Key events

Treasurer Jim Chalmers denies Australia’s first budget surplus in more than a decade comes at the expense of under-pressure households as the cost of living rises, AAP reports.

Chalmers has confirmed there will be a larger surplus for the 2022/23 financial year than predicted in last month’s federal budget.

But it did not come at the expense of cost-of-living relief measures, he says on Seven’s Sunrise program this morning:

By getting the budget in much better nick by finding savings … it actually makes it possible from that much stronger foundation to provide the $15 billion of cost-of-living relief that we had in the budget.

The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, says he is “not floating” more cost-of-living relief at the moment – even with a bigger-than-forecast surplus expected after this financial year – on ABC RN this morning.

You did leave the door open for more cost-of-living relief though – how do make that call? or are you saying you haven’t left the door open?

“if we can afford to help people in different ways obviously, we consider that at the time.. but I’m not floating that now”


— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) June 28, 2023

Chalmers says he aims to maintain a healthy budget surplus to keep pressure off inflation.

“It’s really important to recognise the cost of living help in the budget is rolling out now,” he says.

“The other important point is when it comes to the surplus … by getting the budget in much better nick, we can afford to provide this cost of living support for people.”

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

NSW Greens to introduce rent freeze bill

The New South Wales Greens will today introduce a bill to freeze rents across the state for two years despite failing to secure the support of the government.

The legislation seeks an immediate start so landlords would not have time to raise rents.

The Greens housing spokeswoman, Jenny Leong, said the government had been engaging in a “blame game” rather than acting to stop rents from rising further.

“Every day they fail to act is another day that renters will be forced to choose between a rent hike they can’t afford or eviction,” she said.

NSW and federal Labor have a choice – they can stand on the side of big investors and developers, or they can relieve renters from soaring rents by supporting the Greens rent freeze bill.

The premier, Chris Minns, has already ruled out supporting such measures.

Jim Chalmers says economy expected to ‘slow considerably’

The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, says inflation will be a bit higher “than we like” for some time, even as inflation figures released yesterday were lower than expected.

“Inflation is certainly moderating in our economy, and that is very welcome news, but we understand that a lot of Australians are still under the pump,” he said on ABC Breakfast this morning. “Inflation will be a bit higher than we like for a bit longer than we’d like.

But it is obviously very very welcome news that inflation continues to moderate.

We know people are still under the pump, we still expect our economy to slow considerably, but we go into this period of global uncertainty from a position of relative economic strength.

Sister of missing Belgian woman says search ‘inconclusive’

The sister of missing Belgian woman Celine Cremer said the rescue effort remained “inconclusive” in a Facebook update yesterday:

“The search continues by drone and ground patrol, but the results remain inconclusive,” Amélie Cremer says. “The news is not reassuring but we are hopeful and waiting for information to drop.”

Celine had been travelling in Tasmania, and was last seen in Waratah on the 17 June.

Police received a concern for welfare report for Celine on Monday, and her vehicle was found in a carpark at the Philosopher Falls Track on Tuesday.

They will resume the next two days, this time with sniffer dogs. The authorities are doing everything they can to rake as much land and they are very present for us. Celine’s car was towed expertly and to find elements that will allow the investigation to move forward.

Guardian Australia have contacted Tasmania police for an update on today’s continued search of the Philosopher Falls Track area at Waratah.

Missing Belgian tourist Celine Cremer.
Missing Belgian tourist Celine Cremer. Photograph: Tasmania police/AAP

Tory Shepherd

Tory Shepherd

Albanese government scraps first national space mission

The federal government has cancelled a program labelled as “Australia’s first national space mission”, which was meant to see four satellites built to detect and monitor natural disasters and undertake maritime surveillance.

The Morrison government had promised $1.2bn for the National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) program. At the time, the government said it would also be used for weather forecasting, environmental management and helping farmers.

The Albanese government has now returned the money to the budget and will continue to use international partners’ satellite data. The industry and science minister, Ed Husic, said the government “values the role our space sector plays”. He said:

That’s why in our recent budget we placed the Australian Space Agency on sustainable financial footing.

Not only does the sector draw on significant support from across portfolios, but space-related firms will also be able to access capital through our $15bn [national reconstruction fund] plus our newly announced $392m industry growth program.

Adam Morton

Adam Morton

Energy deal announced by federal and NSW governments

The federal and New South Wales governments have announced a deal to underwrite 550 megawatts of dispatchable electricity – that is, power that can be called on at any time – as part of a commitment to firm up the national grid.

