News live: Dutton says Australia ‘should stand shoulder to shoulder’ with Biden in condemning ICC warrant | Australia news

Australia should stand shoulder to shoulder with president Biden: Dutton

Opposition leader Peter Dutton is now taking questions from reporters, and is asked about US president Joe Biden’s response to the ICC prosecutor.

Biden has labelled an application by the ICC for warrants seeking the arrest of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, along with senior members of Hamas, for actions carried out in Gaza as “outrageous”. Dutton told reporters:

Australia should stand shoulder to shoulder with president Biden. He has shown leadership by standing up against this equivalence, which is completely and utterly repugnant to compare the Israeli prime minister to a terrorist organisation leader and to not have some clarity in relation to it, I think is appalling.

The prime minister squibbed it today when he was asked about this issue, and the prime minister had the opportunity at the ICC where Australia was consulted in relation to this matter – they didn’t weigh in and say there were against this measure, instead, they sat on the sideline and had nothing to say about it at all …

[The PM is] tarnishing and damaging our international relationships with like-minded nations when he’s not strong enough to stand up alongside president Joe Biden. I very strongly support the comments of president Biden today in relation to the ICC, it’s an abomination and it needs to be ceased, this action is antisemitic and it is against the interests of peace in the Middle East.

Leader of the opposition Peter Dutton says he ‘strongly’ supports US president Joe Biden in relation to the ICC. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

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Key events

‘Bring in the police’: shadow education minister on pro-Palestine protests at uni campuses

Shadow education minister Sarah Henderson has been speaking to the media, alongside opposition leader Peter Dutton, about the pro-Palestine protests at university campuses across the country.

She claimed the situation at the University of Melbourne is “intolerable” and that it is “not safe to be on that campus” in Melbourne or Sydney.

She called on Anthony Albanese to “bring in the police”, and said:

I call on the prime minister, who said he would take a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism, to step up and show the leadership that young Australians deserve. And as for this hapless education minister, Jason Clare, antisemitism does not mean different things to different people. So I say bring in the police, and please restore law and order and safety to our university campuses.

Shadow minister for education Sarah Henderson has urged the prime minister to ‘restore law and order and safety’ to Australian university campuses. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

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Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Senator Mehreen Faruqi says every cent owed to casual university staff ‘must be paid back in full’

The Greens have lashed out at the University of Sydney after revelations in its annual report, released yesterday, that around $70m is owed in casual staff underpayments.

The figure is significantly higher than previous estimates, which sat at $15m at the end of 2022. The report also showed the salary of vice-chancellor Mark Scott increased last year by around $15k to $1.18m.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson for higher education, Senator Mehreen Faruqi said every cent owed to casual staff “must be urgently paid back in full”.

A university system where vice-chancellors earn well over $1m a year, while casual staff are systemically robbed of wages and students graduate with a lifetime of debt is a broken system.

[Education minister] Jason Clare and the Labor government must require universities to set publicly-available targets for increasing permanent employment, and link this to funding. There should be clearer reporting requirements with respect to employment statistics and improved rights of entry for trade unions.

In a statement yesterday, Scott said the university deeply regretted any underpayments that had occurred, adding the university was “committed to ensuring all staff are paid according to our enterprise agreement”.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi has called for casual staff underpayments at the University of Sydney to be ‘paid back in full’. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

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Stranded Melbourne couple describe ‘terrifying’ situation in New Caledonia

Melbourne couple Max and Tiffany Winchester spoke to ABC News Breakfast from Noumea just earlier, and described the “terrifying” situation on the ground.

It’s been very difficult to sleep. All of us at the resort have had one eye open – any noise, we have to jump up, because we never know when we’re going to come under attack …

The couple said they could see violence and fires in the distance:

Luckily we’re far enough away, but we did have the looters come in the first night we were here making a bit of a ruckus. But they’ve left us alone since. We just don’t know when they’re coming back, and we don’t know what they’ll do.

The couple said they have been in limbo for nine days now and their children back at home are “worried sick”. In terms of the government’s response, the pair said it “took six days for anything to happen” and while communication is better now, they would “still like to have a daily update”.

We’re largely on our own. The high commission closed, the consular staff went awol, and people in Canberra said we were on our own. It was quite scary for the first six days. I don’t think they realised how serious it was.


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More details on government-assisted flights to New Caledonia, where 300 Australians stranded

AAP has more details on the two government-assisted flights set to depart New Caledonia, as riots and unrest mar the French territory in the Pacific.

Foreign minister Penny Wong confirmed Australia had received clearance for two flights after the international airport was shut down, and the government would “continue to work on further flights”.

Wong spoke with her New Zealand and French counterparts yesterday to request access to the territory.

The Australian defence force was on standby to assist and were ready to fly as soon as they were permitted, prime minister Anthony Albanese said.

At least six people have died and hundreds more were injured after violence erupted last week after controversial electoral reforms passed in Paris. Australia has urged people to reconsider their need to travel to New Caledonia.

Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, last week. Photograph: Nicolas Job/AP

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Sarah Basford Canales

Sarah Basford Canales

Australia’s peak Jewish group urges Albanese to join Biden in condemning ICC prosecutor

Australia’s peak Jewish representative group has urged Anthony Albanese to join US president Joe Biden in condemning the international criminal court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor, who announced overnight he is seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and Israeli president, Benjamin Netanyahu, in relation to alleged war crimes in Gaza.

British ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said his office had applied to the world court’s pre-trial chamber for arrest warrants for the military and political leaders on both sides for crimes committed during Hamas’s 7 October attack and the ensuing war in Gaza.

Khan is also seeking an arrest warrant against Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Biden immediately slammed the “outrageous” announcement, saying “there is no equivalence” between Israel and Hamas and that the US “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security”.

PM Anthony Albanese would not comment on the ICC prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and Israeli president, in relation to alleged war crimes in Gaza. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

This morning Albanese would not be drawn on the issue, saying he doesn’t comment on court proceedings and is focused on the release of hostages, a permanent ceasefire and progress towards a two-state solution.

Shortly before the press conference, Alex Ryvchin, the chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, called the ICC’s announcement a “dangerous politicisation” of the international tribunal and urged Albanese to rebuke it.

It obliterates the moral and legal distinction between terrorists and democratic states who seek to confront them. This poses an unacceptable risk to political and military leaders of all states who may be drawn into armed conflict by acts of terrorism inflicted upon their people. Hamas will delight in this because it confuses the rights and wrongs of this war and signals that both sides are equally culpable. The US President was right to slam the conduct of the prosecutor and affirm support for Israel’s just and necessary war aims. We call upon our government to do likewise.


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Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Victorian premier weighs in on pro-Palestine protests at university campuses

Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, says she wants to see university students back in class.

She said while the arrangements differed from campus to campus, she had “confidence” in the response from Victoria police and universities. Allan said:

I’ve called for calm for some time now on university campuses – and indeed across our community – and I continue to call for calm. But I really do think we have reached the point where many Victorians are frustrated or fed up with some of the reckless behaviour we’ve seen. I know I certainly am.

When it comes to letting those students who want to get back to their learning, they should be allowed to get back to their learning … The right to peacefully protest is a hallmark of our democracy but violence is absolutely not. And we should not be seeing violence overseas, bringing violence to the streets of Melbourne … We need calm, we need respect, and we need to let the students who want to get back to their learning, get back to their learning.

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Melbourne. Photograph: Con Chronis/EPA

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Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

More details on Victoria’s medical cannabis driving trial

Roads minister, Melissa Horne, says she expects the trial will be completed in 18 months.

Legalise Cannabis MPs, David Ettershank and Rachel Payne, said they are incredibly disappointed in the trial’s timeline, having been guaranteed a result by the end of the year from former premier, Daniel Andrews.

Payne said in a statement:

Jacinta Allan may be on a driving track today, but I know she is intentionally ‘stalling’ on this decision. In 2023, Dan Andrews promised an answer ‘in coming months’ followed by a guarantee to have it fixed by 2024. Now, with a new Premier, it’s mid-2026 at best. She’s in the slow lane. How many times will this government betray patients when it comes just giving an answer on medical cannabis driving?

She called on the government to follow Tasmania’s lead and provide a medical defence for driving with THC in body fluids.


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Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Victoria’s ‘world-first’ trial to assess impact of medical cannabis while driving

Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, has announced plans for a “world-first” closed-circuit trial to assess the impact medical cannabis has on driving ability.

While Victoria in 2016 became the first state to approve the use of medicinal cannabis, it remains an offence for a person to drive with any trace of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis, in their system.

Allan said the budget, handed down earlier this month, provided $4.9m for the trial and legislation has passed parliament to allow people to take part. Speaking from a driver-training centre in the outer east, she said:

It will be a trial that will be undertaken under strict supervision. We were just checking out the vehicle there with the dual controls that will be one of the measures used to not just have these trials in a safe closed circuit here at METEC, but also to be able to use it to gather the evidence and the research about how people who use medicinal cannabis may be able to safely get out and drive on our roads.

Victorian premier Jacinta Allan announces closed-circuit trial to assess the impact medical cannabis has on driving ability. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

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Queensland chief health officer declares public health alert over mental wellbeing of teenagers

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

The Queensland premier has accused social media companies of “failing on every measure designed to protect our kids”.

Premier Steven Miles spoke in parliament today after Queensland’s chief health officer John Gerrard declared a public health alert over the mental wellbeing of teenagers.

Miles said findings released by Gerrard had demonstrated “a real link between unrestricted social media use and increased distress in children and teens”.

As a parent, this worries me. As I’m sure it does every person in this house.

Miles said he supported recommendations by an expert group convened by the CHO to closely monitor and limit social media access for those under 14 to encourage healthy habits.

‘As a parent, this worries me’’, premier Steven Miles says after Queensland chief health officer declares public health alert over mental wellbeing of teenagers. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

The premier said he had spoken with South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas, who has recently appointed former chief justice of the high court, Robert French, to conduct a legal examination into banning children under the age of 14 from having social media accounts.

