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Joyce says Qantas ‘not good enough’ in apology over airport chaos – as it happened

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has issued an apology to the airline’s frequent flyers after recent issues with delays, cancelled flights, long queues and lost baggage. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

What we learned: Sunday 21 August

With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, I’ll be spending it riddled with anxiety watching the conclusion of the Collingwood Carlton game.

Here were today’s major developments:

  • Speaking on Insiders this morning, Barnaby Joyce said he “wasn’t aware at the start” of Scott Morrison’s secret ministries because it happened before he became the Nationals leader. Asked about Morrison’s taking over of additional portfolios, he said he arrived there “obliquely”.

  • It came as prime minister Anthony Albanese flagged reform and inquiries in the wake of the revelations former prime minister Morrison secretly swore himself into five ministries, to ensure it never happens again.

  • New South Wales has detected its first community transmission of monkeypox after recording three additional cases of the virus. “About half” of Victoria’s cases are of community transmission, prompting health authorities to issue an alert for high risk members of the public. There have been almost 100 cases recorded nationwide.

  • Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has issued a personal apology by video to members of the airline’s Frequent Flyers program after passengers were left dealing with delays, cancelled flights, long queues and lost baggage.

  • And in Covid news, there have been 36 deaths to the virus across the nation today including 18 in Victoria and 16 in NSW.

Updated

A man has been shot by police in the Gold Coast this afternoon, Queensland Police has confirmed.

Police officers attended an address at around 3.20pm and allege they were confronted on arrival by a man armed with a knife.

Negotiators were notified to attend the scene and speak with the man.

The 29-year-old man allegedly advanced at officers and was subsequently shot just after 4pm. He was transported to Gold Coast University Hospital in a serious condition.

A crime scene has been established as an investigation by the Ethical Standards Command continues. The investigation is subject to oversight by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

Updated

Anti-tobacco campaigns are running out of puff, with a new report indicating a shift in public health campaign funding and attention to e-cigarettes, AAP reports.

A fresh study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health interviewed 31 experts, including tobacco control advocates and health practitioners, who said new messaging and funds were needed for stagnating campaigns.

The University of Melbourne’s Michelle Jongenelis said:

To achieve Australia’s goal of reducing smoking prevalence to less than 5% by 2030 and ease tobacco’s considerable burden on the health system, we need to invest in what works.

Despite evidence that hard-hitting mass media campaigns on tobacco harms are crucial in reducing smoking prevalence, Australia’s investment in such campaigns is below standard and has decreased significantly.

Jongenelis said the experts she spoke with are calling for an updated evidence-based national strategy to help smokers quit. She warned any reforms must be protected from lobby groups exploiting legal loopholes.

We are fighting a powerful tobacco industry that continues to interfere with smoking reduction efforts. They claim to desire a smoke-free world, but this is simply an attempt to legitimise their activities while they continue to spend billions promoting tobacco cigarettes.

They are exploiting loopholes in our legislation and lobbying policy-makers to soften laws so they can continue to sell a product that kills millions worldwide every year.

Updated

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch for catchments in Gippsland amid a cold front set to pass over Victoria on Monday and Tuesday.

The BoM said:

Catchments in the flood watch area are wet as a result of the recent rainfall, with elevated river levels within some catchments.

Rainfall totals of 15 to 30 mm with isolated higher totals up to 40 mm are forecast over the flood watch area during Monday into Tuesday.

River level rises and areas of minor flooding are possible in parts of Gippsland, central and north-east Victoria from Monday. Flood warnings are current for the following catchments: Latrobe, Yarra, Kiewa and Ovens and King rivers.

The Bureau of Meteorology is continuing to monitor the situation and will issue catchment specific warnings as required.

Updated

If you missed Insiders this morning, you weren’t privy to this snazzy shirt from our photographer at large Mike Bowers. A real sight to behold.

If you felt a little tremble in Western Australia this afternoon, it’s because there was.

The 4.3 magnitude ‘quake hit the Cadoux region, two-and-a-half hours north-east of Perth.

Updated

Swimmers from Australia and the United States will go head to head tonight on the third and final day of Duel in the Pool at Olympic Park in Sydney.

The Australian Dolphins, headlined by Olympic stars Emma McKeon and Kaylee McKeown, trail the American team by 11 points, 159-148. The Duel, a two-nation format returning to Australia for the first time since 2007, comes at the end of a glittering international campaign for the Dolphins.

The team starred at the world championships in Budapest and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, less than a year after they dominated at the Tokyo Olympics. But they’ll need to shine tonight if they are to overcome team USA’s advantage and win the event for the first time in its two-decade history.

In sporting news, former Essendon coach Ben Rutten has been sacked following weeks of speculation at the club.

Despite having a year left on his contract, the decision is effective immediately.

In a statement, Essendon president David Barham thanked Rutten for his time at the club, while acknowledging the Bombers weak performance this season.

Ben’s commitment and care for this playing group was second to none, and we thank him for his dedication to what we recognise is an all-consuming role as senior coach.

The unfortunate reality is, at various stages this season; we have simply been uncompetitive. And while we acknowledge that we have an emerging playing list, we were compelled to make the decision.

