Australia live news updates: Anthony Albanese to meet EU president; NSW Greens criticise police ‘overreach’ against climate activists | Australian politics

Blockade Australia says 25 NSW police officers attended their campsite this morning and arrested two people.

We have sought confirmation from NSW police.

The environmental activist group says one of the activists arrested was a 62-year-old Aboriginal woman who was staying at the campground.

We’ll bring you more as soon as we can.

Victorian police minister and tourism minister confirm resignations

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Police minister, Lisa Neville, and minister for tourism, sport and major events, Martin Pakula, have also confirmed their retirement. That is the last of the expected resignations.

Neville, who has been in parliament for 20 years, said she is resigning due to health issues: she was forced to take six months’ leave last year to recover from surgery for Crohn’s disease.

Here’s part of her statement:

I have only known one way to approach public life and that is to invest every ounce of energy into it. Being an MP and a Minister is a unique privilege and one that demands your total focus. My recovery in 2021 allowed me to resume work in late 2021, but I know I cannot give another four years. I wish it were otherwise, but I must be honest with myself, the wonderful people I work with and the Bellarine community.

She added:

While it is no longer sustainable from a health perspective for me to commit to being Minister and local member for the next term, I am not finished with public service and look forward to finding other ways to continue to contribute to public life after the election in November.

Daniel Andrews, who was elected the same year as Neville, said he had “long admired Lisa’s openness about her battle with Crohn’s disease”.

Lisa has always tried to make things easier for others.She’s also always put her responsibility to the people of Bellarine and Victoria first. She’s put her job ahead of her health for a very long time – and now it’s time for Lisa to put herself first.

Pakula has been in parliament for 16 years. His lower house seat of Keysborough was recently abolished as part of an electoral redistribution but he was expected to make a move to the upper house. Instead, he’s leaving.

Politics, he said, was “a job which often demands an unhealthy measure of emotional and mental commitment”.

As politicians, we are notoriously bad at appreciating when considerations for our own well-being demand that we stop and find something else to do with our lives. I’d like to think I’m not one of them.

Andrews is not expected to announce his new cabinet until next month.

The writs for the 2022 election have now been returned.

Writs for all 151 House of Representatives elections, and for the Senate elections in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, were returned to the governor general, David Hurley.

Writs for Senate elections in all states have been returned to state governors throughout the week.

Tom Rogers, the commissioner of the Australian Electoral Commission, said the return of the writs marks the completion of the “most complex and challenging election in Australia’s history”.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley confirms resignation

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, has also confirmed he is resigning and will not be seeking re-election in November.

Foley, who is also minister for ambulance services and equality, thanked nurses, doctors, paramedics, allied health professionals and scientists for their work during the pandemic. He said working with them has been the “greatest revelation” of his professional life.

Here’s part of his statement:

Today I have informed the Premier that I will not contest the seat of Albert Park at the November state election.

Consequently, I will also be stepping down as a Minister in the Andrews Labor Government…

The past two years have been a tough time for all Victorians. Many of us have come to reflect on what we aspire to achieve. I am no different. I am looking forward to contributing to a better, fairer, sustainable Victoria in a different capacity. One that allows me more time to focus on my family and wellbeing and different interests.

Foley took over from Jenny Mikakos as health minister after her resignation in September 2020, and has served in parliament for 15 years.

Daniel Andrews said:

From being a senior leader in the trade union movement organising on behalf of some of the lowest-paid workers, to being Victoria’s first Equality Minister, nobody has fought harder than Martin to give a voice to those who needed it most. Those who, for too long, have been powerless, unsafe, persecuted.

We often say that in Victoria, equality is not negotiable. And that’s in no small part thanks to the community ally Victorians have had in Martin Foley. Martin has never been afraid to face difficult issues, and make difficult decisions, when he knew it was the right thing to do – and when he knew it would help people.

Andrews said without Foley, there would be no royal commission into mental health or the establishment of Victoria’s first medically supervised injecting room.

You can read Merlino’s full statement here:

Victorian deputy premier James Merlino confirms resignation

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

We have our first confirmed resignation from Victoria’s cabinet in deputy premier, James Merlino.

He’s issued a statement this morning:

Today I advised the Premier of my decision to resign as Deputy Premier of Victoria, Minister for Education and Minister for Mental Health. I will also not contest the seat of Monbulk at the election in November.

A twenty-year journey is coming to an end. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve in the Victorian Parliament and represent my community of Monbulk. I leave with feelings of deepest gratitude, a little sadness and excitement for the future.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, has also issued a statement:

James Merlino – Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health and Member for Monbulk – has advised me he will not seek re-election in November this year. He will also step down from Cabinet.

While our Government is often referred to as the Andrews Labor Government, nothing we’ve achieved in infrastructure, in health and education, in equality, in jobs and skills, in any area – would have been possible without the hard work, determination and leadership of the best Deputy any Premier could ever wish for.

Victoria has also never had a better Acting Premier.

In 2021, James seamlessly took over chairing the Cabinet and leading the Government at a difficult time for our state and a tough time for me and my family.

I will forever be grateful for his care and concern but moreover, his competence – allowing me to focus on recovering from very serious injuries, confident, indeed certain, that the state was in the best of hands.

Andrews said he has asked Merlino to stay on in the role of campaign chair ahead of the 26 November election.

Merlino is one of four senior ministers in Victoria expected to announce their resignation today.

People camping outside Sydney passport office to beat queues

While we’re on travel-related queues, people are reportedly camping outside Sydney passport office in order to beat the queues.

There were five people, with sleeping bags, already lined up at midnight, according to journalist and queuer Barbie Dutter.

Camping outside the passport office in Sydney. Already 5 of us here by midnight. One more working day left to get my kid’s passport. Send luck please.

— Barbie Dutter (@barbiedutter) June 23, 2022

By 7am, Dutter reported, the queues were snaking around the block.

Travellers warned to expect long airport delays as school holidays begin

Travellers have been warned to again prepare for lengthy delays at Australian airports, with millions of people due to jet off for the start of school holidays.

Schools in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory are on holidays from tomorrow, while NSW, WA, and the ACT have one week to go.

Melbourne airport is expecting 2.1 million people to pass through the airport between today and 14 July, Nine News reported. That’s compared to 1.7 million people at Easter.

Nathan Currie, a reporter for Channel Seven’s Sunrise program, reported that queues at Melbourne’s T3 were out the door at 6.18am.

Sydney is also expecting to see 2.1 million people between 27 June and 17 July, compared to 1.8 million over Easter.

South Australia and Tasmania will break from 9 July.

NSW records 14 deaths, 9,139 new Covid cases

New South Wales has recorded another 14 deaths of people with Covid-19.

There are also 1,455 people in hospital, including 54 in intensive care. There were 9,139 positive test results recorded in the 24 hours to 4pm yesterday.

COVID-19 update – Friday 24 June 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:

– 96.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 95.1% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 23, 2022

Victoria records 20 deaths, 7,723 new Covid cases

Victoria has recorded another 20 deaths of people with Covid-19, with 412 people in hospital, 27 in intensive care and 11 on ventilators.

There were 7,723 new cases reported yesterday, with a total of 42,037 active cases.