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Commuters charged during Myki system outage to get refund

Frustrated commuters who were incorrectly charged following a peak hour system outage across Victoria’s public transport network will be automatically refunded.

Tens of thousands of Victorians using buses, trams and trains were impacted when Myki card readers across the state stopped working on 2 February from about 4.30pm–6.30pm due to a technical glitch.

Some passengers who tapped on were unable to tap off due to the outage and subsequently incurred a default two-hour fare for metropolitan Melbourne while some regional passengers were overcharged for travelling the full line.

Last week, Public Transport Victoria advised passengers who were incorrectly charged to apply for reimbursements, which can take up to 10 business days.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Planning has since confirmed it would begin rectifying the error with automatic refunds.

We will be automatically reimbursing customers who were caught up in last week’s outage. We thank passengers for their patience.

The Public Transport Users Association said in most cases, the default fare is the same as the correct fare – a zone 1+2 two-hour fare, costing $4.60 for an adult.

This applies to people using metro trains, trams and buses in zone 1 or zones 1+2. In a few cases, people were overcharged because their trip was in zone 2 only [it should be $3.10 but they may have been charged $4.60] or they used V/Line, which has higher default fares [potentially up to $38.40 depending on which line].

The Myki card system officially replaced Metcard tickets in 2012 and is set to expire in November.

The system will be overhauled if the state government does not renew its $700m contract with Japanese technology group NTT Data.

Premier Daniel Andrews backed replacing Myki with a system that allows commuters to use bank cards and smartphones instead.

PTUA said the public transport ticketing system should be simplified.

This is also a reminder that the ticketing system needs to be easy to use, easy to understand, and reliable.

AAP

Key events

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Two fires in Queensland spark warnings to “watch and act” and “leave immediately”

Firefighters in Queensland are responding to two fires that are threatening properties with anyone close to one blaze being told to leave immediately.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have just issued an emergency warning for a “large, fast-moving fire” near Montrose in the state’s south, saying people should “leave immediately”. The warning says:

This fire may pose a threat to lives. It will soon be too dangerous to drive.

A “watch and act” warning has also been issued for a “fast-moving fire” at Wolvi, east of Gympie.

Anxious 48 hours for New Zealand’s North Island in the path of Cyclone Gabrielle

Here’s our full story on the next 48 hours facing North Island residents in New Zealand as ex-Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle heads their way.

Sunday’s live news so far

Good afternoon. Graham Readfearn here to take you through the rest of your Sunday.

Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far.

  • Treasurer Jim Chalmers does not foresee a budget surplus for the next four years and has rejected the country is heading for a a “wage price spiral”.

  • Chalmers also said he expects Australia will avoid a recession.

  • New Zealand’s North Island is preparing for torrential rain and gale force winds between now and Tuesday as ex-Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle bears down on the region.

  • Commuters across Victoria incorrectly charged after a peak-hour outage of the Myki system across the public transport network will be automatically refunded.

  • The NSW Liberal party has promised 30,000 locations to charge electric vehicles by 2026 if elected next month. The state only has 1,000 chargers currently.

  • Deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, says it’s important for a woman to be the party’s candidate at the upcoming byelection in Melbourne after Alan Tudge’s decision to quit.

On we go.

Ben Smee

Queensland treasurer treads carefully after deputy premier’s controversial ‘rogue courts’ spray

The Queensland treasurer, Cameron Dick, said on Sunday he would not follow his colleagues in admonishing the judiciary over the release of more than 10 children from custody this week.

Magistrate Viviana Keegan released the children – all being held on remand in Townsville’s adult police watch house – amid growing human rights concerns about the extended detention of young people in the holding cells.

At least some of those decisions are being appealed by police.

The deputy premier, Steven Miles, on Friday said the bail decision was “a media stunt” and that Townsville residents were being “held to ransom by rogue courts and rogue justices”.

Those comments were roundly criticised by members of the legal profession and others.

Dick, who has previously served as attorney general, told reporters on Sunday he would not comment due to the likely appeals of bail decisions by police.

I understand the concerns Queenslanders have about crime.

But as a former attorney general I need to choose my words carefully and I need to be careful about what I say.

So the matters the subject of public discussion at the moment relate to … decisions made by a magistrate in Townsville last Thursday.

As I understand it, those matters are now being considered for appeal.

So I’m not going to say anything that is going to impact on that process of considering appeal, of enacting or taking action on an appeal and I’m not going to say anything that’s going to potentially impact on the prospects of appeal as a result of those decisions.

Another look at tropical cyclone Gabrielle as it passed over Norfolk Island over night.

