Daily News Roundup

November 20, 2018

Image: ABC News

TUESDAY, November 20

The Federal Government is likely to cut Australia’s permanent migration cap, in a move it says will ease congestion in the major cities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a speech on the future of Australia’s cities, said Sydney and Melbourne had been overwhelmed with population growth.

“The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full, the schools are taking no more enrolments,” he said.

“I hear what you are saying, I hear you loud and clear.

“That’s why we need to improve how we manage population growth in this country.”

It remains unclear what impact a cut on permanent migration would have on city congestion, given intake levels are already well below the current cap of 190,000.

“We’re running 30,000 below where it has been and it wouldn’t surprise me if any process we went through would arrive in that sort of territory,” he said.

Just hours before Mr Morrison made his comments, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne had warned against cutting immigration levels.

He said the solution was moving migrants away from Sydney and Melbourne and into regional areas, something the Federal Government could achieve through “policy settings”.

“We don’t need to put a handbrake on population growth,” he told Sky News.

“We need to manage our population growth sensibly in a country which quite frankly can take a lot more than 25 million people.”

Mr Morrison said he would ask state and territory leaders at a meeting in December how many migrants their jurisdictions can realistically take.

He has previously indicated the states were best placed to determine their capacity for future growth.

“My approach is to actually get away from top-down discussions about population to set our intake cap, and get into a discussion from the bottom up,” he said.

“Now I believe this is likely to end in revising down the permanent migration cap in Australia; that would be my expectation.”

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Teenage German Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch has had successful surgery with “no fear of paralysis” after an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix, her team boss has said.

Floersch, 17, suffered a spinal fracture at the street circuit when her car catapulted off the track and into a photographers’ bunker while travelling at more than 275 kilometres per hour.

“Everything is working and everything is in order,” team boss Frits Van Amersfoort told the BBC.

PHOTO: Sophia Floersch, 17, was left with a fractured spine after the crash. (Twitter: Sophia Floersch )

“Paralysis was the main fear. That’s why the operation had to be done quite quickly because there was a danger [the spinal cord] could be damaged.

“We are extremely happy that she is now recovering and that everything went extremely well. There’s no fear of paralysis whatsoever.”

Floersch was conscious when taken to hospital in the former Portuguese territory, assuring her followers on Twitter that she was “fine”.

Her social team also provided an update during surgery, saying doctors were “deliberately working slowly to avoid risks” and the operation was “without complications”.

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Three men have been arrested over an ISIS-inspired Melbourne terror plot that allegedly aimed to kill as many people as possible using at least one semi-automatic rifle.

Two brothers, a 30-year-old from Dallas, a 26-year-old from Campbellfield and a 21-year-old man from Greenvale were arrested during dawn raids at their homes in the city’s northwest on Tuesday involving more than 200 police.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the trio had been under investigation since March and become “much more energised” in the past week about activating the plot quickly.

“We didn’t have a precise time and a precise location,” Mr Ashton told reporters in Melbourne of the planned attack.

“They were looking at a place of mass gathering.

“There was a view towards a crowded place, a place where maximum people would be attending, to be able, to kill, we allege, a maximum amount of people as possible.

“I believe, over more recent days, attempts have been made to source a 0.22 semi-automatic rifle to assist with the carrying out of that terrorism event.”

Mr Ashton said the accused were using encrypted communications and police acted when they had gathered enough evidence.

All three are Australians of Turkish background who had their passports cancelled by federal agencies in January, March and October.

Two of the men have no criminal history while the third was picked up in 2007 for the minor offence of failing to display L plates.

Authorities said the men were influenced by ISIS to carry out the plot.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the arrests were an excellent result”.

“If we had not acted early in preventing this attack, we will allege the consequences would have been chilling with the potential, as the commissioner stated, the potential for significant potential loss of human life,” he said.

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Families will have greater flexibility with how they use paid parental leave entitlements under a Coalition plan, amid concerns the existing program is too rigid and not being fully utilised.

Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer said the Federal Government would change when parents could access entitlements to allow them to tailor the payments to suit their needs.

“We know there are thousands of parents who don’t access all of their parental leave payment, which means that they are missing out,” she said.

“It’s a pretty rigid system right now. You’ve got your 18 weeks, and you use it or you lose it.”

Paid parental leave is paid at the national minimum wage of $719.35 a week before tax but must be taken in an 18-week chunk.

The partner of a parent receiving this payment can receive up to two weeks of paid leave, taking couples to a combined 20 weeks of paid leave.

The changes, which need to pass Parliament, will allow parental leave to be taken in blocks.

Ms O’Dwyer said the greater flexibility would also allow for more fathers to spend time as a child’s primary carer.

“We know that families actually want more choices about their family arrangements,” she said.

“And it doesn’t take into account that there are many women who are self-employed, who are running their own small businesses, and who can’t spend 18 weeks away from their business.

“So we want to give them the flexibility to choose, to take their parental leave payment in blocks, in the way that suits them.”

 

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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