From Australia News in Brief

Delivering Labor’s plan to fix aged care

Sydneysiders urged to work from home ahead of NSW train strike today Thursday

Climate Change Bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

David Littleproud says Nationals will oppose government’s climate change bill

NSW government is delivering projects that make it faster, easier and safer for commuters

Addressing the skills crisis in the country,boosts productivity and economic growth and creating safer and better jobs...

A joint meeting between Australia and Korea to expand green energy comes to NSW

Worrying sign Germany is on the ‘cusp of a recession

NSW biosecurity beefed up to battle livestock diseases

A new TAFE strategy to train one million people and adopt digital technologies

NSW gains $3.1b productivity boost from COVID-19 reforms

Australia 'appalled' by Myanmar executions, Penny Wong offers condolences to families still without answers

Ukrainians who fled fighting in eastern regions encounter hardships, forced to return home

Drivers flee massive sandstorm in north-west China's Haixi region

Delivering Labor’s plan to fix aged care


(See translation in Arabic section)

Sydney – M E TIMES Int’l: The Albanese Labor Government introduced legislation today to deliver our commitments to fix the crisis in aged care, and usher in a new funding model for residential aged care.

The Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 will require a qualified registered nurse to be on site in every residential aged care home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring older Australians living in residential aged care receive immediate care when needed.   

The former Morrison Government ignored the Royal Commission’s recommendation that nursing homes should have a RN on site 24/7.

We are also delivering on our election commitment to improve transparency in the aged care system, with the Bill introducing measures to monitor the costs associated with aged care, placing greater responsibility on providers to be transparent and fair.

This will see the publication of more information about providers’ operations including what they are spending money on.

The legislation also delivers on our election commitment to stop the rorting of Home Care fees, by placing a cap on how much can be charged in administration and management fees.

This means home care users can be confident their money is going directly to care – not the bottom line of providers.

Also introduced today, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 contains nine measures to implement urgent reforms to the aged care system, and responds to 17 recommendations of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The Royal Commission Response Bill provides the legislative framework for the new AN-ACC funding model for residential aged care homes, which will replace the outdated Aged Care Funding Instrument in October 2022.

This framework will offer more equitable funding, better matched to providers’ costs in delivering the care residents need.

Other measures enshrine transparency and accountability of approved providers, and improve quality of care and safety for older Australians receiving aged care services.

This includes the Star Ratings System, which will see the Department of Health and Aged Care publish a comparison rating for all residential aged care services by the end of 2022; an extension of the Serious Incident Response Scheme to all in home care providers from 1 December 2022, meaning increased protection for older Australians from preventable incidents, abuse and neglect; and a new Code of Conduct for approved providers, their workforce and governing persons.

 Sydneysiders urged to work from home ahead of New South Wales train strike  on Thursday | Sky News Australia

Sydneysiders urged to work from home ahead of NSW train strike today Thursday

Commuters are being warned to brace for further disruptions to NSW train services on Thursday as part of ongoing industrial action.

Union bosses are planning a new series of industrial action which will be an “escalation” of measures that wreaked havoc across the network earlier this month.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) boss Alex Claassens said the strike will cease trains between midnight Wednesday and 4 am Thursday and may affect services during the morning commute.

“Disappointingly, I’m out here facing you again today with the news that of course, we’ve got more industrial action happening on Thursday. So from midnight to 4am, all services in New South Wales rail will cease,” he said.

 “And as soon as possible after 4 am we’ll try and get the system back up and running as good as we can.

“I’m reliably informed that we should be able to get the system up and running reasonably well by about 7.30 – 8 o’clock.”

The unions have been locked in a stoush with the NSW government over safety issues around the new Korean-made Intercity Fleet.

The government has agreed to spend $264 million on safety improvements included in an enterprise agreement but the union want the changes cemented in a separate deed before ceasing industrial action.

Mr Claassens acknowledged the strike will inconvenience some workers and urged people to work from home if they can.

“If you’ve got the ability to work from home you should do that, if you can delay your travel for a few hours in the morning please do that,” he said.

“I know it’s going to be difficult for those tradies that come in early in the morning, they’re the ones that are going to be most inconvenienced I suspect.

