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17th January 2022

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No ‘ongoing concerns’ for Australians’ safety in Tonga: minister

As mentioned earlier this morning, a British woman has become the first known casualty of the recent tsunami that hit the South Pacific nation of Tonga.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja is doing the media rounds this morning. He told Nine’s Today show that there are normally 300 or so Australians in Tonga.

Minister for international development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

However, there are “no ongoing concerns for Australians at the moment”.

It is very sad news overnight and, obviously, our condolences to [the British woman’s] family on the tragic death.

We don’t have any further information that would suggest … [a] significant [number of] casualties, although, as you would appreciate, information is still relatively patchy.

The High Commission has been working very hard to identify where Australians are.

The priority now will to be get supplies to Tonga, and the biggest constraint on that at the moment … is the airport. There is still a significant amount of ash.

It was hoped the airport might open today, but that’s more likely now to be tomorrow.

And as soon as that is open, we will be able to deliver some of those humanitarian supplies through those C-1330 aircraft that are ready to go from Amberley [in Queensland].

Coalition primary vote drops below Labor’s for the first time: Resolve survey

Soaring virus infections have fuelled a backlash against Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his handling of the pandemic, slashing the Coalition’s primary vote from 39 to 34 per cent and vaulting Labor into a strong position ahead of this year’s federal election.

The dramatic shift has cut the government’s standing on every key measure of its performance, with voters losing confidence in Mr Morrison and the Coalition on the economy, jobs, health and the response to the coronavirus.

January’s RPM survey found voters losing confidence in Scott Morrison and the Coalition.Credit:Jamila Toderas and Alex Ellinghausen

Labor has increased its primary vote from 32 to 35 per cent since November, generating a powerful boost for Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese ahead of the election due by May, while the Greens have held their support at 11 per cent.

While Mr Morrison has an edge over Labor leader Anthony Albanese as preferred prime minister, he leads by only 38 to 31 per cent and has lost the double-digit margin he held on this measure just two months ago.

More on the latest Resolve Political Monitor results here.

Djokovic touches down in Belgrade as fresh grand slam storm awaits

Deported tennis star Novak Djokovic posed for selfies upon his arrival at Belgrade Airport last night, but fresh threats of grand slam bans are already overshadowing the world No.1’s warm welcome home.

As the first day of play at Melbourne Park wrapped up without its defending champion, Djokovic and his entourage touched down in Belgrade on a Fly Dubai flight just after midday local time.

A man takes a selfie photograph with Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic after his arrival in Belgrade.Credit:AP

Police manned a VIP exit at the airport where hundreds of media crew were gathered behind a metal wire barricade.

A handful of fans also awaited their hero, some draping themselves in Serbia’s national flag and singing that Novak or “Nole”, as he is called in Serbia, was their hero.

But they were denied a glimpse of the star, who left via another exit, successfully avoiding the glare of cameras that captured his ignominious exit from Melbourne as he was deported from Australia on the grounds that his presence could fuel anti-vaccination sentiment.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for reading our live coverage.

It’s Tuesday, January 18. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll bring you some of the day’s biggest stories during the first half of the day.

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

  • Labor appears to have strengthened its position ahead of this year’s federal election. The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen below the Opposition, according to new polling. As David Crowe reports, the election is due sometime before the end of May.
  • Tennis star Novak Djokovic arrived at Belgrade Airport in Serbia last night after being deported from Australia. Latika Bourke reports that the world No.1 might now have trouble competing in France after the European nation passed a new vaccine law which applies to, among other things, sporting facilities (and, crucially for Djokovic, international visitors).
  • Authorities in NSW and Victoria are warning people to brace for more COVID-related deaths due to the current Omicron wave. Smaller jurisdictions, such as South Australia and the Northern Territory, say it’s likely local infections are at – or have already passed – their peak. NSW reported 29,504 cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 17 deaths. Victoria reported 22,429 cases and six deaths, while Queensland notified the community of 15,122 official cases and seven deaths.
  • And in international news, it’s been confirmed that a British woman was killed when last week’s tsunami hit the South Pacific nation of Tonga. The woman was reportedly trying to save her dogs when she was swept away by a wave. She is the first known casualty. Her husband survived by holding onto a tree.
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