Australia news live: Daniel Andrews fires up over ‘Dictator Dan’ moniker and Sky After Dark ‘bullshit’ | Australia news – Freedom Voice

Andrews: ‘In Victoria, the haters hate and the rest vote Labor’

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

The long-ranging interview covered a lot of ground, including a $207m package for the state’s specialist schools that Daniel Andrews announced in the lead up to last year’s election campaign.

Andrews said the policy was formed during discussion with parents whose children were in specialist schools and it was one of the highlights of his career – all while having a crack at people who coined the nickname “Dictator Dan”:

Dictator and all this sort of stuff, that’s all fine if that makes people feel better by describing me in those terms, good luck. You know, in Victoria, the haters hate and the rest vote Labor and that’s fine by me …

But what really matters is not that nonsense, that noise, that vitriol, that (Sky News) After Dark bullshit. All that … is the worst of American politics imported into ours. What really matters and what makes up for all the nonsense is when you sit with families like that, and you listen, and you say, right, that’s the plan. We’re gonna get on and do it. And then you do, and you can see the difference.

Key events

South Australia fire authorities are speaking to the media, providing an update on the heatwave.

250 emergency personnel are on the ground, plus 70 appliances. More than 40 jobs have been completed using firefighting bombers, including Blackhawk helicopters and fixed wings.

A “concerning” fire was intercepted this afternoon around the Golden Grove area, authorities said.

Around 7800 customers are without power, and 34 schools and preschools across the state are closed.

Authorities suggested a cool change is not expected until around 2am, and after the next couple of days of heat, significant storms and water events are possible:

We are still in the midst of a very bad day and we are not expecting a relief to come through our northern and eastern regions until around 2am…

Over the next two days, the tempo of operations from our front-line emergency services will be intense. We will transition from major fire risk today and then tomorrow morning, through the next couple of days, we will have significant storms and water events coming through our state as well.

We are continuing to manage today’s weather (which is as) severe and intense as we predicted, and we will not see a change coming through until the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Paramedics reject pay offer averaging 19% rise

Paramedics will stop work across NSW after rejecting a huge pay rise offer to re-align salaries with skills, AAP reports.

The record offer would have delivered professional rates of pay for paramedics and an average 19 per cent pay rise, the state government said.

But it was rejected during mediation with the Health Services Union this morning.

Health minister Ryan Park said he was “bitterly disappointed the HSU has walked away from this”.

Our state now faces the real possibility of a collapse of our triple-zero service.

Make no mistake, this strike action will place lives at risk.

Paramedics will stop work across NSW after rejecting a pay rise offer to re-align salaries with skills.
Paramedics will stop work across NSW after rejecting a pay rise offer to re-align salaries with skills. Photograph: Jeremy Ng/AAP

HSU members will stop work this afternoon to meet with union leadership and discuss the stalemate, which has dragged on for more than eight months.

Pointing to high salaries offered in ACT, Queensland and Victoria, paramedics have campaigned for a rise in their pay of between 20 and 45 per cent.

The Labor government said its latest offer would have put local salaries on par with those in Queensland, based on take-home pay, by 2025.

The union says hundreds of paramedics have resigned in the past six months as they grapple with the cost of living.

Healthcare Workers 4 Palestine will hold a vigil at Sydney Town Hall tonight, calling for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza.

The group is a non-partisan coalition, which says it is dedicated to addressing the healthcare crisis in Gaza.

The event is part of a worldwide initiative uniting healthcare workers, agencies and NGOs. Since the inaugural vigil in the UK on 10 November, similar events have taken place across 30 cities on five continents, the group said in a statement.

The collective’s primary objective is to advocate for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, urging an end to the 16-year blockade on Gaza.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi will speak at tonight’s vigil in Sydney, urging the need for “global solidarity”.

The vigil will take place from 7pm.

The Bureau of Meteorology has shared this footage of tropical cyclone Jasper:

🌀 Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper, a category 4 system, is moving to the south through the northeastern Coral Sea, around 1200 km E-NE of Cairns. A clear eye is visible from Himawari 8, see: Current wind gusts near the centre are estimated to 270 km/h.

