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Coalition ‘dropped the ball’ on Pacific, Albanese says as Samoa signs China agreement – as it happened

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese has accused the former Coalition government of ‘dropping the ball’ in its dealing with the Pacific. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

What we learned today, Saturday 28 May

After six weeks of furious campaigning it’s been a quiet one. Here are the biggest stories from Saturday:

  • Fifty-eight people have died across Australia from Covid-19 with a total of 39,572 new cases reported.
  • The Greens have beaten Labor in their Queensland stronghold of Brisbane to get an additional lower house MP in the new parliament.
  • China has signed a new bilateral agreement with Samoa promising “greater collaboration”.
  • New South Wales paramedics are taking early industrial action to call for more resources to be urgently dedicated to the state’s health system.
  • The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the death of an Australian man who volunteered to offer humanitarian aid in Ukraine is a “tragedy”.
  • Albanese says the Coalition “dropped the ball” on the Pacific when it ignored a submission from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade raising concerns about the region.
  • The prime minister also confirmed his government has written to the Fair Work Commission to give notice it will make a submission calling for no cuts to the minimum wage in real terms.


Death of Australian man in Ukraine a tragedy, Albanese says

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has described the death of an Australian man in Ukraine as a “tragedy”.

The man is believed to be Michael O’Neill, a truck driver who volunteered to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine where he worked ferrying the wounded from the frontline.

The exact circumstances of his death are unclear.

The PM said the man’s family were receiving consular support and asked the media to respect their privacy.

“This is a tragedy and I want to give my condolences to the family of the person involved,” he said.


Federal government to argue against cut to minimum wage

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says his government has written to the Fair Work Commission giving notice it will make a submission arguing the minimum wage should not be cut in real terms.

I don’t see this as a radical position that someone on $20.33 an hour shouldn’t get a real wage cut.

They’re struggling to get by. And I believe that some of the rhetoric of the former government showed they are out of touch with how tough many people are doing it out there and, in particular, those people on the minimum wage.

Many of them were the heroes of the pandemic. They’re our cleaners, they’re essential workers in retail, and they’re people who deserve a government that is prepared to speak up for them, and I will lead such a government.


Anthony Albanese says former Morrison government 'dropped the ball' on Pacific

Anthony Albanese has accused the former government of “dropping the ball” in its dealing with the Pacific.

During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, the prime minister said the previous government had ignored a submission from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The truth is that the former government had a submission from Foreign Affairs and Trade backed by the former foreign minister at the time Marise Payne for increased aid in the Pacific and they ignored it and they dropped the ball when it came to that engagement.

We won’t drop the ball. We are engaged in our very first week.

The comments come as China has officially signed a bilateral agreement with Samoa promising “greater collaboration”.


On the Murugappan family, Albanese says the specifics are being arranged to ensure their return home but the new government sought to let them know that they could go as early as possible.

You know, we’re a generous country. And, you know, when I grew up, the way I was brought up, you don’t treat people like that. And we’re better than that. We’ve been, have been, will continue to treat this family with the respect that they deserve.

The presser closes with the prime minister talking about tennis at the “royal” Marrickville Club.

And then it wraps.

Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon with the member-elect for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale, and locals in Eastwood, Sydney
Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon with the member-elect for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale, and locals in Eastwood, Sydney. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP


Albanese is asked why Labor’s share of the primary vote was so low at the election. He says he is “confident Labor will have 76 seats on the floor of the House of Representatives” that “represents a majority government”.

Some of this analysis is rather strange. We got 52% of the two-party-preferred vote. By the time counting finishes we’ll end up with around about a 4% swing to Labor at this election in a range of seats.

... The truth is that we have increased our representation in the parliament substantially.


A question now on reports that China is discussing building a training centre in the Pacific – I missed the exact phrasing of the question.

Albanese responds by laying out his plan for the region that includes defence training schools, a $500m boost to the aid budget, support for maritime security, “re-engaging on climate change” and more permanent migration.

“We’ll engage,” he says. “We will be proactive in the region and we want to engage. Australia has been the partner of choice for a long period of time in the Pacific and we continue to do that.”


Albanese is giving a report of the key events of the past week. He says the previous government had a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade submission calling for increased aid to Australia’s Pacific neighbours but did not act on it.

He says that during his attendance at the recent Quad meeting, he raised the issue of climate change.

“It is a national security issue and we need to act,” he says.

