Australia news live updates: Morrison says election call ‘won’t be very long from now’; 12 Covid deaths as ‘Deltacron’ detected in NSW | Australia news

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00:15

Does anyone care for a snippet of what Anthony Albanese was talking about in South Australia this morning?

I was shadow minister for environments and water and guess what the major issue was? Murray-Darling.

This is the most important announcement that I will make here in South Australia during this campaign, because the Murray-Darling system is Australia’s most important system in terms of providing support and oxygen and water for South Australia.

What we will do is to create a national water commission to make sure that we drive this policy through. To make sure that we work with stakeholders, but we will deliver upholding the Murray-Darling plan. What we have seen from this government is that it has been adopted but they don’t deliver.

This is a great example of a government that is all promise and no delivery. A government that is all talk, no action. A government that simply is held back by the National party, by Barnaby Joyce and those forces upstream that don’t want the water to flow here to South Australia.

And it is so self-defeating, because if you don’t have those environmental flows, the system will die. That is why it is so important for South Australia that we deliver on the 450 gigalitres and that is precisely what federal Labor will do.

00:03

NSW records eight Covid deaths and 20,396 new infections

00:02

Morrison says election call “won’t be very long from now”

Election watch continues, with the prime minister to visit a weapons facility in Victoria today. On Melbourne’s 3AW radio just now, Scott Morrison would only say “it won’t be very long from now”.

There had been speculation in Canberra that he could visit the governor general today, but that seems less likely in the cold hard light of Friday.

Morrison trotted out lines you’ll be hearing a lot of through the campaign: attempts to frame the election as a “choice” between himself and Labor’s Anthony Albanese, “not a referendum” on Morrison’s own job performance; and raising fears that “we don’t know anything about Labor”.

Now’s not the time to be changing course.

Cost of living pressures have been a key campaign theme from Labor already, with the opposition raising concerns about inflation, stagnant wages and rocketing petrol prices.

The PM claimed the Coalition would better manage cost of living pressures than Labor – but wouldn’t be drawn on whether the government would extend the fuel excise cut beyond its scheduled end in September.

After a brutal onslaught on former Labor leader Bill Shorten’s “100 positive policies” at the 2019 poll, the Coalition is taking a totally different tack against Albanese’s team – alleging they are a “blank page” and complaining Labor hasn’t put out enough policy details yet, under the opposition’s so-called “small target strategy”.

People know who I am. No one knows who Anthony Albanese is.

It was a carbon copy of an answer Albanese himself gave barely 12 hours earlier, in Adelaide.

People know who I am. People know that Labor has put forward a constructive alternative and will continue to do so.

It’s going to be a long few weeks.

00:01

Victoria records four Covid deaths and 11,192 new cases

23:57

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Caroline Kennedy, the nominee for US ambassador to Australia, has said the Aukus security deal will provide “a lot of deterrence” in the Indo-Pacific even before the nuclear-powered submarines are ready.

With Australia set to enter a federal election campaign within days, Kennedy praised the country for standing firm with “a bipartisan foreign policy” in the face of “Chinese economic coercion”.

But she also said the prospect of a security agreement between China and Solomon Islands showed the US needed to be “more visible” in the Pacific. Kennedy said the US move to reopen its embassy in Solomon Islands “can’t come soon enough”.

You can read the full report below:

23:56

Graham Russell

Graham Russell

The latest burst of torrential rain has caused a landslip in Avoca Beach, leading police to close the main road through the beachside town on the NSW Central Coast.

SES workers also cordoned off a house at the top of the 100 metre forested cliff. The slide happened just metres away from shops and is the second landslip in the area in a fortnight.

Months earlier, the Central Coast council had placed concrete barriers around the base of the cliff, which looks out over the centre of the town, amid community concerns the ground was unstable.

The town has been battered by heavy surf as well as rain. At the weekend, several beachfront houses were flooded after a strong easterly swell and high tides opened the lagoon, sparking what some called a “mini-tsunami”.

A landslip at Avoca Beach, central coast NSW, on Friday 8 April after torrential rain
A landslip at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast, after torrential rain. Photograph: Graham Russell/The Guardian

23:52

Scott Morrison is chatting with 3AW now. Josh Butler will have an update post for you shortly on all that was said.

23:33

Russia bans 228 Australian government officials

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it had imposed entry bans on 228 Australian government members and lawmakers, including prime minister Scott Morrison, in response to sanctions from Canberra, Reuters reports.

It published a list of 228 Australian lawmakers and government members who were barred from entering the country.

