ACTU calls for sanctions on Israel over Gaza war – as it happened | Coronavirus

Key events

Summary of the day

And that’s where we’ll leave you this evening. Here’s a wrap of what we’ve learned today:

  • The federal government has announced Australia’s “largest-ever” tender to build renewable energy projects, which will be underwritten by the commonwealth.

  • Prime minister Anthony Albanese said it was “extraordinary” that X, formerly known as Twitter, did not comply with orders from the eSafety commissioner to take down footage of the Wakeley church stabbing.

  • The X boss, Elon Musk, should “front up here to parliament”, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has declared, calling the billionaire CEO a “tech thug” and “cowboy” after his platform refused to take down the videos.

  • The shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmingham, said the opposition would support any moves from the government to place penalties on social media companies that won’t remove content deemed damaging to social cohesion.

  • The Nationals leader, David Littleproud, has denied there is tension in the Coalition around nuclear power, telling Sky News that a “clear majority” of his party want nuclear power.

  • Global financial uncertainty has prompted the Treasury to downgrade its growth forecasts for major economies ahead of the federal budget.

  • The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for the government to issue targeted sanctions on Israel and cease all military trade due with the country due to the war in Gaza. It has also called for a commitment of an additional $100m in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank.

  • An inspection report by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found a high-security immigration detention centre in Western Australia was, in part, “no longer fit for purpose”.

  • Steve Gollschewski has been named as the new Queensland police commissioner, following the resignation of Katarina Carroll last month.

  • Erin Patterson, the woman accused of murdering and attempting to murder her relatives by serving them a meal laced with deadly mushrooms, may spend 15 months in custody before she faces a committal hearing, a court has heard.

  • Murujuga traditional custodians have called for an immediate inquiry to investigate the alleged leak of a confidential report on the Burrup peninsula to the media.

  • International traffic is now closer to pre-pandemic levels than domestic flights at Sydney airport.

  • A man has died after being shot by police at a rest area south of Gladstone, Queensland.

  • Electric utes are being shipped to Australia for use on mining sites after a local firm signed a deal with one of America’s leading vehicle manufacturers.

Thanks so much for your company today. We’ll be back bright and early with all your news, live, tomorrow morning, just after 7am. See you then.


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Andrew Messenger

Crocodile euthanised after fatal attack on teenager

Wildlife officers have euthanised a large crocodile believed to have killed a 16-year-old boy in the Torres Strait last week.

The teenager, and a 13-year-old boy, reportedly attempted to swim back to Saibai Island from a broken-down dinghy early on Thursday morning last week, Queensland police said, with the younger boy making it to safety.

Wildlife officers located the four-metre animal responsible during spotlight searches on Friday night near where the boy died and it was killed on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation.

Read the full story here:


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Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Moody’s seems in no hurry to downgrade NSW credit rating

As we saw earlier today, NSW treasurer Daniel Mookhey was almost daring credit agencies to cut the state’s credit rating in the wake of what he dubbed a “rip-off” GST carve-up:

So bad was it from the budget outlook, Mookhey said, it was almost certain to cost NSW its remaining AAA rating with two of the big three agencies.

Well, one of the two, Moody’s, had kicked the tyres earlier this month and seems in no hurry to downgrade NSW.

John Manning, vice-president and senior credit officer for Moody’s Ratings, told Guardian Australia:

Moody’s retains its stable outlook on the state of New South Wales’ AAA rating ahead of the release of the state’s fiscal 2025 budget.

So nothing changing just yet. The NSW budget lands in June.

Fitch, the other agency with a top-notch rating for NSW, is yet to get back to us. (S&P cut NSW’s debt rating in 2020.)

The state opposition, meanwhile, aren’t impressed, saying Mookhey was using the GST carve-up complaints to divert attention from the impact on the budget of lifting the cap on public wage increases.

The parliamentary budget office had indicated prior to the 2023 election that Labor was relying on productivity gains to offset higher salaries – something the Coalition says is yet to happen.


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Melissa Davey

Melissa Davey

Call for second Melbourne injecting room amid synthetic opioid fears

Health experts are warning of the looming threat of strong synthetic opioids called nitazenes among Australian drug users, as former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark said there was an urgent need for a second safe-injecting room in Melbourne.

