Opposition Leader MP Peter Dutton congratulates the Islamic communities in Australia on Eid Al-Adha
It is imperative that the Australian public have full transparency regarding how domestically produced weapons and technology are being employed on the global stage.
Member for Canterbury Sophie Cotsis said: “This is fantastic news for our community.”
"South Lebanon and the Difficult Possibilities"
Eid Al Adha 2024 will fall on Sunday, the 16 of June 2024
Visit by Premier of the People’s Republic of China
ANIC Welcomes and Commends the ICJ Order for Israel to Halt Rafah Offensive
Opinion Piece by PM Anthony Albanese: Working productively with China will...
Eid-Al-Adha Mubarak
Gaza is a Children’s Cemetery
King Charles and Queen Camilla visibly emotional during 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations
From Australia, World news in Brief

The Israeli occupation’s violent artillery and air strikes renewed from the hours of last night, until this morning, in the cities of Rafah and Gaza, leaving dozens of martyrs and wounded.
An unprecedented natural disaster after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, killing more than 100 people
An Australian study showed figures that nearly one in five young people between the ages of 16 and 24 have been sexually assaulted by another person their age.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in
helicopter crash
Dutton condemns “irresponsible” Budget
The Treasurer used his budget speech to spruik his government's economic record. But did he stick to the facts?
This year's federal budget offers a preview of what the next decade of climate wars will look like
Peak education bodies warn against government cap on international student numbers
Foreign Minister Penny Wong says: "This resolution that we have supported is about long-term peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians — I truly believe that the only path to securing peace and security for Israel is with the establishment of two states."
Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham:  “Argued the federal government had "put the cart well and truly before the horse".

As the aggression enters its 235th day: the occupation continues its heavy bombardment of Rafah and Gaza, leaving dozens of martyrs and wounded.
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l:  - The Israeli occupation’s violent artillery and air strikes renewed from the hours of last night, until this morning, in the cities of Rafah and Gaza, leaving dozens of martyrs and wounded.
Wafa's correspondent reported that seven citizens were martyred, and others were injured, as a result of artillery shelling that targeted tents for displaced persons in the vicinity of the barracks of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA), in the Tal Al-Sultan area, northwest of the city of Rafah.
A female citizen fell and another was injured as a result of the occupation bombing of a residential apartment west of the city of Rafah, while homes continued to be targeted in various areas in the Tal Al-Sultan neighborhood.
The vicinity of the Zorob roundabout in Rafah also witnessed violent bombardment from invading tanks, coinciding with the sounds of gunfire and intense flight by Israeli reconnaissance planes in the air.
Groups of families began to flee outside the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip at sunrise, for fear of missiles, towards the western coastal areas of the city of Khan Yunis and the center of the Strip, specifically west of the city of Deir al-Balah.
The occupation military vehicles also advanced in the vicinity of Zoroub roundabout, targeting the Indonesian Hospital building in Rafah with an artillery shell.
The occupation forces carried out excavations inside the Zorob cemetery in Rafah, and continued to move with intense shooting and artillery shelling.
Israeli artillery shelling also targeted Haret Tabasi, Barika, Zaarub, Al-Zar Street, the Indonesian Hospital, and Tal Al-Sultan Clinic, west of the city of Rafah.
In Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, the occupation aircraft targeted a group of citizens, while they were trying to return to the Al-Faluga area, which led to injuries among them, some of which were described as serious.
East of Gaza City, three citizens were martyred, and others were injured, when the occupation bombed a house in the Bani Amer area in the Al-Daraj neighborhood.
The occupation vehicles stationed in the “Netzarim” axis also fired dozens of shells towards various neighborhoods of Gaza City, Tal al-Hawa, Sheikh Ajlin, al-Zaytoun, al-Sabra, and the Juhr al-Dik area.
Citizens were injured in various injuries when an Israeli warplane bombed a house in the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
An unprecedented natural disaster after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, killing more than 100 people
May 25, 2024
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l:  Hundreds of people are feared dead after a landslide in a remote area in northern Papua New Guinea, as emergency teams rushed to the area.
The landslide covered six villages in Mullitaka, in the Porgera-Paella district of Enga province, early Friday morning, including the village of Kaukalam.
One villager, Ninja Roll, told Reuters by phone that he believed the death toll could reach 300. Local media reported that more than 100 people were killed. The authorities did not specify the number of deaths.
Sandis Tsaka, Enga District Director, said emergency response teams were sent to the area, including disaster workers, police and health workers to assess the extent of the damage.
Tsaka added: “The devastating landslide, which is described as an unprecedented natural disaster, occurred in the early hours of this morning... and caused massive damage to property and human lives whose fate is currently unknown.”
He continued: The rescue efforts included working to open the road leading to Porgera, “which was severely damaged and closed.” Tsaka called for support from the national government and other organizations to help victims of the disaster.
