Additional targeted sanctions following Alexei Navalny’s death in prison

The Australian Government has imposed additional targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on three Russian officials linked to the prison where Alexei Navalny died.

This announcement follows the Magnitsky-style human rights sanctions the Government imposed on seven individuals involved in the mistreatment of Mr Navalny in the IK-6 Penal Colony prior to his transfer to IK-3.

Mr Navalny died in IK-3, one of Russia’s harshest prisons, on 16 February 2024.

At IK-3, Mr Navalny was held in sub-zero temperatures and reports suggest he was repeatedly subjected to stretches in punishment cells. After his death, the Russian Government withheld Navalny’s remains from his mother for over a week.

Our thoughts are with Mr Navalny’s family and his supporters in Russia and across the world as they mourn him at his funeral later today. We recognise the work of all in Russia who promote democracy and human rights.

Australia holds President Putin and the Russian Government responsible for Mr Navalny’s treatment and death in prison. These sanctions, and those imposed by our partners, reinforce our commitment to accountability for Mr Navalny’s death.

Australia again calls for an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Navalny’s death.

AUSTRALIA MUST SUPPORT GLOBAL BILLIONAIRES’ TAX

Australia must get on board with the global billionaires’ tax proposed at the G20 meeting, the Greens say.

“As the gulf between super-wealthy and everyday Australians widens, the need for fair tax policy grows every day,” Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said.

“The G20 proposal is for a 2% annual tax on the world’s richest people, which would be the bare minimum, given the frightening pace at which they have accumulated wealth in recent years.”

“While billionaires have seen their fortunes more than double since the start of the pandemic, millions of Australians continue to grapple with the cost of living crisis.”

“Amid a backdrop of rising inequality and a climate crisis, the global tax on billionaires is a moral necessity.”

“The Greens have long advocated for making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share, aiming to redirect wealth towards creating a society that values people over profit.”

“By supporting measures such as an annual wealth tax on billionaires, Australia can invest in essential services like healthcare, education, and social services, which have been eroded by years of neglect by the major parties.”

Improving access to x-ray services in Western NSW

Five nurses from Western NSW will now be able to deliver a range of x-ray services in regional and remote communities where immediate access to a radiographer may not be possible.

Minister for Regional Health, Ryan Park said this is providing better care closer to home for those living in rural and regional areas.

“The nurses working in Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Warren and Coolah have gained their licence through the training course, after completing the NSW Limited Licence Radiography Course,” Mr Park said.

“The course gives rural and remote practitioners essential radiography skills to undertake a limited range of x-rays, improving access to care for people in our rural and regional communities.

“This is another example of the terrific opportunities available to rural nurses to add to their high-level skills and improve health access and outcomes for their local communities.”

Western NSW Local Health District Clinical Services Division Director James Harvey said the 5 new licence holders join 15 nurses across the district who currently hold this licence.

“The 5 new participants have returned to their communities where they will help increase the availability of x-ray services offered in those towns,” Mr Harvey said.

The course enables rural and remote general practitioners, registered nurses, and physiotherapists to obtain a limited radiography licence from the NSW Environment Protection Authority. Diagnostic radiographers from across the LHD, provide ongoing supported to new license holders.

Cowra based Chief Radiographer Victoria Young, is one of those supporting radiographers, who conducts twice-yearly educational road trips to remote areas to ensure licence holders are continually developing their new skills.

“This program is providing great benefits to our communities by improving access to important x-ray services,” Ms Young said.

Member for Barwon Roy Butler welcomed the expansion of services and access to the local communities.  

“This training is great because it gives the talented clinicians who live and work in the communities of Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Warren and Coolah an opportunity to expand their skills, this means less requirement for people who are unwell to travel,” Mr Butler said.

“Having these services available locally helps to make our communities better places to live.”

In collaboration with WNSWLHD, Health Education and Training is looking to regularly run the course to ensure remote communities have key clinical staff trained to support the delivery of acute x-ray services in their communities.

Allied health professionals celebrated at Excellence Awards

NSW’s dedicated allied health clinicians have been recognised at the third annual Excellence in Allied Health Awards, held in Sydney last night.

Health Minister Ryan Park congratulated the 35 finalists and winners in each of the 7 categories.

“I want to thank all our hard-working allied health professionals for the significant contribution they make in delivering patient-centred care to the people of NSW every day,” Mr Park said.

“In particular, I would like to congratulate NSW’s Allied Health Professional of the Year, Dr Bernadette Brady, who was recognised for their significant contribution to musculoskeletal and pain physiotherapy, both as a clinician and researcher, with a special interest in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations.”

