Australia news live: national cabinet confirms pandemic leave payments to be extended while mandatory isolation remains


ASX falls 2.6% after Wall Street sell-off

The ASX 200 has fallen by 2.66% following a Wall Street sell-off overnight. The All Ordinaries Index is also down by 2.65% this morning.

The drop comes as new US inflation figures showed prices remained stubbornly high in August even as the overall pace of inflation slowed for the second consecutive month.

The news sent US stock markets into a tailspin, with the Dow Jones index losing nearly 1,300 points, closing nearly 4% lower, at 31,104.97.

The S&P fell 4.3% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped over 5% as investors in the US sold companies across the board from airlines and construction to retail and technology.

The ASX has crumbled this morning after US stocks plunged. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Key events

Next month, the national cabinet will start talking about whether or not there needs to be a ‘reduction’ in the isolation period for covid positive people.

Anthony Albanese:

We will have a discussion about future arrangements on the 30 September when the national cabinet will meet in person, we will take advice at that time because there are different arrangements in place, in countries but what we are seeing is gradually a move towards Covid been treated like other health issues and clearly, we saw with the reduction that we made last time from seven days to five days, we are making some preparations as well over a potential blade during the northern winter so that is preparation and how will respond to them will be a source of further discussion from Chief health officers but there was no discussion about the detail as to changes, we will take advice on that, and will make a decision at an appropriate time.

There have been 130 cases of monkeypox in Australia, and infections globally are starting to drop.

The payment will continue to be a split between the federal government and the states and territories.

Anthony Albanese also gave an update on fraudulent claims of the payment:

There is some evidence that Services Australia identified that since the 20 July 2022, 2.6% of all claims received triggered real-time fraud checks in the system and of those, more than 50% were subsequently rejected and some 15% were subsequently withdrawn by the claimant.

Services Australia data indicates also that over the six months to the 30 June 2022, claims made by individuals who claimed more than once, of these, about 13% were claimed four or more times, that is a claim every 6.5 weeks or more.

Pandemic leave payments to continue while mandatory isolation remains

Anthony Albanese is giving the national cabinet update:

First ministers agreed to extend the pandemic leave disaster payment at current rates beyond 30 September. The payment will remain available for as long as mandatory isolation periods are applied by all states and territories*.

The principle essentially agreed to by all first ministers is that while the government requires mandated isolation, the government has a responsibility to provide support during that period – for the appropriate period which is designated currently, of course, at five days, except for people in aged care, disability care, etc, which remains at seven days.

We remain obviously of the view that if people are sick, whether from Covid or from other health issues, they should not be at work and that is important.

* This is interesting wording – if a state breaks the consensus ranks, is it cancelled?

Infrastructure promises escalate as Victorian election looms

Brace yourself: it is almost time for the Victorian election, which means non-stop infrastructure announcements, or, as it’s known, “ROADS AND BRIDGES FOR EVERYONE”.

This story via AAP:

Victoria’s opposition leader Matthew Guy has promised $60m for the next stage of a road link in a rapidly growing regional centre.

The road would create a north-south link in Ballarat’s biggest urban growth area, connecting the city centre with major regional highways.

Regional Development Victoria has projected Ballarat’s population to grow by almost 25% over the next eight years, with the Liberals and Nationals saying the city’s traffic had increased by 60% over the past five years.

The Victorian Liberal leader said fixing and rebuilding regional roads would be a major priority if he was elected in November.

“Instead of dropping the speed limit and putting up safety signs, a government I lead will actually build the roads that are needed,” Guy said.“The need for the Ballarat Link Road has been clear for some time, and we’ll get on and deliver it.”

Matthew Guy
‘The need for the Ballarat Link Road has been clear for some time’: Matthew Guy Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

The first stage of the road was completed in 2018.

However, Labor’s roads minister Ben Carroll said additional work was not urgent.

“We’ve listened to the local community and we’ve heard loud and clear that Ballarat Link Road Stage 2 is not a priority,” Carroll said.