On inflation, Albanese says he wrote to the Fair Work Commission saying his government would make a submission to raise the minimum wage.


Anthony Albanese speaks in Sydney

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is speaking now in Bennelong at the end of his first week in office.

“It’s been a very big week indeed,” he says.


I will hand over now to Royce Kurmelovs.

A reminder that the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, should be speaking in Sydney shortly.


Samoa signs bilateral agreement with China

Samoa has signed a bilateral agreement with China, promising “greater collaboration” as Beijing’s foreign minister continues a tour of the South Pacific that has sparked concern among western allies.

The deal’s details are unclear, coming midway through a Chinese delegation’s eight-nation trip – but an earlier leaked draft agreement sent to several Pacific countries outlined plans to expand security and economic engagement.

The mission has prompted western leaders to urge regional counterparts to spurn any Chinese attempt to extend its security reach across the region.

A press release from the Samoan government confirmed that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Samoan prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa had met and discussed “climate change, the pandemic and peace and security”.


Greens candidate Stephen Bates claims victory in Brisbane

Stephen Bates is speaking now in Brisbane. He is, frankly, beaming.

He says:

The most important thing for me is being a loud and proud advocate for the community ... something we heard over the doors and over the phones over the past months is that people don’t feel represented in Canberra.

Asked what his top three priorities will be in dealing with the Albanese government, he said that’s something that will have to be worked out with the party and with the community.

But he says the election is a “mandate for the Greens” to go stronger on climate.

Even if Labor does form a majority in the House we will still be in the balance of power in the Senate and that gives us such a powerful position to work with the Labor party to go better and go further on policies.

The top three issues voters in Brisbane mentioned to him, he says, are action on climate, housing and rental affordability, and issues of corruption – and he lists aircraft noise in Brisbane in that last one.

Bates said the mood for change was not just in Brisbane but “across the country”. “We’ve seen these swings away from the major parties.”

A reporter asked him to explain the Greens “domination” this election. He replied:

I don’t know about ‘domination’. Interesting word. It’s just a reflection of what people are feeling. And that’s all politics really is, just people expressing what they’re feeling.

He said voters told him that they were sick of “politics as usual”.

“The way things are doesn’t have to be the way they have to be,” he said. “I worded that badly.”


But just before the result in Brisbane becomes candidate official, it’s also Guardian official.

Electoral analyst Ben Raue says the Labor-Greens gap has not widened, and data shows on the current count that the Greens will beat Labor.

We’re just about to hear from Stephen Bates, the Greens candidate for Brisbane, who will declare victory in the seat.

He’ll be accompanied by Max Chandler-Mather, the Greens candidate-elect for Griffith, and one of three (THREE! Who would have imagined that!) Greens MPs in Brisbane.

Then we’ll hear from prime minister Anthony Albanese at 3.30pm. He’s in Eastwood in Sydney and will hold a doorstop with the candidate-elect for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale.

VicHealth responds to Covid border closure criticism

The Victorian health department has responded to a report by the ombudsman which found the state’s Covid border exemption system resulted in “unjust outcomes”.

The investigation by the Victorian ombudsman, Deborah Glass, tabled in parliament last year, urged the government to publicly acknowledge the distress the restrictions caused.

The health department’s report, published on Friday, said the Victorian government acknowledged the distress and disruption the border restrictions caused.

Victoria closed its border with NSW last July after the chief health officer, Brett Sutton, declared all of NSW an “extreme risk zone”.

A Department of Health spokesperson said border restrictions for “extreme risk zones” addressed a “significant health threat” posed to all Victorians against the infectious Delta variant.

“The restrictions were needed to protect all Victorians, as only 17% of Victorians 16 and over were double-vaccinated at the time,” the spokesperson said.


It’s Antony Green official.


The Greens’ win in Brisbane will take their lower house seat count to four. It seems silly to say this, because any more than one lower house seat would be a record for them, but this is a record for the Greens.

It also erases one of the potential paths to majority government for Labor, which is currently sitting on 75 seats.

Labor is still likely to reach the magical number of 76 – Deakin, Macnamara and Gilmore are still undecided.

Labor is currently ahead in Macnamara.

In Gilmore, the Liberal candidate Andrew Constance is leading by just 247 votes.


Greens set to claim victory in seat of Brisbane

The Greens are making an announcement at 3pm on the results of the seat of Brisbane.

