Australia news live: Queensland rejects carbon capture project over aquifer fears; Rex launches Perth-Melbourne flights | Australian politics

Queensland rejects Glencore carbon capture storage project

Aston Brown

Aston Brown

The Queensland government has rejected a carbon capture storage project in southern Queensland on the basis that it could cause “irreversible long-term change to groundwater quality”.

Swiss mining company Glencore had proposed to inject 330,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power station into an aquifer deep underground to trial carbon capture storage technology. The proposal drew fierce criticism from farming and environmental groups based on the risk it posed to the Great Artesian Basin.

The government’s decision “makes it clear that other carbon capture storage projects will not be viable in the Great Artesian Basin”, a spokesperson from the Queensland environment department said.

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Key events

Numerous pro-Palestine demonstrations to be held at docks across Australia tomorrow

Simultaneous pro-Palestine rallies will be held at docks across the country tomorrow, with trade unions and solidarity groups calling for “an end to the genocide taking place in Gaza”.

The demonstrations will kick off around midday tomorrow in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin and Perth, local time. They will have three key demands:

  • For all shipping companies operating in Australian ports to declare any trade or cargo with Israel.

  • Impose an arms embargo and trade sanctions on the state of Israel.

  • For charges to be withdrawn against the Maritime Union Australia and activists advocating for a ceasefire.

Paul Keating, branch secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia – who was arrested at a pro-Palestine protest at Port Botany in March – said:

How much civilian death will it take for the Albanese government to take action? The international criminal court is seeking the arrest of the Israeli prime minister for war crimes, and yet our own government still wants to sell him weapons? If our government won’t take action we will.

To the Palestinian people I say this: you are not alone. The working class of Sydney is right beside you, and we will be until there is peace and freedom in Palestine.

Is Australia exporting weapons to Israel? – video

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Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Origin Energy a winner from Eraring extension, coalminers not so much

There’s still a couple of loose ends around yesterday’s announcement of the NSW government’s pact with Origin Energy to extend its giant coal-fired power station at Eraring for at least another two years. (We wrote this news piece and an analysis.)

One is what’s going to happen to the 1,000-odd Centennial Coal miners who now supply the 2,880-megawatt plant.

Anyway, Thai-owned Centennial said it was “more important than ever to ensure that there is a secure and guaranteed long-term supply of high-quality coal for the duration of this agreement to keep the lights on and save 1,000 jobs”.

As things stand, Origin has been getting most of its coal lately from other suppliers even though Centennial’s Myuna and Mandalong mines are within cooee of Eraring (especially Myuna).

The word is that there’s a big price difference between what Centennial can supply and they are now down to about a 20% share of the black rocks Eraring combusts. In other words, the company will need to close quite a price gap to win back its main customer. (In Myuna’s case, there is no other customer.)

Centennial says it’s in talks with Origin and the state government. The former confirms negotiations, however, we’re yet to confirm the government has any role.

The energy minister, Penny Sharpe, said yesterday the government wasn’t planning to intervene to save the 1,000-odd jobs claimed to be at risk. So what might the talks be about? We’ve approached the government for a clarification.

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Businessman jailed over ‘breathtaking’ NDIS fraud

A businessman who conned international investors into handing over tens of millions of dollars as part of a National Disability Insurance Scheme charade will spend at least eight years in prison, AAP reports.

Demetrios “James” Charisiou, 63, duped two Korean-based firms into giving his company, LBA Capital, $394,740,000 in credit under the guise of investing the money into NDIS-supported properties in Melbourne.

None of the properties was purchased and most of the money sat in an account.

The 2019 ruse was sophisticated and complex, with Charisiou faking documents to get the money, Justice John Champion told the supreme court today.

Charisiou also met with representatives from the companies – JB Asset Management and KB Securities – when they flew out to Melbourne, the judge said.

As a successful businessman with an inflated sense of ego, backing out of the NDIS deal with the investors was not an attractive prospect for Charisiou, Justice Champion said. The judge told Charisiou:

To your own folly, you have lost much that underpinned your way of life. The scale of your fraudulent activity was breathtaking, however must be kept in perspective.

