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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Josh Taylor and Emily Wind (earlier)

Dutton urges PM to put preventive detention on national cabinet agenda – as it happened

Peter Dutton and Anthony Albanese face off during question time at Parliament House in Canberra last Wednesday.
Peter Dutton and Anthony Albanese face off during question time at Parliament House in Canberra last Wednesday. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The day that was, Monday 4 December

We will wrap up the live blog here for Monday. Here’s some of what made the news today:

  • The Labor MP for Dunkley, Peta Murphy, died surrounded by her family following “brave” battle against breast cancer, the prime minister announced in an emotional press conference on Monday. Tributes flowed from MPs from across the parliament, and the flag over parliament was lowered to half mast as a sign of respect.

  • Ahead of Labor pushing through legislation this week for preventative detention of some of the nearly 150 released following the NZYQ high court decision, the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has written to the prime minister asking that the preventive detention regime be put on the agenda for Wednesday’s national cabinet.

  • Origin Energy’s shareholders voted down a $20bn takeover bid by Brookfield and EIG.

  • Centrelink should consider forgiving all 100,000 debts that may have been affected by unlawful income apportionment, the commonwealth ombudsman has said in its second and final report into the controversy.

  • Five hundred lawyers have signed an open letter to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, the foreign minister, Penny Wong, and the attorney-general Mark Dreyfus expressing concern about efforts to diminish Israel’s right to self-defence in the war with Hamas.

  • Supermarkets should freeze the price of leg ham to give families certainty ahead of Christmas Day, the federal agriculture minister, Murray Watt, has said.

We’ll be back with you tomorrow.


Greens ceasefire motion defeated in Senate

Around an hour ago in the Senate, the Greens put up an urgency motion on the Israel-Hamas war that said:

The Australian government must call for an immediate permanent ceasefire to end the humanitarian catastrophe occurring in Gaza, for the unconditional release of all hostages and political prisoners and for an urgent end to the siege and invasion of Gaza.

Ultimately the motion was defeated 10-29, with independent senator David Pocock siding with the Greens in favour of the motion.


High-profile no campaigner Jacinta Nampijinpa Price turned down interview requests from the ABC to discuss the voice referendum more than 52 times, according to the national broadcaster’s referendum coverage review committee report.

The report found the yes campaign had about twice as much coverage overall as the no campaign. The reasons for that, according to the report, included a lack of people willing to come on to discuss the no side, time taken up by government press conferences which often argued for the yes vote, and a decision to focus on First Nations voices, who were predominantly arguing for yes.

Origin wants more detail on Albanese solar investment scheme

Continued from previous post.

Origin Energy’s CEO, Frank Calabria, also said the company needed more detail on the Albanese government’s expanded capacity investment scheme that will aim to bring on 32GW of new wind and solar plants and batteries. The government’s contracts “represent a slightly different” investment proposition but offers “a big opportunity” that Origin would like to see more detail on.

As to how the board will change, post-bid, Calabria said he “continued to be energised” and “had no other plans”. (“Plugged in” might also have been apt.)

Meanwhile, Brookfield said in a statement it would “evaluate its next steps, if any, with respect to Origin, given the strong level of Origin shareholder support for its proposal and taking into account the potential impact to Origin of the Australian government’s recently announced proposed expansion to its Capacity Investment Scheme and National Energy Transformation Partnership”.

Origin shares were halted at $7.86, about 16% below the final value of the failed bid of $9.39 (the number changed in part because of the value of the $US-$A exchange rate). No other bids were received during the year of the takeover offer, and given the retreat in Origin’s share price of late, it seems investors aren’t expecting another one just yet.


Origin Energy says failed takeover bid cost it $70m

As previously noted in the blog, the $20bn ploy by Brookfield and EIG to take over Origin Energy failed to reach the 75% support level from investors by about 6 percentage points.

Scott Perkins, Origin’s chairman, told journalists after a special shareholders’ meeting (which contained the odd climate-change denying question) the cost of the bid for the company in terms of lawyers, hedging, tax and so on was about $70m.

Canadian asset manager Brookfield had pledged to spend to $20-30bn to accelerate Origin’s exit from fossil fuels, bringing on 14 gigawatts of new renewables and storage by 2032.

Origin’s chief executive, Frank Calabria, said Origin was sticking to its current plan to bring on 4GW-5GW by 2030, saying it didn’t have the same access to capital, supply chain management and scale globally as Brookfield. (That prospect of acceleration was a key reason the ACCC gave a tick for the takeover.)

“We don’t think we could have funded any more than that on our best outlook today,” Calabria said.

He didn’t think a takeover would have changed the timing of the closure of the 2.8GW coal-fired Eraring plant in NSW that is presently scheduled to close by August 2025, but most people expect will be extended (pending negotiations with the New South Wales government).

Continued in next post.


Heatwave conditions are hitting across parts of WA, SA, NT and Queensland today – stay safe.


Victorian public transport workers set to strike on Wednesday 13 December

Train and bus workers are set to walk off the job as part of a pay dispute with Victoria’s regional public transport operator, AAP reports.

V/Line has been notified by the Rail Tram and Bus Industry Union that operations staff will take industrial action from 3am to 7am on Wednesday, 13 December.

Only non-driving grades will participate in the action, including conductors, train controllers, station and customer service staff, and authorised officers. However, the union says it will bring the entire V/Line network to a halt.

About 93% of its members last week voted in favour of taking action as workers seek a 17% pay rise over four years. RTBU’s branch secretary, Vik Sharma, said the union was focused on minimising the impacts of the action on the public, encouraging commuters to plan their working weeks accordingly.

He said the union would continue to meet with V/Line and negotiate in good faith as members would prefer to avoid the stoppage if their concerns are addressed.

V/Line’s chief executive, Matt Carrick, urged the union to reconsider, declaring the planned action could disrupt tens of thousands of passengers. The action will hit the morning peak and it will have knock-on effects for the rest of the day, he said.


The flag on parliament house in Canberra is at half mast as a mark of respect for the passing of Labor MP Peta Murphy.

The flag on Parliament House at half mast as a mark of respect for the passing of the member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy in Canberra this afternoon. Monday 4th December 2023.
The flag on Parliament House at half mast as a mark of respect for the passing of the member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy in Canberra this afternoon. Monday 4th December 2023. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Labor and Coalition refer citizenship-stripping bill to joint committee on intelligence and security

Labor and the Coalition have just voted together to accept a motion from Michaelia Cash and James Paterson referring Labor’s citizenship stripping bill to an inquiry to report back in March.

The bill allows courts to order that dual nationals lose their Australian citizenship if they are convicted of serious offences including terrorism, espionage and foreign interference.

The Senate voted 43 to 9, with only the Greens opposed. The bill will go to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security - which has only Labor and Coalition members, no Greens – not the legal and constitutional affairs committee. The inquiry will report back by 14 March, 2024.


Tim Costello pays tribute to Peta Murphy

Gambling reform advocate and friend of Peta Murphy, Tim Costello, has paid tribute to the late Labor MP on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing:

She is one of the bravest women I have ever met. I was at her 50th just three weeks ago, and all of us realised she was very ill. The speeches were brilliant. They were like listening to living eulogies. I had been texting her this weekend her husband had sent me a picture just last night saying the end is very close. I am feeling really gutted for this courageous brave woman.

Murphy was the chair of the House of Representatives inquiry into sports betting which recommended ads for online gambling be banned in three years.

Costello said he wants the government to implement the recommendations of the committee, and for it to be called “the Peta Murphy bill in honour of her courage and her leadership, her defence of children and of our sporting culture”.


Dan Tehan suggests bipartisenship on preventative detention

Although the Coalition is suggesting issues with the preventative detention legislation this week, there are signs that they’ll reach a deal to help the government pass the bill. The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, told ABC’s Afternoon Briefing that if the government listens to the opposition and puts the legislation on the agenda for national cabinet on Wednesday, then it would help:

Our hope is that that spirit of bipartisanship will see the prime minister do that. I think it would also be helpful because it will mean that the prime minister is across the detail as well, which we think is important. So if that happens … obviously we will wait and see what happens on Thursday.

