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NSW paramedics take industrial action; interest rate rises predicted – as it happened

Boxes of senate ballot papers at an Australian Electoral Commission warehouse
Six days on from the election, the Australian Electoral Commission is still counting votes, but remain on track to return the writs to the governor general on or before 28 June. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

What happened this Friday 27 May 2022

With that, we’ll wrap up our live news coverage of the day. Here’s a summary of the main news developments:

Thanks for following along. Have a great evening.


NSW paramedics take industrial action

Paramedics in New South Wales are taking industrial action tonight.

On Friday evening, the Australian Paramedics Association said thousands of NSW paramedics would refuse to take billing details, report on KPIs or move from their home stations from 5:45pm. The union said it was bringing forward planned industrial action “in response to the NSW government trying to silence paramedics with legal challenges”.

In a statement, the union said its “escalation in industrial action was previously scheduled to begin on Monday morning but will now begin from night shift tonight across NSW”.

The statement said:

The union has been calling for commitments in the budget to fund more specialists and community care, increase staffing numbers by at least 1,500, and increase paramedic wages.

APA (NSW) secretary Gary Wilson said:

This is a disgraceful attempt to stifle paramedics’ voices.

We’ve been sounding the alarm on dangerous wait times, extreme fatigue and chronic under-resourcing for months, and the government has failed to act. It’s a disgrace that the only time the government acts is when paramedics take action that will hurt their bottom line.

Paramedics won’t be intimidated into silence when the lives of our patients are at stake. The health minister and premier continue to throw around empty words while failing to act.

An ambulance in Sydney
Paramedics have brought forward industrial action to Friday from 5.45pm. Photograph: Flavio Brancaleone/AAP


Angus Taylor sticks to election-campaign line

On Sky News, Angus Taylor appears to be struggling to make the difficult adjustment to opposition.

The former Liberal minister is still repeating a version of an election campaign message about Anthony Albanese’s gaffes (although he pivots to a vow to hold the new government to account):

Taylor said:

We’ve left the economy with a 3.9% unemployment rate, a 0.35% cash rate. Those numbers, I’m sure, are firmly firmly burned into Albanese’s mind because he forgot about them early on in the campaign, but we’ll be reminding him of those numbers on a regular basis, a regular basis, and it will be for the Labor government to make sure that we don’t see a collapse in our employment markets, that we don’t see mortgage rates rising to levels where people can’t afford them, and we’ll be holding them to account on that.

Asked whether he wanted to be shadow treasurer, Taylor said it would be a matter for the incoming Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, but added: “Obviously I am keen to contribute to the economic agenda.”


Twelve seriously hurt in WA tour boat accident

We’re expecting an update on the Horizontal Falls boating incident shortly, but in the meantime, Calla Wahlquist has filed this report on everything we know so far.

Twelve people have been seriously injured and at least eight more taken to hospital following a tour boat accident at Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

It is understood the boat may have capsized or run ashore in the popular tourist attraction at Talbot Bay, about 250km north-east of Broome, on Friday morning.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service said it had been called to help with more than 20 patients, 12 of whom had serious injuries.

Four RFDS aircraft carrying six doctors and six flight nurses were deployed to respond to the incident, and two had arrived by 2pm local time (4pm AEST). Doctors have been assessing people on the boat.

Some patients have had to be winched to safety by helicopter in order to reach the RFDS planes.

You can read the full report here:

An aerial shot of Horizontal Falls in Western Australia
An aerial shot of Horizontal Falls in Western Australia. Photograph: Robert Mcgillivray/Getty Images/iStock


Dutton accuses Albanese of breaking promise

The likely incoming opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has accused prime minister Anthony Albanese of breaking a promise to workers over supporting a 5.1% increase in wages in line with inflation.

During the election campaign, Albanese said he would support a rise to keep pace with the rate of inflation, but Labor has never explicitly said it would put that figure of 5.1% in its submission to the Fair Work Commission’s review on the minimum wage.

On Friday afternoon, Dutton said that “the government is not even a week old and it’s their first broken promise”.

He said:

Anthony Albanese looked to Australian workers in the eye and said that he would absolutely support the 5.1% increase in wages in his proposal to the Fair Work Commission. He looked workers in the eye and he has lied to workers.

This is a huge problem for Mr Albanese, a huge credibility problem because Mr Albanese promised workers and he said absolutely he would support a 5.1% increase in wages during the election campaign and he has now broken the promise.

Why would people trust anything that he says? When he looked down the barrel of a camera into the eyes of the worker and said that he would support a 5.1% increase in wages and now is doing the opposite.

[He] can’t be trusted and it is a bad start for the government that is only a week old.


Wong returning to Australia

After a whirlwind visit to Fiji, Penny Wong is back up in the air bound for Australia.

She met this afternoon with Fiji’s prime minister and foreign minister, Frank Bainimarama.

There’s no statement on the meeting just yet, but we’ll bring you any information that comes in later.


Murugappan family ‘so excited’ at Biloela decision

An advocate for the Murugappan family says they are feeling “incredibly excited” about being able to move back to Biloela after the Albanese government intervened in their case.

Angela Fredericks, a Biloela resident and advocate for the Murugappan family, said she had spoken to them today on the phone after learning of home affairs minister Jim Chalmers’ intervention.

