Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods

LIVE – Updated at 00:26

Follow the day’s news live.

 

00:26

The Greens senator Larissa Waters wants to amend the sitting calendar for 2022, to add in another sitting to allow for debate on a federal Icac and also the recommendations of the Jenkins review into parliamentary culture (the Greens are in support of all 28 recommendations)

Waters has circulated this amendment:

To add 28 February to 3 March and 8 March to 10 March 2022 to the 2022 sitting calendar.

To move—That the days of meeting of the Senate for 2022 be as follows:

Autumn sittings:

Tuesday, 8 February to Thursday, 10 February

Monday, 28 February to Thursday, 3 March

Tuesday, 8 March to Thursday 10 March

Budget sittings:

Tuesday, 29 March and Wednesday, 30 March

Winter sittings:

Monday, 9 May to Thursday, 12 May

Monday, 16 May to Thursday, 19 May

Tuesday, 7 June to Thursday, 9 June

Monday, 20 June to Thursday, 23 June

Monday, 27 June to Thursday, 30 June

Spring sittings:

Tuesday, 9 August to Thursday, 11 August

Monday, 15 August to Thursday, 18 August

Monday, 5 September to Thursday, 8 September

Monday, 12 September to Thursday, 15 September

Monday, 17 October to Thursday, 20 October

Monday, 21 November to Thursday, 24 November

Monday, 28 November to Thursday, 1 December.

As listed on page 4 of today’s Notice Paper

 

00:24

A sixth case of the Omicron variant has been (most likely) found in NSW – but again, there is no need to panic or worry.

It is a variant of concern, yes, but there is nothing to suggest we are going to see the same issues we saw with Delta.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said NSW Health is going through older tests (from before it was found in Australia) and so far has not identified any other cases.

He says it is just a case of keeping an eye on the evidence:

There are lots of discussions going on at senior levels in the government. But yesterday was national cabinet and I think it’s fair to say that there is a unity ticket with the national government, with Victoria and New South Wales, we’re not keen to see a return to lockdowns. And we’re just watching closely.

 

00:07

It’s the first of December, which means it is World Aids Day.

Greg Hunt has announced $50m in funding, which will extend access to HIV treatment in Australia:

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 is ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’

This year is the 40th anniversary of the first official report of the immune illness that would be later recognised as AIDS. In 2020, there were 633 new diagnoses of HIV in Australia and more than 29,000 people living with HIV.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said, the Morrison Government was investing more than $39 million over 5 years to support people living with HIV in Australia, who are not eligible for Medicare, to access the treatment they need …

“Our Government will also provide more than $11 million in new funding to Australia’s blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections peak bodies to continue their important work across the country,” Minister Hunt said.

 

00:06

Nothing like a goodwill non-partisan seasonal gesture to make political points.

Photos from Mike Bowers:

Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods
© Provided by The Guardian Penny Wong, Adam Bandt, Anthony Albanese, Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce at the Kmart wishing tree event in the PM’s office. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods
© Provided by The Guardian Joyce gifted a gem mining kit. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods
© Provided by The Guardian Peace in our time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

 

00:05

The annual Kmart Wishing Tree event was held in the prime minister’s office this morning – it is meant to be an occasion where all the MPs come together and give gifts to children.

Mike Bowers was there and said that this year it was used as a trolling exercise.

Barnaby Joyce bought a “gem mining kit”.

Anthony Albanese brought a trolley full of gifts – among them, an Eiffel Tower puzzle and a submarine.

We’re sure the kids will just love them.

Good morning

30 Nov 2021 23:54

It’s the second last sitting day of the year and the government still has things like the voter ID legislation to get through, so it’s beginning to cut things a little fine.

There won’t be any federal integrity commission legislation from the government. We know that. Scott Morrison is blaming Labor for his government not bringing on the bill (which is now just an exposure draft) because for some reason, Labor not supporting the government’s proposal is a stumbling block for a government which carries a majority in the House and has brought on countless bills the opposition does not support. But that’s the logic we’re being offered up on this one.

