Karen Andrews, the shadow home affairs minister, is speaking to ABC radio about the decision that has been taken by government to launch a rescue mission for Australian women and children trapped in Syrian detention camps.
It’s a move she decided against when she was the minister responsible in government.
She tells ABC Radio she believes the decision is “very concerning” and that she wasn’t prepare to bring them home for three reasons.
She wasn’t prepared to risk Australian officials going into Syria to extract these people from the camps. She was also concerned about the radicalisation of the women and children, and the risk of them back to Australia. She said it posed an unnecessary risk and an enormous cost to be supervised in the community.
Does she accept it’s accept it’s Australia’s responsibility to bring its citizens back home?
Andrews emphasises the “women went there by choice and made their own decisions to be in Syria”.
They were complicit in the role they were expected to play … to support Isis and the foreign fighters there. That was the view at the time and I’ve seen nothing to alter my view.
Andrews believes they “absolutely should be” subject to significant surveillance and control upon their return to Australia.
Flood warning for the Snowy River
Reactions to Syrian rescue mission stress children’s safety is paramount
Environment minister Tanya Plibersek this morning spoke to the Seven Network about the government’s decision to launch a rescue mission for women and children trapped in Syrian detention camps.
Plibersek said the government will be following the advice of national security agencies, and stressed the families will require counselling.
We’ve got about 40 Australian kids living in one of the most dangerous places on earth in a refugee camp.
Some of the women, some of the mothers, were taken there as little more than children themselves and married off to IS fighters. Some of them tricked. Some of them forced to go there.
When they come back to Australia, I think it’s going to be very important that the children, in particular, receive counselling, but I think for everybody involved there will be an ongoing expectation that our security and intelligence agencies will stay in contact with them and monitor them.
While the shadow home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, has said the government’s decision is concerning, the opposition immigration spokesman, Dan Tehan, said it appeared the security situation had changed to allow for the repatriation after the reported mission.
Mat Tinkler, the CEO of Save the Children, a humanitarian organisation that has been calling on the government to support the children in these camps, said the repatriation “can’t come soon enough”.
Children have died in these camps.
Australian children are poorly nourished, suffering from untreated shrapnel wounds, and the situation is impacting their mental health.
He told the ABC that when he travelled to the Syrian detention camps, the women guaranteed that they would cooperate with the authorities upon their arrival in Australia.
When I went to the camps in June, I asked the women individually, ‘Are you willing to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities on your arrival?’
They said yes. And they also offered – and this is unprecedented – to have a terrorism control order applied on them by consent. That means every aspect of their life can be monitored by an ankle bracelet, communications monitor, under house arrest effectively.
So there’s no risk that we can’t mitigate with our robust security architecture here in Australia. The biggest risk right now is that one of the Australian children will die if they’re not repatriated from the camps quite urgently.
– with AAP
The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, wants to see lifetime bans imposed on fans who sang fascist songs and made Hitler salutes at Saturday night’s Australia Cup final in Sydney.
Speaking on Monday morning in Greenacre, he condemned the behaviour and said it had no place in NSW.
What we saw the other day was terrible. It was absolutely horrendous.
It has no place, not just at sporting games, but anywhere in our state.
If they are caught, there should be life bans in place.
Once they are caught, they are not going back to a game in this state.
He said anyone caught doing similar things in the future should also be immediately barred.
Brazil election getting closer to a final result
We love our blogs at the Guardian, if you haven’t noticed, and you might want to check out what’s happening with our Brazil election live blog as the final result is getting closer.
The frontrunner is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, who became the country’s first working-class president in 2002. He stepped down after two terms in 2010 with approval ratings close to 90%, bolstered by the prosperity off the back of the continent’s commodity boom.
His opponent is the far-right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, who, since 2019, has led an administration marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticised handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.
It looks like Lula is ahead, but he will struggle to get the 50% required to prevent a runoff vote.
Brunswick scooter riders on notice from this morning
Victorian police are ramping up their focus on e-scooters riders in the Brunswick area, as they say the mode of transport is increasing in popularity among locals but so too are the frequency of incidents.
The operation led by Fawkner Highway Patrol starts this morning and will see police engage with early morning commuters to ensure compliance with legislation around e-scooters.
In a statement, police said:
The concerted focus comes following several incidents in the surrounding areas involving e-scooters, including one that left a man with life threatening injuries in Pascoe Vale on 22 September.
