Australia news live: flooding worsens in northern Victoria, Albanese announces infrastructure boost | Australia news

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Josh Butler

Australian Defence Force personnel have been deployed to Victoria to help responded to emergencies caused by flooding with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese flagging the possibility of extra support for Victoria.

“We’ve made whatever assistance has been requested available, there are now 60 Australian Defence Force personnel on the ground, assisting with evacuations, assisting with sandbagging, doing their bit as our Defence Forces always do,” Albanese told ABC Radio this morning.

“We’ve also made available the Commonwealth facilities at Mickleham to create a Centre for National Resilience, which will ensure that 250 beds are available for those people who’ve had to, unfortunately, evacuate their homes.”

Albanese said there may be additional support from Services Australia. We’re expecting a press conference from him this afternoon.

Anthony Albanese to tour Victoria’s flood-affected regions

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Prime minister Anthony Albanese will travel to Victoria today to tour flood-affected regions. We’re expecting him to visit Bendigo this morning and then hold a press conference in Melbourne in the early afternoon, with federal colleagues and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.

The federal government has pledged more support for recovery and cleanup efforts, with defence force staff deployed to the affected areas. Andrews had also asked for federal money to help prepare the controversial Mickelham quarantine facility (which only closed recently, not long after opening, due to a lack of need for specialised Covid quarantine space) as an evacuation area.

Albanese may also get some questions about the infrastructure spending in the upcoming federal budget, with a big set of announcements on that today as the government confirms a $9.6bn spend. This is all confirmation of already known election commitments, but the government is painting the announcement as a course correction for how the former Coalition government treated this area.

Albanese and infrastructure minister Catherine King said in a statement:

The budget takes an important first step in ensuring the commonwealth’s infrastructure spending is responsible, affordable and sustainable.

We are putting sense back into infrastructure planning and delivery.

Scale of Victoria’s flood recovery efforts will be ‘significant’: King

Conversation turning now to the floods and the damage to infrastructure. The damage bill hasn’t come in yet but King says it is possible to get a sense from some of the pictures coming in about the damage to roads.

The good thing is now the government – you’ve seen it in Queensland and New South Wales – is actually building back better.

King says she expects Victoria will have a “significant ask” when it comes to the recovery effort from the floods.

She closes on saying “our hearts go out to people in Shepparton and Echuca”.

Who would have thought Maribyrnong and Kensington underwater? Terrible.

King on Coalition’s overpriced car parks and discretionary grants

Asked for examples of these extraordinary rorts, King cites overpriced car parks and the $2bn Regional Acceleration Fund:

That one in particular was a strange one, frankly. I think Bridget McKenzie put forward – again she sort of ran around the country during the election campaign announcing all sorts of bits and pieces.

Certainly we will be keeping some elements of that, that sit with the agenda of the new government around training people, making sure we have good university funding, a large proportion of it we won’t.

On the Building Better Regions fund, the applications have closed in December and wasn’t assessed before government left. King says she “hasn’t made a decision about that yet”.

There will be a regional grants program of some sort. It will not be the sort of terrible, skewed program that we’ve seen in the past.

King criticises Coalition’s ‘fanfare’ announcing projects with little follow through

King’s using the interview to take a few digs at her predecessor while discussing sports rorts and the former Coalition’s government’s habit of making splashy announcements but not necessarily following through.

The previous government announced a lot, with a lot of fanfare, but when you look at the capacity constraints and amount of money available.

King said that many of the projects that were announced will need to be reviewed to ensure realistic delivery times and proper funding.

There will be cuts particularly in terms of those things we just saw, extraordinary rorts in terms of commuter car parks.

Federal government ‘in conversation’ with NSW about Warragamba dam wall

King is asked about how the infrastructure spend is being divvied up with New South Wales clearly getting less than Labor-lead states. King says the decisions were based on the projects that had been submitted to the federal government ahead of the budget.

We will work with the New South Wales government as we lead into the May budget.

Asked about the New South Wales Liberal government’s promise to raise the Warragamba dam wall and the lack of money for that. King says the federal government is “in conversation” with the NSW state government.

Of course we will look at it. At this stage we don’t have enough information from the New South Wales government on which to make a decision.

There is back and forth between Infrastructure Australia and the New South Wales department and I haven’t seen any of that yet.

We are open to the New South Wales government to talk about what their priorities are would be.

That would be a decision leading into the May budget and certainly not a decision I will make via media conference frankly.

King is asked about scathing reports the suburban rail loop has received from the auditor general and other criticism.

She says Infrastructure Australia is currently undertaking a “review” of the project.

This is for the early works of this project. We haven’t made any further commitments. We will talk to the Victorians around that as we go forward. They have an election they are facing and this will be a contested project, I’m sure, but something we have confidence in.

