Julie Bishop Called It For Australia And The World, Says Abbott; Operation Bring Them Home Underway

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Operation Bring Them Home is underway for victims of the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Alleging evidence-tampering on an industrial scale at the crash site, Abbott praised Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for “calling it for Australia and the world” at the United Nations.

Abbott

Overnight, the 15-member United Nations Security Council, including Russia, unanimously supported a resolution calling for an international investigation into the attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 last Friday. It demanded that armed groups in Ukraine allow access to the crash site and ensure that its integrity is maintained. [Read more…]


MH17 Rescue Effort Shambolic, Says Abbott; Like Putting Criminals In Charge Of A Crime Scene

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has maintained his strong rhetoric against the conduct of the recovery effort for Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, describing it as “shambolic” and akin to “putting criminals in charge of a crime scene”.

Abbott

However, Abbott stepped back from criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “He did say all the right things. I want to stress what he said was fine. The challenge now is to hold the President to his word.” [Read more…]


Still No Sign Of Missing Flight MH370; Abbott And Houston Suggest 8 Months For Ongoing Search

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and search co-ordinator Angus Houston say there is still no sign of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Abbott-Houston

At a press conference in Canberra, Abbott and Houston said the search would now enter a new underwater phase using sonar technology. They said a thorough search of the sea bed could take up to 8 months and possibly longer, depending on weather conditions. [Read more…]


Defence Minister Announces Review Of ADF Treatment Of Women

The Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, has announced that Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick will lead “an examination of the treatment of women at the Australian Defence Force Academy.”

The review will include an examination of “unhealthy drinking cultures”, the impact of social media, and a “cultural stocktake” that will look at the ADF’s codes of conduct and behaviours.

The review was announced by Smith at a press conference this afternoon. He was accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston. [Read more…]


Queensland Floods: Latest Briefings

8.35pm AEDT – At a briefing tonight, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said 1000 homes in Ipswich are now inundated although the flood has peaked there. Brisbane’s peak at 4am tomorrow will be slightly lower than expected. Chinchilla has peaked.

Anna Bligh media briefing on Queensland floodsThe death toll stands at 12, the number unaccounted for at 43. There are grave concerns for some of them and “we are despondent about finding them all.”

The Moggill ferry has broken a guide rope. A 1.5 tonne anchor will be flown in by helicopter in the morning and will be used to secure the ferry. The Island barge/boat will either be secured or scuttled. Naval divers are on their way to assist in the event of a decision to sink it.

The Floating Walkway around New Farm is at risk of disloding. It will be broken up into sections and disposed of.

115,000 properties have had the power cut off already. This is another reason to evacuate now.

Police say they have had only one case of forcible evacuation of a man with a firearm. There has only been one case of looting.

Bligh said the flood will peak at 4am tonight. Many people will find water their streets tonight and should make the decision to leave. Now is not the time for complacency.

Bligh said Brisbane residents will take up to scenes like they’ve never seen in their lives. People need to brace themselves for what they will witness. Already there are parts of Brisbane that are unrecognisable with some areas looking like inland lakes.

There will be a substantial economic impact, Bligh said. The coal industry would take several weeks, if not months, to get back to normal. Agricultural producers have been seriously affected. Cotton growers have lost their second crop in a row.

Cuts to supply lines, especially railway lines and major arterial roads, will have a major impact. Bligh said the state can recover quickly and reconstruction will be the top priority after the crisis is over.

Police have still not gathered details about the two people who have been found alive after they were swept away by flood waters.

  • Premier Anna Bligh and Police Commisioner Bob Atkinson briefing.

4.45pm AEDT

  • Listen to Qld Minister for Police and Emergency Services Neil Roberts and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson briefing.

The death toll now stands at 12. There are grave fears for 9 people and 51 are unaccounted for.

Police are aware of two people found alive after having earlier been swept away by flood waters.

The Brisbane River is now at 4.16 metres and rising, expected to peak at 5.5 metres around 4.00am. This is above 1974 levels.

Ipswich flood level is around 19 metres but still expected to rise about 20 metres.

2.30pm AEDT

  • Anna Bligh press conference.

Bligh announced the bodies of two men have been found in the Lockyer Valley.

Bligh said the number of people unaccounted for is now 66. The number fluctuates.

Chincilla is bracing for a worse flood than the one they had two weeks ago.

The river at Ipswich is 19.2 metres. Many areas of Ipswich inundated.

The Moggill ferry in Brisbane has broken one of its two ropes and may be sunk to prevent it becoming a torpedo down the river.

3585 people are located in 57 evacuation centres, 1500 of these in Ipswich.

Buses into the Brisbane CBD have stopped, although trains are running on public holiday timetable. All tolls have been cancelled on roads. Bligh said the Central Business District will look like a ghost town around now and for the next few days.

Substantial aerial support is available: 25 helicopters, 11 of them military are in use, some transmitting streaming live footage of conditions back to the emergency control room.

2.15pm AEDT

  • Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman press conference (end only).

2.00pm AEDT

  • NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and Director-General of Emergency Services Murray Kear press conference in Grafton.

11.30am AEDT

  • Premier Anna Bligh, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chief of Defence Angus Houston held a joint press conference with an overnight update on the flood situation.

Overnight the peak flood level for Ipswich has been revised downwards to 20.5 metres but this is equivalent to the 1974 peak.

The death toll now stands at 10, with 90 missing.


Eighth Australian Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

An Australian soldier has been killed in a rocket attack in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan. He is the eighth Australian casualty in Afghanistan since 2001.

The announcement was made in Canberra by the Chief of the Defence Foce, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

  • Listen to ACM Houston’s press conference (14m)

Text of media release from the Defence Department.

An Australian soldier in Afghanistan has been killed in a rocket attack whilst conducting operations in Oruzgan Province.

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Angus Houston, said the soldier was killed early yesterday evening, Australian time. [Read more…]


UN, USA, Asia: Three Pillars Of Labor’s Foreign Policy, Says Smith

The incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, has outlined the three pillars underpinning Federal Labor’s foreign policy approach.

In a statement issued today, Smith said those pillars were:

  • Our membership of the United Nations;
  • Our Alliance with the United States; and
  • Our policy of comprehensive engagement with Asia.

Smith said: “Federal Labor has consistently emphasised the need to focus our foreign policy and diplomatic efforts on Australia’s national interests within our own Asia-Pacific region. [Read more…]