Fredericks told ABC News:

I think all the stress of this finally actually coming into fruition. It is definitely having a toll. However, they are just so excited that they can now actually plan their next movements.

They now have permission that they can actually pack their bags and they can book those flights and be on their way. So they are just feeling so incredibly excited.

Fredericks added:

This family, they are going to just be completely cradled and looked after until they’re back on their feet – which, knowing them, will not take them long.

However, Fredericks noted the family had not been granted permanent visas and their immigration case was still ongoing. She said the family would claim it was unsafe, as Tamils, to return to Sri Lanka.


Wong urges Pacific to consider ‘consequences’ of China deals

Australia’s foreign minister has used a visit to Fiji to urge Pacific countries to weigh up the “consequences” of accepting security offers from Beijing, saying the region should determine its own security.

Speaking on the second day of her trip, Penny Wong said Australia wanted to show it was a reliable and trustworthy partner, and was also “determined to make up for” what she described as “a lost decade on climate action”.

Wong’s visit coincides with a marathon eight-country visit by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in a sign of the growing competition for influence in the region.

But the Chinese embassy in Canberra said on Friday that China had not sought a “sphere of influence” and it believed the South Pacific “should not be the battlefield for geopolitical manoeuvring”.

Read more:


Boy, 6, dies after western Sydney car collision

A six-year-old has died after being hit by a car at about 12.40pm on Friday in Sydney’s west.

Police were called to the incident in Doonside following reports a car had hit a pedestrian.

The boy was treated at the scene before being taken to the Westmead Children’s Hospital, where he later died.

NSW police said:

The male driver of the car is assisting police with inquiries. A crime scene was established and has been examined by the crash investigation unit.

Police are urging anyone with dashcam footage or information about the incident to contact them or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Murugappan family to return to Biloela

Interim home affairs minster Jim Chalmers has intervened to allow the Murugappan family to return to Biloela.

Chalmers just released the following statement confirming the move the Albanese government had foreshadowed since it won Saturday’s election:

Today, in my capacity as interim minister for home affairs, I exercised my power under section 195A of the Migration Act 1958 to intervene in the case of the Murugappan family.

The effect of my intervention enables the family to return to Biloela, where they can reside lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they work towards the resolution of their immigration status, in accordance with Australian law.

I have spoken to the family and wished them well for their return. This decision will allow them to get ‘home to Bilo’, a big-hearted and welcoming Queensland town that has embraced this beautiful family.

This government remains committed to Operation Sovereign Borders and keeping people smugglers out of business. Australian border protection authorities will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally, and safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin.

The family of asylum seekers were taken from their home in the Queensland town four years ago and placed in immigration detention. The Coalition did not heed calls from the community in Biloela to allow them to return, but Labor had indicated it would intervene to grant the family a visa if it won the election.

Priya and Tharnicaa Murugappan
Priya and Tharnicaa Murugappan. Composite: Supplied


Scott Morrison’s staff conveyed a clear message to border force officials through Karen Andrews’ office on election day that they wanted the department to publicise the interception of a boat from Sri Lanka, Guardian Australia understands.

Read more from Katharine Murphy and Josh Butler:

Banks predict GDP slowdown

The first big economic numbers during the Albanese government will land next Wednesday with the release of March quarter GDP data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

During the formal election campaign period, most of the big numbers were bad for the Morrison government, arguably denting their economic management “credentials”.

The shock CPI figures (which exceeded expectations) set up the surprisingly large Reserve Bank rate rise (25 basis points rather than the 10 that most forecast) and then disappointingly low wage growth numbers. Only the 3.9% jobless rate for April went the other way, but with only a couple of polling days to go, the damage was done.

Well, the GDP will provide something of a baseline for overall economic activity, with the June quarter onwards likely to be tagged to the new government (even the trends will belong to the previous one).

A couple more numbers will land before Wednesday but the major banks have enough to make their forecasts.

Each of the four predict a slowdown in the March quarter from the 4.2% GDP growth pace recorded for the December quarter from a year earlier: ANZ 2.9%, CBA 2.8%, NAB 2.4% and Westpac 2.5%.

NAB is the most pessimistic, forecasting just 0.1% increase from the December quarter.

The bank said:

Household consumption is expected to rise – though at a more modest rate than the strong Q4 outturn – with services demand picking up despite impacts from Omicron and flooding.

However, both dwelling and business investment are likely to be flat with capacity constraints weighing. More importantly, we expect a significant detraction from GDP from net exports after a surge in imports in the quarter, although sharp price movements leave some uncertainty around volumes.

(We don’t actually export nets, or at least not many of them – this “net” refers to export minus imports. Yes, it is Friday afternoon.)

An NAB branch
NAB is the most pessimistic of the big four banks in predicting Australia’s GDP figures for the March quarter. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

ANZ, which is the most optimistic, admits this quarter could be unusually hard to pick. It said:

There is more than the usual degree of uncertainty around our forecast, given conflicting signals in key indicators.

On the weak side, hours worked fell a solid 1.2% in the quarter, pulled down by a sharp fall in January. Working in the other direction, business turnover rose very strongly, and points to a strong gain in GDP in the quarter.