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle brought heavy rain and damaging winds to Norfolk Island yesterday, with conditions easing today, but gusty winds and light showers continue.

102km/h max wind gust observed
102mm of rain has fallen in 48 hours

Latest forecasts https://t.co/wa0h6QXsFI pic.twitter.com/nnDvUGK3wH

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) February 12, 2023

Ash Wednesday firefighters honoured 40 years on

Hundreds have gathered in Cockatoo, in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, to commemorate the disaster and remember those lost in the fires.

The ceremony is being held at the town’s Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre on McBride Street where more than 200 people gathered to shelter from the fire.

Within 12 hours, more than 180 fires, fanned by winds up to 110kmh, caused widespread destruction across the state.

The fires were among the deadliest in Australian history, until the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

In Victoria, 47 people died, including 14 CFA volunteers.

In South Australia, 28 people died.

Victoria’s Country Fire Association’s chief officer, Jason Heffernan, opened the ceremony:

The day is permanently etched into the minds of several generations of Victorians.

These brave men and women focused on trying to protect life, to guard life as a primary purpose, as the day turned into night … as the firestorm swept throughout the state … Tragically 47 Victorians lost their lives that day.

We honour and remember all of those who lost their lives that day.

Many fatalities were a result of firestorm conditions caused by a sudden and violent wind change.

While the exact cause of the fires remains largely unknown, it’s understood years of severe drought and extreme weather fuelled them, according to Forest Fire Management Victoria.

Sparks from damaged electricity power lines and suspected arson were also cited as possible causes.

The memorial continues.

– AAP

Performer’s dazzle at Victoria’s Pride Street Party

Thousands gathered in the city’s Gertrude and Smith Street precinct on Sunday for the annual block party formerly known as Melbourne Pride to celebrate Victoria’s LGBTQ+ communities.

Dressed in glittering rainbow-coloured ensembles, a variety of artists performed powerful ballads across two stages as crowds cheered on.

Headline act Australian/Nigerian musician Keiynan Lonsdale and former The Voice contestant Siala Robson made appearances.

The free event kicked off with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Colin, plus a smoking ceremony and tribute to the late Uncle Jack Charles.

It also featured guest speakers, comedy sketches and drag and art installations along with community stalls and roving street performers.

The Victorian government has invested $6.8m to make Victoria’s Pride an annual event to promote equality.

Harriet Shing
Victorian minister for equality, Harriet Shing ahead of Victoria’s Pride Street Party in Melbourne. Photograph: Diego Fedele/EPA

The equality minister, Harriet Shing, said Victoria was a national leader in supporting LGBTQ+ rights:

This is a celebration of our LGBTIQ+ communities – it’s an expression of our connection, inclusion and pride and a wonderful example of why we are the equality state.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Anthony Albanese is set to become the first sitting Australian prime minister to march in Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade as part of the WorldPride festival later this month:

I’ll be the first prime minister not to watch the march on Mardi Gras, but to march.

Couldn’t miss the chance to officially open Pride Square in Newtown today.

And to unveil the pride flag beacon – a colourful celebration of diversity.

Every Australian deserves respect and equality – no matter where you live or who you love. pic.twitter.com/CZpvDt5itc

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) February 11, 2023

– AAP

Fines against WA climate protester ‘excessive’

Human Rights Watch says hefty fines imposed on climate activists in Western Australia are “absurdly excessive and disproportionate”.

Joana Veronika Partyka, 37, pleaded guilty on Friday to criminal damage after she spray-painted a Woodside Energy logo onto perspex glass protecting Frederick McCubbin’s work Down on His Luck at the Art Gallery of WA.

She was convicted in the Perth magistrates court and fined $2,637. Partyka was ordered to pay $4,821.08 in compensation to the art gallery.

It comes as state governments across Australia have increasingly looked to law enforcement to crack down on climate protesters, prompting warnings by lawyers, civil liberties groups and NGOs that the country faces a growing atmosphere of repression.

Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher at Human Rights Watch said the decisions form part of an “overly harsh and vindictive” response by Australian authorities that the organisation has been tracking.

Our research has shown that across Australia, climate protesters are receiving overly harsh and vindictive legal action from Australian authorities that is restricting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Human Rights Watch is concerned these punitive penalties are being imposed for politically motivated reasons. This is totally unacceptable and undermines Australia’s ability to lead on human rights in the region.

Metro to Sydney’s new aerotropolis now a step closer

A major extension of Sydney’s metro rail project is on track, including the link to the city’s new airport.

While always part of the NSW government’s vision, the metro connection with the western Sydney aerotropolis is now a step closer to reality following the successful completion of other key sections of the network.

