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Sharma doesn’t concede Morrison change to Israeli embassy was a mistake

The foreign minister Penny Wong yesterday confirmed Australia ended recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, after Guardian broke the story on Monday. At Tuesday’s press conference she said the Morrison government’s decision to move the Australian embassy from to West Jerusalem in 2018 was a play to win the electorate of Wentworth in the federal election.

Wentworth is one of the electorates with the highest proportion of Jewish people in Australia. Scott Morrison first announced a review of the issue to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the final week of the by-election campaign which followed Malcolm Turnbull’s exit as the member for Wentworth.

Liberal candidate and former ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma lost out to Independent Kerryn Phelps in October 2018. Two months later, Morrison formally recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Sharma subsequently won the seat in the 2019 election contest but in the most recent federal contest lost the seat to the independent Allegra Spender, as one of the many moderate liberals to be unseated by the teals.

Sharma has appeared on ABC Radio this morning where he has criticised the Albanese government for making the policy decision “on the run.”

However, when the host of RN Breakfast Patricia Karvelas took Sharma to task that Labor’s policy has been that it would reverse the decision since 2018 and that it was rather the Liberal government who made the decision hastily at the time before the election.

Sharma defends the former coalition government’s actions:

Let me take you back to that time. What was announced during that during the by-election campaign was a review of our policy on the settings decision on that policy were not taken until several months after that election. And they reflected at the time that we had a new prime minister in Scott Morrison and they’ve been significant international moves afoot in this area, including the United States, moving its own embassy to Jerusalem and shifting its recognition. announcing our view of a policy at the time when you build a new prime minister and international circumstances are changing, is not unusual. What is unusual is labor. Doing this now when there’s seemingly no causal pretext other than the delivery on an election commitment.


No doubt Labor should be asked questions and I just did that with Chris Bowen about the way it’s been handled, but your argument doesn’t stack up, given you actually did this in a very, very febrile political environment. That’s how the announcement was actually made in 2018. It wasn’t organised in a way which was at all cohesive, can’t you concede that that was equally at least a mistake?


I don’t conceded that point. In August of 2018, Malcolm Turnbull resigned as prime minister. He resigned his seat of Wentworth, as a result a by-election was called in the state of Wentworth. Scott Morrison became the Prime Minister. And as is normal he announced reviews into a number of policies and this being one of them.

‘Labor reversal sets peace back’: Sharma

Dave Sharma, the former Liberal MP for Wentworth and former Australian ambassador to Israel, has followed Bowen on ABC Radio.

Sharma has issued the following statement criticising the government on its reversal of the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

Penny Wong has failed to articulate any national interest reason for this change in policy.

In withdrawing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, she is not only damaging a relationship with a close and trusted partner, but she is at odds with many of Israel’s Arab neighbours, such as the UAE, who are pursuing closer relations with Israel in order to promote regional peace and stability.

Any possible two-state solution recognises as its basis that Israel’s capital will remain in Jerusalem. Labor seems to think otherwise.

Far from advancing the cause of peace, this Labor reversal sets peace back, by providing a tailwind to extremists and states such as Iran who insist that Israel has no rightful place in the region.

What consequences will follow from this policy? Will Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong now refuse to meet Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as countless of their Labor predecessors have done?

Australia does not presume to dictate to any other country in the world where its capital should be.

The abrupt reversals in Labor policy on this issue, and its announcement in the absence of any national interest justification, suggest that it is solely internal Labor Party politics driving the approach. It is no way to conduct a foreign policy.

You can read more about reactions to that decision from my colleague Daniel Hurst who broke the story about the government’s reversal:

Are more energy deals with other states to be signed off in coming weeks?


Well, I wouldn’t say in coming weeks, we’ve been working on this deal [Marinus Link ] effectively since June.

I’m also in conversations with other states this is part of our $20bn rewiring the nation plan.

So yes there will be more projects, but I’m not here to say they are imminent.

Biggest energy investment since 1940s Snowy Hydro scheme, Bowen says

Q: What will the government’s funding for renewable energy zones involve and how quickly will they be running?


This is the biggest announcement of a commonwealth investment in energy generation and transmission since the original Snowy Mountains scheme back in the 1940s.

And this is really important because we have 86 months to 2030 to reduce our emissions and as the crisis earlier this year showed we are dealing with the implications of having 4 gigawatts of power leave our system in the last decade and only have 1 gigawatt come in.

Royal tour anticipated in 2024 to mark NSW parliament’s 200th birthday

A royal visit is on the cards as part of a program of events to mark the 200th birthday of the New South Wales parliament, AAP reports.

The tour in 2024 will be part of bicentenary celebrations for Australia’s first legislative body, the NSW Legislative Council, now the state’s upper house..

A statement issued by the NSW parliament did not say which royals will be visiting but there has been previous speculation that King Charles III will travel to Australia early in his reign.

The statement issued on Tuesday said:

It was during the first royal tour to Australia in 1954 that Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the NSW Parliament and christened it Australia’s ‘Mother Parliament.’

The Legislative Council was established in 1823 and held its first meeting in 1824.

NSW governor Margaret Beazley said:

In celebrating the bicentenary of the Legislative Council, we celebrate its role in our parliamentary democracy.

