The Guardian 2024-02-25 04:31:28


Trump soundly defeats Nikki Haley in South Carolina Republican primary

Trump soundly defeats Nikki Haley in South Carolina Republican primary

Result called for Trump almost immediately after polls close as former South Carolina governor suffers stinging home-state loss

  • Trump defeats Haley – see the primary results in full

Donald Trump defeated Nikki Haley in her home state of South Carolina, a stinging setback that narrows her vanishingly thin path to the nomination.

The Associated Press called the South Carolina primary for Trump right when polls closed at 7pm ET, in a clear indication of his large victory in Haley’s home state. Trump locked in approximately 60% of the vote, with Haley hovering at about 40%.

Palmetto State voters have a long history of choosing the party’s eventual nominee, and Trump is on track to clinch the Republican nomination months before the party’s summer convention in Milwaukee.

“I just want to say that I have never seen the Republican party so unified as it is right now,” Trump told supporters at his victory party in Columbia. “This is a fantastic evening. It’s an early evening, and fantastic.”

Trump had stormed through the early voting states, racking up wins – and delegates – in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Beating Haley, who served as his ambassador to the United Nations, in her home state delivers another stinging blow to her candidacy, moving the nomination even further out of her reach.

Addressing supporters in Charleston, Haley insisted she would not drop out of the race despite her four straight losses, arguing that Trump is unable to defeat Joe Biden in the general election.

“What I saw today was South Carolina’s frustration with our country’s direction. I’ve seen that same frustration nationwide. I share it. I feel it to my core,” Haley said. “I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I will continue to run for president. I’m a woman of my word.”

Haley’s campaign announced on Friday it was launching a “seven-figure” national cable and digital buy ahead of Super Tuesday on 5 March. On Sunday she will host a rally in Michigan, which holds its primary on 27 February, before embarking on a cross-country swing through several Super Tuesday states.

Her refusal to be driven from the race has frustrated Trump and his allies. They say Haley, who has compared herself to David taking on Goliath, has no path to victory, and accuse her of relying on wealthy donors to keep her long-shot bid alive and merely prolong the inevitable.

Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said on Saturday before polls closed: “The fact is that Haley’s campaign has now turned into a full-fledged Never Trump operation with her as Crooked Joe Biden’s biggest surrogate. The primary ends tonight, and it is time to turn to the general election.”

But Haley’s supporters say they are grateful for her presence in the race as a reminder of what a future Republican party might look like. Some believe the 52-year-old Haley is laying the groundwork for a future presidential run, or positioning herself to be the obvious second choice in the extraordinary event Trump can no longer serve as the party’s nominee.

Trump faces 91 felony charges as well as mounting legal fees and vast financial penalties that he has tapped his campaign fund to help pay. At her events, Haley tells voters that it is “not normal” for a candidate to spend more time in the courtroom than on the campaign trail, or to ask donors to foot his legal bills.

But Trump’s legal travails, which stem in part from his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his role in the 6 January assault on the US Capitol, have only strengthened his support.

In recent days, Trump’s campaign has already started to turn its attention toward the general election contest against Biden, who is gliding to his party’s nomination without a serious primary challenge. Trump’s team has moved aggressively to take control of the Republican National Committee, which is expected to remain neutral in the primary.

South Carolina primary: read more

  • Analysis: defeated Haley pushes on

  • Key dates for the 2024 election

  • Who’s running for president?

Trump began his day in Washington, where he delivered a dark speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) before returning to South Carolina to attend an election-night watch party in the state capital, Columbia.

Earlier in the day, Haley cast her ballot on Kiawah Island, her home precinct. Later, her cross-state Beast of the Southeast bus tour rolled into Charleston, where she spoke at an election-night watch party. In her remarks to supporters, Haley framed her presence in the race as a democratic obligation.

“In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak,” Haley said. “They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate. And I have a duty to give them that choice.”

Even as Haley has vowed to stay in the primary race as long as possible, Trump has made clear that he is already turning his attention to the general election. When he addressed his supporters in Columbia, Trump predicted that his decisive victory in South Carolina would soon be replicated in Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

“Michigan’s up. We’re going to have a tremendous success there. And then we have a thing called Super Tuesday,” Trump said. “South Carolina, thank you very much. Go home. Get rest. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Joe Biden weighed in on Saturday night as the results from South Carolina came to a final close.

He said in a statement: “In 2020, I ran for president because the very soul of America was at risk. Last night in South Carolina, Donald Trump stood on stage to make shameful, racist comments that tap into a hatred and divisiveness that is the very worst of us. We all have more to do to push towards a more perfect union, but Trump wants to take us backwards.”

He added: “Despite the threat that Trump poses, I will say again to the American people: I have never felt more optimistic about what we can do if we come together. Because I know that America believes in standing up for our democracy, fighting for our personal freedoms, and building an economy that gives everyone a fair shot.

“To Republicans, Democrats, and independents who share our commitment to core values of our nation, join us. Let’s keep moving forward.”

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AnalysisAnother loss, but Haley presses on for Republicans not ready to crown Trump

Analysis

Another loss, but Haley presses on for Republicans not ready to crown Trump

Lauren Gambino in Charleston

The Republican contender has exasperated her rival by not dropping out, but she believes not everyone in the party is enamored of Trump

  • Trump soundly defeats Haley in South Carolina primary

Losing South Carolina is almost always a bad omen for presidential hopefuls and defeat in a candidate’s home state is viewed as irrevocable. But as the last Republican standing between Donald Trump and the Republican party nomination, Nikki Haley thrilled supporters on Saturday by deftly capitalizing on her small but consistent show of support from voters desperate for an alternative.

Trump was declared the winner within one minute of polls closing in the Palmetto State, an unsurprising but nevertheless stinging rebuke for Haley at the hands of the voters who twice elected her governor.

“That is really something,” Trump told supporters in Columbia, the state’s capital. “This was a little sooner than we anticipated.”

It was Haley’s fourth consecutive loss this primary season. With the odds – and history – weighted heavily against her, she refused to bow out. Addressing supporters at a primary night party in Charleston, Haley conceded to Trump, but said it was clear from the vote that a significant share – perhaps as much as 40% – of Republicans were not looking to coronate the king.

“I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run,” Haley said. “I’m a woman of my word.”

The chandeliered ballroom erupted in applause and chants of “Nikki!”

