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From Australia, World news in Brief

Government's $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund passes parliament
History reveals Australia’s looming cyclone risk, pointing to future impact on insurance costs
PM Albanese hails work of veterans at national vets employment awards
Parts of Sydney set to scorch in 35C weather within days ...
Veteran suicides royal commissioner shares fears his inquiry is going unreported, unheard
Qantas illegally sacked 1700 workers during pandemic, High Court rules
No respite in sight for nation’s soaring income taxes
Australia, Philippines signs new strategic partnership deal
Australia’s first community solar battery switches on
Hazard reduction operation reduces bushfire risk
Passer-by saves neighbour from e-scooter fire
More public art on the cards for Parramatta CBD
New plan to put Parramatta River front and centre in City’s identity
Parramatta puts people first in mental health first aid push

Government's $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund passes parliament
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: The $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) has passed parliament, paving the way for new social and affordable homes to be built.
Under the plan, 30,000 new buildings will be built over five years, but there is no timeline for when construction will begin.
Earlier this week Housing Minister Julie Collins said the government intended to have the fund operational as soon as possible.
"We anticipate that it will take weeks, hopefully, less than a couple of months, to get the fund up and running," she said on Monday.
Community Housing Industry Association CEO Wendy Hayhurst said it's a good start to addressing the housing crisis.
"If we look back over the last 10 years, there have not been any federal government programs of note," she said.
"Whilst this isn't everything we need, it's 30,000 more than we have had really in the last 10 years coming out of the federal government.
"So that is the big win for us."
Government's $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund passes parliament - ABC  News
Ahead of the final vote, the government made some changes to the HAFF to ensure it had the support of the crossbench.
It includes a guarantee that at least $500 million will be spent per year from the fund.
While a minimum of 1,200 homes will be built in each state and territory across the five year period, to ensure the funding is shared across the country.
Under the proposal by the Albanese government, the $10 billion fund will include the building of 30,000 new and affordable social homes to be built in the next five years. It will also include $200 million for the repair, maintenance and improvement of housing in remote Indigenous communities. $100 million will go toward transitional housing options for victims of DV, and $30 million will be for veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 
The Greens Party initially blocked the bill and vowed to sink it unless it was significantly "improved", with its demands including a national freeze on rental increases. In April, after weeks of negotiations, Greens leader Adam Bandt said he would reject the bill as it stood. The government needed the support of the Greens to pass the legislation. 
The funding has already been provided to the states and territories, which must be committed to projects by June 2025.
Earlier this week the government announced another $1 billion to build more homes, but it has not provided timelines on when this money must be spent by, and how many homes it will build.
The government hasn't put exact dates or times on the builds because they don't have total control over construction.
Local and state governments will be key to ensuring construction goes ahead because they are responsible for laws that are crucial to unlocking land.
Ms Hayhurst said she was hopeful that some builds will begin next year.
"We would be hoping that people would start to see activity on the ground in 2024."
The construction sector said an increase in demand for social and affordable home builds could be managed in the short term.
Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said people and materials are available.
"The building and construction does have the capacity to build now," she said.
However, she warned there needed to be a long-term plan to ensure capacity was possible in the future.
"From 2025 onwards, we are predicting a significant uptick in the number of homes to be built where we will not have the corresponding workforce," she said.
The Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie welcomed the passing of the legislation but said there was more work to do.
History reveals Australia's looming cyclone risk, pointing to future impact  on insurance costs - ABC News
History reveals Australia’s looming cyclone risk, pointing to future impact on insurance costs
New analysis of Australia's natural disasters shows the danger posed by cyclones to the nation's east coast. 
Cyclones that hit Queensland in 1967 and 1974 would rank among the nation's top-10 costliest natural disasters, should they repeat in the same places today.
The analysis, for the Insurance Council of Australia, puts a modern value on these events by taking into account the number of homes that would be affected, as well as the cost of repairing them.
Barely-remembered events like 1967's Cyclone Dinah would cause an estimated $6.19 billion in damage today, while 1974's Cyclone Wanda would cause $5.26 billion in damage.
