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Ex-lawyer Georgia Steele to run as independent in Craig Kelly’s seat during federal election

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sbs- Former corporate lawyer Georgia Steele announced her candidacy to run in the Sydney seat of Hughes on Saturday, saying she is campaigning on a foundation of climate action and the establishment of a federal integrity commission.

The 43-year-old said her run was inspired by previous election wins by independent MPs Zali Steggall and Helen Haines.

“I watched Zali Steggall get elected in 2019 in Warringah and watched Helen Haines take over from Cathy McGowan in Indi at the same time,” Ms Steele told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I really started to believe that independents were the surest and quickest way to fix some of the problems in federal politics.”

Craig Kelly has been the member for Hughes since the 2010 federal election when he won as a Liberal candidate.

He resigned from the party to sit as an independent MP in February 2021, before joining Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party shortly after and announcing he would lead it at the next federal election, slated for 2022

He faced criticism over recent years for spreading misinformation on social media related to climate change and COVID-19.

In September, the Therapeutic Goods Administration accused Mr Kelly of breaching copyright and misleading the public about adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.

Mr Kelly engaged in a text message campaign about vaccines, including a message with a link taking people to a database of adverse event notifications for vaccines.

Ahead of the federal poll, which must be held before 21 May, Ms Steele said she hoped that her standing as an independent MP will work in her favour.

“Hughes now is going to be the epicentre for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party for the next election, given Craig Kelly is now that party’s leader,” she said.

“I am here saying, ‘there is a sensible, qualified person willing to stand up against the United Australia Party in the interests of the community of Hughes’.”

Ms Steele said she hoped to collect community donations and is in talks with Climate 200, a non-profit, non-partisan campaign group led by Simon Holmes à Court.

She said she sees her main competitor as whoever is selected as the Liberal Party candidate, acknowledging Craig Kelly has been elected as the MP for Hughes four times previously but only when he was running as the Liberal candidate.

“I won’t just sit here while the climate vandals leading the country and politicians bend even further to the extreme right,” she said in a campaign video.

Ms Steggall, a former Olympic athlete who won the seat of Warringah at the 2019 federal election as an independent MP, said Ms Steele’s candidacy was “great news” for the people of Hughes.

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Mark McGowan ‘considering’ moving after detectives charged two young men who allegedly made threats against the WA Premier and his family

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skynews– Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan is “considering” relocating his family from their home in his electorate of Rockingham after he allegedly became the victim of beheading threats.

Detectives this week revealed two men, aged 20 and 18, have been charged after allegedly phoning Mr McGowan late on Saturday night and leaving “a number of threatening messages”.

The Premier confirmed to reporters he and his family had been allegedly threatened with beheading.

“In terms of my own family, obviously it’s not pleasant. It’s not very nice and I just urge the people doing it to stop,” he said.

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While the family has no immediate plans to move houses in the wake of the alleged threats, Mr McGowan said it is something “we’re considering”.

The incident comes amid increased threats of violence to state leaders over vaccination mandates.

Protesters in Melbourne displayed fake gallows to pretend to execute Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, while Northern Territory Chief Minister was forced to order his family to flee their home after his address was shared at an anti-vaccine rally.

Mr McGowan told reporters the alleged threats would not stop his government from encouraging vaccine uptake ahead of plans to reopen to the rest of the country.

Border restrictions will be removed within the first two months of next year when the 90 per cent double-dose target is met and showing proof of vaccination at some venues will become a requirement.

“It’s not going to change our approach, we are going to continue to work together to get West Australians vaccinated,” Mr McGowan said of the alleged threats.

“We’re going to continue with the rules we’ve put in place cause that is what is needed.

“These sorts of threats, intimidation, violence, extremism is dangerous, it’s unhelpful and it’s not going to change anything the government does.”

WA Police confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that detectives from the State Security Investigation Group have charged two men over the alleged incident on Saturday night.

