February 1, 2024

Australia news LIVE: PM welcomes inflation falling to 4.1 per cent; Labor spruiks stage 3 tax cut changes

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Two granted bail after man drowns in Hobart

Two people charged with aggravated robbery have been granted bail after a 27-year-old man was allegedly pushed off a Hobart wharf and drowned on Monday night.

Deepinderjeet Singh was sitting with a woman on Princes Wharf, a short walk from the CBD, when the pair were allegedly pushed into the water about 10pm.

The woman was able to climb a ladder to safety but Singh, who was unable to swim, could not be saved despite the efforts of police and passersby.

Police allege four people were involved in an attempt to steal the woman’s handbag. A 17-year-old Goodwood boy was charged with manslaughter and aggravated robbery. He was due to appear in Hobart Magistrates Court this afternoon.

Chantelle Gloria Devine-Wordsworth, 25, and Hayden Thomas Nichols, 19, appeared in court earlier today on charges of aggravated robbery and were granted bail.

A 17-year-old Berriedale girl, who was also charged with aggravated robbery, appeared in a closed session. It is not known if she was granted bail.

Singh moved to Tasmania to study. A fundraising page has been set up to raise money to transport his body to his family in India. Tasmania Police are continuing to investigate the incident.



Boy trapped in ‘skills tester’ claw machine at Queensland shopping centre

An eager three-year-old Queensland boy who took the direct approach while trying to win a toy had to be rescued by police after he ended up stuck inside a claw machine.

Police released video of the unusual rescue after Ethan got trapped inside the “skills tester” at a Capalaba shopping centre, south of Brisbane on Saturday night.

Three-year-old Ethan got stuck in the skills tester claw machine.Credit: Queensland Police Service

The youngster appeared to have climbed into the machine through its prize dispenser and inadvertently become the novelty prize, with police called in to smash the glass before returning him to the arms of his relieved parents.

Ethan’s worried parents had to coax him to the back corner of the machine so officers could break the glass to retrieve the boy.

“Ethan cover your eyes. Hide,” his mother told him as officers smashed the glass before lifting the preschooler to safety.



Live exports ship returns to Perth after Red Sea attacks

A ship carrying thousands of sheep and cattle that has been at sea for almost a month has docked in Western Australia, where some of the animals are expected to be offloaded.

About 16,500 animals have been packed into the MV Bahijah since January 5, when it sailed for the Middle East from Fremantle before being ordered to abandon its voyage due to Houthis’ rebel attacks in the Red Sea.

The MV Bahijah is carrying about 14,000 sheep and 2500 cattle.Credit: 9News Perth

It’s been stranded off the coast of Perth since returning to Australian waters, sparking fears for the animals’ welfare as authorities scrambled to formulate a plan to quarantine the livestock.

The vessel docked in Fremantle Port today, according to The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, but it remains unclear when and how many animals will be offloaded.

Yesterday, the federal government sent two veterinarians onto the vessel to inspect the animals. Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Beth Cookson, said there were no significant animal health or welfare issues identified.



Australia’s COVID-19 response ‘the worst ever public health failing’, inquiry told

Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response has been slammed as the “worst ever public health failing” as doctors call for a royal commission into the nation’s handling of the crisis.

Labor went into the 2022 election promising a royal commission on the COVID-19 years, but in September it drew fierce criticism when the government instead announced a special commission of inquiry.

People wear masks in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands in 2021.Credit: Renee Nowytarger

Its terms of reference will include vaccinations, treatments and mental health support but will not investigate lockdowns and mask mandates.

Australian Institute for Progress executive director Graham Young told the inquiry today that the nation’s management of the pandemic fell short.

“Policies dealing with COVID were in my view, the worst ever public policy and public health failing in this country,” he said.

Young said the people behind the decision-making didn’t appear to be diverse enough to take into account the needs of the whole community.



Bulk-billing rates increase after Medicare funding boost

By Olivia Ireland

Health Minister Mark Butler has welcomed new data showing thousands more Australians are now seeing their GPs without having to pay out-of-pocket fees.

Butler said the number of GPs bulk-billing their patients had increased by 2.1 percentage points since October. The government pledged a $5.7 billion funding boost for Medicare in the May 2023 budget.

Health Minister Mark Butler.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“Really pleasingly over the last couple of months, since the money actually started to hit general practices, we’ve seen an increase in bulk billing,” Butler said.

“[A total of] 360,000 additional free visits to the doctor in just two months, in November and December.”

He said it was proof the government had begun to stop the downward slide in bulk-billing rates.


House prices rise again in January

The Australian property market has extended its growth into 2024 despite prices falling slightly in three cities, including Melbourne.

The latest data on home prices, released by CoreLogic today, showed a 0.4 per cent lift in dwelling values in January – the 12th straight monthly increase in the home value index.