Ratings agency Moody’s, meanwhile, sees the global growth outlook dimming. In March, it had forecast 3.6% expansion in 2022 for the G20 group of major economies (which includes Australia), and that prediction has now been cut to 3.1%, or about half the 5.9% pace in 2021.

Among the macro-economic risks that could further dampen growth: additional upward pressure on commodity prices, longer-lasting supply-chain disruptions, a larger-than-expected slowdown of China’s economy, ongoing monetary policy tightening becoming a catalyst for a recession, and new, more dangerous waves of Covid-19, Moody’s says.

For all of Australia’s warnings of Chinese growing influence and threats, it’s worth remembering too how much Australia’s economy depends on China’s expansion:


Election vote count ‘progressing well’, commissioner says

Six days on from the election, the Australian Electoral Commission is still counting votes.

Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said that despite some anticipated staff shortages due to Covid-19, the AEC remained on track to return the writs to the governor general on or before 28 June.

The AEC can receive postal votes until the close of business next Friday, which will prove important in some ultra-marginal seats where final counts could affect the order of preference distributions and the ultimate winner.

Rogers said:

Our motto for the count is ‘right, not rushed’.

The count is progressing well and it is likely that the results in some seats will start to be declared from mid-next week. This can only occur once it becomes mathematically impossible for any other candidate to win.

In a number of seats, the margins are so thin that the AEC will need to wait until we have received and counted all allowable postal votes before distributing preferences and declaring a result.


Up to 25 reportedly injured in WA boat accident

Some more info on that boating incident in Western Australia.

The ABC is reporting that seaplanes have begun to land in Broome carrying patients from a suspected boat capsize near Horizontal Falls.

There are reportedly up to 25 people injured from the incident.


Labor steps up criticism of Scott Morrison over border force order

Deputy prime minister Richard Marles has continued Labor’s attack over revelations former PM Scott Morrison ordered border force to announce a Sri Lankan asylum seeker boat on election day, claiming it “risked lives”.

Marles said at a Melbourne press conference on Friday:

What’s completely clear is that the Liberal party does not care about the national interest – it only had regard for their political interests.

In this press release and in the texts that followed, we saw our borders become less secure. We saw lives risked. We saw the national consensus around border security undermined.

Marles spoke hours after PM Anthony Albanese called the press release and text messages from the NSW Liberal party “disgraceful” and raised concerns over whether the actions breached the caretaker conventions of government.

The deputy PM called the reports “the final desperate acts of a dying government”, saying:

When it comes to the national interests, the Liberal party just does not give a damn.

Marles said Labor had asked the home affairs department secretary to report back on how the press release was approved. However, he stopped short of criticising Rear Admiral Justin Jones, the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, in whose name the press release was issued.

Marles said:

This was an unusual event where a matter which should never have been in the public domain was placed in the public domain.

The issue here is the actions of the former government. The former government sought to inject politics into a matter of national security.

It’s serious in the sense that it did make our borders less secure. It’s serious in that it risked lives, it risked lives, and it undermined the national consensus that does exist around border security.


6.4-magnitude earthquake hits Timor region

There are reports that an earthquake has been felt in Darwin.

The Bureau of Meteorology has tweeted that the earthquake, which was recorded as magnitude 6.4 near the Timor region, was felt in Darwin on Friday.


National Covid-19 update

Here are the latest coronavirus case numbers from around Australia on Friday, as the country records at least 39 deaths from Covid-19:


  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 849
  • In hospital: 83 (with 3 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 9
  • Cases: 8,690
  • In hospital: 1,173 (with 34 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 277
  • In hospital: 16


  • Deaths: 7
  • Cases: 4,921
  • In hospital: 422 (with 9 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 3,169
  • In hospital: 226 (with 10 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 822
  • In hospital: 50 (with 1 person in ICU)


  • Deaths: 9
  • Cases: 11,369
  • In hospital: 571 (with 33 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 11
  • Cases: 9,948
  • In hospital: 322 (with 9 people in ICU)


Injuries as boat reportedly capsizes off WA

Emergency services are responding to a boating incident at a popular tourist spot on Western Australia’s coast.

WA police have issued a statement about the incident at Horizontal Falls, about 250km east of Broome on the Kimberley coast, where it is believed several passengers have been injured.

There are reports that a boat had capsized.

We’ll bring you more news on this incident throughout the afternoon.


Labor flags submission opposing ‘real wage cut’ for lowest paid

The Albanese government has written to the Fair Work Commission to indicate it will make a submission to its review of minimum wages arguing that the lowest paid workers “should not receive a real wage cut”.

However, it is unclear if the government will include a specific figure for a wage rise, or how it will view a raise in the minimum wage that is not in line with the current inflation rate of above 5%.

Deputy prime minister Richard Marles, speaking in Melbourne, said:

We have announced that the Albanese government will be making a submission to the Fair Work Commission in respect of the national wage case. The government will argue that those on the minimum wage should not receive a real wage cut.

We are experiencing in Australia a cost-of-living crisis because of the failures of the former Liberal government. We see that with rising power prices, with rising petrol prices. Now, we’ve outlined a plan to deal with the question of the cost of living, but a key component of that is to make sure that those who are on the minimum wage are not left behind.

