Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reaffirmed that a “political solution” to the unrest in Syria is still on the agenda, despite tensions escalating this week when a Russian fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish airforce.
The incident shed light on the type of war-torn environment the Syria-Turkey border is currently experiencing, and the Prime Minister was quick to acknowledge the difference in desired political outcomes from separate nations. “The various players in that theatre, a number of them have got differing agendas, differing objectives which in some cases are in conflict with each other,” Mr Turnbull said. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also urged nations to “show restraint” in regards to military intervention, echoing comments made by the Prime Minister at the G20 summit in the Philippines last week.
Government unveils changes to mental health system
Radical changes to the mental health system, unveiled by the government on Wednesday, will see more services provided on an individual basis. A new single phone hotline has been set up to help direct people to the right services and healthcare professionals, who may deem a patient to have a higher need for care. They will be granted access to a range of services to tackle the issues, including psychiatric care, rehabilitation services for drugs and alcohol and community support systems. Health Minister Sussan Ley said Australia is moving away from the current system, which is broken and is adopting a “more modern, flexible model of care”.
Total fire ban for NSW
A total fire ban has been placed on Sydney today and severe fire warnings have been issued by the Rural Fire Service in response to the city’s rising temperatures. Most parts of NSW are currently experiencing temperatures in the high 30s, with Sydney’s CBD recorded at 36C just after 11am this morning. The heat will continue into the day with a high of 38C expected this afternoon. Paramedics have asked the public to stay hydrated to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion.
Bushfires ravage South Australia
Two people have been killed and another 13 hospitalised in a bushfire that has swept through South Australia’s mid-north. A 56-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man were confirmed dead, with five of those hospitalised in a critical condition. In addition, at least three people have been reported missing. “We hold grave fears for many more … can’t be entirely sure we have identified every single person in the fire ground,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said. Sixteen homes have been destroyed in the fires, with more than 5,000 losing power. Eight firefighting strike teams travelling from Victoria will arrive today and are expected to begin their efforts tomorrow. The South Australian Country Fire Service believes the fires will continue for days, and has changed its fire warning to “watch and act”.
Amanda Vanstone in hot water
Former immigration minister Amanda Vanstone has landed herself in hot water over her comments on Channel 9 show The Verdict regarding the death of Bindi Irwin’s father, Steve Irwin. Host Karl Stefanovic attempted to end the show on “something light and fun” last night, showing footage of Bindi’s win on the US version of Dancing With The Stars. Ms Vanstone quickly shot down Stefanovic’s comments, and was greeted with much shock by the panel and audience. “Give me a break, she’s not the only kid whose father has died. My father died when I was young, it happens to a lot of kids. It doesn’t make her special.” Former Labor leader Mark Latham, who was also present on the panel, detested her response. “That was mean and nasty, you can’t say that.” – Compiled from online news sources by Sergio Magliarachi, Benjamin Potter and Daniel Walker.
Top photo of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from Veni’s Flickr photostream.