Australia news live: body found in search for missing teen; 26 January citizenship ceremonies no longer mandated for local councils

From 2h ago

Immigration minister scraps rule forcing local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day

Local councils will no longer be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, after Labor has reversed a Morrison government ruling.

SBS’s Finn McHugh reports:

Rules introduced in 2019 under then-prime minister Scott Morrison forced local governments to hold citizenship ceremonies on 26 January or be stripped of their right to conduct them. Mr Morrison at the time said compelling local councils to do so would stop them from “playing politics with Australia Day”.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles on Friday revealed Labor would walk back that restriction but said it remained the government’s “strong expectation” that councils would hold ceremonies on the date.

Councils will now be able to hold ceremonies three days before or after 26 January, in what the government described as a “pragmatic” decision to make processing more efficient.

Mr Giles has also reinstated the rights of the City of Yarra and Darebin City councils to hold ceremonies. Both were stripped of that right in 2017 by then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who blasted them as “out of step with Australian values”.

For some Australians, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 26 January is not a day of celebration. It is seen as a day that commemorates the 1788 arrival of British settlers at Sydney Cove where they raised the Union Jack. For Indigenous people, it remains a day of mourning and is referred to as “Invasion Day” by some.

It comes after earlier this month Merri-bek became the third Melbourne council to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on 26 January. You can read more about that from Adeshola Ore:

Updated at 16.20 EST

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There were 24,652 new cases in the weekly reporting period and 26 people are in intensive care.

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The number of cases and deaths are both down on the previous week’s figures.

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This week’s cases have dropped by more than 3,000 since last week’s high of 27,790.

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The 84 deaths recorded are one less than last week’s 85.

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This week we reported 24,652 new cases with a daily average hospital occupancy of 675 and 26 patients in ICU.

84 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/dJZgaM6Rrh

&mdash; VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) December 15, 2022

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There were 40,695 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 37 people are in intensive care.

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Cases have only risen very slightly on last week’s 40,194, indicating the wave is decelerating though not yet ebbing.

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Deaths, which always lag cases, have had a big jump since 48 last week.

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COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 December 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 December:
-40,695 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 16,614 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 24,081 PCR tests.
-74 lives lost pic.twitter.com/YJr14oCFBV

&mdash; NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 15, 2022

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A body has been found in the search for a missing teenager who fell off a boat while fishing at a lake on the Victoria-New South Wales border.

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No formal identification has taken place but police believe it is that of the missing 16-year-old.

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The boy and a friend were fishing in a tinnie on Lake Mulwala, at Yarrawonga, when they were hit by a wave and thrown overboard on Sunday morning.

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A good Samaritan managed to bring one boy to shore using a flotation device but could not find the other.

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The body was found in the lake at about 6.30pm on Thursday, four days after he was last seen.

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A report will be prepared for the coroner.

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– from AAP

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More than a dozen academics, business leaders and social groups will work on a new government taskforce to review welfare payment rates before each budget, and issues for unemployed and disadvantaged Australians.

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The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee will meet for the first time on Friday. It will be chaired by former Labor MP and community services minister Jenny Macklin. On the board are familiar faces including trade union chief Sally McManus, Business Council boss Jennifer Westacott and Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie; academics including Dr Angela Jackson, Prof Peter Whiteford and Prof Ben Phillips; and representatives of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, and Leah Van Poppel, chair of Victorian NDIS Community Advisory.

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The economic inclusion group was set up after a request from senator David Pocock, as a condition for his support in siding with the government on its industrial relations bill.

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers and social services minister Amanda Rishworth said:

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Its primary functions will be to provide advice on economic inclusion including policy settings, systems and structures, and the adequacy, effectiveness and sustainability of income support payments ahead of every federal budget.

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The committee will also look at options to reduce barriers and disincentives to work, including in relation to social security and employment services. Further, it will explore options for tailored responses to address barriers to economic inclusion for long term unemployed and disadvantaged groups, including place-based approaches at the local level.

\n

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The group will meet “at least every quarter” and its findings or recommendations will be publicly released weeks before the May budget.

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However, a statement from the government says the group’s review is “not binding on the government”.

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Chalmers said:

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I’m looking forward to engaging with this really impressive group of people to explore ways to tackle disadvantage in our communities in a responsible, meaningful way.

\n

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Rishworth added it would “give important advice to government in tackling systemic disadvantage and economic inclusion, including examining the adequacy of income support payments”.

