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Abortion has been removed from Western Australia’s criminal code and will be easier to access under sweeping reforms passed by the state parliament.
Women’s Interests Minister Sue Ellery said the laws were about treating access to abortion care the same way as access to other forms of medical care.
Sue Ellery.Credit: Peter de Kruijff
“The laws are about removing barriers to access, particularly for women who live outside the metropolitan centre or outside regional centres,” she said.
Under the changes, the number of health practitioners required to be involved in most abortion care has been reduced from two to one.
The requirement for mandatory counselling and ministerial and panel approval for later-term abortions has been abolished.
The new laws also allow health practitioners to conscientiously object and refuse to provide treatment, but they must transfer the patient to another provider or give them information on where to access the service.
Read more here.
Fire crews hope better conditions will allow them to get on top of dozens of uncontrolled blazes after days of sweltering weather across NSW.
More than 1000 firefighters worked into the night and on Thursday as they battled more than 80 fires from the far south coast to near the Queensland border.
NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Ben Shepherd said 30 of the blazes were yet to be contained by Thursday afternoon despite more favourable conditions.
Temperatures peaked in the low-mid 20s in Sydney and surrounds, while the weather was cooler with scattered showers on the south coast.
But hot conditions continued in the state’s north, including peaks in the mid-30s as a number of grass and bush fires burned in the region.
A strong wind warning was also in place for much of the NSW coast.
Mr Shepherd said the dangers were expected to subside in the coming days, giving firefighters the chance to control existing fires and complete more hazard-reduction burning.
“We’re still seeing gusty winds in parts of NSW … any fires in the landscape can be problematic, so we’re trying to get on top of them,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.
“As we move closer to the weekend, those winds will start to die down (and) we’ll start to assess the opportunity there to potentially do some hazard-reduction work.”
Firefighters have been racing to catch up on a backlog of planned burning, much of which was postponed earlier in the year due to widespread rain.
The recent drop in temperatures has come after the state sweated for days with maximum temperatures 10C to 15C above the September average.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has copped widespread criticism over plans to knock down and rebuild dozens of public housing towers, while only setting aside a fraction of the redeveloped dwellings for public tenants.
All 44 of Melbourne’s high-rise public housing estates will be demolished and redeveloped by 2051 with five towers in Flemington, North Melbourne and Carlton to be replaced by 2031.
Awatif Taha is a resident of the 120 Racecourse Road housing tower in Melbourne which is slated for demolition.Credit: Chris Hopkins
The urban renewal project is expected to lift the number of residents across the sites from roughly 10,000 to 30,000 and its social homes by 10 per cent.
Merri-bek City Council, a Greens-led local government in Melbourne’s inner north, said the 10 per cent commitment fell far short of combating growing public housing demand.
“Fundamentally, this fails to address crippling shortages throughout the state,” council mayor Angelica Panopoulos said.
Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt and state party leader Samantha Ratnam have suggested the plan could signal the “end of public housing in Victoria”.
Selling his government’s housing statement atop a Box Hill high-rise apartment building on Thursday, Mr Andrews accused the Greens of spreading misinformation and scaring people.
“This is a really big project and a critically important one,” he said.
“If your answer is just the status quo and to scare people, that’s not leadership.”
You can read more about the reaction to the plan here.
This week has brought some unseasonably warm temperatures up and down the East Coast.
A young grey nurse shark off the headland at South Bondi.Credit: Edwina Pickles/Duncan Heuer
But as crowds flock to beaches, it might be time more is done to protect humans from sharks lurking below the surface, writes freelance writer and director of communications at the NSW Minerals Council, Brad Emery
It’s the same old story every year as we approach another Australian summer. To shark-net our beaches to keep predator numbers down, or not to shark-net our beaches. To drum line or not to drum line? Should we even bother trying to find measures to protect ourselves from sharks or just accept the risk?
Here’s a simple equation. Humans have explored the outer reaches of space, most recently landing a module on the dark side of the moon. Sharks have not. Humans have sequenced our own DNA, along with the DNA of more than 3000 other species. Sharks have not. Humans have perfected life-saving organ transplants. Sharks have not.
You can continue reading here.
A concerted effort by the Australian Electoral Commission has delivered an Indigenous enrolment rate of 94.1 per cent– the highest enrolment level in the nation’s history.
