Afternoon Update: RBA rate hike; Kirstie Alley dies; and a heatwave for northern Australia

<span>Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP</span>
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The Reserve Bank is warning of more rate hikes to come after it raised the cash rate 25 basis points to 3.1%.

That’s the eighth consecutive rate rise as Australian households edge closer to a mortgage cliff. There’s at least $270bn in housing debt coming off historically low fixed-interest rates next year.

Greater financial pain for ordinary Australians has again put the spotlight on the government and what it intends to do about soaring company profits, particularly in the energy sector. That’s still unclear, with the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, resisting calls for a windfall tax on super profits, saying he’d prefer a “regulatory outcome”.

Top news

Kirstie Alley in the 1993 film Look Who’s Talking Now.
Kirstie Alley in the 1993 film Look Who’s Talking Now. Photograph: Maximum Film/Alamy
  • Kirstie Alley dies aged 71 | The actor, known for her roles in Cheers, Veronica’s Closet and Look Who’s Talking, died after a short battle with cancer. Hollywood tributes have been flowing in, including this from John Travolta: “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

  • Airlines on notice over high fares | The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is “closely” monitoring airlines after skyrocketing domestic air fares. Prices went up 27% on all fare types between October 2019 and October 2022, prompting the ACCC to keep an eye out for airlines potentially offering fewer flights to keep prices high.

  • Meningococcal alert | People in New South Wales are being warned to be alert to the symptoms of meningococcal disease after the death of a third person in the state this year. NSW Health says there have been 29 cases reported this year, the majority due to the meningococcal B strain of the infection.

Hybrid cars are gaining in popularity.
Hybrid cars are gaining in popularity. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters
  • Hybrid car sales jump | Hybrid vehicles that combine battery and fuel technology are proving increasingly popular in Australia with sales doubling that of more expensive electric-only cars. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data reveals more than 8,500 hybrid vehicles were sold in November – with battery electric vehicles at 4,457.

  • Northern Australia heatwave | Temperatures are expected to soar to the mid-40s over the coming days as a heatwave spreads across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said hot air was building over the north-west of the continent and moving east, driving temperatures in some areas as high as 5C to 6C above average.

Congolese activists attend a vigil in memory of the civilians killed in the recent conflict between armed forces of DRC and rebel forces.
Congolese activists attend a vigil in memory of the civilians killed in the recent conflict between armed forces of DRC and rebel forces. Photograph: Arlette Bashizi/Reuters
  • Congo massacre | A rebel group has been accused of killing roughly 300 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The M23 movement, a predominantly Congolese Tutsi rebel group that took up arms last year, rejects the accusations. The DRC government says neighbouring Rwanda is backing M23, a charge Rwanda denies.

  • Lady Gaga dog thief sentenced | James Howard Jackson, the man who shot Lady Gaga’s dog walker and stole her French bulldogs in Los Angeles last year, has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.

  • Trump loan not disclosed | Donald Trump failed to disclose a AU$29.4m loan from a company with historical ties to North Korea while he was the US president. Documents obtained by the New York attorney general, and reported by Forbes, indicate a previously unreported loan owed by Trump to Daewoo, the South Korean conglomerate with ties to North Korea.

Full Story

Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir.
In from the fringes: Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

The far-right radical in Israel’s new government

Itamar Ben-Gvir has spent a lifetime on the radical fringes of Israeli politics. He was once considered so extreme that he wasn’t allowed to serve in the Israeli army. Now he is the country’s security minister. Listen to this 31-minute episode.

What they said …

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has responded to the latest RBA rate hike.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has responded to the latest RBA rate hike. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


“[A windfall tax] is not our preference. Our preference is not to go down the tax path if we can avoid. We’ve made it clear publicly and privately to a number of the companies and peak organisations involved here.” – Jim Chalmers

The treasurer was responding to the RBA’s latest rate hike. Pressure is mounting on the government to introduce a windfall tax on surging profits of the energy and bank sectors, who are raking it in off of inflation as many Australians endure financial stress.

In numbers

For someone on a $750,000 loan, that’s an increase of $1,251.

Before bed read

“Five weeks to the day after my debut novel was published, my boyfriend, who is a writer, broke up with me because I am a writer.

“I’ve been a writer for a long time. So has he. Until this summer, he was unquestionably the more publicly prominent one. When I told my friends about the breakup, they suggested he was threatened by my success. ‘This is the oldest story in the book,’ my mum said. ‘Betty Friedan covered it decades ago.’

“But that didn’t make sense.”

I won’t give away any more – I’ll let you read the rest.

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