Australia news live blog: Barnaby Joyce dismisses Cop26 ‘talkfest’; Qld eases Covid border rules; SA outlines changes to restrictions

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New research has shown one-punch deaths declined by 50% between 2013 and 2018 but there was an increase number of domestic assaults.

The researchers have not gone into how the pandemic impacted these deaths but know there were 172 one-punch deaths in Australia in 2020.

Previously the medium age of 33 but that has shifted to 44 years old, the research shows. Researchers said alcohol was still involved in 60% of the deaths.



This from AAP:

A medically unqualified extreme body modifier performed a dangerous, unhygienic and unlawful “tummy tuck” on a young mother, a Sydney judge has found.

Brendan Leigh Russell, 40, was on Monday found guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm when slicing open the woman’s abdomen in his shopping centre parlour in November 2016.

“The accused undertook what was clearly a dangerous procedure, in circumstances that were very clearly unhygienic, and convinced the recipient that it was safe,” District Court Judge Helen Syme said.

The Central Coast body modifier was also found guilty of female genital mutilation after excising most of a woman’s labia with a branding iron in Newcastle in January 2015.

A verdict on his third and most serious charge – the 2017 manslaughter of a regular client – is due on Tuesday.

Following Monday’s verdicts, Russell was remanded in custody, leaving his heavily pregnant wife in tears.

The findings could draw a line under complex body modification in Australia after Judge Syme dismissed defence arguments that the mother had provided appropriate consent to the abdominal procedure.



There’s been a lot of chatter this afternoon about the government signing on to the Cop26 agreement “request” for countries to strengthen their targets before turning around and saying it won’t.

My colleague Sarah Martin has the full run-down here for those catching up:

Related: Scott Morrison rules out more ambitious 2030 emissions target despite Cop26 pact



The exposure sites in Tasmania have been revised.



While we are talking weather – if you are near the Lachlan please remember to keep an eye out on warnings. You can check them here.



And it is also very cold! We’ve got a Canberra about to hit a record-breaking cold snap with three straight days under 14 degrees in November, Melbourne felt a maximum of 13.5C today and it is snowing in Tasmania.

snow!— F Onthemoon (@firstdogonmoon) November 14, 2021

Yup. November snow. Cool and normal.— Thaiis Thei (@ThaiisThei) November 15, 2021



It has been a very strange afternoon for Aus politics.

The deputy prime minister is claiming the Nationals – a party of government, didn’t sign up to the Cop26 communique, mocked the Cop26 chairman and suggested people ask an opposition MP why the Morrison government signed an agreement it apparently doesn’t have any plans to fulfil— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) November 15, 2021

And this is all supposed to just be seen as ‘politics as normal’— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) November 15, 2021



PK asked Chalmers if Cop26 will make things harder for the fossil fuel industry.

“Not necessarily on its own, clearly. The long-term future of the market has been set out, it would be irresponsible for anyone anywhere, to pretend, that 30 or 40 or 50 years down the track, that our energy market will be dominated by cleaner sources of energy, that is self-evident.”



And lastly, PK asks Chalmers if the PM is the “underdog” politically – which keen blog followers will remember is how he self-described this morning.

“It’s a fake prime minister and we are in a fake election campaign and he will say all kinds of things to spin the position he is in politically, we don’t underestimate him.”



Chalmers said the government is just pretending it cares about climate change.

“It is extraordinary in the extreme that we have a government that signs an international agreement and within hours, says that has no intention of keeping to it.

“We have a prime minister who signed an agreement and a deputy prime minister and the cabinet says it has nothing to do with them.

“This is symbolic, of eight years of shambolic and economically damaging inaction from the government, 22 or 23 different energy policies, after eight years in government they give us a pamphlet, not a plan, they sign up to an international agreement, they have no intention of keeping to.”



Chalmers is asked when Labor will announce its 2030 target and how ambitious it will be.

“In the coming weeks.”



This from AAP:

The Victorian government is in talks with crossbenchers to amend its controversial pandemic legislation ahead of the debate in state parliament’s upper house.

The government is relying on the support of Animal Justice MP Andy Meddick, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Greens leader Samantha Ratnam to pass the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 this week.

If passed, the bill will replace the state of emergency powers due to expire on December 15 and will give the premier the responsibility of declaring a pandemic, which can be extended for three months at a time for as long as considered necessary.

