The Guardian 2024-03-12 16:01:16


Greens call on Labor to drop changes to gas project consultations in return for support on vehicle emissions

Leader Adam Bandt has accused the government of a ‘clear broken promise’ for proposing legislation to benefit the gas industry

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The Greens have demanded that Labor withdraw a controversial proposal to water down consultation requirements for offshore gas development, promising that in return they will help pass vehicle emissions standards.

The Albanese government is locked in two sensitive climate-related negotiations: courting Coalition support for changes to the petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT), but needing the Greens to pass emissions standards that the opposition has branded a new car and ute tax.

The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, has written to the government accusing it of a “clear broken promise” for proposing legislation to benefit the gas industry despite its claims to want to “strengthen Australia’s environment laws”.

In February the resources minister, Madeleine King, used a bill largely about worker safety to propose a new provision preserving approvals for offshore gas projects against reconsideration if rules are tightened in future.

Although the government denies that this will change environmental assessments, Bandt labelled the law “a massive power grab by the resources minister to allow big gas corporations to bypass environmental protections and First Nations voices”.

Bandt said the law would “financially benefit” Santos, which lobbied for the changes, “by seeking to clear away whatever is getting in the way of constructing their massive Barossa gas project”.

“If Labor is willing to withdraw this section of the bill, the Greens will accept the government’s fuel efficiency standards and support speedy passage of the forthcoming national vehicle emissions standards (NVES) legislation, even though the standards should go much further.”

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Bandt does not say how the Greens will treat the NVES bill if the government refuses.

In November the Coalition revealed four demands in return for helping Labor pass PRRT tax changes, which are struggling to win crossbench support due to the fact they don’t raise extra revenue or tackle deductions.

The demands included reforming the offshore environment regulations to provide clarity on consultation requirements and restart offshore gas investment.

On Monday the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said he had written to the Coalition “to assure them that some of the changes to environmental approval processes they are seeking to negotiate are already happening”.

These were being progressed “for their own good reasons, not as a bargaining chip”, he told the Australian Financial Review business summit.

“We agree there is a need to update Australia’s offshore regulatory gas arrangements and broader environmental approval processes.”

Chalmers promised more investment in data to identify environmental risks upfront, which he said would result in “faster yeses and faster nos … without cutting corners on environmental protection”.

“We will clarify consultation requirements for offshore oil and gas storage regulatory approvals, making consultation more targeted and effective,” he said.

Chalmers noted the government had “already committed that all changes will be grandfathered so existing projects are assessed under a stable set of rules”, an apparent reference to the section of the bill the Greens have demand be withdrawn.

Bandt said the two bills were “intrinsically linked because the emissions from Santos’ Barossa project will release another 380m tonnes of pollution by 2050, and this one gas project alone … will more than wipe out the entire 369m tonne gain of the proposed NVES”.

Bandt warned that Australia is “nowhere near on track” for the government’s “weak” 43% emissions reduction target by 2030 “and this latest bill to fast-track more gas will make things even worse”.

“Instead of doing dirty deals with the Liberals, you have an opportunity to work with the Greens to act on climate,” he said.

The offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage amendment has also prompted warnings from the Environmental Defenders Office and Raelene Cooper, a Mardudhunera woman and founder of the organisation Save Our Songlines, who will campaign against the change at a Senate inquiry on Thursday.

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Peak motorist body requests clarity on Albanese government’s proposed clean car policy

Automobile Association wants to see the calculations behind national vehicle efficiency standards

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The nation’s peak motorist organisation has called on the Albanese government to release in full the modelling underpinning its proposed new laws aimed at removing the worst polluting cars from Australian roads and hastening the uptake of cleaner vehicles.

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA), in its submission responding to the government’s proposed national vehicle efficiency standard (NVES), reiterated it has long supported such a scheme. But it said Labor should “be more transparent” about how it arrived at the calculations supporting its preferred, more ambitious targets.

“The AAA is mindful that a poorly designed standard and overly stringent targets will deliver bad outcomes for both consumers and the environment,” the peak motoring body, which represents state organisations including the NRMA, RACQ and RACV, said.

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The criticism from the AAA comes as rival car manufacturers continue sparring with one another as well as climate advocates over claims the proposed NVES will increase the cost of popular cars.

Australia’s proposed fuel standard will place a cap on the emissions from new cars supplied to the market to incentivise carmakers to supply more low- and zero-emissions vehicles. The cap will be lowered over time, and the government hopes it will bring down the nation’s emissions and make cars that are cheaper to run more accessible.

Car manufacturers whose emissions averages come in below the cap will gain credits, while other companies will be penalised for exceeding the cap.

The Albanese government’s preferred model is expected to cut 369m tonnes of CO2 by 2050 – equivalent to the last six years of emissions from light vehicles in Australia.

However, the AAA said it is “is very concerned by the lack of detail in the government’s published analysis on the achievability of its preferred targets, particularly those relating to 4WDs and the light commercial fleet”.

“Given the global lack of affordable and ready alternatives for existing popular vehicles, it is incumbent on the government to provide robust analysis showing how it sees its headline targets for light commercial vehicles being met.”

The AAA’s submission included an analysis it commissioned from The Centre for International Economics, which found the government’s preferred NVES model – known as option B – would require more than 40% of new passenger vehicles sold in 2029 to be electric.

The analysis also found 50% of utes bought in 2029 – or vehicles broadly falling within the light commercial category – would need to be electric.

