What happened this Tuesday 19 October 2021
With that, we’ll wrap up the blog for today.
Here is a rundown of the day’s biggest developments:
- Barnaby Joyce has acknowledged that Scott Morrison can commit Australia to a new net zero target without the endorsement of the Nationals’ party room, as the junior Coalition partner continues to internally debate its climate stance.
- Gladys Berejiklian expressed an “inclination to support” a $5.5m grant for a shooting complex in Wagga Wagga which her then-secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire had been personally lobbying for, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard.
- The former Victorian Labor minister Adem Somyurek and his political protégé accused journalists of racism in an effort to stop them from investigating taxpayer-funded grants awarded to their factional allies, an inquiry has heard.
- The mother of four-year-old Cleo Smith says she woke to find the tent open and her daughter missing, along with her sleeping bag, on the morning she vanished from a popular Western Australian campsite.
- Daniel Andrews has warned that unvaccinated Victorians could face restrictions well into next year as the state prepares to open up this weekend.
- Almost half of $60.2bn in federal government grants awarded over the past four years has not gone through a competitive open tender process, a new report on federal grant spending has found.
- Emma Watkins, the first female Wiggle, has confirmed she will leave the Wiggles at the end of the year, spurred by a lockdown epiphany. Watkins says she is leaving to focus on her family and PhD.
Have a great evening. We’ll be back to do it all again tomorrow.
The mother of four-year-old Cleo Smith says she woke to find the tent open and her daughter’s sleeping bag missing the morning they discovered her disappearance from a popular Western Australian campsite.
Ellie Smith said she had barely slept since her daughter’s disappearance, calling for her safe return after searches entered the fourth day.
“Everyone asks us what we need and all we need is our little girl home,” she said in an interview reported by the ABC on Tuesday.
The family had arrived at the Blowholes campsite at Macleod, on the north-west coast of Western Australia, on Friday about 6.30pm. Smith said Cleo went to bed about 8pm after dinner before the rest of their family, including her sister Isla.
On Tuesday the Labor caucus decided to block the government’s Coag reform bill if the section extending secrecy to the national cabinet is not removed.
The Coalition wants to protect national cabinet secrecy after losing to Rex Patrick in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which found the intergovernmental body is not a committee of the commonwealth cabinet.
The bill is in serious trouble, even Liberal senator Gerard Rennick has said he will vote against it, as has independent Jacqui Lambie.
The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration reported back on the bill today. The government-controlled committee wants it passed, but Labor has dissented.
In their report Labor senators said: “Secrecy has been a foundational feature of National Cabinet, just like the Morrison Government. Since it was established the Morrison Government has withheld information from the Parliament and the public on the spurious grounds National Cabinet is part of the Commonwealth Cabinet.The tentacles of National Cabinet secrecy have extended without justification to other bodies which pre-dated National Cabinet including the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
The decision to treat documents previously published by AHPPC as Cabinet-in-Confidence upon the creation of National Cabinet has diminished public knowledge and buttressed the ability of dangerous fools to spread misinformation about Australia’s public health response during the pandemic.”
Labor senators concluded that if national cabinet were really a part of the commonwealth cabinet there would be no need for the bill.
Nine confirmed Covid cases in Melbourne detention hotel
The Covid-19 outbreak inside Melbourne’s Park hotel – an alternative place of detention for more than 40 refugees and asylum seekers – has grown to at least nine confirmed cases, sources inside the hotel say, but could be as many as 20.
More than a dozen refugees and asylum seekers are still waiting for test results after more than two days.
Video of a heated confrontation in a corridor of the Park hotel was posted online. Officials in full PPE are seen talking to asylum seekers and refugees who are asking to be taken out of the hotel as the virus spreads.
“In this pandemic we’re at a point where everyone is going to get it eventually,” one official says, “so we’ve got to do what we can do.”
For months, refugees and asylum seekers have warned that an outbreak of Covid-19 would spread rapidly within hotel detention, because of low vaccination rates (the vaccination program for those in detention started later than that in the broader community) and the compromised health of many of those held in detention.
Most of those in the Park hotel were moved to Australia from offshore detention islands in PNG and Nauru under the medevac laws because of acute healthcare needs. The majority have been in detention more than eight years.
Also exacerbating the risk is the unavoidable confinement of hotel detention, including shared sleeping, eating and limited recreation spaces. There is also some hesitancy towards vaccinations because of low levels of trust in the government and its detention health provider, International Health and Medical Services.
Last year, more than 1,180 health professionals signed an open letter to the government called for the men to be released, saying the makeshift detention centres were “a very high-risk environment” for transmission.
Confirmed positive cases are being moved to the first floor of the hotel. One of the cases confirmed on Sunday has been taken to hospital.
Foreign spies 'threatening to harm' diaspora members in Australia
Foreign spies are “threatening to physically harm” members of diaspora communities in Australia, according to the head of intelligence agency Asio.
Mike Burgess, the director general of security, raised the concern in Asio’s latest annual report, which was tabled in parliament today.
Without naming any country, Burgess wrote that espionage and foreign interference attempts “by multiple countries” remained “unacceptably high”.
These attempts occur on a daily basis. They are sophisticated and wide-ranging. They are enabled and accelerated by technology. And they take place in every state and territory, targeting all levels of government, as well as industry and academia.
Foreign spies are attempting to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships, defence and intelligence capabilities. They are seeking to develop targeted relationships with current and former politicians, and current and former security-clearance holders. They are monitoring diaspora communities in Australia and, in some cases, threatening to physically harm members of these communities.
Burgess also wrote that he was “concerned about the potential for Australia’s adversaries to pre-position malicious code in critical infrastructure, particularly in areas such as telecommunications and energy”. Such activities “could be used to damage critical networks in the future”.
But he said Asio and law-enforcement partners had achieved “a significant reduction in the number of foreign spies and their proxies operating in Australia”. Again, without going into detail, he said visas had been cancelled and spy networks dismantled.
Burgess reaffirmed his recent comments that Asio anticipated that espionage and foreign interference “will supplant terrorism as Australia’s principal security concern over the next five years”. He also said terrorism was “an ongoing and evolving challenge”, with the national terrorism threat level remaining at “probable”.
Religiously motivated violent extremists want to kill Australians. Groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continue to urge attacks, 24 convicted terrorism offenders are eligible for release over the next 10 years, and some battle-hardened foreign fighters may yet return to Australia.
At the same time, our investigations into ideologically motivated violent extremists, such as racist and nationalist violent extremists, have grown. During 2020–21, these investigations approached 50% of our onshore priority counter-terrorism caseload. One of the most concerning aspects of these investigations is the growing number of young people — predominantly young men — who are being radicalised by these ideologies.
Police divers have found a speargun and other gear belonging to a missing fisherman on the bottom of the sea near Cairns, reports AAP.
The 26-year-old failed to return to his boat at Sudbury Reef on Saturday afternoon.
A companion raised the alarm and police carried out an extensive search over more than 135 sq km.
Sen Const Matt Cornish said on Tuesday that the man’s speargun and other diving equipment had been found on the sea floor.
The items that were located by police divers on Sunday afternoon were in close vicinity of the boat, which was still anchored there.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
New South Wales’ vaccine rollout continues to grow.
92.3% of residents over 16 have had one dose
81.6% of people are now fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory has a slight edge over NSW, with a double dose rate of 81.7%.
Nationally, the second-dose coverage is hovering just under 70%.
The parliament shenanigans are winding down, so I am going to hand you over to the wonderful Elias Visontay for the evening. He’ll take you through what else is going on as the day winds to a close and his brain is still firing on all cylinders, so you are all much better off.
A very big thank you to Mike Bowers, who is still walking the hallways and to Murph, Sarah Martin, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst for all they have done today to make everything make sense. And for listening to my never ending rants.
As always though, the biggest thank you is to all of you. We very much appreciate you joining us each day. You may have noticed a bit of a shift in the Nationals language today (Matt Canavan not included) and Barnaby Joyce dropping in the “end of the week” line for a response in question time, so maybe, just maybe, we will have a resolution to the 2050 net zero target soonish. 2030 though? That’s a battle for another time. Like the election.
