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The Guardian - AU

Labor one seat from claiming majority as Liberals launch review of election defeat – as it happened

Penny Wong
Penny Wong gives a speech at the Pacific Island Forum in Fiji on her first solo overseas trip since becoming the foreign minister. Photograph: Pita Simpson/Getty Images

What we learned: Thursday, 26 May

With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if we’ll be any closer to finding out if Labor will clinch those 76 seats to form majority government tonight, but here’s where it stands.

  • Labor have secured 75 seats after retaining the seat of Lyons, while the Greens are still fighting to secure at least three seats in the lower house.
  • Liberal Celia Hammond has conceded the seat of Curtin to independent Kate Chaney, and Liberal Julian Simmonds has conceded the seat of Ryan to Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown.
  • The Liberal party will examine where it all went wrong with a review headed by Senator Jane Hume and Brian Loughnane, a former federal director of the party.
  • Tim Wilson told the National Energy Efficiency Conference in an address he was feeling “great” after losing his seat of Goldstein and didn’t blame climate for the loss.
  • Penny Wong spoke today in Fiji on a number of topics including climate, China and foreign interference. She said the government would “end the climate wars” and work to make the Pacific family “even stronger”.
  • Over in the Liberal camp, Peter Dutton has confirmed he will run for the Liberal party leadership, which will be unopposed. He has also received an apology from Tanya Plibersek for comparing him to Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.
  • Former PM Scott Morrison says he will support whoever becomes party leader and is “happy to be a dad again”.
  • And there have been 71 Covid deaths nationwide, including 30 deaths in NSW and 19 in Queensland and Victoria.

Updated

Federal parliament is at the centre of another sexual assault allegation, AAP reports.

The Department of Parliamentary Services today confirmed it’s investigating a matter reported in March.

Police have confirmed they received a report of a man indecently assaulting his female colleague in December. The people involved were employed at parliament house at the time, but are not politicians or political staff.

A report about the incident involving “building support staff” was received in March, an ACT Police spokesman said:

“Specialist investigators from the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team have spoken to the complainant and they have advised they do not wish to proceed with an investigation. Support services have been offered to the complainant and if [she] wishes to proceed – the matter can be re-opened at any time.”

A department spokesperson said an investigation into the allegation is under way, separate of any action that might be taken by police:

“This issue is ongoing and for matters of privacy no further comment will be made. Allegations of sexual assault reported to [the department] are referred to police as a matter of course.

The spokesperson said the department “is committed to the safety of all building occupants”.

Police described the report as one of “indecent assault” and not sexual assault.

Updated

“If the Liberal party had full control of its destiny, or if there were a suite of viable options, this political movement would not be presenting a fresh leadership team of Dutton and Barnaby Joyce as the answer to Saturday’s electoral rout, because – how can I put this politely? – that would be nuts.”

Another must-read column from Katharine Murphy.

Liberal Celia Hammond concedes to independent Kate Chaney

Outgoing Liberal MP for Curtin Celia Hammond has conceded to independent Kate Chaney.

Independent for Curtin, Kate Chaney.
Independent for Curtin, Kate Chaney. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

The Western Australian seat saw a 15.3% swing against the Coalition. Chaney currently leads by 1,696 votes.

Updated

Liberals to launch review into poll defeat

The Liberal party will examine where its campaign went wrong following the election loss on Saturday, AAP reports.

The review, announced on Thursday, will be overseen by senator Jane Hume and the party’s former federal director Brian Loughnane.

The campaign review will focus on the “long-term challenge” for the party presented by independents, after many seats were lost to so-called “teal” candidates. The Coalition lost six seats across the country to independents, many of them considered to be areas of Liberal heartland.

The party’s performance among different voting groups as well as the candidate selection process will also be put under the spotlight.

Updated

Smith says it was justified to describe electorates that fell to teal independent candidates as “entitled”, adding no one is entitled to their seat.

Kew is a diverse electorate but there are some very very loud people in Kew who before I had my ... issues ... made it very, very clear what they thought of me.

This is not the Melbourne I remember. I remember growing up in a Melbourne that was quiet and polite and pleasant.

I do think inner Melbourne’s become vitriolic ... vicious ... I’ve been on the receiving end of it and that’s not the Melbourne I grew up in.

Updated

Tim Smith is appearing on ABC Drive with Raf Epstein. He becomes teary discussing last year’s car crash, which he says “ruined my life”.

“It’s the first time I’ve spoken about it on air in seven months and ... geez, I wasn’t expecting this,” Smith says, becoming audibly emotional.

He tells Epstein he is “100%” addressing drinking issues.

This is no blame on anyone but me, I think through all those lockdowns a few of us got into some really bad habits and that was me too. You can see I’ve lost a lot of weight and all the rest of it, I’m heading in the right direction.

Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith.
Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith. Photograph: David Caird/AAP

Updated

NSW responds to electricity price jump ordered by Australian Energy Regulator

The jump in standard electricity prices of as much as 18% that was ordered by the Australian Energy Regulator earlier today has prompted another response from a state government.

Queensland, as we saw earlier, raised a planned rebate of $50 to all households to $175 – a task helped since that state government owns the main generators, networks and so on. If there’s a windfall profit, they have a rake to collect some of it.

In NSW, the challenge is a bit different because all the generation assets have been flogged off (AKA privatised or asset-recycled). The Perrottet government is also on the cusp of releasing its next budget, with its final pre-election effort landing on 21 June.
Even so, treasurer Matt Kean has just announced the state will be raising the amount of money households struggling to pay the bills can access by a third, starting Monday.

In a statement, he said:

Eligible customers can receive payment assistance of up to $400 per application for electricity and up to $400 per application for gas bills twice a year. This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers has increased from $1,200 to $1,600 per household.

Eligibility conditions can be found at www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/savings-finder, by phoning 13 77 88 or visiting a Service NSW centre.

The state’s Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) program had helped 49,000 NSW households experiencing short-term financial hardship with their energy bills, the government said. The extra outlay was part of a wider $330m a year package assisting more than 1m households.

Updated

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, is now answering questions from journalists in Fiji.

One question is whether Australia will be urging Pacific nations to opt out of the 10-country security and cooperation agreement that China has proposed.

Wong says Australia will work in partnership with countries in the region. She says countries will make their own choices, and she respects their sovereignty but adds that they should think about long-term implications:

What we would urge, as Australia, is consideration of where a nation might wish to be in three or five or 10 years. I always think that is a good way to approach big decisions: think about where you might be in a decade.

Wong is asked about calls for Australia to go further on climate, including curbing fossil fuel projects and exports. She rejects any suggestion that Australia’s policy is “lip service”, and says “it is true we export a lot of coal to China”.

She talks about the economic transition that is under way in Australia.

