More missiles won’t make Australia safer: Greens

Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt has today said the government’s commitment to spend over $270 billion on defence would not make Australia safer and was a reprehensible use of public money while people are still living in tents in Eden-Monaro and suffering poverty in Australia.

“Spending billions more on weapons won’t make Australia safer and may in fact increase tensions in the region. This move will just add to increasing militarisation in our neighbourhood,” said Mr Bandt.

“Scott Morrison’s move ignores the biggest threat to security in the region, which is the climate crisis, and is a misuse of public money while millions are jobless and bushfire survivors are still living in tents.

“If there’s enough money to unnecessarily arm Australia to the teeth, then there’s enough money for job-creating projects that tackle the climate crisis, help the millions who are jobless and lift Australians out of poverty.

“Australia cannot outgun China. As a small to medium-sized power, our security lies in joining with other like-minded countries to strengthen multilateral institutions and ensure a rules-based international order.

“The 2016 Defence White Paper suggested there was only a remote possibility of a military attack on Australia. The only thing that has changed since then is that Donald Trump is up for re-election, he is lashing out erratically and now Scott Morrison is now tying Australia up in US domestic politics.

“Australia has become too dependent on China economically and too dependent on the US politically. Instead of just implementing the Pentagon’s procurement plan, Australia needs an independent foreign policy.

“For this military spend, we could open up free university and TAFE to everyone who wanted it, and offer every parent free childcare. The $270 billion would fund bringing dental care into Medicare six times over, and build the 500,000 public homes needed to end homelessness twenty times over.”

Australian Greens Defence Spokesperson Jordon Steele-John said that where possible, conflict should be avoided, not won.

“The Government’s actions are undermining peace. There are far better ways to avoid conflict than wielding a bigger stick, and peace and stability should be the ultimate goal” Senator Steele-John said.

“Stability in the Pacific means, good diplomacy and importantly, avoiding conflicts over resources as a result of the climate crisis and a global pandemic.

“Security analysts have warned that without action on the climate crisis, Australia will be in ‘disaster alley’ as nations fight over basic resources such as food, fibre and fuel. If Scott Morrison was serious about national security, we’d be taking action to ensure everyone had access to basic resources, not buying bigger guns and missiles.”

LABOR WILL REVERSE MORRISON’S ABC CUTS TO SAVE REGIONAL JOBS

An Albanese Labor Government will reverse Scott Morrison’s $83.7 million cut to the ABC to save regional jobs, protect critical emergency broadcasting and support local news and content.

ABC emergency coverage saved lives during the summer bushfires and staff came off leave to ensure Australians were kept informed. Now 250 dedicated ABC staff face the sack as a result of Scott Morrison’s cuts.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will make the announcement in Eden-Monaro today with Labor candidate Kristy McBain.

This builds on Labor’s pledge to improve broadcast coverage across Eden-Monaro with a focus on ABC local radio black spots, as well as power back-up for broadcasting transmission facilities so they work for longer during natural disasters.

The ABC has worked tirelessly to support regional communities across Australia, particularly through drought, bushfires and now coronavirus. Labor thanks hardworking ABC staff for their dedication.

This Saturday, the people of Eden-Monaro have the chance to send the Government a message: Don’t cut ABC jobs, regional news or emergency broadcasting.

The only way to ensure a strong voice for Eden-Monaro and the ABC is to vote for Labor’s Kristy McBain.

New Weapons Boost Army Capability And Secure Jobs

The Morrison Government will acquire 251 Remote Weapon Stations that will better protect Army personnel on operations while boosting Australian jobs and opportunities for small businesses.

The Remote Weapon Stations, which allow a gunner to operate a weaponised system from a protected position, will be added to the Army’s Bushmaster and Hawkei protected mobility vehicles.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new weapons were part of the $270 billion capability upgrade for the Australian Defence Force, under the new 2020 Force Structure Plan.

“The Federal Government is committed to ensuring Australian Defence Force personnel have the tools they need to protect themselves and keep Australians safe,” the Prime Minister said.

“At the same time we must have a robust and resilient defence industry that maximises opportunities for small businesses and supports Australian jobs and local investment.”

Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds CSC said the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the 2020 Force Structure Plan would strengthen the ADF’s capabilities to respond to an increasingly challenging strategic environment.

“The Morrison Government is investing a record $270 billion in Defence capability and infrastructure over the next decade,” Minister Reynolds said.

“Investments such as the acquisition of Remote Weapon Stations will make the ADF more capable for the wide range of potential scenarios and threats Australia will face in the future.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the investment in new remote weapon stations would provide job stability for over 200 of Electro Optic Systems’ workforce directly involved in engineering and support.

“This investment not only secures local jobs but it also provides certainty for over 100 supply chain businesses across Australia,” Minister Price said.

“More than 80 per cent of the parts that Electro Optic Systems use for these weapons are sourced through the Australian supply chain and that’s good for jobs and small businesses.

“While the Federal Government’s focus is on keeping Australians safe, our investments in Defence have a significant benefit for Australian businesses and workers – around 15,000 businesses and 70,000 workers benefit from our investments and that’s set to grow.”

Small business tax cuts kick in from July 1 2020

From July 1 2020, small and family businesses will be paying less tax as a result of legislated tax cuts passed by the Morrison Government.

As the 2020-2021 financial year begins, incorporated small and family businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will see their company tax rate reduced from 27.5% to 26%.

Unincorporated businesses will also benefit as the rate of the small business income tax offset increases from 8% to 13%.

The changes mark the next stage of the Morrison Government’s accelerated small business tax cuts, legislated in October 2018, which brought forward tax relief for small and medium businesses by five years.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said this was a big win for the small business sector.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. We have around 3.5 million small businesses across the country. They are a vital part of our COVID-19 recovery,” Minister Cash said.

“As COVID-19 health restrictions ease and the economy re-opens, this tax relief will support Australian small and family businesses to bounce back stronger and get to the other side of this crisis.”

“Bringing forward these tax cuts will be a shot in the arm for hard working small and family businesses at a time they need it most, leading to more investment, increased employment opportunities for Australians and helping small business owners keep more of their money.”

The Treasurer said these legislated tax cuts would provide further support to small business during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Coalition Government has delivered extensive support for small and medium sized businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. We have extended the Instant Asset Write Off to $150,000 for another six months, are providing the Cash Flow Boost of up to $100,000 for employing small businesses, and are boosting access to capital through our COVID-19 SME Guarantee Scheme.

“This is in addition to the extensive income support JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and our Supporting Apprentices & Trainees wage subsidy are providing to support small businesses and sole traders across Australia.”

Environmental approval for Snowy Hydro 2.0

Australia’s largest ever renewable energy project, Snowy 2.0, has been given the green light to create thousands of new jobs and put downward pressure on electricity prices.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Commonwealth environmental approval for the project has been granted after a rigorous environmental process.

”This marks the final step in the planning and approvals phase and the beginning of a new wave of jobs and investment for the region, which will guarantee clean, affordable energy and position our country for the future,” the Prime Minister said.

”Just as the original Snowy Hydro project brought jobs and prosperity to Australia after the Second World War, Snowy 2.0 will help Australia grow its way out of the economic challenges from the coronavirus.

“Already Snowy 2.0 is creating a jobs boom, with over 100 local businesses benefiting from the Government’s investment to date, with much more local investment to come.”

Over the life of the project Snowy 2.0 will create 4,000 direct jobs, as well as many more indirect jobs as flow-on benefits are realised by local businesses and the broader region.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the rigorous environmental assessment underlined the importance of the bilateral assessment with NSW.

“Not only has the approval paved the way for critical infrastructure that will help the environment, it has ensured vital funding for protecting the area’s biodiversity,” Minister Ley said.

“The final Commonwealth review resulted in additional conditions around heritage, public transparency on data used to underpin mitigation strategies and the protection of native fish species.

“The approval process ensures the development is built and operated in a way that sensitively avoids, mitigates and rehabilitates environmental impacts while protecting the environment and its rich biodiversity as we move to a clean energy future.”

As part of the approval, Snowy Hydro will invest almost $100 million in biodiversity and environmental enhancements, including establishing an offset fund of up to $73.8m through the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to protect threatened species and deliver long-term conservation outcomes.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Snowy Hydro 2.0 is a vital project for the National Electricity Market.

