- Labor backs coal power stations to ease energy woes
- SA flu cases spike amid surging hospital demand
- Elderly woman killed in Salisbury crash
- Rate hike looms at RBA meeting
- UK PM survives confidence vote, but leadership wounded
- Coroner to rule on Royal Adelaide Show ride death
- Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter purchase
Labor backs coal power stations to ease energy woes
Labor’s resources minister says coal-fired power stations need to come back online to help ease the nation’s energy crisis.
Amid soaring gas prices due to supply issues, newly-minted Resources Minister Madeline King says an immediate step would be for power station operators “to get moving on fixing their plants”.
“In the very short term, what we really need to do is to have the coal power stations come back online because that is the missing piece of the puzzle right now,” she told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“There’s been unplanned outages for many reasons, many beyond the control of those operators – and I do accept that – but I hope they’re doing their best to make sure this power source comes online as well.”
Energy Minister Chris Bowen will meet his state and territory counterparts on Wednesday, as the Albanese government considers short- and longer-term solutions to take pressure off prices.
King skirted around the issue of providing assistance to coal-fired power stations, saying the government had a clean energy policy.
“It wouldn’t matter how much money anyone put in right now. We just need the operators to get moving on fixing their plants,” she said.
“It is the coal companies themselves, and the operators of the power stations, that need to get these power stations back online.
“It’s 30 per cent of the energy capacity taken out of the mix because of unforeseen circumstances in many respects.”
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said unplanned outages were a “feature of the old tech that is being phased out”.
“The key here is to continue to invest in renewable energy with new technology like battery firming so that you can have essentially synchronous or baseload power,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“It’s great for all families because it puts downward pressure on prices, guarantees supply, and it’s very good for the planet.”
When asked if the government would consider a nationwide policy forcing producers to reserve 15 per cent of their gas, as they do in Western Australia, King said “nothing is off the table”.
She did not commit to the policy, saying it was a “great political struggle” for the Labor government to introduce it, with many people losing “a lot of political skin in that fight”.
SA flu cases spike amid surging hospital demand
South Australia has recorded 777 new flu infections over the past week, while the number of infectious people in hospital has risen by 43, prompting concerns about growing pressure on the state’s already-stretched health system.
New data released by the government on Monday shows South Australia has so far recorded 2645 influenza infections this year, compared with the 40 cases reported for the entirety of 2021.
All up, 238 people have been admitted to hospital, including 43 in the past week.
Younger South Australians are overrepresented in the data, with 19 being the median case age.
South Australia recorded as many as 27,093 flu infections in 2019, but cases dropped in 2020 and 2021 while travel and social distancing restrictions were imposed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spike in cases prompted the government to last month make flu vaccinations free through a subsidy scheme for GPs and pharmacists, with 63,909 people taking up the offer in the first week.
SA Health on Monday released its winter demand strategy, which projected hospitals would experience a 39 per cent increase in respiratory presentations over the winter months.
Figures released yesterday also showed South Australia’s ambulance response times have been at their worst on record this financial year.
There was a 30 per cent increase in ramping in May, the figures showed.
Health Minister Chris Picton said the state was “combatting a very significant pressure on our health system” from the flu, COVID and other respiratory illnesses.
“We inherited a health system under enormous strain with flu cases now only adding to increasing demand,” he said.
“This is the first winter since the pandemic hit that our health system will be required to manage both COVID-19 and the flu, as well as normal winter demand, and we know this will be a challenge.
“We are facing huge issues in terms of this winter where we simply don’t have the capacity across the health system to be able to make sure that we’re not going to be ramping or we’re not going to be cancelling elective surgery.”
The government has pledged to open 80 additional hospital beds to help deal with winter demand.
They include 10 mental health beds, 10 “transition to home” beds, 10 “virtual kids at home” beds, 28 private sector beds, 16 additional beds at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and six extra beds at the Strathalbyn and District Health Service.
The government is also in the process of splitting the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s “COVID care centre” in two and repurposing half of the space for a new acute assessment centre.
South Australia yesterday reported 2255 new COVID-19 cases and the death of a woman in her 70s who tested positive for the virus.
There are currently 241 COVID-positive patients in hospital, including nine in intensive case.
Elderly woman killed in Salisbury crash
An elderly pedestrian has died after she was hit by a car in the northern suburbs overnight.
Police say they were called to The Grove Way in Salisbury East shortly before 10.30pm on Monday following reports a Toyota 4WD had collided with a pedestrian.
The pedestrian, an 81-year-old Golden Grove woman, died at the scene, police say.
The driver of the 4WD remained at the crash scene and is assisting Major Crash investigators, with police now putting out a call for anyone who witnessed the crash or has dashcam footage to contact crime stoppers.
The Grove Way has reopened to traffic after a short closure overnight.
The number of people to have died on South Australia’s roads now stands at 34, compared to 46 at this time last year.
Rate hike looms at RBA meeting
Home buyers will need to brace for a further rise in their loan repayments with another increase in the official cash rate expected today when the Reserve Bank of Australia holds its monthly board meeting.
There are mixed opinions as to the size of this increase following the rise in the cash rate from a record low 0.1 per cent to 0.35 per cent last month – the first hike in over a decade.
