Australia news live: Wong calls for ‘pathway to a Palestinian state’; ABC to defend Antoinette Lattouf dismissal in court | Australia news

Key events

According to the NOAA Coral Reef Watch, significant heat stress is building across the southern hemisphere.

Because of this, it predicts that over the next few months coral bleaching may occur throughout much of the Indian Ocean and the central equatorial and southwestern Pacific, including the Great Barrier Reef:

More images from Wong meeting with Palestinian authorities

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has shared images of meeting with Mohammad Shtayyeh, prime minister of Palestine, and foreign minister Riyad Al Maliki, to social media. She wrote on X:

I conveyed Australia’s support for the Palestinian people. Australia wants to see more urgent action to protect civilian lives and increased and unimpeded humanitarian access in Gaza.

We must continue to work for a just and enduring peace which meets Israel’s security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

In my meetings with Prime Minister Shtayyeh and Foreign Minister Malki, I conveyed Australia’s support for the Palestinian people.

Australia wants to see more urgent action to protect civilian lives and increased and unimpeded humanitarian access in Gaza.

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) January 17, 2024

As Daniel Hurst brought us on the blog just earlier, Wong has called for a “pathway to a Palestinian state”. You can read more here, or by scrolling down.

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Miles commits to accepting recommendations of Olympic Games review

Q: If the review recommends that the stadium rebuild is going to be too expensive and could blow out the cost even further, would you scrap it altogether? How committed are you to the rebuild of the Gabba?

Steven Miles:

I will accept the recommendations of this review.

I have always taken independent advice whenever I have asked for it. That’s precisely what I’ll do here.

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Miles says Gabba stadium rebuild has become ‘more political and more devisive’ than it should be

Moving to the forthcoming Olympics in Queensland, Steven Miles was asked how concerned he is by cost blowouts and if a more than $2.5bn Gabba stadium rebuild is “value for money”.

He said he wants the Games to deliver on the promises made to Queensland, including delivering value for money, and uniting Queenslanders:

I’m really concerned that this issue has been becoming more political and more divisive than it ever should have.

I hope this independent review can give all Queenslanders certainty that we have the right plan for Queensland, the right plan to deliver the best Games ever, but more importantly, even more importantly than that, the right plan to deliver what our state needs and I think really that comes down to transport connectivity. That was the promise of the Games and I want to make sure that’s what it delivers.

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Queensland premier says powers to address potential price gouging are at a national level

Asked what needs to be done to address this issue, Steven Miles said many of the powers are at a national level.

He welcomes the review of the grocery code but said his personal view is it should be mandatory, not voluntary, and there should be tougher penalties “that really make people think twice before price gouging”.

At a state level, we do have the ability to put this transparency into the system to make sure that Queenslanders can see why and how the prices they’re paying are set and that’s really what I’m trying to do here, starting with this meeting with the supermarkets.

I hope there are concrete outcomes. I hope they bring to me concrete proposals. If they don’t, we’ll put to them concrete proposals to help address the cost of buying food for Queensland families.

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Steven Miles on supermarket price gouging: ‘it looks that way to me’

The Queensland premier, Steven Miles, spoke to ABC News Breakfast just earlier, ahead of a meeting with the chief executives of Australia’s major supermarkets today.

Miles said he has heard from farmers directly about how they’re getting less pay from the supermarkets as their costs go up at the same time as families are struggling to afford fresh fruit and vegetables:

I think the starting point here is scrutiny and transparency. Queenslanders deserve to know just how much supermarkets are paying farmers, and why they’re not paying less for their groceries.

Asked if he has evidence of price gouging, Miles said: “Well, it looks that way to me.”

I’ve heard these stories firsthand from farmers about just how these supplier agreements are driving down farm gate prices right when their costs are going up, and I know from visiting the supermarket myself, as well as from talking to Queenslanders, the price of fresh food just hasn’t gone down anything like what the price farmers are getting has.

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Tropical cyclone report as BoM warns of ‘significant risk’ to Queensland

Here is the latest on Tropical Cyclone Anggrek, from the Bureau of Meteorology:

The cyclone remains to the west of the Cocos Islands and will continue moving in a southerly direction today and tomorrow. It is expected to weaken from tomorrow. Over the weekend it is likely to track west, but if it moves to the east, it is likely to be a weak tropical low.

Meanwhile, tropical low 05U is expected to become Tropical Cyclone Kirrily and impact the Queensland coast next week.

The latest update says it is developing in the Coral Sea currently, due to strengthen at the weekend and become a tropical cyclone by Monday.

The BoM says there is a “significant risk” the system will impact Queensland next week and that a “severe impact” is possible.

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Taiwanese ambassador welcomes Australian statements of congratulations

Taiwan’s top diplomat in Australia, ambassador Douglas Hsu, spoke to ABC RN just earlier following Taiwan’s recent election.

