AFP foil plan to import $1.6bn of liquid meth in coconut water bottles – as it happened

Last modified: 06: 34 AM GMT+0

People have been cleared to return to their homes as flood threat eases in Victoria, but the Bureau of Meteorology is warning of renewed flooding in parts of NSW. This blog is now closed

The day that was, Sunday 30 October

That is where we will leave the live blog for Sunday.

Here’s what made the news:

  • One man died and five were injured in three separate incidents in the Melbourne CBD overnight.

  • The federal government is scrambling to find out if any Australians were killed or injured in a stampede that has left at least 149 people dead in South Korea.

  • In the wake of the Optus data breach, Victoria’s Department of Transport will replace nearly one million licences for free by the end of the year and all new cards will feature an extra layer of security.

  • The energy minister, Chris Bowen, has not ruled out putting a cap on gas prices as a measure to stop skyrocketing power prices.

  • Northern Territory attorney general and minister for justice Chansey Paech has defended his government’s failure to close Don Dale youth detention centre saying “new facilities are under construction”.

We’ll be back with you again tomorrow – Senate estimates fun continues next week.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for DESTRUCTIVE WINDS and LARGE HAILSTONES for Adelaide Metropolitan, MLR, Yorke Peninsula, Flinders, Mid North and parts of Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Murraylands, NW Pastoral and NE Pastoral districts. Refer

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) October 30, 2022

Victoria’s emergency agency has warned residents in Bogong Village to evacuate before 8pm due to a slow-moving landslide.

Landslide - Evacuate Now for Bogong Village Landslide - Evacuate now. For more info: #viclandslide

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) October 30, 2022

Bogong High Plains road to Falls Creek from Mount Beauty is closed to all traffic.

Looks like this area was hit with a similar slow-moving landslide a couple of weeks ago.

If you’ve been wondering about the places where credentials and personal information is bought and sold online, in the wake of the Optus and Medibank data breaches, here’s something I wrote on the topic.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for DESTRUCTIVE WINDS and LARGE HAILSTONES for people in Eastern Eyre Peninsula and parts of West Coast, Flinders, North West Pastoral and North East Pastoral districts. Refer

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) October 30, 2022

If you are wondering where the PM is today, he’s back in his electorate.

Happy 70th Birthday to Bar Italia. Hope I’m not in too much trouble for the free Gelato I served. 🍦🍦

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 30, 2022

AFP seizes 1.8 tonnes of liquid meth in Hong Kong bound for Australia

The Australian federal police and Australian border force say they have intercepted 1.8 tonnes of liquid methamphetamine in Hong Kong that was destined for Australia.

The AFP says intelligence gathered by AFP officers in Mexico alerted Hong Kong customs and excise to the meth, which was allegedly hidden in cartons of coconut water, on 23 October 2022.

The AFP puts the street value of the drug at AU$1.62bn or $540m wholesale. The AFP has not yet identified who is behind the plot to smuggle the drugs into New South Wales.


WA gunning for state-based NRL team

Western Australia has kicked off a campaign for a state-based National Rugby League franchise beyond 2023.

Work is now underway to find a third-party bid the Labor government can support, amid expectations the NRL will expand to 18 teams from 17 after next season.

A cross-agency government working group chaired by Labor MP Peter Tinley has been set up to support the development of a third-party bid and assist the bid through the potential bidding process.

Preliminary work has already begun with consultants Freshwater Strategy to determine interest from potential third parties and the most appropriate bid structure, the government said on Sunday.

Sport and recreation minister David Templeman said the two recent sellout State of Origin matches showed there was a strong and growing appetite for rugby league in WA.

A WA-based NRL team would bring long-term community, tourism and economic benefits to the state and grow local participation in grassroots sport, particularly female participation.

Although the state government won’t be leading the bid or responsible for a potential franchise, we are confident that there will be a strong and compelling case for a WA-based team.

Community rugby league in WA currently has 4,100 registered players.



New workplace laws will help workers in female-dominated industries: Burke

Minister for employment and workplace relations Tony Burke has said new workplace laws will better protect workers in childcare and aged sector as the opposition has accused the government of attempting to rush through the legislation.

Burke said constructive changes to the proposed laws were being considered, following discussions with unions and business groups.

We’re going into extra territory to try to really focus on providing extra leverage, particularly in feminised industries.

They’re not militant workplaces, they’re the ones that this reform is very squarely aimed at.

Under the proposed laws, employees will be legally required to reach agreements with employees who request flexible hours.

Multi-employer bargaining would also be introduced, with the wages umpire getting new powers to resolve long-running disputes.

However, business groups have raised concerns with possible amendments to the bill that would give unions the power to veto multi-employer agreements.

– from AAP


Penny Wong to travel to Brunei and Thailand

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, will travel to Brunei Darussalam and Thailand this week where she will meet with the sultan and the Thai prime minister.

