Australia news live: Sydney flooding a ‘life-threatening emergency’ as Warragamba dam spills; nation passes 10,000 Covid deaths

East coast low forms; Warragamba dam spilling

Emergency services minister Steph Cooke says New South Wales is facing “dangers on multiple fronts” and encouraged residents in greater Sydney to evacuate early.

Cooke said an east coast low has formed this morning and is expected to continue until Tuesday which is producing excessive rainfall rates.

“This means even more torrential rain,” Cook said. “It means a strong, damaging winds, and it means coastal erosion. For Sydney, the Central Coast and the south coast. And the Illawarra.

“We are now facing dangers on multiple fronts – flash flooding, riverine flooding and coastal erosion. So, if you live anywhere between Newcastle and Batemans Bay, please don’t be caught unaware by the current weather situation. This is a life-threatening emergency situation.”

Cooke said the Warragamba dam began to spill at 2am this morning “well ahead of predictions,” with the State Emergency Service having responded to “more than 1,400 requests for assistance” in the last 24 hours.

A car park is inundated by flood waters in Lansvale in Sydney on Sunday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

NSW reports century-first diphtheria case

A toddler is in intensive care after contracting the first case of diphtheria of the throat in New South Wales in a century, AAP reports.

Diphtheria is a contagious and potentially deadly bacterial infection. It affects the throat and tonsils in its most severe form, resulting in a greyish-white membrane forming that can make it hard to swallow and breathe.

The infection can also cause the neck to swell, according to NSW Health, while the toxin formed by bacteria can cause inflammation of the heart muscle and nerves.

That can be fatal in five to 10% of people infected.

The North Coast Public Health Unit confirmed the case in a two-year-old child in northern NSW on Saturday.

The toddler was not vaccinated against diphtheria, and their family members and other close contacts have received post-exposure prophylaxis to reduce the risk of transmission.

Post-exposure prophylaxis can include antibiotics and immunisation.

The child is in an intensive care unit at a Queensland hospital and has received diphtheria antitoxin, antibiotics and respiratory support.

There is no ongoing risk to the broader community but families should be alert and review their children’s immunisation status, North Coast Public Health director Paul Douglas said.

Backyard bee keepers are being asked to spy on the stingless native variety in a bid to unravel their mysterious sex lives.

Native bees are essential workers when it comes to pollinating Australia’s indigenous plants and wildflowers, but scientists know far more about the reproductive habits of introduced species.

Queensland University researcher Dr Tobias Smith says he hopes to change that by recruiting an amateur army willing to monitor hives on their farms, gardens or schoolyards.

“It’s as easy as watching a hive’s entrance for three minutes a week and recording information about bee behaviour,” Smith said.

One of the mysteries he wants to solve is how native stingless bees set up new colonies.

“When European honey bees want to create a new colony they send off a big swarm of bees; half the bees from a colony with the queen, and they fly off to find a new place to nest,” Dr Smith said.

“Back at the old place a princess takes over with the other half of the bees. Now that’s big, obvious and dramatic.”

But Dr Smith said the process with native bees was difficult to study because the process was less clear-cut.

“It is a much more cryptic process where bees travel back and forth to the new colony site over many weeks or months,” he said.

Instead of the queen leaving to set up a colony, as is the case with European honey bees, native stingless bee queens can’t fly – and instead a princess daughter must venture out to establish a new base.

“We know really basic things about these broad differences, but all the little details and how often this happens we know pretty much nothing about,” Dr Smiths said.

Visit the website for more information on how to join the Native Bee Citizen Science Project.

– from AAP.

For anyone who is interested, this is the Nepean River from the Emu Plains side at 8:30am today. Water over road already on the Emu Plains side – water coming from run off from properties. #bluemountains #nsw pic.twitter.com/cnKskStWex

— Adriana Glackin (@Adriana_G) July 3, 2022

Sydney residents urged to stay home

Cooke speaking again now saying that “it is really not the time to travel if you are in those area that are impacted” and authorities are expecting the worst of the weather system to hit over the next 24 hours.

These weather events have rolled through our state consistently this year and I’d very much acknowledge the impact that they continue to have on our communities.

Evacuation centres set up for those fleeing Sydney floods

Carlene York from New South Wales State Emergency Services advises people to take precautions – prepare evacuation bags now, pay attention to flood warnings and leave early if they are in an at-risk area.

Evacuation centres have been set up for people who need them and people are warned to be careful of falling trees and items from balconies.

Thunderstorm warning issued for Sydney

Golding warned of incoming thunderstorms developing which will increase the risk of flash flooding:

For the Sydney area, we can expect more heavy rain today, particularly out towards the Blue Mountains and the western Sydney area over the Hawkesbury-Nepean, and we can expect more heavy rainfall to affect the Central Coast and other parts of the Hunter district today.

Golding asked residents along the Nepean river to pay attention to warnings and listen to emergency services as the flood waters reach their peak.

And this your regular reminder not to drive into flood waters – and if you absolutely have to because it is a life-threatening emergency, wind down your windows first.

A car abandoned in floowaters in Lansvale in Sydney’s south-west.
A car abandoned in flood waters in Lansvale in Sydney’s south-west. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Jane Golding from the Bureau of Meteorology is now giving an update on an “unfortunate rainfall event”, including rainfall measures and flood warnings.

Golding:

Over the last 24 hours alone, some locations – many locations – have experienced upwards of 200mm, and some along the Illawarra, close to 350mm.

