Australia news live: Nationals president says party needs to ‘reset’ and win over women

Nationals president says party needs to embrace women

The Nationals are holding a federal council meeting in Canberra today, the first since David Littleproud took over party leadership and since the coalition’s federal election loss. AAP has the story:

Nationals federal president Kay Hull says the party needs to reset and embrace women to remain the nation’s most diverse political organisation.

In the first address of the meeting, Hull spoke of the importance of women in politics and the contribution they made to key regional industries, including agriculture:

We need to be resetting, ensuring we are embracing particularly the women of our nation.

They are part of our heartland … we stand as one of the few parties that have such a proud track record.

I think there are many areas that we need to embrace and further reset.

Analysis of the coalition’s election defeat showed women deserted the Liberal Party in droves, with a number of women – the teal independents – winning city seats from the party. They strongly campaigned on climate change action and integrity.

Littleproud is expected to talk about his priorities for the upcoming jobs summit and the review into nuclear power. He told AAP:

We are going to have to face up to some of the challenges we’ve got.

We retained all of our seats at the election, but you only have to look at the numbers to see that women left us so we have to go out and talk to them.”

Littleproud, deputy leader Perin Davey and leader of the Nationals in the Senate Bridget McKenzie will give speeches at Saturday’s conference.

Littleproud was elected leader in May, emerging as the winner of a three-way contest with ousted leader Barnaby Joyce and former minister Darren Chester.

The party’s federal director Jonathan Hawkes is stepping down after three years in the top administrative job.

Updated at 20.31 EDT

Key events

This is an extraordinary and moving story written by Noor M Ramazan, who fled Kabul with his wife, Masuma, and two children a year ago and is now settled in Melbourne. He “had to restart from zero for the third time in my life”. He writes:

I had to go through many other dead-end jobs in my childhood when Taliban took over my hometown Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. I had to shine shoes and sell water, cigarettes, chewing gum and cherry juice on the streets to help my family have food on the table. OK. Let’s do it for the third time. At least this is Australia and I hope no one will harass or bully me as they did on the streets when I was a child …

Thousands of Afghans trying to evacuate Kabul are stopped by a river of raw effluent
Thousands of Afghans trying to evacuate Kabul are stopped by a river of raw effluent. Photograph: Noor M Ramazan

We were taught from childhood to love our country. Country is mother. We love our country as much as our mother. You are safe as long as you are in your mother’s arms. You are free and nothing bad can threaten you. Because mother takes care of you with all her might. But if something happen to this mother, you will become an orphan and no one cares about you. Just like us, the Afghan people, who are like helpless children whose mother has fallen to her knees due to countless wounds …

Masuma and Noor with their children, Diana and Daniel
Masuma and Noor with their children, Diana, 1, and Daniel, 5. Photograph: Christopher Hopkins/The Guardian

If you are very lucky like me, another kind of mother comes and holds your hand and saves you from being trampled and crushed. She keeps you in her arms and her vast heart and adopts you as a child. Like what Australia did to us. Australia saved us. We owe our lives to Australia. Australia accommodated us in its sky-sized arms and gave us freedom and security.

Noor and his friend, fellow Hazara refugee Aziz Bamyani, sip coffee in Melbourne’s CBD before a screening of Barat Ali Baatoor's film about his horrific journey by boat to Australia
Noor and his friend, fellow Hazara refugee Aziz Bamyani, sip coffee in Melbourne’s CBD before a screening of Barat Ali Baatoor’s film about his horrific journey by boat to Australia. Photograph: Christopher Hopkins/The Guardian

It’s well worth your time as a Saturday morning long read. Fair warning: tackle with tissues.

Pharmacists and GPs clash on Covid antivirals

Doctors resisting calls for Covid-19 antiviral treatments to be sold over the counter have accused pharmacists of creating a false narrative for commercial reasons, AAP reports.

The Australian Pharmacy Guild this week publicly petitioned the federal government for the right to dispense the medications without a prescription, citing a national shortage of general practitioners.

While two oral antivirals are available in Australia and early treatment is considered critical to lessen the effects of the virus, access to them is restricted.

People aged over 70 and those over 50 at risk of severe disease are eligible following consultation with a doctor or nurse.

Yet the guild believes community pharmacists should be able to supply the treatments over the counter to speed up access upon infection.

The immediate reaction to the idea from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners was around concern over patient safety.

The RACGP president, Dr Karen Price, said bypassing the prescription process would be “a recipe for disaster”. She said the guild’s claims of wait-time blowouts when visiting doctors, and their impact on the narrow window to use antiviral medications, were unfounded and misleading.

Price said in a statement:

The Pharmacy Guild, which is the body representing pharmacy business owners, needs to stop muddying the message on access for patients.

Patients need to understand the urgency of contacting their GP when they test positive for Covid-19 and not be distracted by the Pharmacy Guild’s efforts to push their own agenda.

