Australia news live updates: union secretary says RBA boss not ‘quite in touch with reality’ for linking inflation to wage rise

NSW records 9,203 new covid cases and 26 deaths

Another spike in Covid related deaths in NSW today, with 26 deaths reported in addition to 9,203 new covid cases:

COVID-19 update – Thursday 23 June 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:

– 96.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 95.1% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 22, 2022

NSW nurses vote to strike

Nurses and midwives will be striking next Tuesday in NSW after the union attacked the state government for a lack of transparency in its budget announcements.

More than 70 of the nearly 180 public sector branches of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association voted to strike for periods ranging from two hours to 24 hours on 28 June, after ballots were held yesterday.

Liverpool and Bankstown hospitals will strike for 24 hours, while Westmead and Westmead children’s, Blacktown, Campbelltown, and Royal Prince Alfred hospital nurses and midwives will stop work for 12 hours.

Sixteen branches also voted to undertake industrial action but decided they could not “due to severe staffing shortages and a commitment to life-preserving care”.

The union has said it is still unclear how many new nurses and midwives are included in the proposed 10,000 new full-time health staff touted in the state budget.

Australian scientists celebrate world first

AAP is reporting that in a world first, Australian scientists have developed a device with “exquisite precision” that they say is a huge step towards a commercial quantum computer.

Scientists have joined atomic dots with “exquisite precision” to build a device they say is a huge step towards a commercial quantum computer.

Silicon Quantum Computing today unveiled a quantum processor that integrates all the components of a classical computer chip but on an atomic scale.

Published in the journal Nature, the breakthrough comes two years ahead of the research schedule and less than a decade after the team made the world’s first single atom transistor.

Founder Prof Michelle Simmons said traditional computers struggle to simulate even relatively small molecules due to the large number of possible interactions between atoms.

Simmons said the atomic-scale circuit technology would allow the construction of quantum models for a range of new materials, for use in pharmaceuticals, materials for batteries, or catalysts.

To achieve the first quantum integrated circuit, three separate technological feats of atomic engineering were required. The first was to create small dots of atoms of uniform size so that their energy levels aligned and electrons could easily pass through them.

The second was the ability to tune the energy levels of each dot individually, but also of all dots collectively, to control the passage of quantum information. The third was the teams’ ability to control the distances between the dots with precision.

Dr Charles Hill, a senior lecturer in quantum computation at the University of Melbourne, said the quantum devices used for this demonstration were made with sub-nanometre accuracy:

This is a remarkable piece of engineering. This experiment paves the way for larger and more complex quantum systems to be emulated in future.

Simmons said the milestone delivered on a challenge set 63 years ago by pioneering theoretical physicist Richard Feynman in his lecture Plenty of Room at the Bottom.

His invitation to enter a new field of study asserted that to understand how nature works, scientists must control matter at the atomic scale. Proving this theory, the team has built an integrated circuit using atomic components in silicon.

Simmons said:

It won’t be long before we can start to realise new materials that have never existed before.

The “exquisite precision of the device” also proved their atomic manufacturing capabilities, she said.

To build the processor, the scientists had to integrate multiple atomic components within a single device, which was achieved at a facility in Sydney.

RBA boss not ‘in touch with reality’, ACTU secretary says

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus has criticised Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, saying he isn’t “quite in touch with reality”, after he warned of a potential price spiral after the 5.2% minimum wage increase.

McManus was speaking to RN Breakfast and said inflation had “absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with wages”, adding that Lowe’s warnings come from a “total boomer fantasy land”.

She said the RBA board wouldn’t know “how things work” because it did not take part in pay negotiations:

All of this is just a fantasy because they don’t understand what actually happens at the bargaining table.

I think the Reserve Bank governor has weirdly changed his tune, he was the one who said so long as wages keep up with inflation and productivity, they are not inflationary.

Let’s be clear, the workers’ share of the overall economy is at the lowest level it has been since this has been measured, and that’s back in the 1960s.

So there is a lot of money and wealth in the country, it’s just that working people aren’t sharing this and it can’t go on like this. We keep hearing that productivity needs to rise and then we’ll get a pay rise but productivity is rising and we don’t see those pay rises.

AI Group chief says Aemo should be ‘ready to step in again’

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox says energy market operator Aemo needs to be prepared to suspend the energy market again if supply is threatened in the coming months.

Wilcox was on RN Breakfast this morning and said he had heard from business groups that they felt uncertain about the cost of power, and that Aemo shouldn’t let supply come under threat again:

The operators made the decision that now is the time to step out and see if the market has stabilised – that’s the great unknown for industry and for consumers of gas and power.

