What we learned today, Friday 16 September

With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening. Enjoy your weekend, whether you’re indulging in finals footy or enjoying the bounties of spring. I’ll be barracking for the Raiders and the Pies.

Here are the major developments of the day:


Meanwhile, patient Brits are continuing to queue for hours upon hours to say goodbye to the Queen.

Crowds keep pouring into Westminster Hall, with thousands of mourners shuffling for kilometres waiting for their turn to say goodbye.

Among them are police officers, a former Prime Minister and ordinary Britons. @brett_mcleod #9News pic.twitter.com/sdUpBt5U7g

— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) September 16, 2022

If you haven’t read it, this story is well worth a read on the politeness of a British queue.

This graph shows the relative stagnation of vaccination doses.

21,774,748 2⃣nd💉in 🇦🇺
◼️4,506 past week

✅Total pop. %➕New
NT✅75.6%➕-0.09% pic.twitter.com/D8Gt0dRV63

— CovidBaseAU 🦠📊🇦🇺 (@covidbaseau) September 16, 2022


Pilbara renewable hydrogen project to proceed with government support

Australia’s biggest renewable hydrogen project will go ahead in the Pilbara, with support from the federal and state governments, AAP reports.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) today announced a grant of $47.5m towards French energy company ENGIE’s green hydrogen and ammonia project near Karratha in Western Australia.

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, said the project would help Australia become a world leader in hydrogen generation.

As we move to a more renewable economy, hydrogen will become an increasingly important part of our energy mix, and will be important in supporting industrial and hard to abate sectors.

Arena’s chief executive, Darren Miller, said the plant could make an immediate difference as fossil fuels would be replaced by renewable energy to make hydrogen.

The $87.1m Yuri project includes a 10MW electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen, powered by solar, with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, and will be one of the world’s largest.

The largest electrolyser currently operating in Australia is the 1.25MW hydrogen plant located in Adelaide’s Tonsley innovation district in South Australia.


Following significant rainfall overnight in parts of #NSW renewed river rises have occurred today and are possible over the weekend as flood peaks move downstream. Showers are expected about the southwest slopes during the weekend and Monday. Monitor: https://t.co/0nj0alA30L pic.twitter.com/COLk7nCmIX

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 16, 2022

Papua New Guinea celebrates its 47th independence day

Neighbouring nation Papua New Guinea is celebrating its 47th independence day today.

The prime minister has commemorated the occasion on social media, reiterating the federal government is “committed” to strengthening relations between the states.

Today our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, celebrates its 47th Independence Day.

The relationship between Australia and PNG is special - and our government is committed to strengthening it. pic.twitter.com/H7OGY8beRz

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 16, 2022

Foreign minister Penny Wong visited Papua New Guinea at the end of August as part of Pacific tour, where the country’s foreign minister confirmed a security deal with Australia was on the cards by the end of the year.


Almost 1% of all adults in the Northern Territory in prison at any one time, report says

The rate of imprisonment among adults is among the highest in the world, with Indigenous people significantly over-represented, AAP reports.

A new report from the Justice Reform Initiative says incarceration rates in the region are four times the Australian average for adults – and five times higher for children.

Prisoner numbers have grown by more than 30% over the past decade, with the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in prison rising by 34%.

Indigenous people are significantly over-represented, accounting for 85% of all inmates despite making up only 26% of the NT population. Almost three-quarters of people in prison have been locked up before, and 35% are being held while unsentenced.

Children on remand regularly account for more than 80% of all young people in custody, the report says.

Justice Reform Initiative’s executive director, Mindy Sotiri, said there was a clear need for greater investment in policies and programs to break the cycles of disadvantage which kept bringing people back to prison at enormous cost to taxpayers.

The evidence is clear – prison does not reduce the likelihood of reoffending. It entrenches existing disadvantage and increases the likelihood of ongoing criminal justice system involvement, often over generations.

The report found taxpayers bankroll more than $146.6m on prisons in the Territory each year, with $122,496 required to keep each adult in jail.



Hey @VictoriaPolice, we hope you’ve got @rspca_vic on hand tonight. Lions v Cats simply isn’t fair. #PrideofBrisbane Taskforce also on standby for any controversial calls. pic.twitter.com/vCy8PoQ8XJ

— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) September 16, 2022

Queensland records 71 Covid deaths

Queensland recorded 2,280 new Covid cases in the past week and 71 deaths.

As of 13 September, there were 183 people being treated in hospital with the virus including nine people in ICU.

From 6 September to 13 September, we recorded 2,280 new COVID – 19 cases.

Sadly, 71 deaths were reported during this time.

Full details ➡️ https://t.co/KjEKBzWY9v pic.twitter.com/Y3ZhwsvtRu

— Queensland Health (@qldhealth) September 16, 2022

Body located by police divers in a creek at Ayr, south of Townsville

The 48-year-old Ayr man went missing in Plantation Creek around 1.30am on 14 September.

He and a second man were walking along Pool Street around 1am. They then tracked through a football field and the golf course before entering Plantation Creek between Kennedy Street and Edward Street, police said.

The second man returned to the creek bank and called to his friend, but couldn’t find him and didn’t see him exit the creek.

Ayr’s acting officer in charge, acting senior sergeant Sam Pyke, extended condolences to his family and loved ones.

I would like to thank the SES, Queensland Parks and Wildlife, QGAir and all the police officers involved for their vital assistance with this search. I also want to commend our police divers who worked in extremely difficult conditions to find the missing man.

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.


I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but it is notable that Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has tweeted in support of the Brisbane Lions ahead of tonight’s AFL preliminary final:

Queensland is with you tonight @BrisbaneLions! 🦁

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 16, 2022

Yet in Victoria, Daniel Andrews is yet to throw in state support behind Geelong. Instead, he’s posted a series of tweets about the West Gate Bridge:

Imagine painting a ceiling that's almost 900 metres long.

Better yet - just watch. pic.twitter.com/alwdi3xGWO

— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) September 15, 2022


David Shoebridge attends Mardi Grass event calling for legalisation of marijuana

Green senator and spokesperson for justice, David Shoebridge, is at Mardi Grass in Nimbin this weekend calling for the legalisation of marijuana.

Shoebridge will be appearing on two panels and meeting with community members amid the festivities.


When we talk of drug law reform and harm minimisation, we can start by stopping police and the courts ruining young people’s lives for choosing to have a joint with some friends.

Imagine the public not having to pay to be persecuted and getting rid of the hugely expensive ring of police that surrounds Mardi Grass every year, desperately searching for an illegal joint or two.

If we get this campaign right a properly regulated legal cannabis industry will deliver a real economic return to regional Australia which has the land and the human resources ready to go – once we legalise it.


An evacuation order has been issued for anyone at the Western Plains Tourist Park in Dubbo amid rising flood waters.

‼️Evacuate Now‼️
NSW SES is directing residents, guests and staff at the Western Plains Tourist Park in #Dubbo to relocate to family and friends and move their caravans and campers to Victoria Park Oval Carpark 1, Darling Street, Dubbo.
Read more👉https://t.co/BCnxAdPqqR pic.twitter.com/p3dfvhhrdq

— NSW SES (@NSWSES) September 16, 2022


Court lifts suppressions in whistleblower Richard Boyle case

The court has lifted suppressions that would have stymied the media’s ability to report on a landmark case launched by tax office whistleblower Richard Boyle following an intervention by the Guardian.

In 2018, Boyle blew the whistle on the Australia Taxation Office’s use of extraordinary garnishee powers to claw back debts from taxpayers and businesses, first speaking out internally, before approaching the ABC and Fairfax.