Labor doesn’t support the voter ID laws but, at this point, the government is pushing ahead with those. There’s also religious discrimination, which is off to a joint committee, which will meet over the summer holidays to report back by early February. Morrison wants that one wrapped up before the election, hence the rush. So we’ll probably at least squeeze in the February sitting before the next election, but again, there’s no guarantees on that.

National cabinet met late yesterday and all the leaders agreed to hold the line on keeping domestic borders open, most likely anticipating a whole of country meltdown if Christmas is cancelled for the third year in a row. That, and no one knows enough about the Omicron Covid variant yet to want to make a decision which could end up looking a bit panicked. So far, there is no information warranting any other action than watch and wait (domestically at least). But there are a few more obligations for returning international travellers; in NSW those who don’t comply with quarantine/isolation rules face a $5,000 fine, while Victoria is mulling whether to reintroduce a 14-day quarantine for returned travellers (no change as yet though).

Related: How have Australia’s international travel rules changed in response to Omicron?

Speaking of Victoria, it should pass its pandemic laws today, after securing the votes it needed from the crossbench.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the political news (and a little more, given Covid is still with us) with Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Sarah Martin and Paul Karp at your service. The entire Guardian brains trust is also chipping in, as usual, to make sure you know everything you need to know to stay up to date across the nation. It being a sitting day, Amy Remeikis is on the blog. Will there be enough caffeine? Probably not. But onwards anyway.

Ready?

 

30 Nov 2021 23:52

We’re international news again:

A report on the workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament paints a damning picture of widespread sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked.https://t.co/KyLELQxPpi

— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 23:52

Scott Morrison wants to make today about his social media bill, which is actually just a defamation bill, containing elements already available in state jurisdictions (social media platforms have always been publishers, for instance).

So you’ll be hearing a lot from the government about protecting young people and women from “anonymous trolls” on social media platforms. The legislation doesn’t do that though. It gives avenues for *some* people to be able to go to court to get an email address associated with an anonymous account. (And let’s not forget that when an actual pile-on is on, a lot of it comes from accounts with names and not everyone can afford to sue for reputational damage.)

(Plus, just yesterday, the same day the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, the Senate didn’t exactly cover itself in glory when it came to respect.)

Related: The Australian parliament, the whole arse-covering and ego-driven apparatus, should be paralysed by shame and remorse | Katharine Murphy

 

30 Nov 2021 23:51 Daniel Hurst

Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific adviser Kurt Campbell has carefully avoided weighing into Australia’s domestic political debate regarding Taiwan.

But he has stressed that as far as the US is concerned, it is a “very delicate matter” and the US will seek to be purposeful, determined, and clear in its messaging.

At the Lowy Institute event, Campbell was asked about comments by the defence minister, Peter Dutton, that it was inconceivable that Australia would not join the United States in any conflict across the strait, and Penny Wong’s comment that this is out of step with the long-held US policy of strategic ambiguity.

Campbell did not respond directly to those comments. But he said he wanted to underscore that US policy “has not changed”.

He said the US effort was multifaceted, including taking the “necessary steps to ensure that we modernise, that we engage appropriately, that we have the right forces that we can bring to bear if we faced a crisis of that sort”.

The US was also ensuring Taiwan had “the appropriate defensive articles to be able to deter aggression”.

“You will have seen in the last several months, a number of countries speaking out more directly, including Japan, including Australia, Great Britain and others. The maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is in the strategic interests of all concerned. And that this is not just a narrow matter but a broader issue that has to be consulted and engaged more directly. I do just want to underscore that this is a very delicate matter. We understand the delicate role it plays in US-China relations. But we also believe that if the United States is purposeful, is determined, and is clear in its messaging, that we can maintain peace and stability and to secure the status quo in the future.”