In a statement on Sunday, Wong said she would be meeting with sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah and second minister for foreign affairs Dato Erywan to “discuss a range of shared interests, including climate change and security”.

Wong said she will also meet with the prime minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha to “discuss our cooperation on shared regional challenges, including climate action and Covid-19 economic recovery”.

Australia’s relationship with Thailand is grounded in deep people-to-people, business, education and tourism connections.

Brunei, Thailand and Australia have a shared commitment to Asean centrality and will continue to work with the countries of our region to ensure a stable, resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific, where sovereignty is respected.

During the visit Wong will sign a joint plan of action under Australia and Thailand’s Strategic Partnership.

She will also sign a new partnership agreement to support Thailand’s Centre of Excellence for countering human trafficking.

Foreign minister Penny Wong will travel to Brunei Darussalam and Thailand this week where she will meet with the sultan and the Thai prime minister.
Foreign minister Penny Wong will travel to Brunei Darussalam and Thailand this week where she will meet with the sultan and the Thai prime minister. Photograph: Reuters


Kiribati constitutional crisis deepens as attorney general appointed to court

Kiribati’s president has appointed country’s attorney general to act as chief justice of high court and whole court of appeal in a move that continues the country’s ongoing constitutional crisis.

Tetiro Semilota, Samoa’s attorney general, was appointed chief justice of the high court in a closed ceremony in the capital on Friday. It was not clear whether she had resigned her decision before the appointment. She is the first i-Kiribati citizen, and the first woman, to hold the position in Kiribati, where the use of foreign judges is common.

The Kiribati government has been at war with its judiciary for the past year. The crisis began in 2021 when the government blocked high court judge and Australian citizen David Lambourne from returning to the country – a move subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the chief justice, New Zealand judge William Hastings.

The appointment of the government’s chief law officer as acting chief justice raises major questions about the separation of powers in Kiribati. The Kiribati constitution mandates “an independent and impartial” court system.

For all the detail on this development story, read the full report by Kieran Pender.

The history of Sydney’s best public water fountains

In the 19th century, piped water to the home was reserved exclusively for the rich. Authorities in Sydney responded by building public water fountains, many of which are still around to date.

Director of the Australian Graduate School of Engineering (AGSE) and water expert Stuart Kahn collected some of the best.

St Jude’s Fountain on Alison Road, Randwick was built to be supplied by a natural spring beneath. Four hundred children from the nearby Destitute Children's Asylum watched Mayor John Dawson break a bottle of water over the fountain and dedicate its use to the public in 1866.

— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) October 29, 2022

John Frazer donated a second drinking fountain in 1884. It's on a roundabout on Prince Albert Rd at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens (next to St Marys Cathedral). By 1874 Frazer was an extremely wealthy member of the NSW Legislative Council.

— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) October 29, 2022

Comrie Fountain was originally placed at Queens Square (top of Macquarie Street) in 1904. It was a gift from Mrs SL Comrie of Northfield, Kurrajong Heights, to the Citizens of Sydney. It was moved to Moore Park in 1934 and now sits outside Robertson Rd Gates to Centennial Park.

— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) October 29, 2022

You can find them all here.


New travel card trial for regional students to cut cost of commute

University students, apprentices and trainees living in regional NSW will soon have access to $250 worth of free travel as the government launches a card to cut the cost of their commute.

The card will cover the cost of public transport or fuel for students, who are already under strain from cost of living pressures, deputy premier and regional NSW minister Paul Toole said Sunday.

Apprentices and university students in the bush often need to travel long distances for work or between training, classes and practical learning – this is about easing that burden.

The prepaid debit card can be used on public transport, petrol, Opal card top ups, taxi rides, electric charging stations and privately operated coaches, and will become available from next year.

Apprentices will be able to apply for the card in February, and university students will be eligible to apply in April.

The travel card is being rolled out for a two-year trial period, regional transport and roads minister Sam Farraway said.

To access the card, students must reside in a regional area outside Greater Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, be between the ages of 16 and 66 and six months old, be undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship registered with Training Services NSW or an undergraduate university course that is full time and face to face.

They must also meet citizenship or permanent residency requirements.

The program builds on the government’s Regional Seniors Travel Card, which has been taken up by more than one million seniors, adding $200m to the NSW economy.

– from AAP


Growing concerns about intimidation of climate activists in Australia

Amnesty International and the New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties and have written to NSW police to “express alarm” about reports of harassment of climate activists across multiple states ahead of a mining conference next week.

The International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) will be held in Sydney from Wednesday with plans by a group calling itself Blockade IMARC to protest the conference. Representatives from the Saudi Arabian and Sudanese governments are due to speak. The World Coal association is a host partner.

Those involved with Blockade IMARC are not necessarily the same as Blockade Australia and the two are separate protest blocs.

Nikita White, strategic campaigner with Amnesty International Australia, said the organisation is “concerned these visits are intimidating activists who have exercised their human rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association”.

