The day that was, Monday 23 January

We will wrap up the live blog for Monday here. Thanks for spending time with us. Here’s what made the news today:

  • First Nations leader Noel Pearson warned the Coalition’s demand for more detail on the Indigenous voice to parliament was a “complete diversion” and a “spoiling game” that threatened to end the chance for reconciliation for ever.

  • Labor MP Marion Scrymgour said the proposed voice “couldn’t be further from people’s view” in Alice Springs, and that residents felt “under siege” amid concerns about crime.

  • The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, called on the prime minister to reinstate alcohol bans in remote Indigenous communities.

  • An age pensioner who was initially told she had one month to pay back a $65,000 robodebt will “never get over” what happened to her, a royal commission has heard.

  • A Victorian magistrate has granted a suppression order in the matter of Greg Lynn, a former airline pilot charged with the murder of two elderly campers.

  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners warned the government’s proposed changes to Medicare could make matters worse.

  • One of the nation’s biggest consultancy firms painted a bleak picture for the year ahead, saying Australians were at the mercy of the central bank and warning of a possible recession.

  • The Queensland government will make changes to the criminal code and increase jail terms for vilification as it cracks down on hate crimes after a series of “horrific” antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.

Until tomorrow, I hope you have a pleasant evening.


Airport delays more common this holiday season

Australian travellers endured longer delays than usual at airports over the festive season, AAP reports.

Government data for domestic on-time performance in December 2022 shows arrival and departure times were significantly lower than the long-term average performance for domestic routes.

The December report card reveals on-time performance dropped to 71.1% for arrivals and 70.8% for on-time departures.

The performance was significantly lower than 2021 results of 84.2% for on-time arrivals and 83.2% for departures, according to the report by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics.

Queues at Melbourne airport’s domestic arrivals terminal last year
Queues at Melbourne airport’s domestic arrivals terminal last year. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


Scammers targeting people seeking tax help, minister warns

The assistant treasurer is urging people to be aware of scammers claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office.

Stephen Jones said the tax office was working with social media companies and other government agencies to take down the online scams.

Jones said the best defence against such scams was community awareness.

Fraudsters impersonating tax office workers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are duping Australians out of their money and personal information.

They begin by scanning public conversations on social media where taxpayers ask questions or make complaints about the ATO.

They then hijack the conversation using a fake ATO profile, contacting the member of the public directly with an offer to help resolve a complaint or follow up on a comment.

After earning their trust, the scammer asks them to click on a link or provide personal details.


Bill Gates praises Australia’s early response to pandemic

Tech multi-billionaire Bill Gates has told a Sydney audience that stronger political cooperation between nations will be needed when the next pandemic hits.

Gates was speaking at a Lowy Institute event and praised Australia’s policies during the early stage of the pandemic, saying they kept infection rates low before vaccines were rolled out.

Some of the things that stand out are that Australia and about seven other countries did population-scale diagnostics early on and had quarantine policies ... that meant you kept the level of infection low in that first year when there were no vaccines.

Australia’s ambassador for climate change, Kristin Tilley, was in the audience and highlighted a different message from Gates.

“The world isn’t going to trade with people who don’t have serious climate commitments” – @BillGates

A pleasure attending today’s @LowyInstitute event with @BillGates on preparing for global challenges, including climate change. 🌏

— Ambassador for Climate Change (@AusAmbClimate) January 23, 2023


Booster shots for Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 given provisional approval

Australia’s medical regulator has given a provisional green light to the first Covid-19 booster shot for two Omicron variants, AAP reports.

The Pfizer jab will be for those aged 12 and over and targets the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

The approval was granted on Friday.

A booster for the BA.1 variant and original bivalent vaccine – which is when the original virus strain is included in the vaccine – was approved late last year.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said studies showed the vaccine helped produce neutralising antibodies against the variants and original strains one month after the booster.


Independent MP complains to Iran’s ambassador

The federal member for North Sydney, Kylea Tink, has written to Iran’s ambassador in Canberra, Fereidoun Haghbin, to express her “dismay” about the political and human rights situation in the country.

On the weekend, protesters said they feared Iran’s security services might be planning an assault in the city of Zahedan – the site of a deadly attack on civilians last year – as reports emerge that there are thousands of armed police on the streets.

Today I wrote to Iran's Ambassador to Canberra, Fereidoun Haghbin, asking him to convey to his government about my dismay at the ongoing situation there. I will sponsor four men in fear of their lives after having been arrested for protesting #saytheirnames

— Kylea Tink MP (@KyleaTink) January 23, 2023

The independent MP has also announced she will be a political sponsor for four Iranian men who have been sentenced to death by authorities. She said executions were being used to stifle public discourse in Iran.

I will be the political sponsor of #ArashGhanbari, 30, from Lordegan. Arash was arrested Dec 29 and charged with “insulting the prophet” and “waging war against God” on the basis of a few social media posts. His family has been told that he will be executed. #StopExecutionInIran

— Kylea Tink MP (@KyleaTink) January 23, 2023


Back to school

The prime minister is wishing students good luck as many head back to the classroom for 2023. They don’t make school caps like that any more.

Sending best wishes to every student across the country as they start heading back to school from this week.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 23, 2023


Share market closes flat

The Australian share market has ended barely changed amid low trading volumes as investors remained cautious ahead of key local and overseas economic data, AAP reports.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 5.1 points, or 0.07% higher, at 7,457.3 after climbing as much as 0.3% earlier in the session.

Energy and technology stocks were the best performers but the gains were offset by weakness in mining, healthcare and consumer stocks.


New counter-ransomware initiative launched

The international counter-ransomware taskforce – a partnership with 37 like-minded nations targeting ransomware – has officially started work.

The taskforce was formed in November in Washington and is all about increasing international cooperation and the sharing on information and intelligence.

After a series of high-profile cyber-attacks in Australia, the home affairs minister, Claire O’Neil, says it is an important step.

Ransomware represents a significant global threat, and Australia will continue to play a leading role working with international partners, industry and the community to develop effective responses to combat cyber criminals and protect our people and institutions.

Recent cyber incidents in Australia and around the globe are a stark reminder of the insidious nature of ransomware, and the ability of cyber criminals to cause widespread disruption and harm to broad sections of the community.

You can read the minister’s full statement below:

Australia will today commence the operations of the International Counter Ransomware Task Force to combat the scourge of ransomware.

The Task Force sits under the US-led Counter Ransomware Initiative, comprised of 37 like-minded governments.

— Clare O'Neil MP (@ClareONeilMP) January 23, 2023


Medicare changes ‘may make matters worse’, doctors warn

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned the government’s proposed changes to Medicare could make matters worse.

Earlier today, Mark Butler spoke about the challenges many Australians face while finding and affording a GP, with hospitals bearing the brunt of the crisis. He said his government had “no higher priority than strengthening Medicare” and that a new report, due to be released in the coming weeks, would guide the Strengthening Medicare fund.

The RACGP president, Nicole Higgins, took issue with reports in the Australian that the government is considering a “blended” funding system, which could see nurses and paramedics deliver primary care to strengthen universal healthcare.

A doctor typing at a desk
GPs’ peak body says immediate action is needed to improve access to medical care. Photograph: Maskot/Getty Images

Higgins said GPs were best placed to manage patient care.

While it’s great that our nation’s leaders recognise the need for reform, I am concerned the government’s proposed new model to overhaul Medicare will not go far enough to improve the situation for patients and may make matters worse.

