What we learned: Tuesday 29 November
That’s a wrap for the blog. Here are the day’s major developments:
Prime minister Anthony Albanese declared that he’s confident a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution will pass.
Nationals leader David Littleproud defended his party’s decision to not support the Indigenous voice to Parliament, saying the referendum is a question of ‘the best way to close the gap quicker.’
But Nationals MP Andrew Gee and WA Nationals declared they would break ranks and support the voice.
The Nationals were also called a “squalid little political party” which is “controlled by a kindergarten child” by Noel Pearson.
Country Liberal senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price responded, saying she doesn’t care for “the absolute noise of bullies.”
Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, told his party room that the Coalition would not support the censure motion against Scott Morrison, labelling the move a “stunt”.
Firefighters at 27 Australian airports are planning to strike on Friday week, with passenger flights across the country set for four hours of disruption.
And if you’re looking for a quick and easy summary of the day’s many news items, look no further than our Afternoon Update, linked below:
Covid-infected cruise ship approaches Melbourne
Confusion abounds in Melbourne, as cruise ship the Grand Princess approaches, amid a Covid outbreak on board.
About 10% of passengers have reportedly tested positive already, and the ship was turned away from Newcastle due to the rate of community transmission in New South Wales.
Earlier today, the Victorian health minister, Maryanne Thomas, advised passengers to “stay away from people” and that they should “stay on the ship”.
Stay away from other people, that they’ll take the time to get better and look after themselves.
Which means, of course, staying on the ship.
But passengers are technically free to disembark when the ship docks on Thursday, as long as they avoid public transport.
New Canberra windfarm expected to save equivalent emissions from 120,000 cars
AAP is reporting that Australia’s green bank says it will be needed more than ever to help overhaul the electricity grid.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has invested $1.5bn in windfarms over the past 10 years, including one off the Hume Highway near Canberra that was officially opened on Tuesday.
“Our role continues to evolve as a renewable energy financier,” the CEFC chief executive, Ian Learmonth, said at the opening ceremony.
We’re needed, maybe more than ever, as we try to reach, as a country, 82% renewables by 2030.
That’s a big task, and needs the leadership of many.
The Collector Wind Farm, backed by supply deals with Aldi supermarkets and energy utility Iberdrola, is the largest windfarm RATCH-Australia has built in this country.
The green energy from Collector is expected to save 320,000t of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the equivalent of taking 120,000 combustion engine cars off the road, by displacing coal-fired power.
McKenzie defends Nationals’ opposition to voice to parliament
Earlier this morning, Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie told ABC Melbourne radio that the reason the Nationals have refused to back a voice to parliament is because it is “scantily detailed by the Labor Party.”
McKenzie added that she believed the vote would divide the country, and that she was listening to Indigenous leaders “on the conservative side of politics”:
Rather than take the lived experience of Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who is a conservative Indigenous senator and actually appreciate her voice and her experience, what we’re actually talking about here is quite tabloid issues rather than going to the heart of this conversation, which is about a voice to Parliament that lacks detail.
We don’t want to see our country divided by race and we don’t think this particular issue will shift the dial when it comes to changing the experience of particularly rural and regional and remote Aboriginal Australians.
A constitutionally enshrined advisory body to Parliament based solely on a person’s race is the antithesis of the values the National Party articulate.
Birmingham attacks government over reduction of Senate estimates
The shadow minister for foreign affairs, Simon Birmingham, has released a blistering statement, attacking the government for what he calls “hypocrisy at its finest” for its 2023 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar.
Birmingham said the government’s decision to scrap the first week of Senate estimates amounted to “a deliberate avoidance of transparency.”
Four estimates weeks in a year has been standard practice in the Senate since the 1990s. For decades this has been basic convention to have estimates early in the year and this government seemed to think it’s omission would go unnoticed.
When asked in Senate question time today if the Government would reinstate the first estimates week Senator Wong proceeded to dodge, duck and weave before claiming it was believed the missing week would not be needed because the mid-year economic fiscal outlook would not be taking place.
This is simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Albanese Government is denying 60 hours of examination of it’s decisions and the Australian public service that would usually take place, hiding the truth from the Australian people.
And Senator Nita Green has tweeted her move to set up an inquiry into consent laws, saying that the inconsistency of consent laws between states “means that victims of sexual crimes have different experiences of the justice system based on where they live”.
Senate to look at consent laws
Labor senator Nita Green has successfully moved to set up a Senate inquiry into consent laws.
The motion read:
“That the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 June 2023:
Current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia, with particular reference to:
Inconsistencies in consent laws across different jurisdictions;
The operation of consent laws in each jurisdiction;
Any benefits of national harmonisation;
How consent laws impact survivor experience of the justice system;
The efficacy of jury directions about consent;
The impact of consent laws on consent education;
The findings of any relevant state or territory law reform commission review or other inquiry; and
Any other relevant matters.
Good afternoon, Mostafa Rachwani with you for the rest of the day, and as always we begin with a quick thanks to Amy Remeikis for her routinely stellar work this morning.
The lovely Mostafa Rachwani will take you through the evening. I will be back early tomorrow morning for Wednesday, also known as Scott Morrison censure motion day, also known as the Coalition votes to support someone not particularly popular in the party room day.
Thank you so much for joining along with me today – you make it all worth it. As does Mike Bowers, and the Canberra team, who keep me hydrated, up to date and prop up these fingers as we try and wade through the parliamentary day.
Make sure you keep Mos company and I hope to see you again tomorrow. Until then, take care of you Ax
Crossbench Christmas cheer
Even though it doesn’t feel like it, the last week of sittings means end of year events hosted by the MPs.
The crossbench traditionally hold one together – that hasn’t changed. Tonight, they will host an event with each MP bringing food or drink which represents their electorate.
Here is Bob Katter’s contribution:
It is not a Milton Mango, but then he represents further north than the mighty Brown Snake, so we will allow it. (If you could translate that sentence, you already know Queensland is the greatest nation on earth)
The prime minister will hold the traditional PM drinks with the press gallery at the Lodge. It’s not in the Lodge, but in a marquee behind it and the kick out time is usually pretty strictly adhered to.
The Opposition and Greens will hold their own events later this week.
Bridget Cama is on Afternoon Briefing where she is asked about the National party deciding to oppose the voice to parliament. The co-chair of the Uluru youth dialogue says:
I am surprised that they have come out and expressed that, certainly the Liberal party room has not made a decision yet and is looking to take more of a wait-and-see approach also for me personally, I am very openhearted and open-minded about the discussion, and indeed, I am part of a group for the Uluru Statement. I was surprised that they have come out, so soon, and with a no position, and obviously it has caused some consternation amongst their own ranks as well. But we are yet to make a decision in the party room.
And some Mike Bowers magic for you:
Just two besties chillin’ on a question time bench. Just chillin’ and thrillin’ and vibin’ and not thinking about the “addicted to power” comment. No, not at all.
When you realise there is another 2.5 years to go as one of the only people in the party room making sense.
Linda Burney and Tanya Plibersek
'I don’t care for the absolute noise of bullies': Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
Country Liberal senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has responded to Noel Pearson’s interview on ABC radio RN Breakfast this morning:
It doesn’t take long for nasty to rear its ugly head.
I am no stranger to attacks from angry men who claim to speak on behalf of Aboriginal Australia.
In the past I have been told by a supposed Wurundjeri elder that I deserve to die a slow and painful death following my National Press Club address on ending the violence in remote communities. Also following this address, I was called an ‘Oxygen Thief’ by a man who is often referred to as an Aboriginal leader in Alice Springs, he also put me on notice, whatever that means?
Warlpiri men have publicly personally attacked me for standing against their calls on better leadership from them regarding the violence and abuse suffered by Aboriginal women and children. If they’re not personally attacking me, belittling me by calling me a silly little girl (despite being the mother of four sons) and attempting to intimidate me, then they’re claiming I have snubbed them as my colleague Pat Dodson the ‘Father of Reconciliation’ has suggested. I hardly think agreeing to catch up while passing each other briefly between divisions on the floor of the Senate is the same as formally arranging a time and place for a meeting.
It’s not hard to see why as an Aboriginal woman I have reservations about enshrining an idea that lacks detail into our parliament that has the potential to empower bullies like those I have encountered over the years. Since yesterday’s announcement, my offices have been bombarded with calls in support of the Nationals position but also bombarded with threatening and abusive calls that the women in my office should not have to be subjected to.
Research has shown that bullies only ever project onto others their own insecurities and failures, or in defense of a truth. So, it perplexes me that for some disturbing reason some ABC presenters’ foam at the mouth at the opportunity to pit Aboriginal people against each other and bullying is encouraged rather than called out.
While the ‘Yes’ campaigners have suggested this referendum is all about bringing people together as a unifying exercise for the whole of Australia their actions speak otherwise. We didn’t need a crystal ball to know that if you do not agree with the voice to parliament, you will be called names, be accused of racism, bigotry and it will also be suggested that you are incapable of thinking for yourself. The ugly side of the Voice to Parliament is now on display for the country to witness. Beware the accusations and emotional blackmail, the weapons of choice for those attempting to enforce conformity.
As Ghandi said ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’
I don’t care for the absolute noise of bullies. I am here to contribute to practical and meaningful measures within my capacity as the Senator for the Northern Territory and I will continue to be the voice for the voiceless who expect nothing less of me.
Greens push to lower voting age
The Greens are using the matter of public importance in the Senate to argue for a lower voting age.
As Guardian Australia reported last week, both the Greens and independent MP Monique Ryan will push for 16 and 17 year olds to be able to vote after the New Zealand parliament agreed to debate the issue.
The Greens will conduct consultation and reconsider their position that 16 and 17 year olds voting should be voluntary – which was a sticking point with Labor the last time the issue was examined by the joint standing committee on electoral matters.
Greens support parliamentary code of conduct
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi has welcomed the recommendation of a code of conduct for MPs and their staffers as part of the parliamentary standards report.
These behavioural codes and standards will make parliament a safer place for everyone who works at and visits this place.
I’m pleased that the report has acknowledged the intersections of discrimination that further marginalise First Nations people, people of colour, disabled people and LGBTQI+ communities, and the codes explicitly prohibit discrimination on these grounds.
I have first hand experience of the damage that racism and sexism does to a person who doesn’t belong to the ‘dominant norm’ of white men in suits. There will now be a clear and unambiguous recognition that this is unacceptable – and that perpetrators will face consequences for their actions.
The evidence we heard from witnesses showed an overwhelming desire for strong and enforceable codes, not meaningless platitudes.
I really want to thank the courageous staff – current and former – who have spoken out about the toxic culture of parliament and have paved the way for a safer, more respectful, inclusive and diverse parliament.
The codes were agreed to by consensus. They are a strong expression of this parliament’s desire to do better. I look forward to their implementation.”
Queensland parliament supports Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Queenlsand parliament has voted to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full – despite the Liberal National opposition declaring it a “cheap stunt” and “grubby wedge politics”.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on the parliament to send a “clear message” of support for Uluru following the National party’s federal leader, David Littleproud, deciding to oppose an Indigenous voice to parliament and reports the LNP state council voted “overwhelming” to push the federal coalition to do the same over the weekend.
The treasurer, Cameron Dick, described Littleproud’s stance as an “awful, mean spirited [and] hurtful” effort to “stoke the right wing of politics”.
But opposition leader David Crisafulli described Labor’s move as “grubby wedge politics”, saying his side of the chamber was given no notice of the motion.
Several LNP members then spoke negatively of the Uluru Statement, claiming it lacked detail, with Southern Downs MP James Lister saying that, if he spoke with Indigenous people in his electorate about it, he was sure “they would be as much in the dark about what this proposal involves as we are”.
Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens described it as “malarkey” that he had not read the Uluru Statement in full and yet was being asked to vote to support “he had no idea about” with “one minute’s notice”.
Labor increases aid budget by $1.4bn
The minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, has outlined what to expect in the forthcoming reset of the international development policy, a framework which will guide how Australia’s aid budget is spent.
During a speech today to the Australasian aid conference, he announced a new strategy focussed on better supporting people with disabilities, and also signalled a potential focus on increasing investment in climate, gender, and civil society.