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We need to look at addressing complex social problems and entrenched disadvantage in new and innovative ways and this committee will help bring some of the creative solutions to deal with the systems and structures that are barriers for those facing disadvantage.

\n

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Good morning! Natasha May on deck with you now.

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NSW Health have put out a warning overnight not to consume Riviera Farms branded baby spinach following cases of possible food-related toxic reactions.

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To date, nine people from four separate and unrelated households across Sydney have required medical attention after developing poisoning soon after eating the product.

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The impacted baby spinach was sold through Costco with an expiry date of 16 December 2022, the authority said.

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NSW Health have warned:

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The product is not safe to consume and people who have it should throw it out.

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Initial investigations suggest the presence of an accidental contaminant in the food product.

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NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority, as well as other jurisdictions, to investigate the issue further.

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Anyone who is concerned about exposure to the spinach should call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

\n

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NSW Health is urging anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest emergency department. In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

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NSW Health said reported symptoms can be severe, including:

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    \n

  • Delirium or confusion

  • \n

  • Hallucinations

  • \n

  • Dilated pupils

  • \n

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • \n

  • Flushed face

  • \n

  • Blurred vision

  • \n

  • Dry mouth and skin

  • \n

  • Fever

  • \n

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Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the Australian news day.

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This is Martin Farrer getting the day under way and looking at some of the main stories overnight. Natasha May will be here to guide you through the day.

","elementId":"58f70bc4-b0f3-4dee-98f7-c89ee30eee26"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Anthony Albanese has warned the gas industry not to “talk down” its prospects amid furious lobbying against his government’s energy price caps, which passed through parliament yesterday. He has faced some pretty tough criticism this morning with Santos boss Kevin Gallagher calling the plan a “Soviet-style” policy in an interview with the Australian newspaper. Our political editor, Katharine Murphy, says in her column that the policy got through the Senate despite cynical politicking by the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, who seems determined to fire up the climate wars.

","elementId":"3cb5ebd6-2c08-4780-a94f-a4d975b624d3"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The fallout from the Wieambilla shootings is focusing concern on the security threat posed by rightwing extremists and more general anti-government radicals. To this end, Andrew Wallace, the deputy chair of parliament’s intelligence committee, has suggested that “foreign actors” may have tried to fan rightwing extremism around opposition to Covid restrictions in an effort to influence the the May federal election. He points out the link between the Wieambilla shootings and anti-government sentiment, and said May had been the first election where some MPs needed personal security.

","elementId":"adc45717-60eb-4ab6-a322-e0d5c878fe0b"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

And in other news, conservationists have welcomed the reversal of a Coalition government policy to count burning native Australian timber as renewable energy, and the trade minister, Don Farrell, says he’ll be telling the European Union that our history as a migrant nation means they should let us keep calling feta feta and prosecco prosecco after we sign a trade deal. Plus: have you noticed a lot of deer around recently? No, not reindeer. This is serious.

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Key events

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There were 24,652 new cases in the weekly reporting period and 26 people are in intensive care.

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The number of cases and deaths are both down on the previous week’s figures.

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This week’s cases have dropped by more than 3,000 since last week’s high of 27,790.

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The 84 deaths recorded are one less than last week’s 85.

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This week we reported 24,652 new cases with a daily average hospital occupancy of 675 and 26 patients in ICU.

84 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/dJZgaM6Rrh

&mdash; VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) December 15, 2022

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There were 40,695 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 37 people are in intensive care.

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Cases have only risen very slightly on last week’s 40,194, indicating the wave is decelerating though not yet ebbing.

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Deaths, which always lag cases, have had a big jump since 48 last week.

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COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 December 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 December:
-40,695 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 16,614 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 24,081 PCR tests.
-74 lives lost pic.twitter.com/YJr14oCFBV

&mdash; NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 15, 2022

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A body has been found in the search for a missing teenager who fell off a boat while fishing at a lake on the Victoria-New South Wales border.

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No formal identification has taken place but police believe it is that of the missing 16-year-old.

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The boy and a friend were fishing in a tinnie on Lake Mulwala, at Yarrawonga, when they were hit by a wave and thrown overboard on Sunday morning.

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A good Samaritan managed to bring one boy to shore using a flotation device but could not find the other.

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The body was found in the lake at about 6.30pm on Thursday, four days after he was last seen.

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A report will be prepared for the coroner.

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– from AAP

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More than a dozen academics, business leaders and social groups will work on a new government taskforce to review welfare payment rates before each budget, and issues for unemployed and disadvantaged Australians.

