened in response to a North Korean missile launch.

The prime minister was speaking from Bangkok, where he recently met with the leaders of South Korea, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and US vice-president Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the Apec summit to discuss the actions of North Korea in the past 24 hours which saw a missile land off Japan’s coast.

Albanese said the missile launch was “recklessly threatening our security” and “destabilising our region”.

He said:

In particular, it’s causing trauma for the people of Japan and the people of the Republic of Korea.

This provocation violates multiple UN resolutions and must stop. Australia supports the convening of an emergency session of the United Nations security council to deal with this issue. We clearly condemn this action, and we’ll consider what further action is required.

To be clear one of the things that we talked about in the meeting was the nature of these missiles is that they are long range intercontinental ballistic missiles, that is threatening the security of the entire region. And that’s why it needs to be condemned by the global community.

Albanese said there had been an escalation in North Korea’s activity, and that “this is precisely the reason why the UN security council was established so that they could act on very short notice on matters like this.”


NT releases draft water allocation plan for Beetaloo Basin

The Northern Territory government has published a draft water allocation plan for the Beetaloo Basin that would allow industry to extract billions of litres of water per year.

The draft plan, called the Georgina Wiso plan, proposes a sustainable water use limit of 262bn litres per year, which the Environment Centre NT said was the “biggest water allocation ever made in the Northern Territory”.

Ten billion litres would be for the gas industry, 21bn for stock and domestic water use and 24bn for the Aboriginal water reserve for Aboriginal economic benefit.

The plan includes the towns of Daly Waters, Elliott and Newcastle Waters and the communities of Jangirulu, Likkaparta, Marlinja, Murranji and Wutunugurra.

The Cambrian Limestone Aquifer, is the most productive and reliable groundwater resource in the plan area.

Water allocation plans are a way of strategically planning for long-term water use, including water for the environment and communities, and sustainable consumption of water by industry.

The water allocation process determines how much water is available in the water resource to share, known as the estimated sustainable yield.

The Northern Territory environment department said the method it used to determine the sustainable yield was 40% of the annual recharge from rainfall. It said this would ensure water could be “sustainably extracted without adverse impacts on other users and the environment”.

But the Environment Centre NT questioned the process and how the 262bn figure was arrived at.

The centre’s director Kirsty Howey said the Cambrian Limestone Aquifer kept the Roper River flowing and expressed concern the allowable levels of extraction would deplete the territory’s water resources:

The question is whether the government has done its job and allocated water sustainably. We don’t think that’s happened. The method used to calculate the amount of water that can be extracted in this plan is lacking any clear scientific basis.

It is based on recharge figures with a high degree of uncertainty and risks taking out much more water than goes back in to the system.

The proposed plan would be in effect until 2030 and, among other things, will guide water management for new gas projects in the Beetaloo Basin. The plan is open for public consultation until 18 December.


Been too busy to keep up with the news today?

Don’t sweat it. You can get up to speed with the day’s happenings by reading Guardian Australia’s Afternoon Update:

North Korean missile launch a ‘brazen violation’, Kamala Harris says

In Bangkok, the leaders gathered to condemn the North Korean missile launch have just delivered remarks.

The US vice-president Kamala Harris has just described the conduct as a “brazen violation” of multiple UN resolutions. She says the conduct unnecessarily raises tensions and destabilises the region. Harris condemns the action and calls on North Korea to cease the conduct.


Leaders meeting now on North Korea’s latest provocation

Good afternoon from Bangkok. World leaders decamped from the G20 in Bali yesterday and a number have converged on Bangkok for the Apec summit.

Anthony Albanese is about to go into a meeting with the vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the summit. This meeting is multilateral – Harris and Albanese will be joined by the Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern and the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Officials say the group will discuss the DPRK’s long range missile launch on Friday. According to Japanese officials, a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Friday had the potential range to strike the US mainland.


Winding back Covid test sites leaving Australia vulnerable, experts say

When Kelly* attempted to get a PCR test in Melbourne on Friday, she drove around for hours with her two sick toddlers to no avail.

The few walk-in clinics Kelly drove past were “packed to the gills”, while all 4Cyte pathology clinics were shut.

I drove around with two very sick kids and myself with a fever, trying to get tested, and just drove around half of Melbourne trying to find a testing site. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to take personal responsibility for living with Covid when I can’t even get a test. One drive through I went by, the nurse said ‘we are so packed, we’ve been completely inundated’.

Health experts have warned the winding back of testing sites places Australia in a vulnerable position amid new Covid outbreaks.

A Covid testing centre in Bondi last December which is now closed
A Covid testing centre in Bondi, Sydney, last December which is now closed.
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Prof Raina MacIntyre, UNSW professor of global biosecurity, wrote in her book Dark Winter that hospitalisation data would be the only measure of whether the epidemic was “growing or falling” with poor case surveillance.

On 16 November, 4Cyte pathology shut its Covid PCR tests at drive-in locations throughout Victoria due to “changes in government policies”. The independent pathology provider still operates in Queensland and New South Wales. Of 169 Covid testing centres listed on the Victorian government’s website, 77 were listed as closed on Friday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said 52 of Victoria’s 177 testing sites were state-run. They said the testing page was “currently being updated” to reflect changes in operating hours and locations of private testing sites. Rapid antigen tests are listed as the “preferred means” of testing in the state.

In Queensland, state-run Covid tests were wound back entirely in place of rapid antigen tests. A spokesperson for Queensland Health said testing clinics were successful “prior to the widespread availability of RATs”.

Read more:


Albanese denies rift with Macron over Aukus subs

Anthony Albanese has shrugged off a fresh declaration from the French president that the Aukus submarine deal risks a nuclear confrontation with China, while confirming Australia will not support Taiwan’s entry into a key regional trade pact.

Speaking to reporters in Bangkok ahead of his Apec program on Friday, Albanese said Emmanuel Macron was “entitled to put forward the views he does in a very forthright way” and that there was no rift between him and the French president.

Macron had earlier told journalists that Australia persisting with Aukus risked “nuclear confrontation” and that the former prime minister Scott Morrison had also made himself “completely dependent by deciding to equip themselves with a submarine fleet that the Australians are incapable of producing and maintaining in-house”.

Read more of Guardian Australia political editor Katharine Murphy’s despatch from Bangkok:

Macron and Albanese meet on Wednesday at the G20 summit in Bali
Macron and Albanese meet on Wednesday at the G20 summit in Bali. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Tony Abbott says Putin the ‘real guilty person’ over MH17 attack

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has responded to a Dutch court finding three men guilty of the murder of 298 people onboard flight MH17, which was downed by a surface-to-air missile launched from separatist-held Ukraine in 2014, insisting Russian leader Vladimir Putin is the “real guilty person”.

Abbott, speaking to ABC News 24, spoke of the Russian leader he threatened to “shirtfront” in 2014:

In the end, there were individuals who were responsible for directing this particular Russian missile battery, but the real guilty person here is the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, because it was he who authorised the first invasion of Ukraine back in 2014, it was he who authorised the presence of this Russian missile battery that brought down MH17.

These 38 Australians were really victims of Putin’s war of extermination against Ukraine and the best thing we can do in the long term to secure justice for the families of the dead is to keep helping Ukraine to win this war, because it’s only when Russia realises the fundamental folly of what it’s doing here that there’s any chance of having people handed over for the justice they deserve.

Read more here:


Woman jailed for killing abusive husband is eligible for parole

A woman has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for killing her husband after years of violent abuse, but will be immediately eligible for parole.

Jean Louise Herholdt faced Queensland’s supreme court on Friday for sentencing over the manslaughter of Sean Murray, 35.

The 30-year-old had pleaded guilty to the charge this week, admitting to stabbing Murray once in the back at their Murrumba Downs property, north of Brisbane, on 27 August 2020 after he had beaten her.

Read more:


NSW SES warns rivers could rise further amid forecast rains

The State Emergency Service in New South Wales is continuing to assist flood-hit communities in the state’s central west, with the Lachlan River expected to remain above major flood level this weekend.

In a media release on Friday afternoon, the SES warned communities downstream from Forbes – such as Condobolin and Euabalong – of the potential for further river rises on Monday, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting showers, isolated severe thunderstorms and a windy cool change in coming days.

A flood watch has been issued and includes the Belubula River at Canowindra, the SES said.

Sean Kearns, SES NSW assistant commissioner, said that despite predictions rainfall this weekend would be less severe than last weekend, “storms are unpredictable in their timing and location”.

Kearns said:

Given the saturated catchments, intense rain may quickly inundate areas and cause flash flooding. community members and businesses need to plan for what they will do and where they will go if they are asked to evacuate or if they become isolated when roads close.

People should prepare their properties, by securing outdoor furniture and trampolines, trim branches and ensure your roof is in good condition.

Flooding in Forbes as the Lachlan River continued to rise on Thursday
Flooding in Forbes as the Lachlan River continued to rise on Thursday. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The SES warned prolonged flooding is likely to continue for the remainder of the year.

Please check Live Traffic and your local council website before heading out on the roads.

In the 24 hours to 3pm, the SES performed six flood rescues and received 249 requests for assistance. There are currently 109 warnings in place across NSW, including 23 at emergency level, 69 at watch and act and 17 at advice level.


NSW and Victoria Covid cases double in fortnight as fourth wave surges

Covid cases are continuing to surge, doubling in New South Wales and Victoria in just a fortnight.

Hospitalisations and deaths have also risen sharply, prompting NSW health authorities to mandate a limited return to mask-wearing to curb the rise in cases.

NSW Health updated its Covid risk rating to amber on Friday, requiring masks in all areas of public hospitals and health facilities along with limited visitor numbers.

Read more:


I am going to hand the blog over to Elias Visontay for the remainder of the afternoon.

Unlike Twitter, which feels like it is headed towards the iceberg, the Guardian blog will go on.

Parliament resumes on Monday and I’ll take you through the final sitting weeks. Until then, take care of you.