“As always, the issue is what to prioritise – within the budget we have,” he said.
Conroy reiterated during the speech that Labor had increased the aid budget by $1.4bn over four years.
However, experts have noted that even with the increase the outlook for aid is still “grim”. Australia’s aid budget still ranks among the lowest in the OECD, sitting at 0.19% of gross national income.
Tony Burke has also submitted the sitting calendar to the house.
Wong defends government on reduction of Senate estimates
The leader of the opposition in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, asked about the sitting schedule for next year at the end of Senate question time. The Coalition argues the number of weeks allocated to Senate estimates – a key method of scrutinising government spending and performance – has dropped from four to three.
Birmingham said the sitting schedule “shows that the government wants scrap additional budget estimates for early next year, a departure from practice in place since the 1990s”. He said the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, had said the Australian people deserved accountability and transparency – and asked why the new government was scrapping additional estimates.
The government’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, told the Senate:
Well, I do love a question on accountability and transparency from the Coalition, and I particularly love it on a day that we know the house is preparing this week to debate a censure of your former leader for the double-up ministers that he’s invented, and I’m asked a question by a man who probably knew about Mr [Angus] Taylor covering up the price increase ahead of the election. Where was your interest then, Senator Birmingham?
Wong then gave the government’s official line on why there wouldn’t be Senate estimates early in the new year. It’s apparently linked to the fact the government delivered a budget in October – the second budget this year, after the Coalition’s one in March. There won’t be a mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo) which is normally done in December:
There will not be a Myefo so there will not be estimates after that.
Wong said she anticipated the “normal Myefo and budget process” would resume the following cycle.
In a follow-up question, Birmingham said the government’s proposed sitting schedule for 2023 also proposes four additional Senate-only sitting days on Fridays, but there was no established routine for Friday sittings. Birmingham asked whether, in the interests of accountability and transparency, the government would commit to including a Senate question time in every scheduled Friday sitting.
Wong didn’t commit to it:
Of course we will work with the Senate on how Fridays would be arranged.
Barnaby Joyce then jumps the gun in acknowledging the passing of the last of the NSW Rat of Tobruk as part of an act of indulgence, associating himself and the Coalition with comments Matt Keogh had made about a veterans employment awards night.
Ernie Walker passed away at 106.
Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton both make speeches in honour of Mr Walker after question time.
Bowen on gas prices
Michael McCormack gets a question!
The former deputy prime minister asks Chris Bowen:
Australian businesses are facing collapse due to skyrocketing gas prices. A Riverina business in the town of Young, not far from here, has seen its gas bill skyrocket from around $60,000 per month to more than $170,000 per month. After six months in office, why is this government refusing to take appropriate steps to pump more gas into the market to reduce prices?
I think the [honourable, but the transcription service recorded it as ‘unborn] member for his question for that he is right about skyrocketing gas prices, that is true.
In December 2021, gas was $11.56 a gigajoule, it is now $20.47. All thanks to Ukraine and the war, the illegal war by Russia. They were blaming the Russian war on 20 May but apparently on 23 May, it has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with gas prices.
The honourable member might want to talk about what gas he thinks is lying [around] that we just press a button and get going.
The honourable member talked about energy prices and policies to reduce energy prices and we on this side of the house are actively working to ensure the impacts of the Russian war do not flow through to industries and businesses in Australia.
I give credit where it is due for those opposite have been active as well.
Promoting alternative views as well for the last week holding a seminar about atomic energy, about nuclear energy, that was their big idea last week.
Their big idea about lower power prices.
… The CSIRO report found that nuclear, the cost of small modular reactors which those opposite are so in love with would cost $770 a kJl. They will be $5bn a reactor. $5bn a reactor. We know they would need 80 across the nation. That would amount to about 70% of GDP. That is their plan of lower energy costs. Now they say they want a conversation. It would be a gas bag led recovery.
Albanese on rental affordability in Brisbane
The Greens MP for Brisbane, Stephen Bates, has the third crossbench questions:
Fifty percent of my electorate in Brisbane are renters and it is becoming harder for people to find a home to rent. Many are living in cars or couch surfing.
We’ve heard all the agents advising landlords to increase rent by 25% and the affordability rental report today revealed 50% of private renters are in housing stress. Prime minister, will you commit to national rental standards [and put it on the national cabinet agenda for next week]
I thank the member for his question and yes, indeed, there are challenges of housing affordability in Australia. We accept that.
What we have done is to accept responsibility for making changes that the national government can do.
There is national governments, state government are responsible for many of the issues that the member raises and local government is also responsible as well in terms of whether they choose to support affordable housing.
I have said before that, in my area, fortunately the Labor counsellors support affordable housing. Unfortunately, members of the Greens party and some others have failed to ever support any affordable housing measures. What they say is increases in intensity are bad.
I encourage the member to come to the project to my electorate on the corner of Marrickville Road and Livingston Road. They can see they are a great example of projects brought together an increase in density together with the support of the Council provided a 100% privately paid for public library that has won awards for architecture, not just in Australia, but is now winning some global awards as well.
This is an example whereby we worked the local government, together with the state New South Wales government because it was the old Marrickville hospital site to get an increase in density close to public transport which is also allowing for an increase in affordable housing. I would say to the member ...
On relevance. I understand how levels of government work. My question was on ventures, not housing affordability.
I was asked about housing affordability and what I am doing is pointing towards different methods whereby you can have more affordable housing by cooperation, including with local and state government which goes directly to what the member asked.
He did not ask me about any actual federal government responsibility. I tell you what the federal government is doing, I tell you what the federal government is doing, we have a housing accord bringing together the Master Builders Association of Australia, bringing together every state and territory government, including the Palaszczuk government in Queensland with the Commonwealth in order to promote housing development and put downward pressure in order to provide more support for affordable housing.
Affordable housing is a challenge. There are not simple easy solutions, if they were, government would have just adopted them. What we have is a series of measures all of which are combined to ensure that we take action to make housing more affordable for Australians.
Annika Wells takes a dixer on aged care, where she refers to Scott Morrison as:
“Former prime minister Scott Morrison, Morrison as the minister for health undermining all”
Which makes Luke Howarth, the Liberal MP for Petrie very upset. Very, very upset.
He stands up to say:
There is one on correct title in relation to the member for Cook …
Milton Dick sits him down.
The minister was clear. I was listening carefully to her and she referred to him as the former prime minister Scott Morrison. That is his title. I will give her the call to continue her answer in silence.
So many titles to choose from. I can see how it is confusing.
It’s Ted talks time, with Ted O’Brien
The the MP for Fairfax is once again getting some floor time to ask a question. Honestly, opposition has been very good to him. This may be the most we have seen him during QT since he entered this place?
In his speech introducing the treasury of laws amendment bill last week, the assistant treasurer restated the government’s commitment to lower the cost of electricity bills for consumers. Does this mean the government is standing by its commitment to reduce household electricity bills by $275, or is this yet another cruel promise the government plans to break?
Stephen Jones is FULL of fire.
Thanks very much, Mr Speaker, and I think the honorable member for his question. The Albanese Labor government stands by each and every one of its promises and we have been working to deliver on those promises for the last six months.
This mob over here have done everything in their power to stand in our way on delivering on our promises we have been busy doing the work to ensure that we deliver on our promises.
Whether it has been introducing laws to get wages moving again, whether it has been introducing laws to ensure that Australians can afford to make a choice about whether they stay at home and look after their kids will go back and work another couple of days to make ends meet, whether it is about ensuring that we can put our elderly Australians in an aged care facility and know that they are going to get well fed and well cared for.
We have been delivering on each and every one of our promises, and in the area of energy ... each and every question time, asking their ridiculous questions when they know that they have recited...
Paul Fletcher gets to his feet with a point of order:
Repeatedly using unparliamentary language. He has just done it again and should be asked to withdraw.
Jones is asked to withdraw and get on with his answer.
While this mob over here, on each and every day of question time, have come to this dispatch box and ask us questions about what we are doing to help ordinary Australians meet their cost of living issues...
For nine years, they have presided over a wreckage of energy policies, 22 energy policies, not one of them delivered, not one of them delivered, while we are doing the hard work to ensure that we can get ...
… If members opposite want to know why there are pressures on our power system and on energy prices in this country, they should go and grab a mirror. Twenty-two failed energy policies, not one of them delivered. Twenty-two failed energy promises, not one of them delivered. We are getting on-the-job, onto the job of ensuring that we have an energy policy which will deliver affordable and sustainable energy in this country, and they are doing their level best, day in and day out, to frustrate the delivery of those policies. If Australians want to know why their energy bills are going up, they should look no further than that fellow over there. Look no fellow than that fellow over there. Because there is not a man or woman in this parliament who is more responsible for the increase in energy prices than the member for Hume over there.
Linda Burney on the Nationals’s opposition to voice to parliament
The member for Robertson, Gordon Reid, asks Linda Burney a question, which is an opportunity for the minister to respond to senator Jacinta Price’s comments about her and the Nationals comments on the voice.
How will an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice improve the lives of Indigenous Australians?
Burney delivers a masterclass in dignity here. The minister makes her point without naming a single person. She does not need to.
I thank the member for Robertson for his question. He, like every person on this side of the house, understands the issue of equity.
Life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can and should be better.
The gaps in life expectancy and educational outcomes persist is unacceptable. Decades of failed government policies have not worked.
A voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is the best chance we have. And perhaps ever will have to address the injustices of the past and create change that will deliver a better future.
A better future that will improve the lives of Indigenous Australians on the ground, in practical ways, like health, education and housing.
This isn’t about more bureaucracy. This is about making sure voices in remote and regional communities are heard.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the result of 12 regional dialogues after all, over 1200 attendees from right across this country.
This isn’t about dividing people. It is about uniting Australians. Giving First Nations People a say in the matters that affect us. Not being told what is best by bureaucrats.
Mr Speaker, I grew up in Whitton, down in the Riverina, a small country town. I was raised by Billy and Nina. They were my great aunt and uncle.
We didn’t have much.
And I didn’t know my dad until I was 27.
Billy and Nina taught me the value of respect. And being kind to others doesn’t cost you anything.
And that you learn more from listening than by talking.
That someone with my history can stand in this place is the most unlikely thing.
But not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone can have their voice heard. In that is why we need a Voice.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice is an idea whose time has come. The Australian people will decide this referendum, not politicians, and I have faith in the Australian people.
We want to take Australia forward for everyone. We will work with anyone who wants to take this journey forward to a better future.
Helen Haines to Anthony Albanese:
The senate is considering an amendment to the national anti-corruption bill to require a simple majority of the oversight committee to approve the appointment of the Nacc commissioner. This will protect the independence of the Nacc executor between appointments for why is this government afraid of supporting this amendment which will guarantee the Nacc electoral independent body?
I thank the member for her question and thank her for her work and ensuring Australia will have a national anti-corruption commission. The member introduced the private members bill in the last term of parliament.
We tried to get debated because government said it had a bill but never on Tuesday. We introduced a bill, had an inquiry that the member for Indi [deputy] chaired, we adopted the recommendations of that inquiry, all of them.
We adopted the recommendations of the inquiry.
What you do as you have legislation, then an inquiry, if you’re dumped all the recommendations in which the member was the chair, with respect, I think we have done exactly what you should expect government to do. You were the deputy chair of that committee.
We have done exactly what came through the process of that committee inquiry, which the deputy chair of the inquiry would be very conscious of.
What we have not done, what we have not done is support amendments that have flowed from various quarters in this chamber after we have had a bill, after we had extensive consultation beforehand, after we had a committee process, after we had recommendations and after we adopted all of them.
I stand by our position. I sincerely hope the Senate adopts our position that has been put forward. We will consider amendments on their merits, I have had discussions with the Attorney-General and with some crossbenchers and it is about amendments that will support.
I am asking the prime minister to go to the actual point of the amendment in the Senate around oversight and the simple majority question. I am seeking an explanation.
A simple explanation, as a deputy chair recognises, is this not a recommendation of the committee that was put forward, unanimous recommendations to this house into the Senate.
So I think, with respect to the member for Indi, given you were supported for the higher office of being the deputy chair of that committee in recognition of your genuine support ... it did not come through as a recommendation.
