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Second man dies in Victorian flood waters

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has stepped up for a media conference where he has confirmed a second man has died in the state’s flooding.

It is my sad duty to confirm that the body of a 65-year-old man has been found near Nathalia. We send our deepest condolences to his family, our thoughts and prayers are with him and all in that community.

Police will provide further details.

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Caitlin Cassidy

Echuca students sandbag the town hall instead of studying for VCE

Year 12 students in the border township of Echuca were meant to be celebrating their last day of school today.

Instead, they’re out on the main street, sandbagging to fortify the historic town hall.

Cleo Oberin out with her classmates and boots and a shovel:

I tried studying the other day but your mind isn’t in it. It’s a bit weird right now it’s all up in the air … nobody knows what’s going to happen … we’re just in a bit of limbo. Do we study? Help? You can’t help but help. Everyone’s here. But I keep thinking everyone’s in the same boat. We’re all in this together, you can’t help but feel down but when everyone comes out like this, it’s heartwarming.

Macey Barber, Sam Deola and Cleo Oberin pose in front of the Echuca town hall in front of other volunteers as they prepare sandbags
Year 12 students from St Josephs college Echuca packing sandbags instead of studying for the VCE exams. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The St Joseph’s college students still haven’t been told if their final VCE exams will kick off from next week as scheduled. The school has been shut since Monday and will remain so until at least the end of the week.

On Tuesday, Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Curriculum of Assessment Authority and the Department of Education and Training would automatically make derived exam scores available for students directly affected by flooding.

With the Murray River predicted to peak at levels higher than the 1993 flood from Friday, though, studying wasn’t at the forefront of the students’ minds.

Year 12 student Sam Deola said plenty of his classmates could be at home readying themselves for a possible exam period but it was the “spirit of the town” for them to help out instead.

Obviously it’s quite a bummer our schooling is over and we don’t know what’s happening with exams. But when you see houses half underwater, you see families suffering, every person in this community would give up their own time to come out and help out. You can’t just sit back and watch people suffer and you can’t see people doing hard work by themselves. There was no chance I was sitting in my room studying. I think it’s pretty special, there’s hundreds of people out here, it brings out the best in people, tough times.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Employers say they’re ‘in the dark’ on industrial relations changes

The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) has responded to details of Labor’s new industrial relations bill, criticising the government for leaving employers in the dark.

The workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has said the bill will ban pay secrecy clauses, enshrine gender pay equity as an objective of the Fair Work Act, and set up two pay equity and, care and community services specialist panels in the Fair Work Commission.

Guardian Australia has confirmed it will also include reforms to expand multi-employer bargaining, which was the most controversial element Labor adopted at its September jobs and skills summit.

The AiGroup chief executive, Innes Willox, said it had been consulted “but nobody on the employer side has seen any detail”, adding that it was an “enormous surprise” the bill had now passed cabinet.

He told Radio National:

There has never been any framework put forward as part of this. There has never been any discussion around what exactly is being proposed because employers haven’t been told what’s being proposed. So, we’re very much in the dark here with a less than ideal process, and we’ll find out a bit more, but it’s very much a fait accompli. So, I think at the very least, you could say there’s deep frustration among employers and employer groups at how the government has run this process. So, we’re a bit in the dark exactly as to what the government is proposing because they have’t shared anything with us in terms of detail.

Willox said multi-employer bargaining will result in “more strikes and less jobs”, calling for “significant protections for employers” who want to opt out.

Sydney’s ‘room with a poo’ has been leased

After just six days on the market, the lease for the Sydney studio apartment asking $520 a week for the privilege of having the toilet in the kitchen has been snapped up.

A Surry Hills studio with a toilet in the supposed kitchen renting out for $520 a week in October 2022
A Surry Hills studio with a toilet in the supposed kitchen renting out for $520 a week in October 2022 Photograph: Raine & Home

Domain now says the listing for the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills has been “leased by advertiser”.

That’s the Sydney rental market for you.

You can read more about the apartment from my colleague Mostafa Rachwani:

Earthquake hits Mansfield in central Victoria

As if Victoria didn’t have enough on its plate, the town of Mansfield was shaken by an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.4 this morning.

