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Andrews defends renaming of Maroondah hospital to honour Queen

Adeshola Ore

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has defended the renaming of the Maroondah hospital to honour the Queen following opposition from Indigenous groups and leaders about the scrapping of the Aboriginal language name.

In a pre-election pledge, the Andrews government on Sunday vowed to rebuild the hospital in Melbourne’s east at a cost of more than $1bn and rename it to pay tribute to the Queen. But the renaming has sparked backlash from some Indigenous groups and leaders.

‘Maroondah’ is a Woiwurrung word that means ‘throwing’ and ‘Maroon’ means ‘leaves’.

What is Labor thinking changing the name of a hospital from an Aboriginal word to the name of a foreign monarch representing colonisation?

This is not what decolonisation looks like.

— Samantha Ratnam – Leader of the Victorian Greens (@SamanthaRatnam) September 19, 2022

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Andrews said the entire council area used the Aboriginal name “Maroondah”:

I think it’s a fitting tribute to someone, in Queen Elizabeth II, who was a great supporter of our health system and a great supporter of healthcare.

The announcement came after Victoria’s opposition promised a $400m upgrade to Maroondah hospital if it won the election in November.

Andrews and deputy premier Jacinta Allan on Monday announced that the state government would remove eight additional level crossings in the marginal electorate of Brunswick in a bid to ease traffic congestion and improve road safety. The inner-city electorate is currently held by the Greens on a 2% margin, following the redistribution of electorate boundaries.

Maroondah Hospital is the only hospital I can think of in Victoria with an Aboriginal name. Inclusive healthcare starts from the signage on.

The funding and expansion is much needed, but I hope such a beloved and inclusive name can remain. https://t.co/afVOY9eNea

— Dr Neela Janakiramanan (@NeelaJan) September 18, 2022

Key events

Public transport mask dodgers cop fines

More than 100 fines have been issued on Victorian public transport and in excess of 181,000 warnings given as part of a COVID-19 mask compliance crackdown so far this September, AAP reports.

Under Victoria’s pandemic orders, public transport passengers must wear a fitted face mask covering their nose and mouth unless they have a valid exemption.

The fine for failing or refusing to wear a fitted mask on public transport is $100 for an adult. A government spokesperson said:

Our focus remains on educating Victorians rather than handing out fines, which is why we’ve given out almost 160,000 masks to passengers on public transport.

With an increase in cases over the winter period, public transport operators are continuing to ensure mask compliance and additional masks have been made available to customers travelling on our public transport network.

Recorded announcements reminding passengers to use a mask have been in place since December 2020. It is still mandatory to wear a face mask on public transport in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT and South Australia.

On Sunday, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said while Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations had dropped, people should remain vigilant.

In a series of tweets, Sutton said new variants were causing concern among immunological circles because of immunity evasion and there may be another peak closer to the end of the year.

What shouldn’t be in dispute is that 50 COVID deaths in Australia a day is huge as a cause. And that Long COVID is emerging as a v. significant ongoing burden of illness for thousands & thousands of people. So we need to focus on doing everything reasonable to address this. End

— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) September 18, 2022

The national cabinet recently agreed to scrap mask mandates for domestic flights amid falling COVID-19 case numbers.

The Victorian government also lifted its work from home recommendation at the end of winter, with health minister Mary-Anne Thomas citing improving case numbers.

Plane missing in Victoria between Corryong and Mt Beauty

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is searching for a recreational plane with at least one person onboard, which went missing yesterday in north-east Victoria.

AMSA says it is coordinating an air search for a light aircraft missing in the area between Mt Beauty, Corryong and Tallangatta Valley.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Liz Truss could soon visit Australia, Albanese says

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has flagged his British counterpart Liz Truss could soon visit Australia, and remarked that the new King Charles was “less tired” than he expected him to be.

Albanese is in London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, which will be held tonight (Australia time). Speaking to ABC Melbourne radio this morning, the Australian PM reflected warmly on his first meeting with Truss over the weekend. He said:

It was a good gathering. I visited her in what is the foreign secretary’s residence down in Kent. And we had a good discussion about the range of issues and about the relationship that we have between Australia and the UK.

