Body of man recovered from NSW flood waters; Medibank receives demands from alleged hackers – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 57 AM GMT+0

Body believed to be that of missing 63-year-old last seen in Hillston on Tuesday. This blog is now closed

What we learned, Wednesday 19 October

And that’s where we’ll leave you this evening. Here’s what we learned:

  • A second man has died in Victorian flood waters, as premier Daniel Andrews said the state government will be providing $10,000 one-off payments to farmers affected by flooding, as well as $54m for small business, and $4.4m for mental health.

  • It came as the BoM announced it does not forecast a return to major flooding in the state.

  • The body of a man has been recovered from flood waters in NSW this afternoon. It is believed to be that of a missing 63-year-old man last seen in Hillston on Tuesday.

  • Dave Sharma, the former Liberal MP for Wentworth and former Australian ambassador to Israel, said the Labor decision to reverse the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “sets peace back”.

  • Teal MPs Allegra Spender and Zoe Daniels also criticised the decision.

  • Nearly three-quarters of businesses have told an industry survey the goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 does not go far enough.

  • The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, shot down the Bureau of Meteorology’s request for people not to call it the BoM, saying Australians should be free to call it whatever they like.

  • The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, will have to pay $250,000 in damages after defaming former senator Brian Burston on the Today Show.

  • Health insurer Medibank has gone into a trading halt after telling customers it had received messages from alleged data hackers.


Man's body recovered from NSW flood waters

The body of a man has been recovered from flood waters in NSW this afternoon. It is believed to be that of a missing 63-year-old man last seen in Hillston on Tuesday.

NSW Police confirmed this afternoon they have located the body in the state’s west, after receiving reports of a body being seen on a rural property at Wallanthery, about 35km north-east of Hillston.

Officers received the reports at around 8.30am this morning, and attended the property and retrieved the body, with assistance from NSW SES.

While the body is yet to be formally identified, it is believed to be that of the missing man.

Murrumbidgee Police District, PolAir, Police Rescue, NSW SES, and NSW Ambulance along the Lachlan River were all involved in the search for the man.

Investigations into the circumstances surrounding the man’s death continue and a report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.


Power restored to Shepparton and Mooroopna

Power has been restored to homes in Shepparton and Mooroopna, after flooding caused a substation to shut down.

Powercor was forced to de-energise a plant at the Mooroopna Zone Substation after it became too dangerous to maintain due to floodwaters.

But it took to Twitter to announce it has restored power to residents in the region:

(1/4) OUTAGE UPDATE | 19.10.22
You're looking at one very content, very tired, and very relieved crew from Shepparton. We’re pleased to report that we've now restored power to all customers within #Mooroopna, #Shepparton, and the surrounding region. #vicfloods

— Powercor Australia (@PowercorAust) October 19, 2022


‘It is the BoM’

The assistant minister to the prime minister, Patrick Gorman, was on the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing, and gave a very straight answer as to whether the Bureau of Meteorology should be the Bureau or its traditionally accepted nickname of BoM?

It is the BoM.

Australians love a nickname, we had a former prime minister who gave himself a nickname, but when it comes to the BoM, they owned that name, they should be proud of it and embrace it.

Obviously the environment minister is reviewing all the circumstances which have led to this not ideally timed announcement. I don’t think the BoM is going to get away from their name any time soon and I checked the app on my phone before coming on it and it was still BoM Weather and it will be for many years to come.

Gorman goes on to criticise the former government for approving the rebranding, which reportedly cost over $200,000:

If we are going to start using such colloquialisms, the former government should have seen the storm clouds coming on this one. It was a large amount of money spent by the former government, the environment minister under the new government is looking to that matter, the circumstances around it.

But obviously there are people who are relying on it but in the work that meteorologists do, and it’s incredibly important work, not just for communities that might be feeling the impacts of flooding or severe weather events, they’re really important for farmers, people in the agricultural sector and aviation and a whole range of industries.


⚠️UPDATE: Severe Thunderstorm Warning extended further west, now includes large #hail as well as heavy #rain & damaging #winds. Flash #flooding a risk with any storm. Locations now in warning area include #Tibooburra, #Wanaaring & #Ivanhoe. For updates see

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) October 19, 2022

Medibank halts trading after receiving messages from alleged data hackers

AAP is reporting that health insurer Medibank has gone into a trading halt after telling customers it had received messages from alleged data hackers.

Medibank said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday it had launched a forensic investigation to establish if a group removed customer data.

It said protection of customer data remained a priority.

Medibank systems have not been encrypted by ransomware, which means usual activities for customers continues.

We continue to work with specialised cyber-security firms and have advised the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Steps to safeguard the network and systems may cause temporary disruptions to services, the insurer warned.

Medibank CEO David Koczkar offered an apology acknowledging the news would concern customers.

Our team has been working around the clock since we first discovered the unusual activity on our systems and we will not stop doing that now.

Medibank said it held a “range of necessary personal information of customers” as a company providing health insurance and services.


Albanese on announcement of West Jerusalem decision: ‘some things can always be done better’

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has conceded that “some things can always be done better” as he defended his government’s reversal of the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Speaking with ABC Radio Sydney this afternoon, Albanese defended the decision, which was signed off by cabinet on Tuesday morning:

We’ve had this policy since 2018.

Pressed on the chain of events – including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updating its website and this fact being reported prior to the decision being formalised by cabinet – Albanese said:

Oh look, of course some things can always be done better, but the truth is that we have been very clear about what our position was.

Albanese noted that the former prime minister Scott Morrison had at first flagged, during the Wentworth byelection campaign in 2018, the possibility of moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But the Morrison government did not go that far a couple of months later when it later announced it would delay actually moving the embassy.


SA premier warns Murray River could reach water level not seen in half a century

The South Australian premier, Peter Malinauskas, has warned that people should be prepared for the Murray River to reach levels not seen in nearly 50 years.

Malinauskas said that while the state had time to prepare, government engineers and flood planners are bracing for more intense flows after the flooding in Victoria:

The information that we have at hand doesn’t suggest that major towns are going to be inundated with major flood events.

We are advised that South Australia does face the prospect of more water coming down the River Murray than what we’ve seen since 1975.

Levee systems will be potentially tested and we do need to be getting prepared where we can.


Shadow attorney general signals opposition could move amendments to anti-corruption commission bill

Since the Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, said Labor had got the balance right on its national anti-corruption commission bill it has seemed likely to pass with opposition support.

But after the second day of inquiry hearings into the bill, the shadow attorney general, Julian Leeser, has flagged that it could move amendments to it.

Leeser told Sky News the view in the government that the legislation is “perfect” is “not borne out” by evidence to the committee from the Law Society, legal bodies, and inspectors overseeing the anti-corruption commission bodies in NSW and Victoria.

He said:

There are a range of areas where I think some of the safeguards need to be tightened. Whether that’s the definition of corruption itself. Whether that’s the availability of judicial review, or the way in which determinations of public hearings are made, or the powers of [the Nacc] inspector.

Leeser wants an independent judge to make rulings on whether “exceptional circumstances” and the “public interest” tests required for public hearings has been met, not the Nacc commissioner, and seems to be endorsing the view of some legal bodies that if the commissioner decides a right of appeal should be created.

Earlier on Wednesday the joint select committee received evidence in support of public hearings from the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption commissioner Robert Redlich, and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s John Hatzistergos.

Hatzistergos said:

I am a strong supporter of public hearings. I believe they’re important because they make the organisation accountable. They provide an opportunity for other people to come forward. We’ve had investigations commenced in public, result of that info is other people come forward and we’ve been able to go into other areas that have raised sign issues of corruption. It ensures the transparency and accountability of the organisation.

Redlich has suggested the “exceptional circumstances” should be dispensed with in favour of a safeguard that a public hearing cannot be held if it would “unreasonably damage” the witness’s reputation.

Redlich said under the current bill the person’s reputation is “only a discretionary consideration” that the Nacc may have regard to, which is “not good enough”.


Jim Chalmers denies announcement of West Jerusalem decision was ‘botched’

I just wanted to return to Jim Chalmer’s appearance on the ABC, where he was asked if the government “botched” the announcement of the move to revoke the recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Chalmers denied the announcement was botched, and acknowledged some “disappointment” with the decision:

All we did on this occasion was reaffirm a policy that we’ve had for quite some time now, some years. We do understand that some in the Australian community are disappointed with this decision, we know these are sensitive issues but from our point of view we reaffirmed a longstanding position held for some time now, and that is that this is a final status issue for negotiations, peace negotiations between the two parties, so we have reaffirmed that. We don’t lightly dismiss the concerns that have been raised, we take them very seriously, we know it’s a sensitive issue and an important issue. Yes, for me, I do support and was part of the discussion that led to yesterday’s announcement, so I take responsibility for that as well but my primary focus has been on the budget.


Labor MP apologises to Jewish community for ‘insensitive timing’ of West Jerusalem decision

The federal Labor MP Josh Burns says he is hurt by his government’s decision to revoke the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and has apologised to the Jewish community for the “insensitive timing” of the announcement.

The MP for the seat of Macnamara in Victoria also implicitly accused the government of not properly considering the policy shift before it was announced. The announcement on Tuesday reverses the position adopted by the Morrison government in 2018.

In a statement today, Burns said he took his role as a leader of the Australian Jewish community extremely seriously:

Of course, I understand Israel has designated its capital as Jerusalem. It’s where its government buildings are and where its parliament sits. Frankly, capital cities are sovereign decisions for countries.

I didn’t like the Morrison government playing politics with these sensitive issues, and it’s my view that any further alteration to Australia’s policy needed to be considered extremely carefully.

To my disappointment, this did not happen.

I know people in my electorate and across Australia are hurt by this decision, and to be honest, so am I. And in relation to the insensitive timing of this announcement on a holy day, I am sorry – that clearly shouldn’t have happened.

I know the past 24 hours have been extremely difficult for many people. It’s a reminder of the deeply held views that must be considered whenever [we] develop policy on the region.

What I’m focused on now is rebuilding trust between the federal Labor government and the Australian Jewish community, as well as developing sound and principled foreign policy in consultation with all impacted parties.


Treasurer says effect of floods on cost of living will ‘make things a bit tougher for people’

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is on the ABC this afternoon, and says the government is still “working through” how the current floods will affect the economy in the coming months.

