Australia

Australia news live: NSW and Qld face another day of wild weather; Tony Mokbel drug conviction quashed

Bob Brown arrested for trespassing

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has been arrested for trespassing while attempting to halt logging in the north-east Tasmanian forest, AAP reports.

The 75-year-old former senator is seen being taken into custody on Tuesday morning in the Eastern Tiers forest in a video released by the Bob Brown Foundation.

“I’ve just been arrested for trespassing on my own public land as a Tasmanian and as an Australian,” Brown says in the video.

He was later granted police bail.



Former Greens leader Bob Brown has been arrested for trespassing.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has been arrested for trespassing. Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AAP

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor were moved on after being given a police direction, and three other people remained locked on to logging machinery, the foundation said.

Tasmania police confirmed they had arrested and charged three people after a protest in the Lake Leake area.

Two women, aged 57 and 49, were also charged with trespass and bailed.

The forest is home to the critically endangered swift parrot, fewer than 300 of which could remain in Australia, according to a recent study.

Updated

Scott Morrison could be one of the first to travel to New Zealand under the new bubble arrangement if the next trans-Tasman leaders meeting set to be held in New Zealand goes ahead in early 2021, AAP reports.

A spokesman for NZ’s PM, Jacinda Ardern, said the bubble timeline was unrelated to the prime ministerial visit but if it was ready in time “that would be a bonus”.

Australia and New Zealand first gave in-principle agreement to a shared non-quarantine travel arrangement in May, with both countries suffering outbreaks since.



New Zealand ‘s prime minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand ‘s prime minister Jacinda Ardern Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

The delay in establishing the bubble is New Zealand’s responsibility.

On Tuesday its Covid minister, Chris Hipkins, said reopening would require extra work from officials and Cabinet approval, and was therefore impossible until late January at the earliest.

“I was at Auckland airport this morning going over with them their plans to separate the airport into two areas … for people who are coming from non-safe zone countries and the safe side,” he said.

“We’re also talking to the airlines. They have their fleets grounded and they have to bring the capability back up.

“We’ve also still been working through those final details, so that when we do open up we can tell people what would happen in the event of an outbreak, whether in New Zealand or Australia.”

Updated

And with that, my time on today’s blog comes to and end and I leave you with the ever capable Josh Taylor to keep you on top of the rest of the day’s news.

Updated

South Australia’s chief health officer Nicola Spurrier has said poor ventilation at the quarantine hotel may have led to the Adelaide outbreak that led to the state going into lockdown last month.



South Australia’s chief health officer Officer Nicola Spurrier

South Australia’s chief health officer Officer Nicola Spurrier Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Spurrier said a review of CCTV vision from the Peppers Waymouth hotel had found no “significant breaches” of infection control.

She said the infection came from a security guard who was in the corridor on the floor where a returned traveller from the UK was staying – and that staff had followed protocols.

Updated

In some good news, Sydney Seaplanes has successfully completed a demonstration of a flight between Sydney and Canberra, landing on Lake Burley Griffin, and our Mike Bowers was there to capture the moment.



Sydney Seaplanes ran a demonstration flight today between Sydney and Canberra, landing on Lake Burley Griffin.

Sydney Seaplanes ran a demonstration flight today between Sydney and Canberra, landing on Lake Burley Griffin. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The company has applied to open up the route to consumers, hoping to fly three return flights a day between Rose Bay and Lake Burley Griffin.



Sydney Seaplanes after landing on Lake Burley Griffin.

Sydney Seaplanes after landing on Lake Burley Griffin. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

They’re still working with the relevant authorities on opening the route up, but hope to have it up and running in the second half of 2021.



Sydney Seaplanes on Lake Burley Griffin.

Sydney Seaplanes on Lake Burley Griffin. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Updated

First it was toilet paper, now lobsters. Woolworths is introducing limits on its half-priced lobsters after shoppers rushed to snap up the crustaceans at only $20 a pop.

7 News is reporting Woolworths has sold more WA rock lobsters in the first four days of the half-price promotion than it did during the whole of last year’s Christmas season.

“Since introducing our WA rock lobsters across Australia last week, we’ve seen incredible customer demand,” the supermarket said, confirming there was now a limit of four per customer.

