What we learned: Monday 28 November

That’s a wrap for the blog. Here are the day’s major developments:

  • The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, flanked by the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, announced that the government will move to censure former PM Scott Morrison for his secret ministries.

  • The Nationals announced they have decided to oppose the Indigenous voice to parliament, with the party also saying it will not actively campaign against the voice, but will leave it to individual members to campaign as they wish.

  • Former minister for communication, Paul Fletcher, said the Coalition won’t support censure motion against Scott Morrison.

  • Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, was up before Senate estimates again and said it was “partly our fault” the public “didn’t get the caveats” about rate forecasts, before apologising for saying he did not see the RBA raising interest rates before 2024.

  • Former PM Malcolm Turnbull said the hard right, egged on by the “angertainment complex”, has taken over the Liberals.

  • The ABS has released October retail data, which showed the first monthly fall of the year for retail sales.

  • Australia’s terrorism threat level has changed to “possible” after eight years at “probable”, with security authorities saying the risk of a terrorist attack has reduced.

  • The defence minister, Richard Marles, said the government fully supports the chief of the Australian Defence Force, Gen Angus Campbell, in implementing the Brereton inquiry recommendations.


Allegra Spender weighs in on federal anti-corruption body wrangling

The independent MP, Allegra Spender, has backed the Greens in a high stakes game of brinksmanship to improve the National Anti-Corruption Commission bill by giving non-government parties more say in appointments.

The Greens are threatening to back a Liberal amendment requiring three quarters of the oversight committee to back an appointment - unless the government agrees to a non-government chair.

Spender had proposed in the lower house that the chair’s vote should not count for appointments, meaning the government would need one more non-government vote, while Helen Haines proposed a two-thirds majority.

Spender said a super majority or insisting on a non-government chair were all “reasonable” ways to prevent government control of appointments.

“If we get the wrong commissioner it undermines the Nacc, and that’s extremely damaging,” she said.

Spender said Dreyfus did not want to set a precedent for a non-government chair but argued “the Nacc is different and the committee has a different role”.

Allegra Spender
Independent member for Wentworth Allegra Spender. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Penny Wong refuses to speculate on further sanctions on Iran

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, has defended the Australian government’s response to the violent crackdown in Iran, saying Australia had “consistently called out the regime publicly for its egregious actions”.

The Coalition demanded to know in Senate question time today why the government had not yet rolled out any new targeted sanctions, claiming that Australia was lagging behind like-minded nations. Wong said the government would not speculate on future sanctions:

We’ve consistently called out the regime publicly for its egregious actions, and I think everybody in this place ... would stand united in our condemnation of the brutal repression of civil and political rights in Iran, following the tragic death of Mahsa Amini.

I would make this point. In relation to sanctions, the senator does know that I have not, nor has any foreign minister before me, including Senator Payne—notwithstanding her interjection—ever speculated publicly on sanctions. No foreign minister would publicly speculate on sanctions, for very good reasons.

I understand the calls from the community in Australia. I met with some representatives last week and I said to them I understand why it is that people feel so strongly about this and why people are so angry. In a world in which Australia and other like-minded countries, such as Canada, the US, New Zealand and many others that we have been working with, in the UN context, to put pressure on Iran—I wish we could make this better, but we can’t. That is the reality. This is a repressive regime; we have to continue to work with other members of international community to assert clear pressure in that context.

The Liberal senator, Claire Chandler, in a follow-up question, referred to a significant protest out the front of parliament earlier today:

Hundreds of Iranian Australians, Kurdish Australians and their supporters have been rallying outside the parliament today. Will the government listen to them and take real action to strengthen Australia’s response to the abuses in Iran?

Wong said she was aware of the protest and supported their right to protest and understood their calls, but added:

The person who holds this office has to make a range of decisions and go through a range of processes and make a judgement in Australia’s best interests —I presume the same judgement as the Coalition government made when Iran was elected to the Commission on the Status of Women, and no protest was lodged by the former government.

Penny Wong speaking in the Senate
Foreign minister Penny Wong during Senate Estimates earlier in November. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


The Coalition’s defence spokesperson, Andrew Hastie, asked questions of the defence minister, Richard Marles, in parliament today about reports of show-cause notices being issued in relation to holding commanders accountable for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Hastie has issued the following statement about his call for consistency in how this accountability is applied:

Command accountability runs up and down the chain. We want to see this review applied consistently. That is not only fair, but recognises that senior ADF officers had the privilege and moral responsibility for the conduct of the war.

Earlier, Hastie told Sky News “we should not just review those medals, we should review medals going all the way to the top, because in the military, it’s one standard for all”.

Richard Marles and Andrew Hastie talking
Defence minister Richard Marles (left) and shadow minister Andrew Hastie. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


McKenzie ‘stoked’ about Victorian National party vote

I wanted to return to Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie’s appearance on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing, because she was asked about the Victorian election result.

McKenzie said she was “stoked” about the performance of the Nationals, but was asked if it was still viable to be in Coalition with a Liberal party that has lost another election, its third in a row:

That is decision for the state team and state organisation. I’ve been around long enough to know that one level should not be telling the other what to do but indeed we did have a great result, we saw off rural independents en masse.

We have had the best result since the Second World War. People often write off our party as if we are somehow irrelevant in the modern era and nothing could be further from the truth, whether as a result of the federal election or the state election with the National party standing up for their values and their communities, stay local, our people back that.

Bridget McKenzie
Victorian National party federal senator, Bridget McKenzie. Photograph: Jane Dempster/AAP


Nationals put politics ahead of First Nations people: Uluru Dialogue

The Uluru Dialogue, the group behind the Uluru statement from the heart (which the voice to parliament springs from) says the decision from the Nationals today “will only make us work harder” to win the pending referendum, savaging the Coalition for not making more progress on closing the gap in Indigenous social outcomes.

Geoffrey Scott, spokesperson for the Uluru Dialogue, claimed the Nationals had “put internal politics ahead of the interests of First Nations people” by making their decision to oppose the voice before even getting enough detail about what it would do or how it would work.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people, not politicians or any one political party

We will continue talking with all Australians including supporters of the Nationals.

The referendum will happen in the 2023 financial year, with some tipping late next year.

“By deciding to do this before a referendum date has even been set, or the detail has been released, it’s clear that the Nationals have put internal politics ahead of the interests of First Nations peoples,” Scott said of the decision.

The voice to parliament offers a solution, the Nationals have offered more of the same. Australians know that politicians can’t close the gap. And that’s why the voice is so important. It will make practical improvements to the lives of First Nations Australians across the country, including in Nationals electorates.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said his party chose to oppose the voice partly because they claimed it wouldn’t help close the gap. Scott claimed this was wrong.

Given their record of failure in government to close the gap, we will not be lectured by the Nationals on the best ways to improve outcomes for First Nations people.

Today makes clear that the task for the government is to put a strong voice to parliament to the Australian people, so we can continue our conversation directly with them and not more politicians in Canberra.


And if you are looking for a quick and easy summary of the day’s news, look no further than our new, daily Afternoon Update.

Today, it looked at the National’s opposition to the voice to parliament, the passing of a landmark gender equality bill and Bob Dylan’s fake signature. Read more at the link below:


Following the announcement of the visit of a US nuclear-powered submarine, we should point out the UK also sent a submarine to Western Australia late last year.

The UK’s minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, mentioned the visit when she addressed the National Press Club in Canberra today.

She said the Aukus agreement “reflects the unique trust between the UK, US and Australia” and “our shared values and our joint commitment to Indo-Pacific security”.

Trevelyan said:

We have made good progress on the deal, entering the final stretch of an eighteen-month feasibility study to deliver nuclear-powered submarine capability for Australia.

The UK and Australia share a long and proud history of naval cooperation. But Aukus will be more than just this important generation of submarines for the Australian Navy.
Our collaboration on cutting edge defence technology will give our countries a competitive edge, ensuring our people are kept safe from harm and enhancing our ability to achieve shared goals, including promoting security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Trevelyan said the UK had increased its defence presence throughout the whole region:

Last year our Carrier Strike Group toured the region engaging with over 40 countries.

Our offshore patrol vessels HMS Spey and HMS Tamar are now stationed in the Indo-Pacific to be able to work with key allies and partners consistently and to build closer relationships and understanding.

HMS Tamar is one of the Royal Navy’s newest and greenest ships, and she recently visited Darwin.

HMS Astute, first of her class and one of the most advanced nuclear submarines in the world, docked in Perth last year.
Our maritime partnerships are about promoting the international rules based system, and the fundamental right under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, for maritime vessels to move freely in international waters.

So, Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie was on ABC News’ afternoon briefing earlier, and was grilled on why the party made that decision not to support an Indigenous voice to parliament.

McKenzie at first said that the party had an “internal process” that was led by their “very own Jacinta” (Jacinta Price here) that led to their decision, but stumbled when asked if the decision-making was outsourced to Price:

In our party room, that is what we always do, we stick local. A lot of our local MPs went out into the communities and spoke with indigenous leaders at a very local level.

Obviously, Jacinta has done a lot of consultation particularly in the NT but more broadly. But we decided as a party room that there is an incredible lack of detail about this, we do not want our country divided by race which we believe this proposal will do. And what we really want to see is much more practical measures to address the inherit issues within indigenous communities.


American nuclear-powered submarine docks in WA

An American Virginia-class submarine is visiting Western Australia amid continued talks about Australia’s plans for nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus agreement.

The Australian government issued a statement welcoming USS Mississippi and its crew to Fleet Base West, saying it was the second US nuclear-powered vessel to visit Australia in 2022. USS Springfield visited in April.

The Australian government continues its work with the US and the UK on plans to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines under Aukus, with decisions about the design due by March.

The statement said the Virginia Class submarine was in Australia for a routine visit to provide respite for the crew:

The visit reflects the ongoing strength of Australia’s alliance with the United States and builds on previous visits of nuclear-powered submarines from our Aukus partners. Since 1960, Australia has hosted over 285 visits by UK and US nuclear-powered vessels with over 1840 total days in port.

The deputy prime minister and minister for defence, Richard Marles, said:

I had the opportunity to tour the USS Mississippi as part of my visit to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii last month, alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

It is a pleasure to welcome the crew to Western Australia this week, for this routine visit. Their stay in WA will provide those on board with much needed respite as they continue to ensure a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

In the same statement, the chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Admiral Mark Hammond, said:

After a busy year operating with the US Navy across the Indo-Pacific, it’s a privilege to welcome our friends to Western Australia. We value every opportunity for our navies to interact, train, and operate together. Australia and the United States have a proud history of working together in peace and war, it is a privilege to be able to support this enduring friendship.


Nationals’ call on Indigenous voice not a setback: Pat Dodson

So I wanted to begin with some reactions from senator Pat Dodson on the Nationals’ decision to oppose an Indigenous voice to parliament.

Dodson was on ABC News, and Dodson said he was “taken aback” when he heard of the decision, adding that he didn’t believe it was a setback:

I was a bit taken back because last week I spoke to senator Price and said I would like to talk to her. That hasn’t happened. I was more taken aback by the fact that I had made a statement in the chamber last week that set out some of the key agreed principles between the working group that has been set up … It is inclusive, respectful, culturally informed, gender balanced and includes youth.

It also is accountable and transparent and works along existing organisations and traditional structure. I outline those in the Senate last week and maybe Senator Price was not there, None of those would be objectionable to you or anyone listening to that list.

I don’t see it as a setback quite frankly. This is the beginning. The campaign hasn’t even begun. We are introducing amendments to the machine reap provisions for the referendum.

We haven’t even put forward the bill that will set up the referendum so it is a bit premature really and a bit inept to think that you would adopt a position well out before you saw anything of what the people, First Nations people were asking for the government.

It is not about the politicians, remember. It is about an invitation from the First Nations to the nation. This is about the Australian people and they will need to vote on it.


Good afternoon, Mostafa Rachwani with you for the rest of the day, and we begin as always with thanks to the always brilliant Amy Remeikis for her blogging today.

I am going to hand the blog over to Mostafa Rachwani to take you through the afternoon. I’ll be back early tomorrow morning for the second day of this final week –and also take you through party room meetings. Huzzah.

Thank you for joining me and take care of you Ax

Liberal MP Bridget Archer is considering voting for Labor’s proposed censure motion of Scott Morrison over the multiple ministry scandal.

Asked if she might join the censure, Archer told Guardian Australia:

I have previously indicated my dismay about the previous prime minister’s actions, and am considering my position in regard to the censure.”