Chalmers was asked if he had any sense as to how the floods in Tasmania and Victoria will affect cost of living. He said things will get “a bit tougher for people”:

We are seeing this primarily with what happens in flood-affected areas, focused mainly on the human consequences which the prime minister said.

We are working through now. Clearly one of the ways most Australians will feel the impact of these natural disasters is in the supermarket aisles. We’ve seen this before, unfortunately. Flooding is becoming a more and more regular occurrence in this country and we’ve seen before what it means for fresh produce, what it means for fresh food, what means for meat and other groceries – so we can expect to see that again.

We are really, as we speak, working through trying to get our best understanding of what it means for inflation. Australians are already under the pump and this will make things a bit tougher for people. There’s no use pretending otherwise.


Lidia Thorpe praises athletes standing against fossil fuel sponsorships

The Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has thrown her support behind athletes who’ve recently stood against sponsorships with fossil fuel companies.

In a statement, Thorpe name-checks Australian test captain Pat Cummins, netballer Donnell Wallam and former AFL player Dale Kickett for their protests against taking sponsorships from fossil fuel companies.

This was most recently highlighted by the players taking issue with Netball Australia for their new sponsorship deal with mining giant Hancock Prospering.

Thorpe congratulated the players for taking the stand:

This country loves sport. Our athletes are our children’s role models, and we’re seeing a broad spectrum of athletes, fans and community leaders taking action for climate justice. This shows the next generation what good leadership looks like, in caring for our country and community.

We can’t keep enabling greenwashing through fossil fuel sponsorship of sports teams when our country is dying. Increasingly frequent extreme weather events, fires, floods and crop failures show how urgent climate action is. These athletes are using their influence for positive change and that should be commended.


Watch: Did a whale penis wash up on a Queensland beach?

So, in a bit of a change of pace, we asked and got answers to a very important question: did a whale penis wash up on to a Queensland beach?

If you haven’t seen that viral TikTok and have no idea what this is about, you better strap in:


Zoe Daniel echoes Allegra Spender’s criticisms of government’s West Jerusalem decision

The independent MP Zoe Daniel has echoed fellow teal MP Allegra Spender in criticising the government for the way it announced it won’t be recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Daniel, who represents the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, said the government behaved in an “offensive and inappropriate way” by making the announcement on a Jewish holiday:

Australia’s emphasis must be on supporting a two-state solution under which the Israeli and Palestinian people co-exist within secure and peaceful borders.

Suddenly reversing Australia’s position in such an ill-considered way does nothing to advance that policy.

The way in which that decision has been reversed by Labor has shown disrespect to an ally, and without consultation with our Jewish communities. Making such an announcement on a holy day was offensive and inappropriate.


⚠️⛈️ Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Heavy Rainfall leading to #flash_flooding and dangerous driving conditions is likely. Locations that may be affected include #Wilcannia, #White_Cliffs, #Broken_Hill, #Menindee and #Fowlers_Gap. For more details, check

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) October 18, 2022

Thanks Natasha. Good afternoon, Mostafa Rachwani with you for the rest of the day, with much still to get through.


Thanks for your attention today. You’re now in the excellent hands of Mostafa Rachwani.

See you tomorrow!

Tasmanians on alert for developing rain: SES

Tasmania State Emergency Service (SES) is recommending the community prepare and be aware of forecast rain over coming days.

While flooding in northern Tasmania is continuing to ease from last week, Tasmania SES acting director, Leon Smith, said:

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast wet conditions developing later this week into next, and I recommend everyone be aware of the forecast and prepare accordingly.

Rain is forecast in the northern half of the state on Friday, with showers and possible thunderstorms forecast across the eastern half of the state on Saturday.

Smith said:

With soils and river catchments still saturated from last week, further rainfall may lead to renewed levels of flooding in some areas.

While winds are forecast to be below damaging level, with soils saturated, trees are more likely to fall due to the effect of high winds.

I encourage the community to keep up to date with the weather warnings and utilise resources on the SES website to plan to make decisions safely.

In addition, TasALERT is the single point of truth in regard to warnings relative to the actual conditions on the ground and Tasmanians are urged to make themselves familiar with the TasALERT site.


Australia Palestine Advocacy Network welcomes policy shift on West Jerusalem

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network has welcomed the Albanese government’s decision to reverse their recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It said the original decision – made by the former prime minister Scott Morrison in 2018 – was a “flawed political stunt” and “should never have happened in the first place”.

APAN’s vice-president, Nasser Mashni, said the previous government’s decision “completely undermined efforts for Palestinian self-determination, and showed the previous government wasn’t interested in a peaceful resolution”.

In a statement issued today, Mashni said:

This reversal brings Australia back into the international consensus – Australia must not pre-empt the final status of Jerusalem.

Israel asserts that the entire city is exclusively theirs, denying Palestinian connection to their ancient spiritual, cultural and economic capital.

For fifty years, the international community was united in rejecting Israel’s unilateral claim – until former president Trump and then our own former prime minster …

We thank the current Australian government for differentiating itself from the dangerous political posturing of the previous government.


Federal and Victorian governments commit $150m in joint funding for flood clean-up

Victorians whose homes and businesses have been damaged in the floods can receive clean up assistance at no cost.

The Australian and Victorian governments have announced joint funding through the commonwealth-state disaster recovery funding with an initial investment of $150m to prioritise hazard assessments.

Registration is now open for the first phase of the jointly funded clean-up program to be coordinated by Emergency Recovery Victoria, with additional support from the Australian defence force.

ERV will work with local contractors to demolish, remove and dispose of structures that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair by the floods. They will also remove hazards and debris that pose a threat to property or work crews.

About 50,000 homes, 14 hospitals and 300 schools and early childhood facilities have been identified within flood-affected areas in Victoria to date, with numbers expected to grow even higher as water levels travel downstream in the coming days.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said:

The first step in rebuilding is ensuring properties are made safe, and hazardous debris isn’t putting families at risk – it’s an enormous job but we’ll be there with Victorians every step of the way.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said arrangements would help lessen the stress of those affected by the floods.

We’re ensuring Victorians can begin what will be a long road ahead with our full support – but without the expense and stress of having to navigate that initial clean-up on their own.


Opposition criticises Labor’s reversal on recognising West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

The shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmingham, has told ABC News the government has damaged its relationship with Israel, following the Albanese government’s decision to no longer recognise West Jerusalem as the capital.

President Biden has not overturned the decision that was made around the same time. The substance of this issue, and in the substantive sense, West Jerusalem under essentially all propositions for peace and a two-state solution, remains part of Israel. It’s essentially the functioning capital for much of the Israeli government.

When the decision was made, it was very clear that from Australia’s perspective, East Jerusalem needed to be negotiated in terms of its status as part of a final two-state solution and that is what we continue to aspire to see.

But then there is the fact that this has been handled in such a poor and shambolic way in which Australian voters who were misled prior to the last election, in which Jewish and Israeli community groups, were not consulted properly.

The Israeli government was not consulted or informed properly. And the announcement was made at a sensitive time, both on the Jewish calendar as well as in the timing of the Israeli elections, and the government really does now need to put effort and work into seeking to repair a damaged relationship with the Israeli government.


Rochester residents warned to move to higher ground

This EMERGENCY WARNING - RIVERINE FLOOD - Move to Higher Ground is for Campaspe River Downstream of Rochester (East)

More details at

Communities of Nanneella, Fairy Dell, Koyuga and Kanyapella South are currently being impacted.

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) October 19, 2022

This EMERGENCY WARNING - RIVERINE FLOOD - Move to Higher Ground is for Rochester Township

More details at

Rochester is currently impacted with major flooding. A relief centre has been opened at Bendigo Showgrounds, Holmes Road, North Bendigo.

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) October 19, 2022


Federal support for live music to help festivals

The minister for the arts, Tony Burke, has announced that the next round of federal support for live music in Australia will be dedicated to helping music festivals, amid a marked increase in festivals being cancelled due to logistical and climate-related complications.

The first four rounds of funding in the $20m Live Music Australia program were previously open to small to medium music venues around the country, to help them both during and after Covid restrictions were lifted.

Today, Burke announced that round five, worth $2.5m, will be aimed at “assist[ing] with the rising costs of organising and hosting music festivals”.

Music festivals will be able to apply for up to $100,000, and they will be required to demonstrate their primary focus is live music and a commitment to programming Australian acts.

Several Australian music festivals have been postponed or cancelled, citing logistical challenges and waterlogged sites in a very wet year. The first day of NSW festival Splendour in the Grass was called off due to flooding, while more recently, Strawberry Fields, Sunset Sounds, This That festival, Yours and Owls and Jungle Love are among those cancelled due to weather.

Full Tilt and Flow festival were also cancelled, with organisers citing supply chain issues.

In Victoria, Grapevine Gathering festival in the Yarra Valley was cancelled due to flooding two weeks ago.

The devastation of festival sites has followed years of Covid-19 restrictions that prevented them from being held.

Burke said:

I love music festivals. I’ve been visiting them for years and I want to see them pumping out great live music as soon as possible.

The next round, which will open in early 2023, will be targeted at live music venues again.


Did Bob Katter alter his signed oath to the Queen?

We interrupt your regular proceedings for a Bob Katter update: let a thousand blossoms bloom.

Earlier this week, the member for Kennedy appeared on the Chaser’s podcast, where he said that at the beginning of each new parliament when MPs are required to swear or affirm an oath to the regent (then the Queen), he alters his to say “no” or “don’t”.

You can hear the man himself speak about it here:

SCOOP: The Chaser podcast has accidentally found itself with a *real* scoop after Bob Katter confessed that he refuses to pledge allegiance to the Queen, and is therefore ineligible to sit in parliament.
Full ep and analysis from @marquelawyers here:

— The Bureau of Chaserology (@chaser) October 18, 2022

He says:

I mean, do you think I am going to sign that document?

I say ‘don’t’ and I write ‘no’ on it. No one knows.

I’m getting so old now, I can probably reveal it.

Now, laughs aside, if Katter had altered his signed oath form, then there are potential constitutional issues under section 42. Every MP has to make an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the regent – both in a signed document and verbally.

You may remember the Greens senator Lidia Thorpe was made to redo her affirmation after adding the word “coloniser”.

So if Katter had altered his signed affirmation, then there are all sorts of constitutional questions including whether or not he has actually been sworn in as a MP.