“We’ve invested over $4.7bn on building and upgrading regional roads since 2015 – and will continue to work with local communities to ease congestion and deliver safer journeys.”

If elected, Guy said his government would allocate $60m over the next four years to the project.

Labor said it was investing in Ballarat’s road network, including $60.8m to upgrade key intersections across the city.

Hastie pays tribute to Australian peacekeepers on 75th anniversary

The shadow minister for defence, Andrew Hastie, has released a statement on the 75th anniversary of Australia’s first peacekeeping mission:

Four Australian military observers formed part of the United Nations Consular Commission which in 1947 observed the ceasefire between the Dutch government and Indonesian nationalist forces in what was then known as the Netherlands East Indies – now Indonesia.

Since 1947, Australian Peacekeepers have contributed to over sixty peacekeeping operations all over the world. From East Timor and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific to Mozambique and Rwanda in Africa. Our Peacekeepers have also served in the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Iraq, and across the Middle East.

Australia has been involved in a peacekeeping operation somewhere in the world every year since the first U.N. mission in 1947.

More than 66,000 Australians have served on peacekeeping operations in the past 75 years.

16 Australians have lost their lives on peacekeeping operations, and we remember them and their families today, as we honour the service of all Australian Peacekeepers.

Australian peacekeeping troops in the East Timorese captial of Dili during an Australia-led mission to restore order in September 1999.
Australian peacekeeping troops in the East Timorese captial of Dili during an Australia-led mission to restore order in September 1999. Photograph: The AGE/Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Peacekeeping is ‘no small thing’, minister says

The veterans’ affairs minister, Matt Keogh, on the peacekeeping commemoration:

From whichever service of the Australian defence forces they come, from whichever branch of the police, the public service or elsewhere, Australians have earned their reputation as good peacekeepers – well-trained, disciplined and effective.

Many outside the immediate defence and police community hear of peacekeeping but know little of it.

Those who have returned and served know peacekeeping missions can be perilous, dangerous and uncertain. But peacekeeping operations are not an end in and of themselves.

Peacekeeping is important. Both in each individual mission and for the particular region.

That nations of the globe will act together to protect peace locally in the interests of world peace and protect the dignity of our fellow human beings is no small thing.

It is a unique and modern concept only existing in these last 75 years of human civilisation.

Vietnamese forces taking part in a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan with Australian ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie in front of a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.
Vietnamese forces taking part in a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan with Australian ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie in front of a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft. Photograph: Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

Albanese to hold press conference at 11.30am, after national cabinet

Anthony Albanese is holding another press conference – this one at 11.30am, which will be on the national cabinet decisions.

The main issues – the new vaccine booster, which is designed for new variants of Covid, the extension of Covid sick leave payments and isolation periods.

Canberra service commemorates 75 years of peacekeeping

A service commemorating the 75th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping missions is under way in Canberra. It is being held at the memorial for peacekeeping.

More than 66,000 Australians have served in more than 50 international peacekeeping operations since 1947.

ASX falls 2.6% after Wall Street sell-off

The ASX 200 has fallen by 2.66% following a Wall Street sell-off overnight. The All Ordinaries Index is also down by 2.65% this morning.

The drop comes as new US inflation figures showed prices remained stubbornly high in August even as the overall pace of inflation slowed for the second consecutive month.

The news sent US stock markets into a tailspin, with the Dow Jones index losing nearly 1,300 points, closing nearly 4% lower, at 31,104.97.

The S&P fell 4.3% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped over 5% as investors in the US sold companies across the board from airlines and construction to retail and technology.

The ASX has crumbled this morning after US stocks plunged.
The ASX has crumbled this morning after US stocks plunged. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Ben Butler

Ben Butler

UniSuper fund allows itself to invest in more fossil fuels

UniSuper, the $110bn fund that primarily looks after the retirement savings of higher education workers, has given itself permission to increase its exposure to fossil fuels by as much as two and a half times.

In its annual climate risk report, out today, the fund said it remained committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and supported the international Paris agreement to limit warming to below 2C.