We will be back early tomorrow morning where we will bring you all of the updates as they come. Stay tuned to what Elias has for you now, and be sure to check back for what the team have written up for the day. And most importantly – take care of you.
AAP has what the Queensland CHO Jeannette Young said about the Queensland vaccination program:
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says unvaccinated people have 12 days left to get their first jab if they want the vaccine to reach full efficacy by December 17.
“You’ve got, as the premier said, 12 days to do it, because after that we will be bringing in virus through the borders in vaccinated people,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
“We know that once you’re vaccinated you still can get infected and transmit it, but you’re very unlikely to get unwell, very unlikely you’re going to end up in hospital.
“So every single Queenslander is going to get exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and we’ll get infected, but if you’re vaccinated, that’s not a problem.”
Given we are hearing about this industry non-stop at the moment, it is worth having a look at what numbers we are talking about in the workforce:
Dorinda Cox is about to deliver her first speech in the Senate.
This on the other hand, is worth your time
Shock, horror – Matt Canavan is still against net zero by 2050.
This time, because he is an economist by trade and he knows how modelling works:
As someone who has done economic modelling, I know you can get whatever result you like. What is important is the assumptions you put into it.
That is what you need to be given because that is how you determine its veracity and accuracy and reliability.
None of that information has been provided to us and I certainly believe that the government should release all of the detail. The Rudd and Gillard governments did that in their climate package and the Morrison government did the same. There was modelling done by a respected modeller.
I do not even know who has done this modelling let alone what assumptions and import they have used.
It seems quite fantastical that we would completely change the whole Australian economy and there would be no impact, effectively.
They goes against all modelling that has ever been done on a net zero emissions including those done in the UK and New Zealand so I do think it is important that the government releases it [so] we can see the detail.
Matt Canavan is breaking his (two minute) silence to once again let the world know his very closely held views on net zero emissions targets on the ABC.
Which is lucky. Because I had really begun to wonder in those two minutes JUST WHAT IS CANAVAN’S POSITION.
Farmers' federation president: just set a target and give us some certainty
The National Farmers’ Federation president, Fiona Simson is having a chat to Afternoon Briefing, where she was asked what she and the NFF spoke to the Nationals party about in the climate briefing:
We talked to the National party about the opportunities for our industry. To be honest, I think most farmers now are just very pragmatic about this, we haven’t drunk any cordial, we are not lefties or righties or whatever, we are on the front-end of a rapidly changing climate, we are experiencing that ourselves in the last decade with a terrible drought and some of the extreme weather conditions we are having and we are on the pointy end when it comes to international policies, and clearly climate change is something the global community is taking very seriously. We are extremely trade exposed here in Australia, in agriculture, we export 70% of what we produce.
We are feeling really vulnerable without a target, because that leaves us open to tariff action, border adjustment mechanisms such as we have seen proposed by Europe, even though their own agricultural industry is exempt from any of their targets so far. So we made it clear, and making it clear in fact to anybody we are talking to that we just want to set the target give us some certainty, we want every part of the economy to be doing their bit. We also want to make sure we have the pathway for our industry and some recognition of the contribution we have up-to-date as we map the growth of our industry over the next 30 years, the growth of the best food and fibre industry in the world and how we marry that with environmental sustainability and a lower emissions economy.
Good news for Victorians:
LNP senator threatens to withhold vote from government unless border closures are taken to high court
There was some confusion earlier in the day over a contribution made by the Liberal senator, Gerard Rennick, in the joint party room about Queensland border closures.
Rennick has since told the Guardian he asked the attorney general, Michaelia Cash, to challenge the state’s border closures in the high court, arguing that 8,000 Queenslanders could not return home, and the strict border controls could no longer be considered reasonable.
He said Cash and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, needed to go to the high court “as a matter of urgency”.
“Queenslanders should be able to go home, subject to a negative covid test,” Rennick said.
“The prime minister has to be seen to be defending the constitution, which is what unites us all.”
Rennick said that while it “was not Scott’s fault” that Annastacia Palaszczuk had instituted the border restrictions, he said the prime minister “needs to fix it”.
He said that he would be prepared to withhold his vote in the Senate on critical legislation “until Morrison sorts it out”, but would not interfere with procedural motions.
“If that is what it takes, then yes,” Rennick said.
“The prime minister needs to get on the phone and tell the premiers to pull their heads in as they are out of control, and it is an overreach of their powers, and we need to go to the high court as a matter of urgency and clarify what it means to close the borders and the question of reasonableness.”
It was a very animated QT for some.
Mike Bowers was in the chamber for QT.
He caught some lovely “we are best friends” moments.
Labor national secretary, Paul Erickson, has responded to the Victorian supreme court rejecting two challenges to the federal intervention into the Victorian branch.
Erickson told Guardian Australia:
This decision is important confirmation of the power of the national executive to enforce our rules and stamp out bad behaviour. Anthony Albanese has been clear he expects the national executive to continue [this work] including acting on any [Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission] recommendations and findings.”
Question time ends.
Barnaby Joyce on why he is dragging out the inevitable on a 2050 net zero target:
That process continues on and we will make sure that the prime minister of the commonwealth of Australia has a response from us for by the end of this week as to what we see as the pertinent issues and to have further discussion.
This is not grandstanding. This is not ransom that has been put forward by so many people. This is making sure that we do our job and we will continue to do our job.
Again, Joyce has been in governing coalition for eight years. He has been part of the executive, who makes decisions for the government, for most of those. Just a few weeks ago, he was pretending that the executive doesn’t come up with plans.
Now he is the patient, sensible centre.
Alan Tudge gets a dixer on childcare and opens with:
He [the MP] knows, as we all do in this place, how important childcare is, particularly for our parents who go to the paid workforce if they indeed want to do that.
Yes, that very niche group of parents who must work to support their family.
Scott Morrison is really hoping these focus group lines take off.
We are putting downward pressure on emissions and the record of those opposite is that they drove them up with their carbon tax and they made Australians pay for their policies. On this side of the house, Mr Speaker, our policies are about taking the burdens off.
Our policies are about doing the right thing by rural and regional Australia and households, Mr Speaker, so they can have the choices that they want to have so that they can plan for their future with confidence. Those opposite, Mr Speaker, want to sign Australia up with a blank cheque and no plan and make Australians pay for it.
Josh Frydenberg can’t answer a dixer without running through an MP’s LinkedIn bio, but Barnaby Joyce can’t answer any question without listing off as many places as he can from that “I’ve been everywhere” song.
Anthony Albanese to Scott Morrison:
Yesterday the deputy prime minister said that a net zero emissions 2050 target could not be legislated because of the impact on Australia if the target was not met. Does this not show that this is another announcement that the prime minister has no intention of delivering?
Australia made the commitment to Kyoto, the same basis that we made a commitment to Paris and the same basis we would take anything forwarded to Glasgow and the proof of our record is we have met Kyoto one (which allowed Australia to increase emissions), we have met Kyoto two, we are going to meet our Paris 2030 and in fact beat our Paris 2030 (not exactly)
The leader of the opposition seems to confuse the processes that he wishes to engage in is having some material impact on what the outcome will be. Australians understand outcomes. And the outcomes are that under our government, emissions are falling. They are going down, emissions have fallen by 20% and more on 2005 levels*, they are lower and it’s not the only thing that is lower.
Unemployment is lower**, youth unemployment is lower, the level of investment in this country is greater, there are more Australians working in manufacturing today, and there were less under the Labor party when they were in power (it was the GFC).
We have got big resources projects happening around the country, we are seeing our LNG industry going from strength to strength, being world leading at the same time, our policies are reducing emissions. Outcomes count. Not broad rhetorical statements from politicians. Outcomes count.
And so let me remind the House of the few outcomes, 20% reduction in emissions, 69.2% of Australians aged over 16 vaccinated, the lowest rate of mortality for Covid of almost any country in the world (because borders were shut and quarantine programs were established – both at the pushing of the states).