Once a pandemic is declared, the health minister will be given “broad powers” to make public health orders. Such powers currently reside with the chief health officer, who is not an elected official.

However, both the premier and the health minister must continue to consult with the chief health officer and the advice behind the orders must be made public within a fortnight.

The bill has become a lightning rod for anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination groups, with thousands gathering in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday to rally against it, including a man seen carrying a homemade gallows with three nooses in an apparent reference to the three crossbenchers.The Victorian government is in talks with crossbenchers to amend its controversial pandemic legislation ahead of the debate in state parliament’s upper house. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian The Victorian government is in talks with crossbenchers to amend its controversial pandemic legislation ahead of the debate in state parliament’s upper house. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images



Jim Chalmers, the shadow treasurer is now on Afternoon Briefing.

He is asked if Labor will go to the next election with a more ambitious target.

“Of course, Labor will be more ambitious when it comes to cleaner and cheaper energy.

“We understand as to the state governments and the big employers and the global community, that there are more jobs and more opportunities and more investment which flows from doing the right thing, getting our emissions down but most importantly getting that additional, cleaner and cheaper energy into the system.”



QLD MP Ali King has again had her office defaced – this time with swastikas.

That’s twice in less than a week my office has been targeted by vaccine conspiracy theorists.

Anyone who thinks public health measures equal Nazism needs to read a history book.

I won’t stop encouraging our community to get protected by getting vaccinated!#qldpol— Ali King MP (@AliKingLabor) November 14, 2021

Covid booster shots available to New Zealanders from end of November

05:47 Eva Corlett

Eligible New Zealanders will be able to receive a Pfizer booster vaccination from the end of the month, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

Speaking at a post-cabinet briefing, Ardern said booster doses will be free from 29 November, for anyone in New Zealand aged 18 or older who has completed their two dose course, more than six months ago.

Health workers, border workers, Māori and Pacific peoples and older people are especially encouraged to get the booster, Ardern said.

“While most other countries are rationing boosters to segments of their population, we’ve made the decision to make boosters available to everyone, six months after the primary vaccine course – most of which will naturally happen in 2022. That ensures simplicity and it ensures equity.”

There are 144,000 people in New Zealand who have been vaccinated for six months and 455,847 who will be, by the end of the year.

Ardern also announced a lockdown level change for the Waikato region, south of Auckland. The area has been under level three lockdown restrictions for six weeks, after Covid-19 cases emerged in the community.

Ardern said that due to its high vaccination rates and low spread beyond household contacts, the area will move to alert level two from midnight Tuesday.Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealanders will be able to get Covid boosters from the end of the month. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock© Provided by The Guardian Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealanders will be able to get Covid boosters from the end of the month. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock



From Agence France-Presse:

A group of women subjected to invasive gynaecological searches at Doha airport will sue Qatari authorities, seeking redress for an ordeal that sparked global condemnation, their lawyer said on Monday.

Women on 10 Qatar Airways flights from Doha, including 13 Australians, were subjected to the examinations late last year as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn found abandoned in an airport bathroom.

Related: Australian women to sue Qatar over invasive strip-search ordeal

‘State of the art’ Adani coal train breaks down during testing

05:42 Ben Smee

One of Adani’s brand new “state of the art” coal trains has broken down during testing in north Queensland.

The Indian conglomerate has said it expects to export the first coal from the Carmichael mine by the end of the year.

After difficulty finding an Australian freight rail company to haul its coal, Adani established the Bowen Rail Company. In September Adani hailed the arrival of new locomotives at a media event attended by the federal resources minister, Keith Pitt.

Guardian Australia was sent footage of Bowen Rail Company locomotives and wagons stalled at Birrallee, south of Collinsville, earlier today. The area is en route from the Carmichael mine to Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal.

In the footage, the wagons appear fully laden with coal.

“One of our testing and commissioning trains is currently stopped in a siding away from main line traffic as a safety precaution while some work is carried out,” an Adani spokeswoman said.

“Since our new locomotives arrived in Australia in September we have transported them to the railway and have since been testing and commissioning them and our coal wagons to ensure they are ready to operate safely and efficiently.

“As is the usual process for new pieces of equipment and infrastructure, this is expected to take a period of time as the new machines are tested, both while hauling loads and with empty wagons.”



Joyce says he is happy with the government’s target and he thinks Australia did a great job.

