Pocock urges Labor to scrap tax cuts – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 30 AM GMT+0

Independent senator David Pocock says circumstances have changed ‘so much’ since stage three tax cuts policy was legislated. This blog is now closed

What happened today – Sunday 28 August

We’re going to wrap things up for the day. These were the day’s main events:

  • The foreign minister Penny Wong has blasted Russia for “deliberately obstructing” a nuclear treaty conference at the United Nations amid a dispute about control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine.

  • Crossbench senators, including the ACT senator David Pocock, are urging the government to scrap the stage three tax cuts.

  • The environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek, has said green jobs offer enormous potential for the economy. The minister will host two roundtable discussions on Monday ahead of the jobs and skills summit.

  • The Greens have called for the summit to bring focus to jobs that protect and restore the environment.

  • The Victorian government will cover the costs of more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery degrees in an effort to boost the state’s health workforce.

  • Australia recorded 15 deaths from Covid-19.

We’ll see you back here tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.


WA public schools to offer free tampons and pads

Free pads and tampons will be offered to Western Australian public school students in years 7 to 12 to ensure girls are not skipping class because they cannot afford sanitary products, reports the ABC.

WA is the last state in Australia to offer free period products in schools, with the program set to roll out in the first term of next year.

“It’s about bloody time we’ve done this in schools,” women’s interests minister Simone McGurk said.

“For too long, girls and young women have felt embarrassed [and] they often haven’t had access to the products they’ve needed.”



TOMORROW: @AlboMP, the Prime Minister of Australia, will make his first Address as Prime Minister, to the #NPC on Monday, August 29th, 2022. Watch it live at 12:30pm AEDT on @ABCTV. #auspol pic.twitter.com/x00Ph650QK

— National Press Club (@PressClubAust) August 28, 2022

Mystery surrounds a cluster of bowerbird deaths in the Gold Coast hinterland

Bird experts and wildlife carers have been documenting healthy birds that have fallen ill and died around Tamborine Mountain in recent weeks.

You can read the full story by my colleague Joe Hinchliffe here:


Monkeypox vaccines on their way to Victoria as cases rise

More than 20,000 additional monkeypox vaccines are expected to arrive in Victoria in September as cases rise across the state, AAP reports

Some 53 cases have been detected in Victoria since the beginning of the outbreak in May, according to the most recent update on Friday from the state’s health department.

Eligibility has been tightened until the new shipment arrives and websites for two of the five clinics that administer the vaccine in Melbourne say they have run out of doses.

Health minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the vaccine is in scarce supply around the world and Victoria initially had a “limited number” available.

“We are awaiting supply from the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth is working hard to bring in vaccines. This is a global challenge,” she told reporters on Sunday.

“We’re certainly looking to the vaccine manufacturers to increase the supply and make sure that we can get it as available to as many people as possible.”

Victorian health minister Mary-Anne Thomas
Victorian health minister Mary-Anne Thomas. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


Nick Kyrgios to face his friend Thanasi Kokkinakis in US Open first round

Nick Kyrgios says it is “win win” drawing Thanasi Kokkinakis in the US Open first round as he grapples with home sickness, fatigue and the new-found pressures of being an in-form grand slam finalist.

After four months on the road, Kyrgios says he cannot return home to Canberra quickly enough to see his family and sick mother.

But first the Wimbledon runner-up has another slam to attend to, starting with an uncomfortable centre-court meeting with his friend and Australian Open-winning doubles partner on Monday night (11am Tuesday AEST).

“Obviously you never want to play a good mate first round,” Kyrgios said before an early evening practice session at Flushing Meadows. “I’ve played a lot of mates this swing – Alex de Minaur in Montreal, [Frances] Tiafoe in Washington, [Jack] Sock in doubles.


Showers and #thunderstorms will develop across a broad stretch of eastern inland #Aus on Mon, moving east on Tue. Storms may tend severe in some areas 🌩️

Rain across saturated catchments may cause renewed flooding.

Check latest forecasts and warnings: https://t.co/ZR4Tca9Vkv pic.twitter.com/RTJEnUtZvT

— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) August 28, 2022

National Covid Summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 15 deaths from Covid-19:


  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 175

  • In hospital: 104 (with 3 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 5

  • Cases: 4,160

  • In hospital: 1,821 (with 45 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 63

  • In hospital: 14 (with 0 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: n/a

  • Cases: 1,125

  • In hospital: 288 (with 10 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 439

  • In hospital: 153 (with 7 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 0

  • Cases: 178

  • In hospital: 30 (with 1 person in ICU)


  • Deaths: 9

  • Cases: 2,099

  • In hospital: 372 (with 23 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 1

  • Cases: 1055

  • In hospital: 228 (with 6 people in ICU)

WA records one new Covid death

One person with Covid-19 has died in Western Australia overnight, with the state recording 1,055 new cases on Sunday morning, 228 people in hospital, and six in ICU.


