What we learned: Monday, 8 August
With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening.
Here were the biggest developments of the day, dominated by the inquiry into John Barilaro’s New York trade job.
- Barilaro has told the inquiry the trade role wasn’t “jobs for the boys” and he was surprised to be selected, before rejecting a “disgusting slur” behind his knowledge prior to the job vacancy, refuting the suggestion he must be “one of the luckiest men in NSW politics”. “If you’ve lived the hell that I’ve lived in the last six weeks, you’d be the unluckiest,” he replied. Barilaro also revealed his third referee for the NYC job was the former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, now Australia’s high commissioner to India.
- The federal government has asked the Fair Work Commission to raise aged care workers’ wages in part because it would “contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap”, arguing that there has been a “gender-based” undervaluation of the work done by aged care staff.
- A homicide investigation is underway after two bodies were found in a southern Brisbane suburb this morning.
- There were 14 deaths from Covid recorded across the nation today as new data revealed Covid-19 has become the third leading cause of death in Australia this year. It comes as Queensland’s Covid wave is confirmed to have peaked on 25 July.
- And several Adelaide Crows players are reportedly considering filing a class action over the AFL club’s 2018 pre-season camp, further claims about which have emerged in the past week following the publication of Eddie Betts’s biography.
Body found in paddock in north-west Victoria
Police are responding to an incident in north-west Victoria where a farmer has allegedly found a body in a paddock.
Victoria Police say the farmer located the body in a paddock at a small town near Wycheproof shortly before 4pm today.
The body is yet to be formally identified. Police are on scene and investigations are ongoing.
Coalition says aged care workers should be ‘renumerated fairly’
The shadow health minister, Anne Ruston, says the Coalition wants to see aged care workers “remunerated fairly”, in response to the Labor government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s work value case.
Unions have called for a 25% pay rise, while the government resisted putting a concrete number on their recommendation of a pay rise. Ruston said the Coalition “respects the independence of the Fair Work Commission and we will support their decision.”
“Our hardworking aged care workforce should be remunerated fairly and adequately for the support they provide to the Australian community,” she said.
We must also ensure a sustainable and affordable aged care sector for our older Australians and the future generations who will rely on it.
In a separate statement, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said it welcomed the government’s submission.
The nature of the work required across the aged care sector has developed considerably over the years and become significantly more complex, requiring greater skill and responsibility under increasingly difficult conditions, with a diminishing workforce.
That’s why we believe the government’s support for a wage increase for nurses and workers will create the opportunity for well-paid jobs and provide a platform for nurses and care workers to be recruited and retained in the under-resourced aged care sector.
It’s good to mention if you are finding the news distressing, crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day.
Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Nine-month-old found dead in Sydney’s west
NSW Police have confirmed that a nine-month-old baby has been found dead in Sydney’s west.
Emergency services were called to a home in Doonside just after 10am today, where they found the child unresponsive.
NSW Ambulance personnel attempted treatment on the scene, but the child could not be revived.
Police confirmed the death in a statement, saying an investigation is under way:
Officers from Blacktown Police Area Command have commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death.
Australian research finds direct link between low vitamin D levels and inflammation
New research has established a direct link between low levels of vitamin D and persistent inflammation, which can lead to a wide range of problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune issues, AAP reports.
The University of South Australia says its findings provide an important biomarker to identify people at higher risk of chronic illnesses.
The study examined the genetic data of 294 ,970 participants in the UK Biobank to show the association between vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels, an indicator of inflammation.
The study’s lead researcher, Ang Zhou, said the findings suggested boosting vitamin D in people with a deficiency might reduce chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection. High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver in response to inflammation, so when your body is experiencing chronic inflammation, it also shows higher levels of C-reactive protein.
Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases.
Senior investigator and director of the university’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Elina Hypponen, said the study’s results were important in the ongoing debate over increasing levels of vitamin D.
Queensland police union head tells inquiry domestic violence involves ‘only a small minority of serving officers’
The head of Queensland’s police union has said there is no “widespread cultural problem” in how officers respond to domestic violence incidents, in a submission made to the state’s commission of inquiry examining the issue.
Ian Leavers, the president of the Queensland Police Union since 2009, said “instances of individual failings and shortcomings” were “more likely due to workload pressures or inadequate training” than cultural issues.
“There are still unsatisfactory behaviours and attitudes within the service, as would be found in any large organisation,” Leavers wrote.
Some of the feedback and evidence to this commission of inquiry makes that plain. Importantly though, I suggest that this involves only a very small minority of serving police officers.
Read Eden Gillespie’s story here:
Police in Victoria to implement recommendations regarding complaints made by First Nations persons
Victoria police will implement all the recommendations of an anti-corruption report into its handling of complaints made by Aboriginal people.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (Ibac) made 10 recommendations, including that the force take urgent action to ensure that the Aboriginal status of complainants and people involved in serious incidents was accurately recorded and that it establish a dedicated process for handling complaints made by Aboriginal people.
On Monday, Ibac said in a statement that it welcomed the police’s commitment to implementing the recommendations to address “concerning patterns and deficiencies” exposed in the report.
The statement said:
These recommendations are important because ensuring such complaints and serious incidents are investigated thoroughly and fairly is one way to help build Aboriginal people’s confidence and trust in Victoria police.
The police oversight model in Victoria is currently under review. The state government announced the review two years after they were due to respond to a damning parliamentary committee report on police complaints.
Yesterday afternoon, the NSW SES ordered low-lying areas surrounding Wagga Wagga to evacuate by the evening as the Murrumbidgee River continued to rise.
This is Wagga by drone today:
Health Services Union welcomes government submission on aged care wages
Leading voices in the aged care sector have backed the federal government’s submission calling for a wage increase for workers, with one major union claiming the workforce has been “exploited” for some time.
Unions have called for a 25% pay bump. The employment minister, Tony Burke, and the aged care minister, Anika Wells, didn’t put a specific number on the government’s submission, but the document argues workers have been “significantly” underpaid and said a payrise would help address Australia’s gender pay gap.
The Health Services Union has welcomed the submission, while noting they still want the 25% increase.
HSU president Gerard Hayes:
After a decade of neglect the new government’s recognition of the aged care workforce is a shot in the arm. For too long Australia has allowed a mostly female, insecurely employed workforce to be exploited and overworked.
We strongly commend Anika Wells and the Labor government for recognising this historic injustice.
The HSU also said aged care work has gotten more complex over time, as “community expectations of care have evolved” and Australia’s population has aged.
Paul Sadler, CEO of the Aged & Community Care Providers Association, also backed the government’s stance.
Day three summary of Brown’s testimony at Barilaro inquiry
The Barilaro inquiry has wrapped up for the day after Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown concluded her third day of evidence.
Here’s what we learned this afternoon from both Brown and Barilaro:
- Barilaro became frustrated at suggestions that he set about creating the New York trade role for himself when he first decided he was going to retire. He described it as a “disgusting slur” that wrongly made him out “to be corrupt”. Labor MPs suggested the sequence of events that saw him named as the trade commissioner must make him “the luckiest man in NSW politics”. Barilaro responded that he was the unluckiest because he’d lived through “hell” in the past six weeks.
- Barilaro described himself as the “victim, not the perpetrator”, in reference to flaws with the recruitment process. He said all he’d done was “apply for a job” and been selected by an independent panel. “What did I do wrong? I got offered a job and I accepted a job,” he said.
- The inquiry heard questions about a former media advisor of Barilaro’s, Jennifer Lugsdin. Emails suggested she may have known of the role on 10 December. It wasn’t advertised until 17 December, the inquiry heard. Barilaro and Lugsdin were in a relationship.
- The inquiry also later heard that Barilaro called up Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown suggesting she consider Lugsdin for a media role in the agency. Barilaro said he was not in a relationship with Lugsdin at that time. Brown said she later learned of the relationship through the media and asked for a conflict of interest declaration from the relevant labour hire firm. She said there was no evidence that such a declaration existed but that was likely because Lugsdin departed the role shortly after.