Referring to the long-mooted facility, Clark, who is chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said:

The bottom line is that people that are using drugs need to be safe. And that’s why a centre is so important … I hope it will go ahead. The first one is clearly highly successful.

Speaking at the World Health Summit regional meeting, Clark said there was a need for drug decriminalisation, public drug-testing facilities and safe-injecting sites to get ahead of what was described as the imminent threat posed by synthetic opioids, which are already causing an epidemic of drug fatalities in North America.

Nitazenes have already been identified in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Certain nitazenes can be from 10 to 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is also a powerful synthetic opioid.

Read the full story here:


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ACTU calls for sanctions on Israel over Gaza war

Amy Remeikis

Amy Remeikis

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has released a new statement on Gaza, calling for the Australian government to, among other things, place sanctions on “Israeli officials who have called for the denial of aid, and military and civil servants denying essential food and materials to civilians in Gaza”.

Speaking for the Australian union movement, the ACTU statement says it is “horrified by the escalating violence and death toll of civilians in Gaza”.

It continues:

The ACTU reiterates its statements and resolution of 19 October 2023 and 23 February 2024 and continues to call for an urgent and permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages and political prisoners.

The union movement has urged the Albanese government to use “all influence, pressure and diplomatic measures to achieve a permanent ceasefire” and the end to all military trade with Israel.

Is Australia exporting weapons to Israel? – video

As well as targeted sanctions and the cessation of all military trade, the ACTU has called on the government to commit an additional $100m in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank.

The statement says:

The ACTU calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership to promote open, tolerant and respectful societies through adherence to democratic principles in governance, respect for human rights and equal treatment for all.

The ACTU calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine and a just and sustainable peace in accordance with UN security council resolutions. Including the removal of illegal settlements, the withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian lands along with the dismantling of the separation wall.

In line with the ACTU’s commitment to a two-state solution with the security of borders for both nations, we call on all countries to recognise, without delay, Palestine as a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This will confirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in a free and independent Palestine.


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Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Greens press for student loan overhaul

Speaking of student debt, the Greens have renewed their push for sweeping loan reforms that would scrap the process of Hecs/Help rising with inflation.

The prime minister has been dropping his own hints that recommendations to reform student loans in the University Accord are being looked at in the federal budget.

One recommendation is to tie student loans to whatever is smaller out of the wage price index (WPI) and the consumer price index (CPI) rather than setting automatically to CPI. Last year, loans were indexed by 7.1% due to high inflation, with a rise in excess of 4% expected this year.

Another option, put forward by higher education economist Andrew Norton in this masthead, would impose a cap at 3% or 4%.

But the deputy leader of the Greens, senator Mehreen Faruqi, says this isn’t enough.

WPI is usually higher than CPI (including this year, according to the govt’s projections) so this change will make little difference … a cap of 4% still means at least a $1k hike in the avg. HECS debt and almost $3k for someone with a $70,000 debt. A hike people should not be slugged with in a cost of living crisis.

Labor refused demands from the Greens to protect students from huge debt increases last year, but there’s still time to stop the massive indexation hit coming again this June.

No more tinkering around the edges. In the May budget, Labor must scrap indexation on student debt.

— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) April 22, 2024


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Man shot by Queensland police near Gladstone dies

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

A man has died after being shot by police at a rest area south of Gladstone.

Police said the man was shot by an officer on Monday, 20km south of Miriam Vale, around 10.50am.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said the man was assessed in a critical condition but they did not transport him to hospital.

Guardian Australia understands that he died at the scene.

The Bruce Highway at Gindoran, 5km north of John Clifford Way, remains closed.

Guardian Australia is still awaiting further details about the circumstances of the shooting. A police investigation is under way.


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Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Treasurer considers relief for ‘under pressure’ students

We mentioned it briefly earlier but the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has further hinted that relief may be on the way for students completing mandatory unpaid university placements.

Students in a range of courses including nursing, teaching and social work are required to complete hundreds of hours of internships in order to graduate.

Academics, the Greens and grassroots group Students Against Placement Poverty have lobbied the commonwealth for years to address the burden, pointing to high drop-out rates and burnout.