These voters’ voices, and donations, are fuelling her long-shot bid, giving it life beyond South Carolina, a “winner-take-all” state. Her support will translate into little more than a handful of delegates at most, but it could achieve something else: reminding Trump that he has not fully captured the Republican party just yet.

Haley, a former accountant, said she knew the math on Saturday did not add up to a victory. But, like the Republicans’ Cassandra, she warned: “I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.”

With most of the results tallied on Saturday night, Haley had captured just under 40% of the vote. “I know 40% is not 50%, but I also know that 40% is not some tiny group.”

The risk for Republicans is that some of those voters, like Kathy Aven, say they will not support Trump in November.

“Even if she drops out, I’m voting for Nikki,” said Aven, moments after Haley addressed her supporters on Saturday night. “If all I have is Biden or Trump, I’m voting for Nikki.”

According to exit polls, 78% of Haley voters in South Carolina said they would be dissatisfied if Trump was the nominee; 82% said he would be unfit for the presidency if convicted of a felony; and just 4% believe he is physically and mentally fit to be president. She performed best among voters with independents, those with an advanced degree, and those who believed Biden was legitimately elected president in 2020.

But as she continues to exasperate Trump and his allies, Haley’s own dilemma was laid bare in South Carolina. The “Tea Party governor”, who was once a rising star in Republican politics, is now an avatar of the anti-Trump resistance for her refusal to “kiss the ring”.

And yet among those voters in the state who still like Haley, many love Trump more.

“He is the best president in my lifetime,” said John, who declined to provide his last name, after casting his ballot for Trump at the main branch of the Charleston county public library.

“I was a big Nikki fan. I still am, actually. I thought she was a wonderful governor of South Carolina,” he continued. “But I have the template for a guy that served four years as my president, and I know how I felt under Trump. I love Nikki as a governor. I love Trump as my president.”

In her speech on Saturday, Haley vowed to continue telling “hard truths” until she is faced with her own hard truth about the path forward. Standing before voters in the state that raised her, Haley proved that she is not done fighting and is scheduled to visit the critical state of Michigan in the coming days.

Amid her losing streak, that perseverance will remain memorable.

Hours earlier, Haley accompanied her mother, a naturalized US citizen born in India, to the polls to cast a vote for her daughter who would be the first female president of the United States.

“I am grateful that today is not the end of our story,” Haley said.

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Chilling CPAC speechTrump promises ‘judgment day’ for political opponents

‘My ultimate and absolute revenge’: Trump gives chilling CPAC speech on presidential agenda

Unbound and unhinged, ex-president vilifies immigrants before devolving into bizarre riffs, including calling himself ‘total genius’

Donald Trump styled himself as a “proud political dissident” and promised “judgment day” for political opponents in an address that offered a chilling vision of a democracy in imminent peril.

In classic carnival barker form, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination accused Joe Biden of weaponising the government against him with “Stalinist show trials”. He pledged to crack down on border security and deliver the biggest deportation in US history if he wins the 5 November election.

“For hard-working Americans, November 5th will be our new liberation day,” Trump told a packed ballroom at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland. “But for the liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and imposters who have commandeered our government, it will be their judgment day!”

He added: “Your victory will be our ultimate vindication, your liberty will be our ultimate reward and the unprecedented success of the United States of America will be my ultimate and absolute revenge.”

The overwhelmingly white crowd, many wearing Make America Great Again regalia, rose to their feet and roared their approval.

The former US president was speaking hours before an expected victory over Republican rival Nikki Haley in the South Carolina primary, making him all but certain to be the party nominee.

Meanwhile, organizers held a straw poll at the convention for Trump’s running mate: South Dakota governor Kristi Noem tied with tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 15%, followed by former Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, current New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik and South Carolina senator Tim Scott. In last place was Nikki Haley at 2%. About 1,500 people voted.

Trump’s visit marked his 14th appearance at CPAC, breaking the record previously held by former president Ronald Reagan, according to his campaign. He appeared unbound and at times unhinged. The 77-year-old was bilious and bleak but also energetic and at times even humorous, less commander-in-chief than stand-up comedian. He told self-deprecating jokes about his wife Melania’s reviews of his speeches (“I ask our first lady, I say. So, baby, how good was that? She goes you were OK”).

His puerile parody of the speaking style, finger pointing and gait of 81-year-old Biden earned roars of laughter. And in a nod to his days as host of the reality TV show the Apprentice, Trump delighted the audience by shouting: “Crooked Joe Biden, you are fired! Get out of here. You’re destroying our country. You’re fired. Get the hell out of here!”

But, like demagogues of the past, the comedy and showmanship smuggled in a sinister undertow. Trump’s ability to play the crowd, turning its emotions from euphoria to fury as easily as flicking a switch, carry echoes that are hard to ignore.

The tone was set before he appeared on stage. A series of popular hits – Abba’s Dancing Queen, Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, Sinéad O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds – was followed by the tinny sound of Justice for All, a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner sung by defendants jailed over their alleged roles in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The CPAC audience rose solemnly for the dirge that was recorded over a prison phone line.

As usual, Trump entered to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, hugged an American flag and painted an impossibly grim picture of an America overrun by bloodshed, chaos and violent crime. “If Crooked Joe Biden and his thugs win in 2024, the worst is yet to come,” he said. “A country that will go and sink to levels that are unimaginable.

“These are the stakes of this election. Our country is being destroyed, and the only thing standing between you and it’s obliteration is me.”

Facing 91 criminal charges in four cases, Trump projected himself as both martyr and potential saviour of the nation. “A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom, it’s your passport out of tyranny and it’s your only escape from Joe Biden and his gang’s fast track to hell,” he continued.

“And in many ways, we’re living in hell right now because the fact is, Joe Biden is a threat to democracy – really is a threat to democracy.”

Speaking days after the death of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Trump hinted at a self-comparison by adding: “I stand before you today not only as your past and hopefully future president but as a proud political dissident. I am a dissident.”

The crowd whooped and applauded. Trump noted that he had been indicted more often than the gangster Al Capone on charges that he described as “bullshit”. The audience again leaped to their feet, some shaking their fists and chanting: “We love Trump! We love Trump!”

Trump argued without evidence: “The Stalinist show trials being carried out at Joe Biden’s orders set fire not only to our system of government but to hundreds of years of western legal tradition.

