Australia news LIVE: Voice to parliament debate continues amid Peter Dutton’s visit to Alice Springs; Cyclone Ilsa batters WA’s northern coastline

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  • Cyclone Ilsa downgraded to category three but major damage reported
  • AFL great Eddie Betts backs the Voice as ‘right step’
  • Voice inquiry must test wording or risk failure: Leeser
  • US arrests 21-year-old in connection to intelligence leak
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Cyclone Ilsa downgraded to category three but major damage reported

Turning to news about Cyclone Ilsa in WA, which has been downgraded to a category three cyclone as of 5am (AWST).

The tropical cyclone made landfall as a category five system around midnight, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

But the cyclone was downgraded to a category three, with sustained winds near the centre of 150km/h and gusts of up to 205km/h, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

WA’s Department for Fire and Emergency Services superintendent Peter Sutton said there were early reports of extensive damage at Pardoo Roadhouse.

“We have early reports from people on site there that there is extensive damage,” Sutton told ABC News Breakfast this morning.

“We will have a helicopter in the air as soon as it is safe to head out there and inspect that closer.”

The storm is estimated to be about 220 km southeast of Port Hedland and 185 km northwest of Telfer.

Cyclone Ilsa set a new preliminary ten-minute sustained wind speed record of 218km/h at Bedout Island before it made landfall, the bureau said.

The last record was set by Cyclone George in 2007, when it hit the same island at speeds of 194km/h.

Updates on Cyclone Ilsa are available here. 

AFL great Eddie Betts backs the Voice as ‘right step’

AFL great Eddie Betts has thrown his support behind an Indigenous Voice to parliament, describing the proposal as a pathway to inclusion and respect in decision-making.

The former Carlton and Adelaide Crows small forward and three-time All Australian said he had canvassed a range of views from within First Nations communities before coming to the decision.

Eddie Betts said he had canvassed a range of views before deciding to back the Voice.Credit: Paul Jeffers

“It’s a small step, but I think the right step, to have a Voice and be heard,” he told The Age.

Read what else the three-time All Australian said about the Voice here.

Voice inquiry must test wording or risk failure: Leeser

Pro-Voice Liberal MP Julian Leeser says a crucial parliamentary inquiry into the referendum must act like the High Court and test the wording of the constitutional amendment in a bid to find a compromise and ensure the vote succeeds.

As the inquiry prepares to hold its first hearings today, NT Country Liberal Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is firming up for a promotion as a shadow assistant minister or special envoy campaigning against the Voice – rather than securing a shadow cabinet position.

The opposition’s spokesman for Indigenous affairs Julian Leeser announced his resignation from the frontbench on Tuesday.Credit: Brook Mitchell

The committee’s hearings set the stage for a legal showdown between Voice proponents who want the body to have a constitutionally enshrined power to advise executive government and those who fear this will bury government decision-making in High Court challenges and risk the success of the referendum.

More on this exclusive story here. 

US arrests 21-year-old in connection to intelligence leak

The FBI arrested an employee of the US Air Force National Guard over the leaks online of classified US documents that embarrassed Washington with allies around the world.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI arrested the man, Jack Teixeira, “in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorised removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defence information”.

Jack Teixeira, 21, was arrested in connection to the intelligence leak investigation in the US.

The FBI said its agents had made an arrest and were conducting “authorised law enforcement activity at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts”.

Updates are available here, courtesy of international wires Reuters and AP.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, April 14. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

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

  • Centrelink can ask the federal police to trawl through clients’ data to find out if they’re in relationships.
  • Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who quit the opposition frontbench to support the Voice, wants the parliamentary committee to test the wording of the amendment.
  • AFL great Eddie Betts has backed the Voice to parliament and said it was “a small step, but … the right step”.
  • Liberal appointees want to limit a Labor-led overhaul of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which reviews government decisions.
  • WA’s northern coastline rocked as tropical Cyclone Ilsa makes landfall as a category five cyclone.
  • In Victoria, doctors sound the alarm over looming health department cuts in the upcoming state budget.
  • Meanwhile, the new NSW Labor government sacked its highest-ranking transport official.
  • Overseas, the FBI arrested 21-year-old guardsman in the US in connection to a major intelligence leak.
  • North Korea carried out its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in a month, possibly testing a harder-to-detect missile for the first time.

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