Recent sales data from February found electric vehicle sales made up 9.6% of total sales, and the AAA claimed that there is just one electric ute available in Australia, with just 15 sold in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The AAA’s analysis found there would continue to be a cohort of Australians resistant to buying an EV, even if it cost less than a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle, due to factors such as concerns for its range before needing to be charged, and towing capacity.

In its submission, the AAA called on the federal government to do more to address charging infrastructure across the country.

The AAA also expressed concern about the “very short timeframe” for introducing the NVES.

The government plans to introduce legislation before July that will take effect from January 2025 – a date the AAA said “appears rather ambitious”. It flagged the possibility that carmakers unable to achieve the strict standard in a short timeframe will either be forced to factor in the cost of penalties into consumer prices or restrict what models are available to Australians.

In concerns echoed in Toyota’s submission to the government, the AAA noted that the US scheme Australia is hoping to catch up to offers manufacturers “supercredits” for the cleanest of vehicles, “off-cycle credits” for specific green technologies used in cars that are not measured in tailpipe emissions, and “air conditioning credits” for using greener refrigerants.

None of these credits are included in the Albanese government’s preferred option B.

Additionally, the AAA noted many states in the US offer consumers subsidies of up to $7,500 credit toward an EV on top of federal measures, while in Australia states have begun winding back such incentives.

“The analysis suggests the targets will be unlikely to be met without additional consumer and/or producer subsidies, as well as significant enhancements to Australia’s EV recharging network,” the AAA said.

In its submission to the government, the Grattan Institute estimated the proposed NVES model would, on average, increase prices by about 1%, but that consumers would quickly be financially better off due to significant savings on fuel and maintenance costs.

A new car sold in Australia uses, on average, 6.9 litres of fuel for each 100km compared with new cars in Europe and the US that use 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, respectively.

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Surge in Australian drug use revealed in wastewater as methamphetamine dominates

More than 16.5 tonnes of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA consumed in the year ending August 2023

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More than 16.5 tonnes of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA was consumed by Australians in the year ending August 2023, a 17% increase from the last reporting period, analysis of wastewater data conducted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has found.

Eighty-five per cent of the $12.4bn spent on Australia’s top four illicit drugs between August 2022-August 2023 was spent on methamphetamine, new research reveals.

“At a time where family budgets have been stretched as never before [$12.4bn] … is an enormous amount of money, and it really just benefits cynical, organised crime groups,” the ACIC acting national manager data analytics, Shane Neilson, said.

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By comparison, $10bn was spent on the top four illicit drugs the year prior.

Neilson said the growth was due to the fact that Australia is an “illicit stimulant” country and that, in 2023, the residual effects of Covid had effectively disappeared from the market.

ACIC flagged the 1.5 tonne increase in national methamphetamine consumption as a considerable concern due to significant community concerns associated with the drug.

Nielson said the rise in methamphetamine use could be attributed to it being both domestically manufactured and imported, while the “lion’s share” of other illicit drugs were typically imported. The difficulty in beating methamphetamine addiction and obtaining treatment were other factors contributing to its growth, he said.

He said the data illustrated the resilience of the methamphetamine market, supplied by a “large number of very sophisticated transnational crime groups operating out of Asia and Mexico”.

Across all states and territories, alcohol and nicotine were the highest consumed drug, followed by cannabis and methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine use increased in all states and territories with Western Australia (40%) and Tasmania (36%) recording the highest increases.

Cocaine and MDMA use increased in all but one jurisdiction in the reporting period, and heroine consumption decreased in all but one jurisdiction.

Cocaine consumption increased by 55% in WA but decreased by 16% in Tasmania.

Cannabis use decreased in the Northern Territory by 25% but increased by 17% in WA.

MDMA use increased by 84% in Tasmania, and 62% in WA, and heroin use increased by 31% in the ACT.

Neilson said the reduction in fentanyl and oxycodone use since 2019 was positive news, stating that consumption of these substances was an “enormous problem” in Canada and the US.

In a continuation of previous trends, the report found that drug use per capita was generally higher in regional areas compared with capital cities, with the exception of cocaine, heroine and ketamine consumption. The researchers found that cannabis consumption in regional areas is nearly double that of capital cities.

The National Wastewater Monitoring Program analysed wastewater samples representative of about 57% of the population. The samples were collected over seven days in April and October 2023 and analysed for the presence of 12 drugs: ketamine, alcohol, nicotine, fentanyl, oxycodone, cannabis, heroin, MDMA, MDA, cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine.

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Pet perils: injuries from animals are on the rise after Australia’s surge in dog and cat ownership

Animal-related hospitalisations have been increasing for years but have surged since the start of the pandemic, AIHW study finds

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In the north-west New South Wales town of Gunnedah, there are much deadlier things than a puppy. They are used to deadly brown and red-bellied snakes.

So Sarah Carter was surprised when her corgi Maxi landed her in hospital.

While training the four-month-old dog to sit, Carter bent down to give Maxi a treat when he jumped up and ripped into her finger.

Immune-suppressed due to chemotherapy, Carter went to hospital where she received antibiotics to avoid the risk of infection and her specialist’s wrath.

She can laugh about the incident now that the wound has healed without complications.

“Corgis [have] got a mind of their own. They’re pretty stubborn little creatures.”

Of the 23,379 injury hospitalisations related to animals in 2021-22, more than half were due to domestic dogs and cats.

A new report released on Wednesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare links the rising number of animal-related hospitalisations to increased pet ownership since the pandemic.

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The report looked at all hospital admissions within the AIHW’s national database where there was an identified animal-related cause of injury between July 2012 and June 2022, and described trends by year, type of animal, age group and types of injury.