The problem is decades of neglect and underfunding has made is harder and more expensive to see a GP, and this has caused the crisis in our hospital system, with wait times blowing out and ambulances ramping.

We need short-term action now to stem the bleeding and improve access to care, particularly for those most in need.


Labor MP calls for action on crime in 'under-siege' Alice Springs

Labor MP Marion Scrymgour has said the proposed Indigenous voice to parliament “couldn’t be further from people’s view” in Alice Springs, and that residents felt “under siege” amid concerns about crime and youth misbehaviour in the Northern Territory town.

She said she was a strong supporter of the voice, which she described as “unfinished business”, but that other urgent issues needed to be addressed too, to ensure the referendum succeeded.

Scrymgour, the MP for the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari, has an office in Alice Springs. The town’s mayor has called for further federal government to respond to social and health issues in the area.

The federal opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has pointed to the issues in the NT as a more pressing concern regarding Indigenous affairs than the voice to parliament, calling for federal intervention.

Scrymgour, a former NT deputy chief minister who was elected to federal parliament at the May election, told 3AW that she believed alcohol abuse was a root cause of the issues in Alice Springs and that locals had never seen the town “as bad as it is today”.

Scrymgour claimed “someone is going to get killed” and that officials needed to “stop pussyfooting around” on alcohol issues. She said children were facing “huge issues” at home like alcohol abuse and overcrowding, which forced them to leave the house at night, and that justice or families services were overwhelmed:

Are we going to wait until there’s a death before there’s any urgency put on this?

Alice Springs CBD
Alice Springs CBD. Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP

Asked about the voice to parliament, Scrymgour claimed “the voice couldn’t be further from people’s view up here”.

People are under siege in their own homes.

People that I know that might have been sympathetic to constitutional reform and the voice, and looking at the referendum, have become really frustrated because nothing has been done. So they’ve gone to the opposite thing of ‘why should we support the voice or this if we can’t even get police to protect me while I’m sleeping in my own home’?

Asked if she supported the voice, Scrymgour said:

Absolutely, it’s probably unfinished business in this country.

But I think that we can’t have these conversations if there’s all these issues that are impacting on communities like Alice Springs ... How do we get Aboriginal people but also communities [to] have faith and to vote in this referendum if they don’t believe government is listening to them?

After her 3AW comments were picked up by other media, Scrymgour posted on Twitter to stress that she was a strong supporter of the voice.

I support the Voice to Parliament 100%.

If you look at the Uluru Statement from the Heart you will see my signature on it.

It's time that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had their voices heard on the issues that affect us.#VoiceToParliament #VoteYes

— Marion Scrymgour MP (@ScrymgourMP) January 23, 2023


Northern NSW weather warning as hailstones forecast

The State Emergency Service is urging people in northern New South Wales to prepare for damaging winds with large hailstones.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for DAMAGING WINDS and LARGE HAILSTONES for people in parts of #Lismore, #Casino, #Kyogle, #Coraki, #Whiporie and #Woodburn.

— NSW SES (@NSWSES) January 23, 2023


Veterans’ brain bank launched to improve care

A new veteran brain bank will help uncover the impact of traumatic head injuries on defence force service personnel, AAP reports.

The research initiative is the first of its kind in Australia and will be based at Concord hospital in Sydney’s inner west, after it was launched on Monday.

Veterans are encouraged to donate their brains for study, in the hope of diagnosing past issues and improving care for current service personnel.

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said the initiative would lead to better health outcomes for service men and women by increasing understanding of the impacts of repetitive head injuries.

The establishment of the Australian Veterans’ Brain Bank is a significant step forward in advancing the understanding of the long-term effects of head trauma among veterans.


Civil rights group calls for Ye visa ban

A leading civil rights organisation has called on the Australian government to stop American rapper Ye travelling to the country, arguing he would put the Jewish community at “significant risk”, AAP reports.

The Anti-Defamation Commission is lobbying for the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, to block entry for the rapper, formerly known as Kanye West, deriding him as a “hatemonger”.

Ye is reportedly visiting Melbourne in coming days to meet the family of his supposed new “wife”, designer Bianca Censori.

In a December interview, Ye claimed 6 million Jews had not been murdered by the Holocaust and suggested he liked Hitler and Nazis, the commission said.

Ye: Melbourne trip planned. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The commission’s chairman, Dvir Abramovich, said allowing Ye into Australia would send the wrong signal about the country and violate its core values.

[His comments] must have consequences and Australia should not put out the welcome mat and provide a platform to a hatemonger.

Kanye is a blatant, unvarnished anti-semite, Nazi-lover and Hitler worshipper who openly admires an evil tyrant responsible for the extermination of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children.

Ye has denied being anti-semitic.


Victorian authorities urge people to steer clear of seal

Wildlife authorities are concerned for the welfare of a southern elephant seal resting at a Blairgowrie beach in Victoria, which could be the same animal that was seen at Point Lonsdale on Friday.

The Victorian conservation regulator and police returned the seal to the beach at Point Lonsdale, but were disappointed by the behaviour of onlookers who got dangerously close to the animal.

Here’s Kate Gaven, the chief conservation regulator:

We know it’s exciting to see such large and unique animals on our beaches, but a photo or video opportunity is not worth risking yours or a seal’s safety.

We were disappointed to see people get so close to the elephant seal at Point Lonsdale last week and we don’t want to see repeat behaviour in Blairgowrie or with any other seals resting on beaches along the coast.

A southern elephant seal
A southern elephant seal.
Photograph: Chamila Karunarathne/EPA

According to the regulator, seals are known to visit and rest on Victorian beaches and can become defensive if approached by humans or other animals. It wants people to stay at least 30 metres from them or 50 metres if with a dog.

And if you missed it, here’s the vision of the seal at Port Lonsdale.

Only in Australia would you see a seal named Henry #strutting in a Port Lonsdale Service Station

— SnaffleStrut (@SnaffleStrut) January 20, 2023


‘Shame’: Shorten reacts to robodebt inquiry latest

The government services minister, Bill Shorten, has been following the latest from the robotdebt royal commission. He’s linked to this report from Luke Henriques-Gomes, published a short time ago.

Another brave woman fronted the Robodebt Royal Commission today to stand up for the victims of the illegal scheme . Rosemary Gay got a $65K false Robodebt and thought she would lose her home. Shame.

— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) January 23, 2023


More lunar new year wishes

The immigration minister, Andrew Giles, has appeared alongside the prime minister for lunar new year celebrations in western Sydney.

Anthony Albanese noted an improvement in diplomatic relations with China, telling Channel Seven he was “hoping for further improvements, certainly”.

Happy Lunar New Year from the Albanese Labor Government - it was an honour to be a part of the celebrations in Burwood alongside the Prime Minister @albomp!

— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) January 23, 2023


Teammates support Gardner amid criticism of Cricket Australia

Meg Lanning has declared the Australian women’s cricket team are united in support of Indigenous star Ashleigh Gardner and her criticism of the side playing on 26 January, AAP reports.

Gardner made her views clear on the subject on Sunday, when she said the day was a “day of hurt and a day of mourning” for Indigenous Australians.

The reigning Belinda Clark Award holder will line up in the T20 against Pakistan but has said playing on that date did not sit well with her.

Meg Lanning
Meg Lanning: ‘It’s a really united front in the group and we all support Ash.’ Photograph: Jason O’Brien/EPA

Lanning said Gardner was doing “pretty well” after receiving online abuse following her statement, and labelled the allrounder’s action as brave.

It’s something that we can’t control in terms of the scheduling and playing on that day. But something we would like to do is acknowledge the sadness and grief that day brings for First Nations people.

