CMO 'certain' travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will eventuate – as it happened

Last modified: 08: 21 AM GMT+0

ABS reports growth slowed to 1.4% through the year as industrial relations roundtables prepare an agenda to regrow the jobs lost during Covid-19. This blog is now closed

Summary of today’s events

And that’s where we will leave it for tonight. You can keep up to date with everything happening around the world with our global live blog. Here’s a quick rundown on everything that happened in Australia today:

  • Australia has entered its first recession for 29 years after the economy went backwards by 0.3% in the March quarter. The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, when explaining the impacts of the bushfires and Covid-19, conceded a recession was inevitable given Treasury advice the June quarter would be worse.
  • The New South Wales police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said he was “concerned” by footage of an officer slamming an Indigenous boy face-first onto the pavement during an arrest, but said the officer might have been having “a bad day” when apologising for the boy’s treatment.
  • The family of the teenager said they plan to privately prosecute the officer responsible for the arrest if the officer is not charged after an internal investigation.
  • The deputy chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said he is “very certain” of the proposed travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand eventuating provided both countries continue to keep the virus under control.
  • There have been eight new Covid-19 cases recorded across Australia in the 24-hour period leading up to Wednesday afternoon. There are less than 500 active cases nationally, with 25 people in hospital, five in intensive care units, with two on ventilators.
  • Universities Australia has claimed institutions will lose up to $16bn by 2023 due to the impact of Covid-19, according to new modelling.
  • Police have arrested the stepmother of the Brisbane girl Willow Dunn and charged her with murder after the four-year-old’s severely malnourished body was found at a Cannon Hill house last week.

From me, Elias Visontay, have a great evening.

Updated

Tasmania is bringing forward billions of dollars of infrastructure spending to stimulate its economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, AAP reports.

The plan, which has been flagged for several weeks, will be detailed by the state government on Thursday.

Premier Peter Gutwein on Wednesday revealed $3.1bn will be spent on housing, roads, irrigation and other infrastructure over the next two years.

The projects are part of a $3.7bn infrastructure spend announced last year which was originally planned across four years.

“This will be a construction blitz and it will be far-reaching,” Gutwein said.

“These are challenging times but now is not the time to sit idle.”

According to updated figures from treasury, Tasmania’s gross state product will decline by 1.75% in 2019-20 after last year’s budget predicted 3% growth.

Updated

The Australian Defence Force is considering putting some of its members through Rural Fire Service bushfire training, the bushfire royal commission has heard.

Vice Admiral David Johnston AO, the vice chief of the defence force, told the royal commission that the firefighters in the ADF are not trained to fight bushfires, which is why army personnel were not put on the fireline this summer.

But Johnson said that RFS basic training, which was a 26-hour course, would only get a person to a level where they could work on a fire ground under the supervision of more experienced firefighters, and because ADF personnel are moved around they may not be able to gain that experience.

That meant the ability for the ADF to build up bushfire fighting experience in its personnel was “entirely dubious and variable”, he said.

“So the capacity of the ADF to be able to pick up ancillary skills that are not at our core role is a very complicated issue for us.”

The ADF began helping out with the Queensland fires on 6 September, mainly by providing air support to help firefighters carry out aerial mapping, and in logistics.

The ADF was officially called out, under the inventively named Operation Bushfire Assist, on 31 December.

From then they began helping with relief and recovery, which included dropping off food and fuel to cut-off communities. On Kangaroo Island that included providing reverse osmosis machines to create drinking water for livestock and to fly in 65,000 litres of drinking water for humans.

Johnson said it was the first time the ADF has been called out to assist with bushfire recovery. In previous years, there had been a call for the ADF to assist, which meant it was a voluntary rather than compulsory service.

Updated

The secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sally McManus, laid down a few pretty big red lines for the union movement at today’s doorstop: “We won’t be supporting any idea where jobs become less secure or where there’s pay cuts.”

Of course, the government can always push on with changes without the ACTU, but that’s a pretty robust starting point. McManus said the principle behind the Better Off Overall Test “is a good one” – that awards are the minimum conditions and enterprise agreements should therefore improve on that base line.

She said:

We want to see Australian workers get fair pay rises. This is something that’s always been cherished in this country: a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work … We’re not a movement that will be accepting pay cuts. We’re about making sure working people get their fair share of the nation’s wealth, because we all know that’s been a problem in the past, and coming out of this crisis we can take the time so it can be fixed.

McManus said the industrial relations system will “never be under pressure like it has been in the last eight weeks” – and yet it had been flexible, despite “pretty robust checks and balances”.

McManus suggested improvements to bargaining including allowing workers to bargain with the “real decision-makers” such as the bodies that determine funding in sectors like childcare and companies at the top of supply chains.

She also opposed the NSW government’s attempt to freeze public sector pay rises, arguing the economy will “rely on domestic demand” and Australia needs “everyone with a job to be spending”.

Updated

For more on Josh Frydenberg’s announcement earlier today that Australia will enter recession this year, here is the treasurer explaining the economic impacts of the bushfire season and Covid-19:

Updated

I’m going to leave you in the hands of my colleague Elias Visontay, who will steer you through to stumps. Stay well.

My colleague Martin Farrer reports:

Councils around Australia have seen a huge increase in volumes of household rubbish and dumping of waste triggered by a combination of more online shopping, home improvements, international workers returning to their home countries and a clearing out of unwanted possessions during the coronavirus lockdown.

Updated

A few more details from the attorney general Christian Porter’s doorstop about the first industrial relations roundtable.

There was this tidbit:

What we did discuss today was that people aren’t going to be stopped or dissuaded from raising larger social issues, but we are looking in five working groups at five known, discrete problems where everyone – no matter who they represent – recognises there is a problem and what we are trying to divine is the highest level of agreement that is conceivable on certain options to solve those problems.

This is interesting because the ACTU’s first response when Scott Morrison announced the IR consultation was that a surer way to create jobs is not to cut off wage subsidies. Seems clear that suggestions like that will be heard out but are not core to the process.

Porter also played down what will be achieved in the award simplification group – rather than changes to all 122 modern awards, it’s targeted at the hardest-hit industries. He said:

We are looking at a discrete small number of awards in the industries where there has been the greatest damage wrought by Covid-19 and the necessary health responses. So the point that I make is that the hospitality award is a very complicated award. And when you listen to employers and employees who work in the system, they will note the demarcation between tasks – the 61 different pay-points and 14 different permutations creates regulatory barriers to the hiring and preservation of employees. So we are looking at ways that you can potentially simplify awards in a very narrow range of what are at the moment very distressed industries.