The lead author of the report, Dr Sarah Ahmed, said “across the 10-year period, hospitalisations in general increased gradually, but if we look at the common pet hospitalisations, those increased a lot faster, especially since 2019-20”.

The report found a 10% increase in hospitalisations from 2019-20 to 2020-21, which the authors noted corresponded with the increase in pet ownership throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a national survey carried out by Animal Medicines Australia.

The most common injuries were open wounds and fractures, while the commonest body parts injured (nearly half) were upper limbs including wrists and hands, the report found.

It found dogs were the most common animal leading to hospitalisations, with 40% of all injuries from contact with animals due to being bitten or struck by a dog.

Dr Jonathan Karro, the director of emergency medicine at St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne, said the AIHW report’s findings were consistent with the hospital’s experience.

Data from St Vincent’s hospital Melbourne shows the number of animal bites has been going up gradually over the past decade but saw a “significant jump” between 2020 and 2023.

Of patients he sees injured due to animals, Karro estimates 75% are related to dogs, and the vast majority of the others are cats. “And then there’s the odd smattering of other animals – we’ve had the odd rabbit bite and a possum and a bat, and we get occasionally monkeys but those are often returned travellers from Bali.”

A common occurrence is a patient coming in after attempting to break up a fight between their own dog and another dog they encounter on a walk. Somewhere between 40 and 50% of those patients will need to be admitted to hospital because the wound is significant enough to require an operation to clean it and receive antibiotics, Karro said.

The data from emergency department presentations did not include the cause of injury, so the report only included hospital-admitted patients.

The report acknowledges it likely underestimates the total impact of injuries as it does not count injuries where healthcare is provided outside hospitals.

Dr Christopher Harrison from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Sydney, said the report was likely “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to animal-related injuries as it only captured the most serious incidents.

Based on the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health national study of GPs’ clinical activity, Harrison estimated GPs saw about 49,000 dog bite and 6,000 cat bite patients in 2015-16 – a number which is likely now larger.

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‘Poor taste’: Brisbane school holds nappy changing activity to mark International Women’s Day

Stretton State College shares photo of students with nappies and dolls among images of events to celebrate the day

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A Brisbane school has been criticised for acting “in poor taste” after posting images of a nappy changing activity held on International Women’s Day on Facebook.

Stretton State College posted the photo of students with nappies and dolls among images of different events held to celebrate the day. They included selling cookies and a photo station with a border featuring the slogan “inspire inclusion”.

A spokesperson for Queensland’s department of education said the nappy changing activity was organised by a group of students to celebrate International Women’s Day, with the oversight of staff and the endorsement of the student council.

“Today we celebrated International Women’s Day and took time to celebrate and bring awareness to the need for a world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that celebrates achievements, diversity and inclusivity across the globe. #inspireinclusion,” a post accompanying the Facebook photos read.

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Students also raised money for body image and eating disorder charity the Butterfly Foundation.

Kara Williams, whose two daughters attend the school, said the activity was “in poor taste” and didn’t reflect the message of inclusion and empowerment that the day was meant to express.

“One daughter said ‘it’s a bit weird’ [after the event],” she said.

“And the younger daughter went ‘what? What’s the point of that?’

“I’m sure that just from the sort of shock and disbelief, I think they probably agreed with me and thought it was not appropriate.”

Williams, who said she wasn’t made aware of the idea in advance, expressed hope that the school has a nappy changing station if they hold a celebration of International Men’s Day on 19 November.

“I’m a registered midwife. So I run antenatal classes with parents, I support same-sex relationships. A lot of my job is around education. And, yes, nappy changing is a practical skill that would be helpful. If an impending parent was to learn that’s fine. Definitely not a high school student.

“Like why can’t we have guest speakers or activities focused on bigger issues rather than can you change a nappy?”

A student from the state school complained that male students had taken the display as an excuse for sexist behaviour.

“It’s just so dumb and a bit kind of hurtful,” they said.

“Just makes me so mad that people connect women to nappy changing.”

Stretton parent Andrea Wildin said she planned to raise the activity with the school parents and citizens association at their next meeting.

“It is definitely one of the things you want your daughter to aspire to is being a good mother. But you also want therm to aspire to being in a trade, and to being in Stem. So perhaps nappy changing could have been combined with robotics,” she said.

The school also held a number of other events for International Women’s Day including a school assembly, student and staff rock band performances, student games and activities, and a senior girls charity lunch.

A spokesperson for the department said the assembly focused on topics “such as closing the gender pay gap, challenging gender stereotypes and the path to achieving gender equality”.

“The activity in question was designed by the year 9 student cohort and welcomed all students to participate and challenge gender stereotypes,” they said

“The school has not received any complaints regarding the event and the response in the community has been extremely positive.

“No further details can be provided due to student and staff privacy issues.”

Stretton State College is one of Australia’s largest schools, with 3,450 students from prep to year 12, in the fast-growing outer suburbs of Brisbane.

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‘Poor taste’: Brisbane school holds nappy changing activity to mark International Women’s Day

Stretton State College shares photo of students with nappies and dolls among images of events to celebrate the day

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A Brisbane school has been criticised for acting “in poor taste” after posting images of a nappy changing activity held on International Women’s Day on Facebook.

Stretton State College posted the photo of students with nappies and dolls among images of different events held to celebrate the day. They included selling cookies and a photo station with a border featuring the slogan “inspire inclusion”.