Of course, we’ve come to an economic and trade agreement that is due to go through our parliaments, we had a discussion as well about the potential visit by Prime Minister Truss to Australia.

Albanese also met Charles for the first time as King. He said he found the new monarch to be “less tired than is reasonable to have expected frankly, given the extraordinary schedule”.

And what must be, of course, a very emotional time for him as well as physically tiring. But he was very focused. And it was a very positive meeting. And it was a great honour to have the first face to face meeting with King Charles.

Albanese, an avowed supporter of an Australian republic, has kept quiet about his political views in that sphere since the Queen’s death, saying it was not the time for such conversations. But the PM did recount what he said was a “famous story” in his family, of his mother – while pregnant and about to deliver the baby Albanese – wanting to see Queen Elizabeth on her 1963 visit to Australia.

My mother was a republican, but also liked the Queen. I think you can have different views but have respect for Queen Elizabeth and the role that she had. When I was about to be born, my mother in 1963, the royal visit, my mother insisted on the way to the hospital to give birth to me, going via the city, George Street, to see all the festival paraphernalia.

Well apparently my family used to tell that story about my mother insisting that while she was in labour on the way to the hospital. And that’s a story that is fairly famous in my family, so my mother did have regard for Queen Elizabeth. I think the fact that Queen Elizabeth was such a strong woman was a role model as well for so many people.

Andrews defends renaming of Maroondah hospital to honour Queen

Adeshola Ore

Adeshola Ore

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has defended the renaming of the Maroondah hospital to honour the Queen following opposition from Indigenous groups and leaders about the scrapping of the Aboriginal language name.

In a pre-election pledge, the Andrews government on Sunday vowed to rebuild the hospital in Melbourne’s east at a cost of more than $1bn and rename it to pay tribute to the Queen. But the renaming has sparked backlash from some Indigenous groups and leaders.

‘Maroondah’ is a Woiwurrung word that means ‘throwing’ and ‘Maroon’ means ‘leaves’.

What is Labor thinking changing the name of a hospital from an Aboriginal word to the name of a foreign monarch representing colonisation?

This is not what decolonisation looks like.

— Samantha Ratnam – Leader of the Victorian Greens (@SamanthaRatnam) September 19, 2022

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Andrews said the entire council area used the Aboriginal name “Maroondah”:

I think it’s a fitting tribute to someone, in Queen Elizabeth II, who was a great supporter of our health system and a great supporter of healthcare.

The announcement came after Victoria’s opposition promised a $400m upgrade to Maroondah hospital if it won the election in November.

Andrews and deputy premier Jacinta Allan on Monday announced that the state government would remove eight additional level crossings in the marginal electorate of Brunswick in a bid to ease traffic congestion and improve road safety. The inner-city electorate is currently held by the Greens on a 2% margin, following the redistribution of electorate boundaries.

Maroondah Hospital is the only hospital I can think of in Victoria with an Aboriginal name. Inclusive healthcare starts from the signage on.

The funding and expansion is much needed, but I hope such a beloved and inclusive name can remain. https://t.co/afVOY9eNea

— Dr Neela Janakiramanan (@NeelaJan) September 18, 2022

Greens to introduce bill for 26 weeks of paid parental leave

The Greens will introduce the Fairer Paid Parental Leave bill to deliver 26 weeks of leave paid at replacement wage capped, with super paid on leave, and “use it or lose it” incentives for partners to encourage shared parenting.

Larissa Waters, the Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women, said that fairer paid parental leave is a “no brainer” and that the government could afford it if they scrapped the controversial stage three tax cuts.

Australia has one of the weakest parental leave schemes in the developed world, especially for fathers. There was unanimous support from the jobs and skills summit participants for that to change.

If the government is serious about increasing women’s workforce participation, it needs to do more than to nod sagely while a panel of expert women says these things. Labor needs to actually act.

Barbara Pocock, the Greens spokesperson on employment, said:

As chair of the parliament’s first Senate select committee on Work and Care I know that the evidence on paid parental leave is overwhelming: we need it, and we need more of it. As an economist I know that without kids – and the care put into raising them – there is no economy. It is that simple.

