Minns ‘really sorry’ final Vivid drone show cancelled with 2…

Key events

What we learned today, Sunday 16 June

We’re going to wrap things up for the day. Here’s what happened:

  • The Chinese premier, Li Qiang, has announced that China will loan Adelaide zoo two new “adorable” giant pandas to replace a popular pair, on the second day of his visit to Australia. Adelaide zoo has been home to Wang Wang and Fu Ni since 2009 when they were loaned by China as part of a global preservation scheme that also serves as a tool of “panda diplomacy”.

  • Penny Wong was asked this morning whether Australia is selling weapons to Israel, in breach of an international arms trade treaty, as the Greens have repeatedly alleged. Wong says these allegations by the Greens are being used to “incite conflict in Australia”, which she calls “reprehensible”. This has been one of the most heavily contested areas of political debate in Australia’s response to the war in Gaza.

  • The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to keep the cash rate steady at its board meeting this week, sparing homeowners any increase in rate hikes, but also delaying a long-awaited rate cut that might see mortgage-holders granted any relief, economists say.

  • The New South Wales premier, Chris Minns, has apologised for the cancellation of the drone light show at Vivid last night. The cancellation, on the final night of Vivid, was announced just 20 minutes before it was due to start. Minns apologised for the disappointment and said the decision to cancel had been made by the drone operator due to inclement weather.

  • A search and rescue operation is under way to locate a man, missing from a vessel which overturned off Lady Elliot Island near Gladstone in central Queensland, on Sunday morning. Two people were rescued by helicopter from the water. They were winched to safety and taken to hospital for treatment.

Thanks for reading, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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Bad weather prevented drone show on final night of Vivid Sydney, Minns says

The New South Wales premier, Chris Minns, has apologised for the cancellation of the drone light show at Vivid last night. The cancellation of the show, on the final night of Vivid, was announced just 20 minutes before it was due to start.

The final night of Vivid Sydney. Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images

Minns apologised for the disappointment and said the decision to cancel had been made by the drone operator due to inclement weather and that it had been made as late as possible to see whether the program could still go ahead:

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible. I’m really sorry about that. I know a lot of families and a lot of kids were looking forward to it … It’s deeply regrettable and I’m sincerely sorry.

I know families are doing it really tough at the moment and the free entertainment that comes about as a result of Vivid and the drone show is welcome because it means that you can take your kids and your family and doesn’t cost anything.

Minns said he was “determined” to offer more free entertainment in Sydney in the next 12 month:

This one didn’t go to plan but there’ll be many other opportunities in months and years ahead.

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Panda news ‘very exciting’, SA premier says

Peter Malinauskas has called the announcement Adelaide zoo would be getting two new pandas to replace Wang Wang and Fu Ni, “very exciting” and an outcome SA was “hopeful but not expectant” about:

The fact that Wang Wang and Fu Ni will be going home to China, as expected, then replaced by two new pandas is very exciting. It’s significant for the Adelaide zoo. Pandas are a drawcard not just for South Australia but for people around the country. They are the only pandas we see in the southern hemisphere so it’s a privilege for us.

We were working on this for a while. We were hopeful but not expectant to have the news is something we are grateful for. Wang Wang and Fu Ni were always due to travel back to China after being here for 15 years, so now to know with certainty they are going to have two new replacements is something that is important to the zoo also for economy around the city.

Peter Malinauskas applauds Li Qiang’s announcement in front of the panda enclosure at Adelaide zoo. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/AFP/Getty Images
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Li’s visit a ‘significant milestone’ for SA, Malinauskas says

Peter Malinauskas has been speaking about Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Adelaide today, which Malinauskas has called “a big deal”, not just for the country, but for South Australia “increasing its presence on the global stage”.

The South Australian premier called the visit “a significant milestone” and the first time the state had hosted “such a big significant state visit”:

He is only going to three places during his time in Australia. Premier Li landed in South Australia first and foremost and is then travelling to Canberra and then Perth.

I have to say I was genuinely taken aback by how much Mr Li was familiar with the work happening in South Australia, not just in the wine industry and the agriculture sector is but the critical work we are doing around energy, hydrogen, green iron opportunity. As well as the opportunity that exists around growing the number of international students in our state.