We are also concerned that people have reportedly been told they will be arrested if they attend an unauthorised protest.

The rights of people to attend peaceful assemblies is protected under international human rights standards whether the assembly is or is not authorised. Police must respect the rights of those who attend unauthorised protests to exercise their right to peacefully assembly.

Josh Pallas, president of the New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties wrote to NSW police commissioner Karen Web, attorney general Mark Speakman and minister for police, Paul Toole to say these visits were a breach of Australia’s human rights obligations.

NSWCCL understands that individuals have been questioned about whether they plan on attending any protests connected with IMARC or whether they have any information regarding any planned protest at IMARC. The purpose of these visits, it appears, is to pressure people against participating in peaceful protest.

NSWCCL considers that such proactive policing is not only unacceptable but also oppressive as an attempt to stifle freedom of assembly and expression.

He also said the council was concerned “activists have reportedly been told by NSW police that protests are unlawful unless a Form 1 has been submitted and that activists attending any protest activity could be arrested for simply attending the protest.”

With the greatest respect, neither of these propositions are correct.

The Guardian reported on Saturday that climate activists in Queensland, ACT, Victoria and NSW have received unannounced, pre-emptive visits from police officers.

The criteria by which these people have been targeted by police is not clear. Some of those contacted have no history with police.

For more detail on this story, read the full report.


Interest rate rises expected again this week

The Reserve Bank of Australia will be back in the spotlight this week when it likely delivers its seventh consecutive interest rate hike on Melbourne Cup day.

Since May, the central bank has been tightening interest rates rapidly from record-low levels to wrestle inflation back under control.

This has sent monthly mortgage repayments soaring for households on variable rate home loans.

Last month, the RBA eased back to a slower pace of tightening but a surprisingly high set of quarterly inflation figures has some wondering if the central bank took its foot off the accelerator too soon.

All four of the big banks have revised their expectations for rate hikes and now think the central bank will need to lift rates higher to squash inflation that’s now spreading across the economy.

Thirty-four of 38 experts surveyed by Finder expect another 25 basis point hike in the cash interest rate will follow the RBA’s board meeting on Tuesday.

A 25 basis point hike would push up the annual cost of servicing a typical $500,000 mortgage by almost $10,000.

On Tuesday, the state of the property market will be on show as Corelogic reveals the national home value index for October.

– from AAP


Man charged in North Macedonia over connection to Australian drug network

A 27-year-old man has been charged over his alleged involvement in a transnational organised crime network.

Thirteen arrests were originally made in September 2021 in a partnership between Western Australian police and North Macedonian police known as Operation Comstock.

During the investigation, police in Western Australia seized:

  • $1m in cash was seized from a van in Kenwick, WA.

  • $650k was seized from the home of a man arrested near the van in Kenwick.

  • $3m in cash was discovered concealed within a truck stopped at the Eucla border while leaving WA.

  • $2.3m in drug payments were seized.

  • 3kg of methylamphetamine and 750g of heroin were also seized.

Police alleged the 27-year-old resident of North Macedonia arranged the coordination, importation and distribution of controlled substances and money within Western Australia.

Earlier this month detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Division travelled to North Macedonia to work with local law enforcement after an arrest warrant was issued for the man’s arrest.

On Thursday two search warrants were executed and he was taken into custody. He has since been charged under North Macedonian law with criminal association and unauthorised production placing on the market of narcotic drugs.

It is alleged the offences were committed within Western Australia.

The man is expected to appear before court in North Macedonia on 28 October 2022.

Gordon Fairman from the Western Australian police thanked the Australian Federal Police for their assistance and credited the international partnership with the successful operation.

“Through our international partnerships we will bring those who are based outside our jurisdiction, but who chose to target our communities, to justice,” he said.

“My message to anyone who thinks about bringing drugs into our community is simple. You are not welcome and no matter where you are located, we will find you.”

“I’d like to thank Australian federal police for their extensive assistance in this matter through their international networks and partnerships.”


Domestic gas reserves needed to tackle price spike: Andrews

Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has reiterated calls for domestic gas reserves after Australia’s energy ministers met on Friday to tackle skyrocketing gas prices.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday morning, climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, did not rule out the gas price cap. The commonwealth will develop national policy options for states and territories to consider in the coming weeks through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Andrews said Australia should establish gas reserves and export excess natural resources:

We should not be paying European prices, not in Europe. And we certainly shouldn’t be competing against the rest of the world for something that comes out of our ground.


Number of people injured in Melbourne in separate attacks grows to six

An additional three people have been reported injured in three separate violent incidents in Melbourne’s CBD.

Two men were found in a critical condition with stab wounds on Bourke Street just before 6am on Sunday and taken to hospital.

One of the men, who has not been formally identified, later died.