Earlier this week Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs told the Guardian it was sincerely grateful for comments by Dutton and Scott Morrison. Last week the Chinese embassy in Beijing accused Dutton of fanning conflict and division.

Campbell said over time he believed China would re-engage with Australia, but on Australia’s terms:

I think China’s preference would have been to break Australia, to drive Australia to its knees, and then you know, find a way forward. I don’t believe that’s going to be the way it’s going to play out. I believe that China will engage because it is in its own interest to have a good relationship with Australia. I believe that will happen naturally, and I think that China is a country that deep down, fundamentally respects strength fortitude and resilience. And I can’t imagine a country that has demonstrated that more clearly than Australia.

House prices rise – but climb is starting to slow

30 Nov 2021 23:49 Peter Hannam

Australia’s property prices have risen for a 14th month but the pace of the rise has begun to slow, according to CoreLogic’s national home value index.

Housing values were 1.3% higher in November than the previous month, or the slowest rate of growth since January. From a year ago, prices are up 22.2%, adding $126,700 to the median value.

“Virtually every factor that has driven housing values higher has lost some potency over recent months,” Tim Lawless, CoreLogic’s research director, said. “Fixed mortgage rates are rising, higher listings are taking some urgency away from buyers, affordability has become a more substantial barrier to entry and credit is less available.”

Echoes then of this forecast twilight in the house price boom, as we reported a week or so back.

The pace varies, as you’d expect, and Brisbane and Adelaide prices are still accelerating. The Queensland capital reported a 2.9% rise in “home values” in November, the most in about 18 years, while the South Australia capital’s 2.5% jump was the highest since February 1993.

In Sydney the median value rose 0.9% in November to $1,090,276, while the next most expensive city was Canberra. The nation’s capital reported a 1.1% rise in prices last month, bring the median value to $882,519.

Melbourne, meanwhile, reported a 0.6% advance, bringing the median price of a place to call home at $788,484. Darwin was the only city to report a retreat last month, with a 0.4% drop in prices.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:48 Daniel Hurst

Kurt Campbell also said Joe Biden raised China’s economic coercion of Australia with Xi Jinping in their meeting. Campbell told the Lowy Institute event:

Yeah. The president just briefly mentioned activities that China was undertaking that President Biden felt were antithetical to China’s interests. So there was a period in our discussion where the president, President Biden, tried carefully to say that some of the steps that China was taking, in his view, were backfiring. I think our assessment is that maybe some of the feedback loop in China is not working as effectively as it was in the past. And frankly, what better way to reach the leader – who may be a bit isolated at the top – than have a direct conversation with his No 1 counterpart. So President Biden was very clear and animated about what we had seen in Australia, border issues with India, all the things that I’ve mentioned, and just basically said, we were concerned. We’re concerned by some of these steps and what it signals with respect to China.

Indigenous woman dies in custody in Melbourne

30 Nov 2021 23:47

AAP reports that an Indigenous woman has died in custody in Melbourne:

An Aboriginal woman has died in custody while being treated at a hospital in Melbourne’s west.

Corrections Victoria said the 30-year-old was transferred from a maximum security women’s prison in Deer Park, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, to Sunshine Hospital last week. She died at the hospital on Monday, surrounded by family.

“The death of any person in custody is a heartbreaking tragedy and the team at Corrections Victoria sends its deepest condolences to the woman’s family,” Corrections said in a statement.

“The Coroners Court of Victoria will formally determine the time and cause of death, in accordance with usual process.”

The women at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre are being supported and a smoking ceremony is being arranged.

Corrections said it recognised that all deaths in custody impacted family, friends, victims and the broader Aboriginal community and said staff were working to ensure they are supported.

“Corrections Victoria has been providing support to the deceased woman’s family to ensure culturally appropriate notification and grieving processes are followed,” Corrections said.

“The Aboriginal Justice Caucus was advised, and Corrections Victoria staff continue to work closely with the Caucus and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.”

