Australia news LIVE: Debate on Labor’s signature safeguard mechanism continues; Ukraine wants UN meeting over Putin’s nuclear plan

Key posts

  • Ayres to attend ‘Davos of Asia’ to pave way for further China trade
  • ‘All or nothing’ is not the appropriate approach to climate policy
  • Ukraine demands emergency UN meeting over Putin nuclear plan
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Ayres to attend ‘Davos of Asia’ to pave way for further China trade

Australia will send an official delegation to China’s Bo’ao business forum this week, paving the way for a Beijing visit by the federal trade minister in coming weeks as restrictions on Australian exports continue to be lifted despite the recent AUKUS announcement.

Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres is travelling to China for the forum, which he dubbed the “Davos of Asia”, the first Australian minister to attend the summit in more than half a decade, saying it was another positive step in the thawing relationship. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also plans a visit to the country.

Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Ayres pointed to a defence meeting between the countries last week as a sign the relationship remained on a steady path and said the Bo’ao forum was a chance to keep working towards easing more trade restrictions.

The full story on this is available here.

‘All or nothing’ is not the appropriate approach to climate policy

A longstanding environmental campaigner and friend of Greens founder Bob Brown has urged the party to vote with Labor to pass a new law to cut greenhouse gas emissions amid growing fears of a rift that could doom the legislation.

Business leader Geoff Cousins urged Greens leader Adam Bandt to help pass the Safeguard Mechanism bill in parliament this week to achieve some action on climate change despite a dispute over whether the draft law went far enough to cut emissions.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has been urged to negotiate with the government on the safeguard mechanism. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

But another senior business figure who has backed the Greens over the years, Wotif founder Graeme Wood, said the mechanism only offered a “soft baseline” and did not do anything to stop new coal and gas projects.

The competing calls heighten the debate over a crucial decision for Bandt and the Greens when Brown has urged the party to take a hard line against the bill, but others fear a repeat of the 2009 clash that destroyed a Labor attempt to put a price on carbon.

Read more on the safeguard mechanism debate here. 

Ukraine demands emergency UN meeting over Putin nuclear plan

Ukraine’s government called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to “counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail” after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus.

One Ukrainian official said Russia “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage”.

Further, heightening tensions, an explosion deep inside Russia wounded three people Sunday (Russian time). Russian authorities blamed a Ukrainian drone for the blast, which damaged residential buildings in a town just 175 kilometres south of Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awarding ceremony at the Kremlin, in Moscow. Credit:Sputnik

Russia has said the plan to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus comes in response to the West’s increasing military support for Ukraine. Putin announced the plan in a TV interview that aired on Saturday, saying it was triggered by a UK decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States.

He noted that Washington has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” he said.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move in a statement Sunday and demanded an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

“Ukraine expects effective action to counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail by the UK, China, the US and France,” the statement read, saying these countries “have a special responsibility” regarding nuclear aggression.

“The world must be united against someone who endangers the future of human civilisation,” the statement said.

Ukraine has not commented on the explosion inside Russia. It left a crater about 15 metres in diameter and five metres deep, according to media reports.


This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning, and thanks for your company.

It’s Monday, March 27. I’m Caroline Schelle, and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started:

  • Doubling the number of medicines a person can collect with a prescription from one to two months’ supply could save patients $180 a year.
  • An environmental campaigner urged the Greens to pass a law to cut greenhouse gas emissions saying ‘all or nothing’ was not the appropriate approach.
  • A senior Services Australia official oversaw a decision to award contract to a controversial company even though the firm was partly owned by his friend.
  • Turning to NSW, where Labor won a majority government over the weekend and new Premier Chris Minns has been urged honour election pledges by unions.
  • In Victoria, the state’s opposition leader is on track to expel controversial MP Moira Deeming from the Liberal party room.
  • Australia will send an official delegation to attend a key business forum in China, dubbed as the “Davos of Asia”.
  • Overseas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked the country’s defence minister who opposed a controversial judicial overhaul in the country.
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