We understand they’ll be claiming victory. As of last night it appeared they were likely to narrowly beat Labor.


French marine rescuers use drone to help whale stuck in River Seine

Marine rescuers in France are using a drone fitted with loudspeakers to lure an orca which is stuck in the River Seine back out to sea.

The local prefecture said it would monitor the animal, also known as a killer whale, from a distance with a drone while emitting orca communications in an attempt to guide it back to the sea, following a meeting with national and international scientists, including marine mammal specialists.

“The use of these non-invasive methods, from several hundred metres’ distance, will make it possible to avoid using ships in the immediate proximity of the animal, which could aggravate its stress and endanger its survival, as well as the safety of rescuers,” said the Seine-Maritime prefecture in a statement.

An orca in the River Seine at Duclair in Normandy
An orca in the River Seine at Duclair in Normandy, after straying into the river from the sea. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

The four-metre (13ft) orca, identified as a male, was first spotted at the mouth of the Seine on 16 May between Le Havre and Honfleur in Normandy, before it travelled dozens of kilometres upstream to end up west of the city of Rouen.

The orca’s health is deteriorating and it is at risk of dying. It is unable to find enough food in the river and the fresh water is increasingly damaging its health.


Artist to unveil monument to First Nations people in Sydney

A monument to Australia’s First Nations people is to be unveiled in Sydney.

The Indigenous artist Judy Watson will showcase her new artwork bara, which honours clans of the Eora Nation and Elders past and present, two years after it was commissioned by the City of Sydney.

The six-metre installation is inspired by shell fishing hooks handcrafted and used by local Aboriginal women for generations and sits on the Tarpeian Lawn overlooking Sydney Harbour.

Watson, a Waanyi woman who once lived in Sydney, said she was thrilled to unveil her work during National Reconciliation Week, which celebrates Indigenous history and fosters discussions on reconciliation.

“This is incredibly important because it’s a momentous occasion within our calendar,” she told AAP.

“It’s a recognition of what it means for Aboriginal people living in this country to be recognised and for non-Aboriginal people living here to recognise our history and to place importance on it.

“I think that at this moment in time, that seems to be happening more and more. I was at the Vivid festival launch last night and seeing the dancers and performers, they’re just so energising and inspirational.”

The City of Sydney lord mayor, Clover Moore, will be among the guest speakers.


Single mothers hope Anthony Albanese’s upbringing might spur change

In prime minister Anthony Albanese’s victory speech last Saturday, he said:

It says a lot about our great country that a son of a single mum who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown, can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister.

It is a huge achievement. But the social safety nets that helped Albanese in his youth have eroded, the public housing waiting list is now so long as to be immovable, and welfare payments keep people well below the poverty line.

Guardian Australia’s inequality editor, Luke Henriques-Gomes, spoke to Leilani Sinclair, a single mum of two who has just got into pubic housing after two years in crisis accomodation. She said Albanese’s speech did give her hope, but she remains fearful of not being able to provide a secure future for her children.

You can read Luke’s full piece here:


Victorian Coalition pledges massive investment in regional infrastructure ahead of state election

The Victorian National party has used its state conference in Shepparton today to pledge a massive investment in regional infrastructure if the Coalition wins government at the November state election.

More on this from AAP:

The Regional Infrastructure Guarantee, formally announced at the Nationals’ state conference in Shepparton on Saturday, would ensure 25% of all government capital investment goes towards projects in the regions.

The Victorian Nationals leader, Peter Walsh, said the election promise would give regional Victorians their “fair share”.

“Our guarantee ... will deliver new and upgraded hospitals, schools and sports grounds, and the modern road and rail that we deserve,” he said in a statement.

The Andrews government allocated 13% of capital investment to regional Victoria in this year’s budget, the opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said.

“Regional Victorians have missed out for too long under city-centric Labor governments,” Guy said.

The Victorian government set aside $5.7bn for regional Victoria in this year’s state budget.

Some $2.6bn will go towards the regional 2026 Commonwealth Games, while more than $1bn was allocated to healthcare infrastructure and personnel in the regions.

The state election will take place on 26 November.


More detail of that meeting between Frank Bainimarama and Penny Wong, via Reuters:

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said on Saturday he had a wonderful meeting with Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, who travelled to Fiji days after being sworn in to show the new government’s attention to the Pacific islands.

After defeating Morrison’s Coalition in an election that had climate change as a major theme, the Labor party leader, Anthony Albanese, was sworn in on Monday as Australia’s 31st prime minister, and Wong as foreign minister.