But you’ve got to remember all along, all we have wanted to do is make sure we are doing all we can to keep the Australian people safe. That is the approach we will continue to take.


French foreign affairs minister says each country should make their own decisions on their energy mix to limit global heating

France’s foreign affairs minister, Catherine Colonna – who is on a visit to Canberra – emphasised that each country could make its own decisions about the right energy mix when she was asked about Emmanuel Macron’s pro-nuclear comments.

She said the president was commenting on a call “issued by many nations in favour of promoting nuclear civil energy in order to be one of the tools that will help us to achieve carbon neutrality, which is, as we know, absolutely and urgently needed if we want to avoid bigger problems”.

“The climate is changing, climate is changing all over the world,” Colonna told the National Press Club. “[There] is still time to do something absolutely audacious to reach the plus 1.5 degree increase. Time is short though. And by all accounts, all studies from all bodies we know that we need both to develop renewable energy and to have some nuclear civil capacities.”

Colonna said the French energy mix was “an example that we encourage other nations to follow, should they want to follow”.

“This being said one of the important messages by my president and by everybody at the Cop is that each country has the choice to make its own decision and to find the proper energy mix it desires. Globally speaking, though, we will need both.”


NSW government says multiple departments and agencies affected by Optus outage

The New South Wales government has revealed a number of departments and agencies that were affected by the 14-hour Optus outage last month. The state said in its submission to the Senate inquiry on the Optus outage that those affected included:

  • The Art Gallery of NSW;

  • The Department of Communities and Justice;

  • The Department of Planning and Environment;

  • Northern Sydney Local Health District;

  • NSW Ambulance;

  • NSW Telco Authority;

  • Service NSW;

  • The Taronga Conservation Society Australia; and

  • Transport for NSW.

The Royal Adelaide hospital also lost landline and mobile communications meaning that during the outage, time-critical patients from Broken Hill would have had to have been transferred to Sydney.

The committee is due to report back to parliament this week.


Dutton requests preventative detention issue be raised at Wednesday’s national cabinet

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has written to prime minister, Anthony Albanese, asking that the preventive detention regime be put on the agenda for Wednesday’s national cabinet.

Apparently, the opposition leader is concerned that the regime was not discussed by attorneys general when they met on Friday. The high-risk terrorist offender scheme it is based on has a memorandum of understanding with states and territories, but there has been no information yet about whether this will be updated to facilitate cooperation on community safety detention orders for non-citizens who cannot be deported.

The Coalition is also seeking more information about how many of the 148 people will be within scope of the new regime – that is, because they have been convicted of serious violent or sexual offences punishable by seven years or more in prison.

We don’t know whether/how Albanese replied – but we know Labor wants this through this week.


Queensland thunderstorms: large hail and damaging winds still possible despite warning downgrade

More on the other thunderstorm warning in Queensland. Large hail is still a risk, along with damaging winds.


Over 1,600 GWM Ora electric vehicles recalled over potentially lethal charging issue

More than 1,600 electric vehicles are being recalled in Australia due a potentially lethal electrical issue that occurs when recharging the vehicle, AAP reports.

The federal transport department issued a warning for all variants of the GWM Ora electric hatchback on Monday after confirming a software error created “the risk of serious injury or death”.

The vehicle is one of the cheapest electric cars on the market in Australia and the recall comes just seven months after it arrived. All 1,659 GWM Ora vehicles in Australia will be affected by the recall, which has been blamed on a software problem.

“Due to to a programming issue, if the operator removes the charging cable without cancelling the charge, an electrical arc between the charging plug and the vehicle may occur,” the recall notice said.

“If an electrical arc comes into contact with the operator or bystanders, it will increase the risk of serious injury or death.”

GWM will contact local Ora owners about the recall and update its software free of charge.


BoM downgrades thunderstorm warning for Queensland

The Bureau of Meterology has downgraded a severe thunderstorm warning for south-east Queensland (from east of Dalby from Rainbow Beach to Stanthorpe).

As of 2pm AEST, the immediate threat of severe thunderstorms had passed but the situation will still be monitored, the BOM said. A more general severe thunderstorm warning remains current for parts of the Capricornia, Wide Bay, Burnett and Southeast Coast districts.

Locals reported hail for the first time this season.


There has been an outpouring of grief among MPs paying tribute to the late Labor MP Peta Murphy today.

Two sets of human remains found near a Sydney beach are believed to be the victims of notorious gangland figure Arthur “Neddy” Smith. AAP has the story:


Many thanks for joining me on the blog this morning. There’s still plenty to come, so I’ll leave you with Josh Taylor to guide you through the rest of today’s news.

Wong accuses Greens of focusing on slogans in shift to renewables

Continuing with energy and climate change in the Senate for a moment, Penny Wong earlier accused the Greens of caring more about political fights and slogans than transforming the energy grid in the fight against climate change.

The Greens senator Larissa Waters asked Wong whether the Labor government agreed with comments by the. UN secretary general, António Guterres, who said global warming could only be stopped with a complete phasing out of fossil fuels – not a reduction, nor abatement.

The comments are at odds with that of COP28 president, UAE’s Sultan Al Jaber, who claimed there was “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C. (Some observers say the fact that Al Jaber is also the head of the state’s oil company is a serious conflict of interest in that regard).

Wong responded the Greens want Australia to just simply “drop” fossil fuels while the Labor government believed you needed to shift to renewables. She continued:

You are not interested in transformation, you’re not interested in the policies that are required to ensure we shift to renewables, you want a political protest over certain issues ... The reality is, your party does not have a single policy … that will transform the economy. You want political protest and slogans, but not actually any policies around transforming the energy grid or the economy, which is a tough job and one we are focused on.


$20bn takeover bid of Origin Energy defeated by shareholders

Origin Energy’s shareholders have had their say and have voted down the $20bn takeover bid by Brookfield and EIG.

The tally, just announced at the meeting today in Sydney, was less than 69% in favour – short of the 75% required for the bid to go ahead. Origin’s executive will provide a media briefing shortly.


Wong on nuclear power: Australia has the comparable advantage of renewables

Kicking off question time in the Senate earlier was a question from Simon Birmingham on the flavour of the day - nuclear power. Birmingham referenced comments made by French president, Emmanuel Macron, over the weekend at COP28, where he said he “hopes” Australia lifts its blanket ban on producing nuclear energy.

Macron said: “Nuclear energy is a source that is necessary to succeed for carbon neutrality in 2050.”

(We had more on this earlier in the blog, here).

Senate government leader, Penny Wong, said she’s surprised to hear the opposition use Macron’s comments given their track record with him – ahem, the “I don’t think, I know” incident. Wong said:

There are countries around the world, which many decades ago made a decision to go down the nuclear path, and … some of the countries, that you have referenced are amongst those. Australia made a case not to do that and Australia made a choice to look to the comparative advantage that we have when it comes to the cheapest forms of energy, which is from renewables.


Tributes are continuing to flow following news that Labor MP Peta Murphy has died aged 50.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said in a statement that the Nationals are deeply saddened about her passing:

The Member for Dunkley was brave, inspiring and courageous in her health battle and never wavered from her commitment to Parliament and the community.

Peta was a fighter in both a Parliamentary and a personal sense and will be missed by all Members.

Even during difficult months, Peta continued to make sacrifices, often to the detriment of her own health.

Her commitment to public duty was exemplary and admirable.

The Nationals send their deepest condolences to Peta’s family during this difficult period.

Murray Watt goes ham on supermarkets ahead of Christmas

Agriculture minister, Murray Watt, has used a Senate question time dixer to call on the supermarkets to freeze the price of ham ahead of the festive season. The opposition interjects with heckling (hockling?), so Watt fires back:

I’m surprised the opposition does not think that is a good idea, freezing the price of Christmas ham. Are you concerned about the cost of living?

My colleague, Paul Karp, who is sitting in the gallery, hears the Greens jokingly interjecting “what about the vegans, Murray?”.

Someone else yells out that Watt is being “ham-fisted”. It’s certainly feeling like a festive time in the Senate’s last sitting week for the year.


Next Commonwealth Games could move from Australia: CGA

Australia’s Commonwealth Games boss concedes shifting the multi-sport event outside of the nation is increasingly likely, AAP reports.

