What we learned today, Tuesday 2 August
And with that, we are going to put this blog to bed. Before we go, let’s recap the big stories from today:
- The Reserve Bank announced it will lift the cash rate from 1.35% to 1.85%.
- The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said the rate rise meant it was ‘another difficult day for Australian homeowners with a mortgage’.
- The Coalition party room agreed to a recommendation by shadow climate change minister, Ted O’Brien, to oppose the government’s climate bill.
- David Pocock urged a ‘new pragmatism’ needed to be found to combat climate change in his first speech to parliament.
- The employment minister, Tony Burke, said the government will establish a house select committee to examine the Workforce Australia employment services scheme.
- Aged care reforms became the first bill to pass the new parliament, but the minister, Anika Wells, said there is more work to do.
- The federal court ruled that WA premier Mark McGowan and mining billionaire Clive Palmer has defamed each other in their long-running legal stoush.
- At least 95 deaths from Covid-19 were reported across the nation as the TGA extended the shelf-life of anti-virals to fight coronavirus.
Thank you so much for spending part of your day with us – we love it. Amy will be back in the morning so we will see you then!
Mortgage-holders under pressure from rising interest rates
“We paid $590,000 for the house, but the government has paid for 25% of that so we’ve ended up with a mortgage of $420,000,” Louise Hindes said.
Their loan repayments have already gone up by more than $100 a fortnight. When they first moved in they paid $720, now they are paying $840.
And now it is eggs ...
I’ve got some pics for you from Mike Bowers from the Senate this afternoon:
David Shoebridge speaks of ‘ecocide’ in first speech to Senate
Greens senator David Shoebridge has outlined his main political priorities as legalising cannabis and taxing billionaires to support Medicare-funded dental treatment, as well as proposing “a new criminal offence of ecocide” with a 20-year jail term.
In his first speech to the Senate, Shoebridge, a new senator for New South Wales, spoke effusively of the environment, climate change and Indigenous history, calling for stiff penalties over damage to the environment.
“Ecocide is the mass, widespread damage and destruction of ecosystems and nature. It is, or at least should be, criminal where it is done by corporations or governments intentionally or recklessly,” he said.
“So instead of a short-lived Twitter backlash and a revolving door taking you from politics into a six-figure consultancy, if you gladhand a fossil fuel project that screws our collective future you get 20 years in jail. That sounds more fair to me. That’s accountability I’d vote for. Why don’t we backdate it to today?”
The former NSW state politician noted that the Labor government held 26 of the 76 seats in the Senate, and hinted at proposals to use that political calculus – and the Green’s position in the balance of power – to “provide far greater scrutiny, transparency and accountability of the executive”.
Shoebridge mentioned the NSW parliament’s public accountability committee, which is investigating the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to a New York trade commissioner post. The senator said it was an example of parliamentary structures working “to force accountability on an unwilling government”.
“Whatever else it is, NSW politics sure is a masterclass in scandal, corruption and abuse of power, lessons that will certainly come in useful here,” Shoebridge said.
He ended his speech with the words: “We have a planet to save, so let’s get started.”
Tony Burke calls a vote on bill to scrap cashless debit card
TGA extends shelf life of Covid anti-viral stock
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has extended the shelf life of a key anti-viral medication – Paxlovid – that was rapidly approaching its expiry date.
On Tuesday, the TGA published advice stating that it had extended the expiry date of various batches in Australia by six months, providing they met particular storage provisions.
The first batch of the drug had an expiry date of August this year, with the drug approved in Australia initially with a 12-month expiry date. Manufacturer Pfizer has advised health professionals that the six-month extension can be applied retrospectively to Paxlovid products manufactured prior to the TGA approval.
The government has been urging take-up of the anti-viral drugs amid the latest Covid surge, with more than 116,000 prescriptions so far administered. The health minister, Mark Butler, has been critical of the previous government for allowing the treatments to “gather dust” despite Australia ordering 1.3m courses of anti-viral drugs, comprising 1m Paxlovid and 300,000 Lagevrio.
Pocock says ‘new pragmatism’ needed to tackle climate change
Pocock spoke about the need for solutions to the climate crisis to overcome the failure of imagination in policy.
It’s on us to make the changes, and it’s not too late. In the midst of this doom and gloom is an invitation to begin to turn things around. Thanks to ancient indigenous wisdom and the latest in science and technology, we have never known more about these life support systems, what we are doing to them, and what can and must be done to halt this catastrophic decline and begin to reverse it.
We know what we are doing and what can be done. The first generation with this knowledge and the last to be able to do anything about it. Some of our failure has been a failure of imagination – a failure to imagine how great our future can be if we focus on the things that actually matter – the long-term health and wellbeing of our families, communities and land.