23:20

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Australian Border Force officials searched 822 travellers’ mobile phones in 2021, despite admitting it has no power to force arrivals to give them the passcode to their devices.

In January, Sydney software developer James told Guardian Australia that he and his partner were stopped on their return from Fiji by border force officials who asked them to write their phone passcodes on a piece of paper before taking the codes and their phones to another room to examine for half an hour. The phones were then returned and they were allowed to leave.

Border force confirmed the practice was allowed under the Customs Act, but declined to expand on how often it was used, or what officers did with the devices once unlocked.

You can read the full report below:

23:12

Bushmaster vehicles on route to Ukraine

Australia will send 20 Bushmaster armoured vehicles worth $50m to Ukraine following a direct request from president Volodymyr Zelenskiy during his address to parliament last week, AAP reports.

The Bushmasters, which include two ambulance variants, will leave Brisbane for Europe on C-17 Globemasters on Friday morning.

The Bushmasters were painted olive green to suit the environment in Ukraine and will be fitted with radios, a global positioning system and additional bolt-on armour to increase their protection.

The personnel carriers provide protection against mines, artillery shrapnel and small arms fire.

A Ukrainian flag is painted on either side alongside the words “United with Ukraine” stencilled in English and Ukrainian.

The defence minister, Peter Dutton, said Australia will continue to provide what military assistance it can to Ukraine as forces continue to repel the Russian invasion.

“It is one of the world leading vehicles and it provides protection to the crew that are onboard that,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.

It will be a big win for the Ukrainian forces in their attempts to stare down the barbaric efforts of the Russian forces.

23:04

Christopher Knaus

Christopher Knaus

Craig Kelly is being investigated for billing taxpayers to fly to anti-vaccine mandate, anti-lockdown rallies in Melbourne, internal records show.

Kelly, the leader of the United Australia party, charged taxpayers for his flights to and from Melbourne for two rallies in November and December last year, which were organised chiefly as protests against Victoria’s pandemic powers and the Victorian premier, Dan Andrews.

The rallies were also used to protest Covid vaccination generally, particularly for children, and vaccine passports.

Kelly was a prominent figure at both rallies. At the first protest, Kelly told the crowd that Australia was being “governed by medical bureaucrats that are part of a mad, insane cult” and said the UAP would “bring Daniel Andrews to his knees” after the next election.

You can read the full report below:

22:55

Big Day Out creator Ken West dies aged 64

Overnight we learnt that Ken West, the creator of the Big Day Out festival that toured Australia and New Zealand for 22 years, has died aged 64.

His family have released a short statement, stating the music industry legend passed “quietly and peacefully”.

We bring unfortunate news that Ken West, a father, husband, mentor and most of all a legend, has passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of the 7th April 2022.

Our family would appreciate respect and privacy during this difficult time. Ken was big and noisy in life, but passed quietly and peacefully.

22:49

Overnight, Australia has joined 92 other countries to suspend Russia from the UN human rights council.

You can read more here:

22:41

Good morning

Good morning all, and happy Friday! It’s Matilda here with you today and let’s start with the unfolding flood situation in areas of NSW.

Early this morning, evacuation orders were issued for people living in Cornwallis and the eastern part of Richmond lowlands.

Residents in parts of Cattai, Pitt Town and Agnes Banks were also told to get out for fear of being trapped without power and water.

Major flood warnings are in place for rivers in the the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and the NSW Central and South Coast after torrential rain drenched the Sydney, Shoalhaven and Wollongong regions on Thursday.

The downpour and threat of flooding also forced 24 schools to close today, with another 13 schools teaching classes at different sites.

Now, sticking with NSW for a moment, where the first cases of “Deltacron” and another Omicron strain of Covid-19 have been detected.

Essentially this is something called a “recombinant” infection, where two separate strains of the virus combine to create a new strain.

The state’s weekly Covid-19 report showed the state has recorded two of these recombinant cases: one mix of the Delta and Omicron variants, or “Deltacron”, and one combination of Omicron’s two subvariants … so that’s not great.

But it’s worth noting that there isn’t any evidence so far that these new strains would be more resistant to vaccines or cause more severe illness.

Twenty Australia Bushmaster combat vehicles are leaving in a convoy today destined for Ukraine, to help the country in its counteroffensive against Russia.

Defence minister Peter Dutton, said supplying the equipment was an honour.

We’re going to gift 20 Bushmasters to the Ukraine and the idea will be to provide the support to keep people safe and to repel the Russians as quickly as possible from the Ukrainian territory.

Okay, with all that in mind, why don’t we jump right into the day.



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