What we learned, Sunday 26 June
And with that, it is time to put this blog to bed – it was a rather quiet Sunday. Before we wrap it all up, let’s go through the big stories:
- Treasurer Jim Chalmers flagged that inflation – at 5.1% in the March quarter – is likely to keep climbing and could go higher than 7%.
- Sussan Ley and Jason Clare weighed in on the US supreme court decision on abortion rights, with Ley declaring it ‘a step backwards for women’.
- Commonwealth leaders pushed for Covid and climate action at a Chogm meeting in Rwanda.
- Beekeepers across New South Wales could be banned from moving their honey and hives after the detection of a deadly invasive mite in Newcastle.
- A small aircraft with only the pilot on board crashed in a paddock near Bowenville in Queensland’s Darling Downs.
- And the nation recorded 26 Covid deaths, with 15 in Victoria, seven in NSW, and two in Queensland and WA respectively.
Thank you for spending the day with us – we will be back tomorrow!
I mentioned before that there have been a few comments made online today asking why prime minister Anthony Albanese has not commented on the Roe v Wade decision in the US yet.
It’s interesting to note, as several world leaders including Ardern, Trudeau and Macron have commented.
Former PM Julia Gillard also tweeted this last night:
I actually can’t describe how beautiful this piece from Ellen Fanning is – just read it:
We are hardwired to avoid pain,” he says. “We are conditioned to make any single unfavourable emotion go away. Minimising [another’s experience] is a protection tool which allows people to pretend that the [difficult situation] isn’t happening.
“When someone brings up something uncomfortable, we don’t want a bar of it and/or we want to get the other person out of that pain as quickly as possible.”
Dutton has told the NSW Libs they shouldn’t be choosing candidates the night before the election – which, to be fair – seems quite sensible.
Paul Karp has the story here:
Heading up to the snow this school holidays? Victoria police have some tips here:
Tasmania – where even the road warnings are beautiful:
On Twitter, some criticism has been levelled at the new PM for not yet making a statement on the Roe v Wade decision in the US.
The time has come - State of Origin II is just hours away. Here Nick Tedeschi takes us through the lineup for tonight:
NSW may impose bans after deadly bee mite discovered in Newcastle
Beekeepers across New South Wales could be banned from moving their honey and hives after the detection of a deadly invasive mite in Newcastle.
The ABC is reporting the state government could impose the ban as soon as 6pm today, which would prevent any movement of bees, hives, honeycomb and honey.
Australia is the only honey producer worldwide to have stopped the mites from becoming established.
On Friday the NSW government said it had detected varroa mite in biosecurity surveillance hives in the Port of Newcastle.
A 50km biosecurity zone was set up, preventing any movement or tampering of hives, as well as stopping the removal of honey or comb.
The ABC is reporting that biosecurity zone is to be extended across the entire state.
Agriculture minister Dugald Saunders said on Friday an eradication plan had been launched to contain the mites, but warned if it became established it could cost the honey industry $70m a year.
He said Australia was the only honey-producing country to have prevented the mite from establishing itself.
There are two types of the pinhead-sized varroa mite – the Varroa jacobsoni and Varroa destructor – which are considered the most serious pest for honeybees globally. The mite detected in Newcastle was Varroa destructor.
In 2018, Victorian authorities prevented the spread of the mite after a ship from Texas docked in the Port of Geelong with bees infested with the mite.
In Queensland, Varroa jacobsoni mites were detected in Townsville in 2019 and 2020 and then eradicated after an initial 2016 detection.
The Varroa destructor has been responsible for the collapse of European bee colonies “wherever it is present”, information from the Queensland Government says.
The mites suck on adult bees, weakening them “and new bees are born with deformities”.
Wealthy Australians are avoiding paying tax by having the family trust pay children (who will be taxed less), who then repay the money to their parents for raising them.
A solid story from Ben Butler here about how family trusts are rorting the system:
Andrews out selling new cabinet
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is selling his new cabinet ahead of incoming ministers being sworn in at Government House.
Andrews stepped out with incoming health minister Mary-Anne Thomas and newly promoted cabinet member Sonya Kilkenny on Sunday after unveiling the frontbench he will take to the November state election.