He is now facing 24 charges, including the alleged disclosure of protected information and unlawful use of listening devices to record conversations with other ATO employees, and faces a potentially lengthy term of imprisonment if convicted.

Boyle has taken the unprecedented step of invoking Australia’s whistleblower protections to shield himself against prosecution.

It is the first time the Public Interest Disclosure act has been used in such a way, and Boyle’s case is widely regarded as a major test of the nation’s ability to protect whistleblowers.

Last month, after the Guardian and other outlets requested access to documents in the case, commonwealth prosecutors sought suppression orders, which would have hindered the ability to report on the whistleblower case. It argued such reporting would have prejudice Boyle’s criminal trial, should it proceed.

Guardian Australia intervened, arguing the suppressions were too broad and unnecessarily infringed on the principles of open justice.

District court judge Liesl Kudelka on Friday decided to lift the suppressions and grant access to key documents outlining Boyle’s case. She did so after Boyle indicated he opposed the making of the suppression orders.

The decision paves the way for other media to report on the landmark PID act case brought by Boyle, which is set to begin on 4 October.


Residents in northern Victoria told to move to higher ground due to flooding

In Victoria, residents on the Murray River downstream of Tocumwal to Barham are being urged to move to higher ground amid a moderate flood warning.

WATCH & ACT - RIVERINE FLOOD - Move to Higher Ground

This Moderate Flood Warning is being issued for Murray River downstream of Tocumwal to Barham.

More details at https://t.co/RP7QseKkhB... pic.twitter.com/Wcs9pYANxo

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) September 16, 2022

There is also a moderate flood warning in place for Seven and Castle Creeks at Euroa.

Meanwhile, a minor flood warning has been issued for parts of the Macquarie River and the South Esk River in Tasmania.

⚠️MINOR #Flood Warning issued for upper #MacquarieRiver. Minor flooding may develop about Mt Morriston and Ross from Saturday morning. See https://t.co/V9LYfDAYDq for details and updates; follow advice from @SESTasmania. #TasFloods pic.twitter.com/d7EQnV6zar

— Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania (@BOM_Tas) September 16, 2022

The BoM warned moderate flooding was possible at Fingal and Lewis Hill from this evening. Minor flooding downstream at Llewellyn and Perth was predicted for this weekend.


Experts optimistic the end of Covid-19 pandemic is in sight

Public health experts are increasingly optimistic the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is in sight, AAP reports.

The World Health Organization has advised the pandemic could soon be over, with the weekly number of global deaths continuing to decline.

Epidemiologist Prof Tony Blakely told the ABC it felt like the end.

We are in a much better position now. We have a lot of immunity from vaccines and natural infection. If we don’t see anything much different from Omicron come along in the next six months or so, I think we are looking pretty good.

Prof Jane Halton, who chairs an association called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said while Covid-19 deaths were underestimated, the numbers were looking positive.

Halton said while the virus was unpredictable, it was “amazing” that almost two-thirds of the global population had been double vaccinated.

If we don’t see another particularly nasty variant I think people will be feeling quite optimistic.

But independent MP Monique Ryan is concerned the federal government has moved too quickly to change virus rules.

Ryan, who was the neurology director at Melbourne’s Royal children’s hospital before entering parliament, wants a national summit on Covid-19 to discuss a plan in the event of increased infections and pressure on hospitals.

The latest national data on Covid-19 cases and deaths is being progressively this afternoon. It is the first time the figures are released on a weekly rather than daily basis.


Labor MP accuses RBA of making decisions based on ‘outdated and outmoded data’

Labor MP Jerome Laxale has accused the Reserve Bank of “using outdated and outmoded data” when making decisions on interest rates, claiming the central bank was ignoring renters.

My colleague Peter Hannam has been covering the parliament’s economics committee hearing all day (you can read through his coverage through a story and blog posts below) but afterwards, committee member Laxale was critical of the RBA’s answers on interest rates and renters.

In a press release titled “RBA Ignores Renters as rates set to rise again”, Laxale – the first-term member for Bennelong – noted that the bank “admitted that they did not undertake dollar-by-dollar analysis on the impact of rate rises on those in the private rental market”.

Pointing to comments from the RBA governor, Phil Lowe, that interest rate rises were only having a marginal impact on rental prices, Laxale noted rent prices were rising quickly, and said the RBA needed to “drastically shift its analysis and decision-making process as our housing market evolves”.

How can the Reserve Bank make accurate decisions on whether or not to raise rates, when they are ignoring upwards of 45% of those in the housing market?

Today’s admission proves that the data underpinning the Reserve Bank’s decision-making process is flawed and that families could unnecessarily be bearing the brunt of existing and future interest rate rises.

Laxale called on the bank to do “immediate and comprehensive analysis” on how rate rises were hurting renters.


RBA governor says interest rates all but certain to rise in October

The Reserve Bank of Australia is all but certain to raise interest rates in October – its sixth hike in a row – the RBA governor, Philip Lowe, told a parliamentary committee today.

And banks are already taking stock.

Some banks have tweaked their forecasts for rate rises after today's RBA/economics committee hearing. Based on their projected increases to next February, here's how much more people will pay on their mortgages (depending on who's most accurate) by then. Source: @RateCity pic.twitter.com/aXDfEWlb3h

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 16, 2022

You can read the full wrap from Peter Hannam here:


High court to hear First Nations renters’ case for government compensation over substandard housing in NT

A small First Nations community in the Northern Territory has been granted leave by the high court, in a case which could have legal ramifications for Australian renters and landlords.

The court has agreed to hear First Nations renters’ case for compensation from the Northern Territory government. It will decide whether compensation is available for distress or disappointment suffered as a result of remote, dilapidated housing.

It’s the latest in a movement that began in 2016 for Enid Young, an elderly Eastern Arrernte woman from Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) in the remote Northern Territory. Young spent more than five years with an empty external doorframe to her property.

The case brought by Young and other residents of Ltyentye Apurte requesting urgent repairs was first heard at the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2018.

It then went to the NT supreme court and the NT court of appeal where the NT government argued against the standard of “humane” housing set by a NT Supreme Court Justice.

Dan Kelly, solicitor at Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights, said:

The court of appeal found the NT government has a legal duty to provide people with a standard of housing that is not only safe, but reasonably comfortable, judged against contemporary standards.


North-eastern Tasmanians told to be prepared to evacuate after flood warning

Tasmania SES is urging people in north-eastern parts of the state to monitor weather conditions closely and be prepared to evacuate following the issuing of a flood advice warning for the St Marys area.

Large rainfall totals up to 64mm were recorded overnight and into today.

State flood controller Leon Smith said:

The South Esk River is expected to reach minor to moderate flood levels and flooding is expected to occur at St Marys.

The SES has recently issued an advice warning for the St Marys area due to rises in the St Marys Rivulet, and we have deployed crews to the area who are ready to respond if needed.

Rivers and creeks in the northeast and east are predicted to continue to rise into the afternoon before easing over the coming days. If you live in the South Esk, St Paul’s and Break O’Day River areas near Fingal, as well as the St Marys Rivulet you should monitor conditions and prepare now.

If you have a flood emergency plan you should check it, so you know what to do if a flood occurs.


In some frankly weird news, the Wiggles have teamed up with the Socceroos, following that win which saw Andrew Redmayne shoot to fame by helping to lead the club to the World Cup as goalkeeper in a penalty shootout.

