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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Jordyn Beazley and Emily Wind (earlier)

Greens accuse Labor and Coalition of ‘race to the bottom’ over migration bill – as it happened

Penny Wong exchanges words with Simon Birmingham after question time in the Senate
Penny Wong exchanges words with Simon Birmingham after question time in the Senate again focused on the release of immigration detainees. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

What we learned: Tuesday 5 December

And that’s where we’ll leave you this evening. Here’s our Tuesday wrap:

  • The Reserve Bank has delivered a pre-Christmas reprieve for Australia’s borrowers, leaving its cash rate unchanged at 4.35%.

  • Greenpeace activists have scaled a 140-metre crane next door to Woodside’s headquarters in Perth, dropping a banner than reads “Stop Woodside”.

  • Israel has upgraded travel warnings to multiple countries, including Australia, citing a rise in antisemitism stemming from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

  • Brittany Higgins was back in the witness box in her fourth day of testimony. Higgins was challenged by Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow SC, over her account of the alleged rape that took place at Parliament House, including casting doubt over how drunk she was. “Are you kidding?” Higgins said through tears. “I hadn’t been raped yet but I was skipping in the middle of parliament with no shoes on so it indicates someone is pretty drunk, yes.”

  • The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, personally approved the Australian Human Rights Commission’s intervention in the high court to argue that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful.

  • More Australians than ever before are buying electric vehicles, according to VFACTS monthly vehicle sales data. Year-to-date sales of battery electric vehicles have reached 80,446 – compared with 28,326 at the same time last year.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today have shown education added a further $12.1bn to the economy in the September quarter, outperforming coal exports and other minerals, while total exports have declined.


Victoria police cancelled ambulance for handcuffed Noongar man who collapsed and later died, court hears

A Noongar man who died in police custody was handcuffed while unconscious, came to and then collapsed again before a cancelled ambulance was called again, AAP reports.

A directions hearing into the death of Jeffrey Winmar, a 28-year-old Aboriginal man who died after being arrested in Melbourne’s west last month, began on Tuesday before the coroner, Sarah Gebert.

Winmar was wanted on burglary offences and was believed to be at a property in Werribee, where police, including a dog handler, were sent on 9 November.

He was seen leaving the house after police knocked at the front door and climbed over several fences before being found in a clump of trees behind a nearby property.

The court heard police handcuffed Winmar and placed him in the recovery position before calling an ambulance. The request was cancelled when he came to.

A short time later Winmar again lost consciousness and stopped breathing, as police requested another ambulance and did CPR until paramedics arrived.

More on this story here:


El Niño to linger as a tempest looks set to form in the Coral Sea

The Bureau of Meteorology has updated its fortnightly review of the climate drivers that help shape Australia’s weather.

The latest modelling has the El Niño lingering in the Pacific well into 2024.

To the north-west of Australia, conditions in the Indian Ocean remain in the so-called positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole. That setup, which can be a drying influence over Australia, was quite a strong one, BoM said.

BoM has lately been reminding people that while an El Niño tends to tilt the odds towards drier conditions over much of the country, that influence wanes as summer approaches. In other words, we can get wet spells, as per the past week or so in the east.

Two issues, though, include a switch to severe heat over a lot of eastern Australia, particularly New South Wales and northern South Australia:

BoM and other weather watchers also have their eye on what’s likely to be tropical Cyclone Jasper that will form in the Coral Sea in the next day or so.

Just how strong Jasper gets and whether it will cross the Australian coast – and the wind speeds at the time – will no doubt be monitored closely by a lot of people.


Emergency works to improve Sydney’s Rozelle interchange after the multibillion-dollar spaghetti junction caused traffic chaos when it opened last week will be completed by Thursday morning’s traffic peak.

Transport NSW said the work will begin after Wednesday’s traffic peak and continue overnight with no diversions necessary.

There has been some improvements in traffic flow since last week, Transport NSW said. It estimated that today a citybound trip from Ramsey Street in Haberfield to the Anzac Bridge took 28 minutes compared to 59 minutes Tuesday last week.

My colleague Catie Mcleod has more on the works under way here:


NSW emergency services urges residents to prepare for heatwave

With high temperatures predicted for much of the state this week, agencies have put out a joint statement on how to prepare:

Rural Fire Service

RFS is urging those that live or are visiting bush fire prone areas to know the Fire Danger Rating and have a plan of action in the event a bush or grass fire.

NSW Health

NSW Health has warned people vulnerable to heat to be aware of the dangers, and have suggested some measures to stay cool:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day.

  • Keep your home cooler by using air-conditioning or electric fans and closing doors, windows, blinds, and curtains.

  • Limit your physical activity to early in the morning when it’s coolest.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly.

  • When outdoors, apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a wide brim hat to protect your eyes, face, and scalp.

  • Seek out cool places or air-conditioned public facilities in your local area, if you can safely travel without getting too hot.

NSW Ambulance

NSW Ambulance has urged people in fire-affected areas to wear any form of eyewear and loose clothing to cover their skin to assist in reducing any incidental injury.

Fire and Rescue NSW

FRNSW has urged people who see an unattended fire to call 000 immediately.

They’ve also requested people clean out gutters and remove piles of rubbish, weeds and leaf matter.

NSW police

NSW police is asking commuters to “keep their cool” if the heat results in traffic delays.

They added:

We know many people will want to head to the beach, a local swimming hole or swim in your back yard pool. Please be careful. Keep a watchful eye over children especially when they are near the water – all children need to be supervised.


If you’re catching up on today’s news, check out the top stories my colleague Antoun Issa has compiled in our afternoon update:

Recently released immigration detainee to face court today

The third freed immigration detainee to be arrested after 148 people were released after the high court ruling on indefinite detention has been charged and will face Dandenong magistrates court this afternoon.

Victoria police said the 33-year-old man, who was a registered sex offender, was charged with nine counts of failure to comply with reporting obligations, and with trespassing in relation to a reported incident in Dandenong on 24 November.

Guardian Australia understands the alleged breaches of reporting obligations predominantly relate to online offending on social media.

My colleague Paul Karp has more on this story here:


Internal security to be key feature of deal with PNG

A security agreement to be signed between Australia and Papua New Guinea this week is expected to include a major focus on internal security.

The PNG prime minister, James Marape, is due to visit Canberra for talks with Anthony Albanese on Thursday. It has long been thought that this visit would be used to sign a bilateral security agreement that has been under negotiation for months.

In an interview published today, Marape told the ABC:

The security arrangement is in the best interest of Papua New Guinea and also for Australia and its regional security interests.

Cabinet will fully endorse the finer details before prime minister Albanese and I sign off. Australian police officers will work under the command and control of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and the Police Commissioner.

PNG’s minister of state, Justin Tkatchenko, told Reuters his country would recruit Australian police officers for key positions in its national police force under a wide-ranging deal that also covers defence and biosecurity:

This shows our commitment to Australia as one of our traditional security partners now and into the future.

James Marape addressing the United Nations
Prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters


Australia is in the top third of OECD countries when ranked by greenhouse gas emission increases in 2022, according to the release of new global emissions data.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.5% in 2022, after declining in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Many other countries also saw reduced emissions in these years, with UK, New Zealand and Germany continuing to post declines.

China and the United States also saw their emissions increase in 2022, but at smaller rates than Australia. When looking only at OECD countries, Australia ranked 10 out of 38 other countries, with the biggest increases in Mexico (9.2%) and Spain (6.6%).

You can see more data on Australia’s progress in addressing global heating here.


The value of Australian education surges by 68% in 12 months

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today have shown education added a further $12.1bn to the economy in the September quarter, outperforming coal exports and other minerals, while total exports have declined.