Amy Brown said there were clear errors in the recruitment process that led to Barilaro being selected as the New York trade commissioner. She said she offered him the job too early, before a panel report was concluded. She also slammed the decision to alter candidate rankings as “appalling” and said she gave no instructions to change the ratings or commentary. But she said ultimately, despite the failings, the best candidate was picked for the job.
- Brown also gave evidence about the agent general role in London and her dealings with Stephen Cartwright, a former chief of the state’s business lobby, for that role. She said the candidate had indicated a salary package expectation of $800,000, which is more than double what the premier earns. It would make the role the second highest paid in the NSW government. She refused what she was considered a “ridiculous” demand for a public service position, but said that Cartwright tried to go over her head to the trade minister, Stuart Ayres.
Albanese government says raising aged care wages would help narrow gender pay gap
The federal government has asked the Fair Work Commission to raise aged care workers’ wages in part because it would “contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap”, arguing that there has been a “gender-based” undervaluation of the work done by aged care staff.
Unions representing aged care workers have asked for a 25% pay increase. As expected, there is no specific increase recommended by the government in its submission to the FWC’s work value case – but there is a very pointed note that Labor believes the sector has been “significantly” underpaid and that the government backed a pay rise.
“The commonwealth submits that the work value of aged care workers is significantly higher than the modern awards currently reflect,” said the 41-page submission, signed off by the Australian government solicitor and shared by the employment minister, Tony Burke, this afternoon.
The commonwealth said it “will provide funding to support any increases to award wages made by the commission in this matter”, and was keen to “work with the commission and the parties regarding the timing of implementation of any increases”.
In a statement from Burke, the health minister, Mark Butler, and the aged care minister, Anika Wells, the government says wage rises are crucial to get more people working in aged care.
If we don’t start paying aged care workers properly we won’t be able to attract and retain enough staff to care for our loved ones as our population ages.
Butler said a wage increase will “give nurses and carers more time to care.”
The submission says the work done by aged care staff has been undervalued due to a historical under-appreciation for “social and emotional and interpersonal skills”, arguing that “the undervaluation is gender-based” because the industry is dominated by female workers.
The document read:
The commonwealth notes a decision to increase minimum award wages in care classifications in the awards would deliver significant benefits to the women working within this highly feminised and undervalued sector, and, by increasing the relative earnings of a female dominated sector, would contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap.
It also notes that the government plans to “explicitly add gender pay equity as an object of the [Fair Work] Act”.
Wells went further in her statement, specifically highlighting the gender pay issue at the heart of the submission.
One of the main causes of the gender pay gap is low pay and poor conditions in care sectors like aged care, where the majority of workers are women. Increasing wages in aged care is essential to ensuring that men and women are paid equally.
Stephen Cartwright messaged Stuart Ayres over renumeration for London trade role, Brown tells inquiry
The chief executive of Investment NSW, Amy Brown, has told the inquiry that Stephen Cartwright, the agent general in London, went over her head over concerns about his salary. He had wanted a package of $800,000 a year, she said.
Brown had resisted agreeing to the “ridiculous” salary. She said Cartwright messaged the trade minister, Stuart Ayres, on 23 March to seek his intervention on his remuneration. Brown said it was “highly inappropriate” and almost unprecedented.
The good thing about it was that minister Ayres contacted me and said ‘look you can do what you like, because Cartwright is your employee. I just want to give you a heads up I’ve got this message, it might be good to benchmark it against other states’.
Brown was asked about a The Sydney Morning Herald report that the premier, Dominic Perrottet, spoke to the transport minister, David Elliott, about potentially taking the agent general role.
The paper reported that Perrottet described Cartwright as “a problem”.
Brown said she had never had a direct discussion with Ayres in which he told her that he had raised Cartwright as a “problem” with his colleagues. But she did say Ayres was intuitive and had probably picked up there was a difficult relationship between her and Cartwright.
Every day, we post a national summary of Covid numbers, including the death toll across each state and territory.
There were 7,100 Covid deaths in the first seven months of 2022, according to new research from the Actuaries Institute, making the virus the third most common cause of death so far this year.
Daily surveillance reports from state and territory health departments recorded 9,550 Covid-19 deaths from the start of January until the end of July, including 1,934 deaths in July alone.
Read Melissa Davey’s story here:
National Covid summary: 14 deaths reported
Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 14 deaths from Covid-19:
- Deaths: 1
- Cases: 509
- In hospital: 144 (with 5 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 4
- Cases: 7,648
- In hospital: 2,236 (with 59 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 1
- Cases: 176
- In hospital: 32 (with 2 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 2,504
- In hospital: 667 (with 26 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 7
- Cases: 1,625
- In hospital: 322 (with 10 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 455
- In hospital: 84 (with 1 person in ICU)
- Deaths: 1
- Cases: 4,911
- In hospital: 657 (with 37 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 2,045
WA Health says it is unable to provide up to date hospitalisation figures due to a data issue.
Qantas asks executives to volunteer to fill in as baggage handlers
Senior executives at Qantas could trade their high-profile positions to work as ground handlers as part of a plan to combat labour shortages, AAP reports.
The embattled airline’s chief operating officer, Colin Hughes, told staff in an internal memo they are seeking expressions of interest for a contingency program over a three-month period:
People who respond to the EOI will be trained and rostered into the ramp environment at Sydney and Melbourne airports. These people will support our ground handling partners, who are managing the Qantas operation, over a three-month period from mid-August.
At least 100 managers will be recruited to sort and scan bags and transport luggage. Hughes added, “there is no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position”.
It comes after at least 1,600 baggage handlers were sacked during lockdown, with the service outsourced to contractors, a decision the federal court ruled was unlawful. Qantas previously vowed to appeal the decision.
The once highly regarded airline recently apologised after a litany of complaints from frustrated passengers who have endured delayed and cancelled flights, long queues at airports and lost baggage in recent months.
The airline is hoping to address the problems by scheduling fewer flights in the next month and hiring more staff.
Inquiry into recruitment processes for NSW public service roles continues
Back in the Barilaro inquiry, we mentioned briefly some questions about a media advisor who John Barilaro was in a relationship with.
Barilaro had called Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown, suggesting that the media advisor, Jennifer Lugsdin, be considered for a media job at Brown’s agency.
They had only spoken three times on the phone in total, Brown said. The inquiry earlier heard evidence that Lugsdin may have had early warning that the US trade job was going to be advertised.
Emails show that her account received an email from the head of communications about the decision to push ahead with advertising the role. That was on 10 December. The actual advertisement wasn’t made publicly until 17 December, the inquiry heard.
The inquiry has spent much of the last hour examining an appointment to the London agent general role and a candidate’s demands for an $800,000 package to perform the job, which would make it the second highest paid role in the NSW public service, more than double what the premier receives.
Brown said she was concerned about the salary demand, saying it was not realistic and was “ridiculous”. She tried to lower the salary.
The federal government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s aged care wages inquiry has been made public
It says the work value of aged care staff is “significantly higher” than what current wages reflect and calls for a pay increase, without nominating a specific figure by which wages should be increased.
NSW transport minister backs down from contest for Liberal party deputy position
That’s a backtrack.
The NSW transport minister, David Elliot, will not run for deputy leader of the Liberal party, outlets are reporting.
Earlier today the treasurer, Matt Kean, confirmed he would put his hand up for the role.
Last week, Elliott announced he was running; however, he told News Corp he’d withdraw from the contest if Kean also stepped aside for a woman to fill the role.
Brown’s latest revelation at the inquiry into John Barilaro’s appointment to the New York trade commissioner role:
Meanwhile, foreign minister Penny Wong has been meeting with the US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman following her WW2 memorial visit to the Solomon Islands.
Sherman says the US Australia alliance is “global in scope”, while not commenting publicly on building tensions between China and Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
Matt Kean to contest NSW Liberals’ deputy leadership
NSW’s treasurer, Matt Kean, has confirmed he’ll seek the deputy leadership of the state’s Liberal party, following the John Barilaro trade job fiasco that last week forced the resignation of former deputy leader Stuart Ayers.