No arrests have been made and Bourke Street has been shut between Elizabeth Street and Queens Street while homicide squad detectives investigate what happened.

Police at a closed off Bourke Street on Sunday.
Police close off Bourke Street on Sunday. Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

Earlier, two men were injured in what police have described as a “large affray” outside Inflation nightclub on King Street.

An unidentified man was critically injured and a 19-year-old man suffered suspected serious injuries.

Meanwhile, the hunt is on for two men wanted over an attack in Southbank.

It’s believed two men set upon a group as they left a bar at Riverside Quay at around 12.40am.

A 25-year-old Springvale man was struck and fell to the ground, hitting his head on the ground.

Two other men suffered facial injuries.

Police say the men who appeared to be the aggressors fled the scene.

- from AAP


Push to address money laundering ‘utopian’: gambling industry

NSW Crime Commission proposals to introduce mandatory cashless gambling to stop money laundering proposed last week have received mix support.

Pokies offer criminals a convenient method to launder income from illicit activities but a commission inquiry found venues are not doing enough to stop it.

While the scale of the problem is unclear, commissioner head Michael Barnes said it involves billions of dollars and a harder line is needed.

But ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said the industry has been singled out over the issue and branded the proposal a “utopian” solution.

Everyone knows criminals spend money around the economy on cars, jewellery, clothing ... they don’t recommend the mandatory cashless approach for other purchases.

They’ve identified a utopian approach to drive criminal behaviour to zero that is disproportionate from the risk identified and would have a disproportionate impact on law abiding citizens.

ClubsNSW would support digital payments, such as with a debit card or smartphone requiring people to have already deposited clean, traceable money with a bank. The organisation said it would not support a “mandatory” approach and had been trialling cashless machines.

The Australian Hotels Association won’t address specific questions about implementing digital payments. Liquor and policing director John Green instead said it is focused on “measures which will actually work”.

Neither New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet or opposition leader Chris Minns have committed to going cashless on gambling but have pledged to work with the industry.

Customer service minister Victor Dominello announced plans to introduce the concept in 2020 but they stalled and he is no longer in charge of the portfolio area.

Three dozen machines are being trialled in Newcastle using technology from pokies manufacturer Aristocrat, allowing people to load money onto machines from a digital wallet on their phone.

Three other manufacturers have been approved for cashless technology and an application from another is being assessed.

– from AAP


Traveller who brought duck meat in luggage fined and deported

An international traveller with 6kg of meat in their baggage has had their visa cancelled and been whacked with a $2,700 fine, with politicians saying there could have been “enormous damage” to the country’s farmers.

Some 3.1kg of duck, 1.4kg of beef rendang, more than 500g of frozen beef and nearly 900g of chicken was discovered in the traveller’s bags during an inspection by Australian biosecurity officers at Perth airport last week.

The person arriving had declared they were not bringing any meat, poultry, or other food into Australia on their incoming passenger card.

Australian Border Force officers cancelled the traveller’s visa following the discovery, minister for home affairs Clare O’Neil said.

The passenger was also fined $2,664.

Last month the federal government introduced harsher penalties banning people from bringing meat into Australia from countries dealing with highly contagious foot and mouth disease – which poses a major risk to Australia’s agricultural industry.

Minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry Murray Watt said it was a “very serious breach” and the traveller had “been hit with the toughest penalties”.

The actions of biosecurity officers and ABF at the border have once again protected the Australian community and our agricultural sector from harmful biosecurity risks that have the potential to do enormous damage.

– from AAP


Strong winds lash south-east Victoria and northern Tasmania

Victorians living along the south coast should be aware that severe weather warnings have been issued for damaging winds.

⚠️ Severe Weather Warning for Damaging winds ⚠️
Northerly winds are forecast to increase later today, peaking overnight tonight before easing Monday morning. Wind gusts up to 110km/h are possible.
Latest warnings: @vicemergency @vicsesnews

— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) October 30, 2022

Tasmanian State Emergency Services have also issued warnings for Tasmanians to brace themselves for the arrival of the storm system on Monday.

Tasmania SES acting director, Leon Smith, said a severe weather warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology showed the damaging north-westerly winds were expected across the entire state.

We’re working closely with the Bureau to monitor and prepare for the forecast conditions, which includes wind gusts of 90 to 100 km/h.

Severe thunderstorms are also possible in the southern half of Tasmania, which could increase the risk of destructive wind gusts, flash flooding and hazardous driving conditions.

With recent persistent rain, wet soil and damaging winds, there is significant potential for trees and powerlines to be brought down, right across Tasmania.

We will have SES volunteer crews prepared and ready to help if needed, but people should be making sure their properties are as prepared as possible, by ensuring those niggling maintenance jobs are done before the damaging winds occur.

The Bureau of Meteorology has another view of that weather system moving across the south of the continent.

Satellite imagery shows cloud increasing over southern and central #Aus as a low-pressure system and cold front move east.

