New firming tender to ensure energy reliability
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney – M E TIMES Int’l: The NSW Government today announced it is directing the Consumer Trustee to run a new tender under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap to ensure the State has the firming infrastructure it needs to provide cheap, clean and reliable energy well into the future.
Minister for Energy Matt Kean said that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has projected increased electricity demand over the coming years, driven by more electric vehicles, electrification of homes and businesses and updates to other inputs and assumptions in their Energy Security Target Monitor Report, meaning more firming infrastructure is required to keep the grid reliable.
“NSW has the most ambitious renewable energy policy anywhere in the country, helping to replace ageing coal fired power stations and reach net zero emissions,” Mr Kean said.
“Firming infrastructure is needed alongside renewable energy infrastructure to balance the grid, helping to keep the lights on when it isn’t sunny or windy, or when there is high demand.”
“The firming tender will be open to all technology types, but projects will be required to have an emissions intensity lower than the most recent NSW grid average and achieve net zero scope 1 emissions by 2035.”
The Consumer Trustee, AEMO Services, will now prepare an Infrastructure Investment Objectives Report to determine the size and timing of tenders, to ensure reliable energy while minimising costs to consumers.
French navy warns AUKUS nuclear submarine plan will be 'much more difficult' for Australia
One of France's most senior defence figures is warning Australia that acquiring nuclear submarines will be "much more difficult" than the now scrapped plan to build a new fleet of conventionally powered boats.
As both nations look to reset relations following the diplomatic fallout from last year's AUKUS announcement, the French military's Chief of Operations of the Joint Staff is signalling a "new era" of cooperation involving more naval exercises and cooperation.
Vice Admiral Nicolas Vaujour has travelled to Sydney for talks with Australian Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell and other military leaders at the high-powered Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) Conference.
In September, the Morrison government angered Paris by ditching a $90 billion project to construct French designed submarines, to instead pursue a nuclear-powered fleet with help from the United States and United Kingdom.
The visiting French military chief said although the matter had now been settled with an $835 million compensation deal, he was "surprised" at Australia's decision and warned the new AUKUS venture would be very challenging.
"My own assessment, it is much more difficult to have that kind of asset than the classic submarine, so I hope for Australia, for UK and for the US that they will find the best way to answer the question [of how to deliver the new capability]".
French speaking from experience
As owners of nuclear-powered submarines, Vice Admiral Vaujour said France knew "very well" the workforce and logistical challenges involved in maintaining the complex technology
"There is a lot of advantage to [having] a nuclear submarine, you can stay a long time at sea, but it means you have to have big industry, supply chains and so on inside your country to be able to operate that".
"You need to build the skills of the crew and so on which is much more difficult than for a classic submarine – but of course that's a choice," the Vice Admiral added.
Following his talks with General Campbell, the Vice Admiral revealed he had proposed the two countries organise joint naval training drills ahead of next year's Croix du Sud, a major French-led humanitarian and disaster relief training exercise in the South Pacific.
In April last year, the French and Australian navies conducted a joint patrol through the contested South China Sea after the idea was first proposed back in 2017.
"I think we have the same view on the Indo-Pacific," Vice Admiral Vaujour said when asked about the rise of China in the region.
"We share the same vision, we have a common destiny because we are neighbours, we face the same climate change challenges, we face the same security issues, so we have a lot of room to co-operate together."
Pacific region a priority for France
Vice Admiral Vaujour stressed that the Pacific would always be a priority for his military, declaring that "France does not have a presence in the Pacific, France belongs to the Pacific."
"We have two territories there in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and so I have to say that my neighbours as a French person are Belgium and Germany, but also Tonga, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand."
France has begun updating its fleet of ageing ocean patrol vessels in the Pacific, as well as modernising its maritime surveillance and search-and-rescue aircraft in the region.
Earlier this week, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, was far more outspoken on China's rise in the Indo-Pacific, after co-hosting the CHODs conference in Sydney.
"It's clear that the Chinese have designs to dominate the South China Seas from a military standpoint and I think that should be a concern to people," Mr Milley said on the 7.30 program.