He told reporters:
I’ll be putting my name forward and that’ll be up to my colleagues to decide whether or not they’d like me to fill this role.
Ayres resigned from cabinet and as deputy leader after a draft review found he had not remained at arm’s length from the appointment of Barilaro to a lucrative New York trade job and may have breached the ministerial code of conduct.
His ministerial portfolios have been redistributed and the party will vote on his replacement as deputy on Tuesday.
Kean joins the transport minister, David Elliott, who announced last week he would contest the deputy leadership. Kean leads the centrist “moderate” faction of the party while Elliott is known for being a conservative. The pair have a history of conflict.
Elliott told News Corp he would withdraw from the contest if Kean also stepped aside for a woman to fill the role. Ten of the 33 Liberal members in the legislative assembly are women.
- with AAP.
Barilaro was ‘most suitable candidate’, despite process flaws: Amy Brown
Amy Brown, the chief executive of Investment NSW, is giving evidence to the inquiry into John Barilaro’s appointment to the New York trade commissioner role. It is the third time Brown has given evidence to this inquiry.
She acknowledges the concerns about the recruitment process expressed by public service commissioner, Kathrina Lo, who gave evidence last week. She says the concerns were “well-founded”.
Brown details a number of concerns and errors with the recruitment process, including by the third party recruiter and by herself. But she said she did her best “under trying circumstances”. Brown says the process was made more complicated by the high level of ministerial interest.
While there were flaws in the process, I can confirm that the process in my view was fair and that the most suitable candidate was offered the role.
Questions quickly turn to Investment NSW’s employment of a former media advisor of Barilaro’s. Brown says Barilaro called her about the job and suggested his former media advisor for the role. It was one of only three calls between the pair, the inquiry hears.
Barilaro was in a relationship with the woman in question, the inquiry hears, but he made no mention of any relationship. Brown says her staff asked for a conflict of interest declaration from her labour hire firm.
Frost forecast for parts of Victoria
Victorians, gather your hot water bottles.
Frosts with temperatures down to -2 degrees are forecast for tomorrow morning in parts of the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, North East, South West, Central, West and South Gippsland and East Gippsland.
Queensland to recruit dedicated team of biosecurity officers to counter foot-and-mouth disease
The Queensland government is recruiting a specialised squad of biosecurity officers as part of $20m in funding to boost the state’s frontline defences against foot and mouth disease outbreaks.
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said Queensland and Australia were facing “unprecedented” biosecurity risks.
We are stepping up our programs to strengthen years of preparation and prevention measures designed to protect the state’s cattle, sheep, goat and pork industries.
At least $7m will go to recruit and train a dedicated team of 10 new biosecurity officers. They will be skilled in disease protection strategies and specialised emergency responses.
Former deputy premier finishes giving evidence at NY trade job inquiry
John Barilaro’s evidence finishes with a soft-ball question from his government colleague, who asks whether it’s true that there was no “private benefit” associated with the New York trade role, because it was designed to further the interests of the state.
Barilaro says there are some who would argue that a salary is a private benefit, but that he only wanted the role to keep fighting for NSW, something he says he has always done.
Barilaro is expected to return on Friday for further evidence. Amy Brown, the chief executive of Investment NSW, is due to give evidence at 2.45pm local time.
Detective superintendent Andrew Massingham says the person who rang triple zero was the male.
There were some “language difficulties”, with interpretation provided by the triple zero service.
It was evident upon arrival and viewing the police-worn video we’ve seen they needed to transfer to the second level where something had occurred ... it was indicated he needed some assistance at that address. But any further conversation from that point will need to be further transcribed and interpreted.
It remains under investigation whether the two deceased lived at the property.
Police describe ‘confronting’ scene in Stretton after two bodies found
In Brisbane, Queensland police are providing an update after the bodies of two people - a woman in her 40s and a man in his 20s - were found in the suburb of Stretton this morning.
Police have alleged there appears to have been a “frenzied attack” on the two deceased persons.
At 9.40 this morning, police say “certain information” was received via triple zero that an incident had occurred in Stretton. Police units subsequently attended a residence where they say they were met at the front door by a man suffering some injuries to his arms and legs.
Police then ascended the internal staircase of the premises where they noticed a large amount of blood on the staircase and ... identified the location of two bodies. One of those bodies is a female, we believe who is roughly aged in her 40s, and also a male that we believe is aged roughly in his early 20s.
The scene was confronting. It has been described as a frenzied attack on the two deceased persons. Police have recovered two bladed weapons at this stage from the premises, which we believe were used in the attack.
The man was provided with first aid and taken into police custody. He is being treated in hospital in Brisbane and “very shortly” will be subject to a forensic procedure.
The bodies of the two deceased have not been formally identified, with autopsies to be conducted tomorrow.
Barilaro tells inquiry: ‘All I did was apply for a job’
Chair of the inquiry, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, asks Barilaro what he made of the evidence of the public service commissioner, Kathrina Lo, that she would not have endorsed the appointment had she known what she knows now about the appointment process.
Barilaro says he didn’t know what Lo knew either.
The reality is that I didn’t know any of that either. Just like the public service commissioner, I didn’t know there were those intersections. I went into an independent process, where a panel assessed me and offered me the job.
That’s not on me. All I did was apply for a job.
But someone might have been doing your bidding behind closed doors?
Well that’s a question for that individual, if there’s any evidence of that occurring.
Well, I put it to you that the person who was doing your bidding was minister Ayres?
Barilaro says he doesn’t believe Ayres was doing his bidding. He goes on to say that he was the “victim” of a flawed recruitment process. All he did was apply for a job.
There is no evidence in this hearing that points to me, that I did seek [to] ... pressure public servants in any way. None.
What did I do wrong? I got offered a job and I accepted a job.
Barilaro tells inquiry he rejects ‘disgusting slur’ and suggestions of corruption
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey has just run through a timeline of events prior to Barilaro’s resignation.
The timeline is as follows:
- 10 September - Barilaro gave evidence to the NSW anti-corruption commission as it explored former premier Gladys Berejiklian’s dealings with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire
- 16 September - Barilaro puts forward a cabinet submission to change the process for appointing people to roles like New York trade commissioner. The changes would allow such roles to be made by ministerial decision
- 24 September - Barilaro declares to the federal court that he is intending to retire from NSW politics.
- 27 September - cabinet agrees with the submission to change the appointment process, something Mookhey describes as “record speed”
- 1 October - former NSW premier Glady Berejiklian resigns
- 4 October - Barilaro resigns
Mookhey says Barilaro must be “one of the luckiest men in New South Wales politics”. He suggests Barilaro would have known Berejiklian was going to have to resign at some point and so he fast-tracked the cabinet submission in order to make the job vacant.
Barilaro is furious at the suggestion that lies behind the questioning
I absolutely refute that disgusting slur ... you’re making me out to be corrupt.
Barilaro is again asked if he is the luckiest man in NSW politics. He responds:
If you’ve lived the hell that I’ve lived in the last six weeks, you’d be the unluckiest.
Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy appoints friend Nick McGowan chief-of-staff
The move comes following the resignation of Mitch Catlin last week.
McGowan was Guy’s best man at his wedding and has run as a Liberal party candidate at several elections. He has been preselected as a candidate for the party in the North Eastern Metropolitan Region at the November election.
Guy says McGowan won’t campaign for his personal election during his ordinary work hours and will take leave when he lodges his nomination with the Victorian electoral commission.
His first task will be to develop a code of conduct for opposition staff in Victoria.
“I am proud to call Nick a colleague and friend and look forward to working together to deliver real solutions for all Victorians,” Guy said in a statement on Monday.
McGowan replaces Mitch Catlin, who resigned as chief of staff last week, after the Age reported he had proposed a Liberal party donor make more than $100,000 in payments to his marketing company, Catchy Media Marketing and Management, for services described as “supporting business interests”.
Guy said the proposed payments were considered as part of Catlin’s employment as his chief of staff, telling reporters on Tuesday: “Of course that was part of the discussion.”
“But the point is that was not considered transparent enough … and nothing was ever [acted] on,” he said.