 

30 Nov 2021 23:22 Daniel Hurst

Joe Biden’s top Indo-Pacific adviser, Kurt Campbell, has moved to clarify his comments about Aukus leading to a “melding” of US, Australian and UK forces.

He says the deal will lead to “strategic intimacy” but Australia won’t lose its sovereignty and independence. Campbell is addressing a Lowy Institute event, The Indo-Pacific Operating System.

The discussion about Aukus led to this exchange between Michael Fullilove, the Lowy Institute executive director, and Campbell:

Q: You recently suggested that Aukus could lead to almost a melding of US, Australian and UK forces in the Indo-Pacific. What did you mean by a melding – and what implications does that have for Australia’s national sovereignty and its national freedom of decision and freedom of action?

Campbell:

Look, I’ve followed the Australian debate carefully. I fully understand how important sovereignty and independence is for Australia. So I don’t want to leave any sense that somehow that would be lost. That’s not the – this arrangement is meant to be additive and create new capacities. I think what I’m suggesting is that Australian sailors will have the opportunity to serve on American vessels and vice versa. I think you can expect American submarines to port more commonly in Australian ports. I think we’re going to operate and share perspectives much more than we’ve done in the past. And we’re already close allies. I think our overall capacities and our training will be much more common as we go forward. And for Australia to learn and to become, and to master of nuclear technology of the kind that is presented in submarines will require the deepest, most profound kinds of engagements with submariners in the United States and Great Britain, who work on nuclear submarines. That’s going to be extraordinarily important. And it ultimately is going to lead to a kind of strategic intimacy that we think is going to be very important in the time ahead.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:20

Here is how the House sitting is shaping up for the second last day:

Good morning. The House resumed at 9.30am. After notices 1-8 of government business, the first order of the day is the resumption of debate on the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Annual Disclosure Equality) Bill 2021. Find the full program here: https://t.co/pWJxbQVHJK. pic.twitter.com/troq57YJWf

— Australian House of Representatives (@AboutTheHouse) November 30, 2021

NT police searching for ‘multiple’ people who escaped quarantine facility

30 Nov 2021 23:20 Cait Kelly

Northern Territory police are searching for “multiple” people who escaped from Darwin’s Howard Springs Covid-19 quarantine faculty this morning.

A large number of police are searching the facility, and vehicles in the area.

It is unclear how many people were involved in the escape but Guardian Australia understands facility management are confirming a headcount of those staying there.

The incident is the second escape from the facility within a week, after a 27-year-old man allegedly absconded from quarantine last week before being found on Darwin’s main strip.

Police checkpoints established around Howard Springs as they work to track down escapees. They’re checking vehicle registration numbers and even inside boots. Large traffic delays @9NewsAUS @9NewsDarwin pic.twitter.com/DUN2pB04vj

— Tahlia Sarv (@tahliasarv) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 23:13

Meanwhile, Labor isn’t confirming anything at this point, but the SMH is reporting the fuel emissions standards policy the opposition took to the last election is gone.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise; Labor has been working up its 2030 emissions policy for a while and part of that has been shedding parts it faces government attack over. With all the talk of “mandates” back (the government has claimed Labor wanted to mandate what vehicles people could drive, which isn’t true) as well as “taxes” (the government has also claimed things like the fuel emissions standard was a tax on family) Labor has been working on minimising as many attacks as possible (which doesn’t always lead to the best way to build policy, but here we are).

As Murph has been reporting, a 2030-35 target from Labor is expected very soon and it will be more ambitious than the Abbott-era policy the government is holding on to. With Labor starting its pseudo campaign this weekend (a campaign rally has already been announced) you can expect that policy announcement sooner rather than later. Once parliament is over, it’s game on for both sides.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:13

If you want to know how some government MPs are treating the government’s own social media law proposal, here’s just one example.

