As it happened: Lidia Thorpe resigns as deputy Greens leader amid bikie relationship revelations; COVID review highlights pandemic failures – Sydney Morning Herald

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Thanks for joining us today. We hope you have a good night. Here are some of the day’s main headlines:
Dolphins captain Cameron Cullen says his club and community are in shock after young Queensland rugby league player Liam Hampson was found dead in a Spanish nightclub.
Queensland rugby league player Liam Hampson died while on holiday in Barcelona.Credit:Facebook
Cullen said Hampson had been having the time of his life with his best friends on what was the trip of a lifetime.
The 24-year-old’s body was found in an internal area of the Sala Apolo nightclub on the famous Paral.lel strip after he apparently fell 10 metres. The nightclub is an institution in Barcelona, popular among university students and tourists.
Describing Hampson as a “beautiful kid”, Cullen told 7News that his club and community were in shock and devastated at the tragic loss of life.
“It speaks volumes of the impact that Liam had on our club. It was his first year here, but he was such a special person and loved by everyone, so there are a lot of people hurting, that’s for sure,” Cullen said.
“He was such a loving, caring kid. He was always the life of the party and such a fun person to be around.
“So he had an immediate impact at our club.
“He was such a great person.”
Cullen said Hampson also had a large influence off the field, including as a teacher’s aid at Redcliffe High School.
“He is going to be so sorely missed,” Cullen said.
As if the major floods in Victoria and NSW weren’t enough, public health experts are warning La Nina could also bring “a major human outbreak” of Japanese encephalitis.
The mosquito-borne disease has an effective vaccine, but more doses could be required. The Victorian government has announced $6.5 million for health protection measures, including free vaccines for people in flooded regions. NSW is also expanding free vaccine access to residents living in affected regional areas.
Piggeries in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have been infected with Japanese encephalitis. Credit:Graham Tidy
Researchers from Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute said there had been 31 confirmed human cases and six deaths so far this year, and the virus might be endemic in Australia. The virus can also cause permanent neurological complications.
About 99 per cent of cases are asymptomatic, and the most common symptoms are mild fever and headache. People with a severe infection may experience neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors and seizures and should seek medical treatment.
QIMR Berghofer researchers say a third consecutive La Nina has likely created new wetlands where the virus-carrying Culex annulirostris mosquito can breed, increasing the likelihood of the virus spreading to humans, pigs and wetland birds.
Commercial piggery outbreaks could put anyone living within four kilometres – which could be up to 740,546 people – at risk of catching Japanese encephalitis virus if they are bitten by mosquitoes, according to modelling published in the Oxford Academic’s Clinical Infectious Diseases journal today.
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The Bureau of Meteorology has backed down on its planned rebranding, saying people can still refer to the weather agency as “the BoM” – or anything else they like.
The backflip follows the BoM’s announcement on Tuesday that it wanted media agencies to refer to it as “the Bureau” or its full name rather than “BoM”.
Federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek issued a rebuke in response, saying it was “ridiculous for the BoM to be talking about rebranding”, particularly at a time when towns were flooding.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
The former government came up with the idea for rebranding the organisation at a cost of $220,296, which included fees for consulting a private public relations agency.
Plibersek said the BoM should not be spending time on branding when eastern Australia was flooded.
A BoM spokesperson said the rebranding was prompted by feedback from the community that showed confusion over its name reduced the effectiveness of its communications of weather forecasting and warnings.
But following the subsequent public outcry and ridicule over the mooted move, the organisation said it would now stick with the BoM moniker.
“The community is welcome to refer to the Bureau in any way they wish, including referring to us as the BoM,” the spokesperson said.
In NSW, a $2 million funding boost will improve access to monkeypox vaccines.
The state government has opened 20 temporary vaccination clinics across the state.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said more people at higher risk of monkeypox infection would be able to access the vaccine closer to home. NSW Health has expanded vaccine eligibility “to include all gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men who have multiple or casual sexual partners”.
Access to monkeypox vaccines have been expanded in NSW.Credit:AP
“Eligible people at risk of monkeypox infection can now make an appointment through a new online booking system at a clinic in their community, giving them more choice over where and when they have the vaccine,” Chant said.
“Worldwide, supplies of monkeypox vaccine have been limited, but with additional doses expected to arrive in the coming weeks and more in 2023, these clinics will ensure we vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
The vast majority of monkeypox cases and high-risk people identified to date live in Sydney.
People are advised to continue to look out for symptoms of monkeypox, with 54 cases identified across the state since May this year, three of whom acquired the infection in NSW.
Greens leader Adam Bandt said he retained confidence in Senator Lidia Thorpe as a federal parliamentarian and to serve as the Greens’ First Nations spokeswoman, despite the error of judgment prompting him to ask for her resignation from the party leadership team.
Greens leader Adam Bandt says Lidia Thorpe has the potential to be a very good senator.Credit:Jason South
“Senator Thorpe is a fighter for her people, and has strong and passionate views about advancing justice for First Nations people,” Bandt said.
“She has the potential to be a very good senator, fighting for her people at fighting for justice, but she will need to show better judgment to do that.”
Bandt said he had contacted the Australian Federal Police to check whether they had any concerns Thorpe had disclosed confidential information, but he had no reason to believe she had.
Thanks for joining us on the live news blog today. For those just catching up, here are the biggest headlines so far:
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is holding a press conference in Western Australia, described the revelations relating to Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe as “concerning”.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“I think that these are concerning revelations. Australians are entitled to believe that the oversight processes that are there within the parliament over our legal systems will be maintained in a way that ensures integrity and ensures that any information which is given there is kept in a confidential basis,” Albanese said.
“I note that Senator Thorpe has said that this is an error of judgment. That’s the least description that I would put to it and Mr Bandt has to explain what his office knew and what he knew and if he wasn’t informed about these issues, given his office was informed, why that’s the case.”
Staying with the Adam Bandt conference, the Greens leader says Lidia Thorpe had demonstrated a “significant error of judgment” by failing to disclose the relationship with former Rebel bikies member Dean Martin.
Greens leader Adam Bandt holds a press conference after Lidia Thorpe stood down as deputy leader.Credit:Jason South
He said Thorpe had assured him she had not shared any confidential information with Martin as a result of her work on the joint parliamentary committee on law enforcement and the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee.
“Her friendship could be perceived an issue given her work as a senator, especially on those committees,” Bandt said.
“I have spoken to Senator Thorpe, and she has told me that at no stage was there any breach of the rules regarding those committees or her work, no sharing of confidential information, and to date, no one has suggested otherwise.
“But that is not enough. It was clear that this could be perceived as affecting her work and her failure to disclose that, at the very least, to me was an error of judgment.”
Lidia Thorpe has resigned as deputy leader of the Greens in the Senate, following revelations she was in an undisclosed relationship with former Rebel bikies member Dean Martin while serving on the federal parliament’s law enforcement committee.
Greens leader Adam Bandt confirmed the resignation during a press conference this afternoon.
“I have asked Senator Thorpe for her resignation as deputy leader in the Senate and I have received a resignation,” Bandt said.
“As a leader I expect my senators and MPs, especially those in leadership positions, to exercise good judgement. At a minimum, Senator Thorpe needed to disclose to me her connection to Mr Martin and her failure to do so showed a significant lack of judgement.
“Senator Thorpe says she understands this, so I now expect her to demonstrate better judgement going forward and in exercising her continuing portfolio responsibilities. I note also that Senator Thorpe has not held the justice portfolio since the election.”
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