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Defence minister affirms need for long-range nuclear submarines despite expense

Australia faces a looming capability gap as our ageing fleet of Collins-class submarines are retired and before a new fleet of still-hypothetical nuclear submarines is delivered.

The deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Richard Marles, is speaking to ABC Radio. He says the government doesn’t yet have an answer on the total cost of a new fleet of nuclear submarines but “we do know it’s going to be more expensive.”

However, he said the state of global affairs means “what we do need is a highly capable long-range submarine”.

As for the safety side of nuclear subs, Marles says the government is “pleased” the international atomic agency (IAEA) is satisfied for now, that Australia can operate nuclear submarines without violating commitments but says he “want[s] to make clear this is early days.”

” what absolutely matters is that if we’re handling, receiving nuclear material, which we will be.. that there is complete accountability for every single gram of that material and transparency about it as well”

@RichardMarlesMP (pt 2)

— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) September 20, 2022

Key events

France lobbies Australia over helicopters

Circling back to the ABC Radio interview with Richard Marles, who said any decision to scrap the fleet of Taipan helicopters early would be made in Australia’s best interest. Australia is reviewing whether to scrap multi-role helicopters a decade before originally planned, according to the AAP.

The French government have a stake in the Taipan’s manufacturer Airbus, and is lobbying the government not to scrap the program. Marles says his French counterpart, Sébastien Lecornu, raised the issue with him when they met in September.

Marles told reporters on Wednesday:

France, in a completely respectful way, are advocating on behalf of their defence industry and you would expect that and it’s totally appropriate.

We’ve been completely clear and upfront and honest with the French and they know that too, and I think they appreciate that.

The former Morrison government announced it would scrap the almost 50 Taipan helicopters and replace them with US Black Hawk helicopters. The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, met with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in July and Australia is hoping to host the president later in the year.

Albanese has said the government is working towards a “reset” of the relationship with France after tensions were strained when the Morrison government scrapped a $90bn submarine contract. Marles said he was confident the relationship with France was moving forward.

But the defence minister added that Australia will continue to assess all of its capabilities to ensure they’re cost effective and fit for purpose. Marles said:

We need to be making sure we have the best capability possible but it needs to provide value for money.

Marles has launched a review of Defence’s posture to determine what needs to be done to bridge capability gaps until Australia is able to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines.

The review is due to be handed down in March.

Severe weather warning for central NSW

Central NSW is bracing for further potential flooding with severe weather warnings in place, AAP reports.

The worst of the rain is expected on Wednesday, with six-hourly totals up to 70mm expected in the Central West Slopes and Plains and Riverina region.

The warning area covers a region stretching from south-west of Dubbo through Parkes to Young and out to Narranderra.

A cold front coming from South Australia is expected to move into western NSW later on Tuesday and fuel further rain. Many catchments are already experiencing ongoing flooding from previous rainfall over the last few weeks, the Bureau of Meteorology warned on Tuesday.

Major flooding is possible along the Namoi, Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers and is already occurring at Wee Waa, Warren Weir and Euabalong on Tuesday afternoon.

People in Gunnedah in the north-west of the state have already been hit with their third flood in a year, with the State Emergency Service (SES) saying water inundated five houses on the weekend when the Namoi River peaked at just over eight metres.

The SES is warning residents at risk of flooding to prepare and plan, with the ground already saturated and more heavy rain to come. The agency has begun moving resources and equipment to areas of concern, including in the Central West and further north in the New England region.

There were three more requests for flood rescues overnight on Monday, on top of 30 over the weekend.

An SES spokesperson said:

With more weather coming from Wednesday we are concerned and are reminding the community to make sensible smart decisions when travelling at the moment.

Support for republic below 50% in the SMH Resolve poll

The Nine papers have conducted their own Resolve Political Monitor poll asking Australians about their feelings towards the monarchy in the wake of the Queen’s death.

Its findings – that support for a republic has dropped to 46% – is similar to Guardian Australia’s Essential poll, released yesterday, which had support at 43%.

The SMH’s chief political correspondent, David Crowe, writes:

Voters have shifted in favour of the status quo when asked to decide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on a republic at a time of global attention on the Queen’s funeral and the transition to King Charles, shattering the narrow majority for change revealed in a similar survey in January.

The exclusive findings show that only one state, Victoria, would back a republic and would do so with a tiny majority of 50.2%, dooming a referendum to failure and repeating the rejection of the 1999 attempt to amend the Constitution.

However, the deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, told ABC Radio this morning “I don’t think we should read too much into polls into the republic in the immediate aftermath of such a historic moment as the death of Queen Elizabeth II”.

Consumer watchdog to conduct review into childcare costs

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will investigate the rising cost of childcare and out-of-pocket costs hitting family budgets, with an extra $11m commitment from the government.

The finance minister, Katy Gallagher, was on ABC News Breakfast and was asked why –as the ABC put it – the $400m a year organisation needs “an extra $11 million to confirm something we already know?”

We’re asking a lot of the ACCC at the moment. They’ve got their eyes on many different parts of the economy.

In terms of our investment in early childhood education and care, which will be flowing through soon, $5bn, we want a better understanding of some of the drivers of cost increases in childcare and making sure some of our investments are actually doing what we want them to do; to make child care more affordable for families and allowing more women – well, it’s predominantly women – to work extra hours if they want to and not be disincentivised by the childcare system as it operates now.

Having more scrutiny and better transparency about some of the drivers in cost increases would be very useful, not only for parents, but at government, when we look at how we make investments in early childhood education and care.

Asked whether the government will consider price controls, Gallagher said “I don’t want to get ahead of the work the ACCC is going to do.”