Victorian Liberals accuse state’s electoral commission of interference

The Victorian Liberal party has accused the state’s electoral commission of interfering in next weekend’s election.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, state director Sam McQuestin said he had instructed the party’s lawyers to write to the Victorian electoral commissioner (VEC) outlining the party’s concerns regarding “public comments” about the investigation into a proposed donations scandal involving opposition leader Matthew Guy and his former chief of staff. Guy has denied any wrongdoing.

The party’s lawyers have ordered the VEC not to produce any further public commentary on the matter.

The statement read:

It is the party’s view that these actions constitute a serious, deliberate and unprecedented interference in the Victorian state election.

I am deeply concerned that through its actions the VEC has compromised its own independence and damaged public trust in the electoral process.

On Thursday the Victorian Electoral Commission announced it had referred the donations matter to the state’s anti-corruption watchdog and said it had not received “full cooperation” from those connected to the investigation.

In August the Age revealed that Guy’s former chief of staff, Mitch Catlin, proposed to ask a Liberal party donor to make more than $100,000 in payments to his business. The investigation revealed that the proposed contract had also been sent to Guy last year.


When the prime minister is a DJ, it becomes law that the caucus has to celebrate Australian Music T-Shirt day.

The attorney general is wearing a shirt representing someone very close to his heart – George Dreyfus is his father, and an Australian composer.

In Australia we've got some amazing artists who dedicate their lives to bringing us all one of life's great joys - music!

But for many, if they can't perform then they can't earn their living. @SupportAct is the music industry’s charity, delivering crisis relief services. pic.twitter.com/yuFTktSmKY

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) November 18, 2022


Anthony Albanese and his team are making good use of what might be the last day of Twitter:

I’m here at @APEC2022TH today in Bangkok. Thanks Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, for the welcome. pic.twitter.com/OhR7JSERJq

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 18, 2022

A very good meeting with Chilean President ⁦@gabrielboric⁩ and Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola this morning before the plenary session of ⁦@APEC2022TH⁩ 🇦🇺🇨🇱 pic.twitter.com/Tn0r4Pb9tm

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 18, 2022


High court agrees to hear appeal over priest’s alleged abuse

A survivor of alleged clergy abuse has won the right to appeal to the high court over a decision to throw out her court case because an alleged paedophile priest had died.

The high court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal from a woman, known only as GLJ, who alleges she was abused when she was 14 by Lismore priest Father Clarence Anderson.

Anderson died before she lodged civil action and the NSW court of appeal ruled that his death rendered the Catholic church unable to properly defend the claim or receive a fair trial.

The decision has had widespread ramifications for other cases of clergy abuse where the priest or church member has died.

The Guardian revealed this week that the ruling had, according to five separate law firms, emboldened the church to take an aggressive approach to other cases where paedophile clergy have died, using it to pressure other survivors into accepting low-ball and “paltry” sums of compensation, or face having their case thrown out.

The lengthy delays in such cases – the child abuse royal commission said it took more than 22 years on average for survivors to come forward – means it is common for clergy to have died by the time a claim is brought.

Ken Cush & Associates, who represented GLJ, took the case to the high court on Friday, seeking special leave to appeal.

They said it was possible for the church to receive a fair trial, despite Anderson’s death, and asked the court to consider whether his unavailability was “sufficient to warrant a permanent stay”.

They were successful in obtaining leave and the appeal will be heard at a later date.


NSW Covid risk upgraded to amber

NSW Health has upgraded its Covid-19 risk rating to “amber”, meaning masks must be worn in all hospital areas and visitor numbers monitored to protect staff and patients.

From the statement:

NSW Health deputy secretary Deb Willcox said the requirements in all public hospitals and health facilities are due to increasing Covid case numbers in the community.

She said:

Implementing these changes now means that our staff and the community can look forward to the festive season with greater confidence.

Family and loved ones can still spend time with patients. However, we do ask people to please limit the number of visitors coming to see patients at any one time.

Visitors as well as staff will now also need to wear a mask in all areas of a hospital or health service, not just in the patient areas, as was previously the requirement.

Pedestrians in Sydney earlier in the year
Pedestrians in Sydney earlier in the year. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

There were 22,672 people across NSW diagnosed with Covid in the week ending 12 November, an increase of nearly 52.8% on the previous week.

A significant factor in upgrading alert levels was the number of health staff unable to work due to positive Covid status, and/or while awaiting a negative test result.

Willcox said:

As of 16 November, there were 1,089 health care workers in isolation, up from 645 the previous week.

This is an important indicator for our health system that we need to find the right balance with simple measures that can help us avoid more significant changes.

I also want to acknowledge the NSW Health staff who continue make the very best decisions for our patients and community each day as we continue to navigate Covid.

People are reminded that if you test positive or have any cold or flu symptoms, please stay home. If you do have to leave your house, wear a mask and avoid going to any high-risk settings, including hospitals and aged and disability care facilities.


Sydney rail travel to be free for five days amid industrial dispute

Travel on Sydney trains will be free for five days, as the dispute between the NSW government and the rail employees union continues, AAP reports/

About an hour after union representatives confirmed planned strikes for next week would likely go ahead, premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday announced travel would be free from Monday to Friday on Sydney Trains services.

RTBU secretary Alex Classens said one of the only ways to prevent slashing rail services to 30% on Monday and Friday was for the government to make fares free for commuters on those days.

Perrottet said:

We’ve been going on for way too long.

Providing free travel for the week will ensure that industrial action does not occur.

Perrottet described discussions between the sides as constructive and said he hoped the dispute would be resolved by the end of next week.

The union had previously revealed plans to open Opal gates for all customers but said it was forced to abandon the plan due to actions launched by the government in the federal court at taxpayers’ expense.

Train commuters at Sydney’s Central station
Train commuters at Sydney’s Central station. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


Lucas Restaurants withdraws from delivery apps

Chris Lucas of Lucas Restaurants has made the decision to withdraw his restaurants from all delivery platform apps. That is the wake of Deliveroo pulling out of Australia very suddenly this week.

Lucas says he wants to get back to old-school delivery options:

Today, we have ceased all relationships with third-party delivery apps and are bringing ordering for our much-loved takeaway offerings at Baby Pizza and Hawker Hall in house.

This means we can give our crew more shifts and more hours, and we can better control the experience our guests have with our restaurant.

For those wanting to get their Baby or Hawker Hall fix, we ask them to give us a call or jump on our website.

Food ordered direct and picked up fresh. Just like it used to be.

A food delivery rider in Melbourne last year
A food delivery rider in Melbourne last year. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images


Queensland police didn’t touch Indigenous man who died in custody, internal inquiry finds

(Via AAP)

Queensland police did not have “physical contact” with an Indigenous man who died in their custody last week, according to an internal police probe.

The 51-year-old was found unresponsive in a police watch-house cell after being arrested over domestic violence allegations in the remote Cape York Indigenous community of Kowanyama on 9 November.

Police say the officers tried to give the man first aid before he was taken to the Kowanyama Medical Clinic, where he was declared dead.

The police ethical standards command says video footage shows the three officers involved, who have been transferred to other duties outside Kowanyama, did not touch the man.

Police said in a statement on Friday:

The members involved did not have physical contact with the man at the time of the incident.

The man’s family members have viewed CCTV of the incident as part of the QPS’ commitment to an open and transparent investigation of this matter.

The matter remains before the state coroner, and the Crime and Corruption Commission will provide independent oversight of the investigation.


AFL says Tasmania licence deal a ‘great step forward’

I know there are a lot of people who are hungry for any and all Tasmanian AFL team news, so here you go:

Tasmania’s government and the AFL have reached an in-principle agreement on commercial terms of the state’s bid for a 19th licence, but the timeline around a final decision remains unclear.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff announced the agreement on Friday in Hobart, describing it as a “great step forward”.

The Tasmanian government’s funding commitment includes $12m a year over 12 years, plus $60m towards a high-performance and administration complex.

McLachlan indicated an announcement on Tasmania’s bid was “close” but wouldn’t specify a time frame or commit to sealing the deal before his tenure as chief executive finishes at the end of the year.

He said:

The decision requires the support of our AFL clubs and we are having productive discussions there

In recent days we’ve come a long way with our clubs.

They’ve had detailed information around every aspect of the bid. We’ve got generally very positive feedback.

It appears the final piece of the puzzle is locking in funding for the construction of a new stadium on Hobart’s waterfront, which could carry a price tag of $750m.

Ella Mauer of the North Melbourne Kangaroos with fans after an AFLW match against the Geelong Cats at University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston in September
Ella Mauer of the North Melbourne Kangaroos with fans after a match against the Geelong Cats at University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston in September. Photograph: Simon Sturzaker/AFL photos/Getty Images

The state Liberal government has promised to fund half of the stadium, with the remainder of the cash to be sought from the federal government, private sector involvement and equity raising.

Rockliff said the state government had finalised a stadium business case and would soon take it to the federal government.

The stadium proposal does not have universal backing in Tasmania, with the state Labor opposition and the Greens among those opposed.

McLachlan said:

Every change that we make in the AFL has people who have different views and I would ask them to look at the bigger picture. It’s our obligation to lead.

(Via AAP)


Menulog to accept Deliveroo vouchers

Menulog is jumping in to honour Deliveroo vouchers.

Morten Belling, Menulog’s managing director, said:

We expect there will be a lot of customers with unused Deliveroo vouchers and gift cards, so we would like to give them the opportunity to redeem those vouchers on their next Menulog order.

For further information on how to redeem Deliveroo vouchers with Menulog, customers should visit www.menulog.com.au/campaign/deliveroo-vouchers.

And if you were a delivery rider/driver for Deliveroo, Menulog also wants to hear from you: deliveroocouriers@menulog.com.



Tony Burke lashes Svitzer over lockout threat

Now it is done and dusted, workplace relations minister Tony Burke has responded to the Fair Work Commission’s decision on Svitzer – and used it as an opportunity to push the government’s IR bill:

The government welcomes this outcome.

If Svitzer had been allowed to proceed with its threat, it would have done significant damage to the Australian economy.