By comparison, the damage bill from the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires across four states was $2.3 billion.
"When you look up and down the east coast and look at population today, if those cyclones were to happen today they would be very, very expensive," says the insurance council's Andrew Hall.
"It's the coming together of increased population and whether people are living in safe, durable and insurable homes.
"In the last two years, we've had a cyclone hit north of Geraldton in WA, affecting a very small population – but if it hit on the same latitude on the east coast there would be a very different story."
A cyclone on the same latitude on the east coast would strike Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
"Last year we had a cyclone touch the North Island of New Zealand. Cyclones are moving south, and the floods related to it are the main concern.
"We're trying to keep this front of mind."
Bluerydge, Viden Consulting Group clean up at 2022 Veterans' Employment  Awards | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT
PM Albanese hails work of veterans at national vets employment awards
AUSTRALIAN PM Anthony Albanese was the chief guest at the Prime Minister's National Veterans' Employment Awards held at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, September 13. 
In his speech, he acknowledged the contribution of the Australian Defence Forces and former members. 
“We have been so harshly reminded in recent months that the absence of war is no guarantor of safety for the men and women who serve in our name with such character, valour and integrity,” he said.
“Every member of the ADF has my respect.
“Another truth we must acknowledge is that the extraordinary bank of experience each veteran carries. The talent they have built up. The wisdom they have accrued. Veterans have so very much to offer.”
He said the awards, now in its sixth year, have remained true to their original purpose.
“Veterans are every bit as skilled, dedicated and adaptable in civilian life as in the ADF. The sooner we recognise that, the better off our workplaces our communities – and our veterans – will be.”
He also spoke about the transition veterans make to civilian life and the support they receive from their partners.
“It’s so important that we recognise the contribution partners make to the wellbeing of our veterans especially in the time after transition to civilian life — when challenges and uncertainties build. 
“Moving out of the ADF is a significant life event. And it’s a journey — not a moment.”
Mr Albanese said their new Veteran Transition Strategy was about making the transition the best it possibly can be.
“Because even before they take the first steps out of the ADF, veterans are already prepared, enthusiastic, skilled and highly employable.”
Parts of Sydney set to scorch in 35C weather within days as spring heatwave  threatens to smash September weather records for Australia's two largest  cities | Sky News Australia
Parts of Sydney set to scorch in 35C weather within days as spring heatwave threatens to smash September weather records for Australia's two largest cities
Over the coming days, temperatures are set to soar for millions of Australians.
Summer-like conditions will take hold in two waves, and even though we aren't through the first round of hot temperatures, we are already starting to look at the second round.
This is because we are likely to see some of the hottest temperatures over the next couple of weeks.
The heat that builds in through the end of the weekend and into next week could rival September temperature records in some of our capital cities.
Adelaide and areas of South Australia are likely to see temperatures heighten into Monday.
Currently, Adelaide is forecasted to see a high of 29C but there is a good chance that temperatures could get up to 32C.
This doesn't look like it will come close to beating the September record of 35.1C but temperatures will be more than 10C above average.
Areas from South Australia over into western Victoria and NSW on Monday could be 10 to 15C above average.
When it comes to Melbourne, the city is forecast to hit 27C on Tuesday but modelling suggests that the temperature could go higher than that.
There is potential for the mercury to hit 31C which has the off chance of breaking the September record of 31.4C from 1928.
The bigger thing to watch with the Melbourne heat is the potential for the city to break its record for consecutive September days over 20C.
Currently, that record is set at seven, which occurred in both in 1907 and 1987.
But the daytime high will hit 23.3C on September 12 and likely remain above 20C until the September 20 - that's nine days in a row.
As for Sydney, the September record for Observatory Hill is 34.6C, while Penrith's record high for September is 37.3C.
Temperatures in Sydney's city could rise to the low to mid-thirties on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, while more western areas could possibly hit the mid to high 30s.
Emu Plains is currently forecast to hit 35C from Monday but temperatures could easily go a few degrees higher depending on the northwesterly winds.
This means that temperatures could rival the September record.