We are lifting our ambition very substantially and it isn’t just lip service. We will put this in law to be on the path to 2050 net zero emissions.

Wong observes, drily, that she hopes journalists have an opportunity to ask as many questions of China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, when he visits next week.

Tim Wilson reflects on losing his seat of Goldstein

Tim Wilson has made a public appearance at the National Energy Efficiency Conference in Melbourne on Thursday, after losing the seat of Goldstein to teal independent Zoe Daniel. He told the crowd he was feeling “great”:

I know that sounds really odd but I’m very open about the journey that I’ve gone through from foetal position crying on Sunday morning through to seeing … a psychologist yesterday for thinking am I moving through this too quickly? Am I papering over pain? And I know that sounds really silly, but it’s true.

I know there’ll be a diversity of views about me in the room and the public and everything else. But I just got to this point the other day for somebody who has experienced loss and everybody will experience loss and in different capacities, and I just felt this incredible sense of gratitude and a perspective about the privilege that I had.

Liberal Tim Wilson lost his seat of Goldstein in Melbourne on Saturday night.
Liberal Tim Wilson lost his seat of Goldstein in Melbourne on Saturday night. Photograph: Luis Ascui/AAP

Asked if the government’s 2030 target, which environmental scientists and the international community described as unambitious, made it harder to win his seat, he replied it didn’t:

There is obviously concern about the environmental consequences of climate change in our country, including my constituents – former constituents, where I live – and then there’s the economic conversation, which is a different part. And if you’re going to go for a race on who’s going to have a bigger target, I was never going to win that conversation because we’re tempered by reality and maybe sometimes people think too tempered by reality and lacking ambition but there’s competing interest because we represent the cities, the suburbs and rural and regional communities and we take the position, which is our objective, to the whole of the country forward together, the Greens don’t have to worry about that.

I’m not picking on them, they’re just contextually relevant. You know, they just worry about taking forward urban constituencies mostly, where the jobs or consequences of what they’re putting forward isn’t factored in as much … and the same can broadly be said for the Labor party versus for instance the National party. But I think if you’re getting into this contest about who is going to out-Green everybody, you know, we’re never going to do it ...

And I think there are other issues that play out very strongly in the election, which made it harder for people to win their seats, including myself, which aren’t related to climate change. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an important part of that, but it was, it was a subset of issues.

Updated

This line from Wong is particularly pointed in attempting to contrast Australia’s approach to China’s:

Ultimately our relationship with our Pacific family is not a suite of initiatives. It can’t be counted only in dollars or MOUs. But it so much more. Because nothing will change our geography, our proximity. Nothing will change the fact that our future is intertwined.

Wong sets out an implicit contrast with China:

My brothers and sisters, our region has not faced a more vexing set of circumstances for decades.

The triple challenges of climate, Covid and strategic contest will challenge us in new ways. We understand the security of any one Pacific family member rests on the security of all and we have a collective responsibility as we face these challenges to secure our region’s interest today and in the future. And as Australia’s foreign minister, I commit to working with you and to listening to you, this generation of Pacific leaders to navigate these challenges together. We will remain a critical development partner for the Pacific family in the years ahead.

And Australia will be a partner that doesn’t come with strings attached, nor imposing unsustainable financial burdens. We’re a partner that won’t erode Pacific priorities or Pacific institutions. We believe in transparency. We believe in true partnerships. We will respect Pacific priorities and your institutions. We will support growth and development that is sustainable.

We will contribute to the long-term stability and security of the Pacific. We will expand opportunities for Pacific workers in Australia whilst also improving their working conditions. We will deepen our defence cooperation and our maritime cooperation. And we will offer quality climate resilient infrastructure. And we will increase Australia’s overseas development assistance to the Pacific by $525m over the next four years as we work with you in the recovery from the pandemic.

Penny Wong with Henry Puna, the secretary general Of Pacific Islands Forum.
Penny Wong with Henry Puna, the secretary general Of Pacific Islands Forum. Photograph: Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Updated

Wong says Albanese government will 'end climate wars'

Wong continues her speech in Fiji.

That is why I have travelled here this week – to make clear on behalf of the new Australian government, and in particular on behalf of the new prime minister Anthony Albanese – our commitment to you: we will work with you to make our Pacific family even stronger.

We will listen. We will hear you – your ideas for how we can face our shared challenges and achieve our shared aspirations together.

Wong moves on to climate. She says:

I understand that climate change is not an abstract threat – it’s a present and an existential one ...

I understand that – under past governments – Australia has neglected its responsibility to act on climate change. Ignoring the calls of our Pacific family to act. Disrespecting Pacific nations in their struggle to adapt to what is an existential threat.

But whether it manifests in rising sea levels in Pacific Island countries, or in disastrous bushfires and catastrophic flooding back at home in Australia, climate change is happening across the Pacific family.

So I assure you: we have heard.

As our election last weekend showed – Australians understand the imperative of acting on climate change. The climate crisis loomed as one of the key concerns to the Australian people.

And there is huge groundswell of support for taking real action on the climate crisis in Australia … and the new government is firmly committed to making it happen.

We were elected on a platform of reducing carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. We’re not going to say this – we will enshrine it in law and submit a new nationally determined contribution to the UNFCCC very soon.

Wong adds:

We will end the climate wars in Australia. This is a different Australian government, and a different Australia. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Pacific family in response to this crisis.

Penny Wong arrives at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji on her first solo overseas trip since becoming foreign affairs minister.
Penny Wong arrives at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji on her first solo overseas trip since becoming foreign affairs minister. Photograph: Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Updated

Penny Wong speaks in Fiji

Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, is introducing the Australian foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, in Suva, Fiji.

Puna said he was particularly heartened to learn of Wong’s commitment to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to wave the voice of Indigenous people into Australia’s foreign policy. He said this was a “special move”:

Our respect for culture and indigenous identity here in the Pacific is what sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Puna also welcomed Australia’s recognition of the “ongoing climate crisis”.

He said the issue was “so critical to our survival” and the region cannot settle for anything less than “urgent climate action now”.

Wong thanks him for the introduction:

This is my fourth day as foreign minister ... I hope I will be here often and I hope that we can work well together as we deal with the challenges and opportunities this world presents us with.

Australian foreign affairs minister Penny Wong meets with Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Island Forum, in Suva, Fiji on Thursday.
Australian foreign affairs minister Penny Wong meets with Henry Puna, the secretary general of the Pacific Island Forum, in Suva, Fiji on Thursday. Photograph: Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Updated

Burney says she “isn’t putting any firm timelines” on the process towards referendum, but the prime minister has indicated he would like to see it in the first term of government.

Burney is then asked about Youpla, the funeral fund that’s left thousands of people out of pocket. Burney says Stephen Jones will be minister responsible in government.

