As it happened: Renewable energy mechanism plan agreed by states; personal income tax rates to hit highest on record – Sydney Morning Herald

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Thanks for following along with us but that will do for today’s live news coverage. You can pick it back up tomorrow from about 6.30am.
For the royal family fans out there, Latika Bourke and Thomas Mitchell will be live-blogging Harry and Meghan’s Netflix special tonight from about 7pm.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a reminder of the day’s major headlines:
Freed Bali bomb maker Umar Patek wants to focus on his family and open a restaurant but the Australian government has called for him to be monitored around the clock to ensure he does not return to extremism.
Now on parole: Bali bomb maker Umar Patek in August.Credit:The Age
Patek, 55, was escorted from Porong prison near Surabaya on Wednesday by officers from Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency BNPT and Detachment 88, a police anti-terror squad, having been granted parole nearly 12 years into the 20 he had been ordered to serve.
Convicted for his part in assembling the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people including 88 Australians, Patek was granted a series of reductions to his term for good behaviour.
His release has angered survivors and family and friends of victims of the attack.
Read the full article here.
The Australian sharemarket slipped further into the red today, hitting a two-week low after US stocks wavered overnight as fears of a global recession keep investors on their toes.
The S&P/ASX200 closed down 53.90 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 7175.50, with the energy sector leading the declines.
Gold was the index’s shining light today, enjoying a healthy session after gold futures rose overnight, but the energy sector weighted heavily on the index as the federal government attempts to strike a deal with the states to cap the price of coal at $125 per tonne.
“There’s a lot of red across the board when it comes to equities, and the only thing that really stands out is utilities and gold,” said Kerry Craig, executive director global market strategist at JP Morgan.
“What’s driving the market today is concern around the global growth outlook becoming a bit more prominent … just concerns that we are heading for a recession next year.”
Read the full five-minute recap of the trading day here.
Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen has said the Commonwealth, states and territories will develop a “capacity mechanism” to deliver dispatchable renewable energy around the country. You can replay the press conference below, which was also addressed by other states’ representatives.
Bowen said the federal government will call for bids for energy projects that it will underwrite, “providing extra capacity as old power stations leave the grids, as more coal-fired power stations close … we will be firming our grid going forward”.
The proposed capacity mechanism is intended to guarantee energy supply while subverting the argument for coal and gas generators to keep operating.
State and territory energy ministers met today after the federal government asked them to put caps on coal prices to help cut household bills, and ahead of a national cabinet meeting tomorrow.
Expect more detail from our national team later on.
Private insurer Medibank’s app, stores, contact centre and IT systems will go dark this weekend as it overhauls its cybersecurity following the nation’s worst data breach in corporate history.
From 8.30pm (AEDT) tomorrow, Australia’s largest health insurer will shut down its IT systems followed by retail store and customer contact centre closures on Saturday to “further strengthen systems and enhance security protections”.
The ASX-listed company expects normal activity to resume by Sunday at the latest.
Medibank stores will be closed this weekend.Credit:Kara Lau
The overhaul is part of a series of maintenance strategies, termed “Operation Safeguard”, established after the personal information of up to 10 million current and former Medibank customers was breached in a cyberattack.
The data was released on the dark web when Medibank refused to pay a $15 million ransom demanded by the hackers, who police have said were based in Russia. The company said the damaging cyberattack will cost the firm at least $35 million in initial recovery costs, though that is likely to grow as law firms and regulators circle.
Microsoft IT security experts from the Asia-Pacific region will travel to Medibank’s Melbourne headquarters to assist with the operation, which was said to have been planned over several weeks and will be Medibank’s first shutdown of such scale.
Read the full story here.
A coroner has found a speedier transfer might have saved the life of a bubbly six-year-old who went into cardiac arrest and died after waiting 12 hours for a medical evacuation.
Austin Facer, who died waiting for medical evacuation from Broken Hill.
In damning findings delivered today, Deputy NSW Coroner Elizabeth Ryan concluded that the “unacceptable delays” were avoidable, as doctors debated whether Austin Facer should be flown to Adelaide, Sydney or Melbourne from Broken Hill Base Hospital.
Ryan made three recommendations for system improvements and extended her sympathies to Austin’s parents, who have been left heartbroken by the loss of their “joyful little boy”.
