Daily News Roundup

December 17, 2019


Most of the people severely burned in the White Island volcano disaster don’t yet know what has happened to them, according to a New Zealand doctor.

Plastic surgery consultant Michelle Locke told Radio New Zealand many of the victims still hadn’t regained consciousness in hospital one week on from the eruption, which has killed 16 people and left dozens more with devastating injuries.

Twelve Australians died in the disaster and another 13 have been flown to hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne for treatment, but many more victims remain in intensive care units across New Zealand.

“Of the eight burns that we have at Middlemore (Hospital), five of them are still in a critical condition, many of them are still intubated and ventilated and are in our intensive care unit. At the moment, many of them have not yet woken up,” Dr Locke said.

She said several victims had “very deep” burns – including chemical burns – that would require weeks of treatment and millions of dollars worth of cadaver skin to repair.

“They’ve got injuries to the lungs and airways as well that are a bit different than we’ve seen before,” she said.

“Our burns surgeons are trained to deal with all areas of the body, but certainly areas like the hands and the face we consider to be special areas,” she added.

The ABC reported the dramatic update comes as New Zealand begins to debate the future of tourism on White Island in the country’s picturesque Bay of Plenty.

While some have called for tours to stop immediately, others including the former mayor of Whakatane, Tony Bonne, say the volcano is too important to the local, regional and national tourism economy to shut down permanently.


The banking regulator is now investigating Westpac over whether it may have breached the Banking Act by failing to comply fully with anti-money laundering rules for many years, the ABC reports.

ABC Business reporter Michael Janda wrote today that: 

  • APRA is investigating whether “fundamental deficiencies” in Westpac’s risk management led to alleged money laundering breaches
  • The banking regulator will also look at whether the bank and its managers and directors may have breached the Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR)
  • Westpac is currently facing a Federal Court action from financial crime agency AUSTRAC over more than 23 million alleged money laundering law breaches

Late last month, the Federal Government’s financial crime agency AUSTRAC launched a Federal Court action against Westpac, alleging the bank had breached anti-money laundering laws on more than 23 million occasions.

Now the banking regulator APRA is investigating Westpac to determine whether those failures resulted from “fundamental deficiencies” in its risk management that also may have breached the Banking Act.

APRA is not only investigating the bank but also its senior managers and directors, who came under fire from AUSTRAC in its legal statement of claim for “indifference” and “inadequate oversight” respectively.


The impeachment case against Donald Trump has now been laid out by House Democrats, in a sweeping report that accuses the US President of betraying the nation.

The Democratic dominated House of Representatives will vote this week on charges stemming from Mr Trump’s alleged effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

No Republicans are breaking with the President but almost all Democrats are expected to approve the charges against him in the vote on Wednesday (local time).

Mr Trump faces two articles of impeachment brought by Democrats.

They said he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Mr Biden and obstructed Congress by trying to block the House investigation and its oversight duties as part of the nation’s system of checks and balances.

Monday’s 650-page report from the House Judiciary Committee said the President “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections”.

He withheld military aid from the ally as leverage, the report said, and Mr Trump, “by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the constitution if allowed to remain in office”.

The report said the President then engaged in an unprecedented attempt to block the investigation and “cover up” his misconduct.

“In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry,” it added.

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