One of the lowest unemployment rates in more than a decade (again, because so many people have just given up looking for jobs and have dropped out of the labour force and therefore aren’t counted). They are the results that the Labor party don’t want to speak about.
*Emissions have only dipped in the seven years the Coalition has been in power and the bulk of the reduction happened before 2013 under Labor.
The overwhelming majority of this was due not to a reduction in fossil fuel use, but a substantial drop in land-clearing and forest destruction in Queensland under changes brought in by the state Labor government, a decline in native forestry and forest regeneration in some semi-arid areas.
**Because so many people have dropped out of the labour force and are not counted in unemployment figures.
Dugald (Milton) Dick to Scott Morrison:
When the Prime Minister arrives in Glasgow in a fortnight’s time, will he tell the meeting “electric vehicles will end the weekend”, “batteries to store energy are as useful as the big banana and the big prawn” and ‘renewable energy targets are nuts’.
Mr Speaker, I don’t accept the caricature that the member has put forward.
It is a complete misrepresentation which I’m completely used to from the Labor party, Mr Speaker, they can treat the parliament that way and treating it like a comedy act but these are very serious issues.
While Labor seeks to joke about the policy, Mr Speaker, the government is focused very clearly on the decisions we have to make about what is going to impact on the livelihoods and lives of Australians over the next 30 years.
And, Mr Speaker, we’re not taking an approach those opposite. They just signed up, Mr Speaker, with a blank cheque ...
Labor tries to object that he is straying off the topic, but Tony Smith says given the way the question was phrased he has room to move.
The commitment to net zero 2050 is a serious matter. It will have big impact on big opportunities for Australia in the future.
You don’t just sign up to it without a plan which is what I said from this dispatch box on many occasions. You don’t sign Australia up to something like that unless you carefully consider what the plan is and what the impact of that plan is.
We have been going through that very exercise very seriously as a cabinet, as a Coalition government, as a serious government does to make these important decisions.
We understand this that the global changes happening in our economy because of the response to climate change, that will have impacts that are adverse in Australia in rural and regional areas in particular.
That is going to occur, and our plans are desired to address that, and to recognise the opportunities that can be gained from the changes that are occurring around the world, to ensure Australia can emerge more strongly based on the plans we are working on.
That is how we are coming to conclude this issue. We came to this plan without any estimate, they claim some modelling, but that modelling assumes a carbon price, it assumes a carbon tax, and that is where the Labor party is at.
We are doing this on the basis of careful consideration of the impacts of Australia’s IR decision. This is one of the biggest decisions our country has to make and we will make a carefully. We will make it collaboratively and we will be listening to Australians as we have done over the course of this term to prepare for this very moment to ensure that we consider this issue we can do so in a way where we can position Australia strongly for the future.
This is about an economic plan that gets Australia through one of these great challenges. We will have such a plan, we have such a plan, and the admissions technology plan already set out which of those opposite, even right now in the Senate are seeking to disallow,* a regulation which would see us be able to invest in clean energy technologies in carbon capture storage and they are opposing ... (he runs out of time).
*The changes the government has made to Arena funding means it will be able to finance fossil fuel projects. Not something the renewable energy fund was set up for.
Given this is coming up a bit, here is an article from Adam Morton on the UK energy crisis:
Chris Bowen to Scott Morrison:
The government has been in office for nearly a decade and the COP26 conference in Glasgow starts in just two weeks. After a decade, nearly a decade, how much longer is it going to take the prime minister to come up with a climate policy?
A 20% reduction in emissions, Mr Speaker, since 2005 which is the product, Mr Speaker, of the policies that we have put in place, Mr Speaker, particularly over these last eight years that has ensured, Mr Speaker, that has ensured, Mr Speaker, that we have been able to see technologies realise, that we’ve seen we have been able to drive down those emissions while stabilising and reducing electricity prices and keeping the lights on, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the world knows what our 2030 commitments are, we signed up to them, I took them to the last election, Mr Speaker, and the Australian people endorsed them, I said we would meet them and we would beat them.
And we will meet them and we will beat them based on the technologies we pursue. Not tax.
The work we have done in the agricultural community and I’m sure we can add to more of these was not our policies, Mr Speaker, are reducing emissions.
Our policies are reducing emissions and at the same time, Mr Speaker, we have realised one of the most significant expansions in our LNG industry (a fossil fuel) that we’ve ever seen, Mr Speaker and at the same time we have seen the number of people in manufacturing go up as opposed to under Labor and one in eight manufacturing jobs were lost. (It was the GFC and it was under the Coalition that the car manufacturing industry was lost)
So under our policies, Mr Speaker, we are getting emissions down, we are getting solar panels on people’s homes, we are seeing record investments in renewable energy, we’re getting Australians into manufacturing jobs, we are expanding our resources industries and that is what the my Coalition’s plans are doing and we intend to keep doing that as we pursue policies in this area which ensure we do the right thing by jobs, we do the right thing by the environment, we do the right thing by our national energy security, Mr Speaker, that ensures that Australians can look forward to their future with confidence among whether they are living in the Hunter, Mr Speaker, or the south coast of New South Wales or out in Portland, Mr Speaker, where we have ensured that the aluminium smelter will continue to run and support those jobs, Mr Speaker.
That is what our energy emissions reductions and environmental policies are achieving for Australia. And we will continue to make decisions in that vein. We will continue to do that, Mr Speaker, and we will not be taxing our way there.
That is the approach of the Labor party and that is what they pursued when they were last in government, that is their approach, taxes not technology, Mr Speaker. We are technology not taxes.
That is how we get the ourselves to achieve these goals, that is how we can make our way through the very difficult global economic challenges that will confront Australia over the next 30 years. We have been careful in considering each of these because we are mindful of the impact it can have on rural and regional areas. We haven’t signed Australia up with lank commitments like those opposite have...
He runs out of time.
Challenges to federal ALP intervention in Victorian branch fail
The Victorian supreme court has given judgment in two cases seeking to challenge the federal Labor party’s intervention in the Victorian branch over branch-stacking allegations.
Both cases have failed, meaning the national executive’s decisions to appoint administrators and take control of preselections have been upheld.
The cases were brought by Victorian MP and former Andrews government minister, Marlene Kairouz and by the Health Services Union’s Diana Asmar, after a 60 Minutes episode exposed allegations of branch stacking leading to Anthony Albanese and the national executive intervening in the branch.
In a summary of his judgment, Justice Tim Ginnane said he had decided that the claims the intervention was an unlawful interference with the Victorian branch’s trust property is the sort of dispute the court can hear.
But Ginnane said that Kairouz had not “proved or established” her claim the national executive had inappropriately interfered in the management of branch trusts. He disagreed with her claim the federal party is a separate entity that cannot interfere in the branch. Likewise, he found the plaintiffs in the Asmar case had failed on the same grounds.
Ginnane said the other grounds of challenge were “not justiciable”, meaning they “are not claims of the kind the court will become involved or will decide”.
It is not the role of this court to decide if disciplinary charges [against Kairouz] have substance, I note that she denies them.”
Anthony Albanese to Barnaby Joyce:
My question is given to the deputy prime minister and minister for regional development. I refer to his previous answer about the modelling of net zero by 2050 on regions in which he said, “It has an impact on the price of commodities”, what is that impact?
Mr Speaker, it is quite obvious that if the world is going where it is going, I think even ... (Labor MPs laugh). I don’t know what is so funny about that.
It’s hilarious, isn’t it? (He is being sarcastic)
... Modelling of course is the best estimation. It is not written on tablets of stone but that estimation would naturally point to a change in demand which would reflect a change in price.
So in the results of the modelling, the results of the modelling which we have seen, the results of the modelling which we have seen, it shows a downturn in coal price, coal commodities, was up and I don’t know what is remarkable about that.
I understand the tactics of the Labor party is to try and trip me up but you have to try and sharpen that process a little bit.