We will thoroughly and diligently consider our next steps and in due course, will communicate the process of our next senior coach appointment.

Updated

Push for Sydney’s Warragamba Dam to be drained to mitigate flooding

Local residents are pushing for Sydney’s Warragamba Dam to be drained, instead of its wall being raised, under a flood mitigation proposal by the NSW government, AAP reports.

Warragamba provides Sydney’s drinking water, the supply of which could be limited if the dam is drained.

Proposals to raise the wall have been slammed by Unesco conservationists out of concern for the Blue Mountains.

The state government wants the federal government to split the proposed $1.6 billion cost of raising the dam wall at a time when state coffers are stretched due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Samantha Magnusson from the Hawkesbury Community Alliance instead wants the dam drained before floods arrive.

“Our community needs flood mitigation now, not in the distant future. Ten years is too late,” she said.

“(Drainage) is the best option for urgent flood mitigation for the community, who are filled with fear and uncertainty about what ... coming weeks might bring.”

Meteorologists have warned Australia is in for a third year of La Nina weather, meaning more rain for NSW as it grapples with the devastating fallout of two recent major floods.

Hawkesbury locals heard from a University of NSW engineering expert, Dr Stuart Khan, on Saturday who said draining the dam ahead of floods threatened Sydney’s drinking water supply.

Dr Khan said other water sources would be needed to help prop up the water supply if Warragamba needed to be drained.

“Reducing the current water storage in Warragamba Dam is a realistic alternative to raising the dam wall,” he said.

“No solution provides complete protection from flooding, maintaining a lower water storage in Warragamba can significantly mitigate many floods, reducing peak flood heights and enabling additional evacuation time.”

A recent independent report and a separate parliamentary inquiry on NSW’s flood response suggested raising the dam wall could delay key infrastructure flooding by 11 hours, including the vital evacuation route on Windsor Bridge.

Updated

Here is the full video apology from Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

NSW detects first community transmission of monkeypox

New South Wales has detected its first community transmission of monkeypox after recording three additional cases of the virus.

NSW Health issued an alert urging the community “particularly gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men” to be vigilant for symptoms following the local transmission.

There have been 42 monkeypox cases identified in the state including one case that acquired their infection in NSW and two that acquired their infection within Australia.

Victoria is also on alert after detecting community transmission in “about half” of the state’s 40 cases.

NSW Health executive director of health protection Dr Richard Broome urged the community to remain “vigilant” for symptoms regardless of whether they’d visited high risk areas.

Men who have sex with men who are returning from overseas should contact their GP or local sexual health clinic for a check-up when they return as symptoms of monkeypox can be mild.

Symptoms usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure through skin-to-skin contact and can include fever, headache, body aches and a rash or lesions on the genital area.

It is important that people with these symptoms avoid close contact with others, including sexual activity, as condoms are not effective at preventing the transmission of monkeypox.

NSW Health has been prioritising “high-risk” groups in the rollout of the latest smallpox vaccine while retaining a “small stock” for post-exposure prophylaxis.

We continue to work with our community partners to formulate a plan to rollout the additional doses of the Jynneos smallpox vaccine expected to be delivered in early September and October.”

Australia has secured 450,000 doses of the vaccine, which is used to prevent the spread and post-exposure of monkeypox, however just 22,000 have arrived.

Updated

South Australia’s Flinders Range nominated for Unesco world heritage status

South Australia’s iconic and fossil-rich Flinders Ranges is one step closer to being declared one of Australia’s natural wonders on the Unesco World Heritage List.

The area has been nominated for a tentative listing as a World Heritage site, on behalf of the South Australian government and the area’s traditional owners, the Adnyamathanha people.

Home to significant fossil deposits, the region was dubbed “one great outdoor museum” by 20th-Century explorer and geologist Douglas Mawson.

South Australian environment Minister Susan Close said the 600m year old range is “one of Australia’s magnificent landscapes”.

The fossils and geology of the region are particularly fascinating, displaying the history of our planet and the evolution of life on Earth.

Some of this critical evidence includes the world’s finest example of the Ediacaran explosion of life when the earliest forms of complex multicellular animal life evolved.

The geological and paleontological forms within the Flinders Ranges make it an important site to pursue World Heritage status, the minister said.

Lead authors of the heritage bid have toured several key sites to assess the scientific values of sites including along the Brachina Geological Trail and in Nilpena Ediacara national park.

The group includes internationally renowned professor and palaeontologist Prof Mary Droser from the University of Southern California who told the BBC has one advantage over other fossil-rich regions: accessibility.

There are places that have parts of the story, and there are places with phenomenal fossils, but the Flinders has this complete packaging that is really accessible. We can go back in time and see how life unfolded. The record is unparalleled.

As part of the heritage process, the bid team met with the locals from the ex-copper mining town of Blinman, some 425km north of Adelaide, to discuss the potential heritage listing.

The group also plans to tour Arkaroola and Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges national park next month.

The assessment process is expected to take at least another two years before the Flinders Ranges could be added to the World Heritage List in 2025 at the earliest.

– with AAP

Updated

A regional Victorian nightclub is offering free lids to its patrons in an effort to prevent drink-spiking.

Warehouse Ballarat is taking the action after widespread reports of spiking incidents in the region dating back to last year.