We have agreed collectively that there needs to be a proper inquiry into this deceitful, deceptive and disgusting company that has basically preyed on the vulnerabilities of Aboriginal communities and have actually abused the cultural practices of Aboriginal people. From there we will make firm decisions. I am clear thousands of people have been ripped off.

The position of the Labor party at the moment ... is to have a very deep inquiry into what happened. Obviously the issue of compensation is going to be something that will come up. And I will obviously talk with the prime minister, talk with the people that are responsible for the financial undertakings within our government, and come to a view.

But please be assured that I completely understand just how difficult and just how wrong this situation is.

Updated

Linda Burney wants to build consensus with public as well as parliament on Uluru Statement of the Heart

Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to serve as federal Aboriginal affairs minister, is up on ABC afternoon briefing.

“It feels exciting, a little bit daunting,” she says of her new role, but life experiences have primed her for the position.

Asked how confident she is to negotiate a referendum on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a constitutional voice to parliament with the Greens, who want treaty and truth telling first, Burney replies:

The important thing is to build a consensus within the Australian public as much as building a consensus within the parliament. Obviously the Greens are [in] support of Uluru. The question I have is whether or not the Liberal-National party will come onboard. I have a role as a consensus builder. That’s how I see it. It’s going to be the Australian people that will have the ultimate decision about whether our referendum is successful or not.

Labor’s Linda Burney at her Kogorah office in Sydney.
Labor’s Linda Burney at her Kogorah office in Sydney. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Updated

Speaking of Pocock:

David Pocock to prioritise climate policy and voluntary assisted dying in ACT

Pocock says he would make it his priority to introduce a private senators’ bill to bring the rights of territories in line with the states, which would advance the path towards voluntary assisted dying in the ACT.

It’s not going to cost the government anything. This is about equality and providing people who live in the territories with the same dignity and choice at the end of their life.

He also reiterates “more ambition” is needed on climate policy.

The majority of Australians want more ambition. The Business Council of Australia has a 50% target of 2030 which is ahead of both of the major parties which to me shows just how much the economics around climate action have changed. This is an economic opportunity. We can’t afford to miss this.

As we’re seeing now, with rising energy prices, we’re paying the price for a lost decade, a lack of leadership, a lack of big policy settings to unlock investment in this area. We know now renewables are the cheapest and most reliable form of energy. So we’ve got to get on with it.

Updated

Probably incoming senator for the ACT David Pocock is up on the ABC’s afternoon briefing, discussing what platform he will push for with his likely win.

Asked whether he can be called a senator yet, Pocock replies, “not yet ... it’s looking really good”.

He says his policy platform was based on what feedback Canberrans were giving him.

Clearly, the housing crisis is real here in the ACT. The most expensive city to rent and second-most expensive to buy. We have to take that seriously in the next parliament. Then there’s other issues like integrity, territory rights was something that was big during the election campaign. And climate. Finding a pragmatic way forward on climate.

ACT independent Senate candidate David Pocock.
ACT independent Senate candidate David Pocock. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Updated

The prime minister has released his statement on National Sorry Day, marking the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report.

He says as we more “fully acknowledge” our nation’s history we begin to “unburden ourselves of its unspoken weight”, and reiterates the government’s commitment to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

Vic inquiry wants petrol car sales cut-off

Victoria should commit to an end date for new sales of petrol, diesel and gas-fuelled vehicles, an inquiry into the state’s renewable energy transition says.

AAP reports the upper house committee report, tabled in parliament on Thursday, found Victoria’s electricity demands are set to double by 2050 and made 32 recommendations.

It calls on the Victorian government to adopt a cut-off date for sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles, coupled with an education campaign about electric models.

In July 2021, Victoria became the first Australian state to start charging electric vehicle owners for every kilometre they drove. The 2.5 cents a kilometre tax was designed to ensure motorists pay towards infrastructure and fund the Zero Emissions Vehicle Subsidy, an alternative to the fuel excise.

In a submission to the inquiry, the Tesla Owners Club of Australia argued the levy is a disincentive to electric vehicles.

Victoria’s energy demand is likely to double by 2050 as more people buy electric vehicles.
Victoria’s energy demand is likely to double by 2050 as more people buy electric vehicles. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Victoria’s current 2030 renewable energy target is 50% and the inquiry found gas use for cooking, heating and industrial processes is a major source of carbon emissions.

It suggests the government consider reviewing and removing regulations that require gas connections for new buildings and potentially enact a moratorium on new residential gas connections.

Updated

More from Wilson:

Meanwhile, outgoing Liberal MP Tim Wilson is addressing an energy efficiency conference in Melbourne.

Updated

Changing the curtains.

Greens eye three seats as count continues

Speaking of election results, AAP has more on the Greens fight to secure at least three lower house seats.

Julian Simmonds has become the latest Liberal MP to concede defeat after the federal election.

The MP for the Brisbane seat of Ryan made the concession on his Facebook page, with the winner expected to be confirmed as Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown. He said the Liberal party was “crying out for more good people in politics”:

This team of young, passionate professionals give me the greatest hope that our country’s best days lie ahead.

Greens leader Adam Bandt says the minor party will not yet be conceding or declaring victory in Brisbane or the Victorian seat of Macnamara, where the margin is slim. He said anyone already allocating those seats to one party or another was wrong.

I’m still very hopeful that [Macnamara candidate] Steph Hodgins-May is in with a chance of getting over the line and we will be looking at every last vote.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has not yet provided a two-candidate preferred count in Macnamara, while the primary vote race between Labor, the Liberals and Greens remains very close.

In Brisbane, Labor’s Madonna Jarrett is holding on to her primary-vote lead over the Greens, which will put her in a strong position to take the seat from Liberal MP Trevor Evans. She is 672 votes ahead of the Greens’ Stephen Bates.

In the Senate, the Coalition is on track to hold 31 seats, with 26 for Labor in the 76-seat chamber. The Greens are expected to hold 12 Senate spots, with One Nation likely to hold two seats.

Greens candidate for the seat of Ryan, Elizabeth Watson-Brown (centre) reacts while speaking to her supporters on Saturday 21 May.
Greens candidate for the seat of Ryan, Elizabeth Watson-Brown (centre) reacts while speaking to her supporters on Saturday 21 May. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

Updated

While consumers might be focused on the impending sting of power prices rising close to 20% in coming months, we got some other economic data today that paints a more nuanced picture.

The ABS chimed in with fresh readings on business sentiment and private Capex (spending on equipment, and so forth). They set more of the scene of the state of the economy the Albanese government is inheriting. (Labor calls the bad bits, the “Liberal legacy”.)

According to phone surveys done in the week to 18 May, 38% of all businesses expected the price of their goods or services to increase over the next three months, whilst 48% expected no increase to their prices. Of those lifting prices, 92% blamed increases to the costs of the products or services they use (though it’s not clear if their complaints are checked out, so to speak).

