Defence minister insists Ukraine package will ‘make a difference’

On ABC RN this morning, defence minister, Richard Marles, says he is confident the new $110m package of assistance to Ukraine will “make a difference,” after criticism that the Albanese government’s support has declined in comparison to the former government.

Patricia Karvelas asked:

You talk about a menu but a lot of the menu items aren’t there?

Marles responded:

We’ve provided $610m worth of military assistance to Ukraine, most of that has come since May … Most of what has been provided has actually been provided by Labor.

This is the fourth package provided by the Labor government.

We make sure that the equipment that we were giving to Ukraine would make a difference for them on the battlefield in their context. And that’s how we’ve ended up with the package that we’ve provided.

We’re confident that it will make a difference. And, and we’re able to provide that.

All of this ultimately is a balance between what we’re able to provide. We want to make sure that we are one of the most generous providers to Ukraine, and the package that we’ve put in place has us as one of the largest non-Nato contributors to Ukraine.

We’re punching above our weight in respect of that.

A Bushmaster vehicle is loaded in Brisbane before being sent to Ukraine
The defence minister says Australia has provided $610m worth of military assistance to Ukraine. Photograph: Reuters

Key events

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (the non-government ombudsman service for the financial services sector) encourages consumers make the most of financial firms’ internal complaints processes.

“We encourage people to complain directly to their financial firm first. Firms generally have 30 days to respond to a complaint,” an AFCA spokesperson says.

“If you are unhappy with the firm’s response to that internal complaint you can register a complaint.”

This comes after yesterday’s major Commonwealth Bank outage, which prevented some customers from accessing their accounts.

Commbank confirmed “delays in receiving or sending payments” will be resolved “in the coming days”.

Guardian Australia asked Commbank about any plans to compensate customers hit by the outage. Commbank declined to comment specifically on this.

ACT senator Katy Gallagher’s office has been vandalised, man arrested at scene

Senator Katy Gallagher’s office has been vandalised, Canberra Times report.

Police received reports of property damage at the office on Corinna Street in Phillip at 1:40pm on Monday.

Police said a man was arrested at the scene soon after, according to Canberra Times. They report that he is charged with damaging Commonwealth property, and is set to appear in court in July.

Police have not confirmed the identity of the man, or his motives.

More to come.

Potentially lethal batteries are being sold in products without warnings, the ACCC says

More than a third of products being sold in Australia with potentially lethal button batteries fail to include mandatory warnings, AAP reports.

These batteries are usually found in toys and other household items like keys and remote controls.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair, Catriona Lowe, says three children died in Australia after inserting or ingesting the batteries, which can cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue and seriously injures vital organs.

Lowe said:

If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause catastrophic injuries.

Last year, new regulations were introduced stipulating consumers must be warned about the dangers of these buttons. The ACCC found concerning levels of non-compliance with the new standards after surveying more than 400 businesses – 34% of products with tiny batteries and 28% of packs of button batteries didn’t include the mandatory warning information or symbols.

Although it was encouraging to see that most button battery products likely adhered to the accessibility requirements, we are concerned about the levels of compliance with the information and warning requirements.

– AAP report

Corporate profit increases made up about half of Europe’s inflation, IMF says

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has weighed into the ‘what’s causing inflation’ debate by declaring that companies were behind much of the continent’s jump in price rises.

Three researchers said in a blog post:

Rising corporate profits account for almost half the increase in Europe’s inflation over the past two years as companies increased prices by more than spiking costs of imported energy.

The IMF duly noted the post in a tweet, that shows the key chart in question.

Now we should take a bit of care before declaring profit gouging was broad-based.

As the paper by the trio – Niels-Jakob Hansen, Frederik Toscani, Jing Zhou – notes:

The increase in nominal profits was largest in sectors benefiting from increasing international commodity prices and those exposed to recent supply-demand mismatches.

The authors’ state in the paper’s abstract:

While the results show that firms have passed on more than the nominal cost shock, and have fared relatively better than workers, the limited available data does not point to a widespread increase in markups.

The OECD came to a similar conclusion in their recent report. The mark-ups were mostly in the resources sector – and presumably that’s where policymakers (and the public) need to pay most attention to.

The Reserve Bank, meanwhile, is sticking to its view that profits have more to do with the overall tightness of the economy (while looking for evidence to the contrary).