The company should be ashamed of itself for its willingness to hold the economy to ransom.

Australians can now have certainly that the goods they rely on will be in stores and on shelves through Christmas and into next year.

However, this is only a temporary solution. We urge both sides to return to the bargaining table, negotiate in good faith and get this done.

Once the government’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill passes the parliament, the Fair Work Commission will have a new pathway to fully resolve intractable disputes before it ever comes to this.

That’s another reason it’s urgent we get this bill passed quickly.

Tony Burke
Tony Burke urged ‘both sides to return to the bargaining table’. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Sky News and the Herald Sun will host the Victorian election “People’s forum” on Tuesday, where the audience of undecided voters ask the questions.

Both Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy will appear. The forum is being held four days before the election.


Sean Turnell’s return to Australia ‘an enormous relief’, Wong says

Penny Wong has issued an official statement on Prof Sean Turnell’s return to Australia, now that he has safely entered the country and been able to return home for the first time in more than two years.

I am pleased to confirm that Professor Sean Turnell has arrived safely home to Australia, and has been reunited with his wife and family, after more than 21 months of unjust detention in Myanmar.

His return will be an enormous relief to his family, friends and many supporters in Australia and across the region.

The Australian government has worked tirelessly for Professor Turnell’s release, and we will continue to provide whatever consular support he and his family require.

Australia thanks all those who have advocated for his release, including regional partners, and especially members of Asean.

We are grateful for the efforts of Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam, the Asean chairs over the term of his detention, and the special envoy of the Asean chair on Myanmar.

We appreciate the arrangements that were made by Myanmar authorities for Professor Turnell’s release and welcome the news of the release of other prisoners alongside Professor Turnell, including foreign nationals from the UK, US and Japan.

The Australian government remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, and we will continue to advocate for the release of the remaining political prisoners.

As Professor Turnell returns to his life in Australia and reunites with this family, we ask that the media respect his family’s wishes for privacy.

Sean Turnell with his wife, Ha Vu, on Friday
Sean Turnell with his wife, Ha Vu, on Friday. Photograph: Facebook/Ha Vu


Calls to end native forest logging as NSW Forestry Corporation records $9m hardwood loss

NSW Forestry Corporation recorded a $9m loss for its hardwood division in the 2021-22 financial year, prompting nature campaigners to call for the state government to end native forest logging and shift completely to a plantation-based timber industry.

The annual report for the state-owned forestry company, published late on Thursday, shows the hardwood division – which covers logging operations in NSW native forests – recorded a $9m loss, or a $5m loss if costs associated with fire recovery were excluded.

The corporation said the loss was “significantly” less than the previous year ($20m) and it was now on course to achieve a cost-neutral position.

The softwood division, which covers plantation-based operations, earned the corporation $47m.

Logs for export in a NSW timber yard
Logs for export in a NSW timber yard. Photograph: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Jacqui Mumford, the chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, said the report showed that native forest logging was costing taxpayers millions and called on the government to turn all of its focus to the plantation business:

This report is further proof that nothing about NSW’s native forest industry stacks up. In the past two years, taxpayers have paid Forestry Corporation $29 million to destroy forests that they want protected.

We’re calling on the NSW government to end native forest logging, and shift completely to a plantation-based timber industry.

The NSW Greens environment spokesperson, Sue Higginson, said the people of NSW were footing the bill for the destruction of public native forests for “low-value products such as wood chips for export, fence palings and pallets”:

These native forests are home to endangered koalas and greater gliders and must be preserved if we hope to save these species from extinction.

The softwood division, by contrast, earned $47 million from plantations that can be managed sustainably and go to building homes and other high-value uses.


There are still some meetings to go – Anthony Albanese will return to Australia on Sunday, just in time for parliament.

For the political watchers, you will start to see the focus shift back to domestic issues very, very soon.


Albanese on energy prices

Murph will update you on what you need to know about Macron and other bilateral meetings, but here is the last question on what the government is doing to put downward pressure on energy prices.

Anthony Albanese:

What is clear from the meetings here is the extent of the global challenge. This isn’t about just any one nation taking action.

This pressure has arisen because of global prices.

I got asked, I think yesterday, about the discussion I had with chancellor Scholtz of Germany. Their prices of gas went to over $200 US, an extraordinary increase they were dealing with, in western Europe. The price has been enormous.

One of the things that strikes me in the discussions, whether it was chancellor Scholtz, or president Macron, or Pedro Sanchez of Spain, that western Europe – in dealing with these challenges – understand they need to be more self-reliant; that they need to produce more energy themselves. And part of what we’re about, with our powering Australia plan, is just that.

We are being hit by two events, one which is out of our control – the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had an international impact – but we’re also hit by the fact that four gigawatts of energy [is] left our system and only one gigawatt came in over the previous decade.

If you had that reduction in supply, that then creates a problem for price. And that is why we’re determined, as are the other nations – indeed, including Germany – the discussion that I had specifically with them, to deal with the challenge, and it is confirmed with me that in terms of dealing with the medium term issues, that Australia is certainly on the right track in our actions. They’re consistent with the actions that are being taken in Europe, or for that matter in Canada, or by the United States, under their inflation reduction act, which is a game-changer in terms of dealing with international climate change.


North Korea must ‘stop their aggression’ – Albanese

Q: On the MH17, did the government have any contact with Russian diplomats as a result of that, or following that verdict, back from Australia? And just on the discussion around [the] review of just how many Russian diplomats are in Australia, is there a situation – what’s the verdict, diplomats expelled?

Anthony Albanese:

I won’t comment on the national security issues without getting proper advice. We go through that advice from the security agencies.

Q: North Korea has fired an international continental ballistic missile on Friday morning. What’s your response to this? It’s the second launch in two days.


Well, North Korea is a rogue state. And they need to stop their aggression. I spoke about this at the East Asia Summit. And the comments of Australia were welcomed, not the least of which by the Republic of Korea, president Yoon, who I had warm discussions with, and my friend, president Kishida. We have developed a very close relationship and that’s important for Australia’s national interests.

A news report on North Korea’s missile test shown at a railway station in Seoul on Thursday
A news report on North Korea’s missile test shown at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images


Australia’s stance on Taiwan entry to trade pact hasn’t changed – Albanese

Q: Prime minister, now you have met with Xi, is Australia less likely to support Taiwan entry into the CPTPP [comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership], and has Taiwan’s representative asked for a meeting with you?

Anthony Albanese:

Our position hasn’t been altered on the first matter and on the second, no.

Q: But how do you see Taiwan’s entry? Would you like to see Taiwan join the CPTPP?


We have current entry, we have the United Kingdom as an entrant, and of course the CPTPP is a relationship between nation states that are recognised. Taiwan is represented here because it is represented here as an economy, as an economy. And there is bipartisan support for the one-China policy. We support the status quo on Taiwan, and on the Taiwan Strait. We don’t want to see any unilateral action which alters that status quo.


PM’s ‘heart goes out’ to NSW flood victims

On the floods, Anthony Albanese said he’d had “engagement” with Dominic Perrottet today (which usually means messages were exchanged).

I’ve had engagement with the New South Wales premier today. He thanked me for the support that has been given, additional announcements that are either being made already or will be made very soon, about additional support.

My heart goes out to the victims of these floods. Premier Perrottet sent me a photo – some of you may have been with us in Forbes, we visited a farm, a family farm, they were lovely welcoming people. Dominic sent me a photo of that farm this morning. It is under water, all around it. It was an aerial photograph, I assume, taken by a drone. It’s devastating. And my heart goes out that family but also to others as well.


Australia punching ‘above our weight in international forums’ – PM

What are his main takeaways from these summits?

Anthony Albanese:

Australia’s back. We’re back around the table. Australia is engaged, we’re having positive and constructive discussions with our historic allies, but with everyone in the region as well.

Australia, if you look at where we’ve been seated in events, today I will be giving the first intervention at the plenary session. If you look at the status that Australia has, we punch above our weight in international forums when we’re mature, when we’re sensible, when we’re engaged, when we engage in diplomacy. And that is a product not of me just arriving here, it’s a product of a lot of work by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it’s a product of the quite extraordinary foreign minister that Australia is privileged to have in Penny Wong, and it is paying dividends.

The entry fee for credibility in international forums is action on climate change. And it all changed when we altered our national determined contribution for the UN framework convention on climate change, supported by our business community, supported by our farmers. And when we legislated that – the 43% by 2030, as well as legislating net zero by 2050 – when we have engaged as well in the methane pledge that Australia has committed to, that was so important for the United States, that was a priority of president Biden.

We’re engaged and we want a peaceful, secure, cooperative region. It is so important. Australia can punch above our weight. But in order to do so, we’ve actually got to have credibility. And my government, I’m pleased to say, is engaging – it’s been well received and we’ve had warm discussions, both formal and informal as well, over the last week.

Anthony Albanese (seated centre) at an Apec gala dinner in Bangkok on Thursday night
Anthony Albanese (seated centre) at an Apec gala dinner in Bangkok on Thursday night. Photograph: Royal Thai government handout/EPA


Have we had discussions with France about interim submarine capacity?

Anthony Albanese:

I think President Macron answered that question when he noted Australia has not decided to change their strategy on the subject. He noted it himself in the discussion, Richard Marles is the defence minister, he has noted it, we are proceeding with the AUKUS arrangements, there’s nothing ambiguous about it. That’s our position. And we have a good co-operative relationship with France. And we’ll continue to engage on ways in which France can assist Australia in the road map that we agreed on, when we met in Paris. Which is about defence and security, it’s about energy and the environment. Including dealing with climate change. And it’s about cultural advances as well.

Albanese says Australia has ‘very co-operative relationship’ with France

Anthony Albanese said he had a very friendly chat with Macron last night – “as we always do”:

He’s entitled to make whatever comments he wants as the leader of France. Australia is acting – we have a very co-operative relationship. We’ve had discussions about how we can cooperate in defence. I note, for example, that the Bushmasters that we are providing to Ukraine – 90 of them now – [are] made by Thales. Thales is in part French-government owned, produced the Bendigo. We’ve got a very good relationship and it will continue.


