What we learned today, Friday 14 October
That is where we will leave the live blog for Friday.
Here’s what made the news today:
Rain subsided in both Victoria and Tasmania on Friday, however both states are still dealing with flooding situations that will continue for some time.
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says 500 homes in Victoria have been flooded across and another 500 have been isolated. That number is expected to rise.
Up to 4,000 homes in Shepparton alone could be flooded by next week, agencies warn.
The Mickleham quarantine facility will be used as crisis accomodation for up to 250 people affected by the floods in Victoria from next week.
One hundred thousand Optus customers who had their passport numbers exposed in the data breach will automatically no longer be able to use the passport for online ID verification, but will be able to use it for international travel.
The company’s CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, has repeated the claim that the breach was the result of a “sophisticated” cyber attack, and not human error, saying the word “sophisticated” is subjective.
The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, says the budget he will unveil in a week from Tuesday “won’t be fancy, won’t be flashy, but it will be responsible, it will be solid and it will be the right budget for the times.”
The Medibank Group says it has restored access to systems that were down following a “cyber incident” on Thursday, and has found “no evidence that customer data has been accessed”.
Until tomorrow, I hope you stay safe.
Independent MP for Wentworth, Allegra Spender, has announced the death of her father John Spender KC, overnight.
Spender, a former Liberal MP for North Sydney, held the shadow portfolios of attorney general and foreign affairs in the 1980s. He was appointed Australia’s ambassador to France in the 90s.
He was 86.
The new wave of feminists are not afraid to call out sexism, and are working towards structural change, former prime minister Julia Gillard says.
Gillard wrapped up the tour for her book, Not Now, Not Ever, in Adelaide on Friday afternoon.
The book features essays from prominent women including Brittany Higgins, Anne Summers, and Guardian Australia’s own Katharine Murphy.
She has written about regretting not calling out sexist treatment while she was in office as part of the marking of ten years since her famous misogyny speech, in which she lambasted then-opposition leader Tony Abbott.
On Friday she praised the next generation of women - such as Grace Tame - who are prepared to stand up for themselves, know there’ll be an adverse reaction, and do it anyway.
Gillard also warned about the misogyny thriving in the dark corners of the internet, where incels and other subcultures lurk in the manosphere.
Mickleham quarantine facility to be used for flood crisis accommodation
The Victorian government has now confirmed earlier reporting that after discussions with the federal government, they have agreed to use the Mickleham quarantine facility – which was established to house people quarantining during Covid-19 – for people who need crisis accommodation as a result of the floods in Victoria.
The site will be reopened early next week, with a capacity of 250 places for six to eight weeks.
The federal emergency management minister, Murray Watt, has announced disaster assistance is now available to 17 council areas in Tasmania.
The LGAs are: Break O’Day, Burnie, Central Coast, Central Highlands, Circular Head, Devonport, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Kentish, Latrobe, Launceston, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, Waratah-Wynyard, West Coast and West Tamar.
Optus CEO says the term ‘sophisticated’ is subjective in describing cyber-attack
In a second interview with the ABC today, the Optus CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, has defended calling the Optus data breach the result of a “sophisticated” cyber-attack, despite the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, saying it was not.
Bayer Rosmarin said the term “sophisticated” is subjective, and reiterated that this attack “got through our defences”.
She said the Deloitte review would “once and for all” determine the facts of the case despite the report not being released to the public in full.
This is going to be a forensic review into our cyber-defences, and those cyber-defences need to be kept top secret.
She said she would not want to give cybercriminals a “roadmap” in providing the full report.
NAB says it is still processing the last of the backlog of transactions that were delayed after that massive industry-wide outage earlier in the week.
You can read our report on what caused it below.
Aerial footage from Tasmania, showing flooding in Deloraine.
Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has repeated the claim that the Optus data breach did not happen as a result of human error.
Bayer Rosmarin told the ABC the company, however, intended to learn from its mistakes:
I have no reason to believe that it was human error, I know that we have dedicated teams of people who thwart all these attacks and who try and be perfect at preventing any attack getting through. But we learned that we are not perfect and we will learn from any mistakes we may have made and will get better.
Obviously since we learned about the attack, which we found ourselves, we shut it down and have circled our perimeter, we work with [an] external cyber consultant and they have helped circle our perimeter. We work with the Australian Centre for cybersecurity who have also circled our perimeter. We are getting as much expert advice and leveraging every tool at our disposal to ensure that we are as safe and secure as we possibly can be.
The CEO denied that customers are being prevented from leaving Optus by the company charging fees or trying to buy time. She said most customers aren’t on contracts.
Bayer Rosmarin indicated she did not intend to resign, saying she’s focused on the work ahead and rebuilding trust with customers.
The ABC reports Optus had just given four minutes to the ABC for the interview.
Guardian Australia has had a request in for a couple of weeks now, but so far Optus has not been forthcoming with any interview offers.
Wendy Muffet looks out her window, having just canoed down the driveway to her house.
“There’s an ocean in front of me, with ducks and all sorts of water birds,” Muffet tells AAP from her home outside Forbes, in inland NSW.
Hundreds of properties in the central west town were under isolation or evacuation orders on Friday, as the Lachlan River reached major flooding levels.
Many rural properties west of Forbes have been saturated for months after heavy and prolonged rainfall filled the region’s creeks.
Farmers have lost their crops, or have been unable to sow, and many have moved their stock to properties on dry land.
Muffet and her husband Kim, who run a bed and breakfast on a small property south of the town, have long been preparing to be cut off by floodwaters.
They expected to be isolated for up to three weeks, living off fruit, snow peas and asparagus from their permaculture garden.
“We were well-prepared,” Muffet said. “We’ve got a really big garden, so we’ll be quite comfortable eating a few goodies from the freezer, a bit of chocolate in the fridge and plenty of coffee. We’ll be fine.”
The couple, who live in a house designed to withstand flooding, made sure they were out of harm’s way and able to use their canoe to leave the property in case of an emergency.
The people of Forbes tended to be pragmatic about flooding, but the farming community was growing weary, Muffet said:
I see it as a thing of beauty but it’s not our livelihood going down the gurgler.
I think most people understand that healthy flood plain ecosystems need inundation from time to time but I’ve got the luxury of looking at it and not seeing a whole year’s income go.
Most of my farming friends are quite pragmatic. They know you live and work on the flood plain and that’s something we need to plan for and be accepting of.
But it’s been a long haul for them. Three weeks is easy but six months - you get very tired of that.
Optus customers blocked from using passport as online ID
Optus customers who had their current passports exposed will not be able to use it to verify their identification through services that use the government’s document verification service.
The Department of Home Affairs confirmed reports from customers who had their passport numbers exposed in the Optus data breach that they would not be able to use the passport to verify their identity with government agencies, banks and other businesses that use the Document Verification Service.
