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Australia news live: three-nation visit to show bipartisan Pacific support; Telstra ‘sorry’ for data leak | Australia news

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Three greyhounds killed on race tracks in New South Wales

Two greyhounds were killed on Sydney racetracks and a third in Newcastle on Saturday prompting calls from animal rights activists for action on the industry.

Kylie Field, director of the Coalition for Protection of Greyhounds, said in a statement on Sunday the deaths showed the dogs are “too easily euthanised with treatable injuries”:

The government gives the racing industry millions of dollars – taxpayers would have wanted these dogs to have been given a chance at rehabilitation.

The government has promised a five-year, $30m track safety upgrade program, but this will shortly end with only a fraction spent. The 55 deaths on NSW tracks this year raises questions about the whole program and there has to be an independent review of track safety.

Field also called for an end to greyhound racing after 156 dogs killed nationwide and almost 10,000 injured this year.

Data leak honest mistake: Telstra

Telstra has apologised to thousands of Australians who had their details published accidentally online by the communications giant.

In a post released online Telstra executive Michael Ackland said the release of the names, numbers and addresses of some unlisted customers was not the result of any malicious cyber attack and was a mistake.

For the customers impacted we understand this is an unacceptable breach of your trust.

We’re sorry it occurred, and we know we have let you down.

Telstra blamed a “misalignment of databases” and was working to pull the data from off the internet.


Unemployment to remain low for rest of year

The jobless rate is expected to remain in record-low territory heading toward the end of the year as the battle to hire workers rages on.

In October 32,200 jobs were added to the economy, driving the jobless rate back to 3.4 per cent from 3.5 per cent in September.

The unemployment rate is expected to remain in the mid-threes when the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes labour force figures for November on Thursday.

But the jobs market is likely at capacity and unlikely to get any tighter, amid some signs it’s starting to come off its extraordinary peaks.

Job advertisement numbers fell in November for the sixth month in a row, suggesting the post-pandemic recruitment frenzy is starting to normalise as businesses recover and migration returns to normal.

Despite job ad numbers posted on Seek’s employment marketplace starting to soften, they remain almost 40 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.


Australian officials in bipartisan visit to Vanuatu on diplomatic mission

Daniel Hurst

Senior Australian politicians from both major parties will travel to Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau this week in a bid to signal bipartisan support for the Pacific.

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, and the minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, will be joined by their opposition counterparts Simon Birmingham and Michael McCormack. They are due to leave Australia tomorrow morning.

It is the first such bipartisan visit to Pacific island countries since 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The four politicians issued a joint media release today declaring:

As a member of the Pacific family, Australia’s commitment to working with Pacific partners to achieve our shared aspirations and address our shared challenges is bipartisan.

The agenda includes a range of meetings, including with Vanuatu prime minister Ishmael Kalsakau, FSM president David W. Panuelo and Palau president Surangel Whipps Jr. “to discuss their nations’ development objectives, the existential threat of climate change, and key regional security issues”.

Wong said she was “pleased we are delivering on the Albanese government’s promise to reinstate bipartisan parliamentary delegation visits, demonstrating Australia’s enduring commitment to strengthening our Pacific partnerships and addressing regional challenges.”

Birmingham said the trip was “a welcome opportunity to again demonstrate that Australia’s engagement with our Pacific neighbours is of the highest priority and transcends domestic politics.”

Tasmania to remember Hillcrest victims

In the aftermath of the Hillcrest primary school jumping castle tragedy, an image symbolising Tasmania’s broken heart was shared far and wide.

As part of commemorations marking the one year anniversary, a heart sculpture will be put on display in Devonport for people to leave messages of support.

Six children died after a wind gust lifted a jumping castle and several inflatable balls into the air on 16 December 2021.

Peter Dodt, Jalailah Jayne-Marie Jones, Addison Stewart, Jye Sheehan, Zane Mellor, and Chace Harrison were among grade five and six classmates enjoying end-of-year celebrations.

Devonport mayor Alison Jarman said three other children were seriously injured and spent time in hospital.

[It] is a day that is etched in our memories forever. It’s the day our hearts broke for the Hillcrest primary school community.

The tragedy rocked our close-knit community, it will no doubt for a long time.

A public commemoration at Devonport’s Market Square will be held on Thursday evening, with members of the community invited to leave a flower or message in the sculpture.

Hillcrest will hold a private ceremony at the school on Friday, 16 December.

Jarman urged people to reach out for help should they need it. A dedicated Hillcrest recovery committee, which helped organise the public commemoration, remains on call.

Department of Education secretary Tim Bullard told the Advocate the wellbeing of children, families and staff who had been affected was the priority.

It is our intention that the acknowledgement of the day is managed as sensitively as possible.

We continue to extend our thoughts and condolences to the families, friends, staff, and the broader community.

Streams of people left countless messages, toys, flowers and candles outside the school in the days after the accident.

Some were collected by the council, with planning for a permanent memorial to commence in 2023.