Ash Ibraheim, who owns Warehouse Ballarat as well as almost a dozen venues around Victoria, said reports of spiking at the nightclub had never been so “rampant and repeated”.

“I ended up driving a number of people to hospital. The toxicology wouldn’t show anything but you have to take things like this really seriously,” he said.

“Kids haven’t been out in quite a while and some have been insulated from 17 to 20. They haven’t had schoolies, formals, socials, and they haven’t had that proper education.”

Read the full report below.

Updated

The global economic outlook and the trajectory of interest rates will be in focus this week, while an official from Australia’s central bank will discuss the risks climate change pose to the financial system, AAP reports.

The Jackson Hole Economic Symposium will on Friday bring together US and international policymakers and academics to discuss key long-term economic issues, with interest rates and inflation likely to dominate the meeting.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will give the opening address.

It is expected the talks will include climate change risks.

'Not good enough': Alan Joyce issues apology to Qantas frequent flyers

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has issued a personal apology by video to members of the airline’s Frequent Flyers program after passengers were left dealing with delays, cancelled flights, long queues and lost baggage.

The airline is also offering frequent flyer members $50 flight promo codes, more reward seat availability, and additional lounge invitations as compensation for the disruptions they have experienced this week.

In a statement on Sunday, the company said it was rolling out “a range of initiatives” to deal with its issues, including $15m to introduce new technologies “at key airports” and the hiring of 1500 new workers since April.

The company said its recruitments had been hampered by high levels of sick leave caused by the pandemic “as well as an industry-wide labour shortage”.

Joyce told members of the Frequent Flyers program that the chaos to date was “not good enough”.

Over the past few months, too many of you have had flights delayed, flights cancelled and bags misplaced. There are good reasons why, but when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it’s not good enough.

On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we’re working hard to get back to our best.

As well as saying sorry, we also want to say thank you.

In September 2021 it was reported Joyce took home nearly $2m for his role as CEO.

At the start of the pandemic Qantas laid off one in five workers and initiated a two-year wage freeze as part of a sweeping cost-cutting plan.

The sudden collapse of international tourism and flights prompted Virgin Airlines to enter bankruptcy and raised questions about whether airlines that fell into trouble should be nationalised.

Updated

Victorians ‘at risk’ of monkeypox urged to limit sexual partners

The Victorian government has urged at-risk community members to “limit sexual partners” as local transmission of monkeypox rises across the state.

There have been 40 cases of monkeypox recorded in Victoria since the virus arrived onshore, “about half” of which have been locally acquired. It’s almost double the 22 cases that had been reported on 4 August.

Deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman said while most Australian cases had acquired their infection overseas, the virus was now spreading in Victoria person-to-person.

The current outbreak has disproportionately impacted men who have sex with men however anyone who has been in close, usually intimate contact with a confirmed case is at risk.

Friedman:

The department is closely monitoring cases and contacts to prevent further spread in the community and is encouraging people who may be at risk to take preventative measures such as limiting sexual partners, exchanging contact information with sexual partners in case it is required for contact tracing and getting vaccinated if they are eligible.

Nationwide, there have been 89 cases of the virus detected, including 39 in New South Wales, three in Queensland, three in Western Australia, two in the Australian Capital Territory, and two in South Australia.

It comes amid a global shortage of the latest smallpox vaccine, which is used to prevent spread and post-exposure of monkeypox. The Australian government has bought 450,000 doses of the vaccine, however just 22,000 have arrived.

The remaining 350,000 will arrive in “early 2023”, while 100,000 doses will be shipped in the “last quarter of 2022”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Aged Care said Australia had been able to secure supply in a “very limited” global market.

More than half of the initial vaccine doses have been transported directly to the states and territories so they can commence vaccinating straight away.

Initial vaccine stock will have a strong focus on outbreak management to suppress the risk of local transmission … vaccination will likely expand to other high-risk groups, including those who may be planning travel … as more vaccine stock becomes available later this year and into 2023.

They said in response to the “evolving situation” the government had formed a National MPXV Taskforce to provide policy advice and would provide funding to peak organisations for targeted communication.

A highly targeted campaign will also be created to encourage at risk populations to vaccinate.

Victoria received 3,500 doses of the vaccine earlier this month and had rolled out the existing supply largely through sexual health clinics to people “most at risk”.

A spokesperson for the state’s health department said the eligibility criteria and supply would be limited during August and September as the state awaited a larger supply from the vaccine manufacturer.

Updated

National Covid summary: 36 deaths reported

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 36 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 186

  • In hospital: 120 (with 3 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 16

  • Cases: 4,335

  • In hospital: 1,925 (with 52 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 72

  • In hospital: 23 (with no people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 0 (deaths aren’t reported on Sunday)

  • Cases: 1,166

  • In hospital: 377 (with 13 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 1

  • Cases: 664

  • In hospital: 259 (with 8 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 213

  • In hospital: 56 (with 3 people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 18

  • Cases: 2,437

  • In hospital: 438 (with 29 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 1

  • Cases: 1,147

  • In hospital: 235 (with 4 people in ICU)

John Tulloh, veteran ABC journalist, dies aged 82

One of the ABC’s most distinguished journalists John Tulloh, who ran international news at the public broadcaster for two decades, has died at the age of 82 in Sydney.

