Australia news live: ‘seventh alarm’ fire engulfs factory in Melbourne’s west | Australia news

Australia news live seventh alarm fire engulfs factory in Melbournes west | Australia news
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Fire in Melbourne’s west upgraded to ‘seventh alarm’ severity

Fire Rescue Victoria has been providing an update on the factory fire at Derrimut, in Melbourne’s west.

Firefighter Michelle Carling said the fire was “immediately” upgraded to a fifth alarm fire, and is now a seventh alarm, with around 180 firefighters and 66 appliances on the scene fighting an “aggressive fire attack”.

She said since Fire Rescue was launched four years ago, there have been a couple of fifth alarms but “nothing exceeding that”.

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There’s been no injuries that have been reported for either the public or firefighters at this time, but we do encourage people not to come near this area.

Asked what is actually burning, Carling responded:

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Chemicals, as we understand. It’s still being investigated as to what type of fuel products are on fire, but there are 44-gallon drums, multiple- there’s a B-double that has been impinged on fire, but multiple types of fuel.

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Key events

Andrew Messenger

Murder trial begins for Toowoomba Saints religious sect

The trial of 14 members of the Toowoomba Saints religious sect for the alleged murder of 8-year-old Elizabeth Struhs has begun.

It’s been more than two years since the young girl died as a result of her type one diabetes.

Parents Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs and Jason Richard Struhs and others allegedly denied her insulin for several days and instead prayed for her health. Elizabeth died on January 7, 2022.

Religious leader Brendan Stevens and Jason Struhs face charges of murder, on the basis they denied her insulin in the knowledge that doing so would probably cause her death.

Kerrie Struhs faces a charge of manslaughter on the same basis.

Dozens of journalists and others turned up to watch today’s hearing. As a result, the main courtroom is completely full and the overflow room is also near full. Today’s hearing is expected to run until about 4.15pm this afternoon.

Zachary Struhs is charged with manslaughter on the basis that by his words and actions, he counselled, aided or procured Elizabeth’s parents to unlawfully kill her. Loretta Stevens, Therese Stevens, Andrea Stevens, Acacia Stevens, Camellia Stevens, Alexander Stevens, Sebastian Stevens, Keita Martin, Lachlan Schoenfisch and Samantha Schoenfisch face the same charge, as heard during indictment.

All 14 defendants refused to plead guilty or not guilty. The trial begun by having indictments by a court officer who then asked the group to enter a plea.

They all responded with slight variations of “I enter no plea your honour” or “I enter no plea”.

Queensland Supreme Court Justice Martin Burns ordered that a plea of not guilty be entered for all 14.

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Anna Meares says Australia’s Olympians will be safe in Paris amid political turmoil

Head of Australia’s Olympic team Anna Meares says she is not worried about recent political turmoil in Paris, with the additional security anticipated in the French capital enough to allay any safety concerns.

Sixteen days out from the start of the Games, as Australia formally finalised its team on Wednesday, the team’s chef de mission pointed to last year’s Rugby World Cup as an example of how France has delivered a major event with minimal disruption.

Meares said:

We know that there’s been unrest and riots and protests in Paris. This is normal. This is how they express themselves.

We have great faith in the French authorities and in the security that they’re putting in place. We’ve got our own plans in place.

You can read the full story here:

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Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Many thanks for joining me on the blog today. Cait Kelly will be here to take you through the rest of our rolling coverage. Take care.

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Labor ‘trying to reinvent the wheel’ by appointing special envoy on antisemitism, Greens say

The Greens have accused Labor of “trying to reinvent the wheel instead of backing the solution they already have”, after the appointment of a special envoy on antisemitism.

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In a statement, the deputy leader of the Greens, Mehreen Faruqi, called on the government to urgently implement a national anti-racism strategy and fully fund the race discrimination commissioner to “ensure all forms of racism are combated”.

We already have a race discrimination commissioner which is empowered to fight all forms of racism. Labor is trying to reinvent the wheel instead of backing the solution they already have.

Faruqi accused the government of failing to consult the Islamophobia Register ahead of yesterday’s announcement, and “hastily” adding the announcement of an anti-Islamophobia envoy “without even a candidate”.