Porter reiterated that Morrison had been clear the ensuring integrity bill will not be put for a vote in the Senate, but still took a swipe at the construction union:

I would hope that in a time where Australia is facing the greatest economic challenge outside of a world war that it has ever faced, that people on construction sites who have been behaving in an unlawful way dial it the hell down.

Updated

AAP has an update on the stock market:

The Australian share market has rallied to its highest level since 6 March, with gains across nearly every sector on a wave of optimism about Australia’s economic prospects.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed Wednesday close to the highs of the day, up 106.5 points, or 1.83%, at 5,941.6 points, while the All Ordinaries index gained 104.8 points, or 1.76%, at 6,064.9.

One Australian dollar was buying 69.36 US cents, up from 68.02 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.

The Aussie reached 69.84 US cents earlier on Wednesday, its highest point since early January.

Updated

On the ABC, Labor’s treasury spokesman, Jim Chalmers, is asked by Patricia Karvelas what should happen to the jobseeker payment.

It is currently at about $1,100 a fortnight with the coronavirus supplement, but that will be halved from the end of September.

He says it shouldn’t “snap back” to the old rate, but declines to give a figure, saying “we need to be really responsible with the budget. We don’t know what the budget looks like.”

Look, it needs to be – you know, a reasonable increase. It can’t just be a token – you know, increase. It can’t snap back to what it was. It can’t just be a sort of – you know, some kind of sop. We need to come at this from what’s reasonable and responsible and affordable. But the most important thing is to be able to support people enough through a difficult time now, but also when they’re looking for work.

Updated

The federal attorney general, Christian Porter, was on Perth radio station 6PR earlier today and was asked about the robodebt fiasco.

He made some notable comments, particularly that the government remains convinced some of the debts that were unlawfully raised as part of the scheme were in fact valid.

“Simply because the method which had been used to calculate a debt was held to be legally insufficient doesn’t mean that there weren’t debts in existence,” he said.

“That applies we argue to this class of plaintiffs at large and if you have a look at the individual plaintiffs on the Gordon Legal website, you know, it’s been reported in the Guardian as well, people did actually owe debts.”

Given this, and what Porter claimed was the “enormous money overpaid to people” over many years, he flagged the government had not lost hope of recouping the money.

“There are still debts and that’s why we have to, notwithstanding this litigation and its ultimately conclusion, go back to the drawing board and work out ways to in a legally sufficient way calculate and recoup that debt because it can’t be let going on as it is.”

The Guardian reported yesterday the government has not ruled out legislating to allow a reboot of mass scale debt recovery.

Updated

National Covid update

And just on the figures from today:

  • There have been 7,229 cases
  • Eight new cases confirmed in the past 24 hours
  • There have been 102 deaths
  • There are less than 500 active cases, with 25 people in hospital, five in ICU, and two on ventilators

Updated

Kelly is asked about which countries are of most concern now – and he lists Brazil and Russia.

Those are the two leaders in terms of the large numbers of increasing cases over the last couple of weeks, but many parts of Europe, including the UK and North America are also a problem as is other parts of South America.

Updated

On the likelihood of a travel bubble with New Zealand, he says:

When we get to that point and we’re absolutely sure that we both pretty much have the problem under control, then there’ll be an arrangement, I’m very certain, to allow such a travel bubble to occur.

It is about the timing of that and what, if any, extra tests or screening or so forth would need to happen either prior to boarding or after arrival is a matter for discussion between the two countries and those discussions are happening right now.

Updated

Asked about the possibility of sports stadiums being reopened as competitions get back under way, Kelly says the principles taken into account could include a “smaller than usual capacity situation”.

But he doesn’t want to pre-empt national cabinet.

Updated

On outbreaks, Kelly says “we will be seeing this ripple effect of small numbers, isolated outbreaks very quickly recognised through our test, trace and respond way of dealing with these and brought under control”.

The outbreaks will become less and less common, but he suspects this will change when Australia starts to think about opening its borders again.

Updated

In fact, it’s the deputy chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, providing the update.

Kelly notes overseas “this virus still is out of control”.

“There is large epidemics, large numbers of cases and deaths happening every day. So we have to keep that vigilance going around people coming from overseas.”

Updated

Just a reminder we are expecting Dr Nick Coatsworth to provide the daily coronavirus update shortly.

Hi everyone, thanks to Amy for her work today. I’ll be with you for the next few hours. If you want to get in touch: luke.henriques-gomes@theguardian.com or @lukehgomes

My wonderful colleague Luke Henriques-Gomes will take you through that, and the rest of what is happening today.

Thank you again for joining me. I’ll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, take care of you.

We will be getting a national Covid update today (they are only doing them now and then, now).

Dr Nick Coatsworth will take you through that in about 3o minutes.

Updated

Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann have put out their official statement on the GDP figures:

The position of strength from which we entered the crisis together with this unprecedented support has seen the Australian economy perform better than almost every developed economy in the world.

In April, the government indicated that it would provide an update on the economic and fiscal outlook in June.

Since then, Australia’s continued success in flattening the curve means we have been able to begin reopening our economy more quickly than initially expected.

Treasury has also since commenced its review of the jobkeeper program, which is not expected to be concluded until the end of June.

As a result, the government has taken the decision to defer the economic and fiscal update to 23 July 2020, so that it can incorporate the outcomes of the jobkeeper review.

Delivering the update in July will also enable the economic and fiscal outlook to take account of progress made under the three step plan outlined by national cabinet in early May which had the objective of seeing a sustainable Covid-safe Australia in July 2020.

The government will continue to provide updates on the fiscal position through the release of the Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks to the media during a press conference regarding Australia’s GDP on Wednesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks to the media during a press conference regarding Australia’s GDP on Wednesday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Updated

Adam Bandt says it's time for a 'green new deal and a jobs guarantee'

Adam Bandt has responded to today’s GDP figures:

Australia is in recession and Scott Morrison has no plan to get us out of it.

Depression-era job queues demand a Depression-era response, which means massive public investment in nation-building, planet-saving projects, not granite benchtop grants.

We need a 15-year plan to build 500,000 new public housing homes and create 44,000 new jobs and apprenticeships, not a mansion extension fund that will use public money for private benefit.

As bad as these figures are, they will get worse when Scott Morrison pushes everyone off a cliff over the next few months by cutting jobseeker, jobkeeper and childcare support.

With nearly four in 10 young people with no jobs or not enough work, it is time for a green new deal and a jobs guarantee to provide meaningful work to people and deliver lasting benefits to the Australian population.

Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt.
Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Updated

Alannah MacTiernan, who is the Western Australian agriculture minister, is speaking about the federal agriculture department’s decision to allow the Al Kuwait an exemption to transport livestock past the 1 June cutoff date:

We note that the federal regulator has decided that it is unable to grant an exemption to the vessel to take sheep out into the moratorium period. Now, we were open to that exemption being granted, but we understand that the commonwealth regulator has been looking in detail at all of the data, and they’ve clearly made the decision that it is not safe to allow that exemption to apply. I’m presuming, from what we gather, that there has been the meteorological data is showing more severe weather than usual in the Middle East, and that the vessel could not be here probably ready to go until about the 10th or 11th of June, and that obviously is well into the moratorium period. So, look, we accept that the regulator has looked at the science. We’re presuming that they’ve made a rational decision, they haven’t issued their reasons yet, but we do understand that, to a significant extent, it was made on the analysis of the meteorological data.

Live export ship Al Kuwait in Freemantle. The ship arrived in Fremantle from the United Arab Emirates on 22 May and a number of crew members have tested positive for coronavirus.
Live export ship Al Kuwait in Freemantle. The ship arrived in Fremantle from the United Arab Emirates on 22 May and a number of crew members have tested positive for coronavirus. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/EPA

Updated

The national crisis committee held just two meetings over the 2019-2020 bushfire season, the royal commission has heard.

The first meeting was held on 11 November, 2019, and the second on 10 January, 2020.

Dominique Hogan-Doran SC, the leading senior counsel for the royal commission into national natural disaster arrangements, asked why there were only two such meetings.

Robert Cameron, the director general of Emergency Management Australia, which is a division of the home affairs department said “it wasn’t particularly needed”.

There was frequent and ongoing engagement at operational level, including at commissioners and chief officers level with each of the jurisdictions involved and the situation was well understood. Ministers were engaged. State governments, of course, were engaged. And there wasn’t a particular need for a rolling series of national crisis committees to share information… governments were in frequent and routine contact.”

Cameron said the role of that committee overlapped with the Commissioners and Chief Officers Strategic Committee (COSC) on which sit the heads of all fire and emergency services in Australia, but there was no formal or structural link between the two committees.

He suggested that while COSC “works very well” he has some “reservations about the authorising environment in which agreements to share [resources] are created”.

Currently, those arrangements are brokered by the National Resource Sharing Centre, which is managed by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), a non-government organisation.Cameron said it was his view that those arrangements “probably should be the province of governments, rather than the province of a not-for-profit company”.

He said there was “unequivocal” evidence that Australia would face more severe and more frequent natural hazards, and national governance arrangements around resource-sharing needed to be “safe in a governance sense”.

“If you take the impact of the changing climate into account we’re going to have, again regrettably, more disaster impacts which will stretch our capacity and if you take that to its ultimate end, we could be faced at some future point with a decision that needs to be made collectively where resource element A can be applied to incident B or not C, but not both. And that requires very safe governance arrangements to make those sorts of decisions because the impacts on the community to which the capability is not deployed could be dire. And indeed are likely to be so.”

Updated

Christian Porter has released his statement on today’s IR roundtable:

The Morrison government has appointed former West Australian under treasurer, Tim Marney, to help lead its efforts to regrow jobs lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Marney, now a principal at Nous Group, will serve as deputy chair of the five industrial relations working groups that were announced by the prime minister last month. The working groups will aim to tackle known problems within the IR system which inhibit job growth and creation.

Attorney general and minister for industrial relations, Christian Porter, who will chair the working groups, announced Mr Marney’s appointment today following an IR roundtable meeting in Sydney to map out the consultative process over the coming months.

“Mr Marney is a highly respected economist and problem solver who worked successfully under both Labor and Liberal governments during almost three decades of public service,” the attorney general said.

“Having worked closely with Tim during my time as WA treasurer, his skillset and ability to bridge the political divide makes him the ideal choice to facilitate negotiations between employers and unions to get Australian working again.

“Like me, Tim also understands the urgency of this task and the need for all sides to put old animosities aside and work together like never before to deliver fair and workable solutions to the problems that threaten to hold back our economic recovery.

“Today’s roundtable agreed that jobs needed to be everyone’s central focus as we move into the Covid-19 recovery phase, whilst remaining conscious of the continuing health challenges posed by the virus.

“I was very heartened by the cooperative approach of all participants at today’s meeting and the commitment all participants made to working consultatively on the five working group topics, which are:

· Casuals and fixed-term employees

· Award simplification (covering Awards in industry sectors heavily impacted by Covid)

· Enterprise agreement making

· Compliance and enforcement

· Greenfields agreements for new enterprises

Attorney general and minister for industrial relations Christian Porter speaks to the media on Wednesday.
Attorney general and minister for industrial relations Christian Porter speaks to the media on Wednesday. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Updated

If you have to keep telling people what your strategy is, chances are, it isn’t coming across as you want it to.

Jim Chalmers on how Labor has handled the past few months:

What we’ve shown in the last few months, Labor has shown, in being constructive and responsible, but not being silent, that approach has been vindicated by events.

We said too [many] people were excluded from the jobkeeper payments and that turned out to be the case. We said there were issues with the construction sector and particularly social housing, that unfortunately looks like that would be the case.

We said there was a reason to increase social security payments. In many cases what we proposed the government initially dismissed, including some of the things we think they may be announcing in the next day or two.

The country would be better off if the coalition matched their rhetoric of co-operation with reality. Because we have had a constructive role to play, we’ve had pointed out where there may be issues, including in superannuation early access, but in other areas as well, and in every case, as far as I’m aware, the warnings that we have made or the suggestions that we have made have proven to be sensible.

Updated

Q: What do you make of the treasurer’s words “remarkably resilient” when he talks about how the economy was?

Jim Chalmers:

That kind of spin is cold comfort for the 800,000 Australians who signed up for unemployment benefits in the last couple of months. The treasurer was at it again today, trying to pretend that slogans and marketing is a substitute for quality economic management in uncertain times like these.

Updated

That sound you hear is “back in black” mugs being smashed at Liberal HQ.

Updated

This is what it comes down to, for Labor. Josh Frydenberg:

The treasurer was at it again today, trying to pretend he had already delivered a surplus when we now know that wasn’t the case.

This is a treasurer that printed the mugs saying the budget was back in black and the reality proved to be something very different.

Clearly in times like these, there’s a role for the government to intervene in the economy in the ways we’ve seen in the last couple of months, so the highest priority is people’s jobs, rather than clinging to the arbitrary and political goal the government announced some time ago.

I think it’s humiliating for Josh Frydenberg as the first treasurer in nine treasurers to oversee a recession.

The only treasurer to print mugs saying the budget was back in the black well before it was.

The prime minister claimed during the course of the last election campaign he had already delivered a budget surplus.

This government’s record on managing the budget even before this crisis, if you look at the facts, has been a failure.