Experts wonder if Australia’s inflation has already peaked
The Treasurer Jim Chalmers says Australia’s inflation will reach its peak at 7.75 per cent by the end of the year – way up from the previously anticipated 4.25 per cent figure.
The prediction means things will get worse before they get better.
“The headwinds our economy is facing – higher inflation at the top of that list, along with slowing global growth – are now reflected in the revised economic outcomes and forecasts,” he said.
But some experts think those forecasts are wrong.
Dr Brendan Rynne, chief economist for KPMG Australia, says “the peak of inflation is coming into view”.
Specifically, Dr Rynne said he thinks inflation “will peak in the second half of this year … around the low 7 per cent.”
“We have had inflation jump by 1 per cent already just in the June quarter. And we had inflation before that jump about 1.8 per cent in the March quarter. So, what that means is that the rate of growth is starting to decline.”
He said he expects to see inflation come back to around 3 per cent by next year and be around 2-3 per cent in 2023.
Dr Rynne said global uncertainties including the war in Ukraine and how China continues to handle the pandemic could impact Australia’s economy.
“The real uncertainty from the pandemic perspective relates to the potential for the Chinese economy to lock down and therefore create additional supply pressures in the global economy,” he said. “In terms of Russia and the Ukraine conflict, you’re starting to see some of those disruptions starting to minimise.”
On Thursday, the Treasurer said economists advising the federal government weren’t expecting Australia to be facing a recession.
“That’s not the Treasury’s expectation,” Chalmers told the Nine Network. “I think what we’ve got … is an economy that’s growing but so are our challenges.”
He sought to place some of the blame for Australia’s gloomy economic outlook to the debt burden left after the Coalition’s decade in office.
“Our predecessor had more than doubled gross debt before the pandemic hit,” he said. “We know that interest payments on government debt will be the fastest growing area of government spending … faster than the NDIS, faster than aged care.
“Our government must make the hard decisions necessary for responsible budget repair.”
As they shut down their economies during the pandemic, governments around the world handed out billions of dollars in stimulus to citizens while central banks slashed interest rates to near-zero levels.
That drastically increased the amount of money sloshing around, while also increasing consumer demand – lots of people sitting at home buying stuff on Amazon.
But at the same time, the real-world consequences of lockdowns – closed borders, production shutdowns, shipping delays – restricted the supply of goods, causing prices to rise.
Australians were already seeing higher prices for many imported goods due to supply chain disruptions, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused further turmoil as it sent global prices for energy and other commodities skyrocketing.
Higher fuel costs are particularly devastating, as they drive up prices for nearly everything else. In Australia, the floods have also been a factor, disrupting growing season and impacting the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Across most of the world, inflation is at the highest level in decades. Inflation in Australia hasn’t been this high since 1990.
In the US and UK, inflation is at 40-year highs of 9.1 per cent and 8.2 per cent. New Zealand is at a 32-year high of 7.2 per cent.
This is far from the worst it’s been, however. In March 1975, at the height of the global oil price shocks that saw fuel prices skyrocket, the annual inflation rate in Australia hit 17.7 per cent.
But the highest inflation ever seen in Australia was actually 23.9 per cent in December 1951, during the “Korean War Boom”.
A large factor was the surging global demand for wool, one of Australia’s key exports, with tripling prices leading to a massive increase in GDP growth, pushing up domestic demand.
At the same time, the Australian government was removing controls over prices, wages and rationing – further increasing domestic demand – and embarking on expansionary post-war fiscal and monetary policies including cheap home loans.
Turning trash into treasure in NSW
Households are being encouraged to boost their recycling efforts to help contribute to a cleaner environment and transition to a circular economy in NSW.
Minister for Environment James Griffin said the community’s commitment to recycling has seen record numbers of recycled materials re-entering the economy as valuable resources.
“Two thirds of all waste in NSW is already being recycled, and we want to do even better to boost the circular economy,” Mr Griffin said.
