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Australia news live updates: Commonwealth heads push for Covid and climate action; Sussan Ley says Roe v Wade decision ‘a backward step’


Commonwealth leaders push for Covid and climate action

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting has wrapped up in the city of Kigali in Rwanda.

Deputy prime minister Richard Marles has been representing Australia.

The affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of sustainable development, action on climate change and radicalism were all highlighted in the closing leaders’ statement and final communiqué.

Here are some segments from the leaders’ statement from the 54 leaders of Commonwealth countries:

We recognised the effects of global insecurities in food, energy and climate, and agreed to strengthen the Commonwealth Secretariat to further focus on these issues and take forward action in support of Commonwealth members.

We reaffirmed that radicalisation, leading to violence, violent extremism, and terrorism in all its forms, are serious global threats.

We affirmed that the universal, timely, fair and equitable access to and distribution of safe, efficacious, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and capacity to administer the same, are key to global recovery from the pandemic.

Catching up with @trussliz on the sidelines of #CHOGM2022.

A warm and friendly discussion, looking forward to new areas of cooperation in our long-standing partnership with the UK, including under the AUKUS pillars and working together to tackle climate change. pic.twitter.com/cb9J0m4ive

— Richard Marles (@RichardMarlesMP) June 24, 2022

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 26 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 819
  • In hospital: 116 (with 1 person in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 7
  • Cases: 7,461
  • In hospital: 1,465 (with 48 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 221
  • In hospital: 16 (with no people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 3,048
  • In hospital: 556 (with 8 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 1,996
  • In hospital: 216 (with 9 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 777
  • In hospital: 48 (with 3 people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 15
  • Cases: 5,824
  • In hospital: 451 (with 28 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 3,544
  • In hospital: 250 (with 9 people in ICU)

From AAP:

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ yearly pay package will inch closer to half a million dollars as part of a wage rise for state MPs.

The annual base and additional salaries of Victorian parliament members, as well as their expense allowance, will lift 2.75 per cent from July 1 after a decision by the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal.

That is marginally higher than the 2.5 per cent raise MPs were awarded for this financial year.

The latest ruling took into account recent pay adjustments of two to 2.75 per cent for Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland MPs, as well as other factors including Victoria’s fiscal position and economic trends, projected national inflation of seven per cent and the 5.2 per cent minimum wage rise.

“On balance … the tribunal has determined to increase the values of the basic salary for Victorian MPs, and the additional salaries and expense allowance for specified parliamentary office holders, by 2.75 per cent for 2022/23,” VIRT said.

The 2.75 per cent rise will take the basic salary for a Victorian MP to $192,115, up about $5200 from 2021/22.

Peter Dutton calls for increase in income threshold for pensioners to ease labour shortages

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has called on the government to double the amount of income age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn without reducing pension payments so they can fill labour shortages.

Dutton:

Employers can’t find staff – thousands of jobs across hospitality, agriculture, tourism and retail remain open.

This policy ensures that pensioners and veterans, who want to work, are not financially penalised. It puts more money into their pocket.

There are around 80,000 age pensioners and veterans who are choosing to work who will likely benefit from this change.

Currently, age pensioners and veteran service pensioners can earn $300 of income each fortnight without impacting pension payments. Under the proposed change, age pensioners will be able to earn up to $600 a fortnight and still receive the maximum pension payment.

Pensioners will continue to accrue unused pension work bonus amounts up to a maximum of $7,800, which can exempt future earnings from the pension income test.

Leader of the opposition Peter Dutton.
Leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Vaccine immunity-evading Omicron sub-variant on rise in Victoria

Hello everyone – this is Cait, I will be with you across the afternoon. Let’s start with this:

An Omicron subvariant of Covid-19 that can evade vaccine immunity is on the rise in Victoria, with health authorities warning it is on track to be the state’s major strain in line with virus spread in NSW and Queensland.

Handing over the live news duties now to my colleague Cait Kelly who will guide this good ship for the rest of the day. Thanks and go well.

Commonwealth leaders push for Covid and climate action

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting has wrapped up in the city of Kigali in Rwanda.