We’re going to try to use the opportunity we have to educate ourselves and try to create a better understanding of what it means and their culture.

It’s a really united front in the group and we all support Ash and her feelings around the day.


Age pensioner describes ‘sheer terror’ at receiving robodebt demand

An age pensioner who was initially told she had one month to pay back a $65,000 robodebt will “never get over” what happened to her, a royal commission has heard.

The commission is investigating why and how the unlawful Centrelink debt recovery scheme was established in 2015 and ran until November 2019, ending in a $1.8bn settlement with hundreds of thousands of victims.

Appearing at the inquiry on Monday, age pensioner Rosemary Gay recalled feeling “sheer terror” after reading an October 2016 letter which said she owed Centrelink $64,998.17 in overpaid welfare benefits.


Thanks for your attention this Monday afternoon! I’m passing the blog baton over to Henry Belot.

Australian Open sticks with Dunlop despite criticism over fluffy balls

The tennis balls used at this year’s Australian Open at Melbourne Park have come under fire from players for getting too fluffy too quickly.

Now, Tennis Australia has renewed its deal with manufacturer Dunlop despite the criticism from the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray over the quality of balls at this year’s Open.

Read the full story from Mike Hytner:


Treasurer wishes Bill Hayden happy 90th birthday

Bill Hayden, the former minister for social security and treasurer in the Whitlam government, and governor general from 1989 to 1996, turned 90 today.

Happy birthday Bill Hayden!

— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) January 23, 2023


Australian tourist drowns near Queenstown

The Australian tourist who drowned near Queenstown has been named, as New Zealand endures a horror run of water-related deaths, AAP reports.

The body of 35-year-old NSW man Jonathan Jordan Young was recovered from Lake Wakatipu near the Glenorchy Waterfront Reserve on Sunday.

NZ police say Young drowned last Thursday when helping a child in the water.

The death is the second in a week in Lake Wakatipu.

Linkin Kisling, a 48-year-old Wanaka man, drowned on 13 January at the mouth of the Rees River, also near Glenorchy, after heading into the lake to assist his son.

New Zealand is suffering through an upswing in drowning deaths.

Last year, 93 people drowned in New Zealand waterways, a 14-year high.

Last weekend, six died in Auckland alone.

Drownings occurred in the unpatrolled Tawharanui regional park, north of Auckland, at Narrow Neck beach on Auckland’s North Shore, at Big Manly beach on the Whangaparaoa peninsula and at Takapuna.

Two people also died at North Piha, on the rugged west coast, on Saturday evening despite attempts from off-duty lifeguards to save them.


‘Aukus won’t undermine Australia’s stance against nuclear weapons’, Wong says

The minister for foreign affairs, Penny Wong, has penned this op-ed today reflecting on the 50 years since Australia ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Wong praises the success of the treaty in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons as welk as Australia’s role as an example to the world on non-proliferation and disarmament.

Hang on, I hear you say – isn’t Australia in the midst of acquiring nuclear submarines?

In her piece, Wong explains a crucial distinction between nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed.

Some have tried to argue that our ambition to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under our trilateral Aukus partnership risks undermining our exemplary non-proliferation credentials. That assertion misses a crucial fact: the submarines we propose to acquire are nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed.

Australia’s proposed nuclear-powered submarines will not carry nuclear weapons.

Read the full piece here:


Ducklings rescued from Brisbane drain

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service have come to the rescue of three ducklings who fell down a drain at the riverside suburb of Indooroopilly.

🎵 Mother duck said, “quack, quack, quack, quack”, and thankfully all three ducks came back!
Cheers to these Brisbane Region firefighters for coming to the aid of three beautiful little ducklings who fell down a drain at Indooroopilly 🐥

— Qld Fire & Emergency (@QldFES) January 23, 2023

Road deaths spike in Northern Territory in 2022

The Northern Territory police are providing some statistics on trends in the most recent calendar year, following the appeal from the mayor of Alice Springs last week for more help from the federal government to combat crime rates.

The commander says that the dynamics in Alice Springs are different to those in Darwin. House break-ins have increased this calendar year but have decreased in the last three months.

He said in good news, personal violence (predominantly domestic violence) has decreased by 13% but numbers are still too high, and they constitute most of the police workload in Darwin.

He says this year has also seen a spike in road deaths, with 52 lives lost last year as opposed to 35 the preceding year.

We’re going to concentrate significantly across our road network and our roadways in road safety enforcement education to drive that down.


Strengthening Medicare report will be released in coming weeks, health minister says

The health minister, Mark Butler, has been speaking about the need to strengthen Medicare as gap fees are becoming higher than the rebate itself. As Australians are finding it harder to find and afford GP appointments, hospitals are bearing the brunt of the crisis, and Butler says the status quo cannot continue.

He said his government had “no higher priority than strengthening Medicare” and that a new report due to be released in the coming weeks would guide the Strengthening Medicare fund.

Butler said:

It’s never been harder to see a general practitioner or a doctor out in the community. It’s never been more expensive, particularly after six years after a freeze on the Medicare rebate, gap fees have skyrocketed over the last decade.

For a standard GP consult, for the first time in the history of Medicare, the average gap fee is now more than the Medicare rebate fee itself. And what this means is that too many Australians simply can’t get the care that they need when and where they need it out in the community and too many are ending up, instead, in hospital emergency departments, placing even more pressure on an already very, very stressed hospital system …

More of the same is simply not going to cut it. Strengthening Medicare means also modernising Medicare. And I want to really thank all of the people who work so hard with me over the last several months on the Strengthening Medicare taskforce for their work.

We had patient groups, doctors groups, obviously nursing groups, allied health professional representation, and a series of experts, all of whom have been working hard over several years frankly to come up with the ideas of what a modernised primary care Medicare system looks like.

Butler said the final report the group had produced would be released in the “next couple of weeks”.

It will guide the decisions that our government needs to take in the May budget to finalise the investment of that Strengthening Medicare fund that was a clear commitment to the Australian people at the last election.

Labor has no higher priority than strengthening Medicare, rebuilding general practice to ensure that Australians get the world-class healthcare they need when and where they need it out in the community.


Body of Tasmanian missing person found in river six years after disappearance

Human remains have been discovered in a submerged car belonging to a Tasmanian man who went missing more than six years ago after a trip to get breakfast and a newspaper.

Dale Nicholson, 61, was last seen leaving his home at New Norfolk, about 35km north-west of Hobart, on the morning of 10 December 2016.

He left in his 1993 blue Ford Fairmont sedan and vanished without a trace.

A coroner’s report, published last year, ruled Nicholson had died, but the cause of his death was unable to be determined.

Divers associated with Downunder Dan Diving, a group specialising in searching for missing people, said they discovered Nicholson’s car and a body on Sunday in the River Derwent at New Norfolk.

Tasmania police confirmed human remains were located in New Norfolk on Sunday evening in a vehicle registered to Mr Nicholson.

Tasmania police said in a statement:

Formal identification is yet to occur. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Nicholson was reported missing by his family on 11 December 2016, sparking an extensive search in the surrounding Derwent Valley and farther afield.

Coroner Simon Cooper ruled Nicholson may have taken his own life, been the victim of homicide, died of natural causes, or as the result of misadventure.

Cooper said Nicholson had been treated for depression from about 2010 and there was evidence he had tried to take his own life in 2012.

He also noted Nicholson was close with his late mother and three sisters, who were all New Norfolk locals.

In a social media video, the divers involved said fishing rods were found in the car, which had been protected from underwater debris by a large tree.

