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March was Australia’s third wettest on record, with rainfall nearly double the norm

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its monthly weather report, noting that rainfall last month was 86.1% above the 1961-90 yardstick it uses.

That made it the third wettest March in records going back to 1900. The spread of results, though, was great:

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March was relatively wet inland but dry in the southeast. (Via @BOM_au ) pic.twitter.com/tdowH1gC4z

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) March 31, 2024

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While the Northern Territory had its second wettest March on record and Western Australia its fourth wettest, the south-east was a lot drier than usual.

Victoria, for instance, collected only about one-fifth of the usual rain, making it the seventh-driest March for that state and the driest since 1986. It was Tasmania’s driest March since 2005.

As noted in the blog yesterday, Australia had its equal-second hottest March on record for minimum temperatures. These were 1.79C above average.

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By minumum temperatures, it was actually Australia's second hottest March on record. Temps were 1.79C above the 1961-90 average, matching 2019's March, and shy only of the 2.09C anomaly recorded in March 2016. (Via @bom_au) pic.twitter.com/dSax5CzRE8

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 1, 2024

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By minumum temperatures, it was actually Australia’s second hottest March on record. Temps were 1.79C above the 1961-90 average, matching 2019’s March, and shy only of the 2.09C anomaly recorded in March 2016. (Via @bom_au) pic.twitter.com/dSax5CzRE8

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 1, 2024

Mean temperatures – which average out minimum and maximum readings – came in at 1.11C above that 1961-90 baseline, making it the equal-tenth warmest March in records going back to 1910, the bureau said. South Australia notched its second-warmest March for mean temperatures, with average readings 2.86C above that long-run norm.

Maximums weren’t that outstanding, coming in at 0.43C above average. For Victoria, though, it was the state’s fourth-hottest March for daytime temperatures, and for SA it was the fifth warmest.

Needless to say, increasing greenhouse gas levels energises the atmosphere, raising the odds that temperatures will keep breaking heat records (far more often than cold ones) and imperil the future of vulnerable ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

The latter is now in its fifth mass bleaching event in eight years – another event that started to get attention last month.

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Updated at 01.04 EDT

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The CEO of the company behind the Fortnite app has been questioned in court on which phone he uses as part of the Epic lawsuit against Apple and Google.

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Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took the stand on Tuesday as part of the Australian case where Epic is alleging anti-competitive conduct over restrictions in the Apple and Google app stores and on in-app payments, after the app was banned from those stores for offering its own payment option.

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Sweeney confirmed to the court he owns an iPhone, and prefers the iPhone for the privacy and security benefits it offers over Google’s Android devices.

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Epic’s own payments system was referred to as a “hot fix” the company was implementing in Fortnite in 2020, called “Project Liberty”. Fortnite was kicked off the store on the day Epic activated the code.

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Sweeney told the court he was aware that Epic’s actions were in violation of the developer agreements signed with Apple and Google, and answered “yes” when asked if he knew that the actions Epic was undertaking were deceitful.

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The court has heard how Epic’s games work across a variety of platforms as part of Apple’s bid to frame its app store as in competition with a broader games market rather than just phones and apps.

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The Bureau of Meteorology has released its monthly weather report, noting that rainfall last month was 86.1% above the 1961-90 yardstick it uses.

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That made it the third wettest March in records going back to 1900. The spread of results, though, was great:

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March was relatively wet inland but dry in the southeast. (Via @BOM_au ) pic.twitter.com/tdowH1gC4z

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) March 31, 2024

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While the Northern Territory had its second wettest March on record and Western Australia its fourth wettest, the south-east was a lot drier than usual.

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Victoria, for instance, collected only about one-fifth of the usual rain, making it the seventh-driest March for that state and the driest since 1986. It was Tasmania’s driest March since 2005.

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As noted in the blog yesterday, Australia had its equal-second hottest March on record for minimum temperatures. These were 1.79C above average.

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By minumum temperatures, it was actually Australia's second hottest March on record. Temps were 1.79C above the 1961-90 average, matching 2019's March, and shy only of the 2.09C anomaly recorded in March 2016. (Via @bom_au) pic.twitter.com/dSax5CzRE8

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 1, 2024

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Mean temperatures – which average out minimum and maximum readings – came in at 1.11C above that 1961-90 baseline, making it the equal-tenth warmest March in records going back to 1910, the bureau said. South Australia notched its second-warmest March for mean temperatures, with average readings 2.86C above that long-run norm.

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Maximums weren’t that outstanding, coming in at 0.43C above average. For Victoria, though, it was the state’s fourth-hottest March for daytime temperatures, and for SA it was the fifth warmest.

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Needless to say, increasing greenhouse gas levels energises the atmosphere, raising the odds that temperatures will keep breaking heat records (far more often than cold ones) and imperil the future of vulnerable ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

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The latter is now in its fifth mass bleaching event in eight years – another event that started to get attention last month.

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The federal government has announced $5.22m in funding for 37 organisations to support communities affected by the Middle East crisis.