“Creating a circular economy in NSW is only possible with our community’s unwavering commitment to a cleaner environment by seeing what they throw out as a valuable resource. In short NSW residents, we need you.
“When we recycle right, our trash gets turned into treasure - it gets a new life. By using making sure we’re putting the right things in our recycling bins at home and using our successful Return and Earn network, we each make a positive contribution to our environment.
“You can make sure you’re recycling right with the free Recycle Mate app, which tells you exactly what can and can’t be recycled in your local government area.”
Sixty-four per cent of all waste generated in NSW is recycled, being remade into new items such as building materials, packaging, and new food and drink containers.
The NSW Government has started implementing its $356 million Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy, which supports a target to achieve an 80 per cent recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030, transitioning to a circular economy and reducing waste to landfill.
NSW recycling capacity was increased by 2.7 million tonnes through the NSW Government’s $802 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which delivered almost 3,000 projects and was the largest waste and recycling program in Australia.
New vaccines on the way as monkeypox declared an 'incident of national significance'
Newer vaccines to tackle monkeypox are on their way to Australia to deal with the emergency, but experts warn currently there is limited supply.
Australian health authorities have designated monkeypox to be a "communicable disease of national significance".
Two vaccines are available to prevent the condition.
People at a high risk of exposure to the virus are advised to speak to their GP or sexual health clinic about vaccine options.
Australia has existing supplies of an older vaccine which is tricky to administer, not suitable for severely immunocompromised people and is associated with rare but serious side effects.
A second and newer vaccine called Jynneos has fewer side effects and can be given to people whose immune system is compromised.
Health Minister Mark Butler said Australia was actively pursuing supplies of the newer vaccines, which are in limited supply, before the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency, and said the government was trying to raise awareness of the virus.
"The government is working closely with peak bodies and organisations to improve awareness and encourage people at risk, as well as health professionals, to be alert to the symptoms," he said.
This week, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) said limited supplies of the new vaccine had been secured by the Commonwealth and some states and territories.
It released new advice on who should get the vaccines, saying gay and bisexual men, sex workers and health workers will be prioritised as they are populations most at risk.
Though, ATAGI said widespread vaccination was not recommended due to the low risk of infection and limited vaccine supply.
NSW and India partner up for tech success
NSW’s tech success in India continues to grow with the announcement of four new partnerships between NSW and Indian technology businesses.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and the Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres met with Indian tech companies recently in Bengaluru to promote collaboration between NSW and India and congratulate the businesses on their upcoming partnerships.
“NSW is working to attract Indian technology investment into NSW across subsectors including edtech, medtech, fintech and space technologies,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We are focused on linking the NSW and Indian technology ecosystems and through the expansion of our international network and programs we are providing better support for NSW exporters to reach their target markets and help open more doors.
“Through these networks we have helped facilitate four new tech partnerships between NSW and Indian firms. I’d like to congratulate these businesses and welcome more like these.”
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres said today’s business event with Indian technology companies provided the opportunity to showcase NSW technology capabilities to potential partners and investors.
“Sydney is Australia’s technology hub and a thriving technology sector with innovative precincts like Tech Central and our Startup and Scaleup Hubs making our state even more attractive to companies looking to grow in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Ayres said.
“Being on the ground in India has given us the opportunity to discuss with Indian businesses the growing opportunities available and see firsthand the important role our Going Global Export Program and international offices play in bringing business and partners together.
Infosys investment boosts high-tech innovation in NSW
Sydney continues to cement itself as Australia’s leading digital hub with the opening of Infosys’ first NSW-based Living Lab in North Sydney, with the NSW Premier visiting the headquarters and laboratory of the global leader in next generation digital services and consulting, to see first-hand the digital innovation and experiences heading to NSW.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the announcement as he toured the Infosys Living Lab and Campus in Bengaluru and said the Sydney opening is a prime example of NSW continuing to attract cutting-edge innovation to the state.
“NSW has established itself as the innovation capital of Australia thanks to digital powerhouses such as Infosys choosing to establish a presence in Sydney,” Mr Perrottet said, on the final day of his visit to India.