We have telehealth infrastructure in place to make sure patients can access these medicines while isolating, including patient rebates for longer telephone consultations.

We are also calling for these antivirals to be added to the doctor’s bag in the event access to a pharmacy is problematic in emergency situations or for rural and remote locations.

Doctors were best placed to safely prescribe treatments because they knew their patients, their health histories and what medications they were on, Price added.

The Pharmacy Guild president, Trent Twomey, said on Thursday that GP wait times were growing unacceptably. In NSW, that meant an average of 4.17 days to see a family doctor and in Victoria, 3.33 days.

At the same time, antivirals needed to commence within five days of the onset of virus symptoms, Twomey said.

Updated at 20.56 EDT

Nationals president says party needs to embrace women

The Nationals are holding a federal council meeting in Canberra today, the first since David Littleproud took over party leadership and since the coalition’s federal election loss. AAP has the story:

Nationals federal president Kay Hull says the party needs to reset and embrace women to remain the nation’s most diverse political organisation.

In the first address of the meeting, Hull spoke of the importance of women in politics and the contribution they made to key regional industries, including agriculture:

We need to be resetting, ensuring we are embracing particularly the women of our nation.

They are part of our heartland … we stand as one of the few parties that have such a proud track record.

I think there are many areas that we need to embrace and further reset.

Analysis of the coalition’s election defeat showed women deserted the Liberal Party in droves, with a number of women – the teal independents – winning city seats from the party. They strongly campaigned on climate change action and integrity.

Littleproud is expected to talk about his priorities for the upcoming jobs summit and the review into nuclear power. He told AAP:

We are going to have to face up to some of the challenges we’ve got.

We retained all of our seats at the election, but you only have to look at the numbers to see that women left us so we have to go out and talk to them.”

Littleproud, deputy leader Perin Davey and leader of the Nationals in the Senate Bridget McKenzie will give speeches at Saturday’s conference.

Littleproud was elected leader in May, emerging as the winner of a three-way contest with ousted leader Barnaby Joyce and former minister Darren Chester.

The party’s federal director Jonathan Hawkes is stepping down after three years in the top administrative job.

Updated at 20.31 EDT

White whale calf seen off NSW coast

A southern right whale with rare ‘white’ calf spotted off the southern New South Wales coastline on August 13. (AAP Image/Supplied by Maree Jackson, NPWS Right Whale ID Program)
A southern right whale with rare ‘white’ calf spotted off the southern New South Wales coastline on August 13. (AAP Image/Supplied by Maree Jackson, NPWS Right Whale ID Program) Photograph: Maree Jackson/PR IMAGE

There’s one newborn hogging all the attention off the NSW coast – a southern right whale calf born whiter than usual, AAP reports:

The calf and its mother are resting up before they head south to Antarctica.

Government conservationists are urging people to keep their distance from the mum and new bub spotted off the state’s south coast.

National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Andrew Marshall said it was rare to see a virtually white calf, though the parks office says it is more of a brindle colour:

Southern right whales are mostly very dark, although some have splashes of white called a blaze.

Its white areas will darken to grey as it ages. It’s one of around one-in-30 southern right whale calves born with brindle colouring.

The calf’s colouring is related to genetics. The mother shows pale grey areas indicating she has a recessive brindle gene.

A southern right whale calf needs 300 litres of milk a day to get to the weight needed to make the 5,000km trip south.

It’s illegal for a vessel to go within 300 metres of a nursing whale mother and calf, that includes people on surfboards, paddleboards and kayaks.

Drones have to stay 100 metres above the whales.

Updated at 20.00 EDT

Indigenous issues ‘can only be improved if we listen to a voice’, Mark Dreyfus says

Asked about concerns that the voice to parliament would result in a “talk-fest without tangible issues”, Dreyfus responds:

I think this can only add to the range of issues we need to make to improve Indigenous health, housing, to deal with the social problems that [Country Liberal party] senator [Jacinta] Price is talking about.

The voice is to elevate to constitutional level the possibility of receiving representations, receiving suggestions from our Indigenous people on measures we need to take that are about them. We have not had that in the past.

I’m very much looking forward to this referendum succeeding so there will be at the constitutional level, a voice to parliament. I don’t think in any sense the two things are inconsistent. I accept Senator Price’s concerns about what needs to be done for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders across Australia, but I think the measures we need to take can only be improved if we listen to a voice of Indigenous people.

Updated at 19.54 EDT

Mark Dreyfus says he’s pleased with progress on Indigenous voice

Dreyfus is asked about the referendum about constitutional change to recognise Indigenous Australians with a voice to parliament. He says:

I think in coming months you will see careful building of the community consensus we will need to make this referendum successful. I’ve been pleased to hear from the leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, from the shadow attorney general, that they are keeping the door open. That is appropriate.

