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Australia news live updates: 14 more Covid deaths; evacuation orders for parts of northern NSW; budget to address cost of living

Severe weather warning issued for large parts of NSW; treasurer Josh Frydenberg says election will be held ‘in a matter of weeks’; Victoria records five new Covid deaths and NSW reports nine. Follow the latest updates live * Northern NSW towns under evacuation orders as heavy rainfall hits flood-ravaged regions * Morrison government funnelling billions into must-win marginal seats * Coalition predicts unemployment will drop to 50-year low * Why it took Australia nine years to accept New Zealand’s refugee deal * Follow the Ukraine live blog * See all our coronavirus coverage * Get our free news app; get our morning email briefing The New South Wales government has approved fewer than 400 disaster relief grants for flood-ravaged northern rivers businesses, despite receiving almost 8,000 requests for help since applications opened almost a month ago. After the state’s north was left reeling by weeks of devastating floods, the government announced grants of up to $50,000 for small businesses to help pay for cleanup costs, repairs, replace damaged stock and to lease temporary premises. Today it’s been revealed that the unemployment rate will have a friend for the first time in 50 years. This is a remarkable achievement that belongs to 26 million Australians. We’ve avoided the scouring of the labour market so reminiscent of previous recessions in Australia in the 80s and 90s. We now have an unemployment rate that is very, very low and we are banking that dividend, now with the cost of living. Would you be providing that if Australians weren’t going to the polls in a matter of weeks? We would of course be providing cost-of-living relief given the circumstances that Australia now faces. There’s higher expected inflation, indeed, it’s a global phenomenon. There’s petrol prices rising above $2 a litre and with the other challenges on Australian companies. Continue reading...

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