Afternoon Update: Labor pushes to outlaw vapes by 1 July; inflation flat at 3.4%; and asbestos crisis spreads to Queensland

<span>Data from 2021 showed that 14.1% of individuals aged 15 and above had tried electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.</span><span>Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP</span>
Data from 2021 showed that 14.1% of individuals aged 15 and above had tried electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

Good afternoon. The sale of vapes in corner stores and tobacconists could be outlawed from 1 July, with the government hoping to pass legislation next month.

Should the bill come into law, it would make selling vapes illegal without a prescription and essentially shut down retailers other than pharmacies selling vapes. The health minister, Mark Butler, has called on Peter Dutton to support the crackdown. Data from 2021 showed that 14.1% of individuals aged 15 and above had tried electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.

The issue is also receiving prominence in New Zealand, where primary schools have seen a rise in vaping among pupils.

Top news

  • Jesse Baird and Luke Davies’s bodies sent for postmortem | New South Wales police will continue searching a remote property at Bungonia, potentially for weeks, as the bodies of the Sydney couple were moved to a morgue for a postmortem examination. “It won’t be until [after the postmortem] that we’re able to determine time and manner of death,” the NSW police commissioner, Karen Webb, said.

  • Final warning for Victoria fires | Emergency authorities issued a final warning for residents in the state’s west to leave before midday today, with catastrophic conditions forecast in the Wimmera region. Residents fleeing danger zones were urged to go to built-up areas such as Ballarat, Ararat and Maryborough. “Tomorrow is likely to be one of the most dangerous fire days Victoria has experienced in recent years,” the premier, Jacinta Allan, said.

  • Penny Wong’s aides meet with UNRWA | Guardian Australia has learned that staffers from the office of the foreign minister met yesterday with Tom White, the director of UNRWA affairs in Gaza, to discuss the “acute humanitarian situation” in the besieged territory. The government reportedly told the UN agency that Australia needs confidence that aid will go “to those who need it” in Gaza, as calls grow to reinstate at least $6m in funding to the organisation.

  • Asbestos crisis spreads to Queensland | Asbestos has been discovered in compost at a waste facility in Ipswich in south-east Queensland. The site, owned by NuGrow, was one of 23 landfill operations, transfer stations, landscape suppliers, composters and mulch suppliers tested across south-east Queensland. It has been the only positive result, with the department still awaiting results for half the sites inspected.

  • Inflation remains flat at 3.4% | Hopes are rising of an RBA interest rate cut with inflation remaining at a two-year low in January. A fall in meat and seafood prices helped to keep inflation steady.

  • Biden’s Michigan win overshadowed by Gaza protest vote | US president Joe Biden has won the Democratic primary in Michigan – but a concerted effort by anti-war activists to vote “uncommitted” in the race has garnered nearly 20,000 votes, more than the 10,000 the campaign had sought. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has scored another convincing win against Nikki Haley in the Republican primary.

  • Security plans for Paris Olympics stolen | A bag containing a computer and two USB memory sticks holding police security plans for the Paris Olympic Games has been stolen from a train at the capital’s Gare du Nord station. An investigation is being conducted by the regional transport police.

  • Rise of femicide in Turkey | Seven women were “savagely killed” by their partners or ex-partners across Turkey yesterday, according to the television station Habertürk. In 2023, the women’s rights NGO We Will Stop Femicide recorded 315 murders of women, 65% of whom were killed in their own homes.

  • Births in Japan hit record low | The number of babies born in Japan last year fell for an eighth straight year to a new low, government data has shown, and a top official says it is critical for the country to reverse the trend. The 758,631 babies born in Japan in 2023 were a 5.1% decline from the previous year – the lowest number of births since Japan started compiling the statistics in 1899.

In pictures

Sand, sheep and survival: in the desert with the Bedouin people

Petra Bašnáková’s images of goat herders, shepherds and small children capture a challenging way of life that is slowly disappearing. Click here to view the gallery.

What they said …


“Woolworths has dropped the price of more than 400 items by an average of 18% to help customers spend less when they shop at the supermarket this Autumn.” – Woolworths Group

Interestingly, Woolworths has announced a sudden price drop amid six inquiries currently under way into supermarket prices.

In numbers

Before bed read

What’s the best pesto on supermarket shelves? Taste tester Tristan Lutze spent a few hours spreading pesto on bread to find the best of the lot. Read the rankings.

Daily word game

Today’s starter word is: AYS. You have five goes to get the longest word including the starter word. Play Wordiply.

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