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Australia news live: NSW flood warnings; Sydney train strike delays; nation records 33 Covid deaths


Mostafa Rachwani

Mostafa Rachwani

Flood-hit NSW regions prepare for torrential rain as BoM issues severe weather warning

Communities in New South Wales that were hit by heavy flooding earlier this year are bracing for days of torrential rain as the east coast prepares for an intense wet spell.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall for the Sydney metropolitan, Illawarra and central tablelands districts, as a surface trough is expected to remain stationary over the weekend.

Six-hourly rainfalls of between 80mm to 150mm are possible, with the warning of heavy rainfall likely to last into Sunday, potentially bringing with it flooding along the east coast.

It coincides with the start of school holidays in some states, throwing travel plans into chaos. Authorities have warned residents to reconsider any plans.

At a press conference on Friday, Jane Golding from BoM said the focus of the weather system will be on Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra, while adding that landslips and flash flooding was also possible:

“So we’re expecting some locations over the next few days and even tomorrow could see what they would normally see in the entire month of July fall in one day.

“We know that the landscape is vulnerable at the moment and the water can move quickly down the slopes and through the waterways, so flash flooding, riverine flooding and landslips.”

Minor to major flood warnings have been issued for parts of the mid-north coast, including along the Colo, Hawkesbury, and the Upper and Lower Nepean rivers.

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Minor to moderate flooding could also hit the Goulburn and Upper Hunter rivers, the Shoalhaven River and St Georges Basin.

The BoM has advised residents who live along these rivers to stay up to date with weather forecasts and of any potential flood warnings.

Justin McCurry

Justin McCurry

North Korea has blamed its Covid-19 outbreak on balloons sent over its border with the South by groups of defectors, in an apparent attempt to shift the blame onto its neighbour.

After two years of insisting that it had not recorded a single case of the virus, the North admitted its first infections on 12 May, sparking fears of a public health disaster in the impoverished country.

On Friday, the country reported that 4,570 people were newly displaying fever symptoms, bringing the total caseload to 4.74 million. Health authorities refer to fever symptoms rather than Covid-19, apparently due to a shortage of testing kits. The North has reported only 73 deaths.

The official KCNA news agency said on Friday an 18-year-old soldier and a five-year-old child who had touched “unidentified materials” in the eastern county of Kumgang in early April showed symptoms and later tested positive for Covid-19.

“A sharp increase of fever cases was witnessed among their contacts and that a group of fevered persons emerged in the area … for the first time,” it said.

Read more:

Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender

Kiribati is embroiled in a constitutional crisis after the government suspended its chief justice, leaving the judiciary in disarray as experts raise concerns about the rule of law.

The move escalates an ongoing controversy over separation of powers in the Pacific nation, after Kiribati’s only other high court justice, Australian David Lambourne, was suspended in May.

On Thursday the chief justice, distinguished New Zealand judge William Hastings, was due to begin hearing a legal challenge brought by Lambourne. The suspended judge was seeking initial orders restoring his salary and facilitating his return to the country, ahead of a constitutional challenge to the suspension.

Yet rather than begin the hearing, Hastings read out a letter from the government stating that he too had been suspended with immediate effect pursuant to the Kiribati constitution. The remarkable development was first reported by the Kiribati Newsroom.

The stated reason for the suspensions of Hastings and Lambourne are allegations of misbehaviour, with a tribunal established to investigate.

Read more:

Labor and union heavyweights issue statement to mark 30th anniversary of Australian superannuation system

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the country’s superannuation system, and four Labor and union heavyweights have released a joint statement commemorating “one of Australia’s greatest assets”.

Former prime minister and treasurer who enacted the scheme, Paul Keating, former Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Bill Kelty, as well as current treasurer, Dr Jim Chalmers, and ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, on Friday said that “nothing speaks more powerfully to the reform courage and foresight of the labour movement than the legacy of super”. They said:

Over those three decades, superannuation has grown from around $148 billion to over $3.4 trillion held by around 16 million Australians, helping improve the living standards of Australia’s retirees, broadening and deepening Australia’s capital markets and contributing to the growth of the Australian economy.

