As it happened:Mandatory COVID isolation cut from seven days to five;jobs and skills summit under way

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Today’s headlines

ByNigel Gladstone

Good evening,and thanks for following our live news coverage,here’s the major headlines from today:

Thanks for reading our live coverage,we’ll be back tomorrow morning with more news from 7am.


Australia needs vast investment in renewables to escape economic funk:Garnaut

ByPeter Hartcher

Australia emits only about one per cent of all greenhouse gases but could equip the world for cutting a further 7 per cent of all global emissions,creating an economic boom in the process,according to an eminent economist.

Melbourne University’s Ross Garnaut says “Australia is better placed than any other country” to prosper from the energy transition now under way,with the potential to turn from global laggard to global leader.

Professor Ross Garnaut.

Professor Ross Garnaut.Wayne Taylor

In a keynote address to the jobs and skills summit in Canberra,Professor Garnaut said Australia’s economic funk was much worse than generally understood,but so was its potential for economic rejuvenation.

The global energy transition was a transformative economic opportunity for Australia and a potential boost to global decarbonisation,he said.

“Australian export of zero emissions goods and services could reduce global emissions directly by about 7 per cent.

“This would cover much of the hardest and costliest decarbonisation in the rest of the world. This is in addition to the one and a quarter per cent of global emissions removed by Australia itself going to net zero.”

Australia has five “crucial advantages” in achieving the post-carbon economy,said the economic adviser to then-prime minister Bob Hawke at the time of the 1983 economic summit,and the author of the Garnaut climate review for the Rudd government.

It has the best combinations of solar and wind resources in the developed world,he said,which should generate the world’s cheapest energy;it is the world’s biggest exporter of ores that need energy-intensive smelting;it has an abundance of the critical minerals for the machinery of the zero carbon world;the largest endowments per person of land suitable for making biomass and sequestering carbon;and key knowledge that could be translated from the mining and farming sectors.

Read morehere.

Handbags,tiaras and 423 watches:Malaysia’s former first lady guilty of corruption

ByEileen Ng

Kuala Lumpur:Malaysia’s former first lady Rosmah Mansor was convicted Thursday of soliciting and receiving bribes during her husband’s corruption-tainted administration,a week after her husband was imprisoned over the massive looting of the 1MDB state fund.

Rosmah was found guilty on three charges of soliciting bribes and receiving 6.5 million ringgit ($2.14 million) between 2016 and 2017 to help a company secure a project to provide solar energy panels to schools on Borneo island. She is expected to remain out on bail for her appeal to higher courts.

Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court.AP

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt that Rosmah corruptly solicited bribes and received money as a reward for herself. He said her defence was a bare denial.

Najib began a 12-year prison term last week after losing his final appeal in one of the five graft cases against him involving the multibillion-dollar pilfering of 1MDB.

Before the verdict,the court heard Rosmah’s application to disqualify the judge after the alleged guilty judgment leaked online. Police said the leaked document was work done within the court’s research unit and was not the judgment,but Rosmah’s defence said they lost confidence the judge could be fair.

Prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Rosmah’s application was made in bad faith to delay her verdict. He said there was nothing wrong if the judge did indeed request the view of the court’s research unit. Such a system of judicial research is accepted in many countries and doesn’t discredit the court nor imply any bias,he added.

Malaysia’s top court earlier slammed the action of the website,run by a blogger based in England,as “a deliberate act” to smear the court’s reputation.

Last week,the same website published a document it said was the Federal Court’s guilty verdict against Najib,just before the ruling was read out in court. The court has said that the leaked document was a working draft of the ruling. The court has filed complaints with police over both leaks.

Read morehere.

Royal commission told disability homes spent $2 per person a day on food

ByJewel Topsfield

Two privately-run disability homes in Melbourne were spending just $2 per person a day on food before the state government seized control and commissioned aged care provider Wintringham to take over their management.

Wintringham staff told the Royal Commission into Violence,Abuse,Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability of their alarm atconditions at Sydenham Grace and Gracemanor supported residential services,which were closed this year.

