More government action needed to lower power prices, says Acoss CEO
The Australian Council of Social Service says the government needs to do more to lower the power price burden on low income households.
The Acoss CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, acknowledged prices could have been higher if not for the temporary price caps put in place by the government, but she says it is not enough:
For people on the lowest incomes, these price increases are still far too high, with people already experiencing energy debt, disconnection, and facing homelessness.
The energy relief package announced in the federal budget, while welcome short-term relief, will barely cover last year’s electricity price increase let alone this year’s increase. The increases to income support won’t be nearly enough to stop people going without the basics.
Acoss has a wishlist and wants:
The federal government to update its guidelines to the Australian Energy Regulator to set the direct market offer at an efficient price by lowering retail margins, as is done in Victoria. This would ensure people do not pay more than is required for an essential service.
The federal government to extend the cap on wholesale gas to 2025.
The federal government to lift jobseeker and related payments to at least $76 a day to ensure that people can cover living costs, and to double current rates of commonwealth rent assistance to reduce rental stress.
The federal government to work with energy retailers to provide debt relief for customers in energy hardship
State and territory governments to join the federal government to invest in energy efficiency, electrification and solar retrofits for low-income housing and institute mandatory energy performance rental standards
State and territory governments reform energy concessions to better meet ongoing need, including shifting to percentage-based energy concession, expanding eligibility, and improving access.
Self-blocking register for problem gamblers delayed as contracted company goes into administration
The launch of a national register to allow problem gamblers to block themselves from signing up for online gambling services has been delayed, after the originally contracted company went into administration.
The BetStop register will allow gamblers to sign up to self-block; gambling services will then check against the register when a new user attempts to sign up.
In Senate estimates on Wednesday, the communications department said Big Village Australia, which was working to deliver the register, went into administration in January, delaying the launch of the service originally due by March. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma), which will be running the register, is currently in negotiations with another company called Ixup to take over the remaining parts of the development prior to the launch.
The trials of the service have been “largely completed”, the department said, but could not say exactly when the service will launch. Acma indicated it did not expect the process to take too much time before it could be launched.
Revelations of Perrottet plan to end native logging dials up pressure on Minns to act
Will NSW follow Victoria and WA and halt logging in native forests?
The dial just shifted.
Campaigners say few things raise ire (and open e-wallets) like logging in our dwindling native forests. Such operations typically lose money, harm our unique and threatened wildlife and end up releasing carbon.
So, in the week that Victoria’s Labor government brought forward the end of native logging to next year from 2030, we are now learning that the Perrottet government had been preparing to do the same:
This tale is particularly interesting because even though the previous government did analysis on what it costs to end the logging, the department didn’t tell incoming environment minister Penny Sharpe about it, we understand.
Pressure is going to mount on the Minns government to join Victoria and Western Australia and halt native forest logging now that NSW Liberals are effectively giving them cover to act, despite no doubt unease from the unions who will be worried about job losses.
Federal ministers, including the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, no doubt will be looking on with interest.
Australia ‘not going to be shy’ in laying blame on China for cyber-attacks against US: O’Neil
Australia has joined the US and its other security partners in blaming Chinese state-sponsored hackers for cyber-attacks against US infrastructure.
It comes at a delicate time for Australia, as the government works to re-establish ties.
Clare O’Neil said the government is being responsible given the evidence.
The cybersecurity minister told ABC radio AM:
So this has come from our Australian Signals Directorate which is the sort of cyber intelligence offices of the Australian government. What this really tells us is that the work of the Australian government in helping protect against cyber-attack is more important than it’s ever been.
Your listeners will remember that under the former government we did not have a cybersecurity minister in this country. Over the previous year that we’ve been in government we have been relentlessly focused every day helping our country get prepared for this national security risk.
There is a lot more work to do but we have enormous resolve and focus to make sure that we’re protecting Australians from what is a very significant threat from both state actors and crime gangs around the world.
Q How worried are you that Australia joining this public outing of China … comes at a really sensitive time while we’re trying to rebuild ties with China? Are you concerned that that might stall the resumption of normal ties?
The Australian government is never going to compromise on our national security, and this activity should not be occurring. There is no question about that. And we’re not going to be shy when we know who is responsible for that activity.
