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Birdsville Hits 49.4C in Record-Breaking Summer Heatwave



One of Australia’s hottest summers on record continues to produce temperatures well above average across the nation, including a scorching 49.4C in the Queensland tourist town of Birdsville.

Heatwave conditions swept across large parts of central and eastern Australia on Thursday with both maximum and minimum temperatures sitting about 6C to 12C above average.

Bureau of Meteorology warnings, some severe, have been in place for all five states, while locally extreme heatwaves impacted parts of far southwest Queensland.

About Birdsville

Birdsville is a rural town and locality in the Shire of DiamantinaQueensland, Australia. The locality is on the Queensland border with both the Northern Territory and South Australia.

The town is situated 10 kilometres (6 mi) north of the South Australian border. In the 2021 census, the locality of Birdsville had a population of 110 people.

It is a popular tourist destination with many people using it as a starting point across the Simpson Desert.

Birdsville Rising temperatures

Widespread temperatures above 40C swept across inland and eastern parts of Australia, with some inland areas nudging 50C.

“We haven’t seen these temperatures in several years,” senior meteorologist Gabrielle Woodhouse told AAP.

“Overnight minimum temperatures are also set to be really warm so there will be little respite.”

The heat moved further east throughout the day, with Sydney reaching 35C and temperatures in the high 30s blanketing the NSW coast.

Newcastle peaked at 40C and towns across the Hunter including Cessnock, Scone and Singleton all hovered about 41C at 3pm

The lower and upper west of the state still bore the brunt of the heat with Moomba recording 48C, Smithville 47.5C, Tibooburra 46C and Bourke 44C.

Tamworth hit 37C on Thursday afternoon ahead of the busiest two days of the Country Music Festival, which brings tens of thousands of visitors to the region.

One of the festival’s landmark live venues, The Longyard Hotel, was packed with revellers cooling off with a drink or two on the verandah.

Wide-brimmed cowboy hats were being put to good use under the blazing sun.

At the City Lights holiday park on the edge of town, campers cooled off with showers or under the shade of tarps and eucalyptus trees.

Jo O’Donoghue and her husband travelled to the festival from Corowa on the NSW-Victorian border.

The couple have been escaping the heat in their air-conditioned caravan.

“I would’ve liked to get out and see more but it’s just so damn hot,” Mrs O’Donoghue told AAP.

“I don’t know how the performers do it.”

Behind Birdsville’s 49.4C Peak

Inland areas of Southern Australia’s north and southwest Queensland also sweltered in temperatures in the mid to high 40s.

The outback town of Marree climbed to 48.3C while further northwest Moomba recorded 47.5C.

Roxby Downs, about 500km north of Adelaide, hit 45.7C while the outback town of Coober Pedy tipped 44C.

Queensland’s Birdsville recorded a peak of 49.4C with Bareera not too far behind at 46.3C.

The heat is set to continue on Friday before a cool change brings relief later in the day.

Cooler air will start to spread across the southern and eastern states on Thursday evening, dropping temperatures by Friday late afternoon.

The forecast change will bring cooler weather for almost all areas for the weekend.

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China drops heavy tariffs against Australian winemakers



China drops heavy tariffs against Australian winemakers

Most recently, China has abolished heavy tariffs against Australian wine, marking a significant step towards improved diplomatic relations and trade ties between the two nations. The Chinese government had agreed to review the wine tariffs five months ago and has gradually unwound the trade barriers since then. The Commerce Ministry in Beijing announced on Thursday that it was no longer necessary to impose anti-dumping duties and other levies on imports of Australian wine.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his gratitude for this development, stating that the re-entry of Australian bottled wine into the Chinese market will benefit both Australian producers and Chinese consumers. The removal of these tariffs comes at a critical time for the Australian wine industry, which had faced difficulties exporting to China due to the imposed trade barriers.

In 2019, Australian wine exports to China were valued at $1.1 billion before the tariffs were implemented during the height of diplomatic tensions in 2020. The removal of these duties means that Australia will no longer pursue legal action against China at the World Trade Organisation, which had been initiated by the former coalition government.

While the Australian government’s approach is to cooperate with China when possible and engage in its national interest, some trade barriers still remain. Chinese tariffs are still in place for Australian rock lobster and beef, and in 2020, Beijing imposed trade sanctions worth $20 billion on a variety of Australian products, including coal and cotton. The tariffs on Australian wine specifically amounted to a hefty 220 per cent tax.