They had more than doubled debt even before the crisis, they have delivered six deficits after promising only surpluses, and now we enter difficult times, where there’s a case of government spending and there’s a case for government intervention, where our highest priority is jobs in the economy and doing what is necessary there, we approach that from a position of weakness rather than strength, because of what the government has failed to achieve in the last seven years.

Updated

Jim Chalmers:

In this context, it’s absolutely unacceptable to hear today, buried in an answer from a question the treasurer does not intend to keep his commitment to update the budget in June. It’s an absolute disgrace that the budget update has been delayed once again in these uncertain times.

It shows this treasurer and this government wants to keep Australians in the dark about what is happening in the economy, what we are expect to happen in the coming months, and what the impact has been on all the blunders and bungles the government has made so far with jobkeeper and other key programs.

And I think the many Australians will be suspicious that their intention is to drop it out again, late on a Friday afternoon, like they did with the jobkeeper debacle, like they did with robodebt, in the hope that no one notices. We need the government to level with people for once. There is a lot of understandable anxiety in the community about this recession.

Updated

Back to Jim Chalmers:

Much of what we are seeing today is an acceleration of challenges that have been in the economy for some time.

Weak growth, stagnant private economy, sluggish consumption, declining business and dwelling investment and weak wages growth.

In terms of wages, we’re conscious the industrial relations processes the government set up begin today.

It shouldn’t have taken a once-in-a-century pandemic for this government to realise the benefits of bringing business and unions together to try and find some common ground. That should be thoroughly unremarkable. We want to see this process work.

We want to see sensible outcomes come out of it, and if they do, we’ll support those outcomes.

But we don’t think the answer to years of insecure work and stagnant wages is even more job insecurity or even more downward pressure on wages. It would be disappointing in the extreme if this process, at the end of it, the government said to all those Australians who made so many sacrifices and dealt with stagnant wages for so long, the answer to all of this is more of the same.

Updated

From AAP:

Victoria’s two biggest suburban football competitions have cancelled their seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic, casting further doubt on any community leagues taking to the field in 2020.

The Eastern and Northern leagues intend to push ahead with their junior competitions, but all senior football and netball has been abandoned this year.

The EFNL and NFNL confirmed it would be too difficult financially and logistically to stage games amid coronavirus restrictions, and club volunteers needed certainty.

Almost all community football leagues and clubs agree it would be impossible to run a season without crowds contributing to canteen and bar sales.

“Both the EFNL and NFNL believe that cancelling their competitions is the only viable decision that will ensure the long-term sustainability of their clubs and the leagues,” a joint statement read.

“[The leagues] are both committed to working closely with AFL Victoria ... and will now begin working with clubs towards a return to the field in 2021.”

The powerful metropolitan leagues join country competitions Kyabram District, Heathcote District and Millewa in pulling the pin for 2020.

Updated

Jim Chalmers:

Now, while the pandemic came without warning, long standing weakness in the economy did not. Even before the worst of this virus, even before the bushfires, we had issues with weak growth, and stagnant wages, and weak business investment, and productivity, and net debt in the budget had already more than doubled. So we entered this very difficult crisis from a position of weakness rather than strength.

Jim Chalmers is responding, officially, to the GDP figures:

Australia’s remarkable run of three decades of continuous growth has come to an end. This unparalleled period of continuous growth which was set up by Labor, was defended by Labor, when it was last most at risk, has now come to an end under the Liberals as a consequence of this pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been sacrificed to the first recession in 29 years. And the recovery will be patchy and it will take some time.

Here is the Wage Theft Bill 2020 currently before @VicParliament https://t.co/zZ8fXmM827
And here is the research paper on the issue https://t.co/zZ8fXmM827 #springst #auslaw #ausbiz #ausunions

— Leroy (@Leroy_Lynch) June 3, 2020

Linda Burney and Mark Dreyfus have put out a statement, calling for clear targets to address the over-representation of First Nations people in Australian’s prison systems, and child removal.

Here is part of it:

There have been 432 Indigenous deaths in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.

First Nations people are still grossly overrepresented in prison – making up 29% of those in jail, but just 3% the broader population. In some places, over 80% of those in jail are Indigenous.

Indigenous children are still 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home-care. In some places, 90% of children in out-of-home-care are Indigenous.

We also remain deeply concerned by the Morrison government’s decision to reverse decades of self-determination in the provision of legal services to Indigenous Australians by abolishing the standalone, specific purpose funding program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

We in Labor also reiterate our call for the Morrison Ggovernment to reinstate funding to the existing self-determined structure of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum which, for years, has worked with and on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of family violence and sexual assault.

It is critical that the government continues to work with the Coalition of Peaks in determining the targets, policies and programs to reduce Indigenous incarceration and child removal rates.

Updated

I doubt we’ll be seeing “back solidly in the red” mugs for sale anytime soon though.

Updated

The June quarter figures are going to be rough.

Waking up after the whitest bachelorette party in the history of the world, rough.

(But yes, the promised surplus was in doubt before the pandemic hit.)

Updated

Josh Frydenberg finishes with this on this question:

“Given these numbers are largely based on the bushfires, does this show that your promised surplus was in doubt before the pandemic?”

Frydenberg:

Well, firstly, these numbers reflect the pandemic - the impact on consumption as a result of this once-in-a-century event.

When it comes to the bushfires, as you know, Treasury, RBA, others, talked about, 0.2% of an impact on the national accounts but that was over the December and March quarters.

This story today is the result of very difficult health decisions that have had a very severe economic impact.

This is the economic consequences of the health decisions that we’ve had to take. And we were on track to deliver a surplus even after the bushfires.

We delivered the first balanced budget in 11 years. But clearly, with this once-in-a-century pandemic, the impact on the economy has been very severe, the impact in the June quarter will be even more severe, we’ve climbed this mountain before, we’ll climb it again.

Updated

So from that, you can take away that we are going to get a mini-budget in July.

The budget was put off until October, but the start of the new financial year will demand some answers about where the economy is going, and the government has to respond earlier than October.

Q: Are you now anticipating that, following that June review of jobkeeper, there’ll be a major overhaul of that program? Or do you think you’ll just be doing tweaking?

Josh Frydenberg:

Well, again, the governor of the Reserve Bank has said it’s very sensible to do a review at the midway point. What we want to do, is understand where businesses are in the recovery stage.

We want to understand whether the quantum – that $1,500 payment – continues to be the right amount.

Also bearing in mind that some people are getting paid more than they would otherwise get by virtue of having a flat payment. But, in the context of an economy where the restrictions are being eased and people are getting back into work, we need to assess - and particularly being of focus to certain sectors as well - we need to assess the continuation of that jobkeeper program in that context, and it’s too early to pre-empt what the outcomes of that review will be, but any government decisions about the review will be incorporated into that statement that the finance minister and I will make in July.

