The Guardian 2024-05-06 01:01:47


The NSW premier, Chris Minns, is speaking to the media, outlining what is included in the state government’s $230m emergency family violence package.

We detailed this earlier in the blog, here and here. Speaking to the media, Minns said:

This is the first announcement of our government – major announcement – when it comes to domestic and family violence. There is a lot more to do in this space and the truth of the matter is this is only a first step …

We have heard loud and clear the call from the family members of those who have been killed at the hands of a violent partner and the message from my government today is: more needs to be done.

We are very sorry that this package was not released or announced earlier, but we are determined to learn from the mistakes that have been made by my government and previous governments over the past decades.

Perth stabbing: police shoot boy, 16, dead after alleged attack that has ‘hallmarks’ of terror incident

WA premier Roger Cook suggests teenager who allegedly stabbed man in Bunnings car park in Willetton may have been radicalised online

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Western Australian police say they have shot and killed a teenager who allegedly attacked a man in a Perth car park on Saturday night.

Detectives on Sunday said there was no ongoing threat to the public and the 16-year-old was believed to have been acting alone in Willetton.

The WA police commissioner, Col Blanch, said the incident “certainly has all the hallmarks” of a terrorism-related incident, but he was not prepared to declare it as such “at this stage”.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

“It’s about timing,” Blanch said. “It would be too early for me to act now because I don’t have the concerns of a broader network that might be involved.”

The premier, Roger Cook, said there were indications the 16-year-old “had been radicalised online”.

The man in his 30s who was stabbed was in a serious but stable condition in hospital and “doing well”, authorities said on Sunday.

Blanch said police received a call on Saturday night from a person who told the operator they were “going to commit acts of violence”.

That person hung up without giving their name or location. But the call was followed by another alerting police to someone “running around a car park” with a large kitchen knife.

Three police officers responded within minutes and were immediately confronted by the teenager holding a large knife, Blanch said.

The commissioner said two officers drew their Tasers and a third officer drew their firearm. When asked to put down the knife, the 16-year-old did not respond and, according to body-camera footage, allegedly ran at the officers, Blanch said.

The first two officers fired their Tasers but when the teenager allegedly continued to approach, the third officer fired a single shot which fatally wounded the 16-year-old, police said.

Blanch said the teenager acted alone in what appeared to be a “a very sad and tragic outcome”. He said what triggered the incident was unknown.

The teenager had mental health issues, was known to police and had been involved in a countering violent extremism (CVE) program since 2022 when he was 13, the commissioner said.

The program provides support from psychologists, the education department and, where appropriate, faith leaders.

WA’s CVE was based on work undertaken by Anne Aly – who is now the federal youth minister – and programs used to deradicalise neo-Nazis overseas. It was not limited to those convicted of crimes.

Aly said on Sunday her thoughts were with everyone involved.

“De-radicalisation programs are an important community safety measure,” she said in a statement.

“They are often successful but no program can guarantee success. It’s the sensitive nature of these programs that we often only hear about them when they don’t succeed. I commend and thank the WA police for the positive way they have worked with the Muslim community on this matter.”

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said he had spoken to Cook and received briefings from police and the Australian intelligence agency Asio.

“My thoughts are with those who have been affected by the incident,” he said. “We are a peace-loving nation and there is no place for violent extremism in Australia.”

Cook, who has called a meeting with multi-faith community leaders, described the incident as a “very tragic set of circumstances” and thanked police for their swift action saying the community was “indebted to them”.

“Our police responded within minutes. They encountered a very confronting situation but their rapid and professional response kept our community safe,” the premier said.

“These cases are never straightforward. There’s always a complex set of circumstances, cases and conditions which sit in the background.”

The police commissioner described the alleged attacker as a “Caucasian male”. He thanked members of the Muslim community who “had the courage to respond and express their concerns that this person was exhibiting concerning behaviours”.

Blanch said community members had alerted police after spotting something the 16-year-old posted online.

Perth imam Wadood Janud, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in WA, said on Sunday he condemned the alleged attack “in the harshest terms possible”.

He said the 16-year-old was not a member of the Ahmadiyya community and while he believed the incident was isolated it was “close to heart” and “shocking”.

“Islam has nothing to do with any acts of violence,” Janud said. “We’re actually concerned about Islamophobia. Sometimes the backlash can be very harsh.”

Adelaide imam Kamran Tahir, who previously served in Perth, on Sunday condemned the alleged attack “in the strongest terms”.

“We are once again saddened to learn of another knife attack in which innocent civilians were harmed,” Tahir said. “It should be made very clear that there is no justification for such acts in Islam.”

This article was amended on 5 May 2024. An earlier version said the stabbing victim was 18.

– Additional reporting AAP

Explore more on these topics

  • Western Australia
  • Australian police and policing
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Two charged with murder after allegedly torturing Brisbane man at Queensland property

Woman and man, aged 21 and 23, facing charges including murder and deprivation of liberty after alleged victim died in hospital

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A Queensland man who was allegedly held captive, tortured and beaten at a remote property north of Brisbane has died in hospital, police say.

A woman and man, aged 21 and 23, had initially been charged with attempted murder and a series of other offences after police were called to the property at Mount Mee on Wednesday evening.

Those charges were upgraded to murder after the alleged victim – a 23-year-old man from Eagle Farm – died in hospital on Friday evening.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Queensland police Acting Insp Joe Zitny said the initial call to emergency services had been made by “the female accused”.

“What I can say as a result of this incident, it is apparent at this stage it’s not domestic and family violence related, and it’s believed the victim was known to the accused people,” Zitny said on Sunday.

Zitny said it was believed the victim was “in the vicinity” from Monday afternoon and throughout Tuesday and Wednesday and that his injuries “were sustained over a long period of time”.

“Initial inquiries established there was an association between the victim and accused,” he said. Police were attempting to “gain a greater understanding of that relationship”. A postmortem was scheduled for Tuesday.

The accused man and woman both faced Caboolture magistrates court last week and were remanded in custody.

They were both charged with multiple offences including murder, deprivation of liberty, disabling in order to commit indictable offence, grievous bodily harm, making observations or recordings in breach of privacy, torture, wounding and unlawful possession of weapons.

The woman was also charged with a serious assault on a police officer.

Explore more on these topics

  • Queensland
  • Crime – Australia
  • Brisbane
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Sydney on track to receive month’s worth of rain in first week of May, bureau warns

By Sunday morning the city had recorded 92.8mm of rain this month – fast approaching May average of 117.4mm, BoM says

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The wet start to May for much of New South Wales is likely to continue for another week, with a severe weather warning for the state’s south coast and flash flooding on the Central Coast.

Sydney’s Observatory Hill had, by Sunday morning, recorded 92.8mm of rain this month – and was fast approaching the May average of 117.4mm.

“We’re nearly at the month total already, so depending on how things unfold today, we may by tomorrow [Monday] morning be able to make a statement that we may have already reached a month’s worth of rainfall,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s Jordan Notara said.

Cronulla, in the city’s south, recorded 69mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday. Point Perpendicular at Jervis Bay hit a new record after recording 143mm of rain in the past 24 hours – the highest 24-hour observation recorded in the month of May since 2003.

The bureau issued a severe weather warning for the Illawarra area, south of Sydney, on Saturday and into Sunday, with residents in Wollongong, Bulli, Port Kembla, Albion Park, Kiama and Huskisson advised to avoid unnecessary travel amid forecasts of heavy rainfall.

Flash flooding was affecting localised pockets along the coast, with the NSW state emergency service rescuing a driver from the roof of a car amid flooding in Tea Gardens on the state’s Central Coast early on Sunday morning.

Thunderstorms were forecast for the entire north coast of NSW on Sunday, with severe storms likely in the northern rivers. The Byron coast was issued a hazardous surf warning for Sunday.

Notara said the weather front affecting the Illawarra was heading north, with heavier, persistent falls moving towards Sydney and the Central Coast followed by showers up and down the east coast lasting well into next week.

“There’s no clear trend of significant dry weather in the modelling,” he said. “It’s showing that shower activity in the east for at least the next seven days. It is basically a weather pattern which is conducive to seeing showers across the 24 hours each day.”

