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Snow falls across UK to close roads and ground flights

As much as 11 inches of snow has fallen in parts of UK as forecasters warn some communities could be..

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  • As much as 11 inches of snow has fallen in parts of UK as forecasters warn some communities could be cut off
  • Flights are suspended at Birmingham Airport while the runway is cleared, leaving passengers facing delays
  • Amber weather warnings and -11C lows grip UK as temperatures struggled to get above freezing yesterday
  • Storm Ana may bring 70mph winds and snow to southern England on Monday, the Met Office has forecasted
  • Have you been affected by the snow or adverse weather? Send your pictures to [email protected]

By Alexander Robertson and Joe Sheppard and Amie Gordon For Mailonline

Published: 03:37 EST, 10 December 2017 | Updated: 04:36 EST, 10 December 2017

Up to 11 inches of snow has caused widespread disruption across large parts of the UK today with forecasters warning some communities could be cut off as temperatures plummet.

Britain has been hit by what forecasters describe as a 'snow bomb' this morning, meaning several inches of snow falling in a matter of hours, bringing roads and runways to a standstill.

Severe weather is forecast for a swathe of North Wales and central England and snow has settled on parts of Powys, Herefordshire and Shropshire at a rate of more than one inch an hour.

Flights have been suspended at Birmingham Airport while the runway is cleared, leaving passengers facing delays, while a north-bound section of the M1 has been closed in Leicestershire due to numerous vehicles being stranded.

Amber weather warnings are in place across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of western England as icy conditions plunged roads into chaos, with temperatures of -11C making it the coldest night of 2017.

Significant snow has also fallen in London and parts of the south east, as well Leicestershire, Worcestershire and Bedfordshire, while Sennybridge in Powys, Wales has experienced a snow depth of 11 inches.

Police forces in Wales and across the Midlands have urged motorists not to travel unless 'absolutely necessary' as they deal with surging calls.

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Snow falls in Woodford Green, north-east London this morning. Up to eight inches of snow will cause widespread disruption across large parts of the UK today

Snow falls in Woodford Green, north-east London this morning. Up to eight inches of snow will cause widespread disruption across large parts of the UK today

A gritter is used to attempt to rescue a car which has spun on the road in heavy snowfall on the A41 near Bourne End in Buckinghamshire this morningA gritter is used to attempt to rescue a car which has spun on the road in heavy snowfall on the A41 near Bourne End in Buckinghamshire this morning

A gritter is used to attempt to rescue a car which has spun on the road in heavy snowfall on the A41 near Bourne End in Buckinghamshire this morning

Severe weather is forecast for a swathe of North Wales and central England on Sunday and snow has already fallen on parts of Powys, Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire (pictured) at a rate of more than one inch an hourSevere weather is forecast for a swathe of North Wales and central England on Sunday and snow has already fallen on parts of Powys, Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire (pictured) at a rate of more than one inch an hour

Severe weather is forecast for a swathe of North Wales and central England on Sunday and snow has already fallen on parts of Powys, Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire (pictured) at a rate of more than one inch an hour

A lorry pushes the snow aside along Quinton Road in Birmingham this morning, after approximately 3 inches of snow has fallen this morningA lorry pushes the snow aside along Quinton Road in Birmingham this morning, after approximately 3 inches of snow has fallen this morning

A lorry pushes the snow aside along Quinton Road in Birmingham this morning, after approximately 3 inches of snow has fallen this morning

Commuters wrap themselves up against the snow in Leytonstone, east London this morning. Britain has been hit by what forecasters describe as a 'snow bomb' this morning, meaning several inches of snow falling in a matter of hoursCommuters wrap themselves up against the snow in Leytonstone, east London this morning. Britain has been hit by what forecasters describe as a 'snow bomb' this morning, meaning several inches of snow falling in a matter of hours

Commuters wrap themselves up against the snow in Leytonstone, east London this morning. Britain has been hit by what forecasters describe as a 'snow bomb' this morning, meaning several inches of snow falling in a matter of hours

West Midlands Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team took to Twitter to post an image of of their Polaris six-by-six all-terrain vehicle which can reach places even four-by-four vehicles are unable to West Midlands Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team took to Twitter to post an image of of their Polaris six-by-six all-terrain vehicle which can reach places even four-by-four vehicles are unable to 

West Midlands Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team took to Twitter to post an image of of their Polaris six-by-six all-terrain vehicle which can reach places even four-by-four vehicles are unable to

Traffic grinds to a halt in front of a wintry backdrop on the A55 in Wales following an accident in blizzard conditions on SaturdayTraffic grinds to a halt in front of a wintry backdrop on the A55 in Wales following an accident in blizzard conditions on Saturday

Traffic grinds to a halt in front of a wintry backdrop on the A55 in Wales following an accident in blizzard conditions on Saturday