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In a statement from immigration minister Andrew Giles, he said the funding is part of a $25m commitment to support Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities. The statement reads:

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\n

It will assist organisations and communities to respond to the impact of the conflict and protect Australians from threats of racism, hate speech, violence, polarisation and social exclusion.

\n

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The initiatives announced today include $3.22m for 35 organisations to launch new social cohesion projects, and $2m for two organisations to deliver community programs to support Australian Palestinian and Muslim youth.

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for immigration Andrew Giles.","caption":"Minister for immigration Andrew Giles.","credit":"Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Giles said:

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The Albanese government recognises the distress many Australians are feeling with the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict and we are committed to working in partnership with affected communities to provide crucial support.

\n

Our approach supports both short and long term impacts of the conflict- enabling funding to be distributed rapidly to communities most in need while also building capacity in affected communities.

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Our priority is to provide support to those that have been impacted, and to enhance and foster community connection during these challenging times.

\n

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The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the death of an Australian aid worker in Gaza is “completely unacceptable” and “beyond any reasonable circumstances”, saying the government will call in the Israeli ambassador and contact Israel’s government.

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Albanese says the government is demanding “full accountability” over the death.

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Albanese named the aid worker as Zomi Frankcom, who was working with World Central Kitchen in Gaza.

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At a press conference in Brisbane, Albanese said Frankcom was doing “extraordinarily important work”.

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Four foreign nationals working for the food aid charity were killed in an Israeli strike in central Gaza, according to health officials in the occupied territory. The founder of the charity, World Central Kitchen (WCK), confirmed on Twitter that “several” staff members had died in an Israeli airstrike.

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Albanese said the circumstances were “completely unacceptable” and “Australia expects full accountability for the death of aid workers”.

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Those doing humanitarian work and civilians need to be provided with protection. Australia has had a very clear position of supporting a sustainable ceasefire … Australians want to see an end to this conflict.

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This news today is tragic. Dfat have also requested a call-in from the Israeli ambassador as well. We want full accountability for this, this is a tragedy that should never have occurred.

\n

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The PM said the government had contacted the Israeli government directly. He said the incident was “beyond any reasonable circumstances”.

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The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) has received legal advice that the youth curfew in Alice Springs may be unlawful.

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The curfew was imposed last week by chief minister Eva Lawler following civil unrest in the town, with anyone aged under 18 banned from going into the CBD between 6pm and 6am.

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In a statement, NTPA president Nathan Finn says he sought advice on the legality of the curfew after it was announced, and on 29 March was provided with this response:

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In my opinion the declaration is unlawful and police operating under that declaration are at risk of acting unlawfully.

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The advice referenced section 4(2) of the Emergency Management Act 2013, which says:

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This Act does not authorise a person to do, or make preparations to … put down a riot or other civil disturbance.

\n

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police commissioner Michael Murphy has defended the curfew imposed on young people in Alice Springs.","caption":"Northern Territory police commissioner Michael Murphy.","credit":"Photograph: Neve Brissenden/AAP"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Upon receiving this advice, Finn raised concerns with NT police commissioner Michael Murphy. Finn argues the curfew is “nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction and, once again, it is police who are lumped with cleaning up [the] government’s mess following years of poor law and order policy decisions”.

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Murphy has defended the curfew on ABC News Breakfast saying “if there’s a formal legal challenge, there’s a process with the court system”. He says there are three things the Act cannot be used for: “the suppression of civil disorder, armed combat, or ending a strike”, adding “we’re not using the Act for any of those”.

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The federal government has confirmed it is making inquiries into reports an Australian aid worker has been killed in a strike in Gaza.

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The prime minister Anthony Albanese told ABC radio Brisbane:

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\n

Well, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are urgently investigating these reports which are there and they are, indeed, very concerning. I’m very concerned about the loss of life that is occurring in Gaza. My government has supported a sustainable ceasefire. We have called for the release of hostages, and there have been far too many innocent lives, Palestinian and Israeli, lost during the Gaza/Hamas conflict.

\n

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Four foreign nationals have been killed in a strike in central Gaza, according to health officials in the occupied territory.

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The Hamas-run Gaza government media office reported the deaths late on Monday.

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The foreign aid workers were reportedly from Poland, the United Kingdom and Australia. The nationality of the fourth aid worker is not yet known. A Palestinian translator was also reportedly killed.

The group was working for World Central Kitchen when a convoy in which they were travelling was hit by a strike south of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, local officials say.

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Continue reading:

","elementId":"411ea7bb-151b-44e0-adfa-df7073ab6b54"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.RichLinkBlockElement","prefix":"Related: ","text":"Four foreign aid workers and Palestinian translator killed in convoy strike, Gaza health officials say ","elementId":"3aa6c46a-c81a-48b0-a759-3bba9247a3b9","role":"thumbnail","url":"https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/apr/02/israel-idf-air-strike-gaza-foreign-aid-workers-palestinian-translator-killed"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1712013860000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"19.24 EDT","blockLastUpdated":1712014189000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"19.29 EDT","blockFirstPublished":1712014084000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"19.28 EDT","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"19.28","title":"Four foreign aid workers killed in convoy strike, including Australian","contributors":[{"name":"Ben Doherty","imageUrl":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2020/06/29/Ben_Doherty.png?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=abd7f5b3ef04d350c81865799c983ae4","largeImageUrl":"https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2017/11/27/Ben_Doherty_720x600_final.png?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=ad77cc5ab55e38b496a823d980bac121"}],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 2 Apr 2024 01.23 EDT","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Mon 1 Apr 2024 15.48 EDT"},{"id":"660b371a8f082a6ebed950d1","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Poorly behaved politicians could have their pay docked under a proposed body tasked with investigating alleged misconduct, AAP reports.