Not surprisingly, 78% said rising fuel or energy prices were the main contributing factors to those higher prices. For the 48% of firms saying they expected no increase over these three months, about half said they were keeping prices steady lest they lose customers while a similar share (46%) said they had fixed-price contracts.

Brendan Rynne, KPMG’s chief economist, said inflationary concerns were becoming more widespread across business, with higher wages also starting to erode profit margins.

This is further compounded by the fact for most of 2022 businesses have earned revenues below the levels they had planned to receive, suggesting business profitability for this year is being squeezed tighter than last year and what was expected.

It’s a complex picture for private Capex, since the data shows both actual investments - including revisions - but also what’s planned.

On the former, new Capex spending sagged 0.3% in the March quarter across both mining and non-mining sectors (we really are a pit and non-pit economy, by the looks).

Spending on buildings and structures fell 1.7%, while outlays for plant and machinery gained 1.2%. On what’s coming, the estimate for the 2022-23 year is now $130.5bn on its second estimate, 11.8% higher than for the first stab.

“The outlook for business investment remains strong but headwinds of capacity constraints and rising costs will hurt, but potentially also elongate the investment cycle,” was the CBA’s analysis of the numbers, noting the Capex spending for the December quarter was revised to a 2.3% increase, or double the previous 1.1% on-quarter pace.

Capex intentions, too, remain very strong and were upgraded for 2022-23:

This will lift the productive capacity of the economy and place downward pressure on inflation over time. In the near term more business investment, though, can add to the inflation pulse and there is evidence of rising engineering and construction costs in the system.

The investment numbers are also a bit of a signal for the March quarter GDP figures out 1 June. As the investment figures were weak, it suggests the growth figures will be “on the softer side”, CBA says.

From a political perspective, Labor won’t mind a tad slower growth now if it eases inflation pressures and allows the RBA to be less “hawkish” when it comes to lifting the interest rate.

Updated

Where could Labor win its 76th seat?

Here’s a nifty little breakdown of where Labor could nab that 76th seat, which would secure them a majority government.

In two of those seats, Labor is up against the Greens: Brisbane, currently held by the Liberal party, and Macnamara, covering Melbourne’s port and bayside suburbs and previously held by Labor with a margin of 4.9%.

There’s also Deakin in Melbourne’s east, previously held by the Liberals where they are currently leading by a few hundred votes, and Gilmore, a marginal seat on the NSW south coast where Labor’s Fiona Phillips is fighting to retain her seat against Andrew Constance, who gained popularity during the bushfires and was formerly the treasurer of NSW.

Again, Labor only need to win one of these seats to secure a majority government.

Have a deep dive:

Updated

Antony Green calls seat of Lyons for Labor

Labor’s Brian Mitchell will retain the seat of Lyons, bringing the party ever closer to a majority government.

Updated

Pathologists worried about low uptake of Covid booster vaccines

Pathologists are sounding the alarm over the low uptake of coronavirus vaccine boosters as the national immunisation group suggests a fourth dose for some Australians, AAP reports.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia says third doses are particularly low in Queensland and NSW even as Covid-19 cases rise.

RCPA fellow professor William Rawlinson said it was particularly vital to remain up to date with boosters with winter approaching.

The RCPA recently highlighted that it is very likely that we will experience far more influenza cases in Australia this winter. This, combined with the current, rising trend of Covid-19 cases is likely to put an extraordinary strain on the healthcare system.

Western Australia has the highest uptake of third doses at about 80%, while Queensland is the lowest at 58%. Nationally, about two-thirds of eligible Australians have received a booster.

On Wednesday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation expanded eligibility for a second booster to people with health conditions or a disability.

Previously, the fourth dose has only been available to people 65 and over, those in aged or disability care, the severely immunocompromised or Indigenous people aged over 50.

Updated

A timely reminder the pandemic is far from over.

Queensland to roll out simultaneous flu and Covid testing

Sick people will soon be tested for Covid and the flu simultaneously at state-run fever clinics and hospitals across Queensland as authorities scramble to get a hold on rising cases.

Simultaneous testing for Covid, influenza and other respiratory illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is also now in place in hospitals across New South Wales.

Queensland Health confirmed its plan to roll out simultaneous testing to the Guardian on Wednesday, two days after it announced flu vaccines would be free for the next month in a move NSW and Victoria flagged they would follow.

Read more here, and get your flu vaccine:

Updated

Queensland to introduce further gambling reforms

Queensland will tighten controls around the gaming industry in response to recent inquiries into casinos in other states.

The state attorney general and minister for justice, Shannon Fentiman, said the proposed reforms to the Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 would improve compliance requirements, increase penalties and seek to minimise gambling harm.

These reforms seek to address concerns which have emerged from the public inquiries into casinos operated by Crown Resorts in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as investigations underway into the Star Entertainment Group.

As a result of the changes, there will be significant pecuniary penalties as a disciplinary action of up to $50m.

These reforms are considered to be examples of best-practice casino regulation and will be in place before the opening of the new casino at Queen’s Wharf to be operated by The Star.

Further changes may be considered at conclusion of current investigations into the Star Entertainment Group.

Updated

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 71 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 911
  • In hospital: 85 (with 1 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 30
  • Cases: 10,926
  • In hospital: 1,204 (with 38 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 330
  • In hospital: 12 (with no people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 19
  • Cases: 5,246
  • In hospital: 445 (with 12 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 3,837
  • In hospital: 238 (with 9 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 946
  • In hospital: 50 (with 1 person in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 19
  • Cases: 12,421
  • In hospital: 559 (with 34 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 11,832
  • In hospital: 312 (with 6 people in ICU)

Queensland records 19 deaths, 5,246 Covid cases

Queensland Health has provided today’s daily Covid update.

There have been 5,246 new Covid cases detected.

There have been 19 further deaths.

There are 445 people being treated in hospital with the virus including 12 in ICU.

NSW Paramedics union to take industrial action next week

The New South Wales paramedics union has announced it will take renewed industrial action next week to demand an expanded workforce and a real pay rise.

Widespread staff shortages in the sector have been placing strain on the state’s health system, worsened by Covid waves, with influenza on the horizon.

The union says there are no transport ambulances available in a large swathe of the state, and just eight in the entirety of Sydney.

Updated

Westpac group raises rates on fixed-rate loans

Interest rates are on the rise again with Westpac, the No 2 lender by size, today raising the rates on its fixed-rate loans for owner-occupiers and investors by as much as 0.8 percentage points.

The bank’s subsidiaries St George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA followed suit, as you’d expect, with the result that none of the fixed rates have a “2” at the start.

Westpac’s one-year fixed loans are at 3.59%, up by 80 basis points, while five-year ones are at 4.89% or 0.3 percentage points higher, RateCity.com.au said.

