Thanks for joining in today. Esther Han will be back on deck from 6am tomorrow with the latest headlines, weather and transport.
As we prepare to wrap up Morning Express, let’s take a look at some of the day’s top stories:
- The Abbott government wants to send some asylum seekers to Cambodia, at a time when the country's strongman prime minister, Hun Sen, is overseeing a brutal crackdown on dissent in one of south-east Asia's poorest nations.
- Memorial services are due to be held in Sydney and New Zealand this week following the death of Charlotte Dawson on the weekend.
- The Winter Olympics have drawn to an end, with a giant robot bear extinguishing the Olympic flame at the closing ceremony in Sochi.
- Australia's claims to Test cricket's throne have been rocked by an astonishing batting capitulation in Port Elizabeth that allowed South Africa to emphatically regain parity in the teams' series.
Route M60 buses are delayed up to 15 minutes this morning due to heavy traffic on Pennant Hills Road in Pennant Hills.
Maria von Trapp, daughter of Austrian Baron Georg von Trapp, at the Villa Trapp in Salzburg, Austria in 2008. She has died aged 99. Photo: AP
Maria Agatha Franziska Gobertina von Trapp - the last of the real-life Von Trapp children whose flight from Nazi-occupied Austria with their parents was dramatised in the stage musical and film The Sound of Music - has died.
A family friend said she died in her sleep at her home in Vermont, in the eastern United States. She was 99.
Let’s re-cap the weather as we kick off the last week of summer.
Today we can expect the chance of a shower or two in the morning, mostly near the coast. Cloud will decrease in the afternoon. A top of 28 degrees is forecast in the city and 29 degrees in the west.
The rest of the week is looking pretty cloudy, with the chance of showers.
In possibly the best ending ever to a Winter Olympics, a giant robot bear has blown out the Olympic flame.
Look at him!
Sochi mascots approach a flame, representing the burning Olympic cauldron. Photo: AP
Returning to world news now, and a massive rock has crashed into a chalet in the south-eastern French Alps, killing two sleeping children and injuring five others, police said.
The children, aged seven and 10, were asleep at the time of the accident in the village of Isola in France's Alpes-Maritimes region.
Two sleeping children crushed to death by giant boulder which destroyed French Alps ski chalet http://t.co/WcEUHGeJii— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) February 23, 2014
Sydney’s new drinking regulations kicked in overnight, with 1.30am lock-outs and 3am ‘‘last drinks’’ rules being enforced in the CBD.
For those who enjoy picking up a bottle of wine after 10pm or club-hopping till sunrise, Saturday night was your last hurrah.
New laws in place from tomorrow will enforce last drinks at 3am in CBD entertainment precinct. More info: http://t.co/0ifoqSVsOJ— NSW Police (@nswpolice) February 23, 2014
The Monday morning commute on public transport appears to be pretty smooth at this stage. There are no major reported problems.
But there have been a few crashes on the city’s roads, including an earlier crash on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All lanes have been re-opened there.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have attended an official 90th birthday celebration for President Robert Mugabe at a stadium east of the capital Harare overnight.
But the cost of the celebration - estimated at about $1 million - has prompted criticism in a country suffering from severe economic problems.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in Harare, in August 2013. Photo: Reuters
Like sands through the hourglass, Days of our Lives is returning to Australian TV.
In news just in, a deal struck between the pay TV platform Foxtel and the US studio Sony means Foxtel will re-launch the soap on its Arena channel in April. Phew.
These were the Days of our Lives
The wedding choke scene with Lauren Koslow, Alison Sweeney and Josh Taylor in Days of our Lives.
In some disturbing news from the weekend, a woman was allegedly indecently assaulted by a taxi driver after she fell asleep in the back seat of a cab in Sydney's inner-west.
The 24-year-old woman hailed the taxi on the corner of George and Park Street in Sydney's CBD shortly after 1am on Sunday.
She fell asleep and awoke when the taxi had reached Summer Hill to find the driver in the back seat beside her, touching her indecently, police said.
In case, like most Australians, you slept through the Winter Olympics closing ceremony, here's a quick look at the fireworks that lit up Sochi's night sky.