“But I think a lot of them do get the fact that they want a safe train as well, they know that we are doing this for them as much as for anybody else.

“We need to have a safe rail system out there, we need to make these trains safe and once we’ve done that we can actually get on with life.”

Bowen urges action, launches climate bill 

Climate Change Bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Federal Government will introduce the Climate Change Bill 2022 into Parliament on Wednesday, to enshrine the nation’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero by 2050.

Legislating targets provides the strongest possible signal to industry and investors of Australia’s collective commitment to decarbonising the economy and becoming a renewable energy superpower.

It also helps restore Australia’s international reputation, positioning the nation to capitalise on the opportunities arising from global climate action.

The legislation has four key elements: it enshrines in law the nationally determined contribution of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050; tasks the independent Climate Change Authority to provide advice on Australia’s progress against these targets, and to advise on new targets under the Paris Agreement which will include a 2035 target; requires the Minister for Climate Change to report annually to Parliament on progress in meeting our targets; and embeds the nation’s targets in the objectives and functions of a range of key government agencies including ARENA, CEFC, Infrastructure Australia and the NAIF.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said the Australian Government was making good on its promise.

“This Bill confirms our commitment to ambitious but realistic targets supported by Australia’s states and territories, business, industry, unions, environmental and community groups – and provides a platform for collaboration to drive down emissions while ensuring reliable energy supplies,” Mr Bowen said.

 “The current issues confronting Australian and global energy markets highlights why this long-term commitment is so important.

“The Albanese Government is giving the Parliament the opportunity to end the climate wars. We encourage members of Parliament to support this Bill and signal our shared national commitment to responsible climate action.”

 Nationals won't back a bigger medium-term emissions cut, David Littleproud  says | National party | The Guardian

David Littleproud says Nationals will oppose government’s climate change bill

Nationals leader David Littleproud says his junior Coalition party will not be supporting the government’s new climate change bill, as some Liberals consider crossing the floor.

The bill - which will enshrine into law the nation's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - was introduced to Parliament by Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen on Wednesday morning.

Labor is hoping to legislate its election promise of reducing Australia's emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.

The bill is expected to pass the lower house where the government holds a majority.

But legislating in the Senate is currently in question as it will need the support of the Greens who hold 12 of 18 seats on the crossbench.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has criticised the bill throughout the week for creating a ceiling on climate change emissions and pushed for a stronger target of 75 per cent reduction by 2030.

Significantly a number of Liberals including Bridget Archer could cross the floor to support legislating the target.

Ms Archer, who represents the Tasmanian seat of Bass, said climate was the number one issue in her electorate.

Early works to the Western Harbour Tunnel starting this month despite  community concerns - City Hub Sydney | Your Local Independent News 

Editor’s note: vision pack available here

NSW government is delivering projects that make it faster, easier and safer for commuters

Excavation on the first stage of the Western Harbour Tunnel has started, with works commencing to carve out 1.7 kilometres of mainline tunnels from Rozelle to Birchgrove. 

Minister for Metropolitan Roads, Natalie Ward, said this was a significant milestone in the delivery of Sydney’s historic third harbour crossing.

The Hon. Natalie Peta WARD, MLC

“Major construction has now commenced on the Western Harbour Tunnel - one of the most significant transport infrastructure projects being delivered in Sydney,” Minister Ward said.

“This really is a historic moment for our city. It was 90 years ago that construction completed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and 30 years since the Sydney Harbour Tunnel opened. Today, construction is commencing on Sydney’s third harbour crossing.

“Once complete, this important new connection will change the way commuters move across the city, taking pressure off key transport arteries including the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, Anzac Bridge and Western Distributor.

“Our government is delivering projects that make it faster, easier and safer for commuters to move around our city as part of our $110 billion infrastructure investment pipeline.”

The Western Harbour Tunnel will link WestConnex at the Rozelle Interchange with the Warringah Freeway at North Sydney via 6.5-kilometre tunnels under Sydney Harbour.

With three lanes in each direction, commuters are set to save up to 15 minutes when travelling from North Sydney to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. 

The John Holland CPB Joint Venture, which is undertaking the Rozelle Interchange works, are also delivering stage one of the Western Harbour Tunnel.