Pictures posted on social media in Inga, about 370 miles north of Port Moresby, the capital of the South Pacific island nation, showed residents climbing over huge boulders scattered among tree trunks and debris left by the landslide.
Prime Minister James Marape said that the authorities are responding and that he will release information about the destruction and loss of life when it is available.
“I am not yet fully informed of the situation,” Marape said in a statement. However, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide disaster in the early hours of this morning. “We are sending disaster officials, the Papua New Guinea Defense Force, the Department of Works and Highways... to start relief work, recover bodies, and rebuild infrastructure.”
Elizabeth Laroman told Australian media that the village's homes were flattened when the mountainside collapsed.
“It happened when people were still sleeping in the early hours of the morning, and the whole village collapsed,” Laroma told ABC. “From what I can assume, there are over 100 people buried underground.”
Belinda Cora, an ABC correspondent in Port Moresby, said helicopters were the only way to reach Kawkalam in the highlands, with the main road closed.
Papua New Guinea is a diverse developing country with a population of 10 million people, most of whom are subsistence farmers and who speak 800 languages. There are few routes outside the major cities
Frontbench minister Tanya Plibersek says sexual assaults are 'exploding' among young people, pointing the finger at social media
By political reporter Stephanie Borys
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: One of the federal government's most senior female ministers has raised concerns about a "continued epidemic of sexual assault amongst teenagers" if changes aren't made to how children access online content.
Figures from an Australian study show nearly one in five young people aged 16 to 24 having been sexually assaulted by another person their own age.
Cabinet minister Tanya Plibersek told the ABC's AM program the figures for sexual assault were "exploding" and pointed the finger at how easy it was for children to access violent and sexual content online.
"These kids are getting their sex education from violent degrading pornography online," she said.
"Unless we begin to tackle it, now, we are going to see a continued epidemic of sexual assault amongst teenagers."
Children as young as ten are accessing porn, the minister said, and a recent Queensland University of Technology study found the average age children were first exposed to pornography was just 13 for boys, and 14 for girls.
Ms Plibersek accused social media of driving violence against women and girls, and raised concerns artificial intelligence (AI) also had the potential to make things "even worse".
"Kids are seeing pornography that includes choking and anal sex before they've had their first kiss," she said.
"If we don't get a handle on it, all of the good work of years of sexual assault and domestic violence advocates, governments, everybody who's been involved to try and reduce rates of violence against women, all of that good work is put at risk because of the algorithms, controlled by social media giants overseas, pushing this violent and degrading content onto our kids."
A problem for parents, government and social media giants
The minister and mother of three said allowing children to use social media was tricky to navigate as a parent.
"I think there's widely divergent views from parents about what's appropriate,' she said.
"When their kids are saying everybody else is allowed [to use social media] … I've been more inclined to cave [and allow them to use it] than I should have been at times."
She acknowledged it was a matter for governments to address but said society and social media giants also had a responsibility.
The e-Safety commissioner Julie Inman-Grant was provided additional funding in
last week's federal budget to conduct an age assurance trial.(ABC News: Adam Kennedy)
"We [the government] absolutely are prepared to take action, but we also as parents, as community leaders, as role models for our children need to tackle, What next?"
She raised concerns around the rise in AI and how that also had the potential to cause harm.
"AI … is able to generate the most convincing deepfake pornography that can be distributed to bully and harass kids," she said.
"If we don't get a handle on this now, it's going to escape in the same way as social media escaped into society, and we're dealing with the consequences."
Ms Plibersek will further outline her concerns in a speech on Thursday night and question why there aren't serious safety measures for online like there are for other dangers.
"We enrol our kids to swim when they can barely walk … we vaccinate, we teach our children the right way to blow their nose and wash their hands," she is expected to say.
"But when we give a child the use of an iPad or cave into their demands to get a phone or join social media – we do not have the equivalent guard rails."
If you or anyone you know needs help:
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line 13YARN on 13 92 76
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
ReachOut at au.reachout.com
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
A joint federal parliamentary inquiry has been established into age restrictions and social media, but that inquiry is yet to begin.
Additional funding has also been provided to Australia's eSafety commissioner, which helps Australians who have experienced online bullying or abuse.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would fund a trial of age assurance technology for social media and gaming. The technology aims to block children from accessing harmful content such as pornography.
The government is yet to provide details on who will run the pilot program and how long it will take to conduct the trial. Any actual change to protections remains a long way off.
Currently most social media apps require a person to be 13 to create an account but the approval is easy to circumvent.
In recent weeks, state premiers have backed calls to raise the limit to 16 years of age.
The New South Wales government has announced a social media summit for 2024 while South Australia is looking at how it could increase the minimum age to 14.
Iran Helicopter Crash LIVE Updates ...
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and ...
Iranian state media showed President Ebrahim Raisi in the helicopter before the crash.
