News live: eight Australians hospitalised after British passenger dies in Singapore Airlines turbulence; Labor accuses Coalition of $45bn budget ‘black hole’ | Australia news

Eight Australians in hospital following Singapore flight

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed eight Australians were injured on the Singapore Airlines flight SQ 321 incident.

In a statement, Dfat said consular officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok are providing consular assistance to the eight Australians who have been taken to hospital.

The Australian embassy in Bangkok and the Australian high commission in Singapore continue to make inquiries to confirm if any further Australians are affected.

Australians in need of emergency consular assistance should contact the government’s 24-hour consular emergency centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

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Key events

Birmingham insists ICC arrest warrants create ‘false equivalence between Israel and Hamas’

Simon Birmingham was asked whether Australia should boycott any arrest warrant issued by the ICC, as Israel has called on “civilised nations” to do. He responded:

I would be deeply troubled If Australia were in a position of arresting the democratically elected prime minister of Israel. I think that would send a terrible signal given the way in which the court has issued these proceedings, and the actions of the prosecutor in creating this impression of a false equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

Host Patricia Karvelas jumped in and said the ICC had denied any equivalence between the two parties. Birmingham said:

They may deny it but they have created it by issuing all of these proceedings simultaneously, by doing nothing about Hamas in the days, weeks, or couple of months immediately after October 7, and waiting until they could launch these actions simultaneously. What is the justification for that? … So you look at the inconsistencies here, and they are tragically mounting.

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Birmingham says Israel is ‘targeting military operations’ and ‘trying to provide humanitarian support’ despite major Palestinian civilian losses

Host Patricia Karvelas noted that opposition leader Peter Dutton said Australia should stand “shoulder to shoulder” with US president Joe Biden, who condemned the ICC action. She asked if Australia should also stand shoulder to shoulder with Biden on his comments last year that Israel was loosing support internationally because of its “indiscriminate bombing”?

Shadow foreign minister Simon Birmingham said:

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the expectation that Israel exercises care in how it conducts its operations to remove Hamas from this position of being a terrorist threat against it, and so how Israel conducts those operations does matter … So we do see that Israel conducts itself in terms of targeting its military operations, trying to provide humanitarian support…

Karvelas pushed back, asking: “Are you saying that Israel has targeted just military targets in this campaign? I mean, there are so many civilians dead.”

There are civilians dead and each innocent life lost to the tragedy – be they Israeli life or Palestinian life or anybody in this conflict, just as in any conflict – innocent lives being lost is a tragedy. But we do have to recognise that the objectives are profoundly different between the two parties.

The shadow minister for foreign affairs, Simon Birmingham. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
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Birmingham on ICC prosecutor seeking arrests

Shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham is speaking to ABC RN about the international criminal court prosecutor’s (ICC) decision to seek arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli officials, including for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant.

Birmingham was asked if he believes the action is antisemitic? He responded:

We have governments expressing real concern because there is a sense, as the German foreign ministry said, that the simultaneous application for arrest warrants creates the false impression of equivalence. And we utterly, utterly reject there being any sense of equivalence between Hamas and the state of Israel.

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Eight Australians in hospital following Singapore flight

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed eight Australians were injured on the Singapore Airlines flight SQ 321 incident.

In a statement, Dfat said consular officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok are providing consular assistance to the eight Australians who have been taken to hospital.

The Australian embassy in Bangkok and the Australian high commission in Singapore continue to make inquiries to confirm if any further Australians are affected.

Australians in need of emergency consular assistance should contact the government’s 24-hour consular emergency centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

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Snowy 2.0 tunnel boring machine Florence has ‘hit some hard rock’

Chris Bowen is also asked about reports that Snowy 2.0 tunnel boring machine Florence is again stuck. He says a device to manage the project is “still on track for the previously announced completion date”:

[There] should have been another boring machine audit right at the beginning when the project was started. But the new management of Snowy 2.0, under the new chief executive Dennis Barnes, has done a remarkable job in turning the project around and improving it. It is now 57% complete.

Yes, the Florence boring machine has hit some hard rock, but a device to manage the project is still on track for the previously announced completion date. And on your point, Sabra [Lane], even with these cost increases, Snowy is still pound for pound much cheaper than nuclear even though the cost has increased substantially.

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Chris Bowen says nuclear energy is ‘slow, expensive and risky’

Chris Bowen is also asked about the latest CSIRO report released today, showing electricity from nuclear power in Australia would be at least 50% more expensive than solar and wind.