This will allow the Western Harbour Tunnel project to transition into the major construction phase, through leveraging existing skills, equipment and resources and reducing disruption to the local community.   

The construction contract to deliver the second stage of work of northern tunnelling from Birchgrove through Sydney Harbour and onto North Sydney will be awarded in late 2022.

Australia politics live: Labor and Coalition clash over building watchdog  in question time; toddler among 82 more Covid deaths 

Addressing the skills crisis in the country,boosts productivity and economic growth and creating safer and better jobs...

The Albanese government is taking immediate action to address the urgent skills crisis, by introducing legislation to create Australian Jobs and Skills (JSA)The Albanese Government is taking immediate action to address the urgent skills crisis, by introducing legislation to establish Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA)

The very first piece of legislation introduced by the Albanese Government will commence establishing Jobs and Skills Australia - a new independent agency, responsible for providing advice to Government to underpin Australia’s response to current, emerging and future labour market and workforce skills and training needs, to improve employment opportunities and economic growth.

JSA will work closely with state and territory governments, as well as industry, employers, trade unions and training providers to ensure a shared understanding of the key issues facing Australia’s labour market.

Minister for Skills and Training, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, said it is a critical priority of the new government.

‘As a nation we are experiencing skills and labour shortages across industries that are vital to the health and wellbeing of Australians and our economy,’ Minister O’Connor said.

‘After nearly a decade of inaction under the previous government, made worse by the decision to abandon migrant workers during the pandemic lockdowns, it’s vital to plan and to act to ensure that Australia has the skills it needs.

JSA will also examine the adequacy of the VET system in delivering these skills and making sure Australians of all backgrounds have the training and skills to access job opportunities now and in future.

‘Establishing an interim Jobs and Skills Australia Director will enable its critical work to commence quickly, while extensive consultation on the ongoing functions and structure of JSA occurs.

Jobs and Skills Australia will have a tripartite approach with state and territory governments, industry, employers, unions and training providers, and promote a training system that meets the needs of employees, employers and the economy.

‘JSA will build on the work started by the National Skills Commission, but with a much broader remit to address issues in the skills and training sector, while forging closer partnerships with key stakeholders. It will also play an active role in workforce planning to look at future trends.

‘The Albanese Government has wasted no time and introducing JSA will make a real difference. It is a step towards addressing the nation’s skills crisis, contributing to productivity improvements, economic growth and creating more secure and better employment opportunities for Australian workers, Minister O’Connor said.

 Aus-Korea BC⁷ (@_AKBC) / Twitter

A joint meeting between Australia and Korea to expand green energy comes to NSW

The renewable energy sector will be a key focus area of discussion when industry leaders and key decision-makers from Australia and Korea converge on Sydney later this year to discuss a range of topics including green energy, critical minerals, defence and education opportunities, as NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet strengthens this strategic relationship during his visit to Seoul.

Mr Perrottet today announced the NSW Government as the major sponsor of the 43rd Joint Meeting between the Australia-Korea Business Council (AKBC) and the Korea-Australia Business Council (KABC) to be held in Sydney in November 2022.  

“We want NSW to lead Australia – and the world – investment leads to jobs and opportunities for the people of NSW in the transition towards a clean economy,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Our Hydrogen Strategy is forecast to more than halve the cost of green hydrogen production in NSW, making our state one of the best places in the world to invest in hydrogen. Our Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy outlines our vision to make NSW a leading global supplier of critical minerals and high-tech metals.”

Mr Kwon Tae-Shin of KABC and Vice Chairman of Federation of Korean Industries said the Joint Meeting in Sydney is an important event to strengthen partnerships and deepen engagement between the business communities of Australia and Korea.

“We see an incredible alignment of interests between Korea and NSW particularly in generating bilateral business outcomes in the energy sector. Australia is a well-trusted, reliable supplier of energy to Korea, and as both our countries look to decarbonise, the opportunities are significant,” Mr Kwon said. 

The Honourable Simon Crean, Chairman of the AKBC said NSW has a long and trusted partnership with the AKBC, working together to promote NSW investment opportunities and to support NSW businesses to expand into Korea.

Germany 'on the cusp of a recession', fuelled by fears of gas crisis | — Australia's leading news site 

Worrying sign Germany is on the ‘cusp of a recession

The business climate in Germany worsened “significantly” in July, according to a key survey published on Monday, as an energy crisis pushed Europe’s largest economy closer to a recession this year.

