Bowen addresses UN Convention on Climate Change in Egypt amid efforts to develop offshore wind industry
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Speech by Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen to the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Egypt.
Australia is back as a constructive, positive, and willing climate collaborator.
One of the first acts of our incoming government was to increase our emissions reduction target to 43% by 2030 in our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), and to make that increased ambition the law of the land.
Within this decade, 82 per cent of Australia’s energy supply will be renewable. The future of energy is renewable – not just for Australia, but for the world.
And it is urgent that we accelerate the renewables transformation this decade.
Such a transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity, but mostly, it’s fundamentally necessary if we hope to have any success in mitigating climate change.
That is why it’s so important that we send the message from this COP loud and clear:
• we remain committed to last year’s determination to hold the world as close as possible to 1.5 degrees of warming
• that we must embrace a faster and more orderly transition to renewable energy.
The costs of letting these priorities fall to the wayside are too great.
Climate change is a primary economic and security challenge for our region – and an existential threat to the Blue Pacific continent.
That is why we are boosting assistance to the region with an additional $900 million to support the Pacific family’s development and resilience in dealing with the climate emergency.
And why, along with Pacific nations, we are seeking to host COP31 in 2026. Pacific voices have led this debate for decades.
Unfortunately, we know the story our region will tell if the world fails to act – from island communities fighting for their existence, to towns and cities battling ever more frequent bushfires and floods. Our co-hosting will seek to accelerate global action and harness the economic opportunities from the clean energy transition.
But while Australia increased our ambition and renewed our commitment, we know there’s more to be done.
Just as this COP is focussing on implementation, the Australian Government is focussing on real emissions reductions too – through our $20 billion transmission fund, electric vehicle tax cuts, and through policy certainty for resources and heavy industry sectors on their pathway to net zero.
Because while we talk about the risks of climate change – we also need to think about the immense economic opportunities which come with action. Australia wants to be a renewable energy superpower.
In the coming weeks I will be delivering Australia’s first Annual Climate Change Statement – a comprehensive and transparent stocktake of how are tracking against our NDCs, and how we will make further progress.
Because the urgency with which we must act requires frank conversations about where we are now, where we are going, and how we are going to get there.
Collectively, we now have 85 months to achieve our 2030 targets.
We all know this is this critical decade. This means national action. But it also means multilateral action and by every single one of our multilateral institutions.
Our international financial architecture was built for a different time.
But some of our international financial institutions are stepping up to this, our most important global task. Others are not.
Just as we commit to this agenda as individual nations, our multilateral development banks – including the World Bank – must be wholeheartedly committed to this, from their purpose to their actions.
We have a moral imperative and driving need for our institutions to work with countries across the developed and developing world. Not only to reduce emissions but respond to a changing climate and its economic impact on nations.
This will mean increasing the proportion of funding spent on climate, but also ensuring that such funding doesn’t saddle developing countries with unsustainable debt.
This fight cannot be done by one nation – all emitters past, present and future have a responsibility to act.
We need to drive an inclusive climate agenda.
Australia will join an alliance of government and private organisations to boost the offshore wind industry at COP27, leveraging the knowledge, expertise and support of nations to help establish a domestic offshore wind industry.
The Global Offshore Wind Alliance (GOWA) aims to achieve at least 380 GW of global offshore wind capacity by 2030 by building a global driving force for the uptake of offshore wind.
The alliance will share knowledge and support countries to create the building blocks for offshore wind, including framework conditions, financial de-risking and system integration.
The Albanese Government is unlocking the power of an offshore wind industry, having announced six proposed regions with world-class offshore wind potential, with more than enough capability to meet our domestic needs for cheaper, cleaner energy.
The Government has also announced $6 billion to help deliver VNI-West and unlock Victoria’s offshore wind and renewable industries, as well as helping build Marinus Link and Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation, putting downward pressure on prices across the country.
Joining GOWA will help Australia catch up to other countries with already established offshore wind industries and the huge jobs potential that comes with it. Having an offshore wind industry will create thousands of jobs every year in construction, maintenance and monitoring.
Offshore wind can deliver secure and reliable energy due to its power capacity and availability at times when solar power and onshore wind are not available, as well as support Australia’s ambition to get the grid to 82% renewable energy by 2030.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said: “Offshore wind offers exciting possibilities for Australia’s energy system and will play a pivotal role in our transition to a clean energy future and our ambition to become a renewable energy superpower.