The department’s critical infrastructure and security centre explains it has established a “Commonwealth Credential Protection Register” in the wake of the Optus breach to stop people’s compromised identities being used fraudulently, but it also prevents rightful owners from using those documents, too:
New credentials issued following the data breach will work as normal.
In the interim, impacted individuals should consider using alternative credentials or speak to service providers that ask for identification for other options, such as visiting the service in person to present the credential.
The department says as of Friday, there are around 100,000 Australian passports in the register.
People will still be able to use those passports for international travel, the department said.
A 52-year-old man has been extradited from NSW to Western Australia after being arrested in Taree on Wednesday over allegations he coordinated the transport of over $13m in cash from NSW to WA.
WA police allege the man is a senior member of the Lone Wolf outlaw motorcycle gang and coordinated the truck that was stopped by police in Coolgardie on 5 November 2020 with the $13m.
He has been charged with laundering proceeds of a major offence, and failure to obey access order. He is scheduled to appear in Perth magistrates court today.
Passengers on the Spirit of Tasmania between Victoria and Tasmania have been left stranded in Melbourne or Tasmania because the port in Devonport has been shut due to the flooding on Thursday and Friday.
One such passenger stuck in Melbourne, Don Paton, told the ABC that caravan parks across Melbourne are booked out, and it is an ongoing issue for trying to get back to Tasmania:
It has been getting worse and worse. My wife and I have done 34 years in the past 20 years and we have never seen it so bad. The desperate need for another all-weather port other than Devonport because there are so many occasions [there is] a problem there, there is nowhere for the ships to go and this is causing huge expense to people that would not be able to budget for it. For those that cannot travel on planes and that is the only option to get to Tasmania.
Tasmania state emergency services provided a brief update on the flooding situation in the state.
A Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson says they are not expecting any more significant rainfall but there are a number of major flood warnings.
Leon Smith, the acting director of SES Tasmania, says although the rain has stopped, there will be flooding in the catchments that is not expected to pass for some time.
Some reports from AAP on those affected by the floods in Victoria.
Many in Rochester have sandbagged their properties and left town but some were staying to protect their businesses, motel owner Meagan Keating said.
Water had covered the railway tracks by Friday afternoon and was up to the door of the local BP service station, she said.
“We’re now just watching the water come towards us,” Keating said.
“The anxiety is high ... (because) as quick as the water is moving, it is a slow process, watching it come.”
Anglers Tavern, on the banks of Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River, was partially submerged following the unprecedented overnight rain.
“At this stage we don’t have access to it,” a spokeswoman said.
“Obviously there has been flood damage to the venue and we’ll assess that once we have access - hopefully tomorrow depending on the weather.”
The thoroughbred stud north of Seymour that Calla earlier reported as being flooded has said they’ve had enough responses offering to help for now.
Thank you for your company this morning. I’ll now hand over to Josh Taylor.
Stay safe, check on your neighbours and don’t drive in floodwaters.
Lake Isandula alert downgraded
Emergency services in Tasmania have downgraded a flood warning for areas downstream of Lake Isandula dam.
Earlier, we reported that the dam was receiving the equivalent of three Olympic swimming pools of water every second. But the rate of flow has now slowed, the SES says, so the threat of downstream flooding has eased.
The floodwaters have reached Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.
Dozens of rescues conducted in Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong
Maribyrnong mayor Anthony Tran told reporters that the council began preparing for flooding earlier yesterday, but it was based on modelling which showed a much slower rate of flow.
They updated those plans at 3.30am.
Tran says 60 rescues have been conducted in the area – that’s 60 whole households.
I spoke to one of the SES members, and they told me they rescued 12 people from one residential site. That is a substantial rescue.
He told reporters he understood why some residents felt there had not been enough warning.
As you know, with natural disasters, nothing is certain. There are so many variables. When it hit at around 3.30 this morning, the flowing rate was just so rapid, we had to act within that small time frame. I do acknowledge the words of those residents. I feel like there could be more done. When you have such extraordinary circumstances with variables you can’t predict, like the increasing flow, we acted as fast as we could. To be honest, I think we’re really doing as much as we can. As you said, there’s more that can be done, and we’ll continue to do more, as much as we can.
Hardship payments available by Sunday, Bill Shorten says
The federal member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, said that Victorians should be able to access federal hardship payments by Sunday.
Shorten is addressing the media in Melbourne alongside the mayor of the city of Maribyrnong, Anthony Tran.
We hope that, by Sunday, people who’ve suffered real hardship will be able to access a modest payment to help them keep their morale together, if nothing else.
Shorten thanked the SES, other emergency services, and the local residents.
The people of Maribyrnong are not arrogant. They don’t think they live in the best part of Australia. But there’s probably no better part of Australia when the chips are down.
Albanese suggests paid parental leave will be expanded in federal budget
Prime minister Anthony Albanese has all but confirmed the federal government will look to expand paid parental leave in this month’s budget, teasing that there would be “more to say” soon – but held out on giving a firm confirmation of what could be to come.
The Nine newspapers reported earlier on Friday that the government could boost commonwealth-provided PPL from 18 weeks to 26. The government has in recent months politely rebuffed calls to expand parental leave for workers, suggesting the federal budget was under pressure. But asked on Friday about the Nine article, Albanese did not reject the reporting in answers to three separate questions.
We’ll have a budget in a couple of weeks and we’ll be making final announcements about a whole range of measures there. I said during the election campaign that we were keen to do more in a range of areas. Paid parental leave is something that was also raised at the Jobs and Skills Summit.
We’ll make announcements when we make them. But we’ve said consistently paid parental leave is something that Labor has championed. It’s something that we’ve said we would like to do more ... Labor will always do what we can to provide more support, but I’ll have more to say about that over the coming period.
Albanese said boosting parental leave would be “low-hanging fruit”, saying that supporting more parents in the workforce would be good for families as well as the national economy.
Other government sources contacted by Guardian Australia were also keeping mum on the potential PPL expansion. Nine reported a full announcement could be made tomorrow, at the NSW state Labor conference.
NSW police resume search for man missing since Tuesday
One person is missing in floodwaters in Victoria and police are still searching for a man who is believed to be missing in floodwaters in western NSW.
SES chief operations officer Tim Wiebusch told reporters in Melbourne earlier that he had a report of one person missing in central Victoria.
Just before coming into this media conference, we did have a report of a missing person at Newbridge and search and rescue are out there at the moment
NSW police on Friday resumed their search for Forbes man Phillip Alvaro, 63, who left a rural property on Lachlan Valley Way near Hillston at midday on Tuesday and has not been seen since. The search was paused during yesterday’s severe weather.