It speaks to the fact that the people of China, the Chinese state, is familiar with the economic growth trajectory of South Australia and we are very grateful for his visit.

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NSW police civilian employee charged with domestic violence assault

A NSW police civilian employee has been charged and her employment status placed under review after an investigation into an alleged domestic violence-related assault, NSW police have announced.

About 11.25pm last night officers from Mount Druitt police area command received a report of a domestic violence-related incident and began an investigation.

After inquiries, a 36-year-old woman, who is an unsworn NSW police employee, was charged with common assault – DV.

She was granted conditional bail to appear at Mount Druitt local court on 24 June. Her employment status is under review.

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RBA expected to keep cash rate at 4.35%

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to keep the cash rate steady at its board meeting this week, sparing homeowners any increase in rate hikes, but also delaying a long-awaited rate cut that might see mortgage-holders granted any relief, AAP reports.

Due to meet over two days starting on Monday, the central bank’s board members will pore over the latest economic data before making a decision on the cash rate on Tuesday.

Economic teams at all four of the big banks were expecting the benchmark rate to stay at 4.35%, where it has been for months after an aggressive hiking cycle kicked off in 2022 to head off rising inflation.

With the economy growing feebly, the labour market slowly unwinding and inflation well down from its peak – albeit still above target – all four major banks expect the next interest rate move to be down.

RBA governor Michele Bullock. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Yet mortgage-holders stumping up hefty sums for their monthly repayments have a while to wait for relief with the Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac all pencilling in a November start to cuts.

ANZ broke ranks last week to push back its forecasted start date until February 2025.

While tracking in the right direction, hotter-than-expected inflation data in the March quarter and in April, where it rose to 3.6% from 3.5%, suggests rate cuts are a while off.

Before the June meeting, CBA head of Australian economics, Gareth Aird, said the board should have a “straightforward decision” on their hands, with all key economic data broadly in line with the RBA’s own forecasts.

In addition to the March quarter national accounts, jobs and inflation data, the RBA board also has state and federal budgets and the workplace umpire’s annual minimum and award decision to digest since its last meeting in May.

The latter was unlikely to shift the dial, Aird said, with the Fair Work Commission’s 3.75% rise lining up neatly with the RBA’s expected trajectory for wages growth across the entire workforce.

Energy bill relief and other cost-of-living measures in state and federal budgets had economists asking questions about its inflationary impact, yet comments from RBA governor Michele Bullock suggest the central bank would “look through” the one-off impacts on inflation.

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Next election will be fought on energy policy, Dutton foreshadows

Ben Smee

Penny Wong has warned that ditching 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets would lead to higher electricity prices as Peter Dutton foreshadowed an election campaign fought on energy policy.

The opposition leader told Sky News on Sunday that energy would be a “big difference between the two parties as we head into the next election”, a week after backing away from Australia’s legislated 2030 emissions target of a 43% cut compared with 2005 levels.

A renewables-only approach that the government has adopted is going to continue to drive up power prices.

He claimed that rising grocery prices were caused by a rise in power bills.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Speaking soon afterwards on ABC’s Insiders, Wong said it was “mindbogglingly absurd for [Dutton] to suggest that more uncertainty will do anything other than increase costs”:

His policy is a policy that will lead to higher electricity bills for Australians.

During their tenure of government, when they had in excess of 20 policies, what did that uncertainty mean? Twenty-four coal stations announced closure.

You have a situation where the market looks at this and says, “We have a lot of uncertainty so we’re not going to invest.”

Meanwhile the old technology is exiting the market. You’re reducing supply, what does that mean, you’re increasing electricity prices.

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‘Adorable’ new pandas coming to Adelaide zoo

China will loan Australia new “adorable” giant pandas to replace a popular pair that failed to produce offspring in more than a decade together, visiting premier Li Qiang announced today.

At an event at the zoo, Li said through a translator:

Wang Wang and Fu Ni have been a way from home for more than 15 years, I guess they must have missed their home a lot. So they will return to China before the end of the year.

But what I want to tell you is that we will provide a new pair of uniquely beautiful, lovely and adorable [pandas] to the Adelaide Zoo.

Adelaide Zoo has been home to Wang Wang and Fu Ni since 2009 when they were lent by China as part of a global preservation scheme that also serves as a tool of “panda diplomacy”.