Here is Redmayne doing his weird little football dance:

Toot toot chugga chugga big Redmayne! 🤗🚘

It's official. @redders_20 is the Grey Wiggle.@TheWiggles 🤝 #Socceroos pic.twitter.com/81RJykuCUI

— Socceroos (@Socceroos) September 16, 2022


Many thanks to the equally marvellous Natasha May for guiding us through another day of news. I’ll be with you for the rest of this fine Friday – coming live from my sunny backyard.


Thanks for your attention this Friday! I hand you over to the marvellous Caitlin Cassidy who will see you into the weekend.

Queensland flags social home clause in new builds

Queensland is considering following international precedents and introducing minimum requirements for affordable housing in new developments, AAP reports.

The idea was floated at a roundtable hosted by the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, today, as the state prepares for a housing summit next month.

Palaszczuk said:

In the UK, 25% ... has to be for affordable or social housing in a new development.

That’s a great idea ... we want to explore that further.

Better use of existing vacant properties and land is also on the table as the state tries to address what has been described as a housing affordability crisis. Palaszczuk said:

I really want to thank Griffith University that has identified a property straight away that we can utilise ... 200 beds of unused student accommodation at [their] Mt Gravatt campus.

The state government will work with service providers to refurbish the rooms and make them available for those in crisis.

The Catholic church has identified 90 properties that could be used across the state, the deputy premier, Steven Miles, said.

Palaszczuk is now calling on other organisations with vacant assets to do the same.

Queensland’s housing summit will take place on 20 October.


Conservative critics have nowhere to turn as the ABC goes all in on coverage of the Queen’s death

No doubt one of your Friday highlights, the Weekly Beast is out!

Amanda Meade has delved into the story that’s been dominating headlines for more than a week since the Queen died, and the politics of how many correspondents of Australian news outlets have flown over to cover the ceremonial proceedings in London.


Bowen wants Australia to become a ‘hydrogen exporting powerhouse’

Australia’s biggest renewable hydrogen project will go ahead in the Pilbara, with support from the federal and state governments, AAP reports.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) today announced a grant of $47.5m towards French energy company ENGIE’s green hydrogen and ammonia project near Karratha in Western Australia.

Hydrogen is going to be a big part of our transformation to a renewable energy future. The Albanese Government through ARENA is investing $47m to develop a 10MW electrolyser in Western Australia to boost hydrogen generation & help Australia become a hydrogen exporting powerhouse pic.twitter.com/Om9QEdzOkV

— Chris Bowen (@Bowenchris) September 16, 2022

The minister for climate change and energy, Chris Bowen, said the project would help Australia become a world leader in hydrogen generation.

As we move to a more renewable economy, hydrogen will become an increasingly important part of our energy mix, and will be important in supporting industrial and hard to abate sectors.

Arena chief executive, Darren Miller, said the plant can make an immediate difference, because fossil fuels were being replaced by renewable energy to make hydrogen. He said:

It is also a huge export opportunity for Australia to provide clean energy and emissions-free materials to the rest of the world.

The $87.1m Yuri project includes a 10-megawatt electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen, powered by solar and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, and will be one of the world’s largest.

Suppling hydrogen and electricity to Yara Pilbara Fertilisers at its neighbouring liquid ammonia facility, the project will produce up to 640 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year.

The project also received seed funding of $2m from the WA government two years ago as the state looks to be a global hub for hydrogen.


Government knocks back proposal to review live sheep export ban

Australia will continue bans on exporting live sheep to parts of the Middle East in the hottest parts of the northern hemisphere summer, with the federal government knocking back recommendations of an agriculture department review to reduce the amount of time such exporting is prohibited.

The department’s “Review of live sheep exports by sea during the Northern Hemisphere summer”, released Friday, said prohibitions on live export during the hottest parts of summer had protected animals from heat stress and should continue.

Such rules prevent sheep from being shipped to certain countries in the Middle East during parts of June and September, and also place conditions such as the weight, breed and hair length of animals being exported, as well as the air flow in ships and how much the animals are fed.

However, the report also stated that the “welfare of exported sheep could be maintained with a shortening of the length of the absolute prohibition period for Qatar, Oman and destinations to, or through, the Red Sea”. It recommended shortening the prohibition on exports to Oman by 31 days and the Red Sea by 21 days, but adding 10 days with additional conditions for the Persian Gulf and Qatar.

In a statement on its website, the agriculture department said it would implement recommendations around feeding, and greater data collection around heat, on ships. However, recommendations to reduce the prohibition period to certain destinations “will not be implemented”.

The report is available on the department’s website.


Fourteen rescued as inland NSW floods

More than a dozen people have been rescued from flood waters in NSW as heavy rain continues to fall on already-saturated grounds and full dams, AAP reports.

The SES said it received 14 flood rescue calls in the 24 hours to 10.30am Friday, most of them from Wellington, Forbes, Orange and nearby areas.

Moderate to heavy rain on Thursday raised the Bell river at Wellington to a moderate flood peak.

More showers are forecast for parts of inland NSW this weekend.

The weather bureau said windy conditions and saturated soil could bring down trees and structures.

The Macquarie River at Dubbo is expected to pass its moderate flood level about 5pm on Friday but should peak well below major flood level.

Major flooding is possible on the Macquarie river in the Warren township and on the Lachlan river at Jemalong.

Major flooding was reported at Euabalong on Friday morning.

SES spokesman Greg Nash said:

We urge the public to drive to the conditions and make smart, safe decisions. Be aware that yesterday’s rain will impact a number of river systems around the state and river heights may change quickly.


SES issues flood alert for northern Tasmania

Tasmanians in the north-east are being warned to monitor weather conditions closely, with a flood warning currently in place for the St Marys area.

Large rainfall totals have occurred overnight and into today, with 64mm recorded at Grey and 30mm at St Helens.

Leon Smith, the state flood controller, said this has resulted in river and creek levels rising:

The South Esk River is expected to reach minor to moderate flood levels and flooding is expected to occur at St Marys.

Rivers and creeks in the north-east and east are predicted to continue to rise into the afternoon before easing over the coming days.


Wait to see Queen’s coffin approaching 12 hours into the early hours of the London morning

At 4am in London, the queue to see the Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall is now almost a 12 hour-long wait, blown out from the 9 hours estimated earlier in the evening.

According to the official site, the queue has exceeded its original maximum capacity that stretched from Westminster to Southwark Park.

In Australian terms, 4.9 miles (7.9km) is roughly the distance from the Sydney Opera house to Coogee beach, or from the MCG to the other side of the West Gate Bridge.

If you want to understand the cultural phenomenon that is queuing in Britain, my colleague in London Martin Belam has this excellent read:


The Labor government has re-appointed former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott to the board of the Australian War Memorial.

Veterans’ affairs minister Matt Keogh said:

Mr Abbott has served as a member of the Council since 2019 and his reappointment will provide the Council experience and stability during a seminal period.

Tony’s experience is well known and his dedication and passion for serving our nation is undisputed Tony has always been an advocate for our nation’s veterans.

The AWM has faced sustained criticism in recent years, both over its expensive expansion, which has already suffered cost blowouts, and its acceptance of donations from arms manufacturers.

The $500m expansion has been slammed as turning the AWM into a “theme park” for modern military equipment, including by former directors of the memorial. Costs have already blown out by $50m, and there is internal reluctance within Labor to hand the memorial significantly more funds.

The memorial also confirmed earlier this year it was pursuing a new sponsorship deal from arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin despite being inundated with letters from veterans, historians and retired staff saying such arrangements are “degrading to the memory of our war dead”.

Keogh said:

I congratulate Tony on his re-appointment. I look forward to following the progress of the Australian War Memorial’s redevelopment in the coming years closely, and trust Mr Abbott will play an integral role in it.


