Australia news live: Qantas announces more job cuts; doctors warn we are ‘sitting ducks’ until vaccinated against Covid | Australia news









The Australian National University wants to reach net zero in its emissions of greenhouse gases by 2025 and be the first university in the country to be a net-negative emitter by 2030.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Brian Schmidt, this morning announced the Canberra-based university’s targets, which would require offsetting some of its emissions as part of its Below Zero Initiative.

ANU said it would be the second university in the world to aim for a net-negative target, where operations and offsets would mean the university was absorbing more greenhouse gases than it was emitting.

The university would only use offsets that had either a research or teaching connection to the university. There are several Australian university’s with net-zero goals.

The first university in the world to announce a net-negative target is LUT University in Finland that wants its two campuses to be carbon negative by 2024.

Schmidt said:


Achieving below zero is ambitious and it will involve big changes to the way we do things – but as the national university, we must show leadership in driving a societal transformation to address climate change.

The University of Adelaide also officially opens a $7m solar and energy storage project at its Roseworthy campus today. The solar farm, power network upgrade and batteries should cover 42% of the campus’s energy needs, the university said.

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Qantas announces more job cuts

In its market update today, Qantas has announced further job cuts as the airline continues to be hit by the prolonged international border closure.

The airline will offer voluntary redundancy for Qantas international cabin crew as an expression of interest program.

Qantas expects “several hundred” employees to apply, but has said the total number accepted will “be balanced against retaining key capability for the longer term”.

This latest round of cuts are in addition to 8,500 redundancies announced earlier in the pandemic.

Qantas will also implement a two-year wage freeze to the next round of enterprise agreements across the entire business, including the management level. Following the freezes, wages will increase by 2% each year, compared with the 3% growth rate pre-Covid.

As another cost-cutting measure, Qantas will also cut the commission it pays travel agents for international airfare bookings, from 5% to 1%. The changes will kick in only from July 2022, to give the industry “time to adapt”.

The airline is seeking to cut $1bn in costs by the end of the 2023 financial year, with $600m to be delivered this financial year.

Increased demand for domestic travel is improving the airline’s financial position. However, net debt peaked at $6.4bn in February, and is expected to be $6.05bn by the end of June.




Qantas planes on the tarmac

Qantas says it expects ‘several hundred’ employees to apply for redundancy under its new round of staff cuts. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP

The Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, said:


We have a long way still to go in this recovery, but it does feel like we’re slowly starting to turn the corner. It’s great to see so many of our people now back at work and the majority of our fleet back in the air.

Our recovery strategy of targeting cash-positive flying rather than pre-Covid margins is helping increase activity levels and repair our balance sheet.

The fact we’re making inroads to the debt we needed to get through this crisis shows the business is now on a more sustainable footing. The main driver is the rebound of domestic travel, which now looks like it will be bigger than it was pre-Covid, at least until international borders reopen.

Managing costs remains a critical part of our recovery, especially given the revenue we’ve lost and the intensely competitive market we’re in.

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Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has reiterated a plea for the Morrison government to reopen borders when the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is completed.

Qantas has pushed back its timeline to resume a significant level of international flying to late December 2021 – in line with when the government says the vaccine rollout will be complete.

Joyce maintains the airline will not push back its international resumption to the second half of 2022 – the timeframe outlined in last week’s federal budget for when the government believes international travel will begin to resume.

Instead, Joyce is urging the government to bring forward its timeline for travel or risk “Australia being left behind”.

Joyce said:


We’ve adjusted our expectations for when international borders will start opening based on the government’s new timeline. But our fundamental assumption remains the same – that once the national vaccine rollout is effectively complete, Australia can and should open up. That’s why we have aligned the date for international flights restarting in earnest with a successful vaccination program.

No one wants to lose the tremendous success we’ve had at managing Covid but rolling out the vaccine totally changes the equation. The risk then flips to Australia being left behind when countries like the US and UK are getting back to normal.

Australia has to put the same intensity into the vaccine rollout as we’ve put on lockdowns and restrictions, because only then will we have the confidence to open up.

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Australia’s private health insurance industry is in a “death spiral” and the federal government and the industry must agree on significant overhauls if the system is to be sustainable into the future, a report from health thinktank the Grattan Institute says.

The causes of the malaise are well-documented and include an ageing population, increased use of healthcare services, and rising healthcare costs that drive up premiums and make health insurance less affordable – and less attractive – to young and healthy people in particular.

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