Asked about a figure for a minimum wage rise, Marles did not give a specific answer, saying:

We made clear that we thought it was really important that the government is using its voice ... to argue in national cases, and in this instance use its voice to argue those on the minimum wage not receive a wage cut. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Richard Marles
Richard Marles: ‘We are experiencing in Australia a cost-of-living crisis.’ Photograph: James Ross/AAP


More interest rate rises predicted

Official interest rate rises are likely to be a regular feature during the first few months and beyond for the Albanese government.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers, who will have to get up that first Tuesday of those months and have to comment, hopes to be the “explainer in chief” for the economy, as we noted in this piece overnight.

The commercial banks, though, aren’t waiting for the Reserve Bank, and have been lifting their rates for months. NAB today became the latest to do so, hiking NAB hiking fixed home loan rates for owner-occupiers and investors by as much as 0.90 percentage points.

Westpac hiked its fixed rates by up to 0.80 percentage points, leaving the CBA the last to offer a rate with a “2” on it, says. (Mind you, it’s 2.99%, so it doesn’t have to move far to have a “3”.)

The rates do look like they’re going just one way:

Sally Tindall, the consultancy’s research director, reckons CBA will move within a fortnight, sayng:

Fixed rates have risen, in some cases, by over 2.5 percentage points in the last 12 months. However, with the RBA now taking action we could reach the peak in coming months.

That might be a bit optimistic, given the way prices for food, fuel and electricity are mostly headed. Even if the RBA did view the causes as mostly out of Australia’s control, it also doesn’t want “inflation expectations” to settle in.

Here’s how investors were tipping the RBA to go, as of yesterday.

The new government can make a reasonable claim for a while at least that they inherited the trends, bad or good.

Still, some of the media have already started to brand rising prices as a “test” for PM Anthony Albanese, or as today’s front page in the Australian framed it: “Electricity price shock to hit Labor”.


The latest edition of Guardian Australia’s The Weekly Beast features Toto Albanese, journalists with Covid, a special Reconciliation Week front page and many other media news items.

Read more from media correspondent Amanda Meade:


Pastoralist company to join Beetaloo Basin traditional owners in resisting gas fracking companies

One of the Northern Territory’s biggest and wealthiest pastoral landholders will join traditional owners to “resist” the entry of fracking companies on to its expansive holdings in the Beetaloo Basin.

The former Morrison government made gas exploration in the Beetaloo a central pillar of its so-called gas-led recovery from the pandemic, accelerating exploration in the region by granting big gas companies tens of millions of dollars in incentives.

Experts have warned the exploitation of the Beetaloo’s gas reserves would lead to a 13% increase to Australia’s carbon emissions, describing it as a “carbon bomb of extraordinary proportions”, while some traditional owners have raised concerns about the lack of a proper and informed consent process.

Now, as Greens MPs call on Labor to reverse the Beetaloo exploration, one of the nation’s biggest pastoral landholders, Rallen Australia, is ramping up its own fight against fracking on its vast property holdings in the Beetaloo.

Read more:


And with that, I will hand over the blog to the always brilliant Elias Visontay. Thanks for reading.


11 Covid deaths in WA, two in NT, no deaths in ACT, Tas

A Covid update from across the country, with Western Australia reporting 11 deaths and 9,948 new cases.

In the Northern Territory, 277 new cases were reported and two deaths.

The Australian Capital Territory has reported 849 new cases, while Tasmania has recorded 822 new cases.


Penny Wong: consider ‘consequences’ of accepting China’s security offers

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, tells reporters it is up to Pacific nations to make their own decisions, but suggests countries should carefully consider “consequences” of accepting China’s security offers.

Wong made the case for deeper ties between Australia and Pacific countries, saying “we want to be a partner of choice” and “want to work together as part of the Pacific family”.

Wong said Australia wanted to demonstrate “that we are a partner who can be trusted, who can be relied on, and historically we have been”.

Obviously, we have expressed our concerns publicly about the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China. The reason we have [expressed those concerns] is we think there are - as do other Pacific nations - we think there are consequences. We think that it’s important that the security of the region be determined by the region and historically that has been the case and we think it is a good thing.


Australian Bureau of Statistics releases latest retail sales figures

The latest retail sales figures are out from the Australia Bureau of Statistics. While turnover in April reached a fresh record and increased for a fourth month in a row, economists will likely see this as on the slow side:

The Commonwealth Bank, for instance, had been tipping a 2% on-month rise, so the 0.9% rise is less than half.

Of the states, NSW was the only one of the states to retreat with a 0.3% drop, coming off a 1.8% rise in March (vs a national average of 1.6%).

With inflation picking up – the March quarter headline prices were 5.1% higher than a year ago – you would expect retailers’ turnover to be swelling anyway.

Still, it’s interesting to see where the money is being spent, and it’s not surprising that food industries was where a lot of the dough (bad pun, sorry) ended up.

“High food prices have combined with increased household spending over the April holiday period as more people are travelling, dining out and holding family gatherings,” Ben James, the director of the ABS’s Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics, said.

There were strong rises in both food retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services.

This is a contrast to the consumer behaviour previously seen during the pandemic, where these two industries would consistently move in opposite directions as outbreaks and restrictions either tightened or eased.

