Australia news LIVE: COVID-stricken cruise ship docks in Sydney; Victoria braces for wave of hospitalisations as COVID cases grow across the state
A Melbourne independent school has told employees to sign a document endorsing a statement that gender identity and biological sex are inseparable.
St Andrews Christian College in Melbourne’s east this year requested staff sign an updated statement of belief that “acknowledges the biological sex of a person as recognised at birth and requires practices consistent with that sex”.
“According to Scripture, our gender identity is to align with our biological sex, as designed by God,” the document states.
Staff members are required to affirm the statement of belief each year. The transgender reference was introduced this year.
The statement of belief also says that “marriage, and therefore sexual intimacy, is to be between one man and one woman” and “sex should occur only within a monogamous marriage, with abstinence from pre-marital sex, extra marital sex, de-facto ‘marriage’ and homosexual relationships”.
The statement has prompted warnings that Victorian schools could be sued for discriminatory practices under the state’s recently updated Equal Opportunity Act, which largely prohibits religious schools from discriminating against employees and prospective employees because of their sexuality or gender identity.
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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was surprisingly muted in its coverage of the company’s acquisition of online small-cap stock picker Stockhead a couple of months ago. And what little coverage appeared in the empire’s official organ was scant on detail.
The company line was that News Corp subsidiary Nationwide News had picked up a strategic stake in Stockhead – it actually bought 60 per cent on the site’s holding company AG Media Investments – with the boss of Murdoch’s Australian operation Michael Miller telling his own newspaper that “Stockhead was an attractive investment on a number of fronts”.
It would want to be, with people close to the deal whispering to CBD that News Corp paid about $30 million for a site which hasn’t exactly made itself a household name since its launch in 2017 by David Greer and Jonathan Younger, is free to subscribers and features a fair dollop of sponsored content.
It reminds us of the time News, under the ill-fated stewardship of Kim Williams, swallowed up Alan Kohler’s Eureka Report and Business Spectator, also for $30 million, delivering multimillion-dollar paydays to Kohler – who called it “an offer I couldn’t refuse” – and fellow founders John Wylie and Mark Carnegie.
Williams copped some flak for that deal, especially when the assets under-performed in the years after the purchase. But at least Eureka had a paying subscription base of more than 16,000 at sales time, generating a pre-tax profit of about $1.9 million, albeit to offset Spectator’s heavy losses, and Williams got hold of the whole business.
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Qantas will drop its rule requiring international passengers to be fully vaccinated, starting from next Tuesday.
The decision comes weeks after the federal government’s move to roll back its requirement that overseas arrivals provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“From Tuesday 19 July 2022 the Qantas Group will no longer require passengers on international flights operated by the Qantas Group to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
“Additionally, masks will continue to be required where government regulations stipulate they must be worn, including onboard domestic flights in Australia.“
Qantas staff themselves will still have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Australians travelling abroad should know that other countries may still have vaccine requirements.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who arrived in Suva, Fiji, this morning, said the government wanted to expand engagement with Pacific labour in Australia.
“Whether that be a permanent migration, a specific program for the first time aimed at the Pacific or whether that be temporary labour,” he said.
“This can be an important way in which we not only have people-to-people relations but we benefit both the economies of Australia and the country of origins of people either visiting or permanently migrating to Australia.”
Albanese already signalled New Zealanders could be given an easier pathway to Australian citizenship and voting rights, and said the government would adopt a more “commonsense” approach to deporting New Zealand citizens convicted of crimes.
“I want them to be citizens, I want them to be able to participate in all forms of Australian life,” he said.
He said Australia, with the notable exception of our First Nations people, who have been here for 65,000 years, are a nation of migrants.
“We are standing here with the Prime Minister of the name Albanese and Foreign Minister with the name Wong, that’s the nature of modern Australia. And we should, where possible, ensure those paths to permanent migration are available where appropriate.”
He said it was important to engage with Pacific nations in a “respectful way”.
“Our support for this region does not come with strings attached,” he said.
“It comes because we understand that we have a responsibility as an advanced economy in the region to provide support to our Pacific neighbours.”
He also plans to have a ‘respectful discussion’ with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare about their security deal with China when they meet later today.
Albanese said the relationship with Sogavare was “historically an important relationship” and said it would be “even better after this afternoon”. Sogavare recently said the relationship had soured.
“Our view on those issues, we’d be concerned about any permanent presence there in the Solomons and so close to Australia and we don’t think that is in the interest of the region,” he said.
“But we will have a respectful discussion. We respect the sovereignty of nations in the Pacific.”
Later today, Albanese will meet with Prime Minister of Samoa Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and President of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo.
Pacific Minister Pat Conroy says Australia is open to collaborating with China on infrastructure in the Pacific but warned that Beijing must lift the quality of its projects and hire more local workers.
“We’re open to partnering with other countries, in supporting the development aspirations of the Pacific,” Conroy said. “We partner, for example, in projects that go through the Asian Development Bank that might involve Australian finance, mixing with other people’s finance, developed by the Asian Development Bank and built by a Chinese company.”
Conroy’s comments follow a push by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi to engage more with Australia and New Zealand after Beijing failed to land a Pacific-wide security and economic deal in May.
“China has carried out trilateral co-operation with Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the South Pacific region and achieved positive results,” Wang said after his meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong last week.
“China is willing to give play to its respective advantages to achieve a win-win outcome.”