The NSW SES had responded to 95 calls for emergency assistance, most seeking for sand bags in preparation for flash flooding.

The service’s spokesperson, Ben Deacon, said 36 of the emergency calls were in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra areas where the severe weather warning was in place. There were 22 calls in the Sydney metro area.

In Brisbane, storms were forecast on Sunday followed by showers on Monday’s public holiday.

A high-pressure system in the Melbourne area was delivering stable and mild weather, Notara said.

Parts of parched Western Australia were coming to the close of a welcome wet week, with the wheatbelt town of Wandering recording its highest May rainfall in more than 82 years and the most rainfall the town had seen in 13 months, according to Weatherzone.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australia news
  • Australia weather
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Men believed to be missing surfers died from gunshots, Mexican officials say

Families of men presumed to be two Australians and American who went missing in Baja California arrive in Tijuana to identify bodies

The bodies believed to be those of the two Australians and an American who went missing in the Pacific coast state of Baja California showed the three men were killed with gunshots to the head, Mexican authorities said on Sunday.

María Elena Andrade Ramírez, the state’s attorney general, said the families of the missing men had arrived in Tijuana to verbally identify the bodies. Authorities expected to have official confirmation shortly.

Callum and Jake Robinson, both in their 30s, were Australian siblings from Perth. Jake was visiting Callum, who lived in San Diego, California, for a planned surfing holiday, with their friend Jack Carter Rhoad, a US citizen who also lived in San Diego. The trio were reported missing when they failed to check in to pre-arranged accommodation in Rosarito, Mexico, last weekend.

The bodies were found dumped in a remote well about 15m deep, about 6km from the camping site where the foreigners were killed. If relatives could not identify the bodies, genetic tests would be conducted.

“The probability that it’s them is very high,” said Andrade Ramírez.

The preliminary hypothesis of the investigation is that the missing men were attacked by people who wanted to steal their car, partly because they wanted the tires.

“The attackers drove by [the travellers’ campsite] in their vehicle,” Andrade Ramírez said. “They approached, with the intention of stealing their vehicle and taking the tires and other parts to put them on the older-model pickup they were driving.

“Upon approaching and surprising [the missing men], there was surely resistance and these people, the attackers, took out a firearm they had and took their lives.

“When what was meant to be a robbery had got out of control, they tried to dispose of the bodies by throwing them into a well.

“They were not attacked because they were tourists, the intent was to steal their vehicle.”

The attackers had burned the tents and covered the well with boards, he said.

Journalists asked whether organised crime might have been involved, and whether the fact all were killed with shots to the head implied a kind of execution. Andrade Ramírez refused to speculate, saying that the car robbery hypothesis was what authorities had for now.

“The investigation has only just begun,” Andrade Ramírez said.

Three Mexican nationals have been detained, one of whom has been charged with kidnapping.

The other two are being held for possession of crystal meth, though Andrade Ramírez did not discard the possibility that they were linked to the crime.

“In fact, we are sure that more people took part in the attack,” he said.

At least one of the suspects was believed to have directly participated in the killings. In keeping with Mexican law, prosecutors identified him only by his first name, Jesús Gerardo, AKA “el Kekas”, a slang word that means quesadillas, or cheese tortillas.

Dozens of mourners, surfers and demonstrators gathered in a main plaza in Ensenada, the nearest city, to voice their anger and sadness at the deaths.

“Ensenada is a mass grave,” read one placard carried by protesters. “Australia, we are with you,” one man scrawled on one of the half-dozen surfboards at the demonstration.

A woman held up a sign that read “They only wanted to surf – we demand safe beaches.”

The men had planned a camping trip near the beach, then a stay at an Airbnb in Rosarito, Mexico, according to social media posts from friends and family. But they never checked in to the Airbnb and Callum Robinson did not show up to work in San Diego as scheduled.

The missing men’s tents and burned-out truck were found on Thursday, by a remote stretch of coastline.

The brothers’ parents, Martin and Debra Robinson, told Australian news outlets they were heading to Mexico to be close during the search.

“Callum and Jake are beautiful human beings. We love them so much and this breaks our heart,” they said in a statement.

On Friday, four bodies were found in a covered-up well on an isolated ranch land six or seven kilometres from where the missing men’s car was found.

Three of the bodies had been there five to seven days before they were found on Friday, the authorities said. A fourth body was also found in the well, which was estimated to have been there 15 to 30 days.

Andrade Ramírez said authorities did not believe the attackers knew the victims were tourists, and emphasised that Baja California was still safe for tourists.

In 2023 there were more than 30,000 homicides in Mexico for the sixth consecutive year. More than 100,000 people are missing.

In 2015, Western Australian surfers Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas were murdered, believed to have been shot by gang members in the neighbouring Sinaloa region before their van and bodies were burnt.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Explore more on these topics

  • Mexico
  • Americas
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

University of Mississippi: ‘abhorrent’ counter-protesters condemned

Largely white, male group taunts pro-Palestinian protesters on campus and one man makes racist gesture towards Black woman

Dozens of students at the University of Mississippi gathered this week to protest against Israel’s war in Gaza and to call for the state’s flagship university to be transparent in its potential dealings with Israel.

There were hundreds of counter-protesters, in contrast to the few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters. The scene evoked memories of the resistance to the civil rights struggle in the US south six decades earlier.

The counter-protesters included individuals waving American flags and Trump flags. At one point, they sang the American national anthem, drowning out the pro-Palestinian group’s chants. The Oxford Eagle reported that one person held a “Come and take it” flag while another flew a “Don’t tread on me” banner. The pro-Palestinian students held signs reading “Jesus was a Palestinian”, “Stop the genocide” and “Cut all ties with Israel”.

Less than an hour after the protest began, police disbanded it – notably after counter-protesters threw items, including water bottles, at the pro-Palestinian group. Police safely evacuated the pro-Palestinian students as the largely white, male group of counter-protesters chanted: “Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye,” according to Mississippi Today.

Some university leaders and politicians around the US have used the term “outside agitator” to attempt to discredit student-led protests and movements. That label was also evoked frequently during the civil rights movement, during antebellum slavery and during 19th- and 20th-century labour movements, to imply that protesters were motivated not by their own interests and beliefs, but by those of shadowy others.

At the University of Mississippi counter-protest, there were at least two individuals on campus who were reported to be not affiliated with the school, according to the Clarion-Ledger. One counter-protester said he was a student at Mississippi State University, about two hours away, and drove in for the protest. Another told the publication he was a student at the University of Georgia.

There were no arrests, but the actions of the counter-protesters – who shouted “Fuck Joe Biden”, “Who’s your daddy?”, “USA”, “Hit the showers”, “Your nose is huge” and, in one instance, included a white man making monkey noises at a Black woman – have been widely condemned on social media.

On Sunday, Phi Delta Theta fraternity responded to the protest in a statement, saying it was aware of the video that showed the actions of one counter-protester and had removed that individual from membership as of 3 May.

“The racist actions in the video were those of an individual and are antithetical to the values of Phi Delta Theta and the Mississippi Alpha chapter,” the statement read.

The University of Mississippi’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People criticised the counter-protesters in a statement posted on Instagram.

“The behavior witnessed today was not only abhorrent but also entirely unacceptable,” the statement reads. “It is deeply disheartening to witness such blatant disregard for the principles of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

The Mississippi governor, Tate Reeves, who himself recently declared April as Confederate Heritage Month and April 29 as Confederate memorial day, celebrated the counter-protesters in a tweet that some say drew parallels to former Mississippi governor Ross Barnett, a proud segregationist.

Reeves captioned a video of the counter-protesters singing the American national anthem with “the ‘protests’ at Ole Miss today. Watch with sound. Warms my heart. I love Mississippi!”

In September 1962, Barnett spoke to an all-white crowd of more than 40,000 people at the University of Mississippi football game against Kentucky. As Confederate flags waved, Barnett said: “I love Mississippi. I love her people. Our customs. I love and respect our heritage.” The next day, an insurrection took place on campus as James Meredith enrolled, becoming the first known Black student in the university’s history.

In a separate tweet before the protest, Reeves also echoed a statement made by Joe Biden the morning of the protests.