The University Accord final report, handed down earlier this year, urged the government to front the bill for “care” degrees, and work with industry to implement stipends for remaining mandatory internships.

Speaking to the media today, Chalmers said both loan reform and placements were being looked at in the budget, acknowledging “students are under pressure”.

With the budget a mere three weeks away – watch this space.


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Court hears conflicting accounts over Victorian school bus crash

A bus driver says he slowed to a near stop at an intersection west of Melbourne when a truck rammed into the back of his bus, seriously injuring eight students, a court has heard.

But another motorist has disputed Graham Stanley’s claims, telling the Melbourne magistrates court he saw no brake or indicator lights in the lead-up to the May 2023 collision that saw a truck crash into the back of the bus.

At the time, 45 students from the Exford primary school in Eynesbury were on the bus. Eight children suffered life-threatening injuries, with two students needing to have arms and hands amputated. Stanley was also hospitalised with a broken ankle.

The scene after the bus crash at Eynesbury, west of Melbourne, in May last year. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

The driver of the truck was charged with 11 offences, including four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

He faced the Melbourne magistrates court on Monday for the start of a two-day committal hearing.

Read the full story from AAP here:


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Funding boost for warning systems in flood-hit regions

Flood-prone areas across Queensland will receive $7m for early warning infrastructure, AAP reports.

The federal government has announced 170 projects, including new river height gauges, cameras, signage and sensor technology for areas heavily impacted by flooding in 2022.

The emergency management minister, Murray Watt, said that with more frequent and intense flooding in recent years, this infrastructure was crucial.

While we can’t predict the future, we know complacency is simply not an option when it comes to building disaster resilience.

With earlier flood warnings and more comprehensive information captured we’ll significantly improve our defence against disaster events.

More than 20 Queensland councils will get $235,000 each for new flood warning infrastructure. An extra $1m will be set aside for “high-priority” projects within nine of these local government areas.

Flood-prone areas across Queensland will receive $7m for early warning infrastructure. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

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Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Many thanks for joining me on the blog today. Stephanie Convery will be here to guide you through the rest of today’s news. Take care.


Crocodile believed to be responsible for fatal attack on teen euthanised

A crocodile believed to be responsible for a fatal attack on a 16-year-old boy in the Torres Strait last week has been euthanised.

Last Thursday a search and rescue operation was launched near Saibai Island after reports a 16-year-old was missing. That night a spokesperson confirmed they had discovered his body with injuries consistent with a crocodile attack.

According to a statement from the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, the four-metre crocodile was located during night spotlight searches on Friday, near where the teenage boy was killed.

The animal displayed parading behaviour such as raising its head as it swam, which is consistent with it being the target animal.

The crocodile was “humanely euthanised” on Saturday and disposed of at sea, the department said, “in keeping with the wishes of the Saibai Island community”.

The [department] expresses its sincere condolences to the friends, family and community on Saibai Island.

A crocodile was euthanised on Saturday after a fatal attack on a 16-year-old boy in the Torres Strait. Photograph: Stephen Miechel/AAP

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New Zealand PM interested in Taiwan trade, but not travel

In some international news via AAP: the New Zealand prime minister, Christopher Luxon, says he wants to increase trade links with Taiwan, but has ruled out visiting the island nation while leader in deference to the One China policy.

Last week, NZ sent its first-ever official cross-parliamentary delegation to Taiwan. Taiwan is eager to join the 11-nation CPTPP trade bloc (which includes Australia and NZ) but is considered unlikely to be admitted, given China also wants membership.

NZ does not have an official diplomatic relationship with Taipei, but has a free trade deal signed in 2013.

Luxon said his government has a goal of doubling its export value in the next decade, and plans to lean on Asia heavily to do so. Asked specifically if that included Taiwan, he said: “Yes, we already have a free trade agreement with Taiwan.”

NZ’s openness to Taiwan comes at a moment of geopolitical inflection, with the new right-leaning government exploring closer ties with the US and “traditional” partners.

Each of the countries Luxon visited last week (Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines) have strong relationships with Washington – Thailand and the Philippines were formally allied to the US.

New Zealand prime minister Christopher Luxon. Photograph: Ben McKay/AAP

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