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Australia news live: Payman to visit ‘every single town’ in WA after quitting Labor; Dutton headed to US | Australia news

Payman to tour WA to speak to constituents ‘without … restrictions of party rules’

Independent senator Fatima Payman has been speaking with ABC News Breakfast following her decision to quit the Labor party last week.

Payman said it had been a “hectic past few weeks” but she has now travelled home to Perth, receiving a big reception at the airport and spending time with family.

Asked about her future in parliament as a now-independent senator, Payman said she plans to “try going to every single town” and visiting as many West Australians as she can to “find out what’s important to them … without any boundaries or restrictions of party rules and confinements”.

Payman also said she hadn’t thought about forming any coalitions “at this stage.”

Fatima Payman announced she had quit the Labor party last week. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AP
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Key events

Liberal senator Dave Sharma said the short range weapon system – which could be used between 10 to 15 kilometres – could be effective but didn’t tackle the bigger challenges the defence force faced.

The defence minister needed to be focused on frigates, destroyers, submarines “and the capability gaps we’ve got emerging there”, he said.

It’s an important addition for us but I think the bigger challenges we face as the Australian Defence Force are some of the bigger platforms.

– from AAP

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More details on the lethal kamikaze drones being added to defence arsenal

As AAP reports, the Albanese government has announced it will acquire the loitering munition Switchblade 300 to boost the defence force’s arsenal (You can read all the details earlier in the blog here).

The defence industry minister, Pat Conroy, told AAP they can be “carried by a single person and they can obviously be deployed to devastating effect as they have been in Ukraine”.

The acquisition is the first stage of the plan to buy more loitering munitions, with between $500m and $1bn allocated for army drones. Conroy said:

We’re running programs right now to develop Australian drones. And we’re hoping to get them into the inventory as soon as possible.

Defence industry minister, Pat Conroy Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Nationals senator Ross Cadell welcomed the purchase but said they were “a long way from a game changer”. It couldn’t take out tanks or armoured vehicles but was good against infantry, he told Sky News.

It can take out personnel but between $90,000 and $120,000 a hit, it is a very expensive way of doing that … This is more of an announcement to pretend we’re doing something than actually changing the battlefield.

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Further charges laid against man accused of producing online bestiality content

A man who police allege is one of New South Wales’s biggest self-producers of online bestiality content has had an additional 29 charges laid against him.

In February, strike force detectives executed search warrants across Sydney targeting the online sharing of child abuse material, which led them to the online profile of a user under the pseudonym “Beast Boy”.

“Beast Boy” had a large online presence and allegedly used encrypted messaging to share bestiality material, which police say featured the sexual abuse of various animals such as dogs, sheep, goats, chickens and a dead kangaroo.

In April detectives executed a search warrant in Moorland, around 30km north of Taree, and arrested a 38-year-old man.

A dog that was missing from the Grafton area for around five years was seized by the RSPCA and returned to its owner. The man was charged with 20 offences and remains before the courts.

Photograph: Steven Saphore/AAP

Following further investigation of the seized hard drives, investigators allegedly identified “thousands” of videos and images of bestiality and child abuse material. An additional 29 charges will be laid at court today.

The additional charges include seven counts of bestiality, five count of possessing and disseminating bestiality material, committing an act of cruelty upon an animal, as well as possessing child abuse material and 15 counts of using a carriage service to access, transmit and solicit child abuse material.

The man remains on remand and is due to appear at Taree local court.

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PNG to appoint acting petroleum minister after MP’s Australian arrest

Papua New Guinea will appoint an acting petroleum minister after Jimmy Maladina stepped down while he faces charges over an alleged domestic assault in Australia, AAP reports.

The 58-year-old was charged over an alleged domestic dispute after police were called to an address in Sydney’s eastern suburb of Bondi and found a 31-year-old woman with facial injuries on Saturday.

He was arrested and taken to Waverley police station where he was charged and will appear before the local court on Thursday.

Maladina has been granted bail, with conditions including not contacting the alleged victim or anyone she has a domestic relationship with, assaulting or threatening her or stalking, harassing or intimidating her.

