Australia news live: Albanese convenes jobs summit to drive post-pandemic reform; 13 Covid deaths recorded; NSW floods easing | Australia news

Alma L. Figueroa

Albanese says jobs and skills summit to be held 1 and 2 September

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has begun the press conference, announcing more details about the jobs and skills summit:

Australia during Covid-19 faced a once in a generation challenge. But it opens up as well a once in a generation opportunity for how we grow back stronger from the Covid pandemic.

We also spoke during the campaign about bringing Australians together in order to secure that better future. And I foreshadowed at the National Press Club some time ago that we would hold a jobs and skills summit.

Today I announced that that jobs and skills summit will be held here at Parliament House in Canberra on September 1 and 2.

We intend to bring together business, unions, civil society groups, other levels of government, to discuss how, as we move forward, we can maximise, not just the benefit for the economy that comes with new industries, that comes with good jobs, [but] how we make sure that Australians can fulfil those jobs of the future.

Key events:

Luke Henriques-Gomes

Luke Henriques-Gomes

We have more on the disability royal commission from inequality reporter Luke Henriques-Gomes.

The commission today begins a five-day set of hearings in Alice Springs, focused on the experience of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote communities.

After a smoking ceremony, the hearings this morning commenced with counsel assisting the commission, Patrick Griffin, outlining the evidence that will be hearing during this week’s hearings.

The hearings will cover the barriers First Nations people face in getting onto the NDIS, and then, when they are approved for a package, getting the support they need.

The issue of “thin markets” – a shortage of services in particular parts of the country – is one of the long-standing issues that affects First Nations NDIS participants in remote communities.

Griffin said a major area of focus would be the “limited availability of NDIS
providers in remote communities and the experience of First Nations people with disability who have to move away from their home country to receive NDIS services and supports”.

Aside from “thin markets”, the hearings will also look at whether the NDIA’s cultural competence and whether the agency has been effective in reducing barriers to support for First Nations people with disability.

Griffin said only 66% of First Nations applicants are accepted as being eligible for the NDIS, while 72% of non-First Nations applicants are deemed eligible.

Government data indicates that as of 31 March 2022 there were 37,313 NDIS participants who were First Nations people with disability and about 10% of those live in remote locations.

I’m handing you over to my wonderful colleague Caitlin Cassidy !

Today is the first day of hearings held by the Disability Royal Commission in Alice Springs to examine the operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote communities.

Mick Fallon, the Northern Territory manger for the National Disability Services is speaking to the ABC about the hearings:

The access to the NDIS is fraught in some remote locations by virtue of shortage of workforce and qualified and skilled people to support people with disabilities. Plus the opportunities to support people’s complex needs in remote locations.

Fallon says some recipients have had to leave their remote communities permanently to access services because they’re simply not available where they are, which can have a devastating effect on First Nations people losing access to their families and culture:

On lots of occasions people can’t return home even for short visits, to reconnect with their family and culture and country. It’s a really scary scenario where people can become disabled or removed from their communities and sometimes are never able to return.

So for those people who aren’t able to reconnect back with their culture and their community, they become really isolated. And have to live full time in a town that’s not their own town, in the way they don’t want to live.

So, there’s lots of people living in Darwin and Alice Springs for example, that simply don’t want to be there, they have a burning desire to be home. Their families have a burning desire for them to be home but they’re not able to be supported adequately and safely.

It’s an issue Guardian’s rural network has previously covered:

Dangerous surf conditions on NSW coast

More on the Covid outbreak on the cruise ship in Brisbane

The outbreak among the crew and some passengers on the Coral Princess in Brisbane on Sunday led to Princess Cruises offering refunds to those booked on its next 12-day cruise, AAP reports.

Queensland’s health minister, Yvette D’Ath, said on Monday that Covid protocols were in place on the ship before the outbreak.

She said some passengers were now isolating at home or in other accommodation, while authorities were helping the company manage infected staff on board.

National Covid-19 update

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 13 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 1,143
  • In hospital: 136 (with 5 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 8
  • Cases: 7,586
  • In hospital: 2,002 (with 63 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 323
  • In hospital: 25 (with 1 people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 4,804
  • In hospital: 782 (with 10 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 3,300
  • In hospital: 284 (with 9 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 1,439
  • In hospital: 28 (with 4 people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 8,689
  • In hospital: 717 (with 30 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 4,882
  • In hospital: 282 (with 9 people in ICU)

Some NSW beekeeping restrictions eased

NSW beekeepers outside of varroa mite eradication zones are beginning to work their hives again after some restrictions, put in place to contain the varroa mite, were eased, AAP reports.

The mite has been found in 38 properties in NSW, with new detections at the weekend at Jerrys Plains, Denman and Heatherbrae in the Hunter region.

The mite, which was first identified during routine surveillance at the Port of Newcastle on 22 June, has also been found along the central coast, around Bulahdelah on the north coast, and at a property at Narrabri in the north-west of the NSW.

As of Monday 1,567 hives had been euthanised, with more than 15 million bees destroyed.

A statewide emergency order remains in place in NSW which stops hives being moved, but beekeepers outside of eradication zones can now work their hives, removing frames for honey extraction as well as place empty supers on full hives.

Danny Le Feuvre from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council welcomed the latest changes to the emergency order and said authorities are still hopeful they can eradicate the mite.

The area is growing in size but at this stage we’re still confident that we can contain it, and then work through the eradication process.

The NSW government said it’s putting on an additional 26 compliance and surveillance officers to manage risk to facilitate key pollination events and ensure business continuity.