“Australia is starting this industry from scratch and we stand to benefit from combining efforts with the Global Offshore Wind Alliance to bolster the development of this industry and the employment opportunities it will bring.
“Countries around the world have taken advantage of the jobs and energy that offshore wind can provide. It’s time for Australia to do the same.”
Will Poland explosion trigger a NATO attack on Russia?
A missile has detonated in Poland, killing two people. Will this trigger a NATO attack on Russia? Analysts say “it depends”.
“Dear friends, there is no such thing as ‘triggering’ Article 5,” says the former commander of NATO forces in Europe, retired General Ben Hodges. He was referring to a treaty clause that defines any attack on one member as an attack on all.
“It’s not automatic. There is no laser beam that opens a door like at a hotel or store if you walk through it,” he explains. “Article 5 is a political decision. In this case, Article 4 Consultations seem appropriate until we have more facts.”
Article 4 is a NATO treaty provision that requires member countries to consult when “in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any parties is threatened”.
Facts, at the moment, are thin on the ground.
Polish government officials are in crisis talks assessing the circumstances of the death of its citizens a few miles from the Ukraine border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the explosion an “attack on collective security”. “The Russian Federation takes lives wherever it can reach,” he declared.
“Today, this Russian attack on collective security in the Euro-Atlantic is a significant escalation. People died. My sincere condolences to my Polish brothers and sisters! Ukraine will always be with you. The terror of the Russian Federation must be stopped. Solidarity is our strength!”
The source of the missile or missiles is as yet unconfirmed. The explosions reportedly occurred on an electricity interconnector line linking the European Union with Ukraine. This power line runs close to Ukraine’s Dubrotvirska power plant.
“My sense is this is not an intentional Russian attack,” General Hodges added. “Either a malfunction or the results of Ukrainians shooting down a Russian missile. But a clear reminder of Russia’s reckless willingness to shoot too close to Polish/NATO/EU border.”
And, analysts say, even if Article 5 is invoked – it does not mean automatic armed conflict. The statement begins: “an attack on one is an attack on all”. However, it ends by stating that members must “assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith … such actions as it deems necessary”.
The missile strike, which unconfirmed reports suggest struck a Polish farming hamlet, came amid an all-out Russian barrage against Ukraine’s power generation assets and residential centres.
It was also timed to correspond with President Zelensky’s criticism of the Kremlin at the G20 summit in Indonesia. He also presented a 10-point proposal to begin peace talks.
The Russian missile strike, which began just an hour later, is being interpreted as a “no”, Ukrainian officials say.
“Russia responds to Zelensky’s powerful speech at G20 with a new missile attack,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of Zelensky’s staff, said. “Does anyone seriously think that the Kremlin really wants peace?”
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said yesterday that the country had experienced an unexpected lull in drone and missile attacks.
“Obviously, the enemy cannot afford to launch massive missile strikes all the time, because it experiences a shortage of these weapons,” he said. “This also applies to Iskanders and Kh-555, Kh-101 missiles, as well as Kalibr” cruise missiles.”
But it became apparent overnight that Moscow was rallying its resources to overwhelm Kyiv’s defences. More than 100 missiles were launched. This was significantly more than the previous record-setting 84-weapon assault in October.
“This is a massive missile strike,” said Ignat. “Critical infrastructure facilities are the first target. But, unfortunately, rockets also hit residential buildings.”
One person was killed when a capital residential block was hit.
But the main impact of the assault will become apparent in the coming weeks. Winter is about to settle in. And that means temperatures are regularly tumbling below freezing.
Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko has described today’s bombardment as the “most massive shelling” since the war began.
“Today, again, Russia strikes large-scale missile strikes on energy facilities. This is the most massive shelling of the energy system since the beginning of the war,” he posted to Facebook. “This attack can have an impact not only on the energy system of Ukraine, but also on the energy systems of some of our neighbours.”
He was referring to the interconnection of Ukraine’s power grid with neighbouring countries. Specifically, he was concerned about the destabilising effects of power plants suddenly being removed from the grid.
The explosions in Poland, however, came adjacent to a primary EU power connector that has helped compensate for the loss of supply from Ukraine’s damaged facilities.
“Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response,” NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said shortly after the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea last month.
He added that the effects of cyber-attacks and sabotage were sufficient to activate Article 5’s collective defence measures.
That would mean every member of the 30-nation alliance would be required to consider the attack an attack on themselves.
“We will never give up the privilege of defining exactly where the threshold for Article 5 goes. That will be a decision we make as allies taking into account the precise context,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
To start cutting gas and electricity prices, here's what the government looks likely to deliver…
Treasurer Jim Chalmers says he'll have a system in place to deal with rising energy prices by Christmas.
He can't yet tell us what it will be, because that will depend on the outcome of negotiations with gas and electricity companies, and possibly on legislation he might have to get through parliament.
But thanks to one of the treasurer's most trusted confidants, we can now piece together a pretty good picture of what lies ahead.
The head of the treasurer's department, Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy, shared his thoughts with a Senate estimates committee last week.
While Kennedy presented them as his own thoughts, Kennedy's day job is helping Chalmers work out what to do.
The first thing to note is that Kennedy, like Chalmers, doesn't like the idea of intervening in markets just because prices are high.
As he told the Senate, usually the solution to high prices "is high prices".
What he means is that usually when prices jump it's because there isn't enough of something. The high prices encourage new suppliers to get into business supplying that thing, and that forces prices down.
If that can't happen quickly enough, the high prices will encourage users of that something to switch to a substitute, as we did when cyclones hit Queensland's banana crops in 2006 and 2011. We switched to other fruits grown elsewhere.
Federal Industry Minister Ed Husic has launched a blistering attack on gas companies, accusing them of failing to take a price crisis seriously.
Interfering with high prices interferes with those adjustments. Usually.
However, at the moment, there needn't be an Australian gas shortage. Australia's east coast produces roughly three times as much gas as it uses each year.
Although most of the rest of the gas is exported in accordance with long-term contracts, an increasing amount is being exported over and above those contracts to take advantage of the temporary spike in international prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
If that gas was sold here at pre-invasion prices, there wouldn't be a shortage, and Australian prices wouldn't be up to four times what they used to be, pushing manufacturers to the brink and pushing electricity prices way beyond normal.
Xi Jinping and Anthony Albanese's meeting this week ended a years-long wait for a one-on-one between leaders
It suits both Albanese and Xi to point fingers. But Morrison wasn't the cause of Australia's problems with China
It suited both Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping to sheet home at least some of the blame for the dire state of the Australia-China relationship over recent years to Scott Morrison.
"I try to act in a mature way," the prime minister said after his meeting with the Chinese president this week. "We need to not try to score domestic political points through our international relations," he observed in an unsubtle dig at his predecessor.
Since winning the election, this has been the Albanese doctrine on China: no resiling from Australia's interests but no unnecessary antagonising of Beijing for domestic political gain.
The Chinese president was equally happy to credit Albanese for the thaw. In his brief remarks on camera, Xi noted the pledge for this new "mature" Australian approach, to which he said he attached "great importance".
In other words, Xi wants everyone to think the meeting came about because Australia changed. Not China. Xi was never going to concede that he's the one capitulating after a failed two-and-a-half-year strategy to make an example of Australia by cutting off contact and imposing trade punishments.
It's true some of the Morrison government's rhetoric on China was overly political and immature, particularly in the desperate months leading up to the May election.
There was a regular line of attack from then defence minister Peter Dutton that Labor was "soft" and would "appease" Beijing. This reached absurd levels in February when Scott Morrison accused deputy Labor leader Richard Marles of being a "Manchurian candidate" (a puppet of China).
Forbes set to break 1952 flood levels as desperate search is underway for two missing elderly Eugowra residents
A search is underway for two people missing in floodwaters in the New South Wales town of Eugowra as the nearby town of Forbes prepares for the highest flood levels seen in more than 70 years.
In the past 24 hours, the State Emergency Service (SES) received more than 900 calls for help and performed more than 200 flood rescues, with the majority of calls coming from Forbes in the state's Central West.
The entire township was evacuated on Wednesday morning as the Lachlan River, which is currently sitting at 10.6 metres, is expected to exceed the 1952 10.8m flood record.
Elsewhere in the region, emergency services are continuing the search for missing Eugowra residents Diane Smith, 60, and Ljubisa 'Les' Vugec, 85, who have not been seen since Monday morning.
