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Australia live news: Melbourne hospital struggles amid ‘unprecedented’ demand; RBA tipped to raise cash rate | Australia news

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Big wet fails to dampen farm production

Australian agriculture has seen another near-record year of production, despite devastating floods in eastern states taking its toll on some crops, reports AAP.

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The quarterly outlook for December from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences also found the value of exports is expected to reach a record for 2022 to 2023.

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Abares’ Dr Jared Greenville said:

The gross value of agricultural production is forecast to be a near-record $85bn in 2022-23, just shy of the record set the previous year.

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Another bumper year combined with high commodity prices means Australia’s agricultural exports are forecast to break records at over $72bn in 2022 to 2023.

Meanwhile, the winter crop is forecast to be the second largest on record at over 62m tonnes.

Wheat harvesting in NSW’s Riverina.
Wheat harvesting in NSW’s Riverina. Photograph: Michele Mossop/Getty Images

That comes despite a decrease in winter planting by 10% in NSW and 9% in Queensland because of the big wet.

Crops in Western Australia and South Australia benefited the most from spring conditions, with total production in both states forecast to reach record levels.

Total production in Queensland is forecast to reach the second highest on record, despite parts of the Darling Downs missing out on plantings due to floods.

While the bureau also concluded that summer crop planting in 2022 to 2023 may fall by 9% because of excessively wet conditions and flooding across major production regions in New South Wales.

The report found New South Wales bore the brunt of the damage from the spring rains and floods.Greenville said the total production for the state has been revised down by 2m tonnes since the last crop report in September.

Opposition urges government to reconsider delaying National Cabinet

Good morning! Natasha May now on deck with you.

We found out yesterday the prime minister Anthony Albanese tested positive to Covid-19 and Wednesday’s National Cabinet meeting has been delayed as a result. It was meant to see the federal and state governments develop a plan to tackle rising energy prices.

The opposition has wished Albanese a speedy recovery but urged the government to reconsider the decision on National Cabinet.

Acting Liberal leader Sussan Ley said that Australians are “desperate” for the cost of living relief promised by the meeting.

In a statement, Ley said that Albanese indicated he would continue to work from home and that the National Cabinet had almost exclusively met online since its inception early 2020.

On behalf of the Opposition, we send our best wishes to the PM for a speedy recovery.

Wednesday’s National Cabinet meeting cannot come soon enough.

Millions of Australians are desperate for cost of living relief now & were promised that this NatCab meeting would deliver it. pic.twitter.com/cRml7SlC7b

— Sussan Ley (@sussanley) December 5, 2022

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Human Rights Watch says Australia too slow to use Magnitsky-style sanctions laws

A human rights organisation has accused the Australian government of being too slow to use Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions laws, a year after the new powers passed the parliament.

In a statement issued overnight, Human Rights Watch said the only time Australia had used the law was in March, when the then minister for foreign affairs, Marise Payne, targeted 39 Russians implicated in the death of an accountant and the corruption he exposed.

It added:

By contrast, in the first year since the United Kingdom parliament passed its targeted sanctions regime in July 2020, more than 78 designations were made against individuals and entities from 11 situations of human rights violations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, according to an analysis by nongovernmental organization Redress.

Human Rights Watch said Australia should start by joining the Canada, the EU, UK, and US in imposing targeted sanctions on senior military leaders and entities in Myanmar responsible for human rights violations since the February 2021 coup.

It also called for Australia to join others in imposing sanctions on Chinese officials implicated in crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang. It further suggested sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals responsible for serious rights violations including over the current crackdown against protesters.

Elaine Pearson, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said:

One year has passed since Australia’s parliament passed Magnitsky-style sanctions, yet the government seems reluctant to use this tool to hold human rights abusers accountable. Australia’s democratic allies have imposed such sanctions to good effect around the world and Australia should too.

Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning. Welcome to the live news blog. My colleague Natasha May will be along shortly to take you through the day’s events, but until then, here are some of the main stories making headlines this morning.

Our top story this morning comes from emails obtained by Guardian Australia showing that the Liberal MP Stuart Robert told a lobbyist and potential donor not to donate to colleague Angus Taylor’s fundraising group. Robert was sent an email from his friend David Milo, the chief executive of lobby group Synergy 360, inquiring about an invitation he had received to join the Hume Forum, “the official supporters’ network of federal minister and member for Hume, Angus Taylor”. Asked if Milo should give money, Robert, one of the Liberals’ most proficient fundraisers, said: “Nope. It will be declared and it will hurt you.”

The Reserve Bank meets today to make its last interest rate decision for the year. Will it continue its record series of seven hikes in as many months, as analysts are tipping? Or will there be a Christmas miracle for mortgage payers? Read Peter Hannam’s preview here.

The big story in Victoria today is that Melbourne’s royal children’s hospital has warned parents to seek alternative care as its emergency department struggles to cope with demand and sick children face waits of more than 12 hours to be seen. The demand was “unprecedented” with a high number of extremely unwell children, a hospital spokesperson said. It follows warnings from the state’s ambulance service last week that patients faced long delays due to huge demand.

Socceroos players have returned to a heroes’ welcome at a packed Sydney airport, with fans clapping and cheering for the players after a historic run to the knockout stages at the World Cup. About a quarter of the squad that lost valiantly to Argentina in the round of 16 arrived back in Sydney on Monday night, with another contingent landing in Melbourne. “It was unforgettable,” one fan told our reporter Mostafa Rachwani at Sydney airport. “The Tunisia game was one of the best moments of my life. We came tonight to thank the players and to show them how proud we are of them.”

 

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