Australia news LIVE: Nick Kyrgios through to Wimbledon final after Rafael Nadal pulls out; NSW ICAC witness found dead; Sydney flood-clean up continue
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Thousands of flood victims across NSW will be allowed to return homes on Friday amid better weather conditions, as emergency leaders turn their attention to preventing the next major flooding event for the state.
Resilience NSW boss Shane Fitzsimmons said teams of just under 1000 had arrived “en masse” in flood-affected regions over recent days to begin what is set to be a long clean-up effort.
Almost 40,000 people are still subject to evacuation orders throughout the Hawkesbury-Nepean area, the Central Coast and parts of the Lower Hunter, but as river levels continue to drop in the regions, more residents are being allowed back home.
Fitzsimmons said the recent flood emergency allowed emergency leaders to better understand mitigation and prevention options which will help them plan for the next one.
“We can’t control mother nature, but we know there are some long-term and significant plans ahead that we need to look at,” he said.
“But we are learning together with local communities [on the] way we can get things in more speedily, more expeditiously.”
Read the full story here.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has paid tribute to outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and vowed that Australia would work closely with his replacement.
“I wish Boris well. It is a reminder of how tough politics can be,” he told Seven Network’s Sunrise program.
Albanese and Johnson met at the NATO security summit in Madrid last week, for the first time since the election last year.
“We will work with whoever the UK Prime Minister is after they go through this process. Our relationship isn’t just one between individuals, although that is important and it was important that I met Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister.
“We had a good chat about a range of issues, about cooperation, particularly in the defence sphere. Boris Johnson was very forward-leaning and understanding that the attack on Ukraine by Russia was something that was an attack on the rules-based order and had implications not just for Europe but for the entire world.
“We are obviously from different sides of politics, but what is important is that leaders of Australia get on with leaders of the UK.
He noted he had also met UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at the NATO Summit, identifying her as “one of the candidates for prime ministership. We got on well as well, so I just await the outcome.
“And then whoever is successful, I will be on the phone to them, congratulating them. And I look forward to meeting up with them over a period of time.”
He hoped the South Sydney jersey he gave Johnson as a gift would help him through difficult times.
“A South Sydney jersey will normally make you more resilient and make you last a lot longer. And certainly, we went through some tough times. And Boris has gone through a tough time at the moment. So, the South Sydney jersey will no doubt continue to be put to good use.”
Tennis legend Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon because of a torn abdominal muscle on Thursday, a day before he was supposed to play Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals.
Watch a snippet from his press conference here:
Former NSW councillor Clifton Wong, who gave evidence to the state’s anti-corruption watchdog in an investigation into the conduct of three of his former council colleagues earlier this week, has been found dead.
NSW Police said emergency services crews responded to reports a 62-year-old man had died in an office complex on Deane Street in Burwood about 1.20pm on Wednesday.
The Herald has confirmed the man was Wong, a former Labor councillor who served on Hurstville City Council from 1999 to 2012.
Wong was among witnesses at the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiry into whether three former Hurstville councillors accepted perks from developers in exchange for favourable planning decisions.
He appeared most recently for cross-examination on Monday, when he told the inquiry he regretted not telling anyone he witnessed a developer hand the then-deputy mayor $10,000 to help with a potential development.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances in his death. They will prepare a report for the coroner.
Read the full story here.
A mass of resignations within British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government finally prompted his resignation after a turbulent stint in the top job.
A breach of coronavirus lockdown rules, formal investigations into the financing of the refurbishment of his apartment and private foreign trave; and a bizarre anecdote about visiting a Peppa Pig children’s theme park features in the very long list.
Read our timeline here.
Defence minister Richard Marles has said the government will abandon the Morrison government’s “chest beating” towards China as it moves to mend the country’s relationship with its largest trade partner.
Foreign minister Penny Wong will meet with China Wang Yi on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali on Friday in the first meeting of its kind since 2019, when the relationship between the countries turned frosty.
“We do understand that China is our largest trading partner, and we want to approach it from a perspective of being professional and sober ... and understanding the power of diplomacy,” Marles told ABC’s RN Breakfast.
“There is a different tone associated with that,” the deputy prime minister said.
“Were not going to do the chest beating that we saw from the former government which frankly didn’t take us anywhere and didn’t advance our national interest in any way.
“It’s not about Australia changing its position in relation to any of the substantive issues. We need to and we will continue to be articulating our mission ... we see where that ultimately land.”
Questioned if Australia would demand that China drop its trade sanctions or release detainee Cheng Lei, Marles said: “I wouldn’t frame the meeting in those terms, we need to start from a position of what is in Australia’s interest and articulating that.”