A spokesperson for Queensland’s department of education said the nappy changing activity was organised by a group of students to celebrate International Women’s Day, with the oversight of staff and the endorsement of the student council.

“Today we celebrated International Women’s Day and took time to celebrate and bring awareness to the need for a world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that celebrates achievements, diversity and inclusivity across the globe. #inspireinclusion,” a post accompanying the Facebook photos read.

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Students also raised money for body image and eating disorder charity the Butterfly Foundation.

Kara Williams, whose two daughters attend the school, said the activity was “in poor taste” and didn’t reflect the message of inclusion and empowerment that the day was meant to express.

“One daughter said ‘it’s a bit weird’ [after the event],” she said.

“And the younger daughter went ‘what? What’s the point of that?’

“I’m sure that just from the sort of shock and disbelief, I think they probably agreed with me and thought it was not appropriate.”

Williams, who said she wasn’t made aware of the idea in advance, expressed hope that the school has a nappy changing station if they hold a celebration of International Men’s Day on 19 November.

“I’m a registered midwife. So I run antenatal classes with parents, I support same-sex relationships. A lot of my job is around education. And, yes, nappy changing is a practical skill that would be helpful. If an impending parent was to learn that’s fine. Definitely not a high school student.

“Like why can’t we have guest speakers or activities focused on bigger issues rather than can you change a nappy?”

A student from the state school complained that male students had taken the display as an excuse for sexist behaviour.

“It’s just so dumb and a bit kind of hurtful,” they said.

“Just makes me so mad that people connect women to nappy changing.”

Stretton parent Andrea Wildin said she planned to raise the activity with the school parents and citizens association at their next meeting.

“It is definitely one of the things you want your daughter to aspire to is being a good mother. But you also want therm to aspire to being in a trade, and to being in Stem. So perhaps nappy changing could have been combined with robotics,” she said.

The school also held a number of other events for International Women’s Day including a school assembly, student and staff rock band performances, student games and activities, and a senior girls charity lunch.

A spokesperson for the department said the assembly focused on topics “such as closing the gender pay gap, challenging gender stereotypes and the path to achieving gender equality”.

“The activity in question was designed by the year 9 student cohort and welcomed all students to participate and challenge gender stereotypes,” they said

“The school has not received any complaints regarding the event and the response in the community has been extremely positive.

“No further details can be provided due to student and staff privacy issues.”

Stretton State College is one of Australia’s largest schools, with 3,450 students from prep to year 12, in the fast-growing outer suburbs of Brisbane.

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Bronwyn Bishop apologises on Sky News after accusing MP Sophie Scamps of being part of ‘antisemitic movement’

Former Howard government minister agrees to apologise on Sharri Markson’s program after threat of legal action

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Bronwyn Bishop has made an on-air apology on Sharri Markson’s Sky News program after accusing the federal MP Sophie Scamps of being “part and parcel of the antisemitic movement”.

After a threat of legal action from Scamps, a teal independent who holds Bishop’s old seat of Mackellar, the former Liberal minister and Speaker agreed to apologise on Tuesday night’s program.

“On 5 March 2024, I appeared on Sharri Markson’s program and said that Dr Sophie Scamps, the federal member for Mackellar, is part and parcel of an antisemitic movement,” Bishop said.

“I should not have said that. Dr Scamps has called for funding to be restored to UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency] by Australia, to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This does not make her an anti-Semite. I should not have suggested that, and I apologise to her for the offence, distress and harm I caused her.”

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Last month Scamps joined several other independents in signing a letter to the foreign minister, Penny Wong, calling for a solution to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The letter was written after Australia temporarily paused its funding of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees while an investigation was under way into several employees accused of taking part in Hamas’s 7 October attacks in Israel.

“We recognise the government needs to balance these two legitimate concerns – ensuring our aid does not support terrorism, while supporting Palestinian civilians in a dire humanitarian situation,” the letter said.

It’s the second time in four months Bishop, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has been called to account for slurs she has made on Markson’s Sky After Dark program.

In November the former Liberal senator said the ABC was “aligning themselves with the policy of Germany’s National Socialist party for the elimination of Jews” in its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

The ABC News director, Justin Stevens, called for an apology, saying “these comments and their characterisation of the ABC are not only wrong and deeply offensive but went completely unchallenged”. Bishop made an on-air apology.

The recent remarks were made when the topic of the MPs’ letter was raised by Markson.

Markson said she was “really surprised” that teal independent Allegra Spender was a signatory because “she represents the largest Jewish population” in the seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Bishop said Scamps was also a signatory, which “just confirms that she is part and parcel of the antisemitic movement”.

“Now she will cry ‘No I’m not! No I’m not!’ but if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck I think it gets to be a duck,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s comments were made on the live broadcast and the interview was published on the Sky News Australia website and its social media accounts.

They have now been removed.

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Australia’s poorest schools to be fully funded in ‘landmark’ commonwealth investment in NT

Commonwealth moves closer to fully funding all public schools in deal that will make ‘immediate difference’ in Northern Territory

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The federal government is one step closer to fully funding all public schools after reaching an agreement with the Northern Territory to double the commonwealth’s funding contribution.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, chief minister of the NT, Eva Lawler, and education minister Jason Clare and his counterpart Mark Monaghan will sign the statement of intent on Wednesday morning.

It outlines a $1bn investment that will see all public schools in the NT reach 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2029 – more than two decades earlier than would have been the case under current settings. The SRS is the benchmark for required funding based on student needs.