The peculiars of pecuniary interests in Canberra

By almost any measure the 47th parliament is the most diverse ever and the same seems true judging by the weird and wonderful collection of interests parliamentarians have declared.

The register of interests is designed to provide transparency around interests that may conflict, or may be seen to conflict, with MPs’ and senators’ public duty.

But it also provides a window into the world of our 227 elected leaders, their hobbies, passions and side hustles. Here’s what we found while peering in.

For more a dive into what the declared interests of our elected representatives reveals about the people who represent us, read the full story from Guardian Australia’s political reporters Paul Karp and Josh Butler.


More on Melbourne shooting: hospital locked down as police searched area

A hospital was locked down for two hours after a shooting near a fast-food restaurant in Melbourne’s north-west, as a police hunt continues.

Three people got into a verbal dispute near the St Albans shop on Sunday morning before a shot was fired into the back windscreen of a blue Holden Commodore.

A man and woman inside the car fled towards Sunshine Hospital on Furlong Road and crashed into a responding marked police vehicle.

They ran away on foot in different directions, with the woman arrested inside the hospital and the man a block away.

The woman suffered an injury to her foot but police are unsure whether it occurred in the shooting or in her efforts to evade officers.

Acting Senior Sergeant Ben McGibbon said the hospital was locked down while police searched a nearby construction site and surrounding areas. It resumed normal operations after about two hours.

The pair have been taken to a police station as detectives look to uncover what triggered the initial altercation.

“Not many things like this occur at this time of the morning on Sunday,” McGibbon told reporters.

“But for this to have occurred something has sparked it, and there’s either been an altercation or disagreement or something has happened.”

The third person remains on the run and police believe they may be carrying a small handgun.

“The investigation is in its infancy,” McGibbon said. “We’re still hoping for some other witnesses to come forward to tell us an independent version of what’s actually occurred.”

– via AAP


Two arrested after shooting and police pursuit near Melbourne restaurant

A gun has been fired and two people arrested after a fight near a fast-food restaurant in Melbourne’s north-west, AAP reports.

A blue Holden Commodore was hit by a gunshot during an incident between three people at St Albans on Sunday morning, police say.

A man and woman fled in the car towards a hospital along Furlong Road and collided with a responding marked police vehicle.

They tried to run away on foot in different directions but the woman was arrested inside the hospital and the man about a block away, before being taken into custody.

The third person remains on the run.


Penny Wong blasts Russia for 'deliberately obstructing' UN nuclear treaty agreement

The foreign minister Penny Wong has blasted Russia for “deliberately obstructing” a nuclear treaty conference at the United Nations amid a dispute about control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine.

Wong said that the government was “deeply disappointed” that the review conference of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) did not reach a consensus outcome after four weeks of negotiation between 151 countries at the UN in New York.

Russia had refused to agree to a statement of support for the NPT which aimed to reaffirm and bolster the treaty’s aims of disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The statement included a paragraph that emphasised “the paramount importance of ensuring control by Ukraine’s competent authorities of nuclear facilities … such as the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant”. The plant is currently occupied by Russian forces.

“Russia has deliberately obstructed progress. Its actions directly challenge core tenets of the NPT,” Wong said in a statement on Sunday.

“We condemn Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression and call on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory.”

Wong said Australia remained “deeply committed” to the NPT goal of a world without nuclear weapons:

Australia is steadfast in our support of the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Irrespective of this outcome, the treaty continues to deliver tangible security benefits to us all.

Cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Russia has blocked an agreement at the UN that was aimed at bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Russia has blocked an agreement at the UN that was aimed at bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Photograph: Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images


Australia’s tech industry has called for cyber skills to be given priority at Australia’s upcoming national skills summit to help address cybersecurity risks, AAP reports.

Global software company Elastic, which serves half the Fortune 500, says calls by Andy Penn for greater government investment in education is the bottom line for strengthening Australia’s cyber protections.

The outgoing Telstra CEO and top federal government industry cyber advisor recently warned a National Press Club audience that the online lives of Australians are increasingly vulnerable and their skills lacking.

Elastic’s regional vice-president Anna Mascarello says the technology sector can do more at the grassroots level to feed the talent pool too.

“We’re in conversation with Australian universities to understand how we can help support the curriculum and nurture the next generation of critical thinkers,” she said.

The Productivity Commission says industry certifications and short courses could help build knowledge at a time when a skills shortage is holding Australia back on adopting digital technologies and cyber safeguards.

The two-day Jobs and Skills Summit begins on Thursday.

South Australia records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in South Australia overnight, with the state recording 439 new cases on Sunday morning, 153 people in hospital, and 7 in ICU.

South Australian COVID-19 update 28/8/22.