Commonwealth Games Australia’s chief executive, Craig Phillips, hasn’t given up on the nation hosting the next Games, slated for 2026. But he said the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) should “seriously consider” any offer from outside Australia.

He told AAP:

We have indicated to (the CGF) ... they would have our support in doing that.

It’s our preference to host here and we will keep going while we think we have got options to explore. But if they have a better option, then they should seriously consider it.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips.
The head of Commonwealth Games Australia, Craig Phillips. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Asked if shifting the Games outside Australia was increasingly likely, Phillips said: “I think so.”

If the CGF comes up with an offshore solution then ... it’s better to have a Games somewhere than no Games at all.

Three unnamed locations outside Australia have expressed interest to the CGF in hosting the next Games, most likely to be postponed until early 2027.

Phillips was disappointed, but not surprised by the Gold Coast’s mayor, Tom Tate, ruling out his city as the next host. But he is not giving up:

We’re still in the process of having conversations, which I can’t reveal to you. We still want to pursue right to the very end any possibility here in Australia.

By February, we will have a better understanding of whether we have got a viable option.


BoM issues thunderstorm warning north of Gympie in Queensland

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that “very dangerous thunderstorms” have been detected on the weather radar near Bauple, north of Gympie.

These thunderstorms are moving north, with large and “possibly giant” hailstones likely, plus damaging winds.

People are being urged to move their car undercover or away from trees, secure loose outdoor items, seek shelter indoors, avoid using the telephone during a storm, beware of fallen trees and powerlines, and call the SES for emergency assistance on 132 500.

A more general severe thunderstorm warning is current for parts of the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett and Southeast Coast districts.


Peta Murphy respected in Victoria as a fighter for people’s rights, Bandt says

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said it is “hard to convey just how wonderful Peta Murphy was”:

[She was] an absolute gem of a person, so kind and so compassionate, so fun and so real. Such immense sadness now comes with her passing. Heart goes out to Rod and her loved ones, and her community.

The Greens’ leader, Adam Bandt, said it was “devastating” news that Murphy had died.

Even before she entered parliament, Peta was respected in Victoria as a fighter for people’s rights. We’re all poorer without her. Our condolences to her family, friends and the broader Labor movement.

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, said it was “an honour” to know and work with Murphy.

She is one of the bravest people I have ever met. She was asking questions in Question time just last week. Her time in the parliament has been an inspiration to us all.


‘Best and bravest’: tributes flow for Labor MP Peta Murphy

Tributes are flowing for Labor MP Peta Murphy, who has died aged 50 following a battle with cancer.

Peta Murphy first speechThe new member for Dunkley Peta Murphy gives her first speech in the house of representatives, Parliament House Canberra.
Peta Murphy, giving her first speech to parliament in 2019. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Independent MP Monique Ryan said the parliament has lost “one of its best and bravest”.

Peta Murphy was smart, insightful, calm and kind. She will be missed.

The housing minister, Julie Collins, said Murphy was “an inspiration in so many ways”, while the shadow communications minister, David Coleman, said he was very sorry to hear of her passing.

She was an honest, authentic and sincere person who represented the best aspects of public service. Rest in peace.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh shared a personal story:

I first worked together with Peta Murphy in the late-1990s. She’s always been passionate about social justice, curious about the world, sporty and witty. Her report on gambling ads showed her policy and personal skills at their finest. The world needs more Peta Murphies, and the whole parliament will miss her.

And Liberal MP Keith Wolahan said she was a person of “character” and “principle”, always thinking of others:


Albanese: Labor family ‘broken hearted’ by Peta Murphy’s death

The prime minister has also paid tribute to Peta Murphy on X/Twitter, sharing a series of photos and memories.


Parliament a ‘better place’, Australia a ‘better nation’ for Peta Murphy’s contribution, Albanese says

Albanese has concluded his press conference, honouring Peta Murphy’s years of service and sending condolences to her family and loved ones.

Murphy was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, and diagnosed with a second cancer later on. She held the seat of Dunkley in Victoria since 2019.

Albanese ended his press conference with these remarks:

The whole way through her contribution, while going through what was very difficult treatment, she never once, never once talked about herself or asked for anything special. She would apologise if she missed a day of Parliament.

This Parliament was a better place for Peta Murphy being elected to the House of Representatives. This country was a better nation for her contribution.

May Peta Murphy rest in peace.


Murphy always advocated for others suffering breast cancer, Albanese says

Albanese said Peta Murphy channelled her personal battle with breast cancer into public policy:

Advocating always for others, for better treatment, more services and stronger support.

In 2019, Peta received the news her cancer had returned two weeks prior to being sworn in as an MP. In her remarkable first speech in the parliament, she said: “I’m neither unique nor alone in the fight I’m about to take on.”

It was the best first speech I have ever heard. And what a fighter she was.

Peta Murphy was a strong local member for Dunkley and an advocate for better cancer treatment.
Peta Murphy was a strong local member for Dunkley and an advocate for better cancer treatment. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Murphy was 50, Albanese said.

Passing at just 50 years of age, far too young. With so much more to offer. My deepest condolences go to Peta’s loved ones, and all those who had the privilege of knowing her.


Albanese: Peta Murphy the ‘strongest of local members’, ‘very best kind of friend’

The prime minister said Peta Murphy was brave, courageous and loved, honouring her service to her community and constituents of Dunkley:

Peta Murphy was the strongest of local members, the most inspiring of colleagues, and the very best kind of friend.

To attend a community event with Peta was to bask in her glow. Like all of us who served alongside her, the people Peta represented admired her determination, they respected her passion, and they responded above all to her absolute authenticity.

It was always clear just how much Peta cared for her community, her colleagues, and our country. She helped lead the charge for important reforms like reducing the harm from online gambling, because she understood the greatest privilege of public office is the opportunity to make a difference. From the squash court to the law courts, to the House of Representatives, everything that Peta Murphy did she did with her whole heart.

Anthony Albanese said Murphy insisted on coming to parliament, right up until last week.

Murphy had metastatic breast cancer, and advocated for a national registry, Albanese said.


Labor MP Peta Murphy has passed away

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has just announced that Labor MP for Dunkley Peta Murphy has passed away, peacefully at home.

The late Peta Murphy was the member for Dunkley and a strong advocate for restricting gambling advertising, especially to young people.
The late Peta Murphy was the member for Dunkley and a strong advocate for restricting gambling advertising, especially to young people. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

He is holding a snap press conference in Canberra where he has tearfully announced the news.

Albanese said everyone in the Labor family is “broken hearted”.


Agriculture minister Watt wants supermarkets to keep their ‘hands off our hams’

Agriculture minister Murray Watt is continuing his push for the supermarkets to freeze its price on Christmas hams this year, with a video and new slogan – Hands off our hams.

You can read more about this here, from earlier in the blog.


Origin Energy’s $20bn takeover bid set to be formally nixed

Just over a year ago, Origin Energy, one of Australia’s largest energy producers, announced that two overseas-based companies Brookfield and MidOcean were planning an $18.4bn takeover.

A logo for Australian energy company Origin.
What’s next for energy company Origin? Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

MidOcean later reformed as EIG and the offer was lifted to about $20bn. Once Australian Super, holder of about 17% of Origin’s stock, said it would seek to block the takeover, the bid was, well, all at sea.

A shareholder vote was to have taken place last month but with the bidders unlikely to reach a needed 75%, the poll was delayed until today.

Investors, meanwhile, have been selling off Origin, with its shares sliding about 4% in recent trade to $7.86 each (versus a gain in the overall market of about 0.8%).

The sweetened Brookfield/EIG offer was worth about $9.43 per share (about 17% more than the current price) indicating investors have written off today’s voting results as a definite fail.

We’ll let you know at 2pm AEDT (or the top of this hour) about the results, and what Origin’s management think its going to do next. Cue another offer, perhaps.


Chalmers wants GST no-worse-off guarantee deal with states but not ‘at any cost’

There are a slew of state-federal financial fights going on at the moment, from paying for disability support services that aren’t the NDIS to continuation of the no-worse off GST guarantee that overwhelmingly benefits Western Australia.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has issued a warning to states about the extension of the GST deal beyond 2026-27.