“Snowy 2.0 will provide an additional 2,000 megawatts of fast-start, dispatchable energy and provide 350,000 megawatt hours of large-scale storage, enough to power the equivalent of 500,000 homes for over a week during peak demand,” Minister Taylor said.

“It will reduce volatility in the market, support reliability and bring down power prices for Australian families and businesses.

“Snowy 2.0 is a key part of the Government’s agenda to deliver affordable, reliable power and ensure Australians get a fair deal on energy.”

More information about Snowy 2.0 is online at snowyhydro.com.au/our-scheme/snowy20.

Nation’s largest ever investment in cyber security

The Federal Government will make the nation’s largest ever investment in cyber security, with $1.35 billion over the next decade to enhance the cyber security capabilities and assistance provided to Australians through the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

This significant investment, known as the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) package, will mean that we can identify more cyber threats, disrupt more foreign cybercriminals, build more partnerships with industry and government and protect more Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said malicious cyber activity against Australia is increasing in frequency, scale and sophistication.

“The Federal Government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty. Malicious cyber activity undermines that.”

“My Government’s record investment in our nation’s cyber security will help ensure we have the tools and capabilities we need to fight back and keep Australians safe,” the Prime Minister said.

The CESAR package has been designed to boost protection and cyber resilience for all Australians, from individuals and small businesses through to the providers of critical services, including through:

  • New capabilities to disrupt and defeat malicious cyber activity, providing greater capacity to take the fight to cybercriminals offshore and to neutralise and block emerging cyber threats to Australia, including:
    • Over $31 million to enhance the ability of ASD to disrupt cybercrime offshore, taking the fight to foreign criminals that seek to target Australians, and providing assistance to federal, state and territory law enforcement agencies.
    • Over $35 million to deliver a new cyber threat-sharing platform, enabling industry and government to share intelligence about malicious cyber activity, and block emerging threats in near real-time.
    • Over $12 million towards new strategic mitigations and active disruption options, enabling ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching millions of Australians across the country by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed.
  • Enhancing our understanding of malicious cyber activity so that emerging cyber threats can be more rapidly identified and responded to, including:
    • Over $118 million for ASD to expand its data science and intelligence capabilities, ensuring Australia remains at the forefront of the technological advancements in cyber security, including the identification of emerging cyber threats to Australia.
    • Over $62 million to deliver a national situational awareness capability to better enable ASD to understand and respond to cyber threats on a national scale. This includes informing vulnerable sectors of the economy about threats most likely to impact them, coupled with tailored advice and assistance about how to mitigate cyber threats.
    • Over $20 million to establish cutting-edge research laboratories to better understand threats to emerging technology, ensuring that ASD continues to provide timely and authoritative advice about the most secure approaches for organisations to adopt new technology.

To deliver these capabilities and initiatives, the package also includes a $470 million investment to expand our cyber security workforce, with the creation of over 500 new jobs within ASD. Australians who want an exciting career at ASD should go to asd.gov.au/careers.

The remaining details of the CESAR Package will be detailed in our 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, which will build on the strong foundations established by our $230 million 2016 Cyber Security Strategy and our $156 million 2019 cyber security election commitment.

The Minister for Defence, Senator Reynolds, said that this massive investment would have a real impact on the cyber security of all Australians.

“The package will put our nation on the front foot in combatting cyber threats and our investment in a cyber security workforce will help ensure we have the people we need to meet future cyber challenges,” Senator Reynolds said.

“For example, this package will enable ASD and Australia’s major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed,”

“This package is one part of our $15 billion investment in cyber and information warfare capabilities that will form part of Defence’s 2020 Force Structure Plan to address the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Federal Police and other Home Affairs agencies are confronting increasingly brazen cyber criminals and other online threats.

“This investment will significantly strengthen our agencies’ ability to tackle these threats,” Minister Dutton said.

City of Newcastle makes sustainability a priority as United Nations goals drive local action

City of Newcastle has joined forces with six other leading Hunter organisations to champion the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create a better, more sustainable future for all.