Affectionately known as “JT”, Tulloh was the ABC’s international news editor from 1985 to 2000 and then head of international operations until 2004.

Justin Stevens, ABC director, news:

Our condolences are with John’s family and friends. John led the ABC’s correspondents during a tumultuous period in history and the ABC’s international coverage benefitted immensely from his experience.

He was an outstanding correspondent and editorial leader who mentored many of the great correspondents, international staff and camera operators. The reason the ABC is respected around the globe for its coverage of foreign affairs is to a large degree due to brilliant individuals such as John, and we stand on his shoulders today.

Updated

Northern Territory records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in the Northern Territory overnight, with the state recording 72 new cases on Sunday morning, 23 people in hospital, and 0 in ICU.

Western Australia records one new Covid deaths

One person with Covid-19 has died in Western Australia overnight, with the state recording 1,147 new cases on Sunday morning, 235 people in hospital, and 4 in ICU.

Queensland to roll out ‘world-first’ road safety plan targeting speeding

Queensland is rolling out a “world-first” road safety initiative targeting speeding drivers in school zones and roadworks.

State transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said the new cameras would go live next month in “high risk” locations.

I am giving Queenslanders fair warning that these can be anywhere, anytime. It’s vital we do everything we can to keep the vulnerable in our community safe on our roads and these cameras will help to achieve that.

Superintendent Janelle Andrews said speeding was one of the leading causes of fatalities and serious injuries on Queensland’s roads, accounting for 74 deaths in 2021 – almost 27% of the state’s total road toll.

Thousands more road users are seriously injured in crashes. These new speed cameras force drivers to slow down in order to avoid a fine or incur demerit points, there is no penalty for doing the right thing.

Updated

Meanwhile, damaging winds are also forecast for the New South Wales alpine area as a cold front moves through the state.

Updated

Damaging winds forecast for parts of Tasmania

A severe weather warning has been issued for parts of Tasmania, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting damaging winds from early Monday morning until the afternoon.

The warning is in place for people in North East, East Coast and parts of North West Coast, Central North and Midlands districts.

The BoM:

Vigorous northwesterly winds ahead of a passing front will strengthen overnight, gradually clearing from the west during Monday.

Damaging wind gusts over 90 km/h are possible over northern coastal areas, Tamar Valley and the east coast from early Monday morning, gradually clearing from the west on Monday afternoon. Damaging gusts are expected in both clear air and around passing showers.

Locations which may be affected include Devonport, Burnie, St Helens, Swansea, Bicheno and Orford.

Updated

Guardian readers reveal struggle to access healthcare as GPs stop bulk billing

A man with heart attack symptoms who waited two weeks to see a doctor; parents foregoing their own care to ensure their children are treated; and hour-long drives to the nearest bulk-billing practice: Guardian Australia readers have shared their experiences of accessing affordable healthcare in response to a callout as part our series on the decline of bulk billing in Australia.

One man on a disability pension, who asked that his name not be used, said he had called a home doctor service one evening because he was experiencing symptoms that are commonly associated with a heart attack.

After being on hold for over an hour and a half with no answer, he called 1300 SICK and was advised to call an ambulance. Knowing he would receive a bill for this that he could not afford, he did not follow this advice.

“Instead I waited all night for my symptoms to subside and called the local GP clinic the next day for an appointment,” he said. “On the call I was told they had recently stopped bulk billing and as a new patient I would need to pay for an appointment upfront ($90) and then would have the rebate refunded into my account, leaving a gap of $15 that I would pay. I didn’t have $90 so I have had to wait a fortnight for my next pay so I could see a GP.”

For more on this story about how Australia’s medical system is under pressure, read the full report by Guardian reporters Stephanie Convery and Emily Wind.

Updated

South Australia records one Covid death

South Australia Health has released today’s Covid update.

There have been 664 new cases reported and one further death.

There are 259 people being treated in hospital with the virus including eight people in intensive care.

Underachieving disability employment providers to be discontinued or closed

More than 15,000 Australians living with disability will be directed to better performing job providers following a major review.

About six per cent of the Disability Employment Services program will be discontinued, affecting 52 of 104 providers nationwide due to underachievement.

Eight will be closed altogether.

Social services minister Amanda Rishworth says 15,550 disabled Australians will be transitioned to more suitable close-to-home services, giving them the best opportunity to obtain sustainable and meaningful work.

The consolidation comes ahead of Monday’s Disability Employment Roundtable in Canberra and the government’s September Jobs and Skills summit.

Rishworth said on Sunday that assessing the performance of DES providers meant only the most effective will continue to receive commonwealth funding.

Poorly performing DES providers were given every opportunity to put measures in place to improve and were aware of the formal review process.

It is vital that funding is directed to organisations who have proven they are delivering the best support to participants.

The review was initiated following evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

The inquiry was told some providers were not achieving outcomes, with some job placements ending abruptly or only lasting the duration of government subsidies.

– from AAP

Updated

NSW police strip-searched more than 100 children as young as 13 in two-year period

The New South Wales police have been accused of misunderstanding their own strip-search powers after data showed officers continued to use the controversial practice on thousands of people, including children as young as 13, during the height of Covid.