But commissioner Tom Rogers said he remained committed to getting it to the same level as the broader electoral roll, which stood at 97.7 per cent.
It comes as a Federal Court on Wednesday dismissed an application challenging the referendum voting formality process.
United Australia Party Senator Ralph Babet and the party’s chairman, mining magnate Clive Palmer, went to the court seeking to have ballot papers marked with a cross or ‘X’ counted as a vote against the proposed alteration to the constitution.
In dismissing the application, Justice Steven Rares said a cross could indicate agreement, disapproval or an unwillingness to answer the question at all, while a tick was not similarly ambiguous, either indicating approval or an affirmative response.
More than 100 guests have fallen ill after a mysterious gastro outbreak linked to a function venue in Melbourne’s southeast.
Victoria’s health department has been notified of a gastroenteritis outbreak at The Park Melbourne on September 13 and 16 across separate events.
At least 70 people from each event have reported feeling unwell so far.
The Park venue at Albert Park.Credit: Simon Schluter
The Albert Park venue hosted the annual Australia and New Zealand Burns Association conference last week but the event was forced online for its last day on Friday after attendees fell ill.
Other guests were struck down after a wedding dinner at the venue on Saturday.
An investigation has been launched into the outbreak but the cause of the illnesses is not yet known.
“We are following standard process and working with Port Phillip Council and South East Public Health Unit to investigate the source of the outbreak and ensure all appropriate infection prevention and control measures are in place,” a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
The health department has not established if there is a link to an ongoing cluster of listeriosis cases in Victoria.
The Park venue manager Bahaa Harb said no issues with health and safety practices were found during a “routine” inspection on Friday.
“We have conducted a precautionary deep clean and have received approval from council to continue trading,” Mr Harb said in a statement.
“We will continue to work closely with the City of Port Phillip to determine the cause of this outbreak and will keep our customers and impacted parties notified of the investigation’s findings.”
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I will return tomorrow, but my colleagues in Sydney will keep you updated for the rest of the afternoon.
A Victorian Supreme Court judge will be brought into the ACT to avoid any conflicts of interest in former top prosecutor Shane Drumgold’s legal challenge against the findings of an inquiry that forced him to resign.
ACT Supreme Court registrar Jayne Reece told a brief hearing this morning that Justice Stephen Kaye would be flown in to preside over the case launched by Drumgold last month due to his former status as the Director of Public Prosecutions and the small size of the ACT’s legal community.
Former ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold has launched a legal challenge against the findings of an inquiry into the Lehrmann case.Credit: Rhett Wyman
Reece said ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, who presided over the aborted rape trial of former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann – which sparked the inquiry and Drumgold’s case – concluded it wouldn’t be appropriate for any resident judge to hear the matter “and will accordingly seek the appointment of a judge from another jurisdiction”.
Continue reading about this here.
In state news, the NSW premier says his government is committed to holding a drugs summit despite money not being allocated for it in the budget.
Premier Chris Minns said today that his government will hold a drug summit in its first term of government, a promise made at the election.
NSW Premier Chris Minns says his government is committed to holding a drugS summit.Credit: AAP
But Jeremy Buckingham, a Legalise Cannabis MP in the Legislative Council, said he was given assurances by Health Minister Ryan Park that the summit had been given $1.8 million and would be held before the end of this financial year.
The summit would bring together drug experts and policymakers to propose policies on drug use in the state.
When asked why the state needed another summit — after a $10.8 million special commission of inquiry that handed down 109 recommendations on the matter in 2020 — Minns said there were “diametrically opposed views” on drug decriminalisation and related policies.
The opposition leader also responded to news that former treasurer Josh Frydenberg is not expected to stand at the next election.
This masthead broke the news that Frydenberg will make an announcement on the decision later today.
“I spoke to Josh earlier today, and I’ll probably catch up with him tomorrow … it’s been a weighty decision for Josh,” he said.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he had spoken to Josh Frydenberg about his decision. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
“He’s got a very young family, and he’s spent a lot of time in Canberra particularly over the course of COVID, but a long time away from kids.”
Dutton said the former treasurer went through a tough period, but he made an enormous contribution to Australia and to the Liberal Party.
“He went through a tough period but he’s contributed in a very significant way to our country as treasurer.”
But the opposition leader said he hoped Frydenberg would “work his way back into public life at some point”.
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