Australia news live: north Queensland braces for wild weather as cyclone Jasper nears; budget hit by $80bn extra interest debt | Australia news – Freedom Voice


Key events

Far north braces for wild weather as Jasper nears

Residents of far north Queensland are bracing for possible power outages and internet and water supply disruptions with the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

As of 4.30am today, Jasper had weakened again to a category one system and was about 600km east of Cairns and 530km north-east of Townsville. The Bureau of Meteorology said:

Jasper is forecast to re-intensify during Tuesday as it approaches the coast.

People living between Cooktown and Ingham are being warned to expect damaging 90km/h winds to develop from tomorrow.

The winds could extend as far north as Cape Melville, on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula, and as far south as Townsville, the BoM warned.

Heavy rainfall was also expected to develop along the coast from late tomorrow before Jasper making landfall on Wednesday between Cape Flattery and Cardwell, potentially as a category two system.

Infrared satellite image of tropical cyclone Jasper’s movements off the Queensland coast on Friday
An ifrared satellite image of Jasper’s movements off the Queensland coast on Friday. Photograph: Weatherzone

Flooding was possible for the north tropical coast, parts of the Cape York Peninsula and gulf country from Wednesday, the bureau warned.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services yesterday warned residents between Cape Melville and Townsville that strong winds could fell trees and power lines, blow roofs off houses and blow away anything not tied down.

Jasper could also cause phone and internet outages, along with the disruption of water supplies, the services warned.

Communities could find themselves isolated.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had been briefed on the cyclone:

I can say that all preparations are well and truly in place.

It is expected to make land on Wednesday and can I just remind Queenslanders and especially north Queensland to take care.

– from AAP

Immigration detention question

Changing topic – Clare O’Neil was asked how many of the 148 people released from immigration detention (since the high court ruling) the government is “trying to get locked up again”.

She answered:

That has been Australian law for just four days now, and the immigration minister Andrew Giles has already started the work on the application.

As to the numbers and detail of that, I’m going to leave that to minister Giles. He’s going to give a detailed update to the public a little bit later this week.

‘We’re in a global race for talent’

Q: Will it be possible for the government to attract high-skilled workers through a new specialist pathway and fast track their applications in just seven days?

Clare O’Neil:

Absolutely … anything is possible if you’ve got the passion and energy to fix the system.

She said the government wants “brilliant people” like scientists, doctors and cybersecurity specialists to come to Australia and help boost productivity but it is “virtually impossible to get people into the country”:

For some of the highest skilled people who try to come to our country, it can take up to a year for those people to get a visa to come here because they have to go through a special system that the immigration minister has to personally sign off on, and that’s just absolutely crazy.

We’re going to set a seven-day service standard median processing time because remember, with those really high skilled people, we are dealing with every other country in the world to get those people here. We’re in a global race for talent and we’re not going to win it unless we do basic things like give people fast answers on their applications.

Shutting down the ‘visa factories’

Clare O’Neil couldn’t give a figure of how many “ghost colleges” would close as a result of the government’s new temporary migration strategy but said these demonstrate “the worst of the worst of integrity and exploitation issues in the system”.

You can read more about “ghost colleges” below:

O’Neil describes the phenomenon as colleges set up “which are really visa factories” for international students to study but who are actually here to work:

This is really bad for the country because those students should be having a good experience here, should be getting a proper education. Instead, we know they’re gathering in low-paid professions, are highly vulnerable to exploitation and have no possible pathway to permanency in our country.

It’s not good for them, it’s not good for Australia and that’s why we’re trying to shut that funnel off for the country.

‘It’s really hard to get those high skilled workers that we desperately need’

Home affairs minister Clare O’Neil spoke to ABC RN just earlier about the Albanese government’s new 10-year temporary migration strategy, due to be released today.

Clare O’Neil at question time
Clare O’Neil at question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

As reported by Amy Remeikis, the government will raise the bar for international students and some workers to get a visa and as it seeks to overhaul what it says is Australia’s “broken” temporary migration program.

You can read more on this below:

O’Neil said it would be a reduction of “hundreds of thousands” of people over a four-year period – not just international students:

The overall mix of our migration program at the moment is not delivering for the country. And by that, I mean it’s really hard to get those high skilled workers that we desperately need here, but we’ve made it much too easy for people to use side door and backdoor entries into our workforce. And the primary way that is happening at the moment is through international education.

