Australia news LIVE: Support for Voice tumbles; PM rules out changes to negative gearing; US President cancels trip to Australia

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Key posts

  • White House confirms US president postpones trip to Australia
  • Voice support slides as debate rages over model
  • US President cancels trip to Australia
  • Search and recovery resumes after NZ hostel blaze
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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White House confirms US president postpones trip to Australia

President Joe Biden will return to the Unites States after the G7 summit and called Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to postpone his trip to Australia, according to the White House.

“The President spoke to Prime Minister Albanese earlier today to inform him that he will be postponing his trip to Australia,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden.Credit: Getty

“He also invited the Prime Minister for an official state visit at a time to be agreed by the teams.”

President Biden will meet with members of Congress from both parties to prevent default, according to the White House.

The White House said the Quad and other partnerships remained a key priority for the president and are vital to advance foreign policy goals.

“We look forward to finding other ways to engage with Australia, the Quad, Papua New Guinea and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in the coming year,” the statement reads.

Voice support slides as debate rages over model

Support for the Indigenous Voice has tumbled from 58 to 53 per cent over the past month in the crucial “yes or no” question that will decide a referendum on the issue later this year, deepening the risk of defeat after furious disputes on the change.

The sharp fall in support includes pivotal shifts against the Voice in big states such as Queensland and volatile swings in smaller states that challenge assumptions that Australians will cast a majority vote for the contentious change to the Constitution.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rebuffed calls from conservatives to scale back the power of the Voice, while Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has stepped up his warnings against the change to the Constitution.Credit: Fairfax Media

An exclusive new survey shows that 44 per cent of voters support the Voice and 39 per cent oppose it when asked about the government proposal for change, with another 18 per cent undecided.

Read more on the results here.

US President cancels trip to Australia

US President Joe Biden has cancelled his trip to Australia ahead of the Quad meeting next week.

“The President apologised that he would now have to postpone this visit because of the unfolding difficulties he is facing in his negotiations with the US Congress over the US government debt ceiling,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement this morning.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego for the joint AUKUS announcement with his US and UK counterparts.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The prime minister said negotiations over the US government debt ceiling were due to enter a “critical and concluding phase” at the end of the month.

“This conflicts with the president’s visits to Sydney and Canberra – including the Quad Summit scheduled for 24 May. The president and I agreed that we would work to reschedule his visit to Australia at the earliest opportunity,” Albanese said.

More to come.

Search and recovery resumes after NZ hostel blaze

The resumption of the search and rescue effort and the hunt for missing persons could see the death toll from New Zealand’s Loafer Lodge hostel fire rise.

The 92-room hostel in Wellington caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning, prompting a frenzied evacuation.

New Zealand Labour MP Paul Eagle said the deadly fire was “truly devastating” for the community.

He told ABC’s RN Breakfast this morning there were many transient and temporary workers who lived in the area where the hostel was located.

“It does attract the type of person that likes sort of transient, a transient living style, temporary accommodation, but also there were some key workers there,” Eagle said.

The MP said when text messages about the blaze started to come through, he suspected the hostel was the building on fire.

Fire trucks outside the burning hostel in Wellington.Credit: NewsHub

“I knew that was the only housing complex left there,” he told ABC Radio.

“I had been there previously … talked to residents of its simple accommodation, but I put two and two together and said if it was anywhere where I thought there might be a fire, it must be there.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) said six bodies were located in the building, with the possibility of more could be found.

Since the fire was doused, six hours after it began, technical teams have been working to secure the building for the bodies to be recovered and for the police to begin an investigation.

“We are working tirelessly alongside our partners, alongside our other agencies to find the answers that we need,” acting district commander Dion Bennett said.

“This requires an extensive scene examination and as you can see, the building is large, and the damage is extensive.

“Once inside, we will work as quickly as we can.”

with AAP

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of today. It is Wednesday, May 17.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • Polling shows support for the Indigenous Voice to parliament has tumbled, as debate rages on about the model.
  • US President Joe Biden is once again re-evaluating his trip to Australia, hours after the prime minister confirmed he would be attending the Quads meeting in Sydney.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese dismissed calls to reform negative gearing to address the housing crisis.
  • The federal budget has belted the confidence of the Australia’s shoppers with warnings from the Reserve Bank that household incomes are starting to fall.

Prime Minister Anthony AlbaneseCredit: Jessica Hromas

  • The Australian Workers’ Union will lead a push for the introduction of a “significant, punitive tax” on exports of raw critical minerals.
  • One Nation founder Pauline Hanson has thrown her support behind Mark Latham, less than two months after she publicly denounced his homophobic tweet aimed at a Sydney MP.
  • Victorians building a home will be protected against losing their deposits if their builder collapses before lodging insurance under planned reforms of building laws.
  • Ukraine’s 2023 Eurovision finalists have urged the Albanese government to send a batch of Australian-made mobility vehicles to the front lines of its war with Russia.
  • In other overseas news, the search will resume today for missing people after a deadly blaze ripped through a New Zealand hostel.
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