Floods a sign of climate crisis, Greens say
Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt and the Greens state MP for Melbourne, Ellen Sandell, gave a press conference in the flooded suburb of Kensington a short time ago.
Sandell lives in Kensington. She says flooding in the centre of Melbourne is a sign that the climate crisis is indeed happening.
This is climate change. This is the damage that it causes. Yet here in Victoria we have a Labour government who is supporting opening up new gas drilling across Victoria which is absolutely ludicrous given this is the climate damage we are already seeing.
Bandt said the flooding was “devastating”.
This is my neighbourhood. This is Ellen Sandell’s neighbourhood. This is where we come to bring our kids to swimming at the swimming pool and now the road into the swimming pool is flooded.
This is not normal. This is what the climate crisis looks like. This extreme weather is being fuelled by coal and gas.
We are seeing once in a lifetime and once in 100 year events now happening time and time and time again and yet we still have a state government that wants to drill for more gas off the 12 Apostles and a federal government that wants to open up new coal and gas mines.
I challenge the governments to come to Victoria. Come to Kensington and Maribyrnong, come to the regional towns where people are now battling to save their homes and stay safe, and tell those people that opening up new coal and gas projects is a good idea.
We have to keep ourselves, our families, our loved ones in our neighbourhood safe and that means stopping opening new coal and gas projects. The time is now.
Malmsbury under water
This is an aerial photo of Malmsbury in central Victoria today. The town is on a dip on the Coliban River. Most of the flooding on the Coliban is upstream, but Coliban Water yesterday said that higher inflows had resulted in higher releases out of the Malmsbury and Lauriston reservoirs.
They warned that would trigger local flooding, and you can see that clearly in the below photos – water gushing out of the reservoir and into the Botanic Gardens and cricket ground. This will upset the town geese.
The flooding is not just from the higher releases though – that area has had more than 110mm of rain in the past 48 hours.
Federal support promised for flood emergencies in Victoria and Tasmania
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the federal government will be diverting resources to help flood emergencies in Victoria and Tasmania, after requests for help from premiers in those states.
He told reporters in Sydney:
I had a discussion with premier [Daniel] Andrews about the floods in Victoria, and there will be requests coming for support, as well as my understanding is there’s likely to be a request for Tasmania.
The federal government stands ready to provide support and assistance. There are already ADF personnel on the ground in Victoria ... this is a difficult time, my heart goes out to those communities affected at this time.
The federal government stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested in accordance with our responsibilities.
We’ve been promising you information from that media appearance for a while. The PM held that press conference about an hour ago in Sydney, but it wasn’t broadcast live by any network, with news channels instead carrying an emergency update from Andrews.
However, we’re told Albanese touched on the potential extension of paid parental leave, gas prices, and the front page story in the Daily Telegraph reporting on an argument with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet about the new Allianz stadium in Sydney.
We’ll bring you more when we get it.
Covid-19 weekly statistics
Victoria has reported 8,061 new cases of Covid-19 this week, down 12.2% on the previous week. The average daily number of new cases this week was 1,152.
The number of active cases in Victoria is 6,564, down from a peak of 71,428 recorded on 23 July.
The seven-day rolling average of patients with Covid-19 in Victorian hospitals is 148, an increase of 8% when compared to the same time last week (compared to the peak of 906 on 20 July).
There are 13 patients in intensive care and one on a ventilator. There were 46 deaths reported.
New South Wales
In New South Wales there were 11,900 new cases of Covid-19 recorded: 7,224 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 4,676 PCR tests. There were 37 Covid-19 deaths. There were 913 people in hospital, including 19 in ICU.
South Australia reported 2,512 new cases. There were 1,872 active cases, 43 people in hospital, and two in ICU. There were 11 deaths reported.
We’ll post the other states as they come through.
Read more here
Coming week’s rainfall not expected to be as ‘dramatic’
The Bureau of Meteorology Victorian state manager, Diana Eadie, says the next seven days of rain will not be as “dramatic” as it has been this week – but it is too soon to say for certain.
At this stage we’re not suggesting that we’ll see the same magnitude of rainfall that we have just seen recently. Longer term, what we do know is the ground is wet. We know that dams are full, so any further rain will potentially cause significant flooding. In terms of the heaviest rain, we’ll have more confidence about that in terms of the seven-day outlook. When we start to see events that could be similar to what we have just seen we’ll be sure to make sure the community and our services partners are informed.
That’s the wrap on the Victorian press conference.
On the impact of climate change in relation to the floods today, the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, says today is not the day to be discussing policy.
On issues of climate change, my views on that are well-known. I don’t need to go through that today and I don’t know that today is the day to do that.
Well, I’m much more focused on people and supporting people and keeping people safe rather than having a debate about climate change. My views are well-known on climate change. That’s why we are the centre of renewable energy in our nation and that’s why we have made a raft of policy reforms. I don’t think today is the day to be getting into a debate on policy. Today is to be keeping people safe, making people know about warnings.
Suburb in Melbourne’s west loses power
Power has been shut off to parts of Kensington in Melbourne’s west due to a flooded substation.
Power company CitiPower said in a statement:
As a result of flood waters around Dynon Road, CitiPower has de-energised a number of submerged high-voltage electrical assets in Kensington.
Safety is always our priority, and we have taken this action to reduce the risk to the community and minimise long-term damage to electricity assets that may lead to prolonged power outages.
The current outage is affecting power to about 1,150 customers in Kensington.
They said they power would be restored once it was safe.
No need for disaster declaration, commissioner says
Emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp said that despite the widespread flooding there is no need to declare a state of disaster, which would kick certain legislated powers into gear.
We are managing this emergency without a declaration. We will continue to monitor that over the coming and weeks.
Importantly, as the premier did touch on earlier, it is important to support people impacted by this flood event. Both personal hardship payments are part of the disaster recovery funding arrangement. We have already been speaking with the commonwealth in relation to that arrangement. We will be writing formally to the agency today to activate those shared funding arrangements between the state and commonwealth. Not declaring a state of disaster has no impact whatsoever in relation to those arrangement.
Crisp said the Australian Defence Force would be deployed to Shepparton and Murchison to begin sandbagging ahead of the expected rise in floodwaters next week.
Let’s keep going with this flood round-up.
20 homes are impacted by floodwaters at Euroa
The flood on the Broken River at Benalla is similar to levels seen in October 1993.
Nathalia and Numurkah are expected to flood in the coming days.
The Murray River is in moderate flood from Albury to Tocumwal
The Maribyrnong River in Melbourne has flooded 100 homes. Those waters have now peaked and will start to recede
The Werribee River has been put on a major flood alert and will peak at from 2pm this afternoon, with homes and the local shopping strip likely to be directly affected.
An emergency warning has been issued for the Yarra River around Heidelberg.
Emu Creek at Skipton has cut the highway and impacted 12 properties as well as the local shopping strip.