Earlier on Monday the manager of opposition business, Paul Fletcher, had signalled the opposition would not support the censure of Morrison. Evidently some MPs are having more difficulty than others making their mind up.

The Greens have already said they support moves to sanction Morrison, so it’s clear there will be a majority in the House of Representatives when this is put. But still, it’s interesting that Archer’s independent streak continues, after she voted with the crossbench on various national anti-corruption commission amendments.


‘Disgusting’: more on National’s opposition to voice to parliament

Thomas Mayor, one of the lead campaigners for the Uluru Statement from the Heart spoke to the ABC about how disappointed he was with the Nationals’ decision not to support a voice to parliament:

We’re just going to have to keep campaigning without the Nationals. They will go the way of the dinosaurs. They are out of not just with what Indigenous people want but all Australian people. There is great sentiment towards this. It is also jumping the gun a bit. The provision – it has been put out there the draft words by the prime minister. There is plenty of room to engage the debate about how the voice will be formed and all those things. They just jumped ahead and said they don’t support it. It is disgusting really.

Mayor was also very critical about the role CLP senator Jacinta Price has played in the process.

Price told the program shortly after that she will helping to lead the no campaign.

Personally I’ll be part of a committee leading the no campaign. I’ll be in conversations with Indigenous Australians across the country about this and with people who are feeling like they are not being heard throughout the debate so far it will be about amplifying their voices.


Government defends decision to join the UN’s climate loss and damage fund

A little earlier in the federation chamber (where overflow debates and speeches are held, so as not to hold up house business) the Coalition moved a motion criticising the government for signing up to the UN’s climate loss and damage fund.

Labor MP Josh Wilson had some thoughts:

In essence, this motion and the embarrassing questions advanced in question time by coalition members last week, are designed to whip up some kind of political advantage from misunderstanding and disingenuousness and xenophobia. That is all there is to it. And I reckon Australians are thoroughly sick of that. I reckon Australians are thoroughly sick of that at the end of being what’s quite a long year. I reckon Australians have had a gut full of that kind of dishonest and lazy political game playing.

The essential falsehood in this motion, Deputy Speaker, is that the Australian government has signed some kind of blank cheque, and that is wrong. That is a falsehood. And that’s what the motion says. And it’s a lie. It’s a lie. And the motion says the Australian government has already made a pledge of a funding scheme. And that is a lie. That is not true. And the member said that this is a compensation fund, it is expressly not a compensation fund. That is a lie.

This motion demands answers to questions that don’t exist. How much has been pledged? No pledges have been made by Australia or by any other country, it is expressly not a compensation fund, Deputy Speaker. But all of this is designed to create a cloud of bulldust that might trigger people into believing that sensible international cooperation in the global effort against climate change is actually a secret plot that seeks to penalise Australia.

Sadly, Deputy Speaker, all of this is born of a Coalition that was hopeless and desperate had in its dying days of government and yet apparently remains hopeless and desperate to this very day.

The truth is the Australian Government along with many of our best and most sensible allies – US, the UK, the EU – we’ve agreed to a framework for ensuring that developed countries can help provide support to developing countries in dealing with the impact of climate change. That’s what this fund is about. It’s no different from the way Australia supports climate related measures in our region.

It’s no different, in essence, from the Green Climate Fund that the Coalition government signed up to in 2016. It’s the kind of assistance that reflects our character and promotes our national interest, especially with respect to the support we provide for nations that comprise our Pacific friends and neighbours. It’s the kind of assistance you should absolutely provide, even if you’re taking the most selfish perspective possible, because it will help ensure resilience and stability and peace and trade and economic self-sufficiency in our region, all of which is to Australia’s benefit.


Merit and merit-er:

The member for New England Barnaby Joyce during question time
The member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, during question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Please enjoy this series from Mike Bowers: Scott ‘so unbothered’ Morrison, from question time today:

Unbothered Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Might post on facebook a bit later about how unbothered I am
Might post on facebook a bit later about how unbothered I am Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Elon Musk levels of unbothered
Elon Musk levels of unbothered Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Exhausted from being so unbothered
Exhausted from being so unbothered Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


More on the Nationals’ opposition to voice to parliament

Dean Parkin, the director of From the Heart, has responded to the Nationals’ party room decision not to support an Indigenous voice to parliament:

Today’s decision of the National federal party room to oppose constitutional recognition through a voice to parliament is rash, illogical, and dismissive of the overwhelming will of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reflected in a vast survey published by Reconciliation Australia last week.

The Nationals have taken a position that is vastly out of step with Australians, who understand that constitutional recognition through a voice to parliament is a simple and effective way to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a direct say over laws and policies that affect them.

Politicians, often with the best of intentions, have tried for decades to devise policies to produce better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within existing processes.

The failure on this front has been indisputable.

The Nationals MPs in the federal parliament stood today in Canberra and made the case for more of the same.

This makes no sense when constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through a voice to parliament is all about making a practical difference on the ground.

It is about moving on from gestures and into proper solutions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader Australian community know it is time to take practical steps forward. Giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a guaranteed seat at the table lays the foundations for making that happen.


For those who missed it:

We need practical, tangible measures to Close the Gap.

The Nationals believe a Voice to Parliament will not help with the real issues our Indigenous communities are facing. pic.twitter.com/d4n3BHuLqy

— Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie (@senbmckenzie) November 28, 2022

Government supports ADF boss on Brereton report follow-up

The defence minister, Richard Marles, says the government fully supports the chief of the Australian defence force, Gen Angus Campbell, in implementing the Brereton inquiry recommendations, following reports that senior officers have been issued with show-cause notices to explain why they should keep honours and awards.

Media reports published over the weekend said the new government had authorised Campbell to recommence consideration of administrative action for command accountability stemming from the inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The ABC reported a number of ADF personnel and veterans have been given four weeks to provide reasons for keeping their honours.

The shadow defence minister, Andrew Hastie, who is a former SAS captain, asked Marles about the matter in question time today.

Marles began by describing Hastie – who has previously voiced strong support for the Brereton inquiry process and has previously called for transparency about the matters – as “a very brave man” and added:

Australia owes him a debt of gratitude for what he has done in respect of this.

Marles said the former Morrison government had dealt with 101 of the 143 recommendations of the Brereton Report – including decided against revoking the meritorious unit citation from thousands of special forces soldiers who had served in Afghanistan. Marles repeated his previously expressed position that the Albanese government would not be overturning Peter Dutton’s decision on the meritorious unit citation.

(It’s worth reminding readers at this point that Dutton’s decision – as explained by defence at the time – was to allow current and former entitled serving defence personnel to wear the insignia for the MUC “unless they are convicted in a court of law, or administratively identified by Defence as implicated and therefore, not deserving of retaining the Honour”.)

Marles went on to say that the government wished to implement the 42 other recommendations that were yet to be implemented “to the fullest possible extent”:

Now one of those recommendations called on the review of the award of decorations to those in command positions, at troop squadron and task group level during particular special operation task group rotations.

What we’ve seen in the last week or two is the chief of the defence force writing to a small number of people to whom this recommendation concerns. We completely support the chief of the defence force in the steps that he has taken. I can’t disclose the number for privacy reasons. But what I will say is that in terms of this recommendation and all others, it is our intent to try and implement Brereton to its fullest possible extent which I know the member opposite would want this government to do.


And on that note, question time ends.

The member for Cook Scott Morrison during question time
The member for Cook Scott Morrison during question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Anthony Albanese finishes question time with a dixer talking about Scott Morrison’s secret ministries and the censure motion:

The Bell inquiry confirmed that the principles of responsible Government were, “Fundamentally undermined because the former prime minister was not responsible to the parliament or the public.”

The inquiry describes how this bizarre behaviour has had a corrosive impact on public trust and confidence in government.”

The report states that the public didn’t know, “Something it was entitled to know.” My government will implement all six recommendations and later this week we will introduce legislation to this House to make sure this can never happen again.

I’ve already instructed the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure that there is proper transparency should any appointments be made.

The actions of the former prime minister were extraordinary, they were unprecedented, and they were wrong. They exposed a cult of secrecy and a culture of cover-up, which arrogantly dismissed scrutiny as inconvenience. And members of the former government and current opposition enabled this culture. They sat back with that cabinet committee of one. And said that that was acceptable.

(Scott Morrison is in the chamber for this and is VERY engrossed in the papers on his desk. He doesn’t look up once. But he is not looking up in the way where you are making a point of not looking up. He is obviously aware and can hear what Albanese is saying, but is making an effort to appear like he doesn’t care)

Scott Morrison staring at first his iPad then his phone during this answer.

Albanese: "The actions of the former PM were extraordinary, they were unprecedented, and they were wrong. They exposed a cult of secrecy and a culture of cover-up..." #auspol #qt

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 28, 2022

The leader of the opposition has made excuses for this behaviour, he doesn’t get it. Nikki Savva’s upcoming book reports the decision by the shadow cabinet, their view was they were best not to talk about it. And today...the manager of opposition business has said they won’t vote for a censure motion on the basis that according to him, the issue of relationship between the former PM and his ministers is a matter for them. They still don’t get it.

It’s not about you. It’s about the Australian people and whether they have a right to know who the ministers are. It’s about the Westminster system of our parliamentary democracy, and whether it has been undermined they just don’t get it. But we’ll give them the opportunity to have a say on that. And they’ll be held to account for it.

Together with the Nacc, tighter ministerial standards and our embrace of the Jenkins review, we’re working hard to restore faith in our institutions and strengthen our democracy. They should never be called conservatives. Because conservatives support institutions.

Those opposite undermine them at every single opportunity. I do thank Ms Bell and her team for their excellent work in producing an outstanding report


Ted O’Brien is really having a moment. The LNP MP for Fairfax has really seen an uptick in floor time since the Coalition lost government.


Prior to the election the minister said he would not sign Australia up to a global pledge without knowing how it would be implemented. At COP27 the minister signed Australia up to pay compensation for carbon emissions without knowing any of the details, or saying how much it will cost. Minister, how can Australians trust anything you say?

Chris Bowen:

Let’s talk like Ted. Let’s not.

I’m afraid the honourable member’s question underlines just how much they don’t understand the international conversation about dealing with developing countries in the impact of climate change and just how willing they are to play cheap and pathetic politics on this issue, Mr Speaker.

At the COP27 last week every country in the world, every COP party came together for this agreement. According to the leader of the opposition he would have stood away with his arms followed saying, ‘We’re not in, we are not having this conversation.’

On this side of the House we believe that actually interacting with Pacific countries in particular about the impact of climate change on them is central to our agenda - central to our agenda. Now there have been some mistruths told by those opposite, let’s just run through them. They talk about China. Let’s just call it for what it is. They talk about China.

In fact, the agree. Reflected in the cover text of the come meeting says that this arrangement will be for the particularly vulnerable countries. China is not one of those. Every country is vulnerable to climate change. The most vulnerable are Kiribati, Vanuatu and Fiji, they are the countries that we deal with and we are proud to deal with. The leader of the opposition thinks that the impacts of climate change on Pacific islands are part of his comedy routine. We on this side of the chamber actually believe interaction with the developing countries in the Pacific is central 20 the agenda and I’m proud of that arrangement and proud of the work we did together in Egypt working with the prime ministers and climate change ministers of the Pacific.

I don’t run away from that. On this side of the House we are proud of that too. Those opposite can get a different approach if they wish. They can hold the Pacific islands off to one side saying, “Talk to the hand, we’re not interested.”

The other myth perpetrated by those opposite is that somehow Australia ... (there is a point of order which is not a point of order)

The other myth perpetrated by those opposite is that somehow Australia agreed to a funding arrangement when in fact what we agreed, to and every country in if world agreed to, is for further work over the next 12 months on the establishment of a fund. I’ll tell you who would have been happiest if Australia had not participated – I’ll tell you what country would have been happiest.

That country is China because they would have sent the message to the Pacific in a geopolitically contested region that Australia is not interested in the Pacific. That just underlies why this man is not fit for the office he seeks to hold. He would be a risk to our national security. He’s mentioned in 20 years in parliament he’s mentioned climate change three times in that 20 years.

That is what the leader of the opposition thinks about climate change. His biggest contribution to the climate change discussion in Australia was to joke about the impacts on Pacific islands who are fighting for their very survival. That is why he is not fit for the office he purports to seek to hold.


Royal commission into media diversity 'not the way forward': Murray Watt

In a follow-up question, Hanson-Young told the Senate:

Given the Press Council clearly cannot enforce its own standards, Australian media is more concentrated than any other comparable market and the over political role that some sections of the Murdoch media play, will the government hold an inquiry with the powers of a royal commission into media diversity including the Murdoch press, as recommended by some of your own senators, a former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and some of your own Labor branches?