The RBA’s Lowe is asked, near the end of the marathon and quite thought-provoking meeting, about climate change and Australia’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Lowe said that Australia had been “on a different path” from other nations and “it was damaging us”.

Those comments might not have gone down too well with the Coalition members on the economics committee who didn’t back the government’s recent climate bill. There’s a fair bet Labor, the Greens and the “teal” independents are going to remind them that even the central bank governor backs the call for greater climate action.

Falling behind “what international investors expect” would dim Australia’s appeal, Lowe was saying, adding it also hurt the country’s ability to sell its story of clean energy.

What’s next? Lowe backing the return of a price on carbon? That would make sense - and perhaps that’s a question for six months’ time when the committee calls him back for a chat.

And that’s a wrap. (Story to follow - stay tuned.)


Three people including a child were rescued in flood waters this morning from a vehicle near Obley, south of Dubbo, NSW State Emergency Services has confirmed.

Supporting @NSWSES with flood and storm assistance, #NSWRFS crews this morning rescued three people from a vehicle near Obley. The two adults and one child were rescued from the top of a vehicle that was in flood waters, utilising a NSW RFS tanker and ropes. pic.twitter.com/PZ793kqvsW

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) September 16, 2022


Victorian Labor to commit $4m to mental health hub for officers if re-elected

In Victoria, police minister Anthony Carbines has announced a re-elected Labor government would funnel $4m into continuing the work of Blue Hub, a specialist mental health service for officers.

The opposition has committed $20m to the hub.

Police Min Anthony Carbines tells a @PoliceAssocVIC meeting - a re-elected Labor govt will put $4m into continuing the work of Blue Hub (additional mental health support specifically for police officers). pic.twitter.com/5xmkWN3mN5

— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) September 16, 2022


Flood warnings for inland NSW, severe thunderstorms in Queensland

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued moderate flood warnings for several parts of inland NSW, around the Gwydir and Bogan rivers.

Thunderstorms are also expected over eastern districts south of Townsville. The Bureau says severe thunderstorms are possible with damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain a risk in Capricornia and Wide Bay.

⚠️ Initial #Flood Warning issued for #Gwydir River. Moderate flooding possible at #Gravesend Friday afternoon. Moderate flooding possible at #Yarraman & minor at #Pallamallawa Saturday. See https://t.co/Ss766eTahj for details and updates; follow @NSWSES advice. #NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/6SQBfxdGW9

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 16, 2022

⚠️#Flood Warning updated for #BoganRiver. Renewed minor flooding occurring at #PeakHIll, moderate flooding occurring at #Gongolgon. See https://t.co/8e99GsEviE for details & updates; follow advice from @NSWSES#NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/G9xl5wLHRo

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 16, 2022

⛈️Thunderstorm forecast for tomorrow 17/9: Thunderstorms are expected over eastern districts south of Townsville. Severe TS are possible with damaging winds, large hail & heavy rain a risk, more likely in Capricornia & Wide Bay. Any warnings updated here https://t.co/FBmpsIoqYW pic.twitter.com/SbgKwE7gNY

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) September 16, 2022

A minor flood warning is also in place for Mendooran in New South Wales.

⚠️Initial #Flood Warning issued for #Castlereagh River. Minor flooding is possible at #Mendooran Friday evening. See https://t.co/Ss766eTahj for details and updates; follow advice from @NSWSES. #NSWFloods pic.twitter.com/YcAn4k60v3

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 16, 2022


Lowe ends committee hearing on positive note

As the committee hearing winds down, RBA governor Lowe wants to leave a more positive note.

Yes, interest rates are rising but “we’re in a much, much better place than we have been for a long time”, he said.

Why the long faces, Lowe wonders. There’s basically not enough “celebration” that we’re at full employment. (Visions flash of crowds with flags waving, or perhaps long queues ... but they quickly fade.)

“The best thing for people is to have a job,” he says, noting that a higher share of Australia’s population is now working than ever before, including the record high levels of female participation, and the lowest youth unemployment levels in decades.

People are getting the hours they want to work, even if they have to work two (or more) jobs to do it. These are “fantastic” outcomes for people’s incomes and opportunities, Lowe says.

Some might quibble that even more fantastic would be pay at least keeping up with inflation and adding in productivity would be icing on a cake that’s more than a bit overdue.


ACT records no Covid deaths and 76 people in hospital

There were 465 new cases in the last reporting period, and one person is in intensive care.

Weekly ACT COVID-19 update – 16 September 2022

🦠 COVID-19 case numbers
◾ New cases this week: 791 (403 PCR and 388 RAT)
◾ Active cases: 465
◾ Total cases since March 2020: 204,397 pic.twitter.com/P65JKDa3dF

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) September 16, 2022

NSW records 115 Covid deaths and 1,290 people in hospital

There were 17,229 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 29 people are in intensive care.

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 September 2022
In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 September:
-17,229 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 10,162 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 7,067 PCR tests
-115 lives lost pic.twitter.com/cA4mLUqDck

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 15, 2022


Inflation expected to climb to 7.75% by the year’s end

In questions from Bert van Manen, a Queensland LNP MP, the RBA’s Lowe laid out some pertinent points about what he looks for in inflation numbers.

Yes, the RBA looks at the “headline” consumer price index, well, as the name implies, it’s what “gets the most media coverage”. It also powers the community’s expectations about how high inflation will go.

In the June quarter, that came in at 6.1%, or the highest in a couple of decades, and the RBA expects that to climb to 7.75% by the year’s end.

But it also looks at the “trimmed mean” measure of underlying inflation to understand the “ongoing momentum” pushing up inflation. It lops off the 15 percentile changes on the upper and lower ends.

In the June quarter, that rate was running at 4.9%, or the highest since the early 1990s.

By either measure of inflation, though, “at the moment, it’s too high”, with demand exceeding supply ... and those higher interest rates are needed to “get the balance back”.

As a personal aside, Lowe mentions he joined the bank out of high school in 1980.

He notes that in those days, organisations invested in their staff to improve their capabilities (in his case, supporting him and other colleagues to go to university night school).

It’s an approach “we’ve gone away from” as a society, Lowe says, with firms more reliant on importing talent rather than training it in-house.


High court to hear Facebook appeal denying it ‘carries on business’ in Australia

The high court has this morning granted special leave to appeal to Facebook, which is disputing a finding by the full federal court that it is “carrying on business” in Australia.

The Australian Information Commissioner filed proceedings against Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland in the federal court in March 2020, alleging the social media platform committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law.

In response, Facebook disputed that it was carrying on business in Australia, losing at first instance in September 2020 and again on appeal in February 2022.

Today the high court agreed to hear Facebook’s appeal against that ruling.


Victorian Liberals pledge $125m for triple zero fix

Victoria’s opposition promises to pour an extra $125m into the state’s triple zero system if it wins the upcoming state election, AAP reports.

The funds would be used to upgrade IT, deliver extra staff training and recruit more frontline workers.

The $125m would be in addition to the $330m already earmarked to overhaul triple zero in the 2022-2023 budget.

The funding promise comes after a report by Victoria’s inspector general for emergency management linked 33 deaths to ambulance call delays.

The opposition has previously said it would scrap the $35bn Box Hill to Cheltenham section of the suburban rail loop and direct the money into the health system if it won government.

Liberal party leader Matthew Guy said Victorians need to be confident they will receive help quickly when they ring triple zero.

This November, Victorians have a clear choice – a triple zero service that works, or a train line from Cheltenham to Box Hill in 13 years’ time.

The opposition wants to improve the program used to dispatch emergency vehicles, create a backup surge system and prioritise the recruitment of call taking and dispatch rolls.