Data reveals police in NSW carried out more than 4,400 strip-searches between July 2020 and May 2022, which includes a Delta-wave lockdown that lasted more than 100 days.

Released to the Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws, the figures show more than 100 children were among those searched, including a 13-year-old.

It comes despite promises by police to overhaul policies around the use of strip-search powers after the release of a damning report by the law enforcement watchdog in 2021.

For more on this exclusive story, read the full report by Guardian Australia reporter Michael McGowan.

Updated

Five new primary care centres to ease burden on Victorian health system

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that five new GP-led priority primary care centres will be established to help ease pressure on the state’s hospitals.

The $14.3m project means each centre located near major hospitals, providing alternative care pathways for non-emergency patients.

This will reduce demand on our emergency departments, ensuring those that need urgent care can get it faster and avoid an unnecessary trip to the ED.

The global pandemic has put health systems around the country under unprecedented pressure – and this is part of our comprehensive plan to deliver the care Victorians need, when they need it, close to home.

The centres will be located near Royal Melbourne hospital, Northern hospital Epping, Sunshine hospital, Monash Medical Centre Clayton, and Grampians Health Ballarat.

The state’s emergency departments are the busiest they have ever been, with presentations hitting a record 486,701 in the most recent quarter – an increase of 5.1% from the previous quarter.

Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy said the state’s health system was in crisis and that the premier had failed to fix it over the past eight years.

If elected in November, the Coalition said it would reprioritise beds in the Mickleham quarantine facility to improve the health system at an estimated cost of $35m during the first year.

Additionally, they would shelve the Suburban Rail Loop project, which could cost $125bn in its first stages, to instead put more money in healthcare.

It makes no sense that Mickleham should sit empty whilst we have a health crisis that is worsening by the day.

We need to take advantage of this facility which in a short period of time could be used to accommodate hundreds of willing patients who no longer require acute hospital care and would be more comfortable in a setting with full support whilst they await placement into aged care or special accommodation.

Andrews responded on social media, saying it was not an either-or proposition:

– with AAP

Updated

Bailey backs Carroll over cultural change at Queensland police

Queensland’s minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey has backed in Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday for the start of road safety week, Bailey said he had full confidence in Carroll’s ability to oversee change within the Queensland police.

There were a number of comments made by senior police.

I have absolute faith in commissioner Carrol in handling those matters appropriately.

Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll.
Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

Carroll has faced controversy this week after an appearance at an inquiry into domestic violence where she confirmed she had initially rejected an invitation to appear, despite previously having said Queensland police were fully cooperating.

The inquiry was looking at widespread cultural issues within Queensland police that potentially compromised their handling of domestic violence matters.

For more detail on the inquiry read the latest report by Guardian Australia reporter Eden Gillespsie.

Updated

New restoration project to bring sea horses and kelp forest back to Sydney Harbour

New South Wales minister for the environment James Griffin has announced a $9.1m plan to restore lost biodiversity to Sydney Harbour and improve water quality.

Griffin said in a statement on Sunday that under the program kelp forest would be regrown in the harbour to provide marine habitats for penguins, seals, seahorses and turtles.

Celebrated Australian writer Clive James reminisced about our magnificent Sydney Harbour, likening it to ‘crushed diamond’, and we want to restore that same brilliance to the habitats that lie beneath the surface.

Sydney Harbour is a modern, working harbour at the beating heart of our city, but the effects of urbanisation and industrial activity have resulted in the loss of marine habitats and the species that call them home.

While Sydney’s water quality has significantly improved in recent decades, so much so that we all delight at sightings of whales and seals in the harbour, there’s no better time to supercharge our restoration efforts.

Griffin said the project would involve installing hundreds of “living seawall” panels, replanting sea grasses and regrowing kelp forest in nine locations.

The Seabirds to Seascapes project will also involve a census of little penguins in the state and a seal survey to learn more about the state’s resident fur seals.

Seaweeds such as crayweed provide critical habitat and food for marine life. They also act as underwater forests, capturing carbon and creating oxygen.

However, crayweed completely disappeared from the Sydney metropolitan region from Palm Beach to Cronulla in the 1980s due to pollution, and has never returned.

Updated

Call for reform to Australia’s ‘needlessly complex’ skilled migration scheme

A report from Deloitte Access Economics has called for reform to Australia’s “needlessly complex” skilled migration system to deal with labour shortages.

With skilled migration at a fraction of pre-pandemic levels, Deloitte partner Fiona Webb urged Australia to show it was “open for business” by cutting red tape.

This was in the context, the report found, of the economy shifting to a more skilled and knowledge-based workforce, with jobs in the sector forecast to grow around 2.1% or 39,300 workers, yearly between now and June 2032.

Alongside policy to ensure we are developing the necessary skills for the future within Australia, there needs to be a focus on overhauling our needlessly complex skilled migration system to ensure we can also attract workers with the skills we need.

The highest order priority is to clearly signal to the world that Australia is open for business. Our pandemic-era border policies created a lingering level of uncertainty among potential skilled migrants.