Labor is ‘committed’ to Victoria’s suburban rail loop project: King

Catherine King is speaking now and says this will be a “bread and butter” budget as the government looks to “reconcile the budget going forward”.

King is asked why Labor is setting aside funding for the suburban rail loop proposed in Victoria and not waiting for the outcome of the state election to see whether the proposal will be dropped.

We are honouring our election project. This project will be transformational for Victoria. We saw the prime minister was over in Perth with Metro Net which is a similar project.

We are looking at activating the suburbs and trying to actually build new hubs around those train stations and build new train stations, and that is really what this is about for Melbourne … a project we are really committed to. We certainly know that the Victorian state Labor government is committed to it. I certainly hope the Liberals are as well.

Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor is on the ABC Insiders panel this morning and has wasted no time pointing out the tension at the heart of Labor’s October budget.

I think the rhetoric now seems to have shifted to Jim Chalmers wanting to have an ‘adult conversation’. That really interests me. If he wants to have an adult conversation about the gap we want to pay in social services and the revenue we raise between October and next May’s budget … I think it is a laudable aim.

I think it is what we do need to do, but it is a hard thing to do, I think particularly since we haven’t done so well on adult conversations on these things.

Minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Catherine King will be appearing on ABC Insiders on Sunday morning where she is expected to discuss the infrastructure spend.

Albanese wants $9.6bn infrastructure spend to be ‘lasting legacy’

Ahead of the October budget the Labor government has remained steadfast in its promise to carry through the stage-three tax cuts and has been warning “tough choices” will need to be made but also promised a $9.6bn infrastructure spend.

In a statement prime minister Anthony Albanese said he wanted the infrastructure spend to be a “lasting legacy” of his government.

It’s about making journeys quicker, but also making sure people can get home to their families safely.

Through our first budget, my team is getting on with the job of delivering projects in consultation with Infrastructure Australia and all levels of government to make a real difference to the lives of Australians.

The announcement includes:

  • $300m for Western Sydney Roads Package and $500m for the High Speed Rail Authority.

  • $2.2bn for the Suburban Rail Link in Victoria

  • $586.4m of additional funding for a major upgrade of the Bruce Highway to widen a 13km stretch through Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs.

  • $1.5bn for upgrading important freight highways, sealing the Tanami, and upgrading Central Arnhem Road, as well as the Dukes, Stuart and Augusta highways in SA.

  • $540m to upgrade Tasmania’s important road corridors, including the Bass Highway, the Tasman Highway and the East and West Tamar Highways.

  • $125m funding to help build an electric bus network for Perth.

Even as skies have temporarily cleared across Victoria, flood warnings remain active across the state.

It is especially worth stressing the reminder not to drive in flood waters and to be extremely careful if you’re on the road after things have calmed down.

SES makes 450 rescues in flood-hit Victorian communities

Tim Wiebusch, SES chief officer of operations is giving ABC News an update on the flood situation in Victoria and is warning people to pay attention to flood warnings.

One of the challenges is that we’ve got what’s called blue sky flooding. The rain may have stopped and we might be seeing the odd shower, but it’s more obvious to people when there’s the heavier rain. So we are advising people – please listen to the warnings. Please act in accordance to the warning.

Wiesbuch said there had been over 450 rescues in Victoria, 88 in just the last hour. He asked people to not drive into flood waters.

The single biggest killer in flooding in Australia is people attempting to drive through flood waters.

That just ties up our emergency services that could be supporting more vulnerable communities that are under pressure with these floods. So again, turn around, find an alternate way to get there. Or if you don’t need to be travelling in those northern parts of Victoria, don’t travel at all.

Weisbuch said:

  • The Avoca River is currently at 7.7 metres and is expected to peak at 7.9 metres today.

  • Small communities around Lodden River are being warned to brace for approaching flood waters.

  • Flood waters are approaching Echuca and are expected to reach a second peak “mid-to-late” next week.

  • “Thousands” of properties have been inundated at Shepparton and Mooroopna.

  • There is flooding “in and around” Kyalla and Murchison “on the way up the Goulburn River” where emergency warnings are in place and where authorities are expecting records to be broken.

Good morning

And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.

The flooding crisis has worsened in Victoria’s north with residents told to move to higher ground. Emergency services repeated warnings for Echuca and Echuca Village residents to leave immediately on Sunday morning after similar pleas on Saturday, AAP reports.

Meanwhile the federal government is expected to set aside $9.6b in the upcoming budget for new road and rail projects across the country. Prime minister Anthony Albanese said the infrastructure spend will create “jobs, builds opportunity and unlocks economic growth and productivity for our cities and our regions.”

I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.

With that, let’s get started …

Australia news live: flooding worsens in northern Victoria, Albanese announces infrastructure boost | Australia news Source link Australia news live: flooding worsens in northern Victoria, Albanese announces infrastructure boost | Australia news

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