What we learned today, Saturday 22 October
The end of the day is almost upon us. Between floods, security deals and news of Hancock Prospecting’s withdrawal from netball sponsorship, it’s been a busy news day.
Here’s what we learned:
Floods continue to threaten parts of New South Wales, including Lismore, with evacuation orders issued for North Moree and Carroll Village. The emergency services minister, Steph Cooke, says there is not a single part of the state she is not concerned about at the moment and authorities are “sandbagging the state”. Areas of north-western NSW are expecting flooding worse than that recorded in March 2021, approaching the record set in 1955.
In Victoria, the SES received 70 calls for assistance overnight in the Geelong region which experienced really heavy falls. She Oaks near Geelong recorded 85mm overnight, 40mm of which fell in just half an hour. Thunderstorm activity was expected to clear across the state today. There remains a risk of heavy rainfall in northern Victoria on Sunday.
Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting withdrew from a $15m funding deal with Netball Australia after a revolt by players against its sponsorship. The company and Rinehart said they considered it “unnecessary for sports organisations to be used as the vehicle for social or political causes”. That follows a reported player backlash against the company over its climate record.
Australia and Japan signed a new security deal as prime minister Fumio Kishida visited Australia for what he said is the leaders’ fourth meeting in five months. The security deal will include joint training exercises for Japanese and Australian defence forces in northern Australia.
Severe weather warning for parts of south-east Queensland
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for parts of south-east Queensland.
The warning says:
A low pressure system off the Capricornia coast is forecast to develop further and move south to southeast tonight and through Sunday. At this stage, this system is expected to remain just off the Queensland’s southeast coast, however, some uncertainty exists with its forecast position and track.
HEAVY RAINFALL which may lead to FLASH FLOODING is forecast to affect parts of the Wide Bay and Burnett, and Southeast Coast forecast districts from later this evening. Six-hourly rainfall totals between 90 to 150mm are likely. 24-hourly rainfall totals between 100 to 150mm are likely with falls up to 300mm possible, most likely about the coast and ranges.
Locally INTENSE RAINFALL which may lead to DANGEROUS AND LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODING is also possible during this period with six-hourly rainfall totals up to 200mm. The highest risk areas are about the coast and ranges. A separate Severe Thunderstorm Warning will be issued if very dangerous thunderstorms with intense rainfall are detected.
Heavy rainfall is expected to increase during the evening and overnight period over the Southeast Coast, including Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The peak in rainfall rates should occur during Sunday morning with a potential clearance out of the southeast by late evening.
'Sandbagging the state': NSW emergency services minister
The New South Wales emergency services minister, Steph Cooke, says large parts of the state, including the inland and the west, are in for a “difficult few days” as flooding worsens.
Ninety-eight flood warnings are current, with the SES performing 21 rescues and answering hundreds of calls for assistance overnight.
The focus of the crisis continues to be in the state’s far north-east and south-east, close to the Victorian border.
Emergency services are preparing for a busy weekend as the wild weather arrives, with volunteers handing out 30,000 sandbags a day.
“We are quite literally sandbagging the state,” Cooke said on Saturday.
The SES commissioner, Carlene York, said flash flooding and hail could be made worse by heavy winds which could easily uproot trees in saturated areas.
“It’s already extremely busy and we’re expecting this next 24 to 48 hours to see more requests for assistance,” she said.
Major flood warning issued for towns downstream of Murray River
The Victorian state emergency service has issued a major flood warning for the Murray River downstream of Tocumwal to Barham.
Major flooding is occurring at Echuca, Moama, Torrumbarry, Barham.
The Murray River at Echuca is currently at 94.80 metres with major flooding. This level is similar to the October 1993 flood event (94.77 m AHD). The river level may possibly reach around 95.00 metres on Sunday night into Monday.
The Murray River at Torrumbarry Weir may reach around 7.85 metres around 24-25 October, with major flooding. This is higher than the January 1974 flood.
The Murray River at Barham may reach 6.20 metres around 24-25 October, with major flooding. This is higher than the October 1993 and 2016 floods.
NSW announces plan to increase use of Indigenous languages
The New South Wales government has announced a five-year plan to increase the use of Indigenous languages in the state.
Ben Franklin, the state’s Aboriginal affairs minister, said the plan will provide support to Aboriginal language groups and attempt to raise awareness of the value of Indigenous languages to the community and the state.
Across NSW, Aboriginal Languages are being reawakened by the love, commitment, and hard work of Aboriginal Language Custodians and their Communities.