As South Australian Wine Industry Association president Kirsty Balnaves noted, the Chinese market has evolved since the imposition of tariffs. There is now stronger in-market competition for wine, increased choices for consumers at various price points, and a decline in alcohol consumption. Balnaves emphasized that South Australian exporters will need to invest time in assessing opportunities, creating awareness, educating consumers, and reintroducing their wines to the market.

Despite the remaining challenges, Prime Minister Albanese reaffirmed his government’s commitment to trade diversification and supporting Australian businesses in selling their products on the global stage. The removal of tariffs on Australian wine is seen as a positive step towards strengthening trade relations between Australia and China, and it is hoped that further trade impediments affecting Australian exports will be addressed in the future in the interests of both countries.

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Emma mistakenly flew with her wheelchair



Emma mistakenly flew with her wheelchair

Many people with disabilities face challenges when it comes to air travel, and Emma Weatherley’s recent experience highlights some of these issues. Emma, who has Facioscaplohumeral Dystrophy (FSHD), a muscle-wasting condition, was left stranded when she was told her motorised wheelchair could not be transported on a recent flight.

Despite having a wheelchair that met aircraft-approved specifications and weight limits, Virgin staff prohibited Emma’s 190kg chair from boarding the Link Airways-operated flight, citing a 120kg weight limit on the plane. This left Emma, a regular traveller and mother of two, feeling frustrated and discriminated against.

Virgin Australia later admitted that allowing Emma’s wheelchair on a previous flight was a mistake due to procedural errors made by staff members. The airline issued an apology to Emma and refunded the cost of the initial flight. They also pledged to improve their service and processes for passengers with specific needs.

Emma’s ordeal sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities when it comes to air travel. Despite having her mobility information stored in the airline’s system, Emma still had to navigate through misunderstandings and a lack of awareness surrounding procedures for wheelchair transportation.

Issues like these not only impact the individual’s confidence and independence but also highlight systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities. Emma’s experience of being rerouted through another city at her own expense due to a lack of accessible flights underscores the financial burden and inconvenience faced by many in similar situations.

Furthermore, Emma’s call for financial penalties for transport services that fail to provide adequate accessibility support raises important questions about accountability and inclusivity in the transportation industry. She also advocates for increased awareness about conditions like FSHD and the need for government funding to support new treatments and clinical trials.

Emma’s story serves as a reminder of the importance of creating a more accessible and inclusive environment for individuals with disabilities, both in air travel and broader community settings. By sharing her experience and advocating for change, Emma hopes to prevent others from falling through the gaps and facing similar challenges in the future.

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Australians Doubt Labor’s Efforts to Ease Cost of Living



There has been a dip in support for the Labor government as Australians continue to feel the burden of the high cost of living, according to the latest Newspoll.

The poll, conducted for The Australian, shows that Federal Labor’s primary vote has fallen by a point to 32 per cent, while the Coalition has gained a point, reaching 37 per cent.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers highlighted the government’s efforts to alleviate cost-of-living pressures without adding to economic inflation, stating, “Our job is to do the right thing for the right reasons and the politics will take care of themselves.”

However, opposition finance minister Jane Hume criticized the government, suggesting that they are focusing on the “wrong priorities” and are distracted by the “chaos on our borders.”

The poll also revealed that Labor’s two-party-preferred lead over the Coalition has been reduced by two points to 51-49 per cent.

With a year to go before the next federal election, Nationals leader David Littleproud emphasized the importance of addressing the cost-of-living crisis, stating that voters will support the party that can best explain how they plan to tackle this issue.

Overall, 31 per cent of voters indicated that they would not support either Labor or the Coalition, signaling a trend away from the major parties. Combined support for Labor and the Coalition stood at 69 per cent.

On the other hand, the Greens saw a one-point increase to 13 per cent, while Pauline Hanson’s One Nation also rose one point to seven per cent in the poll.

Approval ratings for both leaders, Mr. Albanese and Mr. Dutton, saw little change in the past month. Mr. Albanese’s approval rating rose to 44 per cent, while Mr. Dutton’s approval remained at 37 per cent.

In terms of the better prime minister choice, Mr. Albanese saw a one-point increase to 48 per cent, while Mr. Dutton fell one point to 34 per cent.

The Newspoll surveyed 1223 voters nationally between March 18 and 22, providing insights into the current political landscape and public sentiment amidst the ongoing cost-of-living pressures.

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