This takes courage and leadership. It seems to me that a big part of politics is about dealing with problems in a way that turns them into opportunities. We have an opportunity to begin to write a new story, a better story, a story that is built on accepting responsibility for where we are and finding the courage to change where we are going. This is not about naive thinking or hoping for the best – it’s about a new kind of pragmatism where our actions match the scale of the challenge.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is here for the speech. We’ll have some Mike Bowers pics for you soon.
David Pocock gives warning on climate change in first speech
The independent senator for the ACT, David Pocock, is giving his first speech, which includes a dire warning about climate change.
There is no challenge greater than facing up to the climate and biodiversity crises we face. We live in unprecedented times. Generations before us faced their own unprecedented times – world wars, famines, pandemics, natural disasters.
Many of our forebears put their lives on the line to build what they saw as a brighter future. Many lost their lives doing so. Others gave up their freedoms to build a more equitable society – activists who were at the time vilified, arrested and even killed, many of whom we now hold up as heroes for their lives of service and commitment to building a better future.
Today the systems that sustain life on earth are at the brink of collapse.
The climate as we know it is breaking down and the impacts are now being felt with distressing regularity. Extreme weather: drought, bushfires, hailstorms and floods are having a devastating effect on the people and places we love. We are also seeing the impacts on the state of the environment. The 6th mass extinction event is underway. The last one, 66 million years ago, was due to a massive asteroid. This time we’re causing it.
Earlier, Pocock spoke about the diversity of Canberra:
Despite what you may see on the news, Canberra is so much more than the sum of the decisions made in this building. Yes, we are a city of roundabouts and politicians. But we’re also much more than that.
We’re a growing city with a strong community spirit, built on a passion for lifelong learning, good public policy, a connection to our environment, the arts, sport, defence, science and technology. We’re appropriately called the bush capital ... We have a vibrant and growing multicultural community.
He also called for territories to regain the right to legislate, carefully tiptoeing to avoid the phrase “voluntary assisted dying”:
Here in the ACT we have been denied rights held by the states. It is time for us to restore the right of the territories to make decisions for themselves. To ensure that our legislative assembly here in the ACT gets to make decisions about the future of Canberrans, not MPs from around the country whose own constituents already enjoy these same rights.
Yesterday, legislation to restore our rights as a Territory was introduced into the House of Representatives. This is not the first time the parliament has tried to repeal the Andrews bill. But I hope it will be the last.
I will work with everyone in this Senate chamber to support a vote giving us equality with the states. I would like to acknowledge the many brave, courageous people who have supported this campaign over many years.
Other issues canvassed include the housing crisis, workforce shortages, increasing transparency and integrity in government, the protection of whistleblowers, and enshrining a First Nations Voice in the constitution.
There was a controversy last week about whether Pocock would be allowed an Auslan sign language interpreter. The speech was given with an interpreter on four screens in the Senate and broadcast in parallel online, a solution allowing those watching to get the benefit but not allow a “stranger” in the Senate.
What parts of Australia’s population have suffered the most from Covid?
For most of the pandemic, Australia had one of the lowest death rates in the OECD. But Australia is now one of many countries caught in a series of rolling Covid waves. The data shows some parts of Australia’s population have had disproportionately high fatality rates:
Social issues committee calls for coordinated strategy to protect multicultural seniors from elder abuse
Victoria needs a coordinated strategy to stop its multicultural seniors from falling victim to elder abuse, according to a new parliamentary report.
The Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry into support for older Victorians from migrant and refugee backgrounds delivered 76 recommendations on Tuesday.
These include calls to support professional development and career pathways for bicultural and bilingual workers, and to increase funding for ethno-specific and multicultural organisations.
The committee also recommended the state government trial or implement a care finder initiative to help culturally diverse older people access support in their local areas.
The inquiry received 73 submissions and held five days of public hearings.
Language barriers are a common hurdle to accessing appropriate community support. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, believes this stems from a cultural divide.
“There is a lack of information about what services are actually available,” Rintoul said.
“This is both a language issue but also one of accessibility, where the information actually reaches. Very often it just doesn’t reach the individuals and communities that need the information.”
Sydney’s Aboriginal community calls for investigation into closure of National Center for Indigenous Excellence
Sydney Aboriginal community advocates have threatened to hold a sit-in at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence to protest its looming closure.
Staff and locals are calling for an investigation into how the centre in Redfern was run into a $2m annual loss, and for the federal organisation that runs it to request funding to keep it open.
Locals were shocked on Monday to discover the centre would close in a week, despite becoming a cultural and community lifeline for local Aboriginal people since opening in 2006. Staff at its aquatic and fitness centre will be out of a job within days.
