July 19, 2023

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

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Education minister laments dropping standards ahead of Labor’s changes to higher education

In a speech at the National Press Club, federal Education Minister Jason Clare highlighted Australia’s falling standards, while touting the government’s planned changes to university and TAFE.

Through a number of measures, which you can read more about here, the government will seek to significantly increase the number of university students from the outer suburbs and the regions.

“We live in a world today where almost every single job being created will require you to finish school and then go on to TAFE or university,” Clare said in his speech.

“And that means we need more people to do that. Not less.”

Education Minister Jason Clare at the National Press Club.Credit: Martin Ollman

Clare’s call for systemic change was anchored by the statistics he cited on Australia’s falling education benchmarks.

“In the last six years, we’ve seen a drop in the percentage of young Australians finishing high school, particularly kids from poor families and particularly at public schools,” Clare said.

“In 2017, 83% of students at public schools finished year 12. Last year, it was 76%.”


Australia’s spending on prisons is increasing, even as crime decreases: study

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Australian governments spend more than $6 billion a year on the construction and operation of prisons, an increase of $2 billion in just five years.

Analysis by the Institute of Public Affairs has found $2.3 billion of that is spent on incarcerating low-risk, non-violent offenders.

Check the graphic to find out how your state compares:

The IPA argues this means that even just a 1 per cent reduction to the incarceration of low-risk, non-violent offenders would save taxpayers more than $23 million a year, with arguably no discernible negative impact on community safety.

The number of prisoners is going up, even as crime has gone down. The IPA research suggests the nationwide crime rate has decreased by 10 per cent since 2015, yet the incarceration rate has increased by 2.5 per cent, from 196 per 100,00 adults to 201 per 100,00 adults.

The Productivity Commission has also previously taken aim at Australia’s bloated prison system.


This afternoon’s headlines at a glance

By Ashleigh McMillan

Thanks for reading our live coverage of the latest news as we covered the proposed changes to Australia’s university sector and the fallout from Victoria’s shock decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games ahead of the event in 2026.

My colleague Josefine Ganko will be taking over for the rest of the day.

But if you’re just joining us, here’s what you need to know:

Premier Daniel Andrews maintains his government “looked at every possible option” to continue hosting the 2026 event, but none were palatable, and his government is “absolutely disappointed” to have had to cancel. Andrews also told reporters at a press conference that while they did consider hosting the Games in Melbourne, the cost would have still been more than $4 billion. Education Minister Jason Clare on Wednesday launched the report into how universities can reform to accommodate 1.8 million more students by 2050. The expert panel found that university funding relies on volatile revenue streams and lacks transparency. 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.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.

A parliamentary inquiry has been launched to examine the ongoing economic and human challenges from frequent and severe flooding events.


Scotland could step into the breach left by Victorian government

By Michael Gleeson

Scotland could step in and host the 2026 Commonwealth Games after Victoria’s stunning decision to walk away from contracts to stage the regional Games.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said being part of, or at least jointly hosting, the Games was a sensible idea worth exploring.

Team Scotland at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham.Credit: AP

Glasgow held the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and before that in 1986 and 1970.

“I’ve asked my team to explore whether that’s [taking on the Games in 2026] a possibility or not,” Yousaf said. “It may be difficult, but let’s see what the art of the possible is.”

He added: “We were desperate for the Games to go ahead in 2026 given that we know how excellent the preparations have been going for Team Scotland. It’s also an opportunity for us to compete under the Scottish banner.”

A former head of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Paul Bush, and the current Games administration for the country both made comments urging the government to intervene.


“It’s early days. I’ve noted the comments from Paul Bush and Commonwealth Games Scotland, looking at and exploring the possibility of whether or not Scotland could be part of something bigger, part of a multi-city, multi-country host,” Yousaf told the BBC.

“Those are sensible ideas all worth exploring. We certainly couldn’t commit to anything at this stage.”

Commonwealth Games Scotland said in a statement: “The games is the only opportunity for many athletes to compete under the Scottish flag, and we know how much that means to them, our sports and supporters,” it said in a statement.

Commonwealth Games Australia head Craig Phillips, warned all potential bidders or hosts not to be persuaded by the Victorian government claims of a multi-billion cost blowout.

Victoria wanted to stage the Games in five regional centres and involve 21 sports where Commonwealth organisers encourage potential city or country hosts to consider only a dozen sports in a modified, cheaper, program.


Hosting Games in Melbourne would have cost $4 billion: Andrews

By Broede Carmody

Premier Daniel Andrews has just wrapped up a marathon press conference in central Victoria, claiming his government considered holding the Commonwealth Games in the state’s capital, but they decided against it.

The 2026 Games were meant to be held in four regional hubs across Victoria, but they were cancelled on Tuesday due to what the government claimed were cost overruns. Andrews announced in April 2022 the Games would cost $2.6 billion to deliver, but just 15 months later he said they would now cost between $6 billion and $7 billion.

Premier Daniel Andrews in front of a map of the proposed regional hubs for the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Credit: Marija Ercegovac

Commonwealth Games Australia officials said the state government wilfully ignored the possibility of moving the Games to Melbourne, but Andrews says this was considered.