Wong and her Chinese counterpart launched competing Pacific visits on Thursday. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, expressed hope that Beijing’s ties with Solomon Islands could be a regional model, while Wong said Canberra will be a partner that does not come with strings attached.

China is seeking a sweeping 10-nation deal on security and trade that has unsettled the US and its Pacific allies, including Australia. Wang is expected to push for the deal in a meeting he will host on Monday in Fiji.

Wong, on her visit to Fiji, warned that there were regional consequences to a security pact between Solomon Islands and China, after the Chinese minister said interference in the deal would fail.


Twelve people in Perth hospital after Horizontal Falls boat accident

Twelve people injured in an accident aboard a tourist boat in one of Western Australia’s most remote locations are in a stable condition and being cared for at Royal Perth hospital.

The boat Falls Express was carrying 26 passengers and two crew when it ran into trouble at Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region of WA at 7.15am on Friday.

Five men and seven women aged 46 to 70 were airlifted to metropolitan Perth for treatment overnight.

Rescuers worked to winch injured tourists off a pontoon through the late afternoon on Friday.

Horizontal Falls is touted as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world with huge nine-metre tides that surge through narrow cliffs cut into two gorges in the McLarty Ranges. Jet boats ride the “horizontal” rivers created by the fast-moving tides.


Western Australia records seven Covid deaths and 8,665 positive cases

Western Australia has recorded seven deaths in people with Covid-19. They include a man in his 30s, two men in their 60s, two men in their 70s and two women in their 80s.

The state also recorded 8,665 positive test results in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. There are 305 people in hospital and seven in ICU.


Fiji's priority is climate change, not geopolitics, says Frank Bainimarama

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, released a pointed statement following his meeting with the Australian foreign minister, Penny Wong.

Bainimarama said:

Fiji is not anyone’s backyard ... and our greatest concern isn’t geopolitics – it’s climate change.

The former Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, referred to the South Pacific as “our own backyard” before a visit in 2019, which was made in response to China’s growing activity in the region.

China’s growing influence was one of the motivations for Wong’s visit, but she also carried the message that the new Australian government would take stronger action on climate change.


Vivid festival returns to Sydney after two-year Covid absence

Projections illuminate the Sydney Opera House during the opening of the Vivid festival
Projections illuminate the Sydney Opera House during the opening of the Vivid festival. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Vivid festival has returned to Sydney after a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The festival began on Friday night with a welcome to country ceremony, the first time such a ceremony has been included in the event’s history. More than 50 dancers from the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association joined the performance.

Dancers from the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association perform a First Light Welcome to Country
Dancers from the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association perform a First Light Welcome to Country. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Nearly a dozen locations across Sydney have been transformed with lights and music, including Luna Park, Taronga Zoo, Barangaroo, Circular Quay, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

Central Station and the Goods line were also included this year.

The NSW minister for tourism, Stuart Ayres, says the 23-day event will attract millions of visitors as the city continues its recovery from the pandemic.

Vivid Sydney draws millions of visitors to the city in May and June and is such an important driver for the NSW tourism economy.

The festival runs until 18 June. You can see a gallery of the Vivid instillations here:


National Covid-19 update

Australia has recorded 58 deaths from Covid-19 so far on Saturday.

Here are the Covid numbers by state:

  • 25 people in New South Wales. NSW also recorded 7,540 positive test results.
  • 22 people in Victoria. Victoria also recorded 8,737 positive test results.
  • Three people in Queensland. Queensland also recorded 4,387 new positive test results.
  • One person in the ACT. The ACT also recorded 822 new positive test results.
  • Seven people in Western Australia. WA also recorded 8,665 new positive test results.
  • There were no deaths reported in the Northern Territory, where 1,614 people tested positive and 16 were in hospital.
  • There were no deaths in South Australia where there were 2,633 cases, 207 people in hospital and nine in ICU.
  • In Tasmania there were no deaths from Covid, but there were 5,174 cases reported, with two people in hospital, one in ICU.


ACT records one new Covid death and 822 positive test results

The ACT has recorded one new death of a person with Covid-19, bringing the territory’s death toll from the pandemic to 62.

It recorded 822 new positive tests in the past 24 hours. There are currently 77 people in hospital, two in ICU and one on a ventilator.


Queensland records three Covid deaths and 4,387 positive test results

Queensland has recorded three new deaths in people with Covid-19, and 4,387 new positive test results.

