Good evening

And that’s where we’ll leave you this Sunday. Here’s a recap of what we learned today:

Anthony Albanese has said South Pacific nations have been “very positive” about Canberra’s “re-engagement” as China undertakes a region-wide diplomatic offensive that is raising concerns among western powers.

• Albanese has also vowed to form a constructive relationship with parliament’s expanded crossbench and has warned against underestimating Peter Dutton as opposition leader.

• A Bushmaster vehicle donated by the Australian government as part of military aid to Ukraine has reportedly been destroyed in fighting on the border between Donetsk and Luhansk.

• Baby formula manufacturer Bubs Australia has assured Australians availability will not be affected by a decision to send supplies to the US to help meet a shortage.

A Sydney Harbour island is returning to Aboriginal hands, with the NSW government committing $43m to its clean-up and repair.

• All residents in Western Australia and South Australia can receive a free flu jab in June.

• And Australia has recorded at least 30 deaths from Covid-19 and more than 27,000 new cases today.

Join us again tomorrow for all the day’s news and current affairs. Have a lovely evening.


Damaging winds forecast for parts of SA

Damaging winds forecast for some parts of South Australia, including Adelaide. Please keep an eye on warnings for your area.

Severe Weather Warning for DAMAGING WINDS

For Adel Metro, W Coast, East Eyre Pen, Yorke Pen, Flinders, Mid N, Riverland, Murraylands, NW Pastoral and parts of MLR, Lower Eyre Pen and NE Pastoral

Issued 3:44pm Sun 29 May 2022
Next warning will be by 11pm

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) May 29, 2022


Plan to set up defence training school in the Pacific

In addition to increased action on the environment, Anthony Albanese also touted a boost in aid and a plan to set up a defence training school in the Pacific.

During the election campaign, the Labor party said the school would involve forces from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi is expected to remain until at least Tuesday in Fiji’s capital, where he is to host a meeting with foreign ministers from across the Pacific.

The draft agreement and a five-year plan leaked before that meeting, would give China a larger security footprint in the region.

Penny Wong warned Pacific leaders about the deal last week during her visit to Fiji:

We have expressed our concerns publicly about the security agreement.

Beijing last month signed a wide-ranging pact with Solomon Islands that western governments feared could give China a military foothold in the region.


Pacific ‘very positive’ on Australian re-engagement, Albanese says

South Pacific nations have been “very positive” about Canberra’s “re-engagement”, Australia’s new prime minister has said, as China undertakes a region-wide diplomatic offensive that is raising concerns among western powers, AAP reports.

The comments from Anthony Albanese – aired today in an interview with Sky News – came as Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi was visiting Fiji for closely watched meetings with the island nation’s leaders and others from across the region.

Wang, who began his South Pacific tour on Thursday in Solomon Islands, is expected to discuss a wide-ranging draft agreement and five-year plan that would dramatically expand security and economic cooperation with South Pacific nations.

But Albanese said Australia’s own renewed diplomatic push had been well-received.

“The response has been very positive,” Albanese said when asked about Pacific leaders’ reaction to recent efforts, including a visit to Fiji last week by new foreign minister Penny Wong.

The prime minister said Australia’s previous government had “dropped the ball” on the Pacific, both in terms of aid and also “a non-engagement on values”:

For our Pacific Island neighbours, the issue of climate change is an absolute national security issue.


There have been developments in the Chinese delegation’s tour of Fiji, including “an unfortunate kerfuffle”.

The Chinese delegation arrives at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji. No Australian media allowed inside. @SBSNews

— Lucy Murray (@lucymurraynews) May 29, 2022

Unfortunate kerfuffle ahead of meeting between Henry Puna and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The ABC obtained permission from PIF to film the meeting opening (though an arrangement with FBC) but Chinese officials tried to block our camera operator- thanks PIF for standing firm on this

— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) May 29, 2022


Bubs Australia’s decision to send baby formula to US won’t affect domestic supply

Baby formula manufacturer Bubs Australia has assured Australians availability will not be affected by a decision to send supplies to the US to help meet a shortage.