House prices have risen again across the nation.Credit: Oscar Colman

But compared to the middle of last year, the pace of gains has been slower. Sydney recorded a more modest 0.2 per cent lift in home values in January, while Melbourne recorded a 0.1 per cent decline.

Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth recorded increases of 1 per cent or more, while Canberra and Hobart recorded falls of 0.2 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

The nation is also facing an ongoing undersupply of new homes according to fresh data on dwelling approvals, which fell 9.5 per cent in December and were down more than 15 per cent for 2023, compared to the year before.



‘He’d still be with us’: Grieving mother condemns care given to son

The family of a mentally ill Aboriginal man who took his own life in a prison cell says his death could have been avoided with appropriate care.

Timothy Garner died at Sydney’s Silverwater jail on July 7, 2018. He was on remand after being charged with robbery and possession of a prohibited drug three months earlier.

A coronial inquest heard the 30-year-old father had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and was being seen by a specialist team to assess his risk of self-harm before his death.

In the week before he died, a psychiatrist recommended Garner be transferred to a mental health facility. But five days before his death, he was removed from the waitlist and cleared from the “risk-intervention team’s” assessment after his condition was deemed to have improved.

Delivering his findings today, Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee said it would have been more appropriate for Garner to remain under the team’s management, but it was not possible to determine if this would have likely changed the course of events.

Outside the court, Michelle Garner said her son’s death could have been avoided if he had received appropriate health care.

“He’d still be with us today,” she said. “The last time I saw Tim alive, I told prison staff he needed to see a doctor, he needed to be medicated, but I wasn’t kept informed about my son’s condition.”

The coroner recommended the prison remove ligature or hanging points in cells.

Lifeline 13 11 14Beyondblue 1300 22 4636



Stockmarket loses all gains that took it to new high

The Australian sharemarket has given up all the gains that sent it to an all-time high yesterday, after US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said a rate cut next month was unlikely.

The ASX200 was down 90.5 points, or 1.18 per cent, at midday, to hit 7590.2. One day earlier, the benchmark index gained 80.5 points to break the previous record high it set 29 months ago.

The broader All Ordinaries was down 95.3 points at midday, or 0.12 per cent, to 7817.4.

Overnight the Federal Reserve left interest rates on hold – as was expected – with Powell saying rate cuts would likely begin sometime this year but probably not as soon as March, as some traders had expected.

On the Australian market, every sector was in the red at midday. Tech was the biggest loser, down 2.1 per cent, after Wisetech Global dropped 2.7 per cent.



Wong’s position ‘untenable’ if she knew about UN agency links to Hamas attacks: Dutton

By Olivia Ireland

Penny Wong’s position as foreign affairs minister would be “untenable” if she received advice about links between the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees and the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel before committing funding to the agency, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says.

Israel claimed last Friday that 12 workers from the UNRWA had been involved in the attacks, which were the catalyst for the latest conflict in Gaza. The UN says it has since terminated the contracts of several workers. Australia has also hit pause on a $6m aid package that had been earmarked for the agency.

Penny Wong visits a UN health clinic for Palestinians run by the UNRWA in Amman, Jordan, this month.Credit: DFAT

Speaking on Sydney radio station 2GB, Dutton was asked about reports that Jewish leaders had warned the government weeks ago about the UNRWA’s links to the Hamas attacks.

“I believe that Penny Wong’s position is untenable if it’s demonstrated that she had advice that this [aid] money could be used for a purpose that wasn’t intended by the government,” he said.

“If she has received that advice then the money’s been flowed on regardless, and ended up in the hands of terrorists, that is an outrage because firstly, it’s taxpayers’ money, it’s against our national interest and she had definite advice – if that’s what turns out to be the case – that she should not have ignored.”


Dutton hits back at Albanese after PM’s radio lament

By Olivia Ireland

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has rejected Anthony Albanese’s concerns about the state of politics in Australia, saying it was “sad but predictable” that the prime minister had accused the opposition this morning of playing politics.

Albanese told Sydney radio station WSFM he was concerned about the fact the opposition “just oppose everything”. In response, Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB that the prime minister had ultimately lied to Australians.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“It’s sad but predictable … the fact is Australians know when the prime minister’s lied to [voters],” Dutton said.

“He did in relation to the Voice, promising that the detail would be made available before people voted – it never happened.

“In relation to the tax cuts, people have budgeted for those tax cuts. I think the debate now is about what comes next because [Treasurer] Jim Chalmers, when you look at his words, he’s got this cute form of words around negative gearing.”

Dutton also accused the government of making an “attack on aspiration” and pitting one Australian against the other.

“People can reasonably say that they’re worried that changes are coming,” he said.

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