Fireworks at Olympics closing ceremony
RAW VISION: Russia celebrates the Sochi Olympics with a farewell show that hands off the Winter Games to their next host, Pyeongchang in South Korea.PT1M19S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-33b0c 620 349 February 24, 2014
The Modern Family cast and crew are still kicking about in Sydney, and getting to know our national cuisine.
Yes, that's a breakfast of champions right there.
Toast and TimTams for breakfast. That's healthy right?— Sarah Hyland (@Sarah_Hyland) February 21, 2014
And there’s yet another crash this morning - this one on Canterbury Road at Canterbury
There are reports of a one-kilometre traffic jam following the crash near Wonga Street. Take care on the roads please people.
Crashes keep rolling in today - Canterbury – Canterbury Rd at Wonga St - citybound in particular is in strife - a bit over a 1km delay.— Paul Latter (@paullatter) February 23, 2014
A search will resume this morning for a man who has gone missing while swimming in a northern NSW quarry.
The man’s friends lost sight of him while they were swimming in an unused quarry in Byron Bay early on Sunday afternoon, police said.
The missing man is believed to be aged 21.
Police divers from Sydney are expected to join the search this morning.
And here's a quick rundown of what else we're expecting, politics-wise:
- The government is expected to release its drought aid package this week for farmers struggling in NSW and Queensland after the PM and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce toured stricken areas last week.
- The Pulse Politics Live blog with Judith Ireland will be back bringing you all the news and pics from Canberra.
- Election campaigns continue in Tasmania and South Australia, while West Australians could find out this week when a Senate by-election will be held in that state after the result from the September election was declared void by the High Court.
- On Q&A tonight: Minister for Infrastructure and Development Jamie Briggs, Labor's infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese and mining magnate and federal MP Clive Palmer.
Clive Palmer. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Fairfax Media’s Canberra bureau has a busy day in store.
Parliament is back today, while Senate estimates hearings are also occurring this week covering parliament, the environment, Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Attorney-General and infrastructure and regional development.
Question time will be at 2pm.
Olympian Grant Hackett has reportedly been photographed at Crown Casino looking anxiously for his missing son.
The swimming star was apparently barefoot and shirtless searching for his four-year-old boy, who had wandered off from the casino hotel where they were staying.
The child was found by security guards and was returned to his father safe and well.
There are still a few delays following a crash on the Sydney Harbour Bridge just before 6am today.
The crash has been cleared and all lanes have re-opened, but the Transport Management Centre has advised motorists to allow additional travel time.
Organiser of the event, GetUp, estimated 15,000 people attended vigils in several capital cities, with about 5000 in Melbourne and 3000 in Sydney.
Crying out for change: Hundreds take part in the candle light vigil at Sydney's Town Hall. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Memorial services are expected to be held in Sydney and New Zealand this week following the sad death of Charlotte Dawson on the weekend.
On Sunday, friends of the vivacious television presenter were still coming to terms with her death, speaking about their tortured friend who had long dealt with depression.
An online petition has been launched calling for tougher enforcement of anti-bullying and harassment laws.
A two-car crash on the Hume Highway at Greenacre is causing delays for east-bound motorists this morning.
The crash occurred near the intersection with Waterloo Road. Allow additional travel time if you're travelling in the area.
There don’t appear to be any major problems on Sydney’s trains, buses or ferries this morning.
If you do encounter any issues, let us know in the comments section below.
Australia's Chris Rogers celebrates scoring a century during the fourth day of the second cricket Test. Photo: Reuters
Sorry Australian cricket fans, we don't have good news for you this morning.
Australia's claims to Test cricket's throne have been rocked by an astonishing batting capitulation in Port Elizabeth that allowed South Africa to emphatically regain parity in the teams' Test series.
Australia was dismissed for 216 to give South Africa a 231-run win that was as emphatic as what it endured in the first Test.
Beyond openers Chris Rogers (107) and David Warner (66), Australia's next nine batsmen collectively scored 22 runs, just one more than South Africa's sundries tally. Eeek.
Still on Winter Olympics news, and Canada has retained its men’s ice hockey title, rolling Sweden 3-0 to claim a record ninth gold and the first on European soil in 62 years.
He shoots he scores: Canada's Sidney Crosby. Photo: MARK BLINCH
Konstantin Ernst, the creative director of the Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, has a cheeky sense of humour.
