From 51m ago

Good morning!

The flood crisis continues in parts of New South Wales with major flooding and evacuation orders in Singleton and several Hunter Valley towns.

Weather conditions are easing for Sydney and the NSW Central Coast, as almost 30,000 people have been allowed to return home. Applications for the federal disaster recovery payments will open at 2pm today.

Reports say a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose will become available for Australians over the age of 30, after the health minister, Mark Butler, is briefed today on Atagi’s recommendations following yesterday’s meeting.

The education minister, Jason Clare, has committed to a “reset” of relations between government and universities, announcing a review into the role and governance of the main grants body in a major speech last night.

I’m Natasha May and I’ll be updating you on all these headlines and more this morning. If there’s anything you think should be on the blog you can ping me on Twitter @natasha__may or email [email protected]

Updated at 22.57 BST

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Rain may have eased in Sydney and on New South Wales Central Coast but the inclement weather and risk of flooding has moved to the Hunter Valley and mid-north coast overnight.

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More than 6,000 residents of the Hunter have evacuated their homes and businesses, while the New England Highway remains closed at Singleton and Maitland.

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Major flooding in Singleton continues, where an evacuation order has also been issued, and there is moderate flooding at Wollombi and Maitland.

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The Hunter River peaked at 13.7m overnight, exceeding the 13.15m level of the March floods.

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On Thursday morning the SES had received about 1,200 requests for help in the last 24 hours, with about 900 of them in the Central Coast, Hunter and the mid-north coast regions, NSW SES deputy commissioner Ashley Sullivan said.

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They had seen approximately 65 flood rescues in the 12 hours overnight, and were focusing on the flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley areas.

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There were 58 “return with caution” advices current, meaning about 35,000 can start to return home with care, Sullivan told ABC News Breakfast:

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[For those people] the flood threat has eased, the danger has eased from the flooding and it’s OK to head back into your home and do that assessment to see what’s needed next.

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Obviously, as people head back into those communities, there will still be floodwater in low-local areas. There’s going to be debris, potentially contaminants from spilt chemicals and be cautious of power lines as well. Treat power lines as always being live if they’ve been damaged throughout this event. And when you go into your home, do not turn the power back on if it’s been flooded or inundated.

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– With AAP

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The flood crisis continues in parts of New South Wales with major flooding and evacuation orders in Singleton and several Hunter Valley towns.

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Weather conditions are easing for Sydney and the NSW Central Coast, as almost 30,000 people have been allowed to return home. Applications for the federal disaster recovery payments will open at 2pm today.

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Reports say a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose will become available for Australians over the age of 30, after the health minister, Mark Butler, is briefed today on Atagi’s recommendations following yesterday’s meeting.

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The education minister, Jason Clare, has committed to a “reset” of relations between government and universities, announcing a review into the role and governance of the main grants body in a major speech last night.

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I’m Natasha May and I’ll be updating you on all these headlines and more this morning. If there’s anything you think should be on the blog you can ping me on Twitter @natasha__may or email [email protected]

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Key events:

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The education minister, Jason Clare, has promised a “reset” with universities through an accord to achieve bipartisan consensus on issues facing the sector.

This was a policy first announced in opposition by Tanya Plibersek, but details are still scant.

Last night, Clare told the Universities Australia conference:

And that, at its core, is what the Australian Universities Accord will be about. A reset. And an opportunity to build a long-term plan for our universities. Together. Drawing on the advice of the leadership in this room, your staff, unions, business, students, parents, and all political parties.

Looking at everything from funding and access, to affordability, transparency, regulation, employment conditions and also how universities and TAFE’s and other higher education and vocational education providers and training institutions work together.

To lead this work, in the next few months I will appoint a small group of eminent Australians. I want this to be a bipartisan effort. I want it to come up with reforms that last longer than the inevitable political cycle. I also want your help and guidance, and that starts with making sure we get the Terms of Reference for this right, and I’ll be engaging with you on these soon.

Australian-Russian ties at ‘lowest point’, says envoy

Pavlovsky said Australian-Russian relations had reached their “lowest point”.

Whatever co-operation we had has been destroyed by the Australian side without thoughts to what Australian interests were.

This is really sad.

When asked if Putin will participate in the G20 summit in person, Pavlovsky said Putin will participate “for sure” but the format is still being discussed.

Pavlovsky said the situation with the pandemic will determine the format.

He is very busy with constructive dialogue with many countries. He will not pay attention to virtue signalling from certain leaders.

Updated at 23.26 BST

Pavlovsky said the war could have been avoided if “diplomatic dialogue had not been blocked by the west”.

The west is doubling down prohibiting the Ukrainian side from going back to the negotiating table.

Q: Why don’t you just stop bombing Ukraine? That would end this.

There are important existential reasons for Russia to start this operation. Operation will stop when reasons are removed.

Updated at 23.24 BST

Russian ambassador says west ‘hysteric’

ABC Radio is asking the Russian ambassador to Australia, Alexey Pavlovsky, how Russia can justify its position at the G20 summit.

Pavlovsky responded by criticising the “west’s hysteric reaction”.

ABC Radio is asking the ambassador about the invasion’s impact on global food supplies, and host Hamish McDonald has rebuked Pavlovsky: “This is not Russian state media, you can’t get away with making it up.”

Pavlovsky has denied the situation is a war, saying it is a military operation to protect Russia’s security interests.

You can call it as you wish, our point of view, it is a military operation to protect people of the Donbass, and to protect security interests.

Updated at 23.24 BST

Atagi caution over fourth vaccine dose

Dr Chris Moy, vice-president of federal Australian Medical Association and a member of the Atagi technical advisory group, is on ABC radio discussing the decision to allow Australians over 30 to get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Moy said a key consideration was wanting to hold the shot until it was needed:

They wanted to hold fire till the time it was really needed because they didn’t want to go too early.