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The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee will meet for the first time on Friday. It will be chaired by former Labor MP and community services minister Jenny Macklin. On the board are familiar faces including trade union chief Sally McManus, Business Council boss Jennifer Westacott and Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie; academics including Dr Angela Jackson, Prof Peter Whiteford and Prof Ben Phillips; and representatives of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, and Leah Van Poppel, chair of Victorian NDIS Community Advisory.

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The economic inclusion group was set up after a request from senator David Pocock, as a condition for his support in siding with the government on its industrial relations bill.

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers and social services minister Amanda Rishworth said:

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\n

Its primary functions will be to provide advice on economic inclusion including policy settings, systems and structures, and the adequacy, effectiveness and sustainability of income support payments ahead of every federal budget.

\n

The committee will also look at options to reduce barriers and disincentives to work, including in relation to social security and employment services. Further, it will explore options for tailored responses to address barriers to economic inclusion for long term unemployed and disadvantaged groups, including place-based approaches at the local level.

\n

","elementId":"5c300f2d-cb04-4d26-8919-f4ae74d948f0"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The group will meet “at least every quarter” and its findings or recommendations will be publicly released weeks before the May budget.

","elementId":"af5c406c-bd76-4a25-b28a-3d05e6b6ff09"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

However, a statement from the government says the group’s review is “not binding on the government”.

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Chalmers said:

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I’m looking forward to engaging with this really impressive group of people to explore ways to tackle disadvantage in our communities in a responsible, meaningful way.

\n

","elementId":"868da66b-3562-4ea3-b9cf-f0890b1cd2ad"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Rishworth added it would “give important advice to government in tackling systemic disadvantage and economic inclusion, including examining the adequacy of income support payments”.

","elementId":"2a18e543-2464-4c80-9380-55e2db213557"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.BlockquoteBlockElement","html":"

\n

We need to look at addressing complex social problems and entrenched disadvantage in new and innovative ways and this committee will help bring some of the creative solutions to deal with the systems and structures that are barriers for those facing disadvantage.

\n

","elementId":"d8b5ed01-0ac1-4082-ab4e-adf46832e5bd"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1671135368000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"15.16 EST","blockLastUpdated":1671136785000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"15.39 EST","blockFirstPublished":1671135618000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"15.20 EST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"15.20","title":"Taskforce to review welfare payment rates meets for first time","contributors":[{"name":"Josh Butler","imageUrl":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2022/07/01/Josh_Butler.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=f6e36ddc89d1442611e6b4fe726302d0","largeImageUrl":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2022/07/01/Josh_Butler.png?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=b99fc3ae31423d51324e5f82baea0af0"}],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 18.05 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 14.36 EST"},{"id":"639b7e118f0816e812ef09a8","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Good morning! Natasha May on deck with you now.

","elementId":"69350c19-f92f-40b3-b34b-54798bb5f19d"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

NSW Health have put out a warning overnight not to consume Riviera Farms branded baby spinach following cases of possible food-related toxic reactions.

","elementId":"b93dbef4-210d-486c-b438-2672e2796aaf"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

To date, nine people from four separate and unrelated households across Sydney have required medical attention after developing poisoning soon after eating the product.

","elementId":"69f850fa-5ade-4563-b9da-9dd31cb1bf65"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The impacted baby spinach was sold through Costco with an expiry date of 16 December 2022, the authority said.

","elementId":"ca49430a-b768-400a-b8ad-abb722e0533a"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

NSW Health have warned:

","elementId":"7e2bdd5a-0174-47e0-98bd-915e0dc6103e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.BlockquoteBlockElement","html":"

\n

The product is not safe to consume and people who have it should throw it out.

\n

Initial investigations suggest the presence of an accidental contaminant in the food product.

\n

NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority, as well as other jurisdictions, to investigate the issue further.

\n

Anyone who is concerned about exposure to the spinach should call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

\n

","elementId":"8bd298b1-ac1a-495f-b516-3313f812d76a"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

NSW Health is urging anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest emergency department. In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

","elementId":"6a96bd44-c09f-4de4-a91d-f9ac57555f78"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

NSW Health said reported symptoms can be severe, including:

","elementId":"0aca3fad-1cbe-4e49-8422-97dbcd9e955e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

    \n

  • Delirium or confusion

  • \n

  • Hallucinations

  • \n

  • Dilated pupils

  • \n

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • \n

  • Flushed face

  • \n

  • Blurred vision

  • \n

  • Dry mouth and skin

  • \n

  • Fever

  • \n

","elementId":"0be7a7bd-9cf4-4891-951b-68dffac38d67"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1671134737000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"15.05 EST","blockLastUpdated":1671135698000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"15.21 EST","blockFirstPublished":1671135000000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"15.10 EST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"15.10","title":"NSW Health warns of toxic spinach","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 18.05 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 14.36 EST"},{"id":"639b05478f0834f3c0579be7","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the Australian news day.