Deputy prime minister Richard Marles has been representing Australia.

The affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of sustainable development, action on climate change and radicalism were all highlighted in the closing leaders’ statement and final communiqué.

Here are some segments from the leaders’ statement from the 54 leaders of Commonwealth countries:

We recognised the effects of global insecurities in food, energy and climate, and agreed to strengthen the Commonwealth Secretariat to further focus on these issues and take forward action in support of Commonwealth members.

We reaffirmed that radicalisation, leading to violence, violent extremism, and terrorism in all its forms, are serious global threats.

We affirmed that the universal, timely, fair and equitable access to and distribution of safe, efficacious, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and capacity to administer the same, are key to global recovery from the pandemic.

Catching up with @trussliz on the sidelines of #CHOGM2022.

A warm and friendly discussion, looking forward to new areas of cooperation in our long-standing partnership with the UK, including under the AUKUS pillars and working together to tackle climate change. pic.twitter.com/cb9J0m4ive

— Richard Marles (@RichardMarlesMP) June 24, 2022

Australia to send $1m earthquake relief to Afghanistan

Foreign minister Penny Wong has said Australia will top up its aid to Afghanistan after the country suffered a devastating earthquake this week.

A statement from Wong says the extra emergency relief was in addition to $140m pledged to the country since last September.

The earthquake has caused extensive loss of life, homes and livelihoods, with the full effects still to be determined. This tragedy comes at a time when the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are greater than ever.

Our support will be delivered through UN agencies already operating in the affected area, and will go towards providing shelter, food and medical support for those in need.

The Australian Government extend its deepest condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and the Afghan-Australian community.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have promised not to interfere with the international response to the quake, which killed at least 1,000 people.

Afghan people try to retrieve a car from the debris of damaged houses after the recent earthquake
Afghan people try to retrieve a car from the debris of damaged houses after the recent earthquake. Photograph: Ali Khara/Reuters

Education minister wants more oversees students to come and stay longer

Education minister Jason Clare has been outlining the huge drops in overseas students in the wake of the pandemic, highlighting a 24% drop in the number of Chinese arrivals.

According to comments on Sky News, reported by AAP, Clare wants to see the numbers recover, he also wants more students to stay and live in Australia after they’ve finished at university.

We train them here, we skill them up. Where we have got skill shortages – they are chronic across the economy at the moment – it makes sense to encourage them to stay longer.

Only 16% of overseas students stayed behind after finishing their studies, he said. The Covid pandemic had smashed international student numbers.

Clare was planning to talk to India’s education minister in the coming weeks to see if more young people from that country could come to Australia to study.

QLD reports two Covid deaths

Queensland’s health department has reported two further deaths of people with Covid-19 and 3,048 new cases of the disease.

Those two deaths are added to 15 reported in Victoria and seven in NSW so far today.

Ministers defend cuts to crossbench staffing

Paul Karp has the full story on the government’s defence in the face of the fury of crossbench MPs and senators after they had their staffing levels cut.

Independent senator David Pocock says it will be hard to vote for government legislation if he doesn’t have the resources to get across what it says.
Independent senator David Pocock says it will be hard to vote for government legislation if he doesn’t have the resources to get across what it says. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Treasurer defends crossbench staffing cuts

A decision by the Albanese government to cut the number of advisers available to crossbench MPs and senators was described as an “attack on democracy” by some late last week.

The treasurer Jim Chalmers was asked about it on the ABC earlier, and claimed the step wasn’t unprecedented.

Well, I think it’s been a surprise to a lot of people. It was a surprise to me, frankly, to learn some backbenchers get twice as many staff as other backbenchers. It’s not unprecedented. It’s not surprising, that members of parliament want to have more resources to help them do their job.

What we’ve recognised with the crossbench, is that there are some additional pressures on crossbench members.

That’s why they get extra staff resources. But I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair for one backbench MP in one electorate to get twice as many staff as a backbench MP in the electorate next door. That’s what this commonsense proposal reflects.

Chalmers said the government was going to “boost investment in the parliamentary library” to help with workload.





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