Either way, if temperature records don't fall it is still going to be a warm week across much of the country.
We are still watching how this round of heat will play out. 
Veteran suicides royal commissioner shares fears his inquiry is going  unreported, unheard - ABC News
Veteran suicides royal commissioner shares fears his inquiry is going unreported, unheard
The chair of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has taken the unusual step of addressing the National Press Club before his inquiry is complete.
Commissioner Nick Kaldas said he made the decision to speak publicly, because the inquiry was failing to gain enough attention in the media or with politicians.
"We've made a conscious decision to speak out at the moment because we're at a point where we feel that the issues we've uncovered have not been noticed, absorbed — people have not been that interested in them," Mr Kaldas said. 
"One of the things that must happen for things to improve is that there must be more interest, both from the public and I have to say the media on these issues, and when reporting begins then people begin to notice. And certainly politicians take notice as well."
The royal commission has been running for more than two years, and handed down an interim report last year, but in his address Mr Kaldas said the evidence the inquiry has uncovered to date suggests "there's been far too much talk and not enough action".
He said cultural problems still exist within Defence, and rarely a week goes by that the inquiry isn't alerted to the suicide of another serving or ex-serving member.
"All of this raises serious questions as to whether Defence is committed to making change in the best interests of its members, or whether they're just going through the motions," he said.
In his address, Mr Kaldas called for an independent body to be formed once the inquiry ends and hands down its findings.
He said it would need enough resources and the power to hold governments, Defence and other relevant agencies to account.
Mr Kaldas said the problems that exist now were decades in the making, and there have already been dozens of inquiries with little change.
"What happens is there's an accumulation of wrongs and then the longer it goes, the worse it gets for the individuals," he said.
"We have to bring it out now, we have to talk to people about what's going to happen when this royal commission ceases to exist because otherwise we'll be just the 59th inquiry."
He suggested there were some who would prefer his report was just added to the pile of previous reports — another reason he was speaking out.
"There are probably some who feel that's a good thing, 'We'll just sit tight and this will pass and we'll just go on doing what we've always done,' so we had to bring it all out into the open," he said.
Julie-Ann Finney, whose son David died by suicide in 2019, has been following the royal commission as it holds hearings around the country, and was at the National Press Club to hear Mr Kaldas speak.
"I've been sitting in all the royal commissions and hearing it myself but to hear this out in public away from the royal commission just felt like it needed to be said," Ms Finney said.
"They're not hearing. We're losing our children because no one is listening."
She said despite the commissioner's concerns about a lack of action, she was confident change would happen, although not without victims and families pushing for it.
"When my son died, nobody believed we'd have a royal commission but I never stopped believing," she said.
"I always thought I'd be giving evidence at a royal commission one day. I'm still not going to stop believing. We're going to get that change."
Qantas illegally sacked 1,700 workers during Coronavirus - Airline Ground  Services
Qantas illegally sacked 1700 workers during pandemic, High Court rules
Australian airline Qantas illegally sacked almost 1700 workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Court of Australia has ruled.
The High Court judgment handed down on Wednesday upheld two rulings made by the Federal Court, which found the outsourcing of baggage handlers, cleaners and ground staff was unlawful.
Justices Kiefel, Gageler, Gleeson and Jagot said in the judgment anyone who took “adverse action against another person for a substantial and operative reason of preventing the exercise of a workplace right by the other person contravenes (part of section 340 of the Fair Work Act) ... regardless of whether that other person has the relevant workplace right at the time the adverse action is taken”.
“Qantas did not avoid the operation of (the section) in relation to its adverse action by taking the action prior to the existence of the workplace rights the exercise of which Qantas sought to thwart.”
Sacked workers inside the courtroom, pumped their fists in victory upon hearing the decision.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus, who attended the judgment, posted a celebratory photo on social media saying: “The workers win against Qantas in the High Court. We will always have the backs of workers.”
Qantas was found in the Federal Court to have breached the Fair Work Act in outsourcing its ground operations to avoid enterprise bargaining rights, after the Transport Workers' Union took legal action against the carrier.