Updated

Q: What do you need to do to get us out of this recession - to reverse consumption. Are you advising Australians to spend more?

Josh Frydenberg:

I think we will see consumption come back in accordance with the improvements we’ve seen in consumer confidence. So, as I said, nine consecutive weeks of consumer confidence rising, making up 95% of those losses that we saw in March. Consumption will pick up as the restrictions are eased.

And that is really important to understand.

As restrictions are eased, people can start to go out to the pub or to their shopping centre. Just a couple of days ago, I was in a pub in Hawthorn. There were 11 people in that pub who were on jobkeeper - workers, whether they were in the kitchen or whether they were at the front bar. The fact that those restrictions are now being eased and they can have customers come through the door will mean that that transition off that support will be easier for a business like that, as well as we will see an increase in consumption as a result of those restrictions being eased.

Updated

Just heard someone walk past on the street saying “Oh great, we are in recession”.

That was quick.

From an emotional sense, we have been feeling it for a while

Updated

Australia in recession

Everyone and their cat knew this was coming. But here is Josh Frydenberg confirming it:

Q: Is Australia in recession today?

Frydenberg:

Well, the answer to that is yes. And that is on the basis of the advice that I have from the Treasury department about where the June quarter is expected to be.

Updated

Josh Frydenberg continues:


Based on what we know from Treasury, we’re going to see a contraction in the June quarter which is going to be a lot more substantial than what we have seen in the March quarter.

The finance minister and I will be providing a detailed update on the economic numbers now in July as opposed to June, and we’re doing so because we’re going to announce, at the same time, the outcomes of our jobkeeper review.

As you know, that is being conducted through the course of this month. And we want the outcomes of that review to be within the numbers that we announce in July.

We also have that three-step process, that has been agreed by national cabinet, and the intention was for those three steps to be completed by July, and that should allow us to get a better sense of where the economy is at that point in time.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated

June quarter 'far more severe' then what we have seen – Treasury

Josh Frydenberg:

Well, as I was saying, we were on the edge of the cliff.

What we were facing was an economist’s version of Armageddon. We have avoided the economic fate, and the health fate, of other nations because of the measures, that we have taken as a nation – the social-distancing requirements, the work that we’ve done on isolation and quarantine, the travel bans – that has seen the number of cases reduce dramatically.

As a result of our success on the health front, we are now starting to see the restrictions being eased.

And as you know, national cabinet set out a three-step plan for for removing those restrictions, which Treasury forecasts - once done - will deliver about $1.4bn delivered to the economy and see 50,000 people get back to work.

The June quarter, the economic impact will be severe. Far more severe than what we have seen today. That’s what Treasury’s advice to me is.

Updated

And on the household savings ratio, Jo Masters says:

Households have already moved to boost precautionary savings, with the savings rise jumping to 5.5% from 3.5% in Q4 2019 even as income was boosted by social assistance benefits. This shift reflects the intensifying headwinds to spending. Households are absorbing higher unemployment, elevated job insecurity, falling house prices, concerns about a second Covid-19 outbreak, all against a backdrop of already high debt levels.

Jo Masters, the chief economist at EY has taken a look at the national accounts for March:

There was never any doubt that Australia is in the midst of a recession when you consider the broader definition, being a prolonged period of weak or negative real GDP growth associated with a sharp rise in unemployment. Today’s data showed that the economy contracted by 0.3% in the March quarter setting Australia up to meet the technical definition of recession, and ending Australia’s near 30 year run of economic expansion.

The key takeaway from the data, though, is the speed, intensity and widespread nature of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent move to enforce social distancing and travel restrictions. While these measures only impacted a few weeks out of the whole quarter, the impact was laid bare for all to see in the data.”

Updated

Josh Frydenberg:

Today’s national accounts show, once again, that in the face of a 1-in-100-year global pandemic, the Australian economy has been remarkably resilient. We entered this economic crisis, and this health crisis, from a position of economic strength.

Growth was rising, unemployment had fallen to 5.1% in January, 5.1m jobs had been created, and the budget was back in balance for the first time in 11 years.

Around $260bn in economic support, or the equivalent of more than 13% of GDP. We are not through this crisis as yet. And there will be some difficult days ahead.

But our nation – working across geographical and political boundaries – has made great progress.

Having withstood flood, fire, drought, and now the coronavirus pandemic, Australians have shown a unity and purpose which has enabled us to make significant progress and for which all Australians can be very proud and very confident about their future.

Updated

In context GDP drop shows 'remarkable resilience' says treasurer

Josh Frydenberg says the 0.3% drop in GDP, in context, shows “remarkable resilience”

It’s important to remember that it was quite early on in the March quarter that the health restrictions were starting to be implemented.

Australia had its first coronavirus case confirmed on January 25 and, a week later, on the 1st of February, Australia became one of the first countries to act in bringing in a travel ban on China.

It was soon extended to Iran, South Korea and Italy, and then to all non-residents on the 20 March. Social-distancing restrictions were also implemented progressively in that quarter. On 15 March, outdoor gatherings were limited to 500. On 18 March, indoor gatherings were limited to 100.

On 20 March, the 4-sq-metre rule came into place. And on 24 March, overseas travel was banned and limits placed on the size of gatherings at weddings and funerals. It was in this quarter – the March quarter – that consumer and business confidence fell to its lowest level on record. That the ASX 200 lost a third of its value. And on 16 March, saw its biggest daily fall of 9.7% on record.

When combined with the ongoing drought, which saw farm GDP fall by 2.4% in the quarter, and the devastating impact of the fires that were raging across many states, one looks back on the March quarter, and there wasn’t much good news.

Seen in this context, the fact that the Australian economy only contracted by 0.3% shows the Australian economy’s remarkable resilience.

Updated

This also shows you where we are headed as a global economy.

Spoiler - it ain’t good.

The decline in Australian GDP seems relatively modest compared to most other economies - while lockdowns etc occurred at different times we also had devastating bushfires interrupting activity as well - they are not great numbers but they seemingly could have been worse! #ausbiz pic.twitter.com/1lqZv9qguN

— Alex Joiner (@IFM_Economist) June 3, 2020

This is what those savings look like - people are not feeling overly confident, so they are trying to hold on to their cash. The ABS says the increase in social security spending has also helped increase people’s disposable income, so in some cases, people who have never been able to save before, now have a buffer.

Plus, we didn’t have a lot to spend our money on. But still.