There are currently 373 people in hospital with Covid in the state and seven in ICU.


Man charged after police car hit with axe in Fremantle

Police in Fremantle have arrested a man who allegedly put an axe through the windscreen of a police car that was parked outside Fremantle police station at midnight last night.

The 31-year-old man is due to appear before the Perth magistrates court today, charged with criminal damage, being armed in a place of public entertainment, and failing to obey police orders.


Penny Wong stresses Australia’s commitment to climate action during Fiji visit

Foreign minister Penny Wong headed to Fiji shortly after returning from Japan this week, and stressed that the Albanese government would commit to action on global heating.

Wong met with the Fijian attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. The permanent secretary for economy, Shiri Gounder, permanent secretary for civil service, Susan Kiran, and acting permanent secretary for communications. Tupoutua’h Baravilala, were also in the meeting.

In a statement released following the meeting, Sayed-Khaiyum said the two ministers “reaffirmed their commitment to further develop the Vuvale partnership”.

They discussed Australia’s continued assistance with post-Covid recovery, cybersecurity efforts, and civil service reforms. Discussions also centred around financing for infrastructure development and promoting greater private sector investment.

The new Australian government’s commitment towards climate action was also warmly welcomed.

The Chinese foreign minister is due to visit Fiji next week. On Friday, Fiji announced that it was joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an initiative of US president Joe Biden designed to push back against China’s influence in the region.


Do you want to know how your local polling place voted last Saturday?

Guardian Australia’s data team have pulled together an interactive showing primary votes booth by booth.

It’s really interesting. In my electorate of Bendigo, for example, every booth put Labor first except for two in Castlemaine, the country town often referred to as North Northcote.

Have a click around.


Parents say pandemic still making learning difficult for children

A survey by the Smith Family has found that half of all parents and carers feel the pandemic is still making learning difficult for their children.

Roughly three-quarters of parents and carers worry about their children’s future schoolwork and have struggled to help their children during the pandemic.

Two-thirds of parents and carers say the virus has made it hard to start school this year.

The survey was released on Saturday as the charity kicks off its latest Winter Appeal, hoping to raise $5.4m nationally to support 12,000 students through mentoring and after school programs.

Smith Family chief executive Doug Taylor says disadvantaged students had been at risk of falling behind at school even before the virus arrived.

We’re seeing a widening educational gap reflected in the [Naplan] data and we’re hearing directly from families that they’re worried about their children’s education.


Katharine Murphy: Australians have voted for the transition to low emissions

Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy has been musing on what voters have clearly declared was the very long-awaited climate change election.

She had this to say to those who might see it as an opportunity to gear up for another round of the climate wars.

On 21 May, voters told Australia’s political class to get on with reducing the risk of runaway global heating, so it would be tremendous if all political actors in the federal arena could approach the coming parliament in the spirit of ending the climate wars, rather than just winding up one phase before launching another.

I’m going to say this to all of the protagonists upfront: Australians in 2022 have voted for the transition to low emissions. Global capital has already placed its bets, informed by climate science. We are already living with an altered climate. The risks to lives and livelihoods are not speculative, they are present and observable. So I will have zero tolerance for any self-serving political bollocks over the next three years, whether the bollocks is progressive or conservative.

I am all out of patience with the decade of inanity and insanity and so are many other voters. We have wasted time that Australia couldn’t afford to waste on sanctimony, stunts, and outright lies.

We’ve made the perfect the enemy of the good. We’ve repealed a perfectly good carbon price that reduced emissions without crashing the economy. We’ve endured the peak partisan bastardry of the fraudulent “war on the weekend” and the grating non sequitur of “technology not taxes” (when the taxes bankrolled the technology).

So, enough. Stop posturing. Get on with it.

You can read Murph’s full column here.


32 greater bilbies released into predator-free sanctuary near Alice Springs

Thirty-two greater bilbies have been released into a predator-free sanctuary near Alice Springs as part of a plan to “rewild” a 9,450-hectare reserve.

They’ll be joined later this week by 65 burrowing bettongs.

More on this from AAP:

As expert earthmovers, the bilbies and bettongs have a crucial role to play in bolstering the health of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s predator-free Newhaven Sanctuary near Alice Springs.

Greater bilbies can each shift a whopping 20 tonnes of topsoil a year as they burrow about their business and forage for food.

