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What we know today, Sunday June 13

News

Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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Morrison isolated on climate at G7: Labor

Senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong is disappointed the prime minister failed to secure a one-on-one meeting with US President Joe Biden, saying his refusal to embrace net zero emissions by 2050 has left him isolated.

Scott Morrison did get a meeting with Mr Biden on the sidelines of the G7 leaders meeting in the UK on Saturday but was unexpectedly joined by host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Senator Wong said this was a disappointing result.

“Mr Morrison’s stubborn refusal to sign up to net zero emissions has left him isolated and left Australia isolated,” Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

“I suggest Mr Morrison reflect on whether or not his stubborn refusal to sign up to net zero emissions along with so much of the rest of the world, is really delivering for Australia and for Australians.”

The prime minister is in Cornwall as a guest of leaders from some of the world’s richest countries and will have separate talks with Mr Johnson early this week in London.

The UK is also host to a global climate change conference later this year in Glasgow.

Greens leader Adam Bandt believes the only reason why Mr Morrison was invited to the G7 meeting is so they can give him a dressing down over Australia’s inaction on climate change.

“When they sit down to discuss climate, Scott Morrison will be sitting at the kids’ table and I think part of the reason he’s been invited to this summit is so the rest of the world can give Australia a dressing down on climate,” Mr Bandt told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

He believes the European Union will hit Australia with carbon tariffs if it doesn’t pull its weight in reducing emissions and is something the US and UK could also get on board with.

He agrees with such action if it is part of the move against countries that aren’t taking significant climate action and putting a price on pollution and making their polluters pay.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan said for Australia the great concern is these carbon border adjustment mechanisms can be used as protectionist measures.

He said Australia has put forward an alterative that would see a reduction on all tariffs when it comes to environmental goods and the freeing up of the movement environmental services.

“So that means all countries can get access to the technology they need to reduce emissions and the know how and expertise to be able to use that technology,” Mr Tehan told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“We think that is a much more pro-trade approach.”

At least 12 dead in China gas explosion

A large market complex in China filled with shoppers and local residents has collapsed in on itself shortly after a loud explosion.

A gas pipe explosion in a residential community in a central Chinese city has killed 12 people and injured 138, state media CCTV reports.
One hundred-fifty people were evacuated on Sunday following the deadly accident in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province, of which 37 are critically injured.
The explosion caused a food market building to collapse at 6.30am.
Footage from CCTV showed wreckage and shattered glass covering the first floor of the collapsed building, where people were having breakfast and buying groceries when explosion happened.
People could  be seen walking in a rubble-strewn street between damaged buildings.
Hospitals in Shiyan are asking residents to donate blood, as the injured are still under emergency treatment, CCTV said.

Court threat over SA Liberal membership fight

A decision to reject or question the applications of hundreds of conservative Christians to join the Liberal party could be challenged in court.

InDaily last week revealed that Right-faction Liberal figures had been conducting a membership drive in largely Pentecostal Christian communities.

The party’s state executive in turn opted to reject the membership applications of more than 100 new members and wrote to around 400 more demanding they explain their commitment to the Liberal cause.

Senior right-faction figures told News Corp that the move was in breach of legislation governing political organisations.

“We are all shell-shocked and legal discussions are already under way,’’ one senior conservative faction head said.

Federal Liberal Senator for South Australia Alex Antic, central to the recruitment drive, declared “cancel culture has struck party headquarters”.

“The message to people of faith is clear; they want to cancel you,’’ he said.

Before any court action, conservatives will attempt to overturn the decision at a meeting of the party’s state council next Saturday.

G7 finds consensus on China approach

G7 leaders have reached consensus on the need for a shared approach to China selling exports at unfairly low prices and to human rights abuses, a senior official in the US President Joe Biden’s administration says.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the leaders of the Group of Seven world’s largest advanced economies had also agreed on the need to coordinate on supply chain resilience to ensure democracies are supporting each other.