It did not come through as a recommendation from the committee.
Richard Marles gives the opposition a serve for what he says was the politicisation of the defence force while they were in government (this is in a dixer)
When it comes to doing press releases or press conferences as the minister for defence, as the prime minister, it is so important that we do not cast a political overlay over an institution which should be sacred in this nation.
That is the standard the Albanese government will set. That is not what we saw over the last 10 years because those opposite never avoided a press conference where they used the Australian defence force as a backdrop.
And the low point of this was on the 4 January in 2020, during the biggest magnifier and our recorded history. Four days after a firestorm that swept through the south coast of New South Wales, on a day on which the temperature hit 44 degrees in the midst loves being lost and property been damaged.
Those opposite made a decision to quality defence force to help with the bushfires and then produced a video which had images of the ADF and the tagline was “How to donate to the Liberal Party”. That was a disgrace.
That was a moment which showed deep disrespect for our nation’s uniform but it made it clear that the Liberals love the politics of defence. They just have no interest in defence policy. The Albanese government will be very, very different.
No press conferences on this site using Top Gun music, no press conferences using the ADF as a prop, no press conferences with party political banners and no press conferences with a tag inviting people to donate to a political party.
Where we do press conferences with the ADF, there will be a separation so that the messages we have as politicians stand apart, from the service that our brave men and women in uniform gave to this nation.
Andrew Gee and WA Nationals back Indigenous voice to parliament
Andrew Gee has become the first federal Nationals MP to break ranks with his colleagues and say he will back the Indigenous voice to parliament, going against the partyroom’s decision yesterday to oppose First Nations constitutional recognition.
The Nationals in WA will also back the change.
While I respect the opinions of my colleagues, I’m still a supporter.
Party leader David Littleproud, flanked by nearly his entire party room, told a press conference that the Nationals would oppose the referendum.
Gee, the member for Calare, was not in the meeting as he said he was in the flooded town of Eugowra.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, he said he was “a long-time supporter of an Indigenous voice to parliament” and that his position “hasn’t changed”. He wrote:
The Australian Government does need to provide more detail on what is proposed and a number of our local Indigenous groups want this detail as well because they want to make sure they have a voice within the Voice.
So yes, there is still a heck of a lot of hard work to do. To achieve a voice we’ll need that as well as goodwill, open minds and generosity of spirit. Reconciliation in Australia has made significant progress in recent years but there is still a long way for us all to travel.
Gee called on colleagues to “keep working at it and walking down that road.”
Western Australia’s Nationals leader, Mia Davies, said her party would support the voice – even if federal colleagues don’t. She told ABC Perth radio:
I’m respectful of the decision their party room has made, it doesn’t necessarily align to how the Nationals in Western Australia have approached this issue.
I agree with a lot of the things that he said in terms of the pragmatic and the practical things that we need to do to close the gap and empower Aboriginal Australians.
Where we part ways here in Western Australia is I don’t think it’s one or the other, I think we can do both.
The member for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie has a question for Anthony Albanese:
Australian families are said to be $2,000 worse off this Christmas under this government with higher power prices, higher mortgages and families paying more at the checkout. Prime minister, under Labor’s extreme industrial relations changes, inflation will rise, industrial disputes will increase and small business will be slugged with tens of thousands of dollars in new costs. Why is this government making a bad situation worse?
I thank the member for her question and I thank her also for using the leader of the opposition’s favourite phrase. What is it? Going to make a bad situation worse. So he acknowledges that, after 10 years in office, we inherited a bad situation. That is the starting point.
I heard the leader of the opposition use that phrase, it is in the question here. How on earth, having sat in a cabinet for three terms you become leader of the opposition and say, gee, it is a bad situation Australia is in. A bad situation.
The member is right. We did inherit a bad situation.
What we inherited was a government that did not have an economic plan for the nation, did not have an energy plan, they had 22 energy policies and did not deliver any. We inherited a situation where inflation was rising.
Where interest rates started to increase under them. And where they didn’t have a plan to deal with skill development. Read during the pandemic, they told everyone to leave the country and wondered why they inherited skills shortages when the economy opened up again.
All of these problems we have inherited. Skills shortages, we are dealing with it. 180,000 fee-free Tafe places next year. Low wage growth, we are dealing with that. With our secure jobs better pay bill that they opposed. And somehow, somehow they have also implied or are stated clearly in the question somehow that wages going up will be a bad thing for the economy.
Well, what we had with the decade of low wage growth was that that was a handbrake on our economy. We want an economy that works with people, not the other way around.
We make no apologies for that. We want to deal with cost-of-living issues by having cheaper childcare, cheaper medicines and by lifting wages as well. Because people’s standard of living is based upon revenue and expenditure.
If you increase their wages, they are better off. That is the whole idea. But those opposite are opposed to higher wages. Those opposite concede in the question that, yes indeed we did inherit a bad situation from those opposite.
Get you someone who looks at you like Scott Morrison does after you have called him addicted to power.
Chris Bowen asked about impact of ‘poles and wires’ on NSW private properties
Dr David Gillespie gets a question (haven’t seen him in a while, so had to think for a moment who was on their feet):
Q: How many private properties will be impacted with the construction of poles and wires across New South Wales as part of Labor’s energy policy to build 28,000km of new transmission lines?
I think by poles and wires across New South Wales, the honourable member must be referring to the HumeLink. It is the link necessary to connect Snowy 2.0, Mr Speaker. Which the previous government forgot to plug into the grid. They forgot to connect to the grid.
When you have a project already running 18 months late, but it could be running on time, later, would it matter if it is not connected to the grid, which is what the previous government failed to do?
I always try to be fair about such matters because, credit where it is due, the former minister for energy [brought] down a regulation to facilitate transmission, including specifically HumeLink, and in that regulation, he said: “Transmission is critical to deliver low-cost reliable and secure energy to consumers.”
‘Problem in Australia isn’t the wages increasing fast’, says Shorten after question on his response to RBA governor
Angus Taylor has a question for Bill Shorten:
I refer to his comments in the media last week that the RBA governor was talking rubbish. Will the minister apologise for these comments?
Shorten’s whole quote (which was part of his weekly slot on the Nine network) was:
These wage changes aren’t going to lead to double digit wages inflation. Like it’s just rubbish. That’s not what’s happening. So a lot of these debates are theoretical. If wages move too far too fast, that’s not desirable. But wages not moving at all is a disaster.
The member for Hume knows he is misquoting me, but he has form on misquoting people.
(The Liberals interject.)
I was asked about wages policy, and it was put to me that the Reserve Bank governor had said that if wages increase too much, that is bad for the economy.
The point that I made is the problem in Australia isn’t the wages increasing fast, it is that they haven’t increased enough the last 10 years, they have been frozen; and furthermore, the laws which Labor has just passed with the support of the Senate will, for the first time in 10 years, to feminised industries, low-paid workers, [be] a chance of getting wage rises.
What amazes me is that when people are doing it hard in this country, as so many industries have for so long, the opposition is not only not repentant for their poor wages policy in the last 10 years, they have [ignored] the lesson of the last election.
Paul Fletcher gets up to raise a point of order, but Shorten has decided he has concluded his answer.
The Liberals are in surprisingly good spirits as Anthony Albanese pivoted from a question about electricity and mortgage prices to jibes about the Morrison government having a “power policy” but not an “energy policy”.
Alex Hawke and Scott Morrison had wry smiles while Albanese referred to Hawke’s comments critical of Morrison’s multiple ministries, which Hawke distanced himself from shortly before QT.
A few backbenchers sledged: “What’s the cash rate, genius??”
In interjections, Sussan Ley accused Albanese of “arrogance” and “hubris”. Angie Bell and Keith Wollahan waved to schoolchildren.
Anthony Albanese says laws on truth in political advertising ‘worth examining’
Zali Steggall gets the first of the crossbench questions:
Right now, it is perfectly legal for political parties and politicians to … lie in advertising for elections and referendums. I tabled my stop the lies bill yesterday to stop this …
Will the government support regulating against misleading and deceptive advertising, election and referendum advertising, to ensure a fact based respectful debate on the voice?
I thank you very much, the member for Warringah, for her question, and I also thank her for raising it with me in a meeting that we held that is very important.
The member of course is very sincere in her strong view, which I share, that our electoral system and our democracy relies upon people being truthful and people being able to make decisions based upon the facts being there and not distorted.
And in particular, the member has raised concern about the referendum on the constitutional recognition of First Nations people in our nation’s birth certificate, the constitution, and that is important because there has been a lot of misinformation out there, including that somehow it would usurp the role of this parliament, even though it is very clear from the discussions and the drafts that have been put forward [that it] will not be the case.
To do a change to our electoral system, though, is a complex and difficult task. We have the usual Joint Standing Committee on electoral reform inquiry at the moment into the 2022 election. One of the issues that they will examine is a potential for truth in political advertising laws to enhance the integrity and transparency of the electoral system. And I think that is certainly something that is worthy of examination.
We await that report. I had a discussion with the minister, the special minister of state, responsible for the AEC after our discussion earlier today. He indicated to me that the AEC had expressed some concern to him about the capacity that they have to make judgments on what mechanism you would have to put in place in order to achieve the outcome that the member for Warringah seeks, which, as I say, is a very worthy one.
I do note the member for Warringah and other crossbench members raised with me the South Australian laws in the state, and that’s certainly something worth examining, [and] is something I have only had drawn to my attention this morning.
It certainly is worth examining, our democracy is precious, and it is important that in the referendum in particular, but all elections and all deliberations in which the Australian people have a say, that there be truth in what is put forward, and we will examine the member’s propositions, but we thank her for her constructive engagement with the government.
Tony Burke says opposition’s problem with IR bill is that it will ‘push up wages’
Tony Burke takes a dixer so he can talk about the IR bill and lowering wages and he quotes Angus Taylor, speaking to Laura Jayes on Sky News.
Before this, Burke was talking about how the bill would “push up wages”. He then says:
But we know from the shadow treasurer that that, in fact, is their problem with this bill. It is their problem because the shadow treasurer knows, as he answered when asked about multi-employer bargaining on Sky News with Laura Jayes, he said: “It pushes up wages.”
Taylor stands up with a point of order:
I draw your attention to standing order 68, the comment that the minister just made is false.
The minister is reading a quote from a media report. I would just ask the Minister to clarify where he is reading a document from.
It was said on television, Mr Speaker. It was on Sky News.
Burke is able to continue with his answer.
Opposition were ‘addicted to power but weren’t good at energy’, says PM
Sussan Ley is up with a question for Anthony Albanese:
I refer to the prime minister’s broken promise to reduce power prices for small businesses and families by $275. A promise he made 97 times before the election. I also refer to the prime minister’s broken promise to deliver cheaper mortgages made at Labor’s campaign launch.
Can the prime minister identify a single electricity company which has reduced its charges or a single mortgage holder who is paying less than on the day the prime minister made these promises?
(The promise for 2025. Yes, no one in the government will repeat it, but the commitment was to lower power prices by 2025.)
Yes, thanks, Mr Speaker. The whole premise of the question is wrong. When you look at the energy crisis …
They have given up on the IR … they are now on to [this] one. This is what the chief executive of the clean energy Council had to say: “It is abundantly clear that Australia’s clean energy transition has been throttled by years of policy uncertainty, with the amount of quarterly commission generated capacity continuing the downward trend in the last three years, and now it is at its lowest level on record. Industry confidence to invest is growing, aided by clearer and more potent policy directions across the country.”
Could not have said it more clearly.
… I was asked about power, and we know from the member for Mitchell, who has had some good comments about his made, the member for Cook, that they are addicted to power but weren’t good at energy. Weren’t very good at energy policy.
That is the problem for those opposite. All about power policy, nothing about energy policy. The truth is that the cheapest form of new energy is clean energy. Renewable energy.
Which is why our policy will put downward pressure on energy prices.
When it comes to mortgages, I know this is a really difficult concept, but if you have the policy that we have, that the WA government has – and I noticed Minister [Roger] Cook in the gallery there today, that is Minister Cook. Perhaps he could provide a workshop while he is here in Parliament House about how successful the WA program has been on providing a shared equity system for people to get into housing in WA.