Chalmers told reporters in Canberra:

I consider the ‘no worse off’ guarantee to be a live conversation. And I got the ball rolling last Friday ... Our instinct, our inclination is to work with states and territories where we can. We think there is a deal to be done here, but not a deal at any cost. And any deal needs to recognise not just the pressures on the state budgets but on the commonwealth budget as well.

Chalmers says “no doubt” states have a different view.

“It would be good if we can come to some kind of understanding, but if we can’t, we can’t.”


Qld commits $288m over 5 years to better educating its ‘disengaged’ youth

Queensland schools that focus on re-engaging children in learning and keeping them out of trouble will share in $288m over the next five years, AAP reports.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday announced the funding at the Queensland Pathways State College, one of six schools offering initiatives in supporting students to remain engaged in secondary school life.

The program will expand to a further six schools: Toowoomba and Deception Bay in 2024, then Mt Isa, Central Queensland, Logan and Cairns.

The premier said 50 ‘flexi-centres’ will be added to an existing 52 across Queensland high schools offering specialist training and engagement.

About $57m will go to intensive case management for students known to the youth justice department, and $27m to specialised alternative learning programs to operate through non-government organisations.

“It’s about making sure our disengaged young people are getting training and getting an education,” Palaszczuk says.

“We know that this has been a missing segment of our youth justice initiatives.”

An additional 177 teaching staff and 12 court liaison officers will be needed over the five-year period, the education minister, Grace Grace says.


What will new regime mean for people released after High Court decision?

As the Albanese government prepares to bring in preventative detention laws to re-detain some people released in response to the NZYQ high court ruling, my colleague Paul Karp has this explainer on what the legislation – which will be put through parliament this week – will do and how it will work


Qld scraps proposed Toowoomba transport corridor through sacred sites, homes

A proposed Queensland transport corridor that threatened a significant sacred site and hundreds of homes has been scrapped as a result of “extensive public opposition” to the route.

The proposed Toowoomba North-South Corridor, which would have accommodated the regional city’s residential and commercial growth, would have passed near the historic and culturally sensitive Aboriginal site of Gummingurru, and would have affected up to 200 landowners.

Gummingurru’s traditional custodian, Conrad Bauwens, wearing a bright blue shirt and head scarf, stands at the sacred site, near Toowoomba.
Gummingurru traditional custodian, Conrad Bauwens, is pleased the Queensland government listened to his community’s concerns about the proposed transport corridor.
Photograph: DAvid Kelly/Photograph David Kelly/The Guardian

Gummingurru is between 3,000 and 6,000 years old and home to dozens of ancient stones that swirl into mosaics of a starburst, rainbow snake, emu and turtle.

The caretaker of the site, Conrad Bauwens, told Guardian Australia in September that Gummingurru is like a “church” and about the same age as the pyramids and Stonehenge.

Bauwens said the news that the route would not go ahead was a “relief” to the community.

It’s reinstated our faith that the government is capable of making good decisions and that people’s voices were actually heard in this instance.

The department of transport and main roads (TMR) said it had scrapped the route after receiving more than 4,000 responses and submissions over a three-month consultation process.

TMR will now work with the council to identify alternative solutions.

The only section that will proceed is the Charlton Bypass, located in the industrial area, after some amendments to reflect land use changes and community feedback.

Forecasts show Toowoomba is expected to grow by 76,000 to 200,000 people by 2046.

Transport minister, Mark Bailey, says the government will “pivot” to reflect the community’s needs.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to prepare submissions, meet with the project team and provide general feedback about the proposed transport corridor.


Tropical cyclone forecast to reach Queensland this weekend nothing to fear … yet

In more weather news, you may have heard talk of a tropical cyclone approaching Australia this week.

On the Bureau of Meteorology website, its seven day tropical cyclone forecast map does show a tropical cyclone off the coast of Australia, near Queensland, by this weekend (you can view that here).

But there’s no reason to worry, at least for the time being – I spoke to BoM meteorologist Sarah Scully over the weekend, who explained that it remains a “long way from the Queensland coast” with “no direct impacts expected” before thisSaturday.

Scully says there is a high chance of a tropical cyclone developing near the Solomon Islands this week, likely to form within the Fiji area.

But if anything changes throughout the week, we’ll bring you that here on the blog.


A third of inland Australia likely to be hit with temps well over 40C, this week

An inland heatwave is expected to hit today, making its way across large parts of the country by the end of this week.

This comes as thunderstorms and widespread showers have lashed large parts of Queensland, NSW and Victoria throughout the past week.

According to Weatherzone, capital cities will dodge the worst of it but a large inland area – measuring about one third of the country – can expect max temps of 44C or higher between now and Thursday.

Paraburdoo in WA hit 43.8C on Sunday, the hottest temperature anywhere in Australia to date this summer, Weatherzone says.

This could be the hottest spell this early in summer for many of the areas mentioned in at least a decade, and towards the weekend, the east coast will start warming up significantly, with the worst of the heat being felt in low-lying areas between the ranges and the coast.


Job ads post biggest monthly decline in five months, ANZ says

Almost nobody (except Deutsche Bank, according to Bloomberg) expects the Reserve Bank to lift its cash rate for a 14th time in 19 months when its board meets tomorrow for the final time in 2023.

One reason is the weaker than expected October inflation figures out last week. Today we’ve got the ANZ-Indeed’s survey of job ads falling 4.6% in November, bringing the decline to about one-sixth since the ads peaked in November last year.

Half the drop has come in the past three months and points to a further rise in the jobless rate from the 3.7% level in October, according to ANZ economist, Madeline Dunk.

Most of the past quarter’s job ads slide has been in New South Wales and Victoria, while the number of ads have risen in Western Australia and Tasmania.

Anyway, borrowers are increasingly preferring variable interest rate loans rather than fixed-rates. During Covid, the ratio narrowed towards a 50:50 split when fixed rate loans looked very attractive (perhaps the surprise was why more people didn’t lock-in record low rates).

Now fixed lows are a vanishingly small share of the market, the ABS said today.

From the ABS we can also see the average mortgage in NSW for an owner-occupier is more than $764,000, and has been on the rise again. The national average is about $610,000.

According to RateCity, borrowers with a $750,000 mortgage are now paying $5,317 a month in repayments, up $3,502 since the RBA started hiking rates. (Those who managed to fix, though, have not yet hit the repayment cliff. They will be hoping rates are on the way down by the time their loan terms expire.)


Mourners farewell slain SA police officer Jason Doig

South Australians are mourning the loss of slain officer, “legendary country cop” Jason Doig, at a public police funeral in Adelaide, AAP reports.

Brevet Sergeant Doig was killed and Sergeant Michael Hutchinson wounded after they were allegedly shot by Jaydn Stimson, 26, at a rural property in Senior, near the Victorian border, on 16 November.

Stimson remains in hospital under police guard and has been charged with murder and attempted murder. The police investigation is ongoing.

Acting police commissioner Linda Williams has today remembered Sgt Doig as a police officer with a kind and empathetic nature, who had an unwavering dedication to his community.

She told mourners:

What I’ve learned is that Jason was regarded by many as the quintessential bloke who embodies what it means to be a country police officer.

The universal description of Jason is that he was kind, caring, generous and unique.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas, ahead of the memorial, announced the state government would donate $100,000 to Women’s Safety Services SA in Sgt Doig’s honour.

The police officer’s family requested mourners also donate to the organisation in lieu of flowers.

The 53-year-old had served in the southeast for more than a decade after taking up a post at Lucindale in 2011. He joined the force in 1989.


Family tax benefit doesn’t meet low-income family needs, new research shows

New research from antipoverty organisation Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) and the University of Melbourne has shown the current family tax benefit (FTB) scheme is not meeting the needs of low-income families.

FTB parts A and B are payments the federal government introduced in 2000 to assist eligible families with childcare costs. For some families, the FTB contributes over a third of total disposable income.

They’ve been tweaked over the past 20 years to the point “they are no longer meeting the needs of the families that rely on them”, a statement from the BSL says.