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Katy Gallagher says a draft for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission has been leaked, but it would impose sanctions on politicians found to be in breach. She told ABC News Breakfast earlier:

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That’s the whole point of it. We’ve established the parliamentary workplace support service that does handle complaints … but this other body will be set up, and part of the whole purpose of this body is to look at complaints.

\n

And where complaints are substantiated, to implement sanctions against whoever that may be, whether it be an MP, senator or a staff member who works in this place (parliament).

\n

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Former sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ 2021 report called for the commission, which would have the power to impose penalties for serious breaches of workplace safety including sexual assault and bullying.

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The independent body is supposed to be up and running by October. Asked about the delay in establishing the commission, Gallagher says it hasn’t been done before:

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We’re trying to get agreement across the parliament. We’re working really well with the opposition and with the crossbench on this.

\n

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The Senate standing committee for the scrutiny of bills has criticised Labor’s deportation bill.

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The bill, which the Coalition and Greens sent to a six-week inquiry to report in budget week, threatens unlawful non-citizens with a year in prison if they refuse to cooperate in measures to facilitate their deportation.

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The Senate committee, which has three Labor senators, Raff Ciccone, Tony Sheldon and Jess Walsh, criticised mandatory minimum sentences. It says:

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While the committee acknowledges that the penalty and minimum sentence are intended to reflect the seriousness of the offence and act as deterrents, the committee reiterates its longstanding view that the use of mandatory minimum sentences impedes judicial discretion.

\n

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The immigration minister would be able to write regulations adding visa classes to the list that can receive orders. The committee took a dim view of this:

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The committee is of the view that the ability to expand the scope of people that may be subject to removal pathway directions is a significant matter that would more appropriately be dealt with by way of primary rather than delegated legislation.

\n

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senator Tony Sheldon.","caption":"Labor senator Tony Sheldon is on the Senate standing committee for the scrutiny of bills.","credit":"Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

It also criticises powers for the immigration minister to reverse a protection finding:

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[This is] clearly a significant and rights affecting matter and it is not clear to the committee why such a power is necessary as it has not been fully explained in the explanatory memorandum. It is also unclear to the committee whether any procedural fairness protections apply in relation to any decisions made by the minister to overturn an existing protection decision.

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Finance minister Katy Gallagher has this morning responded to some of the criticism, which we covered in the blog here.

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The state agency commander of the Victorian SES, David Baker, has been on ABC News Breakfast this morning providing the latest on the weather in Victoria.

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As we reported earlier, almost 500 requests for help were made to emergency services as heavy rain, thunderstorms and winds lashed the state on Monday and overnight.

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Baker says that number has grown, with crews responding to over 510 requests for assistance around Melbourne and the outer metropolitan region, into South Gippsland and some of the closer western districts, and Geelong.

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Most of the jobs have been water through ceilings, Baker says, but there were four rescues from cars in water.

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He says it has been the wettest day in Melbourne since around 5 March, 2020:

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Let’s get … through today and just stay safe until we’re through to clear skies, and hopefully settled weather later on in the week.

\n

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Almost 500 requests for help were made to emergency services as thunderstorms, damaging winds and heavy rain pummelled Victoria, AAP reports.

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There have been close to 250 reports of building damage and 110 flood-related incidents across the state in the 24 hours to 7am, the SES said.

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Some 63 call-outs related to trees down on roads during the wild storm.

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The suburbs of Melton, Altona and Point Cook in Melbourne’s west are among the areas hardest hit, along with Lara near Geelong and Horsham in the state’s west.

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A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and damaging wind gusts remains in place for much of Victoria’s east stretching from parts of Melbourne down to southern Gippsland and the High Country (more details on this earlier in the blog here).

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Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG was halted for about 40 minutes on Monday night because of lightning.","caption":"The Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG was halted for about 40 minutes on Monday night because of lightning.","credit":"Photograph: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/Getty Images"}}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1712005706000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"17.08 EDT","blockLastUpdated":1712007917000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"17.45 EDT","blockFirstPublished":1712006078000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"17.14 EDT","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"17.14","title":"Hundreds of calls for help as storms hit Victoria","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 2 Apr 2024 01.23 EDT","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Mon 1 Apr 2024 15.48 EDT"},{"id":"660b20f88f08cfe8870d4cf5","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

As Guardian Australia flagged two weeks ago, a Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft will return to Australia this week after a six-month deployment.