Deputy premier and education minister James Merlino, health minister Martin Foley, jobs minister Martin Pakula and police minister Lisa Neville all resigned on Friday, prompting the reshuffle.
Thomas will take over from Foley as health minister – the state’s fourth in as many years – while Natalie Hutchins is exchanging her corrections portfolio for education.
Five MPs will step into Labor’s cabinet as it seeks a third term in office, including Kilkenny, Lizzie Blandthorn, Steve Dimopoulos, Harriet Shing and speaker Colin Brooks.
Small plane with only pilot on board crashes in Queensland
A small aircraft has hit power lines and crashed in a paddock near Bowenville in Queensland’s Darling Downs.
Believed to be an ultralight with only the pilot on board, the plane crashed just before 2.20pm on Sunday, about 20 minutes outside of Oakey.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said shortly after 3pm that multiple paramedic crews were still waiting for the powerlines to be cut so they could attempt to rescue the patient. Marshy ground was also making access difficult and the rescuers were yet to make contact with the pilot, whose condition was unknown.
The Toowoomba Chronicle reported the plane to be upside down and that paramedics only had access by foot to the crash.
The education minister has blasted Senator Hollie Hughes for “crazy” comments blaming the Liberals’ low youth vote on “Marxist” teachers.
On Sunday Labor’s Jason Clare responded to the remarks, made by the New South Wales senator at a Sydney Institute federal election postmortem on Tuesday.
Shelley Allison will never forget the look on her dad’s face after he walked out of the house where her daughter Haley was murdered. “Before the crime scene clean-up, my father had to do a walk-through of the house and I never understood why,” Allison says. “This big man, he went white … It was heartbreaking.”
ABS to reveal impact on spending of first interest rate in a decade
Economic figures will show what impact higher interest rates and ongoing cost of living pressures are having on the behaviour of Australians in terms of spending and borrowing.
Consumer confidence - a guide to future household spending - has already slumped after consecutive monthly interest rate increases in the cash rate by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Retail trade figures on Wednesday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics will show the actual impact on spending from May’s first interest rate rise in more than decade.
Economists forecasts point to a more modest 0.3 per cent rise in spending in May, coming after a solid run of monthly increases since the start of the year, a worrying sign for the economic outlook more broadly.
Their expectations range from a 0.7 per cent rise to a one per cent decline.
The RBA will release monthly credit figures on Thursday, which may also show some softening in demand for loans after a strong run-up, particularly for mortgages when interest rates were at record lows.
Nasa rocket to launch from Arnhem Land space centre tonight
One of the world’s oldest living cultures is helping scientists understand galaxies and stars with the launch of the first of three NASA rockets from the Northern Territory.
The rocket is scheduled to launch from the Arnhem Space Centre on the Dhupuma Plateau, near Nhulunbuy, about 10.44pm on Sunday.
It will carry an X-ray Quantum Calorimeter, allowing University of Michigan scientists to measure interstellar X-rays with precision to provide new data on the structure and evolution of the cosmos.
About 75 NASA personnel are in Arnhem Land for the launch, which is the agency’s first in Australia in 27 years and first-ever from a commercial spaceport outside the US.
The Yolngu helped build Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned by Equatorial Launch Australia, on their land.
They’re also taking part in the upcoming launch, including retrieving rocket modules when they return to Earth.
Gumatj Corporation chairman Djawa Yunupingu says the space industry can provide opportunities for the Yolngu people.
“We want our young people to see and take up the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of the Arnhem Space Centre over time,” he said in a statement.
NSA will launch another two rockets from the ELA complex on July 4 and July 12.
The northern NSW town finds solace by the banks of a river that has wrought so much destruction on it this year
Lismore’s lantern parade is a celebration of nature, to mark the passing of the longest night of winter, but the New South Wales northern rivers town has a troubled relationship with nature.
In the Moruya North Head campground where about 50 people live, there’s no power and the water in the one private shower is cold. “Sometimes you can’t handle that, so you’ve got to boil up some water and try work it that way,” says Geoff Pike as the sun dips and the winter chill sets in. Lately, it’s been getting down to 3C at night.