Future months, starting with May, will see the impact of the Reserve Bank rate increase, not to mention the effect higher fuel and electricity prices have on sapping demand for other goods.


Fiji press conference: Penny Wong flags 'stronger relationships' in Pacific

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, says Australia’s policies are designed to signal “a strong desire to play our part in the Pacific family and build stronger relationships”.

Wong is holding a press conference in Fiji. Earlier today she met with Pacific workers who are heading to Australia, and later today she will meet with Fiji’s prime minister and foreign minister, Frank Bainimarama. it comes amid growing competition with China for influence in the region.

Wong told reporters:

We have put on the table as the new government a much stronger policy on climate change, not only net zero emissions by 2050 but a strong 2030 target.

She said the majority of Australia’s energy grid will be 82% renewables by the end of this decade.

Wong said the range of policies was “about recognising that we want to build stronger relationships, stronger links”.

These are all part of our suite of policies ... what is at the heart of this is a strong desire to play our part in the Pacific family and build stronger relationships.

In a speech in Suva last night, Wong promised to treat Pacific countries with respect, saying Australia is “a partner that doesn’t come with strings attached” and won’t “impose unsustainable financial burdens”.

Wong promised to respect Pacific priorities and institutions as she set out an implicit contrast with China, which is pursuing a sweeping regional economic and security deal with Pacific nations that would dramatically expand Beijing’s influence and reach into those countries.

“What we would urge, as Australia, is consideration of where a nation might wish to be in three or five or 10 years,” Wong said during an event at the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat in Suva, Fiji.


We are also expecting to hear from the deputy PM in Melbourne this afternoon:

We are now expecting to hear from Penny Wong from Fiji in a bit.


Queensland records 4,921 new Covid cases and seven deaths

Queensland is reporting 4,921 new cases and seven deaths overnight:


The Australian Communications and Media Authority has hauled Telstra over the coals for systems failures for the second time in as many months.

It says Telstra was late in paying $11m in compensation owed to 67,000 customers after it didn’t connect or repair their landlines on time.

This comes after Telstra last month had to pay $2.2m in penalties and refunds due to overcharging customers following action by Acma.

Industry codes require telcos to instal landlines in an agreed time and, if they fail to do so, they have 14 days to assess whether to accept they have to pay compensation for failing to do so. However, Telstra failed to meet this deadline.

Acma says Telstra has entered a two-year court enforceable undertaking to overhaul its payment assessment systems.

“Telstra knows it has had a problem with its internal systems and processes, uncovered through its T22 business strategy,” Acma’s chair, Nerida O’Laughlin, said.
“The company has self-reported this and other recent breaches.
“It is critical that Telstra addresses these longstanding issues in building new systems and processes and, where it is obligated to, compensates its customers for historical breaches of telco rules.”

Albanese announces he will make submission on increasing minimum wage

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has announced he will today sign a submission to the Fair Work Commission, calling for an increase to the minimum wage.

Tweeting his announcement, Albanese added that that people on minimum wages “can’t afford to go backwards” but did not put a number to the submission:

Darren Chester: young voters and female voters feel they ‘don’t connect’ with the Nationals

Let’s go back to National’s MP Darren Chester, and his pitch for leadership of his party.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, he explained that he was running for the job because he feels young voters and female voters “don’t connect” with the Nationals:

I’m concerned as I travel around my electorate and regional Australia, I’m constantly getting feedback from younger voters and female voters, they don’t think we connect with them, we are not focused on the diversity of issues they are interested in.

There’s no question in my mind that some of the comments by a few colleagues – only a few, which were quite extreme in their views – had an impact on the Liberal party candidates in those more moderate parts of urban areas.

I’m not here to bag my colleagues, I’m trying to find a way our party can unite itself. We really are a difficult party to lead for anyone. We are loose coalition of independent-minded people, from all parts of regional Australia, all with different views.


China says South Pacific shouldn't be a 'battlefield'

China has denied it interferes in the “internal affairs” of island countries, and that it is seeking a “sphere of influence” in the Pacific.

In a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Australia on the official visits to South Pacific island countries by the state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, a spokesperson said it “respects the historical and traditional ties between Australia and the Pacific island countries”.

China has never interfered in the internal affairs of island countries, nor sought so-called “sphere of influence” in the region.

The aid and assistance from China have never left any island country mired in debt or security threat. China believes that the South Pacific has never been and should not be the battlefield for geopolitical maneuvering.

China and Australia have their own unique strengths and advantages, which are complementary forces to help the South Pacific island countries achieve faster and better development.

China and Australia should join hands with close cooperation to achieve that goal with the unique contributions from each of us.

The statement comes after the foreign minister, Penny Wong, said Australia would do more in the region to support partners with “no strings attached”.

The statement from the embassy goes on to say there is “enough space” in the region for both China and Australia to “share peace, development and prosperity”.


Religious groups call for referendum on First Nations voice to Parliament

A coalition of peak religious bodies in Australia have come together to call for bipartisan action to hold a referendum on a First Nations voice.

The religious groups joined acclaimed filmmaker Rachel Perkins at the launch of a Joint Resolution in support of a constitutionally guaranteed First Nations voice in Sydney earlier today.

The joint resolution was signed off by representatives of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Australian National Imams Council, the Australian Sangha Association, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Hindu Council of Australia, the National Council of Churches in Australia, the National Sikh Council of Australia, and the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly.