The government has referred the saga, including any part Guy had in it, to the anti-corruption watchdog, the ombudsman, the electoral commission and police.
South Australia records seven Covid deaths
South Australia Health has released today’s Covid update.
There have been 1,625 new cases recorded and seven further deaths.
There are 322 people being treated in hospital with the virus including 10 people in ICU.
‘Absolute rubbish’: Barilaro says he rejects any suggestion he created job for himself after deciding to retire
The inquiry hears that John Barilaro had references from a former Liberal senator in Arthur Sinodinos, a former Liberal premier in Barry O’Farrell, and the then Liberal trade minister, Stuart Ayres, at least informally.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey asks whether Barilaro can see how others would see it appeared that a “concerted effort” had been made to see him appointed to the role.
Barilaro downplays the political influence of his referees. He says O’Farrell had been gone from NSW politics for a long time. Sinodinos was a former federal Liberal, he said, with no influence over NSW public servants.
He notes he had no references from people within his own party, the Nationals, and says he had made friends from across the political spectrum, including in Labor.
The inquiry then returns to Barilaro’s decision to leave politics.
He says the premier, Dominic Perrottet wanted him to stay.
When the [Berejiklian resignation] announcement happened on Friday ... I indicated that I’m not sure at this stage. He was asking me to stay, he wanted stability, he knew the role I played in the roadmap, but I had to be honest with him.
He is questioned over evidence in the defamation case he waged against Friendlyjordies and Google, which suggested he had wanted to retire much earlier.
Barilaro can see where the questioning is leading. He gets frustrated and the committee descends into argument.
What you’re suggesting here is that I knew I was going to retire and therefore I created this job for myself. That is absolute rubbish and I refute it.
After a couple of interjections, Barilaro says:
I worked damn bloody hard to get myself back together. A lot of psychology and psychiatry work. I battled some demons.
Greens: Labor’s social housing plan ‘doesn’t even come close’ to fixing crisis
The Greens have weighed in on Labor’s social housing plan, suggesting it will leave “hundreds of thousands of people” in housing stress or homeless.
MP Max Chandler-Mather said while discussion about social housing was welcome, Labor’s plan “doesn’t even come close” to addressing the nation’s housing crisis.
In a speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research today, housing and homelessness minister Julie Collins accused the Coalition of a “decade of inaction” on homelessness.
The federal government’s housing policies include a $10bn social housing fund to build 30,000 social and affordable homes within five years.
Under their plan things will only get worse.
There are 163,500 households sitting on social housing waitlists across Australia and that number grows by 7,600 homes a year, which means Labor’s 4,000 social homes a year will literally see the waitlist grow every year.
Once you take into account people living in severe housing stress, then the actual need for social and affordable housing is over 600,000 homes.
Queensland's Covid wave peaked on 25 July, Annastacia Palaszczuk says
Speaking alongside chief health officer, Dr John Gerrard, the premier says the state has passed its Covid peak.
Queensland recorded 2,504 new Covid cases on Monday, with the seven day average steadily trending downwards.
Third referee for Barilaro for NY job was Barry O’Farrell
The inquiry into John Barilaro’s appointment as New York trade commissioner has just resumed. Barilaro reveals that his third referee was former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, now Australia’s high commissioner to India.
He was one of the reasons I got into politics.
Barilaro says O’Farrell was a close friend.
I just said a minute ago that he’s been a dear friend. I sent him a message and he offered to be my referee. It’s as simple as that.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey asks:
Do you understand the perception when a former leader of the Liberal party is giving a reference to a former leader of the National party like this?
Barilaro says O’Farrell knew of his capability and experience.
Following the news of the two bodies found at a Brisbane residence this morning, regional crime coordinator detective superintendent Andrew Massingham will provide an update in Stretton at 1.30pm today.
We’ll aim to bring you the latest.
Thanks to the lovely Natasha May for keeping us informed this morning. I’ll be with you for the rest of the afternoon.
Thanks for your attention this busy Monday morning, I am now handing over to the wonderful Caitlin Cassidy who will be with you for the rest of the day.
Labor pushes back against Coalition position on aged care wage rise
Workplace relations minister Tony Burke said he was “stunned” at comments about aged care from shadow finance minister Jane Hume, who questioned whether a wage rise for staff would have productivity benefits for the economy.
Burke will later today share the government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s inquiry into a pay rise for aged care workers, today claiming those staff had been “significantly undervalued”. Unions are calling for a 25% wage bump, and while the government won’t single out a specific number, Burke and aged care minister Anika Wells say they will call for a “significant” increase.
Burke told a Canberra press conference on Monday afternoon:
Look at the work, the importance of it, the increasing complexity of it for aged care workers, and the government is very much on side with backing the workers for an increase.
If we’re wanting to increase, as we are, the number of people working in aged care, then people being paid properly is part of it.
He said the government had “decided not to” suggest a specific number, in contrast to the recent minimum wage submission where Labor had specifically said it didn’t want wages “to go backwards” against inflation – effectively calling for a minimum wage rise above the 5.1% inflation rate at the time.
Burke wouldn’t be drawn on what aged care pay rise he wanted to see, but again committed that the government would fund any pay rise ordered by the FWC.
Earlier in the day, Hume told Sky News that the Coalition opposition wanted to see aged care remain “sustainable” in the face of a wage rise. Hume said:
The question to answer is whether those wage rises will be passed on to residents, will they be passed on to ordinary Australians about to go into aged care.
And will they make a difference to productivity?
Burke lashed those comments as “out of touch”. He said:
I was stunned when I heard the challenge about productivity from Jane Hume. Like, really?
The starting point here, we had a royal commission where their interim report, the front page of it, [was titled] ‘Neglect’, We have an area of serious neglect where getting more people into the workforce is a critical part of that ... on the list of issues Jane Hume went through, there was the need to care for residents? Where was the issue of doing something about pay equity? Where was the concept as to whether or not this work was undervalued?
If there was an example of someone being out of touch with the needs of aged care, it was up in lights in that interview.
Latvian foreign minister urges more sanctions against Russia in meeting with Penny Wong
The Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, has met with Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, outlining his concerns about Russian atrocities in Ukraine and calling for Russia to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Speaking in Canberra alongside Wong on Monday, Rinkēvičs said that he believed the sanction was necessary given the ongoing atrocities committed in Ukraine, and said he would be calling on the European Union to also support the designation.
He said the proposal would see a complete ban on visas for Russian citizens and the confiscation of Russian government assets and would make it easier to put in place a process for war crime proceedings against officials who were directly responsible for committing atrocities in Ukraine.
We have an international criminal court, we have the international court of justice, but the crime of aggression actually does not fall under the responsibility of those courts. So we need to address those things, we need to address the war crimes and genocide that is being committed by Russians against Ukraine.
Rinkēvičs said he had raised Latvia’s position in his meeting with Wong, and would continue to make the case, which is also being pushed by Ukraine’s president, Volodymr Zelenskiy.
When it comes to Ukraine, I think that both of us acknowledge the necessity to continue to support Ukraine in any way we can. Latvia has been providing military, financial, humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
We believe that we must continue doing that and actually, the western world must increase military assistance, because, as we see, unfortunately, Russia is continuing its aggression.
Two bodies found in south Brisbane
A homicide investigation is under way after two bodies have been found in the southern Brisbane suburb of Stretton.
Queensland Police have released a statement saying:
Police were called at approximately 9:40am ... where the bodies of a man and a woman were located inside the property.
Investigations are under way to identify the deceased.
A crime scene was declared, and Operation Uniform Bolar has been established to investigate their deaths, which are being treated as suspicious.
A 49-year-old man is currently speaking with police.
Hope for the National Indigenous Centre of Excellence?
Redfern’s National Indigenous Centre of Excellence may have received some good news.
The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council have been in a tense standoff since last week with community organisations left reeling after the ILSC announced it was shutting NCIE’s doors after the two organisations failed to reach an agreement.
In a statement posted to its website, the ILSC said it had been in “constant” discussions with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council over the weekend and said it expected services and operations would now go ahead under a new “arrangement” – but since it said it anticipates a new agreement will be signed off, it seems it has not yet been confirmed.
