Australia under 'significant' terror threat


Australians have been issued a stark warning after the country's spy agency gained "credible intelligence" of individuals and groups plotting violence against Australians.

Before revealing a "nest" of foreign spies had been uncovered on Australian soil, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General of Security Mike Burgess also spoke about other major threats facing the country.

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Australia under 'significant' terror threat

Australians have been issued a stark warning after the country's spy agency gained "credible intelligence" of individuals and groups plotting violence against Australians.

Before revealing a "nest" of foreign spies had been uncovered on Australian soil, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Director-General of Security Mike Burgess also spoke about other major threats facing the country.

"We have credible intelligence that individuals and groups have the capability and intent to conduct terrorism onshore," he said during Wednesday's annual threat assessment.

"Let me be clear; this threat is significant, and it's not going away.

"Today, there are individuals and groups subscribing to religiously motivated violent extremism that are plotting violence against Australia, and Australians."

Mr Burgess assured Australians ASIO was on high alert and well equipped to detect and disrupt these types of threats.

Aussies approaching 'most dangerous' period

One of Australia's top infectious disease experts has warned Australia is on a strict time limit to vaccinate millions of citizens before we enter the "most dangerous" period for COVID-19 transmission.

Australians have been enjoying an extended period of very low community transmission of coronavirus, but infectious diseases Professor at the Australian National University Peter Collignon warned winter could see cases spike once more.

Professor Collignon told Sunrise the six million people in the next phase of the vaccine rollout need to be vaccinated within the next two months before winter begins.

He described winter as the "most dangerous" period because the virus can easily spread, adding it was essential a proper vaccination booking system was set up.

"We do need a booking system set up, because these are multidose vials and you need to make sure the right number of people turn up at the right time, otherwise you end up wasting a vaccine that is in short supply," he said.

Leader in 'virus-free' nation declared dead

The Tanzanian President John Magufuli - who vanished from the public eye for 18 days - has died from a heart condition, his vice president said in an address on state television.

"It is with deep regret that I inform you that today on the 17th of March, 2021 at 6 pm we lost our brave leader, the President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, said vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan.

His death comes after a disturbing string of high-profile deaths and illnesses attributed to "respiratory problems" or "pneumonia" in recent weeks and accusations that the nation is covering up a coronavirus disaster.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic causing untold misery across the world for the past year, Tanzania has supposedly not had a single case since May 2020.

Instead of masks, lockdowns and social distancing, the East African nation opted to rely on the power of prayer, traditional healing techniques like steam inhalation, and natural "cures" such as ginger and lemonade.

- Ben Graham

Experts unimpressed Australia's vaccine plan

Australia's peak medical bodies have slammed the government for adopting "unrealistic expectations" about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, after millions of eligible Aussies were refused vaccination appointments.

The rollout has just entered Phase 1b, which means more than six million extra Aussies can now book appointments with over 1000 GP clinics to get the jab.

But the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have called on the government to clarify the booking process after clinics were forced to refuse appointments due to low vaccine supplies.

"It's clear the Government needs to make it easy for patients and General Practices alike to manage bookings for COVID-19 vaccinations and be clear about how long patients may have to wait before they can get an appointment," AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said.

"The rollout of the vaccine is a huge logistical challenge that is constrained by the available supply of vaccines."

RACGP President, Dr Karen Price said not enough has been done by the government to communicate with patients about the rollout process, saying it is leaving patients frustrated.

"It's clear from the calls many general practices have received this morning that the Government needs to better communicate with the community on the vaccine rollout process, and not build unrealistic expectations, particularly at this early stage," she said.

Investigators probe death after COVID vaccine

Spanish health officials are investigating three cases of people who suffered from thrombosis after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, one of whom died.

More than a dozen countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over blood clotting and side effect fears.

Spain's investigation announcement comes just days after the country joined the growing list of nations who have paused the rollout of the vaccine.

Health Minister Carolina Darias told the death and thrombosis cases "could be related to the vaccine or not'.

While she said she "understood the concerns", the minister stressed Spain has so far recorded just three cases of blot clots out of the 975,661 people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

5yo girl dies after being hit by a car

A five-year-old girl has tragically died after being struck by a car in Sydney's west on Wednesday night.

Emergency services were called to Rooty Hill Road North in Plumpton at about 7.20pm yesterday following reports two pedestrians, a 37-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter, had been hit by a Toyota Tarago.

"They were conveyed by NSW Ambulance paramedics to Westmead Hospital with the woman being in a serious but stable condition and the child in a critical condition," NSW Police said.

"The child later died at Westmead Hospital."

The 64-year-old male driver was taken to Westmead Hospital for mandatory testing and is assisting police with their inquiries.

'Nest of spies' uncovered in Australia

A "significant number" of foreign spies have been discovered operating on Australian soil in the past 12 months, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has revealed.

ASIO's Director-General of Security Mike Burgess revealed foreign spies are continually seeking to penetrate the Australian government, adding the organisation rendered a number of them "inoperative" over the past year.

"Last year, for example, one of ASIO's investigations focused on a nest of spies, from a particular foreign intelligence service, that was operating in Australia," he said during his annual threat assessment.

Mr Burgess said the group had successfully recruited an Australian Government security clearance holder who had access to sensitive defence information. After the discovery ASIO confronted the foreign spies and removed them from the country.

"In the last twelve months, a significant number of foreign spies and their proxies have either been removed from Australia or rendered inoperative. I can't give you exact details for obvious reasons, but I'm talking about a number in double figures," he said.

Liberal staffer quits after 'vile insult'

A Federal Government media adviser has resigned after Tasmania's Greens leader claimed he directed a "vile insult" at her.

Cassy O'Connor used parliamentary privilege to call Liberal staffer Andrew Hudgson a "sexist pig" and claim he used an appalling slur when talking about her with colleagues, ABC News reports.

Ms O'Connor told the Tasmanian Parliament on Wednesday night that she had a "personal story to tell about a vile insult Mr Hudgson directed at me" in 2019 when he was working for then-Premier Will Hodgman.

She said her media adviser Alice Giblin had overheard Mr Hudgson calling her a "meth-head c***" while she was doing an interview nearby.

Mr Hudgson had been employed as media adviser to federal Assistant Treasurer and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar but a government spokesman said he was asked to resign from the role soon after Ms O'Connor's statement.

Dire warning: 'Huge' new deluge on way

Huge areas of the east are already sodden with warnings of flash flooding in place for parts of central Queensland.

Now forecasters have warned a second band of heavy rain is creeping from west to east across the country that could extend the deluge and deliver more flooding in the week to come.

Some locations could see three times' March's rainfall descend in just a few days. It's almost certain that most parts of the NSW coast and into southern Queensland will at least surpass their average monthly rain in the coming week.

"Huge amounts of rain could fall over the next eight days," Sky News Weather senior meteorologist Tom Saunders said.

- Benedict Brook




Originally published as Australia under 'significant' terror threat

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