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According to a statement from Defence, the E-7A aircraft supported the multinational effort to provide early warning for potential threats from Russia outside of Ukraine:

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​In providing a rapid response option, the E-7A Wedgetail contingent flew around 250 hours, with missions averaging five hours in the air. Up to 100 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in support of the E-7A’s mission.

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Defence says Australia’s military assistance to Ukraine will continue under the expanded training element of Operation Kudu, which comprises up to 90 personnel providing vital training to Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel in the UK throughout 2024.

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Aviation firefighters will walk off the job amid revelations many of the nation’s airports are ill-equipped to handle emergencies, AAP reports.

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Leaked risk assessments carried out by Airservices Australia reveal travellers at 13 airports including Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide airports, were found to be at extreme risk if there was a fire or aircraft incident because of a lack of firefighting resources.

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Travellers at 14 other airports including Sydney, Canberra and Hobart were deemed to be at a “high risk”.

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The leaked internal documents were revealed by the United Firefighters Union of Australia, which has warned that its members will conduct a four-hour strike from 6am on 15 April because of their concerns for the public’s safety.

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Risk assessments were carried out between 2021 and 2022, but the union believes the problems remain to this day.

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planes at an airport.","caption":"An Airservices Australia risk assessment found Sydney Airport ill-equipped to handle an emergency.","credit":"Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Union secretary Wes Garrett says Airservices Australia knew about the risk to travellers for two years, given the internal documents, but has publicly denied there are aviation firefighting shortages at airports.

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These leaked documents confirm that Australia’s air travellers face a dire risk every time they set foot on an aircraft in Australia.

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Clearly, this significant and ongoing risk to all Australian air travellers is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.

\n

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The documents show the risk assessments evaluate the minimum number of firefighting staff required to manage worst-case scenarios with four categories of risk: low, medium, high and extreme.

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The union is calling for changes to the enterprise agreement with Airservices to include new clauses, including minimum staffing requirements, set work hours and rostering, and changes to meet work health and safety regulations.

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A 58-year-old woman has had a lucky escape after falling into a flooded stormwater drain in Victoria on Monday night.

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According to Victoria police, the Daylesford woman fell down an embankment and into a Raglan Street drain at about 8.50pm:

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She was carried some distance in the fast-flowing water before coming to a stop in a culvert and managing to grab hold of a metal pole.

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With water reaching her neck, she cried out for help but wasn’t heard over the roar of the water.

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Miraculously, the woman was able to fight against the force of the water and climb up the embankment to safety.

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She walked to a nearby friend’s house where she was treated for only minor cuts and bruises.

\n

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Sticking with Victorian weather, and the Bureau of Meteorology has issued two warnings:

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A gale force wind warning has been issued for the Central Coast, Central Gippsland Coast and East Gippsland Coast. A strong wind warning was also issued for Port Phillip, Western Port, Gippsland Lakes and West Coast.

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Both warnings were issued around 5am and will last until midnight tomorrow.

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Meanwhile, a severe weather warning for heavy rain and damaging winds has been issued for people in the North East and parts of Central, East Gippsland, Northern Country, North Central and West and South Gippsland Forecast Districts.

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The Bureau said heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding as thunderstorms and rain hit western and central parts of the warning area this evening.

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Six-hourly rainfall totals between 30 to 50mm are likely, with isolated falls of 70mm to 80mm possible.

\n

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The highest rainfall since 9am on Monday include:

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    \n

  • 75mm at Ferny Creek

  • \n

  • 68mm at Malmsbury

  • \n

  • 68mm at Avalon Station

  • \n

  • 64mm at Scoresby

  • \n

  • 64mm at Pound Creek

  • \n

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Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG was halted for about 40 minutes last night because of lightning.","caption":"The Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG was halted for about 40 minutes on Monday night because of lightning.","credit":"Photograph: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/Getty Images"}}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1712002858000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"16.20 EDT","blockLastUpdated":1712004725000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"16.52 EDT","blockFirstPublished":1712003332000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"16.28 EDT","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"16.28","title":"Flash flooding possible in western and central areas of Victoria this evening","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 2 Apr 2024 01.23 EDT","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Mon 1 Apr 2024 15.48 EDT"},{"id":"660b13068f0831dce221b8c2","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

And happy Tuesday! Many thanks to Martin for kicking things off. I’m Emily Wind, and I’ll be with you on the Australia news live blog today.

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As always, if you see something that needs attention you can get in touch with me via X, @emilywindwrites, or send me an email: emily.wind@theguardian.com.

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With that, let’s get started.

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Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be bringing you the top overnight stories before Emily Wind takes the reins.

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Could Australia come to be seen by its Aukus partners as a “radioactive terra nullius”? That’s how some anti-nuclear campaigners have framed concerns that the US and UK could dump waste here – claims the government rejects as fear mongering. Australia could become a “poison portal” for international radioactive waste under the Aukus deal, a parliamentary inquiry into nuclear safety legislation has heard. The new laws would pave the way for waste from the nuclear subs to be stored in Australia but, with the US and UK struggling to deal with their own waste, campaigners fear Australia will be obliged to pick up the pieces.