The government announced on Sunday it would undertake final business cases for four routes – Tallawong to St Marys, Westmead to the aerotropolis, Bankstown to Glenfield via Liverpool and Macarthur to the aerotropolis.

The process will help direct government spending and determine which line needs to be started first.

With Western Sydney International Airport due to open in 2026 the airport metro is being jointly-funded and delivered by the federal and state governments.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said in total the extension would add around 100km of track in Sydney’s west to the ongoing Metro project.

Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project and is already reshaping this city and transforming how we move around.

These new lines will complete the missing links in the metro network in the west and connect our city like never before in what will be a major win for the people of western Sydney.

At the start of this month the final track was laid connecting the new Sydney Metro City and Southwest line with the existing North West line at Chatswood, which Perrottet described as a milestone in the project.

Services from Chatswood to Sydenham are scheduled to commence in 2024, then on to Bankstown the following year.

AAP

Commuters charged during Myki system outage to get refund

Frustrated commuters who were incorrectly charged following a peak hour system outage across Victoria’s public transport network will be automatically refunded.

Tens of thousands of Victorians using buses, trams and trains were impacted when Myki card readers across the state stopped working on 2 February from about 4.30pm–6.30pm due to a technical glitch.

Some passengers who tapped on were unable to tap off due to the outage and subsequently incurred a default two-hour fare for metropolitan Melbourne while some regional passengers were overcharged for travelling the full line.

Last week, Public Transport Victoria advised passengers who were incorrectly charged to apply for reimbursements, which can take up to 10 business days.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Planning has since confirmed it would begin rectifying the error with automatic refunds.

We will be automatically reimbursing customers who were caught up in last week’s outage. We thank passengers for their patience.

The Public Transport Users Association said in most cases, the default fare is the same as the correct fare – a zone 1+2 two-hour fare, costing $4.60 for an adult.

This applies to people using metro trains, trams and buses in zone 1 or zones 1+2. In a few cases, people were overcharged because their trip was in zone 2 only [it should be $3.10 but they may have been charged $4.60] or they used V/Line, which has higher default fares [potentially up to $38.40 depending on which line].

The Myki card system officially replaced Metcard tickets in 2012 and is set to expire in November.

The system will be overhauled if the state government does not renew its $700m contract with Japanese technology group NTT Data.

Premier Daniel Andrews backed replacing Myki with a system that allows commuters to use bank cards and smartphones instead.

PTUA said the public transport ticketing system should be simplified.

This is also a reminder that the ticketing system needs to be easy to use, easy to understand, and reliable.

AAP

Jonathan Barrett

Return to sender: writers mourn loss of physical letters as Australia Post contemplates decline

Before email put them at risk and smartphones became an existential threat, handwritten letters played a vital role in everyday life. They could be used to declare love to a partner, or convey news of a tragedy. They united penpals from around the world. Sometimes, grandma slipped money into them.

“Letter writing is an expression that is necessary for wellbeing and I feel that digital communication takes that away,” says Melanie Knight, an avid letter writer from Melbourne.

This week, Australia’s government-owned postal service sounded an alarm for letter writing after reporting a $190m loss in its letter business over a six-month period. Every year it is costing Australia Post more to deliver fewer letters as a growing population demands more delivery points.

The chief executive of Australia Post, Paul Graham, said there are concerns over the viability of the letters business and that all options were on the table, including reviewing the frequency of deliveries.

The postal service expects the “unstoppable decline” will gather pace, making letters a peripheral form of communication by 2030.

Knight, an expressive arts therapist who runs creative letter-writing workshops, says society will be poorer for its demise.

Even though there’s thousands of emojis, [digital communication] is so homogeneous.

The way I might choose to share, from minutiae and mundane to something that feels very big and profound, just comes out so differently when you sit down and really pick the words that go down on paper instead of using your thumbs.

For more about the lost of letter read, read the full feature story here:

Dutton making ‘mockery’ of claim that Liberal party is for working class, Jason Clare says

Education minister Jason Clare says Peter Dutton is making a “mockery” of his claim the Liberal party is for the working class by opposing Labor’s $15bn manufacturing fund.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Clare refuted criticism from the Coalition that the government’s National Reconstruction Fund was too broad in its ministerial discretion, declaring their opposition as defying belief.

We had Peter Dutton this week saying that the Liberal party are the party of the working class, but now they’re going to oppose legislation that’s going to create more manufacturing jobs to help us to build more things here in Australia.

That just makes a mockery of that argument.