Ms Smith phoned a relative from her car about 9.30am Monday and her family have been unable to be contact her since.
Mr Vugec was last spotted at his Eugowra home on Evelyn Street about 9am Monday.
Police have sent out geo-targeted text messages in the search for the pair and are pleading for any information on their whereabouts.
Ms Smith is described as being of Caucasian appearance and 160 centimetres tall with brown hair and Mr Vugec is described as being of Caucasian appearance, between 180 and 185 centimetres tall, of medium build, with grey hair and brown eyes.
Ljubisa 'Les' Vugec, 85, was last seen at him in Eugowra on Monday morning.
NSW Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said on Wednesday the worst was over for Eugowra but a massive clean-up effort was now underway.
“We need to get in and do those rapid damage assessments that is work that is led by the SES but they are well supported by other emergency services organisation," she told Sky News Australia.
“What that means is they conduct assessments on homes and make sure they’re safe for people to return to and we’re going to get that work done and that clean up underway alongside the local council.”
Ms Cooke said the focus was now turned to Forbes, with authorities keeping close watch as rising river levels creep towards a peak of 10.8m.
“The prediction as we know is for 10.8(m), which we know is equal to the 1952 record and very, very similar to what this community unfortunately experienced just a couple of weeks ago," she said.
"We are very much in response mode in Forbes at present and then we’ve got elsewhere in the Central West, with floodwaters receding we’re able to get in and start the early stages of recovery.
“We are well positioned and we will respond as best as we possibly can."
Forbes Resident John Clayton told Sky News Australia's Peter Stefanovic there was a lot of anxiety across the town as river levels are expected to peak through Wednesday.
“We woke up this morning, we had water coming in like you wouldn’t believe and with that peak yet to come it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better," he said.
“We’ve been struggling to try and keep everyone on the internet and up and running the best we can in these difficult times, so we hope and pray for the best for everyone to get out of it.
“We just need a lot of men once this is all over, it's going to be a big one."
Technology helping farmers store carbon boosted by Albanese government
Almost $30 million in grant funding has been awarded to farmers and land managers across Australia to make it easier for them to measure the amount of carbon in their soils.
Eight innovative projects will share $28.9 million in grants under the first development and demonstration grant round of the government’s $50 million National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge to accelerate the development of reliable, low-cost technologies for measuring soil organic carbon.
This funding will put producers on track to improve farm productivity and create future job opportunities.
“The Albanese Government is giving Australian farmers and land managers the help they need to reduce emissions, increase carbon sequestration and participate in carbon markets,” Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said.
“Farmers are at the front line of action on climate change. These grants will help reduce the cost of measuring soil organic carbon, helping them manage their soils and demonstrate how they are reducing emissions.”
“As well as helping reduce emissions, storing more carbon in soils improves farm productivity and helps protect against drought and erosion.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the projects would empower farmers and land managers to measure and improve their soil carbon resources, and inform sustainable practices that harness the potential of Australia’s emissions reductions.
“Through agricultural productivity, our soils contribute $63 billion per year to the Australian economy. We recognise that prioritising soil health by increasing soil carbon is integral to sustainable agriculture and the industry’s ambition to continue feeding the world,” Minister Watt said.
“Soil contributes to Australia’s climate and disaster resilience, including through carbon cycling, rainfall retention, physical stability and erosion management. That’s why we are working with farmers and land managers to ensure the sustainable use of our soil to meet the needs of today, without compromising the needs of future generations.”
Over a 2-year period, projects will develop and demonstrate innovative soil organic carbon measurement technologies across a range of Australian agricultural landscapes and production systems.
Home Affairs department 'accidentally' sent letters telling asylum seekers to leave Australia, minister says
The Home Affairs Minister has said hundreds of letters "accidentally" sent to refugees and asylum seekers telling them to get out of the country were not appropriate and were sent without her knowledge.
The letters were posted and emailed to at least 490 refugees and asylum seekers in September and October, many of whom are living in the community on bridging visas.
Many are hoping for permanent settlement in Australia, having already spent years locked up in offshore detention.
One recipient was Kurdish man Farhad Bandesh, who said he boarded a boat to Australia almost a decade ago to flee persecution in Iran.
"Settlement in Australia is not an option for you … You are expected to progress other migration options," his letter stated.