Burrowing bettongs do much the same, with the two species often dubbed ecosystem engineers for their ability to reform the landscape.

“It’s pretty crazy to think they’re digging that much. It’s great to have them back here because they do so much,” says AWC field ecologist Aliesha Dodson, who released the bilbies on Wednesday night.

“They dig up hard ground to form their burrow systems but even just eating, they dig up lots of soil and that helps germination and soil health and their burrows can also be used by other animals for shelter.”

It’s hoped that over time the bilbies and bettongs will thrive and create a healthier home for the 11 threatened native mammals the AWC will return to Newhaven.

Three have already been reintroduced including the mala, a small wallaby that used to be abundant in the Northern Territory but is now extinct in the wild. Six more species will follow, including the numbat, the western quoll and and the golden bandicoot.

The bilbies released this week are the products of a highly successful initiative at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, where an original cohort of 10 bilbies has so far given rise to an estimated 100 to 150 animals.

Grace Black from the Taronga Conservation Society says it’s a very hands-off approach.

The animals live on a predator-free 110ha site and as they would in the wild, fending for themselves with essentially no human contact.

“We are very proud of how wild they are because that’s the whole purpose of the Taronga sanctuary - to help rewild Australia.

“Bilbies are such incredible species in terms of how much they can do to deliver the foundation blocks to start a restoration project. You can much more easily introduce other species because they’ve done all of the gardening for us.”


Nationals MP Darren Chester reportedly told Barnaby Joyce of his intention to challenge him for the leadership in the party’s group chat.

May we all strive to have such chaotic group chat energy.

Barnaby Joyce says Liberals should not to ‘wallow in their loss’

Barnaby Joyce has hit back after a defeated Liberal MP claimed the Nationals leader was an even bigger drag on the government’s vote in metro areas than the prime minister, Scott Morrison.

Joyce told Guardian Australia the Liberals should not “wallow in their loss” after the outgoing Liberal MP claimed women in blue-ribbon metro seats were “not for turning” and “deserted” the government because independents successfully linked Liberals to Joyce.

The MP also revealed that after Joyce returned as Nationals leader, the prime minister’s office attempted to persuade him to stay off national and metro media. The move was designed to avoid outings such as Joyce speaking over Tanya Plibersek on Sunrise, which the MP said was a big turnoff for metro constituents.

The comments heap further pressure on Joyce ahead of a Monday party room meeting, at which Victorian MP Darren Chester will put up his hand to replace him as Nationals leader.

Read more:


NSW records 25 new deaths, 7,540 positive tests for Covid-19

New South Wales has recorded 25 new deaths in people with Covid-19.

The state recorded 7,540 positive test results in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

There are currently 1,139 people with Covid in hospital, 33 of whom are in the ICU.


Victoria records 22 new deaths, 8,737 new Covid-19 cases

Victoria has recorded 22 new deaths in people with Covid-19.

The state recorded 8,737 new cases yesterday There are currently 540 people in hospital, including 32 in ICU and six who are relying on ventilators to breathe.

Man charged with murder over death of woman on Sunshine Coast

A man has been charged with murder over the death of a woman who was shot at home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, AAP reports.

Police said the 25-year-old woman was shot during a loud argument at a home at Dicky Beach, about 9.30am on Friday.

She was dropped off at Caloundra Base hospital with a severe gunshot wound to her head and died later from her injuries.

A 30-year-old Narangba man has been denied police bail and is due to appear in the Maroochydore magistrates court on Saturday morning.


A man has died in police custody in South Australia

A man has died while being arrested by police near parliament house in South Australia.

In a statement, South Australian police said officers were called to King William Road in Adelaide at 9.27pm yesterday to respond to reports of two men fighting.

They said both men were “restrained and placed under arrest”.

During the arrest, one of the men became unresponsive.

Police and SA ambulance staff commenced CPR however man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

This matter has been determined to be a death in police custody.

Police did not release any further details of the man who died.

The incident follows high-profile cases of people dying after losing conscious while being restrained by police or custodial officers in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, and another case in South Australia.

Anyone with footage of the incident has been asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit it online at


Murugappan family to celebrate daughter’s first birthday outside detention

On another immigration matter, the Murugappan family will be home in the Queensland town of Biloela as early as next week.

As Tory Shepherd reports, they will be home in time to celebrate Tharnicaa Murugappan’s fifth birthday on 12 June. It will be Tharnicaa’s first birthday outside of immigration detention – she was just nine months old when the family were taken into detention in an early morning operation in 2018.

