Australia news live: Optus taken to court by watchdog over 2022 cyber attack; Plibersek in microphone mishap during Sky News interview | Australian politics

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) has launched a legal case against Optus over the 2022 cyber-attack that compromised the personal information of 10 million customers.

The case was filed in the federal court earlier this week. A spokesperson for Optus confirmed the case was related to the 2022 breach:

Optus Mobile has been advised that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has filed proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to the cyber-attack in September 2022.

At this stage, Optus Mobile is not able to determine the quantum of penalties, if any, that could arise.

The spokesperson said Optus had apologised to customers, and had taken steps including working with police to protect them, as well as reimbursing customers to replace documents. The company said it intended to fight the case, but could not comment further while it was before the court.

Acma was approached for comment.

The case is one of two currently being fought by Optus, with a separate class action under way. The privacy commissioner is also investigating Optus over the data breach.

Sign with words: Optus yes
Optus signage in Melbourne. Photograph: Con Chronis/AAP
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Key events

Andrew Messenger

Andrew Messenger

Queensland treasurer says legislated super tax on coal profits necessary to protect state’s coal royalties

Queensland deputy premier and treasurer Cameron Dick says the new legislation to enshrine super tax on coal profits is necessary to protect the state’s coal royalties from a “secret plan” by the opposition to cut taxes for the industry.

There is already a bill which includes Queensland’s current coal royalties, which was passed in 2022 with the support of the LNP.

Dick said that today’s legislation was about “making sure and certain … [that] they cannot be changed except by a bill in parliament.”

And so we’re absolutely making sure that is locked in through this legislation, so no future government can change it.

Of course, a future parliament can repeal any bill passed by a past parliament, including this one. So if a future government – which would have to command a majority in Queensland’s only parliament – decided to do that, they could.

If I did that, if they did that, that would demonstrate the point I said all along, that their secret plan would then be public.

Queensland deputy premier and treasurer Cameron Dick. Photograph: Darren England/AAP
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12 Australians and one permanent resident remain in hospital after severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says consular officials are supporting 12 Australian citizens and one permanent resident, who remain in hospital after severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight SQ321.

One further Australian was hospitalised after the flight but has now been discharged, Dfat confirmed.

Earlier this week, the Singapore Airlines flight violently dropped when flying en route from London to Singapore, resulting in one death.

As Elias Visontay reports, three Australians are among 20 passengers from the flight who are being treated in intensive care at the Samitivej Srinakarin hospital in Bangkok.

You can read all the latest details below:

Passengers carried off Singapore Airlines plane after severe turbulence – video report

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Coal super tax to be legislated in Queensland

A super tax on coal profits will be enshrined in Queensland law, AAP reports, making it harder for future governments to change the divisive royalty hike.

Deputy premier and treasurer Cameron Dick said he would table a bill that would require legislative changes for any future modifications to the state’s coal royalties.

The Liberal National Party opposition indicated it would not make changes as the tax was baked into the budget forward estimates.

But the state government is not taking any chances ahead of the October election, saying the tax will be legislated to protect royalties for the benefit of Queenslanders. Dick told parliament today:

There would be no quiet Friday afternoon regulatory changes under any future Queensland government. Any reduction to the coal royalties will be subject to the scrutiny of the people of Queensland through their parliament – as it should be.

The royalties were introduced in July 2022 after a 10-year freeze, ensuring miners pay a larger proportion of tax for coal sold for more than $175 a tonne.

Coal royalties have supported Queensland’s post-pandemic boom with forecast revenue expected at $9.4bn over five years.

Coal royalties revenue in Queensland is expected at $9.4bn over five years. Photograph: Nikki Short/AAP
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Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) has launched a legal case against Optus over the 2022 cyber-attack that compromised the personal information of 10 million customers.

The case was filed in the federal court earlier this week. A spokesperson for Optus confirmed the case was related to the 2022 breach:

Optus Mobile has been advised that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has filed proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to the cyber-attack in September 2022.

At this stage, Optus Mobile is not able to determine the quantum of penalties, if any, that could arise.

The spokesperson said Optus had apologised to customers, and had taken steps including working with police to protect them, as well as reimbursing customers to replace documents. The company said it intended to fight the case, but could not comment further while it was before the court.

Acma was approached for comment.

The case is one of two currently being fought by Optus, with a separate class action under way. The privacy commissioner is also investigating Optus over the data breach.

