Australia news live: flights cancelled as wild weather wreaks havoc along east coast

Virgin cancels dozens of flights amid wild weather on east coast

Virgin has cancelled 38 flights across its network overnight and this morning, as wild weather wreaks havoc across the east coast.

The airline said weather and air traffic controller shortages, with flights due to be affected until 11pm tonight.

A spokesperson said the airline was encouraging all passengers to check on the status of their flights:

Weather, ATC shortages and engineering requirements have resulted in cancellations across the network today. We sincerely apologise to our guests for the inconvenience.

The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority and further adjustments to our flight schedule may be necessary today.

In the event of disruption, we will endeavour to proactively communicate with guests in advance.

We encourage guests travelling today to check the status of their flight prior to travel.

The ABC is reporting that up to eight domestic flights have been cancelled from Sydney due to the very damaging winds and the strong storm cell overnight.

International flights are reportedly unaffected so far, but domestic arrivals are being affected by the storm, with delays across both international and domestic flights.

Passengers are being urged to check the status of their flight before coming to the airport and to expect some quite significant delays.

Key events

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

The Commonwealth Games could be pushed back a year in an effort to find an Australian host, an inquiry has heard.

Craig Phillips, chief executive of Commonwealth Games Australia, is appearing before a Senate inquiry into the Victorian government’s decision to cancel the 2026 games.

He says the organisation is working with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on what a possible Australian-hosted event could look like, given the time constraints:

It may be a scaled back version of the games, given the time we have, but if you look around the capital cities around Australia … all have the capability of hosting games. Even some of the smaller cities around the country have that capability of certainly contributing to a game … One of the things we will be doing is developing multiple models and multiple solutions across different cities and different states and the reason to do that is we need to make sure that the games match the host, and not the other way round. So it’ll be a tailored solution depending on where it will be.

Phillips says it is hoped they will have a solution by November, when the Commonwealth Games general assembly meets in Singapore:

The CGF would agree that we need to have, if not the final solution, [we need to be] very, very advanced in terms of potential final solutions by November of this year, and probably moving to early next year to actually have the final solution in place … the CGF have already indicated – they’ve done this publicly – that they are open to the games moving into 2027 to give any potential host more time, and that’s certainly something we’re looking at in terms of any state or any host city that we do talk to.

Virgin cancels dozens of flights amid wild weather on east coast

Virgin has cancelled 38 flights across its network overnight and this morning, as wild weather wreaks havoc across the east coast.

The airline said weather and air traffic controller shortages, with flights due to be affected until 11pm tonight.

A spokesperson said the airline was encouraging all passengers to check on the status of their flights:

Weather, ATC shortages and engineering requirements have resulted in cancellations across the network today. We sincerely apologise to our guests for the inconvenience.

The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority and further adjustments to our flight schedule may be necessary today.

In the event of disruption, we will endeavour to proactively communicate with guests in advance.

We encourage guests travelling today to check the status of their flight prior to travel.

The ABC is reporting that up to eight domestic flights have been cancelled from Sydney due to the very damaging winds and the strong storm cell overnight.

International flights are reportedly unaffected so far, but domestic arrivals are being affected by the storm, with delays across both international and domestic flights.

Passengers are being urged to check the status of their flight before coming to the airport and to expect some quite significant delays.

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Commonwealth Games head says conversations about hosting 2026 event in other states yet to begin

The head of the Commonwealth Games in Australia has conceded the organisation is yet to hold conversations with other states and territories to host the 2026 event after Victoria withdrew its bid.

Craig Phillips, chief executive of Commonwealth Games Australia, is appearing before a Senate inquiry into the Victorian government’s decision to cancel the 2026 games.

Under questioning by Liberal senator Anne Ruston, Phillips conceded they are yet to begin conversations with other state and territory governments about possibly hosting the event:

We do need to make sure we are ready before we actually start having conversations with governments. We have to make sure our case is right and it’s not where we are right now …

We just haven’t developed the model far enough to have the detailed discussion where governments are going to want to know … what it’s going to cost, what their obligations are. So we’re developing the model to actually be able to have those sensible discussions with state governments and councils.

Ruston was a bit surprised by this, responding:

This is what you do for a living. Surely there must be some sense of a blueprint that you can draw on. I mean, surely, you know how to put on a Commonwealth Games.

I’m really quite surprised that you don’t actually have this ready to go so that you actually can start these discussions because we know there were concerns expressed before the decision by the Victorian government that we were running out of time to be able to do what we needed to do. And yet you’re sitting here today saying you actually don’t even have the blueprint ready to move forward with your negotiations.

