Minister Chris Bowen will visit Europe and the UAE to promote renewable energy ambition and cooperation
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen will visit Europe and the United Arab Emirates to promote investment in Australia’s clean energy sector, strengthening energy security ties, and furthering bilateral climate and energy partnerships.
During the 10-day visit, Minister Bowen will hold high-level meetings with ministerial counterparts, industry and private sector leaders in Abu Dhabi, Vienna, Berlin, Rotterdam, Brussels, and Paris.
Discussions will include a focus on energy security with clean sources of energy in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which has caused the global energy crisis, and cooperation to urgently tackle the climate crisis.
Minister Bowen will also engage with business groups and prospective investors to position Australia as a renewable energy superpower by highlighting the benefits of investing in Australia’s clean energy industries and developing strong, secure clean energy supply chains, as well as partnering on cutting-edge clean energy research and development.
This potential is already recognised by European investors - investment by European companies comprises 20 per cent of total solar and wind energy generation projects in the Australian grid.
Minister Bowen will deliver a keynote address at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels and engage with industry at a European Australian Business Council event in Brussels.
In Abu Dhabi, the Minister will meet with COP28 President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Sultan al-Jaber, to support efforts for this year’s COP and lay the groundwork for an impactful COP31, which Australia is bidding to host in partnership with the Pacific in 2026.
“I am looking forward to promoting Australia’s clean energy ambition in Europe and the UAE, and meeting with energy leaders to discuss their responses to the global energy crisis,” said Minister Bowen.
Minister Tanya Plibersek will be acting Minister for Climate Change and Energy in the Minister’s absence.
Community-led response to improve community safety in Alice Springs
A joint media release said that the Northern Territory and Australian Governments have also agreed to appoint a Central Australian Regional Controller, Dorrelle Anderson, to lead consultation with communities regarding the reintroduction of alcohol restrictions and an opt out system for individual communities. This consultation will conclude by February 1st.
The Australian Government will invest $48.8m over two years in Alice Springs to tackle crime, keep women and children safe and provide support to young people in communities.
The plan to improve community safety in Alice Springs includes:
• $14.2 in additional funding for extra high visibility Police and law enforcement operations including targeting grog running, and increasing liquor licensing compliance inspectors and boosting security guards in public places.
• A $2m investment to improve CCTV, lighting and safety measures throughout Alice Springs.
• $5.6m for additional emergency accommodation and safe spaces to give young people a place to go to at night and boost the effectiveness of the night patrol program which starts in February and will help get young people off the streets.
• $2m for the Tangentyre Women’s Council to boost Domestic Violence services.
• Providing $25m to extend funding for safety and community services which are currently scheduled to end in June 2023 to provide certainty to providers and their employees and ensure this work continues.
The Australian Government has already targeted investment in Central Australia in the 2022-23 Budget including justice, health, community safety, infrastructure and housing.
By listening to and working in partnership with local communities, these circuit-breaker measures will improve community safety on the ground in Alice Springs.
We remain focused on working in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and local communities, because we know that the best solutions come from local communities themselves.
Economist forecasts February interest rate rise, after annual inflation hits 30-year high
A prominent economist has warned Wednesday’s rise in inflation would likely see the Reserve Bank of Australia lift its cash rate on February 7.
Increasing for the fourth consecutive quarter, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) saw a year-on-year increase of 7.8 per cent, the highest annual increase since 1990.
Chief Economist for Betashares, David Bassanese said Wednesday’s “larger-than-expected gain” would likely force Governor of the RBA, Philip Lowe to increase the official interest rate by 0.25 per cent. This would bring the cash rate to an 11-year high of 3.35 per cent.
Mr Bassanese believed the interest rate will increase by another 25 basis points in March, before things eased.
“Thereafter, there is a good chance the RBA could begin to reverse these rates hikes in the second half of the year, if growth does slow and inflation eases as widely expected,” he said.
“Especially if the United States economy tumbles into recession.”
If proven correct, February will mark the RBA’s ninth consecutive rate rise, as the RBA attempts to lower the CPI to a target range of 2 to 3 per cent.
“Presentationally, it will be hard for the RBA not to lift interest rates again against the backdrop of the highest underlying (trimmed-mean) annual inflation rate in 34 years,” said Mr Bassanese.