“Campus police, city, county, and state assets are being deployed and coordinated,” Reeves tweeted. “We will offer a unified response with one mission: peaceful protests are allowed and protected – no matter how outrageous those protesters’ views may seem to some of us. But unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. It will be dealt with accordingly. Law and order will be maintained!”

In Biden’s statements on the protests around the nation, he said: “We’ve all seen images, and they put to the test two fundamental American principles … The first is the right to free speech and for people to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard. The second is the rule of law. Both must be upheld.”

UMiss for Palestine, the student group that organised the protest, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The group did share a statement on Instagram following the protest, saying the University of Mississippi “is playing host to US military officials who are complicit in the genocide of Palestinian people via an aerospace and defense conference”.

“Our vocal protest outside the library was a peaceful demonstration of our dismay with the behaviour of the university,” the statement continues.

“We were confronted by counter-protesters who engaged in blind reactionarism that had little to do with the genocide we were protesting as well as our demands. We condemn the hateful actions and rhetoric of the counter protesters, who threw food and made violent threats toward our protesters. We expected our first amendment rights to be better protected and were deeply ashamed that they were not.”

The University of Mississippi’s student newspaper, the Daily Mississippian, spoke with students in support of UMiss for Palestine’s efforts. A junior, Xavier Black, said: “There’s a lot of dissension towards this kind of movement.”

“But as we’ve seen throughout history, time and time again, the student movement is never wrong,” he told the paper. “Time and time again, anytime there’s a student protest, and you’re against it, you’re on the wrong side of history. So I would like to be on the right side.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Mississippi
  • Protest
  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Race
  • US universities
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Democrats rally to Biden’s defense over response to pro-Palestinian student protests

Republicans accuse president of weak response, but prominent Democrats claim he ‘has been very strong from the beginning’

Some Democrats rallied to the defense of Joe Biden on Sunday as the president came under increased criticism over his response to pro-Palestinian student protests and his handling of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Republicans have seized on Biden’s response to the protests, which have seen more than2,000 people arrested around the country, accusing him of a weak response. But prominent Democrats, including Biden re-election campaign co-chairperson Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, claimed the president “has been very strong about this from the beginning”.

Their support came as campus protests have seen an increasingly aggressive police response. An encampment at the University of Southern California was cleared by police in riot gear on Sunday morning, and a similar effort at the University of California, Los Angeles was shut down by police who reportedly used rubber bullets on Thursday. Scores of protesters were arrested at Columbia University on Tuesday night – a move which New York City’s mayor defended in an interview on Sunday.

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union if Biden could have reacted differently to the protests, which have seen clashes between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protesters as well as dueling accusations of antisemitism and Islamophobia, Landrieu said: “The president’s been very clear about this. He’s also been very strong about the need to stamp out antisemitism and Islamophobia. It’s a very difficult time, [there are] very passionate opinions on both sides of this issue.

“The president has been handling it I think very, very well and I think he will continue to do so.”

Thousands of young people have protested at university campuses across the country in recent weeks, criticizing the Biden administration’s continued support of Israel. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, and 2 million displaced, since Israel attacked the enclosed strip in response to Hamas terrorist attacks which killed more than 1,100 Israelis.

Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Mark Kelly, the Arizona senator, added his voice to Democrats who have voiced approval for police crackdowns on campus sit-ins, saying it is “appropriate for police to step in” when protests turn into “unlawful acts”.

“When they cross a line and when they commit crimes, they should be arrested,” Kelly said.

“That’s the appropriate thing to do.”

Kelly said some of the university protests had “become very violent, and students – especially Jewish students – have the right to feel safe on a campus, and they’ve gotten out of control”.

“Everybody has the right to protest peacefully. But when it turns into unlawful acts – and we’ve seen this in a number of colleges and universities including here in Arizona – it’s appropriate for the police to step in,” he said.

Biden had mostly stayed silent on the unrest at university campuses until he addressed the issue on Thursday.

“Dissent is essential for democracy,” Biden said in an address at the White House. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

Biden said some protesters had used “violent” methods.

“Violent protests are not protected. Peaceful protest is,” he said. “There’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos.”

The president added: “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campus, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation … none of this is a peaceful protest.”

On Sunday, Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, defended how the police have handled protests in the city. About 280 people were arrested at Columbia University and the City University of New York last week.

“When those protests reach the point of violence, we have to ensure that we use a minimum amount of force to terminate what is perceived to be a threat,” Adams told ABC News This Week.

John Fetterman, the Democratic Pennsylvania US senator who is a vocal supporter of Israel, said the protests were “working against peace in the Middle East” and reiterated his backing for the US sending aid to the country.

“I will never support any kind of conditions on Israel during this. And again, I would, I am going to continue to center – Hamas is responsible for all of that again, then,” Fetterman said.

“And now if you’re going to protest on these campuses, or now what, they’re going all across America as well, too. I really want to, can’t forget, that the situation right now could end right now, if Hamas just surrendered.”

Hours after calling in state troopers to break up a quiet, rain-soaked encampment of anti-war protesters, the University of Virginia president, Jim Ryan, issued a public statement calling the episode “upsetting, frightening and sad”.

Ryan had been noticeably absent from the episode itself. His public statement Saturday evening, his first on the matter, came well after the encampment had been raided and the 25 demonstrators who had pitched tents on the patch of grass by the university’s chapel were arrested.

Ryan called it unfortunate that a small group had chosen to break university rules after receiving repeated warnings.

“I sincerely wish it were otherwise, but this repeated and intentional refusal to comply with reasonable rules intended to secure the safety, operations, and rights of the entire university community left us with no other choice than to uphold the neutral application and enforcement of those rules,” he wrote.

Nonetheless, the arrests were criticized by Jamaal Bowman, the New York progressive Democratic congressman who has been critical of Israel.

“I am outraged by the level of police presence called upon nonviolent student protestors on Columbia and CCNY’s campuses. As an educator who has first hand experience with the over-policing of our schools, this is personal to me,” Bowman wrote on X.

“The militarization of college campuses, extensive police presence, and arrest of hundreds of students are in direct opposition to the role of education as a cornerstone of our democracy.”

Explore more on these topics

  • US campus protests
  • US universities
  • Joe Biden
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • US politics
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Police dismantle Palestinian solidarity encampment at USC

Officers in riot gear raid encampment at dawn as university warns demonstrators that failure to leave could lead to arrest

Police have dismantled the student-led Palestinian solidarity encampment at the University of Southern California.

About 4am on Saturday, as many as 100 Los Angeles police officers in riot gear raided the encampment at dawn as anti-war student demonstrators slept in the tents. In a series of tweets during the raid, the university warned demonstrators to leave the area, adding that “people who don’t leave could be arrested”.

Speaking to KTLA, members of the student-run newspapers the Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media said: “We were just sitting here, camping out. We saw a peaceful encampment. They’ve been eating food, having teach-ins … and then they eventually went in their tents later in the night and then at around 4[am] actually, we saw dozens of DPS cars [department of public safety] come in and then from there, they started bringing in the officers.”

“Before they came in, it was very peaceful. People were sleeping, in fact,” another member said, adding: “At 4am was when … we saw dozens of LAPD officers sort of come in, essentially in trucks, standing on the trucks. I think there were about four trucks, each of them had about a dozen or so police officers … Along with that, we also had DPS come in.”

Videos posted online by the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation at USC showed dozens of riot police marching throughout campus as others stood guard with multiple zip ties hanging from their belts.

Around them, anti-war student protesters chanted: “Free, free Palestine!” Others chanted, “Who do you protect?” and “Fascists, fascists, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide.” Some also chanted: “Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see no riot here!”

Another video captured during the raid showed USC journalism professor Alan Mittelstaedt arguing with a police officer over media access as the police officer attempted to cordon media to an area far from the encampment.

At one point, the police officer raises his voice and says, “By law, you gotta get outta the way! Listen to me!”

In a statement following the raid, USC president Carol Folt said: “I requested the LAPD to assist DPS in removing the encampment as peacefully and safely as possible. At 4.10 am, an order to disperse was issued, providing the trespassers one last opportunity to leave voluntarily. In 64 minutes, the encampment was abandoned and cleared. The operation was peaceful with no arrests. We will not tolerate illegal encampments of any kind at USC.”