","elementId":"8436deac-5745-4abd-937b-70a673d46614"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

This is Martin Farrer getting the day under way and looking at some of the main stories overnight. Natasha May will be here to guide you through the day.

","elementId":"58f70bc4-b0f3-4dee-98f7-c89ee30eee26"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Anthony Albanese has warned the gas industry not to “talk down” its prospects amid furious lobbying against his government’s energy price caps, which passed through parliament yesterday. He has faced some pretty tough criticism this morning with Santos boss Kevin Gallagher calling the plan a “Soviet-style” policy in an interview with the Australian newspaper. Our political editor, Katharine Murphy, says in her column that the policy got through the Senate despite cynical politicking by the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, who seems determined to fire up the climate wars.

","elementId":"3cb5ebd6-2c08-4780-a94f-a4d975b624d3"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The fallout from the Wieambilla shootings is focusing concern on the security threat posed by rightwing extremists and more general anti-government radicals. To this end, Andrew Wallace, the deputy chair of parliament’s intelligence committee, has suggested that “foreign actors” may have tried to fan rightwing extremism around opposition to Covid restrictions in an effort to influence the the May federal election. He points out the link between the Wieambilla shootings and anti-government sentiment, and said May had been the first election where some MPs needed personal security.

","elementId":"adc45717-60eb-4ab6-a322-e0d5c878fe0b"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

And in other news, conservationists have welcomed the reversal of a Coalition government policy to count burning native Australian timber as renewable energy, and the trade minister, Don Farrell, says he’ll be telling the European Union that our history as a migrant nation means they should let us keep calling feta feta and prosecco prosecco after we sign a trade deal. Plus: have you noticed a lot of deer around recently? No, not reindeer. This is serious.

","elementId":"cbcaa80a-1444-434f-9998-59b49dea846b"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1671132992000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"14.36 EST","blockLastUpdated":1671132982000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"14.36 EST","blockFirstPublished":1671132992000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"14.36 EST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"14.36","title":"Welcome","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 18.05 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 14.36 EST"}],"filterKeyEvents":false,"id":"key-events-carousel-mobile"}” readability=”1″>

Filters BETA

Terry towelling’s time in the sun

Do yourself a favour and have a read of Guardian Australia fashion guru Lucianne Tonti’s piece on the terry towelling trend before you hit the beach this summer.

I got myself a terry towelling shirt dress last summer and have never looked back. Unlike a lot of trends in fashion, this one is actually extremely functional and comfy.

Updated at 18.05 EST

Sophie Scamps calls for end to native forest logging exemption

Independent MP Sophie Scamps has taken to social media to back the government’s reversal of the Abbott-era decision to classify burning native forest as a renewable source of energy.

Scamps said the next step was to end the fact that regional forestry agreements are exempted from our national environmental laws, allowing native forests to be logged and putting the animals that rely on that habitat at risk.

After the environment minister unveiled the government’s response to the Samuel review, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Paul Sinclair also raised the issue, as a further step the government needed to take:

With national environmental standards, we need to see those standards incorporating all sectors, including the native forrest logging sector. For too many years, that sector has been excluded from national environmental laws at great expense to species and some of the world’s greatest forests.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

I too called for this to end.

This Abbott era decision to classify burning native forest as a renewable source of energy was beyond irresponsible.
No wonder we have a biodiversity and extinction crisis in this country. #auspol

https://t.co/65eZhRkRMK

&mdash; Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 15, 2022

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I too called for this to end.