Victorian Liberal senator David Van has apologised for interjecting while Jacqui Lambie asked questions in the sSenate yesterday, but has denied he made dog noises. He told journalist Samantha Maiden it may have sounded like an animal noise because he was wearing a mask. His colleague, Hollie Hughes had said on Twitter it didn’t happen at all (before Van’s apology for interjecting) and sarcastically praised Penny Wong’s “bionic hearing”.

Here’s how Van responded to Labor MP Graham Perrett as part of an ongoing thread on the incident:

How so curious, Graham? I did not make a ‘noise’ I spoke when making an interjection & I certainly did not make any kind of animal noise at all. Are you alleging otherwise? At least I won’t need our excellent new anti-troll laws to unmask you #justsayin

— Senator David Van (@VanSenate) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 23:12

Here is what Liberal senator David Van told the Senate yesterday (he made a personal explanation later in the afternoon, but didn’t stand up at the time when president Slade Brockman asked if anyone wanted to withdraw their interjection at the time of the incident):

As you asked us to reflect, I reflect on my behaviour in question time and I acknowledge that interjections are always disorderly. I acknowledge I was making interjections while Senator Lambie was asking a question during question time.

And while I do not accept the characterisation of my interjections in the manner raised in points of order in that time, by other senators, I do regret the interjections and I apologise to Senator Lambie and to the Senate unreservedly. Mr President, I commit to holding myself to the highest standards in the future. Thank you.

Those who resist an integrity commission ‘raise curiosity’, Liberal senator says

30 Nov 2021 23:11

Still in the senate, Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells spoke during the adjournment debate about the need for a federal integrity commission that people could trust:

In February this year, I spoke about integrity and conduct. Politics is about perception, and, regrettably, the public perception of our politicians is not good. Repeatedly, politicians from local, state and federal ranks have acted without integrity and contributed to the ongoing and deteriorating perception of the body politic.

In any survey about the most trusted professions in our society, politicians usually rank amongst the lowest, and why wouldn’t this be the case, given the continued exposure of questionable activities over the years? Whether it’s alleged lies in election campaigns, dodgy preselections, misappropriation of public monies, personal benefits resulting from insider information, monies sequestered in overseas tax havens, abuse of office for personal advantage, dodgy land deals or connections with foreign governments, the list goes on and on.

Negative public perceptions are compounded when politicians dig their heels in, spin the story and fail to take responsibility for their actions. They rely on the fast-moving media cycle and wait for the next story to take over the front page, and this frustrates the public even more. Modern democracies and the operation of open government must be accountable and transparent, thereby obviating any suspicion of skulduggery.

In conclusion, those who resist the introduction of an effective federal integrity body raise people’s curiosity. One has to ask the question: are they conflicted? Why are they resisting the implementation of such a body? And when we speak of integrity, I’m once again reminded of the words of Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher: “If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.”

 

30 Nov 2021 23:11

Scott Morrison was asked about his senator David Van’s interjections in the Senate yesterday and he had this to say:

I expect all parliamentary leaders to be seeking to be uphold those standards have been in the parliament a long time. Just last week the interjections that I was hearing in the chamber coming across, I mean, these are things that all parliamentary leaders continue to have to uphold the standards of and I expect that of my team and I was very, very disappointed about that.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:10

What did Richard Marles think of Anthony Albanese calling Peter Dutton a “boofhead” in parliament yesterday? (Dutton accused Albanese of being “weak” and having a “glass jaw”.)

Albanese made the comment just hours after the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, calling for more respect in the parliament.

Marles:

I don’t think that comment is of concern. But I think it is right that we need to be looking at culture across the parliament, and that includes the way in which we relate to each other. And I come back to the starting point that this is about ultimately trying to make sure that this is the example in the country of providing a safe and respectful workplace for those people who work here, and particularly women. And we need to be making sure that coming out of this report, we take this moment to change the culture of parliament forever.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:10

The NT police have put out a statement:

Northern Territory Police are searching for three people who absconded from the Centre for National Resilience earlier this morning.