Clare said the manufacturing fund was addressing supply chains issues, with Australia needing to make more things after gaps emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund is a Labor election promise, which pledges to give businesses access to finance in a bid to improve innovation in areas including transport, medical science, and defence.

The Coalition has decided to block the proposed fund, which means the government will need the support of the Greens plus two crossbenchers in the Senate for the legislation to pass.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said the national reconstruction fund was not responding to the needs of struggling manufacturers.

It’s answering the needs of the Labor party and the unions, because it’s not addressing right now what it needs to which is workforce shortages, a supply chain disruption, and of course, energy costs.

AAP

Peter Hannam

How fast are wholesale power prices retreating? Bases matter

Snowy Hydro’s woes (see earlier post) will eventually affect electricity prices because any delay beyond 2026 in the completion of the 2 gigawatt-sized storage generation plant will force a scramble for additional supplies including more big batteries.

Snowy reckons end-2027 is now the new commissioning date but industry (and governments) is starting to assume even that date is optimistic.

Meanwhile, it’s interesting to see how the energy markets are being reported on now, such as in today’s Sun-Herald and Sunday Age. This one draws a direct line between the Albanese government’s intervention to curb wholesale electricity prices (via price caps on black coal and gas) and recent price falls.

The report cites wholesale prices falling as much as 48% “on the back of the federal government’s price caps”.

One difficulty, though, is that lots of things go into the wholesale electricity market, including weather forecasts so it’s hard to prove causation in the price falls. (The article does note some of that.)

Another issue, of course, is what base to compare the prices with? The report cites 30 November prices (the closest I see is 2 December) which is a slightly ambitious call since the price caps were only announced on 9 December.

Sure, there was some speculation in the market before the final decision. The base comparison, though, does matter. If, say you take the week running up to 9 December, wholesale prices had already come down quite a bit

For example, 2023 prices for NSW were already down to $162 per megwatt-hour by then, compared with $203/MWh in the week to 2 December.

By the week to 3 February, the price was down to $119.22 for the state, a drop of 26% (versus the Sun-Herald/Sunday Age’s calculation of a 41% price fall.)

Another point worth making is that wholesale prices only account for about one-third of the final power bill. Nice to have, but it’s only part of the story.

Separately, ABC’s Insiders today discussed whether the economic models factor in Stage 3 tax cuts.

The short answer is yes: they are legislated and barring some intervention (most likely a modification rather than cancellation), the models assume they will proceed with their $250bn (and counting) impact on the budget over a decade.

We looked at what’s going in the economy now, including signs with the interest-rate sensitive construction industry that rising interest rates are yet to make a severe dent in demand:

The RBA, through its liaison with business, will be looking how much harder it might have to take those monetary brakes (via higher interest rates) to bring down demand and with it, inflation.

Worst possible conditions as ex-tropical Cyclone Gabrielle hits NZ

Graham Readfearn

The residents of Auckland – still reeling from major late January flooding – are looking down the barrel of potentially devastating gale force winds and torrential from ex-tropical cyclone Gabrielle.

The city’s mayor, Wayne Brown, his deputy, Desley Simpson, and officers from New Zealand’s MetService and Auckland Emergency Management have just given a sobering briefing.

Rachel Kelleher, deputy controller of Auckland Emergency Management, said the entire Auckland region was at risk of flooding on Monday and Tuesday. She said:

We are looking down the barrel of a very severe and potentially devastating weather event.

Some six regions are under a red weather warning for rain and wind from the MetService, meaning major impacts are expected.

The warning comes in the wake of devastating flooding in the city of 1.7 million people in late January. Kelleher said 380 households were still in emergency accommodation from that event.

The cyclone that past over Australia’s Norfolk Island on Saturday night has been downgrade, but was expected to skirt the top of New Zealand’s North Island on Monday morning before intensifying.

Heavy rain and gale force winds would sweep the region and the northern parts of the island starting Sunday but peaking Monday.

But the low pressure of the system could cause a storm surge for low lying parts of the city that could coincide with a high tide at 2am on Tuesday, the MetService warned during the briefing.

NSW government promises thousands more EV chargers

Thousands more EV chargers will be installed across NSW if the government is returned to office next month, with red tape slashed and public transport hubs updated.

By removing barriers to the placement of private and public chargers the state could have 30,000 locations to plug into by 2026, according to Treasurer Matt Kean.

Currently NSW has just 1000 EV chargers, slowing uptake of the game-changing technology.

One of the features of the plan would be to reform strata rules making it unlawful to refuse reasonable requests to install chargers.

The Right to Charge strata reforms would give apartment owners willing to cover the cost and comply with strict safety requirements a fair chance to go electric.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said laws restricting the installation of public chargers on places like power poles and parking meters are also set to be changed within days.