“They’ve replaced law, precedent and due process with a rabid mob of radical left Democrat partisans masquerading as judges and juries and prosecutors.”

Trump also spent time on his signature issue: he said his “first and most urgent action” as president would be the “sealing of the border, stopping the invasion … send Joe Biden’s illegal aliens back home”.

The ex-president, who has spent years demonising immigrants, said: “They’re coming from Asia, they’re coming from the Middle East, coming from all over the world, coming from Africa, and we’re not going to stand for it … They’re destroying our country.”

He promised to carry out the biggest deportation in American history. “It’s not a nice thing to say and I hate to say it and those clowns in the media will say: ‘Oh, he’s so mean.’ No, they’re killing our people. They’re killing our country. We have no choice.”

He added: “We have languages coming into our country … they have languages that nobody in this country has ever heard of. It’s a horrible thing.”

But Trump broke from the teleprompter into a series of bizarre riffs. One was a convoluted story about flying into Iraq in darkness: “I sat with the pilots … the best-looking human beings I’ve ever seen. Not my thing … But they are handsome. Central casting. Better looking than Tom Cruise. And taller.”

Once again he had the faithful eating out of the palm of his hand – a scene that may set off alarm bells for defenders of democracy. “By the way, isn’t this better than reading off a fricking teleprompter?” he asked. The crowd cheered.

“Nobody can ramble like this,” he said, adding: “They’ll say: ‘He rambled, he’s cognitively impaired.’ Well, it’s really the opposite. It’s total genius – you know that.” The crowd cheered some more.

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As it happenedHaley vows to stay in race and argues Trump cannot beat Biden

Predictions that Donald Trump would triumph over Nikki Haley in South Carolina’s Republican primary bore out, with the former president swiftly declared the winner in the fourth state to vote in the GOP’s presidential nomination process. He cheered his victory as a “great day”, and predicted victories in Michigan and the pivotal Super Tuesday primaries on 5 March. Despite her loss, Haley vowed to stay in the race, saying Trump could not beat Joe Biden in the November general election.

Here’s what else happened this evening:

  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s Republican senator, was booed by the crowd when Trump summoned him to the podium at his victory speech. So was the state’s Republican party chair.

  • Trump mused about bringing forward the date of the November general election, something he said was done “in certain countries”.

  • Haley accused Trump and Biden of being more interested in fighting each other than uniting the country.

Education minister hints at relief on Hecs debt and university course fee changes

Education minister hints at relief on student Hecs debt and university course fee changes

Jason Clare responds to the launch of a major review of Australia’s tertiary sector

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University course fees may be changed and students given more support in paying their Hecs and Help debts, as part of a proposed massive overhaul of the tertiary education system being considered by the education minister, Jason Clare.

The changes may include paying some students to complete work experience as the government plans for the “workforce of the future”.

The final Australian University Accord report was released on Sunday and lays out plans to ensure at least 80% of Australia’s workforce receives higher qualifications, either through vocational training and Tafe or university by 2050.

It recommended more support for students from lower socioeconomic and underrepresented backgrounds to reach university or vocational training and to complete it.

While the official government response to the report’s 47 recommendations is still under consideration, Clare gave early support to changing fee structures and financial arrangements for students who need additional support.

Recommendations to change how students pay back deferred university fees, by overhauling the Hecs and Help systems, are top of the agenda, with Clare implying changes could be made as early as the May budget.

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The changes could include a tiered repayment structure, where people on lower incomes pay back less.

“For example, if we were to go down this path, it says that someone on an income of $75,000 a year would pay every year about $1,000 less,” Clare told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“That is something that could provide people with an immediate cost-of-living benefit once they finish uni and are in the workforce.”

Indexation, where the interest on university deferred loans increases according to inflation, is also under a microscope, with a recommendation to link it to the wage price index rather than the consumer price index.

“We will look at those [recommendations] and cost those and prioritise what we do first in the response we put out in the next few months,” Clare said.

The main priority, according to Clare, was establishing fairer conditions to ensure students could complete their degree no matter their financial background.

“I spent a fair amount of time while I was at university cooking cheese toast at Sizzler rather than working in the area I was studying, which was a law degree,” Clare said.

“That’s an area where can you help people with the cost of living. On paid practice, it makes the point, if you are a nursing student you are spending 800 hours working in a hospital where are you not paid; if you are a teaching student, 300 hours in the classroom where you are not paid.

“Students often have to move to do the paid practice, often have to give up a part-time job. I’ve spoken to nursing students and teaching students who … drop out because they can’t afford the practice, or they end up sleeping in a car because they can’t afford the bills.”

The report recommends increasing the number of 25-to-34-year-olds with a university degree from 45% to 55%, while also increasing vocational qualifications to 40%.

“We’ve got to do it otherwise we have an economy with the handbrake on,” Clare said. “We have to get rid of that invisible barrier that stops a lot of young people from poor families from the regions and from the outer suburbs of our big cities from getting a crack at university.”

Clare also raised the prospect of scrapping the Morrison-era changes to university fee structures, which made humanities and arts degrees more expensive but discounted degrees in areas such as nursing and teaching as recommended in the report.

The review recommends a student contribution system based on potential lifetime earnings.

The accord recommendations were welcomed by Universities Australia who want the government to fast-track establishing an implementation advisory committee to prioritise the reform rollout.

The Greens want the government to immediately scrap the Morrison era university funding hikes and implement fairer fee measures as one of its first actions.

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Higher educationLowering cost critical to meeting skills shortage, report warns

Lowering cost of higher education critical to meeting Australia’s skills shortage, report warns

Universities accord also urges government to dramatically scale up access to higher education for disadvantaged groups

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Access to higher education among disadvantaged Australians must be dramatically scaled up and the financial burden of studying eased if the country is to meet acute skills shortages, a major report has found.

The highly anticipated universities accord final report, being released by the education minister, Jason Clare, on Sunday, was expected to lay out the blueprint for the tertiary sector over the coming decades.

The report contains 47 recommendations, including compensating students for hundreds of hours of mandatory placements and tweaking Help loans to reduce ballooning student debt.

“Help is an indispensable part of the higher education funding system, but it requires reform to retain its social licence,” the report said. “Australians should not be deterred from higher education because of the increased burden of student loans.

“It is time to listen to what students are saying and to respond genuinely to their calls for change.”