Hours later, some Democrats defended police actions taken across the country to dismantle campus encampments and even arrest protesters. Arizona senator Mark Kelly said on NBC’s Meet the Press it was appropriate for police to get involved when protests turn into “unlawful acts”.

“When they cross a line and when they commit crimes, they should be arrested,” Kelly said. “That’s the appropriate thing to do.”

Joe Biden, who had been silent on the university campus protests, confronted the issue on Thursday. “Dissent is essential for democracy,” Biden said in an address at the White House. “But dissent must never lead to disorder.”

The president added: “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campus, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation … none of this is a peaceful protest.”

Saturday’s pre-dawn raid marked the second on USC’s campus after police dismantled an earlier encampment and arrested 93 anti-war protesters on 24 April.

The USC encampments, along with multiple encampments across US college campuses in recent weeks, were set up by students in calls for the university to divest from companies – including weapons manufacturers – with ties to Israel.

The encampments also come in response to Israel’s deadly war on Gaza since Hamas’s 7 October attacks that killed more than 1,100 Israelis. Since October, Israeli forces have killed more than 34,000 Palestinians across Gaza while leaving 2 million survivors displaced across the narrow strip amid a famine caused by Israeli restrictions on aid.

Israel has also destroyed every university in Gaza, in addition to killing at least 5,479 students, 261 teachers and 95 university professors, according to the UN, which has condemned Israel’s actions as “scholasticide”.

USC has received significant backlash from students, faculty and alumni in recent weeks over its administration’s crackdown on the student encampments, as well as its decision to cancel the valedictorian speech of Asna Tabassum, a Muslim student who has expressed solidarity for Palestine.

The Council of American Islamic Relations (Cair), the US’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, condemned USC’s decision as “cowardly” while Tabassum accused the university of attempting to “silence my voice”.

On Friday, USC faculty staged a walkout in support of the anti-war student demonstrators and their encampment. Meanwhile, over 1,500 USC alumni have signed an open letter in support of the USC Divest from Death coalition.

Following Saturday’s raid, USC law professor Jody David Armour wrote on X: “My heart is heavy but my spirits are high as I grieve the loss of the ⁦USC⁩ students’ encampment but celebrate their courageous & conscientious fight against our complicity in mass graves, collective punishment, forced starvation, & the killing of more than 14,000 children.”

Explore more on these topics

  • US campus protests
  • California
  • Los Angeles
  • US universities
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘I was happy they still stand beside us’: Palestinians in Rafah on US campus protests

Word of the demonstrations that have spread across the west has cheered some in Gaza’s southernmost city

  • Middle East crisis – live updates

In the tented camps and crowded streets of Rafah, the pro-Palestinian campus protests in the US have been followed closely.

“We hear a lot of news about students’ demonstrations in American universities … When I saw that, I was very happy that there are still those who stand beside us and in support of us,” said Nevin Abu Shahma, 39, who fled to Rafah from northern Gaza early in the war.

Pro-Palestinian protests that have fanned across US universities for weeks are now more muted after a series of clashes with police, mass arrests and a stern White House directive to restore order.

But similar demonstrations have spread in some form to campuses in Britain, France, Australia and elsewhere, and on Saturday students waved Palestinian flags and chanted anti-war slogans during a ceremony at the University of Michigan.

Asmaa al-Najili, 30, who had arrived in Rafah from Khan Younis, a nearby city which was the site of heavy fighting in March, said she had used news clips of protesting students to cheer up her seven-year-old daughter.

More than a million people displaced from elsewhere in Gaza by Israel’s military offensive are sheltering in Rafah, the territory’s southernmost city. Most are kept up to date by social media – when they can get signals or charge their phones – or local radio channels broadcasting live feeds of Middle Eastern TV channels like Al Jazeera.

Haitham Abu Marsa said that before the recent unrest few in Gaza had heard of the US universities where the protests have been most intense. Like many in Rafah, he said the activism seen in the US highlighted the lack of protest in support of Palestinians in the Arab world.

“These protests [in the US] … made us happy by finding people from the west who stood with our cause … [But] at the same time it made us sad because our brothers in the Arab countries did not do what these people did,” the 33-year-old said.

The war has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s local health officials, caused widespread destruction and plunged the territory into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands are unaccounted for.

The conflict began on 7 October when Hamas attacked southern Israel, abducting about 250 people and killing roughly 1,200, mostly civilians. Eighty hostages were released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails during a short-lived truce in November. Israel said Hamas is still holding about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Repeated threats by Israeli officials to launch a major military operation into Rafah have made many in the city very anxious, and some have already moved on elsewhere. Israel said Hamas leaders and four battalions of militants are based there, as well as some of the hostages.

Though there is now more food available in Rafah, inadequate supplies, overcrowding and a lack of health facilities have caused a continuing acute humanitarian crisis.

The growing death toll in Gaza and images of the widespread destruction there have swayed public opinion in the US, with support for Israel’s military assault dropping from 50% in a November Gallup poll to 36% in late March. Bernie Sanders drew comparisons with protests in the US against the war in Vietnam.

In Rafah, Marwan Hegazy, from the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, also referred to the mass demonstrations of the 1960s.

“The protests of university students were the reason for stopping other wars in the past, such as the Vietnam war,” Hegazy, 60, said. “We hope that the rest of the students of the world will stand up for us.”

Messages to the protesters were scrawled on a handful of tents in the camp, with one reading: “Thank you students in solidarity with Gaza. Your message has reached us. Thank you students of Columbia. Thank you students.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Palestinian territories
  • Protest
  • Gaza
  • US campus protests
  • Middle East and north Africa
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Clyburn hits out at Trump over Gestapo comment: ‘Incredible but not surprising’

Democrat says country is going off track after Trump compares Biden administration to Germany’s fascist secret police

The senior congressional Democrat James Clyburn has responded to remarks made by Donald Trump at a private event on Saturday in which he compared the Biden administration with the Gestapo secret police in fascist Germany, saying it was “incredible, but it’s not surprising”.

The 83-year-old South Carolina Democrat added that Trump “is given to hyperbole on every subject that he ever approaches … The country got off track after that 1876 election and we are approaching the same kinds of elements today.”

The 1876 election between Republican Ohio governor Rutherford Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden was one of the most disputed ever, with widespread allegations of electoral fraud, violence and voter disenfranchisement.

Clyburn accused Trump of having an “understanding of this country that I thought we left behind more than 100 years ago. But as I watch things happen in the country today, I’ve been harkening back for some time now, to the 1876 presidential election, and how this country got off track after the civil war.”

He added: “The words are different. But the meanings are the same.”

On Saturday, the former president hosted a private lunch for Republican donors and party leaders at his Mar-a-Lago club. The fundraiser also included many of those presumed to be on the list for running mate, including the South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who has been politically damaged by an admission in her memoir that she shot a 14-month-old hunting dog two decades ago. Noem was reported to have left the event early.

Others at the lunch included North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, Ohio senator JD Vance, New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and Byron Donalds, a congressman from Florida.

According to CNN, Trump singled out Stefanik, who he described as “an amazing talent”, as well as Marco Rubio. NBC reported that Trump brought the guests, with the exception of Noem, on stage– including House speaker Mike Johnson.

But during an address that lasted over an hour, Trump likened the Biden administration to Hitler’s secret police. “These people are running a Gestapo administration,” Trump said, according to NBC News. “It’s the only thing they have. And it’s the only way they’re going to win in their opinion.”

Burgum, appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, all but confirmed Trump’s statement, but tried to diminish its importance.

“This was a short comment deep into the thing that wasn’t really central to what he was talking about,” said Burgum.

Burgum affirmed that Trump drew the parallel as part of his accusation that Biden’s White House is behind his legal troubles. “A majority of Americans,” Burgum said, “feel like the trial that he’s in right now is politically motivated.”

Trump is due back in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday where he is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in relation to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Explore more on these topics

  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump
  • Democrats
  • US politics
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Clyburn hits out at Trump over Gestapo comment: ‘Incredible but not surprising’

Democrat says country is going off track after Trump compares Biden administration to Germany’s fascist secret police

The senior congressional Democrat James Clyburn has responded to remarks made by Donald Trump at a private event on Saturday in which he compared the Biden administration with the Gestapo secret police in fascist Germany, saying it was “incredible, but it’s not surprising”.