As a result of today’s changes, Westpac no longer offers a fixed rate starting with a “2”. Here’s how they stack up, versus the other big rivals.

Sally Tindall, the data group’s research director, predicts more rises are coming:

Westpac’s hikes are a sign of things to come. Over the next few months we could see a number of the big banks’ longer-term fixed rates climb above the 5% mark, even on their most competitive loans.

Interestingly, ABS lending data shows fixed rates have continued to lose popularity. Just 22% of all new loans in March were fixed, down from the peak in July 2021 when 46% of new lending were fixed, RateCity says.

The cost of borrowing – and as we saw earlier, power prices – are on the rise. Here’s how investors are tipping the Reserve Bank’s cash rate to move. Could we really be two percentage points higher by the end of year?

Updated

SA records one death, 3,837 Covid cases

South Australia Health has released todays Covid update.

There have been 3,837 new Covid cases detected.

There has been one further death.

There are 238 people being treated in hospital with the virus including nine people in ICU.

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Greens call for national compensation scheme for survivors of the stolen generation

The Greens have renewed calls for a national compensation scheme to be rolled out for survivors of the stolen generation on the 25th anniversary of the Bringing them Home report.

The scheme would provide a one-off $200,000 payment, plus an additional $7,000 for funeral expenses.

The Greens spokesperson for justice and First Nations and Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung senator, Lidia Thorpe, said no government had ever brought peace to stolen generation survivors.

They stole our children to break our people. Our pain continues and we can see that today. My mum was a co-commissioner on the Inquiry in the 90s. Just this week, she was giving testimony at the coronial inquest of a Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman who died in police custody. We need to break the cycle and stop the trauma.

Sorry means you don’t do it again. Today, there’s more First Nations kids in out of home care now than when Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generations. We call on the Albanese government to compensate survivors and stop a new stolen generation.

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WA records two deaths, 11,832 Covid cases

WA Health has released todays Covid update. There have been 11,832 new cases detected to 8pm last night.

Two further deaths have been recorded dating back to 20 May and reported to WA Health yesterday, including a man in his 70s and a man in his 80s.

There are 312 people being treated in hospital with the virus including six people in ICU.

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Many thanks to the marvellous Mostafa Rachwani for keeping us informed and entertained. I’ll be with you for the rest of the afternoon.

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And with that, I will leave the blog with the always brilliant Caitlin Cassidy. Thanks for reading.

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The ACT records 911 new Covid cases

And the Australian Capital Territory has reported 911 new cases overnight.

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Daniel Andrews: Victorian schools to remain open despite staff shortages

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has maintained that schools will remain open for the time being, amid calls for a return to remote learning.

The Independent Education Union had earlier called on Victorian schools to close due to staff shortages caused by influenza and Covid-19. It also comes amid a spike in Covid deaths and cases.

But Andrews maintained that the colder weather and increased risk of getting sick would not change the government’s position:

School was open on day one of term one, it has remained open all throughout the year and we’re going to keep it open, and we’re going to keep it as close to normal as we possibly can.

The Victorian education minister, James Merlino, was also at the press conference, and acknowledged the challenges facing schools during the winter months.

We said at the beginning of the year when we committed to getting students back … that schools will look a bit differently this year, and there will be challenges, and there have been.

We’ve got Covid, and we’ve got a nasty flu season, so people are getting crook. But we’ve got principals and assistant principals teaching, we’ve got a pool of retired teachers and principals coming back to school to teach … so it’s all hands on deck.

It’s about making sure that our kids stay at school, our schools remain open, and it’s best for our students that they get that peer-to-peer experience.

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Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, has laid out his schedule for the next couple of days:

Scott Morrison: Labor majority ‘better’ than minority government involving teal independents

I want to return to Scott Morrison’s appearance on the radio earlier today, where he said he was “pleased” to hear Labor could form a majority government.

In the context of him calling the teal independent campaigns “vicious and brutal”, it is interesting that he said he preferred a Labor majority government to a minority rule that could have involved the teals.

Here’s how he put it:

The Labor party will just form majority and I think that will be better.

But in terms as what happened in those Liberal seats in the eastern suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne ... I am obviously devastated that Josh wasn’t there and I hope he will be in the future.

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Chris Bowen says spike in power prices due to Coalition’s ‘nine years of policy chaos’ on renewables

The incoming energy minister, Chris Bowen, said the sharp increase in the standard market price set by the Australian Energy Regulator was the result of “nine years of delay and denial” by the Coalition government that would now be left with households and businesses to pay.

Bowen said “the Liberal legacy is higher power prices” for the residents of Queensland, NSW and South Australia covered by the so-called default market offer.

He added that “nine years of policy chaos means we don’t have enough renewables in the system”, nor enough transmission to link them up “the cheapest form of energy” to the grid.

Bowen also took aim at his predecessor Angus Taylor for acting to delay the release of the higher default market offer. As reported by Guardian Australia earlier this week, Taylor ordered the regulator to delay the new offer from 1 May until today, after the election.

“Angus Taylor knew this report was coming out,” Bowen said. “They sat on this report. They approved its delay until after the election … they put power prices up and were dishonest about it.”

A spokesperson for Taylor earlier this week denied the delay was for political reasons. During the campaign, Coalition ministers and Scott Morrison claimed power prices had fallen by as much as 10%, a figure also included in the March budget.

By the end of March, though, wholesale power prices had more than doubled compared with a year earlier and have continued their sharp rise since, leaving the incoming Albanese government an early challenge to resolve.

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Angus Taylor says he will not contest Liberal leadership position

The former energy minister, Angus Taylor, who has previously been labelled a future Liberal leadership aspirant, confirmed he would not enter the race, and would back Peter Dutton for the role.

Speaking on Sky News, Taylor said the debate about whether the Liberal party should move to the right or to the left in the wake of the election loss was the wrong focus.

He said the party needed to focus on its “core values”.

”I’ve been supporting Peter Dutton to lead the party. I think he’s the right person to lead us,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Dutton would lead the party at a time when it needed to hold the Labor party to account and when the economic agenda would be “enormously important”.

When asked whether he wanted to be shadow treasurer, Taylor did not deny his interest in the key frontbench role but said it would be a decision for the leader.

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Peter Dutton confirms he will run for Liberal party leadership

The former defence minister Peter Dutton has confirmed on 2GB Radio that he will put his hand up for the Liberal leadership (which will be unopposed).

Dutton reintroduced himself to the Australian public, arguing that his image had been harmed by Twitter and leftwing news sites, and the perception he is tough because of the portfolios he has held.

You’ve got to be tough to be the defence minister of this country.

Of course, many of Dutton’s low points like boycotting the apology to the Stolen Generation and arguing that Lebanese-Muslim migration in the 1970s had harmed Australia were not strictly requirements of the job.