Optus signage in Melbourne. Photograph: Con Chronis/AAP
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Sklenka questioned on Aukus submarines, 2027 as ‘critical year’

Our own Daniel Hurst just asked Lt Gen Stephen Sklenka a few questions at the National Press Club, including what role he see for Aukus submarines in the Taiwan Strait?

But Sklenka couldn’t answer, stating, “I have no idea. I can’t answer that.”

So has the Indo-Pacific command, of which he is deputy commander, factored Aukus submarines into its future planning?

Sklenka said it was too far down the track, but they do share planning actions:

At least from the military perspective, there is no expectation of anybody participating in any conflict with us because those decisions are national sovereign decisions of the United States. We don’t dictate that to other countries. In your case, it’s up to the Australian government to deal with that.

Lt Gen Stephen Sklenka addresses the National Press Club. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

In his speech, Sklenka mentioned 2027 as a critical year, stating:

While cross-strait conflict is not imminent or inevitable, we have to take seriously Xi Jinping’s directive to his own forces to be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Hurst noted that the Aukus submarines were quite a way off and asked if they would be too late? Sklenka responded:

What I was saying earlier, I didn’t say they were going to do it in 2027, I said Xi wants his people to be ready by 2027. I don’t think that conflict is inevitable, I really don’t, but I’m a military guy and if you’re an American you’re paying me not to live on hope, you’re paying me to be ready.

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US military commander weighs in on recent incidents involving China

Circling back to the national press club, where US military commander Lt Gen Stephen Sklenka has been taking questions from reporters.

He is asked about two recent incidents involving China – the sonar pulse and allegations of a dangerous flare – and whether this might have occurred because both times, Australia was trying to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea?

He responded:

No, I don’t think it has anything to do [with that] necessarily and I don’t want to speculate on what’s going on in the CCP mindset. This is, in my view, a pattern of revisionism, of them trying to claim a portion of territory that is not theirs, that they believe that they have ownership over. If they do it frequently enough … they will have created their own status quo and their own de facto reclamation of territory that was never theirs. I don’t think it has to do with their ire with you for enforcing UN resolutions because I believe the Chinese have also signed on to those resolutions.

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Dozens of organisations recommit to representative voices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Dozens of Australian organisations have recommitted to establishing representative voices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the banner of “Allies for Uluru”.

In a statement, the organisations noted that 6 million Australians said “yes” to the Voice to Parliament last October and in the wake of the referendum, they are “committed to demonstrating our full and unwavering support for the core principles of the Uluru Statement from the Heart”. This includes:

  • Actively pursuing the establishment of representative voices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;

  • Supporting sovereign to sovereign agreement-making and treaty negotiations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Australian governments;

  • Actively pursuing a national truth-telling process, as a vehicle for healing.

The flag pole of the Australian Parliament House is seen behind the Indigenous flag in Canberra. Photograph: AAP

The statement reads:

We will not be fair-weather allies, we will not turn back, and we will not hesitate in continuing to fight for justice and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples … The Allies for Uluru reaffirm that the way forward for our nation lies in accepting the generous invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and actively working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to build our shared vision for a mature, just and equal Australia.

Signatories include the Fred Hollows Foundation, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Sydney Peace Foundation, Catholic Social Services Australia, Save the Children, UnitingCare, Australian Lawyers Alliance and Beyond Blue. Last February Allies for Uluru backed the Voice, which you can read about below:

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Andrew Giles taking ‘urgent advice’ about visa cancellation

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The immigration minister, Andrew Giles, has spoken to reporters in Bendigo, addressing the controversy over the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s (AAT) decision to revoke the visa cancellation of a non-citizen who was later charged over a stabbing murder in Brisbane.

The AAT reinstated Sudanese man Emmanuel Saki’s visa. He is accused of the murder of a 22-year-old man in Acacia Ridge in Brisbane earlier in May, just weeks after his release from immigration detention.

Saki is not part of the NZYQ cohort released from detention due to the high court’s decision on indefinite detention. But the opposition has sought to blame a new ministerial direction created by Labor requiring that an individual’s ties to the community and time spent in Australia be considered in visa cancellation decisions, a safeguard against the practice of deporting people to countries like New Zealand where they had no significant ties.