This was a transformational moment for Australia and for future generations of Australian workers, breaking the back of the balance of payments, turning Australia into a net capital exporter, and reducing the cost of capital for businesses.

The statement also calls out the Liberal party for its attitude towards super, both during its inception and in recent times.

Their heart wasn’t in it then, and it isn’t in it now.

Australia’s universal workplace right to financial dignity in retirement is unique to our nation and is the envy of the world.

We must never take it for granted and always defend it.

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 33 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 1,169
  • In hospital: 138 (with 4 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 9
  • Cases: 10,930
  • In hospital: 1,558 (with 41 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 302
  • In hospital: 17 (with 2 people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 6
  • Cases: 5,313
  • In hospital: 597 (with 14 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 3
  • Cases: 2,781
  • In hospital: 227 (with 7 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 1,303
  • In hospital: 47 (with 4 people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 12
  • Cases: 8,057
  • In hospital: 472 (with 23 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 5,072
  • In hospital: 217 (with 10 people in ICU)
Mostafa Rachwani

Mostafa Rachwani

Flood-hit NSW regions prepare for torrential rain as BoM issues severe weather warning

Communities in New South Wales that were hit by heavy flooding earlier this year are bracing for days of torrential rain as the east coast prepares for an intense wet spell.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall for the Sydney metropolitan, Illawarra and central tablelands districts, as a surface trough is expected to remain stationary over the weekend.

Six-hourly rainfalls of between 80mm to 150mm are possible, with the warning of heavy rainfall likely to last into Sunday, potentially bringing with it flooding along the east coast.

It coincides with the start of school holidays in some states, throwing travel plans into chaos. Authorities have warned residents to reconsider any plans.

At a press conference on Friday, Jane Golding from BoM said the focus of the weather system will be on Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra, while adding that landslips and flash flooding was also possible:

“So we’re expecting some locations over the next few days and even tomorrow could see what they would normally see in the entire month of July fall in one day.

“We know that the landscape is vulnerable at the moment and the water can move quickly down the slopes and through the waterways, so flash flooding, riverine flooding and landslips.”

Minor to major flood warnings have been issued for parts of the mid-north coast, including along the Colo, Hawkesbury, and the Upper and Lower Nepean rivers.

Minor to moderate flooding could also hit the Goulburn and Upper Hunter rivers, the Shoalhaven River and St Georges Basin.

The BoM has advised residents who live along these rivers to stay up to date with weather forecasts and of any potential flood warnings.

Home Guarantee Scheme’s revised property price caps to apply from today

The expanded property price caps of the federal government’s Home Guarantee Scheme come into effect from today, with about 40,000 first home buyers and single parents expected to benefit from the scheme which allows them to purchase a home with a smaller deposit.

The scheme has been expanded to include 35,000 places each financial year for first home buyers to purchase a home with a deposit of 5%, or, for 5,000 single parents with dependents, a deposit of as little as 2%.

The new property price caps which come into effect today have been updated to reflect surging property prices.

In Sydney and regional centres in New South Wales, the cap has increased from $800,000 to $900,000, and in Melbourne and regional centres in Victoria, from $700,000 to $800,000.

Julie Collins, minister for housing, said the Albanese government is “committed to introducing a suite of policies that will make it easier for Australians to buy a home and deliver more social and affordable housing”.

Further information on the scheme, including eligibility criteria and the full list of participating lenders, is available from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation website.

The Albanese Government is helping thousands more Australians into homeownership by expanding the Home Guarantee Scheme.

We are committed to introducing a suite of policies that will make it easier for Australians to buy a home and deliver more social and affordable housing. https://t.co/OZUWOylVj1

— Julie Collins (@JulieCollinsMP) June 30, 2022

Acting PM: we will stand up for national interest amid fading hopes of China reset

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Australia’s acting prime minister has declared the government won’t take any “backward step” in pursuing the national interest, after Chinese state media said hopes of a diplomatic reset were “diminishing by the day”.