Programs that support the local Aboriginal community, including employment services, have already been axed, while working parents will be forced to find alternative child care.
The centre’s operator, the commonwealth’s Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, has for years been at loggerheads with its leaseholder, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, on how to keep the institution’s doors open beyond Monday.
But the centre’s staff and the community groups that operate on its premises only learned of the talks on Monday, at the same time they were told the centre would close.
I just want to bring your attention to this: my colleague Tory Shepherd has this important story on how only 2.6GL of the 450GL needed to save wetlands and species has actually been delivered, and very little of the $1.775bn in the fund has been spent.
Hello everyone - this is Cait, I will be driving this blog for the rest of the day. As always, a big thank you to Amy for taking it through the morning.
Let’s get into it!
First up, I give you this humorous observation from JB:
The Greens will be meeting again in a couple of hours to discuss its position on the government’s climate legislation. Murph will be all over that, and we will keep you updated with what we know, when we know it.
In the meantime, Cait Kelly is going to guide the blog through the early evening. I will be back early tomorrow morning for the second last day of the first sitting – when Labor will pass climate through the house.
Just a reminder that the bill won’t be going to debate in the Senate for at least another month, as it is in committee. At this point, it does not look like Liberal senator Andrew Bragg will cross the floor, but there is a long way to go on all of this.
But first, we have the next couple of hours to get through. A very big thank you to Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Paul Karp, Josh Butler and Tory Shepherd for getting me through the day (as usual), as well as to the entire Guardian brains trust. And of course, to you. You are the highlight of my day, and I truly appreciate all of your comments and interest.
See you tomorrow – and take care of you.
Ejector seat ‘issues’ hit RAAF F-35A fighters
Just weeks before pilots and their aircraft from 17 nations descend on the Northern Territory, “issues” have struck the Royal Australian Air Force’s new fighter jets.
The RAAF will keep the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters in the air for now, after others in the United States and Israel were grounded due to a problem with the pilot ejector seats. There have been ongoing issues with the aircraft.
A defence spokesperson said the RAAF was aware of the issues around the ejection seat, and that the F-35A Joint Program Office (JPO) was investigating.
Air Force has undertaken an independent risk assessment based on information provided by the F-35A JPO and will continue flying the F-35A
Air Force will continue to engage with the US Air Force and JPO and review its risk assessment if new information is received.
Exercise Pitch Black 2022, which has been delayed because of the pandemic, will see military exercises involving Australia and other countries including the US, Canada, France, and Germany. The F-35As will be among several aircraft on display.
Back to Stephen Jones, the assistant treasurer – he is asked on the ABC what would happen if inflation is still an issue in another year when the stage three tax cuts are due to come online and says:
We will deal with 12 months in 12 months’ [time], but I tell you [it is one thing] to promise one thing and three months later to do the exact opposite. The prime minister is not in the game of doing that.
Stuart Robert: territory rights bill ‘isn’t about voluntary assisted dying’
The shadow assistant treasurer, Stuart Robert, has spoken in favour of territory governments having the right to legislate - a strong hint he will support the territory rights (voluntary assisted dying) bill.
Asked his position on the bill at a doorstop in Canberra, Robert said:
You’ll see when I vote ... Patience is a virtue.
Asked if Territorians deserve the same rights to legislate VAD, he said:
I think the issue isn’t about voluntary assisted dying, it’s about whether an elected government should have a mandate to make decisions, based on what they took to the people in their respective state or territory - that is the wider issue at play here.
Although he said his answer “implies nothing” about how he’ll vote on the bill, Robert said people “have an expectation that what they voted for will be carried out” and his view is that mandates “should be respected”.
Stage three tax cuts to stay
But the stage three tax cuts?
Certainty and politics is everything and doing what you said you’re gonna do is everything in politics. We promised before the last election we would leave the legislative tax cuts alone. Therefore they will flow. We will ... look at all areas of policy to see what we can do to bring inflation back down.
I know those tax cuts don’t come in until thereafter, so we have got a lot bigger problems if we haven’t started to turn the inflation rate around by the end of next year and the beginning of the year after.
Labor: no extension to the fuel tax excise
Stephen Jones is sticking to the “no” on the question of extending the fuel excise pause:
The easiest thing for us to do is to say yes, we will extend them, that would be really easily and politically popular forever, and [then] the impact of that would start to hit and the people would be saying how come you didn’t tell us that you’ve added another $3bn to the trillion-dollars’ worth of government debt, and we are now paying interest on that and therefore can’t spend money on Medicare, schools, education, all these other things we care about?