NDIS signage in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Photograph: Ellen Smith/The Guardian

About $38m of the almost $395m was the subject of charges against Charisiou, who pleaded guilty to two counts of using false documents and two counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Justice Champion said while Charisiou was unlikely to reoffend, there was a risk he remained driven by his ego and “illusions of grandiosity”.

The judge sentenced Charisiou to 12 years’ jail, with a non-parole period of eight years. The 63-year-old has already spent more than 190 days behind bars.

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AMA president asked about approach of Nationals and Greens to vaping reform

Taking questions from reporters, AMA president Steve Robson was asked about the position of both the Nationals and Greens to the vaping reforms. He responded:

I was shocked that the Nationals would support some sort of vaping excise as a money raising venture. [David] Littleproud does not get it. He doesn’t understand the health risks of this, and we’re really disappointed that this is a position that he and the National party would consider taking. Even if you look at it economically, any money that’s raised from an excise will be dwarfed by the health costs of dealing with the harms of vaping in the future.

And what about the Greens position on the issue, he is asked. Robson replied:

We’re speaking with the Greens at the moment, and we hope that the Greens will also understand why this is so important. We think that the Greens are a party who put the future of the next generation at the heart of their policy, and this clearly is something they should support if they really, truly do put the health and wellbeing of children and the next generation as a priority.

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Health and educational bodies urge support for vaping reform

Peak health and educational bodies have held a joint press conference today, urging politicians to support vaping reforms that are currently before the parliament.

Steve Robson, president of the Australian Medical Association, said vaping is “quite possibly one of the greatest public health challenges that we’re facing at the moment” with “enormous negative consequences for children”.

After years and years of fruitful work in reducing rates of smoking, we’re now seeing nicotine use through vapes go through the roof. We have a window of opportunity to help protect the next generation of Australians, and we urge all parliamentarians to join us and put aside considerations of funding from tobacco lobbies and business interests who seek to profit from vaping, and we’re urging you to put the wellbeing of the next generation of Australian children first.

President of the Australian Education Union, Correna Haythorpe, echoed these sentiments and said vaping is causing increased, widespread disruption in schools.

… not only from its illicit use by students and on the school grounds or in bathroom facilities, but to the level of disengagement that students are having who are vaping in their classroom every day.

Representatives from the Australian Council of State School Organisations, Catholic School Parents Australia and Australian Parents Council also backed the call.

Vapes to be available only via prescription as ‘therapeutic pathway’ under new bill – video

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Further charges laid as part of Wakeley riots investigation

A man will face court today, becoming the 22nd person charged as part of an investigation into the Wakeley riots last month.

Police believe about 2,000 people descended on a church in Sydney’s Wakeley, smashing police vehicles and injuring a number of officers, following the alleged stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, which was live-streamed

As part of the ongoing investigation into the riots, officers executed a search warrant at an address in Wakeley on Wednesday.

Following further inquiries, an 18-year-old man attended Fairfield police station today and was arrested, charged with rioting and destroying/damaging property during public disorder.

He was refused bail to appear at Fairfield local court today.

The Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd church, in Sydney. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters
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Queensland rejects Glencore carbon capture storage project

Aston Brown

Aston Brown

The Queensland government has rejected a carbon capture storage project in southern Queensland on the basis that it could cause “irreversible long-term change to groundwater quality”.

Swiss mining company Glencore had proposed to inject 330,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power station into an aquifer deep underground to trial carbon capture storage technology. The proposal drew fierce criticism from farming and environmental groups based on the risk it posed to the Great Artesian Basin.

The government’s decision “makes it clear that other carbon capture storage projects will not be viable in the Great Artesian Basin”, a spokesperson from the Queensland environment department said.

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Elias Visontay

Elias Visontay

Rex steps up challenge to Qantas and Virgin with Perth-Melbourne flights

Rex Airlines has announced it will launch flights linking Perth with Melbourne, in what will be its first interstate service connecting the east and west coasts of Australia.

In what is the latest stage of Rex’s growth from an operator of small regional turboprop planes before the pandemic to flying jets between capital cities, the airline will commence Boeing 737 flights between Melbourne and Perth five days a week.