Australian immigration minister Andrew Giles. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Giles said:

Obviously my thoughts … are with the family of the victim. And I should be very clear in articulating, as I did in respect of the [alleged] criminal matters that are involved here, that I don’t want to say anything that might interfere with those criminal processes. What I can say is that over five years successive governments sought to maintain the cancellation of this individual’s visa. The AAT made a decision to overturn it, notwithstanding the directions which put a very high priority on community safety and recognise the importance of the Australian community to domestic violence.

I have sought urgent advice from my department about the implications of this.

Guardian Australia understands the advice relates to cancellation of Saki’s visa under another provision of the Migration Act.

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Calla Wahlquist

Calla Wahlquist

Another outbreak of avian influenza, this time in southwest WA

There has been another outbreak of avian influenza – this time of the much less serious low pathogenic (LPAI) variety.

The virus was detected at a poultry operation in southwest Western Australia.

The WA department of primary industries and regional development said testing confirmed the outbreak was of the low pathogenic H9N2 strain. Low pathogenic strains of bird flu exist among wild bird populations in Australia, and the disease and mortality rates are lower.

The outbreak is not connected to the high pathogenic H7N3 outbreak reported at a Victorian egg farm yesterday, and is not the high pathogenic H5N1 strain, which is causing havoc globally and was reported on Australian shores for the first time yesterday, in a human traveller who had recently returned from India.

Avian influenza overview for 21 May. Photograph: Agriculture Victoria

A spokesperson for the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) said:

H9 strains of avian influenza are known to occur in wild bird populations in Australia, and have previously been detected in WA.

DPIRD has been working with the affected poultry operation to manage the detection and reduce the likelihood of spread, and to implement additional biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of new introduction from wild birds.

The property is currently under a pest control notice to manage the movement of relevant animals and products off the property.

Meanwhile, Victorian authorities are enforcing a 5km restricted area around the egg farm in Meredith, western Victoria, where H7N3 was detected, as well as a larger 20km control area.

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Amy Remeikis

Amy Remeikis

More from the parliament committee examining civics education

The Australian electoral commissioner, Tom Rogers, is answering MPs questions now and he is asked about AI material and how that may impact elections.

Rogers says he has been speaking about this quite a lot at the moment and believes there is an “urgent need for a national civics digital literacy campaign” to “help our citizens deal with this”.

It’s a critical priority for Australia.

Rogers says research from Harvard University shows that “debunking [misinformation] doesn’t work in terms of changing somebody’s mind”. He says that is not a reason not to correct the facts, and while “prebunking works a bit more” what really works “is giving citizens digital literacy skills” to be able to properly examine what they are seeing.

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Amy Remeikis

Amy Remeikis

Parliamentary committee examining civics education in schools

Good morning from Canberra, where the sun is actually shining and if you just looked out the window, you’d be fooled into thinking it was a lovely day (it is still freezing).

I am listening in to the parliament committee which is examining civics education – how we are taught about voting, government, etc while at school.

Greens senator Larissa Waters is on the committee and wants to know why students are not taught how to vote when they are in grade 12 “when they are the closest age to when they actually have to vote”.

Students are taught how to vote, and about preferential voting and the voting process up until grade 10. But senior secondary school is run by the states and territories (because they each have their own ways of achieving their senior certificates) and its when students will choose electives that will suit their post-school life – there isn’t a lot that is compulsory for students in those years in terms of subjects.

Greens senator Larissa Waters. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Waters says given that voting is compulsory “it stands to reason that learning how to do it would be helpful, no matter what pathway the student decides to take after they finish grade 12.”

That’s for the ministers to work through, Waters is told – but she says: “We have a cohort of people falling through the cracks.”

One of the other MPs shared that nobody even knows what a senator is.

Waters will be taking it up with the education minister.

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Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

More from Stephen Sklenka at the National Press Club

The Chinese government has repeatedly denounced Aukus as an exclusive clique that will only stir up regional tensions. But Lt Gen Stephen Sklenka took aim at the Chinese military’s more assertive activities and rapid military buildup:

We’ve also documented multiple cases of risky behaviour by the People’s Liberation Army toward US and Australian forces along with other allies and partners over the past three years. Since 2021, we’ve seen roughly 300 risky and coercive PLA intercepts of US, allied, and partner forces throughout the region. These encounters not only contravene rules and norms governing behaviour among militaries, but they also frankly endanger lives and create conditions for escalation.

The 300 figure is not new – the Pentagon released it in October.

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