The hope is that it has stabilised, but it’s been through a very rocky couple of weeks and we would just urge the operator to be ready to step back in if necessary, and, we hope is not going to be necessary and that things have stabilised, but it’s been such through such a treacherous couple of weeks that you’ve got to think there’s a chance that things could go awry again, and we still have the underlying factors that created this.

The difficulty with coal-fired power, the impact of Russia and Ukraine, the fact that we are in the depths of winter, all of those sorts of things are still with us.

Retail store lights in Sydney
‘We are in the depths of winter.’ Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Political advertising under spotlight

Voters say they want truth-in-political-advertising laws in place for the next election after being swamped by $12.5m of digital ads in two months, according to an Australia Institute survey.

The thinktank analysed political ad spending on Facebook and Instagram and surveyed 1,424 votes, of whom 86% backed the proposed laws.

The survey found 73% of voters said they had come across political ads that they knew to be misleading and only 5% said they did not. A further 22% said they were unsure.

Of those who had seen misleading ads, 43% said it had happened “once a day or more often”.

The study found the major parties still dominated digital ad spending, with Labor spending $5m in the last two months of the campaign and the Coalition $3.5m.

Clive Palmer was the biggest spending candidate, dropping $462,500 on Meta ads (Facebook and Instagram), while his United Australia party spent $1.7m on Meta and a further $11.8m on Google ads.

Labor’s ads received the most impressions, 273m in total, with some 42.5% of all impressions across parties. The Coalition received 205m impressions or 32% of the total, followed by the Greens (31.4m).

More impressions were from women (182m) than men (164m), with the gender difference showing substantially more engagement by women with Labor and Greens ads.

Capacity mechanism ‘an important safety net’

I just wanted to return to Chris Bowen’s appearance on ABC News earlier, because he was asked about a capacity mechanism, and while he confirmed it was due by 2025, he also added that he would like it to “happen earlier than that”:

I’ll be working with the states and territories to try to make that the case. I’ve been clear about that. This is an important safety net and I know that there’s a lot of commentary and a lot of people have viewed about it. But it’s an important safety net. And under the Labor government, it will support our move to renewables. Under the previous government, it was designed to prop up unsustainable technology.

Under us, it will be an essential safety net to ensure that this transformation occurs safely and we build the renewables with that support. Be focused on new technologies and be focused on things like storage.

We are going to have to manage this transformation carefully and need the existing power stations in the system to help us with the transmission. We do need capacity there, even if it is not switched on … In the meantime, there are more urgent things to do.

We authorised Aemo to buy a gas reserve that they can hold and put into the system in times of emergency. That’s being done and that’s being worked on and developed. All of this is happening. That’s the short-term. In the longer term – renewables, transition and storage is the key and that’s what we’re focused on.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Plan to transform the ADF

Richard Marles, speaking to an audience in India, trod carefully when it came to India’s reluctance to condemn Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. But he suggested that it was in Australia’s and India’s interests for China to never come to “a similar judgment” as Vladimir Putin that the benefits of conflict outweighed the risks:

I do not come here to lecture India on how it should respond to this conflict, or how it should manage its relationship with Russia. Every country needs to make its own choices.

But Russia’s war on Ukraine does teach us that we cannot just rely on economic interdependence to deter conflict; and that deterrence can fail when one country’s determined military build-up creates an imbalance of military power. An imbalance that encouraged President Putin to conclude the benefits from conflict outweighed the risks.

This is a lesson Australia is taking to heart. It is in all of our interests to ensure no country in our region ever comes to a similar judgment.

Marles said this lesson was why the Australian government intended to “transform the Australian defence force into one with more potent deterrence capabilities, including long-range and precision strike weapons, offensive and defensive cyber, and area denial systems”.

The same logic underpinned the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines with the US and the UK under Aukus. Aukus would also “guide accelerated development of advanced defence capabilities where they have the most impact, such as quantum technology, artificial intelligence, undersea warfare, hypersonics and counter-hypersonics”.

Australia sees these investments as a necessary and prudent response to the military build-up we see taking place in the Indo-Pacific. These investments are not only about Australia’s security – they are about the region’s security as well. And they will make Australia a more valuable and potent partner for our allies in the Indo-Pacific.

Bowen defends decision to suspend energy market

We are off and running, with energy minister Chris Bowen the first politician in the media this morning, telling ABC News that he is confident there won’t be the need to suspend the energy market again this winter.

Bowen defended the decision taken by Aemo to suspend the market, saying commentators and politicians that have protested against it “don’t know what they are talking about”:

We have enough generation in the system. Generators are bidding too and we have excess supply for today. That’s good news and what we hope and expect. Obviously, we’ll continue to monitor the situation very closely over the next 24 to 48 hours and we’ll return step by step, carefully. I said before that this could be a bumpy winter.