Gracemanor (formerly Meadowbrook) in Melton South closed last year.

Gracemanor (formerly Meadowbrook) in Melton South closed last year.Paul Jeffers

Wintringham chief executive Bryan Lipmann said his organisation spent $24 per person a day on food,whereas the facilities he took over were spending just $2 per person.

Wintringham staff found the front door of Gracemanor padlocked at night,which raised fire danger concerns,boxes of opened and unopened mail,and foul-smelling bedrooms.

“You have no idea what these places smell like,” Lipmann told the royal commission.

He said he was amazed by the lack of scrutiny of supported residential services,which are state regulated but privately run.

There are 114 registered supported residential services in Victoria,which house about 4000 of the state’s most vulnerable people with a disability or mental illness.

Read morehere.

Government ‘deeply concerned’ about UN report on Xinjiang

ByNigel Gladstone

Foreign affairs Minister Penny has issued a statement about the findings of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report about human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The report details “credible” allegations of torture or ill-treatment from people report incidents of sexual and gender-based violence,which may be crimes against humanity.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong this week visited Papua New Guinea and East Timor to deepen ties with Australia’s Pacific neighbours.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong this week visited Papua New Guinea and East Timor to deepen ties with Australia’s Pacific neighbours.AP

“Australia has consistently condemned human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other ethnic and Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and across China,” the statement says.

“Australia expects all countries to adhere to their international human rights obligations and we join with others in the international community in calling on the Chinese Government to address the concerns raised in this report.”

The report is informed by extensive research,including the first-hand testimonies of Uyghur and other minority peoples in Xinjiang,Wong’s statement said.

Rio Tinto buys troubled Mongolian mine for $4.85b

ByAngus Thomson

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has moved to take full control of Canadian copper miner Turquoise Hill in a deal worth $4.85 billion,solidifying its grip on one of the largest known copper and gold deposits in the world.

Rio Tinto,which already owned a majority stake in Turquoise Hill,will buy the remaining 49 per cent of the Canadian company for a total cost of $US3.3 billion,giving the Australian heavyweight full ownership of a company that owns two-thirds of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.

The Oyu Tolgoi mine,which is part-owned by the Mongolian government,has had significant delays since construction began in 2019 and the estimated cost has increased from $US5.3 billion to $US6.9 billion.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm.Supplied

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said the deal would simplify governance and create greater certainty of funding for future of the Oyu Tolgoi project,which it currently operates.

“Rio Tinto is committed to moving Oyu Tolgoi forward in direct partnership with the government of Mongolia to realise its full potential for all stakeholders,” he said.

The purchase price of $C43 per share is 19 per cent higher than the Canadian miner’s share price at last close,and Rio Tinto said the price is the company’s “best and final offer” afterits previous offers to buy the company at $C34 per share were rejected.

The takeover has the unanimous approval of the Turquoise Hill board special committee but will need to be confirmed by a two-thirds majority of Turquoise Hill shareholders and a simple majority of votes cast by minority shareholders.

Read morehere.

NASA makes oxygen on Mars using a toaster-size device

ByJoe Pinkstone

London: Humans have moved a step closer to settling on Mars after oxygen was created on the planet for the first time.

NASA has successfully generated oxygen through an instrument called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment (MOXIE),which is roughly the size of a large toaster.

An illustration depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars after launching from the Perseverance rover.

An illustration depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars after launching from the Perseverance rover.NASA

Mounted to the Mars Perseverance rover,the device works by splitting the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere.

Any hopes of sending humans to Mars in the next 20 years depend on the ability to make oxygen on the surface for the astronauts to utilise.

MOXIE has been turned on seven times since February 2021 and ran at full tilt for an hour at a time,with each test done in different conditions.

NASA found that about 50 grams worth of oxygen was made during the seven cycles,which the machine’s builders at MIT say is akin to the productivity of a small tree.