The latest quarterly result means education has now added $34bn to export revenue in 2023, on track to eclipse a record $41bn prior to the pandemic in 2019.

Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson, said the profits should come into consideration when determining the federal government’s upcoming migration strategy.

Labor has ruled out placing a cap on international student numbers, however earlier this year it released a suite of measures to crack down on rorts and exploitation in the sector.

Jackson said education was the “biggest export we don’t dig out of the ground”.

Australia has developed a strong, competitive edge in the global battle for international students through our careful and strategic work over many decades.

Any changes that restrict the movement of these people to our shores need to be weighed carefully against the enormous benefits they bring, during and after their studies.

Catriona Jackson
Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson at Parliament House last week. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Coalition want to force minister to report immigration releases to parliament

The shadow attorney general, Michaelia Cash, has spoken on the migration bill, which contains the Labor amendments for a preventive detention regime for those released as a result of the NZYQ high court decision.

After Labor and the Coalition voted together to bring the bill on, Cash said the government are “finally” doing what the opposition leader had demanded, to allow “law enforcement agencies to lock up high risk individuals who have been roaming free”.

Cash revealed the Coalition will move a “modest” amendment requiring the minister to “report to parliament every time one of these dangerous individuals is released into the community”.

The Greens senator, Nick McKim, is speaking now, accusing the major parties of “a race to the bottom” to demonise refugees.

McKim accused Labor of not only “handing over the drafter’s pen to Peter Dutton … it’s now handed over chamber management” (because Labor accepted the Coalition push to bring the bill on now).

McKim is complaining that the Greens only go the preventive detention amendments three hours ago, labelling it a shameful way to legislate.

Michaelia Cash in the Senate chamber
Liberal senator Michaelia Cash in the Senate chamber. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Is there the outline of a dove in RBA’s latest rates verdict?

There’s always a bit of tea-leaf reading when it comes to the RBA’s rates statement - and we get the long-playing version, with the release of the meeting’s minutes released on 19 December. By then, most of us will be in a shopping frenzy.

As the RBA governor, Michele Bullock says, the RBA only had “limited information” about the domestic economy to work with since it hiked the cash rate in November and what did emerge was “broadly in line with expectations”.

Warren Hogan, the chief economic adviser at JudoBank, has been more of a rates “hawk” than most, predicting that the RBA might have to hike its cash rate further given the strength of the underlying economy. (We’ll get an update of that tomorrow when September quarter GDP figures land.)

Anyway, he shared this correspondent’s assessment that this month’s comments were more dovish than might have been expected. Hogan says the tilt was “entirely inconsistent with gov Bullock’s tough talk in recent weeks”.

Hogan said it pointed to the RBA being patient and playing a long game.

“I think they are looking at grinding out policy tightening over an extended period if the economy doesn’t slow down and inflation come down as everyone hopes,” Hogan said.

Still, there remains the chance of one more rate rise. “Importantly, they won’t even be contemplating cuts for at least a year, if not longer,” he said.

Those with stretched finances, in other words, might not get much relief soon if Hogan is right.


“Grim Christmas for many Australians”: Angus Taylor responds to RBA interest rate hold

The shadow treasurer, Angus Taylor, has responded to the RBA keeping interest rates on hold, saying “today’s decision hasn’t made life any easier for hard-working Australians with a mortgage”.

He said:

An Australian family with a typical mortgage of $750,000 is paying an additional $24,000 a year since the 12 increases we have seen under Labor. That is an enormous increase in the yearly payment and $2000 a month in additional payments. They are struggling.

We have the highest longer-term interest rate of countries right across the advanced major countries across the world. We have seen household disposable income fall by over 5% for a typical Australian family. That is a 5% hit in what their money, their wages, their incomes, can buy in just a year. And meanwhile, we have seen two-quarters of GDP per capita going backwards.

So from the point of view of a typical Australian household that means they are seeing a recession, that is what they are seeing in GDP per capita. This will be a grim Christmas for many Australians.

Angus Taylor
Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor speaking to the media in July. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Darling Harbour precinct’s $764.5m overhaul approved

The New South Wales government has approved a $764.5m redevelopment of Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct with promises of more affordable housing for the area.

As part of the overhaul, the original Harbourside building will be demolished to make way for a new 50-storey mixed use residential and commercial building which is due to be completed in 2027.

Developer Mirvac has agreed to make a $5.2m contribution to the government which will be set aside for affordable housing in the surrounding areas including Pyrmont.

The NSW planning minister, Paul Scully, was unable to confirm how many new affordable houses would be built as part of the project.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, Scully said:

It really depends on the options that the community housing provider undertakes to deliver those.

We haven’t appointed a community housing provider … so the details will come when that happens.


Wong tells Birmingham ‘sit down and start the debate’

After question time, the Liberal leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham moved to immediately bring on debate about the migration bill.

Birmingham accused the government of the “real crime” of failing to legislate preventive detention before the court decision and release of detainees. This would have made a “profound difference” and prevented alleged crimes by those released, he said.

Penny Wong’s niggle during the speech has been superb. First she noted that Peter Dutton’s office had asked Labor to slow the debate on the bill down.

Then she jibed at Birmingham that he was “losing the journos” because the gallery emptied after question time.

Then she shouted “sit down and start the debate”. She and Murray Watt are ready to go it seems.

Penny Wong and Simon Birmingham
Government leader in the Senate, Penny Wong with her opposition counterpart, Simon Birmingham after question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


As we reported earlier, Westpac has again apologised to customers for the disruption to online banking last night.

But the major bank was unable to confirm why a routine technology update – which was also cited by Optus as the source of its outage last month – caused the 9-hour long disruption.

According to outage website DownDetector, more than 10,000 people reported problems accessing their accounts on Monday.


NSW police criticised for manhandling protester with baby at Albanese event

New South Wales police have attempted to move on a pro-Palestine protester holding a baby and a sign saying “Shame Albo” when the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, was speaking at the opening of a Sydney park.

The incident at Ashfield’s Lewis Herman reserve on Monday evening was filmed by multiple people including Inner West Greens councillor Dylan Griffiths who claimed the woman chanted “Shame, Albo, shame” when Albanese began to speak.

The councillor claimed Albanese responded by asking for the event to remain peaceful. The woman responded and then stood silently with her sign, Griffiths said. The sign included a picture of a watermelon – a symbol of Palestinian identity and resistance.

Within a minute, according to Griffiths and another event attender named Justin, two police officers had made their way to the woman and her baby and attempted to take her sign and move her on. Police said the woman was disrupting the event.

A short video showed one of the officers attempting to move the woman and the baby before she sat down on the grass. Griffiths said he then went over to tell the police to go away and they did.

“The cops came over and attempted to remove her – it was quite rough,” the councillor said.

More on this story here:


Thank you Emily Wind, and hello blog readers - I’ll now be with you until this evening.


Many thanks for joining me on the blog today – there is still plenty more to come, so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Jordyn Beazley to guide you through the rest of the day! Take care.

Dollar eases, stocks buoyed after RBA holds interest rates at final 2023 board meeting

With most commentators predicting the RBA would leave its cash rate unchanged at 4.35% at its December board meeting, the response in markets has been pretty moderate.

The Australian dollar eased back to 65.9 US cents from just above 66 US cents after the release, while stocks pared their losses slightly to be about 1% lower for the day.

Many borrowers will be breathing a sigh of relief, of course, and they might take heart from the lack of language in the RBA’s statement implying another rate rise may be needed to quell inflation.

“Returning inflation to target within a reasonable timeframe remains the board’s priority,” RBA governor Michele Bullock said in an accompanying statement.

Whether further tightening of monetary policy is required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable timeframe will depend upon the data and the evolving assessment of risks.