Economists from NAB also forecast the RBA cash rate to hit 3.6 per cent by March 2023, where it will remain stable before dropping to 3.1 per cent in March 2024.
Westpac and ANZ believe the official interest rate will peak at 3.85 per cent in May 2023, while CBA analysts believe the cash rate will hit 3.35 per cent in February 2023.
, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the CPI was “unacceptably high,” and reiterated inflation as a “defining challenge” for 2023.
“This is very high inflation by historical standards,” he said.
“There’s no use pretending otherwise.”
While he said inflation had likely “peaked”, he warned households that high prices would like remain for “longer than we’d like”.
“We are realistic about the extreme price pressures that Australians are facing right now, the impact of interest rates hikes, and the costs and consequences of a war in Europe and a period of substantial volatility in the global economy as well,” he said.
Major shake up to pathways into teaching for aspiring teachers
Aspiring teachers in NSW will soon be able to enter the classroom after completing a one-year postgraduate course.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said this new policy will continue the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government’s push to modernise education and make a teaching career a reality sooner for people already working.
“People at all stages of their lives have the potential to be great teachers, for those who already have an undergraduate degree we want more streamlined approach for them to start a teaching career,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Teaching is a profession to aspire to and I don’t want a single person who is considering starting this fantastic career to be deterred by an unnecessary additional year in their training.”
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the current two-year Masters degree requirement has been shown to act as a disincentive for aspiring teachers, particularly mid-career professionals, and didn’t have a clear enough impact on student outcomes.
“A major barrier for people who already have an undergraduate degree and want to become a teacher is the length of time required to retrain,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Providing a new one-year Masters pathway will enable more mid-career professionals with existing qualifications and experience to bring these to bear in our classrooms.
“This decision is backed by strong research which shows that the best way for teachers to hit the ground running is to spend more time in schools.”
Under a NSW Liberal and Nationals Government, those with an undergraduate degree would be able to complete a one-year full time postgraduate degree in order to become a secondary school teacher from 2024, with streamlined postgraduate pathways for primary school teachers to be available by 2026.
Dominic Perrottet says he will bring Stuart Ayres back to frontbench if government re-elected
Stuart Ayres resigned after an inquiry "raised concerns" about his conduct in the appointment of John Barilaro to a lucrative US trade role.(AAP: Jane Dempster)
Former NSW trade minister Stuart Ayres will be reinstated to the frontbench if the Perrottet government is re-elected in March.
The Penrith MP resigned from the frontbench and as Liberal deputy leader in August last year over his role in the controversial appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro as trade commissioner in New York.
Mr Ayres stepped down during an independent review into the scandal.
At the time, Premier Dominic Perrottet said he had been provided with information that showed the recruitment process of Mr Barilaro "was not at arms length" to government.
A separate review was then conducted by high-profile barrister Bruce McClintock, SC, into whether Mr Ayres breached the ministerial code of conduct.
The former minister was cleared of wrongdoing in September and his future role in the Perrottet government has been unclear since then.
Mr Perrottet has now confirmed Mr Ayres will play a prominent role as a senior minister post-March, if the Coalition wins the election.
His decision has been revealed as Mr Ayres faces a battle in his Western Sydney seat of Penrith, which he holds on a slim margin of 1.3 per cent.
Congressman suggests sending jointly operated US submarine to Australia as AUKUS announcement looms
A senior member of the US Congress has called for a dual-crewed American submarine to be based in Australia as part of an interim measure under the AUKUS agreement.
Republican Rob Wittman also argued Australian shipbuilders and sailors should be sent to the US for months at a time to prepare them for the eventual acquisition of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
Mr Wittman was among a bipartisan group of members of the US House of Representatives who sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing support for the AUKUS deal.
It was prompted by leaked correspondence from two influential senators, warning the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia could push the US submarine industrial base to "breaking point".
Representative Wittman, who was the most senior Republican on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee in the last congress, said the idea of a direct sale of US submarines was "probably an oversimplification".
But he argued a nuclear-powered boat could be sent to Australia's area of responsibility to help ease a looming capability gap, as the existing Collins class fleet is retired and the new submarines are built.
"I think it would be dual-crewed," he told 7.30.
"I think too, that the command of the submarine would be a dual command, so you'd have an executive officer and a commanding officer that would jointly operate the submarine.
