Daily News Roundup

November 5, 2018

Image: ABC News

Petrol prices surge 20pc this year, but analysts say not much can be done about it

Petrol prices have hit their highest levels in a decade. High global prices and a weak Australian dollar are being blamed for a 20 per cent surge in prices in the past year.

Key points:

  • Petrol prices have surged 20pc in the past year
  • Sanctions on Iran are expected to reduce global oil supply, and lead to rising prices
  • The Government is considering new powers for the ACCC to break up fuel companies
  • ACCC chairman does not believe this will help reduce prices

The Federal Government is pointing the finger at big oil companies, while backbenchers are calling for a cut in fuel taxes.

But would any of it work?

The average price of unleaded petrol rose sharply from $1.32 per litre (in November 2017) to about $1.60 (in October 2018) — its highest level all year, figures from the Australian Institute of Petroleum revealed.

But it has since fallen by 4.4 cents to about $1.56 per litre, its “biggest fall … in 10 weeks”, according to CommSec.

For CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman, it is simply a case of supply and demand.

He said the United States’ decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran from today — which includes an oil embargo — will have a significant impact.

“Iran is one of the biggest oil producers in the world — those sanctions would really stymie that supply.

“And demand from the US over the summer months, when they’ve had their driving season, has really pushed down crude inventories on the back of that demand.”

Also working against domestic motorists is that the entire oil market is priced in “US dollars per barrel” — and the Australian dollar has had a tough year against the greenback.

“Australia is a net importer of oil and the Australian dollar has fallen by 9 per cent this year against the US dollar,” Mr Felsman added.

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Lion Air crash: Investigators recover 69 hours of flight data from black box

Investigators have retrieved hours of data from the flight recorder of the Lion Air jet that crashed off Jakarta on October 29, killing 189 people on board.

Key points:

  • Fourteen of 189 victims identified from recovered remains
  • Search for victims extended by three days
  • Investigators still searching for second black box

The news came as Indonesian authorities on Sunday extended the search at sea for victims and debris.

National Transportation Safety Committee deputy chairman Haryo Satmiko told a news conference that 69 hours of flight data was downloaded from the recorder, including its fatal flight.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet crashed just minutes after take-off from Jakarta on October 29 in the country’s worst airline disaster since 1997.

The flight data recorder was recovered by divers on Thursday in damaged condition and investigators said it required special handling to retrieve its information.

The second black box — a cockpit voice recorder — has not been recovered but searchers are focusing on a particular area based on a weak locator signal.

“From here we will analyse what happened to that flight,” Nurcahyo Utomo, head of Indonesia’s transportation safety committee, told reporters.

Analysis of the data and a recovered aircraft landing gear and engine will begin on Monday and information will be passed to police if needed, Mr Utomo said.

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Qantas has no plans to follow Virgin’s announcement of US-style priority boarding for veterans

Qantas says it has no plans to follow Virgin Australia in giving war veterans priority boarding and public acknowledgement during in-flight announcements.

Key points:

  • Minister Steve Ciobo said it “would be terrific” if Qantas followed Virgin’s example
  • Qantas said singling out one group as part of the boarding process was difficult
  • RSL National interim chair John King said if airlines really wanted to get on board, they could provide discounted fares

Virgin’s announcement, reminiscent of US airlines, came on the heels of the Government’s announcements last week of a discount card and lapel pins for returned servicemen and women and a half-a-billion-dollar upgrade for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Minister for Defence Industry Steve Ciobo told Sky News it “would be terrific” if Qantas followed Virgin’s example.

“I think it’s tremendous that they come on board and that they honour and salute the service of those men and women who have served our nation in uniform putting themselves in harm’s way,” he said.

But Qantas said it carried “exceptional people every day”, and singling a group out as part of the boarding process would be difficult.

“We have utmost respect for current and former Defence Force personnel, and we honour their service in a few ways during the year, including special announcements on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, and through our partnership with the Australian War Memorial,” a spokesman said.

“We’re conscious that we carry a lot of exceptional people every day, including veterans, police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others, and so we find it difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process.”

President of the RSL ACT branch and interim national chair John King said it would be up to individual veterans if they wanted to take advantage of such an offer, but said airlines could provide discounted fares.

“I think if a business wants to honour a veteran [with priority boarding], as they do with senior citizens and people travelling with children, if the veteran stands up and takes advantage of that, good on them,” he said.

“Everyone who puts their lives at risk for the benefit of the community needs to be recognised, and I guess this is one way to do it.

“[But] if [airlines] really want to get on board, they could provide a discount for people who work in this area.”

 

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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