More than 100 people reported feeling the tremor at 9:01am, the ABC reports rattling windows as neighbouring communities dealt with a messy flood-clean up and braced for more rain.

Mansfield resident Barb told ABC Statewide Mornings that she did not feel tremors as acutely as she did in the September 2021 earthquake.

It was just two bangs that I heard and I went out to see what was happening, because I didn’t even think of an earthquake.

We had two big thumps – the cat went for her life.

Region: Mansfield, VIC
Mag: 3.4
UTC: 2022-10-18 22:01:41
Lat: -36.94, Lon: 146.14
Dep: 5km
For more info and updates, or if you felt this earthquake, go to https://t.co/uBMKNlPPCl

— EarthquakesGA (@EarthquakesGA) October 18, 2022

Goulburn River has peaked at McCoy’s bridge

Wiebusch concludes:

A little further along the Goulburn River at McCoy’s Bridge, it did peak last night at 10.58 metres and we’re not expecting to see any further impacts there as a result of that.

And particularly on the Broken Creek for the communities of Numurkah and Nathalia, we know there’s been some concern about the discussion around peaks of 2010 and 2011 in other communities.

That’s not what we’re expecting for Numurkah and Nathalia at this time. All indications are that the flood levels on Broken Creek will reach a minor to moderate level and there are community meetings occurring in both those communities today where residents can get further information.

And finally on the Hopkins River in the south of the state, at Alansford, good news overnight it’s peaked and not caused any impact along the way.

Causeway between Mooroopna and Shepparton to reopen when waters recede


Across then into the north-east of the state, on the Goulburn River, some good news this morning for residents in and around Mooroopna where the flood waters we believe will have receded enough that we’ll be able to lift the emergency warning there this afternoon for residents in and around Mooroopna to start moving about again.

And we’re continuing to reassess the causeway between Mooroopna and Shepparton which we do expect may be able to open either later this afternoon into this evening which will reconnect Mooroopna with Shepparton for supplies and the like.

In Shepparton and Kialla West itself, we’re expecting that the major flood level will have reduced enough by Thursday into Friday, that a range of residents will not longer be under threat and by Saturday we’re hoping that the water will have receded significantly around all residential properties in that Shepparton and Kialla West area in particular.

The substation at Mooroopna itself now that these waters are receding are expected to be able to be at a low enough level we can start monitoring and getting that service back online but as the Premier has indicated, temporary power has been put in place for all residents in Mooroopna.

Half of the homes in Barham, NSW could be affected by flooding


Further upstream then to Terambari, Barham and the like are to see major flooding in the week, around Barham, we’re expecting about 50% of the homes could become under pressure and we’ll come back to you in the coming days around what that means for further along the Murray from Swan Hill through to Mildura where we’re expecting to see major flooding and again community members need to start tuning in and being alert to that potential over the coming weeks. So it’s not something that’s going to happen in the next couple of days, but it will be something over the next couple of weeks in particular.

Campaspe River peaks at Echuca: SES


If we go across further downstream … to Echuca where we have seen the Campaspe peak, we’re now going to see the Murray River coming to play over the next 24 hours in particular. There is an evacuation emergency warning out for Echuca at this point in time.

Relief centre at Echuca still has capacity, but as a contingency we also opened a relief centre in Deniliquin in partnership with New South Wales should members need to cross over into New South Wales for that relief.

The other good news is we still have supply chains in to Echuca at this time so being able to get food and other supplies into Echuca is still possible. But please be aware the roads are closed to the general public at this point in time.

There’s been a lot of conversation around the levee that has been built in and around the Echuca township, around about 2.5km to 3km in length. That came about as a result of the incident controller working with the catchment management authority, local government, Victoria police and others to assess what options might be available to protect that town.

The option that you have now seen on the ground there is the option that was preferred by all of those agencies and now has been implemented and, yes, that will see a small number of properties outside of that levee also potentially be impacted.

Campaspe River receding in Rochester


If we go across on to the Campaspe River at Rochester, we heard some concerns this morning that there may have been indication that rivers were rising there. That is simply not the case.

The river continues to recede at Rochester on the Campaspe and to the point where we yesterday we were able to take some busloads of residents back into that area, supported by Red Cross and others, to assess some of that initial damage that had occurred in Rochester township.