Watt told the Senate:

The Albanese government does support a diverse and sustainable media sector and we recognise that quality news and public interest journalism plays an important role in the functioning of Australian society and democracy.

It is essential to informing local communities. Labor has long acknowledged and voiced concerns about the level of concentration in Australia which is why the Albanese local government is supporting and fostering diversity in our media.

It’s also why the government has affirmed a clear position that a royal commission or judicial inquiry into media concentration is not the way forward for media policy. There have already been multiple reviews and inquiries into the media and public interest journalism over the past decade. Yet the recommendations from these processes have not been properly addressed. Rather than holding another inquiry, we need to be outcomes-focused in implementing the backlog of recommendations that already exist.


Federal minister Murray Watt has told the Senate the Victorian election “showed that there were a number of commentators on the state of Victorian politics that got it completely wrong” – adding that some unnamed commentators had “waged a four-year campaign against the Andrews government, promoting hysteria, promoting conspiracy theories”.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked in Senate question time:

Following the result of the Victorian election and the disgraceful performance of sections of the Murdoch media, will the government now act on the issue of media diversity in Australia and in particular, its importance for a robust democracy?

Watt, representing the minister for communications in the upper house, told the Senate:

Well I do think that the Victorian election showed that there were a number of commentators on the state of Victorian politics that got it completely wrong. Some of them are sitting in very aisle opposite us. Some of them are sitting in certain media outlets in Victoria who waged a four-year campaign against the Andrews government, promoting hysteria, promoting conspiracy theories. With the people who are the noisiest now.

Responding to interjections, Watt added:

Yeah, we do live in a free country and you know what, some people are free to get it wrong. You have got it wrong year after year after year about the issues that the Victorian people were concerned about.

Senator Hanson-Young, as you are aware, our government does have a position of supporting diverse media ownership and I am sure that the minister responsible has discussed these matters with you. But I do think in general terms that the Victorian state election again showed that some media outlets along with some members of parliament, actually need to get out in the real world and listen to what real people have to say about these issues rather than just occupying their own echo chamber. We have seen some members of the Liberal and National Parties, federally and Victoria, operate very closely with some those media outlets and what they demonstrated was that they were grossly out of touch with people in Victoria just as they have demonstrated that in the recent federal election and in a range of other elections as well.

So I do hope that the Victorian state election is a very big wake-up call for a number of media outlets, as it should be also for the members on the other side. Otherwise they are going to keep drifting down the out of touch path that they seem to be intent on taking.


Llew O’Brien who has decided to keep his post-election beard has a question for Anthony Albanese:

Yesterday the prime minister indicated Labor had secured a deal with senator Pocock to ensure the passage of Labor’s extreme industrial relations bill. Can the prime minister inform the House if there are any elements of this deal which have not been made public?

There is laughter from the Labor benches.

Albanese gets up:

I thank the member for Wide Bay for his question and as I understand it he is asking if there are any secret elements of any arrangements that were put forward as part of an agreement to pass our industrial relations legislation?

Let me get this right. The political party that has a secret agreement as the basis of the forming of government, between the Liberal party and the National party is asking are there any elements that are unknown?

They didn’t even though who their ministers were! Didn’t even know! You had two treasurers, two finance ministers, two health ministers, two industry, science et cetera ministers and no one was allowed to know. And they come in here and give a newbie a question like that.

What a joke.

Paul Fletcher has feelings:

On relevance when there’s been a tightly drafted question you previously asked the minister to come back to the terms of the question, are there any elements of the deal with Senator Pocock which have not been made public?


They probably don’t recognise someone of integrity like senator Pocock who’s been up front about everything that was discussed and nothing that wasn’t. Very up-front, as have I. That compares with the opposition who, when it became known, that we weren’t aware of how many of these secret ministries were in existence, they had a debate in their shadow cabinet and according to one frontbencher they said …

The view was we were best not to talk about it, not to talk about it, according to Nikki Savva, not according to something in the past, something about the way that are operating now. When embarrassed, when the Australian public find out how many Treasurers there were and how many finance ministers, what they say is, ‘We’re best not to talk about it.’ I did a press conference yesterday with the minister for industrial relations and talked about exactly what was discussed between myself and senator Pocock. Senator Pocock did a press conference, it’s called transparency. We’ve got it, you never did and you still don’t.


Earlier, the attorney general Mark Dreyfus told reporters in Canberra about efforts to amend the national anti-corruption commission bill.

The Coalition have moved an amendment that says: “If the proposed recommendation is for the appointment of the commissioner or the inspector, the decision to approve the recommendation must be supported by at least a three-quarters majority of all of the members of the committee.”

Dreyfus claimed:

Regrettably, I have to say that the Liberal party has introduced amendments in the Senate just now. One of those amendments is one which would create an effective veto on the establishment of the national anti-corruption commission. The government will not be supporting that amendment and, indeed, I would call on the Liberal party to withdraw that amendment.”

The shadow attorney general, Julian Leeser, has rejected Dreyfus’ characterisation.

In a statement, Leeser said:

The Coalition rejects the government’s assertion that its amendments somehow seek to veto the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. That is an outrageous slur and we call on the government to withdraw that assertion.

Our amendments seek to ensure bipartisan support for the Commissioner and Inspector. The Coalition is committed to bipartisan appointments for key positions in the National Anti-Corruption Commission. This is essential to ensuring the appointments do not become a political issue. We note amendments providing for a supermajority for the appointment of the Commissioner were also moved by various cross benchers in the House of Representatives. Nobody has accused them of seeking to veto the Nacc.”


Darren Chester is on board with the Nationals rejecting an Indigenous voice to parliament.

Darren Chester on Voice: "I support the party’s position. The government hasn’t made the case and in my community, we believe empowering local indigenous leaders to develop programs and deliver services is a better approach than a largely symbolic and centralised bureaucracy."

— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) November 28, 2022


Rebehka Sharkie has a question about what Paul Karp has labelled Procesc-No over the EU wanting the name Prosecco to be reserved for wines from the region.


Sales of Australian-made Processo now exceed $200 million annually. The European Union is now pushing for Prosecco to be added to the wine agreement. What is the government doing to protect growers in my electorate and others?

Anthony Albanese:

I thank the member for her question and for her and mine and many others interests in Prosecco which is, indeed, a fantastic product, much of which is grown, of course, in South Australia.

We are currently negotiating with the European Union about a Free Trade Agreement and as part of that I met with the new Italian Prime Minister when we were together at the G20 meeting.

The first meeting that has taken place between an Australian Prime Minister and an Italian Prime Minister for some period of time.

At that bilateral meeting I put forward Australia’s interests in advancing the Free Trade Agreement. We know that in terms of the agricultural sector in particular with nations such as France and Italy, they have been very protective of particular labels of products.

But the truth is that Prosecco is a product that is produced not just in Italy, just like roses are grown in lots of places around the world and they’re still roses.

We will advance Australia’s national interest an negotiate in good faith with the European Union and I’m hopeful that the European Commission will send their leaders Ursula and Charles out here next year - I have invited them to come out and meet with business, including the agricultural sector next year.

There is much to be gained by a Free Trade Agreement with Europe. When we think about the issues that have been raised with free trade agreements, so often relate to labour laws and relative cost.

When you talk about Europe you don’t have these issues and what you can have is a win-win agreement. That is why the entry fee for negotiating the Europe was a decent climate change policy. That was indicated very clearly by the European Commission, by not just the Italian Prime Minister but the Spanish Prime Minister, the French President, the German chancellor Australia is now in a position where by we’re able to promote our national interest.

We’ll do so - we’ll do so in good faith, we understand that these are challenges and that our friends in Europe starting position is different to ours but we will negotiate in good faith and will consult with industries including the agricultural sector as we do it.

The Nationals MP for Forrest, Nola Marino, takes the Coalition’s attacks on the IR bill to a new level of silliness:

Under Labor’s extreme industrial relations bill, could a local winery in Margaret River be required to bargain with a local pub in Margaret River due to being in the same industry and geographical location?

Julie Collins:

Seriously, we keep getting all sorts of analogies from those opposite. We said they need to be comparable ... They need to be comparable ...

There is absolutely space to criticise this legislation – but by not taking it seriously, it undermines the serious criticisms of it.


Adam Bandt to Tanya Plibersek:

Even though this climate crisis is the biggest threat to our environment the minister for resources said last week that the decision on the new of coal and gas should be made by overseas boardrooms and not by Australia. Do you agree and in next week’s response to the review to the environment laws will you announce a climate trigger so that the impact of climate pollution has to be taken into account when considering new coal and gas lines?


I want to thank the leader of the Greens for that question and it goes to two issues. The first is the government’s response to the Samuel review which was looking at the environmental protection and biodiversity conservation act. Like many things those opposite did they received the Samuel review about two years ago and never really responded to it. So of course we will respond to the Samuel review. The Samuel review found two things, the first is that environmental laws have presided over a worsening of our environment we saw with the state of the environment report that those opposite kept secret and it found that approvals processes were slow and cumbersome so we want to do two things. We want to give better environmental protections and faster, clearer decision making and our response will go to that.

On the issue of coal and gas projects what we have consistently said on this side is that they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and they’ll have to meet our environmental law, they will have to stack up environmentally and economically, that position hasn’t changed.


David Littleproud:

My question is to the minister representing the minister for agriculture. I refer to the example of a Goulburn Valley fruit grower who employs 25 casual and part-time farm hands throughout the year and an additional team of 30 regular seasonal pickers and packers. Under the industrial relation changes if a representative of fruit pickers from that farm and the neighbour’s farm successfully applies to bargain a single interest employer agreement could all similar fruit growers be forced into similar multiple employer bargaining?

Catherine King:

I too, given it is an industrial relations question, will refer to the relevant minister but I do want to start this – is the proposition that you are putting to this parliament is that regional Australians don’t deserve a pay rise? Is that the proposition that you are putting to the parliament? Is the proposition that you are putting to the parliament that people who work on farm communities should be paid lower? That is basic like the proposition you are putting. You are not supporting regional Australians by putting this question. You are saying that anybody who works for farm community, anybody who works for agricultural and regional businesses does not deserve a pay rise. I will ask the industrial relations minister to answer the specifics of the member’s question.

Tony Burke:

Two things and I thank the minister for joining me to be able to answer the question. Two things on the example that’s been given. First of all in terms of the final line, people don’t get forced. Either the employer opts in or the workforce vote to be part of an agreement. That’s what happens. People don’t get compelled in the way that he’s just described. The workforce – those opposite think the only person at the bargaining table is the employer. That’s essentially what’s at the heart of this. That’s why they can say ‘forced’ because they fail to acknowledge the right of the workforce to be able to have a vote as to whether or not they want to be part of something. But of all the industries – of all the industries to come to this House and say, ‘Here’s an industry where it is outrageous to get pay rises,’ he chose horticulture.

Littleproud tries to have a point of order, but there is no point of order.

Burke continues:

So I don’t blame the farmers for this. I don’t blame the horticulturalists themselves because principally they have been paying rates to labour hire firms that they believed people were being properly paid. What has been happening are the worst examples of people being under paid in Australia have been in that exact industry. And the Leader of The Nationals can scoff at it and say it doesn’t matter. When people are being paid $4 an hour it matters. When people are being paid as little as that it needs to be fixed. When people are being paid absolutely appalling rates of peso that they end up fishing out of bins to get food at the back of supermarkets, yes, absolutely we make sure that we will act on those areas. And those opposite, why don’t you make one question – have one question at some point those opposite that encourages pay rises? Just one. There’s been plenty of questions on industrial relations but not one that has encouraged rates of pay in this country to go up.


I assume Pauline Hanson is referencing the fact we breathe out carbon dioxide, we have not lived a carbon-neutral existence.

But I imagine before the industrial revolution, that was more than off-set.

Although it has to be said, some do breathe out more carbon dioxide than others. People who breathe out of their mouth, usually.

Over in Senate question time, senator Pauline Hanson has asked a question about renewables that includes the phrase “Considering that no human being in history has ever led a carbon-neutral existence... ” Carry on...



Tony Burke says some people are still on (WorkChoice era) Australian Workplace Agreements.

Secure jobs, better pay bill closes this loophole in Fair Work Act.#auspol #ausunions pic.twitter.com/cQaEsMvgS5

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 28, 2022

Tony Burke looks like he is having a very good day.