Thousands register for shared equity home buyer helper ahead of launch
Thousands of nurses, teachers and police officers have registered their interest in buying their first home with as little as a 2 per cent deposit under the NSW Government’s Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper which launches today.
Key worker first-home buyers, including nurses, midwives, paramedics, police officers, teachers and early childhood educators, can apply. Single parents and singles older than 50 can also apply, even if they have previously owned property.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Liberal Nationals Government would contribute up to 40 per cent for a new home or up to 30 per cent for an existing home bought by eligible home buyers with a minimum deposit of 2 per cent.
“Today is a great day for single parents, singles older than 50 and first home-buyer key workers who have been struggling to break into the market and buy their own home to live in,” Mr Perrottet said.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the $780 million shared equity initiative was part of a broader $2.8 billion housing package.
“Just like First Home Buyer Choice, Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper is a pathway forward for eligible home buyers who have been working to save a deposit but buying their own home has remained out of reach,” Mr Kean said.
Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said those interested should check the online self-assessment tool to see if they’re eligible for Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper.
“If the online tool says you’re eligible, you’ll be directed to contact Bendigo Bank to apply for Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper. Revenue NSW will be administering the program on behalf of the NSW Government,” Mr Roberts said.
“Through your application the lender will let you know how much you can borrow and confirm your place in the initiative and then you can make an offer to buy your own home to live in.”
Bendigo Bank is the launch lending partner for Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper.
Cash back for Sydney drivers
Money will start hitting the bank accounts of Sydney motorists in a matter of days with the NSW Government’s Toll Relief Rebate Scheme open from today.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said drivers from Sydney’s western suburbs would be the biggest winners of the scheme.
“We are putting more money back in the pockets of NSW families particularly those across Western Sydney who use our world-class motorway network,” Mr Perrottet said.
“From today, half a million drivers across our state will be able to get up $750 back on their tolls which will provide a boost to their household budgets.
“This is all about making moving around our city as easy as possible, and thanks to the NSW Liberal and Nationals long-term economic plan, we’re able to provide relief to drivers at a time when they need it most.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said the number of people benefiting from the new scheme would more than double and include everyone from families to professional drivers and pensioners.
“Once a driver spends $375 on tolls in a year they will be able to claim the 40 percent rebate up to that $750 limit,” Mr Kean said.
“Pensioners can claim that cash along with free car registration and a free driver’s licence as we help them drive their pension dollars further.”
Rebates will be backdated to 1 July 2022 with the first payment expected to be made within days of applications being received.
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said drivers across Western Sydney from Rouse Hill to Liverpool will benefit from the scheme.
“We know Western Sydney families, workers, tradies, and truckies are amongst the biggest users of our motorways because of the time savings they deliver,” Mrs Ward said.
“Now, not only will they still be able to enjoy the travel time savings, they will be getting money back on the trip costs as well.
New Scheme to provide protections against domestic violence
A new scheme to help people find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence offences will be launched across New South Wales by the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government.
The Right To Ask Scheme will provide the opportunity for NSW police to disclose information to a person who is a potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the proposed scheme would be based on the UK’s Clare’s Law and would empower people at risk of domestic violence to make informed decisions about their relationships.
“There are simply too many heartbreaking stories of women and men being seriously hurt or murdered in circumstances where the perpetrators had a history of prior domestic and violent criminal offences that they didn’t know about,” Mr Perrottet said.
“None of us want to see a loved one scarred by domestic violence and wishing they’d known their partner’s history sooner.
“We cannot continue to have women being killed in our community so we need to have new approaches, new thinking and new policies to back up our record domestic violence support funding.
“This is not the only solution to the growing domestic violence issue facing our state and many communities across Australia but if it saves one life then it will have been worth it.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said NSW was the first state in Australia to trial a domestic violence disclosure scheme in 2016.
“The dating landscape has shifted considerably since then with more and more people accessing dating apps and dating outside known friendship circles,” Mr Toole said.
NSW Police will approve any information before it is provided, with strict privacy controls in place including criminal penalties for malicious applications.
Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said there was no single solution to addressing domestic violence.
“Our priority is to protect a woman’s right to be safe in a relationship which is why the Liberal and Nationals Government has committed record funding to prevention and support,” Mrs Ward said.
Australia pledges gender equality for clean energy sector
A joint media released said that Australia has formalised its commitment to gender equality in the clean energy transition by signing up to the equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunity objectives of the global Equal by 30 campaign.