Victoria records no Covid deaths and 717 people in hospital

There were 8,689 new cases in the last reporting period, and 30 people are in intensive care.

South Australia records one Covid death and 284 people in hospital

There were 3,300 new cases in the last reporting period, and nine people are in intensive care.

Skywhale grounding – help on its way

Those following the saga of Skywhale will be heaving a sigh of relief to find out that help is on the way after the hot air balloon was grounded.

The ABC is reporting that Skywhale is set to undergo repairs after developing a tear “in one of her breasts”.

The incident occurred in Ballarat where Skywhale and its partner, Skywhalepapa, were touring as part of the Every Heart Sings project.

Covid outbreak on cruise ship docked in Brisbane

In a throwback to the early days of the pandemic, an outbreak of Covid-19 has been confirmed on a cruise ship docked in Brisbane.

Queensland health minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed the outbreak on the Coral Princess cruise ship, which is currently docked in Brisbane after returning from the state’s far north.

The cruise ship outbreak comes as Covid-19 cases are rising in Queensland with D’Ath saying the virus was “widespread” in the community.

Authorities have confirmed an outbreak of Covid-19 on a cruise ship docked in Brisbane after visiting the state’s far north https://t.co/Pq0Lni2Tt1

— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) July 11, 2022

Western Australia records two deaths from Covid-19 with 282 people in hospital

There were 4,882 new cases in the last reporting period, and nine people are in intensive care.

The department noted that the two new deaths reported to WA Health yesterday but dated back to 5 July.

Albanese: we need better pathways to permanent migration

Albanese clarifies the jobs summit is “not a tax summit … this is a jobs and skills summit, which is very much focused on the need to have secure employment that’s focused on skills, that’s focused on future economic growth.”

When asked about the changes to the Migration Act that the government is considering, Albanese affirms the need for better pathways for permanent migration:

The government has inherited, along with its list of problems, a massive backlog in the visas. It is absurd at a time of skills shortages, there are people who have been waiting for such a long period of time.

We do have some short-term skills shortages that will always need to be filled by temporary migration. That will continue to play a role. But … we have a global labour market. We need to acknowledge that. And we need to make sure that we have better pathways as well to a permanent presence in Australia for people to give us the skills that they need.

Albanese on enterprise bargaining, manufacturing and green energy

Albanese says he is concerned about how enterprise bargaining is currently working:

Quite clearly, it’s not working …as effectively as it could, and both players and unions are saying that. So where we can get cooperation, that’s a good thing. There was some progress made by the process that was set up by the former government, and then legislation appeared that didn’t reflect the discussions that had taken place. So we want, wherever possible, employers and unions to work together. They have a common interest and it’s called the national interest.

Albanese says he wants to see greater productivity as the need for Australia to be more self-sufficient is one of the lessons of the pandemic.

Manufacturing is very much a part of where we want Australia to go. We want a future made in Australia, more things to be made right here.

That’s one of the lessons of the pandemic is that we will remain vulnerable as long as we are at the end of the supply chains. Because we’ve seen across so many areas, even the war between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s having an impact on supply chains. We’re vulnerable.

Now, one of the things about new technology and its ubiquitous nature, is that the proportion of the costs of production that comes from labour is less now than it used to be. So whilst a production process might result in less employment per unit, that’s because of productivity benefits that are available.

What makes our future, I believe, very bright, if we just seize the opportunity is that clean energy is cheap energy. We have access, better than anywhere in the world. We are the best country in the world for solar. We’re one of the best for wind. We are developing areas like green hydrogen. We can make more things here, driven by that, with high value, high-skilled jobs being created. That’s part of the objective here. It’s one of the themes that we had in the election campaign and one we’ll continue with.

Albanese on Pacific nations: ‘we’re determined to put the relationship back on track’

Albanese is asked whether he is worried that China is “hijacking” the Pacific Islands Nations forum, with the departure of one nation (Kiribati) already, and he responds by saying the government is determined to put the relationship with Pacific nations back on track.

He says ministers Wong and Conroy are leaving for the forum today.

This is an important meeting … It’s obvious that we had dropped the ball. The deal that occurred with Solomon Islands represents Australia not so much as having a step-up in the Pacific, as a stuff-up in the Pacific.

We’re determined to put the relationship back on track. We will be participating at ministerial level, and myself as prime minister, having bilaterals with a range of countries there on Wednesday and Thursday. Can I say this – the Fijian prime minister has done a wonderful job in trying to bring the Pacific island forum together.

There had been some division in the past from time to time. That will occur. It’s unfortunate the decision that Kiribati has made but we’ll continue to work constructively and we’ll have a concentration on the national security issue, but also our renewed commitment on climate change has meant that we’ll be received far better than if that had not occurred.

Jim Chalmers: jobs summit to involve ‘whole government’

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says that the summit will be led by the prime minister and himself, but will involve “the whole government, the whole caucus.”

Individual ministers will be asked to lead particular work streams.

Minister Gallagher will coordinate work on the women’s labour market experiences.

Tony Burke will coordinate job security and wages, Clare O’Neil on migration.

Amanda Rishworth will coordinate work on barriers to employment.

Brendan O’Connor will coordinate work on skills and training.

And Ed Husic will focus on renewables, digital and manufacturing as well as the other industries where we have big opportunities before us.

Look, we believe by bringing people together to solve our big economic challenges in the near term, that’s the best way to grab the opportunities in our economy in the medium term as well .

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