When kids are at school and they’re being taught all this absolute leftwing rubbish, that’s where they’re leaving school and that’s where they’re landing.
National Covid summary
Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 26 deaths from Covid-19:
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 819
- In hospital: 116 (with 1 person in ICU)
- Deaths: 7
- Cases: 7,461
- In hospital: 1,465 (with 48 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 221
- In hospital: 16 (with no people in ICU)
- Deaths: 2
- Cases: 3,048
- In hospital: 556 (with 8 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 1,996
- In hospital: 216 (with 9 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 777
- In hospital: 48 (with 3 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 15
- Cases: 5,824
- In hospital: 451 (with 28 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 2
- Cases: 3,544
- In hospital: 250 (with 9 people in ICU)
Victorian MPs to receive 2.75% pay rise
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ yearly pay package will inch closer to half a million dollars as part of a wage rise for state MPs.
The annual base and additional salaries of Victorian parliament members, as well as their expense allowance, will lift 2.75 per cent from July 1 after a decision by the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal.
That is marginally higher than the 2.5 per cent raise MPs were awarded for this financial year.
The latest ruling took into account recent pay adjustments of two to 2.75 per cent for Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland MPs, as well as other factors including Victoria’s fiscal position and economic trends, projected national inflation of seven per cent and the 5.2 per cent minimum wage rise.
“On balance ... the tribunal has determined to increase the values of the basic salary for Victorian MPs, and the additional salaries and expense allowance for specified parliamentary office holders, by 2.75 per cent for 2022/23,” VIRT said.
The 2.75 per cent rise will take the basic salary for a Victorian MP to $192,115, up about $5200 from 2021/22.
Peter Dutton calls for increase in income threshold for pensioners to ease labour shortages
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has called on the government to double the amount of income age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn without reducing pension payments so they can fill labour shortages.
Employers can’t find staff – thousands of jobs across hospitality, agriculture, tourism and retail remain open.
This policy ensures that pensioners and veterans, who want to work, are not financially penalised. It puts more money into their pocket.
There are around 80,000 age pensioners and veterans who are choosing to work who will likely benefit from this change.
Currently, age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn $300 of income each fortnight without impacting pension payments. Under the proposed change, age pensioners will be able to earn up to $600 a fortnight and still receive the maximum pension payment.
Pensioners will continue to accrue unused pension work bonus amounts up to a maximum of $7,800, which can exempt future earnings from the pension income test.
Vaccine immunity-evading Omicron sub-variant on rise in Victoria
Hello everyone – this is Cait, I will be with you across the afternoon. Let’s start with this:
An Omicron subvariant of Covid-19 that can evade vaccine immunity is on the rise in Victoria, with health authorities warning it is on track to be the state’s major strain in line with virus spread in NSW and Queensland.
Handing over the live news duties now to my colleague Cait Kelly who will guide this good ship for the rest of the day. Thanks and go well.
Commonwealth leaders push for Covid and climate action
The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting has wrapped up in the city of Kigali in Rwanda.
Deputy prime minister Richard Marles has been representing Australia.
The affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of sustainable development, action on climate change and radicalism were all highlighted in the closing leaders’ statement and final communiqué.
Here are some segments from the leaders’ statement from the 54 leaders of Commonwealth countries:
We recognised the effects of global insecurities in food, energy and climate, and agreed to strengthen the Commonwealth Secretariat to further focus on these issues and take forward action in support of Commonwealth members.
We reaffirmed that radicalisation, leading to violence, violent extremism, and terrorism in all its forms, are serious global threats.
We affirmed that the universal, timely, fair and equitable access to and distribution of safe, efficacious, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and capacity to administer the same, are key to global recovery from the pandemic.
Australia to send $1m earthquake relief to Afghanistan
Foreign minister Penny Wong has said Australia will top up its aid to Afghanistan after the country suffered a devastating earthquake this week.
A statement from Wong says the extra emergency relief was in addition to $140m pledged to the country since last September.
The earthquake has caused extensive loss of life, homes and livelihoods, with the full effects still to be determined. This tragedy comes at a time when the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are greater than ever.
Our support will be delivered through UN agencies already operating in the affected area, and will go towards providing shelter, food and medical support for those in need.