“You must not approach or be in the company of [the alleged victim] for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs,” the bail conditions state.

A PNG governor said he was “deeply embarrassed” at the arrest and expressed sympathy for the alleged victim.

Governor of East Sepik province, Allan Bird, said the allegation was deeply concerning given “violence against women in PNG has reached pandemic proportions and our women and girls continue to live in fear”.

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Kylea Tink says office ‘inundated’ with concerned calls about proposed redistribution

A petition to save the North Sydney electorate from the chopping block at the next election has garnered nearly 1500 signatures, after being launched a few days ago.

As Amy Remeikis reported last month, the Australian Electoral Commission proposed North Sydney – one of the country’s oldest electorates – be abolished in a boundary shake-up that could have far-reaching consequences for the major parties.

Independent North Sydney MP Kylea Tink said her office has been “inundated” with calls and emails from “hundreds of passionate North Sydney residents” concerned about the proposed boundary redistribution.

While the major parties have been silent after the AEC’s draft plans were announced, and seem quietly happy to see North Sydney abolished, many in the community are not.

It’s clear that people are worried about losing our voice, our unique sense of identity and social cohesion, while many have said they are concerned about being disconnected from sports facilities, schools, businesses, and community groups.

The growing North Sydney community, as well the 28,000 businesses that call the area home, have unique perspectives and needs that differ from the surrounding electorates we are proposed to be absorbed into.

Kylea Tink MP, the independent federal member for North Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP
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Three Queensland children found at service station after being reported missing

Three children who had gone missing at the weekend were located safe this morning.

An amber alert was issued this morning after a three-year-old girl, five-year-old boy and six-year-old boy went missing from the Gold Coast yesterday afternoon.

Police believe the children were with a man known to them earlier in the day when they left a Paradise Point address around 4.30pm in a blue Hyundai i30.

Queensland police were advised that the children were found at a service station in Mount Warren Park around 7am this morning, and the blue Hyundai was located nearby a short time later.

A 27-year-old man is in police custody on other unrelated charges and is scheduled to appear in court today. Police said the man arrested is the children’s father. Investigations are ongoing.

Police are continuing to appeal for anyone who may have seen the blue Hyundai i30 travelling between the Gold Coast and Logan areas between 4.30pm and 10pm last night.

At a press conference early this morning, police alleged the children were inside the vehicle overnight by themselves, before walking to a nearby 7-Eleven where an employee contacted police.

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NT police commissioner yet to make a decision on new curfew, union says

Nathan Finn, president of the Northern Territory Police Association, spoke with ABC News Breakfast earlier amid discussions around a second youth curfew in Alice Springs.

We had more on this earlier in the blog here, in case you missed it.

Finn said at this stage the association was not anticipating a curfew to be announced, but that the police commissioner was yet to make a decision.

I have spoken to the commissioner this morning, he’s relayed his concerns of obviously what’s occurred in the Alice Springs in the last 72 hours. He’s in consultation with his command team to make that determination whether the curfew is required.

Finn said there are a number of considerations around whether to call a curfew, including “whether we’ve got enough resources to actually police this curfew”.

It’s sad we’re talking about this only three months prior to the previous one made in Alice Springs … It’s a tough decision to make but a decision that needs to be made by the commissioner and local command team in respect to obviously placing that curfew in. We need those resources, though, to make sure we can police the curfew if that’s the decision that’s made.

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Melbourne airport CEO wants to see rail link moved up to 2030

Asked about the construction timeline for the rail link, Lori Argus said the airport would work with the state government to “have this built as quickly as possible”.

Recent state announcements were delayed till 2033. I’d love to see that pulled forward now. If we can pick up the pen quickly and get it built quickly, I’d love to see it in place – if not at the same time, just after our runway – by 2030. But we recognise that that might not be realistic, we need to let the state work that through. But we will not be difficult, we will work with them to build to have this built as quickly as possible.

Asked if there were any conditions for building the above-ground station, Argus said there was the challenge of “constructing in a 24-7 environment” that needs to be considered, plus getting terminal access right and working out how to transfer the land over to the state.