Dutton also appeared to draw a contrast with his predecessor, Scott Morrison, by observing that he doesn’t attend church regularly, and is a lapsed Catholic who hasn’t sought to make religion a part of his public persona.

Dutton said he expects the Albanese government to be a “bad government” because it doesn’t have the depth of frontbench, who he said was full of Rudd-Gillard era “throwbacks”.

Power prices will be higher under Labor, unemployment will be higher.

Dutton confirmed that Tanya Plibersek had apologised for likening him to Voldemort:

Yes she has to her credit. It’s water off a duck’s back. You read this sort of stuff online, it’s the sewer of Twitter. I don’t think you need to be nasty and mean.

Dutton said that he was “not bald by choice” and was “diagnosed with a skin condition”.

On China, Dutton wished the new government “every success in dealing with the most important issue to face our country this decade”.

On the deputy leadership, Dutton said it will be for the party room to decide and praised the contenders as “great candidates”, particularly Karen Andrews who has withdrawn. The other contenders are Sussan Ley and Jane Hume.

There are a number who could serve very ably as deputy, we’re just working on that at the moment.

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Victoria secures return of rare artworks by Wurundjeri artist William Barak

The Victorian government has contributed $500,000 to secure the purchase of rare artworks by Wurundjeri artist William Barak and bring them back to the state.

The Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Corporation had raised $117,627 via a crowdfunding page to buy the artworks, which were being auctioned off by auction house Sotheby’s in New York on Thursday morning.

The government contributed $500,000 after a meeting with the corporation late on Wednesday night.

The two artworks – a painting and a parrying shield – date back to 1897. Corroboree (Women in possum skin cloaks) depicts three rows of women wearing possum skin cloaks in a ceremony. The carved hardwood parrying shield is long and pointed with a geometric design and a unique motif at its centre.

The painting sold for more than $530,000 and the parrying shield sold for more than $74,000.

While Barak’s artworks are held in prestigious public and private collections around the world, this is one of a rare few to return to Wurundjeri ownership.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, told reporters on Thursday:

They’re now owned by the Victorian community and that’s a fantastic outcome. We didn’t want them going into a private collection on the other side of the world.

This is a really important part of our history. It’s a really important part of healing and our journey forward. So we are absolutely delighted, thrilled to be able to have made that contribution and to be able to secure overnight at auction in New York those really important artworks.

Where they go, whether it’s the NGV [National Gallery of Victoria] or [Melbourne] Museum, that will be worked out. I’m sure the Koori Heritage Trust will put bid in for it.

There’ll be lots of different groups that want a piece of that, they’re very, very significant and we’re delighted to have been able to secure them for every single Victorian forever.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

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Kylea Tink rejects Scott Morrison’s description of teal independents’ campaigns as ‘vicious and brutal’

Newly successful teal independent in North Sydney, Kylea Tink, has hit back at former prime minister Scott Morrison, who earlier this morning described the teal campaigns as “vicious and brutal”.

Speaking to Sky News, Tink said her campaign was the “antithesis” of Morrison’s description:

I don’t think our campaign was brutal at all. It was the antithesis of that.

Should the Labor Party, as they take government, choose to adopt a similar style of governing to what the Liberal Party did, then I have no doubt we’ll see people – like myself – in communities like the North Sydney community, rise up and run against Labor candidates.

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Victoria’s opposition criticises Mark McGowan after WA premier’s comments on other states’ budgets

Victoria’s opposition has hit out at Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, after he launched an attack on the Andrews government over the carve-up of GST funding.

Victoria’s treasurer, Tim Pallas, has repeatedly said Victoria does not receive a fair share of the GST based on its population under the current system. But on Wednesday, McGowan hit back and said other states needed to better manage their budgets. He also singled out Victoria for its $2.6bn investment in the Commonwealth Games, saying the state should make “different” decisions.

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, opposition treasury spokesman, David Davis, said it was “very clear” Victoria had a “poor deal” in GST funding.

The opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said McGowan had a “nasty streak” and said the Commonwealth Games were “not a waste of money”.

There’s no need to attack Victoria like that. We’re trying to get our region’s back on their feet and have bipartisan support for the Commonwealth Games.

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Victorian opposition calls for ‘circuit breaker’ summit to address strained healthcare system

Victoria’s opposition has called for an urgent health summit in a bid to fix the state’s overburdened system.

It comes after a budget estimates hearing last week heard that 21 Victorians had died waiting for an ambulance over the past six months. The opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said a summit – made up of healthcare professionals – would act as a “circuit breaker” for the sector.

Guy said the meeting would help draw on the experience of health professionals like paramedics and doctors who understand the system:

We need to have a way that brings people, particularly from all walks of the health service, in the room ... to find out what are those ways to fix the system now so Victorians know when they call an ambulance it will come.


Paramedics tending to their ambulance outside St. Vincent hospital in Melbourne.
Paramedics tending to their ambulance outside St. Vincent hospital in Melbourne. Photograph: Luis Ascui/AAP

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Annastacia Palaszcsuk announces $175 ‘cost of living rebate’ for state’s households

The Queensland government has announced a $175 “cost of living rebate” to all households, to be paid as a deduction on power bills.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, made the announcement on the same morning the Australian Energy Regulator revealed it would lift its standard electricity price, meaning households in Queensland and NSW would face double-digit increases in their bills.

Palaszczuk said the rebate was only possible because the state maintains ownership of the majority of its power generators.

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Julian Simmonds concedes in Ryan

Julian Simmonds, Liberal candidate for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, has conceded to Greens challenger Elizabeth Watson-Brown after a very tight race.

Addressing his followers via his Facebook page, Simmonds said he was “disappointed” and did not mention his successor:

While I am disappointed that I will not be able to continue to serve as you as the member for Ryan, I am reminded of how lucky we are to live in a democracy and how important it is that we continue to defend our country, our values and our way of life.

The seat, which takes in parts of Brisbane’s inner west, has been won by the LNP at every general election for decades. (Labor’s Leonie Short briefly held the seat in 2001 following a by-election.) Watson-Brown has romped home with a 10.2% swing and Labor preferences.

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Queensland government to introduce legislation to ban swastikas and other hate symbols

The Palaszczuk government will introduce legislation into Queensland parliament to ban swastikas in a bid to strengthen the state’s response to hate crime and vilification.

If passed, the legislation would make it a criminal offence to display symbols promoting hatred and causing fear. It’s expected there will be an exemption for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains who use swastikas as a religious symbol.

Queensland’s plan for a ban on hate symbols comes after the Victorian government introduced a bill to ban them earlier this month. The NSW government has also signalled its plans to criminalise hate symbols.

The Labor state government is expected to introduce further changes to strengthen the state’s response to hate crimes following a parliamentary report last year.