Geelong will also see moderate flooding from the Barwon River.
As SES chief Tim Wiebusch said:
As you can see, there are not many parts of Victoria that are not experiencing major flooding over these coming days.
Some 4,000 homes could be flooded in Shepparton early next week: SES
The flood waters at the Goulburn River have already exceeded the level recorded in the devastating 1974 floods, Wiebusch said.
Three hundred properties have already been directly impacted by floodwater, Wiebusch said, and 50 people are at the local relief centre.
The Goulburn River at Shepparton will see major flooding over the next two days, with the river likely to reach 12.2m on Saturday.
When the peak reaches Shepparton it will affect 4,000 homes, he said.
Between lunchtime Saturday and Tuesday afternoon we will see the (Goulburn) river and its tributaries … move higher, so we get to 12m by Tuesday afternoon, meaning that we will be likely to exceed the 1974 level. That means over 4,000 properties will either be surrounded by floodwaters, some being inundated above floor level. So there is significant planning for evacuations and other support to those communities, and at this point in time and we cannot emphasise enough that people need to stay alert to their warnings and conditions in that area in particular and I will speak about that again in a moment.
Properties in Victoria’s northwest expected to be isolated for several days
State Emergency Services chief Tim Wiebusch said Victoria has now moved from the risk of flash-flooding, which was causing havoc yesterday, to riverine flooding. This will be an extended flood event – some of the peaks are not expected to be reached until next week.
He’s running through the most at-risk areas.
Firstly the Avoca River, in the state’s northwest. Major flooding will occur from tonight and peak tomorrow at Charlton, he said.
That is where we will see around 40 properties inundated at that point in time. This flood level is similar to what we have seen around September 2010.
In the Loddon River, there will be flooding similar to that recorded in the September 2011 floods, through Serpentine, Bridgewater and Houston. Community football ovals and parks in those towns are already under water.
In the Campaspe River, where the town of Rochester has been under an evacuation warning for two days, the peak is likely to be the same as that reached in January 2011 – that will impact 1,000 homes. Some of those homes will be isolated for two to three days, he says.
Another low developing over SA
The bad news, Eadie says, is another low looks to be developing over South Australia on Monday and Tuesday next week.
Where that heavy rain goes will be dependent on the movement of the system and currently it is forecast to move across into New South Wales. Victoria could see increased rainfall across northern parts from Wednesday into Thursday and Friday but at this stage we are more likely to be on the periphery of that system.
That said, as mentioned, the ground is incredibly wet and catchments are saturated so we keep a close eye on potential for any further rain in these areas.
Bureau of Meteorology state manager, Diana Eadie, says the severe weather warning for heavy rain and damaging winds for today has been cancelled.
Over the last few days there’s been:
224mm at Strathbogie North
212mm at Charnwood
171m across the Central Highlands
1,5000 Victorians have applied for emergency relief
Andrews says about 1,500 Victorians have already applied for emergency flood payments.
We’re processing those as fast as we can and we’ll get that money out to people as quickly as possible. There are 11 relief centres that will be set up across Victoria and we will of course add to those ...
We’ve got 50 different sandbag collection points. Many volunteers … a great team of people who are working very hard that includes some support from the Australian Defence Force at a local level, [from] Victoria Barracks and we thank them very much for their work.
In terms of some other headline numbers [from] our most recent update, there’s some 4,700 homes that are without power. The largest single group amongst that is Apollo Bay, about 1,500 homes and everyone’s working as hard as they possibly can to reconnect those homes. I think the Apollo Bay event is probably more related to wind rather than water.
Andrews said emergency services had rescued 200 people from cars in floodwaters. He again urged people not to drive into or play in floodwaters.
“It is incredibly dangerous,” he said.
1000 homes flooded or isolated in Victoria
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says that 500 homes in Victoria have been flooded across and another 500 have been isolated.
He told reporters in Melbourne:
When I say ‘homes’ – it’s properties, maybe more than just a house, in terms of farmland, much bigger parcels of land, but 500 that have got water above the floorboards and also another 500 that are cut-off because of this flood event. That number will definitely grow. We have choppers in the air at the moment making damage assessments, flood-impact assessments, but they’re fed back in real-time.
That number is expected to rise, particularly in the Goulburn Valley, he said.
We’ll move to that clean-up phase, the recovery phase, at a later point. But this event is well and truly just started and will run for a number of days. We won’t see peak levels of flood water for quite a while and, of course, there is then the other issue of rain events that are forecast in coming weeks, and the ground was already sodden before this last couple of days of record rainfall. We know that even moderate rain events over coming weeks will present a real challenge for us as well. So this is with us for a while yet.
Tasmanian police warn drone operators
Police in Tasmania have issued a warning to drone operators who are flying over flooded areas.
Assistant police commissioner Jonathan Higgins said SES aircraft are currently flying over flood areas to conduct mapping, and the rescue helicopter is also standing by. Private drone operators are getting in the way.
Police have received reports of personal drones being flown in areas that have been impacted by intense rain and flooding over the past couple of days.
I urge anyone considering flying a drone in the weather affected area, to stay well clear of floodwaters – if the operator becomes stranded or in danger and requires assistance, that’s going to divert emergency responders from the flood emergency.
Aerial rescues and flood mapping require aircraft to fly at low altitude - a task made more difficult with the added risk of a drone. Essentially, if a personal drone is flying, rescue and emergency services aircraft can’t.
Evacuation warning for Melbourne’s western fringe
An evacuation warning has been issued for low-lying areas of Werribee, on Melbourne’s western fringe.
And an updated evacuation warning has been issued for Benalla in northeast Victoria.
This is what Merri Creek in Melbourne looks like right now.
Anthony Albanese expected to address reporters soon in Sydney
We’re also still standing by for a press conference from PM Anthony Albanese in Sydney. He’s touring a factory that manufactures products from previous metals – including the Melbourne Cup trophy from gold bullion.
This is a manufacturing visit with industry minister Ed Husic, and Albanese has been giving a speech to the workers. The facility is in his own home electorate of Marrickville, and he’s been waxing lyrical about the nearby craft breweries and the Leichhardt oval footy ground on the other side of the suburb.
Albanese has been telling the workers about his government’s support for local manufacturing, a major policy push they took to the May election. We’re expecting the PM will be asked about a story just published in the Nine newspapers, which says the cabinet will discuss boosting paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26.
We’ll have more for you when the press conference finally begins.
We are expecting to hear any minute now from the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews who will hold a press conference with Victorian emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp and minister Jaclyn Symes.
Flood risk in Tasmania will remain over the weekend: emergency services
Emergency services in Tasmania are giving an update on the flood situation.
The heaviest rain was seen at Great Lake in the central highlands, which recorded 398mm in just 24 hours. That’s more than the annual rainfall of large parts of Australia, in one day.