They said the car was found by sonar in a section of the river near a swimming pool car park.

Nicholson was on his usual morning trip when he went missing and had a “good circle” of friends who found his disappearance out of character, according to the national missing persons register.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyondblue 1300 22 4636



Omicron jab gets provisional green light

Australia’s medical regulator has given a provisional green light to the first Covid-19 booster shot for two Omicron variants.

The Pfizer jab will be for those aged 12 and over, and targets the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

The approval was granted on Friday.

A booster for the BA.1 variant and original bivalent vaccine – which is when the original virus strain is included in the vaccine – was approved in October.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said studies showed the vaccine helped produce neutralising antibodies against the variants and original strains one month after the booster.

It also provided protection against a number of other variants. The regulator said in a statement:

Evidence from extensive use in the US and Europe over recent months has also shown that this booster provides clear reductions in hospitalisation and death.

The rollout of the vaccine is yet to be ticked off, with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation due to provide advice to the government in coming weeks.



Dutton repeats claim 'most basic of detail' missing on voice to parliament

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, was just speaking this morning from Hastings in Victoria about the Indigenous voice to parliament.

Dutton is continuing to call on the prime minister for more detail on the proposed change:

All of us want to see a better outcome for Indigenous Australians. But the prime minister’s proposed this change to our constitution – the most important document we have in our country -and he’s not willing to provide any of the detail.

So, I just think if people in capital cities who are on big pays don’t want to provide detail to the Australian people, then I think the Australian public will start to shake their head. And if there’s a problem, if they’re starting to lose people from the yes vote on the referendum, that’s the responsibility of the prime minister because he refuses to provide even the most basic of detail.

If you haven’t listened to Noel Pearson’s interview with ABC Radio National this morning, try find five minutes to do so. In it, Pearson makes the point that it’s the job of parliament (including Dutton and co) to provide the detail.

The referendum is about the constitution. Legislation is for the parliament.

Dutton also continues to bring up the mistake Albanese made in an interview last week (read the story by Paul Karp here) and says there are other details that need answering.

The detail of people being paid is within the Langton Calma report but the prime minister knew nothing about it when he did the Ben Fordham interview last week. If he hasn’t read the report or [understood] the report, how can he expect Australians to know what it is?


Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain in Northern Territory

Hello! Natasha back on deck.

There’s increasing thunderstorm activity in the Northern Territory as a weak tropical low is moving west offshore from the Top End, the Bureau of Meteorology is warning.

Increasing shower & #thunderstorm activity due to a weak tropical low moving west offshore from the #TopEnd. Severe thunderstorms producing heavy #rain are possible over NE parts of the Top End. Strong #wind gusts are also possible in the storm area 🌧️💨

— Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory (@BOM_NT) January 23, 2023


Peter Dutton calls for return of alcohol bans in remote Indigenous communities

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has called on the prime minister to reinstate alcohol bans in remote Indigenous communities.

The Central Desert regional council, which covers more than 280,000 square kilometres north of Alice Springs, has reported an increase in antisocial behaviour and domestic violence since the controversial intervention-era Stronger Futures legislation expired last year.

Dutton said police and emergency services have been struggling to respond to alcohol-related incidents since the bands lifted. He spoke to Sky News a short time ago.

The fact is that you do need to have these laws in place, that’s the advice from the women and the grandparents I’ve met with on the ground.

And you have to have that law in order so that kids can go to school, so that they can have a safe environment to grow up in.



Hello all – I’ll be briefly taking over the blog from Natasha May.

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, has tweeted in response to the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, on the eve of the lunar new year.

At least 10 people were killed at a dance hall, with the motive for the attack still unclear. My colleague, Lewis Beckett, has written about everything we know so far.

Lunar New Year should be a time of celebration and family.

On behalf of all Australians, I send my heartfelt condolences to all affected by the devastating shooting at Monterey Park, California.

— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) January 23, 2023


Kidnap charges after Sydney police pursuit

Four men have been charged with assault and kidnapping after a pursuit on Sydney’s northern beaches, AAP reports.

Police officers were called to Oyama Avenue in Manly about 9.30am on Sunday following reports of an assault.

They were informed the alleged offenders had left the area in a Toyota Hilux, according to a police statement.

When officers tried to stop the ute on Warringah Road at Forestville the driver allegedly took off, initiating a pursuit.

Officers stopped the vehicle using road spikes and found five men inside, including one with injuries who was taken to hospital and later discharged after receiving treatment.

A 24-year-old from Sefton, a 24-year-old from Auburn, a 25-year-old from Colebee and a 19-year-old from Doonside were arrested and taken to Manly Police Station.

They were each charged with a series of offences, including kidnapping in company, causing actual bodily harm, participating in a criminal group, being carried in a vehicle taken without consent, using a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence, and affray.

The Sefton man was also charged with police pursuit, failing to stop, driving recklessly and using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention.

The men were scheduled to appear at Hornsby local court on Monday, but the hearing was adjourned to a later date.

Lawyer for the men, Mahmoud Abbas, said an application would be made for them to be released on bail.

He told media:

I haven’t really made contact with them, but I’m sure they’re fine. There will be an application for release.

It’s far too early to make any determination as to what the evidence is, but once all the relevant material is released we’ll make a determination and proceed from there.


Alan Tudge and Christian Porter to appear at robodebt inquiry next week

Former Coalition government ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter will front a royal commission into the failed robodebt scheme next week.

Senior counsel assisting Justin Greggery KC told the royal commission on Monday morning Tudge and Porter would be called next week as the inquiry looks at the period of 2017-18 when the scheme was facing significant criticism.

Porter, who was social services minister, and Tudge, as human services minister, publicly defended the scheme after it erupted into controversy in late 2016.

Greggery said the hearings would also examine the use of the media by those ministers to assert that the robodebt scheme was legal and “sound” government policy.

The current schedule says Tudge will appear next Tuesday and Porter will front the commission next Wednesday.

Porter quit politics at the last election while Tudge remains in parliament as the opposition’s education spokesperson.

Greggery said Tudge’s former media adviser, Rachelle Miller, would give evidence about Tudge’s robodebt media strategy and his knowledge of inaccurate debts being calculated by the robodebt scheme.

Tudge infamously warned welfare recipients they could be jailed over the inaccurate reporting of income to Centrelink in late 2016.

Today, the inquiry will hear from two robodebt victims, including an age pensioner who received a $65,000 debt that was eventually reduced to nil.

It will also hear from an advocate, Lyndsey Jackson, who founded the NotMyDebt group, and Christopher Birrer, a senior official at Services Australia.


NSW Labor supportive of domestic violence disclosure scheme

The New South Wales opposition is broadly supportive of the state government’s plan to allow people to check their partner’s domestic violence history.

Speaking in western Sydney, the party’s leader, Chris Minns, called for more details about the scheme while applauding the government for trying to do something.

He said:

We do need to think of new initiatives and ideas that will assist and help people and keep people safe. I’d like to see more details but in principle, we’re supportive of the measures.

He said he was “not inclined to criticise” politicians for trying to keep people safe.


Severe thunderstorms predicted for Queensland

Thunderstorms forecast 23 Jan: Severe Thunderstorms possible in the south and southeastern interior incl #Stanthorpe #Warwick #Roma. Heavy rainfall and damaging wind gust main risk. Warnings when issued

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 23, 2023

Services Australia deputy CEO to front Robodebt royal commission

The third block of hearings for the robodebt royal commission kicks off today and our social affairs and inequality editor, Luke Henriques-Gomes, is in attendance.