I’m asking that the deputy prime minister table the modelling that he was referring to in his answer.
You can’t make that request, you can do it by a question, you can only ask to table a document he was reading from and he wasn’t reading from any document.
Anthony Albanese to Barnaby Joyce:
My question is to the deputy prime minister and the minister for regional water development. Has the minister seen any modelling which shows the economic impact of net zero by 2050 for the region? What does the modelling say about the economic impact on regional Australia?
I thank the honorable member for his question and yes, at this point in time we are working very diligently and very closely through so many aspects of the issue of 2050 because that it is incumbent upon us to make sure we look after the people of Aubrey and Singleton and make sure we do the right thing by the people of Nowra and Queanbeyan.
We are working very diligently to make sure that we look after people from Busselton to Mount Eliza, that people in Aubrey and Wodonga and to that purpose we are going to every aspect of the plan that has been delivered to us and we are making sure that we come up with the right capacity to go back to the people whether it is in the seat of Cowan or in the seat of Flynn, whether...
The question goes to whether he has seen modelling and the impact on the regions, regions, not to read the table of contents from an atlas.
The substantive part of the manager of opposition point of order which was not the last part, the question does ask, it is very specific, the deputy prime minister has been entitled to give some context, which he has done, and he is not even one minute in course that can’t be the entirety of his answer.
Mr Speaker I respect your ruling but I would note how dismissive the Labor party are of regional towns, how dismissive they are of regional towns, how they smirk and snigger.
You need to return to the question.
I know quite clearly there has been an absolute diligent oversight within the Liberal party, the leader of the Liberal party, the member for Cook, the leader of the coalition prime minister, and I’m going to the process of making sure that I respect the views of my party room, [to where the] question goes to, we have seen the results of modelling, we have seen that in a whole range of reflections on the price of commodities.
We all get a lovely view of Bob Katter’s nose as he asks a question virtually.
While “WILL YOU RELEASE THE MODELLING’ might be giving you all flashbacks to the 2019 election campaign, there are other examples – like when then-treasurer in 2017, wouldn’t release the economic modelling for the proposed tax cuts. (spoiler – that was Scott Morrison)
Anthony Albanese to Scott Morrison:
Has the government modelled the impact of our emissions by 2050? If the answer is yes, will the government released the modelling, if the answer is yes, when?
When the government has fully considered these matters we will be setting out all of our plans and we will be setting out all the benefits and we will be setting out all the matters that relate to those policies, and that is the answer to the question.
We will be very transparent where we have been able to assess the impact of our policies, and to demonstrate, those benefits we will certainly do that and that will be the case when the members refer to.
We will do that before the next election and I suspect we will do it a lot sooner before they make their mind up about the 2030 commitment, they asked me about this over one year ago, and they still can’t tell the Australian people what the 2030 commitment is. I don’t know what the time delay is on outside, but they cannot make their mind up about...
Tony Burke gets up with a point of order, but Morrison has decided he has concluded his answer.
The current deputy prime minister is attempting to answer a dixer question, which is like trying to watch someone describe what the number 54 smells like and makes just as much sense.
Chris Bowen to Scott Morrison:
My question is to the prime minister and I refer to his previous answer in which he mentioned the importance of transparency. For the prime minister release government modelling on the impacts of net zero emissions by 2050 ascended to the Nationals’ party room. Why is this modelling secret?
Peter Dutton objects:
Mr Speaker, as I understood, not that I was paying great attention to the member for McMahon, as probably the most in this chamber.
I heard the member for McMahon talk about the presentation to the Nationals’ party room. The premise was not in that meeting, he didn’t attend the meeting. It was at entirely appropriate matter for that National party and I don’t know how the prime minister can be expected to answer that question.
Tony Smith points out that Dutton just posted his own L:
The question was whether the prime minister would release the modelling that was provided.
So Morrison has to answer.
I can’t speak to the National party room anymore than the leader of the Nationals can speak to the discussions of the Liberal room.
We are two great proud parties and we hold a great Coalition, Mr Speaker, as we have done for many, many years and continue to do so. Mr Speaker, what I can be very clear to the Australian people about is we will be very transparent about what our commitments are, very transparent about what our commitments are ... what the costs are, Mr Speaker, what the outcome is going to be... what our commitments are. What the costs are.
That is exactly what I did at the last election. At the last election I set out very clearly what our 2030 target was going to be, how we were going to achieve it, that we would meet and beat it, what the cost would be, what the programs were, Mr Speaker, and as a result, the Australian people backed our plan. Those opposite, Mr Speaker, the Labor party, they had a 45% emissions reduction target. The then-Leader of the opposition couldn’t explain issues, Mr Speaker, he couldn’t level with the Australian people.
Just saying to the prime minister, it is not an opportunity to now move off the question which was a very specific one about whether he would or wouldn’t release modelling and I think the prime minister’s answered that. But it is not an opportunity to talk about the opposition policies at the last election.
Mr Speaker, I can be very clear with the Australia people. We will set these things out very clearly because that is our form, that is what we have done because Mr Speaker that is important, for Australians to know what our plans are, as they are aware of all plans of those who would go to the next election pretending to do various things.
Now we will be very clear about our plans, people know what our 2030 commitment is, Mr Speaker. It is a mystery what those opposite’s 2030 commitment is, Mr Speaker. There is no plan there.
There is no plan for 2050 from those opposite, Mr Speaker. We will be clear about the costs, we will explain to people in rural and regional Australia in particular how we will be standing with them as they work through the challenges that they will face and realise the opportunities that are therefore more jobs, more opportunities, more investment and a stronger rural and regional Australia, Mr Speaker.
So I welcome the fact that in asking this question, Mr Speaker, the Labor party are saying that the standard is you’ve got to tell people what your plans are and what your costs are and what it means for them, Mr Speaker, and that will be the first time they have ever done that!
Morrison seems a little cranky today.
Question time begins
Stephen Jones to Scott Morrison:
What is the impact on the economy of a net zero by 2050 target?
If you have the right plan it is a positive impact, Mr Speaker. If you have the right plan, Mr Speaker, if you have technology not taxes, Mr Speaker, if you don’t have a carbon tax, Mr Speaker, if you actually have a plan that respects people’s choices rather than to force their choices, Mr Speaker!
If you have a balance of technologies and they can get to an affordable cost, if you can ensure that you get the balance right between affordable and reliable energy and you don’t rush the plan, Mr Speaker, and you allow those technologies to develop and you have your transition fuels in place to ensure you keep the lights on and the cost down, Mr Speaker, and if you have a credible plan, Mr Speaker, with the proper transparencies Australia’s well known for, then it can be a great positive for Australia, it can be a great positive for Australia.
But if you take the approach, Mr Speaker, that those opposite took when they were in government which was to impose at carbon tax, Mr Speaker, and I know that Senator Gallagher says that a carbon price from Labor is back on the table*, it is back on the table, Mr Speaker!
So really what this will be about, Mr Speaker, ultimately, in anyone’s ambitions to achieve net zero, it is all about the plan. It is all about the economic plan, Mr Speaker, and who Australians would trust with the economic plan that can take Australians through what will be challenging time.
And who can really trust to look after regional Australia, Mr Speaker, and they know they can’t trust the Labor Party on these issues, Mr Speaker.
At the last election they took a policy...
The prime minister’s now drifting from what was a very specific question. He has compared and contrasted but has now drifted off the question and I’m needing him to come back to the question.
Mr Speaker, again. With the right plan it is a positive benefit, Mr Speaker. With the right plan is a positive benefit. But what we do know, what we do know is this, Mr Speaker, and that is the global economy is changing while the world response to climate change!
And those changes, Mr Speaker, will have an impact on the Australian economy. They do present risks and threats to rural and regional areas and only the Coalition can be trusted to ensure that we can deal with those threats, that we can support rural and regional Australia, Mr Speaker, and if you don’t believe me, believe the member for Hunter, Mr Speaker, and it is pretty clear that Labor has lost its way on that issue.