Muslims facing Islamophobia in this country should not be an afterthought.

We need a united effort to defeat racism in this country, which is so pervasive and deep seated, especially against First Nations people. The best way to dismantle antisemitism, Islamophobia or any other type of racism is by working in solidarity with groups facing hate and racism.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
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Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Organisations fear young people in regional Australia risk being cut off from community support if ban is enacted

Continuing from our last post: Dolly’s Dream advisory board member, Genevieve Fraser, said kids in regional Australia – particularly LGBTQ kids – face being cut off and isolated from support networks on social media if a ban is put in place.

Alannah and Madeline foundation CEO Sarah Davies said age assurance was a red herring and would give a false sense of security to parents:

I think the challenge with … the News Corp campaign … running, is that it feels good to anxious parents and grandparents, and it’ll feel good for about five minutes, like a sugar hit, until we realise it’s not actually changing anything. It is highly likely to make things worse.

Social media and tech is hugely positive if it is safe to use and age appropriate to use because it gives children and young people access to people like them, tribes, community support.

She said the tech needed to be age-appropriate and built safely by design.

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Organisations divided on effectiveness of age assurance tech for social media

Organisations focused on child safety, eating disorders, and women’s rights are divided on whether age assurance for social media will be effective, and whether access should be restricted to those 16 and over.

Collective Shout, Eating Disorders Families Australia and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation speaking to the federal parliament’s social media inquiry all supported the move to ban children under 16 from accessing social media, but the Butterfly Foundation, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and Dolly’s Dream all expressed reservations about whether it would be effective and not cause more harm.

Collective Shout movement director, Melinda Tankard Reist, said it was risk reduction and that bringing it in would incentivise the technology sector to invest and make it work:

We believe that if we implement age assurance technologies and if we can delay access to these social media platforms, you’ll have less children being exposed to porn, to predators, to harmful online content, to bullying, [and] every year of delay means more cognitive development, more maturity and more ability to withstand the harmful elements of these products, which has been shown, are not safe for children in their current form.

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What is a seventh alarm fire?

Just circling back to the factory fire in Derrimut, in Melbourne’s west:

At a press conference, Fire Rescue Victoria firefighter Michelle Carling said the fire had been upgraded to a seventh alarm (you can read more on this earlier in the blog here).

Fire Rescue Victoria said there are different types of alarms, with a seventh alarm signalling a “very significant fire”.

Fires are given an alarm rating based on how many resources are required to put the fire out. Because this fire was a chemical fire, additional resources were deployed, hence the seventh alarm rating.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Ten thousand vapes seized in first week of restrictions, says NSW health minister

At the press conference, the NSW health minister, Ryan Park, added that his government was “tracking this literally every day”.

He said in the first week of the new restrictions, NSW had seized 10,000 vapes from more than 60 locations:

Between illegal tobacco and vapes, we seized over a million dollars’ worth of product. NSW, working with TGA officials together, we’re starting to put a dent in this.

Now it’s going to take time, I’ve said that from the very beginning. The reality is, this type of product got ahead of everybody … what we’re focused on is making sure that we reduce the supply, reduce the availability, and reduce the impacts particularly for young people.

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Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Vape stores closing down amid new regulations, health minister says

The health minister, Mark Butler, says vape stores are closing down and convenience stores are dumping their stock of the products after the government’s latest round of anti-vaping regulations came in last week.

Non-therapeutic vapes (that is, ones for recreational use) are now banned from sale and can only be legally bought through pharmacies, in a bid to cut out the products. Asked at a press conference today in Sydney about the regulations, Butler said the government was “working in close cooperation with state and territory governments to ramp up an enforcement program”.

We’re getting very significant reports across the country of vape stores starting to close down and of convenience stores, clearing their shelves, and their drawers, frankly, of vapes.

Butler added that authorities had seized “more than 3 million vapes just in the last six months, so we’re already starting to choke off supply”:

But, of course, we will ramp up these efforts over the coming weeks, the TGA and its equivalent authorities, including particularly here in New South Wales have been working hard to get the arrangements in place to ramp up those enforcement arrangements.

Minister for health Mark Butler. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
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Michelle Carling told reporters there was a fatal fire “in the vicinity” last year.

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