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Under the proposed reforms, the indexation rate would be set to either the consumer price index or the wage price index – whichever is lower – as some MPs have urged. Student contributions would also be reduced for low-income earners and the timing of indexation would change to deduct compulsory repayments first.

With the number of students accessing income support payments trending downwards, the review recommended expanded access to Youth Allowance for students whose parents earn up to $68,857 and those studying part-time.

The changes were required to reach ambitious targets laid out in the report, anticipating at least 80% of the workforce would need a vocational (VET) or university qualification by 2050. It requires a 20% increase in attainments, particularly among Australians from underrepresented backgrounds.

For Australians aged between 25 and 34, it recommended university attainments grow by 10% to 55% by 2050, and for tertiary or technical qualifications to jump to 40%.

To meet the targets, the system will need to more than double the number of commonwealth-supported university students, from 860,000 to 1.8 million.

“Australia is not meeting our current skills needs and will not meet them in the future unless we produce far greater numbers of higher education and VET graduates,” the report said.

“Australia’s current higher education system has neither the capacity nor capability to deliver what the nation needs.”

The latest data shows Australians from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds make up 25% of the population, but only 17% of undergraduate enrolments. Educational attainment also declines further away from capital cities.

Projections suggest that to achieve parity by the designated timeline, students from target cohorts would need to make up 62.9% of enrolment growth.

It recommended a needs-based funding model that acknowledges the cost of providing additional supports to ensure priority cohorts, including low SES students, with bonuses for high completion rates – described as a “gamechanger” for regional providers who disproportionately enrol equity groups.

It also calls for better integration between vocational and higher education in order to create a more “seamless” tertiary system, including flexible pathways between the two and the continued development of a National Skills Passport to recognise prior learning.

“VET and higher education remain largely separate and siloed systems. Various cross-sectoral barriers continue, and there is a lack of shared purpose and direction,” the report said.

“Increasing the numbers of students in tertiary education to the required levels … would require new institutions, more diverse operating models and more cross-provision between VET and higher education providers, including opportunities to expand the role of Tafes.”

The accord was commissioned by the commonwealth and led by an expert review panel chaired by Prof Mary O’Kane. The report was informed by more than 800 submissions and 180 meetings with stakeholders.

The report also proposed the establishment of an Australian tertiary education commission to help develop future policies.

Clare said the plan would be for the “next decade and beyond”.

“Under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the number of Australians finishing high school jumped from around 40% to almost 80%,” he said. “That was nation-changing.

“The accord says that in the years ahead, we will need 80% of the workforce to not just finish high school, we will need them to finish Tafe or university as well.”

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Amid Australia’s housing crisis, why are taxpayers propping up the price of empty holiday homes?

Amid Australia’s housing crisis, why are taxpayers propping up the price of empty holiday homes?

Maiy Azize

The sheer number of Airbnb and Stayz short-stay rentals is a symptom of a system that’s unfair at its core

Debate is once again raging about the role vacant homes and short-stay rentals play in pushing up the cost of housing.

Much of the commentary about the issue has missed the point, treating it as an isolated problem. But the sheer number of holiday homes and short-stay rentals across Australia are a symptom of a housing system that’s unfair at its core.

How, amid a housing crisis, is it possible to have a system where people can own multiple homes and leave them empty? A big part of this story is the billions being spent by government propping up private investors. The same negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions that are available to hobby landlords are also available to short-stay hosts, making it more attractive than ever to buy a holiday home.

Investors can buy a holiday home, turn that holiday home into a short-stay rental for part of the year and benefit from tax concessions in the process. That means taxpayers are underwriting the costs of things such as rates and interest repayments on holiday homes that offer no public benefit.

Short-stay hosts may benefit from tax concessions more than long-term property investors. If they have an ad up online, they can claim deductions even when the home is empty. The Australian Taxation Office now warns hosts that they shouldn’t be claiming deductions all year round if they spend some of their time holidaying in their homes themselves – a fact so obvious that it ought to raise red flags about how often these already generous benefits are being abused.

When it is time to sell, there are big profits to be made from sales in holiday hotspots including Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. That profit is made even bigger by generous tax discounts on property sales.

All of this has helped to drive the use of short-stay platforms including Airbnb and Stayz. And it is these same tax handouts that are supercharging housing costs across Australia.

Many of us already think it’s unfair that property investors can claim tens of thousands of dollars in tax benefits. Short-stay hosts have even less of an excuse. They are not providing homes to renters. They are potentially using taxpayer handouts to squeeze more income out of a second home.

But tax benefits like negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount are almost never part of the story when people talk about empty homes. Instead state governments and councils have been trying to reckon with the impact they are having locally.

The New South Wales housing minister, Rose Jackson, raised the issue of short-stays this month and is looking at ways to turn more of those homes into proper rentals. Victoria is trying to tackle the problem by bringing in a levy on platforms like Stayz and Airbnb, and introducing a tax on vacant homes.

But without national tax reform, state governments that try to take on short-stays will find they are fighting with one arm tied behind their back.

The federal government needs to shake off its fear of taking on these tax handouts. If ministers are as concerned about housing supply as they say they are, then there is no excuse to keep propping up holiday homes – and making the rest of us pay the price.

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PM says private Katy Perry show at Pratt mansion an ‘opportunity to talk to manufacturers’

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, appeared on Channel Seven’s Sunrise this morning, where he was asked about having seen Katy Perry on Saturday night and Taylor Swift in the same week.

Perry performed for a private show for 200 guests at an event organised by the children of late packaging magnate Richard Pratt. Hosted at the family’s Melbourne Mansion, the prime minister skirted the question:

Well, I gave a speech last night at the food and beverage annual dinner. Last year, that was held in Sydney. This year, [it] was held here in Melbourne. It’s an annual event and it’s an opportunity to talk to manufacturers. One of the things I want is a future made here in Australia. And last night I was talking with Wesfarmers, Bundaberg, Asahi, Arnott’s biscuits, all those fantastic Australian companies who make products here for domestic purposes but also export to the world. The good news that I got last night from many of the businesses was that they’re expanding their operations. That means more jobs here and it means our economy is more resilient here as well.

Asked whether he got any friendship bands from his time at the Swift concern, the PM said he enjoyed himself.

