Here’s what you need to know this morning.
Tsunami warning for Norfolk Island
Residents on Norfolk Island are being warned to move to higher ground after three earthquakes near New Zealand triggered a tsunami warning for the south Pacific territory.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre says there is a risk of marine tsunamis, dangerous rips, strong waves and ocean currents impacting the island for several hours.
People in areas at risk of inundation or flooding should move to higher ground or at least one kilometre inland.
Emergency authorities are also advising people to get out of the water and move away from the immediate water’s edge of harbours, coastal estuaries, rock platforms and beaches.
The warning comes after three earthquakes struck the Kermadec Islands off New Zealand’s north east coast this morning.
Health Minister denies regions have ‘two-tiered’ health system
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has defended the state of rural and regional healthcare while being quizzed about staffing and resources.
Labor’s Walt Secord used yesterday’s budget estimates hearing to ask the minister whether he accepted that people outside of metropolitan areas have a “two-tiered health system”.
Hundreds of submissions to a state parliamentary inquiry described limited access to doctors and specialists but Mr Hazzard told the hearing the government was working hard to improve conditions.
“Our government has tried as far as is humanly possible to address those regional issues that exist. I’m looking forward to the inquiry results and we’ll certainly look at that,” he said.
The inquiry heard that between 2012 and 2020 an extra 1,500 medical staff were recruited, as well as 3,000 nurses and midwives.
Sydney’s hotel occupancy plummet due to COVID-19
The union representing Australia’s accommodation sector is warning there could be mass redundancies in the industry with JobKeeper ending later this month.
Tourism Accommodation Australia says occupancy rates are currently hovering at 35 per cent in Sydney’s CBD, with hotels struggling to stay open.
Chief executive Michael Johnson said hotels in Sydney and Melbourne’s CBD would need assurance from the government.
“Our concern is that we’re only 24 days away from the deadline for JobKeeper to cease, so it’s important that we know what’s going on so that will assist some of those hotels make some of the decisions that they have to make going forward,” he said.
Hearings begin into White Island volcano disaster
Survivors and their families affected by the Whakaari White Island volcano disaster more than a year ago say they hope to get answers as court proceedings begin today.
Twenty-two people died as a result of the blast on White Island in December 2019.
The first of court proceedings are expected to be heard in the Auckland District Court today, after WorkSafe New Zealand brought charges against 13 parties, including three individuals last year.
Meredith Dallow, whose brother and niece died from their injuries, said it would be hard to watch but crucial to gain answers.
“It’s a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened and every day we still miss them,” she said.
The first of the proceedings are expected to be largely administrative ahead of full hearings in the coming months.
Man charged over robbery of 74-year-old woman
A man will face court today, charged over an alleged robbery and aggravated break-in at an elderly woman’s home at Lake Illawarra.
The woman answered the doorbell of her Port Kembla home shortly after 7:00pm on February 23, when it was forced open and she was knocked to the ground.
A 30-year-old Newcastle man allegedly shocked her with an electronic stun gun.
A man living in a granny flat came to the woman’s aid and was allegedly assaulted and hit in the head with the stun gun.
Police will allege the man robbed the same woman of cash at Port Kembla a month before the break-in.
Federal Court to decide on mesh implant appeal
The Federal Court will today decide on an appeal against a landmark judgment awarding a multi-million-dollar payout to Australian women with faulty vaginal mesh implants.
The court in March ordered drug company Johnson & Johnson to pay almost $2.6 million to three women with the faulty implants.
They are the lead applicants in a class action of more than 1,000 women with serious side-effects, including chronic pain and infection.
The court found Johnson & Johnson was negligent and driven by commercial interests. The company has appealed against the ruling.