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Prince William makes subtle reference to #Megxit in first public appearance, & more in News in 5.

1. Prince William makes subtle reference to #Megxit in first public appearance.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited West Yorkshire city on Wednesday, marking their first public appearance since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would be stepping down from their senior royal duties.

Addressing a group as they discussed community relations, Prince William said, “It’s sometimes trying to get people to understand that’s it’s OK to have these challenges, we just need to deal with them and we need to move forward rather than just be stuck in paralysis and pretend they aren’t going to happen.”

Many are interpreting the comments as referring to the tensions within the Prince’s own family.

The appearance was the couple’s first joint engagement since November last year.

On Monday, Queen Elizabeth gave her blessing to grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s wish for a more independent future following crisis talks involving the most senior members of the royal family.

The head of state announced there would be a “period of transition” with Harry and Meghan – who have said they want to be financially independent and step back as senior royals – living in Canada and the UK.

Watch: Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter on The Project. Post continues after video.

Video by Channel 10

The Queen was joined at Sandringham by the Prince of Wales and Prince William for the face-to-face talks with Harry and described them as “very constructive”.

It is unusual for the Queen to issue a statement in her own name – when not paying condolences after the death of a foreign head of state or sympathising following a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

And the formal titles of the couple – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – were not used by the monarch.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the 93-year-old monarch said in a six-sentence statement that mentioned the word “family” six times.

“Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

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Last week’s shock announcement by Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, exposed divisions in the Windsor family and prompted soul-searching over what it means to be royal in the 21st century.

The couple consulted neither the Queen nor Prince Charles before their announcement, made on Instagram and their own website, a step seen as impertinent and premature by a family whose roots go back through a thousand years of European history.

Meghan is currently in Canada with their infant son Archie. She had been expected to join Monday’s discussion by telephone.

She and Harry say they want a “progressive” new role for themselves and financial independence, which could mean working in the United States where Meghan is from.

But it is unclear how they will pull off a partial pullback from royal roles – which some media have dubbed “Megxit” in a play on Britain’s tortuous Brexit departure from the European Union – or who will pay for a transatlantic lifestyle.

The Queen said there was more work to be done on finalising future arrangements for the couple.

2. Small businesses have been promised bushfire support.

Small business owners can soon expect a package of federal support to help them recover from bushfires.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says final details are being worked out within Treasury ahead of an announcement on Thursday.

The package has been developed in conjunction with business operators and peak industry groups, who met with Mr Morrison on Tuesday.

The groups were told the government was considering such measures as rent, loan and rates relief, accounting assistance, fast-tracked invoices being paid by big businesses and tourism marketing for the hardest-hit regions.

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“We had people from all of these small communities all around the bushfire affected areas and it was great to hear them say what they needed on the ground,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Work was also being done to map economic zones to understand what drives local areas, he added.

Council of Small Business chief Peter Strong said it was important that not only peak bodies were represented but dozens of individual small business operators had attended or dialled into the meeting, held in the cabinet room in Parliament House.

“The community people in the room and on the phone are frankly magnificent and they show why we fight for small business,” he said in a statement.

“Currently too many of them, as well as their employees and their communities, are experiencing stress and crisis. It is probably more than 300,000 business people and their employees.”

However, Mr Strong said the meeting would become “meaningless” if the small business package did not provide what was needed.

3. Students rally for climate change action without police permission.

Protesters demanding governments take serious action to tackle climate change have rallied at Circular Quay in Sydney despite police denying the group permission to march.

Uni Students for Climate Justice – the group behind the mass Sack Scomo protests across the country – walked from Customs House to Martin Place on Wednesday evening even though police refused to facilitate the event.

Organisers estimated 500 took part though they were forced to march on the footpath rather than the street after NSW Police said the protesters failed to provide the required seven days notice under the Summary Offences Act.

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“This period of notice allows police to plan our operational response, to ensure public safety is maintained, and to ensure the significant disruption and inconvenience to the community that can occur with large-scale protests is minimised,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“NSW Police successfully facilitated a peaceful protest for this group last Friday as all legal requirements were met.”