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, fight inequality, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for future generations. There are 17 Goals addressing global challenges, from clean energy and climate action to human rights advocacy and gender equality.

The City has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Compass Housing, CIFAL – University of Newcastle, Kumalie, Port of Newcastle, Hunter Water and Port Waratah Coal Services to grow and improve the implementation of the SDGs within the Hunter Region.

Sustainable-Development-Goals-MOU-signatories.jpgRepresentatives of the Hunter Region SDG Memorandum of Understanding signatories meet via Zoom.

In addition, City of Newcastle has joined the Hunter Region SDG Taskforce, launched in May. As a key member, the City will host a webinar as part of a monthly program on Goal 15 (Life on Land) to coincide with Biodiversity Month in September.

Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Declan Clausen said City of Newcastle was committed to achieving each Goal by 2030, underpinned by their integration in the City’s Annual Reporting in 2019 and Community Strategic Plan in 2018, and welcomed the opportunity for further collaboration across the region.

“City of Newcastle is already leading the local government sector on climate action, making great strides in the field over the past five years and becoming the first NSW Council to become powered by 100% renewable energy,” Cr Clausen said.

“Our 2025 Climate Action Plan, currently in development, will set our goals and priorities for the next five years to build on these achievements.

“Signing the MOU and gaining a seat at the table on the Hunter Region SDG Taskforce continues our transformation into a more sustainable city and fosters a strong, collaborative approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals locally.”

In another coup, City of Newcastle has become the 11th city in the Oceania and Asia-Pacific Region to join the 2020 SDGs Cities Challenge.

Facilitated by Melbourne University’s Connected Cities Lab, the 2020 SDGs Cities Challenge is a 10-month action research project designed to support participating cities in working towards implementing the targets and indicators. Expertise is provided by local government, academia and business, including the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and the Banksia Foundation, to identify the best approach for cities to deliver on the SDGs.

City of Newcastle joins Davao City (Philippines), Alor Gajah Municipal Council (Malaysia), City of Dehradun (India), Port Vila (Vanuatu), City of Honiara (Solomon Islands), City of Melbourne, City of Warrnambool, City of Whitehorse, University of Melbourne Student Precinct, and City of Woollahra in participating in the Challenge.

STAY COVID-19 SAFE AS RESTRICTIONS EASED

As NSW today relaxes more COVID-19 restrictions, new rules will be put in place to prevent Melbourne residents living in virus hotspots from travelling across the border.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW Government will impose strict penalties on Melbourne residents in outbreak areas who seek to enter NSW in defiance of the NSW public health orders. These orders will incorporate the same restrictions as those being put in place in Victoria.

Individuals who fail to comply with the new rules could face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $11,000 or both.

“Victorians living in virus hotspots have to take the Victorian and NSW health orders seriously and should be very aware that NSW will impose penalties if they seek to leave hotspot suburbs to enter NSW,” Mr Hazzard said.

The NSW Order will prevent travel from Melbourne hotspots to NSW unless it is a NSW resident returning home or in very special circumstances, such as to obtain urgent medical care or for compassionate reasons.

Anybody who has been in a hotspot in the past 14 days, including NSW residents, will be subject to a stay at home direction for two weeks.

There will also be restrictions on visiting residential aged care facilities or a health service.

Meanwhile, restrictions on entertainment venues, weddings, community sport and other gatherings will be eased in NSW from today but strict physical distancing measures remain in place.

Mr Hazzard said businesses should ensure they have a COVID Safety Plan outlining exactly how they will maintain a safe environment for their staff and customers.

“Until we have a vaccine, everyone has a role to play keeping the community safe, whether that is mum and dad at their kid’s soccer match or your local café operator,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW Government has always said with the easing of restrictions comes risk, so I urge everyone to maintain physical distancing, get tested if you feel unwell and stay home if sick.”

The following COVID-19 restrictions have been eased from today:

  • The number of people allowed inside indoor venues will be determined by the ‘one person per 4 square metre’ rule, with no upper limit. This includes function centres.
  • Kids’ and adult community sport can recommence.
  • Cultural and sporting events at large stadiums, racecourses and motor racing tracks will be allowed up to 25 per cent of their normal seated capacity to a maximum of 10,000. These events must be ticketed and seated and follow strict guidelines.
  • Alcohol can still be served to seated patrons only, including at conference and function venues.
  • Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can reopen subject to the one person per 4 square metre rule.