Police and ambulance crews attend the scene of a crash on the icy M6 near Preston, Lancashire, on Saturday morning. Officers confirmed no one was hurt in the incidentPolice and ambulance crews attend the scene of a crash on the icy M6 near Preston, Lancashire, on Saturday morning. Officers confirmed no one was hurt in the incident

Police and ambulance crews attend the scene of a crash on the icy M6 near Preston, Lancashire, on Saturday morning. Officers confirmed no one was hurt in the incident

A dusting of snow covers the ground at a farm in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Saturday morning as the country is hit by sub-zero temperaturesA dusting of snow covers the ground at a farm in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Saturday morning as the country is hit by sub-zero temperatures

A dusting of snow covers the ground at a farm in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Saturday morning as the country is hit by sub-zero temperatures

Snow showers and below freezing temperatures made roads treacherous across parts of the UK on Sunday morningSnow showers and below freezing temperatures made roads treacherous across parts of the UK on Sunday morning

Snow showers and below freezing temperatures made roads treacherous across parts of the UK on Sunday morning

Sheet ice completely covers the road in Foolow, in the Derbyshire Peak District on another freezing morning on SaturdaySheet ice completely covers the road in Foolow, in the Derbyshire Peak District on another freezing morning on Saturday

Sheet ice completely covers the road in Foolow, in the Derbyshire Peak District on another freezing morning on Saturday

Temperatures plummeted over night well below freezing which caused these 7ft icicles to form under a bridge at the Killhope Lead Mining Museum in The North Pennines on SaturdaTemperatures plummeted over night well below freezing which caused these 7ft icicles to form under a bridge at the Killhope Lead Mining Museum in The North Pennines on Saturda

Temperatures plummeted over night well below freezing which caused these 7ft icicles to form under a bridge at the Killhope Lead Mining Museum in The North Pennines on Saturda

Persistent heavy snowfall is expected in the region throughout the morning, leading the Met Office to issue an amber weather warning that will be in place until 6pm.

Up to 4 inches is expected to build up quite widely, with 6 to 8 inches in some spots, raising the prospect of roads becoming impassable.

The amber alert is accompanied by a yellow warning of wind for parts of eastern England, London and the South East, the South West and Wales that could bring 'short-term loss of power and other services' as well as transport disruption.

And emergency services are preparing for all eventualities, with West Midlands Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team taking to Twitter to post an image of of their Polaris six-by-six all-terrain vehicle.

They said: 'Did you know we have a 6×6 Polaris with its own snow plough and stretcher to rescue patients?

'We use this to access patients in remote areas where even 4×4 ambulances can't reach!'

Highways England advised road users across the Midlands and northern England to check the forecast and routes before heading out as a section of the M1 was closed.

The authority tweeted that traffic had stopped on the M1 northbound between J16 and J17 due to 'numerous break downs/stuck vehicles'.

North Wales Police, Leicestershire Police and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) urged motorists not to travel unless 'absolutely necessary'.

The CMPG tweted: 'Lots of snow overnight and it's still falling, difficult driving conditions across the motorway network & region's roads please only travel if absolutely necessary, make sure your car is fit to travel in & take extra clothes, drinks and snacks in case you get stuck or delayed.'

This graphic shows the temperature across the country as well as the wind speed, precipitation and air pressure as Storm Caroline sweeps across the UK. It also shows how the UK compares to other countries on the continent

Pedestrians in Aberdeen do their best not to slip over as they make their way down a snow-covered street on SaturdayPedestrians in Aberdeen do their best not to slip over as they make their way down a snow-covered street on Saturday

Pedestrians in Aberdeen do their best not to slip over as they make their way down a snow-covered street on Saturday

Snow continued to affect Scotland yesterday. Pictured: A postman struggles to complete his round during a blizzard in Ellon, Aberdeenshire Snow continued to affect Scotland yesterday. Pictured: A postman struggles to complete his round during a blizzard in Ellon, Aberdeenshire 

Snow continued to affect Scotland yesterday. Pictured: A postman struggles to complete his round during a blizzard in Ellon, Aberdeenshire

A dusting of snow covered much of Cumbria yesterday morning making for some dangerous driving conditionsA dusting of snow covered much of Cumbria yesterday morning making for some dangerous driving conditions

A dusting of snow covered much of Cumbria yesterday morning making for some dangerous driving conditions

A car drives through the snow yesterday near Castleton in the Peak District. Widespread disruption is expected on the roadsA car drives through the snow yesterday near Castleton in the Peak District. Widespread disruption is expected on the roads

A car drives through the snow yesterday near Castleton in the Peak District. Widespread disruption is expected on the roads

A postman wearing a pair of shorts delivers mail in StalyBridge, Greater Manchester, yesterday morningA postman wearing a pair of shorts delivers mail in StalyBridge, Greater Manchester, yesterday morning

A postman wearing a pair of shorts delivers mail in StalyBridge, Greater Manchester, yesterday morning

Temperatures already plunged to a bitterly cold -9°C in Dalwhinnie — the coldest temperature during the autumn and winter period.