Asked if Wong would urge China to use its power to influence Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, he said: “It’s obviously not okay that a large a country invades a smaller one and uses the power of might rather than the rule of law to resolve its differences.”
“I do think China is in a particular position of influence in relation to Russia and it’s important that we continue to advocate to all counties but particularly China to use its importance in respect of maintaining the global rules based order,” Marles said.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has declared Australia has “moved beyond” the era of broad mask mandates and lockdowns, even as the country enters a third COVID-19 wave, fuelled by the spread of highly infectious Omicron subvariants.
“The advice from the Chief Health Officers indicates that we really have moved beyond the era of very broad mask mandates, lockdowns and things like that,” Butler said on ABC’s News Breakfast.
“We’re deep into the third year of this pandemic.
“Clearly, there are still mask mandates for situations like aged care facilities, on public transport and planes and the like. But I don’t see a return to very broad-based mask mandates, is the advice that I’m getting.
“The message is - take responsibility. Make your own choice. If you’re in an indoor space and you’re not able to socially distance, give serious consideration to wearing a mask because it will increase your protection,” Butler said.
Anyone over the age of 30 will be eligible for a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine in a shake-up announced to the nation’s vaccination strategy, although shots are recommended only for over-50s.
Australian governments spent more than $20.5 billion on first home buyer help in the past decade, which made housing affordability worse by driving up property prices and left existing homeowners richer, new research found.
The money was largely spent on various forms of first home buyer assistance, such as cash grants and stamp duty concessions, which were on the rise even before the pandemic – more than doubling from $1.2 billion to more than $2.5 billion in the four years to 2020.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s study examined first home buyer programs in Australia in comparison to seven other countries, including Canada, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Ireland and the UK.
It found that Australia stood out for providing demand-side support instead of increasing the supply of homes available, as well as its lack of strategic framework and little improvement to the stagnant homeownership rate.
The report compiled total spending by state and federal governments over a decade on stamp duty concessions, First Home Owner Grants, and the pandemic-era HomeBuilder program.
Read more: Governments spent $20.5b on first home buyer help that pushes up prices: report
Treasurer Jim Chalmer’s first budget will contain an evaluation of the nation’s wellbeing, tracking Australians’ standard of living and quality of life alongside traditional measures of the economy.
Chalmers will use an address to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney on Friday to reveal the October 25 budget would contain more than just economic indicators such as unemployment and GDP.
In his address to the forum, Chalmers will say the wellbeing budget - modelled on similar initiatives in countries such as New Zealand and Canada - would show the government was focused on how the economy was helping the country in areas as diverse as life expectancy and quality of the environment.
“We need to ensure growth is broad and inclusive and given our fiscal constraints that means ensuring our policies are geared towards multiple objectives at once,” he will say.
“At a time of record debt and budget pressures and cost-of-living pressures, value for money is essential and we judge it by what it means for the right kind of growth, including sustainable income growth.
“But we should also judge our policies, including our economic policies, against agreed markers of progress.”
New Zealand has progressed the most of several countries that have introduced standalone wellbeing budgets or incorporated measures of wellbeing into their formal traditional budgets.
It included measures around climate change, child poverty, GDP per capita, cost-of-living pressures and outcomes for Indigenous people.
Read more: Treasurer to measure ‘wellbeing’ pay-off from economy in first budget
Climate change should be recognised as the Pacific region’s primary security threat as low-lying islands face the prospect of annihilation from rising sea levels, says a coalition of former Pacific heads of state ahead of a key regional forum next week.
Australia and New Zealand will join Pacific nations in Fiji next week for the Pacific Island Forum, which is likely to be dominated by discussions of security because of the recent deal signed between China and the Solomon Islands, and heightened strategic concerns from the US.
Despite this focus on geopolitical tensions, the Pacific Elders Voice group – a coalition of former Pacific heads of state and ministers – are adamant the climate crisis remains the region’s greatest security threat. They have urged major emitters such as China and the US to set stronger emission reduction targets.
“We emphasise that working together in driving global climate action is key to Pacific security,” the group said in a statement. The coalition includes former Pacific heads of state or ministers such as Enele Sopoaga, the former prime minister of Tuvalu, Anote Tong, the former president of the Kiribati, and Hilda Heine, the former president of the Marshall Islands.
“We must also press the world’s largest polluters – including China and the US – to make deeper and more consequent cuts to emissions this decade,” their statement says. “We are in a fight for survival. Our security and our future are at stake.”
Read more: Climate still Pacific’s biggest security threat, retired leaders say
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