The NSW government promised in legislation and by traditional message stick to invest in Aboriginal language revitalisation efforts and we are delivering on that promise with a commitment of more than $138m over the next 10 years.
The prime ministers did not pause to take questions.
On that note, I’ll hand over to my colleague Chris Knaus, who will take you through the afternoon.
Stay safe, stay dry, and stay out of flood waters.
Joint declaration on security will ‘deepen’ defence cooperation: Kishida
Kishida said the re-signing of the joint declaration on security “will further deepen our security and defence cooperation”.
Furthermore, I expressed my determination that all necessary options for the defence of our country including the counterstrike capability would become contemplated in the Japan’s defence capability will be fundamentally reinforced in the next five years, which is supported by Anthony.
We, once again, reaffirmed our agreement that Japan and Australia will service the core of like-minded countries collaboration in the Indo-Pacific that we will leverage the endeavour such as the Quad and the Japan Australia in a multilayered manner, and indeed, the efforts towards a free and open Indo-Pacific. I expressed my firm support and cooperation for the Quad summit meeting to be hosted by Anthony next year.
Japanese PM expresses ‘deepest condolences’ to flood-affected areas
Speaking through a translator, prime minister Kishida expressed his condolences to people dealing with flooding on the Australian east coast.
I expressed my deepest condolences, and to all the people by the disaster, I do pray for their safety. With the effort of people, I sincerely hope that there will be the recovery as quickly as possible.
He said he was grateful for the invitation by Albanese to meet in Perth, a city that he says symbolises the Japan-Australia trade relationship over iron ore. He also thanked Albanese and other former Australian PMs for attending the funeral of Shinzo Abe last month.
On the meeting with Albanese today, he said: “we concurred that our special strategic partnership has risen to a new and higher level”.
Albanese said the meeting also covered discussions of renewable energy, and Australia’s support for Kishida’s Australia Zero Emissions committee.
It will be a great galvanising force in the region, promoting decarbonisation in Southeast Asia and uniting all of our efforts towards net zero.
Australia and Japan sign new joint declaration on security cooperation
Albanese said he was pleased to welcome prime minister Kishida to Australia for what he said is their fourth meeting in the five months since he (that is, Albo) took government.
The meeting today was about Indo-Pacific security.
Albanese said they had signed a renewed joint declaration on security cooperation.
Our trade and investment and travel links are so strong. Our cooperation goes from strength to strength on everything from education to climate, defence and space exploration. As well as stability and solidarity, there is warmth and trust and respect in this relationship.
Our affinity is for a common desire for a peaceful, prosperous, resilient and secure Indo-Pacific. Where democracy and human rights are upheld, the rule of law prevails, and disputes are settled peacefully without coercion. Australian people and Japanese people hold these values dearly. And they were at the heart of our annual leaders meeting this morning.
In this shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is peaceful, prosperous, resilient and free is why today we have signed the new joint declaration on security cooperation.
He announced that Japanese and Australian defence forces would train in a joint exercise in northern Australia.
More than $14.6m in disaster assistance paid to people affected by floods: PM
Albanese said more than $14.6m in disaster assistance had been distributed to more than 18,000 people affected by floods in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Can I give my heartfelt thanks to defence force personnel, to the emergency service workers and to the volunteers who are showing once again that at the worst of times, we see the best of the Australian character. We see Australians helping each other out in a time of crisis. And we see, in some examples as well, Australians putting themselves at risk in order to help their fellow Australians.
I do say to Australians in these areas: please follow the advice. If you are asked to evacuate, please do so. Do not drive through flood waters. It is dangerous. You do not know what is below, what you can’t see. I ask people to continue to take the advice of the experts and please stay safe. That is the most important thing. Nothing is worth the risk involved and I again reiterate my thanks, my praise and my gratitude to those people who are providing that assistance on the ground on such a large area of Australia.
Anthony Albanese holds press conference with Japanese prime minister
Prime minister Anthony Albanese is giving a joint press conference with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida in Perth.
Albanese starts by speaking about the flood crisis in the eastern states.
He says there are now flood warnings from Queensland to Tasmania. There are three defence force helicopters on standby for night search and rescue operations in flood waters and 150 ADF members helping with flood preparation and recovery throughout NSW and Victoria.
Unnecessary for sports to be used for political causes: Hancock
Just a bit more on Gina Rinehart and Hancock’s decision to withdraw from its funding deal with Netball Australia following a player revolt.