Lai Ching-te from the pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive party (DPP) was elected president. Yesterday, China said it had lodged diplomatic protests with Australia over a statement congratulating Lai.

(You can read more on yesterday’s blog here).

Speaking to RN, Hsu said the Taiwanese government welcomes statements from the Australian government, including the prime minister and foreign minister, following the election:

I think that will pave a very solid foundation for both sides to advance the bilateral partnership.

What does Taiwan think of Australia maintaining its bipartisan approach to the One China policy? Hsu:

We respect the Australian government choice on their policies … Under the current policy, Taiwan and Australia can still find room and flexibility to explore all the opportunities out there for cooperation.

He said Taiwan was “disappointed” that Nauru has severed diplomatic ties and switched its allegiance to China, but that it wouldn’t influence Taiwan’s overall strategies in the Indo-Pacific.

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Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Wong calls for sustainable humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Speaking from Jerusalem, Penny Wong also repeated the Australian government’s condemnation of Hamas’ 7 October attacks and called for the immediate, unconditional release of hostages.

The foreign affairs minister also spoke about the importance of “a humanitarian ceasefire” which “obviously cannot be one-sided” and the need for steps towards a sustainable ceasefire. Summing up the points she has made during her visit to the region, Wong said:

I’ve spoken about Australians’ concerns. Australia is a friend of Israel. We’re also a friend of the Palestinian people. Australians are increasingly concerned about the civilian toll and are increasingly concerned about the urgent need for humanitarian access [to Gaza].

Wong said the Australian government had been consistent in stating Israel’s right to self-defence, but in also saying how it conducted itself mattered:

That is why we have international humanitarian law. That is why we have international obligations and norms around the protection of civilians, around proportionality, around distinction. And we have been very clear about that.

Wong, when pressed on whether she was alleging breaches of international law, added:

I am simply saying we are a democracy and this about who we are – I spoke about this with our Israeli friends. We are a democracy, so too is Israel, and we hold ourselves to higher standards because of who we are.

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Penny Wong calls for ‘pathway to Palestinian state’

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has called for “peace, security and dignity” for Israelis and Palestinians, saying this must include a “pathway to a Palestinian state”.

Wong spoke to reporters in Jerusalem early this morning Australian time, following a visit to the occupied West Bank. She said:

It is clear from the conflict that the path to peace demands a just and enduring two-state solution. It demands the recognition of Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood and it demands security for Israelis, and we don’t believe as the Australian government – we’ve made that clear – that settlements are consistent with that pathway to a two-state solution.

Wong reiterated that Hamas had no place in the future governance of Gaza. She was it was “important to recognise that for Israelis … October 7 was a deeply horrific and traumatising event, and peace and security go hand in hand”. The minister added later:

There is history and pain and anger in so many parts of the Middle East. My message is that actually ultimately Palestinians and Israelis want peace, security and dignity. And what this shows us is we do have to deal with the pathway to a Palestinian state as part of that.

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Conroy defends consideration of potential sale of Taipan helicopter parts

Circling back to defence industry minister Pat Conroy’s interview on ABC RN: Conroy faced questions around why the Australian government was scanning the market to sell the Taipan helicopters if they have not yet been deemed safe.

He said the helicopters were only going to be sold if the crash investigation deemed them safe, but it was in the taxpayer’s best interest for the helicopters to be disassembled into parts rather than sold.

We do not know whether they’re safe to fly. Secondly, to get them into a condition to provide to the Ukrainian government [would] require considerable taxpayers expense and time and resources and that was not a good use of taxpayers money.

We’re providing $910m worth of assistance to Ukraine … and we’ll continue to consider requests where they’re appropriate, but I really find it quite incredible that people are suggesting that we should provide aircraft to Ukraine that we still have no idea [are safe to fly].

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Two teens charged over alleged murder of doctor Ash Gordon

Victorian police detectives have charged two teenage boys following the alleged murder of 33-year-old doctor Ash Gordon.

Police say two 16-year-old boys were arrested yesterday. They were interviewed by police and both teens were charged with murder, aggravated burglary and theft.

The pair will appear at children’s court at a later date.

Police said this follows an incident in Doncaster on 13 January where Gordon was killed. It is alleged that he was fatally injured following a confrontation as part of an alleged aggravated burglary.

Serious crime division superintendent Janet Stevenson said investigators have worked “tirelessly” since Saturday to identify, locate and apprehend those responsible for “this tragedy”.

We know that Ash’s family and loved ones are grieving. This arrest will not take away the tragedy of this dreadful situation, but we hope that it will alleviate some of their distress. We will continue to provide all the support they require during this difficult time.

Ash was a much-loved, valued member of our community, and we are all trying to make sense of what has occurred. This type of incident can create fear and uncertainty. We want our community to feel safe in their homes and to that end, Victoria police will do continue to do everything in our power to make this a reality.

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