However, the report shows the exposure of its portfolio to fossil fuels has risen from 2.55% in 2021 to 2.8% this year, primarily because energy stocks have soared along with fuel prices because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

And the fund has given itself room to further increase its fossil fuel exposure, to a maximum of 7% of the investment portfolio.

Chief investment officer John Pearce also downplayed the possibility of divestment from fossil fuel companies, something that activist members of the fund have demanded.

Woodside’s North West Shelf gas project in northern WA.
Woodside’s North West Shelf gas project in northern WA. Photograph: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

The fund owns shares in companies including oil and gas producers Woodside and Santos.

Pearce said in the report:

Ownership provides us with the opportunity to directly influence companies through engagement or exercising our voting rights.

Divestment of ownership, while always an option, simply eliminates the influence we have over companies without affecting real world emission reductions.

The fund said it may divest where there is “a lack of action is of concern to us and there is no viable decarbonisation pathway”.

Will van de Pol, asset management campaigner at activist group Market Forces, said it was “clear UniSuper sees no viable decarbonisation pathway for Woodside, and may be starting to think the same of Santos” but progress was “too slow and too quiet”. He said:

The most concerning aspect of UniSuper’s latest climate report is a newly-announced fossil fuel exposure limit that would allow the fund to increase investment exposure to the sector to two and a half times its current level.

For UniSuper to give itself leeway to massively increase fossil fuel investments is inexplicable, given the fund’s continued sell-down of companies like Woodside and Santos, and a public statement last year that the fund was ‘unlikely’ to actively make new investments in oil and gas.

Covid isolation period to be discussed at national cabinet, Albanese says

Anthony Albanese says consistency is needed across the nation:

We do need, in my view, national consistency. Some decisions are, of course, down to the states and territories, but my job I see it as about facilitating that discussion. And can I say that it has been very positive over the last three months and I think it was the right decision to go from seven days to five days, but we’ll have another discussion this morning.

Perrottet again pushes for mandatory Covid isolation period to be scrapped

Dominic Perrottet is still pushing for an end to forced Covid isolation periods altogether:

What we need to do is move to a system where if you’re sick, you stay at home, and if you’re not you go to school and work and go about your life.

It doesn’t make any sense that for one area that we have public health orders in place but for other areas where you are sick there are no public health orders and you can go to work. We’ve moved through this period of time for two years. There has always been changes.

Anthony Albanese and Dominic Perrottet before speaking to reporters in Sydney.
Anthony Albanese and Dominic Perrottet before speaking to reporters in Sydney. Photograph: AAP

Perrottet says no plans for NSW cabinet reshuffle after Ayres cleared

Michael McGowan

Michael McGowan

The New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet says he has no plans for a cabinet reshuffle even after his former deputy, Stuart Ayres, was cleared of breaching the ministerial code of conduct.

Ayres quit as deputy leader and stood aside from cabinet in August amid concerns about his involvement in the overseas trade commissioner saga in which former deputy premier John Barilaro was appointed to a plum New York trade job.

It came after a report by former NSW public service commissioner Graeme Head raised concerns about a series of “interactions” between Ayres and the then head of Investment NSW, Amy Brown, during the hiring process.

After Ayres stood aside, Perrottet commissioned a separate report, by prominent Sydney barrister Bruce McClintock SC, to probe whether Ayres had breached the code. That report, released this week, cleared Ayres of any wrongdoing.

But on Wednesday, Perrottet told media he had no plans to return Ayres to cabinet.

The cabinet that is in place is the cabinet that is in place.

I have no plans [for a reshuffle] at this stage. The cabinet that is in place is the cabinet serving the people of NSW.

Perrottet said he had not made “any decisions” about whether there would be a reshuffle prior to the election, saying it was “not my focus”.

In his statement released following the report, Ayres took the unusual step of quoting words he attributed to Perrottet during a private conversation after he was given the McClintock report. Ayres said the premier told him it was “an emphatic exoneration”.

Asked on Wednesday whether he used those words, Perrottet said the report “speaks for itself”.





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