The company said the US Food and Drug Administration had “announced its discretion for Bubs to import six infant formula products into the United States effective immediately”. These included Bubs Supreme A2 Beta-Casein Protein, Bubs Organic Grass Fed, and Bubs Easy-digest Goat Milk infant formula and Follow-On formula products:

You can rest assured we have taken precautions to ensure our Australian infant formula supply will remain unchanged.

Due to our strong control of our supply chain security and our wholly owned production facility, we have already manufactured what is required and have been able to take steps to immediately increase the level of our future production, as needed.


Tax site problems could disrupt Hecs debt payments

There are concerns about what the downed ATO website will mean for those looking to pay off their Hecs debts before they are set to rise on 1 June.

While there are still two days to go before the deadline, the ATO website has been down since yesterday and it is unclear when it will be back up.

It was announced by the previous Morrison government that Hecs debts would rise with inflation from 1 June.

The ATO’s formula adds the CPI rate to those of the previous three-quarters divided by the same 12-month period a year earlier. With the CPI forecast to climb, the repayment rate will likely increase further too.

For more, see Guardian Australia’s previous report on the decision:


Tax office website still down

The Australian Taxation Office’s website has remained down today after it went offline at the start of the weekend.

A statement from the ATO posted to its social media notified users looking to make payments before 31 May that the website was down.

Another follow-up was posted today apologising for any inconvenience and explaining that technicians were still working on the issue.

UPDATE: Thanks for your continued patience while we work to resolve issues with our online services. Our technicians are still busy working on a fix. We understand the frustration this has caused & apologise for the inconvenience.

— (@ato_gov_au) May 28, 2022


Wild weather forecast for WA

Damaging storms and high winds are forecast for parts of Western Australia’s south-east while, to the north, the Pilbara coast has been placed under flood watch, AAP reports.

A cold front moving across from South Australia is likely to deliver the wild weather this afternoon before easing into tomorrow morning, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

While the storm winds are expected to average between 50km/h and 60km/h, most concern is for stronger gusts in excess of 90km/h.

Towns in the line of fire along the state’s southern coastal strip include Balladonia, Eyre, Forrest, Israelite Bay, Rawlinna and the SA border community of Eucla.

Residents have been warned to find safe shelter away from trees, powerlines, stormwater drains and streams, and to stay inside away from windows, unplug electrical appliances and avoid using landline phones. Some roads are also likely to be closed.

Heavy rainfall is meanwhile expected in parts of the Pilbara as a cloudband and surface trough move east during the day.

The bureau says catchments are gradually becoming soaked as a result of heavy downpours in the 24 hours to 9am and more rain is likely inland and to the north during the day.

Up to 200mm is forecast over the flood watch area, while a further 100mm to 150mm is possible tomorrow and moderate-to-heavy falls will continue on Tuesday.

Flooding of low-lying areas and river level rises are expected.

Many roads and possibly primary and secondary highways are likely to be affected and some communities may become isolated.


Would-be tenants asked for police and credit checks

What is your marital status? Can you provide a police check? Do you own a lawnmower? These are some of the questions prospective tenants are being asked as they try to secure housing amid Australia’s rental crisis.

Guardian Australia has seen several examples of rental application forms requesting police and credit checks – which can require applicants to spend at least $65 – merely to be considered eligible to apply for a property.

While applicants are not required by law to divulge such information to secure a lease, agencies often state they will not accept applications without these details.

For more on how property managers are holding renters to ransom, read the full report by Guardian Australia’s inequality reporter, Stephanie Convery:


Bushmaster vehicle donated to Ukraine reportedly destroyed in fighting

A bushmaster vehicle donated by the Australian government as part of military aid to Ukraine has reportedly been destroyed in fighting on the border between Donetsk and Luhansk.