Under the proposed agreement, the federal government would double its SRS contribution to 40%, investing at least $748m in additional funding from 2025 to 2029. The territory government would contribute the remaining 60%, estimated to be $350m over the same period.

The most disadvantaged schools would receive additional funding first and reach the SRS before 2029, with the schools to come first to be decided in the final agreement.

Albanese said his government was “committed to making sure that no Australian child is left behind”, pointing to specific challenges facing the territory, including concentrations of disadvantage.

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It follows a $40.4m funding boost outlined in last year’s budget for disadvantaged Central Australian schools to reach 100% of the SRS by the end of 2024.

The funding needed for a public school student in the NT to bridge the gap is almost double the national average, which is why the commonwealth is paying a higher percentage of the SRS in the Territory.

In the NT, public schools have reached just over 80% of their SRS, while private schools are at more than 97%, according to a Department of Education internal briefing.

“Education and equality go hand in hand, however access to quality education has been out of reach for many in the Northern Territory,” Albanese said.

“This historic agreement is yet another example of how my government is working constructively with state and territory governments across the country.”

It’s the second statement of intent secured by the commonwealth, as Clare continues to negotiate the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) with education ministers.

The Turnbull government’s Gonski 2.0 education reforms required states to fund public schools at 75% of the SRS on top of the federal contribution of 20%, leaving a funding gap of at least 5%.

No public school in Australia, except for schools in the Australian Capital Territory, is funded at the SRS level.

Western Australia was the first state or territory to ink a deal with the commonwealth in January that would see the federal government lift its funding contribution to 22.5% – equating to an extra $777m.

Under the statement of intent, WA’s public schools would get to the full SRS by 2026 in return for the state implementing teacher quality and student wellbeing reforms.

The deal was criticised by education experts and the Australian Education Union (AEU) for locking in underfunding by continuing to allow about 4% of the SRS to be claimed by states on non-school expenditures such as depreciation, school transport and early childhood education.

The Morrison-era clause will remain in the NT agreement, the education minister confirmed, equating to about $40m of the territory’s annual school funding.

The clause will be considered in negotiations for the next NSRA, the education minister said.

State governments also poured cold water on the WA deal, with New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia banding together to demand a 5% commonwealth funding increase. The NT response was muted.

Clare has until the end of the year to reach a deal with the remaining states and territories.

He said it was an “historic day” for public education in the NT and a “great example” of governments working together for aligned outcomes.

“At the moment, Northern Territory public schools only get less than 80% of the funding that David Gonski said they should,” he said.

“In other words, one in five kids are not receiving funding. This agreement fixes that … the most underfunded schools in Australia will now be fully funded.”

The NT government has consistently lobbied the federal government to increase its funding share to 40%, while failing for two years to meet its own bilateral funding targets.

The NT and WA are the only jurisdictions where state and territory funding to public schools declined in real terms between 2012 and 2021.

The AEU has similarly called for the Albanese government to lift its share of public school funding from 20% to 25% of the SRS, and 40% in the NT due to the additional need.

Monaghan said the deal was a “landmark investment” that would make an “immediate difference” in schools.

He said the funding would contribute to better salaries, smaller class sizes and improved technology.

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Australian renewable sector recorded ‘alarming’ slowdown in 2023, energy body finds

Clean Energy Council report details ‘particularly poor’ investment in large-scale plants but says roof-top solar and batteries are ‘storming ahead’

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Investments in renewable energy plants showed an “alarming” slowdown in 2023, with financial approvals for new solar farms shrinking more than a third while no new windfarms won backing, the Clean Energy Council said in its annual report.

The yearly results come as separate data revealed fossil fuel power stations expanded generation in the first two months of 2024 as heatwaves in the east of Australia sent demand soaring.

The renewable sector was increasingly split between “particularly poor” investment in large-scale plants while rooftop solar continued to spread and investments in batteries large and small were “storming ahead”, the council’s report found.

At the end of 2023, Australia had 56 renewable energy projects under construction, down from 72 a year earlier. These had a combined capacity of about 7.5 gigawatts, more than a fifth lower than the 9.5GW at the end of 2022, it said.

New investment commitments provided an “alarming statistic”, though, as such sign-offs were “a good signifier” of how the sector will perform in the future. All up, $1.5bn was secured for new projects in 2023, less than a quarter of the $6.5bn tally for 2022.

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“There were no new financial commitments to utility-scale wind projects in 2023 (compared to six in 2022) – a disheartening situation that needs to be addressed,” the council said. The seven new solar projects with 912 megawatts of capacity last year was down from the 1.5GW in 10 solar farms in 2022.

On a rolling 12-month average, investment in the December quarter sank to the lowest level since the council began gathering data in 2017, dipping below $1bn.

Industry hopes of a turnaround in large-scale projects hinge partly on the federal government’s capacity investment scheme. The plan, to run from 2024 to 2027, aims to drive an additional 32GW of renewables and storage into the grid by 2030.

“It is crucial that the new policy provides increased certainty to investors and can bring in the enormous private sector capital that will be required,” the report said.

Slow approvals, though, including in states such as New South Wales, mean the decade-end target of supplying 82% of electricity by renewables will be challenging, Green Energy Markets said in a recent report.

Decarbonising the power grid was also intended to deliver much of the government’s legislated target cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Recent increases in electricity use driven by several heatwaves, though, suggest the industry will see a pickup in pollution in the first quarter of 2024 at least.

Coal-fired power station output in January and February was up 4% from a year earlier in the national electricity market to 20.776 gigawatt hours, according to figures supplied by the Australian Energy Markets Operator (Aemo).