Joyce is asked if the government should not have signed up to returning next year and revising the target.

“If they want to talk about something and have another talkfest, knock yourself out, have it somewhere else, have the movie stars come back and all the billionaires and all the core projects, and have people bleeding all over the place and terribly upset.

“We honour every agreement when we signed it. That is why we are cautious about what we sign. A lot of these other countries, yes, they will sign the agreement and hooray for the photo. But as they walk back on the corporate jet, they go, ‘Bye’.”Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP© Provided by The Guardian Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


05:36 Paul Karp

Senator Jacqui Lambie has turned to a Facebook poll to help her decide how to vote on the Coalition’s proposed voter ID bill.

Lambie’s vote could be important – given One Nation already supports the law, the government is close to having the numbers.

On Friday Lambie posted: “Should we need an ID to vote? I want you to give me your advice. The government’s proposed Voter ID laws will stop people from stealing someone elses’ vote, but could also disadvantage vulnerable people. The Voter ID laws could come up in the last two weeks of parliament. Don’t wait to tell me how you think I should vote. Click the link below – it’s the easiest way to tally up all the advice. I’ll let you know when I’ve made my decision and why.”

This isn’t the first time Lambie has engaged her constituents directly in this fashion, she also conducted a poll before voting against the proposed ban on mobile phones in immigration detention.

The cynic in me thinks it’s a good way to build a bigger contact list, capturing details of people engaged in a controversial topic. First name, last name, email, mobile and street address are required to participate – less proof than you’ll be asked on voting day if the bill gets up, but still, handy to have.

And of course – there’s no commitment she’ll do what the majority say, only to explain what she decided on and why.Senator Jacqui Lambie. Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian Senator Jacqui Lambie. Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images



Joyce says the nationals didn’t sign the Cop26 final agreement including a request to strengthen 2030 emission targets – which the government did before issuing a statement within hours the target is fixed.

“I didn’t sign it.

“The Nationals didn’t sign it. I did not sign it.”



PK says Sharma was emotional because he felt it was a great achievement.

“Give me a break! These people aren’t worried about the environment, they just want to end up on television.”



Joyce is now mocking the Cop26 president for becoming emotional at the end of the final sitting.

“I think we have done a great job. I think we have done a great job.

“It annoys me that, what is that guy’s name? The chairman Sharma with his gavel, ‘I am crying, I can’t do it,’ – he wants to talk about shutting down the coal industry but he never talks about shutting down the oil fields in the North Sea, he doesn’t want to shut that down.

“He wants to shut down industries and other people’s countries, not in his country.”



That interview was wild. Give me a second, and we are going to jump over to Ben Smee who has an update on one of Adani’s new coal trains – very on brand topic for this afternoon.



Joyce is arguing he cannot answer for Liberal moderates who want higher climate change targets.

“They are the Liberal party, that is for him [Scott Morrison] to look after and the Liberal party, I look after the National party.”



PK has asked Joyce if it is appropriate for the Senate to be looking at the ABC.

“[If] they want to have those Senate inquiries they can have one.

“You can turn up and defend the ABC if you wish, one thing you guys are good at is arguing your case, you can go there and argue your case and you will.

“You are making a big thing of it to be quite frank and making it worse, better to deal with it and send someone along, give your evidence.”



And with this choice quote, the interview with Joyce comes to a close.

“PK, everyone is entertained, they won’t like me, but they will be entertained.”



PK has asked Joyce if he is concerned about misinformation in relation to the vaccine, especially if it comes from people like George Christensen.

“If the information is wrong I am concerned about it. You shouldn’t give wrong information, which, for instance, could put someone out of a job or cause someone healthy — cause them to become unhealthy, you shouldn’t tie a car to a rail line or to scaffolding. Misinformation is bad as well.”



Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is on Afternoon Briefing with Patricia Karvelas.

He says protestors who are currently blocking coal trains in the Hunter region are not exercising “their democratic right”.

“When they hang themselves off scaffolding, stopping trains, $60m worth of exports, but about $6m worth of royalties that could have gone to hospitals, schools, could have gone to things that support our standard of living.”



Greens politicians are concerned about a catch in South Australia’s plan to open its border.

Fully vaccinated travellers from other states will be allowed to enter SA from 23 November.

But if they are coming from a local government area where there is community transmission and less than 80% of the population are fully vaccinated they still have to quarantine.