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Property prices set a record high for a fifth consecutive month in March with the index compiled by CoreLogic showing a rise of 0.6%. Median home prices were $772,730, rebounding just over 10% since its most recent low. A separate index run by PropTrack produced similar results. National home prices were 0.34% higher in March to be up 6.79% from a year earlier, also a fresh peak. There’ll be more focus on this as the day goes on with Reserve Bank assistant governor Christopher Kent making a speech at Bloomberg’s offices in Sydney, while RBA minutes released at 11.30am will potentially shed more light on the next move in interest rates.

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South-east Australia is in for a drenching in the next few days as the storm front that has lashed Victoria since yesterday afternoon moves north. Melbourne recorded its driest March ever but Monday’s downpour started the job of refilling reservoirs as many parts of the state saw thunderstorm warnings for more heavy rainfall, damaging wind gusts and large hail. The Geelong and Hawthorn AFL match at the MCG on Monday night was halted for about 40 minutes because of lightning, with players taken from the field and spectators urged to seek shelter.

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The federal government has proposed a more standardised set of criteria and resources for diagnosing and assessing autism, as part of a new national strategy released in draft form today.

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Social services minister Amanda Rishworth has given a first look at the National Autism Strategy, proposing updates in “a number of key reform areas including healthcare, education and employment”.

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for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.","caption":"The minister for social services, Amanda Rishworth, is overseeing the national strategy for autism diagnosis and treatment.","credit":"Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP"}},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

“The national autism strategy fosters inclusion and acceptance throughout Australian communities, recognising autistic strengths and the power of individual diversity and capacity,” Rishworth says in a statement.

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One key recommendation is for the federal government to “work with states and territories to improve service integration between the NDIS, foundational supports and mainstream services”.

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The NDIS is not heavily mentioned in the report; it’s understood this is because of feedback stressing the importance of the “mainstream” support services outside the NDIS. Another commitment is for the government to “explore ways to improve access to primary care, including through the Medicare benefits schedule”.

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Purcell says there is “little doubt” an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) strike led to the deaths of the aid workers.

By the Israeli accounts reported in media, there seems to be little doubt it was Israeli Defence Force strike to what we know is the World Central Kitchen that was assisting people in northern Gaza with the permission of the Israeli Defence Force.

The aid they had been bringing was coming vetted by the Israelis from Cyprus and travelling up through into northern Gaza. It seems to be part of a larger pattern unfortunately though, that humanitarian workers have been targeted … the Israeli Defence Force was aware they were operating in the area.

In a statement provided to Guardian Australia’s Ben Doherty, a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces said it was conducting a “thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident”.

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Updated at 01.23 EDT

Council for International Development CEO decries alleged use of ‘deliberate starving’ in Gaza

CEO of the Australian Council for International Development Marc Purcell is appearing on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing now following the deaths of four foreign aid workers and a Palestinian translator in an alleged Israeli strike in Gaza.

Purcell says it’s right the prime minister has called for accountability over Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom’s death, while urging the commonwealth to go further.

The denial of food aid is what appears to be a deliberate tactic in the war by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Insufficient aid has been allowed in for many months now by the IDF with the result that people … are at the risk of starving to death … Australia is a government that upholds the rule of law internationally and what we’re seeing is systemic undermining of the rule of law in the conflict in Gaza by the denial of humanitarian assistance getting through.

What is shocking in 2024 is the deliberate use of starving populations as a target of warfare.

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Updated at 01.22 EDT

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

BoM sees El Niñonear its end’, notes others’ predictions of a La Niña later in 2024

The Bureau of Meteorology has held off declaring the El Niño event is over although it is “near its end”.

The fortnightly update of the main climate drivers around Australia said conditions in the central tropical Pacific where El Niños – and their counterparts, La Niñas – develop are likely to return to neutral conditions later in the autumn.

The El Niño has been weakening steadily since December but conditions remain above the BoM’s threshold for such an event.

The bureau’s Access model is one of the more conservative when it comes to predicting what comes next. Four of the seven main international models predict a La Niña will develop by (our) late winter.

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@Bom_au says El Nino continues to &quot;near its end&quot;, with conditions returning to neutral later in the autumn. Its main model, along with France's, continues to query whether a La Nina is on the way. Other agencies mostly expect one later in the year. pic.twitter.com/xWnjASs7r5

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 2, 2024

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@Bom_au says El Nino continues to “near its end”, with conditions returning to neutral later in the autumn. Its main model, along with France’s, continues to query whether a La Nina is on the way. Other agencies mostly expect one later in the year. pic.twitter.com/xWnjASs7r5

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 2, 2024

As mentioned in an earlier post today, a so-called predictability barrier makes forecasts at this time of year more difficult than during other seasons. In other words, don’t bank on a La Niña returning just yet.

Apart from the annual prediction issues around about now, there’s also the record global sea-surface temperatures to contend with. As the bureau notes, those temperatures have been running at record levels since April 2023.

“The global pattern of warmth is affecting the typical historical global pattern of sea surface temperatures associated with [El Niño Southern Oscillation] variability,” the bureau said.

As the current global ocean conditions have not been observed before, inferences of how ENSO may develop in 2024 that are based on past events may not be reliable.