Argus said the airport had written to the premier, Jacinta Allan, this morning and “we’re really confident that will happen.”

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‘Any rail is better than no rail’, Melbourne airport CEO says

Lori Argus said the suggestion any delay on the rail link has been about “raking in more money” through underground parking was “staggering”.

The reality is our car parks are full today, pretty much full. And we do have a lot more people on the roads, and so our problem is going to be full regardless of the rail or not. Because doubling our passenger growth in the next 20 years means that it would be mayhem if we didn’t have other transport solutions.

The Melbourne airport CEO also disagreed with one local mayor, who reportedly labelled negotiations with the airport as “obstructionist”.

Argus:

Again, we were working constructively with the state when the project was paused. We didn’t ask for the project to be paused and we didn’t ask for the project to go into the federal review.

Argus said plans for an underground station were in the airport’s plans for “at least 30 years” so “this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we had long-term plans for future proofing, which we think makes sense.”

We’re now at a point where we think, well, any rail is better than no rail, and so a compromise is necessary and we’re willing to do that.

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Melbourne airport CEO says it’s time to ‘just get on with it’ regarding rail link

The CEO of Melbourne airport, Lori Argus, says that “now’s the time to compromise” and “accept” the above-ground rail link.

As we reported earlier, Melbourne airport has made a major backdown and said it would support an above-ground station – rather than the costlier underground one it was insisting on – in a move that could see works finally begin.

Speaking with ABC RN earlier, Argus said “another one or two years without the certainty of support for underground means that it’s just going to take too long.”

We were in a process with the state government with their above-ground station last year when it was paused. It then went into the federal review, and then the minister requested an independent review. So a number of reviews for all the different parties, that’s just taking a little bit of time. But the reality is when that report came out some weeks ago, and said there was more review required for underground to be considered, we just thought we need to just get on with it.

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Coalition advances on Labor in NSW and Queensland: poll

The Coalition has notched up higher voter support than Labor for the first time in the critical campaign battleground state of NSW, according to new Newspoll analysis.

As AAP reports, the April to June analysis published in The Australian newspaper today showed the Coalition ahead 51–49 on a two-party basis in Australia’s largest state by population.

The Liberal National party has also improved its lead in Queensland with 54% support to Labor’s 46% on a two-party basis.

Support for Labor remains strong in South Australia and Victoria. Overall, Labor is ahead of the Coalition 51% to 49%. In the primary vote stakes, Labor is losing support among younger voters to the Greens, the analysis shows.

Federal MPs are on a winter break and the analysis shows Anthony Albanese has 48% approval compared to Peter Dutton’s 36%. Dutton is leading Albanese as preferred prime minister in his home state of Queensland for the first time, the analysis shows.

The next federal election is due to be held in 2025. The analysis was based on Newspoll surveys with almost 5,000 voters across Australia between April and June.

Anthony Albanese speaks to Peter Dutton during Question Time. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
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Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Peter Dutton to travel to the United States for the next week

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, will be in the United States for the next week, attending the Australian American Leadership Dialogue conference and then taking some personal leave.

The defence minister, Richard Marles, will attend the same conference, then head on to the Nato summit as Australia’s representative.

Dutton’s office announced this morning he would be at the AALD in Washington DC from 8–12 July, where he will speak in various forums. He will then take three days’ personal leave after that event, the statement said.

“The Liberal Party is covering the cost of the flights,” Dutton’s office said.

In these precarious times where new threats challenge civilisation on multiple fronts, the [Australia-US] Alliance matters more than ever.

Sussan Ley will be acting opposition leader for that period.

Peter Dutton during the Queensland LNP’s annual convention on Saturday. Photograph: Russell Freeman/AAP

During Marles’ trip to the US, his office said he would “undertake a number of engagements with representatives of the US Congress and senior officials in Washington to discuss our Alliance and advancing cooperation under the AUKUS partnership”.

The partnership between Australian and NATO reinforces our shared commitment to the rules-based international order.

