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WA to follow other states in banning Nazi symbols

The Western Australian government plans to criminalise the display and possession of Nazi symbols, with some exceptions, AAP reports.

The display of such symbols was offensive to many people, particularly the Jewish community, Holocaust survivors and those who fought against fascism, the government said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Nazi symbols such as the swastika were not only used in association with antisemitism but have been used in vilifying other groups in the community, including Muslims and LGBTQIA+ groups, the statement said.

The legislation will extend to the display of Nazi symbols on tattoos.

The WA attorney general, John Quigley, said the state government would not tolerate “hate groups which seek to spread fear, division, and violence in our multicultural society”:

We will continue to work with stakeholder groups during the drafting of the new laws to ensure we strike the right balance between banning offensive behaviour and preserving legitimate uses of the swastika.

The reforms, once passed, will prohibit the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances, and will provide penalties, including jail, for any person who contravenes the law.

The government said it recognised there were legitimate purposes for the display or possession of a Nazi symbol, such as genuine academic or educational purposes, buying or selling bona fide the second world war memorabilia, or publishing fair and accurate media reports of matters of public interest.

Victoria and New South Wales passed legislation recently to criminalise the display of Nazi symbols, and Queensland and Tasmania have recently announced the intention to do the same.

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Severe weather forecast for parts of Queensland

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast severe storms with damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall for Queensand’s southern interior, with thunderstorms also possible in the south-east.

Drug lab discovered at former Victorian quarantine hub

An apparent drug lab has been discovered at Melbourne’s purpose-built quarantine centre after the facility was reopened to flood victims, AAP has reported.

The $580m Centre for National Resilience in Mickleham was visited by police on Tuesday afternoon, with officers finding suspected drug-making equipment inside an unoccupied unit.

Glassware and unidentified liquids were among the items seized, police said.

Staff at the site tipped off police on suspicions of illegal activity in one of the units, a Victorian government spokesperson said:

As this is now under police investigation it would be inappropriate to comment.

No arrests have been made over the discovery.

As of last week, 112 people were staying at the Mickleham centre after last year’s devastating floods.

The 1,000-bed site was reopened to offer emergency accommodation to displaced Victorians in October after briefly closing its doors as Australia’s Covid-19 response wound down.

Agriculture minister in UK to finalise free trade agreement

The agriculture minister, Murray Watt, is in the UK to push for the ratification of the Australia-UK free trade agreement (FTA).

Australia has already signed off on the FTA but multiple leadership changes in the UK has slowed the ratification process and renewed opposition to the deal.

Watt has taken to social media to share photos of various meetings with UK ministers, Lords and MPs in regards to the FTA.

Patrick Elligett appointed editor of the Age

The Age has announced that its news director, Patrick Elligett, has been appointed editor.

Elligett, who joined the masthead in 2019, replaces Gay Alcorn who stepped down from the position in December to care for her unwell husband.

The executive editor of the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, Tory Maguire, said:

Patrick demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of reader trends and the challenges it presents. I’m very confident that his plan is the right one to steer the Age through the next few years of economic uncertainty, shifting habits and demographic change.

Elligett said it was an “incredible honour” to take on the new role:

I would also like to thank Gay Alcorn for her intelligent, determined leadership and profound contribution to the journalism of the Age during the past three years.

Some police who attended Wiembilla shooting also present in Tara response

Police said local officers are feeling “quite resilient” after last night’s shooting in Queensland, given that it is just over a month since the deadly ambush in Wieambilla, which is 40km north:

There were some officers involved in the Wieambilla shooting that were involved in the response to this incident last night and yesterday afternoon. We’re providing them with support and welfare and counselling if they need it. But I’d just like to say that their heroics and their resolve to protect the community and maintain community safety, given the events of five and a half weeks ago is remarkable. And my thanks and our respect goes out to them.

Police said the teenagers taken into custody were known to police. The group includes two brothers, and the other two are not related, but are “all known to each other”.

They said during the incident, shorts were “discharged in the vicinity of police” but they don’t know who fired the shots:

So the third and final vehicle that was struck pulled up outside the cordon near a police vehicle and the vehicle was struck at that particular time.

There’s no suggestion that they were actively targeting police at this point in time.

There were several discharged cartridges at the crime scene and we’ve got at least four holes, two vehicle and three wind screens. And also some ricocheted there.

Three teenagers charged with weapons offences in Queensland

Police are now holding a media conference in Queensland about the shooting incident after which four teenagers were taken into custody in Tara, in the state’s south-east, last night.

Police said on Wednesday night police were dispatched to the scene after reports of a shooting and identified a particular house that was believed to be where the shots were being fired from.

We cleared that particular address and during that search, we located a 0.22 calibre rifle and a number of discharged .22 calibre projectiles and cartridges at the scene.