They want to know they will be able to get in and out of the country without complication and have greater certainty about longer-term options to remain in Australia - that is, pathways to permanent residency.

The report also urged Australia to expand its humanitarian migration program, describing the long-term benefits of doing so as “profound” for both economic and social metrics.

– with AAP

Updated

Queensland records 1,116 new Covid cases

Queensland has recorded 1,166 new cases on Sunday morning, 377 people in hospital, and 13 people in ICU.

The state does not report its Covid deaths on Sunday or Morning but adds them to its Tuesday totals.

Here is the footage from one of the clearer moments of the interview with Barnaby Joyce this morning – and credit has to go to Speers here for staying on the question in what was a quite a hostile interview.

ACT records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in Australian Capital Territory overnight, with the territory recording 186 new cases on Sunday morning, 120 people in hospital, three in ICU and one on ventilation.

Updated

How the Overland Telegraph brought colonial triumph and Aboriginal devastation

In 1872, 150 years ago on Monday, Australia celebrated its connection to the world. A heroic effort had conquered the tyranny of distance, and the Overland Telegraph, stretching more than 3,000km from Adelaide to Darwin, was heralded as a triumph.

In 1872, 150 years ago on Monday, the devastating effects of colonisation were being felt through the middle of Australia. The telegraph line brought settlers, the destruction of the environment and death for Aboriginal people.

Both stories are true.

The idea to link Australia by telegraph to the world took shape as Britain began to send undersea cables across vast portions of the globe from the 1850s, but the task of crossing the continent from south to north appeared too daunting for many years, not least after the disastrous Burke and Wills expedition of 1861.

But the following year the Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart travelled from South Australia to the north coast and back, demonstrating that the journey was eminently possible, however arduous.

For more on how this journey forced a lethal confrontation between European colonisation and First Nations peoples, read the full feature on the 150th anniversary of the Overland Telegraph by Guardian Australia report Tory Shepherd.

Updated

Tasmania records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in Tasmania overnight, with the state recording 213 new cases on Sunday morning, 56 people in hospital, and three in ICU.

PM on potential ban on internal combustion engines in the 2030s

Albanese was also asked about the potential for a ban on internal combustion engines in the 2030s.

Albanese does say his government will move to introduce such a ban but points to the decisions that are being made by governments and car companies oversees:

That will be decisions made by the companies involved, but what we know is that all the research isn’t going into internal combustion engines, it is going into electric vehicles and low emissions vehicles. That is what the Japanese, the European, the American suppliers are all doing.

Updated

Morrison scandal another example of 'concentration of power', Albanese says

Speaking to Sky News this morning prime minister Anthony Albanese has addressed additional questions about the ongoing scandal involved Scott Morrison’s power sharing arrangement.

Asked about reports that Morrison signed off as $828m in industry grants while acting as both industry minister and prime minister, Albanese said it was an another example of the concentration of power under his predecessor.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

What we saw here is another element of the concentration of power in the hands of the former prime minister. The former prime minister made himself the final arbiter of decision making over the modern manufacturing grants and over $800m was approved by the prime minister rather than by the industry minister.

Of course we know now that at the time Scott Morrison was also the industry minister at the time that he signed off, but he signed off as the prime minister on these grants, rather than leaving it in the hands of the minister, which would be the normal process.

Albanese was asked about whether there were any other examples where Morrison used powers but said the government was still waiting for further advice.

The prime minister said the industry grants will be honoured and “viewed on their merits”. He said many were “announced but not contracted” and that the department is reviewing these announcements.

We want to make sure that proper process takes place here and what we’ve seen with the former government is that the process was just thrown out the window. The Westminster traditions were trashed, proper parliamentary processes were ignored, and people were kept in the dark from this shadow government that was operating.

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Barnaby Joyce says he negotiated extra staff for the Nationals

Another key point from that interview with Joyce is that he said he had negotiated extra staff for the Nationals. Here is the part of the exchange where he discusses it:

Joyce: Well, I had negotiated an extra minister which we were not entitled to. I had another person on ERC which–

Speers: So this was a trade-off.

Joyce: I had negotiated more staff than the National party which we were not entitled to. We brought about one of the biggest deals in looking after regional Australia in the history of Australia.

This seems new. Did we previously know that the Nats had negotiated extra staff?

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Barnaby Joyce on who was the responsible minister for resources

Barnaby Joyce is done now but I just wanted to circle back to post some transcript of the conversation with the former deputy prime minister just to illustrate how truly weird that entire exchange was.

Keep in mind there was a fair bit of crosstalk, with Joyce employing the time honoured tactic of attempting to ask his interviewer questions when he felt threatened and then going on the attack – because as we all know the best defence is a good offence.

But here is a taste of what just happened:

Speers: It is not for me to answer these questions.

Joyce: I put it to you–

Speers: It is a good question then. Just to be clear on this, you felt you would lose the extra ministry and staff–

Joyce: No, I didn’t.

Speers: If you and so on pushed back on Scott Morrison on taking away the extra portfolio?

Joyce: David, I didn’t feel. I was absolutely certain that would have happened. I negotiated the portfolio.

Speers: He said that?

