Australia

Morning Briefing: UK-Rwanda flights grounded, Anthony Albanese’s China response, and Australia’s inflation warning

Good morning. It’s Wednesday 15 June 2022 and here’s a round up of the latest news.

UK-Rwanda asylum seeker flights grounded

A first flight carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of a controversial UK policy has been cancelled, a migrant rights group said on Tuesday.
“Last ticket cancelled. NO ONE IS GOING TO RWANDA,” Care4Calais tweeted amid last-minute legal rulings leading to a dwindling number of passengers.
The European Court of Human Rights said it had blocked the removal of one of seven passengers due to depart on Tuesday night.
In a statement, the court said it had granted an “urgent interim measure” to prevent the transfer of an Iraqi man.

The United Kingdom Court of Appeal in London had ruled a flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda could proceed.

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Refugee activists had launched the legal challenge to try to stop the British government from sending asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.
A full legal review of the controversial policy will be undertaken between now and the end of July.
Campaigner James Wilson from Detention Action said he hoped that review will result in the policy being abolished.

“We hope the courts in July in that longer hearing will take a different view because it’s a fundamentally unlawful policy, claiming asylum is a human right and Rwanda is not a safe country to which people can be returned,” he said.

Inflation could hit seven per cent in 2022

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe says inflation could reach seven per cent by the end of the year.
Mr Lowe added that interest rates could reach two and half per cent, which would compound the significant rise in the cost of living.
He told the ABC despite the challenges he’s confident the economy can withstand the pressure.

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“The economy’s done remarkably well and the unemployment rate is at a fifty-year low, the highest share of the population has a job than ever before, households have built up very large financial buffers, over the past couple of years people have built up very large financial buffers,” he said.

“Over the past couple of years people have put away an extra $250 billion, that’s a lot of money. And the saving rate is still high. And the number of people who are falling behind their mortgages is actually declining, not rising. So there’s a lot of resilience in the household sector.”

Minimum wage decision due

The Fair Work Commission is due to make its annual determination on minimum wages today.
Unions have argued there should be a 5.5 per cent increase to keep ahead of the current inflation rate, which is 5.1 per cent.
The Australian Industry Group argued any increase should be limited to 2.5 per cent.

Last year the national minimum wage increased by 2.5 per cent to $772.60 a week or $20.33 an hour.

Power shortages

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen remains confident that the lights will remain on in Queensland and New South Wales, despite concerns about serious electricity shortages.

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has been forced to cap prices in a bid to tackle soaring rates across the country and has been ordering companies to continue generating power to meet forecast shortfalls.

Mr Bowen said AEMO’s intervention in the system will continue as long as necessary, and the situation’s been exacerbated by coal-fired power stations being offline.

Chris Bowen

Energy Minister Chris Bowen. Source: SBS News

“AEMO working with us, working with the states has avoided any low cheating to this point and I have confidence they’ll be able to continue to do that, subject to any unexpected outages,” he said.

Anthony Albanese responds to China

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has responded to a congratulatory message from the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, but won’t divulge details of what he said.
The relationship between China and Australia has been strained in recent times, after the previous Morrison Government called for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and China imposed tariffs on Australian wine and barley.

Over the weekend, Defence Minister Richard Marles met his Chinese counterpart in Singapore, the first high level contact between the two countries in more than two years.

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China’s premier wrote to Mr Albanese to congratulate him on his election win.
The prime minister said the message and his reply will remain private.

“There have been prime ministers who reveal text messages and correspondence, I’m not one of them. I responded appropriately,” he said.

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