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have been killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, state media has reported, after search teams located the wreckage.
"President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash," a senior Iranian official also told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Mr Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were travelling in heavy fog after visiting a dam on the country's border with Azerbaijan when the helicopter suffered what state media described as a "hard landing" on Sunday, local time.
A Turkish drone located the crash site in the mountainous terrain of Iran's province, East Azerbaijan early on Monday using thermal imaging technology.
State media said images from the site showed the helicopter crashed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word yet on the cause of the crash.
Poor weather and rugged terrain hampered ground-based search efforts in the area north of Tabriz, in the province of East Azerbaijan.
"President Raisi's helicopter was completely burned in the crash … unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead," an Iranian official earlier told Reuters news agency.
The head of Iran's Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV "the situation does not look good" after seeing the wreckage.
"With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter's passengers."
‫حادث تحطم ...‬‎
Footage shows the crash site of the helicopter that carried the Iranian president.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had called on Iranians to pray for the president following reports of the crash.
Mr Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran's nuclear programme, also sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.
Mr Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.
Iran's first vice-president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, is expected to become interim president, based on the country's constitution.
As interim president, Mr Mokhber will be part of a three-person council, along with the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary, that will organise a new presidential election within 50 days of the president's death.
Iran has 12 vice-presidents who lead different organisations related to presidential affairs. The first vice-president coordinates the other vice-presidencies and chairs cabinet meetings at the direction of the president.
Weather, terrain hamper rescue efforts
Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.
A Turkish drone identified a source of heat suspected to be the helicopter's wreckage and had shared the coordinates of the possible crash site with Iranian authorities, Anadolu news agency said earlier on X.
State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.
Along with Mr Raisi and Mr Amir-Abdollahian, the helicopter was carrying the governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, according to the news agency.
The chief of staff of Iran's army ordered all resources of the army and the elite Revolutionary Guards to be put to use in search and rescue operations.
Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.
In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.
"We are thoroughly searching every inch of the general area of the crash," state media quoted a regional army commander as saying.
"The area has very cold, rainy, and foggy weather conditions. The rain is gradually turning into snow."
Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue.
Countries express condolences
Leaders of several countries friendly with Iran issued statements in light of the news, with some declaring a national day of mourning.
Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani said: "With profound sadness and deep sorrow, we received the tragic news. We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Supreme Leader … and to the nation of Iran, its government and people."
Pakistan will observe a day of mourning and fly its flag at half-mast as a mark of respect, the country's Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, said.
In a post on social media platform X, he extended, on behalf of himself, the Pakistani people and their government, the deepest condolences to "Brotherly Iran".
"The great Iranian nation will overcome this tragedy with customary courage," Mr Sharif said.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamin Bin Hamad Al-Thani expressed "sincere condolences" in a post on X.
"Asking God Almighty for mercy and forgiveness for them and for their families with patience and solace. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return," he wrote.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said he was "deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise".
"His contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship will always be remembered … India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow."
Russia's embassy in Tehran also expressed it sadness over the death.
Militant groups which are supported by Iran also issued a statement mourning Mr Raisi.
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas conveyed "deepest condolences and solidarity … [for] this immense loss."
It praised the dead Iranian leaders for supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel, and expressed confidence that Iran's "deep-rooted institutions" would enable it to overcome "the repercussions of this great loss".
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, the head of Yemen's Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, expressed the group's deepest condolences.
"We ask God to grant their families patience and solace. Verily we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. The Iranian people will remain adhering to the loyal leaders of their people, by God's will."
Dutton condemns “irresponsible” Budget
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Almost two years ago, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promised cheaper power, lower mortgages, and better living under Labor. All these promises have been broken. Labor’s priorities, starting with the costly and divisive Voice referendum, are misplaced. The referendum wasted $450 million, money that could have helped with the cost-of-living pressures. Australians struggle with skyrocketing electricity bills, high interest rates, and housing difficulties. Labor’s immigration policy has exacerbated the housing crisis, and their tax on family vehicles is another burden.
Electricity bills haven’t gone down by $275 as was pledged on 97 occasions – they’ve skyrocketed. The Treasurer will give you a $300 rebate, but he knows that your annual electricity bills have increased by up to $1,000 since Labor formed government. Interest rates have gone up 12 times under Labor. A typical Australian household with a mortgage is $35,000 worse off. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to own a home. Under this Prime Minister, the great Australian dream of home ownership has turned into a nightmare. Even finding somewhere to rent is near impossible. The Government has brought in an additional 923,000 migrants in just two years. But on the available data, it has only built 265,000 homes.
As an Opposition, we support good policy and oppose bad policy. We’ve backed over 180 Bills but oppose harmful legislation. We support sensible measures in Labor’s Budget, like the $3.4 billion for medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the extension of emergency payments to support women and children fleeing domestic violence which the Coalition established in 2021. However, the recent Budget is one of the most irresponsible I’ve seen. Inflation is a huge problem for Australia.