For more information, go to https://t.co/FfBbwAHN4R pic.twitter.com/A1oUbnQ56u

— SA Health (@SAHealth) August 28, 2022

Plibersek says green jobs are an ‘exciting growth space’ for Australia

A little more on the green jobs roundtable discussions the environment and water minister, Tanya Plibersek, will host on Monday to lead into the jobs and skills summit.

Plibersek says environmental jobs are an “exciting growth space for Australia’s economy” with enormous potential if the government gets the settings right.

She says:

This is particularly exciting for regional Australia, where many of these jobs will end up being based.

As an example, on Friday I visited a farm in Griffith and heard about the types of professions being utilised on the land, in agribusiness, to enhance regenerative farming practices – agronomists to improve soil health, environmental consultants to advise on native bush regeneration, small businesses turning cotton waste and food waste into compost and fertiliser.

These are the types of jobs that will drive a future green economy in Australia and I want to set our country up to be a world leader in this space.

The first of the two roundtables will focus on how to create more opportunities and better career pathways in a green economy.

The second will look at nature and productivity, how to value the environment and build new industries.

Plibersek says green jobs will be central to the government’s environmental policies and will feed into the summit.

We would welcome input from the Greens political party – or indeed any other political party – into the jobs white paper process. The summit is just the beginning. There is plenty of time and opportunity for those willing to get involved.

‘I want to set our country up to be a world leader in this space’: Tanya Plibersek on green jobs
‘I want to set our country up to be a world leader in this space’: Tanya Plibersek on green jobs Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Dog rescued from flood waters in WA

Western Australian police have rescued an 80-year-old man’s bull mastiff named Max from a vehicle trapped by rising flood waters.

At 7.30am police responded to a call from a member of the public about a car stuck in flood waters on Katrine Road in Katrine, about 94km north-east of Perth.

The car was stranded about 20 metres into the flood waters and while the man was able to escape to dry land he was unable to rescue Max – who weighed 30kgs.

As the waters began to pick up speed, two officers who waded out to the car and carried Max to safety.

Max, reportedly, was very happy to be reunited with his owner.


As the recent electric vehicle summit got under way Dr Jake Whitehead was sitting in a plane somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

The conference was intended as a reset to overcome nearly a decade of Australia’s policy inertia on electric vehicles and road transport under the former Coalition government – but Whitehead, head of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council, was on holiday.

It had been a dream trip for a longtime EV researcher: three separate stints across thousands of kilometres in three different countries with his partner – all in electric or hybrid vehicles.

As his colleagues were shaking hands and listening to keynote speeches, Whitehead was getting a first-hand education in what the rest of the world had been up to on the electric vehicle front during the two years Australia closed its borders to the world.

“You can read as much as you want online but it’s not until you’re actually over there and able to do the comparison that you can see what’s actually happening here in Australia,” he says.

“It’s amazing to see how much further these countries have come.”

For more on how the return of travel is showing Australians how the world has moved on EVs, read the full weekend feature.

Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps has responded to claims made by Deputy Liberal MP Sussan Ley on Saturday that “no one in the world is making electric utes” by pointing to several EV utes that are currently on the market.

Sussan Ley told Sky News that no-one was making electric utes…
This is the electric version of the Ford Lightning Ute - best seller in the US - already making deliveries in the US pic.twitter.com/1ke8CzkeJS

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) August 27, 2022

The LDV EV T60 has already been launched in New Zealand. pic.twitter.com/rzn9HWkZdP

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) August 27, 2022

Not available here because of scare campaign run by the previous government and bc Australia has amongst the world’s worst fuel efficiency standards

— Dr Sophie Scamps MP (@SophieScamps) August 27, 2022

Northern Territory records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in the Northern Territory overnight, with the territory recording 63 new cases on Sunday morning, 14 people in hospital, and no one in ICU.

Another NSW government MP is pulling up stumps and will retire from politics at the next state election, AAP reports.

The Nationals MP for the mid-north coast electorate of Oxley, Melinda Pavey, announced her decision in a Sydney newspaper on Sunday.

Her Nationals leader, Paul Toole, said she had been a passionate advocate for regional communities for 20 years.

“She has served across both chambers of the NSW Parliament, entering the Legislative Council just weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Emily,” he said in a statement.

Mel can be proud that her time in the parliament and as a long-time member of the NSW Nationals team has helped deliver a stronger regional NSW for the next generation.

Pavey joins a stream of Liberal and Nationals MPs throwing in the towel ahead of the NSW state election in March next year.

The Liberal departure list so far includes Corrections Minister and Parramatta MP Geoff Lee, Customer Service Minister and Ryde MP Victor Dominello, Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly and Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton.

Departing Nationals MPs include the member for the seat of Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Myall Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead, and now Pavey.

Infrastructure, Cities, and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes, who holds the Liberal seat of Pittwater, earlier this month said he was still weighing up whether or not to run again.

