Australia news LIVE: Energy chief says crisis boosts case for renewables; Russia sanctions 121 Australians

Key posts

  • Russia sanctions hundreds of Australians including journalists
  • Tight jobs market adds pressure on RBA to accelerate rate rises
  • Energy crisis boosts case for renewables, top policy adviser says
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Russia sanctions hundreds of Australians including journalists

London: Russia’s Foreign Ministry has sanctioned a broad list of 121 Australian media executives, mining bosses, academics, defence officials and journalists, including the editors of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

The move, announced in Moscow on Wednesday evening, cited the “Russophobic agenda” from the individuals named.

The Kremlin has added a host of high-profile Australians to its existing ban on politicians.Credit:AP

The Kremlin’s “stop list”, which bans those named from entry to Russia “indefinitely”, was compiled in response to the growing sanctions of the Australian government, the ministry said.

It includes Herald editor Bevan Shields, The Age editor Gay Alcorn as well as Peter Costello, who is also chairman of Nine Entertainment Group that owns The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, and chief executive Mike Sneesby.

Mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest had sanctions imposed, along with ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose, co-chairman of News Corp Lachlan Murdoch and chairman of Seven Group, Kerry Stokes.

Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, property tycoon Harry Triguboff will also be banned from entering Russia and well as Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott.

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Tight jobs market adds pressure on RBA to accelerate rate rises

Two in three Australians aged over 15 are working and the number of people looking for a job or underemployed has dropped to its lowest level in 40 years, adding to pressure on the Reserve Bank to accelerate interest rate rises to rein in inflation.

The jobless rate was steady at 3.9 per cent last month, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show, with an extra 60,600 people gaining work while 7800 became unemployed. It was the seventh consecutive increase in employment since coronavirus pandemic lockdown restrictions started lifting late last year.

Unemployment in Victoria dropped to 3.7 per cent, breaking the state’s previous record low of less than 4.1 per cent reached in January, while in NSW it rose half a percentage point to 4 per cent.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers welcomed the labour force figures but warned via Twitter there were economic challenges ahead.

Some economists warned the strong jobs figures, combined with the independent pay umpire’s decision on Wednesday to give Australia’s lowest-paid workers a $40-a-week pay rise, would add to inflationary pressures and could force the RBA to raise rates higher and faster.

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Energy crisis boosts case for renewables, top policy adviser says

The crisis in the energy market has strengthened the case for Australia to reduce its reliance on gas and coal in favour of renewables, the nation’s peak energy regulator has declared in a warning about the exposure to soaring global prices for fossil fuels.

Energy Security Board chair Anna Collyer said the pressure on the electricity grid highlighted the need for reform to move “beyond the crisis” by continuing the long-term shift to solar, wind, hydro and other renewable power.

Chair of the Energy Security Board Anna Collyer.Credit:Oscar Colman

With households being urged to turn off non-essential items to ease pressure on the grid, the immediate challenge for the energy market is to shore up supplies from generators using gas and coal to ward off the risk of widespread blackouts and targeted shutdowns.

In a sign of confidence that more power is coming online, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said its suspension of the national electricity market on Wednesday – the first move of its kind in 20 years – had delivered “significant improvements” to the grid.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age about the reform plan out of the winter crisis, Collyer said the federal government’s plan to invest heavily in the transmission grid to support renewable power generators was crucial to reduce the impact of high global prices for fossil fuels.

“[The reform] actually helps us to address at least one of the causes of the current situation, which is a reliance on a commodity that’s subject to global pricing, which is both gas and coal,” she said.

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This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, June 17. I’m Ashleigh McMillan and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started.

  • Australia’s peak energy regulator says the current energy crisis has strengthened the case for Australia to reduce its reliance on gas and coal in favour of renewables. With prices soaring globally for fossil fuels, Energy Security Board chair Anna Collyer said there is need for reform to move “beyond the crisis” by continuing the shift to renewables like solar, wind and hydro.

  • Two in three Australians aged over 15 are working and the number of people looking for a job or underemployed has dropped to its lowest level in 40 years, adding to pressure on the Reserve Bank to accelerate interest rate rises to rein in inflation. The jobless rate was steady at 3.9 per cent last month, new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.

  • A gambling “whale” with underworld links has revealed how The Star gave him benefits worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to lure him to gamble in Queensland after he was banned from Sydney and Melbourne casinos. Melbourne identity John Khoury said that over the past 14 years and in return for his frequent travel to its Gold Coast casino, Star had given him a $50,000 gold Rolex watch, the use of a private jet, opulent dinners and accommodation, and gambling chips.

  • Hundreds of lives could be saved and tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections avoided if more people wore masks indoors and took other measures to reduce the spread of the virus. That’s the view of the Burnet Institute’s Professor Margaret Hellard, who is urging the public not to give up on limiting transmission of the disease. She argues that many COVID-19 deaths could be avoided by delaying some infections this year.

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