The announcement has been made in anticipation of the ILSC and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) agreeing on the transfer of ownership and operation of these services in the coming days.
But many community organisations based out of the NCIE Redfern hub have put out statements or raised their concerns on social media, saying they are yet to be consulted and nothing has been confirmed in writing.
The NCIE website hasn’t been updated, its website simply saying it’s slated for closure. It says:
180 George Street Redfern will move onto the next phase of use. We look forward to seeing the future plans for the site and how it will continue to bring the community together.
Community groups, elders and hundreds of supporters including the minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, and local MP Tanya Plibersek have been urging the two organisations to ensure the centre stays open.
Dutton says he supports aged care worker wage rise but aged care should be affordable
Peter Dutton, the opposition leader, has said he believes there should be an increase in pay for aged care workers. Dutton is not putting a figure on the increase, saying it is a decision for the independent Fair Work Commission.
The stance is different from what the Coalition put forward during the election campaign when the former prime minister Scott Morrison was critical of Labor’s position to fully fund any increase.
The Coalition eventually said it would honour any decision from the Fair Work Commission, but did not commit to fully fund it.
Dutton’s comments come as the government is due to release its submission to the commission later today.
Speaking in Brisbane earlier this morning, Dutton said it was a very important issue that needed to be addressed:
We want to support extra pay for aged care workers and, at the same time, we want aged care to be affordable for residents, particularly those on an aged pension, those that can’t afford to go into aged care. We have a time where there are higher acuity needs, the issue particularly around early onset dementia, the higher care needs for people is a real issue. The government promised at the last election that they would fix the situation in aged care and I want to make sure they are not making a bad situation worse.
The ABC is reporting Dutton’s stance is softer than frontbencher Jane Hume, who accused Labor of being beholden to the union movement and simply doing this because the unions are demanding it.
Summary of Barilaro evidence this morning at inquiry
The inquiry has broken for lunch. It will resume with Barilaro’s evidence at 1pm.
So, what did we learn? Here’s a summary of this morning’s evidence.
- Barilaro told the inquiry he had done nothing wrong and that, if he knew what he knew now, he never would have applied for the role of New York trade commissioner or walked into the “shit show” that it has become.
- He said he raised the prospect of applying for the job with the treasurer Matt Kean, who responded favourably. This evidence is the first time we’ve heard of Kean’s apparent knowledge of Barilaro’s intentions. Barilaro said no one within government ever raised any concern with him about his pursuit of the job.
- He also gave evidence of telling the premier Dominic Perrottet that he had applied, following a random encounter in Martin Place. He said the premier said words to the effect of “go for it”.
- Barilaro said he had been through significant “trauma” over the past six to seven weeks. He said he could also understand highly credentialed candidate Jenny West’s trauma, after she was told she had the job, only for it to be taken away. Barilaro also said he did not know West had been offered the job, despite his signature appearing on a briefing document that named her as the preferred candidate. Barilaro said he knew nothing of the brief and suggested it was an e-signature that he may not have seen.
- The former deputy premier also denied he attempted to change the appointment process for such roles to facilitate them being given to ex-MPs like himself. He strenuously denied he had created the New York role to give to himself.
- Barilaro denied using information he had gleaned from his time as trade minister to help him in the recruitment process.
- There is an unresolved question about the identity of Barilaro’s third referee – the other two being ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos and senior NSW public servant Gary Barnes. Barilaro is using the lunch adjournment to check with his third referee, to see whether the individual is comfortable being named. He earlier resisted answering the question.
- Barilaro was also asked about his post-parliamentary job with a property company known as Coronation Property. Barilaro said he met with the state’s building commissioner on behalf of the company. That meeting followed Coronation being issued with a breach notice.
Adelaide Crows potential class action
Several Adelaide Crows players are reportedly considering filing a class action over the AFL club’s 2018 pre-season camp, further claims about which have emerged in the past week following the publication of Eddie Betts’s biography.
Betts, one of the AFL’s greatest players and an Indigenous icon, claimed in his book that he suffered trauma at the camp, which he says was “weird” and “disrespectful”.
Betts claimed that information he had confidentially disclosed was yelled at him in front of other players during one session. Adelaide and the AFL apologised to Betts last week but lawyer Greg Griffin has said that may not be the end of the story.
Speaking to the ABC, Griffin said he had spoken to “well in advance” of the minimum seven players needed to be part of a class action and that the group, who were with Betts at the camp, are considering taking their grievances to the supreme court of Victoria.
Griffin said the group of players have been given heart by the release of Betts’s book:
They now very much are emboldened by the fact that the public and also the Crows and the AFL are now, for the first time, looking like coming clean as to what actually happened.
He said any class action would potentially be based on an alleged breach of the players’ contract with the AFL and Adelaide.
As the two parties are actually parties to the contract you’ve got six years within which to bring proceedings so there’s no time problem at all on this.
I can’t imagine any current player being in any way prejudiced or being worked against if he were to join the class action.
A SafeWork SA investigation last year cleared Adelaide of breaching health and safety laws and an AFL investigation in October 2018 cleared the Crows of any rule breach.
The AFL released a public statement last week saying the organisation “acknowledges the hurt Eddie Betts, his family, his community, and by extension all Indigenous players experienced as a result of Adelaide Crows’ pre-season camp in 2018.” The actions the league has taken are detailed in that statement.
Barilaro denies trade minister role helped him pursue NY job
John Barilaro denies that he used information he had access to as trade minister to help him in his pursuit of the role.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey says:
You were using information you obtained as a minister for your personal benefit.
No, I disagree entirely.
He says the information he referred to in his CV and his cover letter was public.
The idea that somehow I used inside information ... I had no other information than any other candidate who applied for the role.
Mookhey says it is “highly implausible” that Barilaro didn’t use information gleaned from his time as trade minister to help him during his appointment for the role of New York trade commissioner.
Do you understand how implausible it is to tell us that you didn’t utilise information available to you as a minister ...?
Barilaro interrupts the question to repeatedly refute it.
He is asked about senior NSW public servant Gary Barnes, who gave Barilaro a reference. Mookhey asks about the perception that Barilaro received the reference after helping Barnes, now the most senior public servant in the Department of Regional NSW.
Barilaro rejects the suggestion the pair did each other favours. He says it is a slur.
That is a slur on an apolitical public servant that I believe has been in the public service for over 35 years under governments of all stripes.
Barilaro seeking permission to reveal identity of third referee, inquiry hears
John Barilaro is refusing to name the individual that acted as his third referee for the job. Barilaro says his other references – which include former Liberal senator and current ambassador to the US, Arthur Sinodinos – are “being hounded”.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey persists:
Who was your third referee?
I won’t be answering that.
I don’t believe I have to.
The line of questioning prompts interventions from other members of the committee, who say it is a non-lawful question because it seeks information that may be privileged.
The question is ultimately deemed lawful but Barilaro is told he is not compelled to answer the question.
Barilaro wants time to contact his referee over lunch and seek their permission. The question remains unresolved.
Queensland records no Covid deaths and 667 people in hospital.
There were 2,504 new cases in the last reporting period, and 26 people are in intensive care.
Barilaro tells inquiry trade role wasn’t ‘jobs for the boys’ and he was surprised to be selected
John Barilaro says he did not seek the advice of the parliamentary ethics adviser before applying for the job. The inquiry hears this wasn’t a requirement, but was an option available to him.
He is asked whether anyone ever expressed concern to him about his application for the job.
No one, no one. Ever.
He says he went through a public service appointment process with an independent panel.
He says he was surprised to have been selected.
I was surprised to have gotten through, like anybody else would have been surprised.
Barilaro says this wasn’t a “jobs for the boys” situation.
This was a public service job. I applied for it.
He says he had no idea about flaws with the process that saw him appointed.
If I had [known] about the mess that I had walked into, in terms of the process, [I wouldn’t have done it]... I didn’t seek out special treatment, I went through a public service process, and that’s what I believe I did.
