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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Antoun Issa

Afternoon Update: Rudd appointed envoy to the US; neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell faces jail time; and last-minute Christmas gift guide

Two teenagers arrive at Geelong hospital in Geelong, Victoria, Tuesday, December 20, 2022.
Four teenagers have been found alive and well in what police called a ‘Christmas miracle’ after going missing in waters off Victoria's Mornington peninsula. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

Kevin Rudd will serve as Australia’s new ambassador to the US – arguably the most important ambassadorial post given our alliance with them.

Rudd’s appointment might become awkward should Donald Trump return to power, after the former PM called him a “traitor to the west” earlier in the year.

And in what acting inspector Ian Pregnell called a “Christmas miracle”, the four Melbourne teens who went missing after paddling off the Mornington peninsula were found cold and disoriented on an island about 30km away.

“We’re very, very happy about that. It’s huge, huge relief. We were very desperate,” Jack Shi, the father of one of the teens, said.

Top news

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe gives the keynote address during the Auspaynet Conference at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Wednesday, 14 December 2022
The RBA has cautioned that more rate rises could be on the way in 2023 if summer holiday spending remains unchecked. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP
  • RBA warns of more rate rises | Don’t spend too much over the holiday period, the Reserve Bank has cautioned, or it will be left with no choice but to continue raising interest rates. The bank issued the warning in its final meeting minutes for 2022. The December minutes do show, however, that people are feeling the impacts of the rate hikes. The recent Black Friday retail sales were reported as “mixed” with consumers choosing less expensive stores.

  • Sydney-Melbourne rail upgrade could be ‘transformative’ | So says the Coalition’s transport spokesperson, Bridget McKenzie. Murmurings about improved rail between the two major cities have surfaced yet again given soaring air fares. Anthony Albanese has talked up high-speed rail, but McKenzie says that will take decades to build. Instead, she suggests upgrades to the existing track which will cut the journey from 11 hours to about six.

  • South Australia’s largest flood in 50 years | The South Australian premier, Peter Malinauskas, has closed the Murray River to all non-essential activity as the area braces for floods. About 4,000 homes are expected to be inundated, with the border town of Renmark to see water levels peak on Boxing Day.

Neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell leaves the Melbourne magistrates court in Melbourne, Tuesday, 13 December 2022
Neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell is facing up to two years in jail after he was found guilty of recklessly causing injury and affray. Photograph: AAP Image/AAP
  • Neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell faces jail time | Sewell, 29, was found guilty by a Melbourne magistrates court of injuring a Nine Network security guard in March 2021. The magistrate said Sewell was “itching for a fight” when he visited Nine Network’s building with a cameraman and demanded to speak to someone from A Current Affair.

  • Trump criminal charges recommended | The House January 6 committee has made four criminal referrals of Donald Trump to the US justice department, accusing the former president of fomenting an insurrection to overturn his electoral loss to Joe Biden. It’s the first time in US history Congress has recommended charges against a former president. Here are five key conclusions from the final report.

  • Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape | The former movie magnate is likely to spend the rest of his life incarcerated after a Los Angeles jury found him guilty of rape and sexual assault. Weinstein, 70, is already serving a 23-year prison sentence after a criminal conviction in New York in 2020, and now faces a maximum of 18 to 24 additional years in prison.

Singer Terry Hall of The Specials performs on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall on 26 May 2013 in Portsmouth, England
Lead singer of the Specials Terry Hall has died aged 63 ‘after a brief illness’. Photograph: Mark Holloway/Redferns/Getty Images
  • Terry Hall dies aged 63 | The lead singer of the Specials and a former member of Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield has died, his bandmates in the Specials have confirmed. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, after a brief illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced,” the band tweeted.

  • Mars rover’s final message | Nasa’s InSight lander has delivered what could be its final message from Mars, where it has been on a history-making mission to reveal the secrets of the red planet’s interior. A message shared on the Nasa InSight Twitter account read: “My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will – but I’ll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me.”

Full Story

Festival-goers pose for a photo in the mud during at Splendour in the Grass 2022 at North Byron Parklands on 23 July 2022 in Byron Bay, Australia. One is wearing an all pink outfit and the other is wearing all purple; behind them large cutouts of the letters SITG can be seen covered in mud.
Australian arts and culture started to come back in 2022, but wild weather and Covid made for a bumpy landing. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

2022 in culture: Australian music, prestige TV and awards show fiascos

Today’s episode is a culture wrap of 2022 – culture editor Steph Harmon and culture editorial assistant Michael Sun dive into the year in culture and the arts, and discuss the most exciting things coming up in 2023. Listen to this 30-minute episode.

What they said …

Ève Bazaiba, Environment Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, shakes hands with Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China and president of the COP15 at the COP15 U.N. conference on biodiversity in Montreal
Ève Bazaiba, environment minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, shakes hands with Huang Runqiu, minister of ecology and environment of China and president of the Cop15. Photograph: Paul Chiasson/AP


“We didn’t sign the agreement. It is not possible for us to implement it. We cannot accept the level of ambition without more finance.” – Ève Bazaiba

Bazaiba, the environment minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, objected to a deal at Cop15 to halt the destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems. The deal was said to have been forced through by the Chinese president of Cop15 despite DRC concerns of insufficient financing to conserve biodiversity. The DRC’s objection is a big deal given it is home to the world’s second-largest rainforest.

In numbers

An infographic that says

Brushes off a bit of the dejection in Australian soccer after last weekend’s Melbourne derby fiasco.

Before bed read

An illustration of gifts in the gift guide including a Jacquemus bag for hire, coffee, teen magazines, compostable toothbrush heads, and more
Doing last-minute Christmas shopping? Guardian Australia’s gift guide has you covered for presents that will arrive in an instant. Illustration: Billie Justice Thomson/The Guardian

If you’re like me and leave Christmas presents to the last minute, our lifestyle desk has put together a handy guide to avoid us scrambling on Christmas Eve for vouchers (and the accompanying eye-rolls).

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