PM on Macron’s Aukus comments

Anthony Albanese is speaking in Bangkok, where he has been asked about the French president’s comments that the Aukus deal was creating a “nuclear confrontation” with China:

President Macron is entitled to put forward his views, as he does in a very forthright way. I also note as part of the interview as well he said this - he said that Australia has not - he noted that Australia has not decided to change their strategy on the subject.


Recap on tugboat operator ordered to suspend worker lockout

And in case you missed it yesterday:

Australia’s industrial umpire has ordered a major tugboat operator to suspend its planned lockout of workers from ports across the country for six months.

A full bench of the Fair Work Commission on Thursday ruled a lockout by Svitzer would cause significant damage to the Australian economy and “endanger the welfare of the Australian population or part of it”.

The commission on Friday published an order suspending Svitzer’s action for six months from 11am AEDT.

The order will also mean no party can take protected industrial action for the period of suspension.

Full reasons will be published at a later date.

Svitzer had planned to lock out more than 580 workers indefinitely from Friday across 17 ports in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

In a statement, the Danish-owned company advised its customers of the ruling and that the lockout would not go ahead.

The lockout will not proceed and customers can return to planned shipping movements and recommence port operations.


More detail on NSW flood recovery grants

And some more information on the joint NSW government and federal government grants:

Recovery grants to help with the immediate clean-up and recovery costs and to repair extensive damage have been increased from $25,000 to up to $75,000 for primary producers. Rural landholders can now also apply for grants of up to $10,000.

The grants are available in all the local government areas (LGAs) that have been disaster declared since 14 September. A full list of eligible LGAs is available on the NSW Rural Assistance Authority’s (RAA) Declared Natural Disasters webpage.

Primary producers are encouraged not to self-assess and should consult with their local Rural Financial Counselling Service or apply for the scheme so that the RAA can determine eligibility.

For more information, or to lodge an application, visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au or call the RAA on 1800 678 593. If you are a farmer or a member of the community requiring an emergency response regarding livestock or animals, call 1800 814 647.


NSW treasurer says teal MPs acting ‘like a party’

The New South Wales treasurer, Matt Kean, has accused teal independents of operating “like a party” following similar claims made by the Victorian Liberals.

A formal complaint was last month lodged by the Liberals with the Victorian Electoral Commission over the teal campaigns’ fundraising and operations, accusing them of effectively operating as a party.

Climate 200 on Thursday rubbished the allegations, describing them as “baseless” and “vexatious”.

Asked about the issue on Friday, Kean said:

The teals are talking about integrity and transparency and yet we’re hearing today that they won’t be transparent about where they’re getting their donations. They say one thing and they do exactly the opposite.

They are effectively operating as a political party.

Previous reporting:


So additional or increased grants are being offered by the NSW and federal governments:

Up to $75,000 for larger land holders and up to $10,000 for smaller land holders, which can help with the initial clean-up.


Tough times ahead – premier

Dominic Perrottet:

It’s a tough road ahead. But the resilience of the Australian people will always shine through. The New South Wales government will stand side by side with all members who have been affected, all those communities, and that’s exactly what we should do.

And I just want to end by saying how proud I am to be premier once again, to come out and see so many people who put their lives on the line to save others. That’s the wonderful thing about our country and it’s something we should truly cherish.


The NSW premier says the rebuild is already under way and he will also be concentrating on helping primary producers, who have lost crops and stock, get back on their feet.


‘It’s been a bloody tough 12 months’ – premier

Dominic Perrottet:

When these events occur, it can be very difficult and it can take time for emergency services crews, our great uniformed volunteers, to get here, to do that, to be on the ground.

And in the meantime, between that period of time, it’s the role of the community that comes together and looks out for each other.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen here once again. I’ve seen these stories all around the state – it’s been a bloody tough 12 months. But in every place, right across our state, every single community, what I see on the ground every single time is our great people coming together to look after each other.

And that’s exactly what we’re seeing here in the central west. I want to thank our emergency services teams for the work they did – those who carried out all of those rescues, a phenomenal effort in such a short space of time when this flood came through. The response needed to be strong, and it was.

And I appreciate our uniformed teams for what they’ve done, but ultimately I just want to thank all the members of the community for going past themselves and looking after others. It’s one of the beautiful things about our country and our people.


Eugowra flooding a ‘freak event’, Perrottet says

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is speaking in Eugowra, where a “tsunami” of water hit.

He said:

The devastation that we’ve seen, it’s been a tsunami – a freak event, once again, that we have seen. I, like everyone behind me, have spoken to and today and heard stories of people who went out of their way to save lives, and that wonderful human spirit and instinct that just kicks in to look after each other. That’s what we’ve seen here. To hear so many stories of people who just so humbly talked about what happened, what they did, no care or concern for their own life, just care and concern for others.


Steve Smith says his innings ‘probably the best I’ve felt in about six years’

It is that time of year which means we are getting up dates on how Australia’s cricketers are faring.

AAP has an update on Steve Smith’s form:

A buoyant Steve Smith has proudly announced his superb one-day innings for Australia was the best he has felt batting in six years.

The bold claim from one of the country’s greatest batters will strike fear into West Indies and South Africa ahead of the Australian Test summer.

Smith belted an unbeaten 80 from 78 balls at Adelaide Oval on Thursday to help Australia secure a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against world champions England.

Smith told reporters:

[It] was probably the best I’ve felt in about six years.

I was just in really nice positions and I felt really good. I honestly haven’t felt that way in six years or so.

It’s been nice to score some runs in that time and we’re always looking for perfection, and for me [on Thursday] was as close to perfection as I will get.

The 33-year-old credits a year-long process to help rediscover his best stance and technique.

Steve Smith plays a shot against England on Thursday
Steve Smith plays a shot against England on Thursday. Photograph: Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images

Smith was left out of all but one game during the recent Twenty20 World Cup campaign and his white-ball future for Australia has come under question.

For his lofty standards, the skilful right-hander has also experienced a lean period in the Test arena, with just two centuries since the 2019 Ashes.

Smith said:

I’ve been working on a few things, it’s almost been a six-month or 12-month process.

The start of last summer, I tried to get my hands back to where they were in 2015.

I feel like I’m staying a bit more side-on now and I’ve got my feet and hands in sync together.

[Thursday] was probably the first time I’ve actually had extended time in the middle with that change.

It’s hard to base something on one innings but it felt as though things clicked for me like they did at the WACA [in a Test against England] in 2013.

Hopefully it’s the start of a big summer.

Smith is averaging 60 from 87 Tests with 28 centuries ahead of a jam-packed 12 months for Australian cricket.


Wong thanks Julie Bishop and federal police for work over MH17 attack

A little earlier this morning, Penny Wong paid tribute to one of her predecessors, Julie Bishop, for her work on pursuing justice for the families of victims on flight MH17. She said:

I want to commend the work of all those involved in this very long process in bringing these people to justice. I commend the work and professionalism of the joint investigation team officials, including the Australian [federal] police, that have conducted rigorous investigations to support bringing those responsible to justice. And I thank them.

I thank the government of the Netherlands and my counterpart, Wopke Hoekstra, with whom I’ve engaged since I’ve become foreign minister, and thank the government of the Netherlands for their work in bringing this case.

Can I also thank Julie Bishop, who was our foreign minister at the time. I acknowledge Julie’s work, her personal commitment to these issues and her tireless and effective advocacy on behalf of all Australians.

In relation to this, what I would say is that the world today knows that Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Leonid Kharchenko downed an aircraft and murdered 298 people on board and are now sentenced for life. And no amount of avoidance, obfuscation, disinformation by the Russian Federation can avoid that fact.


Mark Butler on mask mandates

The health minister, Mark Butler, spoke to Melbourne radio 3AW, where he was asked about the possibility of mask mandates returning, given the increase in Covid cases.

Butler said:

There may be changed advice in terms of encouraging people to think about wearing a mask in particular situations. I think also, in sectors like aged care, obviously there’s much more focus now on mask wearing than maybe there was a couple of weeks ago or a few weeks ago.

But in terms of a broad-based society-wide mask mandate of the type that we had seen earlier in the year, my advice is that there’s no evidence that that is going to be called for over the course of this wave. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be different levels of advice coming from health experts, from political leaders, if the case numbers continue to climb – to say, look, if you’re in the shops, if you’re in this situation or that situation, put a mask on.

Q: Would you ever go back to a mandate if necessary? As distinct from recommendation, would you go back to mandating?


The critical words there are, if necessary. I mean, of course, if the advice was a very bad new variant came through, and we were facing a situation where there was going to be widespread severe disease, the possibility of widespread deaths, then of course, every government would have a responsibility to look at whatever tools they could deploy.

We’re not in that situation now. The advice that we’re all getting, including overseas, is that these variants are much more of a type that we’ve been dealing with over the course of this year and a more targeted approach, certainly in vulnerable settings, like health care settings, aged care setting, disabilities and the like; you do need to have some pretty clear rules in place.

But … going more broadly than that, I think what you’re seeing is a different level of sort of advice from health experts and political leaders, as we see an increase in cases to wear a mask if you’re in a crowded indoor space where you’re not going to be able to socially distance. That will keep the case numbers down and see this thing peak earlier than it otherwise would.

Train passengers wearing face masks in Melbourne early this year.
Train passengers wearing face masks in Melbourne early this year. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


BHP is one step closer to acquiring OZ Minerals

Mining giant BHP has moved closer to snaring OZ Minerals after lifting its takeover offer for the copper and nickel miner to $9.6bn, AAP reports.

The world’s biggest miner on Friday said it had lifted its cash offer to $28.25 a share, a 7.4% premium to OZ Minerals’ last close.

The revised offer price is a 13% increase on the $25 a share proposal the suitor’s board rejected in August, calling it “opportunistic”.

OZ Minerals on Friday said it would grant BHP due diligence for four weeks from 21 November on an exclusive basis.