Lowe did not know Morrison had been sworn in as treasurer

It was probably inevitable that RBA governor Philip Lowe would be asked whether he was aware that Scott Morrison had been sworn in as treasurer, one of five ministries on top of being prime minister.

Sadly, perhaps, the answer was a firm “no”.

Lowe told the House of Reps economic committee:

I was surprised as the rest of the community.

And with that political cul de sac, we go back to discussing the impact of higher rates on business (along with rising fuel costs and so on).


Aussies hail Federer as the ‘James Bond of tennis’

Roger Federer won’t be returning to have one last crack at Melbourne Park glory, but the sport in Australia will forever bathe in the glow of the man being hailed as “the James Bond of tennis”, AAP reports.

Australian tennis luminaries led the applause for the great man after hearing, at 41, Federer is to abandon competitive tennis after next week’s Laver Cup in London.

Doubles great Todd Woodbridge on the Nine Network said:

We’ll miss the legend who’s driven the sport to new heights.

His game was elegant, masterful, it took tennis to new levels, he used to float around the court, nobody moved more gracefully – and he taught us it was OK to cry.

I remember when he walked out on Centre Court at Wimbledon in this most magnificent old-fashioned blazer all done with the little gold trim with the big RF on it.

That epitomised his class; to me, he’s always been the James Bond of tennis.”

Roger Federer holds his trophy after winning the Australian Open in 2018.
Roger Federer holds his trophy after winning the Australian Open in 2018. Photograph: Dita Alangkara/AP

In Hamburg, Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt hailed his old rival as the greatest of their era. Hewitt, who played Federer 27 times, winning nine, said:

In the mid-2000s, Roger was nearly unbeatable – it was pretty much only Rafa [Nadal] that could get him, especially on the clay but most of all he’s been a great ambassador for our sport

He deserved to go out on his terms. For him to play one more Wimbledon would have been special, but when you get to his age, it’s not easy. He’s done everything in the sport he could ever dream of.

Australian No 1 Alex de Minaur, fresh from his Davis Cup win, saluted a “flat-out genius on the court”, recalling how in 2019 he played Federer in the final of his hometown tournament in Basel and got schooled 6-2 6-2.

Yeah, a nice little lesson. I was foolish enough to think I had a genuine chance to win. I just remember being completely outclassed, he was just on another level.

I tried six, seven different game plans out there but was basically at his mercy. Yet it was a cool experience, one of the few times I ever walked off a court when I was like, ‘you know what, too good’.

It was actually fun getting taught a lesson by Roger.

He’s an icon of our sport, one of the guys I looked up to and I’m pretty sure every person on the planet has looked up to. If you’re growing up and you don’t want to be like him, you don’t have a lot of idea about tennis.

Jelena Dokic, women’s junior world champion at the same time Federer ruled the teenage men’s game, noted on Nine:

It wasn’t just the greatness of his tennis, but how humble he was, how gracious he was, what an inspiration he was.

I always look at people at how they are behind the scenes, on the practice courts or the locker room, and there’s no one nicer than Roger Federer. He’d be really kind to you.

We’ll always talk about him being a great tennis player, but it’s important to say what a great person he is too.


Interest rate changes could take up two years to play out in full, RBA boss says

The RBA’s Lowe makes the point that there is a long tail to the effects of interest rate changes. In fact, the “maximum effect” takes 18-24 months to play out.

That’s more than the three-month lag that economists usually talk about (as variable borrowing rates, for instance, take time to adjust).

How businesses respond to, say, changes in the Australian dollar exchange rate is one factor the bank watches, as is the shift in consumer spending.

Lowe said households had accumulated $250bn in savings during the Covid years, above what they would have been expected to have socked away.

How they are going to draw down that huge nest egg is one of the unknowns, not least because the savings were not evenly distributed across the population. That’s “why there’s so much uncertainty”, he said.

As for whether the RBA’s interest rate tool is sufficient to bring down inflation, Lowe said it was “a blunt tool but a powerful one”. And one that he’s more than willing to keep wielding.


Higgins accused seeks document about ‘discrepancies’ ahead of October trial

The trial of the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins, Bruce Lehrmann, has been listed in the ACT supreme court for up to seven weeks beginning 4 October.

Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Higgins at Parliament House in Canberra in 2019. In June, the trial was delayed over concerns comments made in the public domain may prejudice potential jurors.

On Friday the ACT supreme court held a pre-trial hearing at which Lehrmann’s counsel, Andrew Berger, revealed the defence is seeking a document that outlines Higgins’ version of events to police from 2019 onwards and “subsequent discrepancies”.

The document was originally described as available on request from the DPP, but when Lehrmann’s defence asked for it, the DPP objected on the grounds it is privileged material (relating to communications between lawyer and client).

Berger told the court the document “doesn’t properly attract” legal professional privilege, signalling that Lehrmann will now subpoena the AFP to seek a copy. It will then be up to the federal police whether they claim privilege over it.

The court also heard on Friday that Lehrmann’s team will consult with a barrister appointed by the DPP about what material from a Cellebrite report on the content of Higgins’ phone might be disclosable.

Justice Lucy McCallum warned she didn’t want the pre-trial issues to “kybosh the hearing date”.

McCallum observed that the relevance of the material in the report appeared to signal the defence was “chasing cross-examination points” relating to witness credibility, which could signal “a very long trial”.

She said:

My primary function is to ensure Mr Lehrmann and the crown have a fair trial. But secondarily – I’m not going to let cross examination go up hill and down dale for weeks and weeks.

Lehrmann’s counsel, Steve Whybrow, assured the court it was not the defendant’s intention to pursue every potential credit point but said “there is a body of material we need to examine the complainant about”.

The case returns for a further pre-trial mention on Wednesday 21 September.


Lowe provides market wish list

The RBA’s Lowe’s provides economics committee with a wish list (in answer to questions from Allegra Spender, the independent MP from Sydney’s eastern suburbs).

Australia is a “long way from optimal” on taxes, Lowe says (without naming policies such as negative gearing).

Similarly, how we select and pay for infrastructure, train and accumulate human capital from pre-school to universities, and reward innovation could all improve.

And as for regulating the energy market, “we probably haven’t nailed that”, Lowe says in one of the morning’s understandments. (Wonder if he thinks we should reserve some gas in eastern Australia rather than exporting every spare molecule of the fossil fuel?)

He also says the RBA is doing a lot of work on climate change (not unrelated to fossil gas exports, either) and Lowe expects more “supply shocks” from extreme weather.

We’ll have to factor that into our decision-making. We’re spending a lot of time on climate-related issues, not just because they affect the economy but also the financial system.


Push to let South Australian crime victims speak freely

Victims of crime in South Australia may soon be able to speak freely in victim impact statements as the state government looks to prevent lawyers editing their words, AAP reports.

Under current rules, the defence and prosecution can make changes to remove material from the statements that may be inadmissible.

But attorney general Kyam Maher says that should be the responsibility of the judge or magistrate, not counsel.

The preparation and presentation of a victim impact statement is a victim’s opportunity to tell their story to the sentencing court.

That story should be in the victim’s voice and should allow space for the victim to communicate their views without filter.

Judges and magistrates are well-placed to resolve any issues around the admissibility of content.

The government will consult with the legal sector and victim advocates on changes to the Sentencing Act to remove any ability to edit a victim’s statement, regardless of its content.

The proposed changes follow criticism from the family of a murder victim who had their statement edited three times before it was presented to the court.

Some of the changes came in the minutes leading up to the court hearing.