We checked with the Speaker’s office, who told us they had reviewed Katter’s signed oath form from 26 July 2022 (when the new parliament was sworn in) and “can confirm there is no amendments or annotations”.

We can confirm that Mr Katter was sworn into parliament in accordance with section 42 of the Australian Constitution.

Which means that for the last parliament swearing in ceremony at least (the only one which counts) Katter didn’t alter his affirmation and therefore is a MP.

So was Katter just joking on the podcast?

He said in a statement:

I pledge allegiance to Australia and its people - every time I go to sleep, every time I wake up and every time I step foot out the door.

And every three years I take that allegiance to the people of Kennedy.

If people wish to attack me for pledging allegiance to Australia and its people ... bring it.

That’s my opinion. Others can have theirs.

We asked specifically about the fact that despite what he said, he did swear allegiance to the regent (then the queen) with no alteration.

Katter had “nothing further to add”, his office told us.

And we ain’t spending anymore time on it, because in the meantime, every three months, a person is torn to pieces by a crocodile in north Queensland.


Marinus Link will lower Tasmanians’ power bills, says state resources minister

Tasmania’s minister for resources, Guy Barnett, says the government’s investment will reduce Tasmania’s cost of operating Marinus Link by half.

It will put downward pressure on electricity prices. It will deliver improved energy security in Tasmania and will deliver thousands of jobs and billions in investment. We are talking at least $7bn in further investment here in Tasmania in renewable energy projects alone – $7bn.

In addition to that, 140 million tonnes of CO2 [will be] removed from the atmosphere – that is a million cars coming off Australia’s roads by 2050 – as a result of Marinus Link.

With respect to the support, in particular the concessional finance for our battery of the nation projects, I would like to identify Tarraleah in particular, a $700m project to double the capacity of the power station, going from 110 megawatts to 220 megawatts – double. That is fantastic. In addition, pumped hydro.

And I am talking hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs across those projects, and of course, thousands of jobs across the state of the decades to come. And we are talking about new jobs, jobs that our future generations can appreciate and enjoy. So there is a real opportunity here.

I want to put on record a sincere thanks to the commonwealth government for their support to deliver this. It will actually deliver and reduce the cost, the annual cost of operating Marinus Link by nearly half as a result of the arrangement and the agreement we have today. That will be a great benefit to Tasmanian customers in terms of electricity prices in particular for some electricity prices will be lower with Marinus Link than without one. Marinus Link will help save money on people’s power bills.


Bowen says he and the prime minister haven’t signed the paper yet but confirms the Marinus Link “is a project of national significance”.


Government offers Tasmania concessional finance for cleaner energy transition

The energy minister, Chris Bowen, provides more details on how the Marinus Link will be financed:

The commonwealth will be providing $2.5bn in concessional loans to ensure this project can be built as cheaply as possible.

It needs to be built – the question is how quickly and how cheaply. Let’s build it as quickly and cheaply as possible using the power with the federal government’s balance sheet.

Then the commonwealth, Tasmania and Victoria will also be taking equal shares in the ownership of the link to manage this project going forward.

In addition, related to it is north-west transmission line to which the commonwealth will be providing $750m worth of concessional loans, well over 80% of the cost.

And of course, we have a wonderful battery of the nation which is really the key to Tasmania’s potential going forward, and it is only possible with Marinus Link, but it takes investment.

I am delighted to announce the commonwealth will be providing $1bn in concessional finance to the battery of the nation.


Albanese government to accelerate Marinus Link project

Anthony Albanese moves on to the announcement of the Marinus Link. He reiterates what the energy minister, Chris Bowen, told ABC radio this morning, that the power project linking Victoria and Tasmania represents the largest energy investment since the Chifley government announced the Snowy hydro scheme. Albanese says:

I’m here with the premier of Tasmania for what is such an exciting announcement. I’ve been discussing with the premier the way in which we can get the commonwealth, together with Tasmania and Victoria, to get … a project that’s been discussed for a long period of time into reality. To get this project moving.

Because we need to act on climate change. We need to make sure that we have clean, cheap energy, and Tasmania of course has led the nation in renewable energy.

What this will enable is it to go even further. A big benefit for jobs here in Tasmania, in construction alone, something like 1,400 on the Marinus project alone and in the ‘battery of the nation’ project.

This contribution by the commonwealth is the largest investment in energy that we have seen by a commonwealth government in any single announcement since the Chifley government announced the Snowy mountain scheme. That’s how big this project is. An exciting project to create jobs here in Tasmania, economic activity here in Tasmania, as well as assisting to lower emissions right around the country.

Albanese acknowledges the work of both the Tasmanian and Victorian governments.


Australia uniting to look after flood-affected communities: Albanese

Anthony Albanese has begun to speak in Hobart after visiting flood-affected communities in the north of the state. He emphasises the collaboration that has taken place between the federal and state governments to support those affected.

This morning we’ve had the opportunity to visit the communities of Deloraine and Latrobe, following Monday, my visits to Forbes and Parkes in western New South Wales, and then on Sunday [when] I visited Bendigo, and also Rochester, with the Victorian premier.

What I have seen throughout Victoria and New South Wales and Tasmania is the devastating impacts of these floods. My heart goes out to the communities who have been impacted. I recommit to the federal support that we’ve offered already for the floods.

We have six local government areas here in Tasmania [which] are receiving the disaster recovery payment of $1,000 for adults, $400 for children. And in addition to that, there’s 17 local government areas eligible for the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

So if people have missed out on work because they can’t get there, because the businesses are shut, or their communities have been isolated, then they’re eligible for up to 13 weeks’ payment at the jobseeker rate.

We have worked very closely with Jeremy [Rockliff] and his government, with Dominic Perrottet’s government in New South Wales, and Daniel Andrews in Victoria, as well as with local government.

What Australians are doing is what we always do. We are uniting to work towards looking after communities that have been impacted by these floods, and we’ll continue to do so. And we’ll be continuing to be in contact with those three governments. It’s expected that there may well be more weather events on the way.


Immigration minister says temporary protection visas 'a unique form of cruelty' but Labor yet to end regime

The Labor government was elected on a campaign promise to end temporary protection visas (Australia’s temporary regime is an outlier: the global norm is to provide permanent protection). The Coalition supports TPVs, arguing they are a critical element of Operation Sovereign Borders to deter asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

In a speech on Thursday, the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, told the Migration Institute of Australia that “temporary protection visas do everything to undermine a fair go”.

They are a unique form of cruelty - creating endless limbo for people owed our protection, and who having been working, paying taxes, starting businesses, and building their lives in our communities for a decade.

I don’t think anyone – including the Coalition – would be expecting families who have been in Australia for a decade to return to rule under the Taliban – a situation unlikely to change any time soon.

Giles said in many cases, refugees on temporary protection visas were filling jobs in regional areas, where there were dramatic skills shortages.

A day later, Giles reiterated the comments, and posted online that the government had committed to ending temporary protection.

The Albanese Labor Government has made a commitment to transition those who have been found to be owed our protection on temporary protection visas to permanent protection.

We will keep this promise and meet our commitment.

— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) October 13, 2022

Filmmaker, photographer and refugee advocate Barat Ali Batoor said each day living on a temporary protection visa was damaging for refugees who sought certainty and security in their lives.

People are losing their loved ones in their countries of origin. Every single day is very long for them to be granted permanent protection. The wait is only adding to their trauma.
The announcement is welcomed and we hope for an immediate action.

— Barat Ali Batoor (@BaratBatoor) October 13, 2022


More than three in four Australians support permanent protection for refugees on TPVs, polling shows

More than three-quarters of Australian voters support the granting of permanent protection to refugees who are currently living in Australia on temporary protection visas – an election promise the government has recommitted to as recently as this month, but has not yet enacted.

New polling data from the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW shows 75.2% of voters polled agreed with ending temporary protection for refugees in Australia, including 72% of Coalition voters.

Nearly 20,000 people are living in Australia on temporary protection visas or safe haven enterprise visas, which require refugees to redemonstrate every three or five years that they still suffer from a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country.

Those visas are highly restrictive, preventing family reunion, limiting people’s right to travel – for example, to see family in a third country – and can also carry restrictions around employment and where people live.

A 2022 protest in Canberra calling on the government to grant permanent protection to those on temporary protection visas
A 2022 protest in Canberra called on the government to grant permanent protection to those on temporary protection visas. Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

The survey on Australian attitudes to TPVs was conducted by associate professor Daniel Ghezelbash, deputy director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney, Macquarie University’s Dr Robert Ross, and Behavioural Insights Team leaders Saul Wodak and Ravi Dutta-Powell.

The survey was designed to test the efficacy of different messaging on refugee policy, involving 1,500 respondents in May and June of 2022, representative of the Australian voting public across age, gender and state.

Researchers provided respondents online with basic information on TPVs and asked the question:

Do you support a pathway for these refugees who are already in Australia on temporary protection visas to permanently settle here?

Respondents then rated their support for the proposal on a scale from 0-6 (0 = strongly oppose, while 6 = strongly support).

Some respondents received only basic facts about TPVs, others received facts with additional “values framing”, wording that highlighted various particular ethical or moral contexts about the refugees’ situation.

Support for ending TPVs was very high across all groups participating in the study, regardless of which information they received. The figure of 75.2% total support is across all groups. In the group that received only basic information – that is, no “value framing” – the level of support was 74%.

And the level of support for granting refugees permanent protection was high across respondent groups. Support was strongest among self-identified Greens voters with 85% in favour, while 79% of Labor voters, 71% of independent voters, 70% of Coalition voters, 65% of Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party voters and 46% of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation voters were also in favour.

In those who received additional value framing, the study found further increase in support, an increase that was statistically significant but small.

This framing included language such as “refugees on temporary protection are fleeing powerful oppressive states” or “policy change will not compromise the integrity of Australia’s borders”.

Ghezelbash said:

These results show that Australians understand that it’s unnecessary and expensive to continue the temporary protection system, which prevents refugees from being able to feel secure.

There’s no convincing public policy argument for continuing this harm and incurring these costs. People can see that.


Kerang warned to evacuate

This EMERGENCY WARNING - RIVERINE FLOOD - Evacuate Immediately is for Kerang Township

More details at

Floodwaters are rapidly rising. The town of Kerang will become isolated and may remain isolated for up to a week plus.

