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Australia news live: government under fire over handling of rape allegations as voters lose trust


Essential poll finds two-thirds believe government more interested in protecting itself than women. Follow all the latest news and updates, live
• ‘She was a very credible person,’ says friend of woman who claims minister raped her in 1988
Richard Ackland: Should we know the name of the alleged cabinet-level rapist in Canberra?
Australia’s Covid vaccine tracker: when will you get your jab?
Follow the global Covid liveblog

1.09am GMT

Gosh, there is a bit going on in Victoria today!

There has been plenty of chatter these last few weeks about the state of the emergency bill being extended. This is the bill that gives the Victorian government power to do things like creating social distancing laws, forced people to quarantine if they have Covid-19 or are close contacts, give out fines for breaching physical distancing rules etc.

Amendments to the state of emergency bill are doing the rounds this morning. Looks like it will remain a nine-month extension but a series of concessions have been made. Opposition leader in the upper house David Davis describes it as a “sell out by minor parties”.

1.04am GMT

Following on from the Victorian mental health royal commission report:

Police Association’s Wayne Gatt says the best people to deal with mental health crisis’ aren’t police. Welcomes recommendation from Mental Health Royal Commission for Paramedics and Clinicians to be first responders. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst pic.twitter.com/ysDm2e5HdM

1.01am GMT

Just on that zoom called with the Queen, I mentioned earlier.

Queens Elizabeth has praised South Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic when speaking with Premier Steven Marshall and Governor Hieu Van Le.

That sounds very good. It must be very encouraging that they can all get together again.

12.40am GMT

A well-known Sydney pub has been fined for multiple Covid-19 breaches after nearly 10,000 NSW venues were checked by inspectors, AAP reports.

Sydney’s Lord Wolseley Hotel has been fined $5000 for multiple Covid-19 breaches and an additional $2400 for missing two subsequent court appearances.

The penalties were levied after inspectors from Liquor & Gaming NSW in September found the director of the Ultimo pub had not properly registered the venue as a Covid-safe business.

What has not changed, is having robust, digital check-in processes that allow for effective contact tracing … and a clear COVID Safety Plan.

12.37am GMT

No local cases in Queensland either (not that that’s that surprising nowadays).

Tuesday 2 March – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

• 0 new locally acquired cases
• 4 overseas acquired cases
• 14 active cases
• 1,335 total cases
• 1,962,878 tests conducted

Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,313 patients have recovered.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/t7WnlnFjJ1

12.34am GMT

The summer just gone was Australia’s wettest in four years, with official data showing there was above average rainfall as a cooling La Niña imposed itself across much of the continent.

The average temperature across the continent was slightly above average, representing a respite from the previous two summers that remain in the nation’s top two on record for heat.

Related: Australia’s summer the wettest in four years amid cooling La Niña

12.28am GMT

A Holocaust museum is set to be established in Tasmania, with the support of the state government, the federal treasurer says.

A privilege to join Holocaust survivors & parliamentary colleagues incl. Elise Archer to announce the establishment of a Tasmanian Holocaust Museum & education centre with the support of the Gutwein Govt.@BrianMitchellMP @WilkieMP @SenatorAbetz pic.twitter.com/RxubnWzUzs

12.25am GMT

No new local cases in NSW, huzzah!

NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of #COVID19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, the 44th consecutive day without a locally acquired case. Three new cases were acquired overseas, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,994. pic.twitter.com/GEQtWH7Lwm

12.20am GMT

Here is Victorian premier Daniel Andrew’s full statement:

Full statement from the Premier pic.twitter.com/QaowtC7T35

12.19am GMT

Victorian politicians are discussing the royal commission report in parliament now.

“It’s clearer than ever that our system is more than just cracked. It is completely broken. We need to build a new system from the ground up,” Premier Daniel Andrews tells parliament. He says the government will implement all the royal commission’s recommendations.

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Mr O’Brien says the state government must “apologise to Victorians for the failures of the past and act quickly and decisively to implement the important changes” recommended in the royal commission’s report.

12.15am GMT

The chair of the Victorian mental health care royal commission, Penny Armitage, has spoken today following the release of the rather damning report into the state’s system.

The mental health system has catastrophically failed to live up to expectations and is woefully unprepared for current and future challenges.

The 2019-20 severe bushfire season and the Covid-19 pandemic have shone further light on the pressures of the system.

12.09am GMT

Eight teenagers and an octogenarian nun have head to an Australian court this morning to launch what they hope will prove to be a landmark case – one that establishes the federal government’s duty of care in protecting future generations from a worsening climate crisis.

If successful, the people behind the class action believe it may set a precedent that stops the government approving new fossil fuel projects.

Related: ‘A duty of care’: Australian teenagers take their climate crisis plea to court

Related: Teenagers taking the Australian government to court over climate change

12.06am GMT

A spokesman for Queensland SES is giving an update on the cyclone situation now.