“The NSW Government is committed to building the allied health workforce of the future through initiatives such as the Rural Allied Health Educator Program which will create a pipeline of workers to regional NSW.”

Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson said this was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements and skill of allied health staff in NSW.

“Allied health professionals play a pivotal role in safeguarding the mental wellbeing of individuals across the state and I’m incredibly grateful for their dedication,” Ms Jackson said.

“Psychologists, social workers, exercise physiologists, and occupational therapists are just some of the allied health professionals at the forefront of promoting mental health awareness, reducing stigma, and advocating for accessible and equitable services for our community.

“This awards night is just one small way we can acknowledge the hard work of many allied health professionals and the massive difference they make to the lives of their patients and their families every day.”

NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce said allied health clinicians play a vital role in the health system, working across 23 unique professions including pharmacists, speech pathology, podiatrists and much more.

“I’d like to congratulate all the recipients of this year’s Excellence in Allied Health Awards, as well as all the nominees and finalists in each category. Each year, the calibre of the nominees is outstanding,” Ms Pearce said.

“One of the special aspects of allied health is that it includes disciplines that engage with a person’s life from birth, right through to aged care and across every area of the health system.”

NSW Health Chief Allied Health Officer Andrew Davison said it was fantastic to see the level of professionalism, clinical excellence, and compassion on display at the Awards.

“These Awards are a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the expertise of allied health professionals and reflect on the impact they make to improve patient experience and outcomes,” Mr Davison said.

The winners in each of the 7 categories are:

  • Allied Health Professional of the Year Dr Bernadette Brady, South Western Sydney Local Health District (LHD)
  • Aboriginal Allied Health Professional of the Year Simone Owen, Hunter New England LHD
  • Allied Health Assistant / Technician / Support Person of the Year Jodie Keller, Southern NSW LHD
  • Allied Health Researcher of the Year Clinical Associate Professor Sharon Carey, Sydney LHD
  • Allied Health Educator of the Year Rachelle Robinson, South Eastern Sydney LHD
  • Early Career Allied Health Professional of the Year Isabella Shearman, Hunter New England LHD
  • Allied Health Leader of the Year Deanne Harris, Hunter New England LHD.

Find out more information about the awards and finalists

Clean energy projects up and running to power 1.5 million homes

The NSW Labor Government is on track to deliver enough renewable energy to power more than 1.5 million NSW homes, following multiple NSW Government approvals of wind and solar projects in 2023.

Throughout 2023, the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) finalised 18 renewable energy State Significant Development (SSD) assessments including three wind farms, six solar farms and nine large-scale batteries.

Of these, 13 were approved by the Department and five were referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for determination, four of which the Commission has now approved, and one is still in progress.

The recent approvals include the Yanco Delta wind farm in the state’s Riverina region. At 1.5 gigawatts, it is set to be the biggest wind farm in Australia.

The approved projects will generate more than 3,000 jobs during construction and operation, providing a vital economic boost to regional communities.

The projects have the combined capacity to generate and store 7.6 gigawatts of renewable energy. This could save an estimated 8.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year and play an essential role in energy security.

A further 29 renewable energy projects are in the planning process. Another 70 new projects are about to be submitted for department approval.

The NSW Government recently completed the exhibition stage on the draft Energy Policy Framework, which includes new guidelines for wind energy development, transmission infrastructure, and benefit sharing, aiming to streamline approvals and provide clarity for both host communities and developers.

The guidelines will be finalised later this year.

For more information, visit NSW Planning.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Penny Sharpe said:

“These approvals represent the NSW Government’s commitment to accelerate the transition to renewables so households and businesses have reliable access to clean and affordable electricity.

“NSW is now about halfway towards our 2030 renewable generation target, and over a quarter of the way there on our long-duration storage target.

“Across government, we will continue to drive the decarbonisation of our energy grid, setting NSW up with clean, reliable energy in the future.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“The Government is prioritising the development of renewable energy projects.

“These projects help deliver clean and affordable energy to NSW residents while injecting millions of dollars into regional economies and creating hundreds of new jobs.

“We will continue to work closely with industry and impacted communities to strike the right balance between supporting renewable energy projects and responsible development.”

