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Australia news live updates: Labor announces possible new wind power zones in four states; Barilaro inquiry resumes


Offshore wind zones next steps in creating new renewable energy industry: Bowen

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

To summarise Natasha’s reporting on Chris Bowen’s presser, the energy and climate minister has announced the government is investigating the establishment of an offshore wind industry in Australia, pinpointing six potential strategic sites nationwide suitable for turbines.

Bowen, who has already had what you might call a busy week, told a press conference in Sydney that consultation would begin immediately on a possible wind project in the Bass Strait off the Gippsland coast.

Five other potential sites for offshore wind energy projects include oceans off the Hunter and Illawarra regions in NSW, the Portland region of Victoria, Bass Strait off northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean off the Perth and Bunbury region in Western Australia. Consultation periods for those proposals will be announced in the future.

Bowen said those sites were chosen because they have “good to excellent” wind resources, had existing energy generation facilities and connections to transmission networks, and were located near major ports or industrial hubs.

Bowen said an offshore wind industry in Australia could support from 3000 to 8000 jobs. He said the power source had the potential to be a “variable baseload” contributor.

“We have some of the best wind resources in the world – just one rotation of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in one day,” the minister said in a statement.

Further information on the consultation around the Gippsland proposal can be found at: https://consult.industry.gov.au/oei-gippsland

Key events

The bodies of three people – including an Aboriginal woman and her baby – were found last month north of Alice Springs; the case is being investigated as a murder-suicide, writes Emily Maguire.

While mainstream media reported the basic facts, coverage has been minimal – as has the public conversation. Aboriginal women are not afforded the respect that many other victims of violence rightly receive.

Man dead after being injured by falling scaffolding and concrete at Sydney school

A stone mason has died after being critically injured by falling scaffolding and concrete at a school at Petersham in Sydney’s inner west.

NSW police have told the Guardian:

At 11.20am today (Friday 5 August 2022), emergency services were called to a school on Parramatta Road, Petersham, following reports scaffolding had collapsed on a man.

Officers attached to Inner West Police Area Command attended the location and found a worker trapped underneath large stones.

NSW Ambulance Paramedics attended and pronounced the man deceased; he is yet to be formally identified.

A crime scene has been established and Safe Work NSW has been notified of the incident.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) said they were at the scene, where the incident occurred just before 11.30am at the Parramatta Road site.

There were four FRNSW rescue crews there with NSW Police Rescue and NSW Ambulance paramedics.

Petersham | Stone mason crushed by scaffolding and concrete: Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews are at a school at Petersham in Sydney’s inner west where a stone mason has been critically injured by falling scaff… https://t.co/Azb90rW0ES

— Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) August 5, 2022

National Covid summary: 82 deaths reported

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 82 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 705
  • In hospital: 141 (with 2 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 29
  • Cases: 12,908
  • In hospital: 2,224 (with 63 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 257
  • In hospital: 54 (with 1 person in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 8
  • Cases: 4,926
  • In hospital: 736 (with 22 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 8
  • Cases: 2,421
  • In hospital: 316 (with 11 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 765
  • In hospital: 902 (with 2 people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 34
  • Cases: 7,502
  • In hospital: 699 (with 39 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 1 (dating back to 31 July)
  • Cases: 3,239
  • In hospital: 351 (with 14 people in ICU)

International Monetary Fund head thanks Australia for contribution to global reserve current

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, has given “huge thanks” to Australia for its contributions to the world’s poorest countries.

Australia has agreed to channel 20% of its special drawing rights (SDR) allocation to vulnerable countries, which are not a currency per se but a ‘reserve currency’ to boost global liquidity.

Australian has channeled $1.26bn SDR to loans for the Poverty Reduction & Growth Trust and Resilience & Sustainability Trust, and SDR 167.2 million in deposits and reserves.

Georgieva said Australia is also “leading the way by placing SDR $1 billion in the recently-established Deposit and Investment Account to generate subsidy resources for the PRGT. We hope more countries will follow your example!”