And our help-to-buy scheme will do just that as well, because the nature of a help-to-buy scheme is that rather than the person who has the borrowing, it is a shared scheme.
Meanwhile, Mike Bowers had an eagle eye trained on Alex Hawke and Scott Morrison.
Hawke put out his statement (which is just a few posts from this one) after Niki Savva’s book quoted him as saying that he believed Morrison was “addicted to power”.
Hawke and Morrison sit together in no man’s land in the opposition backbench and have lots of little buddy chats when not performing “so unbothered” or sulking in opposite directions.
Bowers tells me that Morrison placed a hand on Hawke’s shoulder when he entered the chamber and then sat down and waved at the photographers.
He’s never been particularly subtle when it comes to optics.
The censure motion will be held tomorrow.
Question time begins
We are into the second question time for the week and Peter Dutton is back asking a question, which I think is his first since asking the opening question yesterday.
It’s about broken promises and energy prices.
Prime minister, isn’t it true that these promises were just poised to win votes and Labor have failed to deliver on these fundamental promises which impact families the most? Will the prime minister apologise to Australian families?
I think you know what the answer is from Anthony Albanese.
Senate gives nod to late sittings
The Senate has agreed to an hours motion with late sittings on Tuesday (to 9:30pm), Wednesday (til 11pm) and then on Thursday as late as required (“til adjournment”) to pass a series of government bills.
On Tuesday it’s the national anti-corruption commission and secure jobs, better pay bill. On Wednesday secure jobs and better pay again. Then on Thursday:
Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Reform (Closing the Hole in the Ozone Layer) Bill 2022
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment Bill 2022
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment Bill 2022
Broadcasting Services Amendment (Community Radio) Bill 2022 Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia Funding Legislation Amendment Bill 2022.
So it looks like the Friday and Saturday sitting is off – and the Senate can be done by Thursday, with the House able to come back Friday morning.
Defence minister to hold Aukus talks with US and UK counterparts
The defence ministers and defence secretaries of Australia, the US and the UK will meet in Washington DC next week to try to make progress on plans for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under Aukus.
The defence minister, Richard Marles, and the foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, will both be heading to the US next week for the annual talks with their US counterparts, Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken. That gathering is known as Ausmin (short for Australia-United States ministerial consultations) and it’ll be the first such meeting since the change of government in Australia.
But Marles has confirmed there will also be a side meeting between the defence leaders of the US, the UK and Australia focused on their three-way security partnership known as Aukus.
Marles said at a PwC event at Parliament House today:
Next week, with the foreign minister, I will be in the United States as part of Ausmin, where all of these issues will very much be on the agenda, as we meet with secretary Blinken and secretary Austin. And also next week in the United States will be the first Aukus defence ministers’ meeting, as we catch up with the UK defence secretary Ben Wallace, and Lloyd Austin, where again we will be talking about the issues that I’ve described today.
Next week will be a very important week in advancing the Aukus agenda and we look forward to what will come from this. We look forward to what will come from this because of the opportunity that Aukus does provide for building Australia’s military capabilities and, through that, providing huge opportunities for Australian defence industry to contribute to that, but to build their skills as well.
Marles underlined the importance of the Aukus project, saying “as we look forward to the 2030s, 2040s and beyond, you will not be able to claim to have a highly capable submarine without it being nuclear-powered”.
The three countries are expected to announce their detailed plans by March – a timeframe that Marles said remained “on track” as he said: “The degree of cooperation that we’ve seen with the United States and the United Kingdom in respect of that speaks to an incredible sense of shared vision of the three countries.”
Marles said the Albanese government had come to power “at a hugely consequential time on the international stage” and faced “the most complex and precarious set of strategic circumstances that we have since the end of the second world war”.
As we look around the world, obviously in Eastern Europe, the war in Ukraine, the appalling invasion by Russia of Ukraine, which represents a total affront to the UN charter and the global rules-based order. But also in other parts of the world we see the global rules-based order being placed under a strain that it’s probably not been placed under at any point since it came to be.
Alex Hawke defends Scott Morrison
Alex Hawke has released a statement about Scott Morrison, who is also his seat mate in the parliament (you will note he doesn’t claim he didn’t say Morrison was “addicted to power” as reported by Niki Savva in her book, Bulldozed”)
Reports today that ascribe certain views regarding former prime minister Scott Morrison are not representative of views I hold about him. Having known Scott Morrison for many years in many different capacities, I have only the highest regard for his character, ability and service as prime minister.
Indeed, we have been friends for many years and my long-term, consistent and positive views about Scott Morrison are well known and my views on the great success of the government, under his leadership, are forever on the public record for all to see.
For absolute clarity, when looked at in the context of the global pandemic, I believe the administrative decisions taken by Scott Morrison as prime minister make sense for the time they were taken and the situation the government faced. In context I have no concerns that these measures were taken or the fact that the executive of the government had to assume a stronger concentration of emergency powers during such a significant and unusual emergency period.
Indeed, every leader of government – state or federal – in Australia and worldwide did assume these powers and faced much scrutiny because of it. Like several other colleagues my only concern is in not ultimately being made aware of the unusual reserve administrative arrangements even though these were clearly emergency and pandemic related. Proposed changes to how the publication of administrative arrangements affecting ministers make sense and will ensure this is improved in future and I support the opposition’s support for the recommendations of the Bell review.
However, the pointless and unnecessary political manoeuvring of the Australian Labor party in proposing to censure a former prime minister – for taking important decisions that were deemed necessary – is wrong. I don’t believe Australians support this politically charged, payback, approach.
Today I have caught up with Scott Morrison and like every day look forward to joining him in parliament and in particular supporting him against the Labor party’s divisive political tactics.
Scott Morrison heads for the podium
The former Liberal prime minister and member for Cook, Scott Morrison, will once again hit the international speakers’ circuit before Christmas.
According to news.com.au, Morrison has been billed as the star attraction at a new event being organised by a conservative thinktank, the Hudson Institute.
The invitation said:
Please join Hudson Institute’s China Center for a conversation with Thirtieth Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Hudson Institute China Center Director Miles Yu to discuss Australia’s role in combating the threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Scott Morrison successfully led his nation through the most difficult and significant challenges Australia has faced since the Great Depression and the Second World War.
On the international stage, Morrison was known for his leadership role to counter an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
Gas companies ‘propose nothing and oppose everything’ on prices – Husic
During his press club question and answer, Ed Husic was asked about gas prices and what was happening. He said there needed to be more moment on energy, but everyone was working on it.
And then he said:
The issue with the gas companies, if I may say, has been that they’ll propose nothing and oppose everything. In terms of anything we put forward, you’ll see that. But the reality is as a government we’re trying to get the balance right, recognising their needs to be able to operate in their way but to not do it in a way with the pricing set that hollows out other parts of the economy.
And we are also reflecting a strong belief in the views of the Australian public that we should have appropriately priced and accessible Australian resources – notably gas – for the needs of industry and to make sure households …. get it fairly.
'With your help and support, we’ll nail it’ – Albanese
The truth is that our experience knows that when people who are directly affected are consulted and have a sense of ownership over the solution, they will be more engaged. So the solutions to close the gap on education, on health, on housing, on life expectancy, on incarceration rates, on all of those measures where there is a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, will be closed.
Unless you engage with people directly impacted, you will continue to have what we have had, which is with some of the best will in the world, we haven’t achieved the outcomes that we would like. And we know that on issues like park rangers, on justice reinvestment, when Indigenous people are directly involved you get better practical outcomes. That is why the Uluru Statement from the Heart is so important.
Now, in the same spirit of celebration as the Indigenous round, that is what the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its adoption will be. Imagine being able to celebrate, imagine being able to celebrate our country coming together in that way.
People will get the opportunity to have their say, each and every Australian, with one vote in the next financial year. And I guarantee that there are tens of thousands of people who will be voting in that referendum, who will spend more time watching the NBL next year than they do watching question time. And that’s probably a very healthy thing for them. So your engagement, your advocacy, your leadership on this question will carry a lot of weight around this nation. Referendums are hard to win. There’s no certainty of success. In fact, the history of this country shows that it is less likely.
But if you don’t walk out on the court, you’re certain to lose. And if you don’t take the shot, you don’t score. We’re going to take the shot next year, in the next financial year. And together with your help and your support, we’ll nail it. We’ll nail it and the country will cheer as if it was a three pointer taken in the last second of the game, when we were two points behind. So be a part of it.
Uluru statement is ‘a hand outstretched’, PM says
While launching the NBL Indigenous round, Anthony Albanese also addressed the Voice:
To First Nations kids practising their free throws at school, playing half court at the local park or getting excited for their first game at the local PCYC or sporting centre, there is a place for you at the highest level. And it’s great that the NBL is backing up this round with the indigenous players rule, the first of any code of such serious incentives, and I congratulate the NBL on its leadership encouraging clubs to recruit more First Nations talent. And I did want to take this opportunity to say a few words about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Particularly given there’s been a bit of a debate again in the last couple of days.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a hand outstretched. It is a generous and gracious offer of reconciliation. It doesn’t ask for anything more than two things. One, that First Nations people be recognised in our nation’s birth certificate, our Constitution. That the history of this great island continent did not begin in 1788.
It should be a source of extraordinary national pride that our history includes on this island continent that we share with the oldest continuous culture on earth. It’s an asset for our nation. The second thing that it will do is not usurp the role of this Parliament. It will simply be that where matters directly affect Indigenous Australians, we should consult them. We should ask them what they think.
I don’t know about others, but I was raised to give consideration to people if one of my actions was going to impact someone else. And if you know that that is the case, then you should do that. And what that will result in is to get rid of the very false dichotomy that somehow it is an act of symbolism versus a practical measure.
Paul Karp tells me an hours motion has just passed the house.
We will bring you that detail very soon.
And the prime minister did not pal around with a basketball, or take out any children, in a show of sports prowess.
Is this even Australia?
Julian Leeser doesn’t back up Price comments on Burney
Shadow attorney general Julian Leeser has declined to comment on, or back in, comments from Nationals colleague Jacinta Price about Indigenous Australians minister Linda Burney - saying he wouldn’t “make a running commentary” on words from others.
Price and the Nationals were this morning excoriated by Indigenous leader Noel Pearson for their opposition to the Voice, and Burney is expected to give a response later today.
In a brief doorstop, Leeser didn’t back up Price’s comments.
It’s not my job to make a running commentary on things that other colleagues say. That’s just not my job,” he said when asked about it.
Earlier, the Coalition party room meeting heard Peter Dutton say that the Liberal party hadn’t yet come to a position on the voice to parliament, and likely wouldn’t before early next year, citing the need for the government to give more detail on the plan before they settle a position.
Leeser, also shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, said:
The position we’ve always taken is we’re waiting for the government to provide details ... they are important questions.
We’re waiting for detail ... nobody can answer the question at the moment about its functions, who will serve on it.
However, he denied the Nationals had made their decision
The National party have made their own decision based on their own calculations in relation to this. That’s their decision and I respect them for that decision.
Leeser said he was a long-time supporter of the Uluru statement and said he wanted the government to give more detail on their plan.
Coalition won’t back Morrison censure 'stunt', Dutton tells party room
In the party room the Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, said the Coalition would not support the censure motion against Scott Morrison, labelling the move a “stunt”.
So much for a kinder and gentler parliament, this is Anthony Albanese at his political brawler best.
But despite receiving widespread support from the party room in favour of that position, it seems at least one MP disagreed.
Liberal MP Bridget Archer, who Guardian Australia revealed yesterday was reserving her position, has now said she is “inclined” to support the censure.
I was there [in the party room]. It has become clear to me over time that there is not much point speaking up in there, but particularly given [the] leadership announced a position yesterday prior to [the] party room even meeting. I am inclined to support the censure motion.
‘We cannot waste this opportunity’: MP on parliamentary code of conduct
In her speech to the parliament tabling the parliamentary standards, Sharon Claydon laid out the need for a code of conduct:
The Australian parliament has long sought to address the issue of Codes of Conduct. Indeed, our Parliament has been considering Codes for almost half a century.