A video appeared to show the burnt-out wreckage of the vehicle in an empty field.

#Ukraine: The first verified loss of a Ukrainian Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (with a EOS R400-Mk2 remote weapon station), donated by Australia.
This one was recently destroyed by the Russian forces in Trypillia, #Donetsk and #Luhansk oblast border.

— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 28, 2022

The first of 20 vehicles, worth $50m, donated by the Australian government arrived in late April. They included two ambulance variants and came on top of $26.5m in military aid in the form of weapons and ammunition.

An early video posted by the Ukrainian military appeared to show them in operation soon after delivery.

Australian Bushmasters have made it into Ukraine

— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) April 27, 2022


National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 30 deaths from Covid-19:


  • Deaths: zero
  • Cases: 583
  • In hospital: 82 (with two people in ICU)


  • Deaths: four
  • Cases: 6,545
  • In hospital: 1,146 (with four people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: zero
  • Cases: 175
  • In hospital: 21 (with no people in ICU)


  • Deaths: two
  • Cases: 3,047
  • In hospital: 374 (with seven people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: zero
  • Cases: 2,312
  • In hospital: 217 (with nine people in ICU)


  • Deaths: one
  • Cases: 582
  • In hospital: 50 (with one person in ICU)


  • Deaths: 16
  • Cases: 7,372
  • In hospital: 507 (with 30 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: seven
  • Cases: 7,100
  • In hospital: 315 (with eight people in ICU)


Australia’s Covid deaths on the rise, with 87 fatalities during the weekend

Covid-19 deaths are again on the rise with Australia so far recording 87 fatalities over the weekend, AAP reports.

Victoria reported more than 7,300 new virus cases and 16 deaths on Sunday, NSW more than 6,500 infections and four fatalities.

There were 3,047 cases in Queensland and two deaths, and 7,100 infections in Western Australia and seven deaths.

It follows the nation reporting 58 deaths in total yesterday, along with almost 34,000 cases.

Australia’s active virus caseload is almost 315,000, with more than 2,700 patients recovering in hospitals.


China’s foreign minister heads to Fiji before key Pacific meeting

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, is heading to Fiji before a key meeting with Pacific foreign ministers on Monday.

Yi is meeting eight Pacific nations during the trip, which is being watched closely by the Australian government.

Australia’s new foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, was in Fiji on Thursday and Friday to spell out the new government’s commitment to the region and warn of the consequences of China’s security offers:


A reminder that those seats we’re still waiting for a final result on are Macnamara and Deakin in Victoria, and Gilmore in New South Wales. We won’t get a result on those today.


Anthony Albanese wants to ‘treat the parliament with respect’

The new prime minister has vowed to form a constructive relationship with parliament’s expanded crossbench and has warned against underestimating Peter Dutton as opposition leader.

In a wide-ranging interview on Sky News, Anthony Albanese reflected on the “great responsibility” of serving as prime minister but said he would try to “keep it real”.

As the Labor government prepares to finalise its frontbench in coming days, the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, has flagged tough decisions in the October budget, saying there were “huge” fiscal pressures in health, aged care, the NDIS and defence.

Labor has won at least 75 seats in the lower house and is on the cusp of reaching the 76 necessary for a majority, with all eyes on the Victorian seat of Macnamara.

Albanese said he wanted to win as many seats as possible but added that he had “always been respectful of people in the parliament”:

I’m very clear as well that I want to treat the parliament with respect ... I think we’ll have a good relationship with people across the crossbench.

Read the full report here:


GWS Giants forward Bobby Hill to undergo surgery for testicular cancer

GWS Giants forward Bobby Hill will undergo surgery on Tuesday after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, AAP reports.

The 22-year-old kicked one goal in his team’s loss to Brisbane yesterday and has featured in every game for the Giants so far this AFL season.

But he is now set for an indefinite period out of action. Medical assessment following his recovery will determine if any further treatment is required.