Proud to make a significant contribution to supporting the world’s poorest countries through this critically important vehicle. Credit to @JEChalmers for this move which will be a force multiplier as the Albanese Govt rebuilds Australia’s international development program. https://t.co/84uPGBbEMe

— Pat Conroy MP (@PatConroy1) August 4, 2022

Queensland records eight Covid deaths and 736 people in hospital

There were 4,926 new cases in the last reporting period, and 22 people are in intensive care.

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

RBA monetary policy digest

Lots to wade through in the RBA’s quarterly statement on monetary policy, which has just landed here.

Among the things that stand out is a slightly higher inflation forecast than Treasurer Jim Chalmers cited from Treasury in his ‘state of the economy’ just last week.

Here’s the RBA’s forecast released today:

And here’s the numbers Chalmers released:

It’s a bit subtle, but you see that the RBA is predicting headline consumer price retreating at a slower pace than Treasury forecasts.

For instance, by June 2023, the RBA expects CPI to still be at 6.25%, while Treasury was tipping 5.5% for consumer price increases by then.

By June 2024, the RBA sees CPI still outside its preferred 2-3% target range at 3.5%.

Treasury had it pencilled inside that range at 2.75% by then.

Those differences suggest the central bank is more pessimistic about inflation’s decline. Perhaps, and only perhaps, that means a greater inclination to cool the economy – with its main lever being raising interest rates. Here’s one source of that inflation that the RBA and Treasury both expect to reach 7.75% by the end of the year.

The RBA said

Domestic retail gas and electricity prices are expected to increase by 10–15% over the second half of 2022, given the high global price of energy and recent disruptions in the domestic electricity market.

Trimmed mean inflation is also expected to peak around year-end, at about 6%, as firms continue to pass transport and other non-labour cost pressures through to their own prices.

Back in May, the RBA was forecasting that gauge – which strips out more volatile items – would come in at 4.75% by the end of the year. Back then they were expecting it to ease back to 3.5% by next June, but now the RBA reckons it will still be running at 5% by them. Hence, bad news.

The RBA said on Friday:

As supply constraints continue to ease, inflation is expected to decline over coming years, to be back around the top of the 2 to 3% target range by the end of 2024.

Michael McGowan

Michael McGowan

Barilaro considered resigning prior to September, inquiry hears

John Barilaro’s former chief of staff Siobhan Hamblin has told the parliamentary inquiry probing his appointment to a lucrative New York trade job that she urged him not to quit parliament when Gladys Berejiklian announced she would resign in October last year.

Labor’s shadow treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, has been pressing her on whether Barilaro had been planning to resign in September last year prior to a cabinet decision making the trade postings ministerial appointments.

She says:

I was broadly aware that Mr Barilaro was intending to resign at some point. What I will say is – following the events of the resignation of the premier, my advice to Mr Barilaro on that day was that any plans that you may have to leave politics should be shelved for the sake of stable government and for the people of NSW.

Hamblin insists that Barilaro had raised the prospect on numerous occasions prior to September. She says:

The nature of that took various forms, sometimes quite flippant [and at] other times somewhat more serious.

Mookhey wants to know exactly when in September Barilaro raised the idea of his resignation, but Hamblin can’t recall. Eventually Mookhey asks:

Was the actual reason why the deputy premier, in the middle of Covid, was urgently seeking a cabinet decision to turn these into [ministerial] appointments because he knew he was intending to resign?

She replies: “That’s a question for Mr Barilaro.”

Sydney man dead with meningococcal disease

NSW Health is urging people to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease following the death of a Sydney man in his 40s from the disease.

NSW Health is advising people to act immediately if any symptoms appear. If you want to know what those symptoms are, you can find them here.

There have been 15 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW so far this year.

The state health department said in a statement:

While meningococcal disease is now uncommon thanks to vaccination, it can occur year round. We tend to see increases in late winter and early spring, with children under five and 15 to 25-year-olds at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the executive director of health protection NSW, stressed early intervention can be lifesaving.

Meningococcal disease can be fatal within hours if left untreated. Knowing the symptoms could help prevent premature death or life-long disability.