In a second statement, Hancock said that Rinehart considered it “unnecessary for sports organisations to be used as the vehicle for social or political causes”.
Hancock and its executive chairman Mrs Rinehart consider that it is unnecessary for sports organisations to be used as the vehicle for social or political causes.
Firstly because sport is at its best when it is focussed on good and fair competition, with dedicated athletes striving for excellence to achieve their sporting dreams and to represent our country at their very best.
Secondly, because there are more targeted and genuine ways to progress social or political causes without virtue signalling or for self-publicity.
Thirdly because there are more impactful means to make a beneficial difference. For example, Hancock’s holistic support for real programs including Hanrine Futures – that are providing a true pathway for indigenous students through education and into employment where they are guaranteed a job should they wish, at the end of their training. The reality is that sponsorship is integral to sports organisations – for full-time professionals right through to young children at the grassroots level – who rely on corporations investing the funds that enable all sports to not only survive, but thrive.
Hancock Prospecting withdraws Netball Australia sponsorship following reported concerns by players
Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has withdrawn support from Netball Australia after a revolt by players against its sponsorship.
The mining company announced on Saturday that it would withdraw its $15m funding from Netball Australia. It has instead offered short-term funding until the organisation finds a new sponsor.
The Diamonds played without Hancock branding in their match against New Zealand this week, despite the sponsorship deal signed last month that was believed to give Hancock uniform branding rights.
That prompted speculation that the players had taken a stand against Hancock Prospecting. The team were reportedly siding with squad member Donnell Wallam, an Indigenous netballer, who had reportedly raised concerns with the company’s record on Indigenous issues.
In its statement, Hancock said recent media had been “disappointing” and inaccurate. It said its deal had not required uniform branding.
Sadly, recent media does not help encourage sporting sponsorships.
Neither Hancock nor Mrs Rinehart have ever requested or insisted that athletes provide any thank you videos or messages – although thank you videos and messages have certainly been received. Hancock and Mrs Rineheart would only ever want athletes to wear the Hancock logo if the athletes were proud to do so. Recent media misreporting has been disappointing, particularly given at no stage did Hancock insist its logo to be worn on the Australian Diamonds’ playing dress for recent games in New Zealand, nor did the Australian Diamonds refuse to wear the Hancock logo.
The company said:
Hancock appreciates Netball Australia’s warm welcome and support, and because of this Hancock and Roy Hill have advised Netball Australia and Netball WA respectively, that it will instead provide a four-month sponsorship should they and their players wish to accept it, to continue funding the athletes and to help netball as it arranges alternative funding and sponsorships.
New medicines for cancer and rare genetic disease added to PBS
Cancer medications and a treatment for a rare genetic disease have been added to Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, AAP reports:
The newly listed drugs are used for patients with skin cancer, lung cancer and X-linked hypophosphatemia, a disorder which impacts bones and growth.
Australia is the first country in the world to subsidise treatment for that condition, saving patients up to $360,000 a year.
Endocrinologist and head of medicine at Monash Health, Prof Peter Ebeling, said the subsidy was “a major milestone that will be warmly welcomed by Australians living with XLH and their families”, some who had waited 40 years for a new treatment option.
“To date, treatment has not addressed the underlying cause of XLH,” he said.
“Now, we can stop the loss of phosphate that causes the multiple health problems seen in XLH rather than trying to close the gate once the horse has bolted.”
Australians with a common form of skin cancer will also be able to access immunotherapy cemiplimab on the PBS.
The health minister, Mark Butler, said greater access to the drug via the PBS would improve the lives of people living with the condition.
From 1 November more lung cancer patients will also be able to access treatments atezolizumab and tepotinib.
PBS medications will cost a maximum of $30 per script from 2023.
It is expected around 1,800 people a year will benefit from the changes announced on Saturday.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has met with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Perth, where they have cuddled/been mauled by koalas.
Kishida and Albanese met today to talk about shared security concerns in the region.
Some more images from Echuca, where the Murray River has overtopped parts of the levee. We’re not even at the peak yet.
Fifa lashes broadcasters offering '100 times less' for Women's World Cup
The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has lashed broadcasters over their offers to screen next year’s Women’s World Cup, saying some are offering “100 times less” than they pay for the men’s event, AAP reports.
Infantino is in Auckland for the draw for the 2023 tournament, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and the biannual Fifa council meeting.
