Prime Minster Anthony Albanese issues warning on ‘difficult’ Christmas

Anthony Albanese has warned a “difficult” Christmas lays ahead for thousands of Australians set to be impacted by extreme weather.

The Prime Minister made the comments on Friday morning in Sydney in an address wishing people of faith a happy festive season.

“This era is also set to be very difficult going forward,” he said.

“We have floods set to peak in South Australia between Boxing Day and New Year’s and preparations are certainly under way between state agencies and the federal government.”

Mr Albanese said people impacted should heed the warnings of the SES if advised.

“If it is flooded, forget it. It is simply not worth the risk and we see too much tragedy as a result of people thinking that it’s OK to take the risk,” he said.

The South Australian portion of the Murray River is expected to peak in the coming days in Renmark and Berri, including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

More than 1100 properties in the region have so far been inundated, with that figure expected to rise to 4000 at its peak.

Additionally, 225 businesses and 4000 hectares of agricultural land will also be affected.

Australians spending the festive period alone were also top of mind, and Mr Albanese urged people to offer support to those close to them.

“At this time of the year, people will go through a reliving of the difficult period, whether it be the loss of loved ones, many people do feel isolated,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for people to reach out to their neighbours, to reach out to their communities and to engage and make sure that no one feels alone at this important time.”

Mr Albanese also addressed Australia’s delicate relationship with China after foreign Minister Penny Wong took the first ministerial visit to the country in more than three years.

“We are engaging constructively with China,” he said.

“There has been a marked difference in the engagement that has occurred this year compared with the previous term of the parliament of where there wasn’t a single phone conversation, let alone a meeting between any minister in the Australian government and any minister in the government of China.

“Given that China is our major trading partner, that is obviously problematic. We’ll continue to engage diplomatically without a loud hailer, including on issues where there are differences and we will continue to make representations on behalf of Australian citizens.”

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