But Uni Students for Climate Justice co-convenor Gavin Stanbrook says the group has been told there was no appetite to allow the march.

“NSW Police are doing the dirty work of (NSW Premier Gladys) Berejiklian and (Prime Minister Scott) Morrison,” Mr Stanbrook said in a statement.

The police force has argued that they need to balance the rights of citizens to hold peaceful protests with other rights – including the safety and security of the community.

4. New Zealand’s White Island cameras are back online.

Scientists have resumed public streaming of White Island’s volcanic crater, just over a month after the eruption that claimed at least 20 lives.

Shots from the cameras maintained by geological monitoring agency GNS Science, can again be seen on the GeoNet website.

The images were turned off in the aftermath of the blast as police mounted a recovery operation for bodies of eight people.

Police recovered six bodies in a recovery mission mounted with New Zealand defence forces four days after the blast, but could not locate bodies belonging to teenage Australian tourist Winona Langford or Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman.

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Police believe they were washed into the sea by a storm and are no longer on the island.

The GeoNet cameras upload images from three positions on the island every 10 minutes.

The last images prior to the blast showed a group of people close to the crater’s edge, with another sightseeing group returning from an outing on the popular tourist attraction.

New images are largely of a poor standard, with the few of discernible quality still showing plumes of steam and volcanic gases still surging into the air.

The landscape in close vicinity to the crater is still grey, understood to be remnants of ash.

A GeoNet bulletin issued on Wednesday said the vent area remained at temperatures around 440 degrees, with Whakaari remaining “in an elevated state of unrest”.

“Aside from minor ash eruptions on December 23 and 26, no significantly sustained or strong eruptive activity has been observed since the December 9 eruption,” duty volcanologist Brad Scott said.

“Further large explosive eruptions are very unlikely on any given day in the next four weeks.”

The volcanic alert level remains at level two, as it was before the eruption.

5. Wildlife experts plead for funds to save species.

Australia’s wildlife experts are pleading with the government to flush the sector with cash to fund the recovery of threatened species and stop more being pushed to the brink of extinction by bushfires.

Conservationists, land management groups, environmental advocates and zoo representatives insisted the federal government could not return to business-as-usual when the bushfire season is over.

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The remarks were made during a meeting between sector experts, Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box, in Canberra on Wednesday.

Dr Box told the meeting the government would prioritise preventing extinctions and protecting habitats that are left, according to multiple representatives who were present.

“There were already almost 2000 species threatened by extinction, and that was before the fire,” Samantha Vine, Birdlife Australia’s head of conservation said after the meeting.

“Even if this event doesn’t cause extinction, it’s pushing them closer.”

The federal government this week announced a $50 million wildlife and habitat recovery package, in what is understood to be an initial investment.

But the sector says the amount it needs to do the work is enormous.

“It’s going to be billions, we’re talking billions, and that was before the fires,” Ms Vine added.

The federal government’s preliminary assessment of how much threatened species habitat has been lost will be released by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, an expert panel of ecologists, conservation biologists and other scientists are finalising their areas of focus.

They are understood to be getting food, water and shelter to surviving animals, protecting remaining habitat, salvaging threatened species, predator control and rapid impact assessment.

The environmental experts called to Parliament House have urged the government to take a long view, saying while there is support for adaptation and resilience building, there has been push-back against mitigation.

“This can’t be seen as an immediate problem only,” Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive said.

“If we only talk about the short term, that means the causes of this crisis are never addressed.”

Environmental funding has been slashed by about 40 per cent since 2013, Ms O’Shannassy said, and now is the time to not just restore it but fund it further.

Putting more money upfront now will soften the blow to the government, the economy and communities later, the Wilderness Society Australia’s Suzanne Milthorpe said.

“This has to be an opportunity for Australia to no longer be the extinction nation, but for us to work not just towards bushfire recovery, but environmental health, so that we can lessen the shocks of this kind of event happening again,” she added.

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