Lake McKenzie received 320mm in 48 hours, as did Fisher River in 312mm. A number of areas around the Western Tiers and the Northeast Highlands recorded more than 200mm. These are areas with more than 100 years of rain records, and a lot of those records were broken, the Bureau of meteorology said.
Waves of up to 7 metres were recorded on the east coast before the Maria Island buoy went offline.
Tasmanian SES acting director Leon Smith said water would continue to flow from those highland areas into river catchments and residential areas.
It’s not a time to become complacent within Tasmania … The calls to action currently in place regarding emergency warnings and evacuating, if still in place on TasALERT, they still relevant, do not attempt to disregard them.
Smith said those warnings would be scaled back when the situation became more safe.
The Tasmanian Fire Service chief, Dermot Barry, said there was “a long way to go” before the flood risk had passed.
We remain at heightened levels of alert but what we have seen now is the benefits of the whole of the state approach to how we manage emergencies.
Tony Wilmot from TasWater also gave an update on the situation at Lake Isandula, which filled rapidly yesterday afternoon and prompted an emergency flood warning for nearby towns.
The dam had a flow of around 70,000 litres per second which is equivalent of an Olympic sized pool every 30 seconds. The dam certainly got to end overtopping, a risk of overtopping and that’s what we contacted the SES to assist with relocating some of the residents below the dam.
Reconciliation advocate Shelley Reys to chair Council for the Order of Australia
Former independent MP Cathy McGowan and the head of the influential nurses union are among new names added to the Council for the Order of Australia.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese is about to front a press conference in Sydney. Just ahead of that media appearance, his office announced that reconciliation advocate, Shelley Reys AO, had been appointed Chair of the Council. Albanese said the Djirribul woman was the first woman and First Nations woman to be appointed chair of the Council.
This is the body that makes recommendations to the governor general for Order of Australia awards.
New community representatives on the council include Annie Butler, the federal secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation; Cathy McGowan AO, former MP for Indi; and Professor Samina Yasmeen AM, an academic at the University of Western Australia and director and founder of the University’s Centre for Muslim States and Societies.
Albanese said in a statement:
Australia is a proudly diverse country and the appointments of Ms Reys, Ms Butler, Ms McGowan and Professor Yasmeen means the Council for the Order of Australia is more reflective of our diversity, with all four of the women appointed having close links to the community.
I would like to thank the outgoing members for their significant contribution to the Australian community.
Chalmers says the budget will ‘put a premium on what’s affordable and sustainable’
Jim Chalmers may be in Washington but he’s still meeting his Australian media commitments – including breakfast television.
Asked on the Nine network if he was upset Anthony Albanese shut down the stage-three tax cuts talk, Chalmers said “not at all”.
The point that I was making last week or the week before is the same point I’m making now, which is we need to put a premium on what’s affordable and sustainable, and what’s responsible. That will be the case in the budget we hand down. We don’t intend to change those stage-three tax cuts in the budget in a couple of Tuesdays time, but there will be more broadly a premium on doing the right thing. The absolute best buffer that we can build against all of this global economic uncertainty is a responsible budget, that’s why the one I hand down, it won’t be fancy, won’t be flashy, but it will be responsible, it will be solid and it will be the right budget for the times.
But if anything, his trip to Washington to hear more about how the US economy is going has left him feeling even more pessimistic about the global economy. But he says Australia will get through it.
My responsibility to them is to be upfront with them about what’s going on in the economy around the world, in particular, but what that means for us at home. I think there’s no use beating around the bush. I’d rather level with people about the challenges that we’re going through, but I also say to people we will get through this. The global economy is treading a narrower and more perilous path. That does have implications for us and we can’t pretend that’s not the case.
What we do know is we’ve got a lot going for us. I am personally optimistic about the future of our economy and the future of our people and the future of our country, but first we need to navigate what will be some pretty tricky terrain in the meantime. I’ve laid out what that looks like and in the budget, what you’ll see is the right and responsible response to what’s going on in our economy and the economies around the world.
Not all those who require rescue from flood waters in Maribyrnong are gracious in accepting that assistance.
More Melbourne suburbs along Maribyrnong river report flooding
The flooding in Melbourne is not confined to the suburb of Maribyrnong – residents in suburbs along the Maribyrnong river have reported inundation.
Kensington is south-west of Maribyrnong, closer to the bay. State Greens MP Ellen Sandell shared these images of flooded streets a short time ago.
Sandell and Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt are scheduled to give a press conference on the Melbourne floods at midday.
Federal government won’t help NSW with funding to raise Warragamba dam wall
To a different water story: the federal government has said it will not help New South Wales in funding a $1.6m proposal by the state government to raise the dam wall by 14 metres.
The NSW water minister, Kevin Anderson, told Sydney’s 2GB radio that it was a “big job”.
“It’s a big job. It’s a hell of a job,” he told 2GB.
That’s the reason why this has been made critical state infrastructure – to ensure the federal government gets the clear message this is critical for protecting lives, protecting properties.
Anderson said the funding issues were a matter for prime minister Anthony Albanese and premier Dominic Perrottet to work out.
This is something that has to be done. Infrastructure NSW has clearly stated that this needs to be done.
The modelling says the only way is up.
Insurance Australia Group withdrew its support for the wall raising in 2020 due to probable loss of cultural sites.
River levels at Rochester Victoria expected to rise one metre today
The town of Rochester in northern Victoria has been under evacuation orders for two days with major flooding – worse than the 2011 floods – expected along the Campaspe river.
River levels at Rochester reached 114.5m AHD at 7am and was still rising – that’s not a typo, it’s what the Bureau of Meteorology has listed. It’s expected to rise a further metre throughout the day, above the levels seen in the 2011 floods.
Medibank says ‘no evidence’ of customer data accessed after cyber incident
The Medibank Group says it has restored access to systems that were down following a “cyber incident” on Thursday, and has found “no evidence that customer data has been accessed”.
In a statement, they said a forensic investigation into the incident was continuing.
CEO David Koczkar said:
We apologise for the disruption this incident caused some of our customers yesterday, but we have made good progress with our systems overnight.
Pleasingly, this means that our ahm and international student customers who have been impacted are now able to resume their normal activities. Importantly, as we’ve continued to investigate all aspects of the incident, we have still found no evidence that customer data has been accessed.
As we continue to take decisive action to safeguard our networks and systems, we will take any steps necessary to protect the data of our customers, people and other stakeholders. We will keep everyone updated as we learn more in the coming days.
As a health company providing health insurance and health services, we hold a range of necessary personal and private customer data. The protection of our customers and their data security is our highest priority.
We have sent emails and text messages to Medibank and ahm customers keeping them informed about the incident.