Rain, storms, gusty winds, and unseasonal cold and #snow will impact the eastern states this week 🌧️❄️

⚠️Latest warnings:

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) October 29, 2022


One dead, two injured in Melbourne stabbing attacks

One man has died, two are fighting for life and another is badly injured following two separate stabbing attacks in Melbourne’s CBD.

Two men were found in a critical condition with stab wounds on Bourke Street just before 6am on Sunday and taken to hospital.

One of the men, who has not been formally identified, later died.

No arrests have been made and Bourke Street has been shut between Elizabeth Street and Queens Street while homicide squad detectives investigate what happened.

Earlier, two men were injured in what police have described as a “large affray” outside Inflation nightclub on King Street.

An unidentified man was critically injured and a 19-year-old man suffered suspected serious injuries.

A crime scene has been set up on the corner of King Street and Flinders Street, no arrests have been made.

– from AAP


Victorians caught in Optus data breach to get new licences

Victoria’s Department of Transport will replace nearly one million licences for free by the end of the year and all new cards will feature an extra layer of security.

Licence numbers will remain the same but an additional number will be printed on the back, similar to CVV numbers used on credit cards.

Anyone seeking to use their license for identification such as when applying for a loan or opening a bank account will need to provide the second number.

The details of more than 942,000 Victorian licence holders were compromised in the hack, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

A Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson said the state government has asked Optus to cover the cost of replacing its customers’ licences.

The second number will become a permanent feature of all new licences from November 2022.

Some five million licence holders who were not impacted by the hack will also eventually receive new cards.

– from AAP


The Daniel Andrews paradox: the enduring appeal of Australia’s most divisive premier

On 27 February 2003, the new MP for the outer suburban Melbourne electorate of Mulgrave rose to his feet to deliver his first speech in the Victorian parliament. Maiden speeches are traditionally where a new MP lays out their core motivation and their vision, but Daniel Andrews eschewed stirring prose or self-revelation.

There was nothing in this first outing to indicate that, 19 years later, he would become Australia’s longest-serving incumbent government leader and one of the country’s most significant politicians.

Politics, he said, was “an honourable profession”.

The source of that honour? “Hospitals when we are sick; schools to give our kids the best start possible and a police force that is given the resources it needs … these are the things that define state politics – at least they should.”

A former senior public servant who has worked closely with Andrews says, “I doubt if he would change the tenor of that speech today.” He would not add any grand words: “He thinks there is a limited market for visionary leaders”.

Andrews’ political methodology is a hard-boiled, pared down, practical and sometimes ruthless exercise of power, rather than the product of intellectualising or rhetorical flourish. He thinks in big pictures, but talks small and concrete.

The former public servant says: “He is a visionary. But he is a visionary without a guiding philosophy.”

For more on the unlikely star of Daniel Andrews ahead of the upcoming Victorian election, read the full story from Margaret Simons.


Here is the prime minister’s tweet on the situation in South Korea.

Our sincere condolences for all affected by this terrible tragedy - Australians can call DFAT 1300555135 or outside Australia +61261623305 if concerned about loved ones

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 29, 2022


Fears Australians caught in crush that killed 149 people in South Korea

The federal government is scrambling to find out if any Australians were killed or injured in a stampede that has left at least 149 people dead in South Korea.

The disaster happened as a huge crowd celebrating Halloween on Saturday night surged into an alley in a nightlife area, which is popular among young people, expatriates and travellers, in the capital Seoul.

“Our sincere condolences for all affected by this terrible tragedy,” prime minister Anthony Albanese tweeted on Sunday.

Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Catherine Raper joined Albanese in conveying Australia’s condolences to the South Korean government, describing the incident as “tragic”.

The Australian embassy in Seoul is urgently making enquiries with local authorities to find out if any Australians were involved.

“We ask all Australians in Seoul to check in with friends and family to let them know your whereabouts,” Raper tweeted.

A further 65 people were injured, many seriously, in the melee around 10.30pm in Seoul’s Itaewon district.

It was the first Halloween event in Seoul in three years after the country lifted Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing.

Many of the partygoers were wearing masks and Halloween costumes. Some witnesses said the crowd had become increasingly unruly as the night wore on.

Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station said many of the victims were women in their 20s, according to Reuters.

Two foreigners were among the dead, local authorities said.

Australians concerned about the welfare of loved ones in Seoul can call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135. Those outside Australia can call +61 2 6261 3305.

– from AAP


Storms in SA and parts of WA as NSW braces for more rain next week

Conditions in New South Wales and Victoria may be easing after weeks of rain but all that flood water is heading west into South Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology has been warning of thunderstorms on Sunday.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for the far northwest of #SouthAustrlia. Damaging winds are possible with thunderstorms over that area. Latest warnings at

— Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) October 29, 2022

The @BOM_au have issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for DAMAGING WINDS for people in parts of Flinders, North West Pastoral and North East Pastoral districts.