I’m pleased to hear so many people making constructive contributions, to hear a number of constitutional lawyers putting to rest today this incorrect notion that it might be veto or a that it might be a third chamber.

We need to … build the community consensus that we need to accept that this is the way in which we can recognise our Indigenous people in our constitution.

Updated at 19.27 EDT

Mark Dreyfus says attorneys general want to address responses to sexual violence

Dreyfus said the meeting that took place between the attorneys general was the first face-to-face meeting in two and a half years.

We will be meeting more regularly … we plan to get together four times a year and this is a very important item on our agenda. We’ve also agreed to do more work on criminal justice system responses to sexual violence.

This is responding to something that Grace Tame raised with attorneys general last year and I’m very pleased to see that tremendous co-operation in the room yesterday, from Liberal and Labor attorneys general agreeing to work together nationally to keep women and children safe, to work on family violence, to work on measures against sexual violence.

Updated at 19.26 EDT

Attorneys general agree on some draft principles to address coercive control

Mark Dreyfus, the attorney general of Australia, is speaking to the ABC about coercive control. He says he and the attorneys general of jurisdictions around Australia have agreed on some draft national principles to address coercive control as an issue:

We’re going to be consulting … in coming months, trying to get to some nationally agreed standard on how to deal with this.

Coercive control is, of course, a pattern of behaviour – it might be not necessarily involving violence – where the perpetrators seeks to establish control over the victim.

Updated at 19.25 EDT

Nick Kyrgios’s winning streak comes to an end

In sport, Nick Kyrgios’s North American winning streak has come to an end with a defeat by Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Montreal. The Australian had won 15 of his last 16 matches.

The full story is here:

Updated at 19.14 EDT

Adeshola Ore

Adeshola Ore

Victorian First Nations dispute over Phillip Island property donation

A property donated by the family of renowned satirist and comedian John Clarke has become embroiled in a long-running dispute between two First Nations groups in Victoria.

The land on Phillip Island, about 120km south-east of Melbourne, was donated by Clarke’s widow, Helen McDonald, to conservation group Trust for Nature after his death in 2017.

Trust for Nature intends to transfer the eight-hectare property to the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. However, a local traditional owner has demanded that be halted.

While the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation is the registered local Aboriginal party, the area involves land on which members of the Boonwurrung people is seeking native title via the federal court.

Read more here:

Updated at 19.11 EDT

The struggles of those who need Medicare most

Guardian Australia’s medical editor, Melissa Davey, and inequality reporter, Stephanie Convery, have been breaking vital stories this week about Medicare, bulk billing and the dire state of Australia’s primary healthcare system.

Today, they feature the stories of people who have been forced to limit GP visits or travel long distances for affordable care.

You can read the full story below, and more from their Mind the gap: bulk billing in crisis series here.

Updated at 19.02 EDT

Third meningococcal case from Splendour

A child from the NSW north coast may be the third person linked to the recent Splendour In The Grass festival to contract meningococcal disease, AAP reports.

It follows the death on August 4 of a Sydney man in his 40s, who also developed meningococcal disease after attending the festival.

NSW Health has urged anyone who attended Splendour In The Grass – which took place from July 21-24 at the North Byron Parklands – to be alert. Anyone showing symptoms – which can include a red or purple rash, fever, headache, stiffness, light sensitivity, nausea, diarrhoea, drowsiness and confusion – is urged to contact a doctor immediately.

The disease, which is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, is uncommon but can be fatal. Authorities warn it can develop very quickly and kill within hours.

Three people have died of meningococcal disease this year: a Northern Territory man in his 30s died on Friday, while a two-year-old died in rural South Australia in July.

Health authorities in the NT said the man had undertaken no recent interstate or international travel.

Updated at 18.45 EDT

Good morning

Welcome to another Saturday edition of the live news blog.

I’m coming at you from sunny (for now) Melbourne and will be taking you through most of today – please get in touch at [email protected] or on Twitter at @donnadlu with anything to know or things we’ve missed.

Here’s what making news:

The Nationals will hold their first major meeting today since the coalition’s federal election loss. The federal council meeting, in Canberra, will also be the first since David Littleproud took over party leadership.

The energy ministers of New South Wales and Victoria have criticised gas companies for exporting Australian resources overseas, claiming their pursuit of profits led to the recent energy crisis.

The monkeypox vaccine has arrived in Australia and the rollout has commenced in Victoria, with jabs being given to certain eligible groups while supplies are limited.

In New South Wales, transport officers will today refuse to issue fines, part of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s rolling strike action in an attempt to secure crucial safety commitments.

The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas has dismissed the remaining members of its international advisory council, months after four independent directors walked out en masse.

Overseas, the actor Anne Heche has died, a week after she was injured in a car crash, and the author Salman Rushdie is in surgery after being stabbed onstage at an event in upstate New York.