“It is alleged about 10.50pm, the two men phoned the Premier and left a number of threatening messages,” the statement read.

A 20-year-old man from Canning Vale and an 18-year-old man from Harrisdale have both been charged with one count each of Acts Creating False Apprehension as to the Existence of Threats or Danger.

They have been granted bail and are now subject to strict protective bail conditions.

Both men are due to appear in Armadale Magistrates Court on Friday December 17.

Last week Mr McGowan confirmed he shut his electorate office in Rockingham, south of Perth, after repeated threats of violence against himself and a number of staff members.

“There’s been death threats, there’s been threats to rape my staff, there’s been people threatening to bomb my office,” he told reporters last Wednesday

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Perrottet Government moves to extend COVID-19 emergency powers until 2023

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skynewsThe Perrottet Government will extend the use of COVID-19 emergency powers until March 2023 after the New South Wales Health Minister pushed the proposal through Cabinet on Monday.

Cabinet approved Brad Hazzard’s proposal on Monday night which has led to backlash from some Coalition MPs, according to The Australian.

Mr Hazzard’s proposal to extend the powers comes off the back of a recommendation from Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant.

Under the state of emergency powers, the Health Minister has jurisdiction to declare Public Health Orders including restriction of movement, mask mandates, curfews and lockdowns.

The Australian has reported the Health Minister took the proposal to a party room meeting on Tuesday where multiple MPs challenged the necessity for the powers to be extended until March 2023.

It comes as NSW has surpassed the 90 per cent double dose vaccination rate, with greater freedoms being returned to fully jabbed citizens after the state hit 70 per cent and again at 80 per cent.

Greater Sydney endured more than three months of harsh lockdowns while the state boosted its vaccination rate, with the Berejiklian and Perrottet Governments linking COVID-19 jabs with greater freedoms.

The debate within Government ranks comes amid outrage in Victoria over the Andrews Government updating and changing its own emergency pandemic powers.

The Victorian Opposition Leader has argued that Victoria – which joined NSW in easing restrictions in late October – should be focussed on recovery, and the passing of the pandemic powers threatened certainty in the state.

It is understood the NSW Health Minister will address concerns with particular MPs on Tuesday in an emergency meeting.

Premier Dominic Perrottet responded to SkyNews.com.au’s request for comment and said: “Only the health provisions that need to be extended will be extended. I will be carefully considering this matter over the summer break”.

SkyNews.com.au has contacted Mr Hazzard’s office for comment.

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Mostafa Baluch: Australian fugitive arrested after massive manhunt

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bbc– A fugitive dubbed “Australia’s most wanted man” has been arrested during an elaborate attempt to cross a state border, police say.

Mostafa Baluch, 33, sparked a 17-day nationwide manhunt after allegedly cutting off an ankle bracelet which had tracked his whereabouts in Sydney.

Authorities said they pulled over a lorry after receiving a tipoff.

Mr Baluch – a suspected drug smuggler – was found in a car inside a shipping container on the lorry, police said.

Police noticed the container was not locked, and when they knocked on it, they heard someone knocking back.

“He was quite shocked – he thought he was cleverer than this,” said Detective Supt Rob Critchlow of New South Wales Police.

Officers allege Mr Baluch was trying to cross from New South Wales into Queensland when the arrest took place in the town of Tweed Heads about 01.00 local time on Wednesday (14.00 GMT Tuesday).

“Today will be considered one of the great days of NSW Police,” state Police Minister David Elliott said.

At the time he went missing, Mr Baluch was on bail on charges of attempting to import 900kg of cocaine from Ecuador.

Mr Elliott has since questioned the decision to give Mr Baluch bail. Police said an “extraordinary” amount of money had been spent on the manhunt.

Mr Baluch has been accused of having a senior position in a criminal network, and police said he posed a threat to the public while at large.

He will face a court hearing later on Wednesday.

Police said the man who was driving the lorry would face charges for allegedly assisting a fugitive.

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