We’re going to wrap things up for this New Year’s Day. Here’s what happened:
Thank you for joining us and we’ll see you again tomorrow.
Passengers stuck on cruise ship off South Australia
AAP reports hundreds of passengers stranded on a cruise ship off South Australia are hoping to set foot on dry land for the first time in seven days after the vessel was unable to dock at several ports due to a “marine growth” – reported to be a form of fungus – in the ship’s hull.
The Viking Orion has not docked in a port since it cast off from Wellington in New Zealand on Boxing Day, according to ship tracking website VesselFinder.com.
The ship was reportedly denied permission to dock to have its hull cleaned in Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart and Adelaide before Viking arranged for divers to remove the marine growth about 17 nautical miles off Victor Harbour in South Australia.
Read the full story here:
Tasmanians urged to prepare for possibility of severe thunderstorms across the state on Monday
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast possible thunderstorms for much of the state with potentially severe thunderstorm activity on Monday afternoon. Large to giant hail of greater than 5cm in diameter, strong wind gusts of more than 90km/hr and localised heavy rain is possible.
“The forecast for tomorrow is hot conditions in the morning, followed by a cold front crossing the state in the afternoon, bringing the potential of severe thunderstorms, strong winds, heavy rain, and hail that has potential to be hazardous and damaging,” Tasmania SES’s assistant director, Leon Smith, said.
“I urge everyone to be prepared before a significant change in the current fine weather conditions tomorrow – especially those camping, bushwalking and enjoying the outdoors.
“Ensure all outdoor furniture and equipment is secured, and if heavy hail falls, limit time outdoors and on the road while conditions are poor.”
Expert views on requirement for Chinese travellers to test negative to Covid before entering Australia
Infectious diseases physician Dr Sanjaya Senanayake was on the ABC earlier discussing the Albanese government’s decision to require a negative Covid test before allowing Chinese travellers to enter Australia. In terms of the rightness of the decision, he said:
“A lot depends on if the data that we’re seeing from China is accurate. Because we’re being told that the dominant strain there, or subvariant, is one of Omicron’s subvariants. It’s called BF.7, which is a BA.5 subvariant.
“We know that these Omicron subvariants can reinfect. But certainly the protection against severe disease is still there.”
Senanayake said Australia’s level of protection against Covid is vastly different compared with earlier in the pandemic.
“We didn’t have any Covid. We didn’t have any natural immunity,” he said. “We didn’t have any vaccines and we were scared of letting Covid in.
“Covid is all over Australia at the moment and it is Omicron. And we know that previous infections with Omicron and the vaccinations and the combination of those two kinds of immunity, the so-called hybrid immunity, will give us some degree of protection against reinfection.”
Good afternoon everyone.
Record flood water peak expected in Menindee, NSW
AAP is reporting on the flooding in Menindee in far western NSW. The town was evacuated on New Year’s Eve and the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting a record flood water peak of 10.7 metres, above the 1976 record of 10.46 metres.
It follows a year of flooding for the small town with the latest a result of waters rushing through the Darling River.
Ahead of the evacuation, resident Graeme McCrabb told the ABC that getting levies up on his property in time was “quite stressful”.
The Murray River hits forecast peaks in South Australia as well, with multiple flood emergency warnings at riverside towns across the waterway. Waters had peaked at Berri, near the SA/NSW border, on New Year’s Eve and were expected to remain high for weeks.
The floodwaters are expected to arrive in Blanchetown, west of Berri along the Murray River, before the weekend.
And with that I leave the blog in the capable hands of Lisa Cox for the rest of the day. Thanks for reading.
Body of missing kayaker found in waters off Tasmania
Tasmania Police have confirmed they have found the body of missing kayaker, Andrew John Donohue, in the waters south of Robbins Island.
SES Tasmania, Surf Life Saving Tasmania, and Volunteer Marine Rescue all supported the search, with police offering their condolences to Donohue’s family
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Coal companies top ASX performance rankings in 2022
Of the 500 companies in the Australian Stock Exchange’s All Ordinaries index, the four with the best share-price performance over the year were all thermal coalminers, according to AAP.
Topping the list was Whitehaven Coal, which benefited investors with a 275% return in 2022, including dividends. That’s even though WHC’s year-end closing price of $9.42 was well off the $11 levels set in October.
Fellow coalminers Stanmore Resources, New Hope Corporation and Yancoal in 2022 had gains of 218.9%, 201.3% and 168.5%, respectively. Metallurgical coal producer Cornado had the eighth-best share-price performance over 2022, with a 106.9% return.
Sandwiched between the four thermal coal producers and the metallurgical one were Silex Systems, Arfura Rare Earths and Neuren Pharmaceuticals.
Eight in hospital after Gold Coast crash
AAP is reporting that a driver and three passengers are on the run after allegedly causing a five-car crash that left eight people in hospital on the Gold Coast.