In her keynote speech, Perkins welcomed the support of the religious groups, saying they had “transcended differences of belief, culture and tradition” to agree on the need for a a constitutional voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That you have united in support of this reform speaks to your moral conviction about the justice of this proposal, your empathy and generosity of spirit and to the ability of the Uluru Statement to bring Australians together ...

We ask for a voice in our own affairs. An indigenous grassroots advisory body, guaranteed by the founding document of this modern nation. Not a veto, just a voice; non-binding but a constitutional promise that indigenous people will always be heard, that though our advice may not always be heeded, we will always have a place at the table, in this, our own country.

This is a practical solution, not mere symbolism. Indigenous people know our issues on the ground best. Decisions in the past have often been made for political choice, not for our best interests.

This is a unifying moment.


Robert insists Dutton shouldn't be judged on comments or actions

There was a lot that happened this morning, but I wanted to return to one particular statement made by Stuart Robert on RN Breakfast.

The Queensland Liberal MP said that you cannot judge Peter Dutton on his views or his actions.

What you should be using to judge Dutton remains unclear, but Roberts insists people should avoid considering actions and statements as measures of Dutton.

You can’t judge someone on either comments they’ve made, or decisions they’ve done when they’re exercising their either personal conscience or their particular viewpoint.

Just because someone’s got a different view to the ABC, respectfully, doesn’t make them terrible or wrong.

It simply gives them a different view, and that has got nothing to do with the size of his heart or the quality of his character or the capacity of his intellect, respectfully.

Make of that what you will.

Peter Dutton, Queensland Liberal MP .
Peter Dutton, Queensland Liberal MP . Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP


Matt Canavan criticises 'disproportionate' focus on Teals

Nationals senator Matt Canavan has taken to twitter to blast an apparent “disproportionate” focus given to the teal independents across the country.

Under the username “Proud Aussie Matt Canavan,” the Queensland senator used graphs showing the teals (and he has “generously” included incumbent MPs Helen Haines, Rebecca Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie) holding 3.5% of the primary vote:

Canavan goes on to complain that the median income in the teal seats is “almost double that of the rest of Australia” and that the issues these electorates face are “radically different” to everyone else.


New PM Anthony Albanese is really making the media rounds this week, continuing his morning’s radio blitz by dialling into Triple M Perth. He talked of the “warm greeting” he got at the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo, and said he got on “really well” with US President Joe Biden.

The PM claimed the Coalition government had been “arrogant”, especially citing its support for Clive Palmer’s West Australian border case and Scott Morrison’s comparing WA residents to animated movie The Croods.

Albanese said he was expecting Labor would end up on “76 or 77” seats in the House of Representatives; a very slim majority but enough to get things done, which he said would be “a very good thing for stability”.

The PM also again raised the pending announcement on the future of Biloela’s Murugappan family, but stopped short of confirming any details yet.

Interim home affairs minister Jim Chalmers will make a call today, but Albanese said “we need to fix this ... we’re a good country, we treat people properly”.

“You can have strong borders without being weak on humanity,” he said.

Albanese also commented on the “Toto Albanese” Twitter account, a tribute to his beloved pet, which has raced to 30,000 followers online.

Albanese’s office tells us they’ve got nothing to do with it, and Albanese himself said “I don’t even know who’s done this, they’ve got old photos of mine I’ve posted over the years and put them up as if they’re new.”


Victoria reports 11,369 new cases, nine deaths

Victoria is also reporting nine Covid-related deaths this morning, as well as 11,369 new cases:

NSW reports 8,690 new cases and nine deaths

NSW has recorded 8,690 new cases and nine deaths overnight:


Labor is one seat shy of a majority.

Let’s talk voter count this morning and where things stand.

Labor is still on 75 seats, one shy of majority, with a couple of contests still up in the air.

Labor’s likely 76th seat is Macnamara. Josh Burns only needs to finish 1st or 2nd and the preferences from the 3rd candidate will boost him to win

In Gilmore, the closest race so far, Liberal candidate Andrew Constance is ahead of Labor incumbent Fiona Philips by only 286 votes, with counting continuing.

Yesterday, (now) former Liberal MP Julian Simmonds conceded the Brisbane seat of Ryan to Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown.

In the actual electorate of Brisbane, Labor’s Madonna Jarratt is ahead of the Green at the moment, but ABC and Kevin Bonham both have notes about the flow of preferences from the candidates who finished 4th and lower likely to boost the Green over Labor.


Well, that was quite the start this morning. I just want to take a moment to breathe, and to also show you this amazing picture of our new prime minister, published in the Australian this morning:


NSW Health issues warning on Legionnaires’ disease

NSW Health issued a statement earlier this morning, advising of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Sydney’s CBD.

They are asking anyone who has been in the CBD to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease, after five people who developed the disease spent time in the area in the past three weeks.

All five people, two women and three men, ranging in age between their 40s and 70s, have been identified with the bacteria that causes the disease, often associated with contaminated cooling towers of large buildings.

Symptoms of the disease can develop up to 10 days from exposure to contaminated water particles, and include “fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath and may lead to severe chest infections such as pneumonia.”