Jenny Leong (member for Newtown), Ellen Sandall (member for Melbourne) and Tammy Franks (SA) are concerned residents from the City of Melbourne and the City of Sydney will be impacted because statistical anomalies show a low vaccine rate in both central LGAs.

They have written to Greg Hunt flagging their concern.

“As it stands, these statistical anomalies will prevent many people living in the City of Sydney and the City of Melbourne from travelling and being reunited with family in South Australia,” the letter reads.

“It will also prevent interstate travel by South Australian residents to these cities.

“It is critical that vaccination rates are set and we are very supportive of ensuring the community is kept safe through a strong public health vaccination program.

“That said, it is problematic to be preventing interstate travel based on outdated population predictions which seem to skew the actual vaccination rates in these areas.”


04:37 Melissa Davey

A “root cause” of the tragedy that led to 50 resident deaths at St Basil’s aged care home was an eight-day delay between the reporting of its first Covid case to Victoria’s health department and the testing of all residents, a coronial inquest has heard.

New evidence of failures at the home was obtained in recent months, counsel assisting Peter Rozen QC said in his opening address to the inquest, which began on Monday with the names of those who died being read as the court stood in silence.

Related: St Basil’s aged care inquest hears testing delays after first Covid-19 case a ‘root cause’ of 50 deaths



Mark McGowan has hit back at Greg Hunt after Hunt appeared yesterday on the ABC’s Insiders saying he heard Western Australia was considering opening its borders earlier than planned to coincide with the cricket.

“I’ve never met Greg Hunt, I’ve never spoken to Greg Hunt, I wouldn’t know him if I met him. He’s got a very vivid imagination. He hasn’t spoken to the [WA] health minister. I would urge the commonwealth government to stop making things up.

“The commonwealth has been difficult the whole way along the last two years, always staying to be very adventurous and unsafe whereas we have been very cautious and very safe.”

The plan for Western Australia at the moment is to set a date for reopening its borders once 80% of people 12 and over have been fully vaccinated on that date is set to be sometime in late January or early February.



There was also a strong warning for year 12’s celebrating finishing in Dunsborough later this month.

WA Commissioner of Police Chris Dawson said:

“I’d caution anyone that is contemplating to try and game the system … It’s a criminal offence. If you want to attempt to enter by way of fraud or forgery, you are liable, and look, why would you waste all your education up to year 12, you want to go to university or get a job, and run the risk of actually getting a criminal conviction?”



That’s it from the BOM but I’ll follow the updates and bring you those through the afternoon.

You can check the NSW weather warnings on the BOM’s website and on Twitter.



Swindles is asked to give an update on operations in the Blue Mountains.

“The strong winds we saw over the weekend kept the BlueMountains unit very busy – over 60 calls for assistance for trees being down.

“Some leaking roofs as well as some of the rain that we got, extending down to the Hills area. Once again, our Blue Mountains crew are certainly active today in finishing those jobs.

“Warnings for wind, when we get them, we asked for people to secure loose items around the yard, and also with leaking roofs, we just had that we are expecting more rain, and when it comes into the season when you get the opportunity get onto your rooms, clean your gutters and cut down any low-lying trees over your rooms, that will certainly assist us.”



He said evictions warnings had been given out and residents were ready to leave if and when needed.

“We are working closely with the Bureau with regard to predictions. And may escalate to an evacuation order.

“When that does happen, those residents will be given clear instructions as to what they should do.

“As we referred to, in 2016, the community of Forbes are resilient, they are aware as to what could occur and I’m sure they have plans in place to look after themselves and we will be there to guide and assist.”



Swindles said they had 30 teams out in the area yesterday helping.

“I believe we had 30 teams out in the field day yesterday, doorknocking at risk properties, those 800 properties to give them forewarning, and upwards of over 100 SES volunteers who really just end up at times like these to help their community members.

“They are outstanding in the work they do.”



NSW SES chief superintendent Greg Swindells said they have significant resources out at Forbes.

“Since this event did commence, we have seen approximately 1500 request for assistance around the Forbes area. 100 calls for assistance mainly related to sandbagging.

“What I can say is that the community at Forbes is quite resilient, they have been preparing for this with us and other local council since June, and they are quite prepared.”

He said the peak could be on Wednesday.