No responsible government can just keep writing $3bn cheques every time a problem [is] confronted and not tell people what the cost of that [is].
In Question Time today, we seem to see the Coalition having a bet each way, saying we shouldn’t be spending more money – and then you’ve got the leader of the opposition say we should be spending money. So I’m not sure whether the shadow treasurer and the shadow assistant treasurer or the leader of the opposition, a spokesperson for economic policy ... they can slug it out, because they are saying the complete opposite [out there] at the moment.
Labor: Coalition’s contribution to energy is ‘policy uncertainty’
Assistant treasurer Stephen Jones enjoyed those comments, telling the ABC:
We have got a crisis in the power system today, we cannot wait up to 20 years navel-gazing on a form of energy which, on what we know today, is more expensive, less stable, more dangerous than the existing forms of energy that are available.
If you are a country that didn’t have any coal, gas, sun, didn’t have any geothermal [options], we would look at these nuclear options. We have an abundance of all the other traditional fossil fuels and [a] abundance of renewable energy as we are making the switch.
The Coalition’s contribution to energy policy today is policy uncertainty, except for the paper they will put about on the most expensive existing form of energy. Not a very responsible position.
Robert: Coalition’s nuclear energy interest is a ‘sensible review’
Stuart Robert was also asked about the Coalition’s sudden interest in nuclear energy:
We are seeing small modular reactors delivering power simpler, cheaper and very safely.
But is it affordable?
This is the point of doing a sensible review of coming up with the Australian people as Peter Dutton did today saying that we will look at it to see if it is indeed ticking all the boxes. I think we are the only non-top 20 OECD country that doesn’t use nuclear power as part of its power [network].
Are we nearing peak “hip pocket pain”, as far as interest rates go?
There’s some hope of that now the RBA has signalled that it won’t have to work as hard as it previously thought to contain inflation within its (arbitrary) 2-3% target rate.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be more hikes to the cash rate that now sits (awkwardly) at 1.85%, and so perhaps the next move will be to a rounder 2.25%.
As we noted (with some caveats) after the June quarter CPI numbers came in that some economists were already eyeing “peak inflation”.
KPMG’s chief economist, Brendan Rynne, who was among those seeing the worst starting to be over, said he remained “optimistic” that the rate of quarterly growth in inflation at least may have peaked.
We believe domestic inflation will peak at around the low 7 % by the end of this year, before falling back to the high 3%s by the middle of next year and then back within the 2-3% target band by the end of 2023.
That’s slightly more optimistic than the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, who last week predicted CPI would peak at 7.75% – and governor Lowe, who tapped the same 7.75% peak number in today’s statement.
(Lowe also said CPI would remain “a little above 4%” in 2023 and “around 3%” in 2024, stealing some of his thunder from Friday’s quarterly statement on monetary policy. Spare a thought for economic scribes and what they’ll need to fill their Saturday column inches with.)
Anyway, if the inflation numbers “print” on the low side, the RBA needs to worry less about “inflationary expectations” running away, and hence the pullback in rate rise expectations today.
As mentioned earlier, we saw a hint of that in the ANZ’s weekly survey:
More of this to come, we hope.
Stuart Robert: government can act now on cost of living increases
Stuart Robert is also arguing the government needs to act now on cost of living relief.
He tells the ABC:
They should and it [the October budget] doesn’t preclude acting in the meantime.
There are two times when you can add reactions or decisions of government to the books, either budget or the midyear fiscal outlook which is generally in December. Therefore, the government can act now to assist Australians with cost of living increases and bring those to account.
The budget in October does not preclude action now.
Dutton statement on internal Coalition nuclear energy review
Just before question time, Murph tweeted about about Peter Dutton’s “internal” nuclear review. Here it is in full:
Today, I initiated a formal internal process to examine the potential for advanced and next-generation nuclear technologies to contribute to Australia’s energy security and reduce power prices.
This review will be led by Ted O’Brien MP, shadow minister for climate change and energy, who will report to the Coalition policy committee, chaired by senator the Hon Marise Payne, and the Coalition party room.
It is high time that Australia had an honest and informed debate on the benefits and costs of nuclear energy.
A few points:
1. Australia has had a number of detailed reviews about nuclear dating back to the Switkowski review that Howard commissioned in the final term of his government.
2. Every review that I’ve seen about nuclear says the technology is not economic in the absence of a CO2 price.
3. Given the Liberals do not support carbon pricing, and can’t even bring themselves to support a more ambitious 2030 target despite the rout in their progressive heartland in May – what is the actual agenda here?
Angus Taylor expects Labor to have all the answers for the economy nine weeks after winning government and two months before it hands down its budget.
