Australia news LIVE: Worst offenders face return to custody under terror-style laws; Optus searches for new CEO
Technology / 21.11.2023

Australia news LIVE: Worst offenders face return to custody under terror-style laws; Optus searches for new CEO

Optus searches for a new chief executive, the Albanese government seeks legal advice to re-detain the worst offenders after High Court call and state leaders concerned about population boom.

Mining giant turned green energy aspirant Fortescue has wrapped up its annual generally meeting in Perth today, where founder and former chief executive Andrew Forrest lashed out at the oil and gas industry and the West Australian government’s response to climate change, which he said was “dismally behind schedule.” Forrest singled out major Australian oil and gas producer Woodside, labelling it and other fossil fuel producers like global giant Exxon Mobil as the “world’s greatest deceivers” about the deadly threat rising heat and humidity from climate change poses to humanity’s survival. Andrew Forrest at Fortescue’s AGM in Perth today. Credit: Trevor Collens The iron ore miner turned new energy aspirant told investors that it will push ahead with three out of five green hydrogen projects it said in January it intended to approve by the end of this year. Fortescue Energy’s chief Mark Hutchinson said the company’s board has approved plans to push ahead with an 80 megawatt electrolyser and liquefaction facility in Arizona and two other Australian projects. The company will also fund a 50 megawatt green hydrogen technology project in Gladstone, Queensland, and build a trial commercial plant to make green iron in West Australia. It claims all three projects are the first green hydrogen deals ever progressed to final investment decision status in the US and Australia. Read the full report by Simon Johanson here . Returning to the infrastructure funding cuts announced by the federal government last week, NSW Roads Minister John Graham says people in regional communities and Sydney’s west will be most affected by the $1.4 billion blow to the state’s infrastructure pipeline. Speaking to the ABC just now, Graham said the state government was now forced to find the funds to continue major projects such as that linking the M7 with the new toll-free M12 motorway, where he said there were already “bulldozers on site”. NSW Roads Minister John Graham. Credit: Peter Rae “This road is absolutely crucial,” he said. “Without that connection being delivered very soon … [we would not be] reaching the potential for what the Western Sydney Airport should become. It will have real traffic impact on people as they move around Sydney.” Graham said the state government was concerned about a proposal to shift the Commonwealth’s funding split for regional projects from 80:20 to 50:50. “Like other states with large bush communities, with towns spread out over large geographic areas in a similar way to ... WA or Queensland, that change would certainly have an impact in New South Wales,” he said. The families of five teenagers killed in a car crash south-west of Sydney sobbed as they told a court they will never be the same after the tragedy, which doomed them to a lifetime of devastation and grief, as the man responsible apologised for the first time. Tyrell Edwards, 20, was behind the wheel of his mother’s Nissan Navara on the evening of September 6, 2022, when he lost control and crashed into a tree at Buxton while driving at about 117km/h in a 60km/h zone. Gabby McLennan’s mother holds a photo of her daughter as she walks into court. Credit: Nick Moir His five passengers – Tyrese Bechard, 15, Antonio Desisto, 16, Lily Van de Putte, 14, Gabriella McLennan, 15, and 14-year-old Summer Williams – were killed when the ute hit a second tree and was ripped in half. Today, their families held photos of the Picton High School students and wore memorial shirts as they walked into Campbelltown District Court to read victim impact statements detailing their grief. Some fought back tears, wiping their eyes with a tissue, while others shook and sobbed as they told the court about receiving early morning phone calls from relatives, rushing to the crash scene, or having police knock on their door. Read the full story by NSW court reporter Georgina Mitchell here . Queensland’s attorney-general says she would be open to speaking with other states and territories about a nationalised standard for forensic testing after two inquiries found years of bungles by a state-run laboratory. More than 100,000 samples may need to be re-tested after retired Federal Court judge Annabelle Bennett’s second inquiry into Queensland’s forensic lab found it had used a “fundamentally flawed” automated DNA extraction method between 2007 and 2016. Queensland attorney-general Yvette D’Ath in 2021, when she was health minister. Credit: Matt Dennien Although Bennett said there was no evidence to undermine public confidence in the lab’s current work, D’Ath said there “needs to be a conversation” about a nationalised approach to DNA testing. “I know other jurisdictions, when I was health minister, they were all looking at what was happening in Queensland and ... going ‘ok, where do we sit in that and what are we doing?’” She said. “No doubt, there is a conversation to be had there, and it’s a conversation I welcome.” A lengthy first inquiry , led by Walter Sofronoff KC last year, found many DNA samples went untested and others were incorrectly ruled insufficient by the lab. The Queensland government is outsourcing overseas and nationally to deal with the huge testing backlog. Legislation amendments will also be introduced in state parliament to extend the amount of time DNA samples can be held. AAP In state news, leaders from Victoria’s Gippsland region have told a parliamentary hearing into last year’s devastating floods that