One Nation's Pauline Hanson wins Queensland Senate seat
My vote counted
It means Liberal National Party Senator Amanda Stoker has lost her seat.
The 68-year-old Senator Hanson has been elected for a second six-year term, after entering the Senate as a One Nation Candidate in 2016.
Senator Stoker exits after being placed in the Senate by the LNP in 2018 when George Brandis resigned.
Ms Hanson, who has previously represented the Lower House seat of Oxley, west of Brisbane, garnered 191,156 first-preference votes.
As a party, One Nation polled just over half the amount required for a quota in Queensland.
With Ms Stoker losing her seat, Queensland's traditional Senate split of three right and three left senators has been restored.
The Brisbane solicitor worked in corporate law before she first joined the Senate in 2018, where she became a vocal supporter of her government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.
The mother-of-three served tenures as Assistant Minister for Women, Industrial Relations and to the Attorney-General while in office.
While the AEC officially declared the Queensland winners today, the ABC's election calculator had already called five of the six spots.
In a statement Pauline Hanson thanked supporters.
"I thank Queenslanders for entrusting me to continue to represent them in Canberra and I thank all those Australians who supported our party and lifted our national vote," she said.
"I congratulate Mr Albanese on Labor's win. I've said in the past he probably wouldn't make a good Prime Minister, however I sincerely hope he proves me wrong.
"Australians need representation which puts them and their country first more than ever," she said.
"The costs of living are skyrocketing. We have an energy crisis created by the major parties that One Nation has been warning about for many years.
"We're in the middle of a housing crisis. We have significant security challenges.
"We have a new government seemingly all too ready and willing to sacrifice the Australian economy and countless Australian jobs on the altar of climate change."
Labor's Murray Watt and Anthony Chisholm have been re-elected, along with the LNP's James McGrath and Matt Canavan.
The Greens' Penny Allman-Payne also won a seat.
There are six Senate seats up for grabs in each state at every federal election
The AEC's official declaration of the result today confirms the United Australia Party's Clive Palmer failed to win a seat.
Despite Senator Hanson's win, the ABC's chief election analyst Antony Green told ABC Radio Brisbane this election was a "step back" for One Nation.
"One Nation did not poll as well as I thought they would – only got 7 per cent, I thought they would do better," he said.
"One Nation has elected a Senator, but other than that, it's not been as successful as it was in the last election."
Mr Green said preferences from parties who were not elected helped Senator Hanson get across the line.
"Under the current Senate electoral system at the last two elections, Pauline Hanson will attract more preferences from excluded parties than anybody else on the ballot paper," he said.
Mr Green said Labor's Senator Chisholm and the Greens' incoming Senator, Penny Allman-Payne also relied on preferences to win their seats.
The LNP's two successful candidates and Labor's Senator Watt were returned to the upper house on full quotas, which means they reached 14.4 per cent of the vote.
Bondi school parents slam decision to ban outdoor play before class
Power-mad bureaucrats at work
Frustrated parents have lashed a decision by Bondi Beach Public School to prohibit outdoor play before school, warning that children are missing out on vital exercise and interaction after months of disruption.
In a letter sent to a parent who raised concerns about limiting outdoor play on school grounds, Paul Owens, from the Bondi Principals Network, said the principal and school executive was “evaluating a focus on quieter and semi-active social interaction prior to morning classes”.
“This initiative responds to playground observations, incidents that may arise, and students’ preparedness for learning once they’ve entered classrooms,” the letter said.
But parents said restricting students from using the playground before school started was causing consternation, with many worried that limiting outdoor play would cut back on critical exercise and interaction with other classes and year groups.
“There has been little discussion between the school principal about the restrictions or changes to when children can play in the school playground,” a parent said, who has a child in a senior primary year and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“None of the parents I have come across at the school thinks no play outdoors before school is a good idea,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the “initiative has been implemented on a short-term basis in response to school leadership and teacher observations of playground interactions and students’ preparedness for learning once they entered classrooms”.
The Herald understands Bondi Beach Public is the only school in the area trialling a routine to limit before school outdoor play.
“The trial is one of a number of strategies Bondi Beach Public School has implemented to support positive classroom behaviour and learning. Other examples include having two breaks in the day of a similar length where children can engage in active play if they wish,” the spokesperson said.
“Wellbeing data, student comments, and teacher observations, show the trial is having a positive impact.”
Another parent, who has had three children attend the school over 10 years, said there was concern that children were being “forced to sit quietly in classrooms before the school day starts”.
Annie Robin, a parent whose son is in year 4, said after months of COVID-19 disruptions students need to “socialise with other year groups”.
“My main frustration is the kids aren’t learning to put out fires themselves and deal with conflict in the school playground – they need to be around other kids. They need to be running around burning energy,” she said. “Parents are really upset about this.”
Under the latest COVID-19 advice, schools are not required to keep students in their class or year group cohorts and there is no need to stagger start and finish times. Schools can also run activities and assemblies with mixed year groups.
Another parent, with two children in different years at Bondi Beach Public, said many restrictions introduced during the pandemic have stayed in place.