I did get a few friendship bands. Look, I think at a time where there’s so much turmoil in the world, one of the reasons why Taylor Swift’s tour has been such a success is it’s so positive, it’s so uplifting, and that is her message. That’s why she sold out all those concerts here at the MCG with 96,000 people night after night after night. And she’ll be playing in Sydney, of course, for another couple of nights to come. And she’s a very welcome visitor here. And her message of female empowerment is, I think, a positive one. And secondly, as well, it’s been pretty good for the economy as well. Good for jobs and good for economic activity. So, that’s always welcome as well.

PM says private Katy Perry show at Pratt mansion an ‘opportunity to talk to manufacturers’

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, appeared on Channel Seven’s Sunrise this morning, where he was asked about having seen Katy Perry on Saturday night and Taylor Swift in the same week.

Perry performed for a private show for 200 guests at an event organised by the children of late packaging magnate Richard Pratt. Hosted at the family’s Melbourne Mansion, the prime minister skirted the question:

Well, I gave a speech last night at the food and beverage annual dinner. Last year, that was held in Sydney. This year, [it] was held here in Melbourne. It’s an annual event and it’s an opportunity to talk to manufacturers. One of the things I want is a future made here in Australia. And last night I was talking with Wesfarmers, Bundaberg, Asahi, Arnott’s biscuits, all those fantastic Australian companies who make products here for domestic purposes but also export to the world. The good news that I got last night from many of the businesses was that they’re expanding their operations. That means more jobs here and it means our economy is more resilient here as well.

Asked whether he got any friendship bands from his time at the Swift concern, the PM said he enjoyed himself.

I did get a few friendship bands. Look, I think at a time where there’s so much turmoil in the world, one of the reasons why Taylor Swift’s tour has been such a success is it’s so positive, it’s so uplifting, and that is her message. That’s why she sold out all those concerts here at the MCG with 96,000 people night after night after night. And she’ll be playing in Sydney, of course, for another couple of nights to come. And she’s a very welcome visitor here. And her message of female empowerment is, I think, a positive one. And secondly, as well, it’s been pretty good for the economy as well. Good for jobs and good for economic activity. So, that’s always welcome as well.

Security guard dies and charge laid after alleged punch to head outside pub

Security guard dies and charge laid after alleged punch to head outside Sydney pub

Police said the guard was allegedly punched by a patron who had been asked to leave the venue

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A security guard has died after he was allegedly punched in the head during an altercation at a hotel in Sydney’s south, and a man charged with assault occasioning death.

Emergency services were called to a licensed premises on East Parade in Sutherland about 2am on Sunday.

Officers found a man, believed to be aged in his 30s, unconscious outside the hotel.

They performed CPR before the man was treated by paramedics but he died at the scene.

The man has not been formally identified.

A crime scene was established and an investigation has begun.

Police were told the security guard was allegedly punched to the head by a patron after an altercation.

“It’s alleged the patron had been requested to leave the hotel prior to the assault,” NSW police said in a statement on Sunday.

A 31-year-old man has since been arrested and taken to Sutherland police station, where he was charged with assault occasioning death.

He is due to appear before Sutherland local court on Monday morning.

Inquiries were continuing.

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‘Grave concern’ over Wednesday heat spike after six homes destroyed

‘Grave concern’ over Wednesday heat spike in Victoria after six homes destroyed in bushfires

Firefighters continue to battle blazes as they brace for temperatures to exceed 40C in western parts of the state this week

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Six homes have been destroyed by bushfires in Victoria, as authorities issue a warning of “grave concern” for fire danger in the state on Wednesday.

On Sunday morning, Victoria’s emergency services minister, Jaclyn Symes, announced that after 228 impact assessments were carried out following fires in western Victoria, six residential homes were deemed to have been destroyed.

“Obviously, that is very sobering news for those families,” Symes said, adding that there would be “support measures” for those communities.

She said hot temperatures forecast for Wednesday were now the main focus for authorities.

Forecasters are predicting temperatures to exceed 40C in western parts of the state on Wednesday, spiking firefighters’ concerns.

“What we know already is that the indicators are in the extreme range,” Symes said.

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She noted that the Country Fire Association chief, Jason Heffernan, has “expressed his grave concern about what may eventuate on Wednesday”.

Heffernan said Wednesday “could quite potentially be the worst fire day Victoria has seen in four years”, the Age reported.

“We’re expecting not only high temperatures but also wind is expected and given the hot weather that we have had in recent weeks, a lot of drying has occurred, particularly in the west of the state,” Symes said.

The forecast for Wednesday was predicting 44C in Mildura in the state’s far north-west, with many other towns expected to hit the high 30s – including 36C in Melbourne.

The large fire west of Ballarat had burned through more than 16,000 hectares of land by the end of Saturday.

There were about 550 firefighters on the ground on Sunday as part of fire suppression efforts, Symes said.

One watch and act warning was in place on Sunday morning for towns including Amphitheatre and Elmhurst, while an advice warning was also in place for areas surrounding Ballarat. Another advice warning was in place for Lakes Entrances beach on the other side of the state.

Residents who were told to evacuate from the towns of Amphitheatre, Avoca, Bayindeen, Beaufort, Ben Nevis, Buangor, Chute, Crowlands, Elmhurst, Eversley, Glenlofty, Glenlogie, Glenpatrick, Glenshee, Green Hill Creek, Landsborough, Main Lead, Middle Creek, Mount Cole, Mount Cole Creek, Mount Lonarch, Nowhere Creek, Percydale, Raglan, Warrak, Warrenmang and Waterloo were on Sunday being told it was still not safe to return.

Symes said government officials would meet with the Bureau of Meteorology and fire agencies to “get a sense of what Wednesday looks like”.

“We will have more to say in the coming days, but I do want to take the opportunity to remind Victorians who are in fire-prone areas, particularly the west and central parts of the state, you must act,” she said.

She said residents needed to have fire plans developed.

“You must have the conversations with your family members, your neighbours, and know what you’re going to do in the event of an evacuation,” Symes said.

– Additional reporting by Royce Kurmelovs

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US ambassador prepares for Shitbox Rally across outback

US ambassador Caroline Kennedy prepares for Shitbox Rally across outback Australia

At a fundraising sausage sizzle ahead of the rally, Kennedy quoted the words of her father explaining why the US wanted to land a man on the moon

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The US ambassador to Australia might become the first person to complete the charity Shitbox Rally with a blacked-out, armoured SUV in tow.