Key findings from the research include:

• Inadequate payments leave families at risk of poverty
• Reduced coverage leaves some families missing out
• FTB payments entrench gender roles and create a barrier to equity
• Complex administration and compliance arrangements create risks
• High effective marginal tax rates create a disincentive for paid work

The BSL wants the federal government to reinstate the indexation of FTB in line with pensions, review shared care arrangements and remove the Maintenance Income Test.

The report also finds that broader reform to family assistance payments is necessary, with the BSL recommending four options for consideration:

1. A single per-child payment to replace the two-tier system of FTBA and FTB B
2. A universal per-child payment
3. Child payment eligibility based on individual income of the carer who receives the payment, rather than the joint income of partners
4. Child payments income to be tested like the parental leave pay


Dutton: Labor can’t ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to national security

The opposition leader, Peter Dutton, said the Coalition will support laws that keep Australians safe but anticipated possible amendments to Labor’s proposed preventive detention regime.

Opposition leader Petter Dutton in parliament.
The opposition leader anticipates amendments to Labor’s proposed detention regime. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

At a press conference just earlier, he said:

We’re in negotiations with the government at the moment and briefings have been provided to us as we speak, to [shadow attorney general] Michaelia Cash and [shadow immigration minister] Dan Tehan and my chief of staff ... to go through what the government is proposing. I’ve always supported strong national security measures. If the government has adequate measures to keep Australians safe, we will support those measures ...

Let’s have a look at the details. We will support bills that keep Australians safe, but we’re not going to have a situation where the government just at the last minute drafts these bills overnight. There is always an inadequacy. They don’t have the desire to think outside the box when it comes to keeping Australians safe.


All of Victoria has an extreme forecast for grass pollen today:


STC Seagull cast’s Q&A with audience cancelled following curtain call heckling

A planned Q&A between the audience and the cast of the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Seagull in Sydney tonight has been cancelled, after an audience member heckled the actors during the curtain call at Saturday night’s performance.

Three of the actors created controversy on the 25 November opening night of the Chekhov play when they draped themselves in traditional keffiyeh headdresses during the curtain call, to signal support for Palestinians in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Two of the company’s foundation board members resigned because of the actors’ actions, and one performance was subsequently cancelled.

An STC spokesperson said the company decided the Q&A should not go ahead because of wellbeing concerns for the cast.


Dutton: Australia’s national security a ‘circus’ thanks to Labor government

Opposition leader Peter Dutton is speaking to the media from Sydney.

He began the press conference by again criticising the Labor party for releasing “serious criminals” into the community, and said a circus had been made of national security.

(It’s important to note that people were released following a High Court decision, which the government cannot go against, and not all those released are “serious criminals”, with some having been charged but never found guilty).

For some more context around this issue, which seemingly becomes more complex by the day, you can read this great piece from Paul Karp:


No reprieve for ‘mortgage prisoners’ as buffers retained

Australia’s banking regulator has retained current affordability buffers for home loans, eroding hopes for “mortgage prisoners” that conditions would be eased to allow them to refinance.

Home loans are normally tested on an applicant’s ability to make repayments at three percentage points above lending rates, as per policies set down by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra).

A new housing estate in Brisbane: large houses on small blocks, all very close together.
It’s not easy for home owners to exit uncompetitive mortgages. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

Apra said on Monday that the three percentage point buffer would remain because it provides an important contingency for new borrowers facing the risks of a weaker jobs market, persistent inflation and the potential for further rate hikes.

Apra chair John Lonsdale said:

The mortgage serviceability buffer has proved to be effective over the past 18 months; housing loan performance has remained sound while households have had to contend with cost-of-living pressures, including the increase in borrowing costs.

There have been growing calls in Australia by financial analysts for the serviceability buffer to be lowered to allow those stuck in uncompetitive mortgage products, known as mortgage prisoners, to switch lenders.

But there are competing concerns that any relaxation in lending standards would add to inflation because it would increase available credit.

Lenders can move outside buffers for good quality borrowers if they have a justification for doing so.


Number released from detention now 148: Australian Border Force

The Australian Border Force has revealed that 148 people have now been released from immigration detention as a result of the high court’s NZYQ ruling that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful.

An ABF spokesperson said:

The government has released 148 affected individuals from immigration detention, as at 3 December 2023, in accordance with the orders of the High Court of Australia on 8 November 2023. All 148 are subject to appropriate visa conditions, including regular reporting obligations.

On Thursday Guardian Australia revealed the 142nd non-citizen was released as a result of a federal court order. It could be that now that the federal court has ruled an element of non-cooperation from the detainee is not sufficient to keep them in immigration detention, that more detainees have been released.

Asked if it would appeal that decision, a spokesperson said:

The department is currently considering the judgment. As the appeal period is still active, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter or to speculate on its application to other individuals.


Hobart man charged with murder over death of baby

As we reported earlier, police had charged a 25-year-old man from Warrane with causing grievous bodily harm to a 10-month-old baby that later died in hospital.

Tasmania police have just released a statement confirming the charge has been upgraded to murder.

The man will re-appear before the Hobart magistrates court today.

Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and loved ones of the baby.


Centrelink may have to junk 100,000 debts: ombudsman

Centrelink should consider forgiving all 100,000 debts that may have been affected by unlawful income apportionment, the commonwealth ombudsman has said in its second and final report into the controversy.

The ombudsman found that Services Australia and the department of social services “did not act promptly” to address the issue and it “expected more action to have been taken” given the agencies had known about the problem for three years.

In August the ombudsman found that from at least 2003 to December 2020 the agencies miscalculated debts due to an “incorrect” understanding of social security law.

The problem has resulted in dozens of criminal prosecutions first being paused then dropped. In October Guardian Australia revealed that recovery on 86,000 alleged debts – of the total 100,000 possibly affected – had been paused.

Centrelink may have to forgive all 100,000 debts, the ombudsman says.
Centrelink may have to forgive all 100,000 debts, the ombudsman says. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

In its report on Monday, the commonwealth ombudsman said the agencies were “still unable to advise how many people were affected or how much payment rates are affected – that is, how much payments went up or down because of unlawful calculations”.

The ombudsman said Services Australia and DSS “have a responsibility to identify and assess, in a timely way, the impact historic unlawful calculations had on customers, and develop a fair and reasonable remediation strategy that considers all possible options”.

Given the scale of income apportionment and the length of time involved [they] should also be considering as one of those options whether the most appropriate as well as fairest way forward to remediate the impacts on customers with unlawful debts might be an approach involving large-scale waiver of debts … rather than seeking to re-calculate over 100,000 individual debts.

It recommended this be combined with “clear communications to customers” so that those who had “repaid unlawful debts” could seek review or other remedies. Excluding people who had repaid debts or were underpaid would “not be fair”, it warned.


Seventeen-year-old Will Shackel posts video asking Macron about nuclear energy in Australia

Some news outlets splashed this morning with stories about Australian 17-year-old Will Shackel having posted a video in which he is shown asking the French president, Emmanuel Macron, about the role of nuclear energy in global plans to decarbonise.

The video shot at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai shows Macron saying:

I hope that you will manage to lift the ban [on nuclear energy in Australia]. Nuclear energy is a source that is necessary to succeed.

You can see it here:

Nuclear energy has been France’s biggest source of electricity since the 1980s, and Macron has been a leading advocate for a declaration by 22 nations at Cop28 that global nuclear capacity should be tripled by 2050. Australia did not join the declaration.

It is not clear whether Macron studied Australia’s energy system before making the comments, but he does have a history of giving commentary on Australian politics while on the move at climate summits.

Two years ago the president famously said “I don’t think, I know” when asked by Australian journalists if he thought Scott Morrison had lied to him about a submarine deal that the Australian government had broken.

A side note: France does not yet have small modular nuclear reactors, as the Coalition has proposed for Australia. SMRs have proven difficult to get off the ground and are so far in operation at only two sites – in China and on a barge in Russia.


Israel has a legal right to self-defence: lawyers

Five hundred lawyers have signed an open letter to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, the foreign minister, Penny Wong, and the attorney-general Mark Dreyfus expressing concern about efforts to diminish Israel’s right to self-defence in the war with Hamas.

This correspondence follows another open letter signed by legal professionals sent last month arguing “atrocity crimes” had been committed in the conflict, and urging a ceasefire in Gaza.