Having children is hard labour and it should be recognised with decent recovery time and paid leave. It has been known for more than a century that economies benefiting from women’s work should ensure recovery and bonding time when they have a baby.

Origin to divest 100% of its interest in Beetaloo Basin

The company has also announced it intends to exit upstream exploration.

As my colleague, Adam Morton, Guardian Australia’s environment editor, put it – it’s a big deal.

More to come shortly.

About 20 flood rescues across New England in NSW, including horses

Rankine provided details about the SES flood rescues that have occurred over the weekend in the state’s north-east:

We did quite a large number of flood rescues right across the New England over the weekend, probably in the vicinity of 20 flood rescues – people making that decision to drive around flood water and around closed road signs. That was a bit disappointing from an organisational perspective, people not being responsible behind the wheel. That takes a lot of the effort away from our volunteers to help community members when we’re fishing people out of their cars.

He said agricultural areas between Gunnedah and Narrabri have been affected, which has meant farmers have had to move livestock and equipment to higher ground.

There’s a lot of water in the river. Obviously the catchment is really saturated. There wouldn’t be an empty dam anywhere in that vicinity for our farmers but what that means is a lot of farmers have been moving livestock to higher ground. We did have a couple of horse rescues over the weekend as well where people’s livestock got surrounded in and around the New England communities. We have asked a lot of those farmers to lift their pumps and those sort of infrastructure that exist on those rivers and move their livestock to higher ground to ensure they’re safe. And to make sure that there’s no stock and equipment losses for those farmers.

Flood waters receding in north-eastern NSW

The Namoi River is in flood, which has affected many towns in north-easter NSW over the weekend, particularly Gunnedah, and now as the water travels further downstream there were fears Wee Waa could be cut off.

The public information manager at the NSW SES, David Rankine, spoke to ABC this morning.

Rankine said although the water in Gunnedah is receding, at least four homes in the low-lying areas of the town have been inundated.

It’s now sitting right at the minor flood level, just at 7.3 metres. It’s receded really well and is moving its way down the Namoi River system through Narrabri.

Thankfully Wee Waa seems to have almost peaked as well. It peaked yesterday afternoon at 6.85 metres which is in the major flood level but now receded to about 6.77. So we were concerned for a moment that Wee Waa may become isolated with all the flood water.

There was access during that and with the water now receding thankfully the community of Wee Waa, which is protected by quite a substantial levee, won’t be isolated for any particular period this week which is really good news for that community.

Rankine confirmed there was no water expected through homes in Wee Waa, due to the protection from the levee but that farming properties which will be isolated.

Flooding in northern Victoria

Moderate flooding is occurring along the King River in northern Victoria, while a warning is being issued for the state’s Loddon River.

Albanese says he’s ‘very comfortable’ with King Charles expressing views on climate crisis

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, was interviewed by the BBC’s James Naughtie after his meeting with King Charles III.

Asked to describe what the conversation was like and how it went, Albanese said “it was very warm and friendly”.

As for the possibility King Charles visiting Australia early in his reign, Albanese said “he would be very welcome”.

“There will be a standing invitation for him, as there is for other members of the royal family.”

Naughtie also asked Albanese about the King’s position in relation to climate change:

Now, the King is now out of the political arena in the sense that he has to tread carefully on political issues that are matter for government. But everyone knows his commitment on these questions. No doubt you would hope that that is a conversation despite his accession to the throne that can go on.

Albanese:

I think that is a matter, of course, for King Charles, what he comments on. And it’s important that the sovereign stay distant from party political issues.

But from my perspective, what I’ve said, is that I’d be very comfortable with the King expressing views about the importance of climate change, and it is about the very survival of our way of life.

We know that in Australia the impacts of bushfires, floods, natural disasters, are doing exactly what the science told us would happen – which is that there have always been natural disasters in Australia, but they’re more frequent and they’re more intense, and that’s why this issue shouldn’t be a partisan political issue. It should be an issue which the world needs to confront.