In 1975 a Report on Declaration of Interests noted that a meaningful code of conduct should exist in the Australian Parliament.
In 1993, 2008, 2011, and 2012 the Australian parliament again tried and again failed to introduce Codes of Conduct.
The need, and the public expectation for Codes of Conduct, has grown over the years – and now the 47th Parliament has a unique opportunity to make good on past mistakes and leave a legacy for future generations of people who work in commonwealth parliamentary workplaces.
With over 4000 people working in Parliament House on any given sitting day, and thousands more working across the country in electorate offices supporting parliamentarians and constituents, all Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces must be safe and respectful places to work.
We owe it to the Australian people, and importantly, we owe it to everyone who shared their story of not feeling safe in Parliamentary workplaces to get this done, we cannot waste this opportunity.
Husic plans $15bn national reconstruction fund
Ed Husic says he will tomorrow introduce legislation enabling a $15bn national reconstruction fund (NRF) to be established – a key election promise – noting that Australia currently ranks last among OECD countries in manufacturing self-sufficiency.
We have the smallest manufacturing industry relative to domestic purchases of any OECD country. Our consumption of manufacturing output is nearly double our domestic manufacturing output.
Husic believes governments should invest strategically in future-facing industries, citing US government investment in firms such as SpaceX and Tesla. The NRF, he says, will be:
One mechanism through which we will realise our ambition to better connect science and industry to ensure Australian-made discoveries can be commercialised and scaled in our nation …
We want more Australian companies to think globally and build locally. We have missed opportunities in the past and we’re determined we don’t do that again.
Husic names several priority areas that will be central to the fund, including: quantum technologies, robotics and sensing technologies, and clean energy generation and storage technologies.
Looks like the Greens have support from the Liberal side of the senate chamber for February estimates:
Ed Husic on energy prices
Back at the press club and Ed Husic won’t engage in what is going to happen on energy prices – and he gives this reason:
One of the things I value about the way that Anthony Albanese runs this cabinet is he allows people to – for a broad range of ideas to to be considered. He gets people involved in working across portfolios. We recognise … this is not a government that is addicted to announcement – we’ve had enough of that in this country. I think there’s an expectation that with the size of a problem as wicked and wretched as this, with energy prices … we will think this through. We will use an evidence base. We’ll talk with people and we’ll deliver something sustainable.
That is what is on our minds and why I’m not really, if you don’t mind, at liberty to be able to deliver everything that is contemplated. But we are thinking deeply how to frame that response.
Further to Labor’s caucus room meeting this morning, leader of the house Tony Burke has told his House colleagues to be “continuously available” this week for more parliament once the lower house rises on Thursday afternoon, in order to deal with legislation that will come back from the Senate that they need to deal with.
The House will rise on Thursday and is scheduled to return on Saturday, with long debate continuing on legislation around industrial relations and the national anti-corruption commission expected to drag through the week. The House isn’t scheduled to sit on Friday, but Burke told lower house colleagues to be ready with a few hours notice for the possibility of coming back on Friday (instead of Saturday) to rubber-stamp amendments from the Senate.
There’s a lot of people in Parliament House unhappy about the prospect of having to sit on Saturday, when sitting weeks usually end on Thursday nights, so there will be a fair bit of motivation to get through these debates from people wanting to go home instead of have another weekend in Canberra.
When the Senate approves legislation, there’s a transition time of between two and four hours before it will be ready to be considered by the House. Labor MPs have been told that may be all the notice they get, to get back to Parliament House.
Senate votes on anti-corruption commission bill
The Senate is now voting on amendments to the Nacc bill. It doesn’t seem like anyone is stringing the debate out or filibustering, as most senators have said what they wanted in second reading speeches.
The first few sets of amendments from the Greens and the Coalition have been defeated.
The critical vote is likely to be the Greens-David Pocock amendment to require an absolute majority on the Nacc oversight committee to approve the appointment of the Nacc commissioner. We should get to that before question time.
Here is MP Helen Haines making the case:
However, even if the amendment is successful, the House of Representatives can refuse to agree to it, and send the bill back to the Senate. The Greens have said they’re not blocking the Nacc, so whether it’s today or later this week, it’s likely to pass.
PM 'confident' Indigenous voice to parliament vote will pass
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has declared that he’s confident a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution will pass.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament House a short time ago, Albanese characterised the Uluru Statement from the Heart as a “gracious offer” and said it was time to act:
It is time that we recognise First Nations people in our constitution. And I’m confident that this very gracious offer of Indigenous Australians will be accepted by the Australian people and we’ll take the opportunity to recognise First Nations people in the constitution and to ensure that they are consulted about matters that affect them.
All in all, the report and the recommendations are a step forward to making the parliament a safer workplace.
You can find the whole code of conduct proposal here
If agreed to by the parliament (and it should be) it will set out actual rules for parliamentarians (and their staff) to follow about their behaviour.
You know, just like a normal workplace.
There is a recommendation for an independent standards commission to investigate any complaints
Upheld complaints with politicians could be subject to:
Less serious sanctions – which may be applied directly by the IPSC and which do not interfere with a parliamentarian’s duties, such as:
undertaking training, or entering into a behavioural agreement;
making a written apology to the complainant or relevant House; and
be subject to a ‘withdrawal services and facilities/other personal restrictions’; or
More serious sanctions – which the IPSC may recommend to the relevant House to consider imposing on a parliamentarian, such as:
a withdrawal of services/facilities or other personal restrictions that affect the core functions of a parliamentarian;
dismissal from a select committee;
withholding salary or allowances;
withholding budget for staff positions;
withholding of ‘communication budget to the same value as any grievance payment made to a complainant; and
Complaints made in bad faith, or for political reasons could face sanctions of their own.
For politicians, the code of conduct would mean:
Behaviour Code for Australian Parliamentarians Purpose of Parliamentarians’ Behaviour Code
1) All Australian Parliamentarians have a shared responsibility as employers and leaders in the community to ensure that Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces meet the highest standards of integrity, dignity, safety and mutual respect.
2) All Australian laws must be upheld, including the employer obligations outlined in the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.
3) This code forms the Parliament’s expectations for how we behave towards each other and others we engage with in the course of our work, while recognising the importance of a free exchange of ideas and parliamentary privilege, which is an integral part of our democracy.
4) Every Parliamentarian is required to understand and comply with this code and the Behaviour Standards for Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces. These codes and standards are enforceable and a breach of either code could lead to sanctions being imposed.
5) Both the code and the standards apply to Parliamentarians in the course of their role, including at social events, when travelling for work, and outside of normal business hours. This includes conduct engaged in by any means, including in person, or by electronic communication. Alcohol is no excuse for breach of this code or the standards.
6) Ensuring compliance with the code and the Standards is a core requirement of Parliamentarians discharging their work health and safety obligations as employers.
7) Parliamentarians must treat all those with whom they come into contact in the course of their parliamentary duties and activities with dignity, courtesy, fairness and respect.
8) Parliamentarians, as employers and leaders in the community have a leading role to play in fostering a healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive environment where all people feel safe and valued.
9) Parliamentarians, as employers and leaders in the community, have a role in fostering and respecting diversity in their workplace, to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome to contribute.
10) Parliamentarians recognise the importance and value of diverse viewpoints, and that robust debate is conducted with respect for differing views, which are essential for a functioning democracy.
11) Bullying and harassment, sexual harassment and assault, discrimination in all its forms including on the grounds of race, age, sex, sexuality, gender identity, disability, or religion is unacceptable. Such behaviour will not be tolerated, condoned or ignored.
You can find the report’s recommendations here
It includes implementing a code of conduct for parliamentarians and staff.
If adopted, it would read something like this:
Welcome to this Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplace. Please be aware we have clear guidelines on how we must behave towards each other.
Act respectfully, professionally and with integrity.
Encourage and value diverse perspectives and recognise the importance of a free exchange of ideas.
Recognise your power, influence or authority and do not abuse them.
Uphold laws that support safe and respectful workplaces, including anti-discrimination, employment, work health and safety and criminal laws.
Bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or assault, or discrimination in any form, including on the grounds of race, age, sex, sexuality, gender identity, disability, or religion will not be tolerated, condoned or ignored.
(To be continued)
Parliamentary standards report tabled
In the house, Labor MP Sharon Claydon has just tabled the final report into parliamentary standards.
We will get you some of that speech – but in a sign that this is hopefully something the whole parliament is on board for, there is no dissenting report from non-government members on the committee.
That bodes well for the changes it has suggested being supported across the chamber.
Ed Husic is speaking at the press club and we will bring you some of that soon.
Australian airport firefighters vote to strike, union says
Firefighters at 27 Australian airports are planning to strike on Friday week, with passenger flights across the country set for four hours of disruption.
The United Firefighters Union aviation branch announced on Tuesday its members had voted to strike in protest over short staffing levels, safety and pay concerns amid months of disagreement with Airservices Australia over a new enterprise agreement.
The strike, planned to go ahead between 6-10am on Friday 9 December, could result in grounded flights, as aircraft are not permitted to land at an airport without firefighters on duty, while other airlines choose not to.
In response to the announced strike, Airservices Australia said it was disappointed to hear of the union’s planned action, and called its claims about safety issues “highly misleading”.
An Airservices Australia spokesperson said it would continue to negotiate “in good faith” with the union.
There is no shortage of aviation rescue firefighters in Airservices’ Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service at Sydney or at any other location. Airservices Australia’s staffing requirements for aviation rescue fire fighting services at 27 of Australia’s busiest airports are highly regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
We continue to meet all service requirements nationally to ensure the safety of airlines, airports and the travelling public – safety is our No 1 priority. Airservices will continue to work with industry and safety agencies to minimise disruptions to flights as a result of the industrial action.
Scam SMS reports rise while dropping for phone calls
Australian telcos are having some success in reducing the number of scam phone calls people are getting, but it’s an uphill battle against SMS scams.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch says that between 1 January and 13 November this year, reports about phone scams reduced by 61% from 135,400 in 2021 to 57,400 this year, off the back of the scam calls code the industry brought in to block incoming calls from scammers in 2020.
More than 549m calls have been blocked by telcos since the scam code was introduced.
But while a similar code was introduced to block scam messages in July this year, there has yet to be a similar drop. There had been a reduction in the number of reports since July, but overall for the same time period scam SMS reports are up 5%.
The consensus among industry sources is that SMS scams are more difficult to block because scammers know how to change what they do and get around the blocks in place.
But the telcos are working to block the scams. A spokesperson for Optus said more than 10m scam SMS had been blocked between July and September this year.
Optus has been leading the industry with advanced filtering and machine learning in our SMS systems, and while we don’t talk publicly about our security measures, we are pleased more of the industry is now implementing similar systems.
A TPG spokesperson said the company had blocked around 43m scam SMS a month this year, and the company was advocating for industry changes that would mean every number would need to register on a whitelist before they can send SMS messages, meaning the SMS would never be sent to Australian numbers.
TPG Telecom has long advocated for an industry-regulated SMS origin tag whitelist, as well as number management techniques, which could stop a huge proportion of scam texts spoofing legitimate businesses. Untrustworthy traffic could be immediately reduced if we stopped allowing Australian numbers to originate outside of their home network.
Telstra said it blocked over 61m scam SMS every month, and was now introducing new technology as part of the Cleaner Pipes program to tackle the more than 332m scam emails Telstra blocks every month.
Victorian Liberal party chief quits
The state director of the Victorian Liberal party has quit his role following the party’s crushing loss at the weekend’s election.
In a statement, Sam McQuestin said on 21 October he informed the state president, Greg Mirabella, that he would not continue in his role after the Victorian election, regardless of the outcome.
The Victorian division of the party is facing significant challenges and I wish my successor – whoever that might be – the very best.
McQuestin also said he was “particularly” pleased with the party’s performance in seats under siege by “teal” independent candidates, saying it offered a vision forward for future elections.
On Sunday, opposition leader Matthew Guy announced he would step down from the role. Four Liberal party MPs have said they will contest the leadership position.
Labor caucus backs Linda Burney after ‘repulsive’ attack
The Labor caucus meeting today also backed Indigenous Australians minister Linda Burney, after what one member described as a “repulsive and absurd attack” on her yesterday.