The new letter, reported first by The Australian, signed by former judges and senior lawyers, rebuts specific arguments put in the letter sent to political leaders in the first week of November. It opens this way:

We, the undersigned Australian legal practitioners and legal academics dedicated to the rule of law, are concerned about the incorrect application of the law of armed conflict and other relevant international laws as a means to delegitimise Israel and diminish her legal right to self-defence in the current conflict with Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation.

We do not intend in this letter to diminish the undeniable human suffering that has been and will continue to be caused by the conflict. The images and reports coming out of Gaza are heartbreaking, and we recognise the pain and anguish of those who have been injured and lost loved ones, including entire families in their homes. It is impossible not to feel sympathy and compassion in the face of a human tragedy of that magnitude.

However, we also recognise that such suffering is a regrettable but unavoidable consequence of an armed conflict against a group such as Hamas, which deliberately places its people in the line of fire by using civilian infrastructure for military purposes.

Our latest news wrap from the conflict by Dan Sabbagh in Jerusalem says Israel has continued with an intense bombing campaign across Gaza three days since the end of the truce that enabled the release of some hostages. Local officials say hundreds of Palestinians have been killed over the past 24 hours.

You can read that news report here. You can find our live coverage of the conflict here.


Here are some more photos of Dave Sharma being sworn in as a senator this morning. Guardian photographer Mike Bowers was there to capture all the action:

Dave Sharma is sworn in as a senator for NSW.
Dave Sharma is sworn in as a senator for NSW. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Dave Sharma is sworn in as a senator for NSW.
Dave Sharma is sworn in as a senator for NSW.


Newest senator Dave Sharma officially sworn in

Former Liberal MP Dave Sharma has officially begun a resurgence of his political career after being sworn into the Senate, AAP reports.

The former Australian ambassador to Israel received applause after swearing his affirmation of allegiance this morning, and was then congratulated by his colleagues.

He was flanked by his NSW moderate faction colleagues Andrew Bragg and Maria Kovacic while being sworn in.

Dave Sharma during a swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chamber.
Dave Sharma during a swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chamber. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Sharma won Liberal preselection to replace the retired former foreign minister Marise Payne in her NSW seat.

He will reportedly set up his office in Sydney’s west as the Liberals look to claw back support and win predominantly Labor-held seats.

Sharma lost his seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s east at the federal election last year to teal independent Allegra Spender.

But he secured preselection over former NSW state treasurer Andrew Constance and former ACT senator Zed Seselja, who also lost his seat to an independent at the last election.


Treasurer to convene private investors’ roundtable focusing on net zero, defence and social impact

This week treasurer Jim Chalmers will convene an investors roundtable, focusing on how government can work with investors and industry to “unlock greater private investment in national priority areas”.

The three key areas will include the net zero transformation, defence, and social impact investment.

The roundtable is convened alongside the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, energy minister, Chris Bowen and defence industry minister, Pat Conroy, after previous roundtables on housing in November 2022 and energy in April this year.

The ministers will meet with a broad range of investors tomorrow, across three sessions.

In a statement, Chalmers said:

Whether it’s the investor community, the philanthropic community, or the government, we recognise that we will deliver better outcomes for our economy and our people if we work together.

Our Investor Roundtables are all about getting capital flowing towards opportunities that are in the national interest, delivering strong returns for investors and strong returns for our people.


Looks like the thunderstorms are set to continue for Queensland today:

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, severe thunderstorms are possible in the Wide Bay and southern Capricornia areas, which could lead to large hail and damaging winds.

Social housing requirement in new high density developments urged by Homelessness NSW

Homelessness NSW is calling for social housing to be mandated in new high density developments, and said this is key to addressing the homelessness crisis.

In a statement, CEO Dom Rowe said she would welcome any move to require social and affordable housing in high density developments near existing transport and services.

She is calling for 10% of dwellings to be social housing by 2050, and said this would help Australia out of its “worst homelessness crisis in a generation”.

There are 57,000 households on the waitlist for social housing and most of them face a decade-long wait to secure a home. This is unacceptable.

These are women and children who have fled violence, people who are forced to keep reapplying for temporary accommodation, couch surf or left to sleep rough.

Short-changing social housing now only leads to overwhelmed community and health services down the track and costs us all more in the long term.

• This post was amended on 4 December 2023 to correctly refer to Dom Rowe as “she” rather than “he”.


Coles and Woolworths ripping people off ‘for years’, says Jacqui Lambie

The independent senator Jacqui Lambie has accused Coles and Woolworths of operating “like the bloody cartel” ahead of the Christmas period, and said the supermarket giants have “ripped [people] off for years”.

This comes as the agriculture minister, Murray Watt, called for a freeze on the price of Christmas ham as a staple item these holidays, and Coles and Woolworths are set to face a Senate inquiry over claims of alleged profiteering:

Speaking to Sky News earlier this morning, Lambie applauded the Greens for bringing forward another inquiry about supermarket prices but questioned “what is stopping” the government from bolstering funding to the ACCC:

I think what I find really shameful … is that we’ve got to run another inquiry to tell us the same thing, when we know very well that if we bulked up the ACCC and gave it more powers they could actually fix this.

Where is the prime minister? Where is he?

The cost of living is absolutely absurd out there, not to mention the farmers, what they’re getting paid for their product and the [increase] between that and [what it is] by the time it gets on to supermarket shelves.

The Sky host said they had spoken to ACCC earlier, who said it couldn’t go in and check individual prices because they needed a special referral from the minister in charge.

Lambie questioned, “Why hasn’t that happened?”

She said it was “stupidity” to go have to go through another inquiry and “waste more months” amid the cost-of-living crisis.


Further to our last post, here are some rendered images of the remastered plans for the Powerhouse in Ultimo:

Plaza view.
Plaza view. Photograph: Supplied by the Powerhouse
Harris Street view.
Harris Street view. Photograph: Powerhouse
The courtyard.
The courtyard. Photograph: Supplied by the Powerhouse


Remastered plans for Powerhouse Ultimo’s $250m refurbishment revealed

The NSW government has revealed its remastered plans for Australia’s largest and oldest science and technology museum.

The Powerhouse in Ultimo will close for up to three years from 5 February to undergo a $250m refurbishment. And the word “museum” will be inserted back into the institution’s name, less than a year after it was removed in a rebranding that cost a reported $1.5m.

Described as a “heritage renewal” by the arts minister, John Graham, the now called Powerhouse Museum Ultimo is a significantly scaled down version of what the previous government planned, which would have cost about $500m.

The concept designs released today show a new main entrance facing the Goods Line, a new outdoor public square and the incorporation of the heritage 1901 Post Office building adjacent to the museum precinct.

In a statement, Graham said the completed refurbishment would show off the heritage facades of the original power station built in 1899 and deliver more indoor exhibition space. The museum would continue to focus on applied arts and sciences.


Watch and act flood warnings for Victoria

There are still four watch and act warnings for flooding in Victoria, which experienced widespread severe thunderstorms and flooding events around Gippsland during the past week.

There is a moderate flood warning for the Snowy River downstream of McKillips Bridge, where moderate flooding is continuing at Orbost.

River levels are slowly easing and no significant rainfall is forecast in the next few days, according to VicEmergency.

The Snowy River at Orbost peaked at 6.61m last night, and is now at 6.28m and falling. It may fall below the moderate flood level (6m) into tomorrow.

The river also remains above the minor flood level at D/S Basin Creek and at Jarrahmond.

The other watch and act warnings include:

  • Moderate flooding for the Mitchell River downstream of Glenaladale

  • Moderate flooding at the Thomson River Cowwar Weir to Wandocka

  • Moderate flooding at the Thomson River downstream of Wandocka


Agriculture minister calls for freeze on Christmas ham price

Supermarkets should freeze the price of leg ham to give families certainty ahead of Christmas Day, the federal agriculture minister, Murray Watt, has said.

His call comes as Coles and Woolworths look set to face a parliamentary inquiry into whether they are price gouging to get record profits amid cost of living pressures:

Watt sent a stern warning to supermarkets to “not profit off hardworking Aussies” in the lead-up to Christmas.