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) October 19, 2022

Victoria’s flood crisis by the numbers

AAP has put together these facts summarising the flood situation in Victoria today:

Areas under threat:

  • More than 50 warnings have been issued across the state.

  • Three emergency-level warnings have been issued, including evacuation orders for Barmah, Lower Moira, Echuca, Echuca Village, Bunbartha, Kaarimba, Mundoona, and Zeerust.

  • It has been declared “too late to leave” for Shepparton, Kialla West, Mooroopna, Orrvale, Murchison and Murchison East.

River warnings:

  • Three major flood warnings have been issued for the Avoca River, Goulburn River and Loddon River

  • Four moderate flood warnings have been issued for the Broken River, Campaspe River, Seven Creeks and Wimmera River.

  • Five minor flood warnings have been issued for the Barwon River, Broken Creek, Kiewa River, Ovens and King rivers and Yarra River.

Upcoming predicted peaks:

  • Loddon River at Kerang predicted to peak at 78 metres above mean sea level on Thursday.

  • Murray River at Echuca predicted to peak between 95 metres and 95.2 metres above mean sea level on Friday.

Calls for help:

  • SES has received more than 400 requests for assistance in the past 24 hours.

  • About 26 flood rescues.


  • There have been two deaths, one at Nathalia overnight and one at Rochester on Saturday.

  • Seventy-four schools have been closed.

  • Fifty-nine kindergartens have been closed.

  • Thirteen aircraft are assisting flood-affected areas.

  • Forty sandbag collection points across the state.

  • Four hundred and twenty-three roads have closed, 268 have reopened.

  • Thirty thousand potholes have been repaired.

  • About 16,000 emergency payment applications.


Community builds ‘great wall of Echuca’ made of sandbags

They call it the “great wall of Echuca” – a levee wall stretching the length of Echuca’s NRMA Holiday Park. The army of locals spent hours constructing the fortification in the hope the wall will protect the town from incoming flood waters.

Volunteer Miriam Marage said hundreds of people were there on Tuesday, passing sandbags and shovels:

Keep in mind this is just one day. The sandbagging has been going on for nearly six days now. Everyone is doing their bit to contribute. From feeding volunteers, sandbagging, helping neighbours to driving forklifts. Those with utes or trailers are carting sandbags to where they’re needed. Others are helping in evacuation centres.

There are hundreds of people doing their bit. It’s simply incredible to be part of. There were ants, sunburn, mozzies and a snake in the water, but we smiled and had a few laughs and soldiered on.

They call it the "Great Wall of Echuca" - a levee wall stretching the length of Echuca's NRMA Holiday Park. The army of locals spent hours constructing the fortification in the hope the wall will protect the town from incoming floodwaters. Video courtesy of Miriam Marage.

— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) October 19, 2022


PM speaks to flood-affected communities in Tasmania

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is in Tasmania today, speaking to flood-hit communities, and urging residents affected to apply for disaster recovery payments, which amount to $1,000 for adults and $400 for children.

Getting a briefing on flood damage in Tasmania in Deloraine today.

We’re working across local, state and federal governments to make sure people get the help they need to rebuild.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 19, 2022

Support payments are available for flood affected residents across Tasmania, Victoria and NSW. For details, head to

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 19, 2022


Allegra Spender criticises government’s decision on West Jerusalem

The independent Wentworth MP, Allegra Spender, has released a statement saying the Albanese government’s decision to no longer recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was “rushed and badly handled”.

Spender said she had written to the foreign minister, Penny Wong, to express her “deep concerns” at the decision, which Wong previously called “cynical”.

The federal government’s decision to withdraw recognition of West Jerusalem was rushed and badly handled – made without proper consultation.

Announcing the decision on a Jewish holiday was even worse, as it precluded community organisations from making a public response.

Every sovereign nation, including Israel has the right to determine its own capital.

Spender said Australia should play a constructive role in supporting a two-state solution and that the government’s actions “undermine our efforts without any gains”.


Echuca students sandbag the town hall instead of studying for VCE

Year 12 students in the border township of Echuca were meant to be celebrating their last day of school today.

Instead, they’re out on the main street, sandbagging to fortify the historic town hall.

Cleo Oberin out with her classmates and boots and a shovel:

I tried studying the other day but your mind isn’t in it. It’s a bit weird right now it’s all up in the air … nobody knows what’s going to happen … we’re just in a bit of limbo. Do we study? Help? You can’t help but help. Everyone’s here. But I keep thinking everyone’s in the same boat. We’re all in this together, you can’t help but feel down but when everyone comes out like this, it’s heartwarming.

Macey Barber, Sam Deola and Cleo Oberin pose in front of the Echuca town hall in front of other volunteers as they prepare sandbags
Year 12 students from St Josephs college Echuca packing sandbags instead of studying for the VCE exams. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The St Joseph’s college students still haven’t been told if their final VCE exams will kick off from next week as scheduled. The school has been shut since Monday and will remain so until at least the end of the week.

On Tuesday, Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Curriculum of Assessment Authority and the Department of Education and Training would automatically make derived exam scores available for students directly affected by flooding.

With the Murray River predicted to peak at levels higher than the 1993 flood from Friday, though, studying wasn’t at the forefront of the students’ minds.

Year 12 student Sam Deola said plenty of his classmates could be at home readying themselves for a possible exam period but it was the “spirit of the town” for them to help out instead.

Obviously it’s quite a bummer our schooling is over and we don’t know what’s happening with exams. But when you see houses half underwater, you see families suffering, every person in this community would give up their own time to come out and help out. You can’t just sit back and watch people suffer and you can’t see people doing hard work by themselves. There was no chance I was sitting in my room studying. I think it’s pretty special, there’s hundreds of people out here, it brings out the best in people, tough times.


Employers say they’re ‘in the dark’ on industrial relations changes

The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) has responded to details of Labor’s new industrial relations bill, criticising the government for leaving employers in the dark.

The workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has said the bill will ban pay secrecy clauses, enshrine gender pay equity as an objective of the Fair Work Act, and set up two pay equity and, care and community services specialist panels in the Fair Work Commission.

Guardian Australia has confirmed it will also include reforms to expand multi-employer bargaining, which was the most controversial element Labor adopted at its September jobs and skills summit.

The AiGroup chief executive, Innes Willox, said it had been consulted “but nobody on the employer side has seen any detail”, adding that it was an “enormous surprise” the bill had now passed cabinet.

He told Radio National:

There has never been any framework put forward as part of this. There has never been any discussion around what exactly is being proposed because employers haven’t been told what’s being proposed. So, we’re very much in the dark here with a less than ideal process, and we’ll find out a bit more, but it’s very much a fait accompli. So, I think at the very least, you could say there’s deep frustration among employers and employer groups at how the government has run this process. So, we’re a bit in the dark exactly as to what the government is proposing because they have’t shared anything with us in terms of detail.

Willox said multi-employer bargaining will result in “more strikes and less jobs”, calling for “significant protections for employers” who want to opt out.


Sydney’s ‘room with a poo’ has been leased

After just six days on the market, the lease for the Sydney studio apartment asking $520 a week for the privilege of having the toilet in the kitchen has been snapped up.

A Surry Hills studio with a toilet in the supposed kitchen renting out for $520 a week in October 2022
A Surry Hills studio with a toilet in the supposed kitchen renting out for $520 a week in October 2022 Photograph: Raine & Home

Domain now says the listing for the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills has been “leased by advertiser”.

That’s the Sydney rental market for you.

You can read more about the apartment from my colleague Mostafa Rachwani:


Earthquake hits Mansfield in central Victoria

As if Victoria didn’t have enough on its plate, the town of Mansfield was shaken by an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.4 this morning.

More than 100 people reported feeling the tremor at 9:01am, the ABC reports rattling windows as neighbouring communities dealt with a messy flood-clean up and braced for more rain.

Mansfield resident Barb told ABC Statewide Mornings that she did not feel tremors as acutely as she did in the September 2021 earthquake.

It was just two bangs that I heard and I went out to see what was happening, because I didn’t even think of an earthquake.

We had two big thumps – the cat went for her life.

Region: Mansfield, VIC
Mag: 3.4
UTC: 2022-10-18 22:01:41
Lat: -36.94, Lon: 146.14
Dep: 5km
For more info and updates, or if you felt this earthquake, go to

— EarthquakesGA (@EarthquakesGA) October 18, 2022


Goulburn River has peaked at McCoy’s bridge

Wiebusch concludes:

A little further along the Goulburn River at McCoy’s Bridge, it did peak last night at 10.58 metres and we’re not expecting to see any further impacts there as a result of that.

And particularly on the Broken Creek for the communities of Numurkah and Nathalia, we know there’s been some concern about the discussion around peaks of 2010 and 2011 in other communities.

That’s not what we’re expecting for Numurkah and Nathalia at this time. All indications are that the flood levels on Broken Creek will reach a minor to moderate level and there are community meetings occurring in both those communities today where residents can get further information.

And finally on the Hopkins River in the south of the state, at Alansford, good news overnight it’s peaked and not caused any impact along the way.


Causeway between Mooroopna and Shepparton to reopen when waters recede


Across then into the north-east of the state, on the Goulburn River, some good news this morning for residents in and around Mooroopna where the flood waters we believe will have receded enough that we’ll be able to lift the emergency warning there this afternoon for residents in and around Mooroopna to start moving about again.

And we’re continuing to reassess the causeway between Mooroopna and Shepparton which we do expect may be able to open either later this afternoon into this evening which will reconnect Mooroopna with Shepparton for supplies and the like.

In Shepparton and Kialla West itself, we’re expecting that the major flood level will have reduced enough by Thursday into Friday, that a range of residents will not longer be under threat and by Saturday we’re hoping that the water will have receded significantly around all residential properties in that Shepparton and Kialla West area in particular.

The substation at Mooroopna itself now that these waters are receding are expected to be able to be at a low enough level we can start monitoring and getting that service back online but as the Premier has indicated, temporary power has been put in place for all residents in Mooroopna.


Half of the homes in Barham, NSW could be affected by flooding


Further upstream then to Terambari, Barham and the like are to see major flooding in the week, around Barham, we’re expecting about 50% of the homes could become under pressure and we’ll come back to you in the coming days around what that means for further along the Murray from Swan Hill through to Mildura where we’re expecting to see major flooding and again community members need to start tuning in and being alert to that potential over the coming weeks. So it’s not something that’s going to happen in the next couple of days, but it will be something over the next couple of weeks in particular.


