July 19, 2023

Australia news LIVE: Migration intake too high, voters say; 2026 Commonwealth Games cancelled in Victoria

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Rio ramps up iron ore production despite train derailment

By Simon Johanson

Mining giant Rio Tinto has ramped up iron ore production in the Pilbara on Australia’s west coast, shipping enough of the key steel-making material to reach the top end of its guidance despite planned maintenance and a rail derailment slowing operations.

The price of iron ore, one of Australia’s most lucrative exports, fell during the June quarter, down from elevated levels last year following a property slump in China – by far the world’s biggest steelmaker – and slower than expected global growth reduced steel demand.

Iron Ore mining at Rio Tinto’s mine in the Pilbara in Western Australia.Credit: Tamara Voninski

After bottoming out at around $US98 in late May, iron ore prices have since rallied to around $US116.

Rio’s output in the Pilbara slowed last month when a driverless train with 30 carriages derailed, damaging about 700 metres of track on a key rail line to the Port of Dampier that took three days to repair and reopen.

“We built further momentum in our Pilbara iron ore business for the quarter, and now expect to deliver shipments in the upper half of our guidance range for the year,” Rio’s chief executive Jakob Stausholm said in a quarterly update.


The miner’s Pilbara operations produced 81.3 million tonnes in the second quarter, about 3 per cent higher than the same quarter last year, although shipments were about 1 per cent lower.

Improvements across Rio’s ore mines should see full-year shipments land in the upper half the miner’s forecast 320 to 335 million tonne range.

The company reported production was slightly down of another key material, copper, which is in high as the world transitions away from dependence on carbon intensive fossil fuels to low emissions solar and wind renewable energy.


Cost blow out would have given me a ‘heart attack’: Beattie

By Ashleigh McMillan

The chair of Brisbane’s 2018 Commonwealth Games organising committee says events held in regional Australia are more costly and that should have been factored in before Victoria agreed to host the event in three years time.

The Andrews government called off the 2026 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday, citing an estimated cost of more than $6 billion. The government had budgeted $2.6 billion for the event.

Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.Credit: James Brickwood

Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who was the chairman for the 2018 Commonwealth Games organising committee, said the projected cost overrun would have given him a “heart attack”.

“Had I recovered, hopefully in emergency, I would want to know why,” he told ABC News Breakfast.


“I don’t know the detail of the Victorian circumstances but… our budget in Queensland was $1.2 billion for the Commonwealth Games. The Queensland government insisted on us sticking within that budget, we did that. We were innovative about how to deal with the challenges.

“It is difficult to run major events in regional cities. Even the Gold Coast, Queensland’s second largest city had enormous challenges… I’m a strong supporter of the regions and events need to be in the regions if we’re going to grow Australia. But you need to factor in at the beginning there are extra costs.

“The key to it is once you get a budget, you have to stick to it. That is difficult to do, but it is absolutely essential.”


Federal government got ‘very short heads up’ on Commonweath Games: PM

By Ashleigh McMillan

Returning to 2GB’s interview with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and he says he feels “regret” for Australia’s athletes when it comes to the Victorian government’s cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The federal government got a “very short heads up” that the announcement would occur on Tuesday morning, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

“Obviously it’s not something that we were anticipating, given that it’s been in the wind for some time,” he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“The regret is for the athletes who will be hurt by this. The idea of competing at your own games is always a positive thing.”

Albanese said the future of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics was secure, despite Victoria’s shock decision yesterday.

“The planning is well under way there. I’ve met with (Queensland) Premier (Annastacia) Palaszczuk many times. That’s a great global event, of course,” he said.

“Everyone’s looking forward to the Brisbane Olympics – (they) will be a very big deal.”

With AAP


Fears Aussie athletes could ‘miss out entirely’ due to Games call

By Ashleigh McMillan

Some of Australia’s most high-profile former athletes have come out this morning to voice their surprise and disappointment at the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

As we’ve already reported, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the call to call off the event, citing a cost blowout from $2.6 billion to $7 billion.