King Charles III meets with Anthony Albanese at Buckingham Palace.
King Charles III meets with Anthony Albanese at Buckingham Palace. Photograph: Reuters

Victorian dining and entertainment program returns

The Victorian government is bringing back its dining and entertainment program today, which allows customers to claim 25% cash back at businesses within the state.

The program will cover purchases of over $40 at restaurants and cafes, live music venues, museums and cinemas.

The first round was launched in March this year and saw $32m claimed within three months. Dumpling Alley was amongst the most popular dining venues, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was one of the most popular entertainment choices in the previous round, according to the government.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Melbourne's Princess Theatre.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. Photograph: Michelle Grace Hunder

The $25m program runs until 16 December 2022 or when funds are exhausted.

The minister for sport, tourism and major events, Steve Dimopoulos, said:

With a blockbuster summer of major events upon us, we’re providing Victorians even more reasons to get out and enjoy everything the state has to offer – while saving money and supporting local businesses.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Where supply of housing is less flexible, mortgage debt is higher: RBA

The RBA’s Kearns, though, says that the higher interest rates will have varying effects on property prices (even if the precise impacts are uncertain).

He notes research by the RBA found that, all else being equal, interest rates can have larger effects on housing prices “in locations where the supply of housing is less flexible, mortgage debt is higher, there are more investors and incomes are higher”.

Back in April, we looked some of the areas where mortgage stress might be highest, and researchers pointed to outer suburban areas in particular:

When it comes to property prices themselves, the greater sensitivity is likely to be in the “most expensive areas”. Data showed prices in pricier suburbs are “more cyclical” than the average, Kearns said.

The biggest price changes, with higher rates, are likely to land in more expensive areas, the RBA. (That’s different from where financial stress will be the highest, though.) pic.twitter.com/0BeoniRVx5

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) September 18, 2022

Kearns added that evidence also exists to show houses are more sensitive to changes in interest rates than apartments. The limited supply of available zoned land partly explains this result, he said.

“Overall this indicates that an increase in interest rates narrows the distribution of housing wealth since more expensive properties experience a larger fall in prices,” he said, but adds the distributional effects are temporary and disappear over time.

Commercial property tends to be less affected than residential property to higher rates, Kearns said, although the unrelated working-from-home impacts might provide other headwinds for that sector.

Long queues for Qantas passengers at Sydney airport

Travellers with Qantas are once again facing long wait times, with 7 News reporting that many are worried about missing their flights at Sydney airport.

If you’re wondering why there seem to be so many problems across the aviation industry as it recovers from the pandemic, and when travel will get back to normal, yours truly looked at the issue in an article this weekend:

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Borrowing costs just one of the factors affecting property prices

A couple of other takeaways from the speech by RBA’s Jonathan Kearns about the links between higher interest rates and property prices.

The uncertainty of those links can be seen in this chart from Kearns that underscores how volatile real estate prices are, not least because borrowing costs are just one of the factors affecting property (but arguably the biggest one):

As Kearns notes, interest rates affect all asset prices, including housing prices, because those assets are valued for what they provide us in the future.

“An increase in interest rates means that a given amount of income (or benefit) at a future date is worth less today, and so an asset with a fixed future stream of payments will be worth less today,” Kearns said, noting that future cash flows may also change with interest rates, amplifying or moderating the impact on prices.

As rates rise, the ability of people to borrow (and that’s what most of us do when buying property unless you have suitcases of cash under the bed), falls quite rapidly, as this chart shows:

Motorcyclist dies after hitting cow in NSW

A motorcycle rider has died after hitting a cow on the New South Wales mid-north coast yesterday.

Emergency services were called to an area about 30km south-west of Macksville after reports a motorcyclist had collided with a herd of cows on the side of the road.

NSW police said in a statement:

Witnesses rendered first aid to the rider – a 64-year-old man – before the arrival of NSW Ambulance paramedics; however, he died while being taken to Macksville Hospital.

Officers from Mid North Coast Police District established a crime scene and commenced inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/sep/19/queen-elizabeth-funeral-covid-aged-care-anthony-albanese-train-strike-nsw-dominic-perrottet-john-barilaro

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