He emerged from the meeting to declare Fifa would not accept derisory rights offers for the tournament “from some countries – I don’t want to mention them – but those who they are, they know it”.
“When broadcasters – often public broadcasters, but also private broadcasters – offer us 100 times less for the Women’s World Cup than the men’s World Cup, even more than 100 times in some occasions, that is not acceptable,” he said.
“We are not going to accept this.”
Fifa revealed earlier this week it had turned down offers from broadcasters in Italy, Germany, France and the UK to show the 2023 tournament, which will be the biggest women’s sporting event of all time.
In Australia, Fifa has awarded broadcasting rights to Optus Sport, with Matildas games understood to be on-sold to free-to-air broadcaster Seven.
Fifa is attempting to commercialise the Women’s World Cup, after previously offering rights in a package deal with the men’s tournament.
Infantino said the 2023 tournament would cost Fifa around US$400m (A$638m) and it wanted to recoup its investment.
“We want at least to break even ... if not we’ll cross-finance it, of course, with the men’s World Cup,” he said.
“Hopefully this one, (if not) the next one we need to start making some profit.
“We know that the viewing figures for these broadcasters in some big footballing countries for the men’s World Cup or for the Women’s World Cup are actually very similar, especially in the recent past.
“We have viewing figures in the US Women’s World Cup, 1.2 billion people around the world ... the final 263 million, which is more than twice the Super Bowl.”
SES says there are 98 flood and weather warnings across NSW
The NSW SES commissioner, Carlene York, says there are 98 flood and weather warnings across the state, including 15 emergency warnings.
York says the SES received 481 requests for assistance across NSW in the past 24 hours, including 15 requests for flood rescues.
Floods worsen in NSW, with risk of renewed flooding at Lismore
The NSW emergency services minister, Steph Cooke, says there is not a single part of the state she is not concerned about at the moment. There are currently 19 flood warnings, nine of which warn of major flooding.
Cooke says emergency services have distributed 500,000 sandbags during this flood emergency, at the rate of 30,000 per day:
We are quite literally sandbagging the state at present.
Cooke says areas of north-western NSW are expecting flooding worse than that recorded in March 2021, approaching the record set in 1955. Even if it does not reach that 1955 level, she says, “there will still be significant flooding in that region”.
Our rivers are full, our dams are full, even the smallest amount of rain is only going to exacerbate and prolong the existing flooding conditions that we are experiencing … there isn’t a river system west of the divide that isn’t in some degree of flood.
I want to thank our SES personnel. They are weary. They have been at this for months now.
Cooke warns that a coastal low, currently over south-east Queensland, is due to reach the northern rivers region of NSW over the coming days and cause major flooding at Lismore.
It is being described as a high-impact event. The risks include life-threatening flash flooding, trees coming down, damaging winds, and hazardous surf … the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting potentially major flooding at Lismore.
The BoM says parts of the northern rivers could receive 100-150mm of rain on already sodden soil.
There is not a single part of NSW that I am not concerned about at this point in time. It is important that everyone stays alert and continues to listen to advice put out by the Bureau of Meteorology and the SES. I don’t want anyone to get fatigued by the amount of information being out at the moment. I acknowledge that there is a lot going on, but we do need people to stay alert.
NSW emergency services minister gives flood update
The NSW emergency services minister, Steph Cooke, is speaking now in Sydney.
She says it is shaping up to be a difficult few days across the state. There are currently 10 emergency warnings across the state.
The area of biggest concern is Moama – that’s over the bridge from Echuca. As anyone who has visited that region knows, it’s really one town split by an arbitrary state line.
So it’s slightly confusing that Cooke’s advice on when the Murray River will peak – the same Murray River that Victorian emergency services just said will peak tomorrow – is likely to peak on Tuesday.
The latest and best advice we have is that the river will peak there on Tuesday and is likely to exceed the 1993 level.
Victorian emergency services say the river will reach the 1993 level of 94.77 metres AHD later today, and peak at 95 metres tomorrow.
Road crews fix 40,000 potholes across Victoria
The department of transport has completed 40,000 pothole repairs across Victoria, Wiebusch says. A crew of 400 people are continuing to patch up those holes and any new holes that appear.
Flash flooding is a major cause of potholes so drivers may not get a lot of warning. Wiebusch has urged people to keep across the VicTraffic website for any road closures.
Flood waters peaking in northern Victoria; Murray River to flood until November
The chief officer of SES Victoria, Tim Wiebusch, says some of the river systems around northern Victoria are now reaching their peak.
