Australia news live: heatwave warnings as parts of Sydney reach 40C before midday with 44C forecast in the west | Australia news

Australia news live: heatwave warnings as parts of Sydney reach 40C before midday with 44C forecast in the west | Australia news

Key events

Residents in NSW are being urged to keep a check on vulnerable friends and neighbours, as temperatures hit above 40C.

Temperatures at Sydney airport have hit 43C at 1PM.

Badgery’s Creek is sitting at 42.6C, Olympics Park is recording 41.4C and Bankstown is at 41.2C.

Heatwave warnings are current across parts of all mainland states, with high to catastrophic fire danger alerts issued for sections of South Australia, northern Victoria, outback NSW and Greater Sydney.

-With AAP.

At lunch, there were 71 bushfires burning across NSW, the RFS said:

Heavy rain coming to South Australia a day after extreme heat

From the heat in New South Wales to severe weather warnings of a different kind in South Australia, where the Bureau of Meteorology has just issued a notice about heavy rainfall in parts of the state.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Lower Eyre Peninsula, Eastern Eyre Peninsula and parts of west coast and NW pastoral districts.

The change in weather comes after extreme heat in the state – yesterday it was in the grip of what the Country Fire Service said was “one of the most significant fire weather days in several years”.

Sydney festival-goers urged to hydrate and take precautions in heat

Today’s Epik music festival will draw some 20,000 people to Sydney’s Olympic Park.

Organiser, HSU Events, and authorities have urged festival-goers to hydrate and take precautions, with temperatures at the festival site expected to reach above 40C this afternoon.

New South Wales Health’s Dr Darren Roberts earlier warned of the dangers of overheating at festivals.

Overheating during activities in dangerous heat is a huge risk, and people need to take a break from dancing, seek shade, drink water and cool down to reduce the risk of overheating at festivals.

Foo Fighters and 50 Cent will also be performing at Olympic Park, but their evening shows will likely be more comfortable, heat-wise, given the cool change that is forecast later today.

Man ‘swam along’ with shark before being bitten in far north Queensland

An update from far north Queensland, where a man was yesterday bitten by a shark.

Paramedics say the man “swam along” with the shark for a while, reports AAP.

The 21-year-old has been airlifted to hospital with “deep puncture wounds” after the shark suddenly bit him on the arm and shoulder as they swam near Clack Island off Cape York.

Queensland ambulance service said the man came across what he believed was a bull shark while diving for sea cucumbers after 12.30pm on Thursday.

“He swam along with it for a little while before it changed behaviour and attacked him,” the Flight Critical Care paramedic, Valerie Hurlbatt, said.

The man was able to get help, applying a tourniquet to stem the bleeding before being transferred to a larger boat who contacted emergency services.

A rescue helicopter left from Cairns for the long journey north, refuelling at Cooktown and flying another hour before landing at remote Clack Island.

QAS said the man was taken to Cairns hospital in a serious but stable condition with “non-life threatening injuries”.

Sydney’s beaches are packed, with the ocean delivering some cool relief from today’s extreme heat.

It’s not just people who are lapping it up – dogs down at MacKenzies beach in the city’s eastern suburbs are making the most of the ocean, too.

I’m feeling quite envious of them!

A note of interest, MacKenzies is an ephemeral beach and only appears once every few years or so. It’s also one of the area’s only dog beaches.

People and their pets at MacKenzies beach in Sydney. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images
A dog cools off at MacKenzies beach in Sydney, Australia
A dog cools off at MacKenzies beach. This weekend’s severe heatwave is a precursor of hot and dry conditions expected for the rest of the summer. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

It’s official: 2023 is Australia’s hottest year on record

Penrith in New South Wales has just hit 40.7C – and today’s extreme heat has helped 2023 to become the hottest year on record, says the Climate Council.

“2023 has officially been declared as the hottest year on record, weeks before the year’s end”, tweeted the council.

Earlier, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said the heatwave was “a reminder that there just might be something in this climate change stuff”.

BREAKING: 2023 has officially been declared as the hottest year on record, weeks before the year’s end. The broken record comes as a heatwave scorches large swathes of the country, threatening to push temperatures into the 40℃s in Sydney.

— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) December 8, 2023

Gale warning issued for Sydney and south coast

The Bureau of Meteorology has just issued a gale warning for Sydney and the New South Wales south coast.

Saturday’s extreme heat is expected to give way to a gusty southerly change this afternoon and evening, with Sydney’s enclosed waters, the Sydney coast and Illawarra coast forecast to be affected by damaging winds.

Need a place to cool down? The State Library of New South Wales is open and ready to welcome people in need of a place to rest and recharge away from the sweltering heat outside.

Federal government hails improvement in trade relations with China

Australian trade minister Don Farrell attends a meeting with Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao in Beijing, China in May
Trade minister Don Farrell speaks with Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao in Beijing in May. Photograph: Dfat/Reuters

The trade minister, Don Farrell, says trade relations with China are on a positive trajectory thanks to the government’s “mature approach to international relations.”

“The removal of duties on Australian barley by China in August was a much-needed shot in the arm for Australian farmers,” he said, after China’s customs agency announced China had imported 314 thousand tonnes of barley from Australia, valued at $139m, since duties were removed in August.