He showed up for the closing ceremony news conference in a white T-shirt with four Olympic rings and a snowflake.
It was a nod, of course, to the embarrassing misstep from the opening ceremony in which one of the Olympic rings failed to illuminate.
Love Olympic ceremony director Konstantin Ernst's new t-shirt. Funny guy. pic.twitter.com/gbwzeb269k— NickdMiller (@NickdMiller) February 23, 2014
The curtain has come down on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In an Olympic ritual, the flag for the Games was handed over by Sochi's mayor to the mayor of Pyeongchang, South Korea, host of the next Winter Olympics.
Russia ended as the overall champ, with 33 medals. The US came second with 28.
A crash that closed four lanes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning has now been cleared.
The Transport Management Centre says traffic is heavy in the area but should start to ease now that all lanes are open.
The crash, near the bridge's northern pylon, involved a truck and another vehicle and occurred just before 6am.
Police are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a woman at a skate park in Tamworth early on Sunday morning.
A 32-year-old woman told police she left a hotel on Peel Street about 12.30am and began walking through the park, near Darling Street, when she was attacked by a man who sexually assaulted her.
The woman told police a second man then also sexually assaulted her, before both men fled.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Turning to police news from overnight, and a motorcyclist has died in a crash on the NSW south coast.
Police say the man was riding west along Greville Avenue at Sanctuary Point about 7.15pm on Sunday when he left the road and struck a tree.
The man, believed to be a 43 year old from St Georges Basin, died at the scene.
Motorists are reporting that traffic is already heavy on the Sydney Harbour Bridge following a crash on the bridge's main deck just before 6am.
Two vehicles involved in the crash, near the bridge's northern pylon, are being loaded onto the back of a tow truck.
Two north-bound lanes and two south-bound lanes have been closed.
Hopefully the vehicles will be cleared soon.
The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, has been named as interim president, a day after the country voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych following three months of protests.
Yulia Tymoshenko, who was freed from jail on Saturday, has ruled out becoming prime minister again.
Ukrainian national (bottom) and EU Photo: Reuters
Moving to world news from overnight, and a spate of deadly blasts has killed two children and maimed at least five others as pro-government supporters vowed to confront their rivals in Bangkok, deepening Thailand’s three-month political crisis.
Aftermath: A soldier photographs the scene of an explosion littered with blood and small pairs of shoes. Photo: AP
AFR, February 24
On the front pages of the major papers:
The Australian Financial Review says Treasurer Joe Hockey has brokered a global accord with the world’s biggest economies to boost world growth by 2 per cent, committing the Abbott government to a fresh wave of productivity-boosting workplace reform.
The Australian reports that Australia’s dependence on overseas oil and fuel has become so critical that the navy’s helicopters would be forced to rely on imported fuel in a conflict.
The Daily Telegraph says that lost love consumed Charlotte Dawson’s thoughts in the final hours before she tragically took her own life.
SMH, February 24
The front page of today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that Tony Abbott has defended Immigration Minister Scott Morrison against calls for him to be sacked, saying the Australian people would not want a ''wimp'' defending their borders.
The Prime Minister's intervention on Sunday afternoon came amid mounting pressure on Mr Morrison after he was forced to admit he had misinformed Australians about the violence and death of an asylum seeker in the Manus Island detention centre.
The Monday morning commute across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is not looking good.
Two lanes in both directions have been closed after a crash involving a truck and two cars on the bridge.
Emergency services and traffic crews are on site.
Motorists are advised to exercise caution and allow additional travel time, as traffic is expected to build quickly.
Crash confirmed - it's big - Milsons Point - Bradfield Hwy just nth of the Northern Pylon of the Harbour Bridge. 2 lanes closed both ways.— Paul Latter (@paullatter) February 23, 2014
The Bureau of Meteorology says similar conditions are forecast for the rest of the week. Expect more cloud and the chance of showers.
Good morning Sydney, and welcome to the last week of summer. That's crept up on us, hasn't it?
Today we can expect the chance of a shower or two in the morning, mostly near the coast. Cloud will decrease in the afternoon.
A top of 28 degrees is forecast in the city and 29 degrees in the west.