It is the first announcement under the commonwealth’s capacity investment scheme, which is promised to support large-scale generation and storage to support variable solar and wind energy.

The federal climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, said the generation capacity built following a tender process would improve the security and reliability of the grid in NSW and put downward pressure on electricity prices.

Today’s announcement will drastically improve energy security with large-scale batteries and other zero-emission technology that can quickly dispatch cleaner, cheaper renewable energy when it’s needed, like when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

NSW had previously announced a tender for 380MW of dispatchable capacity. The governments said the new deal would lift the total to 930MW – roughly equivalent capacity to a coal-fired power plant.

The state government has already received bids totalling 3,300MW under its scheme. The NSW energy minister, Penny Sharpe, said that it was a “clear indication that we can transform our energy system”.

Any risks around grid reliability can be resolved by accelerating the development of a clean, reliable, consumer-focused energy system.

The national capacity investment scheme is promised to add 6GW of generation capacity. The next tender will be in South Australia and Victoria and is promised by October.

Indonesian president to visit Australia next week

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, will visit Sydney next week, for meetings with prime minister Anthony Albanese between Monday and Wednesday.

Albanese announced the visit overnight, saying Indonesia was “of vital importance to Australia, as a partner and a neighbour”.

“Underpinned by a warm friendship and strong people-to-people links, our bilateral relationship includes cooperation on climate and clean energy transition, defence, security, economic development, trade, investment and education,” the PM said.

Albanese and Widodo will hold the eighth Australia-Indonesia annual leaders’ meeting during the visit, with “deepening commercial and economic links and opportunities for both countries through the transition to net zero” high on the agenda.

“I am delighted to welcome my friend President Widodo to Australia,” Albanese said. “This will be our fourth meeting together. As one of our closest neighbours, Australia is building extensive cooperation with Indonesia on climate, economic development, education and regional security issues.”

No word yet on whether the two will again jump on a bike to recreate their unexpected cycling adventure when Albanese visited Indonesia last year, but we can live in hope (maybe an e-scooter zip around the harbour).

Anthony Albanese and Joko Widodo during their meeting at Bogor Palace in Indonesia last year.
Anthony Albanese and Joko Widodo during their meeting at Bogor Palace in Indonesia last year. Photograph: Muchlis Jr/AP

Frontier announces more Swift shows

Yesterday’s online queue for less than half a million Taylor Swift concert tickets clocked up 4 million users – that’s a lot, even if you account for the many people trying to beat the queue by opening multiple browser tabs. And a record, Ticketek said.

So it’s less than jaw-droppingly surprising that this morning Frontier have announced two new shows, one each in Sydney and Melbourne, with tickets going on sale on Friday.

The concerts are at the MCG on Sunday 18 February and Accor Stadium in Sydney on Monday 26 February. As before, sales will be staggered with Sydney going on sale at 10am and Melbourne at 2pm.

The pre-sale tickets for the other concerts are sold out, though there are apparently some (very expensive) VIP and hotel packages still available. All the details are here. Form an orderly queue.


Good morning and thanks for joining us for our rolling coverage of the day’s news. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be bringing you the top overnight stories before Rafqa Touma takes the helm.

The big news today will be the expected release of the findings of the New South Wales corruption watchdog’s inquiry into the scandal that cost Gladys Berejiklian her job as state premier. We’ll be firing up a separate live blog very shortly where you can follow all the developments.

Our top story this morning is an exclusive report that the federal government has suspended a major audit of the aged care sector being carried out by the embattled consultancy firm PwC amid concerns about potential conflicts of interest. The government had warned bosses that it was concerned about potential conflicts after the recent tax scandal, which has shaken the firm to the core. And now ministers have decided that PwC cannot carry on with the audit while also spruiking consultants for the aged care industry.

The Greens’ decision to go hard on the issue of renting has frustrated federal ministers who have seen their housing bill held up by the minor party. But there’s an interesting insight this morning into why the Greens’ tactic is a potentially successful one with a report predicting young Australians are far less likely to shift to the right in the way their parents and grandparents have traditionally done. Bad news for Peter Dutton, but good news for Adam Bandt if his party is seen as champion of Gen Z causes such as helping renters.

And, in big news for millions, Taylor Swift has added two new shows to her Australian tour (one each in Sydney and Melbourne) after a record 4 million users joined an online queue for tickets yesterday.


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