We have the evidence before us and we’re not going to be transparent about it for other reasons. It’s important for the national security of our country that we’re transparent and upfront with Australians about the threats that we face and that’s we’ve joined the advisory.
Chris Bowen spruiks rollout of more renewable energy to reduce power prices
Chris Bowen was out and about today as the government attempts to get ahead of the energy regulator final default draft offer – which will no doubt dominate question time. It has also dominated press conferences with ministers.
Q: It’s become the most prerequisite of question time, the opposition ask the government when Australians are going to get their $275 power bill saving. Will Australians ever pay less for electricity during this term of parliament than what they were before the election?
Well of course yes, you’re right, the opposition does like to say that. They drop out the fact that it was what our modelling showed an impact by 2025. You know, they seem outraged that it hasn’t been delivered on 23 May 2022, is what they seem to think.
They well know what our policy implications were, what our policy was and what the modelling implications were in 2025.
I will not walk away from efforts to reduce power prices by rolling out more renewable energy, because renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy. Now the alternative, which Mr [Peter] Dutton and his team propose, is in an act of genius the most expensive form of energy and the slowest to roll out: nuclear.
You know, the only thing small about a small modular reactor is the output. Nothing small about the cost. Nothing small about the complexity. You know, a small modular reactor costs $5 billion and it doesn’t produce many megawatts. Five billion. That’s a lot of billions for not many megawatts.
Well OK, that’s your plan, Mr Dutton. Show us the costings, show us the locations, show us where you’re going to put the waste, show us the whole plan.
Reece Kershaw is also learning that emojis are a minefield. Have to say – massive boomer energy coming from the Gen X police commissioner here.
AFP commissioner talks generational divides
Didn’t have AFP boss starting generational wars on my bingo card today, but here we are:
Melissa Caddick deceased, coroner concludes
The New South Wales deputy state coroner, Elizabeth Ryan, has concluded that alleged fraudster Melissa Caddick is dead.
In 2020, Caddick, then 49, disappeared from her home in the Sydney suburb of Dover Heights following a raid on her property by officers from the corporate regulator and federal police on 11 November that year.
The coroner’s court has been exploring the circumstances around her disappearance.
Ryan has concluded that Caddick is deceased. She is still delivering her findings:
I have concluded that Melissa Caddick is deceased. However, a more problematic issues is whether the evidence is sufficient to enable a positive finding of how she died and how and when it happened.
Ryan described the inquest as deeply painful for Caddick’s family. She also described the fraudulent scheme used by Caddick to cheat her family and friends out of huge amounts of money, which she used to fund a “very expensive” lifestyle.
Ms Caddick’s clients were shocked and felt a profound sense of betrayal when they discovered the money they invested with her had gone. The financial and emotional harm they have suffered will continue to reverberate for many years to come.
AFP investigating after receiving ‘report of crime’ relating to PwC, estimates hears
The Australian federal police are up before Senate estimates.
The deputy commissioner, Ian McCartney, has confirmed it has received a “report of crime” from the Treasury in relation to PwC alleging and “unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information” in breach of the Crimes Act. “An investigation has commenced in relation to that report of crime,” he said.
Asked about the nature of the complaint and who is the subject of the investigation, McCartney declined to answer citing the fact it is “now an active investigation”.
Earlier, the AFP commissioner, Reece Kershaw, gave an opening statement about initiatives including using algorithms to detect deep fakes and to train artificial intelligence to scan child exploitation material to reduce the detrimental effects of requiring law enforcement agents to view it themselves.
Kershaw also revealed there are 1,800 letters in the AFP’s “national threat letter database”, of which, in 2022, three-quarters were sent to parliamentarians, government officials, embassies, consulates and high commissioners.
Government has been putting downward pressure on power prices where it can, says Burke
Given the default offer showing power price rises, what does the government have to say about people wanting relief?
Let’s remember, as well as the bill relief, there were changes made last year that put some constraints on pricing and what happens there. Whatever the figures are today, it would have been worse were it not for the fact that the government acted. There’s issues on international pressures there, which government isn’t in control of, but where government can have an impact putting downward pressure on prices we’ve been doing it.