Follow here for further updates:

People doing it tough will welcome cash rate hold: Jim Chalmers

Earlier in his press conference, treasurer Jim Chalmers said the RBA’s decision to hold the cash rate was welcome news for “people who are already stretched enough”.

He said the decision would be met with “sighs of relief”, particularly with the Christmas period right around the corner.

This is a difficult time of year at the best of times, people are under pressure from the rate rises already in the system, from inflation which is moderating but still too high, and our economy is under pressure from global economic uncertainty as well.

Chalmers said progress is being made towards fighting inflation, but “we are not getting carried away”, acknowledging that people were still under financial pressure:

We know that people are still doing it tough, we know that people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but if you look at the recent data and you look at the recent commentary, it is very clear now that we are making welcome and encouraging progress in this fight against inflation.


Effect of RBA’s decision will become clear tomorrow: Jim Chalmers

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is speaking to the media following the RBA’s decision to hold the cash rate for December.

Speaking about the country’s economic position more broadly, he said a clearer picture would be available tomorrow with the release of the national accounts for September:

We expect that parts of the economy are performing relatively well, but other parts are being buffered by higher interest rates and by global economic uncertainty as well.

It remains to be seen, of course, what those numbers say. We already know that people are under pressure. We already know that the global scene is unpredictable, but we also know that inflation is moderating and wages are growing.


Cancelling games will financially hurt athletes: Athletics Australia

Circling back to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games:

Cancelling the games will also have a financial impact for athletes, former long-distance runner turned director of Athletics Australia, Steve Moneghetti, said.

He told the inquiry:

I can tell you, I ran well at the Commonwealth Games and then at the World Championships and the Olympics successively, and then I got sponsorship because my performance at those championship events meant that commercially, companies wanted to associate with me …

Being seen at a championship event allowed commercial opportunities. That meant that I wasn’t dependent on government funding, like athletes are now. That commercial aspect of the games like 2026, the profile raising is significant.

Athletics Australia president Jane Fleming said this was particularly true for female athletes:

There’s a gender issue here as well … [funding] is so disproportionately driven towards male sport.


As always, the brilliant Mike Bowers is at Senate question time to capture all the action. It’s certainly a very animated discussion this afternoon.

Senator Michaelia Cash yells at senate leader Penny Wong during a rowdy question time.
Senator Michaelia Cash yells at senate leader Penny Wong during a rowdy question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Senator Michaelia Cash during Senate question time.
Senator Michaelia Cash during Senate question time. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Senator Michaelia Cash.
Senator Michaelia Cash. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Cash rate unchanged at 4.35%

The Reserve Bank has delivered a pre-Christmas reprieve for Australia’s borrowers, leaving its cash rate unchanged at 4.35%.

Most economists and financial markets had predicted the RBA would pause at its final board meeting for 2023.

Whether the current rate is the peak will probably hinge on the strength of the December quarter inflation figures, which are not due out until the end of January – just prior to the RBA board’s next meeting set for 5-6 February.

More soon.


Coalition senators shouting about high court ‘concession’

Staying with Senate question time:

The Liberal leader in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, has asked Penny Wong who signed off on the special case in the NZYQ court case, which conceded that on 30 May it was not possible to deport the plaintiff.

Wong repeated her answer to an earlier question that “of the 148 people [released], all are here because Peter Dutton failed” to deport them.

The Coalition senators then started shouting at Wong “who signed the brief” – Bridget McKenzie was loudest, but we also caught Linda Reynolds and the shadow AG Michaelia Cash in the action.

It’s a very messy Senate question time … perhaps relishing the limelight of there being no QT in the house today.


Peter Dutton failed to deport NZYQ cohort: Wong

When Michaelia Cash called for the immigration and home affairs ministers to be sacked, Senate Labor leader Penny Wong blamed opposition leader Peter Dutton.

In Senate question time this afternoon, Wong said:

We’ve done more in nine days than those opposite have done in nine years. Every single one [of the people released] arrived before the election. Every single one was still here because Peter Dutton failed to do his job [to deport them].

Wong then took aim at Dan Tehan for attending an event in Warrnambool and James Paterson for doing a course in Harvard this week, and for allegedly failing to make themselves available for briefings about the NZYQ case.


Refusal to release is unlawful: Penny Wong

A fiery start to Senate question time, where Michaelia Cash has asked about “a further detainee, ringleader child exploitation gang, arrested in Dandenong, over allegedly having breached visa conditions”.

The Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has noted the government argued against the NZYQ case, and rejected the premise of the question that the government could do anything but release people affected in response.

Wong said:

Unlike some, including the shadow attorney general, we know it is not open to a government to instruct public servants to act unlawfully.

Wong said the government has acted by legislating visa conditions, and has put a proposed preventive detention regime to parliament but the opposition is yet to give its support for it.


Westpac blames ‘routine technology update’ for outage

Westpac Bank has issued another statement on social media this afternoon after last night’s outage which left customers unable to access their online banking or use their cards.

In a post to X/Twitter, Westpac said a “routine technology update” caused the outage, which was fixed at 5am AEDT.

It also said there was “no impact to the security or safety of [customers] accounts or data”.

Westpac wrote:

You may have been unable to login or view accounts in the Westpac App or online banking overnight. This was caused by a routine technology update which was fixed at 5am AEDT. We’re sorry for the disruption and the time it took to fix it.

Payments via cards and digital wallets were unaffected. ATMs and scheduled payments also continued to operate as usual. There was no impact to the security or safety of your accounts or data.


Big four banks tip no change to Reserve Bank cash rate

Just a reminder that the Reserve Bank’s final interest rate decision for the year will be announced at 2.30pm AEDT today.

We will bring you that here on the blog once it is announced.

As AAP reported earlier, the RBA is widely expected to keep rates on hold when it meets today, after a surprisingly weak monthly inflation read.

Headline inflation grew 4.9% in October, down from 5.6% in September.

A poll taken by Reuters last week found 28 of 30 economists expect the central bank to keep the cash rate steady at 4.35%.

Australia’s big four banks were among those tipping no change.

The 13 interest rate hikes in the cycle have been pushing up monthly repayments for mortgage holders, stretching many household budgets thin.


Athletics Australia appear at Commonwealth Games inquiry

Commonwealth Games Australia logo
Athletics Australia president Jane Fleming says cancelling the games in Victoria will affect athletes’ run to the Olympics. Photograph: Reuters

Athletics Australia is now appearing before the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Its president, Jane Fleming, is going through all the ways the cancellation has affected the sport – focusing particularly on the next generation of athletes.

She said:

Notably, many of Australian stars first launched their international careers and came on to the scene through a Commonwealth Games, including 16-year-old Cathy Freeman at the Auckland games in 1990 and a little known 23-year-old pole vaulter named Steve Walker, who launched his international career at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

There’s a million other athletes we could name as well, that also launched their international careers through a first appearance at a Commonwealth Games.

Fleming said cancelling the games in Victoria will affect the athletes’ run to the Olympics in 2028 and 2032, in Los Angeles and Brisbane, respectively.

None of these impacts are going to be just confined to Victoria; these are Australia wide impacts.

They will carry forward all the way to Brisbane and with the reports in the media yesterday that the Gold Coast has now pulled out of potentially hosting the games, the opportunity of a home games in 2026 or 2027 appears almost certainly lost.


Nine out of 10 farmers plan for drier weather, says new report

Researchers interviewed 100 farmers and found 92% have planned for drought, with 74% less concerned about an El Niño event – which typically brings drier conditions – than they were five years ago.

The research, completed in November, was commissioned by Kellanova ANZ, the parent company of Kellogg’s, in an attempt to help farmers become more climate-resilient.

The report showed almost a third of farmers were confident the practices they used would help prepare for drought.