Supermarkets should put a freeze on the price of leg ham, to give families certainty ahead of the big day, with Christmas being a tough time for those struggling with cost of living pressures, he said in a statement.

The traditional ham is a staple of any Christmas lunch in Australia. And we know families are doing it tough at the moment and the cost of a lot of things is going up.

It’s time for supermarkets to do their part and say ‘one thing we won’t put up is the price of a Christmas ham’.

Watt said farmers also needed certainty that they would get a fair price from supermarkets:

For the average Aussie, it doesn’t make sense that the price on the bottom of their docket is going up while these companies are recording massive profits.

- from AAP


Time to ‘reimagine’ retirement for Australians, says Actuaries Institute

As we reported earlier, the government has released a discussion paper on superannuation, looking to improve the system to deliver better outcomes for more retirees.

The Actuaries Institute has published a discussion paper today arguing it is time to “reimagine” retirement in Australia by making it easier for people to obtain targeted support when planning for retirement.

This would include financial advice, but also tips around healthcare needs, what age to retire, and paying down debt.

Actuaries Andrew Gale, a former chairman at the Self Managed Super Fund Association, and Stephen Huppert, an independent superannuation adviser, are calling on the federal government to set up a regulatory framework to enable this.

Huppert said:

Retirement has evolved significantly, and many people will choose not to follow conventional retirement patterns. The needs of people who have 20 to 30 years of retirement ahead of them are going to be very different to those who in the past had only a decade or so. It’s time to reimagine retirement and get the system up to scratch.


Brisbane lord mayor says development of 2032 Olympics has been ‘botched’

Brisbane’s lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, has appeared on local ABC radio this morning to answer questions about his decision to quit the 2032 Olympics delivery forum.

Schrinner announced on Sunday he was quitting the state government-run leaders body, which has become a “dysfunctional farce”.

Speaking on ABC, he said neither the government’s final plans for the $2.7bn rebuild of the Gabba, nor a plan to redevelop the RNA Showgrounds to host AFL and cricket matches, had been discussed at the forum, which hasn’t met “for months”.

What’s the point of being at the table?

He said he did not have a firm view as to whether redeveloping the Gabba was the best option for hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, but said he had no faith in the existing process.

It’s obvious that there needs to be an independent authority to assess what is the right option.

This process has been botched.

They’ve really quickly lost the support of the community when it comes to the Gabba plan and now the RNA plan.

While saying he still supports the Olympics “100%”, Schrinner called for an independent delivery authority to immediately be tasked with assessing the Gabba plan.

We’ve got time to get this right … If an overpriced stadium is the legacy of the Olympics, that’s not the right Olympics.

Schrinner will maintain his role on the Brisbane 2032 organising committee, which is an independent body.

Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is scheduled to face the media this morning at 8.30am local time (9.30am AEDT).


Baby dies after man allegedly harms him

A 10-month-old baby who was allegedly harmed by a 25-year-old man has died in hospital, AAP reports.

The boy was taken to the Royal Hobart hospital in a critical condition after an ambulance was called to a home at Warrane in Hobart’s eastern suburbs around 1am on Friday.

Daniel John Ridgers was charged on Sunday with causing grievous bodily harm to a child.

Tasmania police on Monday issued a statement saying the baby had died.

Our condolences are with the family and loved ones of the baby.

The police investigation is ongoing.

Ridgers, who appeared in an after-hours court session on Sunday, is expected to reappear in Hobart magistrates court today.


Australian household budgets nearing pressure limits, Finder research shows

New research from Finder shows that Australian households are nearing the top of their financial pressure limits.

The comparison site combined data from its consumer sentiment tracker, and data from the Reserve Bank of Australia, to assess the economic strain experienced by Australians.

It found an “extreme” pressure level of 79%, up from 45% in November 2020, meaning 3 in 4 Australians are somewhat or extremely financially stressed.

The pressure level reflects that 37% of homeowners and 44% of renters are struggling to pay for a roof over their head, and the fact that the RBA’s cash rate target of 4.35% is its highest since 2011.

Head of consumer research at Finder, Graham Cooke, said the latest pressure figure is down from a peak of 85% in May but current levels remain “considerably” higher than most of 2020 and 2021.

As households look to stretch their budgets further, this affects their ability to create a decent savings buffer to protect themselves from further pressure.

The pressure reading accounts for housing stress, salary expectations, household debt, financial stress, household savings, holiday plans, credit card spending, the RBA cash rate target, property prices and inflation.


Union flags four-hour V/Line stoppage over pay dispute

Train and bus workers are set to walk off the job for four hours as part of a pay dispute with Victoria’s regional train and coach operator, AAP reports.

V/Line has been notified by the Australian Rail Tram and Bus Industry Union that operations staff will take industrial action from 3am to 7am on 13 December.

Only non-driving grades will participate in the action, including conductors, train controllers, stations and customer service staff and authorised officers.

However, the union says it will bring the entire V/Line network to a halt.

About 93% of its members last week voted in favour of taking action as workers seek a 17% pay rise over four years.

RTBU branch secretary Vik Sharma said the union was focused on minimising the impacts of the action on the public, encouraging commuters to plan their working weeks accordingly.

He said the union would continue to meet V/Line and negotiate in good faith as members would prefer to avoid the stoppage if their concerns are addressed.

V/Line chief executive officer, Matt Carrick, urged the union to reconsider, declaring the planned action could disrupt tens of thousands of passengers.


Australia’s first national health and climate strategy launched overnight

Staying with Cop28, and overnight, Australia’s first ever National Health and Climate Strategy was launched by the assistant health minister, Ged Kearney.

The strategy outlines a whole-of-government plan for the next five years to address the health and wellbeing impacts of climate change.

A statement from the department of health said the plan sets out actions which will build healthy, climate-resilient communities, and a sustainable, resilient, high-quality, net zero health system.

The statement notes the impact of climate change on human health and wellbeing, due to extreme heat, floods and fires, air pollution and drought.

The four core objectives of the strategy are:

• health system resilience
• health system decarbonisation
• international collaboration
• health in all policies

The Climate and Health Alliance has welcomed the plan. CEO Philip Cornish said it shows a “legitimate shift in Australian climate policy over the past 18 months”.

Strategic director, Remy Shergill, said the implementation of the strategy “could not come a moment too soon”.

We see climate change right now in our communities, our hospitals and health facilities. The health impacts are broad and insidious, from bodily harm to smoke inhalation, from infectious disease, to mental distress, and more.


Pacific nations would be involved in Cop if hosted in Australia, says assistant minister

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, Jenny McAllister was also asked about Australia’s plans to host a potential Cop in 2026. She said:

We’ll be talking with other partners, of course, about our desire to host a Cop in 2026. But it may be challenging to settle given all of the other questions that the parties need to deal with at this Cop.

McAllister also said any Cop hosted by Australia would be run alongside Pacific nations:

We know that for our Pacific neighbours, [climate change] is amongst the most important of the issues that they confront, and they regularly raise it with us.

We see this as an opportunity to work with Pacific partners to elevate their interests in the international conversation. We’re not waiting for that, of course, we do that work every day.

And one of the roles that I would expect to play heading across to Dubai is to make sure that in all of the conversations that we’re in, the concerns and interests of the Pacific are front of mind.


Assistant climate change minister asked whether Australia ‘can be taken seriously’ without fossil fuel phase-out promise

The assistant minister for climate change and energy, Jenny McAllister, was also making the rounds this morning amid the Cop28 summit.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, she spoke of the pledge that Australia has signed alongside more than 100 nations to triple renewables by 2030 and double energy efficiency.

We, of course, are working towards transforming our national electricity system to incorporate 82% renewables by 2030. This is a really ambitious transformation, but one that we believe will lay the foundations for a cleaner and more affordable energy system for Australians.

She was asked whether Australia “can be taken seriously” without a commitment to phase out fossil fuels. McAllister didn’t answer directly, but spoke about how Australia’s energy system is “rapidly transforming”:

If you think about what it means to take our energy system from 33% renewables to 82%, that does mean that our fossil fuel use within our own energy system at home is changing very dramatically over the course of a decade.