The deputy CEO of Services Australia, Christopher Birrer, former social services director Anthony Barford, and Lyndsey Jackson, who coordinated the #NotMyDebt campaign, will front the commission, as well as two individuals who will give case study evidence.

The robodebt royal commission recommences today with hearing block three. Here are the witnesses we expect to hear from today. #robodebtrc

— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) January 23, 2023

The commission says the third hearing block will focus on the impacts of robodebt along with the criticism of the scheme after it was implemented and ongoing legal defence despite such criticism.

It will also explore how ministers and governments used the media throughout the scheme, and measures taken when alleged debts weren’t paid.

Former social services minister Christian Porter and former human services minister Alan Tudge will give evidence about their roles in the unlawful debt collection scheme next week. Tudge will front the commission next Wednesday, while Porter will follow the day after.

– with AAP


Sydney facing ‘enormous’ housing emergency, research finds

More than one in 10 households in Sydney’s south-west are unable to meet surging living costs including rent.

More than 12.7% of families and individuals living in south-west suburbs are experiencing housing stress, according to data commissioned by the Community Housing Industry Association.

Research from the University of New South Wales’ City Futures Research Centre, measured rental hardship, overcrowding and the number of people experiencing homelessness.

Close to one in five households in Fairfield, or 5,400 residences, are not able to afford housing needs.

The Top 10 worst-affected NSW locations are all in Sydney, including Fairfield, Bankstown, Auburn, Cabramatta, Granville, Liverpool, Canterbury, Strathfield, Parramatta and Kogarah.

The data paints a picture of how Sydney is continuing to socially fracture, the association’s NSW chief executive, Mark Degotardi, said.

Your postcode should not determine whether you live in housing crisis.

The scale of this housing emergency is just enormous and it deserves an urgent response from the state government to address it.

This is a wakeup call to the incoming NSW government – you cannot continue to sit idly by while tens of thousands of everyday families and individuals struggle to find or keep their home.

The findings come 61 days out from the NSW election, with the major parties pledging to address the crisis.

Late last year, the government banned real estate agents soliciting rental bidding from prospective tenants, making offending agents and corporations subject to hefty fines.

Labor has promised to end no-faults evictions and ban secret rental bidding, commit to introducing a portable bond scheme between rentals and establishing a rental commissioner who can advocate for tenant rights.

The Greens have urged for an immediate freeze on rental prices and support for an end to no-grounds evictions.



Murray Watt in talks with European counterparts on free trade agreements

The agriculture minister, Murray Watt, left Australia last week for trade talks with the UK and the EU, including attending the 15th Berlin Agriculture Ministers Conference held yesterday.

While in Berlin, Watt says he has pressed the case for an Australian-EU free trade agreement with countries including Sweden, France, Spain and Latvia, as well as making the case for cutting harmful agricultural subsidies to achieve net zero.

The ambassador and permanent representative of Australia to the World Trade Organization, George Mina, has also taken to social media to back Watt’s calls for agricultural reform amid climate change.

While in Berlin, I pressed the case for Aus-EU free trade agreement with Agriculture Ministers from Sweden, France, Spain, Latvia & more. Big opportunities for Aus farmers/processors & many benefits to Europe. Valuable chance to explain Aus ag’s strong sustainability standards.

— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) January 22, 2023

Agricultural reform must play its part in the fight against climate change.

Over $800 billion in producer support annually is harming the planet.

As @MurrayWatt has set out in Berlin, cuts to harmful agricultural subsidies are essential if we are to achieve net zero.

— George Mina (@AusWTO) January 22, 2023


Critics say new Queensland First Nations justice role lacks independence

Queensland’s new First Nations justice officer lacks the independence and power to effectively reduce incarceration rates, justice campaigners say.

Torres Strait man Stephen Tillett, a former NRL player who spent 20 years working for Queensland police across far north Queensland before working with the justice, health and housing departments, was announced as the inaugural First Nations justice officer last week.

The position was created in response to the women’s safety and justice taskforce report, and the Queensland attorney general, Shannon Fentiman, said it “further demonstrates our commitment to addressing the overrepresentation of First Nations peoples in the criminal justice system”.


Australian Antarctic expedition drills for answers on global heating

An Australian Antarctic expedition is now returning to the country’s Casey station base after the first summer of work to drill ice cores that could yield a continuous 1.5m-year history of the Earth’s climate.

The 10-strong team made a historic 1,200km journey across an untraversed frozen landscape to reach their drilling site on 10 January.

After nine days of setting up camp at Little Dome C and carrying out test drills, the team – part of the Million Year Ice project – turned back for Casey at the weekend before temperatures, which had been at -30C, turn even colder.

Traverse progress at end 21/01/23 (Day 30).

— Million Year Ice Core (@MillionYearIce) January 21, 2023

The ice cores that will be drilled in three-metre sections for the next four or five summers contain ancient trapped air and other elements that can show how much CO2 was in the atmosphere and how warm (or cold) the planet has been.

The previous oldest continuous record – from an ice core drilled about 35km away from the Australian site – covers about 800,000 years.

The view out front on the long road home. 📸 Sharon Labudda.

— Million Year Ice Core (@MillionYearIce) January 22, 2023

Read more about the epic journey to the site and why the ice could help solve crucial climate questions.


Judge grants suppression order for man charged with murder of campers

Magistrate Brett Sonnet has agreed to grant a suppression order in the matter of Greg Lynn, a former airline pilot charged with the murder of two elderly campers.

Lawyers for Lynn applied for the order last week, arguing that the disclosure of police statements and interviews given by Lynn could prejudice further court matters.

The publication of the whole or part of any material gained during a covert recording of Lynn taken by police on 14 July 2020, a statement given that same day, and a police interview between 22 and 25 November 2021 is suppressed until the commencement of any jury trial, Sonnet ruled on Monday morning.

Lynn’s committal hearing continues.

Russell Hill and Carol Clay died while camping in the Wonnangatta Valley in Victoria’s high country in 2020. Greg Lynn has been charged with their murder.
Russell Hill and Carol Clay died while camping in the Wonnangatta Valley in Victoria’s high country in 2020. Greg Lynn has been charged with their murder. Photograph: Victoria police


Callout to Sydney drivers as city set to become one of the most tolled in the world

We are looking to hear from people who drive into Sydney’s CBD for work, and if our tolled tunnels are making a difference to your commute times.

It comes after the tunnel linking the M4 to the M8 opened on Friday, with its $5.65 charge adding to the various tolls around the city, and making Sydney one of the most tolled cities in the world.

We’d love to hear how long, or short, your commutes have been made by any of the tunnels, you can get in touch via email at

Vehicles at the WestConnex M4 tunnel entrance at Haberfield in Sydney.
Vehicles at the WestConnex M4 tunnel entrance at Haberfield in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


‘Right to know’ domestic violence disclosure scheme launches in NSW

Women will be able to check if their partner has a history of domestic violence offences as part of a scheme being announced by the New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet.

The premier said it was an important step to keep women safe as the way people date changes, with more emphasis now on online dating.

He said:

We need new ways of thinking and making sure that the policies of today keep up with changes in technology particularly in getting the information to women to keep them safe across NSW.

He said it would be worth it if one life was saved.

No shortage of politicians in Western Sydney today.

— Tamsin Rose (@tamsinroses) January 22, 2023


Liberal senator says voice referendum needs both major parties’ support to succeed

Another Coalition supporter of the voice is asking the government to provide more detail around the Indigenous advisory body, with Liberal senator Andrew Bragg calling Peter Dutton’s request “reasonable” and saying more information would help the referendum push.