Those unprecedented conditions might contain a few surprises – will they be nasty ones?

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Updated at 01.09 EDT

Body believed to be that of missing fisher recovered in WA

The body believed to be that of a fisher who went missing in the coastal Esperance area in Western Australia has been found, police have confirmed.

In a statement, WA police said officers and SES personnel were attempting to recover a body, believed to be the missing 36-year-old man.

The body is in an extremely difficult position within a rock formation off the coast of Cape Arid. The family of the fisherman have been advised.

Police received reports around 2.20pm on Saturday that the man had slipped off the rocks into water at Cape Arid, near the mouth of Thomas River.

He was with a family member at the time of the incident and had not been seen since.

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Updated at 24.53 EDT

Epic CEO appears in court as part of lawsuit against Apple and Google

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

The CEO of the company behind the Fortnite app has been questioned in court on which phone he uses as part of the Epic lawsuit against Apple and Google.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took the stand on Tuesday as part of the Australian case where Epic is alleging anti-competitive conduct over restrictions in the Apple and Google app stores and on in-app payments, after the app was banned from those stores for offering its own payment option.

Sweeney confirmed to the court he owns an iPhone, and prefers the iPhone for the privacy and security benefits it offers over Google’s Android devices.

Epic’s own payments system was referred to as a “hot fix” the company was implementing in Fortnite in 2020, called “Project Liberty”. Fortnite was kicked off the store on the day Epic activated the code.

Sweeney told the court he was aware that Epic’s actions were in violation of the developer agreements signed with Apple and Google, and answered “yes” when asked if he knew that the actions Epic was undertaking were deceitful.

The court has heard how Epic’s games work across a variety of platforms as part of Apple’s bid to frame its app store as in competition with a broader games market rather than just phones and apps.

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Updated at 24.48 EDT

Teenagers denied bail after alleged car theft in NSW

Two teenagers have been refused bail after the alleged theft of two cars in the New South Wales west over the Easter weekend.

About 1.30am on Friday, entry was forced into a home in Orange where keys and a Ford Ranger were allegedly stolen by a group of youths. An hour later, they allegedly returned and stole a Holden Acadia.

Later that morning, police attempted to stop the cars after seeing them on Orange’s Bathurst Street. When the teenagers allegedly failed to stop, a pursuit began but was halted short time later due to losing sight.

The cars were later located abandoned and were seized for forensic examination.

Following inquiries, a 17-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy were arrested and taken to Orange police station.

The pair appeared at a children’s court on Sunday where they were formally refused bail to appear at another children’s court next Monday.

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Updated at 24.32 EDT

Bureau releases weekly rainfall report

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its latest weekly rainfall report, as tropical moisture brought a pummelling down on parts of the nation.

The series of troughs moved across Queensland, the NT, northern South Australia and north-west New South Wales over the past seven days and generated widespread rainfall.

Weekly totals of up to 200mm were recorded in isolated pockets of the Top End, eastern parts of the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland, exceeding 300mm in coastal areas of Queensland’s north tropical coast and Tablelands district.

The highest weekly rainfall total was 308mm at Menavale alert weather station in Queensland, which usually averages around 130mm in April.

The highest daily rainfall total during the week was 131mm at Mt Sophia, south of Cairns.

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Updated at 24.19 EDT

Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Caitlin Cassidy will be here to guide you through the rest of today’s coverage. Take care.

Lisa Cox

Lisa Cox

Continued from last post:

Greens and independent MPs have also expressed alarm about the proposal to allow states and territory governments to make decisions under the water trigger.

The Greens environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said it would be a step backwards for environmental protections months after the party negotiated a deal with the government that expanded the water trigger to all forms of unconventional gas. She said decisions under the trigger should not be entrusted to state and territory governments:

It’s alarming that the Labor government is considering weakening environment law for big gas projects by enabling states to dodge the recently legislated ‘water trigger’. Polluting fossil fuel projects must be assessed under the strictest of laws – enforced and upheld in the national interest.

The independent MP for Mackellar, Sophie Scamps, who led a push in the lower house to expand the water trigger last year has also raised concerns:

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Yet another eg of the Govt’s duplicity -passing laws to strengthen environmental protections or act on climate change -only to swiftly create a back door around it

eg CCS sea dumping bill created to skirt new Safeguard Mech to permit gas expansion #auspol https://t.co/IwgvbSKiUw

&mdash; Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) April 1, 2024

"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false}”>

Yet another eg of the Govt’s duplicity -passing laws to strengthen environmental protections or act on climate change -only to swiftly create a back door around it

eg CCS sea dumping bill created to skirt new Safeguard Mech to permit gas expansion #auspol https://t.co/IwgvbSKiUw

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) April 1, 2024

Under the proposal, any state and territory would first have to become accredited to make decisions under national laws and they would be monitored for their compliance with proposed new national environmental standards. The environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek, has said she was proud to legislate last year for all forms of unconventional gas to be captured by the water trigger and said the government would still retain “oversight” of any accredited states and territories.

