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Four teenagers found alive on Swan Island

Four teens have been found alive after going missing in waters off Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

The 18-year-old woman, two 18-year-old men and a 19-year-old woman were found across the bay on Swan Island on the Barwon Peninsula on Tuesday morning.

The group were using inflatable paddle boards off Rosebud Beach on Monday.

Their belongings including phones and IDs were found on the beach by a passerby at about 8pm.

A man who said he was the father of one of the boys told Seven’s Sunrise program on Tuesday the teens had just completed their final school exams and came to Rosebud for an end-of-year celebration.

An air and sea search scoured the area for the group but the search was halted at 4am due to deteriorating conditions before starting up again at 7am.

– from AAP

Queensland government reportedly considering police union plan to buy shooting site

The remote bushland property where two police officers were murdered could be used as a retreat or training centre if the Queensland government clears the way and ensures it never falls into the hands of conspiracy theorists.

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Constables Matthew Arnold, 26 and Rachel McCrow, 29, died in a hail of gunfire after pulling up to the rural property at Wieambilla, three hours west of Brisbane, on 12 December.

Neighbour Alan Dare was also gunned down in the melee sparked when conspiracy theorists Gareth Train, his partner Stacey Train and brother Nathaniel Train opened fire upon their approach.

The officers were checking the property, owned by Gareth and Stacey Train, while conducting a missing persons check for Nathaniel Train.

The Queensland Police Union said today it wanted to buy the block and had asked the government for help resuming the land. Union head, Ian Leavers, said in a statement:

The QPU would never want to see this land fall into the hands of any other anti-vaxxer, pro-gun, conspiracy theorist sovereign citizens who may seek to utilise the reputation of this site to promote their own dangerous and warped views.

This site is one that we as police have a duty to protect, and we will ensure its future usage is both appropriate and sympathetic.

Leavers hoped the land could be used for a retreat for officers, a training centre and be the site of a memorial.

The government is reportedly considering the proposal.

– from AAP

Earthquake in Victoria

An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.2 occurred an hour ago, with an epicentre near Rawson, the SES says.

Coalition would not know transparency if ‘they looked through a window’, aged care minister says

Anika Wells is defending the new aged care star rating system against criticism it should be pulled down, accusing the Coalition of trying to undermine transparency and drag the sector back into “darkness”.

The opposition says the information being used for the rating tool is out of date and has caused distress for older Australians.

The system ranks aged care providers from one to five, with providers given a three-star rating considered acceptable, four stars listed as good, and two as needing improvement.

Wells lashed the Coalition over its criticism, saying its members would not know transparency if “they looked through a window” and saying the opposition was trying to take the sector back “into darkness”.

The aged care minister told the ABC this morning:

The data is absolutely not inaccurate. Sunshine is the best disinfectant and this is the first time Australian families have ever had the opportunity to see this kind of data and feedback about residential aged care facilities.

The aged care minister said more than 60% of the data used for the rating system was independent, and included surveying aged care home residents to record their experiences and gauge the quality of care for particular facilities:

I’m ambitious for aged care, I don’t want three stars … to be the ceiling … I want three stars, an acceptable standard, to be the floor.

I want to lift the standard of aged care in Australia but we can’t improve what we can’t measure and that’s why our star rating … is a vital part of that process.

– from AAP

Scamps calls for end to native forest logging after historic Cop15

Independent MP for Mackellar Sophie Scamps is echoing some of the concerns we heard from Greens spokesperson for the environment Sarah Hanson-Young yesterday – the plan to protect 30% of Earth sounds all well and good until you wonder what happens to the other 70%?

We won’t halt the extinction crisis and biodiversity decline if we don’t also pay close attention to the management of the other 70%.

Australia will need to address our current forestry and agriculture practices if we are to live up to our #COP15 promise.

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) December 19, 2022

Scamps is saying in Australia the first step to better protecting our natural environment needs to address the environmental laws which continue to allow the destruction of native forests.

Crossbench say Australia needs to ‘get cracking’ on Cop15 commitments

More reactions are coming in after the close of the biodiversity Cop15 – which leading scientists have called vastly more important” than the Cop27 climate meeting, because it decides the “fate of the living world”.

Independent senator for the ACT David Pocock was at the meeting in Montreal. He says important elements are missing from the deal “but it’s a start”.

We need to get cracking on implementation to deliver on commitments.

Global deal to halt & reverse the destruction of Nature agreed at #COP15.