Bragg, a longtime supporter of the voice and Indigenous constitutional recognition, writes in the Australian newspaper this morning that “I believe a successful referendum is unlikely if a constitutional alteration proposal is supported by just one major party” – a pointed message to his own party, which is still making up its mind on whether to support or oppose the referendum push.

The Voice is a good & fair idea. Success requires a broad base of support. The risks of the proposed Constitutional amendment should be swiftly evaluated by Parliament if we want to see more leaders recommending a Yes vote. Oped in ⁦@australian

— Senator Andrew Bragg (@ajamesbragg) January 22, 2023

Bragg has long pushed for a parliamentary inquiry into the voice, to ventilate details of how it would work and advance Indigenous issues. He claimed that such a move would “clear the way for broader support ... the public will look to elected leaders for answers”.

Bragg points out how rarely referendums have succeeded in Australia, saying “efforts to build consensus on the wording of the amendment, policy and scope of the voice remain crucial”.

His op-ed comes days after another Liberal supporter of the voice, Julian Leeser, said the government was in danger of losing his support due to their strategy around the voice. The shadow Indigenous Australians minister was critical of the government for not releasing more detail or claimed Labor should be explaining the concept better.

Bragg also backed Dutton’s call for more detail on the voice mechanism, echoing Leeser’s calls that the public need to understand more about the change so that they can support and advocate for it.

Bragg wrote:

I hope we can provide assurances that a yes vote is not only the right thing to do for Indigenous people and the nation, but that it’s also safe for our constitution. The process will make or break it.


Morning Mail

A lot has happened overnight at home here in Australia and abroad where a mass shooting has taken place at a ballroom dance studio close to a lunar new year festival in California. To get across it all, Guardian Australia has the morning mail:

CPI numbers this week may flag peak of Australia’s woes

Over the weekend, the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said “inflation is the primary defining challenge in our economy, it’s our major focus”.

He also said “we hope that inflation has now peaked and we see the peak in the December numbers that we get this week”.

Remember that Treasury and the RBA both tipped the consumer price index to have come in at 8% before subsiding in 2023 (ie now).

In the September quarter, CPI was up 7.3%, with the same level reached in November alone, the ABS said. Wild cards include the cost of electricity and gas, and fruit and vegetables in the wake of big floods in recent months in key food-producing regions. (Petrol and diesel prices have been falling.)

Treasurer Jim Chalmers speaks in Logan on Sunday.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers speaks in Logan on Sunday. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/AAP

Still, the market consensus ahead of Wednesday’s release of the December quarter numbers is reportedly for CPI to come in a modestly higher 7.5%.

Gareth Aird, chief economist of CBA, reckons the number will be 7.7%. While “still well above the RBA’s 2-3% inflation target” over time, “the upshot is the worst of the inflation ‘problem’ is likely behind us”, he says.

That’s tending to be the sentiment of financial markets, too, which have lately been trimming their forecasts for how high the central bank will lift its key cash rate from 3.1% now. A peak may come at about 3.6%, so investors are currently speculating.

CBA economist Gareth Aird reckons the "inflation ‘problem’ is likely behind us". Investors are coming around to the idea too that, after a couple more 25bp rate rises, the RBA's work will be done.

— (@p_hannam) January 22, 2023

Perhaps the wildest card for Australia and beyond, is how China‘s economy is going to fare. We took a look at the Australian connections here in this weekend piece, in case you missed it:

Will China’s economy roar back from Covid restrictions, boosting commodity prices? If they do, will eased supply chain shortages result – or perhaps “revenge” binging by unleashed Chinese consumers will divert the goods to domestic buyers?

Or will the potential deaths of a couple of million people and a jump in long Covid sufferers have the opposite effect on consumer confidence and increase workforce absentees?

The current mood is one of optimism – and a lot is riding on that optimism being backed up by reality that might not become clear for a few months.


Second body found after fatal WA boat crash

AAP have just reported the second woman’s body has been found:

The body of a 52-year-old woman has been recovered in Perth’s south, taking the toll from a boating accident to two.

Police recovered the body on Sunday night near Creery Island in the Mandurah estuary.

The woman’s family members have been notified as the investigation into the cause of the boat crash continues.

Emergency services were called to the estuary about 10pm on Saturday after a boat with four people on board struck a red post marker.

A 54-year-old woman was recovered from the water but could not be revived and died at the scene.

A 47-year-old man, believed to be the boat’s driver, was taken to hospital with serious injuries while a 54-year-old man was uninjured.

Emergency services continued to search for the missing 52-year-old woman on Sunday, finding her body at about 7pm.

Assistant Superintendent Peter Morrissey said speed would be investigated as a factor in the crash but that it was too early to consider criminal charges.


Police investigating boat crash in WA

Western Australian police are investigating a boating incident which left one woman dead and another missing.

A boat with four people on board collided with a red post marker in the Mandurah estuary at about 10pm Saturday night.

Two women were thrown from the boat, according to police.

A 54-year-old woman was recovered from the water, however, was unable to be revived and died at the scene. A second woman (52 years) remains unaccounted for, with a search currently under way.

A 47-year-old male, who was believed to be driving the boat, was conveyed to hospital with serious injuries. A second male (54 years) who was also on the boat at the time of the incident was uninjured.

WA police sign.
WA police sign. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP


Indigenous voice to parliament is 'not a veto' – Tanya Plibersek

The environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, has cautioned Australians not to confuse the status of the proposed Indigenous voice to parliament.

She told the Seven Network this morning:

This is a voice, not a veto.

It is a really important vote. It will be a chance for Australians to talk about the sort of nation we want to be in the future, to send a message to the world and get more practical delivery of healthcare and education and so on for First Nations Australians.

I think the most important detail here, is this is a voice, not a veto.

Plibersek said the conversation about the proposal was well under way and a picture of what it might look like was gathering detail.

Tanya Plibersek
Tanya Plibersek says it’s important for Australians to understand the voice would not be a veto. Photograph: Russell Freeman/AAP

The … working group are already talking about what the voice would look like. It would be transparent, accountable, elected by local Aboriginal people. It would be gender balanced, it would have a youth voice.

We are months away from a vote and there will be more detail between now and then.



Government looking at ‘all’ issues in defence following sea mine reports, PM says

The Nine newspapers are this morning reporting the defence department will be spending up to $1bn on sea mines to deter China and other potential adversaries from sending vessels into Australian waters.

The defence department told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia was acquiring sea mines as “a significant deterrent to potential aggressors”.

Sources also told the masthead the government had signed a contract worth between $500m and $1bn for a large number of sea mines provided by a European supplier.

Asked about those reports, Albanese said he won’t pre-empt national security issues.

What I will say is that we’ll see very soon the report from Stephen Smith and Angus Houston about our defence strategic review. What that’s aimed at doing is making sure that every single dollar that’s spent in defence is spent in the best possible way to support your national security.

So, for example, a shift from where we were perhaps focused on land conflict in areas that we might or we mightn’t need, perhaps, so many tanks or so many defence security issues like that. What we need is to make sure we have the best possible defences. So we have looked at missile defence, for example, we’re looking at cybersecurity, we’re looking at … all of these issues. We’re looking at all of these issues. We’ll receive those recommendations and respond in an orderly way. We want to make sure that we put as much in place as possible for the budget in May this year.