He said it’s expected to be a calmer day than Monday:

Weather-wise for our region, in particular, Cassowary Coast, Cairns, and the northern parts of the coast, we’re not anticipating to see any of the weather that occurred yesterday.

State Emergency Service had 127 jobs in total. They’re still working their way through those. Some are completed and some we’re still working on. The majority of those were impacted by trees, so trees impacted houses or, unfortunately, impacted and brought down power lines, therefore, causing a large outage of power across the whole region which Ergon is still working on at this stage.

12.00am GMT

This is just in but Australian music industry icon Michael Gudinski has died suddenly overnight.

11.44pm GMT

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has had a hearty dig at Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for requests for an extension of jobkeeper for tourism operators in her state.

In a Courier-Mail opinion piece, Frydenberg has accused the Queensland government of not pulling its weight when it comes to Covid-19 supports. The federal government has generally taken the position that it’s Queensland’s own fault its tourism operators are struggling because of their hard approach to borders.

No amount of grandstanding and petty politicking by the Queensland Premier will detract from the indisputable fact that when it comes to the economic response in Queensland, the Morrison Government has done the bulk of the heavy lifting.

11.32pm GMT

Cyclone Niran has 85km/h winds and 120km/h gusts as it slowly tracks north-east about 235km north-east of Cairns this morning, leaving homes without power and causing flooding in some areas.

The Bureau of Meteorology says it will continue intensifying over the next day or two.

The cyclone is expected to continue moving slowly to the northeast during today, before becoming slow-moving or drifting back slowly to the west this evening into Wednesday.

11.22pm GMT

“The present system is not designed or equipped to support the diverse needs of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters, let alone to cope with unforeseen pressures that may arise.” https://t.co/zWBT9eOg7F

11.20pm GMT

Andrew Leigh, the federal Labor MP for Fenner in the ACT has been asked about the allegations of historic rape by a current cabinet minister while speaking to the 2SM radio station this morning, calling for a full investigation:

The Prime Minister needs to live by the words that he uttered when the issue of sexual assault in Parliament House came up, saying that we need to take this seriously. And if he does that, then we need a full investigation of what’s gone on and potentially the minister should also stand aside during the course of that investigation.

11.18pm GMT

As that lock-up has just finished, here are the broad strokes of that report from AAP:

Victoria’s mental health system cannot meet the needs of the people it’s designed to support and a complete rebuild is necessary, a royal commission says.

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Despite the goodwill and hard work of many people, Victoria’s mental health system has deteriorated for a multitude of reasons and over the course of many years.

We heard from people and their families, at times in harrowing detail, about the impacts of being turned away from services at their darkest hour, and the sometimes tragic consequences of this.

11.03pm GMT

Speaking of Victoria, perhaps we will hear more about this slower vaccine roll out at the press conference today.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews and the Minister for Mental Health, James Merlino, will hold a press conference at 12:30pm #springst

11.02pm GMT

It seems Victoria’s Covid-19 vaccinations are rolling out slowly, with less than a third of the supplied doses being administered.

According to federal figures, only 30 per cent of Victoria’s doses were injected in the first week of the vaccination program, compared to 74 per cent of New South Wales’ doses.

We just think there’s a bit of a need for the commonwealth to share more information, to be a bit more transparent…

“We were quite disturbed to hear that there had been cold chain breaches that saw this very precious Pfizer vaccine essentially wasted.

10.50pm GMT

NSW MP Rose Jackson says she will bring racially charged comments made to local councillor Kun Huang to the NSW attorney general tomorrow.

Huang, who is Chinese Australia, publishing a screenshot of the email, which is filled with anti-Asian sentiments and slurs, described it as “repulsive and disgusting”.

I will be raising this in budget estimates tomorrow with the attorney general. This is why we have s93Z of the Crimes Act. This kind of hate speech is illegal in NSW and I’m so glad Kun has been brave enough to come forward and report to police.

10.46pm GMT

I don’t know about you but I have been obsessed with Calla Wahlquist’s WA election coverage. This is from her profile on opposition leader Zak Kirkup:

Sixteen days before the state election, Western Australia’s opposition leader, Zak Kirkup, conceded defeat. As the doors opened to early voting booths last week, he said what had been obvious for months: the Liberal party was not going to win and needed to work hard just to save the furniture.

Related: WA election: Zak Kirkup hopes to save at least one piece of the Libs’ furniture – his seat

10.34pm GMT

I told you before that the prime minister held a rather heated press conference yesterday after giving media only 30 minutes’ notice when a damning report following the royal commission into aged care was released.

(Traditionally you would have a full lockup situation as occurs before the budget.)