A step forward, recognising the urgent need to protect & restore Nature.

Important elements missing from the deal but it’s a start – we need to get cracking on implementation to deliver on commitments.

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) December 19, 2022

Independent MP for Kooyong Monique Ryan says Australia signing on to commitments won’t “mean much” unless specific aims and timelines are also agreed upon.

Great to see we’ve now got a seat at the table at meetings like the UN biodiversity conference.

We’ve signed up for some important commitments. Now, we need to commit to specific aims and timelines – without those, these agreements don’t mean much.

— Dr Monique Ryan MP (@Mon4Kooyong) December 19, 2022

Morning Mail: hopes for China ‘off-ramp’ in trade talks, David Jones sale, Victory’s reckoning

Martin Farrer has put together another brilliant Morning Mail, wrapping up all the national and international news you need to know this morning in a digestible read.

Get up to date on the Dutch state’s apology for its historical role in the slave trade, what on earth is going on with Twitter after Elon Musk’s poll, as well as Melbourne Victory’s reckoning.

Australia ‘didn’t get everything we wanted’ at biodiversity Cop15 but ‘can be proud’, Plibersek says

The biodiversity Cop15 has wrapped up in Montreal with a historic deal struck to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. Although many environmentalists say the protections agreed upon could have been stronger, nearly 200 countries have signed up for targets with national biodiversity plans. It means nature will have the equivalent of the Paris climate agreement which required countries show progress on emissions. You can read more about what the summit has achieved here:

Australia’s environment minister Tanya Plibersek has taken to social media with a statement outlining the conference’s achievements and saying Australia “can be proud” being one of the nations which pushed for more ambitious action at the conference:

We secured high ambition on restoring degraded land, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems.

We agreed a good target on reducing invasive species, recognising island sites, including in the Pacific, as a priority.

We successfully advocated for placing the rights and interests of First Nations peoples at the forefront of nature conservation.

And large companies will be required to disclose their nature related risks and impacts.

Australia led the way in the negotiations, pushing for an ambitious agreement. We can be proud.

We didn’t get everything we wanted. Others didn’t either. But with a bit of cooperation, compromise and common sense, we have achieved a lot for the world.

Now it’s back home to Australia to get on with delivering our own ambitious plans to protect and repair nature.

History has been made.

For the first time ever, we have a global agreement to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

This is a big step towards achieving a nature positive planet.#COP15

— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) December 19, 2022

Ausgrid reveals plan for power pole network to charge electric cars

Australian drivers will be able to “fill” their electric vehicles at up to 30,000 new charging stations by 2029 under a plan by one of the country’s largest electricity distributors.

Ausgrid has revealed its project to install thousands of chargers on power poles around the country, in urban and suburban locations as well as tourist hotspots and regional towns.

The plan announced in Newcastle today is one of several big investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure revealed in recent weeks.

The first of Ausgrid’s chargers will be unveiled at Dixon Park beach in Merewether, NSW, in a move chief executive Richard Gross said it would give electric car buyers greater confidence:

We know the uptake of EVs is only going to increase in the coming years and projects like this show that if industry and communities work together we can use existing infrastructure to roll out this technology quickly and conveniently.

We believe we have a role to play to help our customers get ready for the energy transition, while making it as affordable and as convenient as possible.

The first chargers will be installed in a partnership between Ausgrid, charging firm EVX and the City of Newcastle.

Gross said the company would confer with other local councils and technology providers to determine the best locations for its charging network, identifying areas in “busy suburban streets to popular tourist destinations and small regional towns”.

EVX chief executive Andrew Forster said the chargers, which will offer power at a flat rate of 50c per kilowatt hour, would make charging “more accessible and affordable for both residents and visitors to Newcastle”.

– from AAP

Families of missing teenagers wait for search to resume

Victoria police are set to return to the search for four teenagers who went missing paddleboarding in the Morning Peninsula yesterday.

A passerby located belongings on the beach about 8pm, after which a large-scale air, sea and land search of the area began but due to deteriorating conditions was paused about 4am.