At 4:40am, it was reported that three people from the Centre for National Resilience scaled the fence and fled the area.

Police and staff at the Centre for National Resilience are currently confirming the absconder’s identities prior to releasing further information.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has any information is urged to contact police on 131 444.

‘Significant flooding’ across Queensland town of Inglewood

30 Nov 2021 23:09

Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods
© Provided by The Guardian An aerial image of the flooded areas of Inglewood, east of Goondiwindi. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather
Australia news updates live: sixth Omicron Covid case confirmed in NSW; house prices rise for 14th month; Qld floods
© Provided by The Guardian More than 900 residents were evacuated on Tuesday night. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather

Meanwhile, we are thinking of all of those in the Queensland flood zones.

As AAP reports:

A town in Queensland’s south is facing rising flood waters, forcing the evacuation of more than 900 residents.

An emergency was declared for Inglewood, in the Goondiwindi local government area, in the Darling Downs close to the NSW border on Tuesday night.

Residents were told to head to an assembly point at Inglewood cemetery ahead of widespread flooding expected on Wednesday.

“Significant flooding is expected to occur across the township in coming hours,” police said.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services assistant commissioner Stephen Smith said about 950 people had been moved to safety.

“Our crews were working through the night assisting that operation,” he told Nine Network on Wednesday.

Mr Smith noted there had been widespread flooding across central Queensland, the northern parts of the state and through the southeast and southwest.

“Overnight there were areas that got up to 180mm of rain,” he said.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:06

That also means you are going to hear a lot during question time about how well the economy is doing, through government dixers (and non-answers to opposition questions).

The government really, really, really wants to make economic management one of the issues of the coming election, so prepare yourself for all of the economic talk.

Economic update

30 Nov 2021 23:04 Peter Hannam

A bit of economic news out today. The ABS will release September quarter gross domestic product figures at 11.30am.

Here’s how it looked for the June quarter when the economy was hurtling along at a 9% clip, year on year, and 0.7% versus the March quarter.

Today’s “print” of the national accounts, as the industry likes to call it, will be less awesome and more awful, with an annual pace pared to about 3% growth as half the economy (Victoria, NSW and the ACT) was locked down.

The headline figure, though, will the quarter-on-quarter dive, which is expected to be about 2.5% to 3%, making the July-September period the country’s second-worst on record. Only the 7% contraction in the June quarter of 2020 was worse.

But, more than most, the numbers are very much in the rear-view mirror, as the economy is hurtling along. As the ANZ noted this morning, the third quarter is “old news now”.

Data to date suggest that Q4 GDP growth will be very strong, with retail sales up a massive 4.4% month on month in October, consistent with our view that the recovery will be consumer led.

The biggest risk to the outlook continues to come from the health front, and the new Omicron variant highlights the unpredictable nature of these risks.

It’s those health risks that central banks, including Australia’s, have cited as among the reasons why they are inclined to tolerate higher inflation longer, rather than jacking up rates.

Whether that leads to an overshoot on the current leg of the “W-shaped recovery”, or there’s another downward leg to come, remains to be seen.

Documents reveal Australia was warned of worsening situation in Afghanistan

30 Nov 2021 23:03

Daniel Hurst has an important story about when the government was warned about the worsening Afghanistan situation:

The Australian government was warned in mid-July that the worsening security situation in Afghanistan and Covid restrictions were making it “extremely difficult” to help former Afghan employees escape the country, previously secret documents reveal.

At least five weeks before the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban in mid-August, government officials predicted more people would seek to flee the country and they were discussing the possibility of chartering direct flights from Kabul to Australia.

Guardian Australia can also reveal the governor general, David Hurley, sought a private briefing from the immigration minister in July about the program to assist former Afghan colleagues – as the government was facing increasing public criticism about its handling of the longstanding scheme.

