Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today detail his plan to redirect federal renewable energy agency funding away from wind and solar to alternative low-carbon solutions. The announcement covers $1.9 billion in ongoing funding for ARENA, CEFC and the Clean Energy Regulator. The proposal, which will require parliamentary support, would allow ARENA to fund low-carbon projects in addition to renewable energy. In a statement, Morrison said many renewable energy technologies were now mature. “Solar panels and wind farms are now clearly commercially viable and have graduated from the need for government subsidies and the market has stepped up to invest,” he said. Controversial carbon capture and storage projects will access a $50 million fund, while $70.2 million has been earmarked for an export hydrogen hub. There is $74.5 million for hydrogen, electric, and bio-fuelled vehicles, $67 million for microgrid initiatives and $52.2 million for energy efficiency.
A single fine has been issued by the disability watchdog after fielding more than 8000 complaints in two years. The National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission reports a lone $12,000 fine was handed to Integrity Care, which was also banned, after its mistreated client Ann Marie Smith died in “appalling circumstances” in Adelaide, reports The Age. On more than 200 occasions, care providers failed to notify the watchdog of the fatality of a person with disability within five days of the death taking place. Labor NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten said the figures showed the watchdog was “simply not doing its job”.
Victoria's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, has told an inquiry into hotel quarantine that he was unaware private security was being used in the state’s system to deal with Covid-19 until “after the outbreaks”, and that he was not involved in organising the program. He said it was unfortunate that insecure work arrangements dissuaded guards from self-isolating when sick. It comes as restrictions ease in regional Victoria, prompting the introduction of a new $4957 fine for Melburnians caught sneaking into regional areas without a lawful reason. Police have set up a “ring of steel” around the city with additional checkpoints.
A survey of international students and temporary visa holders in Australia has found the difficulty of travelling home and lack of federal government support has left them living under severe financial duress. Guardian Australia reports the survey of 6000 international students and other visa holders, undertaken by the the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney, found 70 per cent of respondents lost their job or saw most of their hours cut once the pandemic began. One in five say flights home were unavailable, 19 per cent say the borders of their country or key transit areas were closed, and a quarter couldn’t afford inflated ticket prices. As a result, 51 per cent say they now have a debt they can’t cover, 28 per cent have been unable to afford food and 14 per cent have experienced homelessness.