Richard Marles, who is acting in the top job while Anthony Albanese is in Europe, told Guardian Australia the new government would avoid “chest-beating” about China but admitted there may be limits to what a change in tone could achieve.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday that politicians should “stop making irresponsible remarks”, when asked about Albanese’s comments that China should learn the lessons from Russia’s “strategic failure” in Ukraine.

Read more from Marles’ interview with Daniel Hurst, Guardian Australia’s foreign affairs and defence correspondent:

Amanda Meade

Amanda Meade

Qantas ditches Sky News from airport lounges as ABC takes flight on 90th birthday

In what is a fitting 90th birthday present for the ABC, Qantas has inked a new deal with the public broadcaster for ABC news bulletins to screen on Qantas flights and in airport lounges.

The arrangement means Sky News Australia will no longer be screened in the airline’s lounges, a development that will please critics of the divisive pay TV channel.

Read more in The Weekly Beast, including Aunty’s stars party at Ultimo.

Emma Kemp

Emma Kemp

Ash Barty swaps the court for the fairway

Ash Barty has started her international sporting comeback – and it’s not a defence of her Wimbledon title.

As the tennis action continues at the All England Club, Australia’s retired world No 1 is on a golf course in New Jersey playing an exhibition tournament over two days.

The Ryder Cup-style Icons Series competition at Liberty National features international sporting celebrities split into Team USA and Team Rest of the World.

Barty, a talented golfer who has impressed the likes of Tiger Woods, is in the latter and has so far paired with Ricky Ponting and Harry Kane against American football names including Reggie Bush and Michael Vick.

After the first day of play, Team USA holds a 10-5 lead over Team ROTW.

Ashleigh Barty hits off the sixth tee during the Icons Series USA 2022 golf tournament, Thursday, 30 June, 2022, at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, N.J.
Ashleigh Barty hits off the sixth tee during the Icons Series USA 2022 golf tournament, Thursday, 30 June, 2022, at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, N.J. Photograph: John Minchillo/AP

The teams are thus:

Team USA: Fred Couples (captain), Michael Phelps, Michael Strahan, Ben Roethlisberger, J.R. Smith, Andrew Whitworth, Robbie Gould, John Smoltz, Marshall Faulk, Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Michael Vick, Brice Butler.

Rest of the World: Ernie Els (captain), Ash Barty, Harry Kane, Canelo Alvarez, AB de Villiers, James Milner, George Gregan, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, Yuvraj Singh, Ivan Rodriguez, Gavin Hastings, Alan Smith.

More on Queensland’s landmark report on women’s safety and justice

A major review has called for Queensland to adopt affirmative consent laws among sweeping reforms to the handling of victims of sexual assault and violence in the state’s criminal justice system.

The long-awaited final report of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce includes 188 recommendations to improve experiences with the justice system.

They include calls for the state government to carry out a “comprehensive” community education campaign to address “rape myths” and for Queensland to adopt affirmative consent laws.

“Victim-survivors told us they want changes to the law about sexual assault so the focus is on the actions of the accused person, not what the victim said, did, drank or wore,” the taskforce’s chair, former court of appeal president Margaret McMurdo, said after the report’s released.

Read more:

I am informed that 500mm is a lot of rain.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

Call for Queensland to move to affirmative consent model to tackle sexual violence

Queensland’s Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has recommended a move towards an affirmative model of consent to bring the state in line with other Australian jurisdictions.

It was one of 188 recommendations included in the taskforce’s second report, Hear her voice, which was handed to the state’s attorney general on Friday.

The taskforce also recommended the government develop and implement “an adequately resourced” community education campaign to improve understanding about consent and sexual violence.

The Queensland government should also establish a victims’ commission as an independent statutory office to “protect the needs of victims of all violent offences”, the taskforce said.

Other suggestions were the development of a strategy to increase the use of the respectful relationships education program across all Queensland schools and to work with survivors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop a model for a professional victim advocate service.





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