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) December 8, 2023

Elias Visontay

Elias Visontay

Melbourne airport exceeds pre-Covid international flight levels

Melbourne airport has become the first capital city airport to return to and exceed 100% of pre-pandemic international flight capacity, as the aviation industry prepares for a bumper tourism season.

In December, airlines will fly more than 1.31m international seats in and out of Melbourne airport, up from 1.29m in 2019.

The milestone occurred as AirCalin announced it would resume flights between Melbourne and New Caledonia’s capital, Noumea.

Melbourne airport CEO Lorie Argus said about 10% of its current international capacity was being operated by new airlines or on new routes, “which means consumers and exporters have more choice about when and where to fly”.

We know cost-of-living pressures are being felt by our passengers and the broader increase in capacity across our international network will assist in putting downward pressure on airfares.

A Qantas plane taking off at Melbourne airport
Airlines are to fly more than 1.31m international seats in and out of Melbourne airport this month. Photograph: Penny Stephens/The Guardian

Argus called on the government to increase permissions for foreign airlines to fly in and out of Australia – the subject of much debate throughout 2023 following the saga of Qatar Airlines being refused its request to almost double services.

There is still latent demand in the market, and we believe a liberalising of the bilateral air service agreements with a move towards open skies policies would give airlines the certainty to expand operations into Melbourne.

Yesterday, Sydney airport – which is at 95% of pre-Covid international capacity – said it was bracing for its busiest holiday period in four years, warning domestic passengers checking in luggage to arrive two hours before their departure time.

Pauline Hanson chief of staff James Ashby to run for Queensland parliament

Conal Hanna

Conal Hanna

Pauline Hanson’s controversial chief of staff, James Ashby, has announced he will run for Queensland state parliament next year.

Ashby will be the One Nation candidate for the seat of Keppel, based around Yeppoon, which is held by Labor’s Brittany Lauga. It is also a key target of the Liberal National party opposition.

Ashby, who once notably got “on the sauce” and was filmed discussing seeking a $20m donation from the National Rifle Association for One Nation, has been Hanson’s closest political adviser for a decade. Unlike other staffers, he has often been prominent and the subject of controversy.

In 2019, he was barred from parliament after a physical altercation with former One Nation senator Brian Burston. Ashby allegedly threw a phone at the chief of staff of former WA senator Rod Culleton in 2016, although Hanson said at the time it was an “underarm throw” and had been “blown out of proportion”.

A secretly recorded comment from Ashby that One Nation could “make some money” on its campaign packages for Queensland election candidates was part of “a brainstorming session that has been taken right out of context”, he said later.

James Ashby in a shirt and jacket and looking to camera
James Ashby will be One Nation’s candidate for the Queensland seat of Keppel, held by Labor. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Ashby first came to national attention when he sued the then-speaker of the federal House of Representatives, Peter Slipper, for sexual harassment and misuse of entitlements in 2012. Slipper denied the claims. Ashby reached a settlement with the commonwealth in 2012 and discontinued court proceedings against Slipper in 2014.

One Nation’s popularity has been on the wane in Queensland in recent years and Hanson was barely seen during the 2020 state election. But the party retains pockets of support in central Queensland and has previously outpolled the LNP in Keppel. Ashby has some ties to the area, having worked in Rockhampton as a radio host before working in politics.

Hanson said Ashby “understands government and politics like few others in Australia, being my principal adviser for many years”.

He’s passionate about supporting the communities of central Queensland, and addressing the many problems created by the Palaszczuk Labor government’s neglect and incompetence.

Jonathan Barrett

Jonathan Barrett

Supermarket giant Coles has apologised after prematurely raising prices on popular items it had promised would remain “locked”.

Prices on 20 items were raised before the end of their promotional period, according to Coles, on a diverse range of products including dishwashing tablets, chopped tomatoes, corn flakes and pregnancy tests.

