Australia news LIVE: Support slips for Voice in key states; Pressure grows to fast track Pacific lottery visa

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Key posts

  • International pressure grows to fast-track Pacific lottery visa
  • Afghan earthquakes kill 2,445
  • US to send warships, aid to Israel
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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PM says situation in Israel is an ‘absolute shock’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the conflict in Israel was an “absolute shock” for the whole world.

“This is the most devastating day that we’ve for 50 years,” Albanese has just told Seven’s Sunrise program this morning.

He condemned the actions of Hamas, including the targeting of civilians and capturing people.

“The capturing of the people and taking them back to Gaza represents an extraordinary action by Hamas, and Israel, of course, has a right to defend itself, and it will,” he said.

The prime minsiter was asked whether there were any Australians caught up in the attack, and said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were working to identify any.

“I’ve spoken with the ambassador, the Israeli ambassador to Australia who’s there in Israel, and we will continue to do what we can to monitor the situation,” he said.

He said it was an unprecedented situation.

International pressure grows to fast-track Pacific lottery visa

Australia is facing international pressure to introduce a promised visa lottery for Pacific workers as island nations deal with climate change’s “existential threat” and legislation to enact the change remains bogged down in parliament.

The Albanese government announced the Pacific Engagement Visa in February to bring in 3000 Pacific nationals annually, with the US green card-style measure initially slated to begin in July amid a broader overhaul of Australia’s migration settings.

The effects of climate change in Pacific nations should prompt new migration solutions, Fijian deputy prime minister Biman Prasad says.Credit: Joe Armao

But Labor has been forced to negotiate the passage of the bill with the Greens after it became mired in the Senate when the Coalition opposed it.

Fijian deputy prime minister and minister for finance Biman Prasad has raised concerns about the legislation becoming stuck in Australia’s parliament, saying economic ministers in the Pacific forum welcomed the opportunity for greater ties and investment that the visa would bring.

Learn more about the visas here.

Afghan earthquakes kill 2,445

More than 2,400 people were killed in earthquakes in Afghanistan, the Taliban administration said on Sunday, in the deadliest tremors to rock the quake-prone mountainous country in years.

The quakes in the west of the country hit 35 km northwest of the city of Herat on Saturday, with one of 6.3 magnitude, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

They were among the world’s deadliest quakes this year, after tremors in Turkey and Syria killed an estimated 50,000 in February.

An aerial view of the outskirts of Herat, Afghanistan in June.Credit: AP

Janan Sayeeq, spokesman for the Ministry of Disasters, said in a message to Reuters that the toll had risen to 2,445 dead, but he revised down the number of injured to “more than 2,000”.

Earlier, he had said that 9,240 people had been injured.

Sayeeq also said 1,320 houses had been damaged or destroyed. The death toll spiked from 500 reported earlier on Sunday by the Red Crescent.


US to send warships, aid to Israel

Turning to overseas news, the United States is sending a group of warships to the eastern Mediterranean as Israel strikes back following a deadly holiday attack by Hamas militants that has left hundreds dead.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin says that following discussions with President Joe Biden, he directed the USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group to the region. The group includes an aircraft carrier, a guided missile cruiser and guided missile destroyers.

The USS Gerald R Ford.Credit: AP

Austin also says the Pentagon will be sending additional aircraft to fighter squadrons in the region to enhance deterrent efforts. He says the US will be “rapidly” providing the Israeli military with additional equipment and supplies, including munitions, which will “begin moving today and arriving in the coming days”.

This aid “underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defence Forces and the Israeli people”, Austin said in a statement.

For the latest developments on the conflict in Israel, tune in to our dedicated live blog.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for joining us.

It’s Monday, October 9. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • A clear majority of Australians have turned against the Indigenous Voice despite a small swing towards the Yes campaign over the past month.
  • Australia is facing international pressure to introduce a promised visa lottery for Pacific workers as island nations deal with climate change’s “existential threat”.
  • Retailers of imported goods such as clothing and electronics are among the key corporate losers from the weak Australian dollar.
  • Cancelling the Commonwealth Games will cost Victorians more than half a billion dollars, according to new state government department estimates.
  • Trade Minister Don Farrell and key cabinet ministers will mount a high-powered push to reset the energy security partnership with Japan.
  • Overseas, Israeli airstrikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza, killing hundreds of people in retaliation.
  • In Afghanistan, more than 2,400 people were killed in earthquakes in Afghanistan, the Taliban administration.

Let’s get into it.

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