The Ifo institute’s monthly confidence barometer, based on a survey of 9000 companies, fell to 88.6 points in July from 92.2 points last month and the “lowest level since June 2020” near the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pessimistic figures suggest that “Germany is on the cusp of a recession”, Ifo president Clemens Fuest said.

The mood among businesses had “cooled significantly”, while “higher energy prices and the threat of a gas shortage are weighing on the economy”.

The fall was particularly steep in the manufacturing sector, where “pessimism regarding the coming months reached its highest level since April 2020”, Mr Fuest said.

“Weaker global demand (and) supply chain frictions” were also weighing on the Germany economy, said ING analyst Carsten Brzeski.

He said the strong headwinds and weak data meant Germany’s economy could have seen a contraction “already in the second quarter”.

The risk that Russia could cut off its supply of gas to Germany, in retaliation for Berlin’s support of Ukraine, has prompted fears of an energy shortage at the end of the year.

Looking ahead, “there are more downside than upside risks to the outlook”, Mr Brzeski said.

“A further escalation in the energy crisis will remain a key risk for the economy going into the winter,” he said.

Businesses’ expectations for the economy fell sharply to 80.3 points in July from 85.5 the previous month.

Their assessment of the current situation sank to 97.7 points in July from 99.4 points previously.

Animal biosecurity 

NSW biosecurity beefed up to battle livestock diseases

The NSW Government has mobilised its team of veterinarians and specialist biosecurity staff, ramping up efforts to ensure farmers are in the best position to manage a possible incursion of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). 

Staff from Local Land Services (LLS) will connect with farmers through a series of workshops, webinars, and visits to saleyards and field days to help farmers identify and report the early signs of both FMD and lumpy skin disease (LSD).

Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said while the focus remains on keeping these diseases out of NSW, it’s crucial to prepare for a worst-case scenario. 

“Our top priority is ensuring FMD and LSD never reach our shores – and we’ve been pushing hard for stronger biosecurity measures to keep our industry safe,” Mr Toole said.

“Farmers can play their part by being alert for warning signs, regularly monitoring livestock and quickly reporting any suspect cases.”

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said with FMD and LSD on our doorstep, it’s a timely reminder for livestock producers to ensure their farm biosecurity plans are up to date.   

“Farm biosecurity plans are the foundation of our state’s preparedness when it comes to new animal and plant diseases,” Mr Saunders said. 

“These can be simple measures built into day-to-day operations that will help protect your farm and ultimately, our state.”

“If livestock do exhibit any of unusual signs, they must be reported immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 or their LLS district veterinarian.”

New TAFE strategy to train one million people 

A new TAFE strategy to train one million people and adopt digital technologies

The number of apprentices and trainees in jobs across the state increased 11 per cent in the year to December 2021, off the back of the NSW Government’s unprecedented investment in fee-free training.

The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) report shows NSW continues to lead the nation, with more apprentices and trainees than any other state or territory.

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said 106,445 apprentices and trainees were in training at the end of 2021, with both commencements and completions up overall on the year before.

“Our push to turbocharge the take-up of vocational education and training is securing a brighter future for NSW, with more people getting skilled, finding jobs and growing the economy,” Mr Henskens said.

“It’s great to see the number of women undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW continuing to surge, with a 21 per cent increase in 2021.

“Our record skills investment is helping people boost their budget through free training, allowing them to find in-demand jobs and contribute to historically low unemployment rates in NSW.”

The NSW Government is removing barriers to vocational education and training for young people through programs like JobTrainer, Careers NSW, the Educational Pathways Program and reforms to the HSC and ATAR that will significantly expand the education and employment pathways available to young people.

Business NSW CEO Daniel Hunter welcomed the Government’s ongoing commitment to a strong pipeline of skilled workers in NSW.

NSW COVID: Rules relaxed during pandemic set to stay and deliver $3.1b boost  to economy 

NSW gains $3.1b productivity boost from COVID-19 reforms

The NSW Productivity Commission has found keeping beneficial COVID-19 regulatory reforms would see a $3.1 billion boost to the state economy over the next decade.