People who develop Legionnaires’ disease are diagnosed by chest X-ray and a urine test and usually require antibiotic treatment in hospital.

NSW Health environmental health officers are working with the City of Sydney to review testing and maintenance records of all cooling towers in the CBD area to prioritise inspection and sampling of potential source towers.

These five cases follow a number of recently identified cases of Legionnaires’ disease throughout Sydney. Public Health Units across NSW follow up every case of Legionnaires’ disease and work closely with local councils in the management of cooling towers.


Peter Dutton says he and Scott Morrison are 'two different people'

Peter Dutton was on the Today show this morning, maintaining his charm offensive from yesterday, and distancing himself from former prime minister Scott Morrison.

Dutton emphasised his “work ethic” and his connection with John Howard and Peter Costello (very interesting in light of the election result):

I have a lot of respect for Scott and all of my former leaders, but I grew up under John Howard and I was assistant treasurer to Peter Costello.

I have, I think, an incredible work ethic and I have a desire to do what is right by our country. I’ve had tough jobs in immigration, border protection and in defence ...

I hope that people can see the complete picture of who I am and I intend to traverse the country over the next three years, and listen importantly to what people want.


Nationals MP Darren Chester has confirmed he will run for the party’s leadership in a ballot next week, setting up an explosive showdown with his rival Barnaby Joyce - a man Chester once described as “incoherent”.

The Nine newspapers reported Chester saying it was “time for a change” in the party, and that the Nationals needed to “take some responsibility for the Liberal losses in the city”.

It appeared a clear shot at Joyce, the former deputy prime minister, whose personal unpopularity and reluctance to embrace climate change action was seen as a factor in the heavy toll inflicted in Liberal moderate seats nationwide.

Chester is a more moderate voice than Joyce. He was a supporter of former Nationals leader Michael McCormack in a spill motion in June 2021 that saw Joyce re-elevated to the party leadership.

Joyce sacked Chester from his position as veterans affairs minister soon after the spill, in a move that was seen as punishment for supporting McCormack.
At the time, Chester claimed the phone call he had with Joyce “was so incoherent yesterday, I couldn’t actually explain what he was even saying to me.”

“So people of Australia, brace yourself, there will be more conversations like that,” he said.


Chester has continued, saying the Nationals did “really well” at the election, and congratulated Joyce for the performance, before adding that the swings against them needed to be addressed:

The point is we had significant swings against us in many seats. I’m concerned as I travel around my electorate and regional Australia, I’m constantly getting feedback from younger voters and female voters. They don’t think we connect with them, we are not focused on the diversity of issues they are interested in and I need to focus on ways to connect with these people.

That’s what I’m putting myself forward for, a fresh start in terms of putting forward different approaches how to connect with regional Australians going forward


Nationals Darren Chester confirms leadership tilt

There has been a flurry this morning, so stick with me.

Darren Chester, aspirant for the Nationals leadership, has appeared on ABC News Breakfast earlier, saying he is challenging Barnaby Joyce because he offers a more “moderate, more respectful” approach:

First of all, what I will say is I’m not here to tip a bucket on Barnaby Joyce, he’s our leader and has done the best he can do in that job.

But when we have a transition point like an election, in the National party the leadership positions are declared vacant, both leaders and deputy, and I think it is healthy for the room, and good for the democracy of the room, that members who are interested in taking a leadership role put their hand up and we have a ballot.

That’s what will happen on Monday, it may well be more than me that puts our hand up. I think it’s important we listen to the message we received over the weekend from the Australian people.

I think they want us to be perhaps more moderate and more respectful in public debates in this country. They want a calmer democracy, I guess, and I think I can offer that to the room.


Albanese says decision on Biloela family to be made today

Anthony Albanese, appearing on Nine radio, said a decision on the future of the Biloela family will be made today.

The Murugappan family are Tamil refugees who came to Australia from Sri Lanka and were granted bridging visas before settling in Biloela in central Queensland, before the former government sent them to Christmas Island after their visa expired, sparking a campaign to return the family to Biloela.

Albanese said the situation had dragged on too long, and said he hoped to resolve it soon.

We are a strong enough society to say that we should not treat people badly, in order to send a message to others. And it’s beyond my comprehension how this has gone on for so long, at enormous cost.

We’re better than that, Australia is a more generous and kind country than that.


Stuart Robert denies Morrison breached caretaker role, describes Dutton as 'warm-hearted'

Next up, former cabinet minister Stuart Robert was on RN Breakfast earlier, and refused to comment on why the PM had asked the ABF to publicise a boat arrival on election day.

Robert rejected the idea that the order had breached the caretaker conventions and proper process:

Can’t comment on it, having not being involved, but I think all Australians understand Labor by virtue of history is incredibly weak on boat arrivals.

I won’t be taking lectures from the Labor Party on caretaker conventions or boat arrivals.

Robert would also not be drawn on the consequences of the election result, and the routing of the LNP in their heartland. In fact, Stuart took the opposite route, and proudly declared that the party won “21 of 30 seats in Queensland”.

Robert was asked if voters had shown a “visceral” dislike of Scott Morrison, and again, the Queensland MP dug his heels in, only conceding that some decisions made during the pandemic were unpopular (not the former PM’s handling of everything, else I guess).