A person carrying a shopping basket in a Coles supermarket
Coles says it will refund the full cost of the products to affected customers. Photograph: Ellen Smith/The Guardian

The apology came after consumer advocacy group Choice submitted a complaint to the competition regulator on the problems with the supermarket’s promotional campaign.

Continue reading:

Heatwave prompts warnings of catastrophic danger

AAP has more detail on the heatwave conditions being felt across the country:

Heatwave warnings are current for parts of all mainland states, prompting extreme to catastrophic danger alerts to be issued for parts of South Australia, northern Victoria and outback New South Wales.

Mildura, Hay, Ivanhoe and Bourke were among the towns expecting 45C, while South Australia’s Renmark was due to hit a peak of 46C.

Temperatures in outer suburban Sydney and Melbourne were expected to top 35C, while Canberra was poised for a high of 34C.

Adelaide hit 29.6C before 7am, as temperatures across South Australia head towards the mid-40s.

Thousands of customers were without power in the early afternoon, the majority of them in areas east of Port Augusta, as the extreme weather conditions wreaked havoc on electricity networks.

Strong winds and dry lightning are adding to the state’s fire risk.

Catastrophic fire danger ratings were declared for the mid-north, Flinders, Yorke Peninsula, Riverland and eastern Eyre Peninsula districts, while five regions face extreme fire danger.

The Bureau of Meteorology has provided this update on the “extremely dangerous fire weather” being experienced in South Australia today:

Earlier, Cameron Devey from the Country Fire Service said the “unprecedented” heatwave conditions were unlike anything the state had seen since the 2015 Pinery fire.

There’s a lot of weather news coming through today. My colleague Peter Hannam has just pointed out that every mainland state and the Northern Territory is currently clocking a 40C+ temperature (save for Victoria).

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

RBA finds more mortgagees in ‘severe financial stress’ but most remain on or ahead of repayment schedules

The great bulk of Australia’s mortgage holders have been able to adjust to higher interest rates, with “close to 99%” of loans remaining on or ahead of repayment schedules, according to Andrea Brischetto, head of the Reserve Bank’s financial stability unit.

In a speech in Sydney today, Brischetto said that while the number of borrowers in “severe financial stress” had risen, most had been resilient and “even in the case of an economic downturn, this is likely to remain the case”.

A strong labour market meant households had managed to increase hours of work or switch to higher-paying jobs, draw down savings or cut consumption, she said.

These adjustments have meant that, to date, the substantial pressure on households’ budgets has not translated into a sharp increase in late-stage financial stress.

Both loan arrears and personal insolvencies (business-related and other) have increased from their low levels during the pandemic, but most households continue to be able to service their debts.

The assessment comes days after September quarter GDP figures were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. These showed that per-capita incomes sank by 0.5% while the household saving-to-income ratio falling fell to 1.1% or the lowest level since the December quarter of 2007.

Just over 20% of variable-rate owner-occupier borrowers were now devoting more than 30% of their income to mortgage payments, Brischetto said, citing one gauge often used to describe financial stress.

Still, data including the Melbourne Institute’s Household Expenditure Measure showed “around 95%” of such borrowers had spare income after meeting mortgage payments and essential expenses.

Social media users have shared some footage from the paint factory fire in Dandenong South:

Explosions and fire in Dandenong South, behind Ultra Fine Foods (Indoc Paints?) at 12:10pm. Hope everyone is OK

— Gavin – (mostly made of dihydrogen monoxide) (@buzzpuppy) December 8, 2023

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Andrews feels he was ‘blessed’ with ‘great staff’ during his career

Throughout his political career, Daniel Andrews said he’s “been blessed with great staff” who work incredibly hard, and hit back at suggestions his office was controlling:

All this nonsense – centralisation of power and control freakness and all these sorts of things. The premier’s office has got to be across everything, and it’s going to work really hard and it’s got to help the whole team function as well as they possibly can.

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

On the stories about his post-politics pursuits, Daniel Andrews says he’s generating clicks but “definitely not” getting a cut:

You just have to laugh or you’ll cry.

Andrews denies he has sought membership of the Portsea Golf Club:

I don’t have any difficulty in finding places to play.

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