Taylor says Jim Chalmers is being a commentator, not a treasurer, because so far all he has offered is an economic statement.
As Mike Bowers captured, some seem to be adapting to the new arrangements better than others.
Helen Haines (the independent MP from Indi who is working from isolation after testing positive to Covid) says she will be moving amendments to Labor’s climate bill to include regional voices. From her statement:
The amendments would require the Climate Change Authority to make sure that any measures to respond to climate change should boost economic, employment and social benefits, including for rural and regional Australia.
Renewable energy and the new industries it will unlock could become the next gold rush or the next wool boom for regional Australia – but only if we plan it right.
We want to see long-term, well-paid jobs being created in our local towns, new training opportunities in local Tafes, profits staying local instead of flowing overseas. My amendment will help secure these economic benefits that otherwise risk slipping through our fingers.
The list of eligible qualifications for appointments to the Climate Change Authority would be expanded under Haines’ amendments to include regional development experience.
“These are the people who will be advising on Australia’s targets and tracking our progress to achieving those,” Haines said.
“We need regional voices at that table. And we need people who understand how to make renewable energy actually deliver for regional communities.”
I regret to inform you that Hot Girl Summer has once again been cancelled and replaced with Wet Girl Summer:
Speaker rulings on earlier complaints
Milton Dick has been asked to rule whether Labor can use the word “rort” in its answers. Tony Burke points out that it was Peter Costello who started that.
Dick is handing down his ruling on David Littleproud’s complaint that Labor is not reading out a full tweet on foot-and-mouth disease it has referred to earlier in the week. Dick says it is not his role to adjudicate what is true.
Question time ends
But do not fret! There are two more to go!
How lucky are we!
Update on Ukrainian refugee visas
Andrew Giles takes a dixer from Sally Sitou on what Australia is doing to help refugees from Ukraine.
More than 8,600 visas have been provided so far, Giles says.
He also says there were a few surprises in how the former government set up the visa process – there was a deadline to apply, which was not communicated to the Ukrainian community.
Giles says he has extended the offer of the temporary humanitarian visas, as well as extending it to family members of Ukrainians who did not hold Ukrainian citizenship.
Labor: over 6,500 more childcare staff needed to pursue universal childcare
Back in the chamber and the LNP’s Angie Bell wants to know how many more early childcare staff will be needed to meet Labor’s universal childcare policy.
Anne Aly says Labor knows there is more to be done, and that she met with members of the early childcare sector and that one of the main issues raised was the workforce; not just attracting staff, but retaining staff.
But how many staff? Aly says the figures published earlier this week of about 6,500 vacancies were correct, but that Labor expects those numbers to increase.
Bell chooses then to try and interject with a point of order on relevance, just as Aly was talking about the numbers.
Milton Dick sits Bell down and Aly says there is a “rigorous” consultation process which is ongoing ahead of the skills summit to work out those numbers.
“We have not underestimated the challenge ahead of us,” Aly says.
Quite a bit to pick over in RBA governor Philip Lowe’s statement accompanying the fourth rate rise in as many meetings.
It’s clear, though, that investors are interpreting the words to imply the pace and size of future rate increases may be less in the future than expected prior to today’s commentary. Stocks have pared their losses on the ASX, and the dollar has dropped against other currencies, including the US.
However, the fact interest rates might not rise so fast has a sting in the tale. The RBA has cut its GDP growth forecast to 3.25% in 2022, compared to the 4.25% expansion pace it predicted in its most recent quarterly statement of monetary policy. (The RBA will update this statement on Friday.)
Likewise, growth in 2023 and 2024 will be a modest 1.75%. That compares with the May forecast by the RBA of 2% in 2023, and 2% in the year to June 2024.
Still, there’s quite a bit of good going in the economy.
The labour market remains tighter than it has been for many years. The unemployment rate declined further in June to 3.5%, the lowest rate in almost 50 years.
Job vacancies and job ads are both at very high levels and a further decline in unemployment is expected over the months ahead.
Beyond that, some increase in unemployment is expected as economic growth slows. The bank’s central forecast is for the unemployment rate to be around 4% at the end of 2024.
Opposition responds to rate rise
The shadow treasurer Angus Taylor has responded to the rate rise.
Here is the statement in full. (Yes, he goes there):
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has today raised interest rates for the fourth consecutive month in a row.
Australians with a $610,000 mortgage are now paying over $500 more per month on their repayments since May.
The government still does not have a plan to deal with this.
Nothing outlined in the treasurer’s economic statement last week will help Australians with these rising cost of living pressures. The treasurer continues to sound more like a commentator than a treasurer. Australians need a real plan, not just hollow words.
