news

Tuesday afternoon's news in under 5 minutes.

Here are all the biggest news headlines you need to know this afternoon.

If you’re looking for detail on the Sydney siege and related tributes, see this post. For details on the hostages of the Sydney siege, see this post.

LATEST: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a press conference.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has spoken to the media in a press conference this afternoon, describing the events of the past two days as “testing and taxing”; a tragedy that has “echoed around the world.”

“This has been absolutely appalling and ugly incident,” he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.

“Decent, innocent people who got caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual.”

PM

He also thanked and congratulated the NSW Police on behalf of the Australian Government.

“Everyone has been impressed by the speed of the NSW Police response. The thoroughness of the preparations they made and the professionalism of the action that they took.”

He also thanked the public for their response to the tragedy, saying that it was typical of the Australian character to show decency and generosity and describing the spontaneous shrine at Martin Place was an expression of our “goodness and decency”.

He reiterated his previous assertion that “there are people in a society such as ours who wish to do us harm,” but said he was impressed with our “grit, stoicism and equanimity.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He described Man Haron Monis as “a deeply disturbed individual,”  and conceded that despite being well known to federal police and ASIO, Monis was not on any terror watch lists and had been granted bail in spite of serious criminal charges.

NSW Premier Mike Baird also spoke to the media and echoed the Prime Minister’s gratitude to the NSW Police for their handling of the crisis, thanking them for their professionalism and determination.

“A beating heart of the city has been put in place,” he said of the Martin Place shrine.

“This city is alive. It is beating despite the challenges we have endured.”

“Look at the hope and look at what we can do when we come together.”

Premier Baird said he would be working with the federal government to investigate the event and hinted that he may push to review the state’s bail laws.

“How can someone who has had such a chequered history not be placed in the appropriate watch list?” These are questions we need to look at calmly and methodically to ask the right questions in the days ahead,” Mr Abbott said, also pointing to the the government’s intention to push forward with meta-data retention laws in the new year.

“The assurance I give to you and every Australian is that this government will do whatever is humanly possible,” he said.

“I pledge myself to doing whatever is humanly necessary to maximise the protection of you, the Australian people.”

More to come.

1. Parcel at Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade “not suspicious”.

By ABC News.

The ACT police have declared a package they were investigating in the canteen area of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) building in Canberra is NOT suspicious.

DFAT evacuated
The DFAT building is evacuated as police investigate a suspicious package.
(Photo: ABC News: Andrew Greene)

ADVERTISEMENT

About 1:45pm (AEDT), ACT Policing received the report of the suspicious package at DFAT on John McEwen Crescent, Barton, in the parliamentary zone.

A caterer told the ABC the suspicious package was a backpack.

Hundreds of DFAT staff were evacuated to nearby car parks, while Brisbane Avenue, John McEwen Crescent, Sydney Avenue and State Circle were closed.

An exclusion zone was set up and ACT police asked people to avoid the area.

After more than two hours, the package was deemed safe.

“Package found at DFAT deemed non-suspicious,” ACT Policing tweeted.

Police are expected to release more details shortly.

2. Sinkhole swallows cars in Melbourne

By ABC News.

A sinkhole has swallowed cars and three houses have been flooded after a water main burst at Port Melbourne.

DFAT evacuated

ADVERTISEMENT

(Photo: ABC News: Roy Frattinger)

Water gushed down the road on Liardet Street in the early hours of the morning, until water workers turned off the supply.

Resident Chris Browne said his house was one of those affected.

“We were awoken by chatting in the street. We looked at the time and it was three o’clock,” he said.

“Police knocked on the door then and we were flooded.”

Locals had to move their cars as water levels began spilling over the gutter on some parts of the road.

“It was a bit of excitement for the area that’s for sure,” Mr Browne said.

DFAT evacuated
Residents were forced to move their cars after the burst main began flooding the street. (Photo: ABC News)

This post originally appeared on ABC News and has been republished with permission.

3. Bill Cosby’s wife defends him

By ABC News

The wife of comedian Bill Cosby has defended her husband from accusations brought by more than a dozen women alleging that the entertainer sexually assaulted them decades ago.

“He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend,” Camille Cosby said in a 210-word statement released by Cosby’s publicist.

“He is the man you thought you knew.”

DFAT evacuated

ADVERTISEMENT

Bill Cosby.

Her public statements are the first since the wave of accusations began last month, causing networks to shelve projects with The Cosby Show star and several of his stand-up comedy shows getting cancelled.

Camille Cosby, who married Bill Cosby in 1964, called her husband “the man you all knew through his work” and blamed the news media for not vetting her husband’s accusers.

“None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim,” she said.

“But the question should be asked – who is the victim?”

In her statement she said there appeared to be “no vetting of my husband’s accusers before stories are published or aired”.

She referenced a recent discredited Rolling Stone magazine story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity.

“The story was heartbreaking, but ultimately appears to be proved to be untrue,” she said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News and has been republished with permission.

Catch up on more news in this 90-second update from the ABC:

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???