Gas-fired generation was up 14% from a year earlier to 1.538GWh.

By comparison, grid solar was 18% higher than in January-February 2023, while wind generation was up 5%. Roof-top solar output increased 10%.

In New South Wales, Australia’s largest producer and consumer of electricity, the increase in black-coal generation was 10% and gas jumped 42%. Wind power was up 18%, grid solar 21% and rooftop solar 10%, Aemo said.

In 2023, renewable energy supplied a record 39.4% of Australia’s electricity, led by wind’s 13.4% share, the council said. Rooftop solar cracked a 10% share for the first time, reaching 11.2% ahead of solar farms at 7% and hydro’s 6.5% share.

About 3.7m households now have solar panels, with the 337,498 systems added in 2023 trailing only 2021’s record, the council said.

Another positive story was in batteries. At the end of 2023, 27 large-scale battery projects were under construction with a combined capacity of 5GW or 11GWh. That tally was up from 19 being built at the end of 2022 for 1.4GW and 2GWh. New financial commitments for big batteries also rose from 2022’s $1.9bn to $4.9bn last year.

About 56,000 households also had small-scale batteries at the end of 2023, up from 43,000 in 2022 and 37,000 in 2021, the report said, citing figures from SunWiz.

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Australian renewable sector recorded ‘alarming’ slowdown in 2023, energy body finds

Clean Energy Council report details ‘particularly poor’ investment in large-scale plants but says roof-top solar and batteries are ‘storming ahead’

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Investments in renewable energy plants showed an “alarming” slowdown in 2023, with financial approvals for new solar farms shrinking more than a third while no new windfarms won backing, the Clean Energy Council said in its annual report.

The yearly results come as separate data revealed fossil fuel power stations expanded generation in the first two months of 2024 as heatwaves in the east of Australia sent demand soaring.

The renewable sector was increasingly split between “particularly poor” investment in large-scale plants while rooftop solar continued to spread and investments in batteries large and small were “storming ahead”, the council’s report found.

At the end of 2023, Australia had 56 renewable energy projects under construction, down from 72 a year earlier. These had a combined capacity of about 7.5 gigawatts, more than a fifth lower than the 9.5GW at the end of 2022, it said.

New investment commitments provided an “alarming statistic”, though, as such sign-offs were “a good signifier” of how the sector will perform in the future. All up, $1.5bn was secured for new projects in 2023, less than a quarter of the $6.5bn tally for 2022.

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“There were no new financial commitments to utility-scale wind projects in 2023 (compared to six in 2022) – a disheartening situation that needs to be addressed,” the council said. The seven new solar projects with 912 megawatts of capacity last year was down from the 1.5GW in 10 solar farms in 2022.

On a rolling 12-month average, investment in the December quarter sank to the lowest level since the council began gathering data in 2017, dipping below $1bn.

Industry hopes of a turnaround in large-scale projects hinge partly on the federal government’s capacity investment scheme. The plan, to run from 2024 to 2027, aims to drive an additional 32GW of renewables and storage into the grid by 2030.

“It is crucial that the new policy provides increased certainty to investors and can bring in the enormous private sector capital that will be required,” the report said.

Slow approvals, though, including in states such as New South Wales, mean the decade-end target of supplying 82% of electricity by renewables will be challenging, Green Energy Markets said in a recent report.

Decarbonising the power grid was also intended to deliver much of the government’s legislated target cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Recent increases in electricity use driven by several heatwaves, though, suggest the industry will see a pickup in pollution in the first quarter of 2024 at least.

Coal-fired power station output in January and February was up 4% from a year earlier in the national electricity market to 20.776 gigawatt hours, according to figures supplied by the Australian Energy Markets Operator (Aemo).

Gas-fired generation was up 14% from a year earlier to 1.538GWh.

By comparison, grid solar was 18% higher than in January-February 2023, while wind generation was up 5%. Roof-top solar output increased 10%.

In New South Wales, Australia’s largest producer and consumer of electricity, the increase in black-coal generation was 10% and gas jumped 42%. Wind power was up 18%, grid solar 21% and rooftop solar 10%, Aemo said.

In 2023, renewable energy supplied a record 39.4% of Australia’s electricity, led by wind’s 13.4% share, the council said. Rooftop solar cracked a 10% share for the first time, reaching 11.2% ahead of solar farms at 7% and hydro’s 6.5% share.

About 3.7m households now have solar panels, with the 337,498 systems added in 2023 trailing only 2021’s record, the council said.

Another positive story was in batteries. At the end of 2023, 27 large-scale battery projects were under construction with a combined capacity of 5GW or 11GWh. That tally was up from 19 being built at the end of 2022 for 1.4GW and 2GWh. New financial commitments for big batteries also rose from 2022’s $1.9bn to $4.9bn last year.

About 56,000 households also had small-scale batteries at the end of 2023, up from 43,000 in 2022 and 37,000 in 2021, the report said, citing figures from SunWiz.

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Jimmy Kimmel says Oscars producers tried to stop him reading out Trump’s post

The host of the ceremony also revealed backstage nervousness around the naked John Cena stunt, including discussions regarding envelope size

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Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel has said that the show’s producers tried to stop him reading out Donald Trump’s social media post attacking him and the Oscars during the live telecast on Sunday.

Shortly before the show’s close, Kimmel read out part of Trump’s message on Truth Social, which the former president had posted a short time earlier. “Has there ever been a worse host than Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars. His opening was that of a less than average person trying too hard to be something which he is not, and never can be.” Trump also called the show “disjointed, boring, and very unfair” before closing with “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Kimmel thanked Trump for watching, before asking: “Isn’t it past your jail time?”