.@anneconnollyabc asks @ScottMorrisonMP which of the reports and recommendations from the #AgedCareRC his government would take onboard. #abc730 pic.twitter.com/RdQbT8T0i6

10.23pm GMT

A dark omen …

Craig Kelly finally got released from his “seven-day Facebook ban” after nearly three weeks all up

“I’m back and 100% independent” with a Rambo meme and promising even more of that premium hydroxychloroquine content pic.twitter.com/JMRP96bC7u

10.21pm GMT

I mentioned before that another 25 asylum seekers are set to be released from detention in Brisbane. Here is a bit more information on that situation via AAP.

The Refugee Action Coalition says refugees brought to Australia for medical treatment under now repealed medical evacuation laws will be released today.

10.11pm GMT

Nine news Europe correspondent Sophie Walsh says the man who attacked her live on air in 2020 has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Walsh was speaking to the Adelaide 6pm news program from Hyde Park in London during a Black Lives Matter protest when a man grabbed her, allegedly shouting threatening religious comments and made stabbing motions with his hands, although did not physically hurt her.

The man who attacked me during a live cross in Hyde Park in London was sentenced overnight to two years, four months jail. Thank you to everyone who reached out at the time and checked in since. Your kindness meant a lot to me

10.03pm GMT

New laws are set to be introduced into Victorian parliament this week which aim to prevent offenders or people responsible for causing a death having the right to make decisions about their victim’s grave or memorial, according to the Herald Sun.

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The family of slain Melbourne mother Karen Ristevski has pushed for a law that stops jailed husband, Borce, keeping control of her grave.

9.55pm GMT

An Australian senator will seek support from fellow upper house members to recognise China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority as genocide, after similar parliamentary motions passed in Canada and the Netherlands.

The proposed motion – placed on the Senate’s notice paper for 15 March – looms as a test for the major parties at a time when Australia should join the international community in taking a stand, according to the South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick.

Related: Australian senator calls to recognise China’s treatment of Uighurs as genocide

9.50pm GMT

Police are continuing to scour beaches on the NSW south coast for traces of remains of alleged Sydney fraudster Melissa Caddick, reports the AAP.

Remains have been located at three separate beaches starting with Caddick’s decaying foot which washed ashore south of Tathra on 21 February.

9.48pm GMT

I mentioned the aged care royal commission before but, if you are still finding it a little confusing, Elias Visontay has broken down all the major recommendations for you.

You can get up to date right here:

Related: From funding to a right to care: the aged care royal commission’s key recommendations

9.26pm GMT

Twenty-five more medevac refugees are being released on bridging visas in Brisbane this morning.

Twenty-three people will be released from the Kangaroo Point facility and two from Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation.

9.10pm GMT

Looks like people in Cairns might be in for some rough weather this morning with residents bracing for winds of up to 100km/h.

This has been caused by the formation of a tropical cyclone off the coast. Luckily Cyclone Niran is moving north-east so isn’t currently expected to hit land.

Tropical #CycloneNiran has developed NE of #Cairns this morning. The cyclone is moving slowly northeast, away from the coast, and is not expected to cross the coast. Heavy rain, gale winds and abnormally high tides possible. https://t.co/nKG7Lb7Bfh pic.twitter.com/y5Ul7x7KYQ

9.06pm GMT

Good news! No Covid-19 cases in Victoria today.

Yesterday there were no new cases reported. 13,525 test results were received. Thanks for getting tested – #EveryTestHelps.

More later: https://t.co/2vKbgKHFvv #COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/nxweDyyOdM

8.58pm GMT

Another thing to look out for today is the continuation of the Juukan Gorge inquiry.

The International Council for Monuments and Sites and Central Land Council are set to give evidence in today’s hearings about the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves in the Pilbara region of Western Australia by mining giant Rio Tinto.

8.54pm GMT

Just in case you haven’t been watching The Crown and forgot that we have a monarch, here is some slightly cute Queen news this morning.

Lizzie herself has appeared via Zoom to meet with the South Australian premier Steven Marshall and governor Hieu Van Le.

I would think possibly it might be quite alarming to suddenly see it out of the window. You’d think, ‘gracious, has she arrived here unexpectedly!’

8.43pm GMT

Anyone else remember that the former finance minister Mathias Cormann has been gunning for the top OECD spot?

Well, looks like the campaigning might pay off, as he is now one of the final two candidates in the international race to become the next Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development secretary-general.

8.35pm GMT

Jeremy Samuel says he met the woman who has alleged she was raped by a cabinet minister in January 1988 during that same year.

“I was her friend,” Samuel told Guardian Australia on Monday. “I just want to say that my friend was an incredibly smart, witty, talented and capable person.”

Related: ‘She was a very credible person,’ says friend of woman who claims minister raped her in 1988

8.32pm GMT

Good morning, Matilda Boseley here to battle the day’s news with you.

And excitingly I’m going to be around a lot more from now on, with you most non-sitting weeks morning before passing you back into the capable hands of Amy Remeikis on the days the politicians sit down to business in parliament.

Continue reading…



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