“This latest investment signifies Infosys’ commitment to driving innovation and collaboration in NSW to help us further strengthen our digital economy, and create more future focused jobs and opportunity for the people of our state.
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres said the 160-square metre Living Lab in North Sydney will help to attract further Indian investments to NSW by showcasing the successful growth opportunities available.
“India, and especially Bengaluru, offers a thriving start-up ecosystem that we are continuing to attract,” Mr Ayres said.
“With more and more direct flights from India to Sydney, we are the gateway for Indian businesses to enter the Australian market and Infosys is a great example of what can be achieved.”
Infosys Executive Vice President and Region Head Australia and New Zealand Andrew Groth said the Living Lab will lead to further collaboration across the industry.
“Sydney is an important digital hub in Australia, being home to many of the nation’s largest enterprises, start-ups and leading universities.
Albanese introduces legislation to abolish debit card... to prevent spending on items such as alcohol and gambling
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s plan to scrap a controversial welfare program was lashed on Friday by radio host Ben Fordham as “too soft”.
Albanese this week introduced legislation to abolish the cashless debit card, which quarantines up to 80 per cent of welfare payments into a restricted bank account.
It was designed to prevent cash withdrawals or spending on items such as alcohol and gambling.
Labor made the move to transition Australians off cashless debit cards a key election promise but the 2GB host took issue with the plan, saying Mr Albanese needed to dish out “tough love”.
“We all know a little bit of tough love never hurt anyone,” Fordham said, adding that you sometimes “had to be cruel to be kind”. “Getting rid of it is going to be a costly mistake. Kids in disadvantaged areas were going without, there was no money left over for food and nappies and books and medicine.”
Fordham placed the blame at politicians like Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe who had “described the program as racist”.
“They ignore the fact that the cashless welfare card was handed out to white families too.”
His call follows a plea from Tasmania senator Jacqui Lambie, who blasted Mr Albanese for not consulting with communities the card’s removal will impact.
“I can tell you the drop in domestic violence and Indigenous kids getting fed has been absolutely phenomenal (since the cashless welfare card system began),” she told Sky News.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said, however, there was “no evidence” to suggest the card reduced alcohol misuse.
“What I have heard from people in communities is that this card is not stopping alcohol misuse,” Rishworth told media.
Last month, the Auditor-General found the former Morrison government had not demonstrated the scheme was working despite running trials for five years.
Free training for asylum seekers and refugees
Asylum seekers will be supported with more opportunities to get skilled and find jobs thanks to a new fee-free training program funded by the NSW Government.
The NSW Government has invested $11 million in the Asylum Seeker Employment Skills Support program, which will help upskill asylum seekers by offering English classes, driving lessons, computer literacy courses and even certificates in business.
Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the new program is a game-changer for asylum seekers struggling to gain employment.
“We know that refugees and asylum seekers want to be self-sufficient through work, but sometimes they are unable to because they don’t have the skills or qualifications,” Mr Henskens said.
“This new program will break down barriers and provide practical support to help asylum seekers get a job and secure a brighter future for them and their families.”
The program joins the Refugee Employment Support Program, which has been extended to December 2023 thanks to an additional $6.3 million investment by the NSW Government.
Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said both of these programs go to the very core of the NSW Government’s desire to provide opportunities for everyone across the state to succeed.
“These programs are about investing in our state’s greatest asset – its people. People come to NSW to create a better life and we want to help them make that a reality,” Mr Coure said.
“This investment goes beyond helping refugees and asylum seekers – it supports local businesses and our economy as well.
New facilities to train tradies at TAFE NSW
Apprentice tradies honing their construction craft at TAFE NSW are benefitting from new covered outdoor learning areas, allowing them to undertake practical lessons rain, hail or shine.
Treasurer and Member for Hornsby Matt Kean said the construction of 16 new trades facilities statewide was a part of the NSW Government’s record investment in TAFE NSW, which has delivered more than $790 million in capital upgrades since 2020-21.