Family members of those teenagers are waiting on the beach for the full-scale search to resume. Nine news journalist Izabella Staskowski has shared an image of that nervous wait:

Family of missing teenagers here at Rosebud beach waiting for full scale search to resume. Two teenage boys and two teenage girls still missing after going paddle boarding yesterday. Incredibly difficult for these parents. @TheTodayShow

— Izabella Staskowski (@IzaStaskowski) December 19, 2022

Malinauskas backs stricter gun laws

Peter Malinauskas has also backed stricter gun safety laws after last week’s Wieambilla shooting. The SA premier told ABC Radio:

When I was police minister a few years ago we went through an extraordinary exercise of completely reframing gun laws in SA to make sure they are up to standard as being some of the best in the world in terms of restrictiveness … but I think we should always be looking for opportunities to improve gun safety laws.

Asked about whether he would bring it up at the next national cabinet meeting, Malinauskas indicated he thought energy was a more pressing issue.

South Australia prepares for largest flood in 50 years

The premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas, is speaking to ABC Radio about the flooding his state is seeing.

Malinauskas says the peak flow is approaching the state border, with the town of Renmark expecting its peak on Boxing Day. The premier says significant preparations have been under way for “an event they’ve known is coming their way for six to eight weeks”.

He says the current prediction of 1,000 homes inundated is likely to increase closer to 4,000 homes over the days ahead.

While he acknowledges thethe trauma of people who will lose homes and businesses, he says it will also be an “extraordinary environmental event”.

We’ve got an imminent human tragedy on our hands.. and addressing that naturally is our main priority.

But, this is the first time in 50 years we’ve had this volume of water coming across the river and it will bring with it profound environmental benefits.

This event will naturally widen and open .. the Murray mouth and that has a massive flow on benefit into the fisheries.

Further up the river, he says frog life has also been “coming to the fore that has otherwise been endangered”.

Four teenagers missing off Victorian beach

A search is under way for four teenagers missing in waters off Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

It’s believed an 18-year-old woman, two 18-year-old men and a 19-year-old woman were using inflatable paddleboards off Rosebud Beach yesterday.

Their belongings were found on the beach by a passerby about 8pm.

A man who said he was the father of one of the boys told Seven’s Sunrise program this morning the teens had just completed their final school exams and were in Rosebud for an end-of-year celebration.

Specialist police immediately scoured the area for the group but the search was halted at 4am due to deteriorating conditions. It started up again at daybreak.

– from AAP

RBA board meeting minutes to be released today

The Reserve Bank has been careful to keep its options open before its February cash rate decision, with analysts hopeful the minutes from the board’s last meeting will shed some light on the path ahead.

Due today, the minutes from the central bank’s December board meeting will confirm if the 25 basis point rate hike was the only option discussed.

NAB markets economist Taylor Nugent said a discussion of a return to a 50 basis point rise would bolster the case for more rate hikes in the new year.

Conversely, the consideration of a pause in December could support the argument that the RBA has already done enough to counter inflation and could hold rates steady when it meets in February.

St George economist Jameson Coombs said the bank’s 25bp cash rate rise in December – the latest in a series of hikes designed to cool sky-high inflation – was accompanied by “deliberately vague but decidedly balanced” commentary” from governor Philip Lowe:

Ultimately, the message was clear, the RBA expects to “increase interest rates further over the period ahead”, but the path to get there may not necessarily be a straight one.

– from AAP

Good morning!

Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong is due to touch down in Beijing tonight. Tomorrow she will attend events marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China.

Wong will also meet her counterpart Wang Yi to hold the Australia-China foreign and strategic dialogue – last held in 2018.

The trade sanctions imposed by China on Australian products including wine and barley are expected to be high on the agenda, as well as human rights and consular cases such as the plight of detained Australians Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun.

You can read more about what we can expect of Wong’s visit from our foreign affairs correspondent, Daniel Hurst:

In Victoria police are still searching for four teenagers who went missing paddleboarding in the Morning Peninsula yesterday.

A passerby located belongings on the beach about 8pm last night, with police and emergency services beginning the search in waters off Rosebud overnight for the two 18-year-old men, an 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman.

Also today, the minutes from the central bank’s last board meeting are due to be released, which will confirm if the 25 basis point rate hike was the only option discussed.

The minutes could shed light on whether Australians can expect more rate rises in the new year.

In Queensland the state’s police union has revealed its intention to buy the block of land which was the site of the Wieambilla shooting, at which constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, were killed.

Union head Ian Leavers told this morning’s edition of the Courier-Mail:

The QPU would never want to see this land fall into the hands of any other anti-vaxxer, pro-gun conspiracy theorist, sovereign citizens who may seek to utilise the reputation of this site to promote their own dangerous and warped views.

The union has asked the government for help resuming the land.

Let’s get going!

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