At Kerang, the Loddon River is currently at 77.94 metres AHD. That is expected to peak at 78 metres later today.
We have seen this morning some overtopping of one section of the levee near Taverner Road at Kerang. We have seen some doorknocking of around 20 properties warning that there is a risk of flooding.
Wiebusch says Kerang remains under an emergency warning, and that will remain in place for the next seven days until the waters recede enough for the road to reopen.
The town of Rochester, which was severely hit in the first 48 hours of the floods, is starting to get a reprieve: the Campaspe River is down to a minor flood level.
We are certainly not expecting to see the river levels get back to what they were with the flooding last week.
The Campaspe River at Echuca River, which is downstream of Rochester, is at moderate flood levels. The greatest risk, says Wiebusch, is the Murray River.
The Murray River is now at 94.77 metres as it continues to rise and is expected to reach 95 to 95.2 metres from Sunday into Monday. There is still a warning to evacuate … we cannot guarantee that the levees will necessarily hold back the waters that are coming down the Murray at this time.
He says there are currently levee engineers in Echuca assessing those levees, but adds:
If you don’t want to be isolated and we don’t want to rescue people, our strongest message is evacuate now.
Murray River floods are slow-moving and long-lasting. Once the peak passes Echuca, which will happen early next week, the waters will move downstream toward South Australia, reaching Swan Hill by late October.
By the middle of November we’ll start to see flooding at Mildura.
Victorian emergency services give flood update
The Victorian emergency management commissioner, Andrew Crisp, is speaking in Melbourne now, giving an update on the flood and storm situation.
He says there are 20 swiftwater rescue boat crews from Queensland on standby to help in case of flood rescues.
The SES received 70 calls for assistance overnight in the Geelong region which experienced really heavy falls. She Oaks near Geelong recorded 85mm overnight, 40mm of which fell in just half an hour.
Michael Efron, a senior meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology, says thunderstorm activity will clear across the state today, still lingering a bit in northern parts of the state.
There is still a risk of heavy rainfall across northern Victoria tomorrow.
On Monday the rain will be more widespread, he says, with chances of falls from 20-40mm.
By Tuesday afternoon it should have cleared, and there will be isolated showers for the rest of the week but no big falls. “Settled weather,” Efron calls it.
Echuca floods: residents on the 'wrong side' of the flood levee band together
In Echuca, everyone is talking about the levee. There are about 60 houses trapped on the “wrong side” of the enormous wall of dirt that will protect the rest of the town from going under.
The forecast has jumped around but the river is now expected to reach major flood levels of 94.8 metres AHD later today, with the river peaking at 95m between Sunday and Monday.
The wall stretches for kilometres – running along Pakenham Street, Bowen Street and down Goulburn Road – but won’t save everyone.
Those on the dry side will have their homes protected, while those on the wet side have water already lapping at their doors.
People walk over the wall, visiting friends and families. “It is such a grub move,” one man says as he tries not to slide down the bank of mud.
On the wet side, those who have stayed to defend their homes are managing daily tasks – this morning it’s rubbish collection.
On boats and paddleboards they collect mounds of rubbish from the homes cut off from the rest of the town.
They’re ferrying it to the end of the street, over the wall and into a waiting truck. When this side is done, they’ll dive over and do the other 30 homes. Julie Golledge’s house is on the wet side.
They’re collecting more rubbish in the boats going around. That’s community spirit.
Golledge says the wall has not pitted the townsfolk against each other – neighbours take flowers to each other, they check on elderly residents who are still there and at 4pm each day they gather for drinks.
People’s generosity has been amazing, and the messages from the dry side, the good side, they say ‘whatever you need, we’ll help’.
If I needed a click and collect, they would go and get it. The towns, Echuca and Moama, are united.
Golledge says the people on the wet side are just waiting. They will likely be waterlogged for weeks now. Afterwards they want a real levee built that will protect them in the future.
We are just annoyed with the bureaucracy to build this now when it should have been built years ago.
It’s done, let’s move on and make it better.
Dreyfus reiterates government will not direct Nacc on what it investigates when asked question about Lidia Thorpe
Dreyfus was asked by a reporter if the allegations against the Greens senator Lidia Thorpe – that she had an undisclosed romantic relationship with the former state president of a motorcycle gang while sitting on the joint parliamentary law enforcement committee – would be the kind of thing the government would refer to a national anti-corruption commission, once such a body was established.
