Australia news live: man arrested and charged after vandalism of Brisbane Woolworths store | Australia news

Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be bringing you the best of the overnight news before my colleague Emily Wind takes the reins.

The Middle East crisis deepened overnight when a US cargo ship was hit by Houthi missiles, making Penny Wong’s visit to the region beginning today even more sensitive. It follows remarks by Anthony Albanese last night declaring that the Australian government won’t participate in the international court of justice (ICJ) proceedings initiated by South Africa against Israel, and that his government is seeking a “political solution”.

Our top domestic story is an exclusive report that a senior psychologist treating children in the Cairns police watch house sent a “cry for help” letter detailing “horrendous” conditions and alleged human rights abuses in the lockup. The letter, seen by Guardian Australia, includes claims young people are not being provided adequate food, medical attention or legal support.

More than half of people trying to access emergency financial support for domestic and family violence are having their claims rejected, new data has revealed. Between July and September last year, 57,041 applications were made for the escaping violence payment (EVP) but only 29,437 were found eligible.

And we will be keeping a close eye on northern Australian, with parts of the Northern Territory and Queensland forecast to experience dangerous winds and flash flooding – more on that soon.

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Key events

Brisbane man charged after Woolworths store vandalised

Queensland police have arrested and charged a man after the vandalism of a Woolworths store in Brisbane yesterday morning.

Police will allege that around 5am, the man set off a flare at the Teneriffe business, causing the fire alarm to be activated. Police also observed graffiti at the store upon arrival.

A 40-year-old Ormiston man was arrested in Fortitude Valley about 7.45pm last night, and has been charged with one count each of wilful damage and wilful damage by graffiti.

He is expected to appear at Brisbane magistrates court on 21 February.

Yesterday, police said they were investigating after the Teneriffe Woolworths was vandalised.

This comes as opposition leader, Peter Dutton, called for a boycott of Woolworths following its decision to stop stocking Australia Day merchandise.

Woolworths said it made this decision due to a lack of demand from customers. But on social media, Dutton accused the supermarket chain of “pedalling woke agendas” and “trying to cancel Australia Day”.

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Western Australian police have confirmed that child abuse detectives are currently in Broome as part of an ongoing investigation into historic child sex offences.

The ABC reported that they were searching a property owned by the Catholic Church, where Broome’s former Catholic bishop Christopher Saunders lived up until late last year.

Saunders has been accused of sexually assaulting and grooming young Aboriginal men. He denies the accusations.

On Saturday, Guardian Australia revealed he has been removed as the person responsible for nine Broome diocese charities.

Saunders stood aside as the bishop of Broome in 2020 and his resignation was accepted in 2021 by Pope Francis.

The ABC reported that his former home in Broome was searched yesterday, with two police cars and five unmarked police vehicles at the property.

Red Sea conflict: UK ‘always welcomes’ Australia’s support, high commissioner says

The British high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, spoke to ABC RN just earlier about the ongoing conflict in the Red Sea.

This comes after Australia supported the US and UK militaries as they launched more than a dozen airstrikes against sites used by Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen:

Treadell was asked whether Australia should be playing a larger role in the conflict along with its Aukus partners, the US and the UK.

She said that Australia provided support through personnel at the operation centre at Bahrain, and added:

The Australian government will consider the request from the coalition and will contribute as it is able to do so. Those are decisions for the Australian government to make, balanced against the other priorities and demands for security in this region.

We always welcome Australians’ support and we continue to look forward to working with Australia on these critical international issues.

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More than 100 calls for help as overnight thunderstorm hits Melbourne’s east

The Victorian SES received 120 calls for help in the 24 hours to 7am, with thunderstorms hitting the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the early hours of the morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology alerted to a severe thunderstorm late last night across the Melbourne area, with intense rainfall moving across the eastern suburbs.

VICSES received 120 calls for help in the 24 hours to 7am Tuesday.
Thunderstorms hit the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne between 1am – 3am with around 40 calls for help.
Thanks to the SES volunteers from Moorabbin, Chelsea and Whitehorse Units who were kept busy 🧡 pic.twitter.com/VZj5n0y3nV

— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) January 15, 2024

Here was the warning issued at 1am, showing the thunderstorm path:

This Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Melbourne Area is for intense rainfall for people in parts of Port Phillip waters, South East and Inner East Local Warning Areas.

A severe thunderstorm is moving across eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Stay informed: pic.twitter.com/LvzR3pu8ei

— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) January 15, 2024

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Jewish group urges Penny Wong to call for Gaza ceasefire

The Jewish Australians for a Ceasefire group has reiterated its call that Australia should be pushing for a full ceasefire in Gaza as foreign minister Penny Wong travels to the Middle East.

A spokesperson for the group said Wong’s visit is an “opportunity for our government to do everything it can to call for an end to this horror”.

More than 900 Australian Jews have now signed an open letter urging the government to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The spokesperson said:

It is increasingly clear that the Australian Jewish community does not unanimously support the actions of the Israeli government.

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Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Good morning! And happy Tuesday – many thanks to Martin for kicking things off. I’m Emily Wind and I’ll be taking you through our rolling coverage today.