It is the first time in more than three years that Chinese authorities have released official data showing that Australian barley has returned to China, Farrell and the agriculture minister, Murray Watt, said in a joint statement this morning.

Watt said that barley trade with China had returned to “business-as-usual”.

“Better outcomes for farmers mean stronger regional communities and that is a good thing for our country,” he said.

Alyssa Healy to captain Australia’s all-conquering women’s cricket team

Australian cricketer Alyssa Healy speaks to the media
Alyssa Healy has been named as Australia’s new women’s cricket captain across all three formats. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Over to cricket, and Alyssa Healy has been appointed Australia’s new women’s cricket captain across all three formats, replacing Meg Lanning at the helm of the all-conquering team.

Gun wicket-keeper batter Healy filled in for Lanning as captain for extended spells over the past two years, including this year’s Ashes, reports the AAP.

Now the 33-year-old will step into the role full-time after Lanning’s shock international retirement last month.

Allrounder Tahlia McGrath has been named vice-captain.

“I am honoured to accept the role of captain and am grateful for the opportunity to lead our team,” Healy said in a statement.

The decision to appoint Healy and McGrath was ratified at a Cricket Australia (CA) board meeting on Friday.

Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority is warning of potential contamination of creeks, rivers and beaches after yesterday’s factory fire in Dandenong South. It is urging residents in the area to avoid local waterways.

Due to potential contamination after yesterday’s factory fire in Dandenong South please avoid local waterways. We are investigating possible impacts of fire water on local creeks, rivers and beaches. Go to for more information

— Environment Protection Authority Victoria (@VicGovEPA) December 8, 2023

It’s already above 37C in Parramatta in New South Wales. The Bureau of Meteorology has released a weather update, forecasting many locations to reach more than 10C above average temperatures.

Warm north-westerly winds are driving the heatwave, which will see temperatures in parts of western Sydney hit 44C.

PM criticises Coalition response to indefinite detention ruling

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese during a press conference in Sydney
Anthony Albanese says the Coalition has ‘not been prepared to walk 20 metres into a room and read the legal advice’ on indefinite detention. Photograph: Brent Lewin/AAP

Back to Anthony Albanese’s press conference, where he was asked about the number of people who pose an unacceptable risk to the community after being released following the high court’s ruling on indefinite immigration detention.

A short time ago, the prime minister said he would “not risk any legal consequences by trying to pre-empt those processes” and that the opposition had “not been prepared to walk 20 metres into a room and read the legal advice”.

I make this point – the high court made the decision. We had to respond to what was the law because governments should not break the law. The former government broke the law when it came to robodebt, with disastrous consequences.

We offered a legal briefing for the Coalition leadership, the home affairs minister, the leader of the opposition, the deputy leader of the opposition, the shadow attorney general, to all see the legal advice that’s very clear and explicit.

We made that available from last Sunday, at the same time as we made the legislation available. The Coalition didn’t see it on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It’s now Saturday. They have not been prepared to walk 20 metres into a room and read the legal advice.

When speaking about the government’s new migration strategy, he said a change in emphasis from short-term visas to permanent arrangements was important for national security.

Person remains missing after Melbourne factory fire

A fire at a paint factory in Melbourne
A fire at a paint factory in Dandenong South, Melbourne posted to Facebook by SES Victoria. Photograph: SES Victoria/AAP

One person remains missing after a factory in Melbourne’s south-east, with search efforts hampered by safety concerns.

Firefighters have not yet conducted a primary search of the paint facility in Dandenong South because the structure has not been declared safe, reports AAP.

A building surveyor will complete an inspection before fire crews and police can enter the building.

The first fire crews arrived at the Superior Drive factory shortly after midday on Friday and immediately called for backup.

More than 120 officers and 40 trucks fought the massive blaze for hours before it was brought under control.

Three men had to be hospitalised for upper body injuries but are in a stable condition.

One person was still unaccounted for on Saturday morning, Fire Rescue Victoria confirmed.

PM says government will scale back migration

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese during a press conference in Sydney
Prime minister Anthony Albanese says Australia will crack down on abuses of the migration system. Photograph: Brent Lewin/AAP

Anthony Albanese said the government will scale back migration as part of its new strategy, the details of which will be released in the week ahead.

In a press conference a short time ago, the prime minister said there would be a crackdown on abuses of the migration system that see international students entering Australia without adding to their or the broader skills base.

People are coming here, enrolling in courses that don’t really add substantially to either their skills base or to the national interest here. So, it’s not in the interests of our neighbours, nor is it in the interests of Australia, that there not be a crackdown on this. We’re determined to do that.

He said Covid had affected population figures, which are lower than they were forecast to be before the pandemic.

But what we know is that we need to have a migration system that enables Australia to get the skills that we need, but make sure the system is working in the interests of all Australians.

He said that migration policy needed to address skills shortages, giving permanent visa pathways to those with special skills such as engineering.

The government’s “first priority” would be to train Australians in an attempt to fill the skills gap in the aged care, early childhood, and traditional trades sectors, he said.

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