It follows the weather bureau’s declaration in September of an El Niño weather event, which brings drier conditions and follows the driest three years on record from 2017-19 over the Murray-Darling Basin and NSW.

A sheep stuck in the outfall channel at Lake Cawndilla near Menindee, NSW, in 2019.
A sheep stuck in the outfall channel at Lake Cawndilla near Menindee, NSW, in 2019. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Kellanova’s director of agribusiness Chris Stevens said the research was carried out to help “get an understanding of what both the consumer and the farmers felt about the impact of the El Nino event”.

If our farmers are suffering because of lower yields … not only does it create a supply situation, it also creates a pricing situation.

- from AAP


MPs pay tribute to Peta Murphy

Yesterday, prime minister Anthony Albanese tearfully announced that Victorian Labor MP Peta Murphy had died, aged 50.

Tributes are continuing to flow for the Dunkley MP. Labor MP Stephen Jones wrote on X/Twitter that she was “so brave and determined”.

You always lit up the room with your charm and good humour.

The skills and training minister, Brendan O’Connor, remembered Murphy as a “remarkable person”.

She worked hard for her constituents in Dunkley, for those less fortunate, and for others like her, who battle breast cancer. Peta was in parliament only last week, working to make a difference. She made every day count.

Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said Murphy was a dear friend, colleague and “fearless warrior”:

With a sarcastic wit and a sharp mind, she was focused & determined till the end. A life cut way too short but what an impact! My heartfelt condolences to Peta’s husband Rod & her loving family.


Victorian treaty authority members announced

Victoria’s inaugural Aboriginal children’s commissioner, Andrew Jackomos, is among five members appointed to a nation-first body that will umpire treaty negotiations between the state and Indigenous groups.

An independent panel recommended the members be appointed to the state’s treaty authority.

Next year, the Victorian government will begin negotiating a statewide treaty with the state’s First People’s Assembly – a democratically elected Indigenous body. Traditional owner groups will also be able to enter into separate treaty negotiations with the state.

Victoria’s treaty and First Peoples’ minister, Natalie Hutchins, says the authority will ensure fairness during negotiations.

The First Peoples’ Assembly co-chair Ngarra Murray says the authority will play a key role in the treaty negotiations process:

You will be guiding us on a historic journey that will make our lives better.

The other members are:

• Dr Petah Atkinson - a Yorta Yorta woman and Monash University health researcher
Thelma Austin- a Gunditjmara woman with experience working as a cultural advisor artis
Jidah Clark - a Djab Wurrung man and lawyer
Duean White - a Biripi woman with corporate, government and not-for-profit experience


Greens attack Christian Porter over indefinite detention decisions

The Greens senator David Shoebridge has responded to news that the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, personally approved the Australian Human Rights Commission’s intervention in the high court to argue that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful.

He wrote on X/Twitter:

The outrage is not that Mark Dreyfus approved the Human Rights Commission’s intervention in the High Court indefinite detention case, the issue is how the former Coalition AG Christian Porter twice refused permission. That’s the scandal.

For context, from Paul Karp’s article:

AHRC president Rosalind Croucher noted the organisation had intervened in cases with “high political sensitivities” before, but was blocked by Coalition ministers in 2019 and 2022 “for the first time in the institutional memory of the commission”.

These were refusals by Porter for the AHRC to intervene in another case that attempted to overturn Al-Kateb, and by Michaelia Cash in relation to the Montgomery case in which the Morrison government attempted to regain the power to deport Aboriginal non-citizens.

You can read the full story below:


On the ground in New Caledonia

Deputy PM and defence minister Richard Marles has shared some images from New Caledonia, where he is attending the annual South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting.

Pictured with the French armed forces minister, Sébastien Lecornu, Marles said:

Australia and France are neighbours and partners in the Indo-Pacific, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship even further.


Michaelia Cash responds to AHRC revelation

The shadow attorney general, Michaelia Cash, has weighed in on Senate documents explaining how Mark Dreyfus approved the Australian Human Rights Commission intervention in the NZYQ case.

Cash said:

The attorney-general makes two extraordinary statements in his letter to the AHRC.

First, he rejects the idea there is any convention that the AHRC should make constitutional submissions in the high court. He is explicit that these things are decided on a case by case basis.

Second, he specifically considers the merits of the case, and decides that the balance of considerations “weigh in favour of granting approval”.

The AHRC made it clear that their interest in the case was linked directly to the 20-year precedent that underpins our migration system, and that this would have “implications not only for this plaintiff but for other people who have been kept in immigration detention …”. They say they would only intervene in a case where they would contribute something different from the other parties. This makes it clear they would be arguing against the government’s case.

But for some reason, he decided to personally approve the AHRC intervention – an intervention which proved highly significant in the case.

It is completely inexplicable. He needs to answer to the Australian people for his actions after all it was taxpayers’ money that was spent.

Senator Michaelia Cash in September.
Senator Michaelia Cash in September. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

This overstates it slightly – there’s no evidence the AHRC intervention was “highly significant” in the case that I can see. Prof Anne Twomey disagrees with Cash’s analysis, and told Sky News:

Well, first of all, it probably wouldn’t make any difference to the process because the Human Rights Commission is just in there as an intervener, so it’s someone sticking their $0.10 worth in.

But the real dispute is between the parties and the courts are primarily relying on the arguments for the main party. So, whether or not the Human Rights Commission came or not probably doesn’t make any difference.

But generally, its role is to be independent of the government and doing these sorts of things. And its role is to be a pain in the neck to government to try and force governments to comply with human rights obligations.

So, like all those sorts of integrity agencies, ICACs, auditor generals, they’re annoying, but they have an important role and normally governments let them play that role.


Infrastructure advisory body gets facelift after cuts

The peak independent body that advises on the nation’s largest infrastructure projects will be revamped, AAP reports.

Reforms for Infrastructure Australia that passed the Senate today mean the organisation will get the power to inquire into nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Its functions have also been redefined and a new governance structure will be put in place.

Assistant minister Anthony Chisholm said the Coalition had allowed the independent body to lose its direction and be stacked with political board appointments:

They destroyed Infrastructure Australia as a major economic body and instead used it as a vehicle to give jobs to their mates.

They ignored Infrastructure Australia’s priority list and instead invested in imaginary car parks rather than major projects that would lay the foundations for the nation’s future economic growth.

The minister said Infrastructure Australia would now provide “relevant and timely expert advice” to the government on infrastructure planning and project prioritisation.

The opposition infrastructure spokesperson, Bridget McKenzie, said the bill failed to enhance the transparency of government decisions after the minister cut funding for dozens of projects.

The amended legislation will need to be ticked off by the lower house when it sits for the final time this year on Thursday.


If you missed our earlier updates on attorney general Mark Dreyfus’s statement on the NZYQ high court ruling, my colleague Paul Karp has the story here:


SA teacher pay standoff ends after union backs new offer

A long-running pay dispute between South Australian teachers and the state government appears to be over after its latest offer won the approval of the union, AAP reports.

The Australian Education Union last night recommended its members accept the four-year, 13% wage increase in a ballot due to take place this week.

The news will come as a relief to parents after two disruptive strikes and three months of at times bitter negotiations.

The latest offer will take SA educators from Australia’s lowest paid to closer to the national midpoint, SA branch president Andrew Gohl said.

The new deal will see teachers receive a 4% pay rise in their first year, and 3% in the subsequent three years, compared to the previous three-year offer of 4%, 3% and 2.5%.

Teachers will also see their workloads reduced with easier access to disability funding.

The enterprise agreement must still clear the final hurdle of a union member vote, but it is unlikely to fail given the support of the executive.


Heatwave warning

And in more weather news: the Bureau of Meteorology has flagged that the inland heatwave – expected to cover large parts of the country by the end of this week – is beginning to develop in western parts of NSW.