The 83-year-old South Carolina Democrat added that Trump “is given to hyperbole on every subject that he ever approaches … The country got off track after that 1876 election and we are approaching the same kinds of elements today.”

The 1876 election between Republican Ohio governor Rutherford Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden was one of the most disputed ever, with widespread allegations of electoral fraud, violence and voter disenfranchisement.

Clyburn accused Trump of having an “understanding of this country that I thought we left behind more than 100 years ago. But as I watch things happen in the country today, I’ve been harkening back for some time now, to the 1876 presidential election, and how this country got off track after the civil war.”

He added: “The words are different. But the meanings are the same.”

On Saturday, the former president hosted a private lunch for Republican donors and party leaders at his Mar-a-Lago club. The fundraiser also included many of those presumed to be on the list for running mate, including the South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who has been politically damaged by an admission in her memoir that she shot a 14-month-old hunting dog two decades ago. Noem was reported to have left the event early.

Others at the lunch included North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, Ohio senator JD Vance, New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and Byron Donalds, a congressman from Florida.

According to CNN, Trump singled out Stefanik, who he described as “an amazing talent”, as well as Marco Rubio. NBC reported that Trump brought the guests, with the exception of Noem, on stage– including House speaker Mike Johnson.

But during an address that lasted over an hour, Trump likened the Biden administration to Hitler’s secret police. “These people are running a Gestapo administration,” Trump said, according to NBC News. “It’s the only thing they have. And it’s the only way they’re going to win in their opinion.”

Burgum, appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, all but confirmed Trump’s statement, but tried to diminish its importance.

“This was a short comment deep into the thing that wasn’t really central to what he was talking about,” said Burgum.

Burgum affirmed that Trump drew the parallel as part of his accusation that Biden’s White House is behind his legal troubles. “A majority of Americans,” Burgum said, “feel like the trial that he’s in right now is politically motivated.”

Trump is due back in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday where he is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in relation to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Explore more on these topics

  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump
  • Democrats
  • US politics
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Analysis

‘News on Facebook is dead’: memes replace Australian media posts as Meta turns off the tap

Nick Evershed and Josh Taylor

Analysis finds engagement with news is at an all-time low – due at least in part to changes to algorithms

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Meta has refused to enter into new deals with Australian media publishers for the use of their content on Facebook, leading to fears it may again implement a ban on news content appearing on the platform. But an analysis of Facebook data suggests engagement with posts from news organisations is already at an all-time low, as memes fill the space.

Meta has argued that news makes up just 3% of what people engage with on its services.

An analysis by Guardian Australia has determined that this appears to be by design, with Meta turning off the tap for news in the past few years.

A study carried out in 2021 by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT looked at the amount of engagement with Facebook posts by Australian news organisations over time.

It showed a decline in engagement between 2015 and November 2020, as well as a decline in traffic from Facebook to news websites.

Guardian Australia has updated this analysis, which shows that engagement with posts from Australian media is now at an all-time low, with the exception of the brief period in February 2021 when Facebook blocked news posts in Australia.

This drop in engagement and traffic was due at least in part to changes Meta made to its algorithms, which resulted in less news being shown in the home feed of Facebook users. But the UTS and RMIT analysis also shows some publishers changed their approaches to social media in response, focusing on different sources of traffic, such as Google search.

James Meese, one of the RMIT researchers in the 2021 study, says the updated research shows that news on Facebook has continued to underperform on the platform since 2017.

“Another way to say underperformance is just to say that news on Facebook is dead,” he says.

  • Sign up for a weekly email featuring our best reads

He says Meta has long been public about not being interested in news but that position also affects whether people consume news on the platform.

“There’s probably a feedback loop here where Facebook deprioritises news, therefore people see less news there, therefore potentially seek out news less,” he says.

“Social media and the internet more generally is a competitive space, so if Facebook aren’t surfacing news, then people who look for news are likely to go elsewhere and the practices are going to change accordingly.”

News engagement completely tanked

In a separate analysis, Guardian Australia categorised the top posts relevant to Australia on Facebook by total interaction, comparing the period of the news ban with the week preceding it, as well as the same period in 2015 before any algorithmic changes that deprioritised news in home feeds (see below for full details).

This analysis suggests that when news is removed from the platform in Australian feeds it is replaced by more of the same content that was otherwise in the top 100 – namely memes and posts from content creators.

There is also a live experiment – Canada – that suggests what Australia might experience if Meta pulls the plug on news again. Meta has banned news content in Canada since August in response to its legislation to force Meta to pay for news.

Aengus Bridgman of the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy in Canada says smaller local news outlets have suffered from a reduction in engagement, while the platforms themselves have experienced little change.

“The short story is, Facebook and Instagram are fine,” he says. “They haven’t really seen a noticeable decrease in traffic.”

His analysis of the ban suggests it has had little effect on people who were the subject of news stories or consumers of news on Facebook.

“Politicians, political influencers and the chattering class continue to use the platform and continue to receive similar levels of engagement as to what they received before.”

But he says it has completely tanked news engagement.

“In particular, small community pages and Indigenous community pages that largely relied on Facebook to drive traffic to their websites. All of that link traffic has disappeared. And it’s been disastrous for them.”

News outlets can continue to post on Facebook under the ban but it is not visible to Canadian users. Links to Canadian news sites cannot be posted. Bridgman has found politically focused Canadian groups that previously posted links have shifted to posting screenshots of news stories.

“The political discussion has just continued on the platform. The news cycle still drives engagement. Politicians and influential political personalities still draw on the news … But there’s just none of that linking,” he says.

Some Canadian-based outlets such as the rightwing site Rebel News have adapted by focusing on global news and picking up traffic from outside Canada, he says.

Smaller publishers in Australia have warned that they would similarly be most affected by a Facebook news ban if Meta was designated under the news media bargaining code – meaning the company would be forced to negotiate with publishers and pay for news content on its platforms, or face fines of 10% of its annual Australian revenue.

Some news organisations, such as Sky News Australia, have already tailored their online news output to appeal to audiences in the US and the UK.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, last month said he was awaiting advice from Treasury and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about the effect of changes on news outlets and the social platforms while considering whether to designate Meta under the code.

Meta has maintained its position that news is not the reason people use its services, and has said “global tech companies cannot solve the longstanding issues facing the news industry”.

Notes

Guardian Australia used Crowdtangle to export the top 100 posts by total interactions for pages with an Australian admin, and the top 100 posts for pages “relevant to Australia”. These datasets were combined for each time period, duplicates removed, posts in languages other than English removed, and the content type of each page was manually assessed into categories. The final chart uses the percentage of posts in each category.

The time periods used were 18 February 2021 to 26 February 2021 for the “news ban dates”, then the same dates in 2015, 2021 and 2024, as well as the week preceding the news ban in 2021.

Explore more on these topics

  • Facebook
  • Meta
  • Social media
  • Australian media
  • analysis
Share

Reuse this content

Third-party providers a customer data ‘weak spot’, Australian privacy commissioner says

Carly Kind’s comments come after major leak of customer data collected by IT provider for NSW and ACT clubs

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The Australian privacy commissioner has warned that third-party suppliers are “a real weak spot” for protecting customer privacy after Australian user details were compromised in a leak of supplier data held by New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory clubs.

Last week more than 1 million people had their personal information including names, addresses, and driver’s licence information exposed after data collected by the IT provider Outabox was published online. Outabox’s customers included dozens of clubs in NSW, including the hospitality giant Merivale.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s data breach report stated that there were 483 notifications in the past six months related to direct data breaches, and 121 secondary data breaches – that is, where another company has suffered a data breach and that company is thereby affected by it.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

The privacy commissioner, Carly Kind, said it was a growing issue, and larger organisations such as clubs needed to ensure they were passing on their privacy obligations to third-party suppliers.

“We’re absolutely seeing a rise in third party suppliers being the source of data breaches,” Kind said in an interview to mark the launch of Privacy Awareness Week. “Being a point of vulnerability for others in terms of compliance with Privacy Act is very real and what we’re cautioning organisations about is ensuring that they’re passing on their obligations in the best way possible in any contract with third parties.

