Australian Economy

The Loop: Treasurer warns of ‘dire’ budget situation, Labor’s new ministry sworn in, and a community’s farewell of the ‘waving man’

Hello, it’s Wednesday, June 1. Here’s what you need to get caught up on today’s news.

One thing to know

It’s about the economy.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Australia’s economic forecast was worse than his new government had anticipated, calling the situation “dire”.

The Australian economy grew 0.8 per cent in the March quarter, and 3.3 per cent over the past year, exceeding economists’ predictions. 

Jim Chalmers in a suit, speaking into a microphone on a lectern in front of the Australian and TSI flags
The Treasurer said today’s figures don’t tell the full story.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

But Mr Chalmers said many other critical elements of the economy, like investment and consumption, are weaker than expected and that rising energy prices are providing new challenges for the national budget.

Here’s the Treasurer:

“On energy in particular, this is an incredibly challenging set of circumstances, particularly for Australian industry when you consider this spike in gas prices, which goes hand-in-hand with the spike in the price of liquid fuels and a spike in the price of electricity as well. 

“This is unfortunately a perfect storm of conditions and challenges in our energy market.

We heard a lot about the new ministry

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s new ministry was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra today.

Women will hold 10 of 23 cabinet positions, a record for any Australian government but less than the 50-50 split that it was in Labor’s shadow cabinet.

Anthony Albanese standing on the steps of government house with the women in the ministry after the swearing in ceremony
Anthony Albanese with the women in his ministry.(ABC News: Matt Roberts )

The ministry also includes the first Muslim ministers in Australian history — that’s Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic and Minister for Early Childhood Education and Youth Anne Aly.

The Prime Minister described the new ministry as being “as inclusive as Australia itself”.

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One more thing

Peter Van Beek was known around Buderim as the “waving man”.

For at least half a decade, he stood at one of the Queensland suburb’s busiest roundabouts with a beaming smile and enthusiastic wave to morning and afternoon commuters.

Man with a flanno shirt and hat waving to people driving around a roundabout
Mr Van Beek moved to Buderim with his wife and three sons 50 years ago.(Supplied: Thrive Photography)

The 88-year-old died peacefully in his sleep this week, and it’s triggered an outpouring of grief and sadness among the Sunshine Coast community.

Here were some of the memories people shared:

Teenager Jorja Robertson said interacting with him on the morning commute was a highlight.

“People would always share stories at school about, ‘Who saw Peter this morning?’ she said.

Friend Angela Britz said it “made his day” to get out there and wave to people, “rain, hail or shine”.

“He knew that it made everyone else’s day something special.”

“His cheery smile and kind ways, I believe, was one of the reasons that so many of our students and our staff enter the college grounds each and every day with a smile,” Trudi Edwards, the head of the nearby primary school, said.

Buderim mum Kirsten Boud said the drive to school had been “a little less magical of late”.

“Even a statue or renaming that roundabout — there needs to be recognition that he was a very special person.”

woman gives peace sign at camera with an elderly man
Ms Britz says Peter Van Beek knew the impact he had on others: “The hat would come off and he’d do a kind of bow.”(Supplied: Angela Britz)

That’s it for now

We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

ABC/wires

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