GWS football manager Jason McCartney said:

“Bobby and his family have our full support, as always, as they go through this period. His health and wellbeing is our absolute priority and he’ll have the best medical care as he undergoes surgery on Tuesday and beyond.

There’ll be a period of time for him to recover before further medical assessment to understand if any additional steps are required.

Bobby is in good spirits and knows he has the support and love of the entire Giants family.


WA reports seven Covid-19 deaths

Seven people with Covid-19 have died in Western Australia, with the state recording 7,100 new cases. There are 315 people in hospital, of whom eight are in ICU.

These deaths include others that occurred over the past week but were only reported to WA Health yesterday.

This is our WA COVID-19 update for Sunday, 29 May 2022.

For official information on COVID-19 in WA, visit

— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) May 29, 2022

Media statement: COVID-19 update 29 May 2022

— WA Health (@WAHealth) May 29, 2022


Sydney Harbour’s Me-mel island returning to Aboriginal hands

A Sydney Harbour island is returning to Aboriginal hands with the NSW government committing $43m to its clean-up and repair, AAP reports.

The transfer of Me-mel, or Goat Island, to its traditional owners is a “personal priority”, premier Dominic Perrottet said today:

A big part of my commitment is ensuring the island is remediated before it’s transferred to the Aboriginal community.

The funding will help repair seawalls and buildings, improve wharf access, upgrade services and remove contaminants including asbestos over the next four years.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is calling for expressions of interest to join a committee making recommendations about the transfer of Me-mel to Aboriginal ownership.

Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Franklin said the Me-mel transfer committee includes Aboriginal people and representatives of NSW government agencies:

Me-mel holds great significance to Aboriginal people, including in the creation story Boora Birra, where the great eel spirit created the water courses known today as Sydney Harbour.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council deputy chair Yvonne Weldon said the island was a place for people to be within their culture, pass stories to the next generation and share with others:

Me-mel is an opportunity for truth telling, and it’s about recognising the past and unlocking the future.

The island is listed on the NSW state heritage register and has a range of important Aboriginal, historical and natural values including more than 30 buildings and other structures from the 1830s to 1960s.

The NPWS will continue to manage Me-mel until the transfer is finalised and maintain public access to the island.


Australia’s Covid tracking site CovidBaseAU turns one

Today is the first birthday of one of the country’s leading Covid-19 data tracking websites, CovidBaseAU.

It has been tracking Covid-19 statistics since April 2021, breaking down Australian and global data on infections, hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations.

Its detailed analysis quickly meant the account became cited by media as a source.

Today marks exactly one year since the first tweet was posted on this @covidbaseau account and we began this project publicly😲

— CovidBaseAU 🦠📊🇦🇺 (@covidbaseau) May 28, 2022

The website was revealed to be run by three teenage boys, Wesley, Jack and Darcy, when they tweeted a photograph of themselves. Wesley and Jack were 14 at the time, and Darcy was 15.

Reflecting on the success of their project, the group vowed to continue their work despite attention on the issue falling away.

It is certainly obvious to us that since about the end of January the interest in COVID data has fallen off a cliff. And so to has our attention.

But it is crazy to think about how much of an influence we had through the 2nd half of 2021. Thanks to everyone who has supported🙂

— CovidBaseAU 🦠📊🇦🇺 (@covidbaseau) May 28, 2022

For anyone wondering. We plan to continue this COVID data tracking project for as long as the data is reported.

— CovidBaseAU 🦠📊🇦🇺 (@covidbaseau) May 28, 2022

For more see Guardian Australia’s write up about how the trio behind Australia’s leading Covid tracking website.


WA and SA residents to receive free flu jab in June

All residents in Western Australia and South Australia can receive a free flu jab in June. AAP reports:

WA residents of all ages will be able to receive their free influenza jab from Wednesday at state-run clinics or participating pharmacies and GPs.

People aged over five in South Australia can go to their local GP or pharmacy to get their free vaccine.