Andrews said it would have cost “well over $4 billion” to stage the Games in Melbourne.

But when asked repeatedly about who was responsible for deciding not to work with the organisers about moving the Games, Andrews refused to answer.


State governments and private companies could pay for uni fees

By Natassia Chrysanthos

State governments and private companies could start contributing to their employees’ university fees, says an expert panel that also suggests a levy on institutions’ international student income would help distribute money around the higher education sector and shelter it from economic shocks.

An interim report from the first major review of the country’s higher education system in 15 years has found that university funding relies on volatile revenue streams, lacks transparency and requires a redesign.


Education Minister Jason Clare will launch the report at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday to spark discussion about how universities can reform to accommodate 1.8 million more students by 2050.

The expert panel rebuked the former Coalition government’s higher education reforms, which controversially lifted fees for humanities subjects and slashed them for science subjects, saying they failed to drive students towards certain degrees and instead risked causing “long-term and entrenched damage to Australian higher education”.

Healthcare and education students undertaking mandatory workplace placements should receive some financial support, particularly given the challenge of attrition in those industries.

State governments should also step in with financial assistance to boost the number of students in critical fields affected by staffing shortages around the country, it said.

“As the states and territories are the most significant employers of nurses and teachers, for example, government employers waiving HELP debts through existing payroll mechanisms may be an effective approach to supporting these workforces,” the report said.

It also floated the idea of a levy on international student fee income, which would be paid mainly by city universities with high overseas enrolments and potentially be distributed across the sector.

Read the full article here.


Victorian government says it had no other option but to scrap Games

By Rachel Eddie

The Victorian premier maintains his government considered all avenues to continue hosting the 2026 event, despite Commonwealth Games Australia yesterday claiming that state authorities seemed completely uninterested in pragmatic alternatives to control costs.

“We have looked at every possible option, every possible option,” Daniel Andrews said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“What were the other options, and indeed, were there other options? … And the answer to that question was ‘no’.”

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips yesterday said event authorities repeatedly warned the government that the number of sports or the number of host cities needed to be reined in.

“They’re disappointed,” the premier said. “We’re all absolutely disappointed.”

Andrews said negotiations in London were “perfectly amicable”. He declined to go into detail about costs the state has already incurred because he said that could jeopardise negotiations or result in a bigger compensation bill.

“I will not put at risk the interest of Victorian taxpayers by running commentary and getting into an argument,” he said.

Andrews was staunch in his refusal to apologise for cancelling the Games.


Bishop says Andrews may have sounded the death knell for Games

By Rob Harris and Farrah Tomazin

London: Former foreign minister Julie Bishop has hit out at Victoria’s abrupt decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games, accusing Daniel Andrews of sounding the death knell for the event and sending the wrong message to other nations.

As news of the decision reverberated around the world, Bishop was in Canada, another Commonwealth country, chairing a global economic forum of business and political leaders.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop.Credit: Janie Barrett

Asked if the move was an embarrassment for Australia, the former Liberal leader told this masthead: “I am astounded that the premier has cancelled the Commonwealth Games in this fashion.”

“He is sending a message to the Commonwealth countries that Australia cannot afford to host a Games, yet we would expect a developing Commonwealth nation to host it.

“Is this premier, from one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, signalling the death knell of this sporting contest?”


Andrews says cancelling Games is disappointing for regional Victoria

By Rachel Eddie

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has conceded it was disappointing he decided to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games, which would have been held across regional centres.

“[It’s] very disappointing not to be able to proceed with the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” Andrews said.


Yesterday, he said it was an easy decision.

The Andrews government blamed the cancellation on new estimates that the Games would cost at least $6.2 billion or more than $7 billion, rather than the $2.6 billion budgeted 15 months earlier.

The government will still spend more than $2 billion on legacy supporting infrastructure for the regions and 1300 social housing units in the regional hubs.

Andrews was addressing journalists in Maryborough in regional Victoria on Wednesday, a day after announcing the Games would no longer go ahead.

He was joined by Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan, who held the expunged portfolio of Commonwealth Games delivery, and Harriet Shing, who was minister for Commonwealth Games legacy.


Federal government launches inquiry into insurance handling of 2022 floods

By Rachel Clun

The federal government will investigate how insurers handled the 2022 floods, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones announced.

Jones visited the flood-hit central west NSW towns of Eugowra, Cudal and Molong ahead of launching the parliamentary inquiry, which will examine the ongoing economic and human challenges from frequent and severe flooding events.

“Extreme weather events are increasing, and insurers need to be proactive and prepared to respond. We need to look at the whole ecosystem in responding to natural disasters,” Jones said.


“The last thing people need when they’ve lost their home or their business is to be navigating complex claims processes, or waiting months for materials and labourers.

“I have one goal in establishing this inquiry, and it is to improve the experience for consumers who have been impacted by natural disasters.”

The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the 2022 floods in south-east Queensland and NSW caused nearly $5.9 billion in insured damages, the most expensive natural disaster in terms of insurance costs in Australia’s history.

Nearly every state and territory experienced serious flooding last year, and in response the government committed up to $200 million a year through the Disaster Ready Fund over the next five years to protect homes and communities against extreme weather.

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