“So either by through contractual provisions about compliance with privacy standards, but also through due diligence and ensuring that they know what kinds of privacy protections are in place for those third-party suppliers … it’s becoming a real weak spot in the chain of protecting privacy.”

Kind is the first stand-alone privacy commissioner to hold the federal role in eight years. She took up the position in late February, moving back to Australia after being the inaugural director of the London-based AI and date research organisation the Ada Lovelace Institute since 2019. Her appointment comes as the federal government is planning a substantial overhaul of the Privacy Act.

On Thursday the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, said reform of the law was vital in a time when the “personal privacy of citizens is under attack”. The government plans to introduce legislation overhauling the Privacy Act and targeting doxing – the malicious use of their personal and private information – in August.

In consultation with industry, he said, the government was considering bringing in a fair and reasonable test regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, and has agreed in principle that a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy should be introduced complementary to the Privacy Act protections. Also under consideration is requirements for businesses around maximum and minimum retention periods for personal information.

Kind said since coming into the role in February she had noticed no resistance to the privacy reform from industry, and there was political support for the change. She said what she was more concerned about was Australian organisations not considering what personal information they collect and whether they still need to collect it.

“When these data breaches occur, we’re seeing a lot of data that’s being exposed, perhaps some of which doesn’t need to be held or retained by those entities. So [that’s] perhaps a challenge of excessive collection of data in the first place … I think there’s some probably some habits and trends there that have been baked in and because there hasn’t been that Privacy Act reform, and it’s feeling a bit overdue.”

Kind said some of the larger tech companies had improved their data-collection practices as a result of passing on requirements under the EU’s data privacy regime to the rest of the world but that alone was not sufficient, and local laws needed updating, with regulators given stronger powers to enforce privacy law.

“The role of regulators there is really key. We’ve seen that in Europe very active enforcement of privacy law in certain aspects really can change business models.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Privacy
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Placement poverty’ to be tackled in Labor budget with new payments for student teachers and nurses

Midwives and social workers will also be given $320 weekly payment for undertaking mandatory work placements at university

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Student teachers, nurses, midwives and social workers will receive a $320 weekly payment during their mandatory placements under a new cost-of-living measure in the May budget.

The Albanese government will establish a commonwealth practical payment for 68,000 university students and 5,000 vocational education and training students undertaking mandatory workplace placements as part of their courses.

From July 2025, students in those four disciplines will be paid $319.50 a week, benchmarked to the single Austudy rate, in addition to any income support they already receive.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

The announcement follows Labor’s decision to wipe $3bn from student debts by legislating to index Hecs and Help debts to the lower of the consumer price index or the wage price index, backdated to June 2023.

The tertiary education sector and crossbench welcomed the Hecs measure but called on the government to fully implement the recommendations of the Universities Accord, including changing the date of indexation so increases are not applied to debts students have already paid off.

On the new placement payments, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said “teachers give our children the best start in life – they deserve a fair start to their career”.

“We’re proud to be backing the hard work and aspiration of Australians looking to better themselves by studying at university.”

The education minister, Jason Clare, said: “This will give people who have signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country a bit of extra help to get the qualifications they need. Placement poverty is a real thing. I have met students who told me they can afford to go to uni but they can’t afford to do the prac.”

The independent MP Monique Ryan told Guardian Australia before the announcement that she had heard of “nursing students sleeping in cars while doing rural rotations”.

In addition to prac payments, Ryan is pushing the government to change the date of indexation from 1 June to 1 November, to avoid the “completely inappropriate” addition to debts “that have already been paid off”.

The government has revealed that in the 2024-25 budget, tax receipt upgrades excluding GST were expected to be $25bn over four years, less than independent forecasters expected and less than the past three budgets, which averaged $129bn of upgrades.

The government is expected to bank almost all the revenue upgrade in 2023-24 – about 95% – as it pushes the start date of measures including the prac payment and super on paid parental leave to mid-2025.

A surplus remains within reach for 2023-24 – which would be Labor’s second – but the budget position for the remaining three years was expected to be worse than projected in the mid-year update.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said the government was being “realistic” that it would not see “the same sorts of massive revenue upgrades that we’ve seen in recent budget updates to continue”.

“We’ve made substantial progress in getting the budget in better nick, having delivered the first surplus in 15 years with a second one in prospect, but we know that the pressures on the budget are intensifying, not easing,” he said.

Chalmers said the government was “striking the right balance between getting inflation under control [and] easing cost-of-living pressures” but that it was also necessary to “make room for urgent and unfunded priorities and invest in the future drivers of economic growth in the years ahead”.

The economist Chris Richardson said the government would “need to be careful with its extra spending in the budget” because it wanted “at least one rate cut under its belt before going to the polls” but inflation was “hanging around” longer than expected.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian budget 2024
  • Australian politics
  • Cost of living crisis
  • Health
  • Labor party
  • Anthony Albanese
  • Jim Chalmers (Australian politician)
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Placement poverty’ to be tackled in Labor budget with new payments for student teachers and nurses

Midwives and social workers will also be given $320 weekly payment for undertaking mandatory work placements at university

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Student teachers, nurses, midwives and social workers will receive a $320 weekly payment during their mandatory placements under a new cost-of-living measure in the May budget.

The Albanese government will establish a commonwealth practical payment for 68,000 university students and 5,000 vocational education and training students undertaking mandatory workplace placements as part of their courses.

From July 2025, students in those four disciplines will be paid $319.50 a week, benchmarked to the single Austudy rate, in addition to any income support they already receive.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

The announcement follows Labor’s decision to wipe $3bn from student debts by legislating to index Hecs and Help debts to the lower of the consumer price index or the wage price index, backdated to June 2023.

The tertiary education sector and crossbench welcomed the Hecs measure but called on the government to fully implement the recommendations of the Universities Accord, including changing the date of indexation so increases are not applied to debts students have already paid off.

On the new placement payments, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said “teachers give our children the best start in life – they deserve a fair start to their career”.

“We’re proud to be backing the hard work and aspiration of Australians looking to better themselves by studying at university.”

The education minister, Jason Clare, said: “This will give people who have signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country a bit of extra help to get the qualifications they need. Placement poverty is a real thing. I have met students who told me they can afford to go to uni but they can’t afford to do the prac.”

The independent MP Monique Ryan told Guardian Australia before the announcement that she had heard of “nursing students sleeping in cars while doing rural rotations”.

In addition to prac payments, Ryan is pushing the government to change the date of indexation from 1 June to 1 November, to avoid the “completely inappropriate” addition to debts “that have already been paid off”.

The government has revealed that in the 2024-25 budget, tax receipt upgrades excluding GST were expected to be $25bn over four years, less than independent forecasters expected and less than the past three budgets, which averaged $129bn of upgrades.

The government is expected to bank almost all the revenue upgrade in 2023-24 – about 95% – as it pushes the start date of measures including the prac payment and super on paid parental leave to mid-2025.

A surplus remains within reach for 2023-24 – which would be Labor’s second – but the budget position for the remaining three years was expected to be worse than projected in the mid-year update.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said the government was being “realistic” that it would not see “the same sorts of massive revenue upgrades that we’ve seen in recent budget updates to continue”.

“We’ve made substantial progress in getting the budget in better nick, having delivered the first surplus in 15 years with a second one in prospect, but we know that the pressures on the budget are intensifying, not easing,” he said.

Chalmers said the government was “striking the right balance between getting inflation under control [and] easing cost-of-living pressures” but that it was also necessary to “make room for urgent and unfunded priorities and invest in the future drivers of economic growth in the years ahead”.

The economist Chris Richardson said the government would “need to be careful with its extra spending in the budget” because it wanted “at least one rate cut under its belt before going to the polls” but inflation was “hanging around” longer than expected.

Explore more on these topics

  • Australian budget 2024
  • Australian politics
  • Cost of living crisis
  • Health
  • Labor party
  • Anthony Albanese
  • Jim Chalmers (Australian politician)
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Rishi Sunak to face pressure to shift right after disastrous election results

Suella Braverman says Conservative party will be lucky to have any MPs unless it adopts harder line on immigration and rights

Rishi Sunak will face pressure to adopt hard rightwing policies such as an immigration cap and scrapping European human rights law this week, with Suella Braverman saying he needs to “own and fix” a disastrous set of local election results.