“I would say there was unanimity in terms of a willingness to call out human rights abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms that invoke our shared values,” the official said.

“There was commitment to take action in response to what we’re seeing.”

The official said the G7 had moved far from three years ago when the final communique made no mention of China.

Under the legal structure of the World Trade Organisation, the designation of China as a “non-market economy” allows its trading partners, including the US, to use a special framework to determine whether China’s exports are being sold at unfairly low prices and, if that is found to be the case, to apply additional anti-dumping duties.

The G7 is also negotiating a massive infrastructure initiative in poorer countries, in a bid to provide a counterweight to China’s multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative dubbed the “New Silk Road.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined G7 leaders to discuss discuss health issues and the pandemic response.

McCormack rejects Biloela family home call

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has rejected federal Liberal MPs’ calls for a Tamil family detained on Christmas Island to return home to Biloela in Queensland.

Indicating a possible shift inside government on the fate of the Murugappan family, Liberal Trent Zimmerman said that while the case was “very complicated”, support for them in the Australian community was “overwhelming”.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke will consider an application in coming weeks to use his powers to give an exemption to a Tamil family detained on Christmas Island, he told ABC News on Saturday.

“This week or in the next couple of weeks, (he) will be considering an application to use his powers to give an exemption to the normal requirements,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr McCormack disagreed.

“What we don’t want to see is the boats return,” he said.

“Trent was not in parliament when some of those ships were lost at sea, some of those leaky boats were dashed up against rocks and all lives lost.”

LNP Queensland MP Ken O’Dowd, whose seat takes in Biloela, has reportedly also spoken out in favour of bringing the family home.

He called Alex Hawke on Friday morning to urge him to let them settle in Australia, telling Nine newspapers that the immigration minister agreed with him that the matter had to be resolved.

More than 500,000 people have signed a petition asking the federal government to allow the Murugappan family to return home to Biloela, Queensland.

The family’s younger daughter Tharnicaa, who turned four on Saturday, remains in a Perth hospital after being evacuated from Christmas Island for medical treatment earlier this week.

Supporters of the family believe the conditions in immigration detention may have contributed to Tharnicaa’s illness.

Unlinked Vic COVID case, low test concerns

Authorities are yet to link the latest community case of COVID-19 in Victoria to a known case, but are confident it will end up being part of the main Kappa strain outbreak.

The case, a man living in central Melbourne with his young family, is a “mystery case” until a connection is found.

Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said he was confident this link would be found, but said he was more concerned about undiscovered cases because of low testing rates.

“There may well be more out there,” he told reporters on Saturday.

He asked Victorians to make each other accountable for possible coronavirus symptoms and to encourage each other to get tested.

“Call them out in the nicest possible way,” he said.

There were just over 15,000 tests on Friday and similar numbers the day before. This is compared to 30,000 to 40,000 daily tests earlier in the outbreak.

There are now 74 active cases in the state, including returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Following a two-week lockdown that ended on Friday, Melburnians are allowed to travel up to 25km from home and meet outside in groups of up to 10 people. Masks are required indoors and outdoors and hospitality, retail and schools have reopened.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews meanwhile will return to work at the end of the month after slipping on stairs at a holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula in March.

Hong Kong push for visa scheme expansion

An exiled Hong Kong politician is calling on the federal government to offer visas to those who want to flee China’s crackdown in the city.

The Morrison government is offering a potential pathway to permanent residency for Hongkongers already in Australia.

The scheme allows visas holders in Australia to stay for five more years and a path to permanent residency.

Ted Hui, a former Democratic Party councillor who now lives in Australia, on Saturday called for the scheme to be expanded to people trying to escape Hong Kong.

“We Hong Kongers, as exiled politicians and exiles, expect more concrete actions,” Mr Hui said.

“To have lifeboat plans, because quite many young protesters and activists are in real danger of being locked up for decades, or for life, so they need a safe place to go to.”

Activist group NSW Hongkongers held rallies in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday to call for more federal government action.