We later took four juveniles into custody and they were detained and brought back to the Tara police station for further investigation. And as a result of the police investigations to date, two 16-year-old boys have been charged with seven offences each. Four weapons offences and three counts of wilful damage.

A 14-year-old boy was dealt with the same offences by the provisions of the Youth Justice Act and cautioned, and a 15-year-old boy was released without charge at this stage. And our investigations are ongoing.

Police said the teenagers’ alleged conduct is “extremely concerning” and as part of their investigation, they will be attempting to identify a motive:

Two of the alleged offenders have declined to be interviewed. So the actual motivations at this stage, it’s still unclear, but that is part of the ongoing investigation.

But it’s certainly concerning. Guns are extremely dangerous. Any discharge of a firearm in a public place creates significant risk to the community. People could have been seriously injured or worse as a result of this incident yesterday. It’s completely unacceptable and reckless behaviour.

Peter Hannam

Jobless rate tipped to hover near half-century lows for December

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release its labour market numbers for December later this morning, and economists expect a fairly static story at least as far as the jobless rate is concerned.

In November, the unemployment rate was 3.4% and a similar number is expected today, leaving it at a 48-year low. Attention will probably focus on how many new jobs the economy generated last month.

The CBA has estimated 25,000 new jobs, St George 30,000 and ANZ 35,000. In November, the economy added 64,000 positions, and it’s expected those higher interest rates from the Reserve Bank of Australia will sooner or later prompt companies to halt hiring – if not start letting people go.

Speaking of the RBA, investors are still tipping the central bank will make it nine interest rate rises in as many board meetings at their next gathering on 7 February.

Ahead of the December labour market numbers today, investors were rating the RBA as about a 60% of lifting its cash rate to 3.35% on 7 February. Further out, they expect to peak shy of 3.8% later in 2023. pic.twitter.com/dy7AZ5KClv

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 18, 2023

Another issue to watch for will be the participation rate. Some economists expect that to edge higher at 66.8% from 66.7%, a minor change but one reason the jobless rate may remain unchanged even as more jobs are added by employers.

Watch out for the numbers to land at 11.30am AEDT.

Michael McGowan

NSW Labor promises to create ‘great koala national park’ if it wins power

The New South Wales Labor party will establish a new national park stretching from Kempsey to Coffs Harbour in a bid to save the state’s endangered koala population.

On Thursday the opposition leader, Chris Minns, will announce that the party will re-commit to establishing the “great koala national park” on the NSW north coast, which could see an area of about 300,000 hectares of key habitat for the native species protected from logging.

The park, which Labor has promised in the past two state elections, is likely to anger the timber and logging industry, which has previously claimed it would cost the state thousands of jobs. Other estimates claim the park would add about $1bn to the state’s economy over 15 years.

Read more:

Flooding recedes in Queensland

Flood waters are beginning to recede in parts of north and central Queensland after a week of record-breaking rain. But it is still raining in the north with 100mm falling at Mosman in the last 24 hours.

With water levels coming down, the Bruce Highway has reopened allowing for traffic and freight to move through again. Authorities are warning drivers to be careful with many roads across the region damaged or still affected by mudslides.

Major flood warnings remain in place for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek, as well as the Flinders River, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Man arrested in relation to alleged stabbing in Sydney

Police are holding a media conference in Campsie in regards to an alleged stabbing of an elderly man in Sydney’s south-west overnight, where two officers were treated for chemical burns and a 24-year-old male was arrested shortly after.

The body of a 91-year-old man was located at the scene.

Police said:

[The 24-year-old] is currently under guard in hospital and receiving some treatment for injuries received prior to him coming under arrest.

I can confirm that both of my officers went to hospital and one of those received some oxygen for some chemical burns. Both of them have been released and have now gone home. Both of them are OK and will be back at work later on this afternoon.

Police confirmed the 24-year-old is known to the elderly victim and is a family member. Police added that “we know that he suffered some stab wounds”, but the cause of death won’t be known until the coroner has examined him.

Police say the elderly man was located by his son, who was the one to contact police.

The 24-year-old male that is under police guard has recently come under notice of the police. And we do believe that it’s a family-related matter.

It was obviously a very volatile and emotional situation last night. One of the other family members at the scene, he was quite emotional when we took the 24-year-old male into police custody and as a result, police had to step in to restrain him. He was not arrested and he will not be charged. He was … just restrained and moved from the location so that we could calm him down.

Police say the chemicals that police officers were treated for was “hydrochloric acid, swimming pool chemicals”.

WA to follow other states in banning Nazi symbols

The Western Australian government plans to criminalise the display and possession of Nazi symbols, with some exceptions, AAP reports.