The quote came from a question posed by a member of the party room. The member didn’t specifically say what “attack” they referred to, but it was widely recognised as a reference to criticisms made by Nationals senator Jacinta Price about Burney in relation to the Voice to Parliament yesterday.
The member said Labor should show its solidarity with and admiration for Burney. PM Anthony Albanese said such personal attacks “shows they do not have an argument of substance”.
Greens consider extra Senate sittings next year
Another detail from the Greens party room earlier this morning - although the draft 2023 parliamentary sitting calendar is out, they are warning it is not set in stone.
Of particular concern to the Greens is the fact there are no Senate estimates committee hearings scheduled in February.
Although it is uncommon for the Senate to change its scheduled sittings, defying the government of the day, it is not impossible to do so with a majority.
The Greens are considering options including extra Senate sitting weeks and more Senate estimates – and will seek support from the Coalition and rest of the crossbench. Independent senator David Pocock was in favour of more sitting days in 2022.
Don’t book your holidays just yet.
Australian astronaut picked for European space program
Stepping out of politics again to gaze at the stars.
We did it with pavlova and Russell Crowe, and we’re doing it again with an astronaut.
Dr Meganne Christian has been pegged as Australia’s “first female astronaut”, and she certainly has the accent and the citizenship. But Christian – a stonkingly accomplished woman who will start training to become a space traveller next year – describes herself as from the UK, and she will train with the Europeans.
She’s one of 11 reservist astronauts picked by the European Space Agency out of more than 22,500 applicants for their program. And, introducing herself, she says: “I’m from the United Kingdom.”
But claiming her as an Aussie is far from baseless. Christian moved to Australia from the UK when she was five, went to school in Wollongong and studied at the University of New South Wales, eventually getting her PhD there.
She’s worked in atmospheric physics, meteorology, biomedical research and more. She scuba dives, has a black belt in the martial art Hapkido, and enjoys knitting and crocheting.
The industry and science minister, Ed Husic, announced her new gig, saying she was “further evidence of the extraordinary scientific talent that we generate through our education and university system here in Australia”.
Role models like Dr Christian will help show girls and young women that they can dream big.
Christian has Australian, New Zealand, British and Australian citizenship. But we don’t care – we’re claiming her as one of our own.
The parliament is about to sit and Anthony Albanese is about to attend the National Basketball League’s Indigenous round launch.
Victorian MPs will probably have one more sitting day before Christmas
Victoria’s parliament is likely to sit for one day before the Christmas break after the Andrews government was re-elected on Saturday.
The Andrews government is inching closer towards the 55 seats it won in the 2018 landslide result, despite a state-wide swing of almost 6% against Labor.
Andrews said on Tuesday that Labor’s caucus would likely meet later this week, despite seven seats in the lower house yet to be called:
We’ll sit and get those formalities out of the way, get people sworn in, governor’s speech - all of that. So when we get back for the sitting [weeks] in earnest in 2023, we can get a fast start.
Andrews said parliament would likely sit on 20 or 21 December.
Now it is the last week of the sitting year, thoughts turn to when we will all be coming back. And if you are one of those people trying to plan your life, here is a little gift from a blog watcher. (It is still a proposed sitting calendar and still has to be voted on, but it’s usually a pretty good guide)
Greens backdown paves way for anti-corruption bill
At a joint presser Green David Shoebridge and independent Helen Haines called on the government to support a crossbench amendment requiring a simple majority of the Nacc oversight committee to approve the appointment of the Nacc commissioner.
Under Labor’s bill, the government’s proposed commissioner and inspector of the national anti-corruption commission must be endorsed by the Nacc oversight committee, made up of six government, four opposition and two crossbench MPs and senators.
But with a government member in the chair holding the casting vote, the executive retains control of the committee and appointments.
Shoebridge told reporters in Canberra:
We stand with those transparency advocates to say you should not have a model which provides complete power in the government of the day to determine those critical appointments because obviously one of the critical jobs for the national anti-corruption commission is to hold the government of the day to account ...
That is why the Greens will be co-sponsoring with senator Pocock an amendment that will say those two critical decisions – the appointment of their commissioner and the appointment of the inspector – require a simple majority.
That is, if the government of the day has six votes, plus one, that will give the government of the day three different alternatives to achieve a majority, with either of the crossbench members from the house or the Senate, or with the opposition of the day.
That does two things. First of all, it removes the absolute power from the government of the day for this critical appointment. But it also removes a veto from the opposition. No opposition of themselves can simply [withhold agreement]. And we think that gets the balance, right? We think that achieves critical independence in the oversight committee and we have also made it clear to the government we will not be supporting any other amendment to the oversight community.
I’m very pleased that senator Shoebridge, on behalf of the Greens, and senator Pocock in good faith have come up with a co-sponsored solution to this oversight committee, to take to the Senate this afternoon. I want to see that succeed. It’s a modest amendment. That’s good for the nation, it’s good for the longevity of the national anti-corruption commission.
It gives the kind of independence from the executive government that we need. Because whoever is in government, whether it’s this government or a future government, we need to make sure that this anti-corruption commission is fully independent, that no government nor no opposition can stymie this operation.
So I stand here today, calling on the attorney general, calling on the prime minister: please listen to this. You will regret this, if you can’t back it. This is a good faith amendment. It will make the Nacc stronger and it will embed your legacy, immemorial, I would say, if you listen to this and get this right.
Scott Morrison censure motion to be debated in parliament tomorrow
The censure motion against Scott Morrison over his multiple ministries scandal will be debated in the House of Representatives tomorrow.
A Labor caucus spokesperson told a media briefing after their meeting that it would be on the notice paper in the morning.
We haven’t got the exact wording of the motion. Leader of the house Tony Burke will move the motion.
The meeting also discussed the Voice to Parliament, energy and the national anti-corruption commission. Attorney general Mark Dreyfus called the proposed supermajority amendment, suggested by the Coalition, “disgraceful”.
We’ll bring you more from the meeting shortly.
Daniel Andrews stands firm against legalising cannabis
Looking at state politics for a moment, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has doubled down on his refusal to consider legalising marijuana, despite his government facing a progressive upper house bloc that supports the reform.
While the Andrews government was re-elected with a majority at the weekend’s election, it will be required to negotiate with an expanded progressive crossbench in the upper house. The Victorian Greens and Legalise Cannabis are likely to share in holding the balance of power among a bloc of leftwing MPs.
Andrews has previously said he has no plans to legalise marijuana beyond medical use, saying drug-induced psychosis was a “significant” issue for some in the community.
On Tuesday, Andrews told reporters his position had not changed on the issue:
My position has been very clear over a long period of time.
We’ll work with that crossbench in good faith and clearly we have a very obvious mandate in a number of areas and we’ll be looking for their support to deliver on that
Legalise Cannabis is hoping to hold two seats in the upper house and has vowed to put drug reform on the table in the next term. The minor party is currently the highest-polling party after Labor, the Greens and the Coalition in the legislative council.
Yup, the Nacc is back on.
Breaking out of politics for a moment:
In light of Paul’s breaking news there, David Shoebridge and Helen Haines will be holding a joint press conference very shortly.
The Nacc is back on track.
Whitlam family home to get dedication on 1972 poll win anniversary
The Whitlam family home is getting a special dedication on the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam winning the 1972 election:
The Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University will officially dedicate the Whitlam prime ministerial home at Cabramatta – the same place where 50 years ago to the day, Gough Whitlam celebrated his election as prime minister.
The Whitlam family home is recognised as a pivotal piece of western Sydney political history. It has been purchased and restored with the support of a $1.3 million grant from the commonwealth government. The protection of its very significant heritage values has been entrusted to the Whitlam Institute.
There is also a Labor fundraiser on Friday, which will commemorate the “It’s time” anniversary.
You can find David Littleproud’s whole interview with ABC radio RN this morning here:
Caitlin Cassidy has looked at the latest rental affordability report and, as many of you intimately know, it is not good news:
‘Indigenous-only body in our constitution would permanently divide Australians by race’: IPA
Noel Pearson was critical of many groups in his interview on the ABC this morning, including the IPA.
Director of the legal rights program at the Institute of Public Affairs, Morgan Begg, has responded:
This is an important debate that needs to be carried out in a respectful and constructive manner, and all sides of the debate deserve to be heard.
As Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said, it is not racist to disagree with a proposal. The Institute of Public Affairs believes that all Australians should be equal, and the legal status of Australians should never be determined by skin colour or ethnic heritage.
There is broad agreement on both sides of the debate about how we can improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, including through localism, real property rights, and regional economic development. We must unify around practical approaches to improve the lives of all Australians, rather than being divided by race.
Establishing an Indigenous-only body in our constitution would permanently divide Australians by race, and on that basis alone the proposed referendum must be shelved.
Consumer sentiment up 5.6% over past three weeks as holiday season approaches
Consumer confidence might be at historically low levels, but things have perked up for three weeks in a row, according to the weekly survey from ANZ and Roy Morgan.
With Black Friday behind us and Christmas shopping ahead, the sentiment gauge is telling us that all is not gloom in shopping land with the measure now up 5.6% over the past three weeks.
As David Plank, head of Australian economics for ANZ, says, sentiment about both the sense of how households are faring versus a year ago and how they expect to be travelling next year is on the up.
(We saw ABS’s October retail sales data drop 0.2% last month for the first decline in 2022 so the present is where the caution may be clustered.)
Probably more pleasing for the RBA, though, is that inflation expectations remain subdued. (The gap between consumer and wage price indexes was at a record 4.2% in the September quarter, so that might explain the funk.)
As we saw yesterday, motorists are also paying less for their fuel lately.
At the retail levels, they’re the lowest in about four months – and the way energy markets are turning globally (China Covid lockdowns v protests being the latest prompt), they might fall further in the coming weeks.
Given the air fares, more people might be on the roads this Christmas.
What’s this all mean for interest rates, you ask? Well, investors are still expecting about another 100 basis points of increases, including 25bp next Tuesday. (Economists aren’t so twitchy.)
Meanwhile, is the RBA governor, Philip Lowe, really the devil incarnate, or just a naughty boy? Or perhaps misunderstood? We wonder here if the pile-on of late is really deserved:
Final party room meetings of the year
The parliament doesn’t sit until midday today, because the morning is reserved for party room meetings.
It will be the last party room meeting before the end of the sitting year. So there will also be a bit of a gee up in all the meetings about how well that party has done this year, how much there is to go, and how much of the agenda that party is setting.
Each party leader gives a version of this speech, and depending on which room you are in, your colleagues either believe it, or pretend to believe it.
New book Bulldozed says Scott Morrison ‘had this idea that everything had been ordained by God’
While there is a focus on the Scott Morrison censure motion which will be moved a little later this week, there are also the revelations in Niki Savva’s new book, Bulldozed, which is out this week – including that “he had this idea that everything had been ordained by God, or God wanted him to do this, or God has achieved this for him”.
And if you want to know more about the man who is prime minister now, and the “new” politics Australia is trying out, make sure you get a copy of Murph’s Quarterly Essay, Lone Wolf:
Liberals accused of ‘playing games’ with the national anti-corruption commission
And on the game of brinkmanship being played with the national anti-corruption commission in the Senate, Mark Dreyfus says:
We’re calling on the Liberals to stop playing games. They voted for the national anti-corruption commission bill in the House of Representatives. It’s now gone to the Senate and now they are seeking to wreck the process by bringing forward an amendment to create an unprecedented opposition veto of the appointments that are to be made to the national anti-corruption commission.
It could potentially have the effect of blocking the creation of the national anti-corruption commission. Perhaps I should see that as consistent with the behaviour of the former government which promised a national anti-corruption commission in December of 2018 but, of course, never delivered.
If they’re serious about tackling corruption in this country they will pass the bill in the form in which they voted for it in the house and we can get on with the important work of creating a powerful, transparent and independent national anti-corruption commission.
We’re going to keep our commitment to the Australian people that we made it the last election. The Liberals seem intent on blocking it but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised given their conduct over the past term of parliament.
For their part the Liberals say they are not blocking it but trying to ensure there is bipartisan protection over the committee and the commission, so it is not used as political toy.