Jim Chalmers has responded to the latest national accounts:

Today’s National Accounts confirm our economy shrank in the first three months of this year before the worst impacts of the virus were felt. The economy has deteriorated further since then which means Australia is in recession for the first time in nearly three decades. #auspol

— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) June 3, 2020

And by jurisdiction

State final demand, a measure of GDP, shows ACT, WA and Tasmania expanded last quarter #ausbiz #onthemoneysbs pic.twitter.com/nR94hxeiGa

— Ricardo Gonçalves (@BUSINESSricardo) June 3, 2020

Josh Frydenberg will hold a press conference to discuss the GDP figures at 12.15pm.

Updated

Right, I am not an economist, so this is all a little whoosh whoosh.

You’ll find all the data here, and you can read Greg Jericho’s analysis to find out more.

But the takeaways, as I see them are:

  • We are all saving more, showing we are not feeling overly optimistic about the economy – the household saving ratio was up to 5.5%.
  • At the same time, it follows that we are spending less. A lot less – household final consumption expenditure fell 1.1%, the first decline since December 2008, detracting 0.6 percentage points from GDP.
  • Discretionary spending is down 3.9%.
  • GDP per capita is down 0.7%.

And this is just the beginning.

Forget the ‘technical’ recession. We are in one.

Updated

GDP fell 0.3% in March quarter

The ABS has released the latest national accounts:

The Australian Gross Domestic Product fell 0.3% in seasonally adjusted, chain volume terms in the March quarter 2020 and growth slowed to 1.4% through the year, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Chief economist for the ABS, Bruce Hockman, said:

This was the slowest through-the-year growth since September 2009 when Australia was in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and captures just the beginning of the expected economic effects of Covid-19.

The Australian economy was impacted by a number of significant events this quarter, starting with bushfires and other natural disasters, followed by the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent imposition of restrictions.

The government responded with the introduction of economic stimulus and support packages.

The ABS has published a series of spotlight articles highlighting some areas in the economy where these events had more significant impacts.

Public demand contributed 0.3 percentage points to GDP, driven by a 1.8% rise in government final consumption expenditure.

Updated

With community transmission of Covid-19 down in NSW, that state is resuming roadside breathe tests.

Via AAP:

NSW police, meanwhile, have resumed stationary random alcohol breath testing after halting the roadside practice in March due to Covid-19 safety concerns.

RBT sites will be re-established from Wednesday morning and an enhanced police presence on NSW roads has been promised for the June long weekend.

“Irresponsible or reckless behaviour that endangers others will not be tolerated – there’s no excuse for not abiding by the road rules,” police minister David Elliott said in a statement.

“The community has already been through enough – we’ve had enough trauma.”

Updated

AAP reports the ASX is slightly up, ahead of the latest GDP data:

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 52.7 points, or 0.90%, at 5887.8 points after the first 30 minutes of trade on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries index was 54.4 points, or 0.91% higher, at 6014.5.

All sectors were higher except for health.

The biggest gains were in energy and property, up 2.08% and 1.98% respectively.

The AUD is also on an upward trend buying 69.33USD.

There is consensus among experts that the GDP figures for the March quarter will show a contraction of between 0.1% and 0.5%.

But given the optimism in the markets, maybe prepare for the forecasts to be wrong. There is always the possibility of growth.

We’ll know for sure in about 10 minutes.

Updated

The Queensland government has been in negotiations with airlines to increase intrastate tourism bookings.

As part of one deal, Queensland residents will be able to fly from Brisbane to the Whitsunday’s from $99. Alliance Airlines will fly that route four times a week from 22 June.

The state’s borders will remain closed until at least July, with an update expected at the end of June.

A reminder that ‘Karen’ isn’t a name, but a state of mind.

Bit of a theme on the old Bolt blog this week. pic.twitter.com/E2U7F1rJ30

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) June 3, 2020

The high court has ruled on the use of tear gas at the NT’s Don Dale youth detention centre:

High Court rules that the use by prison officers of tear gas against children in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre (NT) was illegal, so the victims can sue for damages for the assault on them. https://t.co/1Vtws0PCaA

— marquelawyers (@marquelawyers) June 3, 2020

'You'd have to say he's had a bad day,' says NSW police boss

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller, who received an $87,000 pay increase early last month, bringing his salary to $649,500 (about $100,000 more than the prime minister) told Sydney radio 2GB he was “concerned” by the footage of a NSW police officer sweeping an Indigenous boy to the ground during an arrest, but that the officer might have been having “a bad day” – but he did apologise for the boy’s treatment.

He says the investigation comes down to whether the force used was excessive or not:

The fact that this officer doesn’t have a chequered history and he has been in for three and a half years, for mine, if there certainly is complaint sustained against him, you would have to say he has had a bad day and I am sure most of the community wouldn’t want to see someone who has made a mistake sacked after making such a commitment to the community.

Fuller continued:

From my perspective, we know the young boy attends the local PCYC, which is a positive thing for me, which means regardless of what his history is with police, he is someone who is trying to make better and we don’t want to sacrifice that either, we want young people whether they’ve got a clean history or a chequered history with police to be able to go to the PCYCs and rehabilitate themselves into employment and give them a future.

I guess for mine, whether police have got this right or wrong don’t throw away your relationship with the community because of it.

...Regardless of whether he should or shouldn’t have been arrested, regardless of whether he has committed a crime or not, we certainly could have handled that situation better.

Again, it is about how do you deal with this going forward? I am sure people don’t want the officer sacked, I am sure they want some sense some accountability, but at the same time, I imagine there are people who would say you can’t just go around swearing at police or threatening them either.

Updated

Gladys Berejiklian says NSW has the health response to Covid-19 fairly underhand, attention needs to turn to the economy:

Whilst we have the health consequences under control to an extent, although we can’t be complacent, we have to be vigilant, the economic consequences have come to the fore.

The easing of restrictions means come businesses can come back to a level of normality but we it has to be done in a Covid-safe way. There needs to be a checklist in place.

Depending on your business, there are extra measures you’ll need to take to keep your patrons safe.

Similarly for us as individuals we need to make sure we follow the rules, and keep an eye out for people who are not doing the right thing.

Children sport or community sport under 18 years of age does start on 1 July. We’re obviously looking at adult sport. As you appreciate, what has underpinned our success is the social distancing. So we’re saying to everybody – make sure you maintain 1.5 metres, a four-square metre rule. That’s very difficult to apply to adult sport. We need to be very careful how to do that.

We need to get it right. In every part of the world, I think every jurisdiction we’ve looked at except for one, has had to shut things down or reverse decisions once restrictions ease. We don’t want to do that.

Updated

Victoria reports seven new Covid-19 cases

Victorian health authorities have reported seven new cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours. Those people are all recently returned travellers, who have been in quarantine.