Caroline Kennedy is to swap her chauffeured BMW for the driver’s seat of beat-up Ford Falcon, driving from Adelaide to Perth in April in a car worth less than $1,500 to raise money for cancer research.

Shitbox Rally was founded in 2010 by James Freeman who lost both his parents to cancer within a month. It has since raised more than $40m for research across Australia, with each rally crew acting as fundraisers for the Cancer Council.

Kennedy’s Falcon, dubbed Moonshot, has been named in honour of US president Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, which aims to eradicate the disease, and as a homage to her father’s ambition to reach the moon in the 1960s.

“We do these things because they’re hard,” said Kennedy, channelling words spoken in 1962 by her father, former US president John F Kennedy, as he explained why the US wanted to land a man on the moon.

“I’ve met so many inspiring scientists here in Australia, who are working to cure cancer and have a lot going on with colleagues in the United States … [and] having met the people I’ve met, I could not be more hopeful.”

On Sunday morning, the ambassador and her team sizzled hundreds of sausages and kilos of onions outside a hardware store to raise money for the Cancer Council.

The rally in April will take drivers from Adelaide to Roxby Downs, on to Yulara in central Australia, west into Warburton, Laverton, Southern Cross and finally into Perth.

It will be far from the glamour of the marble-lined ambassador’s residence at the US embassy in Canberra, with participants packing their own tents, swags, sleeping bags and mattresses to camp overnight at each stop.

Each two-person team needs to raise a minimum of $5,000 to participate.

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US ambassador prepares for Shitbox Rally across outback

US ambassador Caroline Kennedy prepares for Shitbox Rally across outback Australia

At a fundraising sausage sizzle ahead of the rally, Kennedy quoted the words of her father explaining why the US wanted to land a man on the moon

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The US ambassador to Australia might become the first person to complete the charity Shitbox Rally with a blacked-out, armoured SUV in tow.

Caroline Kennedy is to swap her chauffeured BMW for the driver’s seat of beat-up Ford Falcon, driving from Adelaide to Perth in April in a car worth less than $1,500 to raise money for cancer research.

Shitbox Rally was founded in 2010 by James Freeman who lost both his parents to cancer within a month. It has since raised more than $40m for research across Australia, with each rally crew acting as fundraisers for the Cancer Council.

Kennedy’s Falcon, dubbed Moonshot, has been named in honour of US president Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, which aims to eradicate the disease, and as a homage to her father’s ambition to reach the moon in the 1960s.

“We do these things because they’re hard,” said Kennedy, channelling words spoken in 1962 by her father, former US president John F Kennedy, as he explained why the US wanted to land a man on the moon.

“I’ve met so many inspiring scientists here in Australia, who are working to cure cancer and have a lot going on with colleagues in the United States … [and] having met the people I’ve met, I could not be more hopeful.”

On Sunday morning, the ambassador and her team sizzled hundreds of sausages and kilos of onions outside a hardware store to raise money for the Cancer Council.

The rally in April will take drivers from Adelaide to Roxby Downs, on to Yulara in central Australia, west into Warburton, Laverton, Southern Cross and finally into Perth.

It will be far from the glamour of the marble-lined ambassador’s residence at the US embassy in Canberra, with participants packing their own tents, swags, sleeping bags and mattresses to camp overnight at each stop.

Each two-person team needs to raise a minimum of $5,000 to participate.

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Tax cuts, cost of living and the battle to win the Dunkley byelection

‘Everything is so expensive’: tax cuts, cost of living and the battle to win the Dunkley byelection

Early voting may be slow but political analysts say the Melbourne electorate’s mood may be an indicator for Australian politics as a whole

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It’s noon in Frankston and the harsh summer sun is beating down on volunteers handing out how-to-vote cards outside the local football club for next Saturday’s Dunkley byelection.

Some are slathered in sunscreen and zinc and wearing wide-brimmed hats. Others are trying to find a spot in the limited shade. But all are prepared for a lunchtime rush – one that never comes.

On the first afternoon of early voting in this bayside electorate, about 40km south-east of Melbourne, only a handful of locals are casting their vote in the federal byelection.

Among them is Peter, who walks briskly past the gauntlet without grabbing a how-to-vote card. Head down, he barely registers the Liberal candidate, local mayor Nathan Conroy, who stands by the gate to the football club greeting voters on their way in.

“I’ve always voted Liberal. Just running a small business, it’s always been better for me to vote for them,” the glazier tells Guardian Australia on the way out.

“I just wanted to get it out of the way,” he continues as he strides towards the car park.

The same sentiment is expressed by voters at the pre-poll at the Lyrebird community centre in Carrum Downs, where several people say they hadn’t realised there was a byelection until they saw the centre.

More than just ‘what’s good for me’

Stretching from the mortgage belt areas of Carrum Downs and Sandhurst in the north to Mount Eliza in the south – where homes along the beachside “Golden Mile” start about $3.5m – and with Frankston at its centre, the electorate of Dunkley doesn’t fit neatly into either major party’s core voter base.

Unlike the other outer suburban seats in Melbourne, which are experiencing huge population growth and increasing cultural diversity, Dunkley grew by only 30,000 people between the 2001 and 2021 censuses.

It is also incredibly homogenous, with 74% of the electorate born in Australia and two-thirds nominating English, Irish or Scottish ancestry as part of their ethnicity. And it skews older. In Dunkley, the median age in 2021 was 40, compared with the Melbourne average of 37.

Tony Barry, a former senior Liberal staffer who is now with political consultancy RedBridge, says that, on paper, Dunkley and the state seats within it should be a Coalition “heartland”.

But he says another key demographic is changing this. According the 2021 census, the majority (50%) of the electorate reported it did not have a religion.

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“The broader problem for the Coalition is that in all our polling, this fastest growing cohort is currently mostly supporting centre-left parties and candidates,” Barry says.

“Indeed, it is now becoming a lead indicator of voting intention in Australian politics.”

The seat itself has changed hands several times since it was created in the mid-1980s. Only two MPs have managed to secure it for several terms – former Liberal minister Bruce Billson, and Labor’s Peta Murphy, who increased her margin from 2.7% in 2019 to 6.3% in 2022.

Murphy’s death from cancer shortly before Christmas trigged the 2 March byelection.