Sunak’s allies were on Sunday insisting he wanted to stick to his current plan and that it was working, as plotters against his leadership accepted they did not have the support to challenge him.

But Braverman issued an extraordinary broadside against Sunak on a BBC news programme, saying she regretted voting for him to be leader but it was too late to get rid of him. She also said the party would be “lucky to have any MPs” if it continued on the same path.

Urging him to change course, she called for more conservative policies such as withdrawing from the European convention on human rights – a move that would be hugely unpopular with moderate Conservatives.

Braverman told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I love my country, I care about my party and I want us to win, and I am urging the prime minister to change course, to – with humility – reflect on what voters are telling us, and change the plan and the way that he is communicating and leading us.”

Asked about whether she wanted to see a change in leader, Braverman said: “I just don’t think that is a feasible prospect right now, we don’t have enough time and it is impossible for anyone new to come and change our fortunes to be honest. There is no superman or superwoman out there who can do it.”

Instead she called on Rishi Sunak to “own” the result, adding: “Therefore he needs to fix it.” One of her allies, John Hayes, called for a reshuffle to bring her back into the cabinet.

Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister and communities secretary, along with ex-minister Neil O’Brien are to publish a pamphlet this week urging more action to bring down migration before the election.

However, Sunak is looking at a schism in the party, as other senior Conservatives dismissed Braverman’s diagnosis that a swing further to the right was needed. Some Tories believe the prime minister needs to tack to the centre to take votes from Labour and the Lib Dems in marginal seats, while others believe the best strategy is squeezing the Reform UK vote on the right.

Andy Street, the former West Midlands mayor who narrowly lost to Labour on Saturday, said: “The thing everyone should take from Birmingham and the West Midlands is this brand of moderative, inclusive, tolerant conservatism, that gets on and delivered, has come within an ace of beating the Labour party in what they considered to be their back yard – that’s the message from here tonight.”

Robert Buckland, a Tory MP and former justice secretary from the One Nation wing of the party, told GB News that the British public are “putting their fingers in their ears” about the Conservatives because they are engaged in too much infighting.

“The more that we talk about factions and ideology and the less we focus on business, on growth, on jobs, on housing, all those issues that actually people are talking about … then I think we’ve become an irrelevant rump,” he said.

“The Conservative party wins elections, not by being soft and mushy but by reflecting the views of the British public, by being in alliance with them. The coalition that we need is with the British people. We’ve been the party of the nation for generations. I believe we can get back to that, but we need to focus on what people are talking about.”

Sunak has been largely absent from the airwaves over the weekend, apart from appearing at Ben Houchen’s Tees Valley victory on Friday – a sole pocket of good news for the Conservatives.

However, Mark Harper, the transport secretary and a longtime supporter of Sunak, gave a round of broadcast interviews insisting the prime minister’s plan is working. He said the party still had “everything to fight for” and pointed to there being only nine points between the Tories and Labour in the vote share in England.

Another option being floated by some Conservative MPs is whether to give Boris Johnson a role in the election campaign, despite his difficult relationship with Sunak, his successor as prime minister after Liz Truss.

Andrea Jenkyns, a Conservative on the right of the party and a supporter of Johnson, told Sky News’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: “I would like to see real commonsense conservatism, honouring our manifesto commitments. I would like to see the return of Boris on the frontline of politics, whether that’s going for a seat in the next election and being front and centre of our election campaign.”

A report in the Sunday Times suggested this weekend that there had been contact between Johnson’s team and Nigel Farage’s camp about the possibility of reuniting the right of politics after the election although the two men are not understood to have spoken directly.

Explore more on these topics

  • Rishi Sunak
  • Suella Braverman
  • Conservatives
  • Local elections
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Work under way to bridge 32km gap in NSW dog fence – but ecologists say it should be taken down

The 5,614km barrier runs from South Australia to southern Queensland and was built to keep dingoes out, but some experts say it’s ‘making things worse’ for semi-arid ecosystems

  • Sign up for the Rural Network email newsletter
  • Join the Rural Network group on Facebook to be part of the community

In the far-western reaches of New South Wales, the world’s longest fence tracks through the red dirt making a cartographically straight path along state borders.

The 5,614km fence starts in South Australia, where it’s called the dog fence, and joins the NSW border near Broken Hill, where it becomes that state’s responsibility and is called the wild dog fence. At Cameron Corner it veers north into Queensland and becomes the wild dog barrier fence. It follows the route set out in the 1940s by the old dingo fence, used to keep dingoes out of remote grazing land to the west and prime agricultural country in Queensland’s Darling Downs.

For farmers it has become part of the landscape, a key plank in protecting livestock against dingoes and wild dogs. But ecologists say the fence is a colonial legacy that is doing more harm than good.

  • Sign up to receive Guardian Australia’s fortnightly Rural Network email newsletter

In a report presented to the lands minister, Steve Kamper, in March, the board chair, Andrew Bell, said fewer than 10 wild dogs were reported outside the fence, with a full inspection of the NSW side of the fence completed and shown to be in “very good order”.

Maintaining the fence along the NSW side is managed by a team of 13 permanent staff who manage sections of the fence between 60km and 100km, undertaking inspections each Monday and Friday. Workers are paid between $26 and $31 an hour with accommodation provided, according to a job listing.

Gerard Glover runs sheep and cattle on a pastoral lease near Brewarrina in north-western NSW.

“In springtime, or straight after rain, it’s beautiful country – the vastness catches people,” he says. “It might be all scrubby on one side of a sand dune and you come over the top and it opens up into beautiful open country with flowers and native animals.”

Glover is the chair of the NSW Farmers western division council. His work takes him to towns right along the fence line, on properties so vast that “your nextdoor neighbour might be 50[km] away, or even 100”.

He says pastoralists along the fence line take other steps to control wild dogs but the dogs are “pretty organised”. “It’s very hard to set traps and just do work on your own property, because the dog might have moved next door with better pickings,” he says.

“You probably don’t realise how much you rely on the fence until there’s a problem. It’s always been there, I don’t think there would be too many people remembering before the dog fence.”

The NSW and SA governments last year committed to patching a 32km gap in the fence, just north of Broken Hill. The NSW MP Roy Butler, whose electorate of Barwon covers the vast western expanse of the state, says fixing the gap is the first step of a fence extension plan involving all three states that lie along the fence’s footprint.

“Once the fence is built, then in terms of alternative control measures, in terms of non-lethal control, go ahead and look at what can be done,” he says.

‘A cultural barrier’

But researchers say extending the fence would be a “step backwards”.

“The dingo fence is not just a fence, it’s a cultural barrier,” says Justine Phillips, who completed her PhD on dingoes at the University of New England and is now an honorary research fellow with the University of Birmingham. “It was initially put up to fence off the waterholes and created a distinctive line in the landscape, where landowners could legally keep First Nations people off the land. It has a violent history and it hasn’t really been acknowledged in these terms.”

The fundamental disagreement between ecologists and farmers and governments over the fence extends to the terms used: the Department of Regional NSW defines “wild dog” as including dingoes, feral domestic dogs and hybrid descendants. Research by the University of NSW published in 2022 said most wild dogs killed in rural Australia are pure dingoes.

Dr Tom Newsome, a researcher at the University of Sydney’s global ecology lab, says that by shutting dingoes out, the barrier fence could provide unique insights into how they interact with the landscape.

“Globally, when you look at what happens when you remove an apex predator, there are some negative effects on the ecosystem,” he says. “We have more herbivores, we have more invasive predators, localised extinctions, there’s a negative story around that.”

The barrier fence is about 2 metres high and dug 30cm underground, meaning it prevents the movement of a wide variety of animals, not just dingoes.

Newsome and his team are hoping to secure a section of land along the fence to conduct controlled experiments on returning dingoes to the region. But they are facing “political barriers”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional NSW says the fence is “one of a range of tools used in the fight against wild dogs and other biosecurity threats”.

A spokesperson for South Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions says an estimated 20,000 sheep were lost each year before gaps in the fence were closed, and a further extension of the fence is supported.