“There is indignation in the community. Before COVID-19 kids could show up at school from 8.30am and play in the school yard before the bell went,” the parent said. “All stages mixed and it was very sociable. But many of the COVID-19 rules have been kept and it’s just hindering kids interaction which is so important while they are preparing for high school.”
In a letter to a parent the Bondi Principals Network said the “positive impact of the current routine will be seen over time and therefore, [principal] Ms O’Neill explained the evaluation will not be finalised until the end of the year”.
“Ms O’Neill will provide an update to parents once feedback has allowed for appropriate conclusions to be drawn,” the letter said.
New 'sticky' Omicron variants will take over in NSW, concerns about reinfection
Two new Omicron variants are set to become the most dominant in NSW as a result of their "growth advantage" over previous strains, according to a new report.
The new variants— BA.4 and BA.5 — are set to overtake the previously prevalent BA.2 variant in coming weeks, the NSW Health respiratory surveillance report said.
"It is anticipated that in coming weeks the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages, first identified in early April, will become the dominant strains," a NSW Health spokesperson said.
"And will likely be associated with an increase in infections."
Virologist Stuart Turville from the University of NSW's Kirby Institute said BA. 5 was "stickier" than its predecessors because of differences in its spike glycoprotein, which influences how the virus engages with cells.
"BA.5 doesn't look to be a big seismic shift like we saw with BA.1 and BA.2 in comparison to Delta," Professor Turville said.
"[But] the thing we're keeping an eye on with BA.5 is that it's starting to like tissue that pre-Omicron variants like ... it likes proteins on the lung.
"What we want to know now is does it like it as much as Delta and pre-Omicron variants or is it just a bit of a shift from BA.2?"
Infectious disease experts say there is evidence the Omicron sub-variants are effective at reinfecting people with previous infections from BA.1 or other lineages.
There is also concern these sub-variants may infect people who have been vaccinated.
However, there hasn't been a link to an increase in disease severity just yet, although this is being closely monitored, according to the NSW Health report.
Hospital and lab surveillance noted an early start to influenza season this year as well as a rapid increase in reported cases, raising concerns for strains on essential services.
University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health Professor Elizabeth Elliott said there was no doubt "chaos" would be caused by the emergence of new variants in the winter flu season.
"Hospitals are already struggling with the load. And kids are not exempt. We recommend flu and COVID vaccines for all eligible," she said.
However, Professor Turville is more optimistic that precautionary measures can help ease the pressure.
"I would say if you haven't already, go and get your third dose. Although it may not stop you getting infected, it will definitely help with disease severity," he said.
"If you've had a third dose a while ago and ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) recommends a fourth dose, just do it. Don't get complacent.
"The other thing is, although people don't like restrictions, it's important to be considerate and wear a mask. We don't know who has or doesn't have a good vaccine response."
He mentions storage but shows no awareness of its monstrous cost if it were to replace much generating
Chris Bowen has furiously dismissed suggestions that prolonging coal-fired power is the solution to Australia's energy crisis
The Energy Minister Minister fired-up in a press conference when he was challenged by a journalist about the unreliability of renewable energy.
One of the reasons given for the National Electricity Market suspension on Wednesday was a lack of wind and solar power.
The journalist asked: 'Isn't part of the supply problem the fact that you cannot direct wind into the market?
'The only thing you can do is to keep the coal-fired generators going to their end of life and to fix the ones that you have got now and include them in the capacity market, isn't that the short-term fix?'
Minister Bowen said the solution is to rapidly invest in renewable energy and storage - not more unreliable coal power.
'The problem is there is not enough investment in renewable energy. There hasn't been enough investment in storage,' he said.
'Yes, you can say the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. The rain doesn't always fall either but we can store the water and we can store renewable energy if we have the investment.
'That investment has been lacking for the last decade. That is the problem.'
Mr Bowen said the current crisis has 'largely' been caused by unexpected outages at coal-fired power stations which are nearing the end of their lifespans.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton cautioned Labor against moving into renewables too quickly, risking further power shortages down the track.
'Labor is rushing toward a new system when it's not at a sensible pace,' he told 2GB.
'They went into the election promising electricity bills would be cheaper and that is not going to happen.'
Last night hospitals were ordered to reduce electricity use and millions of people urged not to use basic appliances.
The potential for mass blackouts has increased with about 1800MW of coal-fired power not operating in Queensland and 1200MW of capacity offline in the states of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
The Tomago aluminium smelter in NSW, the country's biggest electricity user, was also forced to cut production to reduce the chance of a blackout.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean on Wednesday evening begged residents not to run dishwashers until late at night, and Sydney hospital staff were ordered to conserve power in all non-clinical settings.
'This is the result of two-and-a-half decades of policy failures by all sides of politics,' Victorian state Liberal MP Tim Smith said on Wednesday night. 'Like a third world country, we are rationing power in the two first weeks of winter.'
Former Victorian Liberal Party President Michael Kroger said Australia had become 'an international laughing stock' over the crisis.
'We've got more uranium, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, whatever. We are the most energy rich country on the globe,' he told Sky News on Wednesday night. 'We're exploding with natural resources, yet we have an energy crisis. What a farce.'
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