Australia news LIVE: COP26 Glasgow summit continues; COVID-19 cases grow as nation nears 80 per cent double dose vaccination rate

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Key posts

  • NSW to review how grants are handed out amid pork-barrelling concerns
  • Victorian state MP defies Liberal leader’s call to quit Parliament after crash
  • Boris Johnson ‘cautiously optimistic’ about climate summit progress
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Biden lashes China for not attending COP26

US President Joe Biden has attacked Chinese President Xi Jinping for not attending the Glasgow climate summit in person, describing it as a “big mistake”.

“The rest of the world is going to look to China and say, ‘What value added are they providing?’” Biden said. “They’ve lost the ability to influence the people around the world and all the people here at COP.

“The single most important things that’s gotten the attention of the world is climate, from Iceland to Australia. It just is a gigantic issue and they [China] have walked away. How do you do that and claim to have any leadership mantle?

“It’s the same with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in Russia. He is mum on his willingness to do anything.”

More on the summit here.

NSW to review how grants are handed out amid pork-barrelling concerns

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has ordered a review of his government’s processes for awarding taxpayer-funded grants, after Gladys Berejiklian’s appearance at a corruption inquiry reignited controversy over pork-barrelling in marginal seats.

Further distancing himself from his predecessor Ms Berejiklian’s previous comments that pork-barrelling was widespread and “not illegal”, Mr Perrottet has tasked the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Productivity Commissioner with reviewing how grants should be administered and assessed.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has ordered a review into how government grants are handed out in NSW.Credit:Kate Geraghty

“Taxpayers expect the distribution of public funds will be fair – I share that expectation,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said the objective of the review was to ensure all grants administered by the NSW government for community-based projects including sporting fields, playgrounds and local infrastructure “deliver value for public money and are robust in planning and design”.

In Australian politics, pork-barrelling refers to governments spending taxpayer dollars to win votes instead of awarding the money on a strictly independent basis.

Read more about the state government’s review here.

Victorian state MP defies Liberal leader’s call to quit Parliament after crash

Embattled Liberal MP Tim Smith is refusing to quit Victorian Parliament, defying Opposition Leader Matthew Guy who declared the member for Kew should not recontest next year’s election.

Mr Smith, who crashed his five-week-old Jaguar vehicle into a parked car before ploughing into the fence outside an eight-year-old child’s bedroom while driving more than 2½ times over the legal alcohol limit, has told several senior Liberal sources he believes he can weather the political storm and remain in Parliament.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy addressing the media yesterday. Credit:Simon Schluter

He told colleagues he had the support of senior federal Liberals and is calling party branch members in Kew seeking their support for preselection.

The former state shadow attorney-general has been bunkering down at his parents’ holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula since the crash in Hawthorn, in Melbourne’s east, on Saturday night. Two Liberal sources confirmed he was dining with a high-profile QC on the night of the crash.

Read the full story here.

Boris Johnson ‘cautiously optimistic’ about climate summit progress

The host of the Glasgow climate summit says there is new reason to believe the talks may not fail but has cautioned against embracing a “mood of exaggerated enthusiasm” given the most intense negotiations are yet to come.

The upbeat comments by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echo the growing confidence of some other attendees who privately believe the conference won’t achieve all its goals but will still make substantial progress.

Prince Charles during his brief meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the summit. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Most of the 120 world leaders who gathered in Glasgow for the summit’s opening two days will now depart, leaving their negotiators and senior cabinet ministers to thrash out the terms of potential new deals to respond to the climate crisis over the next 10 days.

“The eyes of the populations of the world are on you,” Johnson said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison boarded his RAAF plane bound for Australia on Tuesday evening local-time (Wednesday AEDT) after spending 48 hours meeting other world leaders and announcing his new formal target to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Read the full recap of events here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, November 3. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s everything you need to know before we get started.

  • NSW is fast tracking freedoms for the fully vaccinated. From Monday, the 20-person limit on visitors to the home and 50-person cap on outdoor gatherings will be scrapped. Dance floors and indoor pools can reopen and stadiums can operate at 100 per cent capacity. However, masks will still be mandatory indoors and the unvaccinated will not be subject to the same freedoms until December. Meanwhile, the state government will review how taxpayer-funded grants are awarded following Gladys Berejiklian’s appearance at Monday’s corruption inquiry. NSW yesterday reported 173 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. There are 333 coronavirus patients in NSW hospitals. Of those, 72 are in ICU. When it comes to vaccines, 87.8 per cent of people aged 16 and over in NSW are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dominic Perrottet, left, and Gladys Berejiklian.Credit:Louise Kennerley, Nick Moir

  • Victorian state Liberal MP Tim Smith is so far refusing to quit Parliament despite calls from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to stand down. It comes after Mr Smith crashed his five-week-old Jaguar vehicle over the weekend while driving at more than twice the legal blood-alcohol limit. A 10,000-strong crowd, Melbourne’s largest gathering in months due to coronavirus restrictions, gathered in the inner north-west suburb of Flemington yesterday to watch Verry Elleegant win the Melbourne Cup. Victoria yesterday reported 989 new cases of COVID-19, its lowest daily tally in several weeks, along with nine deaths. There are 667 coronavirus patients in NSW hospitals. Of those, 127 are in intensive care. Eighty-one per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over are now fully vaccinated.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has vowed Tim Smith had no place on his frontbench. Credit:Simon Schluter

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with Prince Charles as part of international climate talks in Glasgow. It comes as more than 90 countries sign up to cut methane emissions by 2030 and world leaders pledge to end deforestation. The PM has spruiked his technology-led plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and is now on his way home. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the climate summit’s progress (with further deals to be thrashed out over the next 10 days).

Prince Charles meets with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Glasgow. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

  • Staying with international news, and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has joined French President Emmanuel Macron in calling Scott Morrison a liar. Mr Turnbull says Australia’s cancellation of a $90 billion submarine contract is “shameful” and the current PM should apologise.

Malcolm Turnbull, who is in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit, said Scott Morrison had lied to him when they worked together in government.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

  • Rapid COVID-19 tests are available from major supermarkets in all states and territories today, except for WA and South Australia. Coles and Woolworths are among the first to sell the kits, which will be between $10 and $30 each. At Woolworths, they will be stocked at the service counter.

The CareStart COVID-19 Antigen rapid test is one of the products approved for use in Australia. 

  • And the ACT yesterday reported eight new cases of COVID-19. It comes as the territory surpasses 93 per cent double-dose coverage for people aged 12 and over.
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