The Australian Government extend its deepest condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and the Afghan-Australian community.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have promised not to interfere with the international response to the quake, which killed at least 1,000 people.
Education minister wants more oversees students to come and stay longer
Education minister Jason Clare has been outlining the huge drops in overseas students in the wake of the pandemic, highlighting a 24% drop in the number of Chinese arrivals.
According to comments on Sky News, reported by AAP, Clare wants to see the numbers recover, he also wants more students to stay and live in Australia after they’ve finished at university.
We train them here, we skill them up. Where we have got skill shortages – they are chronic across the economy at the moment – it makes sense to encourage them to stay longer.
Only 16% of overseas students stayed behind after finishing their studies, he said. The Covid pandemic had smashed international student numbers.
Clare was planning to talk to India’s education minister in the coming weeks to see if more young people from that country could come to Australia to study.
QLD reports two Covid deaths
Queensland’s health department has reported two further deaths of people with Covid-19 and 3,048 new cases of the disease.
Those two deaths are added to 15 reported in Victoria and seven in NSW so far today.
Ministers defend cuts to crossbench staffing
Paul Karp has the full story on the government’s defence in the face of the fury of crossbench MPs and senators after they had their staffing levels cut.
Treasurer defends crossbench staffing cuts
A decision by the Albanese government to cut the number of advisers available to crossbench MPs and senators was described as an “attack on democracy” by some late last week.
The treasurer Jim Chalmers was asked about it on the ABC earlier, and claimed the step wasn’t unprecedented.
Well, I think it’s been a surprise to a lot of people. It was a surprise to me, frankly, to learn some backbenchers get twice as many staff as other backbenchers. It’s not unprecedented. It’s not surprising, that members of parliament want to have more resources to help them do their job.
What we’ve recognised with the crossbench, is that there are some additional pressures on crossbench members.
That’s why they get extra staff resources. But I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair for one backbench MP in one electorate to get twice as many staff as a backbench MP in the electorate next door. That’s what this commonsense proposal reflects.
Chalmers said the government was going to “boost investment in the parliamentary library” to help with workload.
Sussan Ley: Roe v Wade overturning ‘a backward step for women’
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley says the US supreme court’s decision to overturn a constitutional right to abortion is a “backward step for women in the US”.
AAP is reporting comments made on Sky News by Ley, who is also the shadow minister for women.
This has been a step backwards for women in the US. I’m very discomforted by anything that puts a personal and sensitive issue that a woman has to grapple with in many instances, or a family has to grapple with, in the same sentence as criminal.
Education minister Jason Clare, AAP reports, said:
Thank God we are a country here in Australia where abortion is not an issue that divides the Labor party and Liberal party.
I’m thinking at the moment for the women who live in some of these states that are basically being told today that if you want to have an abortion then get on a bus and travel a couple of hundred kilometres.
Multiple US states made abortion illegal within hours of the court’s decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade judgement. Protests at the decision have erupted across the country.
Changing face of homelessness
Talking about rising cost of living, the realities of homelessness in Australia is growing and changing.
This important story from my colleague Jordyn Beazley highlights how housing affordability, rising cost of living and “no fault evictions” is seeing people living in tents, mobile homes and sleeping rough in cars on backtrails.
Inflation could go higher than 7% by July, says treasurer
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has flagged that inflation – at 5.1% in the March quarter – is likely to keep climbing and could go higher than 7%.
Speaking to the ABC, Chalmers said he was looking to his economic forecast update next month.
Inflation will be significantly higher than what was expected in the last government’s most recent budget, what was expected at election time as well. Certainly higher than the 5.1% we saw in the March quarter. This inflation problem will get more difficult.
I will update the forecast before the end of July, and we will take in the most recent information, and the Reserve Bank said something around 7% – that doesn’t seem to me to be wildly off the mark.
We will do the work between now and July to give people the most accurate assessment of where we think this inflation challenge is heading.
NSW reports seven Covid deaths
Health officials in New South Wales have reported seven Covid-19 deaths and 7,461 new cases.
Chalmers: Coalition pursued ‘wage stagnation’
The new treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is speaking to the ABC’s Insiders program.