A naval mine.
A naval mine. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

- with AAP


Australia should be represented at King Charles coronation, PM says

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says the decision has yet to be made whether he will be going to the coronation of King Charles following Buckingham Palace revealing details of the three-day celebration to be held on 6 May.

Albanese told ABC News:

Well, of course, I think that Australia should be represented. King Charles is our head of state. That will be formalised on that day.

I respect our institutions and I was very honoured to be present on behalf of Australia with the 10 Australians that I took across as well as the governor general at the Queen’s funeral. That was an important moment to acknowledge 70 years of devotion and leadership.

The coronation of King Charles will be an important event for Australia, for all countries, because he is our head of state. That is a system of government that we have and it’s one that I respect.

Details have been revealed about King Charles III’s coronation on 6 May.
Details have been revealed about King Charles III’s coronation on 6 May. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters


Qantas flight forced to turn back to Fiji

A Qantas flight to Sydney has returned to Fiji as a precaution after pilots received a report of fumes in the cabin – days after a service from Auckland issued a mayday following an engine shutdown, AAP reports.

The incident, on Sunday evening, is the airline’s fifth turnback in the past week.

Pilots on the Boeing 737 aircraft flight QF102 from Nadi in Fiji to Sydney requested a priority – not emergency – landing on Sunday and the aircraft landed normally.

Early indications were the fumes related to the oven in the aircraft galley. They dissipated quickly and no one was impacted. Engineers will assess the aircraft.

Qantas was working to accommodate customers as quickly as possible and thanked them for their patience.

A Qantas plane.
A Qantas plane. Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images

The incident follows a similar event last week. On Thursday, Qantas said QF101, a Boeing 737 bound for Nadi, returned to Sydney after an onboard “fault indicator” about a possible mechanical issue.A Qantas representative told AAP the pilots followed standard procedures and the aircraft landed normally in Sydney. The plane returned without emergency or priority landing and the fault indicator did not relate to an engine issue, Qantas said.

Three Qantas flights were also diverted on Friday – a QantasLink service from Melbourne to Canberra; a Boeing 737-800 from Melbourne to Sydney; and a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne.

On Wednesday, the pilot of QF144 – a Boeing 737 – from Auckland to Sydney shut down an engine and made a mayday call over the Pacific Ocean before landing safely at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport about 3.30pm. Transport safety investigators confirmed they would analyse QF144’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data after the engine failure. Qantas said all 145 passengers disembarked normally and shutdowns were rare, with pilots trained to manage them safely.

The Qantas Group averages about 60 air turnbacks per year from more than 10,000 across the total industry.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said on Friday it was confident Qantas was operating safely and has confidence in its safety management systems.

For more analysis on Qantas, our transport and urban affairs reporter, Elias Visontay, penned this piece over the weekend:


Government says online dating safety summit ‘important step’

Senior representatives of Grindr, Bumble and the Match Group – owner of Tinder and – will join an online dating safety summit in Sydney on Wednesday.

A guestlist release ahead of the federal government-organised summit says state and territory ministers will also be there, as will the eSafety commissioner and the domestic, family and sexual violence commissioner.

The logos of the dating apps Tinder and Bumble.
The logos of the dating apps Tinder and Bumble. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, said in a statement:

Every Australian deserves to live free from harassment and all forms of violence, including when using online dating and matchmaking services.
Online dating is one of the most popular ways to meet a partner. We need to ensure platforms have the appropriate safeguards for those who use them, and effective mechanisms to report an incident if something does go wrong.

Rowland said the National Roundtable on Online Dating Safety this Wednesday would be “an important step forward in this conversation about how we can improve safety for the many Australians using online dating apps”. She said a key focus would be looking at “what industry members are doing to prevent the exploitation of their services by perpetrators, to identify what more could be done to improve the safety of users, and to consider what further action is required by government and industry to improve online dating safety”.

The guestlist includes two representatives of Match, two from Grindr, one from Bumble and one from the Digital Industry Group Inc (Digi).


Pearson urges voice dissenters to ‘be smart’

Karvelas also asks Pearson about the concerns that are coming from the left, including Indigenous affairs spokesperson for the Greens, Lidia Thorpe, who will be calling for treaty before voice at the Invasion Day rally.

Pearson says he’s not concerned about it because protest is justified and “completely understandable” but qualifies that activists need to understand that the protest “has to lead to something”.

And when you have a breakthrough response, a breakthrough response like constitutional recognition, you’ve got to grab it. You’ve got to switch from protest to grabbing the opportunity.

… And I believe that a full response to the Uluru statement will achieve actual real reconciliation. We’re at a point in our history where the protest has achieved the result we desire. And, and so we’ve got to be smart about it.

What I will say about the far left is there’s a point in the clock face where the far left meets the far right, and all of a sudden, the fringe of the left and the fringe of the right find common ground. They’re on a unity ticket. They’re saying the same thing. That is where you get Lidia and Jacinta Price holding hands.

But recognition will only come if the great vast middle of Australia votes for it. This is a question not for the fringes. The fringes will go their own way.

Senator Lidia Thorpe.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


Chance for reconciliation could be lost ‘forever’ if voice referendum fails, Pearson says

Pearson goes on to say that reconciliation itself is at stake with the Indigenous voice to parliament referendum, in what will be “the most important year” in the issue since the first fleet arrived.

This this year is the most important here in the past 235. That’s my assertion. This is the most important year and and this referendum is the most important question concerning Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians since the first fleet.

We’ve got to understand what is at stake, and that is the chance for reconciliation and if the referendum is kiboshed through game play and spoiling game by the opposition, we will lose the opportunity forever.

The question that will be put is, do we recognise indigenous people in the Constitution? And if we say no to that, then I can’t say how it is, how the future will be anything other than protest. Indigenous presence in this country will forever be associated with protest rather than a proper response by the Australian people to this call for recognition and and the achievement of reconciliation.


Noel Pearson says he fears demand for voice detail is part of a 'spoiling game'

Lawyer, academic and land rights activist Noel Pearson is now speaking to ABC Radio, saying he finds the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, Julian Leeser, threatening to withdraw his support “very concerning.”

Because this demand for detail is a diversion. Detail concerns legislation, not constitution. And the referendum is about the constitution. Legislation is for the parliament.

The responsibility for detail is is parliament’s. So the people responsible for the detail on the voice are people like Peter Dutton, Anthony Albanese, Adam Bandt, David Pocock, Allegra Spender, Julian Leeser himself, Patrick Dodson. It’s the parliamentarians who have the responsibility to come up with the detail, the Australian people are being asked to vote on a constitutional amendment.

And so I think that Julian Leeser, the leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, it’s very concerning. They may be just choosing to play a spoiling game. I hope they are not.

Lawyer, academic and land rights activist Noel Pearson.
Lawyer, academic and land rights activist Noel Pearson. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


‘The government is in danger of losing me’ on Indigenous voice, says Julian Leeser

Leeser has spoken to ABC Radio’s Patricia Karvelas following threatening to withdraw his support for the Indigenous voice to parliament over the weekend.

The government is in danger of losing me because I just don’t think that they’re listening, and, and I’m really trying to get them to listen to the reasonable concerns that people are raising.

The prime minister says, I’ll look at all there in the Calma Langton report but it’s clear the government is not adopting the Calma Langton report and when he cherry-picks pick some bits and pieces from the report he gets the detail wrong.


In your speech you called this the prime minister’s referendum. That is a very partisan take after as you say you’ve supported these principles since 1998. Are you politicising this process?


The prime minister has set the date for the referendum. He set the timetable. You know, if you’re following the Calma Langton report and following the ordinary process, you will be rolling out the local and regional bodies first, the government has not committed to doing that.