Phillips replied that they were simply “not ready”:

Ruston:

Since the decision of the Victorian government to cancel their games bid, have you met with the federal sports minister?

Phillips:

No, we have not.

Ruston:

Have you met with the Queensland premier or any of her ministers?

Phillips:

No.

Ruston:

Not the Western Australian premier or any of his ministers, not any other state premiers?

Phillips:

Not any. We’ve had one primary meeting with [Gold Coast mayor] Tom Tate and one of his representatives.

Ruston:

Have you sought to have meetings with these people?

Phillips:

No, we haven’t.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says ‘further discussion’ needed on second referendum

Last night the shadow Indigenous affairs minister, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, appeared to contradict the Coalition’s position on a second referendum for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Price told Sky News:

There needs to be further discussion as to a second referendum, within party rooms, and determinations made that bring people into agreeance with that. I’m all for process, I’m very much consumed with the fact that we’re dealing with this referendum at the moment. That for me is the priority.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, was asked about this on Radio National and said constitutional recognition “remains our policy”.

He said:

Yeah of course I do [have her support]. Our position at the last election, our policy remains, that we support constitutional recognition. We don’t support the voice because the prime minister refuses to provide the detail and the breadth of the words are so wide and would give such a significant opportunity to expand it out that most Australians now see it as reckless.

Dutton suggested that, if elected, he would only take the country to a second referendum if there was bipartisan support from the Labor opposition. “I would take a judgment when we could get a successful outcome,” he said.

Victoria joins states pummelled by wind and rain

Rafqa Touma

Rafqa Touma

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned people in parts of South West, Central and West and South Gippsland districts of forecast locally damaging winds. Peak gusts of up to 110km/h over the south-west Victoria coast are likely to extend eastwards along coastal areas today.

Damaging surf conditions will see waves bigger than seven metres in the surf zone along the coast west of Cape Otway, and between five and six metres from Point Nepean to Wilsons Promontory.

West to south-westerly winds with damaging wind gusts of up to 100 km/h are possible over the greater Melbourne area, and West and South Gippsland today.

Australia’s biggest super fund sued for allegedly ‘eroding’ balances with multiple fees

Australia’s largest super fund, AustralianSuper, is being sued by the corporate regulator over allegations it failed to address members who held multiple accounts.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said on Friday the fund had allegedly failed to have adequate policies and procedures to identify members who held multiple AustralianSuper accounts and to merge those accounts, where merger was in the member’s best interests.

They says the fund then continued to charge multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums to these members.

They allege that between 1 July 2013 and 31 March 2023, approximately 90,000 AustralianSuper members were affected, with total cost to members of approximately $69m.

Asic said they were concerned that despite AustralianSuper allegedly being aware in 2018 of the number of multiple member accounts within the fund and possible gaps in its policies and procedures, it did not take adequate steps to investigate and resolve the issue until late 2021 and early 2022.

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said there were “significant’ financial consequences that come with failing to address multiple accounts:

Failing to merge duplicate accounts within a fund can have significant financial consequences for members who end up paying multiple sets of fees, eroding their superannuation balance over time.

ASIC expects that superannuation funds will put their members first and promptly address issues that cause members to face multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums. We expect these issues to be identified and rectified quickly, including compensating members if a trustee has failed to comply with its obligations.

Asic is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and other orders against AustralianSuper.

The date for the first case management hearing is yet to be scheduled.

Marles defends transport minister’s decision on Qatar Airways but backs more competition

The acting prime minister, Richard Marles, has said he believes there should be more competition in the aviation industry.

Marles was on the Today show, and was asked about the transport minister Catherine King’s decision not to grant Qatar Airways extra flights into Australia.

He defended King, saying ministers should be left to “do their job,” insisting the decision was still in the “national interest.”

In our government we let our ministers do their job, and in this instance the transport minister has made a decision in the national interest. We need to see Qantas giving the best possible service for the lowest possible price.

When you bring this back to the way in which this is impacting Australians, we need to see greater competitiveness in our skies.

We have an aviation white paper process to look how we can have greater competition in our skies.

Frankly, we inherited a mess from those opposite.

Intense winds and storms rock Sydney, Brisbane and South Australia

Rafqa Touma

Rafqa Touma

The Bureau of Meteorology is urging people in western Sydney, southern and central ranges and the Hunter region to tidy up loose items around their yards as damaging winds are extending over the areas today.

Gusty storms may hit Sydney and the Central Coast today, while there are possible severe storms heading to the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast this afternoon, with a risk of damaging winds and large hail, the BoM says.

In Queensland, severe thunderstorms are possible in eastern and south-eastern parts of the state, south of Rockhampton, the BoM is warning. Damaging winds and large hail could be hazardous. Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gympie, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast are at risk.

