As it happened: Brittany Higgins set to return to the stand in Lehrmann trial; Victoria, Tasmania and NSW brace for second day of flooding – Sydney Morning Herald

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That’s all from us tonight, if you’ve just joined us, here are the biggest news events of the day:
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley lashed the proposed methane reduction plan calling it a tax on farmers.
Thanks again for following along. I hope you enjoy your weekend. Broede Carmody will be with you bright and early on Monday morning to take you through the news of the day.
Former federal politician, diplomat and barrister, John Spender KC passed away last night, his daughter and independent member for Wentworth, Allegra, revealed today.
“He was funny and thoughtful, gracious and reflective, and always curious,” Allegra wrote. “Bianca and I, Catherine his wife, and our families are heartbroken. We will miss him dreadfully.”
Left to right: John Spender, Gough Whitlam and Michael Yabsley.Credit:KEN JAMES
Spender was the Liberal member for North Sydney from 1980 to 1990, serving as a shadow minister under Andrew Peacock and John Howard. He was later appointed Australia’s Ambassador to France from 1996 to 2000.
Spender was married to fashion designer Carla Zampatti for more than 30 years before they divorced and he re-married Catherine Spender.
Investors are betting insurance companies will cut their provisions for payouts to businesses that suffered losses due to pandemic lockdowns, after a long-running battle in the courts reached a milestone.
The High Court on Friday declined to hear a further appeal in a long and complex dispute over “business interruption” cover, and whether insurers are liable for losses associated with pandemic lockdowns.
Bourke Street in Melbourne during a lockdown in 2020. The government restrictions led to a legal fight over business interruption insurance.Credit:Wayne Taylor
The insurance companies say the business interruption policies never intended to cover against pandemics, but the businesses had a win last year because insurers named the wrong federal legislation in policy documents. It is expected some customers will have valid claims.
Friday’s decision provides greater clarity to the market, because it means most of the appeals have now reached the end of the road, and a previous Federal Court ruling from February will stand.
Jarden analyst Kieran Chidgey said the net effect of Friday’s decision was positive for insurance companies, as there were likely to be fewer viable claims than expected.
“One would expect this would lead to a reduction in business interruption related reserve provisions,” Chidgey said. “There will still be valid claims and significant uncertainty around this, and potential for class actions.”
Read more here.
Welcome to your five-minute recap of the trading day, and how the experts saw it.
The numbers: The Australian sharemarket saw broad-based gains today to finish 1.75 per cent, or 116.20 points higher to close the week at 6758.8.
All sectors were in the green, with energy leading the market, up 3.75 per cent. Woodside gained 4 per cent, Santos 4.4 per cent, and Ampol 4.1 per cent.
The ASX is finishing the week in style.Credit:Natalie Boog
The lifters: Virgin Money rose 10 per cent after losses yesterday; Domino’s Pizza gained 7.6 per cent; and Beach Energy was up 5.6 per cent.
The laggards: Pilbara Minerals fell by 5.9 per cent; Harvey Norman shed 3.9 per cent; and St Barbara Ltd was down 3.3 per cent.
The lowdown: The Australian sharemarket added more than $30 billion in value on Friday after Wall Street staged its biggest on day comeback in years, roaring back from steep morning losses caused by a worse-than-expected report on inflation.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 tanked 2.4 per cent its lowest level in nearly two years in response to the US core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, hitting a 40-year-high. It then rebounded – inexplicably to some – to finish 2.6 per cent higher as some investors cashed in on short positions.
“You had $10 billion of options put on the market last week, essentially betting that this would occur,” said Saxo Australian market strategist Jessica Amir. “They bet the market would go down. It did, so they made a profit, and then they wanted to lock that in.”
Read more here.
The first tranche of laws to boost public sector integrity after a major review will be introduced to Queensland parliament today.
Better job security for public servants and the strengthening of key accountability agencies will be proposed in two bills stemming from reforms recommended as far back as 2019.
Professor Peter Coaldrake undertook the review of the Queensland public sector.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen / Matt Dennien
But nation-leading laws to allow the release of cabinet documents after 30 days, rather than decades later, will only be included in later rounds of legislation.
“As soon as Professor Peter Coaldrake handed down his public sector review, we went into action,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament.
“And today I will introduce the first tranche of integrity reform legislation.”
The bills will implement recommendations from the Coaldrake review this year, and the 2019 Bridgman review — which recommended a new public sector act.
Action on recommendations from last year’s review of the Integrity Commissioner role will also be included.
Read more here.
The Albanese government wants Australia to urgently begin manufacturing its own missiles, saying the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the need for supplies to be available swiftly and not dependent on imports.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the government was working on a plan with defence companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to develop a sovereign missile manufacturing industry.
Australia currently imports almost all its missiles from overseas.Credit:US Department of Defence
Australia currently imports its missiles from overseas, mostly from the United States.
“The lessons from the Ukraine war are that we use missile stocks [and] particularly guided weapons very fast in a conflict,” Conroy said.
“And quite frankly we need more missiles in Australia, both as a stock and also the ability to maintain, repair and upgrade those missiles.”