Related: ‘Tragic’ delays: documents reveal Australia knew time was running out to extract Afghan staff

 

30 Nov 2021 23:02

La Niña is really making itself known.

AAP has an update on what is happening in NSW:

Severe thunderstorms delivering heavy rain and large hail have again hit north and western NSW overnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned on Tuesday evening a “tropical airmass with abundant moisture” was in place and severe thunderstorms were likely to produce heavy rain that could cause flash flooding, damaging winds and large hailstones.

In the hours before the warning a 100km/h wind gust was detected north of the Queensland border. The storms were expected to impact as far south as Griffith in the Riverina region.

Further rain expected on Wednesday threatens to add even more water into catchments at risk of flooding in the northern rivers region of NSW.

A flood watch was issued on Tuesday for rivers there and on the mid-north coast, with possible renewed river level rises in the northwest slopes as well.

Renewed river level rises and subsequent flooding possible along the Upper Macintyre, Gwydir and Namoi rivers are also of great concern.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:01

The Labor candidate for Reid, Sally Sitou has taken to social media to combat assumptions and rumours she is hearing about her candidacy, because of her Chinese heritage.

In 2021.

There’s also an assumption I have divided loyalties b/w Aust & China. I am an Australian citizen, I was born & raised here. I’m also incredibly proud of my Chinese heritage. I am standing for Federal Parliament because I love this country. I want it to be the best it can be. 3/7

— Sally Sitou 陈莎莉 – Labor for Reid (@SallySitou) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 23:01

The exposure draft for the social media legislation the government is putting forward has just gone live.

You can find it here.

 

30 Nov 2021 23:01

And on the other issue the government was pushing:

The religious discrimination bill is now 6th on the House notice paper – so still no sign of it getting to a vote this week. It has crept ahead of the voter ID bill though.#auspol #ReligiousDiscriminationBill pic.twitter.com/R4JjbY1grC

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 22:59

Liberal senator Jane Hume says she wants to see more women in the parliament but doesn’t think quotas is how you get there.

It has taken Labor about 20 years to *almost* reach gender parity in its representation – and it took quotas to make it happen.

Hume says that doesn’t make sense for the Liberal party, because it is not a “top-down” organisation. (Perhaps she missed the reports Scott Morrison is considering using special powers to install his chosen candidates into seats, overruling the branches, as he prepares for the election – particularly in NSW, where the election at this stage, looks like being won and lost.)

Hume:

I think having more women in parliament is always a good thing and I would like to see the Liberal party put significant effort into putting more women in parliament.

Are quotas the right way to go about it? I’m not entirely convinced yet.

Quotas are something that work very well in the corporate sector and in an organisation that has a top-down and authoritarian approach. In the Liberal party we are a grassroots organisation where the culture needs to change from the bottom up. As female leaders in the Liberal party we have a real responsibility to make a difference with the grassroots part of our organisation to demonstrate to them the value of having more women in parliament and how the culture can change that way.

 

30 Nov 2021 22:46

Here are some of the explanatory notes on what the bill plans on doing:

The bill will address the issues raised by the High Court’s decision in Fairfax Media Publications v Voller [2021] HCA 27 (Voller), which made clear that individuals and organisations with social media pages that allow third party commentary may be publishers of comments posted by third parties for the purposes of defamation law, even if they were not aware of the comments.

The bill will also provide new mechanisms for Australians to ascertain whether a potentially defamatory comment on a page of a social media service was made in Australia and, if so, to obtain the relevant contact details of the commenter. This will empower Australians to institute defamation proceedings in relation to the comment.

