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By Will Koulouris

SYDNEY Jabari Parker Jersey , Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The soaring price of electricity in Australia is hitting the hip pockets of its poorest people the hardest, according to a report released Friday that said that single parents, and elderly men and women, are worse off than most.

The Curtin University report calculated that in the state of Western Australia alone, over one quarter of single parents spend over 10 percent of their after-housing costs on energy, while one in ten of those spend over 15 percent of that income for their essential services.

When taken as a whole, households in the lowest 10 percent of income bracket fork out over 10 percent of their wages on energy, while middle income families spend 3 percent, and the top quarter earners spend only 2 percent.

""West Australian households are now spending an average of 1,791 Australian dollars (1,415 U.S. dollars) on energy each year, which can account for more than 10 percent of household spending for low income families,"" Professor Alan Duncan, lead author and director of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre said.

While Duncan suggested that solar power may be the solution within the West Australian market -- citing that ""roof-top solar power is a solution for many households seeking to deal with rising energy costs"" - the cost of installing these units is not practicable for many seeking to support their families on low incomes.

""There is some evidence to support the claim that high energy costs lead to compromises in other life aspects. While average household energy costs have increased since 2010-11, spending on health, and groceries have both reduced in this same period,"" Duncan said.

Furthermore, the issue of energy prices causing pressure on low-income earners is one which is pervasive across the nation, with Prime Minister Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling in the major electricity players in the market last week to take steps to deal with what is becoming a drastic issue for many poorer families in Australia.

This move has the potential to alleviate some of the economic distress suffered by people who find themselves in the most precarious financial situations, according to co-author of the report Rebecca Cassells, who told Xinhua on Friday that this action will make inroads in the energy price squeeze.

""If you have got the Prime Minister talking to you about the need to ease prices for households, and they are bringing together all of the heads of the energy companies - then obviously there is a real sense from policy that they are going to try and figure out a way to bring down energy costs,"" Cassells said.

""It's likely that it will make some difference, how much difference it can make is going to be unknown - the energy market is private, but it's also highly regulated, so the government does have some power to bring prices down.""

A recent Grattan Institute report into energy prices in the state of Victoria said that ""the profit margins of electricity retailers in Victoria appear excessively high and have been rising without apparent justification"" with energy providers charging at least a 13 percent markup in their prices according to the figures.

""Many Australians, including some of the most vulnerable, are paying more than they need to. The way retailers advertise their discounts is confusing and possibly misleading,"" the report said.

""Electricity is an essential service without substitutes, so many consumers feel stuck and simply give up.""

According to Ariel Liebman, deputy director of the Monash Energy material and Systems Institute at Monash University in Victoria, the answer may lie in further privatisation of the energy market in Australia.

""(The government needs to) fully privatise all energy assets across Australia, especially distribution networks, to ensure there are no perverse incentives due to state governments' conflicts of interest,"" Liebman said.

""In particular, electricity distribution networks which are responsible for the bulk of the electricity price increases in Australia over the past 10 years.""

Liebman said that the government's move to curtail prices to help disadvantaged households was a bold ""first step,"" but she believes that despite the plans put in place, further price increases may occur as ""retail electricity and price competition is not working at all.""

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" Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds a welcome ceremony for President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK) before their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 14, 2017. (XinhuaLi Tao)

BEIJING, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Thursday agreed to advance bilateral relations to ensure the long-term stability of their ties.

The commitment was made during talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his ROK counterpart Moon Jae-in in Beijing.

Xi welcomed Moon on his state visit to China for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

China and the ROK are friendly neighbors and strategic cooperation partners, Xi said.

He said the two countries have made remarkable progress in exchanges and cooperation in various fields, which has brought tremendous benefits to both sides.

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