Large parts of inland Australia will experience consecutive days above 40C, the BoM said, with very warm nights.


After parts of Queensland were lashed by severe thunderstorms yesterday, things seem to be calming down slightly today.

The Bureau of Meteorology said storms are possible this afternoon and evening in the western, central and northern districts, but severe storms are not expected at this stage:

But this reprieve may be short, if a tropical low weather system off Queensland’s coast ends up forming into the first cyclone of the summer.

You can read more on that below:

EY would have ‘added to every information set’ if given more time on Commonwealth Games

Circling back to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games:

Dean Yates from Ernst and Young (one of the consultancy firms that contributed to the business case for the event) was asked what he would’ve done differently if EY had had more time and hadn’t been bound by confidentiality when working on the Commonwealth Games business case:

Well, we would have spoken to a whole bunch of stakeholders and added to every information set. People like transport operators, security operators, sporting bodies, local governments.

Yates said they were limited, but the situation wasn’t unique:

This is not necessarily unique in the sense that with some business cases, and some pieces of work that we have to do for our clients, there are often limitations and restrictions.

It’s very rare that it’s open slather, because quite often, the clients and organisations are just thinking about what they might do and if they don’t do it, they don’t necessarily want people to know that …

If we had more time, we would have spoken to more stakeholders, we would have visited a few venues.


King Charles and Camilla to visit Australia next October

The Australian Monarchist League says it is thrilled by news that King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla will visit Australia next October.

The league noted this will be the first visit of King Charles as sovereign:

We trust that the Australian and State governments will not restrict people being able to come out and welcome their new King as they did 70 years ago for the then new Queen, Elizabeth II.

King Charles will also attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Samoa from 21-25 October.

A Guardian Essential poll from last year found that Australians are divided over whether King Charles should be the nation’s head of state, with a 50-50 split between those who support the monarch and those who do not.

Less than half (43%) supported Australia becoming a republic.


Mark Dreyfus’ statement on the NZYQ ruling concludes with:

At all times following the pronouncement of orders by the High Court on 8 November 2023, the Government has sought and closely considered legal advice from the Solicitor-General and the Australian Government Solicitor.

The Government has offered to make written legal advice available to the Opposition in relation to the release of, and power to detain, the NZYQ-affected individuals. This offer has been made on a confidential basis to preserve legal professional privilege.

Consistent with the longstanding practice of successive governments, the Government will not otherwise be disclosing or making any comment about the specific legal advice it has received.

Mark Dreyfus’ statement continues:

Following the High Court decision and reasons in the NZYQ matter, it is not legally possible to legislate to require the detention of all of the NZYQ-affected individuals on community safety grounds. As the Leader of the Opposition has noted in the House of Representatives, “[t]he parliament cannot out legislate the Constitution”.

Any detention imposed under Commonwealth law otherwise than as a result of the adjudgment and punishment of criminal guilt must be directed to a legitimate non-punitive purpose, such as the protection of the Australian community from an unacceptable risk of grave or serious harm.

The High Court has previously upheld preventative detention of High Risk Terrorist Offenders on community safety grounds, where that is ordered by a court, and where the scheme is tailored to protecting the community from the threat of harm from terrorism: Benbrika (2021) 272 CLR 68 at [36], [41], [43], [48] (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Keane and Steward JJ); see also [79], [100] (Gageler J), [163] (Gordon J).

These principles have formed the basis of the Government’s proposed preventative detention regime – a regime that is closely modelled, in all relevant respects, on the preventative detention laws for High Risk Terrorist Offenders which were first introduced by the former government in 2016.

The Government has provided the Opposition with a memorandum from the Attorney-General’s Department setting out the Government’s proposed preventative detention legislation and the relevant constitutional principles.

The statement from Mark Dreyfus on the NZYQ high court ruling continues:

The Department of Home Affairs undertakes expert assessment of whether a person is an “NZYQ-affected person”. If and when it is clear that a person in immigration detention is an NZYQ-affected person, the Department must immediately take steps to secure the person’s release from detention. There is no legal basis on which the Government can delay releasing the person until, for example, a court orders the person’s release.

Moreover, whether a person is required to be released turns solely on whether they fall within the limit identified by the High Court’s order in NZYQ – and not, for example, on their personal circumstances including any criminal history they may have.

It is a fundamental principle of our system of law that the government cannot deprive a person of their liberty without positive authority conferred by law. Following the High Court’s decision in NZYQ, there is no power to detain the affected non-citizens under the Migration Act. There is no power for a minister to direct an officer to detain the affected non-citizens.

For these reasons, any delay in releasing an NZYQ-affected person could expose the Commonwealth and individual officers to liability for (among other things) false imprisonment. Any officer who continues to detain a person who they know is an NZYQ-affected person may also be acting in breach of the APS Code of Conduct and be liable to disciplinary action as a result.

The Government cannot and would not ask, let alone direct, Commonwealth officials to break the law.


‘The High Court determines the meaning of the Australian constitution’: Dreyfus releases statement on detention ruling

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has tabled a statement in the Senate on the NZYQ high court ruling.

We will bring you that statement in full here on the blog. It begins:

The Government is committed to protecting the safety of the community and acting in accordance with the law.

Our response to the High Court’s decision in NZYQ v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs & Anor has at all times been guided by these fundamental principles.

The High Court determines the meaning of the Australian Constitution – not politicians.

The High Court has held that, if a non-citizen has been refused permission to remain in Australia, and there is no real prospect of removing them from Australia in the reasonably foreseeable future, the non-citizen cannot lawfully be held in immigration detention: NZYQ v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs & Anor [2023] HCA 37 at [55].

In NZYQ, the High Court made a decision that did not only apply to the plaintiff in that matter. Rather, the Court set a new limit on the Parliament’s power to make laws requiring or authorising the detention of any non-citizen who is relevantly in the same position as the plaintiff (an “NZYQ-affected person”).

As a result of the High Court’s decision, the continued detention of any NZYQ-affected person would be unlawful.


‘We should be one of the safest countries in the world’: Simon Birmingham on Israel travel warnings

As we flagged earlier, Israel has upgraded travel warnings to multiple countries – including Australia – citing a rise in antisemitism stemming from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Travel warnings to Australia have been raised to level 2, which urges Israeli citizens to take additional precautions while visiting.

The opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Simon Birmingham, told Sky News the increased travel warning from Israel was a terrible stain on Australia:

The idea that Jewish people or Israeli citizens would somehow have to take extra precautions in visiting Australia because of the rise of antisemitism … is something that must be tackled at the highest levels.

We should be working to restore Australia’s reputation because we should be one of the safest countries in the world.

This comes as deputy prime minister Richard Marles acknowledged the rise of both antisemitism and Islamophobia, urging people to express views on Israel-Hamas conflict “in a safe and a peaceful way”.

The opposition has been calling for national cabinet to address rising antisemitism when prime minister Anthony Albanese meets with state and territory leaders tomorrow.

- with AAP


Not enough information on proposed NDIS overhaul, Victorian disability minister says

The Victorian disability minister, Lizzie Blandthorn, says the state remains in the dark about planned changes to the NDIS ahead of a looming showdown over funding for the scheme at national cabinet this week.

The federal NDIS minister, Bill Shorten, is seeking to defuse a growing row with state and territory governments over an overhaul of funding the scheme. State and territory leaders will meet with Anthony Albanese tomorrow.

Blandthorn says her state has not been provided with sufficient information about key proposed changes under the scheme:

The disability reform minister’s council has not been provided with either enough information in terms of what is reasonable and necessary and how that’s proposed to be changed or how foundational supports will be defined.