SA premier Peter Malinauskas said his state’s program was expected to cost $4.9m:

The dual challenge of broad community spread of Covid-19 and influenza at the same time during winter threatens to put further pressure on a hospital system already facing significant demand.

We must do everything we can to ensure as many South Australians as possible are immunised against both Covid and influenza to ease pressure on our hospitals.

There have been 1,195 confirmed cases of influenza in SA this year, compared with 12 cases for the same period last year.

WA has had 194 flu cases in 2022, with only about 20% of West Australians receiving their flu jab so far this year. Premier Mark McGowan said:

After two years of very low flu cases, I would urge all Western Australians to roll up to protect themselves now before the worst of winter.

Queensland has made influenza vaccines free to all people aged six months and over. NSW and Victoria are considering similar arrangements.


Queensland reports two Covid deaths

Two people with Covid-19 have died in Queensland, with the state recording 3,047 new cases, 374 people in hospital and seven people in ICU.

Today we have recorded 3,047 new COVID-19 cases.

Sadly, we have reported 2 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Full details➡️

— Queensland Health (@qldhealth) May 29, 2022


ACT reports no new Covid deaths

There have been no new Covid-19 deaths but 583 new cases in the ACT, with the territory recording 82 hospitalisations, two people in ICU and one on ventilation.

ACT COVID-19 Update – 29 May 2022
💉 COVID-19 vaccinations
◾ Aged 5-11 years (1 dose): 80.6%
◾ Aged 5-11 years (2 doses): 67.8%
◾ Aged 5+ years (2 doses): 97.2%
◾ Aged 16+ years (3 doses): 76.4%
🦠 COVID-19 case numbers
◾ New cases today: 583 (303 PCR and 280 RAT)

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) May 29, 2022

◾ Active cases: 4,978 (2,707 PCR and 2,271 RAT)
◾ Total cases: 130,664 (79,789 PCR and 50,875 RAT)
🏥 COVID-19 hospital numbers
◾ In hospital: 82
◾ In ICU: 2
◾ Ventilated: 1
◾ Lives lost: 0
◾ Total lives lost since March 2020: 62

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) May 29, 2022


Kristina Keneally blames Covid lockdowns, UAP and anti-vaxxers for election loss

Former Labor senator Kristina Keneally has sat down with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter FitzSimons after her loss to independent Dai Le in the electorate of Fowler. There are several interesting moments in the printed transcript.

Keneally says that on election night, as the realisation dawned she had lost, she had a whisky with friends.

Asked about what went wrong, she dismisses the suggestion that it was because she was parachuted into the electorate. Instead she pins the blame on the pandemic.

The most important factor was Covid and its impacts ... Fowler had the harshest and longest lockdowns in the state, supported by both Liberal and Labor, and there was an understandable sense of anger at both major parties, with people reacting with “a pox on both your houses”.

She also pointed to activity by Clive Palmer’s United Australia party and the anti-vax movement:

All the way through the campaign, it seemed it was going well, and almost every major community group gave me an endorsement. People were lovely and enthusiastic at train stations and street stalls. We had hundreds of volunteers.

But when prepolling started, the number of people who only took the UAP how-to-vote cards seemed unnaturally high to me. And the anger about lockdowns and vaccine mandates seemed out of kilter to what I’d seen in the rest of the country.

And I had one or two nasty encounters, during prepolling, where I started to think this is not going the way we expected it. But I kept getting reassurance that everything was fine.

Asked about her role in politics, she describes herself as a “head kicker”:

I was deputy leader in the Senate and a shadow minister, but in particular, I had a job of kicking heads and holding the government to account – it’s a job I’m well suited to. And Albo did indeed once describe me as his Sam Burgess, running out there and tackling them head-on.

Keneally is also canvassed about what she would like to do now and whether she would accept a diplomatic posting to the Vatican or the US. She says she is “working that out”:

The only firm decision I have made is to get rid of all my social media accounts. Social media has become an angry place. Still, when you’re in politics, you kind of have to be there.