*Katy Gallagher did not say a carbon tax was back on the table – she said she would not be ruling anything in or out, as Labor was yet to announce its policy and it was not her job to do that.
It’s almost time for QT – expect it to play out pretty much like it did yesterday.
Here’s a little bit more information on the contributions made in the joint partyroom meeting of Liberal and National MPs on climate change policy.
Queensland senator Matt Canavan spoke about polling ahead of the last election which showed that people didn’t support the Adani coal mine.
“Yet we approved it, and when Bob Brown turned up we stood by our values and we went on to win an election,” Canavan said.
He compared the success of the 2019 campaign with the 2016 election under Malcolm Turnbull that focused on “jobs and growth”.
“There was an approach in relation to giving everything to everyone that they like and it was too good to be true. We don’t want to hear jobs and growth 2.0.”
He said for this reason, the government should proceed with investigating nuclear power, saying, “they don’t like it but we have to do what is right.”
Fellow Queensland senator Gerard Rennick also spoke briefly about climate policy, criticising the “march to the Left” of the Business Council of Australia.
The BCA does not represent real businesses. There has never been a lack of access to foreign capital in Australia.”
He referenced the sale of water licences to overseas buyers as an example.
Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman has taken the opportunity during an ABC interview to remind people the final decision on net zero by 2050 will be taken by the cabinet:
The final decisions will be taken by cabinet because the decisions do not involve legislation so I am not sure what the cabinet schedule is but obviously there is an endpoint which is Glasgow in a couple of weeks
ie: Scott Morrison doesn’t need the Nationals to agree. There is no legislation, so no one is crossing the floor. Getting the Nationals agreement does cut down on the chances of mutiny ahead of the election.
Labor is supporting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) the trade agreement which includes the Asean states (including Myanmar) as well as other nations like China, despite the ACTU urging the party to oppose it.
But shadow trade minister, Madeleine King, said Labor wants some action from the government on Myanmar’s military dictatorship:
The government’s refusal to implement any sanctions since the coup in Myanmar sends precisely the wrong message: that Australia does not care and that we are mere bystanders to democratic backsliding in our region.
... Labor has sought and received assurances that Australia’s obligations under RCEP and its enabling legislation do not:
- remove Australia’s capacity to govern in the interest of all Australians, including protecting local jobs through the regulation of temporary work;
- in any way inhibit the government’s ability to implement in full the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Services;
- expand waivers of labour market testing;
- impede government procurement of goods and services locally;
- force the privatisation of public services; or
- undermine medicare or the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
Moreover, RCEP does not include any investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
Meanwhile, Murph has an update on where the climate discussions are at:
Barnaby Joyce has acknowledged that Scott Morrison can commit Australia to a new net zero target without the endorsement of the Nationals’ party room.
With Liberals and Nationals increasingly confident the Coalition is now moving towards an agreement before the Cop26 in Glasgow, Joyce said on Tuesday: “The government decision on the government’s commitments for Australia in relation to Cop26 will be made by the government in cabinet.”
The deputy prime minister told reporters Morrison had “his own mandate and he has his own capacity and that is absolutely and utterly his own right”.
Joint party room meeting avoided net zero target talk
Coalition MPs have met in Canberra, but the issue of net zero by 2050 was not discussed. Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce did not speak on it, there was no discussion, although as Murph reported a little earlier Matt Canavan and Gerard Rennick made statements on climate.
Morrison started off the meeting talking about the success of the country’s vaccination program.
He said that the “extraordinary” uptake showed the importance of patience, saying he had taken the counsel of John Howard to get the policy right and focus on results.This meant avoiding getting dragged into short term tactical contests.
“The issue has been transformed because of the success of our policy.”
“Sometimes you have to go through a bit of political pain to get it done and to get the outcome,” Morrison said. Both Morrison and the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce also spoke about the importance of cracking down on the tech giants.
The issue has gained traction after Joyce spoke about the impact of online harassment on his daughter.
Joyce said “something is going to happen” and MPs would know they “did good” on helping to regulate the sector.
Joyce said if the social media companies were “smart and brilliant” enough to make software that had created billions of dollars for them, they were “also smart enough to do something to deal with this issue.”
In general business, one MP suggested the government needed to consider adopting nuclear power because it was the right thing to do.
They warned against a repeat of the 2016 “jobs and growth” campaign, saying it had been a “rainbows and puppies” style election that tried to keep everyone happy.There was also some debate over what is known as Maeve’s Law, which will allow mitochondrial donation for families with a particular condition.
Some MPs raised concern about embryo destruction.
AAP has a stock market update:
Shares on the Australian market were higher for a fourth consecutive day after global investors appeared optimistic about US third-quarter earnings.
The domestic market was up about one quarter of a per cent and almost all categories were higher at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.
Technology and property were the clear favourites with investors.
There were gains of more than three per cent for artificial intelligence software vendor Appen and financial software vendor Bravura Solutions.
Wall Street traders were keen on technology stocks overnight as third-quarter earnings reports largely impress.
On the ASX, the only category lower was materials as the big miners all trended lower.
BHP blamed Western Australia’s tough border controls for a shortage of train drivers which contributed to producing less iron ore in its first quarter.
The miner revealed production of its most lucrative commodity fell three per cent from the previous quarter, and four per cent on the 2020 first-quarter.
COVID-19 border restrictions led to a shortage of train drivers.
BHP shares were down 1.55 per cent to $38.58.
The miner’s chief rivals fared worse. Iron ore specialist Fortescue dropped 1.76 per cent and Rio Tinto shed 2.81 per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 20.5 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 7401.6.
The All Ordinaries was up 25.1 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7714.8.
In case you haven’t had a chance to see it as yet, this report from Lorena Allam on the Jukkan Gorge parliamentary report is worth a few moments of your day:
When Rio Tinto exploded the gorge, a 46,000-year-old site of global cultural and archaeological significance, it broke the hearts of traditional owners, appalled the nation and blew its own reputation into pieces.
It also triggered a federal inquiry, which on Monday found that what happened at Juukan Gorge, while shocking, was not unique.
It was one of “countless instances where cultural heritage has been the victim of the drive for development and commercial gain”, the inquiry’s final report said.
There are “failures” at every level of government and there must be urgent legislative change to stop the destruction of Aboriginal heritage across the nation, the report said.
Victoria is opening up GP respiratory clinics to help the health system – the RACGP is happy:
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that it will fast track the opening of 20 GP respiratory clinics.
The clinics will be opened in COVID-19 hotspots across Melbourne under a $23.8m state government initiative, providing COVID-19 testing and treatment services for more than 350 patients suffering respiratory symptoms each week. The new clinics are scheduled to be opened in three to six weeks.
RACGP Victoria Chair Dr Anita Munoz welcomed the announcement.
“The Department of Health sought our input in designing a system to manange respiratory presentations in the community,” she said.
“The new GP respiratory clinics will help ease the burden on emergency departments, which have been under a great deal of pressure, and support patients experiencing respiratory symptoms.
“The RACGP has been consulting closely with government on this initiative.”
There is nothing good about this:
Labor MP Julian Hill will introduce a private member’s bill to implement Labor’s policy to end the cashless debit card trials on 31 January, to be replaced by a local jobs plan for the areas where the card is now in use.
The bill also contains transparency measures that would force the government to reveal the total cost and table contracts with Indue, the card’s provider.
Labor has been running hard on the issue, with MP Justine Elliot claiming that the government had made changes that would allow the card to be extended to pensioner.
The government rejects this, explaining that the legislation she cited only allows the Family Responsibilities Commission in Cape York to put aged pensioners on the card.
Hill told Guardian Australia:
Enough is enough. This bill will scrap the scheme and stop the government forcing the card onto all aged pensioners. The minister will have to come clean, release the secret contracts with Indue and confess how much taxpayer money has been wasted.
The social services minister, Anne Ruston, has accused Labor of lying about the putting pensioners on the debit card:
A Liberal senator just had to gag a National senator in the Senate.