For more info, please visit

Issued at 8:07 am Sunday, 30 October 2022.

— SASES (@SA_SES) October 29, 2022

Thunderstorms are also predicted over Western Australia with warnings issued across the Wheat Belt and Goldfields region.

⚠️A Severe #Thunderstorm warning for heavy rainfall has been issued for parts of Central Wheat Belt, Gascoyne, Goldfields and Central West districts. Stay updated via radar and warnings at

— Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia (@BOM_WA) October 29, 2022

Meanwhile in Queensland wet weather will sweep across the south of the state on Tuesday.

Showers and storms returning to western Qld Sunday will move east during Monday and Tuesday, generally clearing by Wednesday. Cold and windy conditions spreading across the south from Tuesday. Morning frost possible for parts of the southeast inland Thursday as winds ease.

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) October 29, 2022


Government to provide $130m in support for flood-affected communities in Victoria

Victorian communities devastated by floods will be able to access up to $130m to clear public land, just as a new gastroenteritis outbreak poses a fresh health threat to residents cleaning up after the disaster.

The funding, announced by climate action minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Sunday, includes $42m for removing hazards or carrying out immediate repair works including fixing community facilities.

A further $71m is allocated for large-scale repair works, while local catchment authorities and traditional owners groups will share in $18m.

The state government flagged planning rules will also be adjusted so businesses may operate in impacted areas and offer temporary accommodation.

Meanwhile VicEmergency has warned communities in flood-affected areas of a gastroenteritis outbreak.

Flood waters may contain sewage and other toxic waste and can also overflow into your home.

Contact with sewage can make people sick, so clean and disinfect any impacted areas.

Residents in towns along the Murray River had this week flagged concerns waterways had become contaminated due to a foul smell around stagnant flood water.

Anyone in flood-affected areas has been reminded to only drink or wash in known clean water.

– from AAP


Kerang residents begin recovery after flood

Residents from a northern Victorian town have been given the all-clear to return after the flood threat eased, but the damage to houses, livestock and crops won’t be known until the water recedes.

There is one road open to Kerang near the Victorian-NSW border after the town was isolated for the second time in as many weeks by floods that have battered the eastern states.

Kerang mayor Charlie Gillingham said probably 10 to 15 houses had been inundated, while losses to crops and livestock were so far unknown and some stock remained stranded.

“If they’re on a bump somewhere in water, they (owners) are going to have to get feed to them somehow,” Gillingham said.

The mayor said the town needed to report its losses in order to shore up government assistance.

That will be happening in the coming days where we need people to register their losses.

So we can start to talk to politicians and the like to get some funding through to get us back on track again.

Western Victoria is forecast to be pummelled by heavy rain on Sunday afternoon while an evacuation order remains in place at Echuca.

The Murray River at Torrumbarry Weir is expected to peak over the weekend and potentially cause major flooding, with a number of watch-and-act alerts in place for other towns in the north and northeast of the state.

Across the border in NSW more than 1,000 homes and businesses have been damaged, with the government appointing Mel Gore, Ken Harrison and Donna Argus as recovery and clean up co-ordinators.

Flood recovery minister Steph Cooke said the coordinators would ensure a timely and effective transition to recovery.

As the waters slowly recede our first priority is to undertake rapid damage assessments of flooded homes and businesses so that they can begin the mammoth task of cleaning up.

As at 28 October, 1,008 homes and businesses in NSW have been recorded as damaged and 163 deemed uninhabitable from 2,389 assessments.

Rain and storms are expected to hit various parts of NSW on Sunday through Monday after a mostly sunny Saturday.

There are more than 60 flood warnings across NSW, including emergency warnings in Murray Valley Regional park, Mathoura East, Cummeragunja and parts of Moama.

Storms and damaging winds are expected in South Australia on Sunday from the west coast all the way down to Mount Gambier, including Adelaide.

– from AAP


Coalition warns more strikes from Labor IR bill that limits strikes

The shadow workplace relations minister, Michaelia Cash, also appeared on Sky warning Labor’s IR bill will lead to “industrial and economic chaos” and that minister Tony Burke will “only be known as the minister for strikes.’

Despite the bluster the IR bill actually contains new limits on the right to strike, including a requirement for compulsory conciliation before workers can walk off the job and a power for the Fair Work Commission to terminate “intractable” disputes.

Asked about these, Cash said:

Well, there’s only one thing that Labor’s industrial relations bill will lead to and that is more strikes and less jobs ... if you did not want to encourage more strike action, why would you open up the industrial relations landscape to more strikes?

So, just an assertion that that’s what the bill does, followed by this appeal to authority:

We’ve now had [Victorian construction union secretary] John Setka come out on behalf of unions in Australia saying this is fantastic. And I quote: ‘We can now go after non-unionised sites’. Blind Freddy can tell you that when every employer group in Australia, stands up united – and I don’t think that’s ever happened before – stands up united and says, the only thing that this bill does is lead to more strikes and less jobs. I know who I believe.