“To the community, listen to the warnings, respond to the advice to look after yourselves and do what is asked of you to stay safe. Concern, as always is, since this event has occurred and it is statewide, we have seen 29 flood rescues.

“We stand here each time we have floods and our advice is for people to not walk, drive or ride through floodwaters. Unfortunately, people still take that risk.”



The BOM said the communities of Cowra, Nanami, Forbes need to keep up to date with any warnings on the site.

They are expected to peak in the next 24 hours at Nanami. The BOM is concerned Forbes flood waters could rise higher than 2016 levels.

“It is particularly important for communities with this evolving flood situation that will be updating warnings for of those communities – Cowra, Nanami, Forbes, and downstream – every two or three times each day, especially as we get more information and the forecast changes. We’ll be updating those impacted communities as possible.”



“Our key area of concern at the moment is Forbes, so even though the rainfall has stopped, the flood is still in motion, and during the past few days, we have seen moderate flooding upstream at Cowra.

“The river levels are higher than they were in 2016. Now we are concerned about how this will impact the community of Forbes. The flood forecasting team this morning updated the latest forecast for Forbes,” BOM spokesperson said.



We’re going to hold that for a second because the BOM is giving an update on NSW.



Cait Kelly here, rejoining you after possibly the best fish curry of my life.

I am about to bring you an update on the housing affordability inquiry from Paul Karp.


03:20 Daniel Hurst

The chief of the Australian defence force, General Angus Campbell, says it is an “open question” whether Afghanistan will re-emerge as a base for international terrorism.

At a Senate inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan, the Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie noted the gains Australia had secured had come at a great cost. She asked Campbell what he saw as the most important gain achieved in Afghanistan over the 20 years since Australia joined the US-led military engagement in 2001. Campbell said it was to work with coalition nations to deny Afghanistan as a base or safe haven for international terrorism.

Asked about what hopes there now were of preserving that gain now that the Taliban was back in control of Afghanistan, Campbell said:

I think this is a matter that is unclear. The efforts of the international community are focused on seeking to encourage, persuade, to see the Taliban meet their responsibilities now as an organisation that is in control of Afghanistan, not to see international terrorism to re-emerge from Afghanistan. But it is an open question, senator.

Pressed on Australia’s initial initial strategic objectives in Afghanistan in 2001-02, Campbell said:

It was to deny Afghanistan as a safe haven for international terrorism, to attack areas or Al Qaeda and other international terrorist facilities and organisations, as a member of a coalition to seek to capture Osama bin Laden as the leader of Al-Qaeda and to see Afghanistan able to be a base for international terrorism.

Daniel Sloper, the Australian government’s special representative on Afghanistan, told the same hearing:

We need to hold the Taliban accountable for its actions going forward.

Sloper said the Australian government was focused a number of priorities, including ensuring safe passage for people who want to leave Afghanistan, protection of human rights, and avoiding a safe haven for terrorism. He said these goals would not be easy or quick to resolve (adding that the Taliban were seeking international recognition and release of funds).

Sloper said the Australia was working with other countries – including those in the region – on these issues, noting: “It is in no one’s interests for Afghanistan or its neighbourhood to become unstable.”

The hearing continues.


03:12 Paul Karp

The parliamentary inquiry into housing affordability has concluded for the day, after the usual clashes between chair Liberal MP Jason Falinski and regulators over housing supply and planning laws.

In the morning, Australian Prudential and Regulation authority executive director, Renee Roberts, was in the firing line for saying APRA doesn’t “target house prices or matters of affordability”. Rather, it is concerned with financial stability and ensuring households are able to make mortgage repayments.

Falinski asked Roberts repeatedly if this meant APRA “doesn’t care” about affordability – prompting the reply that it is not in APRA’s mandate.

APRA has recently tightened lending standards by requiring that lenders check households can pay the interest rate plus a buffer of 3%, up from 2.5%. But Roberts said the aggregate impact of this on prices will be “fairly modest” as many don’t borrow at their full capacity.

In the afternoon, Falinski asked the Reserve Bank assistant governor, Luci Ellis, if the RBA was responsible for high house prices. Ellis replied that she accepts that low interest rates have contributed to house prices and “at some level that is our doing”. But, the alternative is the Australian economy suffering higher inflation and having greater difficulty attracting capital.