A NSW Hongkongers spokesman said the current scheme doesn’t really provide clarity about what happens after the five-year waiting period.

“There are quite a lot of uncertainties, after five years and expiry, whether they can stay here more longer term or get permanent residency,” he told AAP.

NSW Hongkonger activists have taken to wearing masks to protests after being filmed and stalked, he said.

“You can just never imagine that, even in such a safe place, you still have to cover up your identity,” he said.

Concerns have been growing about the suppression of Hong Kong’s traditional freedoms after China imposed a new national security law last year.

Mr Hui said Australians should recognise that the events in Hong Kong show the truth about China.

He said no one should believe the rhetoric about the Chinese government being committed to businesses, trade and non-interference.

“It’s way deeper than just business,” Mr Hui said.

“It wants more than that, it wants to complete control.”

Space flight bidder pays $36 million

An auction for a ride into space next month alongside Jeff Bezos and his brother has ended with a winning bid of $US28 million ($A36 million).

The Amazon founder’s rocket company, Blue Origin, did not disclose the winner’s name following the live online auction.

The identity will be revealed in a couple weeks – closer to the brief up-and-down flight from West Texas on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing.

It will be the first launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket with people on board, kicking off the company’s space tourism business.

Saturday’s auction followed more than a month of online bidding that reached $4.8 million by Friday.

More than 7,500 people from 159 countries registered to bid, according to Blue Origin. More than 20 bidders – the high rollers – took part in Saturday’s auction.

The winning amount is being donated to Blue Origin’s Club for the Future, an educational effort to promote science and tech among young people.

US diver trapped in whale’s mouth survives

A lobster diver who became caught in the mouth of a humpback whale off the northeast US coast says he thought he was going to die.

Commercial diver Michael Packard, 56, said he was about 14 metres deep in the waters off Provincetown, Cape Cod, when “all of a sudden I felt this huge bump, and everything went dark”.

He told broadcaster WBZ-TV he thought he had been attacked by a shark but then realised he could not feel any teeth.

“Then I realised, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth … and he’s trying to swallow me,” Packard said after he was released from hospital on Friday.

“And I thought to myself OK, this is it – I’m finally – I’m gonna die.” His thoughts went to his wife and children.

He estimates he was in the whale’s mouth for about 30 seconds.

Then the whale surfaced, shook its head, and spat him out. He was rescued by his crewmate in their boat.

Whale expert Charles “Stormy” Mayo of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown told the Cape Cod Times such human-whale encounters are rare.

Humpbacks are not aggressive and Mayo thinks it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding on fish, likely sand eel.

Thilthorpe wonder goal clinches Crows win

Emerging Adelaide forward Riley Thilthorpe has kicked a goal over his head to allow the Crows to pinch a stunning six-point comeback win over a heartbroken St Kilda.

The Crows kicked the final seven goals on Saturday night as Thilthorpe’s quick thinking from 10 metres out put them in front for the first time in the game with a minute to go.

Adelaide went scoreless until midway through the second quarter, and trailed the Saints by as many as 36 points, but came good when it mattered to win 9.12 (66) to 8.12 (60) in Cairns.

Thilthorpe had a chance to kick his third goal and put Adelaide in front only minutes earlier but his tough set shot went out on the full.

However, the Crows kept charging to break St Kilda hearts and all but end the Saints’ chances of playing finals for the second-straight year.

Thilthorpe described kicking his miraculous matchwinner as an “awesome feeling” and his coach Matthew Nicks was equally thrilled for last year’s No.2 draft pick.

“Riley was in everything. He was fighting, not perfect, but we knew at some stage he’d get an opportunity,” Nicks said.

The early roles were reversed in the second-half as Adelaide kicked 7.6 to 1.6, with the Saints’ last goal coming two minutes into the third term.

After being dominated in the middle during the first quarter-and-a-half, Adelaide’s on-field brigade got on top with Ben Keays, Paul Seedsman and captain Rory Sloane playing crucial roles.

– with AAP and Reuters

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