As part of the report, the Queensland parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee made 17 recommendations to improve Queensland’s response to vilification and hate crimes.

Some of these included banning the display of hate symbols relating to Nazi and IS ideology, working with the commonwealth to address online vilification and moving the section of the Anti-Discrimination Act that deals with serious hate crimes to be relocated into the criminal code.

The parliamentary report followed after the extensive #BetterLaws4SafeQld campaign which was launched by the Cohesive Communities Coalition, a collective of organisations representing more than 20 of Queensland’s diverse communities.

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Anthony Albanese says Kristina Keneally had ‘a difficult election campaign’

Amid a media blitz this morning, the PM was on Sky News and addressed the future of failed Fowler candidate Kristina Keneally.

Albanese said people were “getting ahead of themselves” in speculating if Keneally will be given a diplomatic post:

Quite frankly, this discussion about diplomatic posts about various people ... I’m not sure whether it’s sort of weird or just strange that people are trying to get ahead of themselves.

I didn’t get ahead of myself in any way before Saturday’s election. The only thing I put in place with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was the arrangements in accordance with their suggestions [about being sworn in early and travelling to Tokyo].

And so that’s my consideration. We haven’t sworn in the full government yet.

Kristina Keneally’s gone through a difficult election campaign. I wish her well. I’m sure [a diplomatic posting] is the last thing on her mind.

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Trial date set for Witness K lawyer Bernard Collaery

Almost four years since he was charged, lawyer Bernard Collaery has finally been given a trial date.

Collaery is charged with working with his client, intelligence officer Witness K, to unlawfully disclose information about a controversial bugging operation Australia conducted against its impoverished ally Timor-Leste to gain the upper hand during negotiations over access to oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

The case against Collaery has languished before the ACT courts since he was charged in mid-2018, delayed time and again by protracted battles over secrecy, access to documents, and interventions by the commonwealth attorney general.

On Thursday, the ACT supreme court set the trial down for 24 October, estimating it will last between four to five weeks.

The setting of the trial date came despite opposition from Collaery’s lawyers, who are still fighting a decision by the court to deny him access to documents about the bugging operation’s legality.

The court has ruled the documents are not relevant to the case against Collaery, a decision which Collaery’s legal team have indicated they will appeal. Collaery’s barrister, Philip Boulton SC, told the court:

Setting down the trial is against the desires and wishes of the accused.

This week, Labor’s Mark Dreyfus indicated he will seek an urgent briefing on the case if appointed attorney general as expected. Dreyfus has repeatedly criticised the delay and secrecy involved in the case, saying he has seen no cogent explanation as to how it is in the public interest.

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Power bill increases to outpace expected inflation as generation costs climb

Households in Queensland, NSW and elsewhere will face double-digit increases in their power bills from July after the regulator lifted its standard electricity price as generation costs soared.

The Australian Energy Regulator, which was ordered to delay the release of its default market offer from 1 May until today by the outgoing Morrison government, said “residential customers in south-east Queensland will see increases above expected inflation of 5.5% to 6.8% (11.3% to 12.6% increases in nominal terms)”.

Similarly in NSW, residential customers will see increases of 2.9% to 12.1% above expected inflation, depending on whether they have controlled load. That will show up as a rise between 8.5% to 18.3% in nominal terms.

The default market offer was set up in 2019 to give consumers who don’t shop around a “price safety net”. The offer serves as a price cap for residential and small business customers for how much energy retailers can charge electricity consumers on default plans, known in the market as standing offer contracts.

Rising gas and coal prices globally have contributed to a spike in wholesale power prices to record levels. Repairs or outages to as much as a third of the coal-fired power fleet have also contributed to the recent jump.

South Australian prices would be 0.2% above expected inflation (5.7% in nominal terms), reflecting that state’s higher renewable energy share of generation than Queensland and NSW.

Victoria, which sets its own default offer, released its reset for 2022-23 on Tuesday, lifting the price by 5%.

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Victoria records 12,421 new Covid cases and 19 deaths

Victoria has also recorded a spike in deaths, reporting 19 deaths and 12,421 new cases overnight:

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NSW reports 10,926 new Covid cases and 30 deaths

A huge spike in Covid-related deaths in NSW overnight, with the state reporting 30 deaths and 10,926 new cases:

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Scott Morrison says he will support whoever becomes new Liberal party leader

Sticking with Morrison on 2GB, he said he would support “whoever was elected” to the leadership of the Liberal party.

Morrison would not be drawn too extensively on the future of the party, but added that he would not live with any regrets:

It’s not the first time the Liberal party has lost an election.

... You accept the result and you move on.

You’re just very humbled by the opportunity you’ve had, you can dwell on defeat or you can dwell on the things that led you to go and do what you did.

You live every day and you take every opportunity you can to achieve what you’re looking to achieve for the country.

I leave not with regrets but with a great sense of gratitude.

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Scott Morrison tells 2GB radio he is happy to be 'a dad again'

Former prime minister Scott Morrison has appeared on 2GB this morning, saying he is enjoying his new life, whilst adding that the teal independents ran very vicious and brutal on-the-ground campaigns.

But in a relatively lightweight interview, Morrison says he is looking forward to “being a dad again,” adding that he had just dropped his daughters off at school.

He did not say if he would be quitting politics, instead promising to remain Cook’s representative.

They’ve been tremendously supportive of me in my electorate, of course. And so I continue on as the member for Cook and [am] able to support a lot of those things happening locally.

I’m going back to the Shire and re-establishing our life back there, getting the girls back into their routine. I’ve just dropped them off at school this morning. And ... it’s been a while since I’ve been able to spend as much time as I would like with the family.

You take the good with the bad, and you know, you treat victory and defeat like the imposters they are.

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Albanese wishes Dutton well

The PM is asked what he thought of Tanya Plibersek saying Peter Dutton looks like Voldemort, and reiterates that he wants to “change the way politics operates”:

It was a mistake. It shouldn’t have been said. We all make mistakes from time to time.

What we need to do is to move on from them and it is how we respond to them. Tanya Plibersek responded appropriately. I want to change the way that politics operates.

You would have seen, not on the ABC of course, but Scott Morrison had a whole show that seemed to be devoted to an analysis of my glasses or whether I lost weight or what I look like. We can do better than that. Let’s actually talk about the issues and let’s try to find some common interest going forward.

I certainly have a good personal relationship with Peter Dutton. He has never broken a confidence or his word to me. That is a good place to start and I certainly [hope to improve my] relationship with the future leader of the Liberal party, I think, if that occurs. I wish him well, I want to work across the parliament, wherever possible.

Peter Dutton.
Peter Dutton. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

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Albanese criticises Morrison government’s allocation of ‘billions’ of dollars during election campaign

Albanese has slammed the former government for its economic management and pork barrelling:

Quite clearly, one of the issues that came up, we might have discussed it in previous weeks on this program, is we couldn’t tell from opposition where all the pots of money had been stored by this government.