An initiative of the international Clean Energy Ministerial forum and the International Energy Agency, Equal by 30 has seen 180 signatories worldwide, including all G7 countries and public and private sector organisations, commit to gender equity across the clean energy sector by 2030.
In signing up to the multilateral initiative following wide consultation, the Albanese Government is working to close the gender gap across the Australian clean energy sector including by:
• Creating an Australian Women in Energy Roundtable for industry to promote and share equality initiatives and policies which accelerate the participation of women in clean energy.
• Working across government agencies to build a Women in Energy Resources Hub. The Hub will include sample guidelines and procedures, providing small-medium enterprises with information on actions for gender equality within their workforce.
• Expanding engagement across domestic and international forums within the energy sector by championing diversity and gender equality.
• Driving practical actions towards equality-based policies within industry by sharing the Australia Public Service's experience with flexible workplace arrangements and other efforts aimed at achieving the gender balance and closing the gender pay gap.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said Equal by 30’s commitments would help Australia reach its legislated emissions reduction targets.
Grants to strengthen women in stem careers
In a press release Ed Husic MP Minister for Industry and Science, said: “The Australian Government has announced $15.9 million in new grants for 17 successful projects that are supporting more women to study and build careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
This latest round of Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WiSE) grants provide between $500,000 and $1 million to expand successful projects that have increased awareness of STEM education and improved opportunities for girls or women to build skills and succeed in STEM careers.
Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said the Albanese Government is committed to supporting more women into STEM careers, and to encouraging girls to study STEM subjects.
“We want to make sure that more women find lasting, rewarding and successful careers in STEM fields, regardless of their background,” Minister Husic said.
“Our focus is on supporting opportunity for Australians from all corners of the community into rewarding STEM careers.
“The WiSE grants focus on projects that remove systemic and cultural barriers for women in STEM education, careers, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
“The grants program supports projects that increase the number of women in senior leadership and decision-making positions in government, research organisations, industry and business.”
Australia’s first multicultural mental health line launched
People from diverse communities in NSW needing mental health support are set to benefit from an Australian-first multicultural mental health phone line service covering up to 30 different languages.
Recently launched by the NSW Liberals and Nationals in Government, the service is staffed by registered bilingual mental health professionals covering languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Korean, Vietnamese and Ukrainian.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said this new phone line would support people from diverse communities who are struggling with their mental health to access appropriate services.
“While there is a wide range of mental health services available to all NSW residents, language and different cultural understandings of mental health can act as a barrier for people when accessing services,” Mrs Taylor said.
“This new phone line will support people to get the help they need, with a specialist team of health care professionals ready to provide care and connect people with the appropriate services.”
Available Monday to Friday between 9:00am to 4:30pm on 1800 648 911, the Transcultural Mental Health Line improves access to mental health care and support for diverse communities.
Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said this initiative once again shows the NSW Government’s commitment to supporting the state’s rich multicultural society.
“We understand that finding the right words to express how we are feeling can be hard, let alone for people that might struggle with English,” Mr Coure said.
“This new service makes mental health support more accessible, and will give people the peace of mind to speak freely in a language they are more comfortable with,” Mr Coure said.
NSW parents set to save on preschool in 2023
Parents across NSW are set to receive cost relief on their preschool fees with savings of up to $4,220 a year, thanks to a landmark investment from the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government.
For the first time, parents whose children attend preschool programs at Long Day Care settings will enjoy subsidised fees, following the introduction of the new $1.3 billion Start Strong Affordable Preschool Program.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Liberal and Nationals Government will ease the cost-of-living pressure for families and ensure more children receive high quality early education.
“Research has shown that preschool is where the building blocks for lifelong success are established. It is vital that we can support families in accessing quality early childhood education,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This investment shows that the Liberal and Nationals in Government are committed to ensuring families across the state have brighter futures and less pressure on wallets.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said investing in our youngest learners makes economic sense.
“Every $1 invested in early childhood education delivers a $2 boost to the NSW economy,” Mr Kean said.
“We’re reducing stress for families across NSW by providing fee relief on this important part of their child’s growth and development.”
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said families can now save up to $4,220 per year depending on where their child attends preschool.
“The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has been providing significant fee relief for families attending community and mobile preschools for the last two years, and from this year fee relief will be available for more families than ever before,” Ms Mitchell said.