And hundreds of homes are still without power in the West Midlands, where temperatures remained below freezing overnight.

The Met Office said: 'Road, rail and air travel delays are likely, as well as stranding of vehicles and public transport cancellations. There is a good chance that some rural communities could become cut off.'

The Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Armed Forces 'stand ready to provide assistance if needed', while the Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze dubbed tomorrow 'Snow Sunday'.

He said: 'It will really pelt down, meeting the definition of a "snow bomb", an expression used when at least four inches of snow fall in a few hours as significant disruption always results.'

A yellow 'be aware' warning of snow and ice covering western parts stretching from Devon and Cornwall in the South to the far north of Scotland is in place until 6pm this evening, with temperatures struggling to get much higher than 0C (32F) 'across the board' throughout the day.

Highways England has advised road users intending to travel through the West Midlands and the north-west of England to check the forecast and road conditions before they travel.

Several roads in Wales have been declared 'impassable' due to the conditions with reports of vehicles becoming stuck in the Brecon Beacons.

Walkers make the most of the beautiful scenery at Winnats Pass in the Peak District, Derbyshire, yesterday morningWalkers make the most of the beautiful scenery at Winnats Pass in the Peak District, Derbyshire, yesterday morning

Walkers make the most of the beautiful scenery at Winnats Pass in the Peak District, Derbyshire, yesterday morning

Families spend their Saturday morning sledging in the Brecon Beacons National ParkFamilies spend their Saturday morning sledging in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Families spend their Saturday morning sledging in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Snow covers the landscape over the Brecon Beacons, Wales, as the cold weather continues across the UKSnow covers the landscape over the Brecon Beacons, Wales, as the cold weather continues across the UK

Snow covers the landscape over the Brecon Beacons, Wales, as the cold weather continues across the UK

Four men hike on the snow-covered mountains at Brecon Beacons National Park this afternoonFour men hike on the snow-covered mountains at Brecon Beacons National Park this afternoon

Four men hike on the snow-covered mountains at Brecon Beacons National Park this afternoon

A football fan amuses herself by building a snowman at Gigg Lane, Bury, after the home side's match against AFC Wimbledon was postponed yesterday due to a frozen pitchA football fan amuses herself by building a snowman at Gigg Lane, Bury, after the home side's match against AFC Wimbledon was postponed yesterday due to a frozen pitch

A football fan amuses herself by building a snowman at Gigg Lane, Bury, after the home side's match against AFC Wimbledon was postponed yesterday due to a frozen pitch

The sun peaks out from behind the trees as deep snow covers Ironbridge in Shropshire yesterday morningThe sun peaks out from behind the trees as deep snow covers Ironbridge in Shropshire yesterday morning

The sun peaks out from behind the trees as deep snow covers Ironbridge in Shropshire yesterday morning

A hardy swimmer runs to his clothes after taking a dip in the Serpentine at London's Hyde Park yesterday morningA hardy swimmer runs to his clothes after taking a dip in the Serpentine at London's Hyde Park yesterday morning

A hardy swimmer runs to his clothes after taking a dip in the Serpentine at London's Hyde Park yesterday morning

The scantily-clad swimmers braved freezing temperatures in the park as bemused onlookers walked by on SaturdayThe scantily-clad swimmers braved freezing temperatures in the park as bemused onlookers walked by on Saturday

The scantily-clad swimmers braved freezing temperatures in the park as bemused onlookers walked by on Saturday

While in Lancashire, motorists were subjected to long delays after two lanes were closed on the icy M6 for two hours following an accident.

Police advised motorists to 'drive to the conditions' after the vehicle collided with the central reservation on the motorway, near Preston. Officers confirmed no one was hurt in the incident.

In Saddleworth, Greater Manchester, this afternoon police were met head-on by a driver mistakenly attempting to join the wrong side of the M62 in extremely poor visibility.

Conditions are predicted to ease as the day progresses before the heavy snowfall tomorrow night with sunshine forecast large parts of England.

In Manchester, fire stations are opening their doors to the city's homeless to provide them with shelter against bitterly cold conditions.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said: 'For much of southern England, the Midlands and eastern England it's going to be a sunny start to what will be a fine and sunny day and with the winds a bit lighter than yesterday it won't feel quite so bitter.

'You will still need a few layers on though.'

Tonight in Edinburgh some 9,000 people will brave the sub-zero temperatures when sleep in a park as part of a campaign to raise £4million to end homelessness in Scotland.

And in London this morning hardy swimmers were seen taking a dip in Hyde Park's Serpentine lake as in front of bemused onlookers.