Updated

David Elliott has been to protests. Some of his best friends are protesters:

Well, I mean, one of the great things about Australia is that we’re free and democratic and that we allow and in fact we encourage freedom of speech and freedom of protest.

I’ve been to protests myself. And I think that we need to make sure that that is something that is, indeed, celebrated. Protesting against a cause or for a cause is something that should be celebrated in Australia.

I just want people to be reminded that what happened in the United States is not what happens here. And even though we have had deaths in custody, even though we have had a rocky past in our race relations over 120-odd years, I think we need to be reminded that that occurred in the United States and our government and our police officers have a slightly different approach to community engagement.

NSW police minister David Elliott, who said he would be happy for his children to be stripped searched by police -

Remember when David Elliott said he would "want" police to strip-search his children if police "felt they were at risk of doing something wrong"https://t.co/Bx6hWDEGDc

— Naaman Zhou (@naamanzhou) June 3, 2020

– on teenagers being “lippy”:

As somebody who has two teenage boys at home myself, I know what it can be like, but I think probably one of the secondary messages here is that we do need to remind our young people that there are levels of authority there that really command respect and that we need to ensure that all those institutions that are in positions of authority, whether it be a parliamentarian or a police officer or even, you know, media personalities, we have to make sure that we uphold the standards that demands that respect.

Respect should never be freely given. It has to be earned, minister.

Updated

I have often thought we are a nation of Ned Flanders thinking we’re Ned Kelly. Add this story from Shane Wright at the SMH and the Age to the exhibit list.

Australia outperformed the world dealing with the coronavirus pandemic – and the nation’s consumers out-shopped their international counterparts when it came to panic buying.

New research by two University of New South Wales academics into coronavirus-related panic shopping shows that Australian consumers were the quickest in the world to raid supermarket aisles in search of toilet paper and canned soup.

Empty shelves at Coles supermarket after the pasta is sold out.
Empty shelves at Coles supermarket after the pasta is sold out. Photograph: Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Remember when David Elliot chased a 17-year old kid and told him he "worked for the cops" after he clipped his carhttps://t.co/OHKNDYwhT6 https://t.co/DxbcXFgkti

— Naaman Zhou (@naamanzhou) June 2, 2020

The charity sector is also on the brink in Australia.

Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) are launching a report today, detailing the concerns for the not-for-profit and charity sector, in the face of increased demand after Australia’s bushfires, floods, drought and now pandemic.

Andrew Leigh says the report found the sector is struggling both for funds and volunteers:

They found that a 20% fall in revenue to the sector would put nearly 250,000 charity workers out of a job and see as many as one in six charities at high risk of closing down.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, 60% of charities were in a vulnerable financial position, with one in four operating with a surplus of less than five per cent. Another survey of the sector found that by mid-April, 78% of charities reported a downturn in revenue, with more than one in six reporting a drop of more than 30%.

In addition to falling funds, the sector’s volunteer base has shrunk to one third its previous size. Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, more than three million volunteers provided more than $12.7bn of unpaid labour each year. But more than half of all charities have seen a drastic drop in volunteer activity since the crisis began.

Charity OzHarvest delivers food and fresh produce to volunteers at the OzHarvest Market in Sydney.
Charity OzHarvest delivers food and fresh produce to volunteers at the OzHarvest Market in Sydney. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Updated

'Just as disturbed about the threat from a young person,' says NSW police minister

New South Wales police minister David Elliott was asked about the young Indigenous boy who was tripped by a police officer and slammed face-first on the ground. He said that he would “see what the professional standards review comes up with”.

I was just as disturbed about the threat from a young person to physically assault a police officer as I was with the response from the police officer.

Elliott:

It’s an unfortunate situation. I don’t want to see any young person physically apprehended for doing anything and I certainly don’t want to see any police officer physically threatened with violence. I’m happy that the commissioner has taken ownership of this. He’s going to ensure there is a thorough investigation and review and if ... If I can do anything to assist either the family reinstate their relationship with the local police – which I understand is very strong, because the boy is involved with PCYC – then I’ll happily do that.

Updated

In case you missed it last night, Ben Butler has an update on where the Virgin bid is at.

The two remaining contenders to buy stricken airline Virgin Australia now face a race against time to secure a binding deal – and potentially a government bailout – before the end of the month.

On Tuesday Virgin Australia’s administrators, partners at accounting firm Deloitte, said they wanted to receive binding bids from US private equity group Bain Capital and investment group Cyrus Capital Partners.

The two were among five groups that on Friday lodged non-binding bids for the airline, which collapsed beneath a $6.8bn pile of debt in April after being paralysed by the coronavirus crisis.

Updated

Updated

It’s hard to withstand global shocks when your supply is kept offshore, but sure, go off. (And also, our big “boost” is five days’ worth of supply.)

Australia has finalised the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Arrangement with USA that will bolster fuel security and enhance our ability to withstand global shocks @secbrouillette @USAembassyinOZ #auspol pic.twitter.com/dYm4vdCnoI

— Angus Taylor MP (@AngusTaylorMP) June 2, 2020

Updated

Meanwhile, the Canadian prime minister was asked about Donald Trump’s handling of the United States protests, and what he thought Canada’s issues were.

Justin Trudeau was silent for 22 seconds before answering.

Justin Trudeau speaks on the US protests and Canada’s ‘systemic’ issues

Updated

Albanese says Australia has race issues but are 'nothing like the US'

Does Anthony Albanese, who called for an “investigation” into how US police treated an Australian Seven News camera operator and journalist, believe Australia has the same issues when it comes to racism?

He tells the Nine Network:

Certainly, there are issues here but nothing like the United States. It is important that leaders seek to unite the nation. And I think here in Australia, if you compare with what’s going on in the US, I just look over there, I think about, there’s more than 100,000 former US citizens who have made Australia their home and I know that many of them will be worried about what’s occurring in their nation. It doesn’t look great to me.

It looks extremely troubling and a deeply divided society. And I just hope that this great democracy is able to unite and come together as soon as possible.

Updated

Meanwhile, Australia’s universities say they are on the brink – as Paul Karp reports:

Universities claim they will lose up to $16bn by 2023 due to the impact of Covid-19, according to new modelling.

Universities Australia has raised the stakes in lobbying for an industry assistance package or relaxed visa conditions to facilitate international students by revealing it now expects members to lose between $3.1bn and $4.8bn this year alone.

The peak body had previously estimated losses of up to $4.6bn, warning of 21,000 job losses in the sector. The warning prompted the government to guarantee its $18bn contribution to universities but it refused to kick in extra funding.

Updated

Thinking of taking Greece up on its quarantine free holiday offer?