Paul Fletcher asks Julie Collins:

Last Thursday the minister told the House in question time that a small business located in a showing centre with a large supermarket would not be compelled to bargain together with that super market. Given the bill specifically mentioned geographical location as establishing the common interest, that means a business can be dragged into multi-employer bargain, will the minister now admit she misled the House in giving this incorrect answer?

Collins says:

No, I did not, it is correct and I will hand over to the workplace relations minister.

And then Burke gets up to continue his good day (no idea if the Lakers beat the Supersonics or not)

The example given is wrong for two reasons. The first reason is in terms of common interest, to claim that a small shop like that has a common interest with a company like Woolworths really beggars belief - really beggars belief!

If that’s their concept of what a common from is then they have no understanding of small business on that side.

If their view of small business is, “It’s just the same as Woolies” then that’s a really extraordinary argument.

But the other concept if they paid attention over the weekend is one of the additional amendments that the government’s agreed to is whether or not businesses are reasonably comparable.

Even if you got over the hurdle - I don’t know how logically you could get over the hurdle on common interests - but even if you got there to claim they have somehow reasonably comparable would just beggar belief.

Even some of the people like - it’s not like the Fair Work Commission is stacked with Labor party appointees at the moment. The example given would not pass the common interest test, would not pass the reasonably comparable test but obviously will pass the scare campaign test. Keep going, keep shouting at the moon. That’s what they’re going to do. But anyone who look at this with common sense could not reach any of the conclusions that those opposite are trying to draw.

Mentions of Dolly Parton and Mario Kart in the parliament on the same day.

What a time.

Angus Taylor gets a question and says it is for the treasurer and the Labor side of the chamber cheers (because of how few questions Taylor asks Jim Chalmers).

In response to a question on Insiders on 21 November last year the treasurer said, “Industry wide bargaining was, ‘Not part of our policy.’ Did the treasurer mishear that question or does he have a different excuse for this broken promise?


We have waited 19 days for that rubbish question from the minister for Hume. Did you know, Mr Speaker, Dolly Parton wrote Jolene and I will always love you in one day. It took the shadow treasurer 19 days to write that question – 19 days longer than it took to write two of the most popular songs in history.

The question that the shadow treasurer asks me, which [Australian columnist] Dennis Shannahan wrote two or three weeks ago is based on a completely wrong premise – completely wrong premise.

And it comes as a surprise to nobody on this side of the House that the shadow treasurer has again got it hopelessly wrong. Let me explain to it the shadow treasurer. It was not our policy then and it is not our policy now to have industry-wide bargaining.

There are important differences between the question I was asked last year and our policy now as outlined by the industrial relations minister and the prime minister and others and after industrial relations being such a central part of the political debate in this country for some time the shadow treasurer really ought to know the difference between the two concepts.

So I say again - I say once again for the shadow treasurer, it is not our policy again to have industry-wide bargaining. It was not our policy to have industry wide bargains when David Spears asked me in 2021.

It is our policy to get wages moving again in this country. And that’s why I’m so pleased and why I congratulate the industrial relations minister. The prime minister, the colleagues in the Senate, senator Pocock, and I thank him for his support because for too long in this country wages have been stagnant.

One of the reasons why we are on this side of the House and you are on that side of the House is because we take a very different approach to wages than you do. Nothing would make them happier than another decade of wage stagnation like the last decade. But we take a different approach. They get sent to this place to diminish and hack at the wages and working conditions of working Australians. We come here to get wages moving again. We are proud to do so and that’s what our policy is all about.


'Our greatest asset': David Pocock weighs in on failures of conservation laws

Amid negotiations over the IR bill, senator David Pocock has been making his feelings known about the failure of Australia’s conservation laws and funding of environmental protection.

Guardian Australia environment reporter Lisa Cox reported yesterday that 355 plans for the recovery of threatened species will reach their use-by date in the next six months.

Recovery plans are supposed to be updated every five years, but documents released under freedom of information laws show underresourcing, disagreements with state governments and a growing list of species threatened with extinction have contributed to the federal environment department not delivering on what was expected.

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the existing system was not fit to address threats to Australian wildlife, particularly climate change, and she would consider how it could be improved in her upcoming response to a two-year-old review of national environment laws by Graeme Samuel, a former competition watchdog.

Pocock made his feelings known on Twitter, describing the failure to protect “our greatest asset” as a “national disgrace”.

Australia is a megadiverse country, home to some of the most unique & spectacular species on the 🌏
Lack of investment & broken environmental laws mean that we have failed our greatest asset.
It's a national disgrace.
We need to do better, so much better.https://t.co/2EO3EPV2Dh

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) November 27, 2022

Plibersek is expected to reveal proposed changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation, or EPBC, Act next year.


Andrew Wilkie has the first of the crossbench questions:

Last week I revealed evidence of Australian coal exporters using fake quality tests. This prompted other industry insiders to contact me and corroborate the claims. The Financial Review reported that the former government was aware of the fraud and buried the allegations. Will the government establish a parliamentary inquiry to investigate this misconduct and please don’t say it’s a matter for ASIC because clearly they’re part of the problem.

Anthony Albanese:

I thank the Minister for Clark for his question. I also acknowledge his long record of working with whistleblowers and working to ensure greater transparency in the way that politics and business and indeed our economy is conducted in this nation. We certainly take seriously any allegations like this an indeed they were very serious allegations that were put forward.

Because it goes to not just the issue of honesty in an abstract sense, this goes to our reliability as a trade partner, reliable and trusted exporter of energy which Australia has the reputation of being as well as other goods. It is critical that Australia’s reputation has been reliable and trusted, be maintained in the future because it is so important for our relations with our major trading partner, including Japan and South Korea, but other nations as well, but it’s also important for our economy because the Australian economy receives a substantial benefit when we export our resources and that is one of the facts that goes into paying for our schools and our hospitals and our other services.

We expect all Australian companies to act with integrity and transparency in our coal, the highest standards of corporate disclosure.

The government is investigating how the utilise our existing powers to identify any evidence of a systemic practice of altering coal certificates and I will certainly commit to ensuring that the Minister for Clark is directly consulted as part of that process.

I’m pleased also to advise the Minister for Clark that the Department of Industry, science and resources is engaging with the relevant regulators and accreditation bodies to assess the matter. If there’s sufficient evidence relevant authorities should, and will, investigate. Integrity is the cornerstone of my government, that’s why we’ve introduced a powerful anti-corruption commission but measures like this should be examined. I didn’t see the financial review report that you...

(Wilkie asks about relevance and Albanese continues)

As I said, what we’re doing is the department is currently engaging with the regulators an accreditation bodies making an assessment of it. I guarantee to come back to the Minister for Clark about that and I’ve said already that he will be engaged as part of that process and then we will make the decision as to whether that would be appropriate.

Question time begins

Peter Dutton and Anthony Albanese have their usual back and forth and then we move to Sussan Ley asking Julie Collins:

Labor’s Regulation Impact Statement for its extreme industrial relations bill says small business will have to pay at least $14,600 in bargaining costs. Can the minister advice the House whether the Albanese government will provide direct financial compensation for small businesses to deal with this financial hit or will Labor force small businesses to come the bill themselves.


There are several thresholds that need to be met in terms of small businesses. If she is talking about the single interest bargaining stream we of course made announcements that that will change it from fewer than 15 employers to fewer than 20. There are four streams and we do expect that most small businesses will actually go through the cooperative stream where, as I also said last week most of the businesses will be able to take an off the shelf product, or work with their employer peak organisation so those costs are estimates only and they are unlikely to be required for most small businesses to meet those costs


The reactions are starting to come in.

Chanston Paech is the attorney general in the NT and has Eastern Arrernte and Gurindji links.

Not surprised, still disappointed. pic.twitter.com/lXlz94xGAK

— Chansey Paech MLA: Member for Gwoja (@chanseypaechMLA) November 28, 2022


Liberal Victorian senator James Paterson says the Liberal party are now interested in younger voters.

I’m particularly concerned about the falling and declining support among young voters, as they’re becoming the greater proportion of voters. It’s traditional that young voters are more left wing and older voters more concerning. There’s been some very sensible contributions from some of my colleagues and former colleagues. Tim Wilson, the former member for Goldstein have identified that falling rates of home ownership are a real concern for young people and the Liberal party has not done enough on this issues. We need to help young people get into the housing market. It’s the predominant issue for my generation and those younger.

I’m not sure it is just home ownership, or that the old voting orthodoxies still apply in this new world – people with mortgages can still want to see revolutionary change in issues which impact their lives, their children’s lives and the lives of those around them.


Littleproud indicated the Nationals’ decision is not necessarily to actively campaign against the voice, and will leave it to individual members to campaign as they wish – but said he expected Jacinta Price to campaign against it, and said he himself would be talking to communities about the proposal.

Littleproud claimed he had spoken to many Indigenous people who didn’t know what the voice proposal was all about:

The fact that no one’s asked them, then you’ve got to ask yourself as Australians really will they have a voice? Are they really genuinely going to have a voice?

You might have that through the lens of a capital city. But we look a mile in our shoes. Go and go and drive out there and sit amongst these communities and understand what they need to live there and what they want.”

Littleproud said he expected people from cities to “look down on us” for the decision.
Price said she would like to see the Voice referendum be defeated.

Littleproud was also asked why Nationals MP Darren Chester was not with the group at the press conference. He said Chester was on an official trip overseas.


Noting that the Nationals position was to “not support” the voice – Littleproud was asked to clarify if this meant they would oppose actively, and campaign against it.

Littleproud said:

Most of our members ... will individually work through what they want to do in their own communities. And Jacinta [Price] will take a national position and profile in articulating a case. I will be making sure that my community, as I’ve rung many and tragically, some of them don’t even know what the voice is. We are this far down the path and traditional owners in Western Queensland some of them have no idea – it means nothing to them, it won’t help them.

Earlier, Price said:

I want to thank my Nationals colleagues for the very hard work that we’ve undergone to speak to those in our communities to understand what it is on the ground that Indigenous Australians are looking for and it is not more division in this country. We are part of a liberal democratic Australia. And one of our fundamental principles is that we are all regarded as equal under the law. Despite race, despite gender despite anything else. And why should I as an indigenous Australian be governed under a separate entity than the rest of Australia because of my race?

Noting, the voice is a consultative body to have input into government decisions – it itself doesn’t directly “govern” people as the senator suggested.

Price continued:

I’ve spoken to people throughout communities in the Northern Territory. Those whose first language is not English, who don’t understand a thing about what this Voice of proposal is about. Who are living their day to day worrying about how they’re not going to encounter violence in their lives worrying about how they’re going to manage their affairs without humbug from their relatives who are dealing, with alcohol and substance abuse worrying about ensuring that their kids are actually going to get to school because now they’re remote communities overcome with alcohol-fuelled violence. These are the issues that people are concerned with now they’re not sitting around waiting for a proposal to come up with details as to how it’s going to improve their lives. We are here to serve Australian citizens of all backgrounds and it is not right to divide us along the lines of race especially within our Australian founding document.


Meanwhile James Paterson has an issue with the Bell inquiry into Scott Morrison’s secret ministries being released ahead of the Victorian election.

He also has an issue with the censure motion.

The multiple ministry appointments should not have happened and they should never happen again. We’re much more interested in the legislative changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again, to ensure any changes to the ministry are appropriately notified, rather than what is clearly an attempt to take political advantage out of this issue.

I don’t think it’s an accident the prime minister released the report on Friday afternoon before a Victorian election, trying to damage our brand and seek political advantage in the House.

But we’re more interested in fixing the problem structurally.

It’s about structural legislative changes that is necessary. It’s clear after The solicitor general report what changes are necessary to achieve this. It’s not clear what additional information has been provided by the Bell inquiry about legislative change. The Coalition has called for that legislative change and said we would support it ever since the solicitor general’s inquiry. We’re looking forward to getting on with it and fixing it.


And on wages, Barbara Pocock says:

We’re a long way from a wage price spiral. We’re actually in a wage downward spiral. We’ve got inflation of 7% to 8% and pay increases, even in the public sector of 3%. We’re looking at real wage losses on top of the last 10 years of real wage losses. So we need a system that works better to pay catch-up. We have increasing prices that are a lot to do with international events with war in Ukraine … the supply side issues, they’re not caused by what workers are up to. We’ve got record profits. It’s time to share them more evenly and we need to amend our industrial relations system to make sure it happens.