Australia’s Jana Pittman celebrates with spectators during her victory lap after winning the gold medal in the Women’s 400 metres hurdles during the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.Credit: AP

Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett told Today he felt “disbelief and shock” after the announcement the 2026 event would be canned.

I thought it was a joke when I first heard the news.

This is not the local bowls club cancelling a weekend meet, this is something of such a significant nature. It’s so hard to get these sorts of events in your own country.

It’s deflating for not just the athletes but the entire country and particularly the state of Victoria.

We all fully appreciate the significant debt that Victoria does have as a state, and certainly tough decisions do need to be made… But at the same time, why did we just go and cancel the event? Surely we could have revised the event, scaled things down, look at bringing venues back into Melbourne when we have such greating sporting infrastructure.

Dr Jana Pittman, who won multiple gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, said she was devastated by the news and feared it could lead to the demise of the event.

We know in the past they’ve generated income in a post-event

space – basically from tourists coming and visiting and seeing what Australia looks like – but also showcasing what our country can do.

It’s a devastating moment for sport and I really hope it isn’t the end of the Commonwealth Games.

What if they actually can’t find a solution and therefore our athletes miss out entirely? I’ve been saying for years we need to find a solution, possibly for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, that makes it more global, perhaps an entire country hosts the collective sports.


Albanese says drop in Voice support due to focus on cost of living

By Ashleigh McMillan

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has brushed off concerns about support dropping for the Voice to parliament, saying the public is focused on other issues right now, such as the cost of living.


A survey conducted by Resolve Strategic for this masthead last month showed support for the Voice had fallen to below a majority from 53 to 49 per cent, with Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia on track to vote No.

The Australian Electoral Commission published the formal Yes and No cases for the proposed Voice to parliament referendum on Tuesday.

“People will focus when the actual vote is going to be held. People are quite rightly focused on other issues… we acknowledge that people are doing it tough,” Albanese said.

“It is true that that’s the case [that polls are showing support for the Voice dropping], but there has been a debate between politicians in Canberra, with some focus as well from the media on things that this isn’t about.

“I think that if people actually read the question that’s being asked, and then they read both the Yes and the No case, I’m very confident that people will come to a view that if not now, when?

“This is about just three simple things: recognition, but importantly, it’s about getting better outcomes [and] listening to Indigenous Australians about matters that affect them.”

The written Yes and No cases will form the official referendum pamphlet that will be sent to more than 12.5 million homes in the weeks before the national vote and will be published on the Australian Electoral Commission website on Tuesday. There is no requirement for the pamphlet to be truthful.


Minister attacks ‘rigid factional duopoly’ controlling the ALP

By James Massola

Government frontbencher Andrew Leigh has attacked his party’s factional system as a “rigid duopoly” that is stifling internal policy debate and threatening Labor’s long-term interests.

Leigh, the assistant minister for competition, charities, treasury and employment, says factions – which dole out ministries, committee chairmanships and overseas travel – can be “profoundly undemocratic” because they block rank-and-file party members from choosing candidates.

Government frontbencher Andrew Leigh has attacked the Labor Party’s factional system.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

In a speech to the Per Capita think tank in Melbourne on Wednesday, Leigh, who is one of two Labor members of the federal parliament not in a faction, will also argue the factions create unnecessary divisions within the ALP and risk alienating members who “are motivated not by power, but by altruism”.

“They should not be treated as second-class citizens within our party,” he says.

“If we stifle internal debate, we miss the chance to test our policies among ourselves, and to train new generations of thinkers,” he says in an advance copy of the speech.

“In 2023, it is worth asking whether a rigid factional duopoly – in which show-and-tell [member ballots] prevails and in which preselections are decided by the few rather than the many – is really in the long-term interests of the party.

“If a group’s practices and deals start to sound like they’ve been plucked from a John le Carr? novel, those people should ask themselves whether their shenanigans befit Australia’s most important political party.”


Minister ‘devastated’ for athletes in wake of Commonwealth Games decision

By Ashleigh McMillan

A federal Labor minister says she is disappointed for hard-working Australian athletes following the Victorian government’s decision to can the Commonwealth Games.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told Sunrise while it was a choice for the Andrews government whether to go ahead with the event, she remained proud of the dedication of Australian athletes.