Government not ruling out a price cap on gas prices: Bowen

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, is talking up the prospect of swift action on electricity prices, following a report on Sky that energy ministers were told on Friday any form of price cap would have to be finalised in November.

Bowen told Sky News:

Of course I do want to deal with that threat [of higher power bills] head-on. I did say to state energy ministers the same things as I’ve said, publicly ... that the federal government will not stand by and allow these pressures to flow through to households and to industry without taking any prudent, responsible and careful action. And ... we won’t act a day earlier until we’re sure about the policy settings and now will we wait a day longer.

I also said to the states that it’s very important we’re working together: that states have levers, the commonwealth has levers. We all have some degree of levers that are disposal. It’s very important that we’re coordinating talking to each other ensuring that any action that I take or any action that a state minister takes is not contradictory to what we’re trying to achieve and that we have the lines of communication. And I was delighted every single state and territory minister one hundred percent agree with that approach.

Asked specifically about a price cap, Bowen said:

We have very thorough cabinet processes, where we work issues through carefully methodically.

So no decision yet but not ruling it out. Bowen said it was “right to say” the problem is not just gas prices, that there are “elevated prices right around the world for both coal and gas”.


Government looking at improved pay and training for child care workers

Chalmers says:

We have already supported a pay rise for early childhood educators who got a 4.7% pay rise as part of that minimum wage decision which was what we supported as the first outcome of the new Labor cabinet.

So obviously we got to deal with skills and labour shortages. That’s why Tafe, that’s why migration, that’s why universities are so important. We have to attract more people into the sector. That’s why wage rises are important. We are acting on all of those fronts simultaneously.

And that’s a wrap.


Chalmers asked whether the economic benefits of the NDIS ‘outweigh the costs’


It is. […] From memory something like there’s a 29% improvement in people who are not looking for work or not in work. There’s I think a 24% improvement in employment of parents of people who are involved in the scheme. There’s a whole range of economic benefits. They are important. But first and foremost we want to provide the service to Australians with a disability and their families. It’s really crucial that we do that.


Chalmers on the size of government debt and making it ‘sustainable’

The treasurer is asked whether the government will consider rethinking taxes like GST and PRRT.

We have already found $22bn in savings, $28.5bn in budget improvements overall. We kept real spending growth flat across the forward estimates. We have got the debt down over the forward estimates. We have let 99% of the temporary revenue surge from higher commodity prices flow through to the budget.

That is good progress when we have shown in doing that … you can move sensibly on all fronts, restraint, trimming spending, sensible tax reform, you can make the budget more sustainable and that will be the task of the two or three budgets remaining in this parliamentary term as well.

Chalmers is also asked about the NDIS and its projected $100bn cost – something of a theme in an around the budget. Chalmers says “we need to make sure we are getting good value for money in the first instance”. He says a review is underway into the system.

We need to work out how do we maintain a focus on Australians with a disability and their families, how do we put them front and centre, and at the same time make sure that spending on the NDIS is sustainable and important part of that is making sure we get value for money for every dollar that is spent in what is a really important, really, really important service that we provide to Australians.


Treasury reviewing windfall tax on fossil fuel companies: Chalmers

Speers is now asking a series of questions around the Petrol Resource Rent Tax (PRRT). It’s a different way of leading into questions about a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies that has been discussed the last week after oil majors like Chevron and Exxon posted very healthy profits.


I do understand there is a substantial part of the community that would prefer that that PRRT take was higher.

But whether the government will tinker with the PRRT?

We haven’t been working up an option to do that to change the PRRT arrangements but the treasury has been commissioned by my predecessor and by his predecessor to do some of this work around the taxing point in the PRRT.

Chalmers says there were two reviews and the treasury has restarted work on the second.

We do want to make sure Australians get a good return for their resources. We need to balance that against the investment that’s been made into the sector. When I get that advice from I will engage in it a meaningful way and I will listen to it.

We have seen I think as you acknowledged in your first question, on this topic, company taxes are up quite substantially. That’s a good thing and we have let that flow through to the budget. The PRRT, there’s a modest increase. I will wait to see what the treasury advises us on the conclusion of the review that my two predecessors put in place.


Gas prices expected to rise this year and next, Chalmers says

Chalmers says the government is also looking to move from a voluntary code for industry to a mandatory code of conduct of gas prices.

One of the concerns that’s been raised by the ACCC and others and it’s a concern that I share is when these offers are made quite often there’s not enough attention paid to not just the supply side but also the pricing. Clearly the pricing is what’s putting a lot of pressure on local industry and on electricity prices as well. So that will be one of our focuses.

On inflation, Chalmers says the war in Ukraine is a significant factor in rising global gas prices as countries around the world compete on the spot market to find sources of gas that don’t come from Russia.