I think the success of this in so much depends on those local and regional bodies feeding into a national body.

The referendum in some respects is the icing on the cake. Whether this will work or not, whether this will change lives on the ground depends on the detail on the substance of the bodies that are created.

Shadow attorney general Julian Leeser.
Shadow attorney general and shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, Julian Leeser. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Coalition continue to push back on Indigenous voice to parliament

Over the weekend the opposition has continued to push back on the Indigenous voice to parliament. The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, continues to call on the government to release more detail ahead of the referendum in the second half of this year while the shadow attorney general and minister for Indigenous Australians, Julian Leeser, revealed his backing of the referendum is in danger.

Julian Leeser and Peter Dutton.
Julian Leeser and Peter Dutton. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Circling back to the prime minister’s interview with ABC News Breakfast, Albanese pushed back against Dutton’s comments saying:

There’ll be more detail being worked through the referendum working group, and that will be released. But let’s be clear, already, last July, I released what Australians will potentially be voting for – a draft question and draft constitutional change. That was something that was requested.

There hasn’t been any suggested changes to that draft from the Coalition and they have had more than six months to put forward constructively.


Recession fears if interest rates hiked, Deloitte says

One of the nation’s biggest consultancy firms has painted a bleak picture for the year ahead, saying Australians are at the mercy of the central bank while warning of a possible recession.

Deloitte Access Economics says economic growth will slow dramatically in 2023 as the consumer-led recovery runs out of steam.

Falling house prices, rising interest rates, high inflation, low levels of consumer confidence and negative real wage growth are expected to create a perfect storm of economic headwinds.

Deloitte Access Economics warned of the potentially devastating consequences if the Reserve Bank increased the cash rate again after a series of rate rises.

Partner Stephen Smith said:

Any further increases in the cash rate beyond the current 3.1% could unnecessarily tip Australia into recession in 2023.

At the same time, real household disposable income per capita – a key measure of prosperity – is falling, and will finish the current financial year at levels last seen before the onset of the pandemic.

There is no doubt that Australian households are starting to hurt.

The damage won’t be spread evenly across the country as south-eastern states with higher levels of consumption and pricey housing are left the most vulnerable.

Deloitte says there could be severe consequences if the Reserve Bank increases interest rates again.
Deloitte says there could be severe consequences if the Reserve Bank increases interest rates again. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he wasn’t expecting a recession this year and wouldn’t be interfering with advice for the independent Reserve Bank. He said on Sunday:

My job is to make sure that we’re doing what we can to provide that cost of living relief and grow the economy the right way, without adding to this inflation challenge. Our expectation is that the Australian economy will continue to grow.

Deloitte predicted headline inflation this financial year would come in at 7.2%, while wages were tipped to grow at 3.5% – less than half the inflation rate.

Wages were forecast to catch up to – but still lag – inflation in the next financial year, growing 3.7% against consumer price rises of 3.9%.

Deloitte expects real GDP growth to fall to 1.4% in 2023-24, down from the 3.1 % tipped for this financial year.



Australians warned over ‘insidious’ tax office scams

Australians are being warned against falling for “insidious” scams on social media in which criminals create fake profiles appearing to be Australian Taxation Office staff members.

The federal government will ramp up the warnings today, saying such scammers are directly targeting Australians who have posted publicly about experiencing problems with the ATO or the myGov site or who have asked questions about these topics.

A government statement to be issued today explains how these scammers operate:

They then hijack the conversation using a fake ATO profile, contacting the member of the public directly with an offer to help resolve a complaint or follow up on a comment. After earning their trust, the scammer asks them to click on a link or provide personal details.

The government says the ATO is “working with social media platforms and other government agencies to help remove these damaging interactions” but argues “the best defence against such scams is community awareness”.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, urged people to exercise “extreme caution” in their social media interactions. Jones said:

Fake tax officer accounts on Twitter and Facebook can be extremely convincing, which is what makes this scam so insidious. The tax office will never ask for personal information over social media and never send links that ask you to fill out your personal information like your tax file number, myGov log in or bank account details.

Federal assistant treasurer Stephen Jones.
Federal assistant treasurer Stephen Jones. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP


Albanese says price caps ‘already’ having impact

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is speaking with ABC News from Canberra after returning from Burwood yesterday where he attended lunar new year celebrations.

He expressed his own enthusiasm for the Chinese year of the rabbit:

A happy lunar new year for all those who celebrate it. For people of Chinese background, of course, it’s year of the rabbit which is particularly auspicious for a South Sydney supporter. And for people of Vietnamese background, it’s year of the cat, the zodiacs are different this year. So I had that explained to me last week and now hopefully we’re right on top of it, but happy new year to everyone.

Anthony Albanese walks through Emerald Square and watches a performance during lunar new year celebrations in Burwood, Sydney on Sunday.
Anthony Albanese walks through Emerald Square and watches a performance during lunar new year celebrations in Burwood, Sydney on Sunday. Photograph: Jeremy Ng/AAP

Albanese is asked about the big increases in energy prices Australians are seeing despite the recall of parliament before Christmas to introduce the energy price cap.

He says “the price caps are having an impact already”.

That’s the good news in what is otherwise a difficult story because of what we’re seeing in global prices. When you look at the caps that are there in the futures market, the prices have come down substantially.


‘I mourn my family, I mourn the police officers and I mourn the neighbour,’ says daughter of Wieambilla shooters

Madelyn Train, the daughter of Wieambilla shooters has spoken out publicly to Guardian Australia as well as Channel Nine news last night.

Train opened up to Guardian’s Nino Bucci how her parents upbringing, their descent into conspiracy theories as well as how her own relationship with them had deteriorated.

She told Nine that she is suffering from a stress disorder as a result of the recent tragedy:

I mourn six people. So I mourn my family, I mourn the police officers and I mourn the neighbour. Grieving three of our family members is hard enough. But then finding out what they did and then seeing everyone’s reaction to what they did...


Good morning!

And welcome to the live blog this new week.

The government is warning Australians to be on the lookout for scammers pretending to be Australian Taxation Office staff members.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, says the tax office will never ask for personal information over social media and never send links that ask you to fill out your personal information like your tax file number, myGov log in or bank account details.

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, will convene an online dating safety roundtable to be held this Wednesday following the calls for reform after a NSW man was charged with the murder of a woman he met online last month.

The guest list has been released this morning with social services minister Amanda Rishworth, eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, state and territory ministers and representatives from dating apps including Match, Bumble and Grindr all set to attend.

Rowland has told ABC Radio this morning:

There are unacceptable levels of abuse and harassment. The Albanese government is deeply concerned about it and we also recognise that we have over 3.2m Australians using video dating apps in 2021 and it’s actually now the most common way to meet a new partner.

In economic news, Deloitte Access Economics is warning that any further interest rate hikes from the central bank could “unnecessarily” tip Australia into a recession in this new year.

The robodebt royal commission resumes today with the third block of hearings getting under way in Brisbane. Later next week the former social services minister Christian Porter and former human services minister Alan Tudge give evidence about their roles in the unlawful debt collection scheme.

Alex de Minaur during a practice hit out at the 2023 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
Alex de Minaur during a practice hit out at the 2023 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park on Sunday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

In tennis news, the last Australian left in the singles draws, Alex de Minaur, will take on one of the tournament favourites Novak Djokovic which is scheduled for 7pm AEST at Rod Laver Arena.

Let’s get into it.


Henry Belot and Natasha May (earlier)

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