But now I don’t need threats of violence, suggestions that I should be gang-raped or any of the other comments that females regularly get on social media.

So while I don’t know what I’m going to do next – whether it’s in a public role or private role – I’m pretty confident it’s not going to require me to be on Twitter.


This just in from the guardian of Australian democracy: no new results until Monday.

The three seats left in doubt will have no fresh counting today. Staff will be processing declaration envelopes to be ready for a big count on Monday. That should clarify the final result - unless the three seats remain ultra-close. #ausvotes

— Antony Green - elections (@AntonyGreenElec) May 29, 2022

Anne Davies on the future of the Liberal party after election loss

Faced with the disastrous loss of its heartland seats in the wealthier suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, a near-wholesale rejection in Western Australia and losses in other urban middle-ring seats, the Liberal party faces a crisis of identity.

How does it rebuild?

Does it move to the right and try to reclaim the support lost to One Nation and the UAP?

Does it take a leaf out of the playbook of Donald Trump and lean in to populism, exploiting the grievances of those who feel they have been left behind, while pursuing a “values-led” society that will be supported by “a silent majority” supposedly cowed into silence by “woke elites”?

These are some of the possible courses that have been canvassed in the wake of last week’s election.

With so much speculation about which way Peter Dutton will take the Liberal party and questions about the future, Guardian Australia’s Anne Davies takes a look at how things may play out.


Gallagher says campaign spending caps are a decision for parliament

The final question is about the potential for spending caps on campaign finance after Clive Palmer pumped millions into his election campaign, as did David Pocock.

Katy Gallagher says while it’s “definitely a question we should look at and explore further” but says “that’s for parliament to decide not individual members”.

It is worth noting that, as Nicki Savva points out in the panel discussion afterwards, much of the money that went to the teal independents also came from grassroots donations.


Workers on minimum wage ‘should not be going backwards’, Gallagher says

On the government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission arguing against any cut to the minimum wage in real terms, Katy Gallagher explains the process now that Anthony Albanese has written to the commission:

Tony Burke would provide that submission to the Fair Work Commission, and in that submission it would be clear that we don’t think those workers on the minimum wage should experience a wage cut.

The prime minister has indicated it wouldn’t have a figure in it, but we would be bringing forward the evidence and the argument that would support the position we took during the election campaign which is that those workers on $20.33 an hour should not be going backwards, as they have been in the last two years, and have been experiencing no real wage growth over the last decade, and we have been clear about that.


Potential windfall tax on oil and gas profits ruled out

An interesting question is now being asked about a proposal by the British government to apply a windfall tax on oil and gas profits and whether that might be considered in Australia. Katy Gallagher says “we’ve got a different set of circumstances here”:

I think Anthony, in his comments, has been around making sure we are doing what we said we would do in the election campaign which is implementing our rewiring the nation policy and the powering Australia policy which is designed to … bring down the cost of power prices on Australian households and drive business investment and meet our emissions reductions target.

It seems Gallagher is working hard to avoid setting up any repeat of the fight over the mining tax. She says “as the prime minister has indicated in the past few days, we won’t be pursuing that same pathway”.

David Speers follows up by asking why. Gallagher explains that Albanese, in his capacity as prime minister, has ruled it out before a cabinet meeting.


Fuel excise cut ‘unlikely’ to be extended, Gallagher says

There is a question now on electricity prices and potential cost-of-living relief flagged by the prime minister. Katy Gallagher says any decision will have a “cost-of-living lens applied to it”.

On extending the fuel excise cut:

The fuel excise cut costs around $3bn for a six-month period, so it does have a high cost to the budget. We said before the budget that it was unlikely we would continue that cut beyond the end of September, and I think that remains the case. That’s what we said before the election and that’s what we’ve said afterwards.