Best to snap them up before they’re gone. And if you’re wondering what to do with your new, cheap lobsters, we also have you covered:

Updated

Australia’s payroll jobs rise in past fortnight

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has said Australia’s economic recovery has continued, with payroll jobs again rising in the past fortnight.

AAP has the story:

Employment continues to improve across the nation with more than three-quarters of jobs lost during the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic restored.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said payroll jobs rose by a further 0.4% across the fortnight to 28 November.

“More than three-quarters of payroll jobs lost to mid-April had been regained by the end of November, however they remained 2% lower than mid-March,” the bureau’s Bjorn Jarvis said.

The figures are a prelude to the official labour force figures due on Thursday.

Economists expect a less spectacular 40,000 increase in the number of people employed during November, after the surprising 178,800 surge in October.

That is expected to keep the unemployment rate at 7%, still shy of the 22-year high of 7.5% seen in June.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence has struck new highs for 2020, which should have retailers rubbing their hands in anticipation of a strong Christmas shopping season.



Retailers hope for a strong Christmas shopping season.

Retailers hope for a strong Christmas shopping season. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose 1.7% in the past week to 111.2 points, with most of the survey’s sub-indices now back or even higher than their pre-pandemic levels.

The “confidence in future economic conditions” index is at an 18-month high.

A separate analysis by Deloitte Access Economics says the retail industry has weathered the pandemic remarkably well, and the Christmas period is looking more positive for retailers than expected.

In its retail forecasts report, it notes the December quarter will be the first with limited Covid restrictions since the second wave hit Victoria.

Updated

The secretary of NSW Department of Education has said 31 government schools on the north coast have been shut due to flooding.

Mark Scott
(@mscott)

Communities are still getting hit hard up the NSW North Coast. We now have 31 Government schools not operational because of flood waters and access issues.

December 15, 2020

The SES has issued evacuation orders for Condong, Tumbulgum and surrounding areas. The evacuation centre is at Wollumbin high school.

Jake Lapham
(@JakeLapham)

Major flood warning just issued for Bellinger River. From the @BOM_NSW : “Floodwaters are moving toward Bellingen, arriving this afternoon.”

This is the river right now (there is a bridge under there), rain torrential. @abcnews pic.twitter.com/6yZTRhKC4W

December 15, 2020

Updated

An enormous whale carcass has washed up on a Surf Coast beach. Authorities urge caution, saying the carcass could attract sharks:

Herald Sun
(@theheraldsun)

Incredible photos of a massive whale carcass on a Surf Coast beach have emerged as authorities issue a shark warning for nearby beaches.

Read more: https://t.co/NPh3hDAV9t pic.twitter.com/FGXZAxc3Bf

December 15, 2020

Updated

Beaches across the east coast, particularly in northern NSW and southern Queensland, are being battered by strong winds and heavy rain, causing large chunks of the shore line to wash away.

“A year ago, Australians were fighting bushfires, now slabs of our eastern coastline are falling into the ocean,” said Gavan McFadzean, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate program manager. “Australians are experiencing climate change right now.”

McFadzean had warned the coming wet summer could bring further coastal erosion.

“The world’s top scientists warn melting sea ice and glaciers will raise sea levels by 30–60cm by 2100, even if global warming is capped at two degrees. That means a lot more of the coastal damage we’re witnessing right now.”

7NEWS Brisbane
(@7NewsBrisbane)

The tip of Bribie Island is barely holding on after another morning of rough surf and king tides. Vegetation has held a lot of the land in place, but water is still rushing through to Pumicestone Passage. Report on 7NEWS at 6pm. https://t.co/T9Yp0jMX9G #qldweather #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/80rBH7AMSn

December 15, 2020

It comes as the tip of Bribie Island is barely holding on – only vegetation keeping it connected to the mainland – and as Byron Bay’s pristine beaches are battered by the storms.

Updated

New variant of Covid-19 in England

The World Health Organization is investigating a new Covid-19 variant in England.

The WHO announced the nre variant had emerged in the UK, but said there is no evidence the strain behaves differently to the existing types of the virus.

“We are aware of this genetic variant reported in 1,000 individuals in England,” the WHO’s top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news briefing in Geneva. “Authorities are looking at its significance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time.”

Updated

Lohit Soundarajan

Founder , Editor Tech Guy #Voxguy

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