At the Carrum Downs early voting centre, self-described swinging voter Bill says he’s “annoyed at the waste of time and resources” going into the byelection.

“When a sitting member dies during the term, they should be replaced by the party,” the retiree says. “They should do what is done in the Senate, I don’t know why it’s not the same for a lower house MP.”

While he won’t say who he voted for, another voter, Jacinta, is more than happy to.

“I voted for Jodie [Belyea, the Labor candidate]. I was a huge fan of Peta’s and I know she was the one that put in a good word for Jodie to be the candidate,” she says.

“Peta is the only politician that I’ve ever shed a tear over. She was beautiful. She was so kind, she was just so passionate and just a seriously good person.”

Jacinta says while cost of living was a “huge” issue in the electorate, she was also concerned about the rhetoric surrounding the boat arrival of a group of refugees in remote Western Australia.

“The Liberals speak about it, it feels like they just want to be divisive,” Jacinta says. “All they do is say, ‘No, no, no, no, no. Everything’s bad. Everything’s terrible.’ They did the same with the referendum.

“I want some positivity and that was Peta. Jodie seems the same way.”

Kim, a swinging voter, says she liked Murphy but won’t be voting for Belyea, due to Labor’s opposition to the Liberals’ $900m proposal for a Frankston-Baxter rail line extension.

“There [are] a lot of people that live past here and you shouldn’t just care about Frankston. I think politics is more than just ‘what’s good for me’, it’s what’s good for everyone else,” Kim says.

Cost of living and taxes

A retired Frankston couple, who have lived in the suburb for four decades but did not wish to be named, say they put Conroy on the top of their ballots.

“Nathan’s been mayor three times, he’s got the experience, he knows what’s happening in Frankston,” the husband says.

His wife is more blunt: “I’m not Liberal or Labor but I hate the prime minister. He’s a liar and he needs to go.”

It’s a reference to the stage-three tax cuts, overhauled by the government to shift more of the benefit to low- and middle-income earners. According to Labor’s calculations, 87% of working people in Dunkley will be better off under the changes.

Though the Coalition supported the changes, they have sought to paint Anthony Albanese as a liar after he reneged on his commitment before the 2022 election not to alter the tax cuts.

But on the whole, Labor’s gamble appears to have paid off. Though cost of living still comes up most frequently as the main issue of concern, few voters Guardian Australia speaks to blame the Labor government.

Many, however, want more certainty for the future.

Maureen and Wally won’t reveal who they voted for but their main concern is their seven grandchildren, all aged under 10. “Prices keep going up, it’s going to be so hard for them to be able to buy a home,” Wally says.

“The debt in this state is so high, that is going to be a problem too.”

Pierino and Silvana Cheles have seven grandchildren they also worry about.

“Everything is so expensive. Mortgages, rents, groceries, schools. My older grandsons are at private high schools, their parents are paying $12,000 a year. Why? Why isn’t education cheaper?” Pierino says.

Silvana says her grandchildren won’t have the same opportunities as they did when they first came to Australia as young adults. “With $50 a week, we’d put $25 away for rent and the rest got us by. It only took two years to save to buy a house. We paid it off very quickly. You can’t do that now,” she says.

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How ‘smart keys’ have fuelled a new wave of UK car crime

Gone in 20 seconds: how ‘smart keys’ have fuelled a new wave of car crime

One London resident watched on CCTV as a thief walked up to his £40,000 car and drove away. Now manufacturers say they are being drawn in to a hi-tech ‘arms race’ with criminals

Read more: car industry was warned keyless vehicles vulnerable to theft a decade ago

When Steve Jessop’s electric Hyundai car was stolen outside his west London house on a rainy day earlier this month, he appealed to neighbours for potential footage of the crime.

He quickly secured a CCTV video and was stunned at the ease with which his car had been taken. A hooded figure approached it, opened the doors without forced entry, started the engine and drove off.

Jessop’s car had gone in 20 seconds. The keys to his Hyundai Ioniq 5 were still inside his house and there was no sign of an accomplice.

“It was just incredible,” said Jessop. “I looked at it and thought: how did that happen? I genuinely thought with all the technology in this car that no one could steal it.”

Jessop got no further clues from the Metropolitan police. He filed a report on the night of the theft on 8 February and was told by email at lunchtime the next day the case had been closed.

While Jessop was left mystified at how his car had been stolen, motor industry sources who spoke to the Observer last week were less surprised.

They revealed that hi-tech devices disguised as handheld games consoles are being traded online for thousands of pounds and are used by organised crime gangs to mimic the electronic key on an Ioniq 5, opening the doors and starting the engine.

The device, known as an “emulator”, works by intercepting a signal from the car, which is scanning for the presence of a legitimate key, and sending back a signal to gain access to the vehicle. Many owners of Ioniq 5s, which sell from around £42,000, now use steering locks to deter thieves.

Hyundai says it is looking at measures to prevent the use of emulators “as a priority”. But it is not the only carmaker whose vehicles appear to be vulnerable. An Observer investigation found that models by Toyota, Lexus and Kia have also been targeted.

British motorists now face an increase in the number of thefts and rising insurance premiums. (Even before Jessop’s car was stolen, his annual car insurance premium had risen from £574 to £2,240.) Car thefts are at their highest level for a decade in England and Wales, rising from 85,803 vehicles in the year to March 2012 to 130,270 in the year to March 2023 – an increase of more than 50%.

Part of the reason, say experts, is the rise of keyless entry. Push-button keyless entry fobs for cars were first introduced in the 1980s and by the late 1990s car manufacturers were introducing keyless ignition systems, but this was generally restricted to luxury cars. Subsequently, modern “smart key” fobs, which unlock the car when the owner approaches without the need to press a button, have become more common, offering new security loopholes for crime gangs.

Motoring lawyer Nick Freeman said: “There is a strong legal argument to say these cars are insecure and not fit for purpose. The motoring industry has been negligent. It has failed to prioritise security and motorists are paying the price.”

An Observer investigation has found how the industry was warned more than a decade ago of problems in the software it was deploying in cars. A report in 2011 from the University of California and the University of Washington warned of the security vulnerabilities of modern cars, implementing an “attack” to “unlock the doors [and] start the engine”.