As Paul Karp has reported extensively, the Liberals want to put in an amendment that the head of the commission would need to be approved by three-quarters of the bipartisan political oversight committee. Labor fears that could lead to a US-style standoff over appointees being approved, with the opposition able to withhold their support for a nominated candidate, thereby putting the commission at risk. The Liberals say it is insurance to ensure the government of the day can’t choose someone overtly political. The Greens have said they will side with the Liberals on the amendment, if the government doesn’t agree to have a non-government MP as chair of the parliamentary oversight committee.
Dreyfus says if the Senate passes the Liberal amendment then the house will reject it.
Just a reminder that this is the bill that was meant to pass with no issues this week.
I’m really looking forward to referendum on the voice, Mark Dreyfus says
Meanwhile, Mark Dreyfus is trying to quell fears the Nationals’ decision to oppose the voice to parliament has tanked the referendum before it even begins. He held a quick doorstop on his way into parliament (an unofficial press conference).
Q: Do you fear though that some of the concerns people like Jacinta Price put out there that this is going to be just more bureaucracy that there’s a lack of detail as to how a voice to parliament should actually work? Aside from the merits of those arguments do you fear that those beliefs are widely held within the Australian community?
No, I don’t. I don’t think that those fears are widely held. I think that there will be people out there who will find reasons. Always there are going to be people who oppose for the sake of opposing, or people that will find reasons to oppose. But this is what the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia called for at Uluru in May 2017.
We spent years and years before then discussing and debating what form of recognition of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was appropriate for the constitution. The answer was given in May of 2017, in the Uluru statement from the heart, and that called for a voice to parliament in our constitution.
That’s what we’re going to hold a referendum about. The prime minister’s been very clear in his historic speech at Garma just how simple this process actually is. It’s a short question that Australians will be asked to answer at the referendum and three or so short sentences to go into the constitution, which the prime minister put in draft form in his speech at Garma.
I’m really looking forward to this referendum when we hold it in the next financial year and I am confident that we can bring back even people that have indicated early disapproval.
‘We have made huge changes to our environmental policies’
I’d also say this. We have made huge changes to our environmental policies more generally. We’re rewriting our environmental laws. I’ll be releasing our response to the Samuel review shortly. We’ve set a goal of zero new extinctions. We’re committing to protecting land and sea by 2030. We’ve signed a leaders’ pledge at the United Nations, something the previous government refused to do. Look, there’s a long list. I’m not going to go through the whole list. But the point is this report was written at a time before the government was taking the threats to the reef seriously. Everything has changed. As sources close to Unesco have said today, it’s like night and day.
And the Plibersek is on a unity ticket with one of Sussan Ley’s previous arguments on the same issue – the Great Barrier Reef should not be singled out:
Look, it’s actually undeniable that climate change is a risk to every reef globally and we need to keep global warming below 1.5C if we’re going to protect not just the Great Barrier Reef but all reefs. We’re so very fortunate in Australia that we’ve got the most amazing scientists working on risks to the reef.
We’ve got scientists that are working on, you know, triggering coral spawning so we can replant coral more successfully. We’ve got scientists working on how to tackle invasive species like the crown of thorns starfish, we reduce bycatch.
Look, they’re doing amazing work and it’s being shared globally. We have relationships with other nations that have coral reefs that are also at risk. We’re sharing our science with them because we see this as a global threat.
I say there is no need to single out the Great Barrier Reef in Australia because there is no government taking the risks to coral reefs more seriously than the Australian government and we’re working hand in hand with the Queensland government to respect, restore and manage the Great Barrier Reef so future generations will have the same opportunity to see this magnificent sight as we have had.
‘There is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way,’ Plibersek says
Annnnd Australia will once again lobby to ensure the reef is not listed as in danger, but this time, taking the line that the other guys, who were the last group to lobby to keep the reef off the in-danger list, weren’t doing enough, but the new government is.
The problem with the lobbying though, is that it is always the same message ‘we are doing enough!’ and then the reports come out that show the reef is suffering and the lobbying begins again.
We’ll clearly make the point to Unesco that there is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way. The reason that Unesco in the past has singled out a place as at risk is because they wanted to see greater government investment or greater government action and since the change of government, both of those things have happened.
We believe that it’s important to say that yes, climate change is a risk to ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef, but that means it’s a risk to every reef, globally, if you look at the world heritage-listed sites in Australia, there are other sites in Australia that we worry about in terms of climate change as well.
That’s the case globally that’s the case globally. Fragile ecosystems around the world are at risk if we don’t keep global warming below 1.5C and that’s why this government is acting.
That’s why we have stepped up to be a good international citizen when it comes to climate change. I can’t tell what a difference it makes when we go to international fora to have a government that is to act on climate change.
Just recently at the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt it was Australia that was part of the global effort to push back on those countries that wanted to water down the 1.5C warming target. Australia has played, in the last six months, a constructive role globally. We have legislated domestically. We’ve legislated our carbon pollution reduction targets.
We’ve got a target of 82% of electricity from renewable sources. We’re acting on electric vehicle strategy. In every way, you see that the Australian government has higher ambition when it comes to tackling climate change.
‘Every coral reef in the world is in danger,’ Tanya Plibersek says
And then the environment minister gets to the crux of what she wants people to know:
I understand why Australians are very concerned to hear overnight about this reactive monitoring mission report and the recommendation to Unesco that the reef be listed as endangered but I would say this – if the Great Barrier Reef is in danger, then every coral reef in the world is in danger.
If this world heritage site is in danger, then most world heritage sites around the world are in danger from climate change.
We are, as a government absolutely determined to do our bit to keep global warming beneath 1.5 degrees. We’ve legislated. We’ve invested. We’re working hard to make sure that that’s the case through all of our policies. And we want to work in partnership with Unesco. With other countries around the world to acknowledge that yes, of course our natural environment is at risk from climate change and we need to work together globally to deal with those risks.
Traditional owners to take lead in managing their reef sea country
A third specific criticism from the reactive monitoring mission was that traditional owners remain underrepresented and marginalised. They feel their stories are not sufficiently embedded.
Last week I received the reef 2050 traditional owner implementation plan developed by traditional owners of the reef describing how they want to work in partnership with government to protect and manage the place that they have called home for tens of thousands of years.
We’re investing an extra $27.3m in the implementation of this plan to establish a sea-country alliance where traditional owners would take the lead in protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef sea country they are responsible for.
This comes on top of other measures, close to $52m for 55 specific project around the Great Barrier Reef that have been co-designed with traditional owners and another $100m that’s been set aside between now and the end of the decade to work with sea country rangers to protect and manage the reef – and they’re working on issues like the crown of thorns starfish management and so on.
‘We have to be part of the global effort to reduce carbon pollution’
Tanya Plibersek continues:
We’re investing the money but if you look at some of the specific criticisms, the Unesco – well, of course they picked up the fact that Australia had no clear carbon pollution reduction targets and that targets were not legislated under the previous government.
Well, we’ve dealt with that.
We now have a legislated target of 43% carbon pollution reduction by 2030 about with a clear path to net zero by 2050.
That is the most important thing that this government could do to show willingness to address the risks to the reef.
We have to be part of the global effort to reduce carbon pollution and to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. So we’re doing that.
One of the other specific criticisms – and I’m quoting – the new large-scale Hell’s Gate and Urana dams in the region also threaten to counter-act progress. The reason this reactive monitoring mission was so concerned about these large dam projects, which were committed to by the previous government without environmental assessments, is because these large projects were being built in sensitive areas where construction run-off and the change to water use would have an impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
We’ve cancelled both of those projects, both the Hell’s Gate and Urana dam projects have been cancelled.
The funding is no longer in the budget for those projects.
‘We are of course spending more money’
Tanya Plibersek says the Unesco report is based on what the previous government had done, not what was happening now:
If you look at some of the specific examples contained in this report, there are two reasons you have an in-danger listing from Unesco.
The first is you need to make a bigger effort. You need to spend more money.
First of all, we are of course spending more money.
We’ve committed $1.2bn in coming years to looking after the reef including an extra $204m in the most recent budget alone. That allows us to do things like deal with invasive species like crown of thorns starfish.
It allows us to tackle water quality issues. It allows us to work more closely with traditional owners on reef management. It allows us to deal with overfishing.
Just last week, for example, I announced a new program of investment with commercial fishers to reduce the risks of by catch of species like turtles and dugongs and sharks and so on. So we’re spending the money.
Reef press conference
Tanya Plibersek and Nita Green are now talking about that issue.
Plibersek says the Albanese government is acting:
The new government has done more in this six months than the previous government did in nine years to protect the Great Barrier Reef. We are absolutely determined to protect, restore and maintain the precious natural environment that we’re talking about and support the 64,000 jobs and $6.4bn worth of economic activity that the reef underpins. We know that there are significant risks not just to the Great Barrier Reef but to all coral reefs globally from climate change.
We absolutely accept the science that shows that coral reefs globally are threatened by climate change and warming oceans … there are world heritage properties around Australia and globally that are acknowledged by Unesco for unique values also under threat from climate change. It’s one of the reasons our government has been so determined to act on climate change since day one.
There is a lot happening today, but this is important – catch up with what is happening with the Great Barrier Reef with Graham Readfearn:
Closing the Gap must not be forgotten, Pat Turner says
The Aboriginal activist and co-chair of the joint council on Closing the Gap, Pat Turner AM, has had a chat to Lorena Allam about the Nationals’ opposition to the voice:
We have had important sign-on to the national agreement on Closing the Gap from all governments, and I hope that governments continue to accord priority to that work, as it is just as important as the voice. The commitment by governments needs to be continued and elevated – and reflected in budget announcements
Considerable effort has gone into the refreshed CTG agreement. We are all working together. Progress is sometimes frustratingly slow but we have a national agreement, and the commitment to that by all jurisdictions – state, territory and federal – is ongoing.
Australia ‘desperately needs national tenancy standards’, Greens MP says
The Greens Griffith MP Max Chandler-Mather will push for the government to convene a national cabinet to work out national tenancy standards, which includes “a freeze on rent increases and an end to no-grounds evictions”:
While the Government contemplates much needed intervention in the energy market because of out of control price increases, it’s abundantly clear the rental market needs the same type of intervention.
New figures released by National Shelter today show Australia’s housing crisis is reaching disastrous levels, with rental affordability reaching record lows in a number of capital cities and regional areas.
This report today makes clear people are suffering, so another two years of rent rises while wages stagnate could see Australia lurch into a major social crisis.
Chandler-Mather says Australia “desperately needs national tenancy standards”:
It’s no wonder we’ve seen families living in cars and tents, when renting in cities around Australia is severely unaffordable for those on Jobseeker, single pensioners and single parents working part-time, with rents surging over 60% of income in many cities.
It’s appalling to see that around Australia 58% of low income households who rent privately are in rental stress, paying more than 30% of their income in rent.
We just saw a Federal Budget that includes $157 billion in tax concessions for property investors through negative gearing and capital gains discounts, and nothing for renters.
Morrison’s ‘very serious attack’ on democracy ‘can’t go unmarked’
Over on the Nine network, Mark Dreyfus spoke about why the government sees it as important to censure Scott Morrison:
It’s really important that the parliament mark its disapproval of this shocking attack on principles of responsible government that we saw from the former prime minister. We can’t let it go unmarked by the parliament. The former government thought it appropriate to pass a censure motion on its former minister Bruce Billson for taking money from the Franchising Council while he was still in parliament. This is much more serious. These are the actions of a prime minister who had himself appointed to some five ministries and kept it secret from the parliament. It’s a very serious attack on our democracy and we can’t let it go unmarked.
Gag rule on community legal centres removed
The government is ending the ban on community legal centres from taking part in political advocacy and lobbying.
Mark Dreyfus said the Abbott government imposed a “gag rule” on centres receiving commonwealth funding which “specifically banned recipients from advocating for policy change or law reform”:
The government, and the Australian community can only benefit if legal assistance providers are able to speak up, and advocate for reform.
Legal assistance providers are superbly well placed to provide advice on law reform and legal assistance.
