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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Australia news live updates: RBA to make interest rate decision; Albanese continues Indonesian visit | Australia news

Good morning

The prime minister is continuing his official visit to Indonesia today, where he has flagged new measures to ease visa restrictions for a string of Indonesian citizens including tourists and business people.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo highlighted difficulties and delays for citizens to visit Australia, while also welcoming stronger ties with Australia on key issues including security, education, trade and climate change.

While in Indonesia, Anthony Albanese denounced an incident in which a Chinese fighter plane forced an Australian plane into a dangerous manoeuvre. He told reporters Chinese actions were “an act of aggression and a dangerous act”.

Defence minister Richard Marles has confirmed Australian surveillance flights will continue over the South China Sea despite the incident.

Pacific Island leaders sit down in Suva today for a meeting about regional unity. Australia is flying three Micronesian leaders to Suva for the high-priority meeting about the future of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

In Victoria, the state government will today introduce the treaty authority bill to parliament, following a historic agreement with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

The bill will allow the authority to be established as an “independent umpire” with legal powers overseeing negotiations between the government and First Nations Victorians.

And the Reserve Bank faces a delicate task of raising the interest rate fast enough to quell inflation today. Any rate rise would be the RBA’s first back-to-back monthly increase in 12 years.

Caitlin Cassidy here to guide you through today’s news. I am personally hoping there will be more cycling to liveblog, but we will have to wait and see.

Let’s jump on in.

With the Reserve Bank due to make a decision on interest rates today, Chalmers said inflation would “get worse before it gets better” and expected rates would lift today, as was flagged by the RBA prior to the election.

The market expects them to increase interest rates because we have an inflation problem in the economy and rising interest rates were something that the Reserve Bank governor flagged before the election and that is the trajectory we are on, but just because these interest rate rises are expected, it won’t make them any less difficult for a lot of people who are already confronting cost-of- living pressures.

That is the unfortunate reality. There is no point mincing words about that. Our job is the government is to make sure that after some of this near-term cost-of-living relief runs out that it is replaced by responsible long-term sustainable cost-of-living relief in areas like medicines and childcare, getting power bills down over time and getting real wages moving again.

The treasurer is up and about this morning doing the media rounds.

He also spoke about the gas trigger, while speaking to Sunrise.

[The trigger] is about making sure that we can intervene in gas markets to make enough of it here. The issue with the gas trigger, unfortunately, is even if we were to pull the trigger today, it would come into effect until the beginning of next year, so again, not of quick fix.

But there are some things we can do on pricing. The regulators have only taken some steps with some price caps and guarantees and those steps have been welcomed, and if there are further steps to take in there are further steps to take in the near term, we will take them, but the most important thing is a good long-term energy policy and that is what we will be implementing.

Jim Chalmers acknowledged it would be a “difficult and expensive” winter despite measures the government could implement.

Unfortunately, we have a lot of outages either planned or unplanned and we have flooding which is impacting, but also some maintenance, a whole range of issues unfortunately coming out at once, so will be a difficult winter and it will be an expensive winter … we are in the minutes of a full-blown cost-of-living crisis.

Gas trigger ‘remains on the table’

King is asked if the federal government is still considering whether to pull the “so called” gas trigger. This has been floating around in the media a lot, despite the fact it wouldn’t come into effect until January next year.

King says “everything remains on the table”.

We will explore it, it comes up for review and has to be renewed as a matter of law, it is about to end, that gas trigger.

We’ll be looking to see how we keep the ability to use that going and explore if it’ll help.

What I said before, the export side of this is also very important. This is an industry that only exists because of international investment that was there for those exports.

We have to be mindful of the whole story.

Coal companies ‘need to get power stations back online’

King repeats it is the “coal companies themselves and the operators of the coal stations that need to get these power stations back online”.

Labor has been pushing for decarbonisation – are you prepared to use public money to ensure coal fired stations come back online?

“It is the coal companies themselves and the operators of the power stations that need to get these power stations back online”

@MadeleineMHKing

— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) June 6, 2022

Asked if Labor was prepared to step in to offer government assistance, King said she would “let them do their work”:

It wouldn’t matter how much money anyone put in right now we just need the operators to get moving and fix their plants right now.

All indications are they are and they’re working at it right now, I will let them do that work.

King said she was insulted by accusations from the Nationals leader that she wasn’t picking up the phone and speaking to gas producers, adding it was what you would expect from a party that she said didn’t respect women.

It was very nice of David Littleproud to demean me in that fashion.

If Angus [Taylor] and David want to make stuff up they can go right ahead but it’s really ridiculous.

Resources minister on gas shortage

Resources minister Madeleine King is appearing on Radio National now.

Asked how constructive her conversations have been with major gas producers on the energy crisis hitting consumers, she replies:

All the gas producers I’ve spoken to, and there’ve been many of them, have been very productive in the conversations we’ve had.