While it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur, or may present late in the illness.

If symptoms rapidly worsen, or if your child is very unwell, call triple zero (000) or go straight to your nearest emergency department.”

For more information on vaccination or symptoms, transmission, risks and treatment of meningococcal, see the NSW Health website

Michael McGowan

Michael McGowan

Barilaro’s chief of staff maintains her focus was Covid-19 roadmap, inquiry hears

The words “I don’t recall” are being repeated quite a lot from Siobhan Hamblin, the former chief of staff to John Barilaro.

Hamblin is appearing before a parliamentary inquiry into Barilaro’s appointment to a lucrative New York trade job.

As I said earlier, she’s being asked about a cabinet submission in September last year which made the trade jobs ministerial appointments.

Hamblin says that while she was aware of the submission, she wasn’t involved in drafting it and doesn’t recall much detail about it. She was focused on the roadmap being produced by the government to exit the long Delta lockdown.

Labor’s shadow treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, says it was “100% appropriate” for her to be focused on that, but says:

The obvious question is, given the government was obsessed, rightly, with getting the roadmap out, why was Mr Barilaro asking for this cabinet submission to be produced ASAP for the same day as NSW is meant to learn we’re getting out of Covid lockdown?

Hamblin responded:

That’s a question for Mr Barilaro … I don’t have recollections of those conversations.”

Barilaro’s replacement Stuart Ayres, has said he reversed that decision when he took over but as we heard earlier this week the head of Investment NSW, Amy Brown was never formally told the decision was reversed.

The decision is crucial because, as we heard, it created a “grey area” for Brown when she was filling the role which meant she felt she had to “sense-check” the hiring process with Ayres.

Ayres resigned from cabinet and as deputy Liberal leader earlier this week over questions about his role in the appointment.

Hospitalised man talking to police

Asked about the condition of the man in hospital with a gun wound, Armitt said:

As far as his condition is [concerned], he has obviously been shot so it is serious.

He underwent surgery but he was able to converse with us last night, provide us with a version of what he saw and he’s continuing to converse with detectives this morning.

Police seeking local witnesses

When asked about if police are seeking any witnesses, Armitt said:

The person that we have in custody has been a resident of the area for a long period of time. We understand that there are a number of neighbouring properties in the area. We understand there were a lot of people working in the area. Mustering is occurring at the time. So we are seeking, especially persons in that area if they have any knowledge of any issues that were going on out there at the time or any movement of vehicles in and out of the area at that time if they could please come forward and make contact with the police.

Deceased family had been on their property less than twelve months

Superintendant Armitt has provided more information about the people involved in the shooting incident.

The family – the deceased family in question – have only been on their property a short amount of time … I believe they purchased the property some time in the last 12 months.

The person that we have in custody is a long-term resident.

We understand that there was a conversation that had occurred the night before which was the reason why the parties had met at the gate on the property in the morning.

59-year-old man in custody over north Queensland shooting

Armitt is providing an update on police investigations since police arrived at the scene:

Overnight we took a number of people into custody. There were five persons located on the property, two of those persons were involved in a power company and they were – after taking statements from them – they were released. Three other people were property owners or family of the property owners. Two of those persons have now subsequently been released and we have a 59-year-old man in custody who is a long-term resident of the area. He will be remaining in our custody and we expect to lay criminal charges in relation to the matter some time later on this afternoon.

No charges have been laid so far.

Superintendent Tom Armitt is providing more information about the events which unfolded yesterday.

Initially police received information that a male person had been shot and he was reporting that three others were also shot. He’d been trapped approximately 40kms away from the scene of the shooting and there was some confusion about where the actual scene of the shooting had occurred.

So police had to traverse a large amount of ground before we actually found where the crime scene was. At that particular time we had a report that three persons had been shot. He believed that they had been killed, however we needed confirmation on that.

So we had a small team of police who drove forward into the crime scene at that time not knowing whether the armed offender was present or not, putting their lives in grave danger, especially when the report was that the people had been shot with a rifle and that they were in danger of being shot from any distance whilst approaching the crime scene.





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