Projects:

Project name Proponent Technology Capacity REZ / Location Determining authority  
Bowmans Creek Ark Energy Wind 347 MW Hunter – Central Coast REZ / Muswellbrook IPC determined 
Hills of Gold  Wind Energy Partners Wind 282 MW New England REZ / Nundle IPC referred (not yet determined) 
Yanco Delta  Virya Energy Wind 1500 MW South-West REZ / Jerilderie DPHI  
Marulan Terrain Solar Pty Ltd Solar 152 MW Carrick DPHI  
Forest Glen X-Elio Australia Pty Ltd Solar 90 MW Central West Orana REZ / Minore DPHI  
Blind Creek Blind Creek Solar Farm Pty Ltd Solar  350 MW Bungendore DPHI  
Glenellen Trina Solar Solar 200 MW Albury IPC determined  
Glanmire Elgin Energy Solar 60 MW Bathurst IPC determined 
Oxley Oxley Solar Development  Solar 215 MW New England REZ / Metz IPC determined  
Waratah  Energy Corporation Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) 850 MW / 1680 MWh Munmorah Minister 
Apsley Acenergy BESS 120 MW/240 MWh Central West Orana REZ / Apsley DPHI  
Muswellbrook Firm Power BESS 150 MW / 300 MWh Hunter- Central Coast REZ /Muswellbrook DPHI  
Coleambally Risen Energy BESS 100 MW/ 400 MWh South West REZ / Coleambally DPHI  
Great Western Neoen  BESS 500 MW/ 1000 MWh Wallerawang DPHI  
Beresfield Firm Power BESS 170 MW / 340 MWh Beresfield DPHI  
Wellington South  Shell & Empyr Energy JV BESS 500 MW / 1000 MWh Central West Orana REZ / Wellington DPHI  
Awaba Firm Power BESS 50 MW / 100MWh Hunter- Central Coast REZ / Toronto DPHI  
Orana Akaysha Energy BESS 400 MW / 1600 MWh Central West Orana REZ / Wellington DPHI

158 new police officers graduate NSW Police Academy

158 new Probationary Constables will be sworn into the NSW Police Force today and will start at their new home stations across the state next week.

Class 361 attested at the Goulburn Police Academy following eight months of training in the Constable Education Program (CEP). Four months by distance, four months at the Academy.

They will now have 12 months on-the-job-training as a Probationary Constables.

Communities across NSW will see the new boots on the ground on Monday:

  • Central Metropolitan Region – 43
  • Northwest Metropolitan Region – 36
  • Southwest Metropolitan Region – 26
  • Northern Region – 20
  • Southern Region – 20
  • Western Region – 13

Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley will welcome the new officers to the NSW Police Force and reaffirm the Government’s commitment to strengthen our frontline services across Metro and Regional NSW.

Class 361 is the first cohort to make use of three new accommodation blocks opened by Minister Catley and Commissioner Webb in December, providing modern, clean and comfortable facilities for the Student Police Officers.

Last year, the NSW Government made the historic announcement that Student Police Officers will be paid to study at the Goulburn Police Academy.

Class 361 received a one-off payment, the amount of which was pro-rated to the date of the announcement.

Starting with the next cohort, Student Police Officers will receive a total salary of approximately $30,984 over the 16-week study period, including super and award-based allowances.

Apply to be part of the NSW Police Force

NSW Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley said:

“Congratulations to all 158 attesting officers for their hard work and commitment. I wish you all a rich and rewarding career with the NSW Police Force.”

“A career in policing is like no other. These new recruits show a steadfast determination to serve and protect communities right across NSW.”

“The NSW Government backs our police 100%. We are committed to getting more boots on the ground and supporting the hardworking officers already on the beat. That’s why we’re paying recruits to study.”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said:

“All 158 recruits graduating today, are embarking on an extraordinary journey and career.”

“Policing is a job where we all have the chance to make a difference to the community we’ve been entrusted to serve and protect.”

“These probationary constables are joining a strong, honourable and committed police force and I wish them the very best.”

NSW Government continues to boost much-needed social housing in Sydney’s south-west

The NSW Government is continuing to bolster housing security for those in need with tenants moving into a newly completed social and affordable apartment complex in Southwest Sydney.

The brand new six story complex in Campbelltown is comprised 35 two-bedroom, four three-bedroom and two-one-bedroom units and will provide 94 residents, ranging from young families to people at risk of homelessness a safe and secure place to call home.

With a State Government investment of $22 million, the building was purchased off the plan and will be managed by Homes NSW.

Purchasing this property shovel ready, directly off the plan meant construction was able to be expedited, delivering quality social housing close to transport services and retail amenities.

This is one of the many ways the NSW Government is working to build the states social housing portfolio to address the increased demand for social and affordable housing.

With more than 55,000 people on the waitlist for social housing, and close to 12,000 on the list in Sydney’s Southwest alone, the NSW Government will continue explore every option to expedite the delivery of more homes to help confront the housing crisis.