On comparative inflation, Australia is worse than the US, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea, Canada, France, and the entire Euro area. The reason interest rates have gone up 12 times is because the Government can’t control its spending – and because of its reckless energy policy. In three Labor Budgets, the Government has lifted spending by a staggering $315 billion. Make no mistake, any further increase to interest rates and inflation also now rests squarely on the shoulders of this Prime Minister and Treasurer. Magic pudding spending and $13.7 billion on corporate welfare for billionaires doesn’t help the economy or make your life easier.
Here are some facts which show the troubling state of our economy: More than 16,000 businesses around the country have gone insolvent since 2022. Productivity has plunged by 5.4 per cent on this Government’s watch. Household buying power has gone down by 7.5 per cent. Last year, Australians suffered the biggest increase in average tax rates of any citizens in the developed world. There’s been double-digit increases for your essentials like electricity, gas, milk, bread, and rent. Tragically, so many more Australians are living in cars and tents. And because of spending in this Budget, the economic outlook is one of deficits as far as the eye can see.
To alleviate cost-of-living pressures, we need to reduce inflation. A Coalition Government will rein in inflationary spending, cut corporate welfare, and remove regulatory roadblocks. We will simplify industrial relations, provide fairer taxes, and promote affordable, reliable energy.
First, we will rein-in inflationary spending to take the pressure off inflation. As a start, we will not spend $13.7 billion on corporate welfare for green hydrogen and critical minerals. These projects should stand up on their own without the need for taxpayers’ money.
Second, we will wind-back Labor’s intervention and remove regulatory roadblocks which are suffocating the economy and stopping businesses from getting ahead. Only yesterday, Santos indicated it will have to let go 200 employees because of slow project approvals. I want mining to boom in Western Australia and around the nation. More mining means more revenue. More revenue means more roads, schools, and hospitals. A turbocharged Western Australian economy means more national prosperity. We don’t need to give out billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to get mining projects started. 
Third, we will remove the complexity and hostility of Labor’s industrial relations agenda which is putting unreasonable burdens on businesses. For example, we will revert to the former Coalition Government’s simple definition of a casual worker and create certainty for our 2.5 million small businesses. 
Fourth, we will provide lower, simpler, and fairer taxes for all – because Australians should keep more of what they earn. You will hear our tax plan detail ahead of the election. Fifth, we will deliver competition policy which gives consumers and smaller businesses a fair go – not lobbyists and big corporations. And sixth, we will ensure Australians have more affordable and reliable energy. 
A respected senior journalist recently wrote, ‘Energy is not part of the economy. It is the economy.’ Labor’s ‘renewables only’ policy continues to drive-up power prices. Electricity and gas prices have gone up by 18 and 25 per cent respectively. You can see this rise in your household power bills. But the energy bills of farmers, businesses, and manufacturers have also skyrocketed. And that means the cost to make anything – from food to furniture – has also gone up. That’s why you’re paying more at the supermarket and shops.
Our nation has three energy goals: Cheaper power. Consistent power. Cleaner power. We won’t achieve these goals under Labor’s ‘renewables only’ policy. But we can achieve all three. By following the other top 20 economies in the world which use zero-emission nuclear power, or are taking steps to put it in their mix. And by ramping-up domestic gas production for affordable and reliable energy in the more immediate term. After two years of interventions into the gas market, skyrocketing prices, and repeated warnings of shortfalls, Labor’s new gas strategy is just words on paper. 
Unlike Labor, a Coalition Government will speed up approvals; unlock gas in key basins, like the Beetaloo basin; defund the Environmental Defenders Office which is halting vital projects through lawfare; ensure gas is delivered to where it’s needed by reinstating the National Gas Infrastructure Plan; and commit to an annual release of offshore acreage for exploration and development in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. On nuclear power, some 50 countries are exploring or investing in zero emission, next-generation technologies for the very first time. We hold the largest deposits of uranium on the planet. Do the Prime Minister and Minister Bowen have it right, and the rest of the developed world have it wrong?
Beyond Labor’s energy crisis, we’re also facing a housing crisis. Too many Australians have been forced out of their rentals. And so many others can’t afford to buy. The truth is, Labor’s ‘one million homes’ plan is a pipedream – it has more holes than a Swiss cheese. Even if the Government’s plan did work, it would only deliver 16,000 homes in the next 15 months. At the same time, the Government will bring in an additional 680,000 people – further turbocharging the housing crisis. We will allow Australians to use their superannuation to buy their first home and address the housing shortage by rebalancing the migration program. This will free up homes and relieve pressure on services.