“The intention of the OZ Minerals board is to unanimously recommend the revised proposal as being in the best interests of OZ Minerals’ shareholders in the absence of a superior proposal,” the miner said.

The deal comes at a time of rapidly growing demand for battery metals including copper and nickel amid the surging global popularity of electric vehicles.

The transaction, if successful, will allow BHP to consolidate its copper holdings in South Australia, where OZ’s Prominent Hill and Carrapateena mines operate adjacent to BHP’s Olympic Dam mine and smelting operations.

It would also allow the combination of BHP’s Nickel West operations in Western Australia with OZ’s West Musgrave copper-nickel operation.

By 11.10 AEDT, BHP shares were trading 0.3% higher at $43.93 in a firm Australian market.

OZ Minerals shares were up 4.3% to $27.42 after coming out of a trading half after the announcement of the new offer.


Another on-demand quick grocery delivery services, Voly, is the latest to close its Australian business citing tough economic conditions.

Co-founder of Voly, Thiabult Henry, posted on LinkedIn on Friday he was “deeply saddened to announce that VOLY has stopped operating in Australia.”

He said:

The sudden changes in macro environment, unstable geopolitics and high inflation have made it extremely difficult to attract new capital despite the support of our current investors. Without enough runway to reach profitability we had to make the difficult decision to stop operating.

If you haven’t heard of Voly before, it is because it only operated out of Sydney. But Henry said around 80,000 Sydneysiders used the service.

SmartCompany reported earlier in the week that the company had stopped taking orders as of last Friday, and had quietly deleted its social media accounts.

Voly followed Send in shutting down in the past few months. Deliveroo also this week went into voluntary administration in Australia, citing tough economic conditions.

Other gig economy platforms such as DoorDash and Sidekicker are offering work to Deliveroo drivers on their platforms.

New South Wales bus company ComfortDelGro is also offering a $2,000 sign-on bonus to Deliveroo drivers left without work up until the end of this year for drivers seeking to move into the bus driving industry.

Here is some more of what Eugowra resident Peter Jones had to say to Dominic Perrottet:

Angry residents in Eugowra have confronted Premier Dominic Perrottet over the government's response to the flood disaster in NSW's Central West. @WesternWilson9 #9News

MORE: https://t.co/n2wmHwz7g0 pic.twitter.com/PFgtryNNCJ

— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) November 18, 2022


NSW premier visits flood-affected Eugowra

Dominic Perrottet has visited Eugowra and residents have taken the opportunity to let the NSW premier know some of the thoughts they have had since the flood emergency hit:

NSW premier receives a fiery reception in Eugowra - confronted by resident Peter Jones, who says the town had little warning, and little response when a wall of water hit on Monday. @7NewsSydney pic.twitter.com/874paNVOT0

— AnniePullar7 (@anniepullar) November 18, 2022


Daniel Andrews says state Liberals are inviting partnership with rightwing 'extremists'

The ABC reported on Wednesday that the Victorian Liberal party had preferenced Labor in an upper house seat behind a Freedom party candidate who publicly called for the premier to be hanged.

The rightwing party is one of a record 23 parties contesting the Victorian election.

Speaking generally, Daniel Andrews on Friday warned against “inviting a political partnership between the alternative government and extremists”, saying it was “not good for anyone”:

Nazis – that’s who’s getting preferences from the Liberal party – and racists and conspiracy theorists is the most polite way to describe some of the people the Liberals are preferncing.

I intend to make sure that everyone across Victoria knows about it, particularly our proud multicultural communities who are so often … the victim of appalling behavior.

Andrews was at the Royal Melbourne hospital, announcing that a re-elected Labor government would invest $16m to add 40 specialised paramedics to the state’s workforce.


NSW to invest $40m in menopause medical hubs

The New South Wales government has announced four specialist menopause hubs for people experiencing severe symptoms of menopause, with another 12 to come.

The treasurer, Matt Kean, said the $40m investment over four years will include two enhanced services now open at The Royal hospital for women and Royal North Shore hospital, a new hub established at Campbelltown and a rural network hub led by Hunter New England in 2023.


These networked hubs and services will be staffed by doctors, allied health professionals and nurses who will support women across NSW by providing the most up-to-date, specialised care.

For women who are experiencing severe symptoms or are going through menopause early, such as after cancer treatment, these services will provide much-needed support, advice and care during a very challenging time.

One in five people who go through menopause experience extreme symptoms, the minister for women, Bronnie Taylor, said.

To start the conversation we have launched an awareness campaign and a Menopause Toolkit, which provide clear information about perimenopause and menopause, as well as information about accessing services in NSW.

The state health minister, Brad Hazzard, said the specialised centres would also help manage longer term health risks, such as such as osteoporosis, heart disease and high blood pressure, which are often associated with menopause.

All 16 networked menopause services are expected to be operational by late 2023.

For access, speak to your GP.


The energy minister, Chris Bowen, is in Egypt negotiating for a financial package for developing countries dealing with climate change to be agreed upon as part of Cop27, but he spoke to the ABC’s Sabra Lane this morning.

Bowen was asked, given all the warnings, whether Australia should stop opening fossil fuel mines.

Lane: “Is there a moral imperative for Australia to stop opening new coal and gas fields, and are you planning to use the safeguard mechanism to limit and police carbon emissions from new projects?”


Well, I certainly – the government will certainly be using the safeguard mechanism to improve the regulation of emissions across the board. And obviously I’ve got more to say about that when I return back to Australia, the safeguards reforms are important to reduce emissions from our 215 biggest emitters. And I’ll be putting a lot more detail about that in the not-too-distant future out for public discussion.

Lane: “Yeah, is there a moral imperative for Australia to stopping opening new coal and gas fields?”


There’s a moral imperative for Australia to act on climate change. I don’t think there’s – I don’t think there’s any news in me saying that. And we’ll be engaging very strongly and continue to engage in all those reforms, Sabra.


Sean Turnell arrives in Australia after two years in Myanmar prison

The plane carrying Sean Turnell from Thailand to Melbourne has landed in Australia.

The economics professor and adviser to Aung Sun Suu Kyi was released after two years in prison in Myanmar, after the military junta seized the country.

Turnell and his family have asked for privacy.

Wonderful news - Professor Sean Turnell is free and on his way home to his family. I’ve just had the chance to speak with him.

I thank everyone who worked tirelessly for his release, including @DFAT staff like our Head of Mission in Myanmar, Angela Corcoran, pictured here. pic.twitter.com/TeWUgZYpiV

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) November 17, 2022


Birmingham says test of Australia-China relations will be in removal of trade sanctions

And on Anthony Albanese’s meeting with Xi Jingping, Simon Birmingham says:

We very much welcome the meeting and it’s good thing that it has occurred. Dialogue is always far preferable to a standoff, and it was always entirely counterproductive of China to close off the avenues of ministerial dialogue with Australia. It’s important that the new government has maintained the policy settings and strategic settings of the Coalition government in relation to foreign investment, security of critical infrastructure, protection of our democracy in terms of foreign interference laws and the like. These were all difficult decisions, along with many other difficult decisions taken by the Coalition that saw China’s reaction.

Australia has, however, shown a consistency and an intent to make sure that we do safeguard our interests. That’s ultimately seeing China come back to the table in terms of being willing to have discussions. That’s welcome. Of course, the ultimate test of these discussions between prime minister Albanese and the new Australian government and the Chinese government will be outcomes and whether we see a removal of the attempted economic coercion in terms of the trade sanctions against Australia, whether we see fairer treatment in relation to Australians detained in China, particularly of course Dr Young and Cheng Lei, and of course also whether we can see China improve in terms of the way it engages in our region, in the world and the influence they are seeking to use in ways that are sometimes of concern.


Simon Birmingham praises current and former foreign ministers for efforts to secure Sean Turnell’s release

After the longstanding bipartisanship on diplomacy and foreign affairs became a little shaky in the last months of the Morrison government (when the former prime minister began questioning Labor’s commitment to national security for political reasons) things are back on track.

The shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmingham, has walked a line of pointing out where policy could be improved, or highlighting issues he believes the government should be focusing on, without undermining the overall mission.

The parties of government are once again on the same page when it comes to national security and the message they are sending the world.

That means there is even some praise.

Asked about whether or not the release of Australian academic Sean Turnell was just part of a wider political prisoner release by the junta on Sky News, Birmigham says he thinks that is “unfair”:

The consistency of effort that Australia has applied over the 650 days of Sean Turnnel’s unfair and unjustified incarceration has been one that I think has helped in terms of ensuring that he is part of this release on Myanmar’s national day.

Yes, he’s one of a number of others and of course we shouldn’t forget that there are thousands of others still unfairly detained in Myanmar and that there is enormous abuse of human rights and oppression of individuals across Myanmar as well as the suppression of democracy in Myanmar occurring.

And so we need to maintain a very strong and consistent stance in relation to those matters.

But in terms of Prof Turnell, firstly, we welcome his release. We very much welcome his return home.

We know that means a lot to his family and loved ones. I think we should acknowledge that Australia’s diplomatic core, foreign ministers, both Penny Wong and before her, Marise Payne, have applied a consistency of effort. And have enjoyed strong support from other Asean nations and many others to continually make sure his case was high on the agenda in terms of any dialogue with the ruling junta in Myanmar and that that has now seen his release as part of this group of releases they’ve undertaken and that’s very welcome.


And has just been pointed out to me, the UK parliament haven’t passed the free trade agreement yet either.

The UK government has been busy with other things. Like finding a leader.


Nationals disappointed UK free trade deal not starting until 2023

The Nationals’ Kevin Hogan is very annoyed the Australia-UK free trade deal won’t be starting this year.

This year, which has 44 days left in it.

The shadow minister for trade and tourism said:

The prime minister’s announcement that the critical trade deal with the UK won’t start this year is a blow to Australian exporters.

Where has the trade minister been? Where has the prime minister been? Securing a 2022 start was worth burning plenty of frequent flyer miles to shepherd the UK side through.