We know 30 per cent of drivers can’t access off-street parking and will rely on public chargers, which is why we are cutting red tape to roll them out even faster.

Adding to the number of new chargers, the government will install charging points at public transport hubs including commuter car parks and train, bus and ferry stations.

Transport minister David Elliot said the government was set to begin the rollout, helping drivers who switch to electric save around $1000 a year in running costs.

Commuter car parks are a great option for EV drivers to recharge while at work, making sure they can hit the road fully charged by the end of the day.

Eight public transport hubs including Sydney’s Emu Plains, Revesby, St Marys and West Ryde have been slated for the first round of charger rollouts.

Kean said the government was already investing $209 million to ensure enough chargers for an estimated one million EVs on NSW roads by 2030.

We want all drivers to be able to recharge whenever and wherever they need to, whether it’s on a road trip, commuting to work or at home.

Other initiatives to encourage EV uptake include scrapping stamp duty on EVs under $78,000, offering $3000 rebates for vehicles under $68,750 and allowing EVs to drive in transit lanes.

Biting flight attendants, rowdy drunks – police crackdown on badly behaved travellers

Dozens of travellers behaving badly during the silly season were arrested and charged for a variety of offences including assault and drug possession.

The Australian Federal Police charged almost 50 passengers with 69 offences at major airports during the 2022/2023 Christmas and school holiday travel period as part of a nationwide crackdown on disruptive behaviour in the air and on the ground.

A 78-year-old woman accused of biting a flight attendant onboard a plane from New Zealand last month was among 49 travellers charged in separate incidents across the country.

Others include a 41-year-old man who allegedly downed 700ml of duty-free scotch on an international flight to Sydney before verbally abusing airline staff.

A 47-year-old man is among 24 people slapped with infringement notices during the same holiday period after his alleged disorderly behaviour caused a disruption on board a flight that was forced to turn back to Sydney on 10 January.

The number of incidents almost doubled this holiday season after the Covid-19 pandemic halted travel across the globe.

The AFP charged 28 people with 49 offences during the same period of the 2021-22 summer school holidays. Another 16 people were issued with infringement notices for a range of incidents including intoxication, smoking on planes and traffic offences around the airport.

AFP commander Geoff Turner said the spike in incidents was concerning.

In recent months we have seen thousands more passengers travelling through airports across Australia, as state and international borders reopened after the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The AFP was more than prepared to manage the expected spike in passenger numbers, with increased patrols resulting in teams responding to a range of incidents to assist the travelling public across the country.

Known as operation Sleigh, the crackdown was sparked after the AFP responded to about 20,000 incidents at AFP-protected airports across Australia last year.

The AFP charged more than 360 people with about 520 offences at airports during 2022.

AAP

NSW promises to cap road tolls

NSW Labor will cap road tolls to $60 a week if it wins the March state election, as the party seeks to overhaul the bloated toll network and press infrastructure operators for a better deal.

Over 50,000 drivers would be better off under the plan, saving around $147m over its initial two-year lifespan, the party said.

Prof Allan Fels, economist and former chair of consumer watchdog the ACCC, would be appointed to lead the review of the state’s toll system under Labor.

Opposition leader Chris Minns said deals made by the current government were driving record tolls.

This mess is Dominic Perrottet’s own making – they have signed secret contracts and privatised toll roads.

Toll companies can’t lose, Sydney drivers can’t win.

The change would be on top of the government’s existing rebate of up $750 for eligible drivers and M5 cashback scheme.

Prof Fels would lead a review into long-term reform options to overhaul the tolling system in NSW, including reviewing contracts with private road operators, the biggest of which in Sydney is Transurban.

A cap of $60 a week would commence on 1 January 2024 if Labor wins the March election and any tolls charged above the cap would be refunded on a quarterly basis by Service NSW.

Last week private operator Transurban, which controls 10 out of 12 of Sydney’s tolls roads, said the state’s drivers paid over $835m in tolls in just six months.

In a note to investors the company revealed earnings of $1.66bn for the back half of last year and said tolls would increase by around 20% over the next four years.

The government has conducted a review of Sydney’s tolling system, which was due for completion last September, but has been delayed for release until after the election next month.

AAP



https://www.theguardian.com/global/live/2023/feb/12/linda-burney-indigenous-voice-to-parliament-jim-chalmers-electric-vehicles-tax-cyclone-gabrielle-norfolk-island Australia news live: fines against WA climate protester ‘absurdly excessive’, Human Rights Watch says; refund for Myki charges during outage | Australia news

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