Students in school bus roll were on their way to the airport for a trip, coming from Ballarat area

We brought you the news earlier that a teenage girl and a driver were seriously injured when a school bus collided with a truck and rolled down an embankment west of Melbourne.

The crash happened near an intersection on the Western Highway at Bacchus Marsh about 3.15am, AAP reports.

A Victorian police spokeswoman has told 3AW radio station the bus was coming from a school in the Ballarat area and the students were on their way to the airport for a trip.

Hawthorn racism review will allege the club separated First Nations players from families

The ABC has this morning reported that AFL club Hawthorn’s racism review will allege the club was involved in separating First Nations players from families and demanded a pregnancy termination.

Russell Jackson writes:

Hawthorn had more than 20 First Nations players in the period of the review. Three families involved told ABC Sport about incidents in which club staff allegedly bullied and removed First Nations players from their homes and relocated them elsewhere, telling them to choose between their careers and their families.

But the gravest accusations relate to the club’s alleged intimidation tactics to separate couples at the earliest stages of pregnancies and parenthood, and the alleged demand that one player should instruct his partner to terminate a pregnancy — actions the families say created multi-generational traumas.

Vision has come through of that collision between a school bus and a truck, which sent the bus with 28 students rolling down an embankment in Bacchus Marsh north-west of Melbourne.

The truck driver and one female student suffered serious injuries while another 31 people were rushed to hospital following a terrifying truck and school bus crash.https://t.co/1ZUI0E3ZtU

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) September 20, 2022

Paul Karp

Morrison responds to latest revelations about secretive committee of one

Scott Morrison has responded through a spokesperson to revelations his cabinet subcommittee of one appears to have met hundreds of times.

Despite the cabinet office policy committee having only one permanent member (Morrison), the former prime minister now disputes this characterisation by citing other ministers who were “co-opted” onto the body (that is, had an automatic right to participate).

His spokesperson said:

The Cabinet Office Policy Committee (COPC) process succeeded the previous process for conducting ‘deep dive’ policy discussions. Ministers, officials, experts and members of parliament were co-opted to these meetings in an inclusive process, as appropriate, to participate in deep dive policy discussions to assist frame the government’s policy responses to significant issues, consider strategic policy direction and to assist in the early stages of preparing cabinet submissions, including budget submissions. Numerous meetings were held across the full spectrum of federal government policy responsibilities.

The COPC process proved very effective and practical in working though complex policy issues. The process was modelled on the NSC and ERC process, where officials and experts join these discussions to assist with discussion of policy development. The process proved far more targeted, effective and dynamic than more rigid cabinet sub-committee processes and complemented those processes where appropriate.

The deputy PM, treasurer and finance minister were standing co-options to all COPCs, with the exception of national cabinet … They were co-opted onto all meetings of any COPC – ie – an automatic participation.

Defence minister affirms need for long-range nuclear submarines despite expense

Australia faces a looming capability gap as our ageing fleet of Collins-class submarines are retired and before a new fleet of still-hypothetical nuclear submarines is delivered.

The deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Richard Marles, is speaking to ABC Radio. He says the government doesn’t yet have an answer on the total cost of a new fleet of nuclear submarines but “we do know it’s going to be more expensive.”

However, he said the state of global affairs means “what we do need is a highly capable long-range submarine”.

As for the safety side of nuclear subs, Marles says the government is “pleased” the international atomic agency (IAEA) is satisfied for now, that Australia can operate nuclear submarines without violating commitments but says he “want[s] to make clear this is early days.”

” what absolutely matters is that if we’re handling, receiving nuclear material, which we will be.. that there is complete accountability for every single gram of that material and transparency about it as well”

@RichardMarlesMP (pt 2)

— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) September 20, 2022

School bus crash in Victoria

Thirty three people are in hospital after a school bus collided with a truck north-west of Melbourne earlier this morning,

One teenage girl and a driver were seriously injured while four adults, 27 other students and the bus driver taken to hospital as a precaution.

The crash occurred near an intersection on the Western Highway at Bacchus Marsh about 3.15am, and sent the school bus rolling down an embankment.

Melbourne-bound highway lanes will remain closed for several hours as emergency services clear the scene.

The students’ parents were asked to stay away from the crash and contact Ballarat police station.

– with AAP

Police are investigating a collision between a truck and school bus in Bacchus Marsh.
One teenage girl has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.
Parents seeking info are asked not to attend the scene – pls call Ballarat police on 5336 6000.https://t.co/NqLfVq1dvr pic.twitter.com/YHqqBu2oNZ

— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) September 20, 2022

Good morning!

The former prime minister Scott Morrison is under pressure yet again as a Guardian Australia exclusive sheds new light on the secret ministries saga.

Freedom of information documents reveal Morrison’s secretive cabinet committee of one permanent member appears to have met hundreds of times in the last term of parliament.

It has sparked fresh warnings from the former senator Rex Patrick that the body was an “abuse of process”, and prompted calls to release its documents, or to expand the inquiry into Morrison’s multiple ministries, as proposed by the Greens.

Away from politics, wet weather is expected in north-east Victoria, inland New South Wales and southern Queensland, which could exacerbate flooding of inland rivers.

The worst of the rain for central NSW is expected today with six-hourly totals up to 70mm in the Central West slopes and plains and Riverina region. The area of concern stretches from south-west of Dubbo through Parkes to Young and out to Narranderra.

This morning, the finance minister, senator Katy Gallagher, has told the ABC the audit the government is carrying out will be ongoing beyond the October budget because of the deficit, but also because it is good practice.

Also today, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s deputy governor, Michele Bullock, will speak at noon in Sydney following the bleak preview presented last week by the governor, Philip Lowe.

The disability royal commission hearings continue, and Cate Campbell will address the National Press Club.

Let’s kick off!

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