Dreyfus said he would not direct the Nacc at all.
As I’ve said before, I would not direct the national anti-corruption commission, when we establish it next year, on what it should be investigating.
He said he would not comment on Thorpe, saying it was a matter for the Greens and for the law enforcement committee.
Thorpe resigned as the deputy leader of the Greens in the Senate over the issue, and apologised for failing to disclose the relationship, saying: “I accept that I have made mistakes and have not exercised good judgement.”
New fines for serious data breaches will act as a deterrent, attorney general says
The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has addressed reporters in Canberra about legislation that will go before parliament next week to introduce massive new fines for serious or repeated data breaches.
Under the proposed legislation, companies could face fines up to whichever is higher: $50m, three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information, or 30% of their annual turnover.
Dreyfus said the penalties could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He told reporters:
Simply changing the law so that there’s a possibly of these much heavier penalties will be a deterrent.
You can read more detail about the proposed change here:
Analysis: rate rise expectations lift ahead of big week for economic news
Investors have lifted their expectations of how far the Reserve Bank of Australia will lift its cash rate, suggesting it will peak at 4.4% next year – it’s currently at 2.6%.
That’s at odds with the tone of the RBA this month, which shared a more cautious view that inflation will subside quickly, hence the 25 basis point increase in the cash rate on 4 October (rather than the 50bp that those investors were betting on).
Minutes out this week from that RBA board meeting noted there’s a lag in the impact of the rate rises since May. We’re in the midst of the sharpest tightening phase of monetary policy since 1994, after all.
This week, though, will give us important pointers to the Albanese government’s fiscal priorities for the rest of its term, even if next Tuesday’s budget is likely to be mostly a collection of modest forecast updates and the odd slashing of wasteful the previous government’s wasteful whimsy.
The September quarter consumer price index numbers from the ABS, due out the day after the budget, may steal much of the news cycle, particularly if the annual inflation spikes much above 7% rate.
The headline rate was 6.1% in the June quarter, and, depending on your inflation flavour, was the fastest pace of price increases in three decades.
Impacts from the ongoing floods, of course, won’t show up in higher prices for a while.
On the bright side, the end of the fuel excise “holiday” late last month hasn’t really led to the jump in petrol prices many motorists feared.
Average prices in NSW and Melbourne today, for instance, are in the $1.75-$1.80 range, well shy of the $2 per litre that seemed likely a couple of weeks back when increases of 25 cents/litre loomed.
Ninety-nine flood warnings issued for NSW
Thousands of NSW residents are bracing for flash flooding with heavy rain and thunderstorms to hit many parts of the state, AAP reported.
Ninety-nine flood warnings are current, with the SES performing more than a dozen rescues and answering hundreds of calls for assistance overnight.
The focus of the crisis continues to be in the state’s far northeast and southeast, close to the Victorian border.
In the north, emergency warnings are in place for Moree, Narrabri and the hamlet of Terry Hie Hie, while in the southern borderlands an evacuation order is current for Moama.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns the big wet will likely continue, with widespread showers and thunderstorms forecast for eastern NSW, resulting in flash flooding for many regions.
The BoM said the northeast is an area of concern as a trough and possible low-pressure system develops off the coast, bringing heavy rain to the Northern Rivers, including Lismore and Byron Bay.
“Exact rainfall amounts will depend on where this trough forms and how it moves and in particular whether the low-pressure system develops near the coast or further offshore,” it said late on Friday.
“Heavy rain may bring both a flash flooding and riverine flooding risk.”
A woman with a pre-existing medical condition was airlifted to hospital in Tamworth late on Friday by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter after becoming isolated by flood water on a property at Narrabri.
The same chopper was called to a Northern Tablelands farm west of Glen Innes on Friday after a man trying to drive a tractor through flood water became stranded when the engine stalled.
He was dragged approximately 200 metres to dry land by onlookers before being treated by paramedics for exposure and hypothermia.
The bureau has forecast rain and storms on Saturday further south, including Sydney, where it predicts a thunderstorm will bring heavy falls causing flash flooding.
Residents in the city’s west are expected to bear the brunt, with flooding tipped on the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.
The BoM said there will be “some brief reprieve” from the rain towards the middle of next week but flooding will continue regardless.
“Major flooding will continue across inland NSW and northern Victoria as floodwaters continue to impact travel, roads and infrastructure,” it said.
Australian ultrarunner on pace to break daily marathon world record
Did you know that you have the genes to be a long distance runner?
All humans do, according to Prof David Bishop from Victoria University. He spoke to science reporter Donna Lu about the physiological effects of long distance running for a story on Australian ultramarathon runner Erchana Murray-Bartlett, who has undertaken the extraordinary challenge of running 155 consecutive marathons to cover the distance from Cape York to Melbourne.
According to Bishop:
If you go back to our early genetics, basically, everyone has the genes to be a distance runner. Back 50,000 years ago, our survival depended on us being able to walk and jog long distances to be able to get food, and catch animals.
It’s a fascinating article, even if you, like me, intend to leave your marathon-running career as a genetic promise only.
The week in energy stories
It’s been another hectic week on the energy front, particularly in Victoria where the Andrews Labor government unveiled an ambitious plan to all but decarbonise the electricity sector by 2035 if it wins re-election next month.
My colleague Benita Kolovos and I looked into the plan and what might come next:
One person we spoke to told us the occasion was “spine-chilling” and “momentous”, but also a recognition that the private sector cannot be relied on to deliver the urgent climate action we need to replace coal and gas in our power system – and decarbonise the rest of the economy too.
Other states are coming around to the same conclusion, with Queensland‘s state-run dominance of the electricity system arguably giving it a headstart.
But many questions remain for the areas facing the transition (or more positively, “transformation”. One such area is Lithgow.
The challenges for these regions is ensuring there are new industries in place to pick up the inevitable slack. Finding common purpose, though, will add an extra layer of uncertainty and perhaps anxiety.
Having local, state and federal government policies aligned would also help.
Echuca levees under strain after heavy rainfalls overnight
Echuca received 18mm in the 24-hours to 9am today.
A levee near the library has been overtopped.
SES Victoria received 140 requests for help overnight
Three people were rescued after driving through floodwaters in Geelong and more than 85mm of rain was recorded in nearby She Oaks.
SES chief officer Tim Wiebusch told Seven’s Sunrise program:
We can’t emphasise enough – do not drive through flash flood waters. It could be the last decision you make.
The SES has received more than 8,300 calls for help since the weather emergency began and more than 750 flood-related rescue requests.
‘Water coming in from everywhere’: Kerang braces for flood peak
Echuca-Moama is not the only town in the Murray region bracing for incoming flood waters.
The small town of Kerang, about an hour north-west of Echuca on the Loddon River, has been cut off as the highway through the town was closed due to rising flood waters.
Charlie Gillingham is the mayor of Gannawarra Shire, which includes Kerang.
He told AAP the flood peak was expected to reach the town this weekend.
We’ve got water coming in from everywhere.
He said the Kerang levee was successfully holding water back but he expected it might not recede for a month or more.
Australian homeowners refinancing in record numbers
The cost of living crisis and interest rate rises continue to bite as $14bn worth of home loans were placed with a new lender in August alone.
This report from AAP:
Fourteen billion dollars worth of home loans were placed with a new lender in Australia in August alone, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
That’s an increase of 13% on July and 20% on August 2021. A record 27,667 mortgagors were involved compared to the 23,642 who swapped lenders in the same month a year ago.
Borrowers with a standard $500,000 mortgage are facing a cumulative $735 monthly hit to their family budget as a result of the six rate rises announced by the Reserve Bank of Australia since 3 May.
The increases – four at 0.50 per cent and two at 0.25 per cent – have taken the official cash rate to 2.60 per cent per annum.
That means forking out an additional $8,820 in repayments per year.
The rapid pace of the increases have led to considerable pressure for existing borrowers, says Graham Cooke, consumer research head at price comparison tracker Finder.
“They are scrambling to cut costs on their mortgage where they can,” he said.
“Repayment spikes are just too much to manage for millions of households causing a rush to refinance.”
Finder’s consumer sentiment analyser reveals one in four borrowers have struggled to meet loan repayments in the past three months.
A survey conducted by online broker Savvy shows 77% of Australian mortgage holders have experienced some form of rate rise.
More than half have seen repayments jump up as much as 5% and almost one in five, by up to 10%.
As for corresponding pay increases, 34% of the more than 1,000 people surveyed said their wage packet hadn’t changed since 2021.
Residents in NSW town of Moree told to evacuate
Let’s go to NSW now, where residents in parts of the outback town of Moree have been told to evacuate. An evacuation centre has been set up at the Moree PCYC.