Bowen said the main takeaway from the report was that “it’s yet another confirmation that renewables are the cheapest form of energy, and nuclear is by far the most expensive form of energy”:

CSIRO and Aemo have looked at large-scale nuclear for the first time. It finds that that would be far more expensive than renewables, despite claims from the opposition – quite inappropriate attacks on CSIRO and Aemo from the opposition, that they hadn’t counted the cost of transmission. The cost of transmission and storage is counted, and still renewables comes out as the cheapest.

And of course, CSIRO points out that nuclear will be … very slow to build. So nuclear is slow and expensive and is risky when it comes to the reliability of Australia’s energy system.

Climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
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Climate change minister discusses latest Aemo report

Energy and climate change minister Chris Bowen is speaking to ABC RN after the release of Aemo’s latest report yesterday.

As Peter Hannam reported, Aemo forecast so-called reliability gaps in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria unless authorities “orchestrated” faster deployment of solar and wind energy as well as batteries.

Host Sabra Lane asks how worried he is that public support for renewables would vanish if there are blackouts, or prices remain high? Bowen responds:

People said there’ll be blackouts last summer, Peter Dutton and Ted O’Brien ran around quite inappropriately saying the lights were going [out]. The lights did not go out. We had no blackouts due to lack of energy generation. We had some power lines down and some transmission towers down – that can happen at any time – but what we didn’t have is a lack of power in any power grid in the country over the last summer despite claims to the contrary …

And to your question about public support, I mean every poll I see continues to show renewables being the most popular form of energy, the most supported form of energy, with nuclear right at the bottom of that category.

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Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie

Queensland Greens seek $61bn coal royalties revenue boost

The Queensland Greens have unveiled a coal royalties plan for a $61bn revenue boost over the next four years.

The party says the government’s coal royalty changes would result in a drop of 76% in revenue in the upcoming state budget.

The Greens’ plan would increase the base royalty rate to 35% across all resources and assumes no new coal or gas approvals from October 2024, as well as thermal coal being phased out by 2030 and gas, LNG and metallurgical coal exports being phased out by 2040.

The plan comes after Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick told parliament yesterday the June budget would forecast a deficit of about $3bn for 2024-25 financial year. Dick said the budget blowout was a result of state government spending on cost-of-living measures, housing and health.

Michael Berkman, the Greens member for Maiwar. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

The Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, said mining corporations were making “giant profits” while “regular people are struggling to afford the basics”.

State revenue is about to fall off a cliff as Labor’s short-term coal royalty changes stop collecting any real revenue from July. We want more for Queenslanders, and less for mining corporations.

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Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Accord tertiary education target will generate $240bn, Labor says

The Albanese government has released an economic analysis by the education department claiming that if it reaches the accord’s attainment target of 80% of workers getting a tertiary qualification by 2050 then $240bn in additional income will be added to the economy over the period to 2050.

The basis for the claim is that people with year 11 or below as their highest level of education earn a median of $50,000 in 2021, which rises to $60,000 for those witha cert III or cert IV, or $80,000 for those with a bachelor degree. The benefit to the budget includes lowering lifetime social security costs, for example, increasing a person’s attainment from year 12 to a university qualification lowers the cost by an average of $12,000.

The education minister, Jason Clare, said:

Under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the number of Australians finishing high school jumped from around 40% to almost 80%. That was nation changing. Now we have to take the next step. The Budget sets a goal of 80% of the workforce with a TAFE or uni qualification by 2050, and funds key reforms to get us there. A big part of this is helping more kids from the suburbs and regions get a crack at uni and succeed when they get there.

Education minister Jason Clare. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
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Good morning

Emily Wind

Emily Wind

And happy Wednesday – I’m Emily Wind, reporting for blogging duty. I’ll take you through our live coverage today.

To share any thoughts, feedback or questions, you can get in touch via X, @emilywindwrites, or send me an email: emily.wind@theguardian.com.

Let’s get started.

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Australians losing less to scammers, ACCC report shows

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report today reveals that scam losses reported between January and March this year are down compared with the previous quarter.

In total Australians reported $73.2m in losses to Scamwatch, $173.2m to ReportCyber and $99.2m to the AFCX. The combined total this quarter was $345.6m, although this might contain duplication if scam victims reported to multiple entities.

This amounts to a reduction in:

  • Losses reported to Scamwatch down 11% compared with the previous quarter.

  • Losses reported to the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange are down by over 40% over the same period.