Given what is allowed to fly from some of their colleague’s mouths at times it’s nice to see where they draw the line.
WA Greens senator Dorinda Cox, who was sworn into the Senate yesterday, was welcomed to country at a smoking ceremony at the Old Parliament House tent embassy this morning.
Cox is the first female Indigenous senator from WA. She will deliver her first speech at 5pm (but has already impressed in media appearances and contributions in the Senate, on her first day).
Over in the House, Greens leader Adam Bandt is attempting to disallow the Arena (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) changes the government is pushing through (which would mean Arena funds could be used to finance fossil fuel projects).
Labor and the Greens lost this battle in the Senate yesterday, as Paul Karp reported, when One Nation tanked the numbers.
The Greens and Labor don’t have the numbers in the House – so it would mean someone would have to cross the floor for Bandt to be successful, which won’t happen.
The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, has told the caucus that Scott Morrison may call an election for 11 December:
At heart of the Morrison government is a focus group, at the heart of Labor is its values ... It is possible that Scott Morrison comes back from Glasgow and calls a December 11 election – we are prepared for that, we are ready for it whenever it happens, this caucus is ready to govern.
Albanese criticised the Coalition for its record on climate change, noting that John Howard had supported an emissions trading scheme before the 2007 election but they never enacted one:
They’re making the case for action but can’t be trusted to act.
In terms of the legislation dealt with, Labor has decided to support the government’s high-risk terrorist offenders bill, which allows state and territory supreme courts to make an extended supervision order as an alternative to a continuing detention order once high-risk terrorist offenders are released from prison.
Labor also agreed to support the bill implementing the RCEP trade agreement. Despite the ACTU call to oppose it, just two MPs queried the wisdom of the move including Libby Coker, who asked about labour market testing and local jobs, and another who asked about First Nations intellectual property protection.
The shadow trade minister, Madeline King, said RCEP would happen with or without Australia, and it would be beneficial to join an agreement that will cover one-third of global trade and elevates Asean. There were contributions in support from Peter Khalil and Andrew Leigh.
One MP complained about Clive Palmer’s $1m ad spend on YouTube, including claims the ads misrepresent the TGA’s vaccination adverse events report. Mark Butler said Labor had some success lobbying for Facebook to take material down, but the AEC was taking no action and the government had done “nothing to restrain” Palmer.
Half of Labor (led by the Queenslanders) are spooked there will be an election by the end of the year. 7 December is the latest date.
The theory is Scott Morrison returns from Glasgow and calls an election, and then there is one before Christmas, when the health system begins to get hit by the influx of cases.
No one knows what is going to happen. No one.
But if you hold an election on 7 December, then the campaign can’t enter Queensland, WA, South Australia and Tasmania, or the Northern Territory. Not easily anyway.
So it would be a NSW and Victorian (but possibly not Melbourne) campaign. That doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and there are plans for virtual campaigns, but you would think that the prime minister would want everyone to get together over the summer, have a relatively normal one, calm down, and then go to an election.
Again – no one knows. The only thing set in stone is that an ordinary election has to be held before 22 May (21 May being the last date a half Senate and House election can be held).
Coalition joint party room meeting ends without fireworks
The Liberals and Nationals faced each other this morning for the first time since the net zero discussion has reached the sharp end. The short version of the Coalition party room today was that Gerard Rennick and Matt Canavan raised objections.
In the Liberal party room that preceded the joint party room, Liberals Trent Zimmerman, Julian Leser, and Lucy Wicks expressed support.
The Queensland Liberal Garth Hamilton expressed caution.
I’ve been taking a look at what’s happening with Australia’s supply of AstraZeneca in recent weeks, given the significant increase in Pfizer use. The data shows quite a significant cut in the number of AZ doses set aside for donations to the Pacific last week, despite strong local production and flagging domestic demand.
Reports from the vaccine operations centre show the volume of doses made available for distribution to the Pacific fell to just 26,500 last week, down from 308,000 and 200,000 in the two weeks prior, and weekly totals of 500,000 through much of September.
It is the lowest number of doses set aside for the Pacific since June. The data reflects the number of doses made available to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, rather than actual deliveries made to Pacific countries.
We’ve asked the government for an explanation.
Second day of Berejiklian Icac hearing begins
The second day of the New South Wales anti-corruption watchdog’s investigation into former premier Gladys Berejiklian has begun with the evidence of Paul Doorn, a former executive director within the office of sport.
Counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson has spent the morning asking Doorn about the $5.5m grant given to the Australian Clay Target Association in former NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire’s electorate of Wagga Wagga.
The grant is one of two at the centre of the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation into whether Berejiklian breached the public’s trust by “exercising public functions” in circumstances where she had a conflict of interest because of her secret relationship with Maguire.
This morning we heard that Maguire had twice approached the office of sport seeking funding for the gun club, once in 2012 and then again in 2016.
At the time, Doorn says, the department viewed the project as a “low priority”.
Particularly, he told the inquiry this morning, because Sydney already had an Olympic-standard shooting facility. It would have been a “duplication of facilities”, he said, which would have risked cannibalising attempts to bring events to the Sydney facility.
Despite that, when Maguire made his second approach about the facility in 2016 – this time to then minister for sport, Stuart Ayres – Doorn was asked to prepare a submission to the government’s expenditure review committee as a matter of urgency. He understood the project had “some level of support” within the government.
Doorn says based on his discussions with Ayres’ office, he remembered that there “might have been funding available from a different portfolio”, and that making an approach to the ERC could have been a faster way of securing funding for the Wagga shooting complex.
We heard about this submission yesterday, when public servant Michael Toohey told the committee he had been asked by Doorn to prepare a draft in a single day, something both men have described as “unusual” and not something they had been asked to do before. But Doorn has told the inquiry he didn’t understand why the matter had become urgent, other than that the minister had appeared to have secured a timeslot to address the expenditure review committee. He described it as “procedural urgency”.
Meanwhile, in the Northern Territory, the NT News reports:
The Territory Response Group (TRG) was sent to patrol Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s family home on Saturday night after anti-vaccination protesters shouted his home address at a Darwin CBD rally and threatened to attack him.
However, Mr Gunner says he will not back down on his government’s mandatory vaccination laws, describing the protesters as a “delusional minority”.
Police have confirmed they are investigating after a video was posted on Facebook showing protesters shouting Mr Gunner’s address and threatening to “go get him”.
The Coalition joint party room is also out – we will have an update on how that went very soon.
Will Victoria be opening international borders, like NSW?
Victoria won’t open international borders – the commonwealth will open international borders. And the prime minister made that point very clearly the other day but I’m very keen that we have a national cabinet meeting and get everybody on the same page and that there is as best we can a consistent quarantine process, a consistent set of dates for when different groups of people, whether they are international students, business visas, returning Australians, whether they be permanent residents or Australian citizens, whatever other kind of schemes and arrangements that the commonwealth may well, like a New Zealand-type arrangement, if they got others of those that they want to put forward, all of that really does fall to the commonwealth government.
There is some irony that the this whole thing has come down to who is responsible for what given that we have sort of rewritten who is respond all for what, but I don’t issue visas or passports, that is a matter for the commonwealth government.
But we will have a quarantine system that is as light-touch as possible.
When you get to 90-plus vaccination rates, you always have more options and was made that point hundreds and hundreds of times, that is why it is so pleasing, that is why I think we are also proud of each other that we’ve gone and got the jab in record time and in record numbers, it does give us more options.
It means that we might be able to do, in fact we almost certainly will be able to do, home-based quarantine for some people, no quarantine for others, if they are double-dose vaccinated and they got a negative test.
Daniel Andrews is holding Victoria’s Covid press conference, where he has been asked whether or not he is frustrated the federal government hasn’t started the third dose program as yet (technically, it’s not a booster, it’s a third dose of the vaccine):
We just really appreciate some clarity as soon as we can and I’m sure the commonwealth is working towards that, because if we can just sort of seamlessly move from 55 state hubs and a whole lot of pop-ups, if we can just switch that across to a booster program rather than pull all that apart, close it all down then have to start again. That assumes that the commonwealth wants us to play that role – only they can answer that – but we are certainly happy to do that work because ultimately the consequences of that not being done well, that will be something that is very real for all of us.