There are other constraints within the market, it’s very difficult to get more gas from the Queensland gas producers simply because … the pipeline is at capacity.

You’ve urged gas companies to get more supply into the domestic market – have they given you any commitments?

“All the gas producers I’ve spoken to have been very constructive..they’re doing their best to maximise production and release supply into the market”

@MadeleineMHKing

— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) June 6, 2022

King says “the missing piece of the puzzle” is for coal-fired stations to get back online in the short term:

In the very short term … we need to have the coal stations come back online because … there’s been many outages … I hope they’re doing their level best to make sure this power source comes back online.

King says operators “know this is what they have to do” and she’s confident “they are doing it”.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Pacific region threats

The Indo-Pacific region is “particularly vulnerable” to hybrid threats that stay below the line of conventional warfare, a new report has warned.

The report, published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, cites coercive diplomacy, cyberattacks, disinformation, foreign interference and militarisation of contested islands as examples of hybrid threats. It says hybrid threats are increasing in breadth, application and intensity across the region:

The consequences for individual nations include weakened institutions, disrupted social systems and economies, and greater vulnerability to coercion – especially from revisionist powers such as China.

The report – titled “Countering the Hydra: A proposal for an Indo-Pacific hybrid threats centre” – says hybrid threats are a mix of military and non-military, covert and overt activities by state and non-state actors that occur below the line of conventional warfare:

Their purpose is to blur the lines between war and peace, destabilise societies and governments and sow doubt and confusion among populations and decision-makers. They deliberately target democratic systems and state vulnerabilities, often leveraging legitimate processes for inimical ends, and typically aim to stay below the threshold of detection, attribution and retaliation.

They’re the same activities that the Australian Government attributes to the ‘grey zone’, involving ‘military and non-military forms of assertiveness and coercion aimed at achieving strategic goals without provoking conflict.

The report, by researchers Dr Lesley Seebeck, Emily Williams and Dr Jacob Wallis, calls for the creation of a new Indo-Pacific Hybrid Threat Centre “as a means of building broader situational awareness on hybrid threats across the region”.

The centre would be modelled on the existing Nato-EU Hybrid Centre of Excellence in Finland, but would need to adjust to reflect the differences between the European and Indo-Pacific security environments, especially the “lack of pan-regional Indo-Pacific security institutions”.

It would focus on research and analysis, engagement, information sharing and capacity building, aiming to “contribute to regional stability and the security of individual nations”.

The report was released on Tuesday, days after the Australian government vowed to continue to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea despite what it said was a dangerous interception of an Australian surveillance plane by a Chinese military plane last month.

Nino Bucci

Nino Bucci

Northern Territory fatal bus crash

Police were on the scene of a bus crash in the Northern Territory last night that had claimed the life of one man and left others in hospital.

The bus crashed five kilometres east of Hermannsburg, a remote community west of Alice Springs, about 3.30pm yesterday.

NT police said in a statement that the NT Fire and Rescue Service and St John ambulance also attended the crash, which was being investigated by the NT police major crash investigation unit and NT Worksafe. The statement said:

A number of other passengers have been injured and are being treated by the local clinic and medical staff who have travelled from Alice Springs.

The ABC reported that the crash involved a tourist bus, and that about 20 people were on board at the time.

Weather warning

Feeling chilly? A marine wind warning is current in parts of every state and territory today, while sheep graziers in Victoria have been warned cold temperatures, showers and winds may risk losses of lambs and sheep.

The weather will be frostiest in Tasmania:

But the ACT is also in for a cold day, where it currently “feels like” -1.1 degrees and will only reach a maximum of 8.

Good morning

The prime minister is continuing his official visit to Indonesia today, where he has flagged new measures to ease visa restrictions for a string of Indonesian citizens including tourists and business people.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo highlighted difficulties and delays for citizens to visit Australia, while also welcoming stronger ties with Australia on key issues including security, education, trade and climate change.

While in Indonesia, Anthony Albanese denounced an incident in which a Chinese fighter plane forced an Australian plane into a dangerous manoeuvre. He told reporters Chinese actions were “an act of aggression and a dangerous act”.

Defence minister Richard Marles has confirmed Australian surveillance flights will continue over the South China Sea despite the incident.

Pacific Island leaders sit down in Suva today for a meeting about regional unity. Australia is flying three Micronesian leaders to Suva for the high-priority meeting about the future of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

In Victoria, the state government will today introduce the treaty authority bill to parliament, following a historic agreement with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

The bill will allow the authority to be established as an “independent umpire” with legal powers overseeing negotiations between the government and First Nations Victorians.

And the Reserve Bank faces a delicate task of raising the interest rate fast enough to quell inflation today. Any rate rise would be the RBA’s first back-to-back monthly increase in 12 years.

Caitlin Cassidy here to guide you through today’s news. I am personally hoping there will be more cycling to liveblog, but we will have to wait and see.

Let’s jump on in.

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