We need to fix that immediately, and the way that we’re doing that is making sure that we are lifting standards for international students and ensuring that they’re actually here to study and not to work. This is critical to restoring integrity and trust in the system.

Debt progress flagged

More on what is expected in the Myefo on Wednesday: a substantial improvement in the gross debt position has been flagged.

Gross debt was projected to exceed $1tn in 2023-24 but it is now projected to be $147bn lower at $909bn by the end of 2023-24.

Gross debt as a share of GDP is now expected to peak at 35.4% of GDP, 9.5 percentage points lower than was inherited at Pefo and 1.1 percentage points lower than forecast at the 2023-24 budget.

Gross debt is expected to peak in 2027-28 in comparison to 2025-26 as flagged by the budget, due to the higher borrowing costs.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said:

There is no quick fix to the trillion dollars of debt we inherited from our predecessors but we have made a substantial difference already, and that’s saving billions and billions of dollars in interest.

Because of our efforts debt will peak lower than was projected at the election and lower than forecast at Budget time.

We have found a way to repair the Budget at the same time as we roll out tens of billions of dollars in cost of living help and invest in skills, Medicare, energy and housing.

Interest rate rises put pressure on budget

When the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo) is released on Wednesday, it will show higher interest rates are putting additional pressure on the budget.

Borrowing costs will now overtake the NDIS to be the fastest growing area of commonwealth spending. To account for this the Treasury has updated its assumption for the average cost of new borrowing to be 4.7% – compared with 3.4% at the time of the 2023-24 budget.

This increase will cost the budget $80bn more in interest payments over the 11 years to 2033-34. Without this increase gross debt would be $94bn lower in 2033-34.

Meanwhile, gross debt as a share of GDP is now expected to peak at 35.4% of GDP, 1.2 percentage points lower than forecast at the 2023-24 budget and 9.5 percentage points lower than forecast at the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook 2022.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said higher interest rates are “hurting households and they’re hurting the budget as well”:

With higher rates, the interest on the trillion dollars of debt left to us by the Coalition is costing taxpayers more.

The interest bill on the Coalition’s wasted decade is now the fastest growing expense in the Budget.

We’re getting government debt on a better trajectory, but that debt is becoming more expensive to service.

Our responsible economic management is getting the Budget in much better nick but higher interest rates aren’t helping.

VCE results go online

Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Year 12 students across Victoria are the first off the block in the nation to receive their final exam results today.

Since 7am marks have been live online for the VCE, with Tasmania to follow on Wednesday and NSW and the ACT on Thursday.

This year 57,601 students are graduating with their VCE, a completion rate of 97.4%.

Some 51,214 students completed the traditional VCE, while a further 6,387 completed the new VCE vocational major – an applied learning certificate that is unscored (11% of the cohort).

In total, 246,470 study scores will be issued to students across the VCE courses. Of those, 21,754 have been marked 40 or above (in the top 8.8%) and 656 are the maximum score of 50 (0.3% of the cohort).

Victoria’s minister for education, Ben Carroll, congratulated students receiving their VCE results.

Getting through year 12 is not for the faint hearted – but it’s important to remember that this is only one step in your life journey – there have never been more choices available such as university, Tafe, traineeships, and work.

Students can access their VCE results here.

Good morning

Emily Wind

Emily Wind

And happy Monday – I hope you enjoyed your weekend and stayed cool during that heatwave! I’m Emily Wind and I’ll be bringing you our rolling coverage today.

Making news today: the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo) will be released on Wednesday, showing an $80bn hit to the budget overt he next decade from interest rate rises. Treasurer Jim Chalmers said:

Higher interest rates are hurting households and they’re hurting the budget as well, and that’s what our mid-year outlook will show on Wednesday.

Year 12 students across Victoria are the first off the block in the nation to receive their final exam results today. From 7am marks went live online for the VCE, with Tasmania to follow on Wednesday and NSW and the ACT on Thursday.

We will have more on these stories shortly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced her retirement from politics yesterday – and we will no doubt continue to see the fallout from this play out during the week before the caucus meets on Friday to elect a new leader.

You can read more about her announcement here and here, if you missed it yesterday.

If you see something that needs attention from the blog, you can get in touch with me on X/Twitter @emilywindwrites or via email: emily.wind@theguardian.com.

With that, let’s get started.

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