Legislative Council President Matthew Mason-Cox said the establishment of the parliament was “Australia’s magical Magna Carta moment, the first restraint on the autocratic power of the early governors that has evolved into parliament as we know it today”.

A program of events will be held next year leading up to the 200th anniversary of the council’s first meeting.

Tasmania could get to 200% renewable energy and share with mainland, Bowen says

The federal government is expected to announce several new energy projects today, including $1.5bn for renewable energy zones.

The climate change and energy minister Chis Bowen is speaking to ABC Radio about those announcements. Of all the projects, Bowen says “the most spectacular” is the Marinus Link, with funding to accelerate the construction of the multi-billion power project linking Victoria and Tasmania.

There’s many facets to this – probably the most spectacular is the Marinus Link which has been long talked about this.

Marinus is really important because it means that Tasmania, which is currently 100% renewable will now have the opportunity to get to 200% renewables and share capacity with the mainland which is good for Tasmania – thousands of jobs to be created and good for the mainland because it improves our energy reliability and of course reduces emissions.

This is the equivalent of 140m tonnes of co2 coming out of the atmosphere by 2050. Or put it another way, taking a million cars off the road.

When will the project be completed?

These are going to take a while, for example [with] Marinus the first cable is scheduled to be done in 2028/2029, the second cable in 2030/2031.

Frankly there are real constraints in construction at the moment … so we will have our challenges.

Bowen said the project will funded through “joint equity with Victoria and Tasmania”.

You can read more about the funding from Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy and environment editor Adam Morton here:

Caitlin Cassidy

Moama farmer reflects on river life as flood waters rise

John McKindlay has a beer can taped to a gumtree on his property that shows where the 1993 north-east Victorian floods hit. Back then, the water didn’t breach his house, but it got close.

McKindlay runs a 1,000 acre crop and sheep farm just out of Moama, sitting on the banks of the mighty Murray River. On Monday evening, the river was three metres higher than usual, and about half a metre shy of the can.

McKindlay says:

We’re lucky living here on the river. I grew up here, right here, this was my grandparent’s house. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. We’ve still got close to two-and-a-half metres [before it floods], it’s very unlikely we’ll be impacted but they’re talking about a one-in-1,000-year flood event … we’ll see.

John McKindlay at his farm.
John McKindlay at his farm. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

McKindlay doesn’t get nervous during floods – his property is up nice and high. Of greater concern was the impact of recent rainfall on his yearly crop harvest. But he knows how ferocious natural disasters can be.

I’m guessing we’ll probably still see high rivers right through to Christmas. The water spreads between Barmah and Moama, there’s thousands of acres that go underwater.

But I don’t get nervous now. I’ve seen a few floods. 1974 was a big one. I remember that because a next-door neighbour took out his rowboat to save rabbits marooned on logs and unfortunately he fell out of his boat and drowned. We had to go and look for him. He was a Gallipoli veteran, in his early-to-late 70s. A very resourceful old bloke. When he came back from Gallipoli, he cleared the logs by hand … cut the timber to build his house. He did everything.

Good morning!

Natasha May now on deck with you.

The latest Murray River data is seeing levels at Echuca starting to edge up again after a plateau, set to break through the ‘major’ flood level any minute.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Euchuca and Moama. Roads are still open but may not be for much longer.

The peak of Shepparton’s floods has passed, but the community, including the agricultural sector, is struggling to get back on its feet. The mayor of Greater Shepparton, Shane Sali, told ABC Radio this morning that farmers are having to dump their milk because they are unable to get it on trucks.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is expected to visit flood-affected Tasmania today where he will also make an announcement about the Marinus Link that could send energy across Bass Strait.

The proposed undersea electricity cable between Burnie, in north-west Tasmania, and Gippsland in Victoria is supposed to be a boost for clean energy, the equivalent of taking 1m cars off the road.

If you’re anywhere that’s been flood affected, or see any other news you think should be on the blog, feel free to ping me on twitter @natasha__may or email

Let’s continue on!

Murray River expected to peak

Australian Associated Press has the latest on Victoria’s flood emergency:

Communities in Victoria’s north are on high alert with the swollen Murray River expected to break its banks in the coming days.

Evacuation warnings are in place for people in Echuca and the smaller towns of Barmah and Lower Moira, with the Murray likely to start peaking on Wednesday.

There are concerns river levels could exceed the 94.77 metres recorded during the 1993 floods.

Flood warnings are also in place for towns along the Loddon, Campaspe and Goulburn rivers.

Overnight on Tuesday, major flooding happened at Appin South on the Loddon River and at Rochester on the Campaspe River with residents being told to move to higher ground.

Major flooding at Kerang from the Loddon River is expected overnight on Wednesday, with the water forecast to peak around the January 2011 level.

A sandbag levee is expected to help keep the majority of the town dry, but it could be cut off for up to seven days.

And here are some of the top stories from around the world:

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian Australia’s live news blog for Wednesday 19 October. Natasha May will be in shortly to take you through the morning, but here’s today’s headlines to get us started:

Australia news live: Victoria on flood alert; Labor announces biggest energy investment since Snowy Hydro | Australia news Source link Australia news live: Victoria on flood alert; Labor announces biggest energy investment since Snowy Hydro | Australia news

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