Kimmel revealed after the show that producers had attempted to dissuade him from reading out Trump’s post. Speaking to Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos for Live with Kelly and Mark after the show, Kimmel said that the Oscars’ producers had spoken to him about the message. “I was like, ‘I’m reading the Trump tweet,’ and they’re like, ‘No, no, don’t read that.’ [I said:] ‘Yes I am.’”

On his own talk show, Kimmel said the show’s producers were also nervous about the attention-grabbing stunt featuring a naked John Cena, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the streak by Robert Opel in 1974. Kimmel said: “Of all the times I’ve hosted the Oscars or the Emmys or anything, no comedy bit has ever received more scrutiny than this. There were meetings and side meetings, emails and texts and phone calls and people sweating. Somebody was crying. Then, once they realised we weren’t going to take no for an answer, there were intense discussions about the size of the envelope, whether we needed to Velcro it to John’s body, to fill his crack or have socks, various testicalia was discussed […] They kept demanding that we make the envelope bigger.”

He added: “Very rarely does an idea literally push the envelope, and this one did.”

Kimmel also commented further on Trump, saying: “It kind of tells you all you need to know about Donald Trump … He wrote this because he was upset I didn’t mention him on the show. No one mentioned him on the show. He wasn’t getting any attention, he couldn’t stand it […] I wasn’t planning to mention him at all. We were backstage, the show was almost over and one of the other writers was like, ‘Hey look at this.’ And to quote Al Pacino, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I had to read it.”

He added: “We had John Cena on stage naked and somehow Donald Trump still managed to be the biggest dick of the night.”

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WA floods: ‘serious welfare concerns’ for seven people, including four children, missing amid heavy rain

Parts of Goldfields, Eucla and south interior hit with six months’ rain in 24 hours, with severe weather forecast for coming days

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Police have said they hold “serious welfare concerns” for seven people missing hundreds of kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie amid heavy rain and flooding that has cut off road and rail links into Western Australia.

Two vehicles, a beige-coloured Toyota LandCruiser and a white Mitsubishi Triton, were believed to have left Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Sunday between 10am and 2pm, making for Tjuntjuntjara, Kalgoorlie Police said on Tuesday.

Both vehicles contained elderly drivers, with the Mitsubishi Triton also containing five other passengers, four of whom are children aged between seven and 17.

“Concerns are held for the occupants of these two vehicles due to serious weather conditions. It is unknown how much food and water the occupants have in their possession,” police said in a statement.

Parts of WA experienced more than half a year’s rain in 24 hours over the weekend, with more than 155mm of rain recorded at Rawlinna, 900km east of Perth, since 9am Friday.

The Eyre Highway has been closed since the weekend and is likely to remain out of operation for several days.

The Trans-Australian Railway line has also been affected, with key freight routes running between WA and South Australia through the Nullarbor closed amid the rain.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast totals of up to 130mm for parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and south interior districts on Tuesday.

Average rainfall for the area is about 260mm a year, with the resulting downpours wreaking havoc with transport routes.

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Flooding had affected large parts of the Eastern Goldfields, the central parts of the Eucla districts and much of the interior region around there, with many communities affected.

The rain came after a cold front moved across the south-west of WA on Saturday, and it brought significant moisture from the tropics to the eastern goldfields and interior of the state.

WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a warning to residents in Carnegie, Rawlinna, Cocklebiddy and Eyre to seek shelter, stand clear of windows and refrain from driving through flood waters.

“This is not typical weather for south-eastern Western Australia,” DFES said.

“If you live in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla and South Interior districts you should take action and stay safe with severe weather to come.”

The DFES deputy assistant commissioner, Gary Gifford, told ABC Regional Drive the highway was expected to remain closed until the end of the week.

“With the forecast which the [Bureau of Meteorology] has provided us with regard to the unprecedented weather which is coming through the southern interior at the moment, we’re certainly planning towards three and five days at this point of view.”

The BoM senior meteorologist Joey Rawson said records had been “smashed” amid the downfall.

“We’ve just seen consecutive days of significant rainfall through that area. The 141mm that we had on Sunday just smashed any previous record at Eyre.”

Rawson said the previous record at Eyre, just south of Madura, was 81.2mm, which was recorded in 2011.

“This is an unprecedented event of heavy rainfall, and it is due to continue as well, we could see another 100mm in that area over the next 24 hours.”

Rawson said this was a “unique weather event” with many of the communities there rarely facing flooding this severe.

“The highway hasn’t been closed, completely closed, for a long time,” he said.

“Usually they still allow transport trucks to go through if there’s a smoke event, but it hasn’t been completely closed for many years.”

While it was uncertain how long the flooding would remain, the rain was due to ease later in the week, with the rain band expected to move on by Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, Christmas Island could be facing a tropical cyclone in the coming days, as a tropical low in the Indian Ocean tracks closer to the Pilbara.

The low is expected to develop into a cyclone later this week, with the possibility it will bring gale force winds to Christmas Island as it passes.

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Queensland and NSW lose GST as taxpayers fork out $5.2bn for WA’s special deal

Most states and territories will receive more GST revenue according to recommendations of Commonwealth Grants Commission

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Western Australia will receive $6.2bn more GST this year as a result of a Turnbull-government era deal backed by Labor, triggering $5.2bn in payments to other states to ensure they are no worse off.