To tackle workforce shortages, we will re-engineer our migration program – away from Labor’s focus on lower-paid workers. And we will bring in more highly-skilled migrants. Labor has cut 50,000 training places and migration into skills-short areas. That’s why we’ve seen a plunge in the number of nurses and tradies coming into our country. A Coalition Government will encourage more participation in the labour market. We will increase the work bonus for older Australians and veterans, allowing them to earn more without reducing pension payments. Our country’s workforce is our backbone, and we must support and grow it effectively.
Australians are unsettled by rising crime. A Coalition Government will tackle knife crime, tighten bail laws, and protect women and children. We will also combat online crime, banning the posting of criminal acts and strengthening age verification. Crime is up across our country. Gangs in Victoria are using deadly weapons. The number of alleged criminal youth offenders has increased by almost 90 per cent in just one year. Knife offences in NSW are up 20 per cent. Car thefts in Queensland are up 60 per cent in the last year. Under our leadership, Australia will be safe again.
My vision is to get our country back on track, making life easier and safer for all Australians. The job of the Prime Minister is to unite, not divide. This Government is disconnected from everyday Australians. At the next election, it’s time for a change. A better change for you, your family, and our country.
The Treasurer used his budget speech to spruik his government's economic record. But did he stick to the facts?
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: The tension created by the need to address cost-of-living pressures while not adding to them was front and centre in the Albanese government's third budget, handed down last night.
And with an eye to the next election, Treasurer Jim Chalmers was eager to spruik the government's economic credentials, as he saw them, in his budget speech.
But in doing so, did he stick to the facts?
To help you decide, Fact Check has rounded up some of the key claims Mr Chalmers made, served up with the context you need to understand them.
Windfalls saved this year, but what about later?
With keeping a lid on inflation a central theme of the budget, the treasurer highlighted Labor's efforts to avoid pumping its budgetary gains back into the economy.
"[We] are banking 96 per cent of revenue upgrades this year — keeping pressure off inflation while it is still above band," Mr Chalmers said.
Fact Check has looked at the government's track record of banking its budget revenue upgrades before.
Up until December's mid-year budget update (MYEFO), over its term the government had returned 88.4 per cent of unexpected tax revenue increases to the budget.
When considering increases in other types of revenue (all parameter variations), as well as any unexpected falls in expenditure, Fact Check found Labor had banked 85.4 per cent of its gains.
As for yesterday's budget, the government forecast that 96.3 per cent of increased tax revenue since MYEFO would be returned to the budget in the 2023-24 financial year, or 98.5 per cent of upgrades from all parameter variations.
But that's where the savings end.
Over the next four years, the government plans to return very little of its revenue windfalls to the budget. It means that between 2023-24 and 2026-27, the government will only bank 4.6 per cent of $24.3 billion in tax revenue upgrades.
Looking at all parameter variations, the government plans to spend around twice as much on policy decisions as its $12.6 billion windfall between 2023-24 and 2027-28.
Indeed, as Mr Chalmers alluded to, the government will begin to spend more of its budget upgrades from 2024-25. At the same time, inflation is forecast to fall to 2.75 per cent, which is within the Reserve Bank's target band of 2 to 3 per cent.
'Record' jobs growth?
The treasurer pointed to the jobs market as a success story for the government amid worsening global economic conditions. 
Echoing comments made by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Mr Chalmers claimed that "around 780,000 jobs have been created under this government, a record for any first term".
But as Fact Check recently found, while the government's numbers might stack up, there's more to the story when comparing jobs growth.
According to employment data for February of this year, the latest available when Mr Albanese made his claim, there were an additional 789,700 employed people in Australia compared to when Labor came to power 21 months earlier.
This was indeed the largest increase for a first-term government since 1966 — at least, on the raw numbers.
With population growth taken into account, however, the data revealed a greater increase under Bob Hawke's first-term Labor government: the employment-to-population ratio grew by 0.9 percentage points compared to the Albanese government's 0.5 percentage points.
And on various other employment measures recommended by experts — such as the number of hours worked and the rate of underemployment — the Hawke government once again beat out the Albanese government.
Nonetheless, the latter did fare better than the other five first-term governments considered.
The rise in total employment over the Albanese government's first 21 months was driven primarily by full-time workers, who made up 56 per cent of the increase in people employed. (This compares with 83.3 per cent under the first-term Hawke government.)
Importantly, experts stressed that governments could not take sole credit for "creating" jobs, as Mr Albanese claimed.
Professor Mark Wooden, an emeritus professor at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne, told Fact Check: "No government (or PM) can take sole credit (or blame) for changes in aggregate employment levels."
Real wages are growing, but not by much
Mr Chalmers claimed "real wages are growing again for the first time in almost three years".
Indeed, ABS data confirms that there has been little good news for real wages in the years since their peak under the Morrison government.
Between June 2020 and June 2023 they fell by more than seven per cent, and they have recorded only marginal increases in the year since.