The interesting part was the number of people … was actually higher on the way out. A number of community members chose to come back out with our Red Cross and emergency services yesterday, knowing that it’s going to be some time now before it is safe to return.

So again the emergency warning that remains for Rochester is not because of rising waters, it is because of the risk in the local community at this time that it’s not safe to return.

50-60 homes in Kerang expected to be inundated as evacuation orders imminent: SES


There’s an emergency warning out on the Loddon River for Kerang and the surrounding communities from Kerang south to the north.

We’re expecting at this stage that the highway will be closed later this evening. So whilst there’s an important warning out at the moment to move to higher ground, we are expecting that this afternoon there will be an evacuation message for the Kerang community alerting people if they choose to stay, you will be isolated for at least seven, if not more, days in post the peak which we’re expecting on Thursday which is at 78 metres, but again tonight, Tuesday night, the highway will be closed in and out of Kerang.

So people need to heed that warning and make their decisions now about moving. We aren’t expecting to see inundation in and around the Kerang township behind the levee at this point in time, but outside the levee, we are expecting there’s around 50 to 60 properties that could become inundated as a result of the flooding along the Loddon River.

Again, there’s another community meeting in Kerang today and we’d ask people to connect to that for the latest information.

Major flooding expected at Horsham, but no properties to be inundated


Looking at our flooding situation across the state over these next couple of days, starting in the west of the state on the Wimmera River at Horsham, we’re now forecasting a peak at the bureau at 3.45 which is still at that major range but has reduced a little of what we have previously. We will see some inundation in and around the showgrounds and local streets but we’re not expecting any properties to be inundated by flooding.

If we come across to the Loddon River. That’s one of the areas of our key focus for today and in to the coming days. Particularly around Pyramid Hill where there’s another community meeting today. Communities to understand that overland flow that will be occurring and also the Buloke Creek which will be reaching major flood level.

Victoria’s SES has received 400 requests for help and conducted 26 rescues

Tim Wiebusch of the Victorian SES:

The number of requests we have had in the last 24 hours. So just on 400 requests for assistance and around 26 rescues. So it is pleasing that people do seem to be heeding just at this time that message not to drive through flood waters, but we can’t again emphasise enough over the coming days we’re still going to see roads being cut, there is still plenty of roads that are closed, please do not drive around road closed signs and attempt to drive through flood water. It may be the last decision you make.

Not expecting a return to major flooding: BoM

Kevin Parkins, a senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, has now stepped up to the mic to give an update on Victoria’s weather forecast:

The expected rainfall over coming days is not expected to be anywhere near as widespread or as intense or as heavy and as a result of that we’re not expecting a return to major flooding. There’s obviously major flooding occurring in the landscape at the moment with pinchpoints along the Murray River, a real concern as you’re aware, but let’s get into the detail about the current forecast as it stands and what that means particularly for the flood-affected communities.

Today, we’re just expecting thunderstorms in the far north-west of the state. No rainfall across the flooded areas in the north or in central parts. On Thursday, we have got showers and thunderstorms forecast. I can tell you is that the thunderstorm forecast across the northern districts is not expected to produce severe weather. While there might be some local moderate or heavy falls, the thunderstorm activity should be pretty isolated in nature.

The concern around the weather does increase, though, on the Friday and the Saturday … we’re expecting widespread shower activity across the state, rainfall totals of about 2mm to 10mm, doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could cause some local river rises across the northern plains but very minor in nature.

Probably the concern over those two days is more the thunderstorm activity which could produce higher falls of 30mm or more with the greatest threat being around that north central parts of Victoria and the north-east. So that’s in the upper reaches of the Goulburn, the Broke, the King and the Ovens [rivers], and we’ll be watching that thunderstorm activity pretty closely and issuing warnings for more of a flash flood risk rather than heavy rainfall over a wider area.

I have some good news about Sunday – there was some concern we could see some widespread heavy falls on the Sunday. That is now off the table. We’re just looking at some shower activity across the state. So that will be updated with the official forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology as the day unfolds.

Flood-affected Victorian communities to receive $4.4m for mental health

Andrews’ final announcement relates to addressing the mental health impacts of the natural disaster:

We know that this flood event will have very significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of communities right across regional Victoria, particularly in the north. We have invested very strongly in mental health, but there’s always more that can be done.

