Australia news live updates: Anthony Albanese meets Nato leaders; John Barilaro trade job hearings start | Anthony Albanese


Mark Dreyfus clarifies Labor’s opposition to ‘unnecessary secrecy’

Paul Karp

After the first national cabinet meeting as prime minister, Anthony Albanese, revealed the commonwealth made no effort to change its rules of secrecy, despite his criticism of his predecessor Scott Morrison over the issue.

On Tuesday evening, the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, clarified that the government’s position is that it is not in favour of “unnecessary secrecy” but it still intends to block documents from freedom of information using exemption.

Dreyfus told Radio National’s Law Report:

There’s a convention that applies to the cabinet papers of former governments, which is that they remain the cabinet papers of former governments and not available for public distribution. And by and large observing that convention, we will continue to apply whatever settings the former government had in place.

But going forward, very much, it’s our view that the meetings of First Ministers are ones that, if there is a need to provide protection from [FOI] applications, then the exemptions in the [FOI] Act that have been there since the first enactment … in 1982, which protect Commonwealth-state relations that those exemptions are the ones which should be relied on. What we don’t want to see is the creation of unnecessary secrecy.

What we don’t want to see is reliance on an exemption that applies to the meetings of Federal Cabinet incorrectly applied to meetings between First Ministers of the states, territories and the Commonwealth.

While it’s good to see that the Albanese government is not persisting with the fiction that national cabinet is a sub-committee of the federal cabinet, it still sounds like no documents will be produced.

SA power operator fined $900,000 for breach

The operator of South Australia’s Tesla big battery has been fined $900,000 after a software glitch left it unable to help stabilise the grid, AAP reports.

Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) was ordered on Tuesday to pay the penalty after being taken to the federal court by the Australian Energy Regulator.

The court heard HPR had breached national electricity rules between July and November 2019 after it made offers to the Australian Energy Market Operator and was paid to provide market ancillary services which it could not provide.

The contingency frequency control ancillary services are required to help keep the lights on following a power system disturbance.

Aemo brought the conduct to the regulator’s attention following a power system disruption at Kogan Creek Power Station in Queensland in October 2019.

The disruption was not caused or contributed to by HPR.

Tesla car charging stations near Jamestown, South Australia.
Tesla car charging stations near Jamestown, South Australia. Photograph: Morgan Sette/AAP

An investigation by Tesla later identified a firmware update carried out in July as the cause of HPR’s failure to provide its promised services.

Justice Anthony Besanko on Tuesday ordered HPR to pay a $900,000 fine in regards to several breaches of the national electricity rules.

He acknowledged submissions from HPR that the contraventions were inadvertent and the relevant payments had been repaid to AEMO upon request. No actual loss or damage was caused by the breaches, he noted.

The AER’s chair, Clare Savage, said in a statement the penalty sent an important message to the market at a time when many new operators were joining the grid:

It is vital that generators do what they say they can do if we’re going to keep the lights on through our market’s rapid transition to more variable renewable generation.

Morning summary

Good morning folks, and welcome to another day of rolling news.

Australia’s fractured relationship with France has caused a “critical” trade deal with the EU to “stall” over perceptions Australia isn’t “fair dinkum” on climate change action, Anthony Albanese has said. The prime minister is in Europe this week ahead of the Nato summit which will consider further sanctions on Russian for its continuing war on Ukraine. He’s been meeting with various international counterparts on his trip, including Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, on Tuesday.

The federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, will give an address at the National Press Club today in which he’s expected to talk about the government’s renewable energy plan in the wake of coal-fired power station shutdowns, a cold snap and spiking gas prices adding to cost of living pressures for already-squeezed Australian households.

Industrial action in NSW continues, with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to meet today to consider whether to continue with their planned strikes this week. They are in a dispute with the NSW government over safety concerns regarding the new intercity train fleet.

Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses voted on Tuesday to continue with industrial action, rejecting the NSW government’s offer of a 3% pay rise. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association general secretary, Brett Holmes, said members will now pursue a pay rise of 7%.

And a parliamentary inquiry will today scrutinise the appointment of the former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative trade job in New York.

There’ll be stacks more throughout the day so stay tuned. And as always, if you see something you reckon needs my attention, you can email me at [email protected] or ping me on Twitter @gingerandhoney.




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