Power cut to trigger handouts

Regulators have accused energy companies of driving energy power shortages to receive larger taxpayer handouts.

What we know:

  • Power companies pulled more than 6.5 gigawatts of electricity supply out of the national markets, triggering warnings of blackouts as the grid experienced acute stress on Tuesday (The New Daily); 
  • The Australian Energy Regulator wrote to companies warning they may have breached regulations by engineering shortfalls in order to access the compensation payments;
  • It follows the Australian Energy Market Operator imposing a price cap across multiple states, prompting companies to withhold power in a bid to be ordered to generate energy, which in turn makes them eligible for compensation (Renew Economy); 
  • Power producers including AGL and Origin have been protesting they are struggling to compete due to high coal and gas prices, though their stock prices are up by 42% and nearly 18% respectively;
  • Households and businesses will ultimately be hit with higher power bills to help to compensate the energy companies (AFR $); 
  • It comes as Yallourn coal-fired power station temporarily loses half its capacity, as outages at coal plants continue to mount (The Australian $); 
  • WA meanwhile unveiled plans to shut its last coal-fired power unit, the 854 megawatt Muja power station, before the end of the decade (The Guardian); 
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will hold a cabinet meeting in Gladstone today, and is expected to canvass potential solutions to the energy crisis.
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Facial recognition tracking shoppers

Research by Choice indicates Bunnings, Kmart and The Good Guys are using facial recognition technology in a bid to crack down on shoplifters.

What we know:

  • The consumer group asked 25 major retailers whether they were using facial recognition technology and examined their privacy policies (Choice); 
  • Bunnings, Kmart and The Good Guys appeared to be the only three in the group capturing the biometric data of their customers;
  • Kmart and Bunnings stores had small inconspicuous signs at stores informing customers about the use of the technology;
  • The collection of biometric data in such a manner may be in breach of the Privacy Act;
  • Kmart and Bunnings said the technology was used to identify people with a history of theft and anti-social behaviour, while The Good Guys denied using it (The Daily Telegraph $); 
  • 76% of respondents to a Choice survey said they didn’t know retailers were using facial recognition;
  • 65% were concerned about stores using the technology to create profiles of customers that could cause them harm;
  • Experts warned that more retailers are likely to use facial recognition as the technology becomes cheaper, and that it is largely unregulated;
  • Convenience store giant 7-Eleven last year disabled tablets that had taken facial images of customers who used the devices to complete surveys without their consent (itnews).
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Albanese’s popularity soars as PM

A new poll has found Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is enjoying the biggest post-election popularity boost since Kevin Rudd in 2007.

The first Guardian Essential poll since the election shows 59% of voters approve of the job Albanese is doing as prime minister compared with 18% who do not (The Guardian). 

Of those that approved, 19% said they “strongly approve”, while about one in four respondents said they didn’t know.

That marks a 40-point improvement in his net approval rating from the final poll before the election, when just 42% of voters approved of Albanese’s performance and 41% disapproved.

Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott both recorded a jump of between 10 and 15 percentage points while Malcolm Turnbull went backwards by 11 points, and Julia Gillard recorded a small bounce.

Almost half of respondents said the country was on a positive trajectory, an eight-point increase since before the election.

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Pocock declared ACT winner in Senate

The makeup of the federal parliament continues to take shape, with independent David Pocock declared the winner of the last ACT Senate seat, defeating the Liberals’ Zed Seselja.

The Liberals now have no federal representation in the ACT, for the first time since the ACT has had seats in the Parliament (Canberra Times). 

“For the first time, we have an independent voice representing our community in the federal parliament,” Pocock, a former rugby player and climate activist, said.

It comes as Liberal candidate Andrew Constance made a last-minute request for a recount in the seat of Gilmore, where he was on track to narrowly lose to incumbent Labor MP Fiona Phillips (ABC). 

"As counting progressed over the last couple of weeks, my scrutineers have raised concerns in relation to certain aspects of the process, particularly the scrutiny of informal votes,” Constance said.

The AEC said it was considering the request.

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Inflation batters global markets

The Australian sharemarket has shed almost $90bn in value, in the worst single day of losses since March 2020.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down 3.55%, as stocks plunge globally due to skyrocketing inflation (Nine).  

It follows a Consumer Price Index report that showed US inflation is running significantly higher than economists expected.

This has prompted concerns that the US Federal Reserve will aggressively hike interest rates, and in turn trigger a global recession (ABC). 

The biggest losers in the Australian stock market were in the resources sector, including Fortescue Metals, which was down 8.48%, James Hardie Industries, down 6.88%, and Bluescope Steel, down 5.94%.

Stocks are expected to drop further today after more losses in the US overnight.

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The persons who engaged in the misconduct are no longer with the businesses. The Star respectfully submits that the review should conclude that it is presently suitable to hold the casino licence.

Lawyers for Star Entertainment tell an inquiry that all should be forgiven after a string of high-ranking executives resigned in disgrace in the wake of allegations of money laundering, fraud and criminal infiltration at its Sydney casino (ABC).

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Postscript: Australia's Penalty Hero Andrew Redmayne Threw Peru Goalkeeper's Instructions Away

Redmayne was brought on as a substitute in the dying minutes of extra time in Australia's World Cup qualification play off final ... he danced and clowned his way across the goalline, occasionally coming off it momentarily, crouching down, jumping up and then attempting to make saves. However, his high jinks weren't just contained when it was his turn to save, as fans think they spotted him getting rid of Peru keeper Pedro Gallese’s bottle during the shootout. Goalkeepers often have the information about which way penalty takers are likely to send their effort in a penalty shootout taped on their water bottles (Sports Bible).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.