Joyce: No, he didn’t, don’t be so obtuse. You can work these, because, David, I’ve been in politics about 18 years, mate, I know how it works. Now we are hyperventilating – I listen to your panel – you’re going off the dial! It is not the issue that you think it is. Out there are other things that are permeating. The nuclear debate has gone off the table. We should be manufacturing small modular reactors. Manufacture them, they will be ubiquitous, all across the world. Crazy.

Speers: I’m not suggesting that they are not issues. This is a fundamental principle of our Westminster system. Who was the responsible minister?

Joyce: I gave you my answer at the start.

Speers: Who was the responsible minister for resources?

Joyce: Well, it ultimately really remained with Keith. It was the Pep-11 decision, David.

Speers: Who was the responsible minister on that decision?

Joyce: Mate, I just gave you the answer. It is ultimately Keith Pitt on everything. It was the Pep-11 decision. Don’t ask me a third time.

Speers: Well, I’m still confused, was it Scott Morrison or Keith Pitt?

Joyce: There is nothing confusing about it, David, listen to me. Keith Pitt was the minister, and there is no trick to this. I’m giving you a straight answer. Keith Pitt was responsible on all issues. One issue, Pep-11. What do I need to do? Do I need to write it to you and hand it to you in a letter? It is as clear as that.

I don’t know about you, but it certainly did not seem to me like Joyce was giving a straight answer.

Updated

Pep-11 decision was ‘made by the prime minister’, Joyce says

After a detour into something about people shopping at the IGA and petrol prices, Speers is trying to pin down Joyce:

How many times do you want to ask me this, David? This is like the seventh time. I told you, I didn’t know when I came in because the decision was made before me. There was no distinct conversation that happened, it happened obliquely over a period of time. The only decision revolved around the Pep-11 decision. The Pep-11 decision was made by the prime minister. It is on file. You can watch it yourself. There is a press conference. What else do you want?

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Morrison never explicitly stated he was minister for resources, Joyce says

Speers:

You never knew [Scott Morrison] was the minister for resources?

Joyce:

He never said to me: “I was the minister for resources.” He never said that to me.

Speers:

Did you at any point wonder how on earth he could make this decision, the power rested with the minister for resources?

Joyce:

Well, he never said he was. He obviously had the power to do it. As I said before, you just take the decision back to cabinet and re-litigate it.

Speers:

But he didn’t. You weren’t curious as to how he did this?

Joyce:

No, no not particularly.

Perhaps a timely reminder that Joyce was once deputy prime minister.

Updated

Joyce questioned on Morrison’s overrule of Pep-11 decision

The conversation has now turned to the Pep-11 decision and who was the minister responsible. Keith Pitt was the minister, but Scott Morrison had the authority and ultimately made the decision by overruling Pitt.

Speers is asking why didn’t Joyce tell anyone about the power sharing relationship – and it’s getting weird pretty quick. Joyce has attacked the ABC Insiders panel, Speers and is refusing to answer a question: why weren’t people told?

Joyce:

I told you I found out about it subsequently. I proved to you that the prime minister of the day made the decision.

Joyce doesn’t appear to have proved anything, however.

Updated

This is a little hard to keep up with as Joyce is all over the road here, but he’s saying that he can’t remember being explicitly directly told of the power sharing arrangement and seems to be describing it at as a process by which he came to understand something was going on. Eventually Morrison made a comment saying he can overrule a minister.

He’s then asked about how he reacted to Morrison “sidelining” the Nationals by giving them an extra minister and then take it away.

Joyce is asked whether Scott Morrison directly told him.

Joyce:

No, it doesn’t work out like that, David.

It worked out that over a period of time where the prime minister, Scott Morrison got to a position and said: “I can overrule him.”

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Barnaby Joyce ‘wasn’t aware at the start’ of Morrison’s secret ministries

Barnaby Joyce is now speaking to ABC Insiders host David Speers where he is asked when he was told about Morrison’s taking over of additional portfolios.

He says he arrived there “obliquely”. Joyce says he “wasn’t aware of it at the start” because it happened before he became the Nationals leader.

Then over a period of time and discussions to the Pep-11 it became more apparent that the prime minister had greater powers than I initially assumed.

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Morrison didn’t call finance minister to apologise, Maiden says

There’s been an interesting point from Samantha Maiden on the ABC Insiders panel about the timeline of events between former PM Scott Morrison and his former finance minister Mathias Cormann.

During a wide-ranging press conference on Wednesday, Morrison’s explanation of events made it seem that he had called Cormann to apologise for what happened.

However, Maiden suggests that’s not actually what happened:

Scott Morrison is really good at painting word images, right, and if you listened to that press conference this week, would you not get the impression that he called Mathias Cormann to apologise and he had called Josh? Would that be the impression you were left with?

That’s not what happened. What happened was Mathias Cormann calls Morrison on the weekend. He picks up The Weekend Australian, he reads the article, he comes to the international language of WTF and goes: “What happened here?”

Rings Morrison and goes: “Mate, what are you doing?”

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Covid royal commission will look at response of all governments, PM says

Prime minister Anthony Albanese said a royal commission into the nation’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will include both state and federal governments.

Clearly you need to look at the response of all governments.

Primarily, it will be about the federal government. That’s what we have responsibility for, but the interaction between the levels of government of course, were critical to the response to the Covid pandemic.