The premier, Jacinta Allan, says Victoria already provides “significant” funding for families and children with a disability:

For some time now, it has been the federal government’s responsibility to provide care through the NDIS. This is a federally administered scheme, a federally run scheme that is clearly facing some challenges.

We’ve also stepped in, in so many areas that are primarily a federal government responsibility. We have stepped in time and time again.


Projected cost of Commonwealth Games was ‘an early stage estimate’: EY

Circling back to the Victorian parliament’s inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games:

Dean Yates from Ernst and Young is running the inquiry through the timeline of his firm’s involvement in developing the business case for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

He says EY was first engaged – “under strict confidentiality” – to help develop the business case for the sporting event on 15 December 2021:

The bid process, which includes the development of a business case, would usually take place over a period of years and with substantial lead in time to the event itself. In this case, we work towards a compressed timeline of six weeks.

Yates said EY also engaged consultants from DHW Ludus and MI Associates to help put together the document, but all the firms were hampered by confidentiality provisions:

The highly confidential nature of this engagement meant that no fieldwork, such as formal inspection of the potential venues for example, could be undertaken by EY, DHW Ludus and MI Associates, nor could any consultation take place with any potential suppliers partners or other departments.

As a result, the business case, as the department has shared in evidence with this committee, was an early stage estimate of the potential cost. And it was understood widely that these costings would need to be validated, tested and refined.


‘Entitled to the presumption of innocence’: lawyers alliance on charges against two ex-detainees

Greg Barns from the Australian Lawyers’ Alliance has pushed back at community concern about two people released from immigration detention being charged for offences.

He said:

First, both ex-detainees charged are entitled to the presumption of innocence. This fundamental right seems to be forgotten by some in the media and politics whipping up hysteria.

Second, any person who is alleged to possess cannabis is not threat to society.

Third, every day of the week ex-prisoners unfortunately commit further offences. Depending on the allegations and their circumstances they are not necessarily detained but are granted bail.


Mark Dreyfus approved AHRC intervention against indefinite detention

The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, personally approved the Australian Human Rights Commission’s intervention in the high court to argue that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful.

Documents produced to the Senate reveal that on 5 June, Dreyfus signed off on the AHRC’s intervention in favour of the plaintiff NZYQ, provided it “make clear” that it was doing so on its own behalf, not the commonwealth.

A letter from the AHRC president, Rosalind Croucher, also reveals that the defendants – the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, and the commonwealth – “consider there is a reasonable prospect that the parties will be able to agree a special case, including ultimate facts that would raise the correctness” of an earlier decision that indefinite detention is lawful.

The Albanese government has repeatedly stressed that as the defendant in the case it had opposed the bid to overturn the 20-year precedent case of Al-Kateb that indefinite immigration detention is lawful, even where there is no prospect of deportation.


Brittany Higgins is in the witness box for her fourth full day of testimony in a defamation case brought by former Liberal party staffer Bruce Lehrmann against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

For those wanting to follow along, we have a separate liveblog from Amanda Meade here:

Consultancy firms to front Commonwealth Games cancellation inquiry

The Victorian parliament’s inquiry into the cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games resumes today, with the consultancy firms that contributed to the business case for the event set to appear first.

Dean Yates and Leigh Walker from Ernst and Young, Dale Wood from DHW Ludus and Michelle Morris and Tom Sloane from MI Associates will give evidence to the inquiry during a joint session that will kick off any minute.

The chair of the inquiry, Libertarian MP David Limbrick, said it was important to hear directly from those who helped to prepare the business case, given it has been the subject of criticism.

Chief among those critics was the former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, who described the business case and costings for the axed Commonwealth Games as “hardly the greatest piece of work”.

Andrews axed the 12-day sporting event in July, after he said the cost of hosting the Games in regional centres blew out from an estimated $2.5bn in April 2022 to almost $7bn.

The state had to pay $380m in compensation to Commonwealth Games bodies, who are now scrambling to find a host city, after the Gold Coast withdrew their bid on Sunday evening.


Victoria police have confirmed that an incident at Windsor, which we reported earlier, has been peacefully resolved.


Greenpeace drops ‘Stop Woodside’ banner next to company’s Perth headquarters

Greenpeace activists have scaled a 140m crane next door to Woodside’s headquarters in Perth, dropping a banner than reads “Stop Woodside”.

According to a statement from Greenpeace, the activists are calling out the fossil fuel giant as “Australia’s biggest climate threat”.

Western Australia police confirmed officers are at the scene.

Greenpeace activists have scaled a crane near the Woodside HQ in Perth.
Greenpeace activists have scaled a crane near the Woodside HQ in Perth. Photograph: Greenpeace
Greenpeace activists drop a 25m ‘Stop Woodside’ banner from a crane outside Woodside’s headquarters in Perth.
Activists drop a 25m ‘Stop Woodside’ banner from a crane outside Woodside’s headquarters. Photograph: Greenpeace


NSW man dies after being found unresponsive in swimming pool

A man has died after being pulled from a swimming pool on the NSW south coast.

Emergency services were called to a holiday resort in Tomakin – 15km south of Batemans Bay – around 8pm last night, after a man was found unresponsive in a pool.

Paramedics attempted to resuscitate him, but he died at the scene.

The man, believed to be in his 20s, is yet to be formally identified. His death is not being treated as suspicious, NSW police said.

A report is being prepared for the coroner.


Victorian police have released this statement just earlier:

Police are currently negotiating with a man in Albert Street in Windsor. While police deal with the situation we ask that the public avoid the area. More information will be provided when available.

Number of electric vehicles sold up more than 50,000 on last year, data shows

More Australians than ever before are buying electric vehicles, according to VFACTS monthly vehicle sales data.

Year-to-date sales of battery electric vehicles have reached 80,446 – compared to 28,326 at the same time last year.

EVs represented 7.7% of the overall monthly vehicle sales, and 7.2% of sales this year so far.

Federal chamber of automotive industries chief executive Tony Weber acknowledged the strong demand for a variety of vehicle options across various price brackets.

Speaking broadly about car sales – not just EVs – he said:

The automotive sector remains a testament to the resilience and adaptability of both industry players and consumers alike.

However, as cost-of-living pressures hit we may see a market cooling in the coming months, and we anticipate a more challenging 2024.


Category one tropical cyclone forecast to form off Queensland

AAP has more details on the potential tropical cyclone forming off the coast of Queensland, which we flagged in yesterday’s blog:

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts the tropical low weather system around Solomon Islands will intensify and begin tracking towards north-eastern parts of the Coral Sea tomorrow, before further intensifying into a severe tropical cyclone on Thursday.

During next week there is a chance that the system could move into the vicinity of the Queensland coast.

Forecasts from the bureau indicate the tropical low will form into a category one cyclone late today, before intensifying to a category three on Thursday.

Modelling suggests the weather system is likely to come close to the Queensland coast over the next week, BoM meteorologist Steven Hadley said. He told ABC Radio Brisbane:

Some of the modelling has even suggested it could come through as far south as Brisbane, but it would probably be an ex-tropical cyclone by then, in the longer term.

Potentially, we are looking at something crossing the coast next week or as early as late this weekend as some of the more recent guidance that we’ve been looking at shows.

But more likely than not, it would be in the tropical areas of Queensland … it’s just really too early to say just yet.

Should the system develop and intensify into a cyclone close to Australia, it will be named Jasper.


Today marks International Volunteer Day.

A number of Australian volunteer organisations have taken the opportunity to thank their volunteers, who dedicate hours upon hours of their time to keep us safe:

Greens’ Cate Faehrmann urges music minister to explain cancellation of Sydney music festival

Greens MP and music spokesperson Cate Faehrmann has called on music minister John Graham to “urgently explain” the circumstances that forced the Sydney festival’s headline “Summerground” music festival cancelled.