The rules on gathering remain the same: 20 guests inside the home and 20 for gatherings in a public place.

NSW Health has finalised checklists to allow businesses affected by the easing of restrictions to be prepared for operation. These checklists provide guidance for businesses to develop a COVID safety plan. You can find the checklist here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses

All venues must adhere to their business specific COVID Safety Plan consistent with NSW Health guidelines.

Health orders are being prepared today and will become enforceable at midnight tonight to be concurrent with the Victorian health orders.

FIRST DRIVE THROUGH NEW M5 TUNNELS

Drivers in south-west Sydney will soon benefit from major travel time savings with the New M5 tunnels between Beverly Hills and St Peters almost complete.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance today travelled underground in the nine kilometre tunnels for the first time to inspect progress on the $4.3 billion project.

“It’s really exciting to see the hard work is almost finished on this crucial nine kilometres of motorway. Once open, the New M5 tunnels will double the capacity of this corridor, which carries around 100,000 vehicles every day and is one of the most congested parts of Sydney’s traffic network,” Ms Berejikilian said.

“The motorway will cut up to half an hour off journeys between Liverpool and the southern suburbs of Sydney. This will mean tens of thousands of drivers can have a safe, reliable and efficient option to spend less time in their car and more time doing what they love.

“Drivers will be able to travel from Beverly Hills to a new interchange at St Peters in around 10 minutes, with new connections to Alexandria and Mascot.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said drivers on the existing motorway will also benefit.

“We’re going to see huge travel time savings on the M5 East too, with trips cut in half and travel speeds expected to double during peak time, improving journeys to the airport and Port Botany,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This congestion-busting project forms part of the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government’s record $100 billion pipeline helping Australians reach their destinations sooner and safer.”

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the finishing touches are being applied to the tunnels with the mechanical and electrical fit-out nearing completion.

“There are currently 1,000 tradespeople working to complete the project, with more than 18,000 workers involved over the project’s lifespan,” Mr Constance said.

“The fit-out is almost finished with line marking work underway and the installation of 33,000 wall panels more than 90 per cent complete.

“We’re also in the final stages of system testing which marks the home stretch ahead of these tunnels officially opening.”

The New M5 Tunnel will open with two lanes in each direction but has capacity to upgrade to three lanes, and include connections to future projects including the M4-M5 Link Tunnel, M6 Stage 1 and Sydney Gateway to the airport and Port Botany.

WestConnex is being delivered in four major stages, including the New M4 (now open), the New M5 tunnels, and the M4-M5 Link Tunnel and Rozelle Interchange, opening in 2023.

When complete, WestConnex will provide drivers with a 33km road network, bypassing up to 52 sets of traffic lights.

NSW Police Force continues to enforce the COVID-19 Ministerial Directions

The NSW Police Force will continue to assist in the enforcement of all COVID-19-related ministerial directions through high-visibility policing operations.

A number of ministerial directions remain in place, covering returned overseas travellers, diagnosed persons, mass gatherings and movement, spitting and coughing, residential aged care facilities and the recent announcement of restrictions for affected persons from interstate COVID hotspots.

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides police with the power to enforce these orders. It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order, and severe penalties apply, which include a maximum penalty of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment for individuals.

As part of the NSW Police Force’s commitment to assisting NSW Health reduce the risk of community spread, police officers across the state will be conducting proactive, high-visibility activity.

This includes providing a presence at Sydney Airport and regional airports, as required, to assist NSW Health staff, who are screening passengers arriving from Victoria.

Travellers who are departing from or arriving at airports in NSW are urged to adhere to the directions of airline staff, airport security, and NSW Health practitioners/officers.

Officers from Police Transport Command will also provide assistance to NSW Health at Central Railway Station for the arrival of XPT services from Melbourne.

In addition, Police Districts with borders to Victoria will be supported by Traffic and Highway Patrol to conduct high-visibility patrols and random vehicle stops.

Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any ministerial direction.