The airline, which retrenched workers in 2020, lost billions of dollars due to the pandemic.
In a statement, Qantas apologised for the "personal impact" of the decision to sack the workers.
“Qantas acknowledges and accepts the High Court’s decision to uphold two prior rulings by the Federal Court regarding the legality of outsourcing the remainder of the airline's ground handling function in 2020,” the airline said.
“As we have said from the beginning, we deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected and we sincerely apologise for that.
“A prior decision by the Federal Court has ruled out reinstatement of workers but it will now consider penalties for the breach and compensation for relevant employees, which will factor in redundancy payments already made by Qantas.”
Federal budget: High inflation is pushing up the cost of everything
No respite in sight for nation’s soaring income taxes
Australia is grappling with one of the highest personal income tax burdens among developed nations, primarily affecting high-income earners. This burden has been exacerbated by the country’s high inflationary climate, with indications that it will only worsen in the future, as outlined in the Intergenerational Report (IGR) released last month.
The IGR paints a bleak economic outlook for Australia over the next four decades. This situation has ignited a debate about taxation reform, challenging the government to strike a balance between budgetary savings and increased income tax revenue.
Only slightly over half of Australian households fall into the “net contributors” category, meaning they pay more in taxes than in benefits. 
Australia has a progressive tax scale system, where the tax rate increases as taxable income rises. This results in most revenue coming from higher income earners, those earning above $180,000, although they represent just 4.1 per cent of taxpayers. 
Individual tax payments are determined by their income bracket, which consists of five tiers. Those earning less than $18,200 a year are exempt from income tax, with rates increasing progressively for higher incomes. However, changes are on the horizon, with the government’s stage 3 tax cuts set to take effect in the next financial year (2024-2025). 
Comparing Australia to 37 other OECD countries, Australia ranks as the second-highest taxed nation. While some countries have similar or even higher maximum tax rates, they apply to significantly higher income thresholds than Australia’s $180,000 cut-off. 
In addition to personal income tax, the government derives revenue from various sources, including levies on fringe benefits, superannuation, customs duty, fuel excise, goods and services sales tax (GST), company and resource rents. 
The IGR anticipates that the aging population, rising demand for health, disability, and aged care services, defence spending, and debt interest repayments will increasingly strain the nation’s finances. While Treasurer Jim Chalmers is optimistic about the government’s economic policies and potential savings, some econonomists argue that the government must seriously consider tax reforms in response to the IGR’s predictions.
Philippines, Australia sign strategic partnership deal
Australia, Philippines signs new strategic partnership deal
Australian PM Anthony Albanese signed a strategic partnership with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Manila on September 8.
The new deal will help enable closer co-operation with the Philippines, one of Australia’s key partners in Southeast Asia. 
In Manila, PM Albanese announced the following initiatives to boost ties:
• Australia Awards Scholarships to the Philippines will more than double. In 2024, over 50 scholarships will be awarded to Filipinos to study Masters and PhD courses in Australia;
• The re-establishment of a Philippines Institute at the Australian National University;
• A new reciprocal Work and Holiday visa;
• A new five-year $64.5 million contribution to peacebuilding in Mindanao by reducing  conflict, reintegrate former combatants and support community development, particularly for women.
PM Albanese said: “I am honoured to have been invited by President Marcos to visit Manila and sign this historic Strategic Partnership. 
“Australia and the Philippines enjoy a long-standing relationship based on close cooperation and enriched by the 400,000 Australians with Filipino heritage.
“Today is a watershed moment for relations between Australia and the Philippines. Our Strategic Partnership will facilitate closer co-operation between our countries and contribute to an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
Albanese is the first Australian PM to fly to the Philippines on a bilateral visit since 2003.
The PM invited President Marcos to Australia in March 2024 to help commemorate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations.
Ausgrid launches the first of many… | Energy & Resources Knowledge Hub
Australia’s first community solar battery switches on
The Federal Government has launched the first of its 400 community solar batteries in the Sydney suburb of Cabarita. 
The batteries are designed to ensure the storage of cleaner, more cost-effective renewable energy for local households.