By launching the route, Rex will attempt to lure passengers away from the Qantas Group, including budget carrier Jetstar, and Virgin Australia who hold an almost 90% market share in Australian aviation and are dominant on routes between Perth and eastern capitals.

The flights are on sale today, beginning at $299 each way, with services beginning from 28 June.

The new service will add close to 90,000 seats per year to the Melbourne-Perth route, according to Rex general manager of network strategy Warrick Lodge, who said the added competition will bring down prices for travellers. Lodge said:

When more airlines compete on a particular route, consumers benefit and our record in the domestic markets speaks for itself – Rex delivers terrific value for money.

A Rex Airlines aircraft lands at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne. Photograph: Luis Ascui/AAP
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Students pack up after university disclosure commitment

Protesters at two Australian universities are packing up their pro-Palestine encampments, AAP reports, citing a shift by the institutions on demands to publicly disclose ties with weapons makers.

Students at the University of Melbourne issued a call to supporters today to help clean up the camp and collect any donated items from the South Lawn and Arts West building, which they have occupied since 15 May.

Student protesters announced on Wednesday the two camps would be dismantled when the university agreed to publicly disclose its partnerships with weapons manufacturers.

While the university has yet to disclose ties with specific companies, it updated the research transparency section on its website.

The university said it was committed to “additional disclosure of its research grant arrangements” relating to research projects and funding. It confirmed further updates about research ties would be announced on the university’s website progressively, starting in June.

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Melbourne. Photograph: Con Chronis/EPA

Meanwhile, demonstrators at Curtin University in Western Australia claimed victory and disbanded their encampment yesterday after signing an agreement with the vice-chancellor.

Protesters had camped on university grounds for 23 days before the university agreed to their demands on Tuesday. The Curtin Student Guild said:

Disclosure has been achieved as a direct result of the commitment of the encampment and the Curtin community to fight for the people in Gaza.

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‘I never thought we’d get this apology,’ says stolen generations survivor

Aunty Eva Jo Edwards, a survivor of the stolen generations and a proud Boonwurrung, Mutti Mutti and Yorta Yorta woman, has been delivering an emotional speech following the formal apology from Victorian police.

She says:

To chief commissioner Shane Patton, I’d like to acknowledge that, after 170 years of policing, your leadership in apologising for the Victoria police’s role in the removal of Aboriginal children, such a … I guess sometimes I’m lost for words but, you know, I as a survivor and everyone that’s sitting in this room, how it’s impacted – it’s great to be alive.

I never thought we’d get an apology from our government, didn’t ever think that we’d get this apology, so I guess we’re still here for us that are survivors and, to those that we’ve lost on the way – your children are here and your grandchildren are here, and I think that’s wonderful too.

We know police are still going to be involved in these removals, but it’s how do we as a community, both Victoria Police and our communities, come together now in a healing process of what is going to be in the best interest for us.

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Plaque to stolen generations: ‘While we cannot change history, we must learn from it so these harms are never repeated again’

A plaque, presented in recognition of the apology, reads:

This plaque is dedicated to the survivors of the stolen generations and their families. Victoria Police acknowledges the extraordinary resilience, diversity, strength and cultural survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the face of historical harms and the legacy that persists to this day. Victoria Police is deeply sorry, and apologises to survivors for the stolen generations and their families for the role Victoria Police played in the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families, culture and community and country. While we cannot change history, we must learn from it so these harms are never repeated again.

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‘We may sadly never know exact number of children separated from families through actions involving Victoria police,’ Patton says

Continuing to deliver the apology in Melbourne, Shane Patton says “we may sadly never know the exact number of Aboriginal children separated from their families through actions involving Victoria Police.”

As chief commissioner, Patton says he is committed to work with the Aboriginal community to “continue to enhance change and build trust and confidence”.

He concludes the apology, stating:

I want to conclude today’s apology by saying to every stolen generations survivor, their families, and the entire Aboriginal community – for the harm caused through Victoria Police’s actions, I am truly sorry.

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Shane Patton describes how Victoria Police had power to remove ‘neglected’ Aboriginal children

Patton describes how Victoria Police was one of several agencies that had the power to remove Aboriginal children, deemed to be “neglected”, from their families between 1864 to 1992.