There’s also speculation another Liberal, Health Minister Brad Hazzard, is also considering his political future.

Victorian opposition will match government’s offer to pay for 10,000 nursing degrees

Victoria’s opposition will match the state government’s announcement to cover the cost of nursing and midwifery degrees if elected in November.

Speaking at the Liberal party state conference on Sunday, the opposition health spokeswoman, Georgie Crozier, says the $270m plan to cover the cost of more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery degrees, as well as offer scholarships for nurses to undertake postgraduate specialities, has come too late:

Daniel Andrews has had eight years to do this and has failed to do anything ... This government is bereft of ideas and are coming at this late time to make an announcement.


Greens urge Tanya Plibersek to focus on jobs that protect the environment

The Greens are calling on the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, to use the jobs and skills summit to promote jobs that protect and restore the environment.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens’ environment spokesperson, has written to Plibersek to say a focus on green jobs could help many plants and animals “before they are lost forever”.

The letter says:

A strong plan to invest in green jobs would provide a high return on investment while also ensuring the restoration and recovery of critical ecosystems and wildlife. As the State of the Environment report showed, Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. There are almost 2000 species listed as threatened under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act, with many still waiting on recovery plans well past their due date.

The party is calling for intensive environmental restoration and water management, a target to plant 2 billion trees by 2030 and a taskforce to restore forests and revegetate bushland and degraded habitat .

Hanson-Young writes this would provide jobs across the country and help reduce carbon pollution.

The government has two roundtables scheduled on green jobs to feed into the summit.

The threatened red-tailed black cockatoo.
The threatened red-tailed black cockatoo. Photograph: Andy/Parks Australia


ACT records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in Australian Capital Territory overnight, with the territory recording 175 new cases on Sunday morning, 104 people in hospital, three in ICU and one on ventilation.

ACT COVID-19 update – 28 August 2022
🦠 COVID-19 case numbers
▪ New cases today: 175 (108 PCR and 67 RAT)
▪ Active cases: 1,394
▪ Total cases since March 2020: 201,956
🏥 COVID-19 hospital numbers
▪ In hospital: 104
▪ In ICU: 3
▪ Ventilated: 1
▪ Lives lost: 0 pic.twitter.com/tb5kM32DdY

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 28, 2022

Victoria will pay Hecs debts for 10,000 nurses and midwives to deal with shortage

The Victorian government is set to cover the cost of more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery degrees, in an effort to boost the state’s health workforce.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, and the health minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, announced the $270m initiative at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian branch on Sunday.

Under the plan, all new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing or midwifery course in 2023 and 2024 will receive a scholarship of up to $16,500 to cover course costs.

Students will receive $9,000 while they study and the remaining $7,500 if they work in Victorian public health services for two years.

A postgraduate midwifery incentive program will also be expanded to cover course costs and salary support for 150 existing nurses to complete their specialist studies in midwifery.

Daniel Andrews makes the nursing announcement at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
Daniel Andrews makes the nursing announcement at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Scholarships worth an average of $10,000 will also be available for nurses who complete postgraduate studies in areas of need including intensive care, cancer care, paediatrics and nurse practitioner specialities.

In a statement, Andrews said:

If you’re in Year 12 and you’ve been thinking about studying nursing or midwifery – go for it. We’ve got your Hecs fees covered. Every health system in the country is under enormous pressure due to the pandemic. The best thing we can do to support our hardworking staff is give them more support on the ground – that’s why this package will train and hire more nurses than ever before.


Queensland records 1,125 new cases

Queensland recorded 1,125 new Covid-19 cases overnight, with the state recording 288 people in hospital on Sunday morning and ten in ICU.

The state does not report deaths on Sunday or Monday and instead publishes them as part of their Tuesday totals.

Today we have recorded 1,125 new COVID-19 cases.

Death numbers are not reported in our case posts on Sunday or Monday – they will appear on Tuesday.

Full details ➡️ https://t.co/rKHIwroZeI pic.twitter.com/k3jRNXSkOI

— Queensland Health (@qldhealth) August 28, 2022

Tony Abbott: ‘If you want to keep the Andrews government, vote teal’

The former prime minister Tony Abbott is rallying the Liberal faithful to stick fast with the Victorian Liberal party leader, Matthew Guy, after a fresh bout of poor polling.

Abbott flew into Melbourne for a Liberal party fundraiser at Preston on Saturday night, just under three months until the November election.

The Victorian Coalition continues to trail Labor in the polls, with the latest Newspoll from Saturday suggesting the Andrews government is on track for a third term.

Labor holds a 56-44% two-party-­preferred lead, compared with 58-42% in the previous Newspoll and 57-42% result at the 2018 election.

Dissatisfaction with Guy’s performance has risen seven points since ­November, two months after toppling Michael O’Brien in a leadership challenge.