This Abbott era decision to classify burning native forest as a renewable source of energy was beyond irresponsible.
No wonder we have a biodiversity and extinction crisis in this country. #auspol

https://t.co/65eZhRkRMK

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 15, 2022

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

Now to end the fact that Regional Forestry Agreements are exempted from our national environmental laws – the EPBC Act
It’s time to strengthen our pathetic environmental laws to ensure our greatest national assets are protected- native forests &amp; animals.@WWF_Australia #auspol

&mdash; Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 15, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/SophieScamps/status/1603507622908334080","id":"1603507622908334080","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"adc23da2-e2cf-46fd-a96b-9ca08518cc7b"}}”>

Now to end the fact that Regional Forestry Agreements are exempted from our national environmental laws – the EPBC Act
It’s time to strengthen our pathetic environmental laws to ensure our greatest national assets are protected- native forests & animals.@WWF_Australia #auspol

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 15, 2022

Updated at 17.52 EST

Victoria records 84 Covid deaths and 675 people in hospital

There were 24,652 new cases in the weekly reporting period and 26 people are in intensive care.

The number of cases and deaths are both down on the previous week’s figures.

This week’s cases have dropped by more than 3,000 since last week’s high of 27,790.

The 84 deaths recorded are one less than last week’s 85.

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This week we reported 24,652 new cases with a daily average hospital occupancy of 675 and 26 patients in ICU.

84 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/dJZgaM6Rrh

&mdash; VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) December 15, 2022

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This week we reported 24,652 new cases with a daily average hospital occupancy of 675 and 26 patients in ICU.

84 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/dJZgaM6Rrh

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) December 15, 2022

Updated at 17.28 EST

NSW records 74 Covid deaths and 1,606 people in hospital

There were 40,695 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 37 people are in intensive care.

Cases have only risen very slightly on last week’s 40,194, indicating the wave is decelerating though not yet ebbing.

Deaths, which always lag cases, have had a big jump since 48 last week.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 December 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 December:
-40,695 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 16,614 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 24,081 PCR tests.
-74 lives lost pic.twitter.com/YJr14oCFBV

&mdash; NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 15, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/NSWHealth/status/1603510290695716865","id":"1603510290695716865","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"08d55d2a-e646-4a32-b4bb-c34305012879"}}”>

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 December 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 December:
-40,695 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 16,614 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 24,081 PCR tests.
-74 lives lost pic.twitter.com/YJr14oCFBV

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) December 15, 2022

Updated at 17.22 EST

Unseasonably cold weather in Sydney and Victoria

There is some unseasonably cold weather about this December.

This morning Sydney woke up to a frosty start, Victoria continues to shiver through its winter-style cold fronts the Bureau of Meteorology warned would be crossing the state on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Tasmania yesterday recorded its coldest December maximum since 1964.

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Did you feel cold in #Hobart yesterday? The maximum temperature of 11.5 °C was 9 °C below average and the coldest December maximum since 1964. Southerly winds ensured the apparent (&quot;feels like&quot;) temperature remained below 7 °C all day, and there was also 1.2 mm of rain. pic.twitter.com/IoM6Q1WQJC

&mdash; Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania (@BOM_Tas) December 15, 2022

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Did you feel cold in #Hobart yesterday? The maximum temperature of 11.5 °C was 9 °C below average and the coldest December maximum since 1964. Southerly winds ensured the apparent (“feels like”) temperature remained below 7 °C all day, and there was also 1.2 mm of rain. pic.twitter.com/IoM6Q1WQJC

— Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania (@BOM_Tas) December 15, 2022

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

Today is the last warm day across Victoria for a while. We will see a sequence of Winter-type cold fronts crossing the State this week. Snowfalls developing above 1400m Monday, lowering to 1000m late Tuesday &amp; only lifting to 1200m Wednesday. https://t.co/pPWGcuSDfh

&mdash; Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 11, 2022

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Today is the last warm day across Victoria for a while. We will see a sequence of Winter-type cold fronts crossing the State this week. Snowfalls developing above 1400m Monday, lowering to 1000m late Tuesday & only lifting to 1200m Wednesday. https://t.co/pPWGcuSDfh

— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 11, 2022

Updated at 17.17 EST

Body found in search for missing teenager

A body has been found in the search for a missing teenager who fell off a boat while fishing at a lake on the Victoria-New South Wales border.

No formal identification has taken place but police believe it is that of the missing 16-year-old.

The boy and a friend were fishing in a tinnie on Lake Mulwala, at Yarrawonga, when they were hit by a wave and thrown overboard on Sunday morning.

A good Samaritan managed to bring one boy to shore using a flotation device but could not find the other.

The body was found in the lake at about 6.30pm on Thursday, four days after he was last seen.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

– from AAP

Updated at 16.49 EST

Front pages of Daily Telegraph and the Australian running ‘Soviet’ line on energy

The government’s laws for energy price caps to bring down Australians’ power bills passed through parliament yesterday.