Meanwhile, council gritting teams are on standby to cover roads across the country as temperatures are set to plummet for a second night. The Met Office forecast -10C (14F) lows in Scotland and -5C (23F) in England tomorrow.

Snow showers hit parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, northern England and the Midlands yesterday.

Schools were closed and commuters faced havoc with cancelled trains and treacherous driving conditions.

On Friday night lows of -5.3C (22F) were recorded at Spadeadam in Cumbria, while widespread frost was forecast on Saturday night with lows of -12C (10F) expected in sheltered Scottish glens under clear skies.

Some 18,000 homes were reconnected after losing power as a result of stormy weather on Friday, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said.

A total of 14cm (6in) of snow was recorded in Inverness-shire, while 12cm (4.7in) was recorded in Aviemore.

A father and his son walk their dog past a large snowman on Black Mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland, FridayA father and his son walk their dog past a large snowman on Black Mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday

A father and his son walk their dog past a large snowman on Black Mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday

Fizz the Collie dog had fun in the snow at woodlands near Muir of Ord in the Scottish Highlands  Fizz the Collie dog had fun in the snow at woodlands near Muir of Ord in the Scottish Highlands  

Fizz the Collie dog had fun in the snow at woodlands near Muir of Ord in the Scottish Highlands

Hartington in the Derbyshire Peak District woke up to a thick blanket of snow first thing yesterday morning, with freezing temperatures and lows of -3CHartington in the Derbyshire Peak District woke up to a thick blanket of snow first thing yesterday morning, with freezing temperatures and lows of -3C

Hartington in the Derbyshire Peak District woke up to a thick blanket of snow first thing yesterday morning, with freezing temperatures and lows of -3C

People making their way to work in Birmingham Friday morning donned wellington boots, umbrellas and fur coats People making their way to work in Birmingham Friday morning donned wellington boots, umbrellas and fur coats 

People making their way to work in Birmingham Friday morning donned wellington boots, umbrellas and fur coats

Heading out of this weekend, Britain it set to be battered by Storm Ana, which could hit parts of the southern English channel bringing some snow and gusts of 70mph.

The storm, which was named by Spanish weather agencies and is caused by a deep depression which is expected to travel of France, is believed to batter the Bay of Biscay but could affect southern parts of Britain.

It could bring strong winds to parts of southern England on Monday should the storm take a northern trajectory, yet it may not effect Britain should it take a southern trajectory.

The Met Office is unclear about what path the storm may take. A spokesman confirmed that it will be monitoring the storm over the weekend and will offer weather warnings if necessary.

Dramatic pictures from across the country revealed a number of stricken vehicles which have crashed on treacherous roads in Scotland, Flintshire, the Peak District and Derbyshire.

Motorists filmed their perilous commutes to work and one driver captured the moment a huge wave washed over a commuter ferry in Scotland.

The Local Government Association confirmed that councils are prepared for the possibility of snow tomorrow as some 2,000 gritters across Britain are tackling the freeze.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks have issued a checklist to help residents in the event of a power cutScottish and Southern Electricity Networks have issued a checklist to help residents in the event of a power cut

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks have issued a checklist to help residents in the event of a power cut

A spokesman for Highways England said: 'We work around the clock to keep traffic moving.'

The RAC predicted breakdowns to rocket 20 per cent to 7,000 tomorrow, with its busiest day since last winter due on Monday.

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: 'Call-outs are expected to soar on Sunday, with Monday seeing the highest number of roadside requests since last winter.'

Network Rail said it is using a thermal-imaging helicopter running empty 'ghost trains' at night to clear snow and ice from the tracks.

And Britain's major airports are prepared: Heathrow has 500 snow-clearing staff and 185 snowploughs on duty while Gatwick has 98 snow-ploughs and blowers ready.

The Ministry of Defence spokesman said requests for assistance can be made to the department. 'Then we would see what help we can provide,' he added.

In December 2010, the Army cleared snow from streets in Edinburgh, provided ambulance services in Scotland and offered to clear Heathrow snow.

And in January 2013, the Army moved two buses stuck in snow for five hours in Northumberland.

A very excited-looking pooch pulls a hilarious face for the camera as it bounds around int he snowy Brecon Beacons A very excited-looking pooch pulls a hilarious face for the camera as it bounds around int he snowy Brecon Beacons 

A very excited-looking pooch pulls a hilarious face for the camera as it bounds around int he snowy Brecon Beacons

Abi, 9, Rhys, 11, and Ethan, 9, from Cardiff enjoy sledging in the snow on the mountains at Brecon Beacons National ParkAbi, 9, Rhys, 11, and Ethan, 9, from Cardiff enjoy sledging in the snow on the mountains at Brecon Beacons National Park

Abi, 9, Rhys, 11, and Ethan, 9, from Cardiff enjoy sledging in the snow on the mountains at Brecon Beacons National Park

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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