Greens senator Barbara Pocock (no relation) was speaking to the ABC when the Nationals news came through and said:

It’s incredibly disappointing. Especially from a party that’s been in government for the past decade. They had an opportunity to narrow the gap, they missed it. Now they’re hiding behind that lack of movement to say they won’t support the voice because of lack of progress on the gap. We have to concentrate on narrowing the gap in our health system. We need to get our young people out of prisons, fix our justice questions, but we also need to take the action that Australian First Nations people have asked us to do. And that’s to move forward on voice and on treaty, and on truth telling. All very important. And they’re certainly proceeding in South Australia with a lot of support. So very disappointing to hear that from the Nationals today.


Nationals to oppose voice to parliament, David Littleproud announces

David Littleproud:

As the men and women who represent regional, rural and Indigenous and remote Australians, [in order to give our] support we have got to be comfortable with the fact this would Close the Gap and we don’t believe this will genuinely Close the Gap.

The National Party room has made a position we will not support the Voice to Parliament, we believe empowering local Indigenous communities, giving them the power at a local level, not creating another layer of [bureaucracy] in Canberra, but [give the] communities the opportunities those metropolitan Australian enjoy every day.


The National party’s opposition to the Voice comes after an order from Sky News’ “outsider” Rowan Dean for the Liberal party to come out immediately and oppose the Voice, as the “lesson” from the Victorian election.


Key event

This isn’t a surprise, but it is disappointing:

#breaking David Littleproud says the Nationals have decided to OPPOSE the Voice to Parliament because it won't close the gap. @AmyRemeikis#auspol

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 28, 2022


And question time is still to come.

What a day.

The last Monday of the sitting year is usually a bit of a mess – but this one is actually being driven by the government, in terms of succeeding with its agenda.

Farmers’ group voices concerns over IR bill

The National Farmers Federation doesn’t hate the entire IR bill, but it is certainly not happy with the multi-employer bargaining aspect. From its statement:

NFF president Fiona Simson said it was disappointing to see a government so disinterested in the genuinely held concerns of employers.

Employers and business groups have been at the table since the election, engaging constructively on pathways to improve wages and make the industrial relations system fairer.

When push has come to shove, the Government has chosen to ram through an agenda that nobody fully understands the impact of, with minimal effort to achieve consensus.

What does seem clear is that this bill will add cost and complexity to the system, and potentially widen the reach of industrial disputes. This will make it harder and more costly to get food from paddock to plate.


Adam Bandt tells Albanese and Andrews: ‘Don’t get too cocky when your vote is going backwards’

The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, has approved plans to censure Scott Morrison.

Bandt told reporters in Canberra:

The Greens have been pushing for actions to be taken against Scott Morrison for what was a misleading of parliament, undermining of democracy. In fact, the Greens sought for Morrison to be referred to parliament’s privileges committee.

The Greens support action being taken in the parliament against Scott Morrison for his undermining of democracy, his failure to tell [the parliament] – it had a big impact on the working of the parliament and democracy ... When you don’t know who the minister is, how can you question them?

So yes, action should be taken. We asked for an investigation of the privileges committee ... What we want to see is real, meaningful action taken because this is an undermining of democracy. We’ll have a look at whatever the government proposes, it may be that we want it to go a bit further.

Bandt also warned Anthony Albanese and Dan Andrews not to get too cocky about the Victorian election result.

He said:

Labor is putting on a bold and brave face as its vote goes backwards. That’s what happened at the federal level, and it’s what happened in Victoria. Meanwhile, the Greens representation in parliament has grown and there are a number of seats ... that may well be two-party [preferred Labor v] Greens seats that weren’t before and we are on track to double our representation.

Bandt accused the pair of “bravado”, adding that although it’s possible to receive a lower vote and win more seats (as Labor looks to have done). “Don’t be too cocky when your vote is going backwards, there is a long-term shift away from Labor and the Coalition.”


Amendment put forward to Nacc legislation

For those wondering, this is the amendment the Coalition have put forward which has made Mark Dreyfus cranky:

If the proposed recommendation is for the appointment of the commissioner or the inspector, the decision to approve the recommendation must be supported by at least a three-quarters majority of all of the members of the committee.

Debate is happening in the Senate.


Nationals leader to speak

And then, because there is not enough going on, David Littleproud has decided to pop his head up:

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud will speak to media about the Voice to Parliament and issues of the day. He will be joined by The Nationals team, 1.30pm #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) November 28, 2022


More on lowering of terrorism threat

If you want to read the whole statement on why security agencies are lowering the terrorism threat from “probable” to “possible’ you will find it here:

Australia's national terrorism threat level is POSSIBLE. Director-General of Security @MikePBurgess says while Australia is still a possible terrorist target, there is currently limited intention to conduct an attack. Director-General's statement: https://t.co/ZnZ9Np0LYU pic.twitter.com/kBhpYTZPwQ

— ASIO (@ASIOGovAu) November 28, 2022


Albanese questioned on timeline for energy prices discussion

OK, in the midst of all of that (and seriously, that was quite a bit), don’t let the Coalition’s amendment to the national anti-corruption commission pass you by, given the government has already given the Coalition its “private hearings except in exceptional circumstances” demand, in order to get bipartisanship on this bill, and denied the crossbench’s attempts to amend it.

And there was also a bit of a “do something about energy prices” timeline update, thanks to a question from Murph:

Q: You’ve mentioned a couple of times in your answers about the energy deliberation that it requires a discussion with the states because of the way the energy market is constituted. Unless I’m wrong, there’s a meeting of state ministers next week. Is that your timeline for trying to resolve this?

Anthony Albanese:

There’s a meeting with the national cabinet. We’ll be meeting on the 7th of December. And I – as usual – will be having a discussion with state premiers together on the 6th of December. But even before then, I’m continuing to have discussions with my friends, the state premiers and chief ministers.


What does the new Respect at Work legislation do?

The new laws will:

  • Place a positive duty on employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, as far as possible;

  • Strengthen the Australian Human Rights Commission with new functions to assess and enforce compliance with this new requirement, including the capacity to give compliance notices to employers who are not meeting their obligations;

  • Expressly prohibit conduct that results in a hostile workplace environment on the basis of sex; and

  • Ensure commonwealth public sector organisations are also required to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency on its gender equality indicators.


More on terrorism alert level

Of course Daniel Hurst is all across that:


So for those catching up:

The government will move a censure motion against Scott Morrison over his secret ministries. The Coalition has already labelled it “political payback”, said it wasn’t illegal and that they won’t be supporting it.

The Respect at Work legislation has passed the parliament

The attorney general has warned the Coalition to withdraw an amendment on the national anti-corruption commission legislation, which the AG says would effectively veto the establishment of the commission.

And Australia’s terrorism alert level is being lowered from “probable” to “possible”.


PM questioned about group looking at social security payments and the poverty line

Who will be in the group that David Pocock has negotiated as part of his support for the IR legislation?

That will be up to 12 members, in the establishment of the committee. And they’ll be appointed by the social services minister and the treasurer jointly. There’ll be a chair and up to 12 members of the committee. And the committee will be able to interact with the Treasury, with the social services department, with the finance department as well. And we will have that level to that expertise.

… The idea here is that the findings will be made by the group. Governments will then make a decision. This is an advisory group to government but, of course, just like there’s interaction between ministers and other statutory bodies, there will be interaction. But it will be able to make its own decisions going forward.


Albanese questioned on Philip Lowe’s apology

Q: Philip Lowe has just said sorry to Australians for saying that he wouldn’t increase interest rates by 2024. Are Australians supposed to just accept this apology and move on? Why shouldn’t Philip Lowe resign as governor of the Reserve Bank, given he’s increased cost-of-living pressures to so many Australians?

Anthony Albanese:

We have confidence in Dr Lowe and his position as the head of the Reserve Bank.

Q: Is that the right response from him to apologise? Should he have gone further?

That’s a matter for him. I do note that he has taken that action, but it’s not up to me, as prime minister, to give an ongoing, running commentary on the actions of the secretary of the Reserve Bank.


There may not be time for the legislative changes recommended by Virginia Bell in her report on Scott Morrison to be introduced and passed by the end of the year.

But Anthony Albanese says he has already instructed his department to make the regulatory changes which were recommended.

Albanese confirms censure motion against Morrison on secret ministries

Anthony Albanese says the government will move to censure Scott Morrison for his secret ministries.

(It is all happening in this press conference)

The cabinet this morning has endorsed all six recommendations of the Bell inquiry. These are serious recommendations going forward. We will introduce legislation later this week to make sure that this can never, ever happen again.

And this week, as well, the House will be moving a censure motion in the member for Cook as a result of the findings of Virginia Bell and the inquiry, which found that the actions of the former prime minister fundamentally undermined the principles of responsible government, because the former prime minister wasn’t responsible to the parliament – and through the parliament to the electors – to the departments that he was appointed to administer.

And that that had real consequences of acting to undermine public confidence in government and were corrosive of trust in government. I note the rather extraordinary comments by the manager of opposition business, who has said that the issue of the relationship between the former PM and his ministers is a matter for them. This wasn’t about a relationship between the former prime minister and his ministers. It’s not a personal relationship between two mates over what happened down the pub. This is about accountability of our democratic system, and whether the parliament was functioning properly. And about the relationship between the prime minister and the people of Australia, who expect to be held to account through our parliamentary processes.

The Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus at a press conference in the PM's courtyard of Parliament House in Canberra, Monday 28 November 2022.
The prime minister Anthony Albanese and attorney general Mark Dreyfus at a press conference in the PM's courtyard of Parliament House in Canberra, Monday 28 November 2022. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Dreyfus on Liberal amendments to Nacc

Mark Dreyfus then moves on to the national anti-corruption commission and – shock – the Labor-Coalition bipartisanship on the Nacc has hit a snag:

Regrettably, I have to say that the Liberal party has introduced amendments in the Senate just now. One of those amendments is one which would create an effective veto on the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The government will not be supporting that amendment and, indeed, I would call on the Liberal party to withdraw that amendment. I would call on the Liberal party to support the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission, and let’s get on with this task that the Australian people voted for at the last election.


Attorney general Mark Dreyfus on Respect at Work


Sexual harassment is not inevitable. It is preventable. This is historic legislation that has passed through the Australian parliament today. It significantly progresses gender equality in Australian workplaces. It ensures that women are able to earn a living in safe and respectful workplaces. Like the prime minister, I record the thanks of this parliament and the whole community. To Kate Jenkins, the sex discrimination commissioner, for her work. To all of those who assisted her in her inquiry who came forward to tell her about their shocking experiences in Australian workplaces, we hope that this is a real step forward. This is legislation that very closely follows the recommendations of the Respect@Work report. And I’m looking forward to its implementation.

That includes taking an offensive, rather than just reactionary, position in workplaces, when it comes to sexual harassment.


Anthony Albanese press conference

The prime minister is straight into it …

My government is very pleased that the Respect@Work legislation has now passed the parliament. This is one of the key commitments that we made during the federal election campaign. My government believes in gender equality. And with this legislation, combined with the cheaper childcare legislation, the commitment to paid parental leave expansion, the changes to the Fair Work Act that will put gender equality as one of the objectives of the Act, the changes that will flow from, particularly, lower-paid feminised industries in terms of lifting their wages - this is an important reform.

Anthony Albanese then throws back to the Women’s March.

Everyone in this building will remember that, two years ago, women marched for justice. They gathered in their thousands outside this building. They gathered to say, ‘Enough is enough’. They gathered to say that this was an issue that we needed to address. The Jenkins report was an important report. I pay tribute to all those who came forward and gave evidence to that inquiry. And to Kate Jenkins, in her report, deserves a great deal of credit. That report didn’t even receive a response from the former government for more than a year. My government has acted. Today, the parliament has legislated. And I thank them for it.


Respect at Work bill passes

The Respect at Work bill has just passed the parliament, meaning all the recommendations Kate Jenkins made that needed legislating are now legislated.

Which is what Anthony Albanese and Mark Dreyfus will also be talking about.

Big day so far.


More on Andrew Wilkie’s private member’s bill on video games

(My colleague Nick Miller enjoyed Wilkie’s speech on this, particularly that Mario Kart is now in the Hansard record.)

Via AAP:

Video games with gambling-type features could soon have mandatory age ratings as federal parliament hears a proposal for reform.

A loot box is a feature where players can pay for the chance to win extra advantages to use during the game.

Many of the most popular video games such as Star Wars, Call of Duty, FIFA and Mario Kart have had the feature.

But Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie has proposed reforms which would classify all video games with loot box features as R18+ and ban their sale to children.