As Kelly Burke reported, NSW police have been accused of “price gouging” and operating a “rort” that threatens the viability of music festivals, by charging tens of thousands of dollars more than their counterparts in other states to patrol events.

You can read that full report below:

In a statement, Faehrmann said:

I’ve been inundated with concerns from festival organisers across NSW who have been forced to cancel events or are close to cancelling after being whacked with a massive price tag by NSW Police. The Minister for Music needs to explain if that is what happened here.

Artists, industry workers and creatives are feeling the pinch of soaring cost of living too, and deserve certainty around their work …

There is something seriously wrong if a music festival in the heart of Australia’s leading global city can’t get off the ground.

The Minister needs to defend live music against exorbitant charges such as over-the-top and, frankly, dangerous levels of policing so we can reverse this trend of festivals being cancelled.


ABC Radio National marks 100th anniversary

Beginning as 2FC (“Farmer and Country”), ABC Radio National first tested its signal on 5 December 1923, with regular broadcasting kicking off on 9 January 1924.

When the ABC formed in 1932, the radio network evolved and began broadcasting to more locations, and was later known as “Radio 2”.

It officially got the name Radio National in 1985.

RN has a rich history, with many dedicated listeners tuning in for decades on end. The ABC has recapped some of the best memories from the last 100 years here.

And today at 9am AEDT, it will be the last time they play the familiar “pips” before the news.


Sean Ingle has taken a deep dive into the Commonwealth Games’ history, and its future, with this fantastic analysis piece.

With so much talk about the Games in recent days – and for months, really – you can take a read below:


Gallagher says budget review ‘will have some spending in it’ for cost-of-living relief

Turning to this afternoon’s Reserve Bank interest rate decision, the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, acknowledged the cost of living is “really biting”, particularly for people with mortgages.

Asked whether any cost-of-living relief will come with the budget review next week, Gallagher said it will “have some spending in it” but is more of an economic outlook.

She said:

We are very mindful of our responsiblity not to add to the inflation challenge that exists, we’re seeing good progress in terms of inflation moderating … and we’re very mindful of the job we have to do, which is providing cost-of-living relief where we can in a targeted way that doesn’t add to inflation.


Labor wants to strengthen laws governing released detainees, Gallagher says

Q: There’s two men that have been charged. You’re saying the government could not have done anything more than it did?

Katy Gallagher:

I can’t comment on operational matters but we’ve got a taskforce in place, the ABF, the AFP …

Two individuals have been arrested for different offences and they’re being handled in accordance with state processes.

We want to strengthen the laws to make sure we can put some of these people through the preventative detention order arrangement [under the proposed legislation] and allow them to be returned to detention. We don’t have that power at the moment under the law …


‘We were legally required’ to release detainees: Gallagher

Katy Gallagher was pressed as to why Andrew Giles provided assurance that Australians were safe before any legislation was introduced.

Gallagher reiterated that “we were legally required to release this cohort”.

There was no choice … they were released with conditions on their visas to ensure that we kept track of those people.

We then passed legislation in order to strengthen that within a week. Then [the High Court] released their written decision a fortnight ago and we’ve got legislation to respond to that to put in place a preventative detention arrangement that would allow people to be returned in certain circumstances to detention.

That legislation is before parliament today – Gallagher said the government wants the opposition’s support for it to be passed this week, or as early as tomorrow.


Katy Gallagher expresses support for Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles amid calls for resignations

The finance minister, Katy Gallagher, spoke to ABC News Breakfast earlier, also on the topic of the released immigration detainees.

She also threw her support behind Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles, amid calls from the Coalition for them to resign.

These are two incredibly hard working ministers who have been thrown, as you do in government, an incredibly complex and complicated situation.

We should remember that we were legally required to release this cohort from immigration detention after the high court overturned a law that had been operating for 20 years.

And since that day, I’ve been working closely with those ministers [and] they’ve been working around the clock to put in place arrangements to keep the community safe, including legislation that … we’re trying to pass through the Senate this week that further strengthens those.


Dan Tehan repeats Coalition calls for Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles to resign

The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, spoke to Sunrise earlier this morning, continuing the Coalition’s calls for Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles to resign amid the release of immigration detainees.

The detainees were released after a high court decision on indefinite immigration detention, which the government cannot refute – but the Coalition is arguing the government needed to put more preventive detention regimes in place immediately after the ruling.

This comes as two released detainees allegedly reoffended over the weekend.

Currently, Labor is seeking support for a preventive detention regime to allow the immigration minister to apply to courts to re-detain non-citizens convicted of serious sexual or violent crimes who were released from immigration detention (you can read more on this below):

It’s also important to note that not everyone released following this ruling is a “hardcore” criminal, or a criminal at all – some were charged and never found guilty, had their charges dropped, or were detained without charge.

Speaking to Sunrise, Tehan said O’Neil and Giles should “do the honourable thing now and resign”.

They needed to have preventative detention regimes in place after the high court made its decision. They failed to do that, they haven’t been transparent with the Australian public about who these people are …

The time has come for the prime minister to do the right thing and ask for these ministers to resign. If they don’t, he should sack them.


Travel warning for Israelis in Australia

Haaretz is reporting the Israeli National Security Council has updated travel warnings for countries around the world, including Australia, due to rising antisemitism.

The UK, France, Germany, Argentina and Russia have all been raised to level 2 alert, with Israelis told to avoid outward displays of their Jewish and Israeli identities.

The National Security Council said in a statement:

Since the beginning of the war there have been increased efforts identified from Iran and its affiliates, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to target Israelis and Jews around the world.

‘Humanitarian pause’ is a goal in step towards ‘more permanent ceasefire’, Marles says

Richard Marles told ABC RN the protection of civilian life needs to be at the forefront “as we move to a more permanent ceasefire”.

He said:

… Our view is very clearly that the protection of civilian lives, abiding by the rules of war, has to be central to the way in which Israel [conducts itself].

As a foreign minister I have said on numerous occasions, the way in which Israel undertakes its right to defend itself matters and the protection of civilian lives, the maintenance of humanitarian concerns … needs to be central to this.

We are seeking a humanitarian pause. That’s why we have been saying, as we move to a more permanent ceasefire, obviously that needs to be done in a way which is fundamentally making protection of civilian life.


Protection of civilians must be at forefront of IDF conduct: Marles

Asked about the conduct of the Israel Defence Force, and the growing use of artificial intelligence and high-precision weaponry, Marles said:

We have been making it very clear in our advocacy, publicly and privately, that the protection of civilians has to be at the forefront of the way in which Israel undertakes its work.

And we have been deeply concerned [about] the loss of innocent Palestinian lives in this process.

Q: Do you think Israel places civilian lives at the forefront?


What matters is that Australia is advocating loudly, clearly and forcefully for the protection of civilians.


Marles notes rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism in Australia

Q: Do you acknowledge the rise in Islamophobia, as well as antisemitism?

Richard Marles:

I think we are seeing that and I think that’s really important in this moment, that all Australians are thinking about the peaceful nature of society [and not taking] that for granted, and putting that front and centre.

I think we are seeing a rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia and there can be no place for that within our [country], and that’s why it actually does mean that Australians do need to be looking after each other in the way in which they have a legitimate right to express their views.


Marles backs ministers facing Coalition calls to resign over handling of immigration detainee release

Asked about calls from the Coalition for Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles to resign after the release of immigration detainees – two of whom are already facing charges on separate incidents – Marles affirmed they both have his full support.

Host Hamish Macdonald asks whether it was right for Giles to provide assurances about Australians safety, before new legislation was introduced:

The fact is that the release comes from a high court ruling … The question now is about whether or not the opposition [will] support the strong rules that we’re putting [before] parliament.