Breeding panda cubs is a notoriously difficult task for the low-sexed creatures and hopes of a pregnancy in Adelaide, including through the use of artificial insemination, have been repeatedly dashed.

As one of the furry giants played with a strip of tree in the background, Li delivered the news that they will be going home.

Fu Ni and Wang Wang are heading home to China. Composite: Adelaide zoo/Adrian Mann

China would provide Australia with candidates to choose from, said Li, who landed in Adelaide yesterday on a four-day fence-mending trip after Beijing withdrew a string of trade sanctions on major Australian exports.

The announcement is a nod to Penny Wong’s efforts to stabilise Australia’s relationship with China, after a diplomatic rift with the former conservative government.

Li said he remembered the Australian foreign affairs minister had twice reminded him during a visit to Beijing last November that the panda loan agreement would expire this year:

We have made this announcement to fulfil the wishes of the minister.

Adelaide is Wong’s home town, and she said her own children would be “very happy” at the news:

It’s good for the economy, it’s good for South Australian jobs, it’s good for tourism and it’s a symbol of goodwill, and we thank you.

There are an estimated 1,860 giant pandas left in the wild, according to the environmental group WWF.

But the animals, which were removed from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s endangered species list in 2016, still face serious threats from loss of habitat and fragmentation.

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Joe Hinchliffe

Joe Hinchliffe

Reality check: children are struggling to decipher fake news

A 2023 study found that just 41% of children aged eight to 16 are confident they could tell fake news from real news stories.

Just one in four young people said they had received a lesson at school in the past year to help them work out if news stories are true and can be trusted.

Bryce Corbett, founder of the children’s news podcast Squiz Kids, says:

I don’t think it is overblown to say that we are sleepwalking our way into a dystopian future …

Misinformation and disinformation, the rate at which it is being peddled and believed and shared by a naive global populace is, I think, the biggest threat to democracies around the world.

So, should media literacy be taught in the same way we teach maths? Read the full story here:

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Man missing off Queensland island after two people rescued by helicopter

A search and rescue operation is under way to locate a man, missing from a vessel which overturned off Lady Elliot Island near Gladstone in central Queensland, on Sunday morning.

Two people were rescued by helicopter from the water at 10.15am, roughly five hours after the distress signal was sent. They were winched to safety and taken to hospital for treatment.

The search continues for a missing man.

The yacht was approximately four nautical miles south of the island when an emergency beacon was activated at 5am.

It is understood the vessel was travelling from Yeppoon to Brisbane, with three people on board when it upturned.

Police and emergency services began a search and rescue operation involving multiple vessels, police divers and the rescue helicopter.

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Experts dispel bird flu concerns

Concerns about the impacts of bird flu outbreaks in Australia and overseas, and rumours of egg shortages are being blown out of proportion, experts have told AAP.

Six Victorian poultry farms have detected cases of avian influenza, sparking fears of egg shortages and mass bird cullings.

The spread of the virus globally has fuelled online conspiracy theories and misinformation about the risks to food supplies and Covid-style lockdowns.

Scientists and industry experts have told AAP FactCheck the risk to human health in Australia remains low and egg shortages are unlikely.

They explain that the more dangerous strain of bird flu (H5N1) spreading in North America and Europe is not the same as the two (H7N3 and H7N9) detected in Victoria.

Australian Chicken Growers Council chief executive Dr Joanna Sillince hosed down claims about potential food shortages:

There is no egg shortage in Victoria. Poultry meat and eggs are perfectly safe to eat.

Prof Marcel Klaassen, a disease ecologist from Deakin University, says the threat to humans is low because of their genetic differences with birds:

Our common ancestor between birds and mammals goes back a long, long time, so it’s not easy for a virus that is specialised for birds to affect humans, or to affect mammals.

Klaassen says the H5N1 strain is “very nasty” but Australia is well positioned to handle any outbreak due to geographic isolation and low migratory bird traffic.

He says wild birds do bring in new strains from overseas but much more incrementally than in the northern hemisphere:

They trickle in, compared to the considerable amount of traffic you have between other continents. So it’s just trickling into Australia. But it’s not said that we are entirely protected from the nasty virus that is now circulating around the globe.

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