Wilkie said the feature was an “insidious gateway to gambling” and Australians kids were being targeted.

He said the strong links between loot boxes and problem gambling had been demonstrated in multiple studies and could not be ignored.

“These companies are very smart and are making billions of dollars and that’s wrong ... we cannot continue to let our children be groomed for future gambling in this way,” he told parliament on Monday.

“Tempting young players with the potential to win game-changing items is encouraging risk-taking behaviour for a possible reward, delivering random prizes on an intermittent basis and encourages players to keep spending money.

“It’s clear that loot boxes give rise to many of the same emotions and experiences associated with poker machines and other traditional gambling activities.”

Wilkie was backed by Liberal MP Andrew Wallace, who said he would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the independent to put big tech and gambling companies on notice.

“I’m not advocating for gambling to be made illegal but there is so much we need to do to protect vulnerable Australians,” Wallace said.

“It’s uncomfortable for some people, it’s uncomfortable for (political) parties, but together we can do this and this is a sensible start.”

The proposed reforms would also require video games to have clear labelling about their features to ensure parents and carers are informed.


Press conference ahead

Mark Dreyfus is standing up with Anthony Albanese so looks like the privacy legislation is the name of the game.

As Paul pointed to a little earlier, Labor and the Greens voted together on that legislation in the Senate to send a symbolic message.


The prime minister will be standing up for a press conference in about 20 minutes – which means cabinet has finished meeting.

Attorney general urged to end prosecutions of David McBride and Richard Boyle

The Human Rights Law Centre, Australian Centre for International Justice, Amnesty International and the journalists’ union are among an alliance of civil society groups calling for the government to intervene and end the prosecutions of whistleblowers David McBride and Richard Boyle.

The groups published a joint open letter to attorney general Mark Dreyfus in the Australian Financial Review on Monday, saying the prosecutions make Australia “less transparent, and less democratic”.

We welcome your move to strengthen Australia’s whistleblower protection laws, and the promise of comprehensive reform in 2023. But the criminal prosecutions of whistleblowers David McBride and Richard Boyle undermine these efforts. They act as a stark warning to any person seeking to speak out against corruption and wrongdoing: blow the whistle, and the government may send you to prison.

These prosecutions make Australia less transparent, and less democratic. We urge you to drop these prosecutions now!

Other signatories included Getup!, the Alliance Against Political Prosecutions, and the Australia Institute.

Boyle is facing prosecution for acts associated with his decision to blow the whistle on the aggressive pursuit of debts by the Australian Taxation Office. McBride is facing trial for the alleged disclosure of classified documents that were used by the ABC to report on war crimes in Afghanistan.

In today's @FinancialReview, a letter from @GetUp @humanrightsHRLC @theACIJ @DProsecutions @withMEAA @TheAusInstitute @amnestyOz calling on @MarkDreyfusKCMP to drop the prosecution of whistleblowers David McBride and Richard Boyle. pic.twitter.com/Qs7JZcp1DB

— Kieran Pender (@KieranHRLC) November 27, 2022


Call for amendment to privacy law breaches bill

In the Senate, the Coalition and Greens have teamed up to make a symbolic second reading amendment to Labor’s legislation increasing penalties for privacy law breaches.

By 40 votes to 20, the Senate called on the government to:

“(a) to clarify key definitions in the bill, in particular the meaning of ‘serious’ and ‘repeated’ in relation to breaches under the Act;

(b) to develop a tiered penalty regime that could take into account less severe breaches, and that seeks to differentiate between companies that have acted with malice and those that have taken all reasonable steps but have fallen victim to a cyber attack;

(c) to direct the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to issue guidance material that addresses the application of penalties, and clarifies best practice for compliance with the regime; and

(d) to consider the adequacy of current resourcing and staffing levels for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian Cyber Security Centre for each to perform their functions, and to address all of the concerns raised by the former government in the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021”.

The government has made one small technical amendment, specifying that the penalties in the bill are civil penalties. This means it will need to go back to the House of Representatives tomorrow.


First monthly fall of the year for retail sales

While the RBA’s Lowe has been addressing Senate estimates, the ABS has released the October retail data, which suggests those higher interest rates are doing what they were intended to do.

Retail sales last month totalled $35.02bn, a 0.2% drop from September, and the first drop this year.

(On an annual basis, turnover was up 12.5%, though that’s not what the market is focused on, plus it compared with lockdown disruptions way back when.)

Economists had expected a weak number, after a 0.6% increase in both August and September.

This is the first monthly fall of the year in retail trade, following a 0.6% rise in both August and September 2022.

Ben Dorber, ABS’s head of retail statistics, said the October number “suggests increased cost of living pressures including interest rate rises have started to weigh on consumer spending”.

Turnover fell in all industries in October except for food retailing, which rose 0.4% boosted by flood-related spending in parts of Australia and continued high food prices.

Department stores had the largest fall, down 2.4%, followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, down 0.6%, the ABS said.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services recorded their first fall since January 2022, down 0.4%.

It’s been noteworthy that until now higher interest rates and very low historical levels of consumer sentiment hadn’t translated into actual changes in spending habits.

Perhaps that’s about to change?


Philip Lowe tells Matt Canavan: ‘renewable energy is the way we need to go’

Estimates have moved on to some theoretical issues, led by one-time Productivity Commission economist Matt Canavan, who’s now an LNP senator.

Canavan tries to pin Lowe down on the Nairu (the non-accelerating rate of unemployment), basically about how low the jobless rate can fall before causing inflation. Is it 3% or 4%?

Lowe generally offers a straight bat, saying it’s basically an academic issue. Nairu numbers offer “useful frames of reference” but the RBA’s decisions will be based “on actual inflation outcomes and forecasts”, he says.

Canavan, who is keen on coal (and nuclear), also tries to pin Lowe down on whether renewables are the cheapest form of power.

Lowe slightly dodges the question: “I think renewable energy is the way we need to go.” Failing to get the transition off fossil fuels right, though, is going to be a problem for everyone, “including me”.

But “for the health of the planet, we got to make the transition”, Lowe says. (No response from Canavan that we heard ... perhaps an eye roll?)

Later, Senator Dean Smith queries Lowe on some previous comments about the need to have a flexible workforce, and whether the IR changes that the government looks set to pass this week might reduce that flexibility.

Lowe doesn’t buy into it, though, saying he doesn’t know what the impacts will be on costs, etc.

Another throwback, McKim asks about whether inflation was being pushed up by record profits. Lowe notes profits are indeed at record highs, but says that if the resources sector is excluded, the increases of late have not been “material”.

Some might well dispute that (eg, I can imagine Greg Jericho sharpening his quill for his next column as we type.)


So what does Paul Fletcher think should happen?


What the opposition agrees is that there’s a couple of sensible recommendations from former justice Bell. Nothing earth-shattering but recommending that there be legislation to require the publication in the Government Gazette or similar when a minister is appointed. That’s perfectly sensible. We will look at the legislation when it comes forward, but I imagine we’ve said pretty clearly we would be likely to support that. But at the end of the day, a censure motion here is purely about political payback. If there’s some sensible changes here, we’ll support them. But frankly, I think the Australian people would expect that the Albanese Labor government would be using parliamentary time to deal with the issues that are facing Australians. A sharp rise in energy prices, rising interest rates. These are the issues that the government has been elected to deal with, not engaging in some kind of political payback as well.

Q: The censure motions are there in our parliamentary system for a reason. If it’s not used for Scott Morrison in that sense, what would they be used for? And if you don’t, doesn’t that look like if you don’t vote for this, that you’re essentially condoning or at least failing to rebuke his actions?


Well, I completely disagree with your analysis, which shows a misunderstanding of the role of censure motions, censure motions are typically used to deal with the accountability of a minister to the parliament. There is no need for a censure motion here. It would purely be an exercise in political payback. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that this government is very keen on political payback. It’s part of its cultural way of operating. Look, the fact is that there are some sensible recommendation in the review, the report from former justice Bell. The opposition’s made that clear. We’ll be minded to support them once we see the legislation. But this would be an exercise in political payback, which seems to be one of the guiding themes of this Labor government.

Q: OK. But there have been no consequences for Scott Morrison. He still sits in parliament. He still sits on the backbench. People agree seem to agree that he’s done the wrong thing. We have Josh Frydenberg saying it was gross overreach. So what have been the consequences of his actions? It doesn’t seem to have been any.


The issue of the relationship between the then prime minister and his then ministers, that’s a matter for the prime minister and each of those ministers. I’ve certainly said if I’d been a minister who’d been on the receiving end of this, I would not have been happy. But that’s a very separate question from your calling for consequences.


Paul Fletcher says Coalition won’t support censure motion against Scott Morrison

The former minister for communications has told Sky News the Coalition will not be supporting a censure motion against former prime minister Scott Morrison. Anthony Albanese said one is being considered, as Morrison had “usurped” parliament by taking on five additional ministries, in secret (and considered a sixth).

Fletcher says it wasn’t illegal:

The opposition will be voting against a censure motion. Let’s be clear, this is a political stunt by the Albanese Labor government. If they do decide to proceed with the censure motion, bear in mind it’s very, very unusual to bring a censure motion against a backbencher, as Scott Morrison now is. The proper purpose of a censure motion under the Standing Orders is to bring a minister to account to the parliament. It’s not to be used as some kind of political payback exercise. Look, let’s be clear, the solicitor general’s report or advice, which came out a couple of months ago, found that there was no unconstitutionality, no illegality. Former high court justice Virginia Bell was asked to produce a report, that found similar things. It didn’t find a breach of the constitution or illegality, notwithstanding some of the hyperventilating comment from Labor ministers. But there’s a couple of sensible recommendations in there.


Inquiry into culture of Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority

In case you missed it last week, the minister for agriculture, Murray Watt, has ordered an inquiry into the culture of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, after allegations that a senior staff member urinated on other staff at a function in late 2021.

The Guardian has reported extensively on the problems within the APVMA, which was moved to Armidale by the former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce. It lost more than 50% of its professional staff as a result.

The review will be undertaken by Canberra lawyer Mary Brennan and operate independently of the APVMA.

As well as the incident that surfaced during Senate estimates, Watt also cited recent staff surveys showing 11% of staff had experienced harassment and 13% reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace.

The survey also revealed a significant decline in employee trust and confidence in senior management at the agency.

Importantly the survey also reveals a significant decline in employee trust and confidence in senior management at the agency.


I requested an urgent briefing from the CEO and the chair of the APVMA board and I am pleased to report that they both share my concerns and my commitment to addressing these issues.

People have a right to feel safe and supported in the workplace. I have unapologetically high standards in this regard.

Equally, Australians have a right to expect our public service, in particular our regulatory agencies, to be well managed and above reproach.

This independent review will shine a light on any lingering internal issues and restore public trust in this small but important agency.


RBA chief Philip Lowe apologises for rate forecasts

The RBA governor Dr Philip Lowe has apologised(ish) before for saying he did not see the RBA raising interest rates before 2024 but this is the first time it is this explicit.

Previously he has said it was an “embarrassing error” and he wouldn’t put a date on it, in hindsight.

Peter Hannam says Lowe told Senate estimates today:

I’m sorry that people listened to what we’ve said and acted on that and now find themselves in a position they don’t want to be in. At the time we thought it was the right thing to do and I think looking back we would have chosen different language.

Lowe has always said he put caveats on the date. But many people would have only heard the 2024 date and made decisions based on that. Cold comfort for people who may be in a “position they don’t want to be in” but it is an acknowledgement.


No shade, as I make typos all the time, but probably best not to make them in a stand-out font.

The current Fair Work Act has minimal guidance on flexible working arrangements.

Our Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will fix that so that more workers, particularly women, can balance their work and caring responsibilities.#auspol pic.twitter.com/XcXCVCdd2U

— Katy Gallagher (@SenKatyG) November 27, 2022

Post-election Liberal leadership tussle in Victoria

Looking at who may lead the Victorian Liberals now that Matthew Guy has announced he is stepping down after two election losses, AAP says:

Several potential challengers have emerged in the fight for the Victorian Liberal leadership, while the result may not be known for days or even weeks.

Warrandyte MP Ryan Smith will run and former shadow attorney general John Pesutto will also launch a bid if he beats teal independent Melissa Lowe to reclaim his seat of Hawthorn. He currently leads the count by about 500 votes.

Former police spokesman Brad Battin and Polwarth representative Richard Riordan are also said to be in the running.

There are reports upper house representative Matt Bach is mulling over a tilt but would need to move to the lower house to be eligible.