Parents Priya and Nades arrived in Australia in 2012 as Tamil refugees, fleeing violence in Sri Lanka. They met in Australia, were granted bridging visas, were married, moved to Biloela and had Kopika and then Tharnicaa.

You can read more on this story here:


Djokovic ‘very happy’ Park Hotel refugees were released

As we mentioned earlier, Novak Djokovic made some comments about the refugees who were also held in immigration detention the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

There were 20 refugees in the hotel when Djokovic was briefly held there in January. Some have been in immigration detention for nine years. All were released ahead of the federal election, although their visa status remains unclear. They will not be allowed to remain in Australia.

Speaking at the French Open, Djokovic said he was “very happy” to hear of their release.

You know, I stayed there for a week, and I can’t imagine how they felt for nine years.

They haven’t done anything wrong, and they are asylum seekers and stayed for nine years.

That’s something I obviously did not understand why – but if I brought some light to that situation in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I’m very happy, because they got another chance in a different country.

He then added:

We underestimate freedom. Until you actually live something like that and see what the circumstances are, then you don’t really have an idea of what it feels like when somebody strips away the freedom from you.


Greens confident of winning Brisbane electorate

The Greens are increasingly confident of winning the electorate of Brisbane – and a fourth lower house seat – as counting continues and preferences from minor party voters flow in their favour.

By the end of counting on Friday, official results on the Australian Electoral Commission website showed Labor’s Madonna Jarrett in second place, 701 primary votes ahead of the Greens candidate, Stephen Bates.

Whichever candidate finishes second will ultimately beat the LNP’s Trevor Evans, the former MP, after preferences are fully distributed.

The final order of the candidates will depend on some prepoll and postal votes, which have yet to be counted, and preference allocations for about 6,500 voters who favoured the Animal Justice party, United Australia party, One Nation or the Liberal Democrats.

According to scrutineers, those micro-party votes are breaking comfortably in favour of the Greens.

About 66% of Animal Justice party preferences are flowing to the Greens, 19% to Labor and 14% to the LNP.

The Greens are also getting about twice the rate of preferences from One Nation and UAP voters, compared to Labor.

Based on the preference flows, the Greens expect to comfortably wipe out the current Labor lead. Sources in the Labor camp said they were still hopeful, and that the count was “definitely not over”, though optimism earlier this week appears to have faded.

Labor’s hopes rest on whether it can build a bigger first-preference lead via about 4,000 uncounted postal votes, 6,400 absentee ballots and 7,400 prepoll votes.

If the Greens win Brisbane it will add to victories in the neighbouring seats of Griffith and Ryan, credited to under-the-radar grassroots campaigns.

The party already has won three lower house seats and will likely have 12 senators in the new parliament, its largest ever representation in both houses.


Good morning and welcome

Good morning and welcome to Guardian Australia’s live blog. I’m Calla Wahlquist and I’ll be with you until this afternoon.

The Greens are increasingly confident of winning the electorate of Brisbane, which would bring the minor party’s lower house seat count to four.

The Australian Electoral Commission currently has Labor’s Madonna Jarrett in second place, 701 primary votes ahead of the Greens’ Stephen Bates. Our Queensland state correspondent Ben Smee, has some more detail on how the preferences could work in the Greens favour, which I’ll bring you shortly.

In other news, tennis star Novak Djokovic says he holds no grudges against Australia for being held in immigration detention in January and then deported after refusing to reveal whether he had been vaccinated for Covid-19. The vaccination was a requirement for being able to enter the country and play in the Australian Open.

At a press conference at the French Open on Friday, the world No 1 said he wasn’t sure whether the change of government in Australia would mean his visa would be reinstated.

I would like to. I would like to go there and play Australian Open. I don’t hold any grudges.

Look, you know, it was what it was. If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career in grand slams, I would love to come back. Let’s see how it goes.

He also said he was “very happy” to hear that 20 refugees also detained at the immigration detention centre had been temporarily released.

Meanwhile, police and accident investigators in Western Australia are trying to figure out how a tour boat going through the famous Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley got into trouble and briefly capsized, throwing some of its 26 passengers into crocodile-infested waters. More than 20 people were injured, 12 so seriously that they had to be flown to Perth, but none of the injuries are life-threatening.

Let’s crack on. You can contact me at or on twitter @callapilla