Investigators were told a man was riding an e-scooter along Cornwall Road when it appeared he lost control of the scooter while travelling over a speed-hump at around 8.20am. The rider was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and the investigation into the collision is ongoing.
Brunswick is not an area included in the Department of Transport’s trial across the City of Melbourne, the City of Yarra, and the City of Port Phillip.
Current legislation deems any non-trial e-scooter that can travel over 10km/h or emits over 200 watts is illegal and cannot be ridden on public roads, bike lanes or footpaths.
High-powered e-scooters are considered motor vehicles and riders can attract a $925 fine for using an unregistered vehicle, with e-scooters currently unable to be registered and ridden legally on roads.
Rain, rain go away – please
We’ve all heard about a “threepeat” La Niña and many of us have got used to Indian Ocean dipoles* lifting the odds of above-average rainfall for most of Australia.
In the next week and more, we’ll see those odds being realised in the form of another bout of rain in the east.
Swollen rivers across the eastern states are going to swell a bit more – with flooding likely in some areas.
Near Sydney, Warragamba Dam, easily the biggest in the city’s system, has started to spill again, as will most of the other dams.
Whether that triggers flooding again in the benighted Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley seems a little unlikely on current forecasts.
Still, Richmond on the Hawkesbury section of the river has a BoM prediction of 30mm or so for both Saturday and Sunday, so there will be some damp spells ahead.
As we noted the other day, September itself was another relatively wet month.
The average rainfall of 33.62mm across the country was less than September in 2010 and 2016, but before that you have to go back to 1917 to find a wetter September.
All that moisture in the soil and the cloud cover tends to moderate temperatures, as we saw last month:
But there was quite a difference between days and nights, with maximums relatively cool (even cold) in parts of the country. Minimums, though, were typically warmer than average.
Global heating, of course, nudges the background temperatures higher so the chances of unusual warmth, versus historical levels, continue to climb.
*The Indian Ocean dipole measures how sea-surface temperatures on the west and eastern parts of the ocean basin compare with each other. The current spell is in its “negative phase”, with the east relatively warm, increasing the odds of more convection and north-west cloud bands forming, channeling more rain toward the nation’s south-east.
Victorian government pledges new Gippsland hospital if re-elected
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has this morning announced his government will build a new West Gippsland hospital, based in Drouin East, if re-elected in November.
The Andrews government has pledged between $610-675m for more beds, a bigger emergency department and more operating theatres.
Regulators want banks to explain refusals
Australia’s banks could be forced to explain to customers their reasons for refusing services under proposed reforms by the nation’s financial regulatory agencies body, AAP reports.
The Council of Financial Regulators has recommended four main policy responses to address the problem of de-banking, where a bank declines to offer or withdraws banking services to a customer.
In a joint statement, the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and financial services minister, Stephen Jones, welcomed the paper, saying the issue mainly affected the financial technology, digital currency exchange and remittance sectors. The statement reads:
De-banking can increase the risks for affected businesses by forcing them to conduct transactions exclusively in cash.
The government is committed to promoting innovation and competition in the financial services sector and will continue to work with affected customers.
Collecting de-banking data, new transparency and fairness measures, published guidance on risk tolerance to affected sectors by the major four banks and funding targeted education are the key reforms.
Banks would be required to document their reason for refusing a customer and provide those reasons to the individual or business.
Those customers would then be pointed to the bank’s dispute resolution process and given at least 30 days’ notice before services were closed off to them.
The research calls for the “lack of systemic data on the extent and nature of de-banking practices” to be addressed through voluntary data collection by the big four.
The government said it would formally respond to the recommendations at a later date.
Sydney’s main dam starting to spill again
Nationals embark on ‘Listening Tour’ to win back regional women and youth
The Nationals leader, David Littleproud, has spoken to Sky News this morning about this “Listening Tour” the Nationals tour are embarking on, starting in Mildura tomorrow before moving to the NSW north coast and getting to Queensland by the end of the year.
Women and youth are set to be the focus of this tour, because Littleproud says despite investing money there has been a lack of connection between the party and these stakeholders.
He says the Coalition lost the trust of women not just in metropolitan areas, but also rural areas. Littleproud admits:
We didn’t handle Brittany Higgins all that well. In fact, we handed it poorly.
While the Nationals didn’t lose the heartland seats the Liberals did at the last election, their safe margins came under major threat.