We know that globally, we need to see similar changes and similar investments in the new technologies to drive low emissions power, not just here in Australia, but actually, right across the world.


Australia needs ‘open mind’ to get to net zero: shadow climate minister

Ted O’Brien said he would “absolutely” welcome a nuclear facility in his electorate:

… or any electorate around the country where it is proven to be technologically feasible, has a social licence and it is going to get prices down.

He told ABC RN that Australia needs an “open mind” and “bipartisanship” to get to net zero.

We have to be humble enough at these conferences at Cop to say what are other countries doing? What peer countries are doing is they are saying we are looking at nuclear energy as part of the balanced mix.

We must in Australia be driven not by ideology, but by economics and engineering and learn from those countries and that includes consideration for zero emissions nuclear energy, and people may be arguing all they like, but we will be very open and transparent as we always have been.


Shadow climate change minister says Australia should have signed up to Cop28 nuclear pledge

The shadow minister for climate change and energy, Ted O’Brien, just spoke to ABC RN amid the Cop28 summit.

At the summit, Australia backed a pledge to triple global renewable energy capacity and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. But it did not sign up to a commitment by 22 countries, including the US, Canada, Japan and Britain, to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050:

Asked what portion of Australia’s energy mix should be nuclear, O’Brien didn’t name an exact figure and said the Coalition would announce “how much energy we believe should be coming from different sources as we move forward”.

But host Hamish Macdonald pushed that the Coalition had a decade in power to push the nuclear industry forward, and questioned how much its nuclear policy would cost.

O’Brien then said: “Are you wanting me to announce how much our policy is going to cost before we announce our policy?”


You’re saying that Australia should sign up to the pledge at Cop but you can’t tell us what proportion of the energy mix it would be in Australia; you can’t tell us how much it would cost, but you are saying that the taxpayer [would foot part of the bill].

O’Brien said the nuclear commitment isn’t about each signatory saying how much money it is individually contributing:

That’s not the point. So with all due respect, what you are asking me to reveal is not relevant for what is going on in Cop at the moment.


‘Heartbroken, devastated and furious’: Raelene Cooper on Woodside approvals

More on the federal approvals granted to Woodside to start drilling and seismic blasting at the Burrup Hub gas plants in northern WA:

Murujuga traditional custodian Raelene Cooper said she is “heartbroken, devastated and furious” that the government has allowed Woodside’s Burrup Hub to “destroy our sacred rock art, our songlines and our precious marine sanctuaries”.

Our majestic whales carry the stories of our people, carry our songlines from one part of Country to another, they are documented on our munda (our rocks), they are our dreaming stories that I hold. I have warned previously that the risks and the impacts of such destructive activities will be life threatening for these precious species.

As custodians, our obligation and responsibility is to protect land and sea. As First Nations people we have to fight in these federal courts to maintain our people’s living culture and the conviction that we hold on behalf of all humanity and all living creatures. Now the governments are forcing us to fight for our living culture and our living knowledge, and we are going to fight this war.


Indigenous custodian Raelene Cooper condemns approvals for Woodside seismic blasting

Murujuga traditional custodian Raelene Cooper has condemned federal approvals granted to Woodside on Friday night for seismic blasting and drilling at a major fossil fuel development in northern Western Australia as a “breathtaking regulatory stitch-up”.

This comes just two months after the federal court threw out previous seismic blasting approval at the Scarborough site due to inadequate consultation with Cooper:

Late Friday, the federal offshore oil and gas regulator NOPSEMA approved Woodside’s plans to start drilling and seismic blasting at the gas field from 2 December, with shipping data confirming Woodside already had a ship positioned in the area ready to begin blasting.

The fresh approval comes after a federal court decision on 28 September overturned Woodside’s previous NOPSEMA approval due to inadequate cultural heritage consultation with Cooper.

She had previously criticised Woodside’s consultation as “arrogant, disrespectful and at times hostile”, citing a lack of consultation when Woodside destroyed hundreds of ancient rock carvings to build existing Burrup Hub gas plants.


Physicians disappointed at lack of national consensus to raise age of criminal responsibility

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says it is disappointed there was no national agreement to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 after a standing council of attorneys-general meeting.

In a statement, paediatrician and RACP president, Dr Jacqueline Small, said the “disappointing” decision would result in a “continued piecemeal, state-by-state situation, at best”.

Without a national consensus to raise the age to 14, we will continue to see health inequities, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The RACP is calling on all states and territories to pursue this “vital reform” in the absence of national consensus.

We praise the NT and the ACT, which have raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12, and we note the ACT’s commitment to raise the age to 14.

We also welcome Victoria’s recent commitment to do the same.

We urge other jurisdictions to show leadership and raise the age, even without a nationally agreed approach.


‘Unacceptable risk’ test to determine if freed migrants go back to detention under proposed law

People freed from immigration detention will be re-detained if a court agrees they pose an unacceptably high risk of committing a “serious violent or sexual offence” under proposed new Australian laws.

After a landmark high court ruling that indefinite immigration detention was unconstitutional, the Australian government will this week seek urgent passage of a proposal to allow some of the released migrants or refugees to be re-detained for up to three years at a time.

Under the new scheme, a community safety detention order will be granted by a court “if the court is satisfied to a high degree of probability … that the offender poses an unacceptable risk of committing a serious violent or sexual offence”.

Continue reading:


Retirement phase of superannuation examined in new government paper

The government has released a discussion paper on the retirement phase of superannuation, looking to improve the system to deliver better outcomes for more retirees.

A joint statement from treasurer Jim Chalmers and assistant treasurer Stephen Jones said that over the next ten years, the number of retirees with a super account will double, with an estimated 2.5 million people set to retire.

The statement said Australians are living longer and healthier lives, with many retirees concerned about outliving their savings.

It also said most retirees don’t have access to the “appropriate products” to help maximise their super over their lifetime.

In fact, 84 per cent of retirement savings are held in account-based or allocated pensions, with only 3.5 per cent held in annuities. Unlike account-based pensions, annuities offer the option of receiving regular payments for life, regardless of how long a person lives.

Super funds need to do more to understand their members’ retirement needs and provide products and services tailored for their retirement. We also recognise there is a role for government and regulators in creating an environment that supports these changes.


Gold Coast out of running to host 2026 Commonwealth Games

The Gold Coast has scrapped its bid to host the 2026/27 Commonwealth Games after it failed to generate support from the state or federal governments, AAP reports.

The Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate, confirmed the city would no longer pursue its $700m bid to host a “streamlined” 2026 Games, announced after the Victorian government pulled out in July citing cost blowouts.

Tate said in a statement last night:

We did our best and that’s all people can expect. Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains in tatters.

Tate said he knew the bid was audacious but said it would not have cost ratepayers.

The mayor also said he had been overwhelmed by support from locals, sports administrators, businesses and athletes “all wanting to see the event saved”.

Our dual proposal with Perth would have saved Australia’s tarnished reputation, delivered billions into the national economy and given athletes, and para-athletes, a clear pathway towards other international competitions including the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and Paralympics and then on to the 2032 Games in Queensland.

Tate said he would write to Commonwealth Games Federation president, Chris Jenkins, on Monday to advise him of the decision.

He said the city, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games, would move forward and seek other major sports and festival events.


Good morning

And happy Monday – welcome back to another week on the Australia news live blog. I’m Emily Wind, and I’ll be taking you through our live coverage today.

And you’ll be seeing a lot more of me on here, as Guardian Australia’s new liveblogger. I’ll be with you most weekdays unless parliament is sitting – then you’ll have the brilliant Amy Remeikis to guide you through. You can always send story tips my way on X/Twitter @emilywindwrites or send me an email:

Making news today: the Gold Coast has scrapped its bid to host the next Commonwealth Games, after failing to gain the support of the federal and state governments. As AAP reports, The Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate, said “we did our best and that’s all people can expect”, no longer pursing the $700m bid.

The government has released a discussion paper on the retirement phase of superannuation. Over the next ten years the number of retirees with a super account is set to double, and with Australians typically living longer and healthier lives, many are concerned about outliving their savings.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians says it is disappointed that there was no national agreement to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 after a standing council of attorneys general meeting.

We will have more on all these stories shortly.

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