But while Mr Chalmers highlighted budget forecasts of a rise in real wages, the projections suggest those increases will equate to growth of just 0.5 per cent in each of the next two financial years and 1.0 per cent in each of the two years to 2027-28.
This means the purchasing power of the average wage will remain lower than it was before the pandemic for some time yet, which spells trouble for Labor's election promise to get real wages growing again.
On the current trajectory, voters will likely have to wait until the 2026-27 financial year — well beyond the next election — for real wages to reach the level they were at when Labor came to power.
As noted recently by Greg Jericho, the Australia Institute's chief economist, "with wages finally rising faster than prices we are seeing real wages rise".
"But the fall was so steep that the recovery will be long."
Participation rate close to the record
The treasurer said Australia's economy was well-placed to deal with global and domestic challenges, and pointed to "near-record participation" rates as just one element of Australia's "envied" economic results.
As the Reserve Bank explains, the labour force participation rate is an estimate of the nation's active workforce, calculated as the share of people over the age of 15 who are employed or actively seeking employment.
According to the latest seasonally adjusted data published by the ABS, Australia's participation rate hit 67.0 per cent in November 2023, the highest level since monthly records began in February 1978.
The latest data shows it had fallen to 66.6 per cent in March 2024, which was only slightly down from 66.7 per cent in February.
So, Mr Chalmers was correct to say that the rate is a near-record.
The data also shows that labour force participation hit a record low of 60.1 per cent in April 1983.
Principal researchers: Matt Martino, Ellen McCutchan, Ashleigh Webb and Maria Petrakis
Final Budget Before 2025 Election ...
This year's federal budget offers a preview of what the next decade of climate wars will look like
By Annabel Crabb
The $300 power bill rebate for every household and the extra rent assistance and the tax cuts and the inevitable "does my budget look inflationary in this?" back-and-forth that will no doubt accompany its release to economists everywhere, including the ones at the Reserve Bank that really matter — there thrums a fascinating and revelatory story.
Two stories, actually.
The first is called: This is what the next 10 years of climate wars are going to look like.
And the second, it's related, is called: This is how the Albanese government hopes to win re-election. 
Over the next 10 years, the budget reports, Australia will spend $19.7 billion on "Making Australia A Renewable Energy Superpower".
And yes, this title does conjure some upsetting visuals of Energy Minister Chris Bowen wearing his underpants on the outside — but it's very clear where the money is going. Renewable hydrogen. Low carbon liquid fuels. Refining of critical minerals. Solar. Battery supply chains. These are mainly technologies on which Labor and the Greens would agree.
Labor recently reversed its distaste for gas and confirmed that it would be a non-negotiable part of the energy mix until 2050. I mean, the government hasn't done anything so rash as to actually tax the gas industry properly (musical laugh) but it does make the Greens angry, as gas is of course a fossil fuel.
The Coalition has no problem with gas. It would probably wave gas around in parliament, were such a stunt not disappointingly prohibited by the laws of physics.
Why is the government's energy bill discount of $300 going to every household?
The government has previously made much of its "targeted" cost of living relief, so Tuesday's budget headline – a $300 energy discount for every household – came as a surprise.
The discount will be applied as a rebate directly to energy bills in the 2024-25 financial year. One million small businesses will also get a discount, of $325.
This will first require legislation, which the Coalition is not likely to oppose.
The total price tag — $3.5 billion, most of it spent in the short-term — made it the largest spending item in the budget and a key feature of Treasurer Jim Chalmers' budget night speech.
"In 2022, Russia's invasion of Ukraine triggered the biggest shock to global energy prices since the 1970s," Mr Chalmers said.
"We know Australian families and businesses have felt this pain – and that's why we stepped in to help.
"Just as every Australian taxpayer will get a tax cut, every Australian household will get energy price relief."
But Grattan Institute CEO Aruna Sathanapally questioned whether the plan was effective cost of living support given it was universal.
"It is not a well-targeted measure, everyone is getting the benefit from it," she told the ABC.
Senator David Pocock went further, telling the ABC it was "ridiculous" to make the measure universal.
"I think maybe politicians are just out of touch. We've got three million Australians living in poverty in this country, and you're going to give me and other politicians on six figure salaries $300," he said.
"It doesn't make sense to me."
Australia's housing crisis in 10 graphs, from the federal budget
The Albanese government knows Australia has a housing problem.
It says the country is suffering from “historic underinvestment” in housing that's created a significant supply shortage.
In its 2024-25 budget, it has dedicated an entire chapter to the crisis — a sign of how seriously the issue is considered.
"Australia's housing system has been unable to build enough new housing stock to keep up with the needs of our population," it warns.
"This has caused a growing supply deficit, resulting in worsening affordability for both renters and first-home buyers."
In the special housing chapter, Treasury officials have illustrated the problem with more than 20 graphs.
Here are 10 of the most illuminating ones.
They help to explain why the government will spend $1.9 billion to increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance in coming years. It knows how much pressure the private rental market is putting on low income households.