Guardian Australia’s rural editor Gabrielle Chan wrote this very insightful piece after the May election on how community-based independents and regional migration saw huge margins slim down in many electorates like Nicholls and Cowper.
‘If Labor doesn’t perform … there will be community efforts against them’: Simon Holmes à Court
Simon Holmes à Court’s Climate 200 organisation backed nine independent candidates at the last federal election who all won their seats, in one of the most notable features of the May election.
Holmes à Court has published a book about his experience, The Big Teal, and was interviewed about it on ABC Radio this morning. Why did he decide to write the book?
There was a lot of misinformation during the campaign about the movement, so I wanted to correct some of that, but I also wanted to situate Climate 200 and myself as part of the much greater movement … which started over a decade ago when Cathy McGowan took on Sophie Mirabella in the seat of Indi.
Asked about the impact Climate 200 might have at the upcoming Victorian state election, he said the state’s donation laws make it harder for independent candidates.
The Victorian laws have done a great job in removing the nexus between big business and politics, and removing the opportunity for quid pro quo. While that’s good, they’ve made it much harder for new entrants to come in. In a way we’ve entrenched a two party system. It is more difficult, but there are four very good candidates Climate 200 is supporting.
Will Climate 200 be targeting Labor safe seats at the next federal election?
We don’t target seats. The question is: will the community stand up and which seats will they stand up in?
If Labor doesn’t perform on these issues, if they frustrate the electorate on these issues, then they can be assured there will be community efforts against them.
We’ll see this movement grow.
Fracking in Lake Eyre the ‘height of folly’, report suggests
The expansion of fracking in the Lake Eyre basin would be the “absolute height of folly” and its high-cost, high-emissions unconventional gas could rapidly create stranded assets, a report has found.
The basin – home to one of the world’s last major free-flowing desert river systems – sprawls over nearly one-sixth of the Australian continent, covering parts of the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
Further RBA rate rises likely to accelerate property price declines
Real estate prices are falling in most of Australia (Darwin is a holdout!), according to CoreLogic. We have this version of its monthly report here:
The rate of declines eased slightly in September from August but CoreLogic reckons that downward tilt will steepen again if the RBA keeps raising rates.
There’s always a lot of focus on home values rather than rents because about a third of the population has paid off their mortgages and another third are paying them off.
But for renters – who make up an increasing share of the population – the arrow is still pointed upwards.
Compared with a year ago, rents are about 10%. Interestingly, for units average rents are up 11.8% and for houses 9.4%, according to Tim Lawless, research director for CoreLogic.
For September alone, the rise was 1.1% for units and 0.5% for houses, indicating there’s a switch towards higher-density residences.
Lawless says average rents are about $50 a week higher than a year ago, which suggests a “ceiling” might be reached in terms of what many people can afford.
Tracking Australia’s progress on the climate crisis and the consequences of global heating
Guardian Australia’s data magicians, Nick Evershed and Josh Nicholas, together with climate and environment editor Adam Morton, have put together this fantastic interactive which tracks Australia’s progress on the climate crisis.
While terms like carbon budget and emissions targets tend to evaporate in the ether of political discussion, this data blog visualises Australia’s contribution to the climate emergency, and tracks our country’s efforts to address it in a really concrete way.
Have a look and play around with the settings to understand things like how excluding emissions from land use and forestry can change the picture of Australia’s emissions.
Victorian schools get $7.8m for disability needs
More than 40 Victorian schools will be upgraded and made more inclusive for students with disabilities as part of a $7.89m funding boost by the state government, AAP reports.
Indoor and outdoor learning spaces will be improved to enable better teaching practices and provide opportunities for sensory experiences and peer socialisation.
Play areas will also be transformed with new facilities and stimulating and accessible equipment.
Education minister Natalie Hutchins said:
We’re ensuring every child and young person in Victoria can meet their potential and access great education – regardless of their background, abilities or differences.
Among the schools to receive funding are Briagolong primary school, which has been allocated $200,000 for a new inclusive playground.
Ripponlea primary school will also receive $177,834 for a dedicated outdoor inclusive learning space and Stawell West primary school will use $67,519 in funding to upgrade a new indoor area.
The Victorian government launched the inclusive schools fund in 2015 and, since then, more than 340 creative projects to build inclusive learning spaces and inclusive playgrounds have been announced.
The government has invested $12.8bn to building new schools and more than 1,850 school upgrades over the past eight years.
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