Australia news live: Chalmers warns China slowdown could hurt economy; wild storm cuts power in Victoria | Australia news


Good morning

And welcome to Wednesday’s Guardian Australia live blog.

We wake up to the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, responding late yesterday to data from Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics. China’s economy grew 3% in 2022, well below the country’s official target and the slowest since the mid-1970s (barring 2020).

Chalmers says this is “one of the major economic challenges facing Australia at the start of 2023”, adding that “the global economy is a volatile place right now and developments in China are a big part of that.” Read more on China’s troubled economic weather from our economics correspondent, Peter Hannam, here.

And speaking of weather, it continues to be temperamental across the country. While Sydney is finally forecast to enjoy its first 30C day in almost a year, flooding continues in northern Queensland, isolating thousands in communities pummelled by more rainfall into this morning. And temperatures dropped a sudden 10C yesterday evening in Victoria, followed by a storm that cut power to an estimated 10,000 homes.

I’m Rafqa Touma, taking the blog through the day. If you spot something you don’t want us to miss, you can tweet it my way @At_Raf_.

Let’s get started with the day’s rolling news coverage.

Key events

Deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles has said the Australian Army’s early replacement of its European-made Taipan helicopter fleet with American-made Black Hawk helicopters was a decision “we’ve spoken a lot to France about” on ABC RN this morning.

The reason we’ve decided to go with the Black Hawks, and have to transition away from the Taipans, is because really over the course of the last decade we’ve struggled in terms of getting the hours out of the Taipans that we would want, both with with maintenance of having spare parts available.

It’s obviously a decision that we’ve spoken a lot to France about.

I think obviously the French would have liked us to stay with the Taipans but … really issue with France is about dealing with the French with honesty … and that’s what we’ve done in respect of this decision.

I’ve spoken with my counterpart Defence Minister Sebastian Lakonia, on a number of occasions. They are aware of the thinking that we had about the process that we’ve gone through.

We’ve been completely clear with them and I, you know, I think they’ve appreciated the upfront way in which we’ve gone about making this decision.

Australia to buy US-made Black Hawk helicopters – reports

There are reports the Australian army will replace its European-made Taipan helicopter fleet early with an estimated $2.8bn purchase of 40 American-made Black Hawk helicopters.

#breaking @AustralianArmy will acquire 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to operate from Oakey in Queensland and Holsworthy in New South Wales, with delivery of the aircraft to begin this year

— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) January 17, 2023

In 2021, the army announced it would ditch the fleet of Taipan helicopters a decade earlier than planned.

We anticipate the federal government’s announcement of the acquisition later today.

Mackay still at risk of flooding

Residents in Mackay, north Queensland, are still at serious risk of flooding after days of heavy rainfall, AAP reports.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted rainfall over the Central Coast would shift offshore over last night. A severe weather warning remained in place, stretching from Sarina to Bowen in the north. Many waterways in the area also broke their banks after more than 300mm of rain fell in the 24 hours to Tuesday afternoon.

The Mackay Regional Council warned people living in the Sandy Creek, Eton and Kinchant Dam areas they could see more flooding in low-lying parts depending on the amount of rainfall moving into Wednesday.

“Make sure you have enough food, water, medicine and pet food for two days,” it said. “Stay away from rivers and creeks. Stay informed because conditions may change overnight.”

And storms swept across parts of western Victoria overnight, after the state was hit with a severe thunderstorm warning from the Bureau of Meteorology.

There are reports of trees falling on to powerlines, homes and even a parked car in South Yarra – and the SES received more than 202 calls for help, including 147 for fallen trees. About 10,000 homes are still without electricity.

Good morning

And welcome to Wednesday’s Guardian Australia live blog.

We wake up to the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, responding late yesterday to data from Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics. China’s economy grew 3% in 2022, well below the country’s official target and the slowest since the mid-1970s (barring 2020).

Chalmers says this is “one of the major economic challenges facing Australia at the start of 2023”, adding that “the global economy is a volatile place right now and developments in China are a big part of that.” Read more on China’s troubled economic weather from our economics correspondent, Peter Hannam, here.

And speaking of weather, it continues to be temperamental across the country. While Sydney is finally forecast to enjoy its first 30C day in almost a year, flooding continues in northern Queensland, isolating thousands in communities pummelled by more rainfall into this morning. And temperatures dropped a sudden 10C yesterday evening in Victoria, followed by a storm that cut power to an estimated 10,000 homes.

I’m Rafqa Touma, taking the blog through the day. If you spot something you don’t want us to miss, you can tweet it my way @At_Raf_.

Let’s get started with the day’s rolling news coverage.





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