Lowe defends RBA board
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has disputed some of the findings of the independent review into Australia’s central bank.
What we know
- While he described the overall review as “kind of excellent” at a media conference on Thursday, Lowe rejected comments by the panel about the workings of the board, saying it "didn't really resonate with me" (The Guardian).
- The review found the board to be lacking in both the knowledge required to challenge the Reserve Bank governor and set monetary policy.
- Lowe defended the nine members of the RBA board, saying they were “deeply engaged in the questions, [bringing] a great deal of expertise to the issues we’re dealing with”.
- However, Lowe said that he and the bank generally welcomed the review’s 51 recommendations, including to split the board in two, one for monetary policy and the other for governance (The Monthly).
- Lowe and the board will also be required to face the press following every interest rate decision, ensuring greater accountability and transparency (AFR).
- Lowe indicated his willingness to continue serving as the bank's governor, describing the position as "important”, “a privilege”, and “a great responsibility" (The Age).
Solar boost drops power price
Record solar generation from both large-scale solar and rooftop panels are helping to drive down the cost of power.
What we know:
- New data shows average wholesale electricity prices over the first quarter were lower than the preceding one (Renew Economy).
- Solar production set a quarterly record, a 22% per cent lift on last year, helping to keep prices down during the middle of the day, according to the Australian Energy Regulator’s latest Wholesale Markets Quarterly Report (AER).
- The cost of future electricity contracts remained both steady and lower than 2022 prices.
- Despite an increase in demand, driven by heatwaves, average quarterly prices ranged from $64 MWh in Victoria to $114 MWh in Queensland.
- The AER says the overall downward trend is also due partly to the Albanese government’s coal price cap.
- The price drops will lower the likelihood of the energy regulator making major changes to its final default market offer.
- However, the price drops are unlikely to change the energy regulator's forecast of a 30% increase in energy prices (AFR).
SpaceX rocket explodes
SpaceX's giant new rocket exploded minutes after launch during its first test flight.
While the Starship rocket took off successfully from its launchpad in Boca Chica, Texas, it spun out of control before bursting into flames about four minutes into its flight, and crashing into the Gulf of Mexico (The Verge).
A malfunction separating the rocket’s booster and cruise vessel may have caused the explosion, or a failsafe was activated that destroys the craft if it veers off course (The Guardian).
The 120m rocket was aiming to complete a round-the-world trip from the southern tip of Texas, and was supposed to reach an altitude of about 241km (SMH).
“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX said (Twitter).
CEO Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX’s next Starship test flight will occur “in a few months” (Twitter).
UN calls for Eid ceasefire in Sudan
UN chief Antonio Guterres has called for a three-day ceasefire in Sudan during the Eid al-Fitr holiday to allow trapped civilians to escape the fighting.
There are reports that the two leaders of the conflict have agreed to the truce, “conditional on some notes” (Al Jazeera).
Thousands of civilians streamed out of the capital of Khartoum amid gunfire and explosions. Many crossed into Chad to flee fighting in the western region of Darfur (Reuters).
The leaders of Sudan’s ruling military junta had previously refused to negotiate with each other, as fighting continued for a sixth day, in which more than 300 people have been killed.
The US said it would send more troops to the region in the event that its embassy in Khartoum was evacuated.
Eclipse wows WA sky gazers
Cheers and tears erupted in WA as thousands gathered to witness the total solar eclipse that plunged the day into darkness on Thursday.
The eclipse occurred over Exmouth at 11.29 local time, when the moon completely blocked out the sun for about a minute (AAP).
Travellers came from across the globe to join with locals to witness the phenomenon. One described the experience as breathtaking and really quiet – even the birds stopped chirping – as the temperature dropped (WA Today).
The eclipse lasted about three hours, casting a 40km-wide shadow over the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo reef region (The Guardian).
In Perth, the moon covered more than 70% of the sun and office workers lined the streets to take in the celestial show.
The Perth Observatory website crashed as people logged-on to watch a live stream of the event.
One of my prescriptions is worth $50 and is not covered by the PBS. I use it for infections I get from my skin condition. It keeps me out of the hospital and yet that’s $50 I can use on food so I don’t go hungry. I guess at least in the hospital I can eat
Melissa Fisher on how, thanks to the inadequacy of JobSeeker she's not treading water, but drowning (The Guardian).