The Labor caucus meeting is out – we will have an update on how that meeting went, along with what the outcome of what happened in response to the ACTU calling on Labor to oppose the RCEP trade agreement.
The push to get the vaccine before Australia reopening is officially on – not just in the Covid-zero states, but federally as well.
Here is AAP on Greg Hunt this morning:
Unvaccinated Australians have been warned they will be exposed to COVID-19 in coming months as more restrictions ease.
The nation will on Tuesday pass 85 per cent single-dose coverage of people aged 16 and above with the 70 per cent two-jab milestone set to be reached later in the week.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has made a fresh appeal to about three million Australians yet to roll up their sleeves.
“At some stage, everybody will be exposed to the disease,” he told 2CC radio.
“We have to prepare and say nobody’s immune. Everybody is ultimately at risk and you protect yourself and your family.”
Mr Hunt said the 47,000 people aged between 16 and 65 who contracted the disease provided a strong case study about the power of vaccines.
“Of those, only four per cent have been fully vaccinated,” he said.
“Of those sadly that went on to pass away, only one per cent were fully vaccinated.”
I am not sure if Bill Shorten has actually seen Squid Game. But yelling about net zero targets wasn’t one of the games.
The Greens party room discussed the government’s climate negotiations.
Despite the public argy bargy on net zero by 2050, the Greens believe the government has already failed the test for meaningful action by declining to set a more ambitious 2030 target.
Even releasing a trajectory showing an improvement from the 26% reduction by 2030 is not good enough, because state targets alone would amount to a 36% decrease. The Greens plan to push to suspend standing orders over the issue.
The Greens are also upset at Labor for supporting a bill that will allow the Export Finance Investment Corporation to invest in coal and gas projects.
They will also continue to push for a national integrity commission/federal Icac, using a concurrence motion in the lower house.
Remember the federal integrity commission? I know it was only last week that we were talking about that again (and the government’s inaction on it) but a week is a long time in auspol, so it has sort of dropped off again.
Enter Rex Patrick, who wants to introduce a bill to the Senate tomorrow, in line with what the crossbenchers in the House want the parliament to adopt – an actual federal integrity commission.
That means there is now a push from crossbenchers across both chambers. We’ll keep you updated.
Angus Taylor was on Canberra radio 2CC this morning, where he was asked about net zero by 2050 and the whole kerfuffle within the Coalition at the moment.
Has the government been “snookered” into following the opposition down this path was the opening question:
No, I don’t think so. I mean, look, we’ll do what’s right for Australia. We’ll do what’s right for communities right across Australia, particularly our regional communities. As we look forward here, Stephen, we’ve got a situation where over time customers demands are changing. They’re already changing. The Japanese, the Koreans, our big export customers for our products, resources in agriculture. We need to evolve with that.
We’re not going to force loss of jobs. We’re not going to pre-empt any move by our customers. But I tell you what we are going to do. We are going to adapt to our customers like this country has done for hundreds of years, and we’re going to do it in a sensible way, which protects our traditional industries of agriculture, mining, heavy manufacturing.
And at the same time, we’re going to make sure that Australians don’t have costs imposed on them, taxes on their electricity or other energy sources. And we’ll make sure that this pathway is a sensible one forward.
But what matters here is the plan, at the end of the day is the plan that counts. Labor doesn’t have a plan. We have no idea what they have in mind, but we know where they always end up, which is the carbon tax, electricity tax and imposing costs on these communities.
Meanwhile, Labor MPs are enjoying the chance to troll moderate Liberals:
There have been arrests outside parliament – including an 80-year-old woman.
The joint party room meeting is under way. We’ve heard from a lot of voices already so we’ll let you know who was the loudest in the room.
Craig Kelly has temporarily relocated to Canberra because he has not been vaccinated. He quarantined for 15 nights before the sitting in Canberra and has no plans on travelling back to NSW in between sittings.
So he has plenty of time to spend on social media. It seems there are quite a few people – including the president of the Royal Australian College of GPs – who have had enough:
Meanwhile, in very loud minority world:
NSW CHO Dr Kerry Chant was at today’s health presser. She said the health system was under strain but holding up and she was heartened by the vaccination rates.
But she said she also expects infection rates will begin to increase again, from next week:
There are a lot of uncertainties about what case numbers will do. We would believe they would go up, as we have more interactions. But as I said, it is in the hands of everyone.
So, the more people who continue to get tested, the more people followed a public health advice, the more people that get vaccinated, all give us protections.
So we have, to some extent, all of the modelling depends on judging what testing levels are, what the vaccination levels are, what the number of interactions people have.
So we have given guidance, so to some extent it is about how people behave responsibly as we open up, but the models will show.
But we are expecting it does take a lag. So we would not be expecting numbers to rise within a two-week period, so next week I will be really interested in what our numbers are …
I am so pleased we have 90,000 tests. We are going to need to keep those testing rates up and thank you to everyone of those individuals who have come forward.
There is no universe where Matt Canavan would accept a net zero by 2050 target, even if he was given every single piece of modelling in the world. We know this.
Canavan is playing the role of the strong holdout National MP, so when it comes to the election campaign, he can speak to all of those people in Nationals electorates (particularly central Queensland) and let them know he was always on their side – and therefore, they still have a voice in the Nats.
It’s a little more quiet this morning – Tuesdays are always a little calmer (at least in the morning) because all the MPs get locked up in party room meetings.
We’ll let you know the outcome of those as soon as they happen.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has announced changes to the ACT’s Covid roadmap, now that the territory has reached 80%.
The main takeaways – face masks won’t be needed outdoors from 29 October and the NSW Covid declaration will be lifted from 1 November.
Retail will reopen (with Covid plans) from this Friday.
Which means there will be no need to quarantine if you go anywhere in NSW and return to the territory – including Sydney – from 1 November.
Yesterday it was Pikachus – today koalas.
Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Miriam Robinson has commented on the latest XR protest outside Parliament House:
Environment Minister Sussan Ley has recently given approval for three new coal mines. This is not the action of a minister who understands that the climate emergency is real and that the government owes a Duty of Care for future generations, not only of people, but animals too.
We demand government drop its appeal against the Federal Court ruling that it owes a ‘Duty of Care’ to protect Australia’s children from the dangers of climate related harm. We just want our government to do their job. All we ask is that they act in the interests of the people, not their donors and not the corporations. Is this too much to ask?
The Liberal MP for Reid, Dr Fiona Martin, seems to be bracing for something:
Victoria records 1,749 local Covid cases; NSW records 273 local cases
NSW and Victoria have posted their Covid numbers for this morning:
Sending all of the love to the families and loved ones of those who have lost people during the pandemic.
Barnaby Joyce now has his lines and is sticking to them, when it comes to how he speaks about the climate debate:
We’ve been down this path before – ETS, the single desk, the carbon tax debates. The Nationals are well-versed in this. We’re not concentrating on that.
We’re concentrating right now on one thing. That’s making sure we look after regional people – they send us to Canberra, they have their concerns, they’re conveying it to our office loud and clear, and we are making sure they have a time to be heard and a time for us to give our best endeavours to make sure their best concerns are dealt with.
The Nationals are going through that process. People are aware and we want to make sure we get to a conclusion to make sure that we can go back to our electorates and say, “These were the concerns you conveyed to us. And this was the valid attempt we put towards trying to make sure that those concerns were dealt with.”
Extinction Rebellion protesters have staged another protest outside parliament this morning:
Another entry in the “MPs treating the register of interests as a joke” cabinet:
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Australians believe federal and state governments have not collaborated well during the pandemic, according to a new poll.
That is the result of an Ipsos FastFacts poll of 1,000 Australians designed and commissioned by the McKinnon prize in political leadership.
The result of the poll was released on Tuesday to mark the opening of nominations for the award, which was established in 2017, when Liberal senator Dean Smith was its inaugural winner.
