Australia news LIVE: Energy price debate continues; robo-debt royal … – The Age

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Air New Zealand has said high demand for travel both domestically and internationally has accelerated its recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, and that as a result they expected to earn about $100 million more in the first half of the 2023 financial year.
In a statement posted to the ASX today, the airline said it anticipated earnings would now be between $295 million to $325 million, before other significant items and taxation. Previous estimates in September this year had earnings at $200 million to $275 million.
Air New Zealand planes on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport. Credit:AP
With flight capacity reduced for many airlines and the price of jet fuel still 20 per cent higher than pre-COVID prices, airlines are forecasting big profits, with Qantas expecting to book between $1.35 billion and $1.45 billion in underlying profit before tax in the first half of its financial year.
Domestic travel for Air New Zealand is running at just below 100 per cent capacity while short-haul is about 85 per cent and international about 70 per cent, with the airline acknowledging capacity constraints had impacted pricing for customers.
Ongoing labor shortages and COVID-19 continues to affect staffing for airlines which has contributed to companies hesitancy to lift flight capacity. However, Air New Zealand said that it had hired 2200 employees since February, which adds an additional 200,000 seats per year into the domestic network, relieving some of the stresses for both customers and company.
However, due to continuing uncertainty with international travel, fuel price volatility and global recessionary risks the airline is not providing full-year profit guidance.
Lima: Peruvian politician Dina Boluarte was sworn as interim president on Thursday AEDT, hours after Pedro Castillo was removed in an impeachment trial during a day of high political drama in the Andean nation.
Boluarte, elevated from vice president, becomes Peru’s first ever female president, following Castillo’s attempt to dissolve the legislature by decree to avoid the impeachment vote, which sparked a wave of resignations by ministers and criticism from allies.
Dina Boluarte at the APEC Economic Leaders meeting in Thailand in November.Credit:Getty
Earlier, lawmakers moved ahead with the previously planned impeachment trial ignored Castillo’s attempt to shut down Congress. There were 101 votes in favour of removing Castillo, six against and 10 abstentions.
The result was announced with loud cheers and the legislature called for Boluarte to take office.
Peru’s national police shared an image on Twitter of Castillo sitting unrestrained at a police station after the vote to remove him and said that it had “intervened” to fulfil its duties. It referred to Castillo as “ex-president”. It was unclear if he had been detained.
Defence Minister Richard Marles says Australia won’t face a capability gap between the end of its current submarines’ lifecycles and the arrival of nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS pact.
Marles is currently in Washington after meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin alongside Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
He told RN Breakfast that announcements about the arrival of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact would be made in the first part of 2023.
Whereas earlier on… one might have imagined that this would turn into some competitive process, what’s really clear as it has evolved is that it’s been a genuine collaboration between the United States and the United Kingdom to provide Australia with a capacility of operating nuclear submarines.
It speaks to a shared mission to achieve this in what is a pretty precarious, complex world.
He said the Australian government would continue looking at ways to avoid a “capability gap” in the possible period between the end of the life cycle of Australia’s current Collins class submarines and the arrival of the new fleet.
Marles said he was “pleased” by assurances by Austin that Australia won’t be left in the lurch between the lifecycles of submarines, but he would not reveal what weapons or machinery would fill a potential gap.
Berlin: German police on Wednesday detained 25 members and supporters of a far-right group that the prosecutor’s office said was preparing a violent overthrow of the state to install as national leader a prince who had sought backing from Russia.
Prosecutors said the group was inspired by the deep state conspiracy theories of Germany’s Reichsbuerger and QAnon, whose advocates were among those arrested after the storming of the US Capitol in January 2021.
Police arrest a person during raids against so-called ‘Reich citizens’.Credit:AP
Members of the Reichsbuerger (Citizens of the Reich) do not recognise modern-day Germany as a legitimate state. Some of them are devoted to the German empire under monarchy, while some are adherents of Nazi ideas and others believe Germany is under military occupation.
The group had emulated the structure of the government, creating a “council” that had regularly met since November 2021 as an administration-in-waiting with different departments, such as foreign affairs and health, prosecutors said.
“The investigations provide a glimpse into the abyss of a terrorist threat from the Reichsburger milieu,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement, adding that the constitutional state knew how to defend itself against “the enemies of democracy”.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed the federal government and state leaders are yet to reach a deal on halting skyrocketing energy prices, but he’s hopeful of an agreement before Christmas.
As David Crowe reported this morning, the Albanese government has asked state governments to cap the price of coal at less than half the market rate to tackle rising household bills.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told state leaders his government would put controls on gas – with a draft cap of $13 per gigajoule – but expect states to enact the changes in the coal market.
Speaking about tomorrow’s virtual national cabinet meeting between the prime minister and state heads, Chalmers said all leaders have a stake in “trying to get to a good, responsible, reasonable landing point”.
“There hasn’t been a conclusion reached yet,” he told RN Breakfast.
“This is a challenge of such complexity and such consequence for industry and for Australians around the country that it needs to be a genuine partnership between governments.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers earlier this week.Credit:Janie Barrett
“There’ll be more conversations through the course of today and tomorrow, and we’re still aiming to learn something before Christmas.”
What will happen if there’s not an agreement signed by December 25? Chalmers says he’s worried that Australians’ already high utilities bills could creep up further, straining household budgets.
We are very concerned about the prospects of higher energy prices which began before the election and the continuing now, and we expect to intensify in the coming months.