“A combination of coordinated wild dog control methods … have driven the wild dog population to historic lows and enabled producers to restock sheep across more than 18,000 sq km of pastoral land,” they say.

Reintroducing dingoes could help smaller native species by reducing feral cat and fox numbers, the University of Sydney ecologist Prof Christopher Dickman says.

But that argument is unlikely to sway farmers, for whom the larger dingo is a bigger risk. The solution to that problem may lie in guardian dogs, Dickman says. Guardian dogs, like maremma, are routinely used to deter wolves, bears and coyote in the US.

“We’re just extending the situation and making it progressively worse by adding more fence additions and using cluster fences,” he says. “Large areas of neighbouring properties are now surrounding themselves with this very big fence and it’s just taking out all the old kangaroos, emus, all the dingoes and flogging [the land] to death with too many sheep. Just seems crazy.

“We cannot move beyond the mindset that the only good dingo is a dead dingo.”

  • Sign up for the Rural Network email newsletter

  • Join the Rural Network group on Facebook to be part of the community

Explore more on these topics

  • Rural Australia
  • The rural network
  • New South Wales
  • Invasive species
  • Conservation
  • Wildlife
  • features
Share

Reuse this content

Bernard Hill, Boys from the Blackstuff and Lord of the Rings actor, dies aged 79

Hill’s portrayal of Yosser Hughes in 1982 BBC series launched career that included roles in Titanic and JRR Tolkein epic

Bernard Hill, the stage, television and film actor who rose to fame for his unforgettable portrayal of Yosser Hughes, has died at the age of 79.

Hill played the unemployed character with the famous “gizza job” catchphrase in Alan Bleasdale’s 1982 BBC series Boys from the Blackstuff. It helped launch a stellar career that included playing the captain of the Titanic in James Cameron’s 1997 film and Théoden, king of Rohan, in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Hill’s agent Lou Coulson said the actor died in the early hours of Sunday.

One of the first to pay tribute on Sunday was the singer Barbara Dickson who worked with Hill in Willy Russell’s 1974 stage musical John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert.

Dickson said on X: “A really marvellous actor. It was a privilege to have crossed paths with him. RIP Benny x.”

Hill played John Lennon in the musical, one of a number of Merseyside characters that the Manchester-born actor became famous for.

None more so than Yosser Hughes, a jobless, desperate father of three who became an emblem of everything that was wrong in Thatcher’s Britain. The character would pester and hector people saying: “Gizza job. Go on. Gizza job. I could do that,” and when he wasn’t head-butting people he was banging his own head against the wall, literally and metaphorically.

The writer James Graham, who has adapted Boys from the Blackstuff for the stage, paid tribute, saying: “It’s almost impossible to overstate the extent of the impact and legacy Bernard Hill, alongside Alan Bleasdale, created when they made Yosser Hughes. How rare it is that a character can so definitively come to represent an era, both for Liverpool but way beyond.

“Yosser is often remembered as a head-butting brute, which he was. But Bernard’s mesmerising and heart-breaking incarnation of a man being slowly broken, in his spirit and his mind, by the cruelty of the world around him, it’s easy to forget how much heart there was there too.”Hill’s performance gained him a nomination for a best television actor Bafta, losing out to Alec Guinness for Smiley’s People.

Bleasdale has described Hill’s performance as Yosser as “the great, definitive performance of his generation”.

Hill was reunited with Willy Russell in the film Shirley Valentine, starring Pauline Collins, in which he played the title character’s husband, Joe.

He is posthumously back on British TV screens this weekend, playing Martin Freeman’s dad in the BBC police series The Responder, set in Liverpool.

Interviewed recently about his fondness for the city, Hill said: “Liverpool is one of my favourite places, I’ve got a great relationship with the city. I lived there for a long time and my daughter was born there so it’s like my second home.”

Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, paid tribute. “Bernard Hill blazed a trail across the screen, and his long-lasting career filled with iconic and remarkable roles is a testament to his incredible talent,” she said.

“From Boys from the Blackstuff, to Wolf Hall, The Responder, and many more, we feel truly honoured to have worked with Bernard at the BBC. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this sad time.”

When Hollywood came knocking for Hill it led to roles that included Titanic, as well as the San Quentin prison warden Luther Plunkitt in Clint Eastwood’s True Crime and the friendly inventor Philos opposite Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, in The Scorpion King.

Hill enjoyed the work but said he never wanted to join other British actors moving to Los Angeles. He will be best known to many people as Théoden in the Lord of the Rings films. Asked about his experience filming in New Zealand Hill said: “I loved every minute of every day that I was on Lord of the Rings.”

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson remembered Hill as “one of the funniest and quickest witted people we ever had the good fortune to work with. His performance as Théoden, King of Rohan, is beloved by millions and stands testament to his brilliance as an actor. But we will remember him as a deeply loyal and loving friend.”

Hill had been due to be at Comic Con in Liverpool on Sunday. It said on X: “We’re heartbroken to hear the news of Bernard Hill’s passing. A great loss. Thinking of his family at this very sad time, and wishing them a lot of strength.”

His many television roles included playing David Blunkett in Channel 4’s A Very Social Secretary, for which he was again nominated for a Bafta, this time missing out to Mark Rylance for The Government Inspector.

In 2015, he played the Duke of Norfolk in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

Hill’s theatre work included Macbeth at the Leicester Haymarket in 1985, Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard in the West End in 1989 and Sir Chiffley Lockheart in Ben Elton’s debut play Gasping at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1990.

Hill was born to working-class parents in 1944. After college in Rusholme he trained as a quantity surveyor but had dreams of being an actor.

When he failed an audition for drama school he decided to train as a teacher but was encouraged to stick at drama by a part-time tutor he met at college – Mike Leigh.

In 1973, Hill, in one of his earliest roles, appeared in Leigh’s first TV drama Hard Labour as the son of a woman, played by Liz Smith, quietly enduring a life of grinding domestic work.

Explore more on these topics

  • Culture
  • Television
  • New Zealand
  • Peter Jackson
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Yorkshire apostrophe fans demand road signs with nowt taken out

Council says punctuation mark must go to suit computer databases, but grammar purists see signs of falling standards

A council has provoked the wrath of residents and linguists alike after announcing it would ban apostrophes on street signs to avoid problems with computer systems.

North Yorkshire council is ditching the punctuation point after careful consideration, saying it can affect geographical databases.

The council said all new street signs would be produced without one, regardless of whether they were used in the past.

Some residents expressed reservations about removing the apostrophes, and said it risked “everything going downhill”. They urged the authority to retain them.

Sam, a postal worker in Harrogate, a spa town in North Yorkshire, told the BBC that signs missing an apostrophe – such as the nearby St Mary’s Walk sign that had been erected in the town without it – infuriated her.

“I walk past the sign every day and it riles my blood to see inappropriate grammar or punctuation,” she said.

Though the updated St Mary’s sign had no apostrophe, someone had graffitied an apostrophe back on to the sign with a marker pen, which the former teacher said was “brilliant”.

She suggested the council was providing a bad example to children who spend a long time learning the basics of grammar only to see it not being used correctly on street signs.

Dr Ellie Rye, a lecturer in English language and linguistics at the University of York, said apostrophes were a relatively new invention in our writing and, often, context allows people to understand their meaning.

“If I say I live on St Mary’s Walk, we’re expecting a street name or an address of some kind.”

She said the change would matter to people who spend a long time teaching how we write English but that it was “less important in [verbal] communication”.

North Yorkshire council said it was not the first to opt to “eliminate” the apostrophe from street signs. Cambridge city council had done the same, before it bowed to pressure and reinstated the apostrophe after complaints from campaigners.

There was also an outcry from residents when Mid Devon district council considered making it a policy to do away with apostrophes to “avoid potential confusion”.

A spokesperson from North Yorkshire council added: “All punctuation will be considered but avoided where possible because street names and addresses, when stored in databases, must meet the standards set out in BS7666.

“This restricts the use of punctuation marks and special characters (eg apostrophes, hyphens and ampersands) to avoid potential problems when searching the databases as these characters have specific meanings in computer systems.”

Explore more on these topics

  • North Yorkshire
  • Local government
  • North of England
  • news
Share

Reuse this content