The NSW Government is committed to a proactive approach to boost social housing, and support those experiencing homelessness. Action already taken has included:

  • Created Homes NSW, merging the housing and homelessness functions of the Department of Communities and Justice with the Land, Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office to streamline support for residents and delivery pathway for more homes;
  • Committed to 30 per cent social and affordable housing in all developments on government surplus public land;
  • Undertaking a statewide land audit to identify state owned land to deliver more housing;
    Fast tracking the delivery of more social and affordable homes through the $610 Million Federal Government’s Social Housing Accelerator payment and Housing Australia Future Fund;
  • Implemented planning reforms to expedite the delivery of more housing across the state;
    Investigating innovative solutions to deliver more homes with $10 million allocated to Modular Housing Trial to deliver faster quality social housing;
  • The 2023-24 NSW Budget included a $224 million Essential Housing Package which allocated $70 million to accelerate the delivery of social, affordable homes in regional NSW;
  • Extended temporary accommodation from an initial period of two days to seven days;
    Removed the 28-day cap ensuring vulnerable people are able to access support when they need it most;
  • Increased the cash assets limit from $1,000 to $5,000 when assessing eligibility for Temporary Accommodation;
  • Removed the cash asset limit assessment entirely for people escaping domestic and family violence;
  • Extended Specialist Homelessness Services contracts for two years, to 30 June 2026;
    Deploying more assertive outreach services to engage people sleeping rough and support them into long term, stable accommodation;
  • Appointed a Rental Commissioner to work with us in designing and implementing changes that rebalance the rental market, making it fairer and more modern; and
  • Put a 12-month freeze on the requirement for people in temporary accommodation to complete a Rental Diary, while the scheme is reviewed.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Rose Jackson said:

“This project is a prime example of the NSW Government’s commitment to ‘thinking outside the box’ when it comes to delivering more fit for purpose housing for those people in need.

“We’ve identified the potential of purchasing new developments off the plan to support the timely delivery of more social housing. This site ticked all the boxes – including its location and being shovel ready.

“This is one of the many ways we can deliver more social housing right across the state and specifically in Sydney’s south-west, where we’re seeing an increased demand for social and affordable housing as the cost of living continues to rise.”

Site works on track for new Shellharbour Hospital

The new Shellharbour Hospital is on track for the next phase of construction, with early works nearing completion.

Minister for Health Ryan Park and Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson today visited the site to meet with workers and inspect the progress on the new hospital, which is being delivered as part of the more than $700 million new Shellharbour Hospital and Integrated Services project.

“It’s exciting to see significant progress being made for this new hospital, with the early works nearing completion,” Mr Park said.

“This brand-new hospital will be wonderful for both the community and the staff who will work here.

“Healthcare staff at the new Shellharbour Hospital will benefit from a broad range of measures the NSW Government is rolling out designed to strengthen the state’s health workforce, including safe staffing levels for nurses and midwives and improved salary packaging.

“I’m proud to be delivering major workforce reform so frontline healthcare workers are given the support they need to continue to deliver safe, high-quality care to patients.”

Federal Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones said community consultation has been vital in helping shape the new hospital.

“I’m pleased our community in the Illawarra is one step closer to having a new purpose-built health facility to meet healthcare needs now and into the future,” Mr Jones said.

“The Albanese Government is proud to work in partnership with the NSW Government, and is providing $128 million for this much-needed state of the art hospital. I look forward to major works formally commencing soon.”

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said the new hospital would serve the Illawarra Shoalhaven community for generations to come.

“The new Shellharbour Hospital will ensure our growing community and region will have greater access to the healthcare services they need,” Ms Watson said.

“This is a project that the community has long advocated for and I’m looking forward to seeing construction activity ramp up even more on site.”

Labor spokesperson for Kiama Dr Sarah Kaine MLC welcomed the progress on the new Shellharbour Hospital.

“The greenfield site where we are building the state-of-the-art facilities from the ground up provides an opportunity to construct a new, sustainable and smart hospital, which will provide enhanced access to health services for the entire region,” Dr Kaine said.

“Once it opens in 2027, the new Shellharbour Hospital will be able to provide more care closer to home, reducing the need for people to travel out of the area for treatment which is a huge win for the people of the Kiama electorate.”

More than $700 million has been committed to the new Shellharbour Hospital and Integrated Services project, which includes $570.6 million from the NSW Government (including $23.3 million for a new carpark), and an Australian Government contribution of $128 million.