And in South Australia, the BoM’s severe weather warning for damaging winds has extended to include Adelaide and parts of Yorke Peninsula and the Mid North districts.

More to come from a bureau spokesperson soon.

Dutton says he would ‘sit down with the Labor party’ in event of second referendum

Dutton was also quizzed on his timeline for his proposal for a second referendum, on constitutional recognition that was floated this week.

Dutton was asked when such a referendum would be held – keeping in mind, of course, that it would only happen if he were to win government at the next election.

The opposition leader danced around the question several times, before saying he would “sit down with the Labor party” at some point down the line:

I would sit down with the Labor party and we would have – I believe in sensible conversation. I don’t believe the prime minister, to be honest, when he says at the moment that if the referendum goes down, it’s all over. It’s got echoes of Kevin Rudd’s greatest moral challenge.

We will be able to, I believe, arrive at a form of words, because at the moment the prime minister will dismiss that because he doesn’t want to allow any conversation to take place in relation to recognition.

I will take a judgment as to … when we could get a successful outcome. I believe that the prospect of getting that question is very different than it was even three years ago or 13 years ago, when it might have first been proposed.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Dutton says opposition ‘won’t be departing’ from net zero

In recent days some in the Nationals have agitated to abandon the commitment to net zero, through a motion to be debated at Nationals conference and comments from frontbencher Barnaby Joyce that the estimated cost of net zero was “utterly untenable”.

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has just rejected that push, telling Radio National the Coalition “won’t be departing” from net zero.

He said:

No [it doesn’t concern me], there’s strong support for net zero. It’s a policy that we took to the last election, I’ve recommitted to it. We won’t be departing from it, and I believe very strongly we need to have a proper debate about how we credibly reduce emissions in this country.

Because as we’ve seen, the Labor government [in] New South Wales has signed up to the extension of coal-fired power … we’ve got South Australia who is very precarious in terms of their supply, manufacturers there are talking about offshoring and just reimporting the product from somewhere like Malaysia where there will be higher emissions.

So it’s why the sensible discussion – frankly, the mature discussion – about how we can firm up renewables through the latest technology of nuclear, which is embraced by Justin Trudeau, by Emmanuel Macron and many other countries, over 50 countries now … they see it as their only credible pathway to emissions reductions.

And interestingly, without giving too much away of the internal polling, the shift here, where the support, maybe five years ago, maybe two years ago, wasn’t there, is strongly there now, and particularly with younger people who are well-read on zero emissions, nuclear technology, being able to firm up wind and solar and you know, support hydrogen and other emerging technologies.

Opposition leader Dutton supports PM’s visit to China

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has said he believes it is “appropriate” that Anthony Albanese visit China, as the PM prepares to be the first Australian leader in seven years to visit.

Dutton was on RN Breakfast this morning, and was asked first up what he thought of former prime minister Scott Morrison warning against the visit. Morrison had criticised the government for what he describes as acquiescence to China’s demands.

Dutton said he recognised China as an important trading partner and that he believed the basis of a conversation should be on “peace and stability in the region”.

Well, my view is it’s appropriate for the prime minister to go because he’s got, firstly, an invitation but he’s also got a list of issues to raise and he obviously believes that he can get some way in relation to the relief around the tariffs that have been imposed. Human rights issues, obviously, remain paramount, particularly in relation to Australian citizens.

There will be other sensitive security issues that the prime minister will want to raise as well. China is an incredibly important trading partner for us and we want peace and stability to endure in our region. And I’m sure that will be the basis of the conversation.

Qatar Airways ‘not the only airline’ that could help bring air fares down: transport minister

Last night the federal transport minister, Catherine King, said she expects air fares to come down, but added that Qatar Airways was “not the only airline that adds to competition”.

King was on ABC’s 7.30, and she also denied being lobbied by Qantas, adding that another competitor, Etihad Airways, had extra capacity they were “not using” and that an application by Turkish Airlines was also pending.

It comes as King has faced criticisms this week for her decision to deny Qatar Airlines the opportunity to expand its footprint in Australia, and that she wants to see the industry protect jobs.

We’re up to 91% of pre-Covid capacity, we’ve got more capacity coming in … it is coming back, and we will start to see prices come down.

I would certainly like to see more jobs in aviation and I would like to see Qantas do a much better job, and this is incumbent on all our airlines in making sure we’ve got decent, long-term, sustainable jobs in aviation.

The race to the bottom that we’ve seen in jobs, I think, was really the catalyst for the same job, same pay [legislation] and we’ve been highly critical of Qantas in relation to that.