Today, the backlash is coming from the fossil fuel companies with Santos boss Kevin Gallagher calling the plan a “Soviet-style” policy in an interview with the Australian newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph is also running the Soviet line on its front page.

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FRONT PAGE 📰
Read Friday's paper as it was printed 👉 https://t.co/heSGsF7OQn pic.twitter.com/LP5nsepPbc

&mdash; The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) December 15, 2022

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Anthony Albanese’s energy market intervention could increase gas bills by $175 per year and push up businesses’ energy costs by 40 per cent, according to independent modelling. https://t.co/UxTGY7dRSS

&mdash; The Australian (@australian) December 15, 2022

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Anthony Albanese’s energy market intervention could increase gas bills by $175 per year and push up businesses’ energy costs by 40 per cent, according to independent modelling. https://t.co/UxTGY7dRSS

— The Australian (@australian) December 15, 2022

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

Right… those well-remembered years when the Soviet Union oversaw foreign ownership of most of their natural resources and held free elections every three years…etc etc pic.twitter.com/M48o8oc6ZD

&mdash; @[email protected] (@p_hannam) December 15, 2022

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Right… those well-remembered years when the Soviet Union oversaw foreign ownership of most of their natural resources and held free elections every three years…etc etc pic.twitter.com/M48o8oc6ZD

— @[email protected] (@p_hannam) December 15, 2022

Updated at 16.40 EST

New rules tightening definition of cosmetic surgeon

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting legal changes will see stricter rules on who can call themselves a cosmetic “surgeon.”

Adele Ferguson and James Massola report:

Doctors without suitable qualifications will be banned from calling themselves cosmetic surgeons under a series of major changes struck by state and federal health ministers.

And, in a significant reversal, the ministers also agreed that a ban on the use of patient testimonials by cosmetic surgeons – which several state governments had wanted wound back – will be retained.

The rules come after Australia’s multibillion-dollar cosmetic surgery industry has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year with investigations by the SMH and the Age, as well as my colleague Tamsin Rose:

Updated at 16.27 EST

Immigration minister scraps rule forcing local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day

Local councils will no longer be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, after Labor has reversed a Morrison government ruling.

SBS’s Finn McHugh reports:

Rules introduced in 2019 under then-prime minister Scott Morrison forced local governments to hold citizenship ceremonies on 26 January or be stripped of their right to conduct them. Mr Morrison at the time said compelling local councils to do so would stop them from “playing politics with Australia Day”.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles on Friday revealed Labor would walk back that restriction but said it remained the government’s “strong expectation” that councils would hold ceremonies on the date.

Councils will now be able to hold ceremonies three days before or after 26 January, in what the government described as a “pragmatic” decision to make processing more efficient.

Mr Giles has also reinstated the rights of the City of Yarra and Darebin City councils to hold ceremonies. Both were stripped of that right in 2017 by then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who blasted them as “out of step with Australian values”.

For some Australians, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 26 January is not a day of celebration. It is seen as a day that commemorates the 1788 arrival of British settlers at Sydney Cove where they raised the Union Jack. For Indigenous people, it remains a day of mourning and is referred to as “Invasion Day” by some.

It comes after earlier this month Merri-bek became the third Melbourne council to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on 26 January. You can read more about that from Adeshola Ore:

Updated at 16.20 EST

Morning Mail: ‘foreign actors’ election warning, feral deer ‘plague’, Sussexes’ doco reveals palace wars

It might be the end of the year, but there is still a lot of news to keep up to date with at home and abroad. To get caught up on all the important headlines from the Wieambilla shootings to the front line of Ukraine, as well as the latest revelations from the Sussexes’ documentary, have a read of our Morning Mail.

If you want to get it in your inbox every weekday you can sign up for the Morning Mail here, and finish your day with our Afternoon Update newsletter.

Updated at 16.19 EST

Adam Morton

Adam Morton

Labor revokes Abbott government move allowing energy from burning wood waste to be counted as renewable

Electricity generated by burning native forest wood waste will no longer be allowed to be classified as renewable energy under a regulatory change adopted by the Albanese government.

The decision, which Labor had promised to consider after it was recommended by a Senate committee in September, reverses a 2015 Abbott government move which allowed burning native forest timber to be counted alongside solar and wind energy towards the national renewable energy target.