‘We can’t pretend’ budget cuts aren’t coming, Gallagher says

Katy Gallagher is asked whether she is “softening us up” for budget cuts and answers she is trying to have an “honest” conversation:

We can’t pretend they are not coming and we can’t pretend that the budget is in good shape and able to absorb this, but we are absolutely 100% focused on delivering the commitments we made to the Australian people …

The time for due diligence and proper fiscal discipline is here and I’m going to make sure, as the finance minister, that we are doing that from the get-go.


Labor faces ‘very serious' economic and budget challenges, Gallagher says

Finance minister Katy Gallagher is speaking now to ABC Insiders host David Speers. She says Labor faces “a very serious set of economic and budget challenges, and we don’t want to pretend it is anything but that”.

Q: Are you saying that the figures that were produced showing deficits totalling $224bn over the next four years – were they accurate or not?

Well, they are certainly the numbers that the finance department and the Treasury signed off on in the election campaign, but I think the point we are making is that there is a range of spending that we are having a look at in the budget and there is also clearly some huge budget pressures coming.

I guess in those areas – health, aged care, the NDIS, defence, national security – where there are all of them growing faster than GDP and going to play significant pressure on the budget going forward …

We need to make sure that all the spending that we are doing is delivering a particular outcome, an economic dividend that we can’t have this situation where we’ve got a trillion dollars of debt, not enough to show for it, massive deficits, huge spending pressures coming and the budget weighed down this way.


Albanese says he will 'try to keep it real' as PM

Finally, Anthony Albanese was asked whether he had had time to reflect on his status as one of the few Labor figures who have led the party out of years of opposition and into government.

The prime minister told Sky News he would never take the responsibility of the role for granted, and would try to “keep it real”:

I haven’t had many moments to reflect, I’ve got to say ... it’s been a busy time. But I do understand the great responsibility that I have – I’m humbled by it. It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mum, who was an invalid pensioner living in council housing, can rise to lead the country as prime minister and I’ll never take it for granted. I’ll honour it every day and I’ll do my best. That’s not to say I’ll be perfect, because none of us are, but I’ll try to keep it real on the way through and continue to keep my feet on the ground, because I think that is really important as well.

Albanese said people were willing the new government to succeed:

Australians are generous people and I think that they’ll give us a go. I get the sense out there that they want us to succeed. And I had people who didn’t vote for us as well, who said to me, we really want you to succeed for the sake of the country. So we’ll do our best.


NSW records four Covid deaths

Four people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales, with the state recording 6,545 new cases. There are 1,146 people in hospital, of whom 33 are in ICU.

COVID-19 update – Sunday 29 May 2022

In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:

- 96.4% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 94.9% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022

- 63.6% of people have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine*
- 83% of people aged 12-15 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 79.3% of people aged 12-15 have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 49.9% of people aged 5-11 have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022

- 1,146 hospitalisations
- 33 people in ICU
- 4 lives lost
- 6,545 positive tests: 3,729 RAT & 2,816 PCR

*Includes both immunocompromised people who have received a third dose and all people aged 16+ who have received a booster.

More info:

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) May 28, 2022


'The lessons are very clear' after Kristina Keneally’s loss, PM says

Anthony Albanese told Sky News the government remains “committed to delivering what we said we would” – including not scrapping the stage three tax cuts. The prime minister, when asked whether the budget and economic circumstances might trigger a rethink, said:

We’re committed to delivering what we said we would. And I’ve said on the stage three cuts that they have been legislated, people are entitled to operate on the basis of that certainty.

But Albanese added that the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, have started work on an audit conducted by Treasury and Finance:

This is a budget that’s full of waste and rorts. And we’re going to search for them, find them line by line, and where there are waste that we can act upon, we certainly will do so.

When asked whether there were lessons for Labor to learn from former frontbencher Kristina Keneally’s defeat in the seat of Fowler – and the risk of parachuting in candidates – Albanese said:

Of course there are. You have to learn lessons from an outcome like that. And I think the lessons are very clear that the community sent a message. Kristina Keneally is a big loss to our team. She was a valued friend. She was the deputy Senate leader and it is a loss, but you have to accept outcomes in democratic processes, but you also have to learn from them. And we will take note of the lessons which are there.


