Australia news live updates: buybacks recommended for NSW flood victims; China tensions escalate; Splendour meningococcal warning | Australia news
Minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong has says she is deeply concerned about rising regional tensions following the launch of ballistics missiles by China into waters around Taiwan’s coastline.
These exercises are disproportionate and destabilising.
This is a serious matter for the region, including for our close strategic partner, Japan.
Australia shares the region’s concerns about this escalating military activity, especially the risks of miscalculation.
We urge restraint and de-escalation.
Wong called for de-escalation in the region saying it was “in all our interests to have a region at peace and not in conflict”.
Wong is in Phnom Penh in Cambodia for the East Asia Summit where she met with her Chinese counterpart and other leaders from countries in the region.
Concerns over Australia’s flatlining Covid vaccine booster rates
State and federal authorities are concerned the number of Australians getting their third dose of Covid-19 vaccine is flatlining, AAP reports.
To date, 71.4% of eligible Australians – or just over 14.1 million people – have received a third dose.
But there are more than 5.6 million yet to get their booster.
Queensland is the worst-performing state, with 64.5% of eligible residents boosted, while the ACT has the best coverage (79.9%).
The booster rate is 55% for Indigenous Australians nationally.
New third doses are barely rising each day, ranging from NSW recording 2,075 doses on Friday and the Northern Territory reporting just 45.
Information campaigns are being rolled out but there is a persistent problem with the slow rate of uptake by under-65s. So far 4.22 million Australians have received a fourth dose, after the program was extended several weeks ago.
National cabinet, which is overseeing the pandemic response, is due to next meet on 31 August.
You sure were, guys.
One person with Covid-19 has died in Tasmania overnight, with the state recording 651 new cases on Saturday morning, 23 people in hospital, and five in ICU.
NSW residents warned to avoid fire in Croydon and Ashfield
Fire and Rescue NSW is advising residents living near a structural fire in Croydon and Ashfield to stay inside and avoid the area.
Residents are recommended to close windows, door and vents to avoid smoke inhalation until further notice.
Twenty-four people with Covid-19 have died in Victoria overnight, with the state recording 6,261 new cases on Saturday morning, 668 people in hospital, 26 in ICU and seven on ventilation.
The integrity push that’s driving a confidence boost for the Victorian Greens
The Greens may have made their name campaigning on the environment, but lately the issue voters raise more often than not with the party’s Victorian leader, Samantha Ratnam, is integrity.
“Integrity has emerged as a really important issue for voters – they’ve seen what happens when you don’t act,” Ratnam tells Guardian Australia, at the end of a parliamentary sitting week in which the issue again dominated headlines.
The Greens on Saturday announced a majority women upper house ticket for the 26 November Victorian election.
Party leader Samantha Ratnam heads the five-woman, three-man ticket and will re-contest Northern Metropolitan Region.
Port Phillip councillor and former environmental lawyer Katherine Copsey will challenge for Southern Metropolitan, Geelong councillor Sarah Mansfield for Western Victoria and Maribyrnong councillor Bernadette Thomas in Western Metropolitan.
Cate Sinclair will run in Northern Victoria and former federal candidate Mat Morgan for Eastern Victoria.
For more on how the party is looking to make integrity and corruption a priority at the next election, read the full story by the Guardian’s Victoria state correspondent Benita Kolovos.
Paul Keating comments about Greens leader ‘disappointing’ and ‘disgusting’, Faruqi says
There’s a question about the stoush between Greens leader Adam Bandt and former Labor prime minister Paul Keating.
For those who missed it, Bandt accused Keating and Labor being a “neoliberal party” and Keating shot back at the Greens leader.
Here’s Faruqi on that exchange:
What Paul Keating said this week about Adam, I think was pretty disappointing and pretty disgusting. Neoliberalism and the Labor party for the last 30, I think, years have been inextricably linked. It was in the Keating era that the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas were privatised – neoliberalism 101. We saw free education go, more privatisation, so I think these debates can be robust, but they should not descend, as Mr Keating descended, into basically those really terrible and disgusting comments about the character of Adam.
Fight to stop new coal and gas continues, Faruqi says
Faruqi says it is still “thoroughly disappointing that Labor will still back coal and gas mines.”
We know we can’t address the climate crisis without addressing coal and gas, and so our fight to stop new coal and gas continues. We will make sure that there is no new coal and gas. We are in existential crisis.
Asked about the decision to block Clive Palmer’s proposal to build a coal mine on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, Faruqi says it is a “big step forward”.
One down and 113 of the 114 coal and gas mines in the pipeline to go. We will make sure it happens.
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi on passing the climate bill
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi is speaking to the ABC this morning on the passing of the climate bill in parliament this week. The first question is: why did the Greens support the bill?
The Greens always went into discussions with the Labor party on this, hoping to improve this weak bill, and we have done that. We have secured improvements to the bill and they come in the form of Dutton proofing the bill, so it has a floor and you know, we can ratchet up the target as well, over time. It can’t go backwards, it can be ratcheted up. The Climate Change Authority is strengthened, more accountability and transparency and for the first time ever government organisations which previously have funded coal and gas projects l have to consider the targets.
It’s worth a reminder that Green’s leader Adam Bandt has spent the weeks leading up to this moment saying the party’s position is to “improve and pass the bill”.
Thirty people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales overnight, with the state recording 11,998 new cases on Saturday morning, 2,187 people in hospital, and 57 in ICU.
An inquiry into the New South Wales flood response has recommended the state government buy back or perform a land swap for victims living in flood-prone areas.
New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet has been handed the report which also called for the natural disaster agency Resilience NSW be dismantled and its head, Shane Fitzsimmons, be made redundant.
The scheme would form part of a $3bn response to the deadly Northern Rivers floods in February and March which killed 13 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes.
Perrottet has promised to make the report by former police commissioner Mick Fuller and chief scientist Mary O’Kane public, but is yet to do so.
– with AAP
And welcome to the Saturday morning Guardian live blog.
Defence minister Richard Marles has called for an end to the live-fire military operations after China fired 11 ballistic missiles during exercises around the island of Taiwan, including directly over the capital of Taipei. Marles said the exercises, which began in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Foreign minister Penny Wong has also expressed Australia’s concern about rising tensions with her counterpart, Wang Yi during a meeting of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. Wong said in a statement that Australia is “deeply concerned about the launch. of ballistic missiles by China into waters around Taiwan’s coastline”.
An independent review into the New South Wales flood response has recommended the state government buyback homes that have been built in flood-prone areas or perform a land swap. The scheme will form a $3bn response to the Northern Rivers floods in February and March that killed 13 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes.
Authorities have also told people who attended Splendour in the Grass to be on alert for symptom of meningococcal disease after a man in his 40s who attended has since died. Two cases of meningococcal have been confirmed in people who attended the music festival in Byron Bay, including the man in his 40s who died this week. The much anticipated festival fell into crisis last month when torrential rain turned the field into a mud bath.
I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.
With that, let’s get started …