Australia news live: Optus network goes down across nation; trains grind to a halt in Melbourne | Australia news

Key events

Daniel Hurst

Good morning from Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, where the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is due to arrive for talks with Pacific leaders.

The Cook Islands is hosting this year’s summit of the Pacific Islands Forum (Pif), an 18-member grouping of 16 Pacific nations, including Australia and New Zealand, and two French territories.

Last night more than 200 performers – chanting, singing, dancing, beating drums and playing the pu (shell trumpet) – welcomed delegates to the national auditorium for the opening ceremony last night, where Australia was represented by the minister for the Pacific, Pat Conroy.

Albanese, who has just wrapped up his official visit to China, is due to land on the island of Rarotonga shortly before midday local time (9am AEDT).

Albanese’s schedule today includes meetings with the prime minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, who yesterday renewed concerns about Aukus and said the region “should rediscover and revisit” the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. That treaty, signed in Rarotonga in 1985, remains in force and the Australian government has repeatedly said its Aukus plans for nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines are compliant. More on that story from our news wrap here:

Albanese is also scheduled to meet today with the prime minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, and the president of Kiribati, Taneti Maamau.

The climate crisis is expected to be a topic of intense discussion at this week’s talks, amid growing calls from the Pacific for a fossil fuel phase-out. There is speculation the Australian government will announce climate funding, including a contribution to the Green Climate Fund after the Coalition stopped funding it in 2018.

But the leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, said Albanese “risks becoming a Pacific pariah like Scott Morrison if he keeps backing more coal and gas”.

There will be further talks tomorrow before Albanese and his counterparts fly to Aitutaki, another of the Cook Islands, for a leaders’ retreat where they will try to find consensus on key issues.

Police have interviewed but not charged the man behind the wheel of a car that ploughed through a roadside beer garden in regional Victoria, killing five people, AAP reports.

Three groups were sitting outside the Royal Daylesford Hotel on Sunday when a BMW SUV mounted the kerb and hit patrons.

The 66-year-old driver from Mount Macedon has been in hospital since the incident and was interviewed there on Tuesday evening.

Enquiries will continue after his eventual release from care, police said in a statement.

Optus network suffers national blackout

Optus’ network is suffering a major, apparently national blackout this morning, leaving people unable to make calls.

The company’s website says: “Our engineers are currently investigating a network fault that is impacting Optus Mobile & Fixed customers.”

On social media, people in multiple capital cities, from Sydney to Perth, are complaining about the outage.

Their social media rep has replied, saying: “We’re aware of an issue impacting connections for some Optus mobile and fixed customers. We understand connectivity is important and are working to restore services as a priority. We apologise for any inconvenience caused while we have the issue resolved.”

It is unclear if this outage is linked to public transport issues in Melbourne, where the entire train network came to a halt due to a “communications outage”.

The Public Transport Victoria website reported: “All train services on the Metropolitan network are currently stopped due to a communications outage. Passengers are advised to reconsider travel on the Metropolitan network and consider alternate travel arrangements, such as Yarra Trams and local bus services, until further notice.”

Around 6am the trains appeared to be up and running again, but all lines reported major delays.

According to the PTV site: “Train services are now resuming across the Metro network after an earlier communications outage. We are expecting major delays to all lines as we restore services with select cancellations and alterations. Services may terminate/originate at intermediate locations. Please listen for announcements and speak to staff for more information.”

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news blog. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll bring you some of the top overnight stories before my colleague Emily Wind gets settled into the hot seat for the rest of the day.

In breaking news, Optus’s network has suffered an apparently national blackout this morning, leaving customers unable to make calls. It’s unclear if this is linked to trains grinding to a halt in Melbourne, where a “communications outage” was blamed for all train services coming to a stop, resulting in major delays.

Also overnight, police revealed they have interviewed, but not charged, the driver of a car that crashed into a Daylesford pub garden that left five people dead.

We have exclusive news for you too: as the pandemic hit more than three years ago and the world scrambled for protective equipment, the Coalition government agreed to pay $100m to an obscure company to supply masks and gowns. Today we expose how the deal left the taxpayer massively out of pocket and with 46m unusable masks. An alarming letter from doctors to ministers pleading for massive amounts of personal protective equipment set the deal in train.

Anthony Albanese will arrive at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands today after a diplomatic reset with China which includes an agreement to create a new multi-entry visa to facilitate exchanges and closer links between people. Topping the agenda in the Cook Islands will be concerns about whether the Aukus submarine deal is stretching the region’s nuclear treaty. We’ll have all the latest as it happens.

With yesterday’s decision by the Reserve Bank to hike rates again – the 13th rise in the current cycle – the economic outlook is darkening. The good news is that our economics correspondent reckons the bank is unlikely to go again next month and impose another rise on borrowers. The bad news is that the screw is already tightening and today we’re reporting on how one sector of the economy – the craft brewing industry – is suffering from rising costs in the post-pandemic era.

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