We have a lot more supply and I want to thank Aemo and the energy generators and everyone who worked hard to manage to avoid any blackouts and load shedding and that’s been working closely with the commonwealth and the states and territories as well.

Aemo was operating under the law of the land and they were doing what they had to do and Aemo gets a lot of the credit for managing to work to keep the lights on and to keep the system operating. They had to make a big call last Thursday and did so with my full support and the support of the state and territory ministers.

I saw some ill-informed commentary from some in politics who don’t know what they’re talking about, but it’s what we needed to do and the system worked. Aemo worked very well. I’m going there this afternoon, to Aemo, to talk to the staff who worked so hard over the last week or so to make this system work. It’s been a tough situation and it was a big call, but we will do what we have to do as a government.

They will do what they have to do as an operator to keep the lights on. Consumers come first.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

‘The global rules-based order matters everywhere’

Richard Marles acknowledged that deeper Australian-Indian security cooperation was “often seen as a response to a rising China”.

But he said it “would be wrong to assume, as some commentators tend to, that China is at the centre of every decision”:

We all expect a more powerful China to have a stronger say in regional and international affairs. But what is important is that the exercise of Chinese power exhibits the characteristics necessary for our shared prosperity and security. Respect for agreed rules and norms. With trade and investment flow based on agreed rules and binding treaty commitments. And where disputes among states are resolved via dialogue, and in accordance with international law.

This is vital when it comes to the rearmament we are witnessing in the Indo-Pacific.

Marles went on the stress the need for openness about China’s military build-up. Similar to language he used during his visit to Singapore for a security summit, he said Australia did not question the right of any country to modernise its military capabilities consistent with its interests and resources.

But Marles – who met with his Chinese counterpart in Singapore, ending the diplomatic freeze with Australia – said said large-scale military build-ups “must be transparent and they must be accompanied by statecraft that reassures” to avoid driving an arms race:

China’s military build-up is now the largest and most ambitious we have seen by any country since the end of the second world war. It is critical that China’s neighbours do not see this build-up as a risk for them. Because without that reassurance, it is inevitable that countries will seek to upgrade their own military capabilities in response.

Insecurity is what drives an arms race.

India’s own experience illustrates this maxim more than most. The assault on Indian forces along the line of actual control in 2020 was a warning we should all heed. Australia stood up for India’s sovereignty then and continues to do so now. It is vital that China commits to resolving this dispute through a process of dialogue consistent with international law. The global rules-based order matters everywhere, including in the highest place on Earth.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Richard Marles in India

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, has vowed to “place India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond”.

Marles, who is also defence minister, used a speech to the National Defence College in New Delhi last night to say the Aukus deal with the US and the UK was “just one partnership” and ties with India were also important.

When I look out at the world, India stands out.

Marles, who will soon by flying from India to Rwanda to join the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, spelled out what he saw as the current strategic challenges:

Our world – and our region – faces the most serious strategic confluence of events since the end of the second world war: intensifying strategic and geo-economic contest, the return of war in Europe, growing climate risks, and enduring pandemic impacts, all of which are driving inflation, supply chain shocks, and de-globalisation

As Australia’s new defence minister, I come to the position conscious of a profound responsibility: to ensure Australia has the capability necessary to defend itself in the toughest strategic environment we’ve encountered in over 70 years.

It will involve a generational reinvestment in the size, capability and structure of the Australian defence force. In service of this goal, I have instructed my department to commence a new force posture review to inform decisions I expect to make in the months ahead.

(This is consistent with Labor’s election promise to launch a force posture review.)

Marles went on to argue that Australia’s cooperation with India in the Indian Ocean was “underdone”. He said Australia and India could “afford to do more, not only bilaterally, but also trilaterally with others such as Indonesia”.

He also promised that Australia would become “a more engaged and responsive partner to our Pacific neighbours”. The ADF would “always be there for our Pacific neighbours. Be it in response to natural and humanitarian disasters, or the complex array of security issues we now mutually face.”

Good morning

Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you today, taking you through the day’s news.

We begin with deputy prime minister Richard Marles’ visit to India, which last night he vowed to place “at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond”. Marles is there to reinforce the relationship between the two nations, with defence and trade at the forefront of conversations.

Back in Australia, the national energy market operator has this morning begun the process of lifting the unprecedented suspension of trading on the electricity market, confirming that the risk of “any shortfall has reduced markedly”.

This comes as more electricity retailers are predicted to fail over the next year, as the new default market offers loom on the horizon, and with the Australian Energy Regulator likely to have to activate its “retailer of last resort” provisions.

And a NSW Greens MP says she will push for the release of internal briefing documents relating to the botched police operation targeting environmental protesters, saying the force used by officers was “extreme”.

There is much happening, so let’s dive in.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more