Australia's housing supply is low by international standards
The government has pointed out that Australia has fewer dwellings per 1,000 people than the OECD average.
According to the OECD, Australia's level of housing supply was 420 per 1,000 people in 2022.
That lags behind comparable countries such as Canada, the US and the UK (England) — which are all below the OECD average too.
A lack of supply is making it harder for people to buy or rent
Treasury officials say the shortage of housing stock has been making it more difficult to find a property to buy or rent.
The number of homes being offered for sale in Australia has fallen since 2015, and the number of homes for rent has been falling since early 2020.
It has seen the rental vacancy rate fall below 1.5 per cent – and 3 per cent is considered the rate that reflects a "balanced" rental market.
That refers to a situation in which there is modest growth in rents, and where landlords and tenants have similar bargaining power.
In some parts of Australia, including in some capital cities, the rental vacancy rate has even declined to as low as 0.5 per cent.
Supply shortages contribute to affordability pressures
Australia's housing system hasn't been able to build enough new housing stock to keep up with the needs of its population.
Our population has been growing too quickly in recent years, and, when coupled with changes in peoples' housing preferences, it has resulted in worsening affordability for renters and first-home buyers.
Given the lag in housing supply responding to those changes, it's contributed to rising house prices and worsening affordability.
Nominal dwelling prices and advertised rents have more than doubled since the mid-2000s.
Federal Budget 2024: Winners and Losers
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has handed down the government's third budget, with a $300 power bill boon for every Australian household, but the purse strings kept tight on other measures.
There's pressure to provide cost of living relief on the one hand and pressure not to further fuel inflation on the other.
Have a look at this cheat sheet of what's new in this year's budget — and what's in it for you.
. Aged Care
. Child Care  (No Change)
. Defence
. Electricity Bills
. Green Manufacturing
. Gun Safety Campaigners)
. Rental Assistance
. Housing
. International Students
. Medication
. Family Violence Supports
. Teaching Nursing
. Treasury
. Taxpayers
. Last-Minute Travelers
. Parental Leave Takers
. Student Debts
. Renewables
. Sport
. Tradies
. Women
. Ukraine
. Would be Migrant
. Mental Health
. High Income
. NDIS Top-Ups
. Sheep Farmers
. Public Service Contractors
. Social Services
. Universities
Peak education bodies warn against government cap on international student numbers
By political reporter Georgia Roberts
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Australia's university sector has warned against the federal government's plan to cap international student numbers, as ministers and the International Education Council met Monday morning.  
The Commonwealth announced its plans to ensure the "integrity and sustainability" of the international education sector and set a cap on the number of student enrolments, to help with sustainable sector growth and ease national housing demand.
The cap would also mean educators are required to build purpose-built accommodations if they want to exceed limits to the caps. Last year 787,000 international students studied in Australia, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. 
Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and Education Minister Jason Clare, who released a draft of the framework for the legislation over the weekend, will be at the meeting on Monday morning, where education bodies will raise their concerns. 
Phil Honeywood, the CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, which includes universities, told the ABC many people overseas who had planned to come to Australia needed clarity on the changes. 
"We're worried that we're going to have policy overreach where too much, too quick is going to damage Australia's reputation as a welcoming, safe, world-class study destination," Mr Honeywood said. 
Mr Honeywood said all governments in Australia had "turned a blind eye" to ensure the public funding struggles of universities was adequate, which he said had left universities to recruit international students to "make up the shortfall for research funding and for delivery cross-subsidising our domestic students".
The vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, Mark Scott, highlighted that while university finances nearly "break even" on domestic students, there exists a significant underfunding in research. This funding gap, he explained, is filled by revenue generated from international student tuition.
"If you send a message to international students that they're not welcome, they have many other options. This is the number one service export industry in the country," Professor Scott said. 
"We'll be saying to [the] government — listen carefully. Consult closely. Recognise the different universities and different providers have very different contexts. Let's not have a one-size-fits-all solution. Let's work carefully together to protect this market, to strengthen Australia's universities, and to see the benefits accrue to all Australian society that international students bring."
Positive and constructive 
The government said it would clamp down on the large growth in international student numbers after the results of a migration review this year, where it announced new visa streams and stricter language requirements to slow migration levels. 
Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said he had been in detailed consultation with leaders from the international education sector to "make sure we get the design and implementation of these critical reforms right".
"International education is a valuable national asset. It doesn't just make us money, it makes us friends. These reforms will help to set it up for the future," he said in a statement. 
Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said the meeting had been "positive and constructive".
"Our government is implementing big changes. We understand that. And we will work collaboratively with the sector to manage them," she said. 
"The leadership of this sector also understand that things could not continue with the lazy policy settings left to us.
"No plan for migration, no plan for population, no plan for housing, no plan to ensure the sector meets skills shortages. For a sector this big and this important, it's just not good enough."