Real wages are going to fall this year and next, Lowe predicts

The RBA’s Lowe says that while “wages are not driving inflation”, how salaries rise will determine how much rates will have to rise. (He makes a point about the rising share of corporate profits in the economy and that it would be good to have that lowered too, but doesn’t harp on it.)

Real wages are going to fall this year and next, Lowe predicts, and that’s “a difficult message”. So far Australia doesn’t have the issue as in the US and the UK where wage growth is picking up to compensate people for inflation. “I hope we can avoid that,” he says.

Why? Because if people demanded their wages rose at the pace of, say, 7%, the RBA would have have hike rates higher.

Lowe goes into the importance of inflation psychology and inflation expectations, and the need to convince the public the RBA is serious about squashing inflation.

If the public didn’t believe that “interest rates would have to go up a lot and we don’t want that”, Lowe said.

And now the first session ends ... with the sounds of Swan Lake (I think) being piped over the online link. Hope that’s not cue for a ‘black swan event’.


University drops Santos branding of kids’ science roadshow

Macquarie University has dropped Santos branding and support for a school science roadshow, after a senior Australian climate scientist complained sponsorship from a company expanding fossil fuel production was inappropriate.

Prof Lesley Hughes asked her own institution, Sydney’s Macquarie University, to pull out of hosting one of the events for the Santos Science Experience, arguing the company’s expansion plans were putting children’s future at stake.


Another fiscal expansion could put pressure on RBA to lift cash rate further

The RBA’s Lowe veers into fiscal policy and notes that “another significant fiscal expansion” would put pressure on the bank to lift its cash rate further than otherwise would be the case.

He adds, carefully, that such an increase “is not my expectation” in a cue to treasurer Jim Chalmers’ budget planned for 25 October.

Lowe adds he’s “not concerned” about any change in the government’s fiscal policy “in the near term.”

(Gareth Hamilton, the Queensland LNP MP, was asking about this issue, perhaps hoping for an attack line about excessive government spending counteracting the RBA’s rate hikes.)

Shortly before those comments, though, Lowe highlighted a “significant issue” that even with the economy at the closest to full employment in 50 years and Australia’s highest terms of trade ever (ie the price of our exports v what we pay for imports) we’re still running budget deficits. He said:

We want really high-quality aged care, great education, world-class disability [care], fantastic national defence, great infrastructure - the community wants all these things from our governments.

Also, we haven’t as a community worked out how to pay for it all, at least in the medium to long-term.

Lowe, though, notes the outlook for Australia’s economy is “uncertain but still positive”, at least for now. (Earlier he noted that China‘s economic woes could narrow Australia’s ability to keep growing as interest rates rise to curb inflation.)


Series of cold fronts coming for Victoria

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting cool, windy and showery weather. Looks like you might need to take out your hot water bottles if you put them away!

A series of cold fronts will bring bring cool, windy, and showery weather to #Victoria from later today, expected to continue throughout the weekend. 🌧️⛈️💨#VicWeather

Detailed forecasts here: https://t.co/CPEjYH3bnG pic.twitter.com/kp3XXRJ98M

— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) September 15, 2022


RBA will be less likely to make predictions in future, Lowe says

RBA’s Lowe is now discussing how the bank made such a big forecast error in its projection that the cash rate might not have to increase until 2024 (but with various caveats, that people often ignored).

Everybody got it wrong, Lowe said, all central banks. (Picking the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a big miss, for instance.)

One response though will be the RBA is less likely to make projections.

“We are much less inclined to do that in the future,” Lowe said, adding that the bank would be “vaguer” as he’s tried to be today. (Vague is in vogue, you might say.)

It’s a tough call because while there’s a demand for the RBA to be a better communicator, the response is likely to be fuzzier in those communications.

Guess that opens the door to more punditry and speculation.

Here’s how we reported this issue last week, by the way:


More rate rises on the way and house prices could fall by 10%, RBA boss says

RBA’s Lowe goes back to talk about the interest rate outlook, and says it’s likely the board’s meeting in October will discuss either a 25 or 50 basis point cash rate rise (eg to 2.6% or 2.85%).

In other words, October’s likely to have another rate rise for a sixth meeting in as many months. (It’s not risen so consistently before.)

Still, it’s “getting closer” to the point when it’s no longer “super-sized” rate rises that are needed, but rather the more common 25bp move. (In the US, the fixation is on a “jumbo” rate move of 100bp, or a full percentage point at the Federal Reserve’s next meeting.)

As for the impact of rising rates on house prices, Lowe said a drop of 10% wouldn’t be surprising, but adds that would still leave them 15% higher over three years (after rising 25% in the two Covid pandemic years).

We live in a country that complains when property prices rise too fast or fall too fast, Lowe notes.

The Reserve Bank of Australia head office in Sydney.
The Reserve Bank of Australia head office in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Government to probe RBA’s aggressive interest rate hikes

Guardian Australia’s economics correspondent Peter Hannam has been keeping you up to date with RBA governor Phillip Lowe’s opening address kicking off a three-hour public hearing.

The member for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale, has shared some of the questions the House Economics Committee will want to ask Lowe after he finishes speaking.

About to enter a 3 hour public hearing where I, and members of the House Economics Committee, will be asking questions of the RBA.

Why did they wait so long to raise rates?

Why are they raising rates so aggressively?

And yes, I got here a bit early. #bennelong #auspol pic.twitter.com/2AOBume0B1

— Jerome Laxale MP (@jeromelaxale) September 15, 2022


Still demand for cash, RBA governor says

RBA governor Philip Lowe takes a brief moment to note (so to speak) about the bank’s other activities.

Cash is being used less and less frequently by Australians but it doesn’t mean there’s weak demand for it.

On average, it turns out, there is $102bn in cash outstanding, or almost $4,000 per Australian.

Time perhaps to look down the back of the couch or under the bed to see if you’ve put some money aside and forgotten it.


Magpie duo in car crash on AFL final eve

Two Collingwood players have been involved in a car crash on the eve of their club’s AFL preliminary final against Sydney, AAP reports.

Magpies Beau McCreery and Josh Carmichael were driving to Melbourne airport on Friday morning for their flight to Sydney when involved in an accident.

Both McCreery, who is in Collingwood’s team for the SCG final on Saturday afternoon and Carmichael, who is an emergency for the team, were not hurt.

#BREAKING: Collingwood players Beau McCreery and Josh Carmichael have been involved in a car accident on the way to Melbourne Airport ahead of the club’s preliminary final against Sydney on Saturday.

The club says neither of the players sustained any injuries. #AFL #9News pic.twitter.com/rrZEHFduJd

— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) September 15, 2022

Collingwood’s football manager Graham Wright said in a statement:

The welfare of Beau, Josh and the driver of the other vehicle remains the absolute priority.

Neither Beau nor Josh sustained any injuries and we will provide them with the support required in this situation.

Both players were cleared to fly to Sydney for the clash with the Swans.


RBA is not on a preset path, governor says

RBA’s Philip Lowe turns towards what’s coming.

Lowe says that while inflation expectations have been “well-anchored”, the sentiment is shifting as businesses see they can lift prices and consumers accept them.

Lowe said:

It’s important that we avoid a cycle where higher inflation leads to higher wages and inflation remains high.

He says that as for the outlook for interest rates, “the Reserve Bank board expects that further increases will be required” to bring inflation back to within the RBA’s 2-3% target.

But, as Lowe has said previously (eg after the September cash rate hike to 2.35%), the RBA is not on a preset path “especially given the uncertainties” at home and abroad.

As there are lags in the impact of rate rises, the size and pace of increases will ease as the goal of inflation constraint gets nearer.