But Abbott believes the Victorian Liberal-Nationals can turn the tables, citing the 2010 federal election when he led the Coalition to 72 lower house seats and forced Labor into minority government.

“No one thought we had a chance in 2010 and we did extremely well against a first term government because we had a strong sense of what we stood for,” he told Sky News.

A Liberal party that stands for things, that fights for things, always has the hope of victory, the scent of victory in its nostrils.

Integrity is seen by voters as a key issue for the November 26 state election, as both major parties head to the polls with questions over their heads.

Abbott described the Andrews government as ethically challenged but would not be drawn on the state Liberals’ donor scandal involving Guy’s former chief of staff Mitch Catlin.

Victorian Liberal MPs are facing more independent challenges in traditional heartland seats such as Kew, Sandringham and Hawthorn after several of their federal colleagues were ousted by the “teal” wave at May’s federal election.

Needing 18 seats to reclaim government outright, Abbott said voters should understand that casting their ballot for teals will keep Labor in power.

“The Andrews government is probably one of the worst governments Australia has ever had,” he said.

If you want to keep the Andrews government, vote teal. If you want to change the Andrews government vote Liberal. Simple as that.

Guy is due to give a speech at the Victorian Liberals state council meeting on Sunday.

-from AAP


Richard Marles to tour Europe as defence minister

The defence minister, Richard Marles, will tour key British shipyards as the government moves ahead with its decision to purchase nuclear-powered submarines, AAP reports.

The 18-month consultation period under which the government will decide whether to purchase US or UK made submarines is coming up in March 2023.

Marles previously visited Washington and will now tour yards “which build some of the world’s most capable ships and submarines”.

“Our relationship with the United Kingdom is both historic and mutually beneficial, and is reflected through our continued commitment to Aukus,” he said in a statement.

“I look forward to meeting my counterpart, [the] secretary of state for defence, Ben Wallace, and collaborating on a new era of opportunities and challenges.”

The defence minister, who is also deputy prime minister, will visit France and Germany over a four-day stint as Europe looks to expand its presence in the Indo-Pacific.

Germany recently joined Exercise Pitch Black, which brought around 100 aircraft to Australia’s Top End, for the first time, and mobilised fighter jets to Singapore within 24 hours to highlight its rapid response capabilities.

Marles will meet with his German and French counterparts to discuss defence cooperation as well as participate in industry roundtables.

This visit reflects the importance we attach to our European partnerships and reaffirms the government’s commitment to working together towards shared strategic goals that transcend geography.


Tasmania records no new Covid deaths

No one with Covid-19 has died in Tasmania overnight, with the state recording 178 new cases on Sunday morning, 30 people in hospital, and one in ICU.

Greens urge Plibersek to take leading role in pushing for UN marine environment treaty

The Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson has called on the Australian government to convene an emergency meeting with the UN, after the latest attempt to pass a global agreement to protect the world’s oceans and marine life failed.

An effort to reach an agreement on a proposed UN treaty to protect sea life fell through on Saturday night when negotiations in New York were suspended, following a two-week effort.

The treaty sought to protect portions of the world’s oceans not currently protected by domestic laws by setting aside 30% of ocean area as a form of marine sanctuary.

The focus on was on shared benefits from marine life, the establishment of protected areas, assistance to developing countries to provide skills and means for ocean exploration and efforts to prevent harm from human activity.

Russia was among countries said to be holding up the process by refusing to engage with the treaty process or refusing to find compromise with EU member countries.

The talks will resume next year, unless a special emergency sessions is called before the end of 2022.

Whish-Wilson said the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, should live up to promises to take a global leadership role in ocean protection by leading efforts to declare a special emergency session.

“Sadly talks to pass the UN High Seas Treaty have failed, but it’s not too late for Tanya Plibersek to convene an emergency meeting with UN member states and take a true leadership role in protecting the world’s oceans and marine life,” Whish-Wilson said in a statement.

A failure to make progress on a UN High Seas Treaty now threatens the livelihoods and food security of billions of people around the world. It’s been 40 years since the last international agreement on ocean protection was signed and we can’t wait any longer.

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek.
The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


This is Quite Good.

Nobody else would have dared it because nobody else would have the nerve - other than the former prime minister. @rabbitandcoffee imagines Scott Morrison in OCEAN'S ELEVEN #Insiders #auspol pic.twitter.com/n4gV2qNRz6

— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) August 28, 2022

Pocock urges Labor to scrap stage three tax cuts

The independent senator David Pocock has called for the federal government to abandon its stage three tax cuts, saying that he understands the government “doesn’t want to be accused of breaking an election promise, but [not cutting the] stage three tax cuts are not his”.

“Reconsidering them is the right thing to do,” Pocock said.

Circumstances have changed so much since this policy was legislated.