Koczkar said the organisation was in frequent contact with regulators and the Australian Cyber Security Centre, and would share technical information about the incident with other insurance companies so they can bolster their own defences.
Rescue crews on scene in flooded streets of Maribyrnong
Rescue dinghies are patrolling the flooded streets of Melbourne suburbs, helping people who have become stranded by the rising waters of the Maribyrnong river.
Take a look at some of the images from the areas of Maribyrnong that have been evacuated.
Lachlan river in NSW expected to peak at 10.6 metres
Let’s go over the border to New South Wales now, where water is rushing through the town of Forbes on the Lachlan river.
Forbes recorded just 22.6mm overnight, but rain further up the already sodden catchment has caused the river to burst its banks.
The Lachlan river at Forbes Iron Bridge is expected to peak at 10.6 metres today, at the major flood level.
This is what it looks like from the air.
Victorian opposition calls for floods to be declared a natural disaster
Victorian opposition has called for the floods in the state to be declared a natural disaster, which will allow people to access federal national disaster payments.
In a statement, opposition leader Matthew Guy and deputy leader Peter Walsh said:
The scenes of flooding in our state, reaching virtually into the middle of Melbourne, are devastating.
It is clear that affected communities, families and small businesses are going to need immediate emergency relief, as well as longer-term support to recover.
To that end, we are today calling on the Victorian Government to immediately engage with the Australian Government with a view to declaring a natural disaster in affected local government areas.
This declaration will allow both the Victorian and Australian Governments to share the cost of financial support including immediate cash payments for short-term emergency accommodation, as well as low-interest loans in the longer term to help families and small businesses recover.
We are making this call in a bipartisan, non-political way and look forward to the Victorian and Australian Governments responding positively and quickly.
More than 300 homes in western Victoria have lost power, Powercor says
Powercor crews are working to restore power to 322 homes and businesses.
A generator will be brought in to provide power to Woodend on Friday afternoon, as falling trees have dropped powerlines.
Castlemaine substation was flooded on Thursday night. Power was restored to 9,800 homes just after 11pm last night, when water levels dropped.
Australia sends representative to International Whaling Commission
Fremantle MP Josh Wilson is off to Slovenia for the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
Australia’s Whales commissioner Dr Nick Gales nominated as vice chair of the commission for the next two years and Wilson is attending as environment minister Tanya Plibersek’s representative.
The goal is zero extinctions of whales, dolphins and porpoises which means not only remaining opposed to commercial whaling but also tackling climate change and plastic litter – of which there are island sized masses currently floating in the ocean.
Plibersek said Australia had a very big role to play:
Each migration season Australia’s coastline turns in to a highway for whales. It is important we keep these routes safe and free of pollution.
We are advocating and protecting species and their habitats both at home in our waters and globally including through our leadership in the International Whaling Commission.
This will be further supported by the Australian Government’s pledge to protect 30% land and 30% of our ocean by 2030 as we move towards zero extinctions.
Wilson said the nomination of Dr Gales was also an important step:
Australia’s nomination of Dr Nick Gales – a globally recognised scientific expert – is testament to that focus, and demonstrates the Albanese government’s commitment to environmental conservation through active and cooperative participation in organisations like the International Whaling Commission.
But it must be said Australia still struggles to balance environment and economy. The Albanese government has opened up nearly 47,000 sq km of Australian waters to oil and gas exploration, which critics say will further endanger marine parks and contradict Australia’s emissions reduction targets.
Emergency services have urged people to stay off the roads in Melbourne this morning unless absolutely necessary, and this is why.
Mandatory isolation for Covid ends today
In non-flood news, mandatory isolation rules for people who test positive to Covid-19 will end from today.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet, who led the campaign to ditch isolation rules, told AAP that he believes people will continue to register virus diagnoses.
We’re moving to a system of good faith where people are looking out for each other and caring for each other.
I just want to make the point ... people should still test.
We may have further waves of Covid in the future, in fact, we probably expect that. So by testing, you’re looking after yourself, looking after your family.
More from AAP:
Australia will move to a workplace health and safety regime, with the decision made off the back of lower case numbers, South Australian health minister Chris Picton said.
“However, the message is still the same in making sure you’re staying home if you’re sick and being very conscious of people who are vulnerable in our communities,” he said.
The SA chief health officer said she had no doubt the community would be able to take individual responsibility.
“There’s been such a fantastic response throughout the pandemic with people following health advice,” Nicola Spurrier said.
“Quite often we didn’t have things as legal directions and people still did them. I am very confident that will continue over the next month.”
The Australian Medical Association wants the government consider bringing back Covid isolation requirements if cases spike during holidays.
President Steve Robson said information from the northern hemisphere showed newer variants won’t be affected by immunity from previous infection or from vaccinations.
Australia recorded 36,790 Covid cases and more than 270 deaths last week.
Goulburn river peaks at 8.26 metres, surpassing 1974 flood record
This was the main street of Seymour about an hour ago.
The Goulburn river peaked at 8.26 metres at 3am this morning, well above the record of 7.64 metres set in the 1974 flood. It is expected to remain above major flood levels – that’s 7 metres – throughout the weekend.
That water is moving downstream, with major flooding expected at Murchison from Friday evening and at Shepparton from late Saturday morning.
The Bureau of Meteorology said flood levels in Shepparton could approach the record of 12.09 metres set in the 1974 flood.
Major flood warning for the Ovens and King rivers in Victoria
Wangaratta, in north-east Victoria, has been on flood watch for two days – but miraculously appears to have escaped the worst of it.
The town, which is at the junction of the Ovens and King rivers, floods fairly regularly. As a former resident, I have been anxious to know the status of Wangaratta’s unofficial flood gauge: the Humphrey B Bear in Apex Park.
Thank you to this local for the update. You are forgiven for incorrectly thinking he is a Yogi Bear.
This is how it looks when the floods are bad.
There is still a major flood warning out for the Ovens and King rivers. Major flooding is occurring Docker Road Bridge, where the King river may reach 4.2 metres.
Moderate flooding is likely along the Ovens river, including at Wangaratta, today and into tonight, the Bureau of Meteorology has said.
The Yarra river in Melbourne has also risen significantly, cutting off bike paths.
Reports of young horses being washed away in Victorian flood waters
Very upsetting news from a thoroughbred stud north of Seymour, where foals are reportedly being washed away in the flood waters.
We spoke to a stud manager at Kilmore yesterday about the difficulties of managing foals in this weather. It is breeding season, and the area worst affected by flooding is the heart of Victoria’s horse country – the Strathbogie Shire’s tagline is the “horse capital of Victoria”. Newborn foals are not the most coordinated animals, they are not able to withstand rising waters.
Residents in Seymour were trying to coordinate the rescue of horses in low-lying river flats yesterday.