All the government has done so far is walk away from promises, abandoning its commitment to cut power bills by $275 and real wage increases.
Australians are already paying the price for Labor’s lack of a plan.
If the treasurer fails to act, it will mean more pressure on inflation, more pressure on interest rates and higher cost of living for Australian families and small businesses.
In the absence of a plan from the Albanese government to deal with rising inflation and interest rates, Australians will get a plan from the Reserve Bank.
That plan will be to raise interest rates even further and Australians with a mortgage will pay the price.
Australian Law Reform Commission recommends federal judicial commission to handle complaints against judges in federal courts
The ALRC report into judicial impartiality and the law on bias was tabled in parliament today.
It makes 14 recommendations, including establishing the commission, that the government should develop a more transparent process for appointing federal judicial officers on merit, and that the attorney general should report annually on the diversity of the federal judiciary.
The report was sparked by the case known as Charisteas v Charisteas, which involved allegations of an improper relationship between a barrister and a judge presiding over a family law case.
Last October, the high court found that the failure of the judge in the case to disclose the private communication he had with the barrister was “particularly troubling”.
The former attorney general, Michaelia Cash, had already reportedly been seeking to implement an independent federal judicial commission while in government. Current attorney general Mark Dreyfus also said he supported such a commission while in opposition.
Currently, complaints regarding the conduct of judges either have to be raised as part of the court process, such as by making an application for the judge to recuse themselves or by lodging an appeal, or to the court itself. These mechanisms were perceived as lacking transparency, the report found.
According to the report, the commission could:
Provide a transparent and independent mechanism to consider litigants’ and lawyers’ concerns about judicial behaviour or impairment, including those that might give rise to an apprehension of bias.
This would provide an important institutional mechanism to protect both the public and the integrity of the courts. It would also provide a more transparent process than currently exists for addressing concerns that a judge’s conduct has fallen below the acceptable standard, even when the conduct does not amount to actual or apprehended bias under the law.
The fact that a judicial commission would be independent from the courts would, to an extent, address perceived conflicts of interest in the self-disqualification procedure, under which the judge or court the subject of a bias allegation is required to consider and respond to the allegation.
The ALRC said the reform would be significant, and should be accompanied by broad consultation. It did not propose any particular model of commission.
Rishworth: No evidence the cashless debit card made a difference when it came to safety and harm
Michael Sukkar to Anthony Albanese:
Will you guarantee there will be no increase in the number of drunk and violent acts suffered against women and children when you cancel the [cashless debit] card as you promised?
Amanda Rishworth (as the minister for social services) gets this one:
... I remind the House that the government was not able to demonstrate that the CDC (cashless debit card) program was meeting its intended objective. That is from the ANAO report. I continued reading the report and found some other interesting information in table 1.2.
In 2020, the former government reduced, in the objectives of the Act, to actually reference violence and harm in the reduction of trial sites ... it removed that from the objectives. So in the new objectives there was no reference to trying to determine whether violence or harm was reducing.
Sukkar has a point of order, but the speaker rules Rishworth is in order. She continues:
In 2015, the former government was interested in whether the cashless debit card reduced harm in the trial areas, but by 2020 they were no longer interested. Why, why you might wonder. That is because they could not provide any evidence to suggest there was a reduction of harm and violence in community.
We have heard a lot from those on the other side about the University of Adelaide report ... I want to go to the part of the report that talked about safety, crime and family violence.
Where it said that 60% of CDC participants reported that they did not feel safer since the introduction of the CDC card and 28% – that’s more than one in four – reported their safety had reduced since the introduction of the CDC card.
If we go to the evidence and ignore the ideological rhetoric from those over the back, we see that this program did not make a difference when it came to safety and harm. Indeed, what it did for participants was make discrimination normalised in communities [and] stigma normalised in communities, and of course it had practical problems that meant that people couldn’t buy a secondhand bfridge because they did not have enough cash. It meant families could not take their children to the football because they did not have enough cash.
This has had real problems in communities and we are acting to fix it.
Bowen: 43% climate target is modelled result of range of policies we have committed to
The independent MP Allegra Spender to Chris Bowen (this is Spender’s first question):
Many people in my community are concerned about climate change. Climate scientists are telling us we need [a] 2030 emission target reduction of at least 50% to prevent catastrophic climate change, and the Business Council of Australia has said Australian businesses can thrive under a 46 to 50% reduction by 2030. So, my question is: what are the business reasons for the government’s 2030 target of 43%?
I thank the honourable member for her question and her engagement and time so far in this parliament. I make a number of comments about the target.