Bushfires, floods, global plague, housing crisis, income crisis.

Priorities change & giving high income earners a tax cut should not currently be at the top of the list.

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) August 27, 2022

The community gets this. Revisiting the stage 3 tax cuts was the top issue for the more than 300 ppl who attended my first Town Hall in July.

And analysis from the @GuardianAus shows just how many other things could be funded with the $243 BILLION savedhttps://t.co/XwuqW7R9i0

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) August 27, 2022

As the times change, so should our response to them. Let's do the right thing. Let's make it a source of pride.

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) August 27, 2022


Unions and employees detail plans to invest in skills

Westacott says rebuilding the Tafe system after a period of “underinvested” was important to addressing this.

Companies are very happy to step up here … but you do need higher wages, particularly for smaller business.

The other thing we’ve calling for is that we have got to get a system where people can do life-long learning, micro credentials, stack stuff up, get skills more quickly. Not having to go back and do a 3-year Tafe course or 3-year[s of] university, they can get things more quickly, keep their skills current.

The final question is for McManus, who is asked about calls for the government to raise the unemployment rate from $46 a day – a figure well below the poverty line – and why apprentice wages should be a priority.

… Apprentices are paid appallingly and we are not attracting people to do those jobs because they can’t live on those wages. That is something that is needed if we are going to be able to move … to renewable energy, for example.

We absolutely need to address that particular issue, and investing in Tafe and Vet [Vocational Education and Training] is part of productivity, it is part of how you become a more productive country is by investing in people so that they can use skills.


Business council looking to lift migration cap by 220,000 places

ABC’s Insiders is asking the heads of the ACTU and BCA if they both want to revive an agreement from a years ago regarding the better off overall test. Westacott clarifies that she wants to “progress the key principles of it”.

On the migration cap, Westacott is asked how high the BCA would like to see the cap lifted. She says she wants it lifted by 220,000 places.

We have to do two things: Deal with the short-term issues you have been talking about this morning.

We just don’t have enough people to do things but the real purpose of migration is not to focus on a number, but to focus on what do we want the role of migration to be, which is bringing in the skills that will allow us to go to what I call the frontier economy.

Westacott says she wants Australia to bring in the “best and brightest” people “from around the world to come in, transfer their knowledge and drive innovation”.

McManus is asked for her view:

We’ve said a bit less than that, but around the same figure, but for us the issues are needing a plan to address wages and needing a plan to address skills.

McManus says she wants to see more Australians trained to do these jobs and more permanent migration, not just temporary migration to fill a job.


ACTU: we support ‘simple and fair’ bargaining

McManus is asked on whether, like Westacott, she would like to see the principles of enterprise bargaining as proposed under the Hawke-Keating governments introduced as “originally designed”.


Yes, the idea of bargaining being simple and fair is something we both support. Those are the principles absolutely. Just where Jennifer left off on the Hawke and Keating enterprise bargaining system, I think we can get close to that and make it better. Simple for workers and simple for employers.

The thing that is different is the better off overall test. We moved away from what was called the no-disadvantage test because some employers were rorting it, using it to cut wages and then had unfair competition with other employers. We have to change that to make sure it is about bargaining going forward.


Unions and business both on a ‘unity ticket’ about higher, sustainable wages

Asked about a previous agreement where the ACTU and BCA nearly came to an agreement about enterprise bargaining, the idea was that agreements could be fast-tracked through the Fair Work Commission, waiving the “better off overall” test.

Westacott is asked whether she would like to see this. She says both organisations are on a “unity ticket that we want people to be paid more and those wage increases sustained”.

Enterprise bargaining, when done well, when you look at the data and averages on wages, people on enterprise agreements get substantially more money. That’s the starting point.

The principles that Sally and I negotiated a couple of years ago are basically the ones we should take forward. Don’t get rid of the better off overall test, make it better off overall. Get rid of this idea of hypothetical workers.

This is the crucial thing: When the parties agree, when they have negotiated in good faith, when they have followed the processes, [then] the Fair Work Commission doesn’t try to re-write and micro manage that agreement. Make sure the … people who haven’t been party to the agreement can’t come in later and blow everything up.


ACTU: Individual bargaining is ‘not practical and not happening’

McManus and Westacott are being led in a dialogue that is meant to echo what is to come at the Skills Summit going on. McManus is asked to respond to the concerns raised by the BCA:

It is very simple. If you [are working] in a child care centre, the idea that you can bargain with individual management … and improve wages for yourself, let alone all child care workers is obviously not practical and not happening. They deserve … the same rights as everyone else.


Business council says one-size-fits-all approach to wages will be a disservice to employers

Jennifer Westacott, the head of the Business Council of Australia, is asked to respond to these points and says her concern is that “we try to fix one problem and end up with a lot more”.

