A group of federal politicians will on Sunday fly to Taiwan for a five-day visit aimed at conveying Australia’s wish to maintain peace in the Indo-Pacific, Reuters reports.
The group, which includes both Labor and Coalition MPs, is the first delegation of its type to visit Taiwan since 2019, according to a report in The Australian.
It will include meetings with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and foreign minister, Joseph Wu, and has support from Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
The trip – reportedly kept secret to stop Chinese diplomats in Canberra lobbying for its cancellation – is said also to include meetings on security, trade, agriculture and Indigenous affairs.
Australia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the report.
The visit to Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, comes as Australia’s recently elected Labor government has moved to repair its strained diplomatic relations with China.
Australia has clashed with China – its largest trading partner – over trade disputes and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid a growing Chinese presence in the Pacific.
However, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, last month met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, raising expectations of closer bilateral ties.
China’s embassy in Australia last year denounced the former prime minister Tony Abbott as “pitiful” after he decried Chinese pressure against Taiwan when he visited the island in a personal capacity.
Australia, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has previously joined its ally the United States in expressing concern over Chinese pressure, especially military.
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has just announced that authorities are planning to open up AAMI Park tomorrow morning as an additional live site to broadcast the knockout World Cup match between the Socceroos and Argentina.
In Sydney, the match will be live broadcast at Darling Harbour, with a big screen at Tumbalong Park.
‘Our poor customers’: meet the Centrelink worker who tried to stop robodebt
This exclusive from Luke Henriques-Gomes, our social affairs and inequality editor, is really worth a read.
Luke spoke to the former frontline Centrelink worker Colleen Taylor, who tried to stop robodebt as it started, but was ignored.
Her explosive emails to the boss of the Department of Human Services were released among a tranche of hundreds of documents by a royal commission this week. She was shocked and initially unnerved to learn her emails and name had been published, but insists that she is not a victim. She told Luke:
Our poor customers, they’re the ones that suffered.
The Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has been awarded a £1m (about A$1.8m) Earthshot prize, for its work on protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
The network was awarded the revive our oceans category of the prizes, which are now in their second year.
The initiative is described by the Earthshot prize as “an inspiring women led program” that combines 60,000 years of First Nations knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea.
In Queensland, only an estimated 20% of Indigenous rangers are women. The QIWRN, established in 2018, has trained more than 60 women – many have subsequently found work as rangers or in conservation in Queensland or elsewhere.
The Earthshot prize describes the program as “vital”:
The data they have collected has given us critical insight into one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. As custodians of the land, the rangers have also protected sites of great cultural and spiritual significance.
With greater support, Indigenous women rangers could span the planet, helping to repair ecosystems from Hawaii to Nepal and Tanzania.
The network’s managing director, Larissa Hale, said in a statement:
This place has always been our home, but today we risk losing it and the unique culture that has existed here for millennia. Our Women Rangers Network exists to protect our home and continue our traditions.
We have made big first steps, but we have a long way still to go. Thank you to the Earthshot Prize, for supporting us.
The Earthshot prize was launched by Prince William and David Attenborough in 2020. The council that selects its prize winners also includes Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Cate Blanchett, among others.
Locals call for rebuilding of bridges around flooded NSW town of Moulamein
A council decision to remove dozens of bridges and lower the road level around Moulamein is under scrutiny as unprecedented flood waters cause millions of dollars in damage.
The small Riverina town has been cut off for 10 days due to record flooding of the Edward River, which is predicted to reach 6.3 metres over the weekend. It is expected to remain isolated through December.
The main road from Moulamein to the nearby town of Barham is now under water. It used to be higher and had “50 bridges in 50 miles”, says the Moulamein grower Jeremy Morton. But over the last 30 years, as the bridges began to reach the end of their life, the council decided to remove them and lower the road level.
Read the full story here:
All Australians will be cheering the Socceroos, PM says
Albanese is also asked the unavoidable question (about tomorrow’s Socceroos match):
I stayed up the other night to watch the Socceroos and a few people were a bit dusty in the parliament the morning after. It was a magnificent victory …
All Australians will be standing and cheering with the Socceroos tomorrow. I sent a message to the Socceroos overnight, and I look forward to tomorrow morning … [Argentina’s] Lionel Messi is, of course, a legend of the game, but a good team always beats a good individual and I look forward to the Socceroos continuing to make Australia proud.
Anthony Albanese wishes Brittany Higgins well
Anthony Albanese, taking questions from reporters, is asked about Brittany Higgins. He wants to be “careful about comments” given the circumstances, but says:
What I would say is that I wish Brittany Higgins well. She is a woman of considerable courage …
I think the appropriate response that I have, as someone who has had the privilege of meeting with Brittany Higgins … on a couple of occasions and seeing what a brave, smart, resilient woman she is, is just to wish her all of the best.
PM urges everyone in parliament to ‘wake up’ to climate crisis amid ongoing floods
Anthony Albanese continues, on climate change and mitigation:
It is far better to mitigate and to get ahead of disasters than it is to respond to them after the event. Now sometimes that’s not possible. Eugowra – that was not anticipated that would occur. Forbes has had five floods in recent times.
I don’t know what it takes to have all of the parliament wake up that climate change is real. Climate change is real. We need a long-term response and it needs to be a global response and Australia has got to be a part of it …
Since I’ve been leader of the Labor party, I’ve visited areas of tropical rainforest that have never burnt before that have burned during the bushfires during the summer of 2019-2020 … Now we’re seeing flooding in areas where when you have a one-in-100-year flood that happens every few months. There is something happening with the climate; we need to address it.
This morning, I flew into Mildura and then flew along the Murray to here at Renmark. So you could really see the rising water levels and some of the flooding that’s occurred right along the length of the Murray. Over the past couple of months of being to Parkes, Forbes, Lismore, Eugowra, Rochester, Bendigo, too many places, as well as northern Tasmania, and seen the impact of the floods.
The Murray-Darling Basin is a great national asset. It’s an environmental treasure, but with it comes, of course, the third season that we’ve seen of additional rains [that] is having an enormous impact.
The South Australian premier, Peter Malinauskas, says it is an “inevitability” that between 3,500 and 4,000 properties will be inundated as the river peaks at Renmark, and the focus is on preparedness ahead of the expected flooding.
We announced … at the beginning of the week that an unprecedented effort by the South Australian police would see to the door-knocking of every home that we reasonably know will be affected to make sure they are aware of what is coming, to make sure plans are in place for those individuals.
The door-knocking effort will be led by police with assistance from the State Emergency Service, the Country Fire Service, and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.
Malinauskas also praised the “extraordinary work” undertaken by local and state governments to rapidly build levee banks to try to protect the Renmark township.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is speaking to reporters at Renmark in South Australia’s rural Riverland area, where he is providing an update on the Murray River flood with the premier, Peter Malinauskas:
It is expected that the waters here will peak for the first time on 14 December. What we have seen is a preparedness that is being put in place for that event … I want to pay tribute to all of those who have made an astonishing effort to prepare this community for the coming days, weeks and indeed months …
This week the commonwealth provided a declaration of eight local government areas for disaster relief payments …
What you are seeing here is the flood waters going into the Murray from both the north and the south, from both NSW and Victoria throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, that will all flow through here into South Australia. This is a difficult time, but I have been really heartened by the optimism of this local community.