So far, though, there’s no notable straying from Lowe’s previous comments.


Consultation opens for coercive control laws

The government today opens public consultation on national principles to address the issue of coercive control.

The attorney general Mark Dreyfus wrote on social media:

Often a significant part of family and domestic violence, perpetrators use coercive control to keep power over another person. Yet, it is little understood.

The consultation process is open to everyone. It will include an online survey, targeted roundtable discussions and further advice from victim-survivor advocates, family and domestic violence experts, and representatives of people at increased risk of coercive control.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) September 15, 2022

You can read the draft national principles here.

Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732).

Inflation too high at the moment, RBA governor says

As the economics committee gets going this morning, RBA governor Philip Lowe kicks off by stating the good news since the last meeting back in February.

That’s mainly the drop in the jobless rate from 4.2% then to 3.5% as of last month. (See earlier post.)

RBA governor Philip Lowe at the economics committee at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, 16 September 2022.
RBA governor Philip Lowe at the economics committee at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, 16 September 2022. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The bad news, though, is that inflation has “very quickly” gone from “too low to too high”. (Hence the rapid rise in interest rates at the fastest pace since 1994.)

Lowe has repeated the bank’s expectation that inflation (CPI) will peak at about 7.75% at the end of 2022, and ease to 3% by the end of 2024.

As for the RBA’s actions over the past couple of years, Lowe says the bigger policy mistake would have been to have too little than to do too much, Lowe says, of the support given during the “very scary” period at the start of the Covid pandemic.

Still, it’s a “difficult and concerning time for many people” with the rise in the RBA cash rate and consequent increased borrowing costs. Not to act to stem inflation, though, would have worse impacts, Lowe says.


RBA to answer questions about interest rates

The Reserve Bank is up before an economics committee in parliament this morning, and no doubt there’ll be some discussion about interest rates.

Ahead of the meeting, markets were tipping a two-in-three chance that the cash rate will be hiked another half percentage point to 2.85% at the RBA’s next board meeting on 4 October.

Ahead of RBA gov. Lowe's appearance this morning before a House of Reps economics committee at Parly, investors were forecasting the cash rate would climb to a peak just shy of 4% by mid-2023. (Yesterday's strongish jobs data helped.) Still odds on for another 50bp rise in Oct. pic.twitter.com/6TMX7sXTG6

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 15, 2022

Part of the nudge higher in interest rate expectations in the past few days was yesterday’s ABS release on jobs data for August.

Yes, the jobless rate ticked higher to 3.5%, the first rise since last October, but there was an increase in the participation rate (more people looking for work) and almost 60,000 full-time jobs added, as we reported here:

Governor Philip Lowe and fellow RBA representatives will also likely be asked this morning about its operations, and the review into operations that just began taking public submissions and is due to report to the government by March. We looked at some of the key themes here:

More to come as the hearing starts soon after 9.30am AEST.


ACT border could be expanded, reports say

The Canberra Times is reporting that NSW premier Dominic Perrottet and ACT chief minister Andrew Barr are discussing ACT border expansion plans.

Reporter Lucy Bladen writes:

The NSW premier has given the green light for negotiations to start between the ACT and NSW about expanding the border in Canberra’s north.

Chief minister Andrew Barr said he has been contacted directly by Dominic Perrottet who has indicated in-principle support for the expansion of the territory’s borders.

Officials from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the ACT’s Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate have entered into discussions about the possible shift of the border.

Guardian Australia is looking into this development, so stay tuned.


Ardern granted audience with King Charles

The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, will meet with King Charles III on Saturday afternoon local time (Sunday morning AEST), saying she intended to keep her comments straightforward, AAP reports.

She said:

I’ll simply share the sorrow that New Zealand has, and pass on our deepest condolences.

At the end of the day, although this is a period of transition for him, he has also lost his beloved mother. For us and New Zealand that’s first and foremost.

Speaking prior to her departure, Ardern said she would be “looking for ways that we can maximise the time on behalf of New Zealand, whilst of course doing [our] primary job which is to pay our respects to the loss of our head of state”.

I feel very humbled at the opportunity to be here on behalf of New Zealand, to be a part of what is a very sad but a very historic occasion here. I feel a great weight of responsibility.

Ardern said she would also meet with Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss, and Prince William – now the Prince of Wales – repaying his efforts in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosques terror attacks.

I remember so well after 15 March the effort he made, to come to New Zealand, to meet with us, to visit with those affected.

The Prince of Wales has always been there for New Zealand in its time of grief.

Ardern will leave London on Monday night, travelling to the United Nations to represent New Zealand at the start of the 77th session of the general assembly.


NSW roads impacted by rainfall

Some roads have been impacted by rainfall in the last 24 hours and previous rainfall. Showers are forecast to continue in parts of inland #NSW tomorrow, while these are expected to be light windy conditions are forecast over the weekend. Monitor Warnings: https://t.co/kMX3ULd8SN pic.twitter.com/tVpP2V7Crx

— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) September 15, 2022

Man falls to his death while hiking near Gold Coast waterfall

A 79-year old man has fallen several metres to his death at Tanninaba Falls in Springbrook national park on the outskirts of the Gold Coast.

Nine News is reporting that the man was hiking with his daughters, one of whom tried to climb down the cliff to rescue him.

Queensland police say they are preparing a report for the coroner following the “non-suspicious sudden death” yesterday afternoon.

Emergency services were initially called to Tanninaba Falls around 12.15pm following reports a man falling several metres down a cliff face.

Crews located the man at the bottom of the cliff and was declared deceased a short time later.

Springbrook national park in the Gold Coast, Queensland.
Springbrook national park in the Gold Coast, Queensland. Photograph: Mark A Johnson/Alamy


UK interviewer asks Albanese about what Morrison secret ministries saga means for republic debate

UK’s ITV News also asked Albanese to weigh in on the Scott Morrison secret ministries saga in light of the republic debate.


I just wanted to ask a question about Scott Morrison’s swearing in for a number of ministries and the fact that the governor general at the time didn’t sort of block this or make this public. Does that sort of inform the debate about the system that you’ve got that shows that there is a flaw there?


Well, the governor general, of course, takes advice from the elected government of the day. And that is what His Excellency the governor general did on this occasion. I’ve been very critical of the actions of the former prime minister, and not just swearing himself into multiple portfolios, including treasury, finance, resources, energy, health, for reasons that are, frankly, beyond my comprehension.

The fact that he did not make that public and indeed didn’t inform the heads of department in some cases, and indeed, his ministerial colleagues, that that had occurred, let alone the Australian public. I find this quite extraordinary.

But I believe that is the responsibility of former prime minister Morrison and he needs to explain the circumstances in which that occurred. And we need to if there are any legislative changes required to ensure that can never happen again, then we will implement them after the review that is taking place, presided over by a former high court justice, who will report to me before the end of the year in time for any legislative changes to occur in the last sitting work of parliament.


Was it not incumbent on the governor general to speak up at that point?


Well, the governor general should take advice from the elected government of the day. The governor general did that on this occasion. It’s also the case that the governor general may have made inquiries of the prime minister of the day, those discussions, private discussions and we don’t know, at this point in time, what those discussions entailed.


‘You can have different views but be united in respect’: PM ahead of flying to London

The prime minister Anthony Albanese gave an interview to the UK’s ITV News, before leaving for London to attend the Queen’s funeral.

Albanese said he had “a sense of history, the sense of great privilege that I have in along with the governor general, and our acting high commissioner to London, representing Australians at the Queen’s service on Monday.”