the community has lost faith in the state’s ability to handle natural disasters. “I don’t think the community has any comfort, we have lots of recommendations come out of reports but at the end of the day when the flood happens we don’t see the results of that,” Traralgon Community Recovery Committee representative Ken Skinner told the hearing this morning. Traralgon in Gippsland was hit by flooding in June last year. Credit: Blake Bourne Former Latrobe City Council emergency management manager Lance King added: “I think we went backwards”. Mr Skinner was concerned there were too many alerts from the Vic Emergency app after flood peaks and said people disregard alerts when they frequently appear on their phones. “You don’t need to tell them every hour because they will just switch (their phones) back off again,” he said. Earlier in the day, the committee heard the total cost of the 2022 flood disaster to Victoria’s agriculture sector was estimated to be $1 billion. AAP Returning to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s earlier press conference, where Coalition home affairs spokesman James Paterson cautiously welcomed Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’s stronger journalist protections , but cautioned balance was needed to maintain national security. “Press freedom is a critically important freedom in our liberal democracy and the Coalition supports freedom of speech, but we’re also facing a very serious national security environment as well,” Paterson said. “We’ll look at any sensible proposal that the government brings forward, but we have to make sure that those national security imperatives are appropriately balanced against the press freedom imperatives that we want to protect as well.” Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen Kieran Pender, a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre welcomed Dreyfus’s announcement this morning, which included enshrining in law a need to get the Attorney-General’s consent before journalists are prosecuted, and stripping back criminal sanctions for secrecy offences. “However, we urge the Albanese government to go further –the changes announced today do not go far enough to strike the right balance between secrecy and transparency in our democracy after a decade of opacity,” Pender said. He added that a new general secrecy offence for public servants who cause harm by breaching confidentiality went too far. “The government should not waste this opportunity to robustly protect transparency and press freedom, which are cornerstones of our democracy,” he said. The High Court has published details of some of the worst criminal offenders potentially affected by the landmark ruling overturning indefinite immigration detention. Among the list, compiled by Home Affairs last month ahead of the decision, are people smugglers, a person convicted of rape and murder, and a man who punched his eight-year-old daughter. Notorious acid-bin killer Tony Kellisar , who is challenging the revocation of his protection visa in the Federal Court, is also on the department’s list, which it says contains a cohort whose removal from Australia is not reasonably foreseeable. Tony Kellisar was transferred to immigration detention in 2019 after serving a 20-year sentence for the death of his wife, Svetlana Podgoyetsky, in 1997. The list contains some people who have been released, including the Rohingya man convicted of raping a 10-year-old boy whose legal challenge brought on the High Court ruling, as well as Sirul Azhar Umar, a Malaysian bodyguard sentenced to death in his own country for murder. Other cases in the list include: To New Zealand, where a man shot by police last week is believed to have been deported from Australia in 2012 due to a history of violent offending. According to police, Tane Wipa was shot once after threatening his partner with a weapon. He died at the scene despite police providing medical assistance. The woman involved was not injured, Stuff reported. Police blocked off Coast Rd, Wainuiomata, South Island during the several hours-long stand-off. Credit: The Post/Stuff Wipa was deported back to NZ under the Australian Migration Act after years of offending. He first appeared in the criminal courts at the age of 14, according to his Immigration and Citizenship hearing in Australia, which described the most concerning aspect of his case to be the continued offending and the violence involved in his crimes. His offending also included assaulting a young person with a piece of metal piping that had a sharp end and taking their car, before pulling over and assaulting another youth with a steering lock. They had to get stitches for a “significant laceration” to the head. His family is now fundraising to travel to New Zealand for the funeral and then bring his body back to Australia, where he lived from the age of four. Read more on this story here . The police officer son of former NSW premier and senator Kristina Keneally has been found guilty of fabricating evidence that wrongfully put a man in prison. Daniel Keneally, 25, was convicted in the Downing Centre District Court on Tuesday. Daniel Keneally leaves Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court. Credit: Louise Kennerley Keneally wrote a statement containing many falsehoods, magistrate Rodney Brender found. Brender rejected his lawyer’s claims that it was an honest mistake. The offence related to an incident where Keneally was a few hours into a night shift at Newtown police station when Luke Brett Moore called in February 2021. Read the full story here . Thank you for reading our live coverage for the first half of the day. I’ll be handing over to Angus Thomson , who will be anchoring the blog for the rest of the afternoon. If you’re just joining us, here’s what you need to know:

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