The prime minister has made clear repeatedly we went to the election with that target and sought a mandate and received a mandate for that target. It is important to the prime minister and this side of the House to maintain the commitments that we made during the election.
Professor Mark Howden of the AMU Centre for Climate and Energy and Disaster Recovery and a vice-chair of the IPCC has said a 43% reductions target is entirely consistent with the obligations set out at the Glasgow conference last year and consistent with Australia’s obligations under the Glasgow conference.
Another point I would make ... is that targets are very important. But even more important than targets are the policies underpinning it. When we released the 43% reduction target, it was the modelled result of the range of policies we committed to at the time.
They are easier said than met. It is important to accompany targets with the policy.
Whether it is safeguards reforms, Rewiring the Nation policies, reforming [the] electric vehicle tax cut and electric vehicle strategies which will give the Australians the [chance] to buy electric vehicles and enjoy the weekend at the same time, community batteries, solar banks policy ... the range of policies is important and we are getting on and implementing them all.
The other thing important to get the investment in renewable energy is certainty and policy frameworks being legislated.
I thank the member for Wentworth for her public announcement that she will be supporting our legislation in the House. It sends the message that not only does Australia now have a government that gets it, we have a parliament that gets it too.
It will provide policy certainty and framework for investors around the world who see Australia as an opportunity ... because we want Australia to be a renewable energy powerhouse, we want Australia to take advantage of those economic opportunities because we see the world’s climate emergency, and there is one, as Australia’s jobs opportunity.
Albanese: jobs and skills summit will address skills shortage impact on business
Back to question time, Paul Fletcher has a question for Anthony Albanese:
Will the government support the Coalition’s policy to help veterans and pensioners who may choose to work more hours to help fill vacancies in sectors like aged care, agriculture, hospitality and home care?
One of the things that the jobs and skills subsidy is going to address is bringing unions, employers, and civil society together to discuss how we address the acute skills shortages impacting on business.
One way that we can do it ... I refer the shadow minister to my ageing vision statement given at the beginning of 2020 in Brisbane, where I referred to exactly the sort of idea of how we work through, constructively, ways to encourage older Australians to participate more in the workforce.
That is something that I proposed way back in 2020. It is something that is going to be considered along with a whole range of other measures about how we can deal with the acute skills shortages which are there in our economy, which are holding people [and] businesses back.
One of the things that occurred, because of ... the pandemic, was that Australia, we told all people on temporary visas holders to go.
That is had a real impact now, because what [has] occurred now in critical areas, including the hospitality sector, is that you have around the country restaurants that cannot open seven days a week, cannot even open five days a week, because they simply cannot get the staff that were available.
It is having an impact in agriculture, it is having an impact in construction and [the] infrastructure sector as well. Is also ... leading into inflation, because if you have a failure to be able to access the labour market that can increase your costs.
This government is determined to have compared the plans. We are determined to consult with business and unions on these ideas, and I am pleased and I recommend ... our book of vision statement ... which I recommend to the shadow minister, there are lots of ideas there.
We put a whole range of those ideas, we had fully costed policies during the election campaign. [We will be] feeding those ideas into the jobs and skills summit.
I am not sure whether the opposition ... some have called for the jobs and skills summits and to go ahead, others have sought an invite. I’m not sure what their position is.
We will be consulting with the business community and with civil society about how we address these great challenges. I am pleased that my ministerial colleague, minister O’Connor, he is working hard in the leadup to the summit, on a series of local events as well that will take those ideas.
Greens: corporate super profit taxes are needed instead of interest rate rises
The Greens treasury spokesperson, Nick McKim, has responded to the rate rise:
The RBA is smashing workers, renters and recent homebuyers to try to bring down inflation that is being driven by supply shocks and corporate profiteering.
We are hearing plenty from the government and the RBA about supply pressures. What we aren’t hearing from the government or the RBA is about the role of corporate profiteering.
Profit’s share of national income was already at a record high and workers’ share of national income was already at a record low. Now big companies are using the cover of inflation to gouge prices and further drive up inflation.
This is why raising interest rates is the wrong medicine.
To tackle the cost of living crisis, we need government action to make big corporations pay their fair share of tax.
We need corporate super profits taxes to help rein in corporate profiteering and to help fund cost of living relief, such as by putting dental and mental into Medicare, building 1 million new affordable homes, and providing free childcare.
Here is how Mike Bowers has seen question time so far (a story in two parts)
RBA governor: Board expects to take further steps to normalise conditions but is not on ‘pre-set path’
The 50-basis point increase in the RBA cash rate today was bang in line with market expectations.
Much of the interest, though, will zero-in on what Philip Lowe, the RBA governor, had to say in the accompanying statement. In particular, what might come next.