Mostafa Rachwani

Mostafa Rachwani

Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you this morning to take you through the day’s news.

Ita Buttrose to address Women in Media conference

Ita Buttrose will address a gathering of some of the country’s most influential and recognisable women today to share her wisdom after more than 50 years in the industry, AAP reports.

The 81-year-old, who recently revealed she would not seek a second stint as ABC chair, will deliver the keynote speech at Friday’s Women in Media national conference in Sydney.

Buttrose told the federal government last month she planned to end her tenure at the national broadcaster when her five-year term expired in March 2024.

At the time, the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, called the former magazine editor and TV host a “giant of Australia’s media industry”.

Rowland will also be at the event for a panel discussion on advancing gender equality in the industry.

Also today, documentary-maker and 2023 Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt, who leads the Body Image Movement, will discuss the importance of body acceptance and self-compassion in the media.

Hosting events will be another industry veteran, Channel 10 newsreader Sandra Sully.

The conference will end tomorrow.

Albanese first PM in 20 years to hold formal bilateral talks with Philippines amid rising regional tensions

Australia will look to reinforce security and defence ties with the Philippines amid growing regional tensions, as the prime minister prepares to hold formal talks in Manila today, AAP reports.

Anthony Albanese will have one-on-one talks with the Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, as part of his week-long visit through Asia.

Albanese will be the first prime minister in 20 years to hold formal bilateral talks in the Philippines with the country’s leader.

Anthony Albanese arrives in Manila.
Anthony Albanese arrives in Manila. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

“The Philippines is a critical nation for Australia’s interests, we have strong economic relations,” he told reporters yesterday. “We also have strong cooperation when it comes to defence arrangements, and in addition to that, of course, we have a strong diaspora in Australia.”

The two leaders have already held informal talks at the gala dinner for the Asean summit in Jakarta.

The bilateral meeting coincides with Australia ramping up its military ties with the Philippines. The defence minister, Richard Marles, in August confirmed Australia would work more closely with the Asian nation on joint patrols. Tensions had been rising in the South China Sea, with mounting clashes between the Philippines and China in the contested region.

Albanese said Australia respected rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Australia continues to engage consistently with international law in the region, including in the South China Sea,” he said.

During his visit to Manila, Albanese will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony before talks with Marcos at the presidential palace.

The visit to the Philippines follows the prime minister attending the Asean and east Asia summits in Jakarta.

The trip coincided with the launch of a new economic strategy for south-east Asia to 2040, which calls for increasing investment to the region, including the Philippines.

Later today, the prime minister will jet off to India for the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi.

China vows to work with Australia to ‘improve strategic partnership’

After news emerged that Anthony Albanese would be travelling to Beijing to meet the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, later this year, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson was invited to issue an official response at its regular press briefing last night.

Asked to confirm the visit and provide more details, a spokesperson, Mao Ning, said:

China welcomes Prime Minister Albanese to visit China at the invitation of Premier Li Qiang and stands ready to work with Australia to make sound preparations for the visit. China always believes that a sound and stable China-Australia relationship is in the fundamental interests of the peoples of both countries, and conducive to peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and the wider world.

We intend to work with Australia to deliver on the common understandings between the leaders of the two countries, uphold the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit, properly handle differences, and continue to improve and grow our comprehensive strategic partnership.

Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be spotting you the top overnight stories before my colleague Mostafa Rachwani takes charge.

In an exclusive interview, the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, identifies the slowdown in the Chinese economy and a continuing squeeze on the spending power of Australian households as the two key factors explaining why the economy might be in for a spot of turbulence in the next 12 months. He acknowledged that people are “feeling the squeeze” from interest rate rises, but is still hopeful Australia can avoid a recession because “we’ve got a lot going for us”.

The Australian War Memorial has installed a new temporary 84-word plaque next to a display about Ben Roberts-Smith to acknowledge he was found to be “involved and complicit in unlawful killings in Afghanistan”. But critics say the move was “inadequate” and that the plaque should be removed.

Another exclusive story this morning is that authorities in Queensland are notifying the families of 64 alleged victims of an accused paedophile after their identities were mistakenly made available to journalists – including at Guardian Australia. A 45-year-old male childcare worker was in July charged with offences involving 91 children in Australia and overseas, including 64 in Brisbane. Court documents relating to the charges were made available to several media outlets but the names of 64 alleged victims had not been redacted from charge sheets, as would usually occur.

And China has officially responded to the news that Anthony Albanese will travel to China later this year – more on that soon. The prime minister is today in Manila to hold one-on-one talks with the Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, as part of his week-long visit through Asia.

source: theguardian.com