Barilaro tells inquiry he can understand West’s trauma
John Barilaro is being asked about contacting Arthur Sinodinos, the ambassador to the US, about obtaining a reference for the trade role.
He says he had Sinodinos’s mobile phone number. He also contacted Sinodinos through his assistant to set up a phone hook-up.
The line of questioning about the Sinodinos interactions is interrupted.
Barilaro is then asked whether he acknowledges the trauma Jenny West faced, after having the job given to her and then taken away and told it was to be made by ministerial appointment.
Barilaro says he can understand her trauma:
She would have been making the same decisions that I was starting to make, and then it gets flipped, so I can understand that.
Barilaro again rejects the suggestion that he created the job for himself.
I absolutely reject that I somehow created these jobs ... for my own self-purpose.
Greens want Labor to go further on social housing
Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather has responded to the housing minister, Julie Collins’s call for Australians to stop resisting public housing and help find a solution for homelessness “in their backyard”.
Chandler-Mather told ABC Radio:
It’s good that the federal government wants to talk about building more social housing but I think the major problem with their plan is it won’t even come close to touching the sides of the issue that we’re facing. Of that 30,000 homes over five years that they’re talking about, only 20,000 are touted as social homes. To put that in perspective, just the social housing waitlist alone right now is over 160,000 households nationwide. It increases by about 7,000 homes per year. Labor’s plan will only see 4,000 social homes built per year. So not only will they not decrease the waitlist, under their plan the waitlists will actually increase ...
The rhetoric is not matching the reality of their plan. For some reason for our political class it’s become acceptable to leave hundreds of thousands of people waiting for an affordable home and that’s something that the Greens are going to be focusing on and hopefully work with the government to dial up that number over the next few years.
Chandler-Mather argued the government could afford to do more, citing the stage three income tax cuts set to cost $224bn over 10 years.
Barilaro asked about role with Coronation Property
The questions are continuing about John Barilaro’s role with Coronation Property, which he took up after parliament. He is asked who he met with in government as a representative of the property company.
He says he met with the NSW building commissioner. Asked about the context of that meeting, he says it was organised after Coronation Property was issued with a breach notice. But he says the breach notice was not the subject of the meeting.
He said the meeting was designed to “get a feel for Coronation” from the building commissioner.
Barilaro is getting frustrated by this line of questioning, saying he was not prepared to ask questions about the Coronation job.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey asks whether his role with Coronation created a conflict of interest. He asks Barilaro whether he declared his job with Coronation to Investment NSW while he applied for the job.
Why would I?
For the very simple reason, that might be a material matter for them.
No I’m sorry, but I disagree with that entirely.
Barilaro: 'I wish I had never applied’ for trade job and 'walked into shit show’
John Barilaro is asked whether he still believes he was afforded the same appointment process as other candidates. He says he couldn’t comment, but adds:
I will say this, if I knew what I know now I wish I had never applied. If I knew what I knew now I wouldn’t have walked into a shit show. And I will use those terms because the trauma I have experienced in the past few weeks is significant.
He had withdrawn from the appointment process about 23-24 February. He said he had been accepted for a job with a property company, Coronation Property, and had a looming defamation case against Youtuber Friendlyjordies.
I just at that point felt like I don’t need to do this, I now have a really good job, I am comfortable with what was being offered as an executive director at Coronation Property. I thought I would withdraw.
He then left Coronation Property when he was offered the trade role.
Barilaro is then asked whether he was lobbying government for Coronation Property. He says he had special dispensation from the ethics advisor to take the role. But he says it’s unfair to describe his job as “lobbying” government.
I didn’t come here prepared to answer questions in relation to my role as an executive director with Coronation.
Barilaro denies he attempted to change appointment process, inquiry hears
John Barilaro has rejected a suggestion that he attempted to change the statutory appointment process – making it a ministerial appointment process – to facilitate the giving of overseas trade roles to ex-MPs.
I reject all. that, I reject that statement and I reject that accusation. The government decided, the cabinet of the day decided they wanted to elevate these statuses. There was plenty of debate. I recall the debate in that room and the support was significant.
He said the push to change the appointment process was purely concerned with attracting a better calibre of candidates.
Barilaro is asked whether the change was designed to benefit him.
Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
The inquiry hears that Barilaro signed a brief in August confirming that Jenny West was the preferred candidate for the role. Barilaro says he wasn’t aware of the brief, despite his signature being on it. He is asked if that is seriously his evidence.
It is. I wouldn’t say that under oath if I didn’t believe that to be the case. As the minister I will take responsibility. My e-signature was used therefore that note stands and I have to accept that Jenny West was a candidate.
Barilaro responds to fast-tracking cabinet submission
Barilaro is being asked why a cabinet submission was rushed through to make overseas trade roles by ministerial appointment. Barilaro said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the speed with which the cabinet submission was considered. He said it came back within a week to 10 days. He is asked why he wanted it processed “ASAP”.
Everything is ASAP. I don’t sit back. I’m a minister that just gets on with the job so the timing may look to this forum and the public may look like it is rushed through. A comment like ASAP, I was pleasantly surprised that the parliament was able to turn around a cabinet submission so quickly. Sometimes if the agendas align you can get things onto the agenda quickly. The premier has the sign off on this getting on to the cabinet agenda. By luck or chance this particular cab sub got on to the agenda and approved by the cabinet.
Barilaro says he never knew that Jenny West had been chosen as the successful candidate for the role. He described the timing as unfortunate for West.
I was a big fan of Jenny West. I will make this absolutely clear in this forum. She was a strong professional, a fantastic public servant and someone that did a fantastic job for me in that role. So I have in issue with Miss Jenny West but the clash of timelines unfortunately has interrupted what was – now that I understand she was offered a job.
Barilaro is asked whether he had any conversation or meeting with Investment NSW chief Amy Brown about the role. He said he did not have any contact with her until she called to congratulate him on the role.
Barilaro says he did not know Jenny West was offered job, inquiry hears
John Barilaro is asked when he decided to leave politics. He said he first thought about leaving in budget week in 2021. But he said the resurgence of Covid kept him in parliament.
He said the resignation of former premier Gladys Berejiklian was the catalyst for his decision.
The decision to leave on 4 October was a decision that I made only spontaneously after the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, resigned on the Friday. In my mind I thought ‘This is an opportunity for me to leave, when is it the right time to leave?’ There will be just another crisis or another wave and I thought it was time for a refreshed leadership and speaking to friends and family and I indicated earlier it was actually by coincidence that minister Stokes rang me, at the time he was nominating to be the leader of the Liberal party, he was ringing to check in to if I had any objection to that and the conversation turned to I’m not sure I would be hanging around. After that conversation I made up my mind I am going to leave and on the Monday I made the announcement.
Barilaro said there had been many discussions within government about elevating trade roles to ambassadorial positions to attract a higher level of candidate. He also says he knew Jenny West was a candidate, but says he did not know she was offered a job.
I am making that absolutely clear today. I remember in the leadership meeting, either between myself, the premier the treasurer and my deputy in this particular leadership meeting I recall it was the premier and that is premier Gladys Berejiklian and treasurer Perrottet and myself, I raised the idea that should we be elevating these positions to statutory appointments.
Barilaro told Perrottet he applied for job during random encounter, inquiry hears
Barilaro said that he ran into premier Dominic Perrottet randomly in Martin Place, Sydney, in the early months of this year and raised the fact that he had applied for the job. Asked about the discussion, Barilaro said it was short:
Chat about my wellbeing, his wellbeing, everything else, how it was all going, hadn’t really spoken since the reshuffle, I don’t believe. And then I mentioned to him I had applied so it must have been post the application, so late – end of January, early February.
That was the last interaction he had with the premier about the issue, Barilaro said.
He also spoke to Stuart Ayres, the former trade minister, after Ayres resigned over the affair last week.
He wished me all the best. And indicated how he can’t believe what has occurred. He seems hurt. He resigned his post. That’s all it was.
Barilaro tells inquiry he raised job with treasurer before Christmas
What we’re hearing about the interaction between Barilaro and treasurer Matt Kean about the job is new.
