Good morning here’s your headlines from around regional Australia and beyond. Scroll down and refresh for weather, road reports and more.
STORMS: Police rescued eleven people caught in flood waters on Macquarie Pass in the Southern Highlands overnight.
At about 5.20pm on Thursday, March 16, nine vehicles containing eleven occupants were travelling west on the Illawarra Highway, Macquarie Pass, in torrential rain, when about two kilometres east of Mount Murray Road, a large amount of water flowed across the road from an escarpment.
Further water flowed across the highway in three places, trapping two separate groups of vehicles.
Police from The Hume Local Area Command, Goulburn Police Rescue, and volunteers from Wingecarribee SES attended the scene, making contact with the trapped motorists.
About 8pm, the first group of people were able to be walked out of the area and taken to safety after a break in the weather. However the vehicles were left at the location.
About 9pm, the second group of people were removed from the area.
No one was injured during the incident.
Police hope the incident serves as a reminder of the dangers of travelling during extreme weather.
For the latest traffic information visit livetraffic.com or call the Traffic Information Line on 132 701.
For emergency help in floods and storms call SES on 132 500.
For general flood warnings see www.ses.nsw.gov.au
St Patrick’s Day
Leprechaun hats, ginger beards and pints of Guinness will be the staples as people take to the streets to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
To keep with the theme, we’ve whipped together a quiz that will test your Irish knowledge.
State of the nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing - well, we have you covered.
►SA: Relations between the Commonwealth and South Australia have turned toxic after an angry row between the the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and the state's Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill, played out on live television.
In bizarre scenes, the two figures stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they exchanged claims of hypocrisy, panic, and abject failure in the increasingly fraught energy policy debate. Read more
►WA: Horrified parents at a religious school south of Perth are threatening to pull their children out after learning a convicted child sex offender and an accused child rapist were among the students.
The two boys, aged 17 and 12, are accused of separate child rapes - with teachers, students and parents unaware of their alleged offences until the details began to spread on social media on Tuesday. Read more
►VIC: The Great Moscow Circus has cancelled its Ballarat tour, just days after the show visited Bendigo.
Ticket holders were left in limbo after performers were told at the last minute that last night’s opening show would not go ahead at the Ballarat showgrounds.
The show had been in Bendigo from March 2 to March 12 and was due to run for five days in Ballarat.
The Great Moscow Circus said “very soft ticket sales” were the reason for cancelling its tour in Ballarat in a Facebook post on the Ballarat event page. Read more
►TAS: Respected economist Saul Eslake believes three key issues are impacting Tasmania’s economic health: education, jobs, and healthcare, with education leading.
►NSW: A Riverina councillor has landed himself in hot water after he likened a young disabled boy to a “drunken Japanese tourist” in an embarrassing social media gaffe.
Bland Shire Councillor Murray Thomas has faced severe community backlash after his comments, with some community members calling for his immediate resignation. Read more
The Korean man, aged in his 40s, tried to drive his removalist truck through flood waters south of Miles about 11pm on Wednesday, when his vehicle became trapped. Read on
►NEWCASTLE: A Proposal to redraw the Supercars track has been rejected by race organisers, who say Newcastle council’s request is too late in the piece and unlikely to ever happen.
Supercars Australia was forced to defend the track on Wednesday, after Labor councillors backflipped on the agreed route the night before, deciding the council would reverse its support for the politically sensitive East End track and push for the race to run along Shortland Esplanade. Read more
►The federal government will increase its stake in the Snowy Hydro if NSW and Victoria refuse to help finance Malcolm Turnbull's ambitious expansion plan.
The Prime Minister says his government is prepared to go it alone and put up equity to fund the "game changing" $2 billion development, increasing the Commonwealth's current approximate shareholding of $800 million, or 13 per cent of the asset. Read more
►Confidence in the housing market has collapsed, with the number of Australians describing property as the wisest place to put their savings falling to its lowest level in more than 40 years.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has been asking about the wisest place to store savings since it began its consumer confidence survey in 1974. Read more
National weather radar
What’s coming you way …
►JERUSALEM: Progressive, left-leaning Westerners travel to Palestine to identify with the struggle and get an authentic "occupation experience". British artist Banksy's new "Walled Off Hotel" offering a view of the West Bank barrier wall in Bethlehem is the latest example of this trend.
Although these two tourism streams appeal to entirely disparate markets, they both rely on the idea of a static, mythical Palestine, not a living place inhabited by real human beings. Read more
►LONDON: Rupert Murdoch's $18.7 billion bid to takeover Sky News in the UK has been referred to the media regulator, with the Tory government citing concerns about "broadcasting standards" and "media plurality."
Ofcom, Britain's media regulator, will spend the next forty working days investigating whether the media mogul is a "fit and proper" person to acquire total ownership of Sky and if the takeover will further shrink Britain's news media offerings, with a report due on May 16. Read more
On this day
The faces of Australia: Ella Ebery
Believed to be Victoria’s oldest citizen with an active driver’s licence, 101-year-old Ella Ebery has defied the limits of age.
“When you get to my age, you have to try to be active in a small country town. If you cannot drive, you’re housebound,” the St Arnaud resident said.
“Being housebound is the biggest imposition anyone could put on me.”
She sat her licence renewal test three weeks ago and passed. Read more