At the commemoration held yesterday, the Tasmanian premier, Jeremy Rockliff, said:

The image of Tasmania’s broken heart became such a symbol of the outpouring of grief felt by Tasmanians.

[As well as] all the messages of love and comfort that came flooding in from across our nation and indeed across the world.

Rockliff read a message from the prime minister, Anthony Albanese:

This is the hardest of anniversaries. Your community is in the hearts and minds of Australia as we remember six beautiful children.

It is the end of a hard year. Grief may one day soften but it does not fade.

The Devonport mayor, Alison Jarman, said 16 December 2021 would be “etched into our memory forever”.

[It is] the day our heart broke. It rocked our close-knit community.

A coronial inquest, which is yet to set dates for public hearings, will investigate the tragedy and hear from witnesses including weather experts.

– from AAP

Updated at 15.57 EST

Tasmania marks one year since Hillcrest jumping castle deaths

Today marks one year since a freak wind gust hit a jumping castle during end-of-year celebrations at Hillcrest primary school.

Zane Mellor, Peter Dodt, Addison Stewart, Jye Sheehan, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones and Chace Harrison were killed while three of their classmates were badly injured.

The school is holding a private ceremony, a day after a public commemoration in Devonport.

Family, friends, first responders, members of the public and politicians paid their respects at the city’s Market Square, with flowers and messages of support placed at a heart sculpture.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

One year 💔

It’s hard to describe the impact the Hillcrest jumping castle tragedy has had on this community. A day that broke the heart of Devonport. pic.twitter.com/MtVnjg7iTW

&mdash; Monte Bovill (@MonteBovill) December 15, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/MonteBovill/status/1603314613604716544","id":"1603314613604716544","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"fb49025a-aa9a-402c-afc2-844c5e2e1418"}}”>

One year 💔

It’s hard to describe the impact the Hillcrest jumping castle tragedy has had on this community. A day that broke the heart of Devonport. pic.twitter.com/MtVnjg7iTW

— Monte Bovill (@MonteBovill) December 15, 2022

– from AAP

Updated at 15.56 EST

Department bosses to face robodebt inquiry

More witnesses will face a robodebt royal commission to uncover what allowed the disastrous scheme to continue despite signs it was terminally flawed from the beginning.

Today, the former director and assistant director of the Department of Social Services, Catherine Dalton and Anthony Bradford will face the commission.

Dr Cassandra Goldie and Charmaine Crowe from the Australian Council of Social Services will also appear to help shed light on the impact felt by welfare recipients.

Also appearing at today’s hearing will be the chief customer officer of Probe Group, Jarrod Kagan.

The commission has heard from senior politicians and public servants, including former prime minister Scott Morrison, on Wednesday. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Luke Henriques-Gomes’ reporting:

– with AAP

Updated at 15.40 EST

Taskforce to review welfare payment rates meets for first time

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

More than a dozen academics, business leaders and social groups will work on a new government taskforce to review welfare payment rates before each budget, and issues for unemployed and disadvantaged Australians.

The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee will meet for the first time on Friday. It will be chaired by former Labor MP and community services minister Jenny Macklin. On the board are familiar faces including trade union chief Sally McManus, Business Council boss Jennifer Westacott and Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie; academics including Dr Angela Jackson, Prof Peter Whiteford and Prof Ben Phillips; and representatives of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, and Leah Van Poppel, chair of Victorian NDIS Community Advisory.

The economic inclusion group was set up after a request from senator David Pocock, as a condition for his support in siding with the government on its industrial relations bill.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and social services minister Amanda Rishworth said:

Its primary functions will be to provide advice on economic inclusion including policy settings, systems and structures, and the adequacy, effectiveness and sustainability of income support payments ahead of every federal budget.

The committee will also look at options to reduce barriers and disincentives to work, including in relation to social security and employment services. Further, it will explore options for tailored responses to address barriers to economic inclusion for long term unemployed and disadvantaged groups, including place-based approaches at the local level.

The group will meet “at least every quarter” and its findings or recommendations will be publicly released weeks before the May budget.

However, a statement from the government says the group’s review is “not binding on the government”.

Chalmers said:

I’m looking forward to engaging with this really impressive group of people to explore ways to tackle disadvantage in our communities in a responsible, meaningful way.

Rishworth added it would “give important advice to government in tackling systemic disadvantage and economic inclusion, including examining the adequacy of income support payments”.

We need to look at addressing complex social problems and entrenched disadvantage in new and innovative ways and this committee will help bring some of the creative solutions to deal with the systems and structures that are barriers for those facing disadvantage.

