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Readers, thanks for following along with our national blog today.
It’s been a journey this afternoon, here is a recap of some of the top stories we’ve been following:
Have an amazing evening.
Australia’s human rights commissioner is demanding the government release a report by the United Nations after a visit to detention facilities was blocked by NSW and Queensland.
“The Australian government wants to be a world leader when it comes to human rights, and if we want to do that we actually have to show moral leadership,” commissioner Lorraine Finlay told AAP.
The visit by a delegation from the UN subcommittee on prevention of torture was the first to Australia since it ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2017.
Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine FinlayCredit: Alex Ellinghausen
Under its mandate, the subcommittee can carry out unannounced visits to detention facilities and conduct private interviews with people deprived of their liberty without witnesses.
But the October visit was suspended after NSW and Queensland authorities blocked the UN inspectors from entering jails and detention facilities.
Australia joins Rwanda as the only other country where a visit has been cancelled.
“We made a promise to the world that we would comply with that treaty, and it’s important we live up to our promises,” Ms Finlay said.
It had been three months since the confidential UN report outlining what the international observers briefly saw was sent to the government, she said, which was enough time for action to have been taken.
It appears as if property prices are the only thing anyone in Sydney or Melbourne wants to read about today– with both readers of the Herald and The Age flocking to stories detailing the suburbs where homeowners are selling property at a loss.
For some Sydneysiders, the cost of stamp duty and their mortgage means they can not afford to move. Those in Melbourne are simply cutting their losses.
In Sydney, suburbs with high numbers of units have more owners selling for less than what they paid, which has generated a flurry reader comments.
Owner-occupiers and house owners were more likely to sell for a profit than investors and unit owners, the latest data showed.Credit: Fairfax media
Emma says: “House market vigilantes are rejecting government attempts to force us to live in apartments, bidding up the price of houses while leaving units unwanted.”
The AD says: “The oft repeated problem of inadequate town planning seems to be top of the list of reasons. Perhaps the concept of transport hubs needs a huge tweak. What does the transport network of 2035 look like? What effects will the Western Sydney Airport have on business and residences in the outer west? Are we building for those scenarios? I can well imagine our leaders vacantly blinking their responses.”
Another reader, Hapertc says: “The selling at a loss is actually the sign of improvement. A reduction in the cost of housing is what is needed so that housing can be returned to people being able to live in a house or apartment rather than living from the back of the car in a nearby park. Housing for people and not for investment is a real sign of improvement.”
Meanwhile David Allen says: “The biggest problem is the absurd dependency of the State government on Stamp Duty. It is so grossly excessive that it encourages older folk to remain in houses larger than their needs because it is simply too costly to move or downsize at all. Thus a bottleneck is formed.”
And it looks like it has been a bad day on the Australian stock exchange after it dropped to a two-month low after the United States’ Federal Reserve flagged that interest rates would stay higher for longer.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped for a fourth straight session on Thursday, falling 98.1 points, or 1.37 per cent, to 7,065.2 – its lowest close since July 10.
The broader All Ordinaries fell 95.3 points, or 1.29 per cent, to 7,266.6.
While the Federal Reserve early Thursday left interest rates unchanged, as was widely expected, the rhetoric from Fed chairman Jerome Powell was more hawkish than anticipated.
The Fed also indicated it was pencilling in one more rate hike this year as it works to contain inflation while forecasting it would not cut rates next year as quickly as previously forecast.
The Australian dollar was buying 64.12 US cents, from 64.54 US cents at Wednesday’s close.
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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