(I think we know where the prime minister has been.)

The joint committee looking at the UK-AU free trade deal only just reported back yesterday. You can read that here.

Given the parliamentary schedule for the last two weeks though, anything other than what is already on the agenda is likely to get a look in, until next year.


Qantas will go to the high court over outsourcing workers

The high court will re-examine whether Qantas unlawfully outsourced almost 1,700 ground handlers, as the airline’s last-ditch attempt to avoid a potentially hefty compensation bill progresses.

On Friday, high court justices Jacqueline Gleeson, Stephen Gageler and Jayne Jagot granted Qantas’s application for special leave to appeal against the decision upheld by the federal court in relation to the 2020 outsourcing decision.

The federal court had earlier ruled Qantas’s outsourcing of the workers was in part driven by a desire to avoid industrial action.

You can read more about the case here:


‘Change of government’ needed to reset China relations – Bishop

On Anthony Albanese’s meeting with China president Xi Jingping, Julie Bishop says:

I think it was always going to be a matter of a change of government. I think China was waiting for there to be different personalities, different faces and it would not have mattered who it was to an extent, they had to be a change of government for China to reset the relationship.

It was significant that prime minister Albanese was able to secure a meeting. It has been over six years since a minister or Australian officials have been granted an audience in Beijing.

So it was important and I certainly pay tribute to prime minister Albanese and his team for securing the meeting.

The fact that the meeting was held at all is a breakthrough, but now of course we will see whether anything changes.

We have been in the diplomatic deep freeze with China for some six years and so the thawing of the relationship is good news, particularly for Australian exporters because they has been this unofficial ban on certain Australian produce and products for some time.


Julie Bishop says she hopes verdict gives some answers to MH17 victims’ families

Julie Bishop, who was the Liberal foreign minister when MH17 was shot down, is speaking to ABC News about the guilty verdict of three Russian separatists.

She says she has remained in touch with many of the Australian families:

In fact this morning I’d made contact with the Maslin family – three beautiful little Western Australians and their father [killed] while the parents stayed in Amsterdam.

One of the most heartbreaking phone calls I can ever imagine making when I spoke to that family after this tragedy.

I have continued to be in contact with them. In fact, I meet family members from places all around Australia from time to time. People come up to me and say my cousin, my aunt, one of my friends there was aboard MH17. So I am sure it will be an incident which stays with many people for the rest of their life.

I hope this verdict overnight gives some answers to those who have been suffering so much for such a long time.

Bishop is also asked about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and says:

I hope there could be a ceasefire but at present I see no backing down on the part of Russia. President Putin seems determined to take Ukrainian territory as a buffer, he claims, against Nato. It is absolutely not necessary. It is part of his plan to restore the former Soviet Union, not all of it but some of the Soviet Union, to its former glory.


Peter Dutton says resources tax would risk investment in mining sector

Looks like the opposition have found their line when it comes to the government’s attempts to lower energy prices. A temporary price cap is being considered, as well as a super profits tax. We should have an answer soon.

But Peter Dutton, speaking to the Nine network this morning, thinks the solution is to open up more gas fields. Australia has plenty of gas – it is just not being made available to the domestic market (on the east coast).

I think the government is on the cusp of introducing a new tax, which ultimately is just going to be passed on to consumers. It’ll risk investment into the mining sector. At the moment we need more gas into the system – that’s the solution.

That has the greatest ability, like any market, if you’re introducing more supply to bring prices down, but the government is against that and in the budget, they say on their own numbers, after two years of Labor being in power, that prices will go up by 56% and your gas bills will go up by 44%, and that’s in contrast to what they heard the prime minister say before the election, where he promised on 97 occasions that your power bill would come down by $275.

He’s never mentioned it since the election, so I think there are always sort of thought bubbles out there at the moment.

But that’s cold comfort for families and for small businesses who just can’t afford to pay for their ever increasing electricity bills.


Parliamentary budget office projects personal income tax to make up 54% of total tax receipts in 10 years

The parliamentary budget office (PBO) has released a report looking at trends in Australian personal income tax.

And I know this won’t come as a surprise to most – but Australian governments have an over-reliance on income tax, compared to other taxes, and we have one of the highest personal tax to GDP ratios in the OECD – fourth highest, according to the PBO, at 11.6%

From the report:

The Australian government relied on personal tax for more than 50% of its revenue between the early 1970s up until the introduction of the GST in 2000-01 (Figure 2), when the share fell below 50%, not only because of the new tax but because personal taxes were cut.

Since then, the share of tax receipts from individuals has been trending back towards pre-GST levels.

This is mostly due to bracket creep, which occurs when rising incomes cause individuals to pay an increasing proportion of their income in tax, even though tax settings may not have changed.

The PBO projects personal income tax to make up to nearly 54% of total tax receipts by 2032-33, higher than at any time since the introduction of the GST, and close to the average between 1973 and 1974 to 1999-2000.

If only there was something else to tax, other than people’s labour. Like I don’t know – profits?


Major flooding in NSW not expected to ease until next week

AAP has an update on the New South Wales flood situation – with the SES warning it is not going to be resolved anytime soon:

Evacuations and sandbagging are continuing across inland NSW as concerned emergency services brace for more rain over flooded catchments.

Major flooding will continue along several major river systems on Friday, including the Lachlan, Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers, affecting towns including Forbes, Condobolin, Bourke and Hay.

“We still have a widespread, significant emergency response across western and southern NSW,” SES Ch Supt Ashley Sullivan told ABC News.

Particularly concerning is we are watching a weather system over the weekend where we may see some additional rainfall and strong winds over western and southern NSW.

The SES conducted five flood rescues across the central west region in the 24 hours to Friday morning, in addition to 244 calls for assistance.

With some rivers in flood for the past six months and repeated major floods recently, Sullivan said interstate and international help was on hand to relieve fatigued SES personnel.

This flooding at this rate is anticipated to be around right through Christmas … and right into the new year.

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, on Friday will meet evacuees and emergency services in Eugowra after flooding devastated the central west town.

Police continue searching for Ljubisa “Les” Vugec, 85, and a man in his 20s – both feared dead – after flooding swept through the town on Monday.

Downstream, Condobolin and Euabalong are bracing for the worst after the Lachlan River rose beyond records set there in 1952.

Euabalong is forecast to reach 7.7 metres over the weekend, Condobolin could top 7.6 metres on Monday and further rises later in the week are possible, the weather bureau says.

About 1,000 Forbes residents are subject to evacuation orders for the second time in as many weeks as the regional centre’s CBD was again flooded.

The prolonged major flooding isn’t expected to cease until early next week.

Major flooding is also occurring around Hay as the Murrumbidgee River remains high.

Mildura and Boundary Bend are also on alert, as the Murray River and surrounding tributaries remain swollen.

The outback town of Bourke will also be a cause of concern, with the weather bureau predicting the Darling River’s peak around Monday could match the level set in September 1998 floods.


Covid cases and deaths grow in eastern states

Earlier this week, the chief health officer, Prof Paul Kelly, said he believed Australia was in the middle of this latest Covid wave.

In NSW, case numbers continue to grow. There were 27,809 people diagnosed with Covid-19 this week, which is a 40% increase from the week before.

The state is reporting 39 people died from Covid this week in NSW. Last week, 22 people died.

NSW Health is recommending people wear masks indoors in public places and on public transport, but there is no mandate.

There is a similar story in Victoria, where cases have increased by 22% in a week, with hospital admissions also increasing, and 46 deaths. Last week, 41 people died.

Again, there is no mask mandate. A fifth vaccine dose has not been recommended by Atagi.

Earlier this week, the health minister, Mark Butler, said the advice from the expert panel was:

Atagi has considered international evidence as well as the local data around vaccination numbers as well as case numbers in the pandemic and decided not to recommend a fifth dose or a third booster, if you like, at this point in time. They have said that they anticipate new booster recommendations being made in early 2023 in preparation for the southern hemisphere winter.

The Pfizer booster designed for Omicron has been approved for Australia (Moderna was already approved) and will be available from about 12 December.


Authorities are watching as the Lachlan River as water moves downstream.

It's remarkable how much water is still moving across the NSW inland. Forbes on the Lachlan River has been at major flood levels for about four days. Fortunately the outlook for the next week looks to be basically dry for that part of the state at least. (Source: @BOM_au ) pic.twitter.com/6iQpu5dItf

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) November 17, 2022


Average household spends 15% of income on transport

The Australian Automotive Association (AAA) has released its latest transport affordability index and spoiler – transport is expensive.

The AAA has found a typical Australian household spends 14.9% of its income on transport costs (as of the last quarter). That is taking in fuel, inflation and higher loan repayments for cars.

The AAA data shows the typical weekly household transport cost in capital city households is now $413.53 and $343.93 in regional households.

Compared to the previous quarter (Q2 2022), weekly car loan repayments rose in every city tracked in the index whether regional or a capital.

While fuel prices declined by the end of the last quarter (before the return of the full fuel excise rate), the typical Australian household ($96.93 per week) is still paying $18.57 per week more than this time last year ($78.36 per week Q3 2021) in fuel expenditure.


Extreme pollen warning across Victoria

Anyone with asthma or other breathing difficulties should take care while out in Melbourne today:

#Melbourne grass #pollen forecast for today (Friday, Nov 18) is Extreme. Get the App for more pollen forecasts: https://t.co/9tGM9P1yxQ

Note: Other locations within Victoria have an Extreme forecast today. pic.twitter.com/ZOKb6UkckC

— Melbourne Pollen Count and Forecast (@MelbournePollen) November 17, 2022


Antimicrobial resistance in food focus of new survey

Further to the statement from the RACGP, the federal government has started a nationwide survey of antimicrobial resistance in Australia’s food supply to protect Australians against the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The assistant health minister, Ged Kearney, said:

This is about reducing the risk of people being sicker for longer, the pressure that creates on our health system and the increased risk of dying from an infection that has tragically turned untreatable.