Marles says Australians should express views on Israel-Hamas conflict ‘in a safe and a peaceful way’

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, is speaking to ABC RN. He is asked whether Australia is “a safe place for Jews right now”, amid a discussion of the Israel-Hamas war.

He said it is important for Australians in “this very difficult time globally” to express their views “in a peaceful manner”.

[I understand] many of the Jewish community are finding this to be a very difficult time and it’s really important for those in the Jewish community, or those in Islamic community, that Australians are looking after everyone.

That has to be the basis upon which everyone expresses their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, but to do that in a safe and a peaceful way.


Removing childcare activity test could boost women’s workplace participation to tune of $4.5bn, research reveals

New research from Impact Economics and Policy found that removing the activity test could increase female workplace participation by more than 39,000 a year and boost the economy by $4.5bn.

The research also estimates that about 108,000 children in NSW and Victoria are missing out on universal access to preschool each year.

The activity test works by determining how many hours of subsidised childcare families receive based on the number of hours they work, study or complete other approved activities like volunteering.

The Parenthood said the test had been criticised by many parents as “confusing and financially unviable”, with the take-home pay for some families almost cancelled out by the high cost of childcare.

The Parenthood CEO, Jessica Rudd, described the test as a “lose-lose”:

It’s completely arbitrary. For many families, relying on two incomes to get by is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Parents are trapped in a cycle of being unable to find a job without childcare, and unable to afford childcare without a job.

The fact that we have a policy that directly exacerbates the unaffordability of childcare and in turn prevents parents – predominantly women – who want to work from supporting their families and building their careers is unacceptable.

Rudd said the entire childhood and education sector was “crying out for reform” and the activity test should be the first thing addressed.


Westpac issues online apology after overnight outage

In case you missed it: early this morning, Westpac services came back online following an outage overnight where customers were unable to access their online accounts or use their cards.

You can read all the details on this below:

The bank issued this apology on social media earlier:

Our mobile and online banking services are now restored and running as usual.

We want to apologise to all our customers who were impacted by the issue overnight. We recognise this took too long to resolve and we thank customers for their patience.


Higher education underpayment totalling $159m, union report claims

A report from the National Tertiary Education Union claims higher education workers have been underpaid as much as $159m over many years in alleged “wage theft”.

The report says more than 97,000 university staff have been underpaid by more than 30 employers, a situation it calls “a disgrace” and “shameful”.

The report says the vast majority of underpayments have occurred since 2014, and that the “true tally” was much higher, with eight wage theft cases potentially worth millions of dollars still ongoing.

The national president of the NTEU, Alison Barnes, said the report exposed “the depths of systemic underpayment in Australian universities”:

The fact that wage theft is so widespread in Australian universities is a damning indictment of the current governance model.

Wage theft has a devastating impact on the lives of university staff. It can mean struggling to make ends meet, being unable to afford to pay bills, or being forced to take on additional work.


More than half of ‘middle-age, middle-wage’ workers experiencing cost-of-living distress

The gap in cost-of-living distress between “middle-age, middle-wage” workers and middle-income retirees has tripled in the past 12 months, according to the latest Suicide Prevention Australia community tracker.

The data was released ahead of today’s Reserve Bank meeting.

It found that more than half (54%) of Australia’s “middle-age, middle-wage” workers reported elevated stress due to the cost of living and personal debt in the December 2023 quarter, compared to 42% this time last year.

In comparison, this figure fell from 30% to 21% for retirees (over 50, earning between $50k-$150k).

Nationally, elevated cost-of-living distress rose from 41% to 46% over the past year.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said the data showed many Australians were doing it tough:

However, our findings also confirm ‘middle-age, middle- wage’ workers are carrying a greater share of the economic burden at a time in their lives when they’re at peak productivity and heightened risk of suicide.

It’s critical for policy and economic decision makers to address this urgently, including by sharing messages of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The community tracker surveyed 1,035 adults from 16 November to 20 November online.


Good morning, and happy Tuesday.

I’m Emily Wind and I’ll be with you on the blog today – many thanks to Martin for kicking things off.

See something that needs attention? You can get in touch via X/Twitter @emilywindwrites or email:

With that, let’s get started.

Athletics Australia warns damage from Commonwealth Games decision will carry over to Brisbane Olympics

The consequences of cancelling the 2026 Commonwealth Games will linger over the Brisbane Olympics, a top sporting body warns.

Australian Associated Press reports that Athletics Australia will today front a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the failed 2026 Commonwealth Games bid months after the former premier Dan Andrews announced the state would no longer host the major sporting event.

In their submission, the organisation lashes the state government, claiming the cancellation will hurt its athletes and the nation’s reputation and legacy.

“The upheaval this decision has caused for athletics in Victoria and Australia, as well as the Commonwealth Games is immeasurable, with a blatant disregard for the significant logistical, emotional, financial and reputational damage caused,” the submission says.

“None of these impacts will be confined to Victoria. They will carry forward to Brisbane 2032.”

In the past, Commonwealth Games close to home have laid the foundation for Australian athletes to break out on to the international stage.

Cathy Freeman, for example, became the first Indigenous Australian to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at the 1990 event in Auckland, while pole vaulter Steve Hooker took home his first major international gold at the 2006 Melbourne iteration of the event.


No UK rescue for 2026 Commonwealth Games after Gold Coast withdrawal

After the Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate, said last night that the city was withdrawing its bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the British government has made it clear it will not provide money for a UK bid.

Substantial UK government support allowed Birmingham to ride to the rescue of the 2022 Games after Durban was stripped of the event in 2017. However, multiple sources have told the Guardian that there is no financial appetite – or any preliminary planning in place – to allow another British city to intervene again. “For the good of the Games, it needs to go elsewhere,” one insider said.

Read our full story here:


RBA rate decision due at 2.30pm

Borrowers are likely to be spared another interest rate hike in the lead-up to Christmas when the Reserve Bank board meets today, Australian Associated Press reports.

The RBA is widely expected to keep rates on hold when it meets on Tuesday after a surprisingly weak monthly inflation read.

Headline inflation grew 4.9% in October, down from 5.6% in September.

A poll taken by Reuters last week found 28 of 30 economists expect the central bank to keep the cash rate steady at 4.35%.

Australia’s big four banks were among those tipping no change.

The 13 interest rate hikes in the cycle have been pushing up monthly repayments for mortgage holders, stretching many household budgets thin.



Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and these are some of the main stories you need to know about this morning before my colleague Emily Wind comes along.

Thousands of Westpac customers across the country were unable to access their accounts online or use their cards overnight after an outage struck the bank last night. The company says all is now well, but it will crank up concerns about the safety of online systems after last month’s Optus crash. The bank said last night that the problem occurred during a “routine technology update”.

The Coalition leader, Peter Dutton, mocked Chris Bowen for travelling to Dubai for the Cop28 climate summit and “incurring all those emissions” on his flight. But the jibe could backfire as it has emerged that the Coalition is sending a significant delegation to the Cop28 summit in Dubai, including frontbenchers Paul Fletcher and Bridget McKenzie. The travel is being facilitated by the Coalition for Conservation and Environmental Leadership Australia and the group includes Liberal senators Andrew Bragg, Maria Kovacic and Dean Smith, as well as New South Wales Liberals Matt Kean and Kellie Sloane and Queenslanders Sam O’Connor and Steve Minnikin.

The British government has told Commonwealth Games organisers that the United Kingdom will not step in to rescue the event again after the Gold Coast withdrew its bid for the 2026 edition. The games now faces serious jeopardy if it cannot find a host after the decision by the Victorian government to pull out earlier this year. More coming up.

Today, Brittany Higgins is due to return to the witness stand for another day of cross-examination in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation action against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

And the RBA meets for its last rates decision before Christmas. Does it have a present for mortgage holders?

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