Economists’ views range from another 25 basis point rise – a size the RBA has described as “returning to normal operating procedures” – to 40 or even 50 basis points.
Commonwealth Securities calculates that on a $500,000 standard variable mortgage, the monthly repayment would increase by $75.96 on a 25 basis point rise in the cash rate, or $122.03 on a 40 basis point increase.
At the May board meeting, the RBA did discuss the option of a 40 basis point increase as its first rate rise since November 2010.
Economists expecting a larger rate rise are pointing to mounting inflation pressures since the May board meeting, with petrol and fuel costs increasing and signs that wages growth is finally accelerating.
Potential rising wage growth as the unemployment rate tumbles to its lowest level in nearly 50 years has been a key focus of the central bank for some time.
But those anticipating a small increase say there is no smoking gun from reliable wages data at this stage, and the central bank would want to avoid undermining already fragile confidence.
Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh says, on average, households are going into this rising interest rate environment better prepared than probably ever before.
“On average, Australian mortgage holders are 45 months, that is almost four years, ahead on their mortgage payments,” she told Sky News.
However, she conceded averages always disguise people at both ends of the spectrum.
“There are some people who are going to be finding even the smallest movement (in rates) … quite tough,” she said.
UK PM survives confidence vote, but leadership wounded
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a confidence vote in his leadership of the Conservative party but his authority has been dealt a significant blow after well over a third of his caucus voted against him.
Tory MPs voted by 211 to 148 in support of Johnson in a confidence vote triggered over the weekend, but the scale of the revolt against his leadership leaves him wounded.
When Theresa May faced a confidence vote in 2018 she secured the support of 63 per cent of her MPs – but was still forced out within six months.
Johnson saw 41 per cent of his MPs vote against him, a worse result than May.
The prime minister made a last-ditch plea to Tory MPs to back him, promising future tax cuts and highlighting his own record of electoral success.
But with concern over the Partygate scandal, economic policy, drifting opinion polls and Johnson’s style of leadership, the prime minister faced a difficult task to persuade his doubters.
The ballot was triggered after at least 54 MPs – 15 per cent of the party’s representatives in the House of Commons – said they had no confidence in the prime minister.
Johnson was informed on Sunday afternoon that he would face the vote after Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, confirmed he had received the letters from Conservative MPs needed to trigger the ballot.
The prime minister wrote to Tory MPs and addressed them at a private meeting in Westminster in the hours before voting began.
He told the meeting that the party had won its biggest electoral victory in 40 years under his leadership and pledged future tax cuts, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak expected to say more in the coming weeks.
He warned them that Tory splits risked the “utter disaster” of Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour entering Downing Street with the support of the Scottish National Party.
“The only way we will let that happen is if we were so foolish as to descend into some pointless fratricidal debate about the future of our party,” he said.
Coroner to rule on Royal Adelaide Show ride death
A coroner is set to hand down findings into the death of an eight-year-old girl who was flung from a ride at the Royal Adelaide Show in 2014.
Adelene Leong, who was on holiday from Malaysia, died when she was thrown from the Airmaxx 360 ride at the show as her mother looked on.
While on the ride, she slipped out of restraints and was flung into the air before landing on the ground headfirst.
At the start of the inquest into her death, counsel assisting Sally Giles said that “what took place was nothing short of horrendous for everyone who witnessed it”.
“[The ride] was unsafe, and a tragedy waiting to happen,” she said.
Giles also noted that Airmaxx 360 was the first of its kind to be imported into Australia in 2013, but did not undergo a required design registration process, using instead the certification for a similar ride.
The ride’s operators imposed a minimum height requirement of 120cm, despite the manufacturer recommending 140cm.
Adelene was 137cm tall at the time of her death.
The company that operated the ride, C, J & Sons Amusements Pty Ltd and one of its directors Jenny-Lee Sullivan were convicted over breaches to safety laws but escaped big fines because of their precarious financial position.
Deputy State Coroner Ian White will deliver his findings into the girl’s death on Tuesday afternoon.
Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter purchase
Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from his $US44 billion bid to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot accounts.
Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday. That letter was included in a filing from Twitter with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The letter says Musk has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9, about a month after his offer to buy the company, so he could evaluate how many of the company’s 229 million accounts were fake.
Shares of Twitter Inc. tumbled more than five per cent at the opening bell on Monday.
The lawyers say in the letter that Twitter has offered only to provide details about the company’s testing methods. But they contend that’s “tantamount to refusing Mr Musk’s data requests.” Musk wants the data so he can do his own verification of what he says are Twitter’s lax methodologies.
The lawyers say that based on Twitter’s latest correspondence, Musk believes the company is resisting and thwarting his information rights under the April merger agreement.
“This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement,” the letter says.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said the company has consistently estimated that fewer than five per cent of Twitter accounts are fake. Twitter has disclosed its bot estimates to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for years, while also cautioning that its estimate might be too low.
Experts have said Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as though he can. If he walks away, he could be on the hook for a $US1 billion breakup fee.
The Twitter sale agreement allows Musk to get out of the deal if there is a “material adverse effect” caused by the company. It defines that as a change that negatively affects Twitter’s business or financial conditions.
– With AAP and Reuters
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