“With demand for carpenters in NSW expected to increase by almost 9 per cent over the next five years, this investment in TAFE NSW is critical for ensuring apprentice tradies can complete their training regardless of the weather,” Mr Kean said.
“The NSW Government’s investment in TAFE NSW is improving facilities, upgrading teaching equipment and creating modern learning spaces, such as our revolutionary new Institutes of Applied Technology at Meadowbank and Kingswood.
“These new facilities will significantly increase TAFE’s capacity to train tradies which will help grow our economy and secure a brighter future for local people.”
Minister for Skills and Training and Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens said data out this week shows the number of apprentices and trainees in jobs increased 11 per cent last year, off the back of the NSW Government’s unprecedented investment in fee-free training.
“NSW is leading the nation when it comes to investing in skills and training to create a pipeline of skilled, job-ready workers for industry,” Mr Henskens said.
“It’s also great to see the number of women in NSW undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships also continues to surge with a 21 per cent increase in 2021 compared with the previous year.
“Our record $3.1 billion investment in skills in the June Budget is delivering more fee-free training which is helping people find in-demand jobs and contributing to NSW’s historic low unemployment rate.”
Certainty for the environment, farmers and water users
There is more certainty for farmers and the environment after the NSW Government’s licensing and measurement reform became law in Water Sharing Plans for the Border Rivers and Gwydir Valleys.
Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson and Minister for Environment James Griffin have approved changes to the Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie Water Sharing Plans.
Mr Anderson said this reform will mean floodplain harvesting is controlled within the legal limits, benefiting the environment, farmers and downstream water users.
“When it comes to managing water in NSW my view is healthy rivers, healthy farms and healthy communities, not one or the other,” Mr Anderson said.
“This is a policy that supports farmers and downstream communities and will return around 100 billion litres of water to our floodplains and river systems per year on average, and more than three times that volume in wetter years, which is a great outcome.”
Minister for Environment James Griffin said the policy is about improving environmental protection while recognising the need for adaptive management.
“For decades, floodplain harvesting has had no restrictions, going unmonitored, unmeasured and unconstrained impacting upon river ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them,” Mr Griffin said.
“As part of these new plans, we have ensured that an independent review of the local access triggers and the downstream Menindee target will occur within the first three years of the plans, with changes to follow if warranted and the review published.
“These are the first-ever enforceable controls put into law that will reduce, restrict and limit floodplain harvesting and strengthen existing protections for water sources and dependent ecosystems.”
The NSW Government is working with local communities on the ground to continually improve river connectivity.
“We’ve consulted extensively with all stakeholders on these proposed new rules for floodplain harvesting licences,” Mr Anderson said.
New support staff to lighten teacher workload
Teachers in NSW will be able to spend more time teaching thanks to the introduction of hundreds of new roles in admin, leadership and support.
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said more than 200 new administration roles will be trialled in public schools from Term 4 2022 to reduce teacher workload.
“Our teachers are skilled professionals and their time is precious. However, they are stretched across too many non-teaching and low value activities,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Running a modern-day school is complex. We need to look at the work staff do in schools and think differently about how it gets done.”
The new admin roles will work with our teachers to undertake non-teaching tasks such as data entry, paperwork, and coordinating events and excursions.
Ms Mitchell said the new roles will reduce the admin burden on teachers, and open doors to people wanting to re-enter the workforce or upskill.
“It’s a great opportunity for parents and carers who have the necessary skills to do these jobs well, to work within the hours of school drop-offs and pick-ups,” Ms Mitchell said.
“It’s also a chance to up-skill our current non-teaching, school-based staff to provide greater support to our teachers.”
In addition, recruitment has started for 780 Assistant Principals (Curriculum and Instruction) roles to support teachers to adopt best practice and use resources as effectively as possible.
Ms Mitchell said the NSW Government is committed to continuous school improvement and providing principals and teachers with the support and resources to drive better student outcomes.
“This is only the beginning, and we will be scaling up what we see working once this trial concludes next year,” Ms Mitchell said.
“We will continue working closely with principals, teachers and non-teaching staff to ensure that time is spent on what matters most – teaching and supporting our students.”