Those are the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC), which on Tuesday released its latest report on the carve-up of GST between the states and territories.

Decisions of the independent commission are applied by the federal government as a matter of course, despite protests from states losing GST, which this year includes New South Wales and Queensland.

Victoria’s GST revenue will soar by $3.7bn compared with 2023-24, which the commission explained was “largely driven by its reduced capacity to raise mining revenue” and increased urban population and density.

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Due to the GST floor, introduced by the Turnbull government, states are guaranteed to receive 75% of the goods and services tax paid in their state, up from 70% last year.

According to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, this will see Western Australia’s GST distribution rise by $6.2bn relative to what it “would have under the previous GST distribution arrangements”. That was despite WA having “a very strong fiscal capacity, driven by its capacity to raise iron ore royalties”.

The report said the deal “lowers the GST relativities of the other states” but the commonwealth’s “top-up to the GST pool and no worse off payments ameliorate this impact”. Top-up payments will total $5.2bn this year, up from $4.8bn last year.

In February, Anthony Albanese recommitted to the GST deal, despite warnings that it will cost the commonwealth $50bn over a decade. The formula set by Turnbull’s government also guaranteed no state would be worse off under the deal until 2026 – an arrangement extended by the Albanese government to 2030.

The report said the Northern Territory is “estimated to receive the largest increase in per capita terms ($995 per capita)”.

The GST pool is estimated to grow from around $85bn in 2023–24 to around $89bn in 2024–25.

All states and territories received more GST than last year, except for Queensland, which will receive $469m less and NSW, which will receive $310m less.

The Grants Commission explained that their distributions “are estimated to fall, largely due to an increase in their relative revenue raising capacities”, particularly due to coal royalties and soaring land values.

GST needs were reduced by “above-average growth” in land tax capacity in NSW and Tasmania, and in property sales in Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT.

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, welcomed the raise in her state’s revenue.

“We are pleased that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has recognised previous inequity in the GST allocation and that Victoria is receiving a much fairer share,” she told reporters in Geelong.

“There is still more work to be done when it comes to GST, which is why we will continue to push for the no worse off guarantee to be made permanent by the commonwealth government. It’s not fair that Victorians are subsidising other states.”

But the NSW government argued that the state’s GST share falling from 92.4 cents each dollar raised to 86.7 cents is the largest single year reduction since the GST was introduced in 2000 and amounts to being $1.65bn worse off.

The NSW treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, said the results show “how out of touch the Commonwealth Grants Commission is”.

“NSW takes most of the nation’s population growth, but is being punished by having its GST cut,” he said in a statement. “It is an absurd process in dire need of reform.”

The NSW appears to be preparing the ground for a budget deficit, with the finance minister, Courtney Houssos, noting “we have been honest with the people of NSW about the challenges our budget is facing since we were first sworn in”.

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Andrew Tate and brother Tristan arrested in Romania on UK warrant

British-American online influencers facing charges dating to 2012-15 including sexual aggression, representative says

Andrew Tate has been detained in Romania after an arrest warrant was issued by UK authorities following an investigation by Bedfordshire police, the Guardian understands.

The social media influencer, 37, and his brother Tristan Tate, 35, face charges including “sexual aggression” dating to 2012-15, according to a statement by his representative.

The representative said the pair were due before the Bucharest court of appeal on Tuesday for a decision on whether the European arrest warrant should be executed.

The Tate brothers were charged with rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women in a separate case in Romania after being arrested in the country’s capital in December 2022 alongside two Romanian women. All four deny the allegations.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Tates’ representative said: “This bewildering revival of decade-old accusations has left the Tate brothers dismayed and deeply troubled. They categorically reject all charges and express profound disappointment that such serious allegations are being resurrected without substantial new evidence.

“The Tate brothers assert that the timing and circumstances surrounding the reappearance of these allegations raise serious questions about the motives behind this legal action. The suggestion that Mr Tate’s rise to fame may have played a role in these developments adds another layer of distress and concern.”

The kickboxer’s representative said the pair “unequivocally deny all allegations”, and were “fully committed to challenging these accusations with unwavering determination and resolve”.

The statement added: “As the Bucharest court of appeal convenes today, the Tate brothers are still hopeful that the court will consider the broader implications of this case and its potential impact on justice and due process. They remain resolute in their pursuit of truth and justice, confident that the legal system will ultimately vindicate their innocence.”

The Tate brothers arrived in court on Tuesday morning for a hearing.

At least two British police forces are understood to have had an interest in Andrew Tate’s activities in the UK.

It is unclear which specific allegations the extradition request from the British authorities relate to.

Three women have previously spoken to Hertfordshire police, based just outside London, to make allegations. British prosecutors decided last year not to pursue their cases believing they were unlikely to get a conviction.

Hertfordshire police referred media inquiries about Tate on Tuesday to Bedfordshire police, who in turn declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorises criminal charges in England and Wales, confirmed that Hertfordshire police had submitted a file about potential charges after receiving allegations about Tate.

The spokesperson said specialist prosecutors had reviewed the case and informed the women in January 2023 that the case would not be pursued: “Rape is a devastating crime, and every case that comes to the CPS is dealt with by a specialist prosecutor in one of our dedicated rape and sexual offences units.

“In this case, we carefully reviewed all the evidence provided by the police regarding each complainant and concluded it did not meet our legal test, and there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

“We sent a letter to each complainant explaining our decision not to charge.

“We acknowledge the bravery of everyone who comes forward and want them to be confident that their case will be prosecuted whenever our legal test is met.”

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