She says innovation and productivity grows wages and it would be unfair for a business in Bendigo to have its wages and conditions set by a manufacturer in Tasmania or Adelaide.

“How will that work to drive inflation?” Westacott asks.

She also says her concern is about driving competition and prioritising innovation in areas like aged care to “give better patient care, to give better services” as “many of them are stuck in very old-fashioned demarcation areas”:

My next concern is industry-wide strike action. Don’t forget before the 1983 summit, we lost 1.3m days in strike action, and I know that’s not Sally’s intent.

On sector-wide bargaining, Westacott says a one-size-fits-all approach will be a disservice to employers:

My final concern is this idea of pattern bargaining, where somewhere in the supply chain you start negotiation and then as it moves through the supply chain, it ends up with an employer who simply doesn’t have the capacity to pay that – irrespective of their workers, their markets, their customers, the amount of money they’ve got to pay. So they are our concerns.


McManus: normal part of bargaining to have industrial action as a last resort

McManus is asked if she wants workers in specific business to regain the right to strike in support of workers in other business (otherwise known as sympathy strikes or solidarity action).


Not in support of workers in another business – together. It is a normal part of bargaining to have … as a last resort, to take industrial action, and that is what happens in countries that have multi-employer bargaining, and there [are] not more strikes, there is more pay rises.

Essentially when workers have an option to do that, obviously it means the option to have a better outcome, and a better outcome more quickly.


ACTU: workers’ bargaining system must suit the economy of today

First question this morning on ABC’s Insiders is for Sally McManus, the head of the ACTU, about sector-wide bargaining and whether she wants this across-the-board or only for specific sectors. McManus said the experience of workers over the last 30 years has seen their bargaining power lost.


Basically, workers’ bargaining power has been smashed over that period of time That’s why we have a problem, a huge problem, with wages growth and unless we address that issue, that is not going to change.

We think [sector-wide bargaining] should be open to all, but obviously a lot of places … they are getting pay rises at the moment. They can access the bargaining system.

[…] But the system was never designed for people in small workplaces, people in funded services, people like those cleaners and it just needs to be upgraded and suit the economy of today, not the economy of 30 years ago.

‘The system was never designed for people in small workplaces, people in funded services’: Sally McManus
‘The system was never designed for people in small workplaces, people in funded services’: Sally McManus Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP


New South Wales records five new Covid deaths

Five people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales overnight, with the state recording 4,160 new cases on Sunday morning, 1,821 people in hospital, and 45 in ICU.

COVID-19 update – Sunday 28 August 2022
In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:
- 96.9% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine*
- 95.4% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine* pic.twitter.com/AOauq64PVI

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 27, 2022

- 69.5% of people have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine**^
- 82% of people aged 12-15 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine*
- 78.3% of people aged 12-15 have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine*
- 49.5% of people aged 5-11 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine*

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 27, 2022

- 1,821 hospitalisations
- 45 people in ICU
- 5 lives lost
- 4,160 positive tests: 2,039 RAT & 2,121 PCR
*Data as at 21 August 2022 updated weekly
^Data as at 25 August 2022

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 27, 2022

**Includes both immunocompromised people who have received a third dose and all eligible people who have received a booster.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 27, 2022

ABC Insiders this morning is talking about the upcoming skills summit, with guests including the ACTU’s secretary, Sally McManus, and the Business Council of Australia’s chief executive, Jennifer Westacott.


Skilled migration isn’t a substitute for training, treasurer says

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has appeared on Sky News this morning where he warned any lift to the migration cap cannot be made at the expense of training the domestic workforce.

The Business Council of Australia is urging the government to boost the permanent migration cap to 220,000 temporarily to make up for the shortfall in migration during the pandemic.

Chalmers says the government will look at sensible migration policy and reform at the upcoming skills and jobs summit, but Australians shouldn’t be stripped of opportunities in the labour market.

We can’t fall in the trap of saying migration is a substitute for training, we need to move on both fronts in sensible ways.

We can do something sensible [with immigration], we can have more appropriate settings for our economy at the same time as we train more of our people for more of these opportunities, as well as make it easier for people to participate in the labour market.

The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers.
The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

The treasurer also defended not having bank heads attend the government’s signature jobs summit at the start of September.

“The bank CEOs will be represented very capably by [Australian Banking Association head] Anna Bligh,” Dr Chalmers said.

I speak to the bank CEOs all the time in my job. I’ve had meetings with all of them in the last month or so. And they’re obviously providing key input into our economic policies.

More broadly, you know, it’s not possible to fit everyone that you would like to fit in a job summit. In a number of instances, we’ve got peak groups there representing a broader constituency.

The nationals leader, David Littleproud, is attending the summit despite it being snubbed by the opposition leader, Peter Dutton.

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Littleproud acknowledged Dutton’s suggestion the invitation could be a stunt but said it was rare for rural and regional Australia to be given such a platform.