We know this is becoming an increasing global problem, with antibiotics losing their effectiveness and new solutions not being developed fast enough. This is a part of the puzzle to ensure we’re prepared to protect the health of Australian’s now and into the future.”

It is also the start of world antimicrobial awareness week.

Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance of bacteria, viruses and fungi to antimicrobial or antibiotic medicines.

Described as a “silent pandemic”, antimicrobial resistance is one of the World Health Organizations Top 10 global public health threats. Common infections can become untreatable, leading to longer hospital stays and higher death rates.

This survey will look at our food and is the first survey of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in retail food since 2007. The survey will run until mid next year.


NSW and Victoria weekly Covid reports

The weekly Covid reports are beginning to be released.

Victoria recorded 20,398 new cases and 46 deaths in the last seven days.

This week we reported 20,398 new cases, averaging 352 daily hospitalisations and 8 daily ICU admissions.

46 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/tRy4OW9EAZ

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 17, 2022

New South Wales recorded 27,869 Covid cases and 39 deaths in the last week.

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 18 November 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 17 November:
• 27,869 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 12,383 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 15,486 PCR tests
• 39 lives lost pic.twitter.com/7RTDmK2TWP

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 17, 2022


GP’s warn against allowing pharmacists to prescribe some medicines

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is not too happy with the proposal to allow pharmacists to prescribe some drugs, without needing a doctor’s appointment:

The RACGP is warning that allowing more non-medical prescribers in Australia will increase antimicrobial resistance – making infections harder to treat and raising the risk of disease spreading, severe illness and deaths.

This is what happened when retail pharmacists were allowed to prescribe antibiotics overseas. The United Kingdom and New Zealand both reported increased trimethoprim resistance due to inappropriate use of antibiotics. Trimethoprim used to be the first line treatment pharmacists prescribed for UTIs in the UK, but it was over prescribed and now doesn’t work for one-in-three women due to resistant bacteria.

We’re urging state and territory governments to put people’s health first, and find genuine long-term solutions to primary care workforce shortages that do not create bigger problems like increased antimicrobial resistance.


Spare a thought for people in flood zones dealing with this absolute horror show:


Some advice for schoolies … from politicians

Jason Clare and the deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, finished their weekly chat with the Seven network with some advice for schoolies:


Gosh this shows how old I am. I don’t think schoolies existed when I was finishing high school back in 1989. I went straight from my last exam to my first shift at Sizzler waiting tables making cheese toast. So, I can’t tell you how schoolies went but if you want the recipe for cheese toast send me an email and I’ll click it to you.


Yes, I consider myself too cool for schoolies, I was on the punk rock scene at the end of Year 12 at Dickson college in Canberra. But I want to channel the mums and dads today, to their children, their young adults. Stay safe, have fun and call if you’ve run out of money!

Clare also warns schoolies to stay away from “toolies”.


Jason Clare says MH17 offenders will be ‘protected by Putin for the rest of their life’

The education minister, Jason Clare, also had something to say about the MH17 verdict, while speaking to the Seven Network this morning:

Well, real justice is hard to get. That’s the fact of the matter. I think these characters are going to be protected by Putin for the rest of their life. But I do remember what Julie Bishop said back when this happened. She did a fantastic job at the time as foreign minister and she said that the families of the people who were murdered when that plane was shut down deserve answers. I think we got some of that last night.

I’m thinking this morning of Serge and Vera Oreshkin who live in my electorate. Their son Victor was one of the 298 people who were murdered when that plane was shot down. I remember Serge telling me that they destroyed his body but his soul never touched the ground. You know that plane had his suitcase on it, was packed full of toys for his little nephews and nieces. You know they’ve been living that nightmare for the last eight years something they can’t wake up from, but hopefully last night’s verdict provides some of those answers for them. And for all of the families who lost loved ones when that plane was murderously shot down.


China-Australia relationship already ‘much more stable’, Wong says

Penny Wong also addressed the relationship with China:

I think all of us welcome the prime minister’s meeting with president Xi, it’s a positive and constructive step, an important step to the stabilisation of the Australia China relationship … When I had my meeting with foreign minister Wang Yi in Bali, I said we want to stabilise the relationship, there will be a lot of steps, we will take this step by step. No doubt there will always be differences because of who we are – between Australia and China. What we want to do is continue to engage, cooperate where we can, disagree where we must, engage in the national interest. What’s important is we can grow our bilateral relationship alongside upholding our national interest if both countries navigate our differences wisely.

Asked if she would visit China in the near term, Wong replied: “Step by step – we’re open to engagement and dialogue.”

Wong said the relationship is already “much more stable than it was”.

Wong said Australia would continue to advocate for Cheng Lei and Yang Henjun, and had raised their detention at “all levels” with China, from our diplomatic post all the way up to the PM.


Australia pressing Iran ‘at the diplomatic level’, Wong says

Penny Wong says Australia will not back away from its pressure on Iran. She says there have been public and private messages condemning the regime’s reaction to protests.

We are obviously continuing to press Iran also in at the diplomatic level, but we will not desist from our advocacy internationally with others


Wong says Sean Turnell is in ‘remarkably good spirits’ after release from Myanmar

Penny Wong has addressed the return of Sean Turnell and conviction of those responsible for downing MH17 on Radio National.

Of Turnell, Wong said:

He is in remarkably good spirits given the length of his incarceration and conditions in which he was held. He is thankful to us all, looking forward to seeing wife and friends. He never felt alone in prison, he knew people were with him, advocating for him. I’m glad to hear he’d felt the solidarity of all of us and knew people were working to ensure his release.

Wong said there had been “a lot of advocacy” including through her directly to the Myanmar military regime, through the chairs of Asean, Brunei and Cambodia, who she thanked, and by the prime minister, Anthony Albanese.

Wong said today is “a day for Sean” and she would not speculate on sanctions against the Myanmar military regime, but noted she had commented previously that they are not off the table.

Wong asked media to respect Turnell’s request for privacy.


Penny Wong calls for Russia to hand over MH17 offenders

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, is speaking to ABC radio about the guilty verdict of the three Russian separatists over the downing of MH17.

I want to say first to all of the families and friends that we know that you suffered an unfathomable grief, we know you’ve waited a long time for justice. These verdicts matter because they confirm the truth that these men were responsible for downing a civilian aircraft and it also confirms the involvement of the Russian Federation who separate his head direction from Russia supplied training weapons and money. So whilst I know that very little can lessen the grief when you lose a loved one in such horrific circumstances, it is important for the truth to out and it has.

On Russia unlikely to hand over the men, Wong says:

We would say to Russia the world knows that you’re harbouring murderers and that says something about you Mr. Putin

Wong said the men remained on the Interpol wanted list, for ever.


NTEU welcomes release of Sean Turnell in Myanmar

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has welcomed the release of Australian Prof Sean Turnell who was released after almost two years of being detained in Myanmar.

Murph has reported on Turnell’s release:

The NTEU national president, Dr Alison Barnes, said there was relief throughout the academic community:

We’re beyond relieved that our cherished friend and colleague is coming home after this harrowing ordeal.

Sean is a much-loved member of Australia’s academic community. On behalf of his colleagues and all union members I want to thank the Australian government for their efforts in working for his release.

Sean should never have been imprisoned for doing his job as an economist to help lift Myanmar’s people out of poverty.

This is a truly great day for so many people who have campaigned tirelessly for Sean’s freedom. I want to pay tribute to his amazing family who have displayed inspirational resolve.


Susan Woodward named new charities commissioner

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has a new commissioner.

Dr Andrew Leigh has announced Susan Woodward has the job for five years, from early December.

The Albanese government believes in the value that charities bring to our economy and society, and respects their role in our democracy. The charity and non-profit sector comprises around one-tenth of employment, and a significant amount of GDP.

The ACNC is the independent national regulator of charities, and works to support a strong, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector. It is vital for Australia that the ACNC be headed by an experienced leader, who commands broad respect across the Australian community sector.

Ms Woodward has extensive experience in the charities and not-for-profits sector. Since 2015, she has been the chief adviser, not-for-profit law at Justice Connect. She has previously served in senior roles in the Australian government and the ACNC and is a recognised legal and regulatory expert. She was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2021 for her significant service to the not-for-profit sector, to fundraising and to the law.

Deborah Jenkins was also thanked for “her contribution as acting ACNC commissioner for the past few months:.


Measles cases detected in Victoria

Victoria Health have alerted to three new cases of measles. All of the cases are within the same family, but two were infectious during a return flight from Singapore to Melbourne. They immediately sought medical attention.

There are two public exposure sites in Victoria linked to these cases. Those who attended these sites are urged to seek medical care if they develop symptoms, and to wear a mask and call ahead to ensure they can be isolated from others.

Tuesday 15 November 2022
Departed: Monday 14 November
Arrived: 6.10am
Qantas flight QF36 / Emirates flight EK5036, Singapore to Melbourne

Tuesday 15 November 2022
Melbourne airport, international arrivals, Tullamarine, VIC 3045

If you were on that flight, or in the terminal during those times, monitor for measles symptoms until 3 December.

Victoria Health says: The illness usually begins with common cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and a rash. The characteristic measles rash usually begins three to four days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.

Associate Prof Friedman said:

People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the measles, and often need to be hospitalised. Please seek medical attention right away if you notice any symptoms, especially if you have recently returned from overseas.

Five measles cases have now been reported in Victoria since January 2022. Recent previous cases of measles have been identified in people who are not fully immunised against measles and who have travelled overseas or been in contact with returned overseas travellers.

Anyone planning overseas travel should ensure they have received vaccinations appropriate for travel.


Simon Birmingham welcomes guilty verdict for MH17 accused

The shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmigham, has responded to the news the district court of The Hague in the Netherlands has found three pro-Russian individuals guilty of downing Malaysian Airlines flight MH17:

We welcome the court imposing sentences of life imprisonment for these crimes and the finding that the Russian Federation controlled the separatist forces guilty of the murder of the 298 people on board, including 38 people who called Australia home.