MOXIE involves a high-quality air filter cleaning detritus from the atmosphere,and then compressing the atmosphere – which is 95 per cent CO2 – to the same pressure of Earth’s air. It is also heated to 800 degrees Celsius and transferred to a custom-built tool called solid oxide electrolysis.

Read morehere.

Dylan Alcott:Let people with disabilities work and keep more of their pension

ByRachel Clun andAngus Thompson

Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott said allowing people on the disability support pension to retain more of their support payment as they pick up work is an easy way to get more people with disabilities into jobs.

The retired wheelchair tennis star toldthe government’s jobs summit on Thursday that about 54 per cent of the nearly 4.5 million people living with disability in Australia were in the workforce – a participation rate that has not changed in 28 years.

Dylan Alcott at the jobs and skills summit on Thursday.

Dylan Alcott at the jobs and skills summit on Thursday.James Brickwood

“In a time of a pandemic or a natural disaster or recession,whose jobs go first? People with disability’s jobs,and that’s not fair,” he said.

“The time for lip service is over to be honest,because we’ve been getting that for a long time.”

One “no-brainer” step was to allow people on the disability support pension (DSP) to pick up more work without losing their benefits,Alcott said. He said there was thesame issue with the pension,as retirees also faced losing part of their payment if they took up too much work.

“I don’t see why you can’t,to a point,earn your pension ...[or] DSP,and work as well,” he said,noting that would allow people with a disability to contribute to Australia’s economic growth and help fill staff shortages.

The current maximum baseline disability support pension is $900.80 a fortnight. Under the pension income test,a single person on the DSP loses 50¢ in every dollar they earn over $190 a fortnight,which advocates say can act as a disincentive to work an extra day or two.

A proposal to change the age pension means test as a way to encourage older Australians back into the workforce is a policy idea endorsed by the Liberal Party since losing office,and the summit was expected to reach an agreement on it.

Read morehere.

UN cites possible ‘crimes against humanity’ in China’s Xinjiang

ByJamey Keaten andEdith M. Lederer

Geneva: China’s discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the western region of Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity,the UN human rights office said in a long-awaited report.

The report released on Thursday (AEST) calls for an urgent international response over allegations of torture and other rights violations in Beijing’s campaign to root out terrorism.

A February protest in Istanbul against China’s internment of Uyghurs.

A February protest in Istanbul against China’s internment of Uyghurs.AP

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet,who has faced criticism from some diplomats and rights groups for being too soft on China,released the report just minutes before her four-year term ended. She visited China in May.

Her office said in its 48-page report that “serious human rights violations have been committed” in Xinjiang “in the context of the government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies”.

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups ... may constitute international crimes,in particular crimes against humanity,” the report said.

Read morehere.

NSW has spent almost $13 million on six overseas trade offices,hearing told

ByLucy Cormack

NSW has spent almost $13 million on six overseas trade offices,including the New York posting to which former deputy premier John Barilaro was controversially appointed.

The offices,which make up the Perrottet government’s Global NSW strategy,cover the regions of the Americas,South-East Asia,China,India and the Middle East,North Asia,and the UK,Europe and Israel.

Investment NSW managing director Kylie Bell at the trade appointment inquiry last month.

Investment NSW managing director Kylie Bell at the trade appointment inquiry last month.Kate Geraghty

Senior bureaucrat Kylie Bell on Thursday revealed operating costs,rent,business development and trade shows across the six regions last year totalled $12.86 million.

The lucrative trade roles have attracted criticism since the appointment of Barilaro,with attention recently turning to the highest-paid commissioner in the network:Agent-General to the UK Stephen Cartwright.

Bureaucrats on Thursday confirmed taxpayers were footing a UK tax bill worth more than $100,000 on Cartwright’s behalf after he complained he was not receiving the same benefits as his state counterparts.

A NSW budget estimates hearing was told Cartwright successfully renegotiated his cost-of-living allowance in London earlier this year to lower his income tax.

Read morehere.

Broede Carmody is the national news blogger for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Previously,he was a culture reporter and worked on the breaking news desk.

Nigel Gladstone is an investigative journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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