Asked about the impact of housing prices on inequality, Ellis conceded it is a “legitimate concern” and there is an “intergenerational issue” because people whose parents rent have much greater difficulty owning their own home.

But people whose parents own their own home benefit because “the house doesn’t disappear – there’s a mechanism by which children can relatively easily end up being home owners”, she said. Meaning: using the bank of mum and dad by getting them to guarantee your loan, or inheritance.

Falinski and Ellis went a few rounds with comparisons between housing markets in Santiago (Chile), Tokyo (Japan), Auckland (New Zealand) and Texas (US) – Falinski’s general thrust being looser planning laws = more construction = lower prices. Ellis countered that it’s the supply of well-located land, near jobs and amenities that is constrained and raises prices.

The hearing ended with another disagreement about whether planning laws have gotten more or less difficult to navigate, with Ellis pointing to liberalisation in Brisbane and Sydney, and Falinski countering that developers and builders had told the committee it’s still getting harder to build.



Tory Shepherd here, back in Blogtown for a bit. Did you see this?

While some are celebrating Cop26 ending without actually sounding the death knell for coal, NSW treasurer Matt Kean says life won’t get easier for the fossil fuel industry. He said:

Glasgow just accelerated where the market was already going. The fossil fuel industry is going to find it harder to get insurance, raise capital or refinance their options.

The Coalition really is a broad church! Read more about Kean’s comments in Peter Hannam’s story here:

Related: Cop26 will make life harder for Australian fossil fuel industry, NSW treasurer predicts



There are currently protestors on the steps of parliament house in Victoria saying they will camp out to protest the pandemic bill.

The state opposition will attempt to move 18 amendments to the proposed pandemic laws. #springst @theheraldsun— Mitch Clarke (@96mitchclarke) November 15, 2021



I’m going to hand you back to my colleague Tory Shepherd while I take a quick break for lunch. I’ll be back very soon to go through the afternoon with you.



We reported earlier that the PM had been asked about the snap Senate inquiry into the ABC, after chair Ita Buttrose accused the government of trying to intimidate the ABC.

My colleague Paul Karp has the full story here and now:

Related: Scott Morrison backs Senate ABC inquiry, saying national broadcaster ‘not above scrutiny’



And we have a better breakdown of Victoria’s Covid cases today.

Five people have died with the virus in the latest reporting period. There are 860 new infections, which is down from yesterday’s total.

378 people are in hospital and of those 78 are in intensive care. 87% of eligible people are fully vaccinated and 92% have now had their first dose.



Guardian Australia’s medical editor, Melissa Davey, is live-tweeting the Victorian inquiry.

A senior official from the Vic department of health was also with her during this “tour” of the home, the inquest heard. Murphy was concerned and inclined to move the residents out but wanted the chief nursing officer to assess the situation first, the inquest heard.— Melissa Davey (@MelissaLDavey) November 15, 2021


02:37 Elias Visontay

Former Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples was “very uncomfortable” with a potential increased risk to long-term rail safety in the state that had not been resolved when he left his role in February, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Appearing at an inquiry into the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) on Monday, Staples said that when he was overseeing Transport for NSW as the NSW government was setting up TAHE as commercial state owned corporation, it became “apparent that the top criteria” was to achieve a “fiscal objective” for the state’s budget.

Staples’s employment was terminated without reason in November 2020 amid an alleged disagreement with Treasury officials over the establishment of TAHE – a model for transport asset ownership that has allowed the NSW government to reclassify billions of dollars of spending on public transit assets as equity injections that do not have a negative impact on the budget outlook.

Staples also told the inquiry that before his contract was terminated, he raised with department of treasury and cabinet secretary Tim Reardon, that he was concerned about whether he could continue to be effective in his role as TAHE was established. He said he was starting to “wrestle with” the idea of being able to “stand up to the workforce” and say “that this [TAHE] is a good thing”.

TAHE is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. Last week, the inquiry heard that Treasury officials pressured a KPMG partner to change his negative assessment of the financial benefit of TAHE and safety implications. Days after the KPMG report was delivered, Staples was dismissed.

On Monday, Staples said that “my observation was that the key driver for TAHE was to make sure that they could present the budget in a fiscally different way to if it wasn’t there”.

Staples said TAHE’s establishment seemed “at odds” with the NSW government’s broader policy over the past decade to integrate different transport bodies and dismantle commercial entities within the system. He said he held concerns for the long term safety of moving transport asset ownership into a commercial entity with an objective to deliver a profit.