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Updated at 24.01 EDT

Lisa Cox

Lisa Cox

Traditional owners in Beetaloo Basin raise concerns over draft laws

Traditional owners in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory have raised concerns about an Albanese government proposal that would allow state and territory governments to make decisions under the federal water trigger.

Guardian Australia reported this morning that draft national environment laws would allow state and territory governments to make decisions about major coal mining and unconventional gas projects where they affect water resources. Currently it is the federal government that has this responsibility.

It comes just four months after the federal government expanded the water trigger so that it would apply to all forms of unconventional gas, including the shale gas found in the Beetaloo Basin.

Djingili elder and chair of the Nurrdalinji Native Title Corporation, Samuel Sandy, said traditional owners with concerns about fracking in the Beetaloo Basin were alarmed by the new proposal:

We were very relieved when the federal government made new powers last year to look closely at how fracking companies use water and the potential risks. Once water is lost or contaminated, it’s never going to be put right.

The federal government shouldn’t pass on this responsibility to the NT government. It should carry it itself. We don’t want another Murray Darling disaster, with our iconic Daly and Roper rivers drained out or our underground aquifers damaged.

The Little Roper river near Mataranka Mataranka, Northern Territory. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
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Updated at 23.59 EDT

Marine search under way for fisher missing off Esperance coast

Western Australia police have launched a search for a missing fisher in the coastal Esperance area.

Police received reports around 2.20pm on Saturday that the missing 36-year-old man had slipped off the rocks into water at Cape Arid, near the mouth of Thomas River.

The man was with a family member at the time of the incident and has not been seen since.

Police said a number of resources including vessels, jet-skis and air assets are currently searching the surrounding area, with SES assisting on foot at nearby beaches.

The search will remain ongoing throughout the day. Further information will be provided when available.

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Updated at 01.20 EDT

March was Australia’s third wettest on record, with rainfall nearly double the norm

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its monthly weather report, noting that rainfall last month was 86.1% above the 1961-90 yardstick it uses.

That made it the third wettest March in records going back to 1900. The spread of results, though, was great:

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March was relatively wet inland but dry in the southeast. (Via @BOM_au ) pic.twitter.com/tdowH1gC4z

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) March 31, 2024

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While the Northern Territory had its second wettest March on record and Western Australia its fourth wettest, the south-east was a lot drier than usual.

Victoria, for instance, collected only about one-fifth of the usual rain, making it the seventh-driest March for that state and the driest since 1986. It was Tasmania’s driest March since 2005.

As noted in the blog yesterday, Australia had its equal-second hottest March on record for minimum temperatures. These were 1.79C above average.

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By minumum temperatures, it was actually Australia's second hottest March on record. Temps were 1.79C above the 1961-90 average, matching 2019's March, and shy only of the 2.09C anomaly recorded in March 2016. (Via @bom_au) pic.twitter.com/dSax5CzRE8

&mdash; @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 1, 2024

"}}” config=”{"renderingTarget":"Web","darkModeAvailable":false}”>

By minumum temperatures, it was actually Australia’s second hottest March on record. Temps were 1.79C above the 1961-90 average, matching 2019’s March, and shy only of the 2.09C anomaly recorded in March 2016. (Via @bom_au) pic.twitter.com/dSax5CzRE8

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) April 1, 2024

Mean temperatures – which average out minimum and maximum readings – came in at 1.11C above that 1961-90 baseline, making it the equal-tenth warmest March in records going back to 1910, the bureau said. South Australia notched its second-warmest March for mean temperatures, with average readings 2.86C above that long-run norm.

Maximums weren’t that outstanding, coming in at 0.43C above average. For Victoria, though, it was the state’s fourth-hottest March for daytime temperatures, and for SA it was the fifth warmest.

Needless to say, increasing greenhouse gas levels energises the atmosphere, raising the odds that temperatures will keep breaking heat records (far more often than cold ones) and imperil the future of vulnerable ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

The latter is now in its fifth mass bleaching event in eight years – another event that started to get attention last month.

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Updated at 01.04 EDT

Killing of Australian aid worker in Gaza ‘tragic and preventable’: Australian Council for International Development

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for the aid and humanitarian agencies, has expressed its deepest condolences to the family of killed Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom.

The prime minister Anthony Albanese said the government is demanding “full accountability” over Frankcom’s death, who was working with World Central Kitchen in Gaza when she was killed in an Israeli strike (more details here).

ACFID chief executive Marc Purcell said in a statement:

Humanitarian workers in conflict zones should be ensured safety by combatants to carry out life-saving responses. Time and time again during this conflict we have seen Israeli forces demonstrate disregard for the safety of humanitarian workers with tragic results, with at least 196 aid workers killed to date …

We call on the Australian government to urge the Israeli government to cease attacks on aid convoys and to allow for the safe land passage of humanitarian assistance. Further, Australia should protest in the strongest possible terms the starvation of civilians. Starving civilians is a breach of the laws of war, international law and common decency.

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Updated at 23.39 EDT

Government announces $5.22m funding for communities affected by Middle East crisis

The federal government has announced $5.22m in funding for 37 organisations to support communities affected by the Middle East crisis.