The new Shellharbour Hospital will include: 

  • an expanded emergency department
  • increased surgical capacity
  • rehabilitation and aged care services
  • acute medical services
  • expanded mental health services
  • new drug and alcohol unit
  • renal dialysis
  • outpatients care services
  • car parking and improved public transport links. 

Hutchinson Builders was awarded the early works contract in 2023 to prepare the site for the new hospital, and the State Significant Development Application for the new hospital was lodged in September 2023.

Pending planning approval, the main works contract is expected to be awarded mid-year, with work to commence soon after. Construction of the new hospital is expected to be complete in 2027.

As part of the new Shellharbour Hospital and Integrated Services project, refurbishments were recently completed at Wollongong Hospital and Bulli Hospital to provide expanded rehabilitation and inpatient services in the Northern Illawarra region.

Planning is underway for a new community health centre to be delivered in Warrawong, on a section of the old Port Kembla Hospital site.

2024 ASEAN-Australia special summit to celebrate 50 years of partnership

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will host leaders of ASEAN and Timor-Leste for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne from 4-6 March. 2024 marks 50 years since Australia became ASEAN’s first external partner.

Australia has strong and far-reaching ties with the region. We are connected by families, friends, education and business.

As a bloc, ASEAN is Australia’s second largest two-way trading partner. More than one million Australians have Southeast Asian heritage.

During the Special Summit, Leaders will discuss bolstering ASEAN-Australia cooperation, our vision for the region’s future and how we can work together to address shared challenges. A focus of the discussions will be on Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, a blueprint for stepping up Australia’s economic links with the region, launched by Prime Minister Albanese in September last year.

Preceding the Leaders’ engagement, there will be a range of meetings and events across four thematic Tracks that will bring together Australians and Southeast Asian business and community leaders, experts and academics to discuss:

  • Boosting economic engagement;
  • Supporting an accelerated clean energy transition;
  • Increasing practical maritime cooperation; and
  • Supporting the region’s current crop of emerging leaders.

In addition to the Special Summit, Prime Minister Albanese is honoured to host official Guest of Government programs with a number of Southeast Asian leaders:

  • HE Ferdinand Marcos Jr, President of the Philippines;
  • The Hon Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia;
  • HE Mr Sonexay Siphandone, Prime Minister of the Lao PDR; and
  • HE Mr Pham Minh Chính, Prime Minister of Vietnam.

The Prime Minister will also hold the Australia-Singapore Annual Leaders Meeting with the Prime Minister of Singapore, HE Mr Lee Hsien Loong. He will have bilateral meetings with the leaders of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Timor-Leste and with the ASEAN Secretary-General.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said:

“Australia is proud to be ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner, sharing 50 years of mutual respect and cooperation with our friends in Southeast Asia.

“Building Australia’s links with the countries of Southeast Asia is a priority for the Government.

“The Special Summit commemorates our shared history and focuses firmly on the future – on how we can deepen our ties and Australia’s engagement with our region.

“Australia sees ASEAN at the centre of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous region. Strengthening our relationship ensures our shared future prosperity and security.

“I look forward to welcoming my counterparts to Australia to discuss the shared challenges facing our region, opportunities to enhance our prosperity and how we can build on our strong relationships.”

Targeted sanctions in response to Alexei Navalny’s mistreatment in prison

The Australian Government has imposed Magnitsky-style targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on seven prison officials involved in the mistreatment of Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny was detained at the IK-6 penal colony, a maximum-security jail known for its systematic abuse of prisoners. He was regularly mistreated, denied healthcare and placed in prolonged periods of solitary confinement. He died in custody on 16 February 2024.

The Australian Government is deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Mr Navalny. These sanctions are the next step in Australia’s efforts to hold to account those responsible for grave breaches of Mr Navalny’s human rights. We will continue to work closely with our partners to hold the Russian Government and all involved in Mr Navalny’s death accountable.

The Government’s first tranche of Magnitsky-style human rights sanctions, announced on 10 December 2022, included individuals involved in the 2020 poisoning of Mr Navalny.

Australia holds President Putin and the Russian Government responsible for Mr Navalny’s treatment and death in custody. As Australia has made clear to Russia, we join calls for an independent and transparent investigation into Mr Navalny’s death.

We acknowledge Mr Navalny’s heroic contribution to promoting democracy in Russia and his tireless opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s regime – work for which he has paid the ultimate price.

This announcement builds on our recent actions in response to human rights abuses in Russia. This includes sanctions in response to the poisoning, arrest, trial and sentencing of Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Australia’s statements in key multilateral forums.