Former leader Michael O’Brien and opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier will not put themselves forward, according to the Age.

“All I can say at this point is that if I am successful, I intend to nominate for the leader,” Pesutto told ABC radio.

He wouldn’t reveal if he had the numbers in the party room to win a leadership ballot but acknowledged the Liberals needed to take “fairly dramatic steps” to rebuild the organisation in Victoria.

“The discussions I’ve had so far have been really positive and everybody seems receptive to the concept of me being a potential leader.”

Smith told the Herald Sun if successful he would focus on regaining support in suburban electorates rather than marginal inner city seats.

“That includes talking to some of the faith communities and not just being there on election day or three months before election day,” Smith told the newspaper.

Outgoing leader Matthew Guy confirmed he would call the parliamentary party room together to elect a new leader once a clearer picture of successful candidates emerges, following his second electoral defeat.

Liberal candidates remain locked in five close tussles in Bass, Hastings, Pakenham, Hawthorn and Mornington.


Bills on the table this week

It is a very busy week but it is also, given what we have seen over the last couple of terms, unusual for the amount of key legislation being put up for passage in one go.

Usually, there is one piece of hallmark legislation which everyone spends time focussing on. This week, as Paul points out, there are a number of bills which will see some pretty major changes.

This week Albanese govt expects Senate to pass:
* Biggest IR reforms in 2 decades
* National anti-corruption commission
* Bigger penalties for privacy law breaches; &
* Territory rights VAD bill.

If all goes to plan, I can't think of a better week for govt? #auspol

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 27, 2022

Looking at the big legislative "wins" of Coalition 2013-2022:
* Repealing carbon tax - was fun for Tories for a bit but has now split their party and lost nearly all metro seats
* Gonski 2.0 schools funding - was watered down by Morrison doing special deal for Catholic sector.

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 27, 2022



As Peter mentioned in his post, it is a very “hypothetical” situation where wage growth matches inflation in this current climate.

Wages are not rising north of 7%. And no one is getting a pay rise of 7% this year and then 8% (or whatever inflation is then) next year. It simply isn’t reality.


Philip Lowe admits wage growth faster than inflation remains ‘very hypothetical’

The RBA’s Philip Lowe has been asked about wages and whether it’s at all likely that they might become a source of inflation.

As per his dinner speech to Ceda last week in Melbourne, Lowe has to tread a very careful line. Yes, wages that are growing faster than inflation remain “very hypothetical”, he admits in answer to questions from ALP senator Jess Walsh.

“We want to see real wages [growth],” Lowe says, but adds were that to happen now it would result in higher interest rates to bring inflation down.

It remains “sensible” to draw attention to that (hypothetical) risk about wages becoming a source of inflation.

“We were in this world in the 1970s, and it worked out really badly,” Lowe says.

It’s a hard message for everyone [that wage rises shouldn’t reach the pace of inflation] but the alternative is even more difficult.

(No questions yet about what IR policy changes by the Albanese government might affect said wage rises.)


Weekend security incident at Brisbane airport

AAP reports:

Brisbane airport’s domestic terminal was emptied after a number of people breached a security checkpoint.

It is understood those involved refused to comply with directions at a security checkpoint on Sunday afternoon.

Those people have since been detained in a secure part of the airport, and there is no threat to the general public.

But the incident will mean delays, with the secure part of the terminal emptied at Virgin Australia and passengers told to queue again to be re-screened.

Airport workers also told passengers loaded planes would be emptied so all checked baggage would have to be screened again.

One woman said she had just boarded a plane only to be told “everyone in the terminal and every plane will now be disembarking to go through security again”, but later said she was allowed to remain on board.

AAP has sought comment from the Australian Federal Police, which handles airport incidents.

Virgin Australia confirmed some of its flights would be affected into the evening.


Barnaby Joyce has some thoughts on the Victorian Liberals loss

The former deputy PM was speaking to the Seven network this morning:

I think the issue there was that the teals in Canberra are affecting people’s perception of independents in the regions and that’s also part of it. So hard work by the National party in that. For the Liberal party, well, I don’t think they went to the electorate with a clear understanding of their policy structure. If you just upheld representation of something in policy that they already have, you don’t get the vote. And a lot of Liberal party vote went to other alternate rightwing parties and this is something that people have to reflect. How can it win? In the past how did Bjelke-Petersen win? In current, how did McGowan win? because it’s a clear policy understanding of exactly where they are and who they are. And I’m sure the Liberal party will go through that right now.

There are talks happening all over the place about whether or not the Coalition will survive – as in, will the Nationals and Liberal party remain in a formal power sharing agreement. The Nationals feel they are doing much better than the Liberals. But the fact remains, neither party can win government without the other. And so, despite all of the grumbles, this is where the relationship will remain.


Philip Lowe: Australia is in an ‘enviable position’ compared with the rest of the world

RBA boss Philip Lowe is now being questioned by the LNP senator Dean Smith in estimates.

The theme is partly why the central bank didn’t pick the strength of the rebound from the pandemic and perhaps if the RBA had waited too long to move on interest rates. Did the RBA underestimate the underlying strength of the economy?

Lowe admits the RBA and the then Morrison government “probably over-insured” about the Covid impacts. In his defence, Lowe said we didn’t know how Omicron would trigger lockdowns versus the Delta strains.

Whatever the path, though, Australia is in an “enviable position” compared with most parts of the rest of the world. He cited the UK (which has had its own brand of political mayhem this year) where the economy is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels again until the end of 2024. By contrast, Australia’s GDP should be 6%-7% bigger by then.

Lowe also flags some of the pressures on inflation are coming off. Most commodity prices are now back to levels before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Higher interest rates will take off some of the upward pressure on prices, he says. Rents and energy prices are still rising, adding back some of that inflationary heft.

We’ll find out more about energy prices from the Australian energy regulator on Wednesday ... stay tuned for that.


Tony Burke says there’s more work to do for gig economy workers

So is the government all done on IR now?

Burke says no:

Look, there’ll still be more that we need to do. So, for example, the gig economy remains effectively award free. You have a situation where it is possible in the gig economy for people to pay less than the legal minimum rates of pay for employees. So there’s still more work for us to do. We’re not pretending this bill’s the end of it but this bill, Secure Jobs, Better Pay, provides a real pathway for a whole lot of workers to see their wages start moving again. And we’re very mindful of the yawning gap that’s out there in household after household at the moment as prices have been going up and wages haven’t been moving.


AEC ‘pulling out all the stops’ on Indigenous voter enrolment

The Australian Electoral Commission says it will be “pulling out all the stops” in a new enrolment drive for Indigenous voters, ahead of a referendum on a voice to parliament expected in the next 12 months.

The AEC is streamlining its processes for enrolment for people who don’t have identification documents, allowing enrolled voters to vouch for unenrolled voters in a new online process.

The electoral commission says that despite Indigenous enrolment being its highest on record (nearly 82%), it estimates there are more than 100,000 Indigenous Australians who are not on the roll.

Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers:

We’re not going to be satisfied until we’ve closed the gap with the broader national enrolment rate.

There is clearly the likelihood of a referendum soon with a topic specific to First Nations Australians, making high levels of enrolment and engagement even more important.

The AEC made the announcement this morning alongside a new campaign with the motto “Our Vote, Our Future” featuring Indigenous art images. The AEC has done more outreach in recent years by travelling to remote Indigenous communities and hearing from elders about how to boost enrolment.

One key change is the AEC now making it easier for people to enrol without ID.

Now, you’ll be able to have an enrolled voter vouch for your identity entirely online – no printer required,” Rogers said.

Previously, those without ID had to print a form out and get an enrolled voter to vouch for them in writing. Rogers said some voters found this process “cumbersome and a barrier to enrolling”.

The AEC is also flagging changes to allow more flexibility for people who aren’t physically present with the people they’re enrolling with.

The government has flagged a voice referendum in the 2023 financial year, with late next year firming as a potential date.


RBA’s Philip Lowe: ‘Partly our fault’ the public ‘didn’t get the caveats’ about rate forecasts

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe is up before Senate estimates again and, as expected, the central bank’s handling of its rate rises is at the centre of discussions.

Nick McKim, the Greens senator, kicks off with questions about Lowe’s early 2021 comments re pushing up interest rates.

Lowe says he was looking for wages to grow at least 3% for the wider inflation target to get back to its 2%-3% range before hiking its cash rate. At the time, the outlook implied no rate change until 2024, assuming other things didn’t change.

As it happens, the wage price index has crept above 3% (to reach 3.1%) in the September quarter.

Unfortunately, the headline inflation rate has reached 7.3%, the highest since 1990, leaving the real wage decreasing at the fastest pace (4.2%) on record.

That inflation jump was why the RBA had to start raising interest rates from last May ... and every board meeting since has increased the cash rate.

Lowe admits though that the public “didn’t get the caveats” about other things that might might nudge the RBA’s hand before 2024. That was “partly our fault”, he told the committee.

Anyway, here’s what markets are forecasting about interest rates.

Ahead of RBA Gov Philip Lowe's appearance before Senate estimates today, investors were still betting there's a 2-in-3 chance that the central bank will lift its cash rate to 3.1% on Dec 6th. They're also still looking at about 1 ppt more of rises in total before the rate peaks. pic.twitter.com/Pp49Gk6Rgn

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) November 27, 2022

Separately, here’s a piece we published over the weekend about the dangers of overly interest rates - and an historic view from Lowe himself.


Regulator closely following review of Medibank cyber-attack

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra) says it has “intensified” its supervision of Medibank’s response to its cyber-attack, and “raised concerns” about the strength of its operational risk controls.

Apra will be closely following the external review of the incident, which is being conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Medibank.

The regulator’s Suzanne Smith said:

While Apra notes Medibank’s constructive response to date, Apra will consider whether further regulatory action is needed when findings of the report become clear.

Apra expects Medibank to undertake any recommended remediation actions and ensure there is appropriate consequence management, including impacts to executive remuneration where appropriate.

Medibank CEO David Koczkar said the health insurer has been in regular communication with Apra, and would continue in a transparent and cooperative way. He said:

We will share the key outcomes and consequences of the review where appropriate, having regard to the interests of our customers and stakeholders and the ongoing nature of the Australian federal police investigation.

We are also committed to sharing what we have learned from our experience so that Australian businesses and the broader community can be better placed to navigate any similar challenges in future.

Our absolute focus is to continue to support and protect our customers through this time.

Safeguarding our customers’ data is a responsibility we take very seriously, and we will continue to support all people who have been impacted by this crime.


‘It’s time’

There is going to be a lot of talk about the IR legislation this week, even though its passage is now set.

There will still be amendments to the bill, which is why we are seeing the Friday sitting of the Senate and the Saturday sitting of the House.

There is also a fundraiser dinner marking the 50th anniversary of the 1972 election which saw Gough Whitlam take power (we all know how that ended, and the era it ushered in, but Labor wants to take its moment and celebrate 2 December, 1972, when it was all about “It’s time”)

Anthony Albanese will be there, as will most of Labor’s heavy hitters. So expect a few dusty heads on Saturday morning.


Antipoverty Centre spokesperson: ‘Keeping us in poverty is a choice.’

But Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and disability support pensioner Kristin O’Connell said it was another lost opportunity:

The early signs about whether this committee will achieve anything aren’t good. Within a few hours of it being announced the prime minister was making the same old excuses about the budget balance being more important than people’s lives.

We fear this will create cover for a pitiful change to payments in the next budget, or that there’ll be no change at all.

Millions of us who rely on poverty payments have been waiting for an increase for a long time now and we’ve presented reams of evidence to show that it’s desperately urgent. We know politicians know it’s desperately urgent because they admit it regularly.

Having politicians in charge of a process to decide whether payments are adequate without using a robust, independent method for measuring poverty is inviting disaster.

Keeping us in poverty is a choice, and politicians don’t need any more information to know the enormous human cost of choosing it.

There is no excuse for leaving people behind, especially in the face of spiralling living costs.

They must immediately raise all payments to at least the Henderson poverty line, then work with us to develop a new measure of poverty for the 21st century.


David Pocock: ‘people on jobseeker know all about budget priorities’

David Pocock was asked this morning on the ABC whether the economic inclusion committee agreement might just be “window dressing” and not actually change anything for people on jobseeker who are living in poverty.

Pocock said:

There is always that risk. The thing that we will now have for the first time is a panel of experts, people with lived experience, someone from business, someone from unions, put forward … this is what we think people on jobseeker should be getting, these are the consequences, if that is not the case then we can hold the government to account. The budget is about priorities, and we have heard a lot about how tight it is, but let’s not forget there are currently billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies and people on jobseeker know all about budget priorities.