Campaspe River peaks at Echuca: SES


If we go across further downstream … to Echuca where we have seen the Campaspe peak, we’re now going to see the Murray River coming to play over the next 24 hours in particular. There is an evacuation emergency warning out for Echuca at this point in time.

Relief centre at Echuca still has capacity, but as a contingency we also opened a relief centre in Deniliquin in partnership with New South Wales should members need to cross over into New South Wales for that relief.

The other good news is we still have supply chains in to Echuca at this time so being able to get food and other supplies into Echuca is still possible. But please be aware the roads are closed to the general public at this point in time.

There’s been a lot of conversation around the levee that has been built in and around the Echuca township, around about 2.5km to 3km in length. That came about as a result of the incident controller working with the catchment management authority, local government, Victoria police and others to assess what options might be available to protect that town.

The option that you have now seen on the ground there is the option that was preferred by all of those agencies and now has been implemented and, yes, that will see a small number of properties outside of that levee also potentially be impacted.


Campaspe River receding in Rochester


If we go across on to the Campaspe River at Rochester, we heard some concerns this morning that there may have been indication that rivers were rising there. That is simply not the case.

The river continues to recede at Rochester on the Campaspe and to the point where we yesterday we were able to take some busloads of residents back into that area, supported by Red Cross and others, to assess some of that initial damage that had occurred in Rochester township.

The interesting part was the number of people … was actually higher on the way out. A number of community members chose to come back out with our Red Cross and emergency services yesterday, knowing that it’s going to be some time now before it is safe to return.

So again the emergency warning that remains for Rochester is not because of rising waters, it is because of the risk in the local community at this time that it’s not safe to return.


50-60 homes in Kerang expected to be inundated as evacuation orders imminent: SES


There’s an emergency warning out on the Loddon River for Kerang and the surrounding communities from Kerang south to the north.

We’re expecting at this stage that the highway will be closed later this evening. So whilst there’s an important warning out at the moment to move to higher ground, we are expecting that this afternoon there will be an evacuation message for the Kerang community alerting people if they choose to stay, you will be isolated for at least seven, if not more, days in post the peak which we’re expecting on Thursday which is at 78 metres, but again tonight, Tuesday night, the highway will be closed in and out of Kerang.

So people need to heed that warning and make their decisions now about moving. We aren’t expecting to see inundation in and around the Kerang township behind the levee at this point in time, but outside the levee, we are expecting there’s around 50 to 60 properties that could become inundated as a result of the flooding along the Loddon River.

Again, there’s another community meeting in Kerang today and we’d ask people to connect to that for the latest information.


Major flooding expected at Horsham, but no properties to be inundated


Looking at our flooding situation across the state over these next couple of days, starting in the west of the state on the Wimmera River at Horsham, we’re now forecasting a peak at the bureau at 3.45 which is still at that major range but has reduced a little of what we have previously. We will see some inundation in and around the showgrounds and local streets but we’re not expecting any properties to be inundated by flooding.

If we come across to the Loddon River. That’s one of the areas of our key focus for today and in to the coming days. Particularly around Pyramid Hill where there’s another community meeting today. Communities to understand that overland flow that will be occurring and also the Buloke Creek which will be reaching major flood level.


Victoria’s SES has received 400 requests for help and conducted 26 rescues

Tim Wiebusch of the Victorian SES:

The number of requests we have had in the last 24 hours. So just on 400 requests for assistance and around 26 rescues. So it is pleasing that people do seem to be heeding just at this time that message not to drive through flood waters, but we can’t again emphasise enough over the coming days we’re still going to see roads being cut, there is still plenty of roads that are closed, please do not drive around road closed signs and attempt to drive through flood water. It may be the last decision you make.


Not expecting a return to major flooding: BoM

Kevin Parkins, a senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, has now stepped up to the mic to give an update on Victoria’s weather forecast:

The expected rainfall over coming days is not expected to be anywhere near as widespread or as intense or as heavy and as a result of that we’re not expecting a return to major flooding. There’s obviously major flooding occurring in the landscape at the moment with pinchpoints along the Murray River, a real concern as you’re aware, but let’s get into the detail about the current forecast as it stands and what that means particularly for the flood-affected communities.

Today, we’re just expecting thunderstorms in the far north-west of the state. No rainfall across the flooded areas in the north or in central parts. On Thursday, we have got showers and thunderstorms forecast. I can tell you is that the thunderstorm forecast across the northern districts is not expected to produce severe weather. While there might be some local moderate or heavy falls, the thunderstorm activity should be pretty isolated in nature.

The concern around the weather does increase, though, on the Friday and the Saturday … we’re expecting widespread shower activity across the state, rainfall totals of about 2mm to 10mm, doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could cause some local river rises across the northern plains but very minor in nature.

Probably the concern over those two days is more the thunderstorm activity which could produce higher falls of 30mm or more with the greatest threat being around that north central parts of Victoria and the north-east. So that’s in the upper reaches of the Goulburn, the Broke, the King and the Ovens [rivers], and we’ll be watching that thunderstorm activity pretty closely and issuing warnings for more of a flash flood risk rather than heavy rainfall over a wider area.

I have some good news about Sunday – there was some concern we could see some widespread heavy falls on the Sunday. That is now off the table. We’re just looking at some shower activity across the state. So that will be updated with the official forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology as the day unfolds.


Flood-affected Victorian communities to receive $4.4m for mental health

Andrews’ final announcement relates to addressing the mental health impacts of the natural disaster:

We know that this flood event will have very significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of communities right across regional Victoria, particularly in the north. We have invested very strongly in mental health, but there’s always more that can be done.

Today I can confirm another $4.4m package of mental health support for affected communities. During the pandemic, people will recall we established 30 mental health hubs across the state to provide those wellbeing and support services. They will receive a further boost of $1.5m.

You can walk in or you can make an appointment but they’re there for regional and rural communities all the time and certainly during this flood event. It is really important that people be able to access those services and some of them may well be flood-impacted themselves but those hubs are in places like, for instance, the Horsey, Bendigo, Benalla, Shepparton and indeed when you think of Maribyrnong flooding they here in Kensington as well.

Either walk in or make a phone call, if you choose to make a phone call, 1300 375 330 to talk to someone, you don’t need a referral, you can just ring up and walk in and we’ll provide you with all the care and support that you need.

On top of those hub, mental health services will also get a boost of some $2m to deliver care within their local communities. $400,000 will be provided to impacted neighbourhood houses and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as well as part of that recovery process to organise events to bring the community together, that sense of grief and loss, but also healing and being as connected as we possibly can be. That’s never been more important.

• In Australia, support is available at Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, and at MensLine on 1300 789 978. In the UK, the charity Mind is available on 0300 123 3393 and Childline on 0800 1111. In the US, Mental Health America is available on 800-273-8255


Victoria pledges $54m for flood-affected small businesses

Andrews goes on to say small businesses hit by flooding will also receive government support:

Small businesses as well are central to so many of these regional communities. And indeed communities right across the state. We’re very pleased to be able to confirm we’ll provide $54m in small business immediate flood relief. They are at the heart of those communities and we’ll stand with them as well at a very difficult time.

$5,000 direct payments, they are one-offs and again they are an initial payment and we will continue to work with the commonwealth government, with local communities, with small businesses, to look at further support that we can provide. This is all about immediate relief, clean-up, repurchasing of stock, repair of equipment, replacement of equipment. Again, an initial payment, there will be more, that will come at a later point.

To access those payments, 13 22 15, a number that many in the small business sector will be familiar with given relief similar relief grants were provided in many different waves over the pandemic.

We’re also establishing dedicated business relief service, a dedicated business relief service for traders. It’s all about practical advice and support. It’s pretty overwhelming when you think about what’s occurring and has occurred in some of these communities. So any support we can provide is really important. Specialist mentors will also be there to help, small business owners navigate their way through what can be very complex despite our best efforts quite complex grant programs, that support is very important.


$10,000 one-off payment for Victorian farmers

Daniel Andrews has announced the state government will be providing $10,000 one-off payments to farmers affected by flooding, as well as subsiding transport costs and offering concessional loans.

I said yesterday we would be back with you with some information in relation to the ag sector. Today I can announce a $19.5m initial package. This is the first package and there will be more. This is us getting in as quickly as possible. There’ll then be further support under the DRFA partnership arrangements with the commonwealth government, but we’ll leave those announcements as joined announcements a little bit later on.

This is all about clean-up and about support for those who are without income and are in the most uncertain of times. Primary producers have been directly affected by these needs have access to a one-off direct payment of $10,000 to support clean-up, re-establishment, and all the other efforts that they’ll need to go to over coming weeks and months.

As I said, this is an initial payment and we’ll get these out the door as fast as we possibly can but just the certainty of knowing that this is coming will be a comfort. is the place to go for details about that.

We’ll provide subsidised transport. So we’ll subsidise transport up to 50% to help farmers to transport emergency water and fodder, and stock, whether they’re going to agistment, sales or abattoirs.

Finally agriculture, primary production, will also be able to access concessional loans of up to $250,000, those loans are stretched out at a reduced interest rate over five years and, again, an important part of our support for that very directly-affected sector.

Our agriculture sector is such an important part of our economic outlook, our prospects, so important to communities, flood-affected and indeed well and truly beyond. This is the food bowl of our nation and we’ll stand with every farmer, every primary producer, everybody in the agriculture supply chain at this really difficult time.


Second man dies in Victorian flood waters

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has stepped up for a media conference where he has confirmed a second man has died in the state’s flooding.

It is my sad duty to confirm that the body of a 65-year-old man has been found near Nathalia. We send our deepest condolences to his family, our thoughts and prayers are with him and all in that community.

Police will provide further details.


Residents of Barmah and Lower Moira ordered to evacuate

People located in Barmah and Lower Moira in Victoria have been recommended to evacuate immediately by the Victoria emergency services.

This EMERGENCY WARNING - RIVERINE FLOOD - Evacuate Immediately is for Barmah and Lower Moira

More details at

If you are located in Barmah or Lower Moira, it is recommended you Evacuate Immediately.

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) October 18, 2022


Echuca’s peak expected in coming days, as Kerang braces for major flooding tonight

Victorian authorities are warning there will be major flooding at Echuca and Moama on the Murray River today, but say the peak isn’t expected until tomorrow or Friday.

There are still 12 emergency warnings across Victoria including evacuation notices for Echuca, the Bunbartha region, and Barmah and Lower Murray. Kerang is likely to be isolated from tonight when the Loddon River breaks its banks.

Victoria’s state emergency service is urging residents in flood-affected areas to consider the emergency advice.

Tim Wiebusch of Victorian SES told ABC News:

The flooding in and around from Barmah all the way to Echuca is going to be at levels that we haven’t seen for some decades and so we’re really asking the members of the public to consider the need to move now. Those evacuation warnings we don’t issue them lightly. We are asking people to move at least to their relief centres and the like as we are expecting that flooding to peak in that area in the coming days.

And then further downstream, we got the community of Kerang where we’re expecting the Loddon River to bring major flooding in to that community overnight tonight into Thursday and peaking after that. Hence why we have got that emergency warning out now, encouraging people to consider moving to higher ground particularly if you’re not able to maintain, I guess, your own property within the levee wall of Kerang for up to a week or more. And that’s whilst we haven’t got an evacuation message out there at this point, we are anticipating that that could become the case and so, again, just encouraging people to really consider taking the chance now while the opportunity is still there to move from Kerang to higher ground.


Pauline Hanson to pay former senator $250k for defamation

The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, will have to pay $250,000 in damages after defaming former senator Brian Burston on the Today Show by falsely claiming he sexually abused a female staffer in his parliamentary office, AAP reports.

In the federal court on Wednesday, Justice Robert Bromwich ordered Hanson pay the penalties after “seriously damaging” Burston’s reputation on the Nine Network.

As well as incorrectly stating that Burston sexually abused a female colleague, Hanson also falsely claimed he had assaulted One Nation chief of staff James Ashby without provocation in the great hall of parliament, the judge found.

Bromwich said:

I find that both the fourth imputation and the sixth imputation were seriously damaging to Mr Burston’s reputation, being broadcast on a nationally broadcast television program watched by over 290,000 people at the time. They were both false.

Burston failed to prove that a number of other imputations were defamatory, including that he sexually harassed staff in his office, that he harassed a female staffer in his office, and that he brought the senate into disrepute by his shocking behaviour towards staff.

Burston launched the defamation suit in June 2020 over what he said were false claims of sexual harassment made against him on social media, via text and on television.
He argued the statements painted him as a sexual harasser, and someone who acted disgracefully and brought the senate into disrepute.

He repeatedly denied the allegations of misconduct, saying the events described never occurred.

Hanson filed her own counter suit in the federal court in November 2020 claiming Burston’s defamation case and sexual harassment allegations made against her amounted to sexual discrimination.

On Wednesday, Bromwich allowed this case to proceed, tossing Burston’s bid to entirely dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear it.


More than 1,400 jobs for Tasmanians from Marinus Link project, PM says

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is in Tasmania today, visiting flood-affected regions and spruiking his government’s new investment in the Marinus Link clean energy project. Last night, the government announced $1.5b under its rewiring the nation policy for various renewable schemes, including a plan for joint investment in the Marinus Link between the federal, Victorian and Tasmanian governments.

Speaking on ABC Hobart radio, Albanese called it a “nation-building project” that would generate 1,400 jobs in construction and 1,120 other jobs.

He said:

This will result in cheaper energy for Tasmanians and that’s why the Tasmanian government are backing this project.

Marinus has a $3.8bn price tag, according to modelling. Albanese said the project had been “studied to death” when asked to confirm whether the bill would blow out, or whether it would actually generate as many jobs as the government claims.

There’s ongoing jobs with renewables … they require an upfront capital cost.

Once that capital cost of doing the solar panels, having them up there on the roofs, over a period of time that gets repaid reasonably quickly and from then on, the consumer is better off.

Asked about another hot local issue in Tasmania, the calls for an AFL team in the state, Albanese said it would be a “terrific” thing but that his government wouldn’t pump money into requests for a new football stadium without seeing a business case for the investment.


Australia pledges $43m for global initiative to end polio

The minister for international development, Pat Conroy, says the government’s contribution of $43.55m is a 10% increase compared with the previous funding cycle, which will help end polio “once and for all”.

Since the global initiative launched in 1988, polio has decrease by 99% but Conroy says progress is fragile as new outbreaks and factors like vaccine hesitancy has increased the risk of further spread.

Pleased to pledge Australia's support last night to help #EndPolio once & for all through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. I'd like to thank Rotarians across Australia & around the world for their efforts in this ongoing fight ⁦

— Pat Conroy MP (@PatConroy1) October 18, 2022


Facial recognition coming to NSW clubs

Facial recognition technology will be used to identify problem gamblers in clubs and pubs across New South Wales, but critics have labelled the move an invasion of privacy that won’t crack down on money laundering, AAP reports.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW and ClubsNSW are developing a system to be rolled out across all clubs and hotels next year.

Cameras coupled with facial recognition will be used to keep people who have self-imposed bans away from poker machines.

People in gaming areas will have their face scanned and the images will be cross-checked with people who have signed up for the self-exclusion system.

The ClubsNSW chief executive, Josh Landis, said facial recognition technology was already in place in numerous NSW clubs and had been effective in preventing self-excluded patrons from accessing gaming machines.

He said in a statement:

Close to 100 clubs are already using this technology and the feedback is that it works.

The technology will have strict privacy protections in place and no licensed venue will be able to access the facial recognition data, which will become part of the existing multi-venue self-exclusion scheme. Landis said:

Clubs have a demonstrated commitment to protecting their members and patrons from gambling harm and this technology will take the world-leading multi-venue self-exclusion program to the next level.

But NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the move was “a sop to the powerful gambling industry”.

She called for the introduction of effective harm-reduction measures, including mandatory cashless gambling cards which would stop money laundering.

Pokies operators are so scared of a mandatory gambling card that they’ve turned to invasive and inconsistent facial recognition technology instead.

The NSW government has lost its mind if it thinks people want pubs and clubs to have self managed facial recognition tech. This is as terrifying as it is absurd.

The Greens are also calling for a curfew on gambling machines operating between midnight and midday, $1 bet limits a spin on gambling machines and mandatory player-set time and spending limits for machines and online gambling.


Severe thunderstorm warning for southern inland Queensland

⚠️⛈️ Ongoing Severe Thunderstorm Warning for southern inland Queensland. Heavy rainfall and damaging winds are likely. Locations that may be affected include #Charleville, #Longreach, #Cunnamulla, #Isisford, #Bollon and #Blackall. Full details

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) October 18, 2022

Heavy rain and storms forecast for NSW and northern Victoria

Dean Narramore, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, has told ABC News there is not going to be a break in the wet weather anytime soon.

That low will move towards the South Australia and New South Wales border tonight. And slowly move south through western parts of NSW and Victoria as we move through Thursday and Friday.

What that means – widespread heavy rain and thunderstorms through NSW, and eventually into northern Victoria on Thursday and Friday. A bit more convective, this system, so more hit and miss storms.

We’re talking widespread 50mm to 100mm, over five days, across many of our flood-affected rivers. That means likely renewed river level rises in NSW and into northern Victoria as well.

Just as this clears away, it doesn’t really clear away, the moisture hangs on – our next system comes in Sunday and Monday with renewed bursts of rain and thunderstorms across SA, Victoria, Tasmania, and NSW.

That will continue in mid-next week. A lot of rain and storms on the way. Residents and communities in flood-affected areas need to stay up-to-date because it’s going to be a wet and stormy few days with lots of warnings likely issued.


New workplace relations legislation aiming to close gender pay gap

A new workplace relations bill will ban pay secrecy clauses and make gender equity a central objective of the Fair Work Act.

The government is set to introduce the secure jobs, better pay bill to parliament next week, which it says will deliver a fairer workplace relations system for Australian workers.

The bill is the first tranche of the Albanese Labor Government’s workplace relations reforms designed to get wages moving.

For a decade they had a government that deliberately kept their wages low and did nothing to close the loopholes that have made Australian jobs less secure. That has left people struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living has gone up.

The employment and workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has said:

These changes will bring the laws up to date with the needs of the modern workplace.

A key objective of this bill will be to help close the gender pay gap.

Women should not be paid less than men – it’s that simple. That’s why gender pay equity will be at the centre of our workplace reforms.

Burke’s statement says the secure jobs, better pay bill will:

  • Ban pay secrecy clauses so that companies cannot prohibit staff from talking about their pay if they want to. These clauses have long been used to conceal gender pay discrepancies. Banning them will improve transparency, reduce the risk of gender pay discrimination and empower women to ask their employers for pay rises.

  • Make gender equity a central objective of the Fair Work Act, including the modern award system – putting the issue at the heart of pay decisions made by the Fair Work Commission.

  • Establish two new Fair Work Commission expert panels, one on pay equity and one on the care and community sector. One of the main causes of the gender pay gap is low pay and conditions in the female-dominated care sector. Care work is undervalued, underpaid, and increasingly insecure.

  • Make it easier for the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries by putting in place a statutory equal remuneration principle like that which exists in Queensland.


Levee built in Echuca overnight

A levee has been built on Watsons Street in Echuca overnight - between the Murray River and the town centre. Echuca Wharf is likely to exceed the major flood level (94.40 m AHD) today and peak on Friday higher than the 1993 flood level. @GuardianAus @natasha__may

— Caitlin Cassidy (@caitecassidy) October 18, 2022

As of 4pm yesterday the river was 94.30 and slowly rising.

— Caitlin Cassidy (@caitecassidy) October 18, 2022


Gas windfall ‘war profits’ surge to $40b

Australia’s liquefied natural gas exporters will snare windfall profits of as much as $40bn this year as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine, offering the government a chance to fund key programs by taxing some of the excess earnings, the Australia Institute says.

Analysis by the thinktank found domestic gas prices doubled from $7.50/GJ in 2020-21 to $16.20/GJ in 2021-22 even though the invasion happened two-thirds of the way through the year. This year prices will average $19.90/GJ.


Almost all NSW rivers west of divide in flood, minister says

The New South Wales emergency services minister, Steph Cook, has given the following update at a press conference in Sydney:

Well, this wet weather system continues to hit our regional remote and rural communities across the state today. We are starting to see that rain fall and it will particularly impact our western and our southern communities.

It will impact communities starting from today and over the coming days. So I’m urging communities across NSW, particularly those located around Bourke, around Moama, of course, in the south where we continue to focus a lot of our efforts, to stay on high alert over the next 24 hours and beyond.

But also to communities along the Lachlan River in Forbes and Condoblin as the last peak continues to move downstream, whilst we are seeing waters recede around the Forbes area, that peak will now continue to move through the lower Lachlan area as the days unfold.

Almost every river system west of the divide is in flood to some extent at present. Some of those river systems are minor, others moderate and others major. It doesn’t take much rain to cause those rivers to rise and rise very quickly. So we can expect to see some river systems move from minor to major in a very short space of time.


Focus of BoM should be on weather, not branding: Plibersek

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, has shot down the Bureau of Meteorology’s request for people not to call it the BoM, saying Australians should be free to call it whatever they like.

There’s now questions being raised over how much was spent on a marketing rebrand for the bureau, with Plibersek seeking “urgent information” about the expenses.

She told Guardian Australia this morning:

The Bureau of Meteorology, the BoM – Australians will make up their own minds about what they call it.

What matters is accurate and timely weather information for communities, particularly during severe weather like we’re experiencing right now. That’s where my focus is. People are hurting.

She later tweeted: “My focus and the focus of the BoM should be on weather, not branding.”

My focus and the focus of the BOM should be on weather, not branding.

— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) October 18, 2022

The bureau sent a media release yesterday, asking for the organisation to be known by its full name, not its acronym or “the weather bureau”. It later emerged that there had been at least $70,000 in contracts awarded to a communications company for “branding of product naming services” and “brand implementation”.

We understand the rebrand began around 18 months ago, and may have involved more contracts.

Plibersek said:

This “rebrand” work was undertaken during the previous government. I’ve asked for urgent information about all the costs and contracts entered into under the previous government.


Existing technology can double planned emissions reductions

Another report out today: Beyond Zero Emissions has set out how Australia could nearly double the planned emissions reductions by 2030 just by backing existing technology.

The climate thinktank estimated the country could make an 81% cut by 2030 compared with 2005 levels – nearly double the government’s existing 43% target – by accelerating the roll out of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, heat pumps, electrolysers and electric vehicles with chargers.

The group focused on what was physically possible, and not the cost or policies needed to get there.

It said most of the goal could be achieved by doubling the pace at which household solar panels were installed, quadrupling the rate at which wind turbines were built and connected ,and increasing the roll out of energy storage including batteries by a factor of five.

EV use would need to increase by a factor of 14 from the current low base and there would need to be a massive increase – 37 times the current rate – in the pace at which heat pumps were installed to run water heating, air conditioning and industrial heat.

The Beyond Zero Emissions chief executive, Heidi Lee, said emissions cuts on this scale were “ambitious but achievable”.

Our research shows Australians that emissions cutting technologies are here, we’re using them and there’s no reason why they can’t be scaled up.


Echuca community bands together as town braces for record flooding

The close-knit border towns of Echuca and Moama are awaiting the expected flooding of 2,000 properties in coming days, with hundreds residents being urged to evacuate with more rain on the way.

The communities spent hours rushing to fortify historic buildings and homes on Tuesday, with particular concern over properties outside the town levees.

The CocknBull Boutique Hotel was one site on the frontline. Built in 1876, the beautiful old building sits on the banks of Echuca’s Campaspe River. Then named the Saleyards Hotel, it was the town’s main stock selling centre for more than 60 years prior to its life as a hotel, delicatessen and restaurant.

By Tuesday evening, the hotel was surrounded by sandbags for the second time in a week.

The beautiful CocknBull hotel has been fortified for the second time in a week ahead of expected flooding in Echuca from today. Built in 1876, it was the town's main stock selling centre for decades prior to its life as a boutique hotel @GuardianAus #Echuca

— Caitlin Cassidy (@caitecassidy) October 18, 2022

The proprietor posted on social media:

Our beautiful building survived the Campaspe flood which peaked on Sunday and is slowly falling.

However, the rising Murray River poses the next threat pushing the Campaspe back up to dangerous levels. Emergency plans have been put in place to build a levee wall from the CocknBull to McDonalds. Thank you to all the amazing people that have helped protect our property and the community.


Flooded areas in eastern Australia may face another soaking

The BoM forecast continues to indicate rain over the next eight days will be widespread and significant across eastern Australia. Flooded areas may cop another soaking. (Source: @BOM_au)

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) October 18, 2022


Majority of businesses say net zero by 2050 not enough, survey finds

Nearly three-quarters of businesses have told an industry survey the goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 does not go far enough.

More than 60% said they believe the government should go further by setting a “net negative” emissions target.

The Carbon Market Institute, an industry association representing nearly 150 businesses, ranging from climate-focused companies to fossil fuel giants, said the results of its ninth annual business survey showed there had been an awakening over the past year to the scale of what was required for Australia to play its part in combating the climate crisis.

It found 71% of 262 senior executives and board members that responded said 2050 was too late to reach net zero emissions, and 61% supported the government setting a deadline by which the country would be withdrawing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emitted.

There was less support for an ambitious 2035 target. Half (52%) supported a target of emissions being cut by more than 60% (compared with 2005 levels) by that date. Scientists and investor groups have called on the Albanese government to set a 2035 reduction target of about 75% for Australia to play its part in limiting heating to 1.5C since pre-industrial times.

The institute’s chief executive, John Connor, said it showed “things have got real” as businesses grappled with the scale of what was required to address the problem.

He said the results reflected changes in policy under the Albanese government, challenges faced by business in moving to a low-emissions world “and, of course, the first-hand impacts of climate change we have witnessed in the last 12 months”.

Change is here, and it’s real.

Other notable findings:

  • 87% believed the longer Australia delayed decarbonisation the more abrupt, forceful and disruptive the policy response would need to be.

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, businesses gave an average score of a little more than 6 when asked to rate the integrity of Australia’s controversial carbon credit system.

  • The most important things driving business change were found to be stakeholder (including consumer and investor) demand and commercial opportunities.


‘A recipe for an eternity in opposition’: Sharma on ‘narrow’ Liberal views

After the questions about the reversal of the previous government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Dave Sharma was asked his opinion on the future of his own party.

Sharma was one of the moderate Liberal MPs swept from office by an independent (Allegra Spender) and one of the group who Liberal vice president Teena McQueen was celebrating losing at the most recent Cpac conference.

Sharma, who has had plenty of time to digest McQueen’s comments, seems to barely hold back his eye-roll at McQueen’s statement and said following her recipe would end with the Liberal party spending “an eternity in opposition”:

I disagree quite fundamentally with her comments and I think if you actually want to be in a position to form government, and win the seats that are necessary to form government, it doesn’t make sense for you to be a narrow party … having only a limited electoral appeal, an narrowly ideologically position.

I think if we took the advice of some of these people that we should purify ourselves or shift further to the ideological right or abandon seats where voters are higher income and higher levels of education, it’s a recipe for an eternity in opposition.

I’m interested in being a political party that has the aspiration to form government, not to be in a permanent opposition.

And I think the advice that people like that is the recipe for just that. An eternity in opposition. I wouldn’t take it and I think she was wrong to give it.


Government’s Israel reversal a throwback to the 1950s: Sharma

This is some of the dialogue from earlier in that ABC interview with Dave Sharma where he elaborates on some of the reasons he believes the Albanese government should still recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


The government has simply realigned Australia’s foreign policy regarding Israel’s capital every time with a majority of the international community. Isn’t this a move that is going to be better for our diplomatic standing overall.


Well, to me, it seems like a throwback. I’d point out the United States and Russia which is two countries which agree on very little both agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

We’ve got countries in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, because they see Israel as a part of peace and stability in the region.

And I think what this does, I mean, they could disagree with our policy at the time, but by taking it back in this way, they’re taking quite an antiquated view of the conflict.

… I think all we did in 2018, when we announced this decision, was recognise that simple reality that Israel’s government has all its offices and natural institutions there, recognise the reality that every Israeli politician from both sides visits their counterpart in those places and recognise the reality that even if the capital is one day shared, or the Palestinians establish their own capital in East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem will remain part of Israel and I think it was a common sense policy at the time.

What Labor’s done is take our policy back to the 1950s.

Karvelas calls Sharma up on aligning Australia with Russia’s foreign policy given what is unfolding there. Sharma says he is “just pointing out that the idea that this is an isolated or unusual position is not the case”.


Sharma defends Morrison’s Israel move and criticises Labor’s reversal

The foreign minister Penny Wong yesterday confirmed Australia ended recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, after Guardian broke the story on Monday. At Tuesday’s press conference she said the Morrison government’s decision to move the Australian embassy from to West Jerusalem in 2018 was a play to win the electorate of Wentworth in the federal election.

Wentworth is one of the electorates with the highest proportion of Jewish people in Australia. Scott Morrison first announced a review of the issue to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the final week of the by-election campaign that followed Malcolm Turnbull’s exit as the member for Wentworth.

Liberal candidate and former ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma lost out to independent Kerryn Phelps in October 2018. Two months later, Morrison formally recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Sharma subsequently won the seat in the 2019 election contest but in the most recent federal contest lost the seat to the independent Allegra Spender, as one of the many moderate liberals to be unseated by the teals.

Sharma has appeared on ABC radio this morning where he criticised the Albanese government for making the policy decision “on the run”.

RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas took Sharma to task, saying it was rather the Liberal government who made the decision hastily before the election.

Sharma defended the former Coalition government’s actions:

Let me take you back to that time. What was announced during the by-election campaign was a review of our policy on the settings. Decisions on that policy were not taken until several months after that election. And they reflected at the time that we had a new prime minister in Scott Morrison and there’ve been significant international moves afoot in this area, including the United States, moving its own embassy to Jerusalem and shifting its recognition. Announcing our view of a policy, at the time when you build a new prime minister and international circumstances are changing, is not unusual. What is unusual is Labor doing this now when there’s seemingly no causal pretext other than the delivery on an election commitment.


No doubt Labor should be asked questions and I just did that with Chris Bowen about the way it’s been handled, but your argument doesn’t stack up, given you actually did this in a very, very febrile political environment. That’s how the announcement was actually made in 2018. It wasn’t organised in a way which was at all cohesive, can’t you concede that that was equally at least a mistake?


I don’t concede that point. In August of 2018, Malcolm Turnbull resigned as prime minister. He resigned his seat of Wentworth. As a result a by-election was called … Scott Morrison became the prime minister. And as is normal he announced reviews into a number of policies and this being one of them.


‘This Labor reversal sets peace back’: Dave Sharma on Israel

Dave Sharma, the former Liberal MP for Wentworth and former Australian ambassador to Israel, has followed Bowen on ABC Radio.

Sharma has issued the following statement criticising the government on its reversal of the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

Penny Wong has failed to articulate any national interest reason for this change in policy.

In withdrawing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, she is not only damaging a relationship with a close and trusted partner, but she is at odds with many of Israel’s Arab neighbours, such as the UAE, who are pursuing closer relations with Israel in order to promote regional peace and stability.

Any possible two-state solution recognises as its basis that Israel’s capital will remain in Jerusalem. Labor seems to think otherwise.

Far from advancing the cause of peace, this Labor reversal sets peace back, by providing a tailwind to extremists and states such as Iran who insist that Israel has no rightful place in the region.

What consequences will follow from this policy? Will Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong now refuse to meet Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as countless of their Labor predecessors have done?

Australia does not presume to dictate to any other country in the world where its capital should be.

The abrupt reversals in Labor policy on this issue, and its announcement in the absence of any national interest justification, suggest that it is solely internal Labor Party politics driving the approach. It is no way to conduct a foreign policy.

former Wentworth MP Dave Sharma
‘It is no way to conduct a foreign policy’: former Wentworth MP Dave Sharma Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

You can read more about reactions to that decision from my colleague Daniel Hurst who broke the story about the government’s reversal:


Are more energy deals with other states to be signed off in coming weeks?


Well, I wouldn’t say in coming weeks, we’ve been working on this deal [Marinus Link ] effectively since June.

I’m also in conversations with other states this is part of our $20bn rewiring the nation plan.

So yes there will be more projects, but I’m not here to say they are imminent.


Biggest energy investment since 1940s Snowy Hydro scheme, Bowen says

Q: What will the government’s funding for renewable energy zones involve and how quickly will they be running?


This is the biggest announcement of a commonwealth investment in energy generation and transmission since the original Snowy Mountains scheme back in the 1940s.

And this is really important because we have 86 months to 2030 to reduce our emissions and as the crisis earlier this year showed we are dealing with the implications of having 4 gigawatts of power leave our system in the last decade and only have 1 gigawatt come in.


Royal tour anticipated in 2024 to mark NSW parliament's 200th birthday

A royal visit is on the cards as part of a program of events to mark the 200th birthday of the New South Wales parliament, AAP reports.

The tour in 2024 will be part of bicentenary celebrations for Australia’s first legislative body, the NSW Legislative Council, now the state’s upper house..

A statement issued by the NSW parliament did not say which royals will be visiting but there has been previous speculation that King Charles III will travel to Australia early in his reign.

The statement issued on Tuesday said:

It was during the first royal tour to Australia in 1954 that Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the NSW Parliament and christened it Australia’s ‘Mother Parliament.’

The Legislative Council was established in 1823 and held its first meeting in 1824.

NSW governor Margaret Beazley said:

In celebrating the bicentenary of the Legislative Council, we celebrate its role in our parliamentary democracy.

Legislative Council President Matthew Mason-Cox said the establishment of the parliament was “Australia’s magical Magna Carta moment, the first restraint on the autocratic power of the early governors that has evolved into parliament as we know it today”.

A program of events will be held next year leading up to the 200th anniversary of the council’s first meeting.


Tasmania could get to 200% renewable energy and share with mainland, Bowen says

The federal government is expected to announce several new energy projects today, including $1.5bn for renewable energy zones.

The climate change and energy minister Chis Bowen is speaking to ABC Radio about those announcements. Of all the projects, Bowen says “the most spectacular” is the Marinus Link, with funding to accelerate the construction of the multi-billion power project linking Victoria and Tasmania.

There’s many facets to this – probably the most spectacular is the Marinus Link which has been long talked about this.

Marinus is really important because it means that Tasmania, which is currently 100% renewable will now have the opportunity to get to 200% renewables and share capacity with the mainland which is good for Tasmania - thousands of jobs to be created and good for the mainland because it improves our energy reliability and of course reduces emissions.

This is the equivalent of 140m tonnes of co2 coming out of the atmosphere by 2050. Or put it another way, taking a million cars off the road.

When will the project be completed?

These are going to take a while, for example [with] Marinus the first cable is scheduled to be done in 2028/2029, the second cable in 2030/2031.

Frankly there are real constraints in construction at the moment ... so we will have our challenges.

Bowen said the project will funded through “joint equity with Victoria and Tasmania”.

You can read more about the funding from Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy and environment editor Adam Morton here:


Moama farmer reflects on river life as flood waters rise

John McKindlay has a beer can taped to a gumtree on his property that shows where the 1993 north-east Victorian floods hit. Back then, the water didn’t breach his house, but it got close.

McKindlay runs a 1,000 acre crop and sheep farm just out of Moama, sitting on the banks of the mighty Murray River. On Monday evening, the river was three metres higher than usual, and about half a metre shy of the can.

McKindlay says:

We’re lucky living here on the river. I grew up here, right here, this was my grandparent’s house. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. We’ve still got close to two-and-a-half metres [before it floods], it’s very unlikely we’ll be impacted but they’re talking about a one-in-1,000-year flood event ... we’ll see.

John McKindlay at his farm.
John McKindlay at his farm. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

McKindlay doesn’t get nervous during floods – his property is up nice and high. Of greater concern was the impact of recent rainfall on his yearly crop harvest. But he knows how ferocious natural disasters can be.

I’m guessing we’ll probably still see high rivers right through to Christmas. The water spreads between Barmah and Moama, there’s thousands of acres that go underwater.

But I don’t get nervous now. I’ve seen a few floods. 1974 was a big one. I remember that because a next-door neighbour took out his rowboat to save rabbits marooned on logs and unfortunately he fell out of his boat and drowned. We had to go and look for him. He was a Gallipoli veteran, in his early-to-late 70s. A very resourceful old bloke. When he came back from Gallipoli, he cleared the logs by hand ... cut the timber to build his house. He did everything.


Good morning!

Natasha May now on deck with you.

The latest Murray River data is seeing levels at Echuca starting to edge up again after a plateau, set to break through the ‘major’ flood level any minute.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Euchuca and Moama. Roads are still open but may not be for much longer.

The peak of Shepparton’s floods has passed, but the community, including the agricultural sector, is struggling to get back on its feet. The mayor of Greater Shepparton, Shane Sali, told ABC Radio this morning that farmers are having to dump their milk because they are unable to get it on trucks.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is expected to visit flood-affected Tasmania today where he will also make an announcement about the Marinus Link that could send energy across Bass Strait.

The proposed undersea electricity cable between Burnie, in north-west Tasmania, and Gippsland in Victoria is supposed to be a boost for clean energy, the equivalent of taking 1m cars off the road.

If you’re anywhere that’s been flood affected, or see any other news you think should be on the blog, feel free to ping me on twitter @natasha__may or email

Let’s continue on!


Murray River expected to peak

Australian Associated Press has the latest on Victoria’s flood emergency:

Communities in Victoria’s north are on high alert with the swollen Murray River expected to break its banks in the coming days.

Evacuation warnings are in place for people in Echuca and the smaller towns of Barmah and Lower Moira, with the Murray likely to start peaking on Wednesday.

There are concerns river levels could exceed the 94.77 metres above seal level recorded during the 1993 floods.

Flood warnings are also in place for towns along the Loddon, Campaspe and Goulburn rivers.

Overnight on Tuesday, major flooding happened at Appin South on the Loddon River and at Rochester on the Campaspe River with residents being told to move to higher ground.

Major flooding at Kerang from the Loddon River is expected overnight on Wednesday, with the water forecast to peak around the January 2011 level.

A sandbag levee is expected to help keep the majority of the town dry, but it could be cut off for up to seven days.


And here are some of the top stories from around the world:

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian Australia’s live news blog for Wednesday 19 October. Natasha May will be in shortly to take you through the morning, but here’s today’s headlines to get us started:



Mostafa Rachwani (now) and Natasha May (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

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

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

10, Jun, 2022 @8:19 AM

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

Lisa Cox and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

27, Nov, 2022 @6:48 AM

Article image
Albanese meets with NBA legend in support of Indigenous voice – as it happened
Greens call for immediate pay rises for minimum wage earners; 86 Covid deaths reported. This blog is now closed

Donna Lu and Natasha May (earlier)

27, Aug, 2022 @7:23 AM

Article image
State debt set to soar during pandemic, says Standard & Poor’s – as it happened
Victoria reports four deaths and 13 new Covid cases while NSW records no new locally acquired cases for fifth day as pressure mounts over border closures. This blog is now closed

Naaman Zhou and Amy Remeikis

30, Sep, 2020 @8:44 AM

Article image
Morrison announces 2050 net zero plan; SA to reopen border to vaccinated visitors – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Caitlin Cassidy and Amy Remeikis

26, Oct, 2021 @7:45 AM

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

Elias Visontay and Natasha May (earlier)

14, Nov, 2022 @8:05 AM

Article image
Mask mandates ruled out as nation records 90 Covid deaths – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Mostafa Rachwani and Natasha May

20, Jul, 2022 @8:48 AM

Article image
Covidsafe phone app legislation passes lower house – as it happened
The bill moves to the Senate as Josh Frydenberg gets tested for coronavirus due to coughing fit during question time and eight more cases detected at Cedar Meats. This blog is now closed

Naaman Zhou and Amy Remeikis

12, May, 2020 @11:50 AM

Article image
New data reveals emissions increased after lockdowns – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Cait Kelly and Natasha May (earlier)

31, Aug, 2022 @9:22 AM

Article image
Ruby Princess protocol 'should have been scrapped' before ship docked, inquiry hears – as it happened
Northern Territory declared Covid-free, with borders to open in July; person who attended Melbourne Black Lives Matter protest among 18 new Victorian cases. This blog is now closed

Naaman Zhou and Amy Remeikis

18, Jun, 2020 @9:36 AM