Police said a black Mercedes sedan was being driven south on the Gold Coast Highway in Miami, Queensland, when it collided with a Mitsubishi SUV. The Mitsubishi was forced into the back of another car, which went on to hit two more vehicles.
The driver and three passengers then got out of the Mercedes and ran away.
Paramedics arrived at the scene and assessed 17 people before eight were taken to hospital. Queensland ambulance service said three of the people had serious injuries, including a man in his 30s with a head injury and a woman in her 20s with leg injuries
Police forensic crash unit investigators have urged the Mercedes driver and passengers or any witnesses to contact them, saying anonymous reports can be made.
Families could save hundreds on prescriptions with PBS changes
So Butler touched on a range of issues before wrapping up, including mentioning the additions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) which could result in up to 29% in saving on medications.
Butler said families could save “as much as $500” every year because of the scheme:
Today medicines for general patients will be up to 30% cheaper than they were yesterday. Only $30 instead of somewhere in the order of $45 per prescription will be the bill that general patients face when they got a pharmacist.
This is going to be an enormous benefit to as many as 3.5 million patients. If you are a family with three general patient scripts to fill every month you may be saving as much as $500 every single year because of this cut to medicine prices.
And as we have gone through the community and talked to pharmacists then talked to patients but particularly pharmacists, its very clear to us that this is not only excellent for hip pockets of millions of Australians household, it will also be great for their health.
China travel Covid measure taken out of ‘an abundance of caution’ – Butler
A recurring point Butler has made at this press conference is a lack of “comprehensive” data on the situation in China, with the health minister indicating there are concerns that there is a potentially new variant emerging:
The chief health officers share broad consensus that Australia is well positioned in the fight against Covid right now. We are well positioned in the fight against Covid in an environment of largely open borders across the globe and I think Australian’s welcome the mobility to travel and to reunite with friends or over overseas or here in Australia but out of an abundance of caution, a range of countries, have taken the view that we need to put in place and arrangements allowing other more compounds of information about the situation in China.
This is developing really quickly. Case numbers are climbing very quickly and there are concerns in an environment of cases spreading so quickly about the possibility of the year emergence of a new variants. There is no evidence of that right now and this is a measure taken off an abundance of caution.
After mentioning the other countries that have introduced some basic restrictions on travellers from China, Mark Butler says the federal government has decided to also introduce some measures “out of an abundance of caution.”
Travellers from China will need to submit evidence that they have a negative Covid test, and the measure will come into effect from midnight on 5 January:
In light of that lack of comprehensive information at this point in time, the government has decided out of an abundance of caution, to require travellers from China to submit evidence before boarding the flight that they have a negative Covid test.
This will come into effect at 12.01am on the 5 January an outline of the time of arrangements from a number of other countries including the United States and England. As well the government intends to put in place additional measures to collect information as recommended to me by the chief medical officer.
Those arrangements include exploring the feasibility of wastewater testing from aeroplanes, this is a measure that is an innovation in Australia has been picked up right now across the world in places including the United States and Europe.
We are also reviewing and strengthening our community wastewater testing arrangements across the country. The possibility of voluntary sampling arrangement at airports for arrivals or for travellers to be tested upon their arrival into Australia. And fourthly strengthening our arrangements for the follow-up of people in Australia who test positive within 14 days of having been overseas. I want to stress that these arrangements have not been put in place lightly.
Government welcomes resumption of travel between Australia and China – Mark Butler
The health minister, Mark Butler, has stepped up in Adelaide to give a press conference, and has begun by highlighting the “significant” Covid wave in China:
This comes from a couple weeks ago to lift most restrictions that have been placed under a certain amount time. The lift of Chinese border restrictions on the 8 January will also see a large increase in travel between China and Australia and between China and other countries.
I want to stress that the government welcomes the resumption of travel between Australia and China. We know there are many Chinese Australians have been unable to see family and friends for months, in some cases for years.
New Year’s Day is warm in the south and wet in the north
John Howard ‘would never allow shirtiness’, Amanda Vanstone says
Amanda Vanstone, a former senator and minister under the Howard government, addressed journalists at a briefing on the 2002 cabinet records, where she took aim at “egomaniacs” who took notes at meetings for “future biographers”.
Vanstone was in no mood to take any prisoners at the briefing, but did praise Howard for being open to consultation from ministers.
I don’t have any time for the egomaniacs who took notes.
There is a cabinet rule for a reason. Years and years of experience have told people that’s a bad idea. So those that did it, because they want to write a book, don’t get much truck with me.
He [Howard] would never allow shirtiness. He was good at assessing whether you needed a vote or not. More often than not, we just didn‘t have a vote.
It was quite clear what the feeling in the room was. Even though there might have been quite vociferous dissent from a couple [of ministers], the room would recognise, as he would, where the mood was.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2023/jan/01/australia-live-news-updates-linda-burney-indigenous-voice-new-year-anthony-albanese-peter-dutton-labor-coalition Australia live news updates: Australia to require travellers from China to provide negative Covid test as of 5 January | Australia news