The display of such symbols was offensive to many people, particularly the Jewish community, Holocaust survivors and those who fought against fascism, the government said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Nazi symbols such as the swastika were not only used in association with antisemitism but have been used in vilifying other groups in the community, including Muslims and LGBTQIA+ groups, the statement said.

The legislation will extend to the display of Nazi symbols on tattoos.

The WA attorney general, John Quigley, said the state government would not tolerate “hate groups which seek to spread fear, division, and violence in our multicultural society”:

We will continue to work with stakeholder groups during the drafting of the new laws to ensure we strike the right balance between banning offensive behaviour and preserving legitimate uses of the swastika.

The reforms, once passed, will prohibit the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances, and will provide penalties, including jail, for any person who contravenes the law.

The government said it recognised there were legitimate purposes for the display or possession of a Nazi symbol, such as genuine academic or educational purposes, buying or selling bona fide the second world war memorabilia, or publishing fair and accurate media reports of matters of public interest.

Victoria and New South Wales passed legislation recently to criminalise the display of Nazi symbols, and Queensland and Tasmania have recently announced the intention to do the same.

Government to wipe student debt for teachers who work in remote areas

Student debt to be cut for teachers who go rural

Teachers who choose to spend time in rural schools will have their student debt wiped in a bid to cover shortages, AAP reports.

The government will clear the HELP debt for those who spend four years teaching in a very remote location at a primary or secondary school, day care centre or preschool, in a move expected to save teachers an average of $35,000.

Eligible teachers will have waived either the debt of their initial teaching degree or whatever debt remains when they start the teaching position, whichever is less.

It will initially be open to teachers who have been in remote locations since 2019, meaning those already teaching in those areas can get a head start.

The education minister, Jason Clare, said the measure is one part of the government’s plan to improve educational outcomes for remote and very remote students:

The program is designed to attract and retain a high-quality teacher workforce, provide critical educational continuity, and support for students in very remote areas.

The places covered by the scheme are those defined as “very remote areas” by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including large parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland and north-west NSW.

Paul Karp

Mark Dreyfus on privacy, defamation and LGBTQI+ rights

After the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, accused Peter Dutton of asking questions he already knows the answer to about the Indigenous voice, today we’ve published the second half of our interview with Dreyfus.

In it, Dreyfus leaves the door open to legislating a European-style right to be forgotten and a tort for breach of privacy, saying these will be considered in the next tranche of privacy law reforms.

Asked if Australia needs a federal defamation act, Dreyfus said:

It’s an ongoing discussion among attorneys general which is being facilitated by the fact we now have a standing council of attorneys general which is meeting quarterly.

We also asked Dreyfus about comments by the sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, in November that the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is “not resourced” to do LGBTIQ+ human rights work, while the president, Rosalind Croucher, told Senate estimates the AHRC “would dearly like to be able to put such a specialist role back in”.

Dreyfus said:

I saw those comments and I think I’d say that the scope of work of the [AHRC] is something that remains under active consideration.

Rodney Croome, a Just.Equal spokesperson, welcomed that remark:

It’s good to see Mark Dreyfus is actively considering a response to the fact that the [AHRC], by its own admission, doesn’t have the capacity to deal with LGBTIQA+ human rights. The AHRC hasn’t issued a report or media statement on LGBTIQA+ issues since October 2021.

Meanwhile, attacks on our rights continue, especially on the rights of trans and intersex people. In the view of Just.Equal Australia the best response would be to appoint an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights commissioner. Given there are commissioners for sex, race, age and disability discrimination and Indigenous social justice, the absence of an LGBTIQA+ commissioner sends the message that our human rights matter less or not at all.

Four boys in custody after shots fired in small Queensland Town

Four teenagers have been taken into custody in a small town in southeast Queensland following reports of shots being fired in the area, AAP reports.

Police were called to reports of a shooting in Tara about 3.30pm on Wednesday and declared an exclusion zone covering several blocks in the centre of town at 5.30pm.

Officers said initial information indicated that a vehicle had been shot at on Smallacombe Street. Authorities later revoked the emergency declaration and said four local boys, aged 14, 15, 16 and 16, were assisting police with their investigations.

Police said the teens were found at a Tara residence on Wednesday night and taken into custody without incident.

No one was injured.

Tara, in the western downs region, is about 40km south of Wieambilla which was the scene of a deadly ambush that ended with the deaths of six people, including two police officers, in December 2022. You can read our earlier report on the shooting here:



https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2023/jan/19/australia-news-live-qantas-launches-investigation-into-trans-tasman-mayday-super-crackdown-on-sex-offenders Australia news live updates: student debt cut for teachers who go rural; WA to ban display and possession of Nazi symbols | Australia news

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