ITV News’ Dan Rivers asked Albanese about “having to walk a bit of a tightrope between your own personal views on a republic for Australia and the wider occasion that’s happening this week.”

My job as prime minister of Australia is to represent Australia at this historic time. And I believe you can have different views as Australians do. A range of views over our constitutional system, but be united in respect for the life and service that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth showed to Australia, to the Commonwealth and, indeed, to the world.

Asked about whether it’s inevitable that Australia will become a republic, Albanese responded,

Well, that’s a discussion for another time and as, indeed, Her Majesty said during her reign at the time of the referendum that Australia had at the end of the last century that the royal family would respect the decisions which Australians made at that time. So, I think that’s a debate for another time. And that’s a debate for Australians to have.

I sat down with @danriversitv from the UK's @itvnews before departing for London where I will represent Australia at the State Funeral Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. pic.twitter.com/HgDQjoNabT

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 15, 2022


Spike in Australian drownings linked to Covid

The number of drowning deaths in Australia has reached its highest point in 25 years, according to figures released today by the Royal Life Saving Society and Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA).

Covid-19 has been blamed for helping to push up the tally as beachgoers are urged to know their limits, AAP reports.

There were 339 drownings nationwide in the 12 months to 30 June, up from 295 the previous year and the highest reported tally since 1996. More than a third occurred in coastal locations.

The increase in drownings to its highest point since 1996 has been linked to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as travel bans, although the annual tally also includes 39 flood-related deaths.

Almost half of coastal fatalities happened more than 5km from a surf lifesaving service as Australians sought out secluded and unfamiliar beaches.

SLSA chief executive Adam Weir said:

With many of these tragedies unfolding at remote and isolated locations, SLSA is appealing for the public to consider where they are recreating and understand their limitations.

Royal Life Saving Society Australia chief executive Justin Scarr said:

Increased drowning deaths in school-aged children is tragic and may be a sign of generational impacts of lessons missed due to Covid‐19.

Swimming and water safety lessons are critical to child safety.

The report predicted the temporary closure of pools and swim schools during the pandemic could impact Australians for years to come, with the industry struggling to recruit instructors and lifeguards.


‘We have to deal with’ growing relationship between Russia and China: Marles

The acting prime minister, Richard Marles, is asked about the comments that have come from Andrew Hastie, the shadow defence minister, who described President Xi and Putin’s meeting in Uzbekistan as a “monster relationship”.

Q: Is that a description you’d endorse?


It’s not the language I would use, but we are seeing greater engagement between China and Russia.

We saw that in the meeting that occurred after the Winter Olympics. We’re seeing joint exercises undertaken by China and Russia in the North Pacific. This is a relationship which is growing and obviously it’s something that effects the strategic circumstances that we have to deal with and the complexity of those circumstances.

The world in which we are living is now a world in which the global rules-based order, which has been the basis of peace and prosperity, is being put under great strain and we’re seeing that in eastern Europe with Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine. But we’re seeing it in the Indo-Pacific as well. And rules around freedom of navigation in places like the South China Sea, that’s fundamentally important to Australia’s national interest. All of this is what we have to be dealing with.


Marles says it would be beneficial to operate submarines ‘operated elsewhere as well’

Q: Is the preferred option… a new design of boat able to be used by all three partner nations?

Marles says he’s “not in a position to go into that detail” but what he can say is that:

This is very much a collaborative trilateral process. You know, the UK and the US are working together with us to see Australia acquire this capability and it is very much a partnership between all three countries. And it’s very important that as we go forward the submarine capability that we have is one which is being operated by at least one other country so that we have a shared sustainment base and we have a shared experience of that platform.

Marles is asked if he meant submarines currently operated by one other country, the ABC asks “because there are these suggestions that all three nations might partner around the future version of the next fleet of nuclear submarines, SSNX in the United States”.

Marles responds to whether that is being entertained:

Well, you know, both the UK and the US are going through an evolution in respect of their own submarine capabilities and that forms part of the landscape, against which this process is happening and these decisions are being made.

All I would say at the moment is that as I said there is very much a collaborative effort, all three countries are working on this and we are starting to see where this is going and in thinking about what is the best option for Australia, we are very mindful that it would be advantageous to be operating a submarine which has been operated elsewhere as well.


Former government’s submarine bungle part of wasted decade, Marles says

It’s been a year since Australia pulled the plug on its submarine contract with France and announced a three-way deal with the US and the UK, but there are still questions over Australia’s nuclear submarine future fleet.

Richard Marles, the defence minister and acting prime minister (as Albanese is in London for the Queen’s funeral), just spoke to ABC Breakfast News from Geelong.

Marles was asked about whether reporting from ABC’s Laura Tingle of 7.30 that defence officials were kept in the dark about the switch from French to Aukus submarines surprised him:

Well, there was a lot about what occurred a year ago that surprised us at the time and, you know, the way in which we saw the former government enter into the arrangement with France and then the terms on which they – they exited that arrangement.

I mean, all of that really spoke to a wasted decade, actually, in terms of being in and out of various arrangements at a time when we really needed to be focusing on what the future capability would be when the Collins Class came to the end of its life and there were lots of very significant questions, I think about the process that occurred in the lead-up to last year, but obviously where we’re at now is we’re a year into the Aukus arrangements and we’re focused on moving forward and acquiring for Australia the next generation of submarine capability that the nation needs.


‘Measured discussion’ will take us in direction of a republic: Gillard

Former prime minister Julia Gillard spoke to the ABC’s James Glenday, sharing her thoughts about the political ripples of the Queen’s death.

I always thought that when the Queen did leave us, that it would cause a period of reflection. I thought that here in the UK and there are many issues about national identity that the UK is grappling with – the future of Scotland, the future of Northern Ireland, what it means to be the nation in the world without the contact with the European Union that they had, the post-Brexit world in which they now live.

And I always thought in Australia too it would unleash a new set of reflections about our own constitutional arrangements. But there’s no rush and I certainly endorse what the prime minister has said. There’s time for measured discussion. It’s certainly too soon for that now. The things that people want to do to honour the Queen, the prime minister, our prime minister, being at the funeral on Monday.

All of those things need to be worked through. And then I think we can have a measured, steady discussion, which will ultimately take us, I think, in the direction of a republic. But it won’t be quick.

Gillard also shared her personal memories of the Queen:

I do remember in terms of her stoicism, we were there backstage at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting opening and what was happening at the opening towards the end of was that each leader of the 54 countries was going to come out on stage, be announced, be applauded and then I would come out second last and she would come out last. So we were in this big queue waiting to go on stage, moving very slowly.

So I said to her, “Can I get someone to get you a chair?” And she was like, “No, I’m fine to stand.”

And I’m like, that’s really a pity because if someone had got you a chair, someone might have brought me a chair.


Good morning

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is flying to London where he will express Australia’s condolences after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He left Australia on Thursday night alongside the governor general, David Hurley, and a delegation of 10 Australian representatives.

Albanese is expected to view the Queen’s lying in state at Westminster Hall, and meet with the British prime minister, Liz Truss, while in London.

In her first interview since the Queen’s death, former prime minister Julia Gillard has weighed in on the republic debate.

Gillard told BBC Radio:

I’ve always thought inevitably when the reign of Queen Elizabeth came to the end that people would reflect, but people will do that in a very measured and unhurried way.

Mourning is also occurring in the tennis community, as six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer has called time on one of the sport’s greatest careers.

Australian great Rod Laver has been amongst those paying tribute to the man many said was the Mikhail Baryshnikov of tennis.

Thank you for everything Roger. See you soon. Rocket https://t.co/wjjk1lvd2H

— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) September 15, 2022

Let’s get going!



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