They’ve been under pressure for a long time to go to the fourth shot, everybody, but they wanted to hold this shot because they didn’t want to actually end up firing the shot too early in that actually then, with a new variant, having to make a better fifth shot.

Moy said there was now evidence that new variants had more impact on the lungs:

The three things that are worrying about it, there’s evidence coming from overseas is that [the new subvariants] are more infectious. It’s outrunning BA2, which is the previous subvariant … with high reinfection rates. So people rely particularly just on previous infection for immunity or getting rejected at a higher rate, but also that it has a greater propensity for the lungs – that means more serious disease, whereas the previous periods have been more in the upper airways.

So therefore, because of that, we may be looking at a higher proportion people in …. hospitals. So that combination of a wave coming in for hospitals is testing. A high percentage, even a small percentage … is going to cause the hospitals to get overrun, as they already are at the moment, unfortunately. They already had a fourth set.

Moy said that 30 was the cut off age where the benefit outweighed risk.

Updated at 23.20 BST

Rain and flooding risk move north in NSW

Stephanie Convery

Stephanie Convery

Rain may have eased in Sydney and on New South Wales Central Coast but the inclement weather and risk of flooding has moved to the Hunter Valley and mid-north coast overnight.

More than 6,000 residents of the Hunter have evacuated their homes and businesses, while the New England Highway remains closed at Singleton and Maitland.

Major flooding in Singleton continues, where an evacuation order has also been issued, and there is moderate flooding at Wollombi and Maitland.

The Hunter River peaked at 13.7m overnight, exceeding the 13.15m level of the March floods.

On Thursday morning the SES had received about 1,200 requests for help in the last 24 hours, with about 900 of them in the Central Coast, Hunter and the mid-north coast regions, NSW SES deputy commissioner Ashley Sullivan said.

They had seen approximately 65 flood rescues in the 12 hours overnight, and were focusing on the flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley areas.

There were 58 “return with caution” advices current, meaning about 35,000 can start to return home with care, Sullivan told ABC News Breakfast:

[For those people] the flood threat has eased, the danger has eased from the flooding and it’s OK to head back into your home and do that assessment to see what’s needed next.

Obviously, as people head back into those communities, there will still be floodwater in low-local areas. There’s going to be debris, potentially contaminants from spilt chemicals and be cautious of power lines as well. Treat power lines as always being live if they’ve been damaged throughout this event. And when you go into your home, do not turn the power back on if it’s been flooded or inundated.

– With AAP

Flood waters in Camden, south-western Sydney, at the weekend
Flood waters in Camden, south-western Sydney, at the weekend. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Updated at 23.15 BST

Rishworth says employers should hire people with a disability

Rishworth is asked about her call for Australian employers who are struggling with serious staff shortages to hire job applicants with a disability:

There’s never been a better time for employers to think outside the box when it comes to finding people we hear from employers all the time.

One of the reports that has been done into disability employment is that community attitudes are actually one of the biggest barriers so seeing people with a disability get employment so that’s not having changes to the workplace, but that is the attitude that people have.

So I want employers to have a serious thinking about how they can potentially employ someone with a disability because if they don’t, they’re actually missing out on a wealth of knowledge but importantly, in a time of skills crisis, they going to get the employees they actually need.

Rishworth says she believes a lot of employers are open to the option:

I spoke to a session of the BCA recently where I know they are really wanting to practically work with employer about how they might accommodate those living with a disability and make sure that the adaptions in place, but one of the things we actually need to change is not actually changing the workplace but actually changing our attitudes and that kind of thing.

I’m hoping in the lead up to the job Summit, to have a roundtable specifically getting employers and unions and also those living with a disability around the table to start talking about these are sort of fade into the Johnson we restrict me to say there’s got to be more than roundtables and changes of perception.

Updated at 22.59 BST

Social services minister reaffirms commitment to public housing

The minister for social services, Amanda Rishworth, is on ABC Radio talking about the social pressures facing Australians.

Rishworth is asked about the housing crisis and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to build more public housing:

We’ve got to be really clear a lot of people are facing issues when it comes to housing, not just the cost of housing, but actually being able to get a house so when it comes to housing, we’ve said we will build more public housing that is a commitment through our Future Australia program.

ABC is asking Rishworth about whether it is fair to keep people on $46 a day whilst giving those on over $200,000 a year, a $25 a day tax cut:

Well, the tax tax you’re talking about is in 2024. So we’re not talking about that tax cut being at all related to the immediate pressures that families are facing right now.

It’s about how we can provide a whole of government response to help people in these difficult circumstances and as I said, through each budget, we go through looking at what our priorities are and I will be certainly working with other people in government and our other ministers to deal with that.

Updated at 22.54 BST

Good morning!

The flood crisis continues in parts of New South Wales with major flooding and evacuation orders in Singleton and several Hunter Valley towns.

Weather conditions are easing for Sydney and the NSW Central Coast, as almost 30,000 people have been allowed to return home. Applications for the federal disaster recovery payments will open at 2pm today.

Reports say a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose will become available for Australians over the age of 30, after the health minister, Mark Butler, is briefed today on Atagi’s recommendations following yesterday’s meeting.

The education minister, Jason Clare, has committed to a “reset” of relations between government and universities, announcing a review into the role and governance of the main grants body in a major speech last night.

I’m Natasha May and I’ll be updating you on all these headlines and more this morning. If there’s anything you think should be on the blog you can ping me on Twitter @natasha__may or email [email protected]

Updated at 22.57 BST

Source: The Guardian