The response of various government agencies, how it operated, the different jurisdictions ... it exposed some of the issues with our federation can often be quite difficult with overlapping responsibilities.

Albanese said a royal commission would be held as soon as practical.

– with AAP

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Albanese flags reforms to ensure secret ministries scandal 'never happens again'

Anthony Albanese has flagged reform and inquiries in the wake of revelations former prime minister Scott Morrison secretly swore himself into five ministries, to ensure it never happens again.

The prime minister will receive advice from the solicitor general on Monday on whether Morrison’s actions gave rise to any legal or constitutional problems, then make any necessary changes.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Albanese said if the solicitor general’s advice was Morrison had acted within the law, he would still seek to change the system.

There’s separate questions about the functioning of our democracy, about conventions and whether any conventions have been overturned and whether there’s a need for any reforms required to ensure that something like this can never happen again.

We’ll examine all of those issues ... I am running a proper cabinet government that has proper processes.

Very clearly, there’s a need for proper scrutiny of what occurred here, this was an undermining of our parliamentary democracy.

Albanese said his predecessor had trashed the Westminster system.

Albanese would not be drawn be drawn about the legal consequences of Morrison’s intervention in a gas drilling project off the NSW coast.

He said the government would honour contracts that were signed under modern manufacturing grants, and were worth more than $828m.

– with AAP

Updated

Media fallout from Morrison’s secret ministries continues

The ABC Insiders panel is serving as a good barometer for how the media is responding to the revelations about former prime minister Scott Morrison this week and Samantha Maiden is taking no prisoners.

Just listening to his own words in that press conference, the absolute rubbish that people held him responsible for every drop of rain, this guy had some sort of Messiah complex and this is what was going on and he seriously is deluded, right. He was delusional. When he talks about the unilateral national interest, you could mount a strong argument that having the gas project go ahead could be in the national interest, right. He is not talking about the national interest. He is talking about his political interests.

Updated

This morning the Barnaby Joyce will be appearing on ABC Insiders with a run of press conferences to follow.

I also understand Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and the New South Wales environment minister James Griffin will be holding competing (separate) press conferences at 10am on the east coast.

We’ll bring you all the latest as it comes.

Updated

Victoria records 18 new Covid deaths

Eighteen people with Covid-19 have died in Victoria overnight, with the state recording 2,427 new cases on Sunday morning, 438 people in hospital, 29 in ICU and 12 on ventilation.

Updated

New South Wales records 16 new Covid deaths

Sixteen people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales overnight, with the state recording 4,335 new cases on Sunday morning, 1,925 people in hospital, and 52 in ICU.

Updated

Medical expert warns current Covid policy unsustainable

Coronavirus infections and deaths continue to tick upwards as the head of a medical institute warns Australia is losing its battle with the virus, AAP reports.

Burnet Institute director Prof Brendan Crabb told Seven’s Sunrise on Saturday that current strategies to combat the virus are not working.

What the numbers say is that we’re simply not winning.

The latest wave we just had ... which was the third wave of this year, was the worst wave we’ve had this year, more hospitalisations and more deaths.

At that rate, the country is on track to record its 10 millionth case within a week.

Prof Crabb said there was an “attitude problem”.

We haven’t quite grasped the fact that having lots of virus in our community is bad.

We have to change to reduce transmission, to be intolerant of the amount of virus in our community.

Prof Crabb said the research from the US on how repeated infections increase the risk of acute and chronic is worrying and surprising, and shows the need to reduce infection rates.

There is no wall of immunity built by infection against the impacts of infection.

While “herd immunity” is real, Prof Crabb said the way to reach it was through vaccination, not infection.

Updated

Labor claims byelection victory in NT seat of Fannie Bay

Labor has fought off a swing to claim victory in the Northern Territory seat of Fannie Bay in the byelection to replace former chief minister Michael Gunner, AAP reports.

Brent Potter was ahead on Saturday night with 52% two-candidate preferred over the Country Liberal party’s Ben Hosking, according to the Northern Territory Electoral Commission, with 63% of the vote counted.

Chief minister Natasha Fyles hailed Potter’s victory, saying the constituents of Fannie Bay “want a government that backs them and only a Territory Labor government can do that”.

It is with great pride that we welcome Brent Potter into the Territory Labor caucus.

Hosking led the primary vote with 42%, with Potter on 33% and the Greens with 19%.

The three independents – George Mamouzellos, Raj Samson Rajwin, and Leah Potter – each garnered between one and three per cent.

The past three Fannie Bay MPs have served as the NT’s chief minister.

Updated

Good morning

And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.

The Albanese government is facing growing pressure to abandon plans to pass Stage 3 tax cuts. The cuts are expected to cost $243bn by 2032-33, but unions, economists, the Greens and analysts are saying the money could be better spent providing critical services.

Fallout from the revelations that former prime minister Scott Morrison secretly took over five additional ministerial portfolios continues with calls for the governor general to explain why his signing of critical documents was left off the official diary. David Hurley signed off on the documents swearing Morrison in to the health, finance, treasury, home affairs and industry, science, energy and resources.

I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.

With that, let’s get started ...