Today I can confirm another $4.4m package of mental health support for affected communities. During the pandemic, people will recall we established 30 mental health hubs across the state to provide those wellbeing and support services. They will receive a further boost of $1.5m.

You can walk in or you can make an appointment but they’re there for regional and rural communities all the time and certainly during this flood event. It is really important that people be able to access those services and some of them may well be flood-impacted themselves but those hubs are in places like, for instance, the Horsey, Bendigo, Benalla, Shepparton and indeed when you think of Maribyrnong flooding they here in Kensington as well.

Either walk in or make a phone call, if you choose to make a phone call, 1300 375 330 to talk to someone, you don’t need a referral, you can just ring up and walk in and we’ll provide you with all the care and support that you need.

On top of those hub, mental health services will also get a boost of some $2m to deliver care within their local communities. $400,000 will be provided to impacted neighbourhood houses and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as well as part of that recovery process to organise events to bring the community together, that sense of grief and loss, but also healing and being as connected as we possibly can be. That’s never been more important.

Victoria pledges $54m for flood-affected small businesses

Andrews goes on to say small businesses hit by flooding will also receive government support:

Small businesses as well are central to so many of these regional communities. And indeed communities right across the state. We’re very pleased to be able to confirm we’ll provide $54m in small business immediate flood relief. They are at the heart of those communities and we’ll stand with them as well at a very difficult time.

$5,000 direct payments, they are one-offs and again they are an initial payment and we will continue to work with the commonwealth government, with local communities, with small businesses, to look at further support that we can provide. This is all about immediate relief, clean-up, repurchasing of stock, repair of equipment, replacement of equipment. Again, an initial payment, there will be more, that will come at a later point.

To access those payments, 13 22 15, a number that many in the small business sector will be familiar with given relief similar relief grants were provided in many different waves over the pandemic.

We’re also establishing dedicated business relief service, a dedicated business relief service for traders. It’s all about practical advice and support. It’s pretty overwhelming when you think about what’s occurring and has occurred in some of these communities. So any support we can provide is really important. Specialist mentors will also be there to help, small business owners navigate their way through what can be very complex despite our best efforts quite complex grant programs, that support is very important.

$10,000 one-off payment for Victorian farmers

Daniel Andrews has announced the state government will be providing $10,000 one-off payments to farmers affected by flooding, as well as subsiding transport costs and offering concessional loans.

I said yesterday we would be back with you with some information in relation to the ag sector. Today I can announce a $19.5m initial package. This is the first package and there will be more. This is us getting in as quickly as possible. There’ll then be further support under the DRFA partnership arrangements with the commonwealth government, but we’ll leave those announcements as joined announcements a little bit later on.

This is all about clean-up and about support for those who are without income and are in the most uncertain of times. Primary producers have been directly affected by these needs have access to a one-off direct payment of $10,000 to support clean-up, re-establishment, and all the other efforts that they’ll need to go to over coming weeks and months.

As I said, this is an initial payment and we’ll get these out the door as fast as we possibly can but just the certainty of knowing that this is coming will be a comfort. Vic.gov.au is the place to go for details about that.

We’ll provide subsidised transport. So we’ll subsidise transport up to 50% to help farmers to transport emergency water and fodder, and stock, whether they’re going to agistment, sales or abattoirs.

Finally agriculture, primary production, will also be able to access concessional loans of up to $250,000, those loans are stretched out at a reduced interest rate over five years and, again, an important part of our support for that very directly-affected sector.

Our agriculture sector is such an important part of our economic outlook, our prospects, so important to communities, flood-affected and indeed well and truly beyond. This is the food bowl of our nation and we’ll stand with every farmer, every primary producer, everybody in the agriculture supply chain at this really difficult time.

Second man dies in Victorian flood waters

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has stepped up for a media conference where he has confirmed a second man has died in the state’s flooding.

It is my sad duty to confirm that the body of a 65-year-old man has been found near Nathalia. We send our deepest condolences to his family, our thoughts and prayers are with him and all in that community.

Police will provide further details.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/oct/19/victoria-floods-warnings-daniel-andrews-labor-coalition-albanese-politics Australia news live: second flood death in Victoria as evacuation orders issued in state’s north | Australia news

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