Under a process launched by the previous government, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will soon report back on opportunities for Australia to manufacture parts or entire missiles.
“I’m confident that at the end of this process we will have a much more sovereign capability to manufacture and upgrade missiles which are so important,” Conroy said.
The US government announced earlier this year it had approved a sale to Australia of Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System for $545 million, which has played a crucial role in Ukraine’s military success against Russia.
Read more here.
New wagering group Betr may be the subject of an investigation by NSW’s gaming watchdog two days into operations after advertising 100-1 odds for the Melbourne Cup on November 1.
The advertisements were published in News Corp tabloids yesterday and today, pledging to offer the enticing odds for every Melbourne Cup runner with a maximum bet of $10.
Betr founder and wagering entrepreneur Matthew Tripp.Credit:Jesse Marlow
In a statement first reported in The Australian Financial Review, Liquor and Gaming NSW said it had “serious concerns” the advertising breached NSW gambling laws and could constitute prohibited inducement.
The authority confirmed it would investigate the issue and respond to the alleged breach with the “full force” of the law. Betr declined to comment.
Print advertising that offers inducements to open betting accounts are prohibited under NSW legislation.
Read more here.
Optus customers whose passport numbers are among the 150,000 stolen in last month’s cyberattack have been told by the federal government they do not need to replace their travel documents.
But the Australian Passport Office has advised affected Australians who do choose to get new passports that Optus will honour its promise to cover the cost, which is up to $308 each.
Optus will pay for replacement passports for affected customers who choose to get new travel documents.Credit:iStock
“Your passport is still safe to use for international travel,” the office has told affected Optus customers. “The passport numbers cannot be used to obtain a new passport. Robust controls are used to protect passports from identity takeover, including sophisticated facial recognition technology.”
The government has also blocked passport numbers that were included in the hack from being used to verify people’s identities through an online checking service that is used by departments and banks. That change means people may have to show their physical passports if using them for identification.
Optus parent company Singtel, an international telecommunications conglomerate headquartered in Singapore, told its local stock exchange today that Optus was communicating the government advice to customers.
Late last month, when the government was riding a wave of consumer anger over the hack in which online criminals accessed data on almost 10 million current and former customers, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong demanded Optus cover the cost of passport replacements.
“They will cover the costs of replacing affected customers’ passports,” Albanese said at the time. “I think that is entirely appropriate.”
Read more here.
The Andrews government has been handed a $3.8 billion financial windfall, partly because of lower than expected COVID-19 testing last financial year and partly because of a massive increase in stamp duty and payroll taxes.
In an unexpected budget gain just six weeks out from the state election, the Department of Treasury today revealed Victoria recorded a budget deficit of $13.8 billion in 2021-22.
That was an improvement of $3.8 billion compared to the prediction of a $17.6 billion deficit made in the May budget. Net debt was just under $100 billion by the end of the financial year, which was $2 billion lower than the May budget estimate.
Treasury said the improvement in the state’s financial position had occurred because of lower than expected consumption of rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment, and because of lower than expected demand for some health services, including COVID-19 testing.
But the state’s booming property sector and tight jobs market also helped pad out the bottom line. The figures show Victoria’s tax take in 2021-22 was $483 million higher than expected in the May budget – the result of soaring stamp duty revenue and payroll tax collections.
Treasurer Tim Pallas is banking on growth to balance the books.Credit:Justin McManus
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the government support provided to families and businesses during the pandemic meant the state economy was in the best shape possible to “really bounce back” after the worst of the pandemic had passed.
“The jobs market is strong, businesses are confident and the state’s financial results have improved from the forecasts that were updated just five months ago,” Pallas said.
Read more here.
Electric Vehicle sales have risen 65 per cent in 2022 compared to last year and now represent 3.4 per cent of all vehicle sales, but still well behind the global average of 8.6 per cent.
The Tesla Model 3 continued to dominate EV sales in 2022, accounting for one-third of new EVs sold.
The ACT recorded the strongest EV sales in 2022, with 9.5 per cent of all new vehicles there being electric, followed by NSW (3.7%), Victoria (3.4%), Queensland (3.3%), Tasmania (3.3%), Western Australia (2.8%), South Australia (2.3%), and the Northern Territory (0.8%), a report by the Electric Vehicle Council released today found.
Australia is near the back of the pack for EV policy, the Electric Vehicle Council says.Credit:Owen Humphreys/PA
There has been a 22 per cent increase in fast and ultra-fast charger locations across the country since 2021, with about 350 chargers now available.
Electric Vehicle Council spokesman Dr Jake Whitehead said while progress is welcome, Australia remains well behind many countries for EV sales and policy.
“To put our 3.4 per cent (EV sales) in context – Germany sits at 26 per cent, the UK at 19 per cent, and California at 13 per cent. The global average is 8.6 per cent,” Whitehead said.
“Because our governments have lagged the world on EV policy, Australia is still something of an afterthought for global EV manufacturers.
“Australian consumers have a smaller range of EVs to choose from and they are also being forced to wait for many months or even years to take delivery of new vehicles.”
If Australia did not introduce fuel efficiency standards on par with the EU and the US we would continue to lag the world by a huge margin, Whitehead said.
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