The comments by Wang have been seen as part of a wider effort to stabilise the relationship between China and Australia after years of diplomatic acrimony but have also been viewed with scepticism by Australian foreign affairs officials.
Australia has partnered with China in the past on projects such as malaria control in Papua New Guinea in 2016, but the relationship has deteriorated sharply since then.
Beijing has pledged more than $6.5 billion in Pacific development investment since 2018. It helped build the Suva Civic Centre, which is hosting parts of the Pacific Islands Forum this week, and schools, highways and stadiums across the region – some of which have been criticised for poor construction work, safety issues and high levels of debt.
Four women and four non-white MPs will fight it out to be the next British prime minister in the UK’s most diverse contest for any party’s leadership in history.
Conservative MPs will begin voting on Wednesday (UK time) and the result of the final two candidates should be known before the Commons rises for the northern summer recess on Thursday.
Sajid Javid, who sensationally plunged the knife into Boris Johnson’s prime ministership last week when he quit as health secretary over a series of scandals engulfing No.10 Downing Street, failed to gather support from the required 20 MPs and withdrew from the race just minutes before the deadline closed.
The former chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who followed Javid in quitting Johnson’s cabinet led with the most MP endorsements and is widely considered to be frontrunner.
However, he has been savaged by pro-Johnson forces, accused of plotting his leadership campaign for months, after launching it with a slick video telling the story of his maternal grandmother who migrated to the UK from Africa in the 1960s.
Sunak’s mega-wealth – he made his own fortune as a hedge fund manager before marrying an Indian IT heiress – is said to be one of the drawbacks of his candidacy.
Sunak’s replacement as chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi also made the cut.
He was born in Iraq to a Kurdish family and fled Saddam Hussein’s regime when he was 11. He learnt English and in 2000 founded the polling company YouGov.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese address the media, after arriving in Suva, Fiji for the Pacific Islands Forum.
The forum is the first face-to-face meeting of Pacific Island leaders in almost three years.
NSW deputy premier and the agriculture minister are calling for the federal government to step up, and travellers returning from Indonesia to throw out their thongs, to keep Australia foot and mouth disease-free.
Speaking at Sydney International Airport this morning, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the disease, which causes blisters around the mouth of livestock, poses a “disastrous” threat to biosecurity and could have an $80 billion impact on the livestock industry. There’s been an outbreak on Indonesia’s main island, Java, and it’s since spread to Bali.
The disease infects farm animals such as pigs, cattle and sheep as well as camels, goats and deer but does not affect humans. But people can carry it on their shoes, clothes or in their noses – where it can survive for up to 24 hours.
“There are a lot of travellers going to Bali, going over to Indonesia and it’s the closest it’s ever been to our shores in Australia,” he said.
With 103 Australian flights a week to Bali, Toole pleaded with travellers taking winter vacations to Bali not to visit livestock, to stay away from farms and declare where they’d been.
“I’m wanting the federal government to take additional steps. I want to make sure all luggage is screened, I want to make sure there is decontamination of both shoes and clothing when people are coming back into this country. I want to see more detector dogs being rolled out and I want to see right now, a targeted advertising campaign. We need to let people know how serious this threat is,” he said.
He told returning travellers it could be as simple as “throwing away those thongs”.
“You do not want to be the person who brings the foot and mouth disease back into this country. We have too much to lose,” he said.
NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said NSW was the best place to lead a response on foot and mouth disease and also called for the reintroduction of foot baths as travellers entered Australia-bound planes.
The 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth in the UK forced the destruction of more than 6 million pigs, cows and sheep at an estimated cost of £8 billion ($14 billion).
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Two ACT people have been diagnosed with monkeypox after travelling to Europe.
Both reported mild symptoms and are isolating at home with support from ACT Health and Canberra Health Services. Contact tracing is under way, but there haven’t been any high-risk contacts identified and transmission risk to the community remains low.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said illness associated with the monkeypox virus is usually mild, although complications can occur.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people. Coleman said it usually required direct skin-to-skin or prolonged face-to-face contact.
Most cases have occurred in Central or West Africa, although since May 2022, there has been a global increase reported in other countries where it’s not usually seen.
“Symptoms may initially include fever, chills, muscle aches, backache, and swollen lymph nodes. Following these symptoms, a rash usually develops, that spreads to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through stages, like chickenpox, before finally becoming a scab,” she said.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has advised pensioners and others with health card benefits to stock up on subsidised COVID tests before the concession winds up at the end of the month, arguing that the Albanese government cannot afford to continue many of the pandemic safety net payments.
“My advice to pensioners and people with the relevant card is that this program doesn’t end until the end of the month and if you can access those 10 additional tests, you should do so. For a lot of people, that will last them sometime after the end of the program. Also, there are state government programs and in areas like aged care facilities, where free tests will still be available,” Chalmers said.
Rapid antigen tests cost about $50 for five tests in most chemists at full price. But in January, when there was a shortage of tests and prices soared, concession holders were able to get up to 10 free tests over a three-month period.
Chalmers said, the challenges faced in the budget meant it was not possible to continue several of the programs decided to cushion people from escalating pandemic era price shocks.
“If you add it up with the paid pandemic leave, which was something like $60 million a week in its most recent iteration, combined with the support at the petrol bowser, a whole range of programs which were designed by the former government to end around this time, it is not possible to extend all of these programs.”
Retail and hospitality heads have backed union calls to restore pandemic emergency payments for casuals and sole traders as COVID infections spike over winter.