The next year, Stephen Mason, a retired barrister and co-editor of the book Electronic Evidence and Electronic Signatures, warned in an issue of Computer Law and Security Review that there was an “increasing amount of technical literature on how keyless entry systems can be undermined successfully”. He warned of the risk of “relay attacks” on smart key systems. A thief using this technique can use software to extend the range of the signal the key is broadcasting – even if it is inside a home – activating the unlocking sequence and allowing the car to be driven.

By early 2015, the Met was warning that 6,000 cars and vans a year were being stolen without the keys. Last year insurance company Aviva said owners of modern keyless vehicles were twice as likely to make a theft claim. The Met also identified car models “vulnerable to new theft devices” which included the Kia Niro and the Hyundai Ioniq.

Ben Pearson, a former traffic officer with West Yorkshire police and adviser to Nextbase, a dashcam maker, said most of the car thefts he dealt with during his last year with the force in 2020 involved relay attacks on keyless-ignition vehicles. He said: “It’s amazing that you don’t need any training and you can steal someone’s car in seconds.”

Another common attack is to hack into the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port, which is typically under the dashboard and allows access to the vehicle computer systems via a connector for various tasks. It can be used by thieves to programme a new key linked to the vehicle, but they need to find a way to gain entry to the car first.

Martin East, 58, an engineer from Crowborough, East Sussex, had his 2011 Audi S4 stolen last month without the keys, but police have since recovered it. “I wasn’t aware a thief could plug into the onboard diagnostics until a few weeks ago, but the industry has been aware for 10 years,” said East. “I think they’ve been lazy.”

The car industry has implemented various software security upgrades in recent years, but faces criticism for responding too slowly to warnings. Jaguar Land Rover announced a £10m investment to upgrade commonly stolen models built between 2018 and 2022 after a spate of thefts, and complaints from owners that their vehicles were in effect uninsurable.

Last year, Ken Tindell, a vehicle technology specialist at the software consultancy JK Energy, demonstrated how a thief could gain access to the systems of a vehicle via wiring behind the headlight, and exploit a vulnerability to unlock the car and start the engine. The device he obtained was promoted with the claim it could target some Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Tindell said he had raised his security concerns more than a decade ago with the industry. “The prevailing view was that criminals are nowhere near educated and smart enough to break into the internal car electronics,” he said. “What they didn’t realised was that somebody would make a box and automate it all for them.”

The Observer last week found a range of devices for “programming keys and emergency starts” being promoted online for up to £5,000. The “smart device” claims to cover a wide range of manufacturers.

Steve Launchbury, principal engineer at Thatcham Research, a risk intelligence organisation funded by the UK’s insurance industry, said: “In the old days, there was an effort involved in forcing entry into a vehicle. These devices tend to do it all for you. The industry should be looking to close the vulnerabilities more quickly.”

Launchbury said the advice to motorists was to inform themselves about their vehicle’s security systems and features and, where under manufacturer’s warranty, to consult that manufacturer before installing any electronic theft prevention measures. He said trackers and steering locks could both be effective.

The Met said it “recognises the impact that motor vehicle crime can have on victims,” adding: “Any allegation of crime reported to the police will be assessed to see if there are any viable lines of inquiry including forensic opportunities that can be progressed.”

Hyundai Motor UK said: “We are aware of a small number of Ioniq 5 thefts. This is an industrywide issue. The criminals appear to be using devices to illegally override smart key locking systems. Hyundai is working closely with law enforcement in the UK. To date, we have helped to recover around 75% of vehicles. We are looking as a priority at a number of measures to help prevent or deter these criminal acts.”

Kia did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Toyota, which owns Lexus, said: “Toyota and Lexus are continuously working on developing technical solutions to make vehicles more secure. Since introducing enhanced security hardware on the latest versions of a number of models, we have seen a significant drop-off in thefts. For older models we are currently developing solutions.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that rising theft was not caused by alleged failures in car security, but organised crime groups. The SMMT said vehicle security was a “crucial priority” for the industry, which was working to reduce vehicle theft, but that it was in an “arms race” against criminals.

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Elon Musk steps in after bakery jolted by cancelled Tesla order

Elon Musk steps in after California bakery jolted by cancelled Tesla order

A Tesla employee ordered 2,000 mini pies from San Jose’s Giving Pies, only to later cancel the $6,000 order from the small bakery

Billionaire Elon Musk has promised to “make things good” with a California bakery after his company backed out of a pie order that cost the owner thousands of dollars.

“Just hearing about this. Will make things good with the bakery,” Musk said on X (formerly Twitter) in response to a story about the cancelled order.

Musk’s company Telsa ditched an order for 4,000 mini pies from Giving Pies, a Black-owned bakery in San Jose, in central California.

Owner Voahangy Rasetarinera told KRON-TV that her bakery received a last-minute order for 2,000 pies from Tesla on Valentine’s Day – a $6,000 catch for the small business, KTVU reported.

While Rasetarinera has previously worked on large catering orders with other tech companies, she said that she had to chase Tesla several times about payment for the order, money needed to secure ingredients and pay her staff.

On Thursday evening, a Tesla representative named Laura contacted Rasetarinera and apologized about the delayed payment. Laura also upped the order to 4,000 pies, assuring Rasetarinera that money was not an issue.

Rasetarinera said that she and her team had worked overtime to pull off the mega order. But Tesla never responded to several invoices sent from the pie company for payment.

Instead, on Friday, Laura messaged Rasetarinera, letting her know that the order was no longer needed.

Rasetarinera said in a post to Facebook that the casual cancellation “left me reeling, realizing the extent of the impact on my small business”.

“I had invested time, resources, and effort based on assurances from Tesla, only to be left high and dry,” she added.

Rasetarinera told KRON that the last-minute canceling of such a large order hurt her business. In order to fulfill Tesla’s order, Rasetarinera had to decline other catering gigs.

“I’m a small business. I don’t have the luxury of infinite resources so I really need to be paid so I can secure my staff,” Rasetarinera said.

A representative of Tesla later reached out to Rasetarinera and said that Laura was not authorized to approve payments, KGO-TV, an ABC affiliate, reported.

As of Thursday, the company did not pay Rasetarinera for the pies but offered her a tour of the factory.

But Musk’s post on Friday, in light of the viral story, may be a sign that the small business will soon be compensated for its hard work.

“People should always be able to count on Tesla trying its best,” Musk said in the post to X.

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