Speaking on ABC's RN, Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume refused to be drawn on whether the opposition would support the international student changes. However, she said migration was an area of "profound failure" for the government.
What are the other proposed changes? 
The federal government's draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework would look to:
Prevent education providers from owning education agent businesses
Pause applications for registration from new international education providers and of new courses from existing providers for periods of up to 12 months
Require new providers seeking registration to demonstrate a track record of quality education delivery to domestic students before they are allowed to recruit international students
Cancel dormant provider registrations to prevent them being used as a market entry tool by unscrupulous actors
Prevent providers under serious regulatory investigation from recruiting new international students
Improve the sharing of data relating to education agents
The government plans to amend the Education Services for Overseas Students Act to give the education minister power to set limits on enrolments for each education provider, including specific courses or locations.
Mr Honeywood said it was not just universities that would be affected by the proposed changes, but "hundreds of long-established English-language private colleges", government high schools and private schools. 
"It's going to cause a massive problem with 200,000 jobs potentially at risk," he said. 
"We need to get certainty, and we don't want to find that, in a few months' time, we're closing doors of both public university lecture theatres, but also closing doors of long-establish, quality private colleges." 
Penny Wong says Australia could recognise Palestinian statehood before Israel-Palestine peace process complete
(See translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Foreign Minister Penny Wong says Australia could recognise Palestinian statehood before a formal peace process between Palestinian authorities and Israel is complete.
Overnight, Australia joined with 143 other nations to back a United Nations resolution expanding the rights and privileges afforded to the Palestinian delegation in New York.
Nine countries voted against the resolution, including the United States and Israel.
The resolution did not grant the Palestinian authority membership of the United Nations General Assembly, where it currently holds observer status.
The UN Security Council would need to agree to full membership being offered.
Senator Wong stressed the vote — held in the early hours of Saturday morning, Australia time — was "not about whether Australia recognises Palestine" as its own state.
"We will do that when we think the time is right," she said at a press conference in Adelaide.
"What we would say, and what I do say, is Australia no longer believes that recognition can only come at the end of a peace process.
"It could occur as part of a peace process."
Despite the United States voting against the resolution, and the United Kingdom abstaining, the foreign minister stressed Australia was not an outlier in its position.
"Much of our region and many of our partners also voted yes, including our ally New Zealand, our special and strategic partner Japan, our comprehensive strategic partners Indonesia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea," she said.
"Having said that, this is not the way we would have done things or the resolution Australia would have proposed.
"But we have to deal with the vote that is before us."
Opposition claims Australia out of step with closest allies
Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham accused the government of ignoring its closest allies, and said it should have either voted against the resolution or abstained.
"To be out of step with a majority of our Five Eyes partners, with both of our AUKUS partners, will send signals and [they will] have questions, no doubt, in those other capitals," he said.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour gave a speech before the
vote calling for the resolution to be supported.
"This is a step the Albanese government should not have taken."
He argued the federal government had "put the cart well and truly before the horse".
"This is a complete backflip by the Albanese government on a long-standing, bipartisan position that a two-state solution required negotiation — that recognition of a Palestinian state required agreement on difficult questions such as borders," he said.
Government's shifting stance draws criticism
The Albanese government's rhetoric on a two-state solution, and recognition of Palestinian statehood, has gradually shifted over the course of the Israel-Gaza war.
Last month, Senator Wong insisted peace could only be achieved in the Middle East if both Israel and Palestine co-existed within agreed borders.
She said recognition of a Palestinian state could help "build momentum towards a two-state solution" with Israel.
Her comments were met with significant criticism from the federal opposition, which said it was "pre-emptive" to discussed statehood while the conflict between Israel and Hamas raged.
At the time, Senator Birmingham said it would be "seen as a win by the terrorists who initiated the current horrific conflict", referring to Hamas's attacks on Israel on October 7.
Labor backbencher Josh Burns was critical of the government's decision to back the resolution at the United Nations.
"It is my view that Australia should have abstained," the Jewish MP posted on social media.
"An abstention would have signalled we're open to further recognition, but that we acknowledge the short term hurdles that need to be overcome in order to achieve lasting peace.
"Hamas are still holding over 130 hostages, and remains as the governing authority in Gaza."
Mr Burns added Australia's Jewish community would "rightly question the timing of this vote".
Senator Wong said any two-state solution would not involve Hamas, which she argued was focused on the destruction of the Israeli state.
"I understand that the [Jewish] community are feeling distressed and isolated," she said.
"I want to say you are valued members of our community, you have a right to be safe, you have a right to feel safe and anti-Semitism has no place anywhere. I stand against it, we all must stand against it.
"This resolution that we have supported is about long-term peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians — I truly believe that the only path to securing peace and security for Israel is with the establishment of two states."


Copyright 2007 mideast-times.com