Daily News Roundup

December 13, 2018

Image: RTL Today

Thursday, December 13

Tropical Cyclone Owen is continuing to strengthen and was today (Thursday) upgraded to category three with experts saying it could be further upgraded to a category four intensity by the time it crosses the Queensland coast.

It is currently on the north-east Northern Territory coast between Port Roper and Port McArthur, just west of Bing Bong.

A warning remains in place for Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, to Aurukun in Queensland, including Borroloola, Mornington Island, Karumba, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw.

A watch zone now extends inland from Karumba to Aurukun as far as Georgetown, Chillagoe and Coen.

A warning from Alyangula to Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, including Groote Eylandt, has been cancelled.

The cyclone is currently 95 kilometres south-east of Port Roper and 85 kilometres north-west of Port McArthur.

It is forecast to start moving slowly eastwards back towards the Queensland coast during Thursday.

As it tracks east, it is likely to pass close to Port McArthur.

The system is likely to cross the coast along the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria coast between Karumba to Pormpuraaw later on Friday, and there is a chance it could cross the coast as a category four system.

Tropical Cyclone Owen now has sustained winds near the centre of 150 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 205 kilometres per hour.

Today, islands and coastal areas of the western and southern Gulf of Carpentaria are expected to receive heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding.

As the cyclone approaches the coast, a storm tide between Port Roper in the Northern Territory and Karumba in Queensland may develop.

This could result in tides that are significantly higher than normal, damaging waves and minor flooding between Port Roper and Karumba.

Tides are also expected to be higher between Alyangula and Port Roper, with large waves that may produce minor flooding between the two areas.

Seventy people moved to Borroloola’s two public shelters yesterday, while no-one attended another cyclone shelter opened at Numbulwar.

Schools in Borroloola and Numbulwar will not open as they are being used “With winds at incredibly dangerous speeds, it is extremely important that people stay indoors, whether that is in a public shelter or in their home if they chose to remain there.


PM Scott Morrison has revealed religious discrimination would be made illegal under a new law he intended taking to the next federal election.

A Religious Discrimination Act is one of the central recommendations from former Liberal minister Phillip Ruddock’s long-awaited review into religious freedoms set for release today.

Labor has said it is open to the legislation in principle, but wants to see the detail before committing to backing it.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie said age and sex already had laws preventing discrimination, arguing Australia’s multi-cultural faiths should be protected.

“Discrimination in any form in this country is an anathema to how we view ourselves as Australians and the fair-go ethos that our entire nation has been built on,” Senator McKenzie told ABC radio.

Liberal frontbencher Zed Seselja said people had legitimate fears about religious freedom being curtailed, pointing to a report someone lost their job over their views on same-sex marriage during the postal survey.

He also hit out at an “activist strand” within some state-based anti-discrimination laws.

“What we shouldn’t do is have laws that unduly interfere with people’s legitimate ability to express their faith,” Senator Seselja told Sky News.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter will release the Ruddock review almost seven months after the government was handed the recommendations.


A massive manhunt involving hundreds of police and soldiers has been launched for a wounded suspected extremist who yelled “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) during a shooting spree at a French Christmas market.

The assault in the eastern French city of Strasbourg killed two, left one person brain dead and injured 12 others, authorities said.

Prosecutor Remy Heitz said the suspected gunman was shot in the arm during an exchange of fire with French soldiers during his rampage in the city centre on Tuesday.

Police union officials identified the suspected assailant as Cherif Chekatt, a 29-year-old with an extensive police record for crimes including armed robbery and monitored as a suspected religious radical by the French intelligence services.

After being wounded Chekatt took a taxi to another part of the city, boasting to the driver that he had killed 10 people and been injured in a firefight with soldiers. There, he exchanged more gunfire with police and disappeared.

Mr Heitz said the man attacked his victims with a handgun and a knife.

Previously, French authorities had said the assailant killed three people, but Mr Heitz said two people were confirmed dead while the third was brain dead. A further 12 people were injured, six of them gravely.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said the shooting was “indisputably … a form of terrorist attack”.

“For the moment we do not really know the further motivations of the person who committed these acts,” he said.

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