Updated at 15.39 EST

NSW Health warns of toxic spinach

Good morning! Natasha May on deck with you now.

NSW Health have put out a warning overnight not to consume Riviera Farms branded baby spinach following cases of possible food-related toxic reactions.

To date, nine people from four separate and unrelated households across Sydney have required medical attention after developing poisoning soon after eating the product.

The impacted baby spinach was sold through Costco with an expiry date of 16 December 2022, the authority said.

NSW Health have warned:

The product is not safe to consume and people who have it should throw it out.

Initial investigations suggest the presence of an accidental contaminant in the food product.

NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority, as well as other jurisdictions, to investigate the issue further.

Anyone who is concerned about exposure to the spinach should call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

NSW Health is urging anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest emergency department. In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

NSW Health said reported symptoms can be severe, including:

  • Delirium or confusion

  • Hallucinations

  • Dilated pupils

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Flushed face

  • Blurred vision

  • Dry mouth and skin

  • Fever

Updated at 15.21 EST

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Australia lobbies China over detained journalist Cheng Lei

The Australian government is raising the case of detained journalist Cheng Lei with the Chinese government amid concerns she will face a third straight month without consular access, writes Daniel Hurst.

Guardian Australia understands the Australian embassy in Beijing has generally been able to visit Cheng on a monthly basis since she was detained, but the last such visit consular visit was on 23 September.

Chinese authorities have postponed Australia’s consular access to Cheng since October, citing Covid-19 measures in Beijing. There were hopes of a visit next week but this now seems unlikely.

Cheng’s partner, Nick Coyle, told Guardian Australia:

Apart from these consular visits being in line with bilateral norms, they are very important to the psychological wellbeing of Lei. Three months without this type of external access isn’t acceptable. I would urge the relevant authorities in Beijing to find alternative means of consular access, which in this technologically advanced age should not be particularly difficult.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said overnight:

The Australian government will continue to advocate at the highest levels for Australians detained in China, including Ms Cheng Lei. Australia expects Chinese authorities to provide regular access to Australian citizens in line with our bilateral consular agreement. We have repeatedly conveyed our concern to Chinese authorities about delayed consular visits.

The concerns come in the lead-up to next week’s 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. The Australian government has been pursuing what it calls a “stabilisation” of the relationship.

Linda Burney to announce 52 new health infrastructure projects

The Australian government is funding 52 new health infrastructure projects across the country – building and renovating clinics, improving staff housing and building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector.

The minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, and the lead convener of the Coalition of the Peaks, Pat Turner – who are co-chairs of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap – will announce more than $120m for major capital works at community‑controlled organisations.

They will announce the funding at the joint council meeting in Sydney today.

The projects aim to improve First Nations health services, as well as provide the facilities clinical staff need to deliver culturally safe and appropriate care.

Burney said: “This significant investment demonstrates the Albanese government’s commitment to Closing the Gap. With projects in almost every part of the country, this funding will help improve access to critical health services for First Nations peoples.”

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the Australian news day.

This is Martin Farrer getting the day under way and looking at some of the main stories overnight. Natasha May will be here to guide you through the day.

Anthony Albanese has warned the gas industry not to “talk down” its prospects amid furious lobbying against his government’s energy price caps, which passed through parliament yesterday. He has faced some pretty tough criticism this morning with Santos boss Kevin Gallagher calling the plan a “Soviet-style” policy in an interview with the Australian newspaper. Our political editor, Katharine Murphy, says in her column that the policy got through the Senate despite cynical politicking by the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, who seems determined to fire up the climate wars.

The fallout from the Wieambilla shootings is focusing concern on the security threat posed by rightwing extremists and more general anti-government radicals. To this end, Andrew Wallace, the deputy chair of parliament’s intelligence committee, has suggested that “foreign actors” may have tried to fan rightwing extremism around opposition to Covid restrictions in an effort to influence the the May federal election. He points out the link between the Wieambilla shootings and anti-government sentiment, and said May had been the first election where some MPs needed personal security.

And in other news, conservationists have welcomed the reversal of a Coalition government policy to count burning native Australian timber as renewable energy, and the trade minister, Don Farrell, says he’ll be telling the European Union that our history as a migrant nation means they should let us keep calling feta feta and prosecco prosecco after we sign a trade deal. Plus: have you noticed a lot of deer around recently? No, not reindeer. This is serious.

The Guardian

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