See something that needs attention on the blog? You can get in touch on X, @emilywindwrites, or via email: emily.wind@theguardian.com.

With that, let’s get started.

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Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Politicians ‘polarising’ opinion on Australia Day, expert says

Politicians are trying to polarise opinion on the celebration or otherwise of Australia Day, a leading academic says, despite growing evidence that the culture war over the issue doesn’t reflect public sentiment, Australian Associated Press reports.

Australian Catholic University sociology lecturer Rachel Busbridge says there has been a general shift towards support for changing the date, with only half of Australians celebrating, which is very different to the dynamic presented by politicians.

“We see a lot of polarisation from that top level of politics [and] it tends to come from the right side,” Busbridge said in the wake of Peter Dutton’s attack on Woolworths for not selling Australia Day-themed merchandise.

But when we look at people’s attitudes on the ground, it’s a lot less polarised.

We can see a slow but steady drift towards recognising that the day is a bit problematic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and if we want to all celebrate together, then that may mean that we have to find another day.

Opposition leader Peter Duttonn took to the airwaves last week to call for a boycott of Woolworths, criticising its decision not to sell Australia Day merchandise as an ‘outrage’.
Opposition leader Peter Duttonn took to the airwaves last week to call for a boycott of Woolworths, criticising its decision not to sell Australia Day merchandise as an ‘outrage’. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

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Two teenagers killed in Sydney car crash last night

Two teenage boys were killed and another seriously injured in a crash in Sydney’s north-west last night, Australian Associated Press reports.

Emergency services were called to Windsor Road at McGraths Hill about 9.40pm on Monday on reports a car had struck a power pole.

Two teenage boys, who were passengers in the car, were critically injured and died at the scene, police said.

The 17-year-old male driver was treated by paramedics for chest and internal injuries before being taken to Westmead hospital where he was reported to be in a stable condition.

Police were told the car had struck another car before leaving the road and striking a power pole.

The driver of the other car stopped and rendered assistance, calling triple zero, and was taken for mandatory blood and urine testing.

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Aid groups urge Wong to push for ceasefire

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Aid organisations want foreign minister Penny Wong to push for a ceasefire to the war between Israel and Hamas during her visit to the Middle East, Australian Associated Press reports.

Wong will meet regional counterparts during her visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, along with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Aid group Amnesty International said Wong’s visit to the region should be focused on ways for a ceasefire to be undertaken.

The organisation’s Palestinian Territories and Israel spokesperson, Mohamed Duar, said the 100 days since the start of the war had seen a “chilling disregard of human rights”.

Amnesty has repeatedly documented war crimes being committed by all parties to the conflict.

The scale of death and destruction we witness in Gaza today is unparalleled.

For these reasons, Penny Wong must reiterate Australia’s support for a ceasefire, and for Israel to allow unhindered and immediate humanitarian aid to enter Gaza during her trip.

Wong will be the most senior representative from Australia to visit the region since the current conflict broke out on 7 October and the first from an Australian foreign minister since 2016.

Penny Wong will meet with regional counterparts during her Middle Eat visit.
Penny Wong will meet with regional counterparts during her Middle Eat visit. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

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Heavy rain likely to cause flooding in northern Australia as rivers rise

More forecast rain and strong winds will likely mean ongoing flooded homes, submerged streets, and belongings damaged by fallen trees in multiple states and territories, AAP reports.

Parts of the Northern Territory and Queensland are due to experience dangerous winds and flash flooding today.

A monsoon trough extending from the northern Kimberley of Western Australia to the Cape York Peninsula, as well as a tropical low over the NT is making for a big wet in Australia’s north. The Bureau of Meteorology expects the tropical low to move southeast today, with continued rain.

Flood warnings have been issued for the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria, and for the NT’s north-west.

“We’re already starting to see river rises in some of these areas and further river rises are anticipated over the coming days,” meteorologist Miriam Bradbury said.

There’s also more rain forecast at centres including Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra on Tuesday. Winds in some metropolitan areas could reach up to 50km/h.

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Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be bringing you the best of the overnight news before my colleague Emily Wind takes the reins.

The Middle East crisis deepened overnight when a US cargo ship was hit by Houthi missiles, making Penny Wong’s visit to the region beginning today even more sensitive. It follows remarks by Anthony Albanese last night declaring that the Australian government won’t participate in the international court of justice (ICJ) proceedings initiated by South Africa against Israel, and that his government is seeking a “political solution”.

Our top domestic story is an exclusive report that a senior psychologist treating children in the Cairns police watch house sent a “cry for help” letter detailing “horrendous” conditions and alleged human rights abuses in the lockup. The letter, seen by Guardian Australia, includes claims young people are not being provided adequate food, medical attention or legal support.

More than half of people trying to access emergency financial support for domestic and family violence are having their claims rejected, new data has revealed. Between July and September last year, 57,041 applications were made for the escaping violence payment (EVP) but only 29,437 were found eligible.

And we will be keeping a close eye on northern Australian, with parts of the Northern Territory and Queensland forecast to experience dangerous winds and flash flooding – more on that soon.

Updated at 

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