Well, learn from the story of Troy. Look deeper.

Labor’s Andrew Giles wants the government to support an anti-racism campaign, now that lockdowns are easing and the initial panic over Covid-19 is passing:

Racism has been on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. There have been reports of some shocking incidents of abuse directed at Chinese-Australians.

This is why Labor has been calling for a new national anti-racism campaign, as part of a strategy to confront racism.

This call is supported by multicultural organisations – and through the actions of the NSW Liberal government.

But the Morrison government has refused to act. Indeed, on the weekend the member for Chisholm, Gladys Liu was reported as saying that the “racism has died down”.

Really? What evidence does Ms Liu have to support this statement?

Do the prime minister and the acting minister for multicultural affairs agree with her?

Labor is not convinced that coronavirus-related racism has died down, and we share the concern of many stakeholders that racism is being under-reported.

While the vast majority of Australians abhor racism, we need to stand against the actions of an unrepresentative minority so that we can all get through this together.

It’s time for the Morrison government to support a national anti-racism campaign.

Updated

Asked what she thought when she saw the footage attached to this story:

Gladys Berejiklian said:

I think I thought what most Australians thought, and that is – we still have a long way to go in our country.

And I appreciate the actions the police have taken in relation to that in terms of restricting the duties of the officer involved. They’re investigating the matter.

I think what happened in the US is a good wakeup call for all of us, and I think that all of us have our hearts breaking as to what’s happening in the United States. And we have to ensure that we can do what we can in our own country to protect all of our citizens.

Updated

NSW premier defends blocking public servant pay freeze

Gladys Berejiklian had a quick chat to ABC News Breakfast this morning. Asked about the NSW upper house blocking the public servant pay freeze:

Look, we know that it is a big ask for the public servant, but we’re saying to every single one of the 410,000 public service working for the New South Wales government - we’ve said to each and every one of them, you will have a job guarantee for the next 12 months.

And all we’re asking you to do is not take a pay rise for the next 12 months.

As I mentioned earlier, we literally have hundreds of people who have left the workforce.

In 90% of the population that don’t work for the New South Wales public service, 221,000 of those people lost their jobs in April.

We literally have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of others, and I think we’re getting sop updated figures today, who are on jobkeeper. Once jobkeeper runs out, we don’t know how many of those employees will stay employed and how many will join the Centrelink queues.

And it’s a very difficult time. None of us could have foreshadowed horrific bushfire seasons, storms, deep drought and a pandemic. I don’t think that any one of us could have foreseen that and that’s why we need to take decisions which are not decisions we’d usually take.

Not decisions we are happy to take, but that we have to take. That’s why we’re doing what we have to do. We’re thinking and looking to the future, because literally, by the end of the year, I shudder to think how many people in New South Wales will be without a job.

Updated

David Littleproud’s department has decided to NOT grant a live export exemption for the Al Kuwait vessel, which docked in Western Australia after a Covid outbreak among crew members.

The exporter, Rural Export and Trading (WA) Pty Ltd, had asked to be able to make the trip after the 1 June deadline which has been imposed to protect animals from heat stress during the journey to the Middle East.

The ag department has said no. It will give its reasons later in the week.

The exporter submitted an application to the department for exemption from the June 1 export deadline under the Australian Meat and Livestock Industry (Prohibition of Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle EastNorthern Summer) Order 2020, including an Animal Welfare Management Plan.

Following consideration of all relevant matters under the legislation, including animal welfare and trade implications, the department has taken the decision not to grant an exemption to the exporter.

The livestock that was to be exported in this consignment remain at registered premises and the department is satisfied there are no welfare concerns.

Today is Mabo Day. It has been 28 years since Eddie Koiki Mabo’s fight for Native Title rights for Indigenous land rights culminated in a high court win, which also dismissed ‘terra nullius’ from legislation. Eddie Mabo had mounted the fight, after learning the Meriam people had no ownership over the Murray Islands, where he grew up, because it had been deemed the property of Queensland.

In 1981, he made a speech declaring that the land was “my fathers & grandfather’s, grandmother’s land, I am related to it, it is my identity. That’s why I need to fight for it, so I don’t loose my identity to the land”.

Eddie Mabo died five months before the high court handed down its decision.

Updated

The industrial relations roundtables announced by Scott Morrison at the National Press Club last week begin today in Sydney.

Depending who you ask this is either an Extremely Big Deal because unions, employers and government are negotiating reforms which has a bit of a (Prices and Incomes) Accord flavour - OR - all the government has done is book a room, with no guarantee anyone will agree to anything out of it.

There are five reform committees dealing with: award simplification; enterprise agreement making; casuals and fixed term employees; compliance and enforcement; and greenfields agreements for new enterprises.

On the employee side, ACTU secretary Sally McManus and president Michele O’Neil on the employer side, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ai Group, the Business Council of Australia, Australian Resources and Energy Group, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (WA) and Master Builders Australia.

While the aim is to reach consensus, the government hasn’t ruled out pushing on without it - and this could be done by legislation, regulation, or via the budgetary process in October.
Industrial relations minister Christian Porter said:

As the prime minister said, it is critical that all sides of the debate lay down their arms and commit to work together during this process to find ways to get our economy moving again and urgently regrow the jobs so many Australians have lost as a result of Covid-19 ...

The problems within each of the five areas we have chosen to focus on are well known and I am confident that if we can work cooperatively, an opportunity exists to make meaningful progress at developing solutions that will make a significant difference to how quickly we can recover from this crisis.

While participants will no doubt want to raise other issues outside of the five priority areas, all participants will be encouraged to leave the traditional ‘shopping wish lists’ at the door and focus on getting results that can be achieved in the shortest possible timeframe.”

Good morning

Welcome to Roundtable Wednesday – the first of the government’s attempts to bring in representatives from all sides of the work debate and iron out Australia’s IR laws.

So far, everyone seems to be going in with clear eyes and, if not full hearts, open ones, but unlike the pandemic changes, any alterations made here, would have lasting impacts.

This is not the accords. There is no Medicare on the table, no widespread societal change. Just IR awards and the potential to make something worse, if not everyone is in the mood to make it better.

If there is no agreement, the government will still be pressing forward with what it thinks it should do. What that is, will come from the conversations, but it has already said there doesn’t need to be consensus.

So we will bring you that, as well as everything else which happens today, including the national accounts which should be out mid-morning.

You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day.

Ready?

Contributors

Elias Visontay, Luke Henriques-Gomes and Amy Remeikis

The GuardianTramp

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Two tennis players have tested positive, but hard lockdown of those who shared flights remains. This blog is now closed

Michael McGowan (now) Nino Bucci (earlier)

20, Jan, 2021 @7:36 AM