While one in three Australian households has already adopted rooftop solar panels to access cleaner and more economical energy, only one in 60 households can access battery storage. This underscores the urgency for further action.
The government’s Community Batteries for Household Solar initiative allows residents to harness solar energy during the day, storing it for local grid use during peak periods and cloudy days.
The newly commissioned battery can store power generated by 50 households with rooftop solar installations and share electricity with about 150 households. A 412-kilowatt-hour capacity bolsters energy security and grid reliability, augmenting local rooftop solar capabilities and facilitating the support of up to 20 electric vehicle chargers simultaneously.
Hundreds of batteries are set to be introduced throughout Australian communities. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the batteries would alleviate household electricity costs, contribute to a greener future, enhance electricity grid resilience, promote solar energy storage, and enable households without solar panels to partake in the renewable energy revolution.
“I am delighted to inaugurate the Albanese Government’s first Community Battery, which will enable households to access cleaner, more affordable energy and enhance grid resilience,” Mr Bowen said.
Local MP for Reid Sally Sitou welcomed the announcement, saying, “I am thrilled that our Cabarita community battery is operational. It exemplifies this government’s commitment to greening our grid and sharing the benefits of clean and reliable renewable energy with all households.”
Burn in the Jervis Bay National Park to reduce the bushfire risk | South  Coast Register | Nowra, NSW
Hazard reduction operation reduces bushfire risk
Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crews have successfully completed a strategic hazard reduction burn to protect the headland at North Mona Vale, on Sydney's northern beaches.
FRNSW deployed firefighters from Mona Vale, Mount Druitt, Silverwater, Campsie, Fairfield and Lidcombe around the half hectare coastal site.
FRNSW Bushfire Officer, Kyle Macorig, said the controlled burn took four hours to complete.
"We were faced with vegetation known as 'coastal heath" which can be very volatile when it catches burns hot and quickly," Senior Firefighter Macorig said.
"Our teams set up containment lines, bordered by walking tracks and the cliff face to the beach, keeping flame heights to three or four metres to ensure safe management of the fuel load.
"Although it was only a small area, the fuel load was extremely high.
"Not only has this operation made the area safer, it will have ecological benefits as well."
Fire crews launched a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or drone, with infra red capabilities, to maintain an 'eye in the sky' to ensure the fire didn't jump containment lines and to assist firefighters with the mopping up.
Passer-by helps save home after 'faulty' e-scooter battery caught fire |  World | News |
Passer-by saves neighbour from e-scooter fire
A passer-by has raised the alarm during a house fire, caused by a faulty Lithium-Ion battery, used to power an e-scooter, at Temora, in the state's Riverina.
The local Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) crew rushed to the Loftus Street home around 9am on Monday.
Moments earlier, the neighbourhood friend was driving past the house when he noticed the flames engulfing a storeroom on the property.
He stopped his vehicle and ran to the front door to warn his friend.
Together, they attacked the fire with garden hoses until the fire crew arrived.
The pair was among three people treated for minor smoke inhalation at the scene.
The FRNSW crew confirmed the blaze was out and extinguished several spot fires.
As the firefighters cleared the storeroom, they discovered the cause of the fire, a faulty Lithium-Ion battery in one of two e-scooters.
“It appears the battery ignited spontaneously…it wasn’t being charged,” FRNSW Deputy Captain, Grant Reid, said.
“Had the fire broken out in the middle of the night, this could have ended tragically,” Deputy Captain Reid added.
Fire and Rescue NSW reminds the public to take extra precautions around Lithium-Ion batteries:
Don’t over-charge batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended or whilst you're asleep
Only purchase reputable Lithium battery-powered products
Don’t charge batteries and devices on beds, sofas or around highly flammable and insulating materials
Always use compliant and approved charging equipment for the device/s, don't mix and match unrelated components
Avoid dropping, crushing or piercing the battery cells
Store batteries and devices in a cool, dry area away from combustible materials. Larger devices such as e-bikes and gardening tools should be stored outside of bedrooms and living spaces
Don’t charge or use batteries and devices that show signs of damage
Public Art | City of Parramatta
More public art on the cards for Parramatta CBD
The City of Parramatta will start work on a future public art strategy as part of its goal to develop the CBD as a key arts and culture precinct where public art thrives. 