David Speers is trying to pin the treasurer down on if he can say when prices will come down – though Chalmers avoids saying, explicitly, that he can’t say – largely because he can’t as global factors are responsible for what happens here in Australia. He did say he expected prices to rise this year and next.

The reason why there is so much unpredictability in this market and in relation to your question, is because we have got a war in Ukraine, which is hanging around and is entrenched far more than anyone predicted at the time of the election. The impact on energy prices is far more sustained and far more extreme than people expected earlier in the year and that’s why we have got these forecasts for price rises.


Chalmers says ‘obviously need as much supply as we can get’ on domestic gas

Supply is part of the problem. And that’s why the heads of agreement is important that Madeleine King was able to sign with the gas companies.

But clearly we need to go beyond that. There’s a code of conduct that applies to this industry and we have said that we will work to make that code of conduct mandatory and we will make it more focused on meaningful offers and that means going beyond supply and considering issues like price.

A reminder that the International Energy Agency has said there can be no new oil, gas and coal projects started from the end of 2021 if the world hopes limit global warming to 1.5C. The UN has also warned world governments are not doing enough to limit global warming.


Chalmers on ACCC head pushing for cap on domestic gas prices

First question for federal treasurer Jim Chalmers is now on comments from ACCC head Rod Sims pushing the government to put a cap on domestic gas prices.

Chalmers says the governments “take very seriously the views of people like Rod Sims”.

We obviously acknowledge that very high gas prices are putting extreme pressure on Australians and on Australian industry. We have already through minister Madeleine King taken steps to expand supply and that’s important. And we said that we need to build on that.

Chalmers confirmed the government is “contemplating the kinds of steps that perhaps governments wouldn’t have contemplated a year or two ago”.

I think that’s important. But beyond that we don’t really want to limit our options or narrow our options. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, a lot of consultation and collaboration and if there’s something sensible and responsible and meaningful we can do here, obviously we will consider.


Insiders is getting started now and as people discuss with horror the size of the government debt, it is worth keeping in mind:

Government debt during WWII was around 120% of GDP.

Today it’s 2% of GDP.

And the world didn’t end.


Prison environments are no place for children: NT attorney general

Paech said:

We know that when it comes to criminal responsibility for our children […] they are children. We are talking about 10 and 11-year-olds here. The best place for them is certainly not in a prison environment.

We know that if we can divert young people, our children, away from the criminal justice system, we can actually prevent a relationship with the adult justice system later in their lives. This is about making sure that we work with young children and their families to better support them.

Paech was asked about five-year-old recommendations from a royal commission into the Northern Territory justice system that recommended lifting the age of criminal responsibility of children from 10 to 12.

Asked whether the NT Labor government would consider raising the age to 14, Paech said the Territory is a “small jurisdiction” and has implemented a “staged process” to ensure mistakes aren’t made.

We’ve got a review period as part of that to review the legislation in two years’ time to look at where we have the capacity to go to 14 and that the service system is then equipped to deal with that.

We are a small jurisdiction, so making sure that the service system can deal with the capacity is something that we want to make sure that we do, because this is important reform and we don’t want to fail. So we have a staged approach

Lifting the age of criminal responsibility to 14 would bring the Northern Territory into line with global human rights recommendations. It would be one of the few jurisdictions in Australia to do so.


NT attorney general defends failure to close Don Dale

Northern Territory attorney general and minister for justice Chansey Paech has spoken to the ABC this morning where he has defended his government’s failure to close Don Dale youth detention centre saying “new facilities are under construction”.

We have had some delays due to Covid and getting the workforce to complete that work, but we are tracking in a good position to have those new facilities open, and this is a complementary recommendation as well.

Paech, a Arrernte, Arabana, Gurindji man, spoke to the Indigenous Youth Justice Conference on Saturday night where he called for a “new age justice movement”.

I think it’s really important to acknowledge and understand the current justice system isn’t working as well as it should be, and there certainly is a national push for a new age justice system. It is really about being smarter with justice, to deliver safer communities.


Jim Chalmers to speak on ABC Insiders

Federal treasurer Jim Chalmers will be speaking to ABC Insiders this morning – we’ll have the latest when it happens. He’ll be talking about – you guessed it – the budget.


Good morning

And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.

Nearly a million Victorians will be getting a new licence free of charge in the wake of the Optus data breach. All 942,000 licence holders who had their details compromised will be reissued a new licence with the same licence number but a second number on the back as a security measure.

Residents in New South Wales and Victoria have begun to count the cost of the floods that washed over the recent states, but the Bureau of Meteorology says it is not over. The Bureau is warning of renewed major flooding in parts of inland NSW early this week as a low-pressure system enters from the far west. More than 60 emergency warnings are current across the state with six evacuation orders issued.

I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.

With that, let’s get started ...


Josh Taylor (now) and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

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