The responsibility for determining when a child was neglected or unprotected was shared across several agencies, including Victoria Police. I cannot begin to imagine the profound distress that the forcible separation of children from their families would have caused and that continues to be felt …

Each removal of a child affected a great number of Aboriginal people, inflicting hurt and sorrow across generations. I’m sorry that survivors of the stolen generations were disproportionately affected by recording practices which meant that forcibly removed children were often treated as if they had a criminal record. Such unjust practices cast a false shadow over their character throughout their lives. When Aboriginal people were brave enough to try to access police records to be reunified with family, police were often unwilling or unable to help. I’m sorry that this so often further deepened the trauma, rather than providing healing or connection.

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Victoria police ‘formally and unreservedly’ apologise for role in stolen generations

Shane Patton is now delivering his apology to stolen generations survivors and their families on behalf of Victoria police:

This apology is long overdue. As chief commissioner, and on behalf of Victoria Police, I am here with you today to formally and unreservedly apologise to survivors of the stolen generations and their families for the role of Victoria Police that we played in the forcible removal of the Aboriginal children from their families, culture and country.

I am sorry for the profound distress caused and the trauma experienced by so many Aboriginal families. When I reference Aboriginal families, I’m referring to children who were removed, their siblings, their parents and their extended families. I also acknowledge the impact to the children of those who were removed and generations that come after.

For over a hundred years, whether on our own initiative or in assisting other agencies or organisations, Victoria Police contributed to the stolen generations by enforcing policies and laws.

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‘Solely acknowledging past harms is not enough’, chief commissioner of Victorian police says

Shane Patton says he has had direct conversations with stolen generations survivors and the “realisation of the impact on them had a particularly profound impact on me”.

Solely acknowledging past harms is not enough. Victoria Police is fully committed to continuing to implement changes and reforms to address ongoing systemic injustices for Aboriginal people. While we cannot change history, we can accept the harsh truth of it and learn from it, so these harms are never repeated.

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Victorian police chief begins apology to stolen generations survivors

Chief commissioner of the Victorian police, Shane Patton, is delivering an apology to stolen generations survivors and their families in Melbourne.

As we flagged earlier, Patton’s apology is part of a series of reforms stemming from the force’s response to Victoria’s truth-telling inquiry, the Yoorrook Justice Commission.

Beginning the apology, he says:

Victoria Police is deeply committed to a genuine truth telling process, enabling Victorians to reckon with the causes of injustice and create an opportunity to heal and bring meaningful and positive change. A shared commitment to truth telling is a critical step towards building a fairer relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Victoria.

As part of that process, it’s vital for Victoria Police to face up to, and accept responsibility, for the widespread harm caused to Aboriginal people by the role police played in forcibly removing children from their families and the deep impact this had on severing their connection to family, community, country, language, culture and identity. I am deeply sorry for the harm which this has caused, and the harm which continues to be felt now.

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Opposition welcomes Labor designating Houthis as terrorists

Shadow home affairs minister James Paterson has welcomed the government’s move to list Ansar Allah – also known as the Houthis – as a terrorist organisation.

In a post to X, Paterson questioned why this “took so long” and wrote:

The opposition first called on them to do so on 9 January and the Biden administration did so on 17 Jan[uary].

The government made the announcement yesterday, with a statement from attorney general Mark Dreyfus reading:

Ansar Allah’s violent attacks in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding region have killed civilians, taken hostages and severely disrupted navigational rights and freedoms in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, undermining maritime security and global prosperity.

The government’s decision to list Ansar Allah follows advice from Australia’s security agencies that Ansar Allah is directly or indirectly engaged in the preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering of terrorist attacks.

Oil tanker Marlin Luanda on fire after an attack in the Gulf of Aden in January. Photograph: AP
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Two extra flights for stranded Australians in New Caledonia

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, says two additional flights will bring stranded Australians home from New Caledonia today, due to the worsening security situation there.

In a post to X, she said passengers were being prioritised based on need.

We will ensure there are further flights and we’re arranging travel for Australians outside of Noumea.

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