We also look at some of the trends in this piece out just now, based on a Bank of International Settlements (the ‘central bank of central banks’) that is also out in the last couple of days:

Whatever the cause of the higher inflation, the question is who is going to bear the brunt of the pain in bringing it down. That remains to be seen but if the recent past is any guide, corporate profits have shown remarkable resilience.

Noise pollution with planned flight paths of the future Western Sydney airport is expected to impact a 20km stretch of land, with noise similar to or louder than a washing machine or vacuum cleaner, more than 100 times a day by 2040.

Residential chunks of some western Sydney suburbs, including a primary school, to be subjected to noise levels loud enough to disrupt indoor conversations up to 19 times a day, according to flight path analysis for the new western Sydney airport https://t.co/mWpSaeB4B9

— Elias Visontay (@EliasVisontay) June 26, 2023

You can read the full story from Elias Visontay here:

Birmingham questions the $110m valuation of government’s Ukraine support package

Shadow foreign minister, Simon Birmingham, questions the $110m valuation of the Albanese government’s new support package to Ukraine on ABC News this morning:

We think it is about responding particularly to the equipment. I’m not going to put a precise dollar figure on it because it is about what you provide. Even the valuation given of $110m is probably questionable given we’re talking about a lot of it quite old equipment and vehicles that are being sent. And the government isn’t replenishing the Australian defence force’s budget here, so it is unsurprising perhaps that the ADF is less inclined to provide its new and modern equipment that is coming in.

Police operation in Bondi Junction under way after reports of shots being fired

A police operation is under way on Spring Street, Bondi Junction in Sydney after reports of shots fired, a NSW Police spokesperson says.

Road closures are in place and motorists are urged to avoid the area. More information will be provided once it becomes available.

A police operation is taking place between Spring St (cnr Newland St) and Denison St in Bondi Junction.
This part of Bondi Junction is closed to all traffic, pedestrians and cyclists for the next few hours. Please avoid the area.

— Waverley Council (@WaverleyCouncil) June 26, 2023

Data shows minority groups more likely to receive Covid fines from Victorian police

Victoria police officers have been accused of racial profiling, with a report showing they disproportionately targeted people of non-Anglo appearance during the pandemic.

African, Middle Eastern and First Nations people were up to four times more likely to be fined for Covid-19 breaches.

Read the full story here:

Flood-hit communities to be swarmed by flies this summer after wipe out of dung beetles

Flood-hit communities will be swarmed by flies this summer, after millions of dung beetles were wiped out, AAP reports.

Where the water lay on inundated soil, the dung beetles drowned. After a wet 2022 and more flooding into the beginning of this year, the beetle has been completely annihilated in some areas across southern parts of Australia.

Russ Barrow from the environmental research Gulbali Institute likened it to mass fish kills.

He said:

The lack of dung beetles caused by the waterlogging and inundation of vast areas is almost certainly going to lead to an increase in fly numbers this summer.

The flies then start spreading bacteria and you’ll get massive breeding populations of flies because the dung is on the surface and not being taken down under the ground.

The beetles are integral to farming ecosystems. They bury animal manure, produce fertiliser, and play a role in minimising livestock disease.

They remove the breeding ground for flies and parasites such as worms, which impact cattle and sheep.

Australia must provide ‘particular vehicles’ to Ukraine, says Dutton

Opposition leader, Peter Dutton, warns Ukrainian citizens could be left “high and dry” if Australia does not give further military aid, on Sunrise this morning.

The Australian public has been very supportive of President Zelensky and his cause, and by sending Vietnam era vehicles to Ukraine, it’s not what they asked for.

Ukraine military is very, very cognisant of what they need, they asked for particular vehicles, including the Hawkeis, they are the vehicles that should be sent because the Ukrainians know best what they need.”

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia hopes for more armoured vehicles in new package

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, hopes armoured vehicles will come with future assistance from the Australian government.

He told Sky News:

I remain optimistic that these items will be included in our forthcoming packages and especially Bushmasters [which] have really demonstrated their efficiency in Ukraine.

Some of them got destroyed, they need to be substituted and I think Australia really has an opportunity.”

Myroshnychenko says he was reassured by Australia’s commitment to continue supporting Ukraine.

Ukraine ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko poses for a photograph at the embassy of Ukraine in Canberra
Ukraine ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, remains ‘optimistic’ about Australia sending more armoured vehicles to Ukraine. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


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