The inquest heard Austin’s younger brother, who was three when Austin died in 2019, “constantly” asks his parents where Austin is.
“The death of this child has devastated his family,” Ryan said. “There is no question that all involved had Austin’s best interests at heart. But the conclusion is inescapable that systemic deficiencies and flawed decisions created long and avoidable delays that afternoon.”
Read the full story here.
Female footballers will no longer have to wear the white shorts traditionally donned by the “away” team after the AFL changed its uniform rules to ease anxiety for players who are menstruating.
The AFL announced today that AFLW clubs will from next season have an additional set of coloured shorts that are different from their standard home uniform.
Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce (right) celebrates the Demons’ AFLW flag with a teammate.Credit:AFL Photos / Getty Images
The move comes as female athletes in other sports, including tennis and cricket, challenge the traditional all-white dress codes for Wimbledon and Test cricket, respectively.
“Following extensive industry consultation, the removal of white shorts will address athlete in-competition performance anxieties and barriers to participation across all levels of women’s and girls’ footy,” the league said in a memo seen by this masthead.
Richmond player Gabby Seymour said players were relieved about the change. “[While white shorts] weren’t going to stop anyone from playing, we’ve got enough things to worry about, so it’s nice just to have one extra stressor taken away,” she said.
“We want every female player we can get – so if that’s one little thing that we can do that makes girls feel more comfortable to play, then I think that’s an awesome outcome.”
Read the full article here.
Australian workers are on track to pay the highest average personal income tax rates on record, with new independent analysis warning that without change the federal revenue system will become distorted and the economy more vulnerable to shocks.
The Parliamentary Budget Office, in a report into the budget’s long-term sustainability, said even with the contentious stage 3 tax cuts that are legislated to start in mid-2024, ordinary workers face a huge spike in the amount of tax they will pay.
By 2032-33, the office estimates total personal income tax will climb by 50 per cent to more than $503 billion. Company tax collections over the same period are forecast to grow by 17 per cent to $175 billion.
The average tax rate is expected to climb to 25.5 cents in the dollar in 2023-24, and then fall to 24.1 cents after the stage 3 tax cuts. But without further tax relief, the average tax rate will again start climbing and hit an all-time high of 26.4 cents in the dollar by 2032-33.
Australia’s average tax rate has only topped 26 per cent on two previous occasions, in 1988-89 and 1999-2000.
Read the full story here.
Home buyers are snapping up properties within a couple of weeks or less in a string of affordable outer suburbs, new figures show.
Small and tightly held neighbourhoods also ranked high on the list of areas where homes change hands quickly.
In NSW, the fastest-selling suburbs were in western Sydney – Warragamba at an average 15 days on the market, followed by Wakeley and Carnes Hill at 18 days each, Domain research found.
In Victoria, Gladstone Park in Melbourne’s north topped the list at 17 days, followed by Ferny Creek in the east at 18 days, and Officer South in the south-east at 20 days.
For Queensland, the quickest sales were in Boyland, Heritage Park and Kuraby, all at 18 days or less, while in Western Australia the fastest sales were in Merriwa, Lake Clifton and Kingsley, also 18 days or less. The national crown went to Tolmans Hill in Hobart at just eight days.
The figures cover the first 11 months of 2022, showing the suburbs that were in demand through both the boom earlier in the year and the more recent property downturn on the back of rising interest rates.
Read the full story here.
Novice drivers in Queensland pay more than seven times those in NSW and Victoria do for a learner’s licence, in what the state’s Opposition Leader David Crisafulli has labelled an “absolute rip-off”.
Drivers pay $186.55 to gain a learner’s permit in Queensland, while it costs just $26 in NSW and Victoria.
Qld: $186.55
WA: $126.10
SA: $69
ACT: $51.10
Tas: $35.29
Vic: $26
NSW: $26
NT: $25
“Queensland learners pay the highest fee in the country by a country mile to get their learner’s,” Crisafulli said today.
“These learner drivers are starting out in life … the learner’s is a key to opening up a future for a young person.
“It’s the ability to take a step towards getting your own job and your own independence.”
Crisafulli said people were already feeling the pinch as everyday costs spiral out of control. “It’s time this government gave these kids a break,” he said.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey confirmed the costs of all vehicle licences were being scrutinised but stopped short of promising to lower the fees.
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