  • Losses reported to ReportCyber down 3%.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, will be in Sydney campaigning on this and the $69.2m in the budget to crack down on scams, including $37.3m to regulators to enforce mandatory industry codes requiring banks, telcos, social media, digital messaging and search advertising services to prevent and disrupt scams. Jones said:

There’s clear evidence that our scam crackdown is working, but losses remain far too high. We are implementing an ambitious anti-scam agenda and will continue to introduce strategies that protect people’s money and make it harder for scammers to operate. The codes will set a high bar for banks, telcos, and social media giants to prevent, detect and disrupt scam activity operating on their services. We want to be a world leader when it comes to scam prevention.

Assistant treasurer Stephen Jones. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The minister for communications, Michelle Rowland, said:

Cracking down on these criminals is a key focus for the Albanese government. Our funding measures will ensure our regulators have all the tools they need to disrupt scammers and keep Australians safe. Reviewing the telephone and SMS codes will ensure they are fit-for-purpose and ensuring industry is doing all it can prevent telco scams reaching Australians. These actions complement the Albanese government’s work to establish an SMS sender ID registry – a first for Australia.

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Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

On the subject of the Coalition’s budget reply, today’s Full Story podcast features our chief political correspondent, Paul Karp, talking to Nour Haydar about why Peter Dutton has zeroed in on migration and what it could mean in a pre-election year.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Coalition budget costings have $45bn ‘black hole’, Labor says

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The shadow treasurer, Angus Taylor, will address the National Press Club today delivering his response to Labor’s third budget.

Before of the speech the government has accused the Coalition of a $45bn budget black hole consisting of:

Some of this is contentious, for example the opposition has said it wants “simpler, fairer” taxes, but has not committed to restore stage-three tax cuts dollar for dollar for those high income earners who missed out when Labor rejigged them in favour of low and middle income earners.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said:

The Liberal-Nationals have a $45bn black hole in their budget. Spending tens of billions of dollars more while calling for a slash-and-burn budget shows why the Coalition have no credibility and can’t be trusted to run the economy.

After two years in opposition, it’s time for Angus Taylor to finally explain what vital services the Coalition wants to cut and whether they will go after pensioners and Medicare again like they did the last time they were in office.

The Coalition left behind rising interest rates, a trillion dollars of debt, falling real wages and rising inflation. Now real wages are growing, inflation is moderating, and we’re forecasting the first back-to-back surpluses in almost two decades. Peter Dutton’s nasty negativity is no substitute for economic credibility.”

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Fifty-six Australians on ‘traumatic’ Singapore Airlines flight

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Singapore Airlines issued a statement this morning saying it was providing “all possible assistance” to the passengers and crew on board SQ321, which hit severe turbulence on the way from London to Singapore.

It said there were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard SQ321 – and more of them were Australian than any other nationality.

The nationalities of the passengers were: 56 from Australia, two from Canada, one from Germany, three from India, two from Indonesia, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one from Israel, 16 from Malaysia, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five from the Philippines, 41 from Singapore, one from South Korea, two from Spain, 47 from the UK, and four from the US.

The airline said:

We can confirm that there were multiple injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. We deeply apologise for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight.

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Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and I’m going to take you through some of the main overnight stories before Emily Wind arrives to pilot the main action of the day.

A big story from overseas this morning is the horrific turbulence that hit a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore, during which one British passenger died, probably from a heart attack, and many others were injured. We have full coverage – and more coming up as it turns out there were 56 Australians on board, more than any other nationality.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor will give his budget reply address to the National Press Club today in which he is expected to map out some of the key policies on which the Coalition will contest the next election. These include reinstating stage-three tax cuts for the wealthiest and of course slashing migration. Labor have already gone on the attack about the costing of the policies, accusing the Coalition of having a $45bn “black hole” in their figures. Another contentious area is the Coalition plan to build nuclear power stations, with Csiro issuing a report today saying it would cost $8.6bn to build one, and it wouldn’t be up and running until 2040 at the earliest. More coming up.

More than 100 Australians and other tourists have landed in Brisbane from New Caledonia after the government arranged two repatriation flights due to the worsening security situation there. Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said 108 Australians and others had arrived back in Australia last night on the government assisted-departure flights after riots left six people dead and a trail of looted shops, torched cars and road barricades. One Australian tourist, Mary Hatten, said she had been largely confined to her hotel. She told the ABC:

The place was just in a mess.

In a big announcement today, the government will crack down on replicas of Ozempic and other weight loss drugs, closing a loophole that allowed compounding pharmacies to make and sell them to about 20,000 Australians. Shortages of the drug have prompted people to ask compounding pharmacies to make up a replica version of the drugs but federal health minister Mark Butler said this increased the risk of safety problems and, from October, compounding these similar weight-loss products – or compounded glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA) – will be banned.

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