The prime minister had an extraordinarily difficult job – let’s remember that Australia has come through Covid better than any nation on earth ...

I ... acknowledged that what was required to get us through the pandemic, some Australians may not have have liked fully ... The former prime minister has made that very clear.

Finally, Robert is asked about the future of the party under Peter Dutton, saying the party works best at the “centre right”.

The party works the best when it’s a sound centre right party, when it connects with aspirational Australians and voters, when it differentiates itself very strongly from the Labor Party with an alternative set of policy options, when it seeks to promote the individual rather than the collective and, of course, when it seeks to promote strong borders and a lower tax regime. Now, that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Asked what side of Peter Dutton voters will be seeing, Robert insisted Dutton was “warm-hearted”.

I hope you’ll see the Peter Dutton that I know and respect and I’ve known him for a long, long time. He is a warm-hearted, very decent, very competent individual.


Albanese criticises Morrison for publicising boat turnback on election day

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has slammed the former prime minister for ordering the ABF to publicise it had intercepted a reported asylum seeker boat on election day.

Albanese was on RN Breakfast this morning, and said there was “nothing normal” about the process:

There was nothing normal about the protocols that were not observed here.

We had a circumstance whereby the prime minister’s office contacted my office in the middle of Saturday, and we indicated it would be entirely inappropriate for this event to be politicised. It’s a clear breach of the caretaker conventions.

This is a government and a former prime minister who used to stand up and say that he would not comment on on-water matters.

Very clearly this statement was made so that it could facilitate the sending of – we are not sure how many – but potentially many millions of text messages to voters in a last-minute scare campaign.

It was an entire abuse of proper processes and a disgraceful act from a government which was prepared to politicise everything but solve nothing.

Albanese added that he had confidence in home affairs secretary, Mike Pezzullo.

This was a decision made by Scott Morrison in a desperate attempt to run a last minute scare campaign. And the politicisation of it stands in stark contrast to Scott Morrison’s own comments over many years that there would be no comments on on-water matters.

It was extraordinary that this statement was made to enable those text message to be sent to people. People were wondering what was going on when they were receiving that text message.

It just showed that the government had really lost perspective – they were prepared to politicise anything and everything.

This was a real lowlight amongst many – there was some competition in the recent period by the former government, but this was a new low.


Kylea Tink says winning North Sydney seat has felt ‘surreal’

North Sydney independent, Kylea Tink, was on ABC’s News Breakfast, saying she is still processing winning the traditionally Liberal seat.

Tink beat incumbent Trent Zimmerman as part of the teal wave that shattered the Liberal party, and she said her success felt “surreal”:

I think it’s quite a surreal experience to move from campaigning mode into kind of what is essentially a hiatus for two weeks while you wait for the writs to be returned and get your head around what the future might look like.

I must confess I went to my first formal function last night on the Uluru Statement and it was incredibly exciting to be there.

Tink added that she felt voters had shown they are “tired of party politics,” saying voters turned away from the LNP because they didn’t feel represented:

It was the fact that the government hadn’t been listening for the last three years.

The specific issues [they mentioned] were faster action on climate, the introduction of an Integrity Commission, addressing how our economy is geared and addressing the systemic inequality we have in our country – they were fundamentally things people wanted to see action on.


France-Australia relationship shows signs of potential recovery after leaders’ phone call

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says he had a “warm and constructive conversation” with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, last night.

The call is a sign the relationship between the two countries could be warming after the departure of Scott Morrison, whom Macron famously accused of lying to him over the cancellation of the French submarine deal.

Albanese had previously mentioned that he had had “a very positive exchange” with Macron - but then the two leaders were able to have a phone call last night.

Albanese tweeted about the call, saying the pair “discussed our commitment to a free, open and resilient Indo-Pacific, cooperating on climate and energy, and support for Ukraine”.

He added:

I look forward to working together on our shared priorities.

The call comes a day after the French ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault, welcomed the Albanese government’s stronger climate policy and said he now had “huge hopes” for rebuilding the relationship.

Thébault told Guardian Australia there had never been a problem between the people of France and Australia, but the breakdown was linked to the “deceitful attitude” taken by “a certain administration”.

Read that story here:


Good morning

Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you today, with a lot already going on.

We begin with the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, confirming earlier this morning that Scott Morrison himself ordered the Australian Border Force (ABF) to publicise that they had intercepted a suspected asylum seeker boat on election day.

The ABC had earlier reported that the former PM had personally made the order, in one of his last acts as prime minister, with the new Labor government ordering an investigation into the incident.

The Nationals are also feeling the heat from the election, with reports former veterans affairs minister Darren Chester will challenge Barnaby Joyce for the leadership of the party on Monday. Whispers abound that other MPs may step up in a spill, but only Chester has confirmed he will be putting his hand up.

It comes as the foreign minister, Penny Wong, speaking in the Fijian capital of Suva, said Australia was hoping to enshrine the Pacific’s “independence and your own economic sustainability and prosperity”. Wong warned a deal with Beijing could sacrifice their independence and lead to financial instability.

Finally, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has had a “warm and constructive” chat with Anthony Albanese, with Macron agreeing to start rebuilding the relationship based on “trust and respect”.

There is still much to get into, so let’s dive in.