The National party solely looks after regional rural Australia. We have a purity of purpose.

We very rarely get a voice. We feel as the Nationals it was important we use whatever platform, no matter how hollow it may be.

That we are there advocating for policies that are unique, that will address the challenges that regional [and] rural Australians are facing.

- with AAP

I’m up shortly on ⁦@SkyNewsAust⁩ from ⁦@RochedaleRovers⁩ in Logan City with ⁦@Kieran_Gilbert⁩ ahead of the ⁦@AlboMP⁩ Govt #JobsSummit later this week #auspol #ausecon pic.twitter.com/ZjY99IEVum

— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) August 27, 2022


Victoria records nine new Covid deaths

Nine people with Covid-19 have died in Victoria overnight, with the state recording 2,099 new cases on Sunday morning, 372 people in hospital, 23 in ICU and 6 on ventilation.

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: https://t.co/OCCFTAchah pic.twitter.com/N41sBWjnAW

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) August 27, 2022

3 doses (16+): 69.7%
2 doses (12+): 94.7%
Doses total: 6,341,844

Hospital: 372
ICU (active + cleared): 23
Ventilated: 6
Lives lost: 9

New cases: 2,099 (Rapid antigen test cases: 1,473, PCR test cases: 626)
PCR tests: 7,057
Active cases (all): 17,031

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) August 27, 2022


Two arrested after late-night Adelaide brawl

Two men have been charged after allegedly arming themselves with an axe and a knife in a late-night brawl at an Adelaide park, AAP reports.

A 23-year-old Rosewater man suffered minor injuries to his arms after he was allegedly hit with a small axe during the fight at Ferryden Park before midnight on Saturday.

The fight is believed to have been between groups known to each other and the victim was taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital for treatment.

Police searched the area and located the two suspects nearby, including one allegedly in possession of a knife.

A 22-year-old Port Adelaide man and a 19-year-old Rosewater man were charged with aggravated assault and affray before being bailed to appear in court at a later date.


Labor: balance needed between skilled migrants and local training

Gallagher would not be drawn, however, on questions about whether she would support sector-wide collective bargaining or what her position would be on lifting the cap on skilled migration to address labour shortages.


I think what we need to do is get a balance between the skilled migration program, access to permanent residency and – don’t take the eye off the ball of training local … young people or training everybody for the jobs and opportunities of the future.

And I think that’s where it’s got a little bit out of whack over the last few years … people have seen the migration program as a way of importing skills without having the focus on training local … Australians for those jobs and those opportunities.


Finance minister: sector-wide bargaining not a flashback to the 70s

The finance minister and minister for women, Katy Gallagher, has appeared on the ABC this morning talking about equal pay and participation of women in the workplace.

Gallagher said the issue of low wages was critical to correct the gender-pay gap which sees women “working for less than men across the board”. She said that wages in “a highly feminised industry” like childcare is “plagued by low wages” which meant addressing low pay was critical.

“That’s not fair, we want to change that,” she said. “The care economy presents a huge opportunity for us not to just deal with women’s workforce participation, but also to build a workforce for the future because it’s a massive area of growth and is going to continue to be so. That will get a real focus at the job summit as well.”

Gallagher was asked about comments by the Australian Industry Group that described a plan by the ACTU to return to sector-wide bargaining on wages as a “throwback to the 70s”.

“I think there is universal agreement that the enterprise bargaining system isn’t working as it was intended,” Gallagher said:

But this discussion we are having at the jobs summit is a discussion about today’s economy, and today’s challenges. So I don’t support the idea it’s a flashback to the 1970s.

This is really about how do we set up the employment framework for a modern economy with new challenges, and to make sure it protects the rights of working people but also allows business to flourish as well.


Good Morning

And welcome to another Sunday morning Guardian live blog.

The former Howard government minister MP Fran Bailey has spoken about her clash with Scott Morrison when he was managing director at Tourism Australia. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Bailey was critical of Morrison, saying he had a “supreme belief that only he can do a job”. Bailey was scathing of Morrison’s prime ministership and says he must now leave parliament over the secret ministries affair.

Pressure is growing on the federal government to delay or scrap the planned stage 3 tax cuts after half of the 18 cross-benchers in federal parliament said they would support such a move. In the senate, the Greens and senators David Pocock, Jacqui Lambie and Tammy Tyrrell are against the tax cuts. When the Sun-Herald and Sunday Age contacted all 18 cross-bench MPs and senators, nine said they wanted the tax cuts scrapped or delayed, two wanted to keep them, three were on the fence and four did not respond to requests for comment.

I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the day. With so much going on out there, it’s easy to miss stuff, so if you spot something happening in Australia and think it should be on the blog, you can find me on Twitter at @RoyceRk2 where my DMs are open.

With that, let’s get started ...



Lisa Cox (now) and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

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