I know a lot of them will have been training for years to build up to the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics beyond. I know Australians will feel the same, devastated for them.

My thoughts are really with the athletes today.

In regards to the decision, it’s a Victorian state government decision, I think Daniel Andrews said he had seen significant cost blowouts and with what’s going on in the economy in Victoria with the cost of living crisis, he didn’t feel he could justify that expenditure. So it’s a decision for the state government.

O’Neil said while the Commonwealth Games was far from her portfolio, she did not know about the announcement before it occurred on Tuesday.


Trump says he received word he is a target in US 2020 election probe

Washington: Former US president Donald Trump said on Tuesday he had received a letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith stating that he is a target of a grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result.

If so, it would represent the clearest sign to date that Trump may face federal criminal charges stemming from his efforts to remain in power after losing the election to his rival, President Joe Biden.

Donald Trump as received a letter informing him that he is a target of the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election.Credit: AP

Officials have testified that during his final months in office, Trump pressured them with unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. His supporters attacked the US Capitol in a January 6, 2021, bid to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s win.

Smith “sent a letter (again, it was Sunday night!) stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social media site.

His attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for Smith’s office declined to comment.

Later on Tuesday, local time, defence attorneys and federal prosecutors are due to make their first appearance in Florida before US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over charges that Trump mishandled classified information and obstructed justice.



Education minister says initial uni overhaul a ‘good investment’

By Ashleigh McMillan

Staying with the ABC Radio National interview of Education Minister Jason Clare for now, and he says the cost over the next four years for the changes to university rules is around $34 million.

The panel tasked with overhauling the university sector is set to hand down its interim report today and five short-term recommendations will be adopted by the federal government.

One of the five preliminary measures that will be enacted will guarantee all Indigenous students a Commonwealth-supported university place when they are accepted for study – expanding the measure to city students for the first time.

Local councils will bid for one of 34 new regional and suburban study hubs that will open around the country, while the government’s higher education funding arrangements will be extended from the end of the year until 2025 while the major reforms are finalised. The full report is expected this year.

“It’s estimated that that’ll cost over the course of next four years about $34 million,” Clare said. “That’s a pretty good investment.”

Labor is also scrapping a Coalition policy, which means university students who fail half their subjects will no longer be stripped of their government subsidies and loans. Clare said the change was not about “lowering standards”.

“You need to get the marks, you need to qualify for the course. If you do qualify for the course, then you’re guaranteed to get access to a Commonwealth Supported Place, so the university knows that you’ll get the funding necessary to enable the student to do the course,” he said.


University changes could double the number of Indigenous uni students: Clare

By Ashleigh McMillan

As this masthead reported this morning, university students who fail half their subjects will no longer be stripped of their government subsidies and loans, with Labor to scrap the contentious Coalition policy in its first major changes to higher education.

Education Minister Jason Clare has just spoken to ABC Radio National, arguing that the raft of changes could improve access to university education for marginalised communities.

Minister for Education Jason Clare.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The panel tasked with overhauling the university system has told the government that higher education in Australia is “too unequal” and the gap for Indigenous students’ tertiary outcomes is too wide.

The first raft of measures the government will announce on Wednesday includes guaranteeing all Indigenous students a Commonwealth-supported university place when they are accepted for study – expanding the measure to city students for the first time.


“If you’re a young Indigenous person today, you’re more likely to go to jail than you are to university,” Clare told host Patricia Karvelas.

“Almost one in two young Australians have a university degree, but that’s not the case everywhere. It’s not the case in the western suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane, or in our regions.

“It’s not the case for poor families, and it is a magnitude lower for Indigenous students, only seven per cent of young Indigenous students in their 20s and their 30s have a university degree.

“If we want to close that gap – if we’re serious about that – then this is one way to do it. The evidence that’s been accepted by the panel is that if we do this, we could double the number of Indigenous students at university in a decade.”

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