Mr Bandesh's letter included a three-week deadline to "advise the department of your third country resettlement plan".
Mr Bandesh — whose seven years in detention included stints at Christmas Island, Manus Island, the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation and hotels in Melbourne — said he was stunned when he received the letter.
"I felt trauma again, honestly, because they were trying to move me to another place," he said.
Liberals welcome Anthony Albanese meeting with Xi Jinping in Bali after six years
Former ministers shunned by China have welcomed Beijing’s renewed sense of co-operation with Canberra.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held a 32-minute formal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 on Tuesday – the first official dialogue between leaders in six years.
Mr Albanese said the bilateral relationship was an important one, but Australia “won’t resile” from its interests or values.
Mr Xi thanked Mr Albanese for handling the bilateral relations in a “mature manner” and said that the relationship was “worth cherishing” after years of difficulties.
The last prime minister to have a formal meeting with Mr Xi, Malcolm Turnbull, said while the meeting wasn’t “exactly a deep dive”, it was important.
“We should be looking forward to a more normal relationship resuming,” Mr Turnbull told ABC Radio.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton welcomed the meeting, saying the Liberal Party would always seek to provide bipartisan support to the government when it comes to international relations in the region.
“We want a normalised relationship, but China has made that very hard over recent years,” Mr Dutton told media.
Mr Dutton said he supported Mr Albanese bringing up the cases of Australian citizens Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun being “held against their will” in China and the ongoing trade sanctions harming the economy.
“We want to make sure that Australian citizens are treated according to the rule of law and that human rights are respected because at the moment, that’s not happening,” he said.
The opposition’s foreign affairs spokesman, Simon Birmingham, said there should be no expectation of “instant miracles” in the wake of the meeting, but it was a sign of future improvements.
“The ultimate test of dialogue will be the outcomes that are received if this dialogue is successful, to see breakthroughs in regard to those trade barriers … and also critically the just treatment of Australians detained in China,” Senator Birmingham told ABC Radio.
“And then, of course, challenges in terms of engagement within the region, that we must continue to argue for China to respect international law, international rules and norms.”
Mr Albanese said he had a “positive” discussion with Mr Xi about China potentially winding back its trade embargo.
“Australia’s position is very clear. I put the position clearly, firmly but politely,” he said.
Mr Albanese also asked Mr Xi to use his influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discourage him from using nuclear weapons.
The two leaders “agreed” there would be further dialogue.
Penny Wong says Australia ‘deeply concerned’ by reports Russian missiles have hit Poland
Australia has condemned Russia’s latest round of attacks, saying reports missiles had struck NATO-member Poland were “deeply concerning”.
Moscow launched one of its biggest barrages of missiles against Ukraine on Tuesday, killing at least one person and leaving half the country without power.
Capital city Kyiv was among the cities hardest hit.
Reports have emerged on Wednesday morning Australia time that missiles have also hit Poland, killing two people.
Russia has denied the allegations – but if proven to be true, it would be a significant escalation in Vladimir Putin’s war.
The latest round of attacks coincides with the last day of the G20 and follows another global condemnation of Russia.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong took to social media to call on Russia to withdraw its forces and “end its illegal, immoral war”.
“Australia stands with Ukraine in condemning Russia’s deadly missile attacks,” she said.
“Reports these missiles have also struck Polish territory are deeply concerning.”
Her Liberal counterpart, Simon Birmingham, said Russia was playing a “dangerous game”.
“This is deeply, deeply troubling news,” he told ABC Radio.
“If an accident occurs it can result in a real escalation … It shows just how dangerous a game Russia is playing.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mr Putin was “dangerous” and “reckless”.
“To see people killed in Poland now is a tragedy for them, for their families, for their country, but for their region as well,” he told Sky News.
“It just highlights the dangerous actions of President Putin, the reckless actions in his invasion into Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands by the end of this conflict will have lost their lives because of decisions he’s made.
“I hope this causes Russia to stop and reflect on the actions, and we don’t want to see an escalation of this conflict.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was “only a matter of time” before Russia’s terror regime goes beyond Poland and the Baltic States.
“It is necessary to put the terrorist in place. The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be to everyone who can be reached by Russian missiles,” he said.