Queensland to introduce new family violence laws
The Queensland government will today introduce a bill to strengthen the state’s response to non-physical forms of domestic violence as they lay the groundwork for coercive control to be criminalised.
The bill proposes amending legislation to include a “pattern of behaviour”, and that the definition of stalking be updated to reflect modern technology.
Other proposed changes include strengthening the court’s response to cross-application for protection orders and the court’s consideration of previous domestic violence history.
Attorney general, Shannon Fentiman, said the “important reforms lay the foundation for the passage of a standalone offence of coercive control next year”.
This bill makes a number of amendments to further shift our approach to domestic and family violence to focus on the dangerous patterns of abusive behaviour.
The bill will also amend the criminal code to replace the term “carnal knowledge” with “penile intercourse” and change the offence of “maintaining a sexual relationship with a child” to “repeated sexual conduct with a child”.
The bill will be referred to the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee for review.
For those not familiar with the Anglers’ Tavern in Maribyrnong, this is a handy before and after to show the flood levels.
Mickleham quarantine facility may be used as flood evacuation centre, Andrews says
Andrews says the state’s purpose-built Mickleham quarantine facility, which closed just last week, could be reopened to house those impacted by the floods.
He told ABC radio Melbourne:
Last night I instructed my officials to speak with officials from the commonwealth, we think we may need to stand up the Mickleham quarantine centre and we need a federal government partnership to do that. That work is happening right now because back to that point about a flood event that won’t necessarily be over in just a few days, some people may need to be accommodated for a longer period. So that work is happening right now and we’ll provide further updates.
An estimated 500 homes are flooded in Victoria with number expected to grow: Daniel Andrews
Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, has been on ABC radio Melbourne this morning, providing listeners with an update on the floods.
He’s also announced one-off emergency payments for those affected.
Obviously this has been a very, very significant flood event and it’s far from over. There’s a little bit more rainfall but as that weather event passes through, the real challenge is waters continuing to rise and more and more houses being inundated, more and more communities being closed off, becoming isolated, then of course we move to clean up and all of those issues.
Wedderburn, Maribyrnong, Carisbrook and Rochester, where residents were ordered to evacuate overnight, are among areas of “chief concern”, Andrews said.
We think there’s about 500 homes that are flooded, we think there are another 500 that have been isolated across the state. But I would just say they’re very early estimates and the aerial intelligence gathering choppers are up in the air now ... they’ll be doing all their reports back to the state control centre. So I’d say those numbers are absolutely certain to grow. And indeed, we’re still asking people to leave in some areas. There have been important, important evacuation notices have been issued in a number of communities. So those numbers will go up. That’s why we’ve got nine important relief centres opening and 50 sandbag collection points. There’s an enormous amount of work going on.
Andrews says one-off payments of $560 per adult, $280 per child are available to affected households to meet immediate and essential needs, like emergency shelter, food, clothing or personal items. The payments are available via emergencypayments.dffh.vic.gov.au.
Minimum wage workers will get a bump in their pay packets from this month
It’s the first pay cycle since the minimum wage award increase kicked in on 1 October, which means that 400,000 workers in low-paid industries will see a 4.6% increase to their pay. That could mean an extra $40 a week for employees who work full-time hours.
Raising the minimum wage by 5.2% also raised the rate of another 111 awards which are linked to the minimum wage, hence the flow-on increases.
Inflation means that the benefits of the increase will already be wiped out for a lot of people – it costs more to buy the same amount of goods.
All up, about 2.7 million workers will have seen a bump to their pay (the first round of increases flowed through in July) because of the Fair Work Commission minimum wage decision.
We’re expecting to hear an update from the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, shortly.
Back to the floods now.
The evacuation warning for Seymour was issued just before 7.30pm last night, and some needed a bit of assistance to get out.
Adam Bandt welcomes government’s move to sign Biden’s methane reduction pledge
Yesterday, agricultural minister Murray Watt gave every indication the government was going to sign up to the pledge, and the National Farmers Federation said it had been given assurances that farmers would not be hurt by the pledge. Watt has said the commitment was “aspirational” and would not burden the agricultural industry.
Signatories to the pledge agree to undertake voluntary actions in their countries to reduce emissions of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Reducing methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels is a global goal, not a national target.
The opposition has immediately jumped to criticise the move, claiming it was “an attack on the Aussie BBQ” but Watt said Australia would not be putting a “tax on cow burps” and instead was looking at technology to lower agricultural methane emissions.
Livestock gas is a small part of the agricultural sector’s methane output, but it’s where the focus has been.
Bandt says the Greens welcome the government’s move to signing the pledge:
I’ve been calling for the government to sign up to Joe Biden’s pledge to cut methane down for some time. I’m glad the government’s considering it. I’m worried that they’re already talking about it being aspirational and non-binding. If you sign up to this methane pledge, it means no new coal and gas mines. This isn’t about cow burps. It’s about coal and gas corporations. This methane pledge to put it into practice if you’re serious about it. This methane pledge means no new coal and gas projects can go ahead and in fact, we’ve got to cut pollution. So if like other countries, they’re prepared to sign up to it and put it into action. We welcome that.
Greens 'want to give our support to the voice', says Adam Bandt
The Greens leader Adam Bandt has been pushed about what Green’s senator Lidia Thorpe’s position is, on the voice to parliament.
Thorpe has said she will not be campaigning for the “no” position and has lodged a press council complaint over a report suggesting she had met with Warren Mundine to discuss their joint opposition to the Indigenous voice to parliament proposal.
Thorpe has said she wants all three elements of the Uluru statement from the heart – Truth, Treaty and Voice – to be pursued at the same time.
But while Thorpe has said she will not be campaigning for “no”, she has not said she will campaign for the “yes”.
Bandt says there is opportunity for more to be done and he and Thorpe are having discussions with the government to progress as much of the statement as possible.
He told Patricia Karvelas:
That is why we’re having discussions with the government at the moment because where we would like to get to and this is what our party, our MPs have collectively decided, where we’d like to get to in this parliament that is ripe with opportunity for First Nations justice and progress on treaty and truth that has been a long time coming, we’d like to get to a position where the government’s push is able to succeed with our support, but we also see action on truth and treaty as well. We have been crystal clear about that.
So what effort is Bandt putting in to the “yes” campaign?
My effort at the moment is focused on ensuring those discussions with the government get us to a point where we are able to give our full throated support to what the government is doing because we know there’s also going to be progress on truth and treaty.
Is that a caveat?
He says no.
We want to give our support to voice, we want to know what’s going to happen on truth and treaty. And I think that’s a pretty reasonable position to go to a government that says it’s committed to the statement in full. What are we going to do about truth and treaty because people have been waiting for too long.
Emergency warnings remain in place across Tasmania
There are currently five emergency warnings in place across the north of the state and four evacuation centres have been set up in the northwest, including Latrobe, Railton, Deloraine and Ulverstone.
Seventy homes in Newstead in Launceston were evacuated overnight, the SES said. The SES received 147 calls for assistance and responded to 39 call-outs.
Tasmanian SES acting director, Leon Smith, said the emergency response has been based on flood modelling from the floods.
Emergency Alert has been activated to directly message everyone with a mobile phone as well as landlines in the identified evacuation areas. SES has door-knocked homes likely to be affected.
While rain is expected to ease through Friday, flood waters will continue to pose a threat for some time and it will take several days before the flood waters subside.
People have been told to evacuate now along the Mersey River – including Kimberley, Elizabeth Town, Merseylea, Sunnyside, Railton, Sassafras, Latrobe and Tarleton.
Residents have also been told to evacuate along the North Esk River in Launceston, particularly in Newstead, and along the Meander River, including Meander, Montana, Red Hills, Deloraine, Reedy Marsh, Exton ,Westbury, Selbourne, Quamby Bend, Hagley, Westwood, Carrick and surrounds.
Residents downstream of Lake Isandula Dam south of Ulverstone were also told to evacuate due to a dam failure. That dam has since been evaluated and considered stable and the risk has subsided.
People along the St Patricks River at Nunamara, Myrtle Bank, Corckerys Road and surrounds have been told to move to higher ground.
There is also an emergency warning – move to higher ground for St Patricks River (Nunamara, Myrtle Bank, Corkerys Road and surrounds).
There will be an emergency services press conference in Hobart at 11.3oam.
Strathbogie records heaviest rainfall in Victoria at 226mm in 48 hours
The heaviest rainfall in Victoria over the past two days was recorded at the Strathbogie North gage, which has had 226mm in the past 48 hours.
Strathbogie is in the ranges about 50km, as the crow flies, north-east of Melbourne.
It’s part of the Goulburn River catchment, which includes the major tributary the Broken River. Both of those rivers are in flood and have prompted the evacuation orders for Seymour and Benalla respectively.
Before the water hits the Goulburn River, it flows through Euroa via Seven Creeks.
Seven Creeks is currently at major flood levels, with the first peak of 5.6 metres recorded at 2.30am – just below the record set during the devastating 1993 floods.
As of this morning, Seven Creeks was at 5.42 metres and falling, but it is expected to remain above the major flood level of 4.6 metres until at least the afternoon.
Strathbogie Shire mayor, Laura Binks, told ABC Goulburn-Murray that a number of people had already left their homes in the town’s flood zone to shelter at the evacuation centre set up in the Euroa council offices.
Binks said the rain had been “pretty epic” and “exhausting”, and she had lost count of the number of roads closed in the shire, due to water flowing over the roads and fallen trees.
We have an incredible amount of trees down … I think we’ve run out of tape to put around them. Our crews are working tirelessly to get to all those trees and open the roads. But we do have a huge amount of road closures across our shire because of not only the water but also the trees down across the road.
Fifty to sixty homes expected to flood in Maribyrnong
The state commander of the Victorian SES, Josh Gamble, told Radio National this morning that about 50 to 60 houses in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong will see “above-floor inundation” today.
That is due to the heavy rainfall in the Maribyrnong’s upper catchments, which will reach the city about the same time as a tidal surge.
Anglers’ Tavern is already under water.
Before 7am, Gamble said the SES had conducted 108 flood rescues in the past 48 hours – that had already risen to 120 by the time emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp gave his update after 7am.
We haven’t had that many flood rescues in quite some time, for many years. Many of those people are putting their own lives at risk, their own children in some cases …
People I think are a little bit complacent and they think a little bit of water will not float their vehicle and will not float their vehicle downstream and off bridges. But that is what occurs and it only takes a very small amount of water.
The risk of flooding is likely to continue over the next few months, he said.
This is the third season of La Nina that we have got upon us, and although the severe weather warning for Victoria was cancelled this morning, we do know the water has got a lot to continue yet.
There is a lot of water in the hills, there is a lot of water in dams and all the tributaries across the state and it’s only going to take another 15-20mm in the next couple of weeks again and that’s going to continue, as the bureau said in their modelling, for the next couple of months. Everything’s moist, the catchments are full, and it’s not going to take much to push them over again week on week, month on month.
Thousands of people in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania are under evacuation orders following a significant rain event over the last two days.
The residents of a suburb in western Melbourne and six Victorian towns have been told to leave their homes and move to higher ground.
Victorian emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp said emergency services had conducted 120 flood rescues as of 7am, “and it seems to be going up by the minute”.
At this point in time, importantly, we don’t have any missing persons out there, no reports of fatalities or serious injuries. However, I just want to make this point – there’s been 120 rescues and it seems to be going up by the minute. Each of these rescues is taking our emergency services workers away from what they should be doing to support the more vulnerable in our community.
An emergency warning was issued for the Maribyrnong River at Maribyrnong at 5.40am, with flood waters rapidly rising and expected to impact about 30 homes and units, with another 30 on high alert.
At midnight, people living and camping near Wedderburn were urged to evacuate due to a dam fault at Skinners Flat Reservoir, which emergency services said would send strong, fast-moving waters along the Calder Highway through the township.
Crisp said there was currently no risk to the community from that dam fault, with engineers currently assessing it.
Victorian communities remain on high alert for dangerous flooding, with residents in six towns urged to leave homes and get to higher ground.
Evacuation orders are in place for Rochester along the Campaspe River, Carisbrook near Maryborough, and Benalla on the Broken River.
An evacuation order was issued for Seymour on the Goulburn River last night. As of this morning, residents in the lowest lying areas have been told it is too late to leave and to take shelter “in the highest location possible”. The floods in Seymour are expected to be the worst seen since 1974. There was potential for 187 properties to be inundated and a further 279 to be isolated, he told reporters.
Authorities expected up to 700 properties in Rochester to be isolated by Friday and Shepparton to experience its worst flood in almost three decades on Saturday afternoon, with up to 600 properties isolated.
The bureau warned of damaging winds over elevated areas in the state’s central and eastern parts but they were expected to clear eastwards on Thursday evening.
It comes as rain is just starting to tail off in Tasmania, after parts of the state received more than 400mm in the past two days.
Emergency services in that state say the flood risk is only just beginning.
The flood waters in north-east Tasmania have affected areas impacted by the devastating 2016 floods. Emergency services said they conducted two major flood rescues overnight – a family of six, who were isolated at their home, and a man and a woman who were stuck after trying to drive through flood waters in their 4WD.
Let’s crack on. You can reach me at @callapilla on twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re in a flood-affected area please stay safe – and if you’re able, drop us a line to let us know how you’re going.