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Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Pacific leaders gather in Brisbane over banking woes

Pacific leaders, ministers and central bank governors will gather in Brisbane today to discuss the withdrawal of banking services from many Pacific island countries.

The two-day forum is part of a joint effort by Australia and the US to help the Pacific with its financial services at a time of growing competition for influence in the region. Western officials fear that any void in banking services in the region will be filled by China.

Officials say the Pacific has “borne the brunt of a global trend of financial institutions reducing or withdrawing banking services, with the fastest withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships anywhere in the world”.

More than 300 people will discuss how to reverse that trend when they participate in the two-day Pacific Banking Forum in Brisbane.

The US is sending its Treasury under-secretary, Brian Nelson, to participate. Nauru is sending its president, David Adeang, and the Cook Islands will be represented by its prime minister, Mark Brown, while numerous others are sending finance ministers and central bank governors.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said Australia had “a strong connection with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific” and wanted to “help them prosper into the future”.

Chalmers said helping to prevent the loss of banking services in the Pacific was “vital to the safety, security and economic development of our region”.

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Gaza death toll ‘impacting each and every person with a conscience’, Payman says

Wrapping up the interview, Fatima Payman was asked what she is hearing from her community about the human toll of what has been occurring in Gaza over the past ten months. She said:

It’s no longer just the Muslim community or the pro-Palestinian community that’s hurting. It’s been impacting each and every person with a conscience and a heart out there.

The amount of overwhelming sentiments that I have received in terms of the heartache, the pain, the loss of hope, not knowing, you know – seeing the devastation, the destruction.

I know it’s quite early to be talking about this, but seeing limbs of young children being blown off and, you know, amputations taking place without any anaesthetics, these are live-streamed. The genocide that’s taking place in Gaza and impacting Palestinians is being live-streamed and it’s impacting so many Australians who are a people of a fair go, who are a people that want to see freedom, want to see Palestinians have the right to self-determination and statehood.

So it’s been a very heartbreaking last 10 months and hopefully I will continue to use my voice in spaces and platforms that I get granted to raise concerns because these are universal principles of justice, equality and freedom that we all should share and advocate for.

Independent senator Fatima Payman. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
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Payman says media backgrounding on her sets ‘precedent that is not constructive to modern Australia’

Fatima Payman was also asked to weigh in on the backgrounding that’s been happening over the last few days from her now ex-colleagues in the media.

She said it was “bizarre that this may set a precedent that is not really constructive to our modern-day Australia that we’re living in”.

But in saying that, I’m not going to dwell on what people have been doing. It’s quite flattering that people still want to talk about me and give, you know, information that I’d given to them in confidence, but I’m really focused on what’s to come, you know, what is going to serve the best interests of Western Australians in my capacity as their independent senator.

Payman said there are friendships she has formed over the past two years as a Labor senator that she hopes to maintain. As for whether the government can rely on her vote on crucial issues going forward, Payman said “it will depend on the bills that are brought forward”.

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Fatima Payman was asked to give a message to voters who supported her because she was with the Labor party:

I know that throughout this whole process, a lot of Western Australians have been reaching out to me wanting to share their experience, but also their thoughts and sentiments on the ground that the Australian Labor party that they elected were not serving their best interests.

They voted for a change in government, they wanted to see values of justice, equality and freedom upheld, and they’re just not seeing that. So for me, it’s important to prove myself, which I will, and in that I will be consulting with people on the ground to hear [what] their concerns are and how I can best represent them.

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Payman to tour WA to speak to constituents ‘without … restrictions of party rules’

Independent senator Fatima Payman has been speaking with ABC News Breakfast following her decision to quit the Labor party last week.

Payman said it had been a “hectic past few weeks” but she has now travelled home to Perth, receiving a big reception at the airport and spending time with family.

Asked about her future in parliament as a now-independent senator, Payman said she plans to “try going to every single town” and visiting as many West Australians as she can to “find out what’s important to them … without any boundaries or restrictions of party rules and confinements”.

Payman also said she hadn’t thought about forming any coalitions “at this stage.”

Fatima Payman announced she had quit the Labor party last week. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AP
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