Question to Tony Burke: How soon will wages move?

Tony Burke’s office is always quick off the mark with transcripts and it has released the interview with the Nine network. So here is the whole answer on when you could expect wages to rise once the IR bill passes the Senate (which it now will, given David Pocock’s support).

Q: How soon will wages actually move?


It will depend on where you work. So, there’ll be some businesses, for example, which have refused to bargain with their staff where they used to, and the better-off-overall test just became too complex. The getting rid of some of the red tape that we’ve got there will actually bring some of those businesses back to the table straight away. And also, any businesses that are concerned, like, that actually don’t want to be involved in multi-employer bargaining, the simple fix for them is for them to negotiate with their staff now and to do it over the next six months. So that opportunity will happen.

And so, you will see some workers where the movement happens very quickly. There’ll be others where it’s a longer process. But importantly, the framework will finally be there. You know, it’s been 10 years now where wages were deliberately kept low. And, you know, people’s real wages today are lower than they were a decade ago. And that needed to come to an end.


Three private members’ bills on agenda

Parliament will sit from 10am.

On the agenda today are the introduction of three private members’ bills from Kylea Tink, Andrew Wilkie and Zali Steggall.

Steggall wants truth in political advertising, Tink wants fuel standards addressed and Wilkie wants to see “loot boxes” in online games regulated (loot boxes are basically in-app purchases where you spend money for for things you can use in the game).


Hard right, egged on by 'angertainment complex', has taken over Liberals, Turnbull says

Malcolm Turnbull has thoughts about the Victorian election and, most specifically, what’s going on with the Liberal party.

At the heart of the Liberal Party's defeat in the Victorian election on Saturday is the paradox that in this, the most small "l" liberal state in Australia, the Liberal Party has been taken over by the hard right and is therefore at odds with the electorate whose support it seeks

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 27, 2022

This is, in large part, dictated by the right wing angertainment complex, mostly Murdoch, which claims to speak for "the base" overlooking the fact that the "base" of any political party are those that habitually vote for it (dramatically ignored in the last federal election)..

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 27, 2022

And, as the regular Liberal voters shrink in numbers, the need to reach beyond the "base" (however defined) to the centre is greater than ever. The angertainment media can monetise narrow audiences with divisive hate filled bile - but it is too narrow for electoral success

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 27, 2022

Given that Sky News commentators responded by urging a shift even further to the right and “true” conservative values, despite the Victorian electorate (following the federal result) voting for more progressive candidates, this doesn’t seem to be the answer they think it is (just imagine I have inserted the Principal Skinner ‘Am I out of touch? No, it is the children who are wrong’ meme here)


RBA governor due at Senate estimates

Meanwhile, RBA governor Dr Phil Lowe will answer questions at Senate estimates this morning (from about 10am).

Greens Treasury spokesperson Nick McKim is on that panel. Given his criticism of the governor, that should be an interesting watch.


So when will we have an answer on energy prices?

Anthony Albanese:

We have said very clear that what we will do is before Christmas, have a position, which we’re working through at the moment. We have further discussions and meetings this week. But we’ll continue to work it through. We have set Christmas as a deadline to make sure that we can deliver their prices other than those which have been foreshadowed for both business and for households. We’re working through those issues and Daniel [Andrews] and the other premiers are all conscious of that because one of the characteristics of my government is that we consult and we work with governments, state and territory of both persuasions across the nation, in order to pursue our common interest.


‘We need to make sure that wages can get moving’

What does Anthony Albanese think of the RBA governor’s comments, about not wanting to see wages rise with inflation, as that would be inflationary?


I know the Reserve Bank governor is entitled to put forward his views and those views are always respected. But we need to make sure we’re a long way as the Reserve Bank governor has said himself from wage or inflation spiral.

We are a long way away from that.

We need to make sure that wages can get moving over the decade. One of the big differences between my government and the former government is that they said that low wages were a key feature of their economic architecture.

I would say an economy works for people, not the other way around. I recognise that so many working people are struggling to get by working multiple jobs, unable to have any employment and their wages not keeping up with the cost of living.

That’s something I made very clear during the election campaign that we would act on. We have acted with this legislation. I think it gets the balance right. And I do notice that the employer organisations I’ve heard comment in criticism of this legislation seems to be saying on the one hand, now it won’t get wages moving. And on the other hand, it’ll get wages moving in a way that’s too fast. Well, they can’t have it both ways. I think it gets the balance right.


Meanwhile, the interim report into the Coalition’s election loss is expected to be handed down this week, the Australian has reported. You will be shocked SHOCKED that the lack of women and the climate wars have played a role.


Liberal party is ‘cuddling up to far-right elements’, Albanese says

That answer goes on, but then Anthony Albanese says:

The Liberal party have failed to come to terms with modern Australia and they continue to to cuddle up to some far-right elements in the political system. You can’t run a major political party by listening to what fringe elements are saying. You need to be in the mainstream. That’s where the Labor party is positioned.


Coalition is alienating young voters, PM says

Over on ABC radio Melbourne, Anthony Albanese has been asked what he thinks about the Victorian election and the lessons for the Liberal party.

Is there a more progressive politics in Australia the Liberal party is missing?


One of the things that we’re seeing, I believe is an alienation from younger voters from the Coalition.

When you have a position where you have senior members of the Coalition [who] can’t say that climate change is real in spite of the floods and bushfires and all of the evidence of the heating of the planet that we’re seeing, let alone any time something is put up to take action on climate change. They dismiss it.

And since the federal election remarkably, I believe Peter Dutton has actually gone backwards on climate change from where the Morison government was sitting on his hand hands over almost a decade with no energy policy.

Last week in the Senate, the Coalition voted against cheaper electric vehicles. It’s just extraordinary that they don’t seem to have gotten the message on that. They don’t say they got the message on gender. They remain a party that seem incapable of selecting women to contest numbers to represent the population. I lead a government that has 103 people in the caucus, 54 of whom are women. And that contrasts with Peter Dutton’s team that’s actually gone backwards. And so over there, there are just two issues going forward.


Getting rid of red tape will bring businesses back to negotiating table, Burke says

Tony Burke also had a chat to the Nine network this morning. Asked when workers can expect to see wage rises, he said:

[It] depends where you work. There will be some businesses, for example, which refuse to bargain with their staff where they used to and their staff where they used to and the better-off-overall test became too complex. Getting rid of the red tape we got there will bring some of the businesses back to the table straight away.

Also, any businesses that are concerned, like ... that actually don’t want to be involved in multi-employer bargaining, the simple fix for them is for them to negotiate with their staff now.

And to do it over the next six months. So, that opportunity will happen. You will see some workers where the movement happens very quickly. There will be others where it’s a longer process. Importantly, the framework will finally be there. It’s been 10 years now where wages were deliberately kept low. And you know people’s real wages today are lower than they were a decade ago. That needed to come to an end.


‘I’m not real keen on it’

Jacqui Lambie had a few things to say about David Pocock agreeing to support the government’s IR legislation. She told the Nine network:

I’m not real keen on it, mate. I have obviously been on the phone all day yesterday with employer groups, with other people out there as well. It was a pretty long day for me yesterday, once I could get my head around the deal that had been done. They still don’t seem happy.

Senator Jacqui Lambie
Senator Jacqui Lambie. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Victorian count continues

There are still about half a dozen seats in the Victoria election to be decided.

Our Victorian team will keep you updated on any movement as it happens – but two things are clear – Daniel Andrews has won a third fixed term and the Liberal party hasn’t worked out who it represents or even who it wants to represent as yet. But what it’s doing is not something voters want.


Katharine Murphy’s Quarterly Essay on Anthony Albanese and Australia’s “new politics” is out today.

If you missed our extract, you can find it here:

You might recognise some of what Murph has highlighted in the essay as she goes through the election and the proceeding few months, as the new government and the new parliament work each other out.

Morning all, Lone Wolf is out today.

I’ll be having conversations about the new @quarterly_essay on @RNBreakfast after 8, @BreakfastNews after 830, and Mornings on @abcsydney around 10 #auspol @BlackIncBooks

— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) November 27, 2022


Extra sitting days

The Senate is sitting an extra day on Friday to deal with all the legislation the government wants to pass.

In response, the house is sitting on Saturday to pass any amendments the Senate may have made on legislation.

So there will be no end of Thursday rush to the airport, as usual. We are all stuck here together.


‘This committee provides a pathway for better looking after the most vulnerable’

David Pocock also spoke about the economic inclusion committee he has won as part of his negotiations. Two weeks before the budget is handed down, a report on the jobseeker rate and poverty in Australia will be handed down, and the government will have to justify its decision on whether it raises the rate or not in light of the report.

Will it guarantee a rise to the jobseeker rate?


No, that is a decision for government in the budget. The thing that I think has been missing is transparency around decision making. We will now have a committee that two weeks before the budget says this is the state of play in Australia, when it comes to the 3 million people in our communities who are who are struggling who aren’t in work at the moment the one in six children growing up in poverty.

This is what we recommend – these are potential innovative ways that we can deal with this. And then two weeks later, we’ll see what the government says and we can hold them to that because clearly we talk a lot about cost and yes, this is something that we have to think about and the the government is making tough decisions but let’s remember that households are making equally tough decisions about whether they pay for medicines or pay for food and this committee provides a pathway for better looking after the most vulnerable in our communities.

And we all benefit from that – we all benefit when we have a society where people are not living in poverty. It adds to social cohesion. It’s good for all of us. And this is something that I think is a really important step forward. You know, speak to peak bodies like Acoss, speak to people on jobseeker. This has given them some hope, and I think is an important recognition that the this is something that warrants a lot more more talking and attention from all of us.


IR bill delivers simplified better-off-overal test, senator says

David Pocock says one of the things business wanted was a simplified better-off-overall test, which is what this legislation delivers:

One of the things that that business wanted and this legislation delivers is a simplified boot test, as well as a review of the award system next year, which is something that kept coming up in the Senate committee process as something that businesses want dealt with currently – you can have an award that is over 100 pages long for your relatively small business.

Hamish Macdonald says Innes Willox, the chief executive of the Ai Group, spoke to the program a little earlier and he is most definitely not happy.


My view and the concerns I heard from business was ensuring that small businesses have a level of protection from this that it’s not overly onerous on them, given their resources given that most of them don’t have a HR department.

But clearly, there’s a need to get wages moving and not everyone’s going to be happy with that and someone like Innes Willox does not represent all business. He’s representing his members. And I’m very happy to cop criticism for this. Because I’m really happy with where it’s landed. And I think it is a good middle ground that will get wages moving, but also protect small businesses.


‘There are workers in Australia who need a pay rise’

David Pocock is speaking to Hamish Macdonald on ABC radio RN Breakfast about why he has agreed to support the government’s IR legislation, which gives it the numbers to pass the Senate:

Clearly there are workers in Australia who need a pay rise, the cost of living and inflation is making it very hard for many people to make ends meet. And importantly, as part of the negotiations, I push, really hard to ensure that we legislate a pathway to having more of a discussion about things like jobseeker and having more information before the budget where we make really big decisions that affect people who aren’t in the job market. Currently we’ve got 3 million Australians who are living in poverty because of the rate of jobseeker.


Good morning

It’s the first day of the last sitting week of the year.

We have almost made it! Congratulations to you all.

But first, there is the pesky matter of passing legislation, something that just became a little easier with David Pocock agreeing to support the government’s IR bill in the Senate after some intense negotiations.

We started this year with Scott Morrison as prime minister and we end it with Scott Morrison potentially being censured by the parliament for what Anthony Albanese said was “usurping” the parliament, when he swore himself in to five extra ministries (and looked into a sixth) without telling anyone.

Think of being censured as a mark on your permanent record. It doesn’t happen often and doesn’t carry additional “real world” consequences but it’s something which is recorded in the Hansard record, becoming part of your history. The last censure I can remember was after Queensland senator Fraser Anning used the phrase “final solution to Australia’s immigration problem” in a speech to the upper house. So it’s not deployed often but, when it is, it’s seen as a pretty big deal within the parliament.

We will bring you all the day’s events as we limp towards Friday (and possibly Saturday if the house needs it) and the end of parliament. You have Mike Bowers back (yay!) and Katharine Murphy leading the way, along with Paul Karp, Josh Butler and Daniel Hurst. Amy Remeikis will be on the blog for most of the day.


Let’s get into it (the blog and my third coffee).



Mostafa Rachwani and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

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