This verdict is welcome but difficult for the families and loved ones of the 298 people aboard flight MH17 and we hope some comfort can be found from the outcome of the trials.

The successful prosecution of Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Leonid Kharchenko in an open and independent court, sends a powerful message that the world will stand steadfast against such abhorrent crimes and hold those responsible to account.

Efforts to ensure those responsible face genuine punishment and justice must continue, as must the efforts to have Russia cease its senseless campaigns of violence.

The Coalition thanks the joint investigating team and Dutch prosecutors, and all nations who have supported the investigations to achieve justice, particularly the Netherlands, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine.

We pay tribute to those who lost their lives on flight MH17 in 2014, our thoughts remain with their families and friends.


Business Council wants big business exempt from multi-employer bargaining

The main takeaway from Jennifer Westcott is that the BCA wants big business out of multi-employer bargaining, it wants the definition of big business changed to over 100 employees, it wants a longer grace period and it wants more industries carved out.

Something not mentioned in there though, is that if employees already have an enterprise bargaining agreement, they do not have to take part in multi-employer bargaining. And a majority of workers in all workplaces have to agree. So it is not an automatic process. It’s opt-in.


Single enterprise bargaining stream best way to get wages up – Westacott

But people aren’t getting wage rises. It is not happening.

Jennifer Westacott says:

The best way for those workers to get paid more is in the single enterprise agreement stream and what we want to see is a bit more in that stream that makes it easier.

So what we don’t want to see is that the first discussion you have is who you’re bargaining with, and that goes on for months. And then the commission has to step in and decide who’s at the table. So we don’t we don’t that’s not going to get people their wage rise as fast. So that’s going to that’s going to hold it up for months and months and months.

I mean, at this rate, the commission is going to have to have 10,000 people working there. So that’s very complex. So I want people to have their wage rises faster. The way it’s currently written, is that we see that there’s going to be a lot of complexity that well who’s in those multi-employer bargaining, who makes that decision, who initiates that?


Multi-employer bargaining should be limited to low paid sectors – Westacott

The second thing Jennifer Westacott tells Patricia Karvelas the BCA doesn’t like, is that big business could bargain together:

The second thing we’re really concerned about is the kind of expansion of the multi-employer agreement remember at the summit of the jobs and skill set that this was very much about low paid workers.

So our argument is, well, why wouldn’t you just fix up that low paid stream rather than what we’re currently doing, which was more we have to carve the sector out. The issue and this is more complex is than in the current proposal, and we’re very worried about this, that big employers could be forced to bargain together and that is not good for wages.

Patricia, now I represent these companies, but it is not a good thing for the big employers to be forced to bargain together.

That’s not going to be good for small business that’s not going to be good for innovation. That’s going to be anti-competitive. I don’t know why this is still on the table because I understand what the government’s trying to solve. They’re trying to solve in the low paid sector.

But the better way to have solved that would have been to fix the low paid sector to obviously do the better off overall tests, which were very supportive of in the bill, and to do the supportive bargaining string, which we are very supportive.


Westacott says IR bill won’t raise wages in current form

Jennifer Westacott is now explaining why the BCA doesn’t like the government’s industrial relations bill:

The first is and the government to be fair, let’s be clear, we are working constructively with the government. We’re working constructively with the crossbench I think everyone wants Australians wages to go up.

I don’t think the legislation in its current form is going to do that and let me give you those three reasons.

The first is that we still don’t believe that there is a smooth enough pathway for people who are currently in the enterprise bargaining system, which, as we should remember, people paid on average $100 a day more than people on awards.

We still don’t think the system is smooth enough to allow people to keep bargaining so you’ve got a six-month grace period.

But most people during bargaining know that this takes a long time. So we would like that grace period to be longer.

Because what we don’t want is a kind of cultural brinkmanship, where people sort of run that six months down.

Couldn’t people run down the longer time line?

Well, we want to see obviously that period longer, but we want to see kind of much clearer kind of restatement of the objects of the act that the single enterprise system is the system that we want people to use. We want it to be much easier for people where they agree they just keep bargaining.


Jennifer Westacott says ‘you can’t underestimate the signal’ sent by China ‘reset’

Head of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, is speaking to ABC radio RN Breakfast about what she described as a “reset” of Australia’s relationship with China. Westacott has returned from the G20, and this is her view:

Now, this is a very complex relationship. It’s a difficult relationship. But getting the dialogue back on track is the first step in what’s going to be a step by step process to reestablish a lot of connections and you know, that’s a very big signal to business. It’s a big signal to the rest of the world.

But I got a sense now of a really different attitude towards Australia, a different sort of perception of our place in the world.

And look, I was very proud to be part of the biggest business delegation there, which was the Australian business delegation.

And I think there was a different view about us and our place in the world. And I think the prime minister and the [foreign] minister have done a terrific job of doing that reset.

Now, of course, you know, the China relationship is a more complex one. But starting that dialogue, you know, you can’t underestimate the signal that sends.


New South Wales SES operational update on floods

The SES has had 249 statewide requests for assistance, and made five flood rescues.

Today the SES will be focusing on these areas: the Lachlan River (Eugowra, Forbes, Condobilin and Euabalong); the Murrumbidgee River (Hay); the Namoi River (Wee Waa); the Macquarie River (Warren); and the Murray River (Wentworth).


Major flooding to continue in NSW inland catchments

There is a flooding update from AAP about the situation in New South Wales’s central west where many towns are still facing inundation.

Major flooding will continue in NSW’s inland catchments today, despite much of the state being bathed in sunshine on Thursday, weather bureau senior meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

“It is extremely wet out there and many areas are experiencing major flooding right now, even though the sun is shining,” he said.

Flood waters have inundated a building, rising above the door and window level
Parts of the central business district under water at Forbes, New South Wales. Photograph: Murray Mccloskey/EPA

The central west towns of Condoblin and Euabalong are now bracing for the worst after the Lachlan River reached 1.7 metres upstream at Forbes, just a fraction below the 1.8 metres peak recorded in 1952.


Macron says Aukus submarines deal a return to 'nuclear confrontation'

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is in Bangkok (Murph will bring you more on the trip very soon) where he had a meeting with French president, Emmanuel Macron.

The meeting was described as “warm” – it helps when the guy who did you out of a multibillion-dollar submarine contract is no longer there.

Macron was not shy about bringing up Scott Morrison, accusing the former prime minister of stoking “nuclear confrontation” with China over the deal.

He spoke to reporters ahead of the Apec summit, AAP reports, about why the French deal had been chosen and what Morrison’s decision meant (at least in his view):

Australia will maintain the submarines themselves, and it is not confrontational to China because they are not nuclear-powered submarines.

But the choice made by [former] prime minister Morrison was the opposite, re-entering into nuclear confrontation.

Macron said the Aukus deal made Australia “completely dependent” on other nations. France still has an offer “on the table” to help Australia build diesel-powered submarines.

Albanese was less forthcoming, telling reporters:

We spoke about how we could have an increased engagement and cooperation in defence and security matters and I look forward to that.


Good morning, Amy Remeikis here to take you through the morning. Thank you to Martin for starting us off.

Government to announce new early childhood care strategy

The federal government is promising an early childhood summit in the vein of the successful jobs and skills summit, as part of a new strategy for young children, to be informed by a diverse group of experts including former Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins and former South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

The social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, and the early childhood minister, Anne Aly, will announce the new early years strategy today, bringing work done by departments including education, social services, health and the National Indigenous Australians Agency into one coordinated plan.

Amanda Rishworth is sitting in a chair on stage at the press club with her legs crossed and holding some papers in her hand. Behind her is a blue background with the press club logo displayed on it in white
Social services minister Amanda Rishworth. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

“Without a coordinated approach across government, there is a lack of ultimate responsibility and accountability for the wellbeing, education and development of Australia’s children,” Rishworth said in a statement.

The strategy will also see the launch of a “major” national early years summit in Parliament House on 17 February next year, which the government says will be similar to the jobs and skills summit held in September.

Those aforementioned departments will be involved, as will Treasury and the prime minister’s department, with 100 stakeholders including industry experts, sector leaders and families to meet for the summit.

“It’s time we ended the isolated policy approach and leverage the mountain of evidence that exists to best support our children,” Rishworth said.

“Our national summit in particular will help start a conversation on how to best support Australia’s children and their families in the early years.”

Consultation on the strategy will begin in January 2023, with public submissions open until April. The strategy will be informed by an advisory panel including Weatherill, national children’s commissioner, Anne Hollonds, and Watkins.


New South Wales faces 'months of floods'

New South Wales faces “months of floods” thanks to the La Niña weather pattern that has had the east coast of Australia in its wet grip for the past two and more years, according to the state’s SES boss.

SES commissioner Carlene York told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’ll be in floods for months.”

“Even if it doesn’t rain there will be floods until after Christmas,” York said. “This is the biggest flood event the NSW SES has ever faced.”

Hundreds of residents in the state’s central west are still facing chaos as the worst flooding ever recorded in the region continues to wreak havoc.

Here are some pictures of the devastation:


Good morning and welcome to our live blog. Amy Remeikis will be here shortly to helm the day but in the meantime here are some of the main stories making news today.

  • A Dutch court has found three men guilty of the murder of 298 people – including 38 Australians – on board flight MH17, which was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile when it was flying over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The court handed down sentences of life imprisonment to Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, after finding them guilty of bringing down the plane and the murder of everyone on board. Several relatives of the Australian victims were in court to hear the verdicts and some also heard their impact statements read out to the court.

Australian Sean Turnell is shown seated during a ceremony inside the Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar, shortly before his release.
Australian Sean Turnell during a ceremony inside the Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar, shortly before his release. Photograph: AP
  • Albanese’s latest summitry in Thailand will make news today, along with his social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, who is announcing the government’s new early years strategy for young children. The funeral of Cassius Turvey, the Indigenous teenager allegedly murdered on his way home from school in Perth, will be held today.

  • And there’s also joy for Neighbours fans after Amazon bought the rights to the seemingly doomed soap and now plans for new episodes next year.


Elias Visontay (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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