He’s asked if wage growth of 3.5% is sustainable and if it’s not, then where should wage growth be? He claims “wage stagnation” was “enthusiastically pursued” by the previous government.
We have a common interest, dealing with inflation, boosting wages based on a productive workforce and that’s our focus.
I’m not interested in nominating a specific number. Our job is to get wages growing sustainably, growing strongly.
Victoria reports 15 Covid deaths
Victorian health officials have reported 15 deaths from Covid-19, with 5,824 new cases.
Exploitation and peril in Sri Lanka
With Sri Lanka on the brink of economic collapse, more and more people are looking to escape the country and some are risking perilous journeys on boats.
But there are claims of exploitation, particularly in Tamil regions, where the economic crisis comes on top of existing unease at the minority’s ongoing oppression.
The Guardian has spoken to senior sources, police and the people caught up in human trafficking rings.
Devana Senanayake in Colombo, Aliyar Mohammed Geeth in Trincomalee and Guardian Australia’s Ben Doherty in Sydney have the story.
Clare defends crossbenchers’ staff cut
The education minister Jason Clare has this morning defended the government’s decision to cut independent MPs and senators staffing allocation.
Under the allocation, announced on Friday, independents will have four electorate staff and one extra adviser, down from four extra advisers under the Morrison government.
Clare told Sky News:
If you’re a Labor MP, or Liberal MP or a Nat, you get four staff. If you’re a crossbench MP you get eight. That seems to me to be a bit out of whack. What Albo is saying here is that if your’e a crossbench MP you’ll get an extra member of staff, above what a Labor, Liberal or Nat will get. And we’ll put extra resourcing into the parliamentary library. That seems to me to be pretty fair.
Clare revealed that the total salary bill of government staff has been cut by $1.5m and opposition staff by $350,000.
People come to this job not for the pay but for the opportunity it provides to make a difference. Everyone is taking a haircut here, whether it is government staff, opposition staff ... Most Australians would say you’ve been elected, now knuckle down and do the job.
Just some quick maths here. If Labor’s staffing allocation has been cut by $1.5m, if that were spread evenly across its 23 cabinet members, that’s a cut of $65,000 in each office.
That sort of cut can be achieved by having one less person at the senior adviser level, and hiring them as a junior adviser.
For crossbench MPs and senators losing three staff each, that’s more like a cut of at least $400,000 in salaries in each office, and can’t be achieved without a reduction in head count.
Victoria to have a new cabinet
Victorian premier Dan Andrews finalised his new cabinet and ministry late yesterday with new ministers to be sworn in tomorrow.
Andrews’ reshuffle – sparked by four high-level resignations – puts 14 women in the state’s cabinet, which he said was the highest of any jurisdiction in Australia.
The most senior is new deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, who replaces James Merlino. Allan will also have oversight of the delivery of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Other cabinet appointments are:
- Lizzie Blandthorn – minister for planning and leader of the House
- Colin Brooks – minister for child protection and family services and minister for disability, ageing and carers
- Steve Dimopoulos – minister for tourism, sport and major events and minister for creative industries
- Sonya Kilkenny – minister for corrections, minister for youth justice, minister for victim support and minister for fishing and boating
- Harriet Shing – minister for water, minister for regional development and minister for equality
Graham Readfearn here reaching for the cranking handle to get our live news coverage moving for this Sunday.
Here’s a quick reminder of what happened yesterday.
- At least 56 people died after catching Covid-19 across Australia.
- In Victoria health officials said Omicron BA.4/BA.5 would become the dominant strain in coming weeks.
- Foreign minister Penny Wong announced visits to Vietnam and Malaysia this week as the Albanese government continues its early diplomatic push in the region.
- Jacinta Allan is Victoria’s new deputy premier, with the premier Daniel Andrews announcing his new ministry after four cabinet resignations. There’s a state election in November.
- Minister for women Katy Gallagher said the US supreme court decision to overturn Roe v Wade was “really disappointing”. Environment minister Tanya Plibersek said reproductive choice was “a fundamental human right”.
Hope you’re staying warm and safe. Let’s get going with the day.