Dreyfus said he had worked with his counterparts in the states and territories “to remove clauses from the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-25 that restricted legal assistance providers from engaging in lobbying activities, and required them to collect and report excessive data”:
Community legal centres, legal aid commissions, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services play a crucial role in ensuring that all Australians can access our justice systems. They understand better than most the challenges in their sector and the impacts of unmet need on vulnerable Australians.
Ending censorship, and easing the administrative and bureaucratic burden will allow community legal centres and other legal assistance providers to focus on doing what they do best – providing much-needed frontline legal assistance services.
Here’s an exclusive from Paul Karp:
Constitutional recognition debate was kicked off by John Howard, Pearson says
Noel Pearson says he believes Peter Dutton is a “decent guy” and believes it would be “madness” for the Liberal party to “not support this modest proposal”:
Constitutional recognition is an agenda that was started by John Howard. Let me repeat that again. Started by John Howard.
Howard is now telling his party to vote no.
Of course the position with how it now is that he he may not agree with where the constitutional policy discussion has ended.
It’s ended with a voice.
He may say, “No, I had a different idea back in 2007.”
But who can arrogate to themselves that kind of presumption that their own views should be the view that prevails?
We’ve gone through 15 years of process, 15 years of political history, since Howard kicked off the ball on constitutional recognition, and we’ve landed with a voice.
And we landed with a voice under a Liberal National party government. You know, we landed on the voice before Labor got elected this year.
So it’s just a matter of people like how and respecting more than a dozen years of process, inquiry, research, parliamentary committees, reports being delivered to the parliament and so on.
We’ve gone through a long history of these over a dozen years, and we’ve landed with the simple idea of a voice.
The simple proposition that Aboriginal people should be able to tell the parliament their views on any laws that affect them.
That is the simple and modest proposition.
We landed on that under the aegis of a Liberal National Coalition government. And we should go forward on that basis.
Nationals a ‘squalid little’ party ‘controlled by a kindergarten child’, Noel Pearson says
Noel Pearson is now speaking to ABC radio RN and he sounds furious with the National party:
Uncle Bob [Katter] says this Labor has one chance to get this voice to parliament, right … Bob Katter is a conservative is a person who has real empathy and he takes Aboriginal people seriously. He shares the pain that his Aboriginal brothers and sisters are enduring.
Now unfortunately they are those two camps and I believe that the Katter, the decent conservatives, will go with us when it goes to a referendum [not the Nationals].
After all, it’s just a squalid little political party, the Nationals that is currently controlled by a kindergarten child. It is only the National party that have made this decision.
A gig to remember
Nick Cave and violinist Warren Ellis played in Canberra overnight. (Ellis kept the Grinderman-era look, which might make him one of the coolest violinists in the world.)
Anthony Albanese seems to have had a good night.
Environment minister Tanya Plibersek and north Queensland Labor senator Nita Green are kicking things off early this morning with a 9.15am press conference on the reactive monitoring mission to the Great Barrier Reef.
You may remember former environment minister Sussan Ley went on a lobbying tour to stop the reef from being listed as endangered while Scott Morrison was prime minister. It didn’t change the health of the reef, just convinced nations to vote against listing it as endangered (which would impact tourism).
So yeah, not exactly a perfect system.
Bipartisanship cedes to brinkmanship in battle over integrity commission
Meanwhile, Mark Dreyfus is preparing to stare down the Liberals and the Greens over an amendment to the national anti-corruption commission legislation which Dreyfus says risks establishing the commission and the Liberals and Greens say will ensure it won’t be political.
As always, Paul Karp has you covered:
The Greens aren’t married to supporting the Liberal amendment but they want a guarantee the head of the parliament committee giving oversight to the Nacc is not a member of the government.
Dreyfus though told RN that if the two parties pair up and pass the amendment (that the commission head would need 3/4 support from the oversight committee) then the government in the house would reject it.
So the bill that was supposed to have bipartisanship the whole way through, which led to concessions from the government, is now the subject of political brinkmanship in the last week of the parliamentary year.
‘We think this is a step that takes Australia forward for everyone’
Asked about the no campaign and how difficult it will be to interject facts into the debate when incorrect and untrue statements (including that this is a body which will only represent Redfern) are already being made, Mark Dreyfus says:
We’re prepared for no campaign. We think this is a step that takes Australia forward for everyone. There are some in our country who seems they’re holding this country back. I’ve heard from voices right across Aboriginal Australia. I’ve heard from voices like Ken Wyatt, who is the former Liberal minister for Indigenous Australians. He’s participating in the referendum working group that we’ve established. And I know that in conservative ranks, there are very many people who will be supporting the voice – as I say, the campaign hasn’t even started yet. It’s disappointing to see the Liberal Nationals jumping in this direction, but I’m going to be working to change their minds in coming months.
‘I think you’ll see that this is going to be resoundingly supported’
Mark Dreyfus says he doesn’t think it is the end of the matter on the voice though, as people under 40 have never voted in a referendum and he believes most of Australia is willing to listen:
We’ve got a lot of educating to do about why we need to change our constitution and how we change our constitution. That campaign will start next year. And, when it does, I think you’ll see that this is going to be resoundingly supported. We need a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution. That’s the form of recognition that after the longest-ever consultation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that they asked for.
Government determined to bring voice referendum in next financial year, Dreyfus says
Attorney general Mark Dreyfus then spoke to RN Breakfast and was asked to respond to the Nationals’ position:
I think it’s very disappointing, to hear one of the major parties in Australia, deciding before really the campaign has even started, that they’re going to oppose this really important measure.
And I don’t think, however, that just because they’ve decided to oppose it – and of course they can still change their minds, we’ll be hoping they will – just because they announced made this announcement does not deal anything like a death blow to this referendum. We’re going to be bringing this to the Australian people, as the prime minister promised on election night to we’re going to be bringing this referendum to the Australian people to establish a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution. And we’re going to bring that referendum in the next financial year.
Nationals leader won’t back down after saying voice will represent Redfern
David Littleproud also spoke to ABC radio RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas about the decision to oppose the voice and would not concede his statement that the voice would represent Redfern was wrong:
It is a body which would advise parliament. Which represents all of Australia. So how does it only represent metropolitan Australia [Redfern].
If you if you look at history where we had a representative model that bought Indigenous Australians from remote areas as well as those from from metropolitan areas, it didn’t close the gap because you bring a small cohort in. You’ve got to understand that the needs and challenges even within those areas that they represent are far greater. Even in my electorate, I represent 10% of the Australian landmass and the changes and the needs and the necessities and the opportunities for Indigenous Australians in Warwick and Stanthorpe are different to those in Roma.
But in Redfern. It’s a little easier to get around and make programs and opportunities available for Indigenous Australians to take advantage of.
He refused to concede that his statement was wrong.
Littleproud says voice referendum a question of 'the best way to close the gap quicker'
Happy Tuesday as we all get a little closer to flopping over the finish line.
Yesterday went at a breakneck pace and today will be no different. Not only is there legislation to get through – but there is also the matter of the Scott Morrison censure motion and the Nationals ruling out support for the voice before the conversation had even begun.
David Littleproud has been doing the rounds this morning explaining it. He told ABC News Breakfast that no political party should be “shamed” into a decision on the issue:
What every Australian should do, in the sanctity of their own home, to make a decision about what’s the best way to close the gap quicker. That’s all we’re saying. We belief there’s better ways to do it. Let’s not bring vitriol into this. Let’s keep this sensible and respectful. Let every Australian to get back to that core tenet. It’s what should bring us together and have the maturity of conversation as a nation.
Littleproud said he did believe Labor’s Linda Burney was operating in good faith though:
We should make this a respectful debate, not against anyone that may be for or against it. Australians should be better than that. And political leaders should be better than that. Credit to the government, they’ve been civil in this and I do acknowledge the prime minister and Linda Burney who have done a good job and they come from a principle of intent of closing the gap as well.
Which is not the spirit his CLP colleague senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price seems to have taken after she accused Burney of taking “a private jet out to a remote community, dripping with Gucci and tell people in the dirt what is good for them, but they are in the dark”.
Littleproud responded to that:
I don’t think that’s helpful. But Jacinta is very passionate about this because she has lived experience. She physically lives in these communities and sees it every day. She’s experienced much of this herself in her own personal life. She comes from a different perspective and she’s very passionate about it. We should create the environment whereby we all understand we’re all trying to close the gap quicker. To ask Australians to make that determination with what they believe is the best way to do it. Whatever we come up with, we should get in behind and support ultimately.
Littleproud was part of a government which controlled policy for almost a decade and didn’t do much to close the gap when it held executive power. The voice discussion has barely begun.
Yet here we are.
We will cover off all the day’s events – we still have the national integrity commission legislation to get through, territory rights and more – with Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Paul Karp and Josh Butler. Mike Bowers is up and about. And you have me, Amy Remeikis, with you for most of the day.
Ready? It will be at least a four-coffee day. We are on track to hit six coffees before the end of the week.
Let’s get into it.
Show of force by Chinese police
Police launched a show of force across China last night in an effort to head off further protests against the government’s rigid zero-Covid policies.
At a central Beijing subway station, dozens of police cars lined the streets and patrolled surrounding blocks, while uniformed and plainclothes officers stood guard at station exits and stopped passersby for questioning. Hours after the protest’s scheduled start, which had been organised via encrypted messaging apps, there were few apparent participants.
Find out what is driving the protests by reading our explainer here.
And here’s what it might mean for the global economy:
Husic to address National Press Club
Good morning. As well as all the other moving parts today, industry minister Ed Husic will address the National Press Club at lunchtime to share his thoughts on Labor’s election promise to deliver a $15bn national reconstruction fund.
Husic will tell the NPC the fund represents “one of the largest peacetime investments in rebuilding and strengthening Australian industry”.
According to speech extracts circulated by his office in advance, Husic will say broad public consultation on the fund will begin next week to better define priority investments and to determine how the fund will make investment decisions.
The intention is for the fund to be similar to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – it will make independent investment decisions that align with its mandate and objectives.
In a portfolio sense Husic is spearheading the government’s agenda to revitalise manufacturing and ensure innovation is commercialised in Australia. One of the key elements associated with revitalising manufacturing will be getting a temporary fix on high energy prices.
Those internal deliberations are ongoing and, as we reported yesterday, the government will need buy-in from the premiers to deliver a comprehensive response.
Morrison 'addicted' to power
The Nine newspapers continue their serialisation today of Niki Savva’s book about Scott Morrison with the revelation that a close Morrison ally – Liberal MP Alex Hawke – thinks the former prime minister became “addicted to executive authority” and should have quit politics immediately after the last election.
In the book Bulldozed, Hawke is quoted as saying of Morrison that he “didn’t really take advice from people” and that he “wasn’t the greatest listener”.
Hawke also apparently believed that “Morrison should have quit parliament almost immediately after the election, rather than stay and risk becoming bitter and twisted”.
Good morning and welcome to our politics live blog. The final parliamentary sitting week of the year is building up to an interesting conclusion and my colleague Amy Remeikis will be along soon to take you through the action.
But first we should have a look at some of the stories that have made news overnight.
A UN-backed report said the Great Barrier Reef should be placed on the world heritage in danger list and said climate change was presenting a “serious challenge” to the values that saw the reef inscribed as a global wonder in 1981. It came with 10 recommendations that could “drastically improve” its outlook, including urging the Australian government to make “clear commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions”.
Our top politics story is that a Guardian Essential poll shows Anthony Albanese is in a strong position going into the summer break. The poll puts Labor ahead of the Coalition on the two-party -preferred “plus” measure 51.4% to 43.1%, while voter disapproval of Peter Dutton remains 10 points higher than for the prime minister.
It comes as Scott Morrison faces a rare censure motion this week from the House of Representatives over his takeover of five government ministries during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Nine newspapers are continuing their serialisation of a book lifting the lid on Coalition squabbling over the secret ministries scandal, with the revelation that a close ally thought the former PM became “addicted” to power.
The US government must drop its prosecution of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange because it is undermining press freedom, according to the media organisations that helped him publish leaked diplomatic cables 12 years ago today. Now the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País have come together to oppose plans to charge Assange under a law designed to prosecute first world war spies. “Publishing is not a crime,” they say, stressing that the prosecution is a direct attack on media freedom.