Newly minted Labor finance minister Katy Gallagher is appearing on ABC Insiders this morning.

We’ll bring you the highlights.


Victoria records 16 Covid-19 deaths

Sixteen people with Covid-19 have died in Victoria. The state recorded has 7,372 new cases, with 507 people in hospital, 30 in ICU and four 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: #COVID19VicData

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) May 28, 2022

3 doses (16+): 67.4%
2 doses (12+): 94.6%
Doses yesterday: 1,450
Doses total: 6,246,756

Hospital: 507
ICU: 30
Ventilated: 4
Lives lost: 16

New cases: 7,372 (Rapid antigen test cases: 5,260, PCR test cases: 2,112)
PCR tests: 13,190
Active cases (all): 63,428

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) May 28, 2022


Government needs to broker deal with unions and business, PM says

Sky News host Kieran Gilbert asked the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, about his plans for an employment summit with unions, business and others, expected to be held by September.

Q: What’s the key to getting a deal or a grand bargain on that front in your mind?

The key is a government that’s prepared to broker it, that looks to bring people together. And I’ve said that business and unions have common interests.

Business can’t succeed without workers and without a collaborative relationship through workers’ representatives through the trade union movement, and if you don’t have successful businesses you haven’t got union members. And we need to recognise that.

The way to increase both profits and wages without putting upward pressure on inflation is of course productivity and so that has really dropped off in recent times.

And I’ve been very heartened by the comments of both the business community and union leaders that they want to look for that win-win circumstance.

For more on this issue, see this story by Paul Karp:


Albanese signals ‘very positive’ response to Pacific policies

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the response to the new Australian government’s Pacific policies has been “very positive”. He told Sky News:

We went to the election with a positive plan for the Pacific that involved increased cooperation with regard to defence, including a defence training school, increased support for maritime security, increased aid of over half a billion dollars, increased action on climate change, including infrastructure required in the Pacific to deal with the challenge of climate change, but also increased parliamentary visits and exchanges, increased work programs for both temporary workers but also a permanent migration program specifically for people of the Pacific. All of this adds up to a re-engagement by Australia with the Pacific that is so important.

Albanese said it was “astonishing” that the former government had knocked back a submission from the then foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ramp up assistance to the Pacific. That is a reference to the election-eve leaks about cabinet’s national security committee’s deliberations. He added:

The fact that was knocked back last year just shows, I think, complacency on behalf of the former government, and that they had dropped the ball.

For more on new minister Penny Wong’s two-day visit to Fiji, see our story:


PM says he intends to have a ‘good relationship’ with crossbench

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has been speaking on Sky News.

He has said he intends to have “a good relationship with people across the crossbench” in the new parliament and has warned his colleagues against underestimating the incoming opposition leader, Peter Dutton:

I never underestimate my opponents.

On foreign policy, Albanese said:

I’ve been very heartened by the conversations I’ve had with other world leaders.

As he has flagged many times before, he said his next international visit would be to Indonesia.

We’ll have more details from this interview soon.

Australia faces many challenges, and I know that together we can seize the opportunities before us and shape our own future.

I sat down with @Kieran_Gilbert to talk about my government's priorities before heading to Canberra tomorrow.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) May 28, 2022


Good morning

Another live blog, another Sunday where we’ll be taking you through all the day’s events.

Tomorrow the Nationals will meet for a leadership spill, with Barnaby Joyce being challenged by David Littleproud.

Anthony Albanese is kicking off the day speaking to Sky News as Labor inches closer to majority government. The party is just one seat away, with the count coming down to the wire in seats including Macnamara.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Kristina Keneally has given an interview on her loss to Peter FitzSimons at the Sydney Morning Herald. More on that to come.

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 ...



Royce Kurmelovs and Stephanie Convery (earlier)

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