Australia news LIVE: Thousands of ALP members take climate challenge to PM; US ambassador flags Assange plea deal

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  • Thousands of Labor members take climate challenge to Albanese
  • Death toll from Maui wildfire reaches 93
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Thousands of Labor members take climate challenge to Albanese

Thousands of Labor members have thrown their weight behind a challenge to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to take stronger action on climate change and develop new policies to respond to mammoth subsidies for renewable energy in the United States.

The push for change has been backed by 350 branches with formal motions that support Labor delegates who plan to call for action to wind back land clearing and native forest logging as well as boosting support for industry at the party’s national conference in Brisbane this week.

Felicity Wade is co-ordinating a push on climate policy.Credit: Louise Kennerley

The conference begins on Thursday with 402 delegates meeting in Brisbane to elect Labor’s national executive and debate the party platform on issues such as the economy, national security, the environment, social policy and the Indigenous Voice.

Opponents of the AUKUS alliance are also confident of putting motions that warn of a “regional arms race” from the agreement with the US on nuclear-powered submarines, setting up a debate on the conference floor that pits party delegates against Albanese and federal cabinet ministers.

Keep reading about the push for more climate action.

Death toll from Maui wildfire reaches 93

Overseas, the death toll from a wildfire that razed a historic Maui town climbed to 93 and authorities warned the effort to find and identify the dead was still in its early stages.

The blaze is already the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century.

Crews with cadaver dogs have covered just 3 per cent of the search area, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said Saturday.

“We’ve got an area that we have to contain that is at least 5 square miles, and it is full of our loved ones,” he said, noting that the number of dead is likely to grow and “none of us really know the size of it yet.”

Burnt areas in Lahaina on the island of Maui, Hawaii.Credit: AP

He spoke as federal emergency workers picked through the ashen moonscape left by the fire that razed the centuries-old town of Lahaina.

Teams marked the ruins of homes with a bright orange “X” to indicate an initial search, and “HR” when they found human remains.

Pelletier said identifying the dead is challenging because “we pick up the remains and they fall apart.”

The remains have been through “a fire that melted metal.” Only two people have been identified so far, he said.

During the search efforts, the barks of cadaver dogs alerting their handlers to potential remains echoed over the hot, colorless landscape.

“It will certainly be the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced,” Governor Josh Green said as he toured the devastation on historic Front Street.

“We can only wait and support those who are living. Our focus now is to reunite people when we can and get them housing and get them health care, and then turn to rebuilding.”

At least 2,200 buildings were damaged or destroyed in West Maui, Green said, nearly all of them residential.

Across the island, damage was estimated at close to $6 billion.


This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Monday, August 14. I’m Caroline Schelle and I will be anchoring the blog for the first half of the day.

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

  • One in eight households are struggling to pay home insurance after price increases of up to 50 per cent over the past year.
  • Thousands of Labor members have thrown their weight behind a challenge to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to take stronger action on climate change.
  • US ambassador Caroline Kennedy believes “there absolutely could be a resolution” to Julian Assange’s case.
  • Taxpayers forked out $1.8 billion more than initially expected for big four consultancy contracts awarded over the past decade.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wearing a Matildas scarf to the match against France on Saturday. Credit: Getty

  • Mary-Louise McLaws, the renowned epidemiologist who became the trusted voice to the nation during the pandemic, has died at the age of 70 after a long illness.
  • There is no start date for Australia’s major crackdown on vaping three months after Health Minister Mark Butler said he would ban all disposable products.
  • Australians are being warned of the cost to employers of a national public holiday if the Matildas win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, sparking a political clash over the idea.
  • And overseas, Britain warned citizens going to Sweden of possible terrorist attacks following Koran burnings by anti-Islam activists that have outraged Muslims.
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