Barilaro said he raised it with Kean just before Christmas. He says he was not testing Kean to see whether he would push back on the appointment.
He said Kean expressed no opposition to Barilaro taking such a role.
Yep. He would have told me bluntly if he thought it was going to be an issue for sure.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey says:
He never did?
No one ever raised with me anything that this would be politically sensitive.
No colleagues raised concerns about application, Barilaro says
John Barilaro tells the inquiry that no one raised any concern about him applying for the role. He said he inquired with Stuart Ayres, the former trade minister, in December about the job. The job was not vacant at that point.
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey says:
Do you understand that any other person that might be interested in fulfilling this role might not have had the opportunity to pick up the phone to minister for trade and say, “Hey can you give me an update as to who’s going on with this job?”
That’s a fair statement.
Do you think perhaps minister Ayres should have declined to provide that information to you?
He could have but that’s a question for minister Ayres.
Barliaro also says he raised the potential job with treasurer Matt Kean. He did that in December as well. He said he was texted that he was “considering applying for the trade role”.
Barilaro questioned about recruitment
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey is questioning Barilaro on the specifics of his recruitment for the New York trade commissioner post. Mookhey is seeking detail on when Barilaro first decided to pursue the role. Barilaro says it was “late last year”. Mookhey:
When you say, “Late last year” after your resignation you are referring to your resignation as deputy premier and as minister for trade?
That is correct.
Barilaro said he formed an interest in the role himself, rather than being encouraged.
No, I formed that idea myself. There’s been lots of speculation that I was offered an opportunity outside, if I was to leave, but that’s not correct. I was looking at options and you know that I resigned quite suddenly because of the opportunity arose when the premier resigned and when you don’t get – your feet don’t hit the ground you sort of get swept up in that whirlwind. I came to an idea that that was an option that I would pursue.
Barilaro said he had numerous conversations with both premier Dominic Perrottet and Stuart Ayres, former deputy Liberal leader, about the role. Barilaro said he initiated the conversations with Perrottet.
Mookhey notes that Barilaro was flagging an interest in the role before it was even open. Barilaro said he was flagging the idea in general of a trade role, rather than expressing interest in an existing and open role.
No one knew that it was open. It doesn’t mean you don’t flag it. That role could have opened in six, month, three months, 12 months or two years. No one knew. I flagged the option of a trade role.
Barilaro denies any wrongdoing
In an opening statement, John Barilaro told the inquiry that he strongly denies “any suggestion of wrongdoing” and says it is wrong to say that he created the role of New York trade commissioner for himself. Barilaro said he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Being a politician or a former politician does not revoke that fundamental right.
Barilaro says he may not have been “everyone’s cup of tea” as a politician, but says he has been comforted by words of support from people whose lives he helped as a politician.
He describes the last six weeks as a “personal hell”.
Throughout the hearing we have heard from apolitical long-term professional senior public servants that I was a credible and capable candidate that brought many attributes for this role to the people of our great state. For that I had my credentials and application publicly derided in what is nothing less than an abuse of my privacy. I applied for a public service job as a private citizen, nothing excluded me in doing so. I followed the exact same process that was afforded to others. I went through several interview, psychometric testing and police check. I was offered a job, I accepted the job, I then withdrew from this job.
Barilaro hearing begins
The hearing into former deputy premier John Barilaro’s appointment as the state’s New York trade commissioner has just begun.
Barliaro is the first witness scheduled to appear. It’s shaping to be a momentous day in NSW politics. The government is under immense pressure over the deeply controversial appointment.
The inquiry is conducting its usual preliminaries but we’re expecting to hear from Barilaro shortly.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you across all the details.
Nick Kyrgios ends title drought with Citi Open victory
Nick Kyrgios’ career-best season has continued with the Australian securing his first ATP Tour title in three years with a straight-sets win in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.
Kyrgios took just 81 minutes to defeat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3, completing a tournament where he held serve 64 times without being broken. It is Kyrgios’s seventh ATP title and first since he won in Washington in 2019.
Cold morning across the country
Victorians and South Australians are being warned to watch out for frost, as well as reduced visibility due to fog.
A road weather alert has been issued for Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills where fog is making road conditions dangerous this morning.
Meanwhile, subzero temperatures in Hobart have made things worse for Tasmanians because of strong winds.
Showers and snow are predicted in NSW.
Government crackdown on multinational tax avoidance seeks to get back $1.9bn
The government is canvassing a range of measures to force multinationals such as Google to pay more tax, with a discussion paper for public consultation released Friday.
Andrew Leigh, the assistant minister for competition, charities and Treasury, spoke to ABC Radio this morning, saying Australia needs to ensure multinationals pay their fair share of tax so the government can fund things like aged care and Medicare.
The government believes they can get back $1.9bn by closing loopholes around tax deductions from multinational companies. Leigh said:
That’s based on the Parliamentary Budget Office’s costing of our policies ... and those are policies which are carefully calibrated to ensure that there’s a level playing field between businesses.
Because at the moment, there’s debt deduction lurks that are able to be used by large multinationals that can’t be used by their small business competitors. We don’t want companies to be competing based on who can find the best tax lurk.
We want them to be competing based on offering cheaper prices or better products to consumers, on innovating and they’re treating their staff well, rather than on competing between fancy accountants to see who can create the next Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich.
NSW records four Covid deaths and 2,236 people in hospital
There were 7,648 new cases in the last reporting period, and 59 people are in intensive care.
Tony Burke to prevent employers terminating pay deals
The workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has given a further indication the Albanese government will prevent employers applying to the Fair Work Commission to terminate workplace pay deals.
Terminating a pay deal is an aggressive industrial tactic that pushes employees back on to the award, losing more generous conditions negotiated in enterprise agreements, usually in a bid to force a new deal more favourable to the employer.
In July Burke told Guardian Australia he was “willing to act in the absence of consensus” on the issue.
In a speech to be delivered to the Australian Industry Group today, Burke says:
Something I’m increasingly concerned about is the ability of employers to make cuts to workers’ pay and conditions by unilaterally terminating their enterprise agreements. I know this is an issue which will be further discussed at the jobs summit. But I want to be clear on my starting point: on face value, I cannot see how this tactic can possibly be justified. The solution to a decade of wage stagnation cannot be a heavy-handed tactic that causes wages to go backwards.
Burke notes that Svitzer is seeking to cancel the workplace pay deal for its tugboat operators, which could cut pay by up to 40%.
Burke flags that “there may be room for a narrow exception for cases of exceptional business distress, where termination was found, on the evidence, to be likely to ensure ongoing employment of the affected workers”.
Burke also says this about what he’d like to see at the summit:
Rather than unilateral action, we’re aiming to find solutions based on consensus and cooperation. We want the Fair Work Commission to facilitate bargaining and help parties make agreements – not spend its time terminating agreements against the wishes of the workforce. We want bargaining to happen in good faith – and we particularly want to make sure the bargaining system works for small business and for women. We want agreements to deliver pay rises and productivity. I am hopeful we can achieve this because it will serve the national interest, and the interests of both employers and workers.
Victoria records one Covid death and 657 people in hospital
There were 4,911 new cases in the last reporting period, and 37 people are in intensive care.
Covid outbreaks currently in 35% of aged care homes, but trend is going down
Paul Sadler, in his interview with ABC a little earlier this morning, also spoke about the latest figures of Covid-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities:
We’ve still got 35% of aged care homes in Australia that have active outbreaks.
We’ve actually had only 27 aged care homes in the whole of Australia out of 2,700 that have avoided an outbreak of Covid.
The good news is that the numbers did begin to trend down for the first time during last week for really a couple of months now. So we hopefully have reached the peak that we’ve seen in community transmission and we are seeing that begin to decline in aged care as well but while that pandemic continues the impact on the workforce will be substantial.
Government bid for aged care pay rise to be released
The federal government is set to reveal details of its proposal for an aged care wage rise in a submission to the Fair Work umpire.
The aged care minister, Anika Wells, has promised they will advocate for a significant and meaningful pay rise for workers in the sector but stopped short of giving a specific dollar amount.