That does put extra pressure on Australians who are already under the pump.
When it comes to high gas prices, it risks hollowing out important parts of our industrial base, particularly manufacturing.
Staying with the ABC News interview with Energy Minister Chris Bowen for now, and he says the federal government is still trying to find a “sensible response” to rising electricity prices.
Bowen said his meeting with state and territory energy ministers today comes in the “spirit of cooperation”, to tackle the implementation of a capacity mechanism in Australia’s energy system.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“Our main job today is to settle something that has been in the too hard basket for too long … to keep the lights on and ensure our transition to renewables happens more quickly and in a more orderly fashion.”
If you’ve been following our blog this morning, you’d know that the federal government is scrambling to close a deal to combat the energy crisis after asking the states to cap the price of coal at $125 per tonne – less than half the market rate.
The request from the Albanese government has escalated claims from the states and territories for billions of dollars in compensation across the energy sector.
Here’s what Bowen said on that topic ahead of tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting.
The prime minister will be talking to the premiers – particularly the coal state premiers – about sensible interventions and responses. That work has been happening between governments, between the prime minister and premiers.
[Conversations] will continue over the next 24 hours because it is our job as governments to work together to ensure that the worst impacts of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on the world energy markets don’t flow through to Australian industries and business without a response. We need to take the sting out of those impacts.
Australia is poorly placed because we have had 10 years of denial and delay … We are responding and working closely with those coal states for the most sensible intervention possible.
Senior federal minister Chris Bowen has reacted to the news that Bali bomb maker Umar Patek has been released from jail in Indonesia, having served less than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
Bowen told ABC’s News Breakfast on Thursday that Australians have “every right to be disappointed and concerned” by the news, as discussions with the Indonesian government continue.
Federal Minister Chris Bowen.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“Australians would be concerned about this and the Australian Government is concerned about this on their behalf,” he said.
“Early release is not uncommon in Indonesia. Our particular representations have gone to seeking reassurances that he will continue to be monitored and appropriate protections will be in place.”
The 55-year-old Patek walked free on Wednesday morning from Porong prison in Sidoarjo, south of the East Java capital of Surabaya, after being granted parole.
Bowen said it is important that the Australian government keep up a strong dialogue with Indonesia, as the two countries shared the pain of the 2004 Bali bombings.
“These issues do come up in the relationship between all countries, but particularly between Australia and Indonesia with different legal systems,” he said.
“Indonesia does understand Australia’s keen interest in these matters. They feel what Australians are going through as well. Indonesians and Australians were killed by these terrible murderers.
“Indonesians and Australians went through this terrible ordeal together and now we are dealing with the ramifications together, understanding and respecting that Indonesia has their own legal system. Indonesia’s legal system does tend to lead to long sentences with early release.”
Singapore: Bali bomb maker Umar Patek has been released from jail in Indonesia having served less than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
The 55-year-walked free on Wednesday morning from Porong prison in Sidoarjo, south of the East Java capital of Surabaya, after being granted parole.
Umar Patek is escorted to court in Jakarta in 2011.Credit:AP
Rika Aprianti, the spokeswoman for Indonesia’s Directorate General of Corrections, confirmed his release to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last night.
In a statement, the department in charge of prisons said he had been released under the parole program and would remain on parole until April 29, 2030.
“If a violation [of parole is committed] up to that period his rights of parole will be revoked,” the statement said.
It said he had fulfilled a special condition by participating in a deradicalisation program and because he “has declared faithful to the unitary state of Indonesia”.
His anticipated release had been the subject of controversy in the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings in October.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had objected to the trimming of Patek’s sentence, describing the former Jemaah Islamiyah militant as “abhorrent”, and news of his imminent freedom had upset family members and friends of victims of the attack, as well as survivors.
The United States must lift its game and step up its economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific if it wants to compete with China, Foreign Minister Penny Wong will tell Australia’s closest ally in a speech in Washington.
In a blunt warning to the Biden administration, Wong will say investing more in regional free trade agreements and foreign aid needs to become a “core alliance priority” for the US and Australia.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Washington this week.Credit:AP
Wong’s first ministerial speech focusing on the US-Australia alliance comes a day after she and Defence Minister Richard Marles agreed to strengthen defence and foreign policy ties with the US in meetings with their American counterparts.
“US policy needs to be based on a clear understanding of what the rest of the Indo-Pacific wants,” Wong will say in a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at 6am tomorrow (AEDT).
“The region sees development, connectivity, digital trade and the energy transition as vital domains in which consistent US leadership and influence would be welcome.”
Australia and the US, according to Wong, need to demonstrate to countries in the region that “we want to do business and create wealth with them”.
“Second, we need to demonstrate that we have interests we want to nurture beyond security interests,” she will say.
“That their interest in stability and development is an interest we share – that we have skin in the game.”
The federal government is scrambling to close a deal on the energy crisis after asking the states to cap the price of coal at $125 per tonne – less than half the market rate – in a move that has escalated claims for billions of dollars in compensation across the energy sector.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra earlier this week. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
The proposal seeks to ease pressure on household bills next year but has galvanised concerns in NSW and Queensland about the financial impact on power companies, coal producers and state budgets that are due to collect more than $10 billion in coal royalties this year.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is hoping to secure a deal in an online national cabinet meeting on Friday after telling state leaders his government would put price controls on gas – with a draft cap of $13 per gigajoule – but would expect states to enact the changes in the coal market.
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