“You’ll be faced with the conflict of ‘well how much do I invest in the rail asset and maybe a new signalling system versus invest in a property development that would generate a higher return’.”

Here’s an explainer on everything you need to know about TAHE – the entity that has been labelled a “financial mirage” by a former NSW auditor general.

Related: NSW public transport: how a new funding body drew accusations of safety risks and cooking the books



One of the first witnesses to address the inquiry was Christine Golding, whose 84-year-old mother, Efraxia, died after contracting Covid.

She said she got a call from a staff member after they were furloughed and was told doctors were crying, staff were protesting and they were predicting people would die from neglect.

She said her family were still angry and disappointed at how the outbreak had been mishandled and that no minister had called to offer their apologies or condolences yet.

The inquiry will run over the next few weeks and we will hear from loved ones and staff management. Victorian Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, will address the inquiry next Wednesday.

I’ll bring you any other key moments today on the blog.

Fully vaccinated travellers can apply for Queensland border passes from 5pm


Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and health minister Yvette D’Ath addressed media earlier, to talk through the coming changes to border restrictions now the state has hit 70% double vaccination.

Fully vaccinated travellers from interstate Covid-19 hotspots can apply for border passes from 5PM today.

If you’re coming from a hotspot, don’t pack your holiday bags just yet – there are a number of hoops you need to jump through to get into the state.

These include: being double vaxxed, with the second shot at least two weeks before entry, arrival by plane not car, proof of a negative Covid test 72 hours before arrival, a border pass, and the ability to quarantine at home in a place within two hours of the airport.

Palaszczuk said if the state kept up the momentum it would smash the 80% target earlier than predicted.

“If these rates continue, that is good news because it may even see our [reopening] date in December come a little bit forward as well,” Palaszczuk said.



The first day of a five-week inquest into Australia’s deadliest aged care Covid outbreak has begun in Melbourne.

Fifty residents of St Basil’s Aged Care died in August last year, 45 of them with Covid-19.

In his opening statement, Peter Rozen QC said staff were furloughed on July 22 after potentially being exposed to the virus, but the federal health department was unable to find sufficient staff to replace them.

He said public servants in Canberra who had never been to St Basil’s were making decisions about staffing “in the teeth of very clear warning from doctors who are caring for those same residents”.

One doctor involved in the response, Rabin Sinnappu, warned that replacing all of the regular St Basil’s staff would result in disaster, while another described it as a “shocking” idea.

Rozen said there were too few replacement staff to look after 100 elderly and frail people during the outbreak, and although a number of the new workers went “above and beyond”, the circumstances were impossible.

He also said the the delay between the notification of the first Covid case at the home on July 9 and test results becoming available on July 17 was a root cause of the failure to contain the outbreak.

-With AAP



Barnaby zipped down to Singleton to yell over a coal train about the industry having a long future in the Hunter. @9NewsAUS— Eliza Edwards (@ElizaEdNews) November 15, 2021



Tishiko King went to COP26 to represent First Nations people, but what she found was a bunch of fossil fuel lobbyists and empty words.

You can read her piece about why First Nations need a seat at the table, and why she is not without hope, here:

Related: Empty words, no action: Cop26 has failed First Nations people | Tishiko King



More groundbreaking stuff from the Senate committee …

Gosh this Senate Committee is revealing…

RBA just acknowledged if you don’t own a home in retirement you’re heading for poverty

I mean social groups have been saying that for ages but… the RBA just exposed the sore— David Taylor (@DaveTaylorNews) November 15, 2021

Changes to South Australia quarantine and border restrictions


Earlier today, South Australian premier Steven Marshall outlined changes to quarantine and border restrictions from next week.

In good news for separated families and state residents stuck outside, fully vaccinated people from New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT will be able to cross into the state from November 23.

And state residents will be able to leave the state without having to quarantine on the way back.

We know this is going to be a huge relief for families, for businesses,” Marshall said. “Those state borders have been extraordinarily punishing.”



Here’s a little guide from South Australia about the changes.

The Testing, Tracing, Isolation and Quarantining (TTIQ) model outlines requirements for contacts of a COVID-19 case from 23 November.

This is a general guide and SA Health will advise you of your requirements following a risk based assessment.

More info:— SA Health (@SAHealth) November 15, 2021



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