The NSW SES said that heavy rainfalls from the storms that hit Queensland, NSW and Victoria in the past 24 hours have caused river rises along the Gwydir and Mehi rivers, which may reach the heights of the March 2021 flood.
Residents in north Moree have been urged to evacuate due to rises in the Mehi River, which is forecast to reach major flooding levels of 9.3 metres this morning.
The upstream flooding from the Gwydir River, which reached major flooding levels at Gravesend, is expected to combine with the Mehi and cause a second higher flood peak early Sunday morning.
That second peak could reach levels similar to the March 2021 flood, emergency services said.
You can see all the NSW flood warnings at the SES website.
Did the wall that saved the Melbourne Cup racetrack contribute to flooding?
Sticking with floods for a moment, reporter Nino Bucci has examined the impact of the flood wall built around Fleimington Racecourse, which protected the track while houses nearby were flooded by the Maribyrnong River.
As the people whose houses were swallowed by the Maribyrnong River dragged their ruined belongings into the street this week, until the piles of junk towered overhead, marquees were being erected downstream at Flemington racecourse.
The track, an emerald polished to a spectacular green, was saved by a 2.5-metre high flood wall, only days before the start of Australia’s premier racing carnival.
But did this wall, built by the Victorian Racing Club in 2007, also contribute to the inundation of 245 properties? In stopping water from resting on part of the river’s natural flood plain, did the wall make the Maribyrnong’s worst flood in almost 50 years even more devastating?
You can read the full piece here.
Murray River at Echuca could reach 1993 flood levels today
The chief officer of the Victorian State Emergency Service, Tim Wiebusch, has warned that the flood peak could reach Echuca tomorrow or Sunday.
The Murray River at Echuca Wharf is currently sitting just below 94.7 metres AHD (That’s the Australian Height Datum, so the height above sea level not the depth of the river).
That’s about a centimetre below the height of the 1993 floods, which peaked at 94.77 metres AHD. Locals have spent the past week building levees and sandbagging to those 1993 levels. Wiebusch said the river is likely to meet and exceed that height this afternoon and continue to rise to 95 metres tomorrow or Monday.
Wiebusch told ABC News Breakfast a short time ago:
We’ve seen 195,000 sandbags put into place in and around Echuca and we are hopeful that that good work will protect a range of properties, particularly also with an additional levee wall that has been put into place for parts of Echuca.
But we are continuing to emphasise to people there is an evacuation warning out for that area and we are asking people to move to that higher ground, particularly as we start to reach this peak in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Wiebusch said people were starting to heed those evacuation warnings, but many were choosing to stay put and prepare their homes. But he warned heavy rain recorded in some areas overnight, which is expected to become more widespread over the next two days, could change the situation.
[In] the next 24 to 48 hours there – because as we’ve seen in the south of the state overnight, we’ve seen thunderstorms come through, we are starting to see that heavier rain. We’ve seen in some parts isolated totals of 30 to 60mm of rain in the south of the state, and that will spread to wider parts of our state today and tomorrow.
The Albanese government has warned of a worsening economic outlook and dampened expectations for its first budget, as towns in Victoria and New South Wales remain on flood watch.
Firstly, the federal government has confirmed it will not extend the low and middle income tax offset on Tuesday’s budget, as new treasury forecasts predict that inflation will peak at just under 8% in the December quarter – and drag for longer than was previously forecast.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers dropped the bad news to media outlets overnight. You can read all the details from political editor Katharine Murphy here. She has also taken a closer look at Chalmers ahead of him delivering his first budget. You can read that profile here.
The Victorian town of Echuca, which sits on the Murray River, is still waiting for the river to reach its forecast peak. As of early Saturday morning, the Bureau of Meteorology predicted the Murray River at Echuca Wharf may today reach levels similar to the devastating 1993 flood, 94.77 metres AHD, with a peak of 95 metres – above the height of the makeshift levies – possibly tomorrow or Monday.
The Murray River was at 94.64 metres AHD at Echuca Wharf as of 3am. Our reporter Cait Kelly is in the border town. She will let us know how it’s going.
There are six emergency warnings for floods in Victoria, mostly for communities along the Murray and Loddon rivers. In NSW there are emergency warnings across the state, including emergency warnings for Moama – the twin city to Echuca – as well as Moree in northern NSW and Narrandera in the Riverina.
Also the Cox Plate is running at Moonee Valley Racecourse, just north of Flemington, today.
Let’s crack on. If we miss something, you can let me know on twitter @callapilla or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org