News live: national cabinet to talk health funding as surgery wait times soar; public vote names Australian lunar rover | Australian politics #News #live #national #cabinet #talk #health #funding #surgery #wait #times #soar #public #vote #names #Australian #lunar #rover #Australian #politics

Key events

Australians have chosen Roo-ver as the name for our first lunar vehicle, Australian Associated Press reports, as the Australian Space Agency sets out to produce an locally made, semi-autonomous rover as part of NASA’s Artemis program later this decade.

NASA scientists will attempt to extract oxygen from the soil Roo-ver recovers on the moon, which could be a giant leap towards a sustainable human presence.

Weighing about 20kg and roughly the size of a check-in suitcase, the rover is likely to land in the moon’s South Pole region and will operate for a fortnight, or about half a moon day.

Two Australian consortiums are working on Roo-ver prototypes that the space agency will choose between for the moon mission vehicle.

Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo said the mission will provide the nation with significant expertise and new technical skills which can be brought back to improve industries on Earth.

“Investing in missions like this lifts our whole nation – it makes our economy stronger and industries more advanced, it lifts our standing on the global stage, it keeps our brightest talent here,” he said.

The space agency will also announce a $1 million funding injection for two Australian space companies, to develop more efficient solar cells to power satellites and innovative propulsion systems for small satellites.

The projects will help address climate change and the transition to a net-zero economy, while driving productivity through innovation, Palermo said.

Watchdog ‘loses patience’ with Telstra

Telstra is paying the price after being caught overcharging customers for the third time since 2020, Australian Associated Press reports.

The telco giant will refund $21m to consumers charged for inactive internet services across an 11-year period, at an average of about $2,600 a customer.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also stung Telstra with a $3m fine for breaching customer billing accuracy rules and breaking its direction to comply with its code after a similar issue in 2020.

The authority says most of the 6,532 customers overcharged between 2012 and 2023 were small businesses.

Its boss Nerida O’Loughlin was scathing in her assessment of Telstra’s conduct, saying her organisation had “lost patience” after the third recent breach.

In 2020, Telstra was caught overcharging customers almost $2.5 million across 12 years, before overcharging another $1.7m in 2022.

“Telstra has a history of incorrectly billing customers, and it’s just not good enough,” O’Loughlin said in a statement.

Telstra executive Dean Salter acknowledged getting billing wrong “isn’t acceptable” and apologised to the affected customers.

National cabinet meeting this morning

Sarah Basford Canales

Sarah Basford Canales

The financial sustainability of the NDIS scheme will be at the top of agenda this morning when the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, convenes a national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders.

The leaders will meet from 10.30am to discuss how the scheme will look in the coming years amid concerns over forecasts the NDIS will surpass a total of $50bn in next year’s federal budget and may exceed $90bn a year within a decade.

Earlier this year, national cabinet agreed to cap the NDIS’s cost growth at 8% per year from 2026.

Today’s meeting will deal with the details of what needs to change to make that target a reality. It follows the release of a comprehensive NDIS review, which was handed to the states and territories in late October and will be publicly released on Thursday.

But the debate is expected to be a little more than fiery after warnings from the premiers and chief ministers all week that they will derail any NDIS discussions until the GST “no worse off” guarantee matter is dealt with.

Under the 2018 arrangement, which will expire in 2026-27, the jurisdictions get 70% of revenue collected within their borders as compensation from the commonwealth for GST shortfalls.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has forewarned any extension would result in “significant fiscal implications”. Chalmers added the matter was still a “live conversation” but a deal wouldn’t come at any cost.

He said on Tuesday ahead of the meeting:

“Our instinct and our inclination is to always work with the states and territories where that’s possible, where that’s responsible and where that’s affordable, and where we can advance our common interests. And that’s the approach that we take to the next 24 hours.”

Last night, Albanese hosted the premiers and chief ministers at the lodge so it’s possible some late night agreements were reached over a hot meal and some wine.

Beyond the NDIS, and the GST extension, the leaders will also discuss other priorities including the recent infrastructure funding changes, Medicare and broader health reforms and cooperating to keep Australians safe.

Welcome

Good morning and a warm welcome to our rolling news coverage for today. I’m Martin Farrer, bringing you our top overnight stories before regular service resumes.

New figures paint a troubling picture of the health system with elective surgery wait times at their highest level on record, while nearly one in two patients are spending more than the recommended time in emergency departments. The number of people waiting more than a year for hip and knee replacement surgery has quadrupled since 2018-19. Medicare and health reforms will be on the agenda when the national cabinet meets this morning.

Australia Post will end daily letter deliveries next year under new rules relaxing the requirement for five-day-a-week delivery as it tries to stem losses that ballooned to $200m this year. The outcome of the postal service’s modernisation review, to be announced by the Albanese government today, means Australians will soon be receiving ordinary letters and unaddressed mail every other business day, a response to the long-term decline of letters and the company’s first loss in eight years.

Australia’s year 9 students have climbed into the top 10 of OECD countries, the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) shows, but it’s not the good news that it sounds: we’re continuing a longer-term trend of national decline. The 2022 Pisa results, released last night, showed Australia’s overall performance was above the OECD average in all categories, after sitting at average for the first time in mathematics in 2018. Australia’s overall ranking went up but experts say it’s only because other countries have gone backwards.

The Australian rover due to collect soil from our planet’s favourite satellite has a name after a public vote. We’ll let you know the result soon!

And Brittany Higgins has finished her cross-examination in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation trial against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson – but the defence case continues, and we’ll bring you all the developments. In the meantime, here is our latest report.

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