“Hitting missiles on NATO territory … This is a Russian missile attack on collective security. This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”
NSW and Indonesian trade ties strengthened
Trade, investment and collaboration opportunities with Indonesia are set to be bolstered across new growth areas with the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NSW and Jakarta.
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Alister Henskens said the updated MoU strengthens the 28-year Sister State-Province agreement NSW has with Jakarta.
“Indonesia boasts an economy growing at 5 per cent per annum that has already passed $US 1 trillion and by 2030, Indonesia is projected to be the seventh largest economy in the world,” Mr Henskens said.
“There are many exciting opportunities for NSW businesses to expand into Indonesia and Jakarta is home to a growing consumer market eager for high-quality food and health products, growing infrastructure needs and a thriving technology sector.
“NSW also has world-class educational and vocational training services and with an increasing demand from Indonesia for high quality educational providers this is another growth opportunity for one of NSW’s largest exports.”
The agreement focuses on four key areas across agribusiness, food and beverage, technology, innovation and startups, tourism and education to increase collaboration to generate commercial outcomes for NSW and Indonesian businesses.
A focus of the agreement is to help increase links in tourism and education with 55 per cent of Indonesian students currently studying in Australia choosing to study in NSW.
Jakarta’s Caretaker Governor, Heru Budi Hartono, welcomes the cooperation between the two states and hopes this can create economic opportunities that benefit Jakarta’s development.
NSW floods: ‘Tsunami’ wave of water crashed into Eugowra moving entire houses with its force
Wyangala Dam spills in NSW's South West Slopes regionNovember 16, 2022
Flood-ravaged communities in the NSW Central West are sharing the horror details of a “tsunami”-like wave that crashed into their towns and carried houses into other streets.
Eugowra resident Don Taylor said the force of floodwaters that smashed into the town was “like a tsunami” and ripped homes from their foundations.
“It was basically a small tsunami of water but it had a heck of a lot of force,” Mr Taylor told the Today show.
“By the time I managed to get my gumboots on, the water was up to my thighs.”
NSW SES volunteers performed 150 flood rescues in the 24 hours after floods ripped through the town, with almost one in five residents stranded on rooftops.
Vision has emerged of entire houses that have washed up streets away from their original location, demonstrating the sheer force behind the moving water.
Young mother Jodie told A Current Affair of the terrifying moment that a “wall of water” came ploughing down the road in front of her.
“It was just like a huge 1200m wall coming straight at us,” she said.
“It was insane.”
“People (were) running everywhere.”
Jodie said she quickly jumped out of her car and ran back inside her house to escape the torrent of water, but it soon entered the home.
“The water rose that quickly,” she said.
“I always said, ‘we would never flood, ever’,” she said.
Community members reportedly conducted a headcount of the town’s 700 residents on social media once they were able to get reception.
However, there remain concerns for two people – an 85-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman – who remain missing.
Dianne Smith, 60, and Ljubisa “Les” Vugec, 85, were last heard from around 9am on Monday.
Police have issued a geo-targeted message and are searching the area.
There were more than 900 requests for assistance and 222 flood rescues in NSW in the 24 hours to Tuesday.
New protections against threats and reprisals to criminal defence lawyers
Defence lawyers will have the same criminal law protections as public justice officials against injury, detriment and threats, after new laws passed the NSW Parliament last night.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said defence lawyers play a critical role in supporting the justice system and should have the same protections as prosecutors in undertaking this work.
“Every person has the right to a fair trial, and to the presumption of innocence until found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a court,” Mr Speakman said.
“Defence lawyers support those key tenets of justice by putting the prosecution to proof. It is important that defence lawyers are free from threats, intimidation and reprisals, to uphold their duties to the court, the justice system and to their clients.
“The Crimes Amendment (Protection of Criminal Defence Lawyers) Bill 2022 passed by the Parliament will extend existing protections for public justice officials, like prosecutors, to criminal defence lawyers.”
The reforms make it an offence for a person who, without reasonable cause:
• threatens to do or cause, or does or causes, an injury or detriment to a person intending to influence a person's conduct as an Australian legal practitioner acting for a defendant in a criminal matter or in connection with criminal proceedings; or
• threatens to do or cause, or does or causes, an injury or detriment to a person on account of anything lawful done by the person as an Australian legal practitioner acting for a defendant in a criminal matter or in connection with criminal proceedings.
These offences carry a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment.