Australia news live: riot and fire at Don Dale youth detention centre; global outage for Apple app store


Queensland man found dead in flood waters

A man has died after his vehicle was found in flood waters on the outskirts of Brisbane this morning.

Queensland Police were called to conduct a welfare check of a vehicle submerged in floodwater at a private property on Begley Road, Greenbank, around 5.20am on Thursday.

A 71-year-old Greenbank man was located deceased near the vehicle, police said in a statement.

The death is considered not suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Queensland has been hit by heavy rain overnight, with a flood watch alert for the southern inland catchments issued on Wednesday afternoon and residents across the south-east of the state told to be alert for flash flooding.

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Key events

NT chief minister says youth detention riots sparked off ‘in the education setting’

NT’s chief minister, Eva Lawler, said her understanding of the situation was that the incidents “sparked off” “in the education setting”. Lawler said:

It is tough work, working in youth justice facilities. So I’m sure that the staff there did what they could to manage that incident. … I’ve seen the education aspect of Don Dale in the past. There are staff there that are really passionate – that really work to support the children. But there was obviously an incident yesterday there that triggered a larger incident.

Lawler said the government was aiming to have a new youth detention centre open by the end of June.

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NT police report riot and fire at Don Dale youth detention centre

The acting commissioner of Northern Territory police, Martin Dole, is giving a press conference with the Territory’s chief minister, Eva Lawler, on reports of a riot and a fire at Don Dale youth detention centre yesterday afternoon.

Dole says:

Yesterday afternoon, after 4:00pm, [police] were called to the Don Dale centre as a result of some youth rioting at the facility. We’ve spent the night there with resources committed to resolving that incident overnight.

Initially, 14 youths climbed on to the roof of that facility and were throwing projectiles at the attending members and staff. Eight the of those youth have since surrendered to police and have been taken back into custody. And as of my briefing at 7:00am this morning, six remained on the roof of that facility.

Dole says a police officer was injured and taken to hospital after one of the young people threw a projectile at him.

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Apple app store and related services down globally

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Apple services are down globally, the electronics giant has confirmed. Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images

Apple’s app store is down globally on Thursday morning, the company has confirmed.

It went down around 9.30am AEST, and also brought down the Mac OS store, Apple Fitness, Apple Arcade, Apple Music and Apple TV+.

The company said “some users are affected.”

Users are experiencing a problem with this service. We are investigating and will update the status as more information becomes available.

It comes as Apple is in the federal court in Australia over alleged anticompetitive behaviour in the operation of its app store, brought by Fortnite creator Epic Games.

The company’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, has spent this week being questioned in court by Apple’s lawyers, with Google taking over questions yesterday afternoon into today.

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Queensland man found dead in flood waters

A man has died after his vehicle was found in flood waters on the outskirts of Brisbane this morning.

Queensland Police were called to conduct a welfare check of a vehicle submerged in floodwater at a private property on Begley Road, Greenbank, around 5.20am on Thursday.

A 71-year-old Greenbank man was located deceased near the vehicle, police said in a statement.

The death is considered not suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Queensland has been hit by heavy rain overnight, with a flood watch alert for the southern inland catchments issued on Wednesday afternoon and residents across the south-east of the state told to be alert for flash flooding.

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Melbourne park closed after asebestos found in mulch

Adeshola Ore

Adeshola Ore

Asbestos has been discovered in recycled mulch at a park in Melbourne’s west, prompting the closure of a playground.

A resident had reported items found in tanbark near a new playground at Donald McLean Reserve in Spotswood to the local council earlier this week.

The Hobsons Bay city council, in Melbourne’s west, confirmed the two pieces of material were sent for testing, with results on Wednesday confirming they contained asbestos. The playground has been closed since Tuesday and council said it was working with a material hygienist and the state’s Environment Protection Agency to ensure hazardous material was removed.

A council spokesperson said in a statement:

The safety of our community is our priority and council is working with the EPA and the hygienist to inspect other sites using this mulch.

All playgrounds within Hobsons Bay are regularly inspected by a safety auditor, which also includes new reserves prior to them being opened.

The council said the asbestos material was discovered in a recycled mulch product around mature tree-planting. A “virgin soft mulch” is also used around the playground.

Read the full story here:

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Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

Advocates call for investigation after police brief media on alleged crimes involving five-year-old

New South Wales’s peak Indigenous legal body has called for an independent investigation after state police briefed media outlets about the alleged involvement of a five-year-old in a break-and-enter and car theft before officers had spoken to the alleged offenders or laid charges.

Repeatedly asked about the incident in the outback town of Bourke over subsequent days, police media refused to officially confirm the ages of the alleged offenders despite two metropolitan mastheads quoting separate officers referring to a five-year-old.

Guardian Australia understands the assertion that one of the alleged offenders was five was based on an eyewitness account, which responding officers held confidence in.

Read the full story here:

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Dingo bites 9-year-old girl on K’gari

A dingo on a K’gari beach in 2023. Photograph: Arterra/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Rangers are searching for a dingo after a nine-year-old girl was bitten on the leg in the latest incident at a popular Queensland holiday spot, AAP reports.

The girl was with adults, wading in shallow water on K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island), about 4.30pm on Wednesday when a dingo approached and bit her on the leg as she crouched down.

Nearby witnesses created a distraction and provided assistance.

The girl was transported from Yidney beachfront to the Happy Valley ambulance station where she received first aid for minor wounds. Arrangements were made to transport her to the mainland for further medical assessment.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers are investigating the incident and working to confirm the identity of the dingo involved.

There has been a spate of dingo incidents on the island this year. An 18-year-old woman was bitten on the back of the leg when she was part of a tour group walking to Lake Wabby on 17 February.

Hours later a person on a separate tour was nipped while walking on the beachfront near Dilli Village, marking six dingo incidents in as many weeks.

A German tourist was also bitten on the leg at Gerowweea Creek on 15 March.

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Conservation groups begin court challenge against Queensland coal mine

Ben Smee

Ben Smee

Conservation groups say they have begun a legal challenge seeking to overturn the Queensland government’s approval of the proposed Winchester South coal mine, citing climate, biodiversity and human rights concerns.

The state government granted an environmental authority to Whitehaven’s Winchester South coalmine in February. The project – which plans to produce 15m tonnes of thermal and coking coal a year over three decades – still requires federal government approval.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Mackay Conservation Group will seek a review of the state’s approval in the Queensland land court.

The ACF said the mine would destroy 2,000 hectares of wildlife habitat that is home to threatened and endangered species including koalas, and impact water resources.

It would also “impact human rights due to the climate consequences on generations of Queenslanders”.

ACF’s chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, said:

This coal mine would be a climate disaster, generating more pollution over its lifetime than every source in Australia does in a year.

With the Great Barrier Reef in the midst of yet another serious mass coral bleaching event, the stakes for Queensland and Australia are higher than ever.

The mine, proposed near the town of Moranbah, was recommended for approval by the Queensland coordinator general last year, despite a concession that it “has the capacity to limit human rights” due to “climate change consequences that may arise from the project”.

According to the company’s environmental impact statement, the project would contribute 583m tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution – more than Australia’s national annual greenhouse gas emissions – including 14.2m tonnes of on-site emissions and 567m tonnes of scope three emissions created when it is burned overseas.

Approximately 58% of the mine’s coal is for steel production, while the other 42% would be exported to Asian countries for use in producing electricity.

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Corporate racial diversity in boardrooms down, report says

There are fewer racially diverse people in Australian boardrooms than there were seven years ago, despite efforts to make the corporate sector more multicultural, AAP reports.

The 2024 Board Diversity Index, which analyses Australia’s top 300 ASX listed areas, found the nation has made significant strides in some areas. Since 2015, the number of board positions held by women has surged by 89%, for example. But on other measures, diversity has stalled or isn’t reported.

“They’re still mostly ‘stale, pale and male’,” the report read.

In smaller companies, female representation fell from 44% in 2022 to 32% the year after. There has been no change to the number of First Nations directors. And the number of directors with an Anglo-Celtic background has grown to 91%, up from 90.5% in 2017.

Australians with a disability represent about one-fifth of the population, but there appears to be no people from this cohort on ASX300 boards.

The information, gathered by Watermark Search International and the Governance Institute of Australia, could be a worrying omen of Australia’s future. The Governance Institute’s chair, Pauline Vamos, said:

The recruitment of directors has become trapped in a cycle of repetition and reliance on the same outdated processes and skills matrices no longer suited to contemporary demands.

It is imperative that we break free from this inertia.

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New koala national park to be established in NSW

Catie McLeod

Catie McLeod

More land and money is flowing in to bolster koala conservation, the NSW government has announced. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Nearly 1,000 hectares of land along Sydney’s Georges River has been transferred to the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service for a new koala national park.

The Minns government announced the new park in south-western Sydney last year to protect koalas and add to a planned north-south movement corridor for the species, which it says will protect about 1,830 hectares of land in total.

The park – which is part of the government’s $80m commitment to protect koalas in the area – will include bushland in Long Point, Ingleburn, Minto Heights, Kentlyn, Airds, St Helens Park, Gilead and Appin.

The government says 63% of the public land transfer commitment for this park has been achieved. It will also give $220,000 worth of grants to the Wollondilly and Liverpool councils for improved signage for motorists in koala “hot spots”.

The environment department says it is aware of six instances in which koalas have been hit by cars in south-west Sydney in this year alone, and 63 since July 2022.

The environment minister, Penny Sharpe, is in Campbelltown today to host a koala forum with 70 local experts and carers. She said:

Too many of these precious animals are getting hurt on roads.

These signs will make a real difference by alerting drivers to the risk as they’re passing through the area.

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Israeli spokesperson says Hamas regularly uses ambulances and aid workers as cover

One more on the interview with Israeli government spokesperson Avi Hyman. I’m going to give you this full back and forth because I think it’s quite important.

He was asked, that if the IDF had information about aid workers’ movements and their cars were clearly identified, how could they have been “misidentified” by the IDF when all of that information was provided?

He says he doesn’t know, but follows with:

What I can tell you, which is what you may be missing … is that Hamas fights from hospitals, Hamas uses ambulances to transport their terrorists, Hamas shoots from schools, from UN facilities, from mosques.

Sally Sara asks again:

When we’re talking about this particular case. You had information about this, the travelling plans, the vehicles, how could they be misidentified? Are you saying that because you believe genuinely that Hamas are fighting for maybe fighting for medical areas, that you just hit these kinds of convoys anyway? Is that what you’re saying?

Avi Hyman:

Yeah, I’m telling you that war is hell, war is foggy. It was the middle of the night. There was limited visibility. This is just me speculating, which is something that I don’t want to do.

Sara asks, why would he speculate in such an important case as this, particularly when the Australian community is wanting answers about what happened?

Hyman:

Because I can tell you definitively that Hamas uses ambulances, uses aid workers as cover for their activities. I can tell you that just at the beginning of the week, we finished a two week operation in the biggest hospital in Gaza that had been turned into a full military base.

But was there evidence in this particular case that militants were in the convoy?

Hyman:

There’s an ongoing investigation, like I said, so we don’t we don’t know.

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Further reading on Gaza aid worker deaths

I’ve got some other news for you unrelated to Gaza in a moment, but here are a couple of pieces we’ve published recently which, if you’re interested in reading more about what happened this week, might help you orient yourself on the issue.

Here’s a report from Bethany McKernan in Jerusalem about the incident, including comments from the World Central Kitchen founder, the chef José Andrés, who said the IDF had targeted the convoy “systematically, car by car”, even though they were in touch with WCK and were aware of the aid workers’ movements.

We’ve also got some analysis from Peter Beaumont, Guardian’s veteran (so to speak) war correspondent. He says:

Even though Israel has promised a full and professional investigation into the killing of the aid workers from World Central Kitchen, the reality is that human rights organisations, inside Israel and beyond, have long raised questions about the IDF’s rules, amid allegations that the ones that do exist are being ignored by soldiers and commanders on the ground.

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Israeli spokesperson says deaths of aid workers in IDF air strike ‘appears to be a grave mistake’

There is a lot of back and forth about how the Israeli military could possible have misidentified clearly marked aid vehicles, the movements of which had been communicated to the IDF in advance to ensure safe passage. Hyman’s answer, eventually, is that he doesn’t know.

I can only echo the words of the prime minister as the president of the head of the IDF, which is to say that it was a grave mistake. It appears to be a grave, regrettable mistake. And we will do our utmost to look into it to find out exactly what happened. And make sure that nothing like this happens again.

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Israeli spokesperson says Hamas stealing food aid and claims of Gaza famine ‘widely exaggerated’

OK, I’m going back through that interview now – there was a lot in there, including a number of unverified and heavily disputed allegations, but I’ll try to pull out the most salient points for you.

Asked why, when Israel has some of the most sophisticated military technology in the world and in this case, specific information about the aid organisation and their movements vehicles, the military still attacked its vehicles and killed the organisation’s workers, Avi Hyman says:

That’s what makes it all the worse and all the more painful. Because this was one of the organisations who was doing tremendous work that would actually get the aid to the people that need it.

He claims there isn’t a problem getting food into Gaza, but rather, “having food distributed around Gaza to the people that need it before Hamas and their cronies steal it and take it to their underground lair.”

He’s asked what his evidence is for that claim, given even the UN is expressing concern about significant hunger and famine in Gaza. He says:

Obviously the evidence I have is that we are on the ground and know exactly what’s going on in Gaza. What I can tell you is there’s no allegations to my knowledge of actual starvation, actual famine, they’ve been projections on mathematical or mathematical assertions based on false data based on old data based on out of date information.

He claims the risk of famine has been “wildly exaggerated” because the international community wants to stop the war.

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