Australia news LIVE: Joe Biden to host PM in October at White House; RBA governor Philip Lowe faces final grilling by MPs

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  • Australia, US urged to ramp up AUKUS as PM invited to White House
  • Maui surveys the burned wreckage caused by the deadliest US wildfire in years
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Rudd warns risk of war in our region is ‘not a theory’

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has warned there is a serious risk of war breaking out in the Indo-Pacific and that avoiding a catastrophic conflict in Australia’s region will require skilful judgment by today’s political leaders.

Rudd, who delivered the landmark 2008 apology to the stolen generations, also urged Australians to resist fearmongering about the consequences of establishing an Indigenous Voice to parliament in a sweeping speech at the unveiling of his official prime ministerial portrait.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned about the threat of war in the Indo-Pacific. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The playful and pensive painting by renowned artist Ralph Heimans, who also painted the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III when he was Prince of Wales, shows the nation’s current ambassador to the United States working at his Sunshine Coast home, surrounded by books and his collection of Chinese crockery.

Read more about his warning here. 

Australia, US urged to ramp up AUKUS as PM invited to White House

Australia and the United States are being urged to turbocharge the AUKUS pact by jointly producing long-range missiles and using Australia as a testing ground for hypersonic weapons as Anthony Albanese prepares to make his first prime ministerial visit to the US capital.

Albanese will be feted at a rare state dinner in Washington, DC, in late October at the invitation of US President Joe Biden, just days before he has been tipped to make an as-yet-unconfirmed visit to Beijing.

US President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House in October. Credit: AP

Republican congressman Mike Gallagher, considered a rising star of American politics, used a speech in Canberra on Thursday night to say the AUKUS pact had the potential to “bring this region from the brink of war” if the three member nations expanded their ambitions and put their nations on a preventative “war footing”.

Gallagher, the chair of the US House of Representatives select committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said wargaming exercises conducted for Congress had found the American military would run out of munitions after just six days if a war broke out with China over Taiwan.

Read the full story here.

Maui surveys the burned wreckage caused by the deadliest US wildfire in years

The search of the wildfire wreckage on the Hawaiian island of Maui revealed a wasteland of burned out homes and obliterated communities as firefighters battled the stubborn blaze that has already claimed 36 lives, making it the deadliest in the US in five years.

Aerial footage showed whole sections of the historic town of Lahaina had been reduced to gray ash.

Smoking heaps of rubble lay piled high next to the waterfront in the town, which dates to the 1700s and is the biggest community on the island’s west side.

“It’s horrifying. I’ve flown here 52 years and I’ve never seen anything come close to that,” said Richard Olsten, a helicopter pilot for a tour company.

“We had tears in our eyes.”

An aerial view shows the community of Lahaina after wildfires on the island of Maui. Credit: Reuters

Fuelled by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the fire started Tuesday and took Maui by surprise, racing through parched growth covering the island.

Maui County said at least 36 people had died, making it the deadliest US wildfire since the 2018 Camp Fire in California, which killed at least 85 people.

The Hawaii toll could rise, though, as rescuers reach parts of the island that had been unreachable due to three ongoing fires or obstructions.

Officials said earlier Wednesday that 271 structures had been damaged or destroyed and that dozens of people had been injured, including some critically.

“We are still in life preservation mode. Search and rescue is still a primary concern,” Adam Weintraub, a spokesperson for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said Thursday.

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster on Maui. While travelling in Utah, Biden pledged that the federal response will ensure that “anyone who’s lost a loved one, or whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately.”

Biden promised to streamline requests for assistance and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was “surging emergency personnel” on the island.

“Our prayers are with the people of Hawaii. But not just our prayers. Every asset we have will be available to them,” he said.


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