In particular, the bill will:

  • deem a person who administers or maintains a social media page not to be a publisher of third-party comment and thereby be immune from potential liability under defamation law
  • deem the social media provider to be the publisher of material posted on their platform for the purposes of defamation law, which is consistent with the outcome of the Voller decision
  • create a conditional defence for providers of social media services in defamation proceedings if the provider:
    • has a complaints scheme that meets certain prescribed requirements, and complies with the scheme, and
    • provides information to assist prospective applicants to identify and commence proceedings against an anonymous user
  • empower courts to issue end-user information disclosure orders, which require providers of social media services to give the applicant the commenter’s relevant contact details and country location data in certain circumstances
  • require social media companies to have a nominated entity incorporated in Australia that will be able to discharge key obligations under the Bill, and
  • enable the Attorney-General to intervene in defamation proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth, in certain circumstances.

 

30 Nov 2021 22:20

South Australia has opened its booster program to anyone who is eligible – which means anyone who had their second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago.

 

30 Nov 2021 22:20

We are looking into this as well.

#BREAKING Nine News has been told several people have absconded the Howard Springs quarantine facility early this morning. A police investigation is right now underway @9NewsDarwin @9NewsAUS

— Tahlia Sarv (@tahliasarv) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 22:12

Rex Patrick is leading the charge to overhaul how freedom of information requests are dealt with by the government.

As Paul Karp reports:

Related: Labor, One Nation and Rex Patrick unite to decry Coalition’s refusal to release national cabinet documents

Victoria reports 1,179 new Covid cases and six deaths, NSW records 251 cases

30 Nov 2021 22:06

Victoria and NSW have reported their daily Covid cases. There have been six deaths in Victoria.

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: https://t.co/OCCFTAtS1P#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/zn924m6FDy

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 30, 2021

NSW COVID-19 update – Wednesday 1 December 2021

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 94.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

– 92.5% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/WuOZX0KsyK

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 30, 2021

 

30 Nov 2021 22:00

It’s national accounts day (huzzah) which we will bring you as soon as it drops (Peter Hannam will be all over it for you).

Jim Chalmers was on Sky this morning, where he was asked about it:

This is a really important snapshot of the national economy. The national economy is defined by skyrocketing prices and falling real wages, and in the September quarter by the second biggest fall in economic growth since these records were kept. You listen to the prime minister and the treasurer and they always want to talk about international comparisons, well of all the countries that have reported so far, Australia is expected to be absolutely last when it comes to economic growth.

These are the costs and consequences of a Morrison government which got the initial vaccine rollout, quarantine and economic support so badly wrong. At this time last year, they were talking about a big recovery. We’ve heard all of this before.

Instead, they delivered the second biggest downturn in the history of the national accounts. So we can’t be complacent. The Omicron virus strain is something that we need to be very attentive to. Complacency is what stomped on the green shoots of the beginnings of the last recovery and we don’t want to see that again.

 

30 Nov 2021 21:42

Richard Marles says Labor is all for the inquiry into social media giants (the prime minister announced that today).

Marles told the ABC:

We think that it’s important to be looking at the question of social media and the role that big tech plays in that. Obviously we absolutely support the thrust of what the government’s trying to do here, which is to stamp out behaviour or trolls on social media and to make that a safer place for the Australian community.

 

30 Nov 2021 21:13

Social media crackdowns must be playing well in focus groups: now there is an official inquiry.

From the release:

The Australian Parliament will put big tech under the microscope as it examines toxic material on social media platforms and the dangers this poses to the wellbeing of Australians.

The inquiry, which will be chaired by Robertson MP Lucy Wicks, was announced today by prime minister Scott Morrison and minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts Paul Fletcher.

Prime minister Morrison said the inquiry builds on the world-leading legislation the government announced earlier this week to unmask anonymous online trolls.

“Mums and dads are rightly concerned about whether big tech is doing enough to keep their kids safe online,” The prime minister said. “Big tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure their users are safe.

 

30 Nov 2021 20:36

Turns out those in the Victorian parliament are probably the most sleepy in the country:

Soooo you know how we thought the pandemic legislation would pass overnight? MPs have sat ALL night – and they’re still going! https://t.co/DqZvI4672i

— Sharnelle Vella (@SharnelleVella) November 30, 2021

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