The east coast low is continuing to develop as forecast and the forecast is for it to continue to develop and track slowly southwards and closer to the Hunter coast and to the Sydney coast over the next 24 hours.

The signs are it will remain in our region through until Tuesday before gradually shifting offshore some more.

SES have conducted 29 flood rescues in 24 hours

Cook:

In the same at 24 hours, they have conducted, with the support of our other emergency service organisations, 29 flood rescues. In the space of 24 hours, we have seen at 945 SES personnel stood up and working around the clock to respond to this current and unfolding emergency situation with this weather system.

East coast low forms; Warragamba dam spilling

Emergency services minister Steph Cooke says New South Wales is facing “dangers on multiple fronts” and encouraged residents in greater Sydney to evacuate early.

Cooke said an east coast low has formed this morning and is expected to continue until Tuesday which is producing excessive rainfall rates.

“This means even more torrential rain,” Cook said. “It means a strong, damaging winds, and it means coastal erosion. For Sydney, the Central Coast and the south coast. And the Illawarra.

“We are now facing dangers on multiple fronts – flash flooding, riverine flooding and coastal erosion. So, if you live anywhere between Newcastle and Batemans Bay, please don’t be caught unaware by the current weather situation. This is a life-threatening emergency situation.”

Cooke said the Warragamba dam began to spill at 2am this morning “well ahead of predictions,” with the State Emergency Service having responded to “more than 1,400 requests for assistance” in the last 24 hours.

A car park is inundated by flood waters in Lansvale in Sydney on Sunday.
A car park is inundated by flood waters in Lansvale in Sydney on Sunday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Peter Hannam

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an update extending the area covered by its severe weather warning across western Sydney and up the NSW coast.

Rain totals in the 24 hours to 9am Sunday AEST reached 93mm for Sydney’s Observatory Hill, while Camden in the city’s south-west reached 156mm. Both Lucas Heights and the Holsworthy defence site received about 240mm.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued multiple warnings of severe weather and also flood warnings for the region.

All eyes are on the Warragamba dam as water levels continue to build to capacity – and beyond.

The rate at which it is filling is forcing calculations to be rerun and currently it is believed the rate will nudge 500Gl/day – or a quarter of the massive dam’s total capacity.

On Warragamba Dam: “At 7am the rate of spill was 240 gigalitres per day (GL/day), with inflow to the dam occurring at a rate of 380 GL/day. These figures will continue to rise steeply”. https://t.co/VlqOCwoFdY

— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) July 2, 2022

Warragamba’s spill continues to grow, and may exceed 400 gigalitres a day today. That’s 400,000,000,000 litres, or about a fifth of the dam’s total capacity. pic.twitter.com/nXJGBPeEVd

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) July 2, 2022

In addition to the risk of a major flooding event – the third this year – that will put the lives and property of those living on the floodplain downriver at risk, the concern about the spill relates to timing: it began about half a day earlier than expected.

It is a reminder of how fast weather events can moved as climate change increasingly makes systems more energetic.

According to the CSIRO, climate change is expected to make heavy rainfall events more intense as warmer air can hold more water vapour. Every degree of global warming results in a 7% increase in atmospheric moisture.

Australia passes 10,000 Covid-19 deaths

Australia has officially surpassed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday.

New South Wales and Victoria reported a combined total of 24 deaths overnight, bringing the nation’s total to 10,008.

The number is expected to grow over Sunday as other states and territories report their numbers.

For more detail check out Guardian Australia’s reporting retracing the road to 10k.

On abortion, Pocock says “we can’t take … hard-won gains for granted”:

As has been pointed out by many people – you can’t ban abortions, all you can do is ban access to safe abortions. And clearly the cost of abortions in Australia disproportionately affect vulnerable women in our communities and women who live in regional and rural Australia. I believe it should be covered by Medicare and the PBS.

On the recognition of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament:

We have got the oldest living cultures in the world here in Australia and we need that wisdom, leadership and connection to this incredible continent more than ever. To me, the Uluru Statement from the Heart is the most generous offering to all Australians and I back it in in its entirety.

And that’s a wrap!

Allocation of parliamentary staff should be ‘decided by independent body’, Pocock says

On the staffing issue, which has been the first big division in the new parliament, Pocock says he “doesn’t feel like he is in a fight” but the cut will limit his ability to meet with constituents and review legislation as it comes in.

For me, the thing that this has highlighted is the allocation of staff should probably be decided by an independent body at an arm’s length and shouldn’t be decided by the prime minister of the day. I think you said earlier in the week, you know, this staffing shouldn’t be used to reward or punish anyone.

The conversation now turns to a national integrity commission that the government has been consulting on. Karvelas is probing Pocock on his position. She asked whether Pocock supports a commission empowered to sack MPs through a code of conduct and a structure around that.

Pocock said he’d have concerns about an unelected body being able to dismiss elected officials.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m guessing that there would be some constitutional hurdles with that one. But I can certainly look more into it, but as I said, it wouldn’t be, you know, an elected body. It’s an independent commission and I think actually being able to shine a light on corruption, to deal with it and then, you know, refer it to the police where needed.

Conversation has now moved on to voluntary assisted dying legislation, which Pocock has advocated.

Pocock describes the lack of movement on this is a “longstanding injustice”.

Every state has now legislated on voluntary assisted dying. But when it comes to a vote at a federal level, this is not about legislating voluntary assisted dying, this is a question whether the territories should have the same right to debate and legislate on that.

Asked whether he wants the government to commit to a conscience vote on any legislation, Pocock says: “I don’t need to claim credit for this. I just want to see it done.”



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