Councillors this week agreed to scope a Public Art Strategy that sets a framework for the curation of public artworks throughout the city, including sculptures, murals, installations, multimedia and sound around the CBD. 
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Sameer Pandey said a public art strategy would help celebrate Parramatta’s growing creative and artistic community. 
“Public art plays a key role in helping to define places and gives people a sense of pride in their community and their city. Parramatta is truly a cultural hot spot, and the next step is to encourage more public art,” Cr Pandey said. 
“We are home to many creatives who can produce pieces that help us tell the City’s story and promote Parramatta as a cultural destination of choice for both residents and visitors. 
“A strong and thriving public art strategy will help drive our vision for arts and culture to inspire, enrich and connect our community by embracing what makes us unique, while growing our reputation as a vibrant place where creativity, diversity and innovation are celebrated.” 
A number of public artworks have been completed in Parramatta over the past year including sculptures ‘Where the Eels Lie Down’ by Reko Rennie and ‘Place of the Eels’ by Clare Healy and Sean Cordeiro, both in Parramatta Square.
Shaping the future of Parramatta | City of Parramatta
New plan to put Parramatta River front and centre in City’s identity
City of Parramatta will investigate options to develop an activation program to re-establish the Parramatta River as central to the identity of Parramatta. 
Councillors last night backed a plan to build on the Parramatta River Vision and consider how to enhance the foreshore including public art, markets, festivals, walking tours, river experiences and beautification works.
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor said a plan to activate the foreshore precinct would help celebrate Parramatta’s place as the Central River City. 
“The Parramatta River is core to our City’s DNA and emerging identity as Sydney’s Central River City,” Cr Pandey said. 
“The river’s role as a meeting place is an integral part of our history and we want to ensure it remains a key point of connection for the community in our future – a place where people can swim, walk and relax.” 
“We are already working with government agencies and community groups to make Parramatta River swimmable by 2025, and with more than 75 per cent of future growth in Parramatta planned to occur within a 10-minute walk or cycle of the Parramatta River it is important to breathe new life into its foreshore.” 
“We want the river and its foreshore to be a major drawcard for locals and visitors alike.” 
The Parramatta River Vision recognises the river as a vital environmental, social, and cultural asset. It prioritises waterfront open space, aims for world-class city-shaping outcomes, and encourages collaboration with stakeholders to honour the river as a living entity.
Parramatta puts people first in mental health first aid push | The National  Tribune
Parramatta puts people first in mental health first aid push
The City of Parramatta has been recognised by one of Australia’s most prominent drivers of mental health for its commitment to developing a mentally healthy workplace that puts people first. 
Parramatta is Sydney’s first metropolitan council to be awarded Skilled Workplace status by Mental Health First Aid Australia and only the ninth council nationally. 
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Sameer Pandey said Council employed more than 1300 people who played a critical role in the local community. 
“We are one of the fastest growing LGAs in the State – and we want to ensure we are attracting and retaining the best and brightest to help us deliver services to our community and transform the City into a global powerhouse,” Cr Pandey said. 
“That means investing in the wellbeing of our people and ensuring we have a mentally healthy workplace. 
“Mental Health First Aid is just as critical as training staff on how to react if someone has a fall or serious medical incident.  
“I’m proud that we are putting people first and that more than five per cent of our people have now completed Mental Health First Aid training, giving them new tools to keep mentally fit and to support those around them to do the same.” 
In the past two years, the City of Parramatta has expanded its Mental Health First Aid training to more than 70 people and is aiming to reach 10% of its entire workforce by 2024. 
Mental Health First Aid Australia workplace engagement specialist Mary Dachs congratulated the City of Parramatta on being recognised as a Skilled Workplace.  
“With more than 5% of their workforce now equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to recognise and respond to mental health problems, the City of Parramatta is taking proactive steps to reduce stigma and increase the safety net of support available to all staff.”


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