Paul Sadler, the interim chief executive of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association, was on ABC a little earlier this morning and said his association wouldn’t be providing a figure either. He said the importance was the government’s commitment to fully fund the wage increase, whatever the figure:
What we want is wage justice for our workforce. We’ve been unable to pay aged care workers what they deserve now for a long time and this Fair Work Commission case is a really fantastic opportunity to be able to do that. What is absolutely critical to that was a commitment by government to fully fund the outcome so we will be looking for the government’s submission today to confirm what Anthony Albanese and Annika Wells had promised that they will do that.
We know that the aged care workforce is not paid competitively with our colleagues in disability, in health and in retail. So [a significant increase in pay] is going to be very important.
We, like the government, have not put a dollar figure on it. It is ultimately up to the Fair Work Commission to evaluate each of the classifications across three different awards that are the subject of this particular case. But we agree with the government and the unions that there needs to be a significant pay increase.
Queensland commits $22m for livestock biosecurity taskforce
Queensland will set up a taskforce to help protect the state’s livestock from “unprecedented biosecurity risks” amid the threat of foot and mouth disease on Australia’s doorstep, AAP reports.
More than 450,000 cases of the disease have reportedly been recorded in Indonesia and thousands of infected cattle have been slaughtered.
A national biosecurity taskforce is being set up to ensure Australia can respond to potential future outbreaks, but Queensland will establish its own unit to defend against animal disease risks.
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said 15 staff, including 10 officers based in regional areas, would be recruited to prepare Queensland’s livestock industry for future “unprecented biosecurity risks”.
She will brief her cabinet about the $22m plan when it meets at the Ekka, the Royal Queensland Show, today.
Perrottet denies he offered to create a job for transport minister
New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet has labelled claims he offered to create a job for his transport minister, David Elliott, as “false and offensive”.
Speaking on Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday morning, Perrottet said a report in the Sun Herald yesterday stating he spoke to Elliott about taking up a senior trade role in London was wrong.
David Elliott was never promised a job outside of politics. That is deeply offensive and wrong. People will always say from time to time, discussions will be had in relation to when someone retires what they would like to do, that is normal.
However he did confirm that he spoke to Elliott about “a number of roles which he could play within the parliament” after politics.
From time to time, members of parliament – when they’re seeking to leave politics – will talk to colleagues in relation to what they might want to do next.
At that time, minister Elliott did not want to recontest the next election, but was interested in being part of the team going forward.
Asked whether he had also discussed Elliott becoming the governor of NSW, Perrottet said:
From time to time members will always say to their colleagues what they would like to do after politics ... what I don’t do as premier is say I would ever make those appointments and offer people a job.
The saga over the senior trade jobs has engulfed the NSW government since John Barilaro was appointed as the state’s New York trade commissioner in June. He has since withdrawn from the position, but is due to appear before a parliamentary inquiry probing the appointments on Monday.
Man to face court over alleged murder of three people in north Queensland
Last week, a shooting left three family members dead on a remote Queensland cattle property in north Queensland near the locality of Bogie.
The 59-year-old alleged shooter, Darryl Valroy Young, is expected to appear in the Proserpine magistrates court today.
He was charged with three counts of murder and another count of attempted murder.
The sole survivor of the shooting is recovering in hospital following the incident between neighbours near Bogie, north-west of Mackay.
- with AAP
Australian education ministers to address nationwide teacher shortages
Australia’s education ministers will attempt to address the national teacher shortage in a meeting this Friday, as universities call for longer school placements, teaching apprenticeships and collaboration between government, schools and unions in tackling the problem.
It comes amid concerns teacher shortages could worsen, with modelling suggesting demand for secondary school teachers will outstrip graduates by more than 4,000 in coming years.
The federal education minister, Jason Clare, will devote the first half of the meeting of national, state and territory education ministers to a roundtable addressing the workforce shortage.
VIP doors open at Crown Sydney casino
Gaming group Crown’s flagship skyscraper casino on Sydney Harbour will open its doors to VIP wagering after delays caused by a gaming inquiry, AAP reports.
Crown previously said in a statement:
The doors to Australia’s only VIP casino will begin opening to members and guests from 08.08.2022.
Crown had been prevented from opening the high-end casino in its $2.2bn dining and hotel tower in Barangaroo for more than a year.
The opening was hampered, then blocked, after an inquiry led by former supreme court judge Patricia Bergin found Crown was not fit to operate a casino.
The approval, finally granted earlier this year by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority for the members-only gaming facilities inside the upscale Barangaroo complex, is conditional for up to two years.
The conditional period, which will run for 18 to 24 months, will allow the authority to monitor changes made at Crown Sydney so they are “embedded” in the venue.
The opening marks a big step forward for the once-listed Crown, which has been taken private by US investment firm Blackstone after a successful $8.9bn takeover was ticked off in June.
National homelessness plan will tackle social housing backlog
There are currently 162,500 households on the social housing waiting list. Collins says in order to deal with the backlog, the government is working with “as many people as we can to get a plan and get us all heading in the same direction”.
That’s why we need a national plan [on housing and homelessness] ... having some leadership and trying to get everyone working together means we’ll have better results and we’ll be able to get more homes in the ground faster.
By providing some leadership and getting everyone to work together on a national plan, we might be able to tackle it nationally rather than on a state by state basis.
Man charged in Perth with ‘being armed in a way that may cause fear’
A 31-year-old man has been charged over a bizarre incident in Perth yesterday.
Police received information Sunday afternoon regarding a man on King Street, Perth dressed in SWAT clothing and who was in possession of what appeared to be an assault rifle and ballistic vest.
A second call was then received that a man was inside a vehicle on King Street armed with a large firearm.
Police attended the scene under emergency conditions, but it was later established there was no real threat to the community.
The uniform the man was wearing was part of his adult entertainment work attire, according to police.
Perth police nevertheless charged the man in relation to the incident. They said in a statement:
It will be alleged the man parked his vehicle on King Street and removed a suitcase from the vehicle. It will be further alleged the man placed a gel blaster gun similar in design to an AR-15 assault rifle on the ground next to him and put on a pair of boots and a black military style mesh vest with ‘SWAT” embossed on the back.
Members of the public witnessed this at various stages and phoned police fearing the firearm was real.
The firearm was seized and subject of further examination.
Police say the man from Nollamara has been charged with “possess[ing] a prohibited weapon” and “being armed in a way that may cause fear”.
Rent assistance not being considered in budget, housing minister says
Collins is asked if the government is working on and considering lifting rent assistance. She responded that states and territories are currently sharing “the innovative things they’re doing ... and how they’re managing that”.
Asked if rent assistance is being considered in the budget context, Collins responded:
We’re not at the moment, we’re talking to states and territories about what can be done in terms of rental affordability.
Ultimately it’s an issue around supply and we want to build 30,000 more social and affordable homes atop what states and territories are doing.
Labor government launches homelessness strategy
Julie Collins, the housing and homelessness minister, is on ABC radio as the Albanese government launches its homelessness strategy today.
Collins says the strategy will be “about working with local community organisations and understanding the need for social and community housing to be built right across the country.”
She says fixing homelessness is in the public interest because “everybody benefits from everybody having a safe place to call home”.
Collins served as minister for homelessness in 2013 and is asked how the situation has changed since then.
What we’re seeing, and what I’m hearing is that it’s much harder for people to be able to purchase a home and it’s much harder for people to be able to rent a home.
John Barilaro, the former NSW deputy premier, is set to appear today before an inquiry examining his controversial appointment to a plum New York trade job.
Barilaro is expected to respond to internal government documents uncovered by the inquiry and the testimony of those who have already appeared before the inquiry.
The committee is likely to ask about the evidence given by former adviser that Barilaro fast-tracked a cabinet submission that would have ministers appoint the trade commissioners rather than the public service.
In national news, the Albanese government will launch its homelessness strategy today, with the commonwealth to take greater responsibility for housing.
Julie Collins, the housing and homelessness minister, will make a speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute later today – but you can find out what she is expected to say thanks to Paul Karp who reports on an advanced copy.
Let’s get going.