More than $1.4m was raised for the families of the victims.


The Bureau of Meteorology expects scattered showers expected over South Australia.

Meanwhile the heatwave that has settled across northern Australia is expected to ease.

Riverland residents prepare as flood water makes it way downstream

Patients at Renmark-Paringa hospital in South Australia’s Riverland will be moved to higher ground as flood waters from the east coast make their way downstream.

Around 1,500 properties have been affected by flood so far with the Murray River not expected to peak until the end of the month.

Already roads around Paringa have been cut and some residents are leaving as flows have reached 220 gigalitres a day.

#FLOOD Watch and Act MESSAGE issued for Lower River Murray. If you are in this area you should prepare for flooding. Consider going to a safer place if the path is clear. More info: https://t.co/vbw6Lt4YKd ID:401/7

— SASES (@SA_SES) December 9, 2022

Labor to extend access to dental care for vulnerable children

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

The federal government says it will extend support for vulnerable children to access dental services by another four years.

The health minister, Mark Butler, is due to the announce the move at a press conference in Adelaide in about an hour. The government spelled out the details in a press release issued in advance. It relates to the national Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS):

Eligible children aged 0 to 17 years can access to up to $1,026 in benefits a year over two years for basic dental services, delivered by both public and private sector dentists …

Since the program began in 2014, Commonwealth funding of nearly $440 million has supported states and territories to deliver around 7.6 million dental services to approximately 900,000 children. The funding of this program will be extended for a further four years.

Public dental services are delivered by state and territory governments through community-based clinics and school programs. This collaboration between the Commonwealth and state and territories is particularly important for rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Butler described the CDBS as “an important program that ensures vulnerable children get dental care when their families can’t afford it”.

He added:

By improving access to dental services for children, the program helps address declining oral health and sets children on a path to better health throughout their lives.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Bowen spars with Dutton over fossil fuels

We brought you some comments from the energy minister, Chris Bowen, earlier today on the government’s energy plans, which includes caps on coal and gas prices.

During his Sky News interview, Bowen was also asked about the opposition’s call for more gas supply as a solution to the price rises.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, had said on Friday that there had not been “any experience of success in capping prices” anywhere in the world “and what the government needs to do is to drive more supply – more gas into the marketplace – instead of reducing supply at a time when you’ve got increased demand”.

Bowen retorted:

Well, these are the guys who presided over a decade where you had four gigawatts of power leave the grid and one gigawatt of dispatchable power come on – and they talk about supply now…

In relation to gas exploitation, that’s a matter primarily for state regulation – New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria all have different policies. The fact of the matter is that we deal with the resources we have available to us and we manage those.

We had the opposition last sitting week saying: ‘oh just get more gas into the system’. I mean, I don’t know where they think we just have a magic, you know, pile of gas on standby just to put into the system whenever they think is necessary. What we do is work – as we did in the July energy crisis – we’ll work with companies across the board to ensure, with Aemo and others, that everything is being done possible to get all the supply into the system so the lights stay on. That successfully worked in the midst of the crisis that Angus Taylor left us as his little goodbye present on the way out of the door to the new government. And I’m not going to take any lectures from these clowns who presided over a decade of 23 energy policies, denial and delay, and four gigawatts leaving the system and one gigawatt coming on. I mean, they’ve got no clue.

Three men arrested in Philippines allegedly linked to Australian drug hauls

Australian Federal Police say three alleged members of an international drug importation ring have been arrested in an operation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Three men, a 41-year-old French national, a 33-year-old Canadian and a 42-year-old Filipino have been arrested and charged with serious drug offences.

In November the PDEA searched to properties in Manilla were they seized 22kg and 770 grams of cocaine from a suspected methamphetamine from a drug manufacturing operation.

It is believed the haul, valued at $4m Australian dollars, was destined for Australia.

Detective superintendent Andrew Perkins, AFP’s senior officer in Manila, congratulated the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on the significant outcome in Manila.

This operation again highlights how law enforcement agencies share intelligence across borders to cause maximum damage to these transnational criminal networks.

Illicit drug use in Australia bankrolls dangerous and brutal criminals who undermine our national security and our economy and make our suburbs and roads less safe.

The Australian Federal Police has members in 33 countries around the world and we will continue to use our international networks to ensure drug syndicates do not profit at the expense of our communities.

The AFP has been providing intelligence to the PDEA since 2021 and sought assistances about alleged connections with a methamphetamine and cocaine importation scheme.

AFP provided intel from a series of drug shipment seizures in New South Wales since August 2021 that involved packages concealed inside industrial machinery.

NSW gets newest national park

New South Wales has announced its latest national park with a 34,000 hectare Brindingabba Station to become Brindingabba national park.

The latest park lies 175km north-west of Bourke and is part of the 602,500 hectares of land added to national park area in the state.

Minister for environment James Griffin said the park will become a refugee for rare and threatening species “in perpetuity” which “the people of NSW will be able to experience […] for generations to come”.