In a statement from immigration minister Andrew Giles, he said the funding is part of a $25m commitment to support Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities. The statement reads:

It will assist organisations and communities to respond to the impact of the conflict and protect Australians from threats of racism, hate speech, violence, polarisation and social exclusion.

The initiatives announced today include $3.22m for 35 organisations to launch new social cohesion projects, and $2m for two organisations to deliver community programs to support Australian Palestinian and Muslim youth.

Minister for immigration Andrew Giles. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Giles said:

The Albanese government recognises the distress many Australians are feeling with the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict and we are committed to working in partnership with affected communities to provide crucial support.

Our approach supports both short and long term impacts of the conflict- enabling funding to be distributed rapidly to communities most in need while also building capacity in affected communities.

Our priority is to provide support to those that have been impacted, and to enhance and foster community connection during these challenging times.

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Updated at 23.30 EDT

Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Private provider fined for advertising non-registered education courses

A private provider has been fined $20,000 for advertising non-registered vocational education and training courses.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) welcomed the verdict for breaching the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act.

Following a guilty plea, the Downing Centre local court convicted and fined Qualify Me! Pty Ltd for advertising 187 vocational education and training courses in 2022 without including details of the registered training organisation (RTO) that would issue a VET qualification or statement.

ASQA CEO Saxon Rice said the prosecution should serve as a warning to dodgy providers. ASQA’s VET tip-off line has received more than 1,000 tip-offs since launching last October:

These third-party organisations must accurately and honestly represent those courses in all marketing and enrolment activities – to ensure students’ best interests are protected and they can make an informed choice.

Under amendments to the act, penalties for breaches have increased five-fold to deter providers that saw penalties as a cost of doing business.

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Updated at 23.19 EDT

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Health minister warns of ‘vaccine fatigue’ ahead of early flu season

The Victorian health minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, says the state is facing an early flu season and has urged people to get vaccinated. Speaking alongside the premier on Tuesday, she said:

We’re expecting an early flu season and flu vaccines have just become available, so I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage all Victorians to get their flu vax … Anyone that’s ever had the flu can tell you it’s a very debilitating, dangerous disease. So it’s important that we continue to send a strong message that our flu vaccines are safe and reliable and accessible.

Victorian health minister Mary-Anne Thomas. Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

She said there was evidence of “vaccine fatigue across a range of vaccines”, which is a concern:

I think it’s important that [and] we continue to encourage our Victorians to access vaccines, particularly for seasonal illnesses like the flu because they are safe and effective. Unfortunately, we live in an age where there is a lot of misinformation available, and that sometimes gets in the way of people’s best judgment. So talk to your general practitioner, talk to your pharmacist. If you have any concerns, they will talk you through the efficacy of the flu vaccine, and indeed other vaccines that continue to be available, including Covid vaccine.

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Updated at 23.11 EDT

NSW police condemn ‘irresponsible’ minority on roads over Easter weekend

Eight lives were lost on New South Wales roads over the Easter long weekend, police have confirmed.

During the ramped-up police operation, 5,709 speed infringements were issued, 295 people were charged with drink driving and 863 people tested positive to drug tests.

Assistant commissioner Brett McFadden said the state couldn’t accept the “irresponsible behaviour” of a minority.

It is time we as a collective worked together to end this carnage on our roads.

Among infringements were a Toyota Corolla detected travelling at 188km/h in a 110km/h zone on the Hume Highway near Bowning and a 15-year-old recorded doing 150km/h in a 50km/h zone in Orange.

In Victoria, three lives were lost over the same period, including two separate motorbike accidents in Oakleigh South and Gordon.

More than 8,000 traffic offences were detected across Victoria over the Easter long weekend, including almost 4,000 Victorians caught speeding and 378 impaired drivers taken off the roads for getting behind the wheel with alcohol and/or drugs in their system.

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Updated at 23.03 EDT

Elias Visontay

Elias Visontay

Qantas plane to re-enter service after previous engine issue

A regional Qantas plane is set to re-enter service on Wednesday after an engine issue forced pilots to turn around shortly after take off and land at Lord Howe Island.

On Friday afternoon, the 27-year-old 36-seat Dash-8 Q200 turboprop plane experienced an issue with one of its engines as it took off from Lord Howe Island bound for Sydney.

A Qantas spokesperson said:

The pilots followed standard procedure, shut down the engine and landed safely back at Lord Howe Island without incident.

Engine shutdowns are rare but aircraft are designed to operate safely with one engine, and our pilots are highly trained to manage this … We know this may have been unsettling for our customers on board and we thank them for their cooperation.

The regional Qantas plane is set to re-enter service on Wednesday. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

The plane made a priority landing back at Lord Howe Island, and passengers disembarked normally. Customers were provided with overnight accommodation and re-accommodated on flights over the weekend. The Dash-8 is expected to return to service on Wednesday.

The incident followed another Qantas flight – a much larger Airbus A330 – from Melbourne to Perth last week, where an engine issue also forced pilots into shutting down of the engines mid-flight.

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Updated at 23.12 EDT

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