Australia news LIVE: Three men found guilty of downing Malaysia Airlines flight MH17; emergency management minister says current planning laws not suitable

Key posts

  • New laws needed to stop building houses in flood, bushfire zones: federal minister
  • The latest on the NSW floods
  • Foreign minister, attorney-general respond to MH17 verdict
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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New laws needed to stop building houses in flood, bushfire zones: federal minister

New laws are urgently needed to stop houses being built in high-risk floodplains or bushfire zones, says federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt, as he warns current planning systems are not fit for purpose in the face of escalating natural disasters driven by climate change.

Watt says necessary reforms to the “complex system” of state and council planning laws had been put in the too-hard basket for too long.

Floodwater in Forbes on Wednesday.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“We must think more seriously about climate and disaster risk when planning future housing development,” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense for all levels of government to spend billions in disaster recovery while we continue to see housing built on floodplains.”

National cabinet will discuss the overhaul of planning laws in disaster-prone areas, Watt added, confirming the work would be led by the NSW government.

Read the full story here.

The latest on the NSW floods

Evacuations and sandbagging continue across central NSW today as rivers rise to near record levels.

The Lachlan River at Forbes has peaked at 1.7 metres. That’s just below the record peak of 1.8 metres during the 1952 floods.

The attention now turns to the towns of Condoblin and Euabalong, which lie downstream.

Meanwhile, major flooding is also occurring around Hay – southwest of Forbes – as the Murrumbidgee River remains high.

In Victoria, residents in Mildura and Boundary Bend are being told to remain alert. That’s because the Murray River and surrounding tributaries remain swollen.

Yesterday, the South Australian premier warned that a lot of that water is now making its way downstream into his state.

with AAP

Foreign minister, attorney-general respond to MH17 verdict

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus have released a joint statement following the verdicts in the trial of the downing of flight MH17.

As you may know, 27 Australians were killed when the airliner was shot down over Ukraine back in 2014.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Here’s what Wong and Dreyfus had to say about the judgments out of the Netherlands overnight:

Australia has been steadfast in our enduring commitment to seeking truth, justice, and accountability for the victims of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

Yesterday, the District Court of The Hague found Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Leonid Kharchenko, guilty of contributing to the downing of Flight MH17 and the murder of all 298 individuals on board. A sentence of life imprisonment was imposed on the three men, who have been tried in absentia. A fourth man has been acquitted.

While nothing can take away their grief, we hope the outcome of the trials brings some comfort to the bereaved loved ones of the victims, 38 of whom called Australia home.

The delivery of these verdicts is an important milestone in our collective efforts to hold those who are responsible to account.

We commend the work and professionalism of the joint investigation team officials, including the Australian Federal Police, that have conducted rigorous investigations to support bringing those responsible to justice.

The Australian government committed financial support to ensure that Australian next of kin could meaningfully engage in the trial process, both virtually and in person.

Our thoughts remain with those who lost their lives, their families and loved ones.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, November 18. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

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

  • A Dutch court has sentenced three men to life imprisonment for their role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine eight years ago. But the men – two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian – did not participate in the trial. Rob Harris has the full story.
  • Staying with international news, and Farrah Tomazin writes that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stood down from her position and announced she won’t be seeking a leadership role in the new Congress. Yesterday, Republicans won a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
  • In local news, federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt says current planning laws are not fit-for-purpose when it comes to dealing with natural disasters driven by climate change.
  • Evacuations and sandbagging are continuing across central NSW as rivers swell to near record levels.
  • And the Victorian election campaign is edging closer to its final week.
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