Previous winners include Labor Senate leader Penny Wong (2018); former NSW premier Gladys Berejkilian (2019), who is now being investigated by Icac; and health minister, Greg Hunt (2020). The award also has an emerging leaders category, which was won last year by Labor MP Anne Aly.
2021 McKinnon prize ambassador Amanda Vanstone said:
The formation of the national cabinet signalled the desire for collaboration across federal and state governments to manage the pandemic together and support all Australians. However, as the pandemic affected different states in different ways, and citizens and commentators began to apportion the blame on different leaders, our federation splintered along state and party lines, which presents a real challenge for elected leaders.
Another prize ambassador, Simon Crean, said:
We know that Australians are generally supportive of national cabinet, but they don’t see it working … With Australia facing immense challenges at home, in our region and the wider world, it’s more important than ever that we have courageous and visionary leaders. We need leaders who are able to respond to crises with urgency and articulate a vision to lead the nation through its recovery over the next decade.
Queensland has announced its roadmap to reopening its borders to hotspot states in time for Christmas – making it the first Covid-free state to do so.
That has left some Queenslanders “scared” because of the lower than the national average vaccination rates and the inevitability of an outbreak, once border lockdowns are a thing of the past.
The state is pushing a massive vaccination program now, telling people who haven’t got the vaccine, it is now time – the state is opening. That’s particularly relevant for regional areas, which are behind Brisbane and the more urban areas of the south-east.
Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke to ABC News Breakfast this morning and said there was no need to panic:
They shouldn’t be scared. Let me tell you – look, my job has been – and I’ve said fundamentally – to keep them safe. We have weathered this pandemic. Queenslanders, they step up and they do everything that they are asked to do.
We’ve done natural disasters, we’ve been through cyclones, we’ve been through floods – you name it up here, we’ve all worked together.
Now, this is like weathering the next cyclone. So what I’m saying to Queenslanders is – now is the time to get ready and be prepared. Now is the time to make sure you get vaccinated. And we will weather this storm together. Absolutely we’re in this together.
Keith Pitt is not in a happy place, at least judging from this interview. He’s a no to net zero (at this stage) and has been for some time. He doesn’t sit in cabinet. (When Barnaby Joyce came back as leader, Pitt kept his portfolios but was booted from cabinet and moved to the ministry – so the Coalition government moved resources out of the cabinet. You could imagine what would have happened if a Labor government did that.) But, as a minister, he does still have to fall into line with what the government wants.
So even though the Liberals led by the prime minister are behind net zero by 2050, with Scott Morrison intending on taking that to Glasgow, Pitt is pretending there is not a decision. But when there is a decision, he will accept the government’s decision. Even though right now, he is pretending there is a choice:
I’m a member of the executive. My position will always be the government’s position but right now that is not established.
Resources minister Keith Pitt (who wanted $250bn for the fossil fuel industry transition in exchange for support for net zero by 2050) was on ABC radio RN this morning, where he was asked if he believed in climate change:
The climate’s changing, it’s always changed. Do I think Australia can change the temperature of the globe? If we shut our economy, I don’t think it will make one iota of a difference.
The thing is, no one, even in this conversation, is talking about shutting Australia’s economy. In fact, the Liberals have bent over backwards to talk about how coal is still a huge part of the economy,
ACTU calls on Labor to oppose regional trade agreement
Well this is a little interesting; a couple of secret squirrels have just let us know the ACTU has written to the entire Labor caucus asking the party to oppose the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade agreement.
If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry – it doesn’t exactly have a catchy name, and includes a mismatch of about 15 countries from across the 10 Asean states, as well as China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. Myanmar is one of the Asean states involved.
The legislation is in front of the parliament today – the government hopes to have the agreement, which will be the world’s largest trade agreement – ratified by the end of the year.
But the ACTU is urging Labor to vote against it. This letter has gone to all members of the Labor caucus sometime this morning:
Dear Senator or Member,
As you know, this week the Parliament will be asked to pass enabling legislation to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Australian Unions are urgently calling on Parliament to oppose ratification of RCEP in its current form.
Attached is a note outlining just some of the union movement’s concerns about RCEP.
Support for RCEP will legitimise Myanmar’s brutal military dictatorship on the world stage.
It will put local jobs at risk and encourage the further abuse and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.
Ratification of RCEP may also prevent the Australian Government from effectively regulating Aged Care, including by implementing the important recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission.
We urge you to oppose the RCEP enabling legislation when it comes before the Parliament.
(That would be Michele O’Neil, the president of the ACTU.)
Labor’s caucus is also meeting today (Tuesday is the party room meeting), when legislation will be considered.
Trade agreements are always a fraught issue for the Labor party – this is going to make caucus a little more interesting this morning.
There has been a little bit of nuclear talk as part of this latest debate – but not too much. Why? Well, Australia has a moratorium on nuclear for one thing. And no one wants the waste in their backyard for another.
It’s also not particularly cost-effective. It’s not a renewable (uranium is finite) and it’s not green. And that’s before you even consider how long it would take to start the industry from scratch.
And also worth keeping in mind – the Liberals don’t actually need the Nationals to move ahead with the climate commitments. Nothing is going to parliament (at least at this stage – because we are talking a 2050 plan) which means there’s no danger of people crossing the floor.
Scott Morrison told the Liberal party room yesterday he planned on taking Australia’s commitment to net zero by 2050 to Glasgow as an NDC – a nationally determined contribution – which doesn’t need the parliament either. It’s essentially a pledge which says “we intend to do this”, and makes it a little more official, rather than just a speech. He doesn’t need the Nationals for that either.
Don’t expect there to be any resolution on climate today – this is going to drag on for at least the week.
Scott Morrison doesn’t head to Glasgow until the end of next week, so there is a bit of time. We don’t know what the sweeteners the Nationals will be offered to smooth the transition (will it Barnaby Joyce’s vanity projects, like the inland rail to a coal port? Money for fossil fuels? Or regional health and infrastructure before the election?)
That should all be revealed soon.
Ready for more climate talk?
Because you’ll be hearing a lot of it today. Again.
Despite being one of the governing parties for the past eight years, and being heavily involved in the climate policy wars, the Nationals, led by Barnaby Joyce, have apparently never before considered a net zero by 2050 target. All we heard yesterday was how they needed to take their time to consider it, because it would be “reckless” to make a decision after a four-hour meeting. Four hours and eight years, but who’s counting?
The Liberals and the Nationals are coming together for the first time in six months this morning, in a joint party room meeting, where they will hear more rah-rah speeches about how great the yet-to-be-publicly announced technology roadmap and climate plan is.
In case you missed it yesterday, Scott Morrison told the Liberal party room that it would be cabinet that made the decision about net zero by 2050. Which means that if the Nationals MPs who sit in cabinet aren’t happy with the decision, they should technically resign and head back to what Joyce calls the “corridor of the nearly dead” – the backbench.
When that was raised yesterday, it was dismissed as a hypothetical. But it’s not. You can have splits in the party but not in cabinet – cabinet solidarity is taken pretty seriously. So if the Nationals decide to stay in cabinet, then they have to accept the climate policy and help sell it. Which could make things a little interesting, given some of the rhetoric.
And meanwhile, regional Liberal MPs, including Senator Hollie Hughes, are taking the opportunity to remind the Nationals that the Liberals actually represent more of the regions than their junior Coalition partner – 24 rural and regional Liberal MPs to 21 Nationals – so everything seems to be going fine.
Just remember though, they we are only talking about 2050. The discussion of anything happening in this decade – the interim 2030 target – is off the table. And that is where the international community is at. So while the rest of the world is talking 2030, we are stuck in 2050 – when none of these people will be in parliament. Good times.
Mike Bowers will bring you into parliament through his camera (as well as his network of secret squirrels) and Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Sarah Martin and Daniel Hurst will help make everything make sense.
Amy Remeikis is on the blog with you for most of the day. I am about to make my third coffee. You ready?