They abused the process of the contingency reserve to create funds for use during the election campaign. We will go through those line by line because it is taxpayers’ money, not Liberal party or National party money that was being allocated in the billions, frankly, during this campaign.

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Albanese is also asked if the French president has congratulated him:

I have had an exchange with the president of France and it was a very positive exchange and I have been overwhelmed by the positive response that I have received.

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Albanese rejects suggestion Pacific aid increase is attempt to buy back Pacific nations

Albanese is being grilled on his Pacific policy and is asked if his funding announcements of an extra $525m over four years is an attempt to buy back the support of the Pacific nations, which Albanese rejects:

It is not just about funding, it is also about respect. The fact that the funding was slashed when the former government came to office in its 2014 budget, Australia – there is a price that you pay for that.

The fact that there were comments made about climate change, which they regard – even during the election campaign, when I said climate change is a national security issue, that was dismissed.

The fact is that the US has considered it is a national security issue as well and all of the leaders, be it President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida or Prime Minister Modi, all agree it is a national security issue, but for our Pacific Island neighbours, they consider climate change is an existential threat to their very existence.

This is an area where Australia’s changed position on climate change, where we will join with the rest of the world in global action but where we will also support our Pacific Island neighbours with infrastructure to lower their emissions and to help their energy systems to transition.

These are all measures that we can take which will be well received in the region, as they were by the Quad leaders.

Ships are docked offshore in Honiara.
Ships are docked offshore in Honiara. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

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Albanese says Australia needs to 'respond' to China's Pacific plan

Anthony Albanese is on ABC’s News Breakfast this morning, and was asked about China’s plans to meet with a number of Pacific Island nations. The PM says the situation was a failure of the past government:

That is why the complacency that was there from the former government in rejecting the proposal from former foreign minister Marise Payne is so inexplicable. When former minister Payne was arguing for an increase in aid, this was the context in which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were putting forward, that submission to the budget process.

We need to step up, genuinely, into the Pacific. That is why Penny Wong, my foreign minister who arrived back with me from Tokyo just last night, is already on her way to Fiji to inform the government there that we want to step up.

We have a comprehensive plan of defence training for Australia and the Pacific, for increased support for their maritime security to protect their fishing stocks, for increased support for climate change infrastructure that’s required, for increased aid over half a billion dollars of additional aid into the Pacific, for increased parliamentary engagement with the island nations of the Pacific.

We need to respond to this because this is China seeking to increase its influence in the region of the world where Australia has been the security partner of choice since the second world war.

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Plibersek apologises for comparing Dutton to Lord Voldemort

Senior Labor MP Tanya Plibersek has apologised for likening likely Liberal leader Peter Dutton to Voldemort, arch villain of the Harry Potter series.

Plibersek had told Brisbane radio 4BC on Wednesday that children may be frightened by Dutton’s appearance.

I think there are a lot of children who’ve watched a lot of Harry Potter films who’ll be very frightened of what they’re seeing on TV at night, that’s for sure.

I’m saying he looks a bit like Voldemort, and we’ll see if he can do what he promised he’d do when he was last running for leader, which is smile more.

Plibersek called Dutton to apologise, while the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told the ABC the remarks were “not acceptable”:

I think that in politics we need to treat each other with respect, Tanya recognises that which is why she apologised, and I’m sure Peter Dutton accepted that and we move on.

Senior Labor MP Tanya Plibersek.
Senior Labor MP Tanya Plibersek. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

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Vote counting still neck and neck in three electorates according to AEC

Let’s talk seats in doubt, with the Australian Electoral Commission listing Ryan (QLD), Gilmore (NSW) and Lyons (TAS) as the three which are neck and neck following Saturday’s election.

As of Wednesday, Labor holds 75 seats to the Coalition’s 61, the Greens have two and there are 12 crossbenchers.

The tightest race is in Gilmore, where 114 votes separate the incumbent, Labor’s Fiona Phillips, from former NSW minister Andrew Constance.

In Lyons, Labor MP Brian Mitchell’s margin has dropped to 535 votes ahead of Liberal candidate Susie Bower.

The Brisbane seat of Ryan has Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown ahead of LNP MP Julian Simmonds by only 119 votes.

Outgoing minister Michael Sukkar is in a more comfortable position, 890 votes ahead of Labor rival Matt Gregg for the Victorian seat of Deakin.

In the Senate, the Coalition is on track to hold 31 seats, and Labor 26, in the 76-seat chamber.

The Greens are expected to hold 12 Senate spots, with One Nation likely to hold two seats.

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Dutton attempts to soften image

So Peter Dutton has finally confirmed he will be running to lead the Liberal party, and his tenure begins with a typical media blitz, in an attempt to soften his image.

His charm offensive includes appearances in the Daily Telegraph, where he says he hopes Australia will now get a chance to see the “rest of my character’’. He also waxes lyrical about his “political mentors” (John Howard and Peter Costello).

In the SMH and the Age, a grinning Dutton, pictured walking in the park with his family, issues a “rallying cry”, saying he wants to unite the divided strands of the Liberal party.

We aren’t the ‘Moderate Party’. We aren’t the ‘Conservative Party’. We are Liberals. We are the Liberal Party.

The Australian is calling it “Peter Dutton 2.0” (although I thought the “He’s not a monster” was launching Dutton 2.0 and this was Dutton 3.0, but I digress). The Oz quotes Dutton as saying Australians had only seen his “tough” side because he had only taken up “tough jobs”:

“I’ve had tough jobs – firstly as a policeman dealing with serious sexual assaults and murders, to home affairs minister where I deported drug traffickers and child sex offenders. Most people have only seen that side of me.

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Good morning

Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you this morning, as we continue processing the election results and all that come with it.

We begin with the foreign minister, Penny Wong, who is set to visit Fiji today in an attempt to strengthen ties with the Pacific nation. She will be hoping to deepen Australia’s relationship with the country, amid reports China is seeking a regional deal with 10 Pacific Island nations.

In a statement, Wong said that while China had made its intention clear, “so too are the intentions of the new Australian government”.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, landed back in Canberra last night, with expectations he will meet with health officials sometime today to discuss the pandemic. AAP is reporting that he has instructed health officials to prepare a briefing on Covid-19, as one of his first domestic agenda issues to tackle upon his arrival in Australia.

Meanwhile, Peter Dutton has formally confirmed he will stand for the leadership of the Liberal party last night, urging the party to come together behind him. He said things are going to be “tough” under Labor, but said his party would seek to hold them to account.

Scott Morrison is due to speak to Sydney radio station 2GB later this morning, in what will be his first media appearance after his earth-shattering election loss. We will bring you those lines, as well as everything else happening around the country. Stay tuned.