Economic benefits come from increased employment flexibility, business flexibility and increased use of digital platforms.

Specific measures include: $1.9 billion from long service flexibility allowing an employer and a worker to agree to take long service leave in smaller blocks; $450 million from electronic meetings and voting for strata schemes, community land associations and incorporated associations; $250 million from a range of planning measures, including 24-hour retail supply chain operations, and allowing home businesses to run 24 hours a day and to employ two to five staff; $197 million from changes to the sale of takeaway alcohol and home delivery alcohol by licensed venues and $195 million from digital execution and certification of conveyancing documents and remote witnessing of signatures.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the Lessons from COVID-19 Regulatory Relaxations paper released on Tuesday outlines the ongoing benefits of these reforms for the economy and will help inform future regulations.

“Most of the temporary regulations that supported communities and businesses during the pandemic delivered valuable and immediate support and will boost the state’s productivity by $3.1 billion over the next decade,” Mr Kean said.

NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat said the analysis highlighted the value of trialling and testing new approaches when responding to an evolving crisis.

“As we transition to living with COVID-19, our paper highlights the need for governments to continue to experiment with regulatory changes that promote new ways of working and living,” Mr Achterstraat said.

Australia 'appalled' by Myanmar executions, Penny Wong offers condolences  to families still without answers - ABC News 

Australia 'appalled' by Myanmar executions, Penny Wong offers condolences to families still without answers

Families of the executed men say the junta will not return their loved ones' bodies

Some relatives were able to speak with the men but were not told of their impending execution

The UN and international community have condemned Myanmar for the executions

Meanwhile, the men's families have been left without answers about their loved ones' deaths — and even their bodies.

Sentenced to death in secretive trials in January and April, the four men were accused of helping a civilian resistance movement which has fought the military since last year's coup and bloody crackdown on nationwide protests.

Among those executed were democracy campaigner Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former politician and hip hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, an ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi with close ties to Australia. The two others executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

State media reported the country's first executions in over three decades had been carried out, saying "the punishment has been conducted", but did not say when, or by what method. However, previous executions in Myanmar have been by hanging.

In a statement on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia opposed the death penalty in all circumstances.

She called on the regime in Myanmar to cease violence and release all those who were unjustly detained.

"Australia is appalled by the execution of four pro-democracy activists in Myanmar and strongly condemns the actions of the Myanmar military regime," she said.

"Sanctions against members of Myanmar's military regime are under active consideration.

"We extend sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives since the coup."

 Ukrainians who fled fighting in eastern regions encounter hardships, forced  to return home - ABC News

Ukrainians who fled fighting in eastern regions encounter hardships, forced to return home

The Ukrainian woman's mother found her dying on the bench beneath the pear tree where she'd enjoyed the afternoon.

By the time her father arrived, she was gone.

Ms Protsenko was killed two days after returning home.

The 35-year-old had done what authorities wanted: she evacuated eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region as Russian forces move closer. But starting a new life elsewhere had been uncomfortable and expensive.

Like Ms Protsenko, tens of thousands of people have returned to rural or industrial communities close to the region's front line at considerable risk because they can't afford to live in safer places.

Ms Protsenko had tried it for two months, then came home to take a job in the small city of Pokrovsk.

On Monday, friends and family caressed her face and wept before her casket was hammered shut beside her grave.

"We cannot win. They don't hire us elsewhere and you still have to pay rent," friend and neighbour Anastasia Rusanova said.

She said there was nowhere to go, but back in the Donetsk region, "everything is ours".

Drivers flee massive sandstorm in north-west China's Haixi region - ABC News 

Drivers flee massive sandstorm in north-west China's Haixi region

Video has emerged showing a massive sandstorm engulfing a road in north-western China, trapping drivers for hours.

The sandstorm occurred in Qinghai province's Haixi region on July 20, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Video provided to the Associated Press shows a fast-moving wall of sand turning the sky yellow.

Drivers sound their horns as they speed away from the billowing clouds of sand.

"I couldn't see anything when I was trapped. I felt a little scared," said Mr Ning, who filmed the sandstorm while travelling and only provided his last name.

He said the sandstorm chased after him for more than 100 kilometres before he was caught and trapped for three hours.


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