Their government will share the outcomes of that examination with ours, to better understand how we could implement such a ban in Queensland. With the opportunities for connectivity, there must be balance … we must act now to prevent irreversible damage to the mental health of young Queenslanders.


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Telstra shares fall as investors weigh job cut plans

Jonathan Barrett

Jonathan Barrett

Shares in Telstra are trading lower early today as investors react to the company’s plan to cut 2,800 jobs, representing almost 10% of its workforce.

Pitched as a means to improve productivity, the redundancies are partly focused on the telco’s enterprise business, which services large companies and government agencies.

That division has been a weak earner, as the use of desktop phones diminish and businesses cut their communications budget due to rising costs.

Investors sent the share price down more than 2% shortly after trading opened.

Share prices often rise after a company announces a major redundancy program amid expectations productivity will improve. The price drop indicates shareholders are uncertain about what the measures mean for Telstra’s outlook.

In an announcement to Australian Stock Exchange, Telstra says it will consult with employees and union as part of changes. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

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Government receives clearance for two flights to New Caledonia

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, has confirmed the government has received clearance for two government assisted-departure flights to New Caledonia, where at least 300 Australians are stranded.

Wong wrote on X that the department of foreign affairs and trade is contacting registered Australians, and said:

Passengers are being prioritised based on need. We continue to work on further flights.


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Two men arrested after occupying roof of University of Queensland building

Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Two Australian Palestinian men have been arrested after occupying the roof of a University of Queensland building yesterday afternoon.

The 53-year-olds were part of a student encampment protest demanding the university cut ties with Boeing and the US defence department due to their ties to Israel.

Grassroots group Demilitarize UQ warned the group would escalate its response if the university did not respond. An open letter sent to UQ demanding it end its ties with foreign defence departments has received more than 1,000 signatures.

After two hours occupying the roof, supported by around 70 protestors down below, Queensland police arrived and the men came down. Protestors allege after their peaceful arrest, force was used to move protestors off the road and an individual was pepper sprayed.

One of the men, Subhi Awad, said he had watched for more than 225 days as Israel “committed atrocity after atrocity against our communities’ family and friends in Gaza and throughout Palestine, mostly affecting children”.

The government is failing in its legal obligations, and we are following Australia’s proud history of civil disobedience in the face of war crimes, human rights abuses, and injustice.

The two men have been charged with unregulated high-risk activity, Queensland police confirmed. They were both released on bail and will appear in Brisbane magistrates court on 6 June.

The University of Queensland confirmed two men have been charged with unregulated high-risk activity while part of a student encampment protest. Photograph: Bruce Miller/Alamy

A spokesperson for the University of Queensland said management had “made it clear” to camp organisers that while students and staff were free to express their views, it couldn’t extend to actions that were “unsafe, cause harm, or prevent people from going about their work or studies”.

Queensland Police responded to a dangerous situation when two people on the roof of a building refused to follow security’s direction to come down.This posed an unacceptable safety risk to those involved and we thank police for their prompt response. The university will be taking action.


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Anthony Albanese asked about ongoing migration debate

Taking his final question, the prime minister is asked about the ongoing migration debate occurring between the government and coalition.

A reporter asked: “The opposition clearly wants to have a debate on migration, which could turn pretty ugly. The country’s already had a divisive debate around the voice. Are you prepared to have this debate?”

Anthony Albanese responded:

Well, Peter Dutton always looks to divide. What I look for is to unite Australia, to unite us because, if we’re optimistic about seizing the opportunities which are before us, we can really use this decade to set us up for a generation to come …

[Dutton’s] out there saying he wants Australians to work longer for less, he’s saying that he’ll oppose the measures that we have announced for people to not be working 24 hours a day if they’re not being paid 24 hours a day. He’s announced a range of other divisive policies that don’t present a coherent way forward.

We’re addressing the migration issue. We’re addressing the housing issue. We’re addressing all of the challenges that are before Australia in a considered, orderly way. That is something that has characterised my government … That responsible policy stands in stark contrast to the waste and mismanagement and denial and delay of the former government over 10 years, including Peter Dutton, who presided over a migration number that was higher than what we are projecting going forward when he was the minister with responsibility.


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‘Need to make sure there is stability in the grid’: PM on whether Eraring power station should be extended

Amid the release of the latest Aemo report, Anthony Albanese is asked whether the NSW government should extend the life of Eraring power station?

He said it was a matter for the state government.

I had a chat with minister Sharpe just a couple of days ago. I know that they’re considering that. We need to make sure that there is stability in the grid. That is what they are doing.

The former government, of course – federal government – pretended that there were going to be new coal-fired power stations. Where are they? They were in office for almost a decade. None of it happened. They put money into the Collinsfield study to the proponents that was never, ever going to go ahead because it didn’t stack up. For the same reason now, they’re saying that nuclear reactors will stack up – but they can’t find anyone to finance them or anyone who says it will go ahead. It is a recipe for delay, and we need something better than that.


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