PM Morrison meets with EU leaders
(See translation in Arabic section)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for the first European Union (EU) – Australia Leaders’ Meeting on Wednesday.
Speaking prior to the meeting, Mr Morrison said he would share perspectives on Australia’s health and economic response to COVID-19, developments in the Indo-Pacific, and the development of new technologies to reduce global emissions.
“Australia and the EU share a vision for a stable, prosperous, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The EU with its 27 member-states is Australia’s second largest trading partner and the nation’s largest source of foreign investment.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s longstanding diplomatic relationship with the EU of almost six decades is evolving into new areas of co-operation such as digital transformation, low emissions technology partnerships, cyber security, transport and space.
Australian academic finally released from Iranian prison
Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been released from an Iranian prison after spending more than two years behind bars over allegations of espionage.
“Thank you … to all of you who have supported me and campaigned for my freedom,” said Dr Moore-Gilbert, who had been detained since 2018. “I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people.”
The Islamic studies lecturer expressed bittersweet feelings about leaving Iran, saying “I came to Iran as a friend, with friendly intentions.”
She had been tried in secret for espionage and sentenced to 10 years prison, despite no evidence of her alleged crimes having been presented.
Iranian state media claims she has been exchanged in an inmate swap for three Iranian citizens who have been detained abroad.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he spoke to Dr Moore-Gilbert this morning and that it was “wonderful to hear her voice”.
“We have always rejected her conviction and detention and I join with all Australians in praising Dr Moore-Gilbert and her family for their courage, strength and patience as we have all worked tirelessly to secure her release.”
Mr Morrison said Dr Moore-Gilbert was with the Australian Ambassador to Iran and other officials in Tehran.
Keneally says military should fly stranded Australians home
Sydney: Kristina Keneally wants taxpayers to foot the bill for “military planes” to fly "stranded" Australians home. The Labor Senator said 36,000 Australians were stranded around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we can send a military plane to shoot Mathias Cormann around the globe so that he can apply for a new job surely we can send our military planes to bring our fellow Australians home,” she said.
Ms Keneally also said the Commonwealth should also pay for a federal quarantine facility to cater for “surge capacity".
“Flight capacity isn’t the biggest constraint, quite frankly the biggest constraint is quarantine, it is a federal responsibility,” she said.
Government strips terrorist of Australian citizenship
Canberra: One of Australia’s most notorious terrorists has been stripped of his Australian citizenship by the Morrison government.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika was imprisoned for 12 years in 2008 for planning several attacks in New South Wales and Victoria – including the AFL Grand Final.
While the sentence has been completed, he remains in jail on an interim detention order while the government pursues a continuing detention order for three years.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said stripping Benbrika of his citizenship will protect the Australian community.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, if it’s a person that’s posing a significant terrorist threat to our country then we will do whatever’s possible within Australian law to protect Australians,” he said.
Biden calls for unity in Thanksgiving speech
US President-elect Joe Biden has referred to his own personal tragedies in a Thanksgiving speech in a bid to unite citizens ahead of the holidays.
“It’s really hard to care, it’s hard to give thanks, it’s hard to even think of looking forward, and it’s so hard to hope,” he said.
Mr Biden has asked Americans to forego their family traditions and remain COVID safe as the country’s death toll surpassed 250,000.
The message shows a marked departure in style from President Donald Trump. Commentators, such as The Australian’s Cam Stewart believe Mr Biden is essentially returning to the Obama-era.
Mr Stewart’s remarks came after Mr Biden introduced some of his cabinet picks on Wednesday.
“The message Joe Biden is trying to give here, very, very clearly, is he will not be the Donald Trump, he won’t be the ‘America first’ president, he’ll be the old-style president that reaches out to allies and is more of a globalist,” he said.
Extreme weather poised to set new heat records
Melbourne: A 4500km conveyor belt of scorching weather stretching from Broome all the way to Australia’s country’s south-east could prove “dangerous” in coming days, a climate scientist has warned.
The all-time record for Australia’s hottest ever November day could be broken with the mercury rising close to 50°Celsius. There’s also a possibility that the Sydney and Adelaide CBDs could top out at 40°C and Sydney’s west is expected to easily get into the 40s.
“There’s a big build-up of heat in a belt stretching from Broome to Canberra. Once we get to Thursday that will start to kick in across the south and east and peak on the weekend,” Dr James Goldie from Monash University’s Climate Change Communications Research Hub said.
Dr Goldie singled out Echuca and Kerang, in rural northern Victoria, as two towns that could break their all-time monthly heat records but that will be small fry compared to Tarcoola, Roxby Downs and Oodnadatta in South Australia and Birdsville in outback Queensland.
Tarcoola could see temperatures exceed its previous best of 48.7°C which would mean the rural town would become the site of Australia’s hottest November day in history.
Labor helps ensure ICAC funding separate from government
Sydney: Labor has voted with all other non-government members to pass an amendment to the Budget which ensures funding cuts to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) were reversed and that funding for the anti-corruption watchdog kept pace with inflation.
The Legislative Council voted 24-16 in favour of these amendments, with only the Liberals and Nationals voting against.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “It is crucial that our anti-corruption watchdog is properly funded, but under this premier it’s not.”
Labor has previously raised concerns about the ICAC’s budget and issues which could arise when decisions about annual appropriations are made by people who are involved or could be the subject of ICAC investigations.
Buses instead of trains on Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney: Trains will stop running across one key route in Sydney for the first 10 days of 2021 when a piece of the city's history is torn up and replaced.
Trains will stop running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first 10 days of the New Year.
Buses will replace trains on the T1 North Shore and Western Line between North Sydney and Wynyard between January 1 and 10 –when patronage is expected to drop off over the holidays.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said this was the first time a closure of this scale had happened in years.
The bridge’s old timber rail deck will be replaced with concrete, which he said could extend the life of the rail corridor by more than a century.
Commuters need to plan for major track work, which will also impact the T4 Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line.
NSW eases more pandemic bans before Christmas
Sydney: A NUMBER of eased restrictions will be given the green light by the state government, including loosening regulations around how many people can visit your home for Christmas.
Up to 30 people will be allowed to congregate at private gatherings, just in time for the festive season, and pubs and restaurants will be allowed one person per two square metres, Sydney radio station 2GB reported.
After months of working from home, NSW workers will be encouraged to return to the office by mid-December so long as their employer has a COVIDSafe plan in place.
Other changes include boosting the number of people allowed in small hospitality venues to 50 while 50 people will also be allowed to gather outdoors.
The number of people who can visit another person’s home will increase from 20 to 30.
In 2020 'things change and they change fast'
Sydney: ANZ Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott has told media about the nation's economic recovery saying this year has shown "things change and they change really fast".
Mr Elliott said, "back in March, when we were all doing our forecasts, we thought unemployment was going to hit 13 per cent".
"House prices would fall, we were looking pretty grim," Mr Elliott said.
However, he said the government came along with an "overwhelming support package" meaning "we're now looking at a pretty frothy housing market".
"Prices going up, unemployment looking pretty subdued". However, he said, "what we've learnt here, and sadly what we're seeing in South Australia, is things change".