The new Brindingabba national park protects an important part of Lake Wombah and more than 7,000 hectares of Yantabulla Swamp, which are nationally important wetlands.

The 33,903 hectare park supports 30 different ecosystems, protecting habitat for at least 12 endangered and 31 vulnerable species, including a small carnivorous marsupial called the kultarr, pied honeyeaters, hooded robins, pink cockatoos and fat-tailed dunnart.

It also protects an endangered plant called Lancewood [Acacia petraea], which is only found in two other areas in NSW, and hasn’t been previously protected in our national parks estate.

This new national park is a fantastic example of how partnerships can boost our efforts to conserve biodiversity, and we’re working towards more opportunities like this.

The purchase of Brindingabba Station involved a partnership between the state government The Nature Conservancy Australia, with contributions from charitable foundations The Wyss Foundation and artist Haley Mellin’s Art into Acres initiative.

For more on how the land purchase came to be, read The Guardian’s previous reporting:

South Australia breached UN standards

South Australia has breached United Nations standards by locking up children in adult correctional facilities.

The ABC reports that young people were moved to adult cells more than 2,000 times in the 20-21 financial year with more than 800 cases involving Indigenous children.

More to come…

Last ditch effort to save animal hospital

Veterinary nurses have launched an 11th hour bid to stop an animal hospital in Melbourne’s southwest from closing.

The nurses from U-Vet Animal Hospital at Werribee have lodged a Fair Work Commission application over claims the University of Melbourne is trying to “ram through” the hospital’s closure.

It was initially thought the university planned to close the hospital on 19 December, but staff have since been advised this has been moved up to Monday at 12pm.

U-Vet veterinary nurse Taylor Reader said the university is trying to shut the animal hospital’s doors with “as little scrutiny as possible”, and they want the commission to deal with their dispute.

Disgracefully, the University of Melbourne is attempting to ram through the closure of our valued animal hospital with nothing but tokenistic consultation of the staff who’ll lose their jobs and their livelihoods.

The University of Melbourne has treated us like we’re nothing and has brought forward the animal hospital’s closure in a deeply cynical effort to stop staff from taking action in the Fair Work Commission to stop it.

The university’s decision to bring the closure forward amounted to one of its “most shameful chapters”, with workers’ offers of assistance and co-operation “met with silence”, Reader said.

The university was hell-bent on closing U-Vet against the wishes of the staff, the community, and Victoria’s best interests, she claimed.

Staff have collected more than 9,400 signatures from the public to oppose the Veterinary hospital’s closure.

We ask the federal government to help us keep this vital institution open for our community and for the future of the veterinarian sector in Victoria.

U-Vet is the state’s only teaching hospital where students can gain hands-on experience, the nurses said.

The hospital’s closure would see more than 100 veterinary staff lose their jobs.

The University of Melbourne has been contacted for comment.


Labor’s energy price plan will not fuel inflation: Bowen

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

The federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, has rejected any suggestion that the government’s energy price plan could fuel inflation.

He told Sky News this morning:

No, on the contrary, we designed it very carefully for that reason. That criticism would have been valid if we just had sent cheques to households. That would have been a valid criticism. We’re not doing that. That’s why we’re working with the states to ensure that the bill is lower when it arrives in letterboxes and email inboxes and that is not expansionary.

The treasury has been very clear on their advice to us on that point … that this is not expansionary, that this reduces inflation – the secretary of the treasury has made that crystal clear of at least half a percent of inflation. So that argument just doesn’t hold water. It might have if we had gone a different way, a less well designed way, but that’s not what we’re doing.

The opposition shadow minister Ted O’Brien, also interviewed on Sky News, criticised the energy price plan as a “cobbling together” of thought bubbles, and claimed it would not work. Referring to the recall of parliament this Thursday, O’Brien said:

They are calling for a parliament to sign off on something and they have no idea how it’s going to work.

For more detail on the plan announced late last week, see this explainer:

Good morning

And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.

Australia’s hospitals are groaning as the country enters its latest Covid wave. The Sydney Morning Herald reports 4,000 children were on elective surgery waitlists across New South Wales with staff warning health minister Brad Hazzard they have been unable to recruit and retain the staff they need. The situation follows similar pressure in the Victorian health system where GPs have been overwhelmed by children presenting with summer viruses and over half of the patients who arrived at the Royal Children’s hospital were “triaged” as less urgent.

France will face Morocco in the World Cup semi-final after beating England 1-2 on Saturday night. England missed out after a missed penalty that cost the side the game, opening the way for Morocco to become the first African team to make it through to the semi-final.

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 …

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/dec/11/australia-news-live-chris-bowen-rejects-claim-energy-price-plan-could-fuel-inflation-hospitals-under-pressure Australia news live: three-nation visit to show bipartisan Pacific support; Telstra ‘sorry’ for data leak | Australia news

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