Here’s what he said:
Today’s increase in interest rates is a further step in the normalisation of monetary conditions in Australia.
The increase in interest rates over recent months has been required to bring inflation back to [the 2-3%] target and to create a more sustainable balance of demand and supply in the Australian economy
The Board expects to take further steps in the process of normalising monetary conditions over the months ahead, but it is not on a pre-set path.
The italics are an addition on the July statement.
Treasurer responds to rate rise
Jim Chalmers has responded to the rate rise during question time.
It is another difficult day for Australian homeowners with a mortgage. The independent Reserve Bank has just announced its decision to increase interest rates by another 0.5%, bringing the cash rate to 1.85%.
Australians knew that this was coming, but it won’t make it any easier for them to handle.
This cycle of interest rate rises began before the election, in response to inflationary pressures that began accelerating at the beginning of this year. Average homeowners with $330,000 outstanding balance will have to find extra money on top of $220 in extra repayment since May.
For Australians with a $500,000 mortgage [it’s] an extra $140 per month. In addition to the extra $335 they have had to find since early May.
As I said, Mr Speaker, this decision does not come as a surprise. It is not a shock to anybody but it will still sting. Families will now have to make more hard decisions about how to balance the household budget in the face of other pressures like higher grocery prices and power prices and the costs of other essentials.
Now, obviously, higher interest rates primarily affect mortgage holders, but there is a broader economic impact as well because of there is an impact on economic growth, which I talked about in a ministerial statement last week. There is also an impact on the budget. It means that the trillion dollars of debt the previous government left us gets even more expensive for us to service.
(The answer goes on, but it is well-worn political territory.)
Albanese: all workplaces should be safe
Over in question time, Melissa McIntosh has asked Anthony Albanese about the CFMEU:
Is a prime minister aware of CFMEU picketers verbally abusing and bobbing a female employee at an Adelaide building site? To the extent that she was unable to leave the site for fear of her personal safety? This CFMEU has given over $10m to the Labor Party since the last watchdog was abolished so why is this prime minister prioritising the interests of the CFMEU over the safety of women?
I make this very clear point. All workplaces should be safe workplaces. I am not aware of the specific example that the member raises.
But it sounds on the face of it as being completely unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. Unacceptable behaviour in all workplaces, including Parliament House, to be acted upon by appropriate authority
Those opposite know that in fact the ABCC does not have the power ... or the jurisdiction to act on crimes. That is not the role of the ABCC. Those opposite know that is the case but they continue to pretend that there is some connection between those two elements. There is not. All workplaces should be safe.
That as principal number one. No they are not! And this workplace hasn’t always been safe either. All workplaces - (Interjections) ...
But I would not have thought this was a controversial statement, Mr Speaker ... I was asked a serious question and giving a serious answer which is all workplaces should be safe.
Whether they [are] white, blue-collar [jobs] or whether they be construction ... workers or an accountancy firm or a legal firm, all workplaces should be safe workplaces, and we should work towards that. That is why we will implement all 50 recommendations of the Jenkins report when it comes ... To making workplaces safe. I look forward to the opposition voting for that legislation when it comes before the parliament.
So that is an increase of 0.50% (as expected),
That is the highest rate since about 2016 from my very quick Google (rates were going down then) but Peter Hannam will update you.
It means for a loan at $1m (very common in the capital cities and popular regions), the combined interest rate rises over the last four months means you are paying close to an extra $1,000 a month in loan repayments.
RBA raises cash rate to 1.85%
In some financial news to interrupt Question Time (and prompt a few fresh questions), the Reserve Bank has just announced it will lift the cash rate from 1.35% before today’s board meeting to 1.85%.
That makes it four months and four increases.
More to come shortly, but the outcome matches overwhelming market expectations that the RBA would raise the rate by 50 basis points.
In May, the central bank began its first cycle of rate rises in about 11 years, as you may recall during the official election campaign from a record low 0.1%.
Now we’ve had four hikes in a row and an increase in the cash rate at a pace we haven’t seen since 1994 – or in the trailing end of the Hawke-Keating years.
More to come shortly.
OK, now we are just going to move away from question time for just a moment, while we get ready for the RBA decision to be made public.
Labor: immunity to liability for aged care providers only for those who engage in restrictive practices as a ‘last resort’
Zoe Daniel to Anika Wells:
Why does the government’s new aged care legislation grant legal immunity from liability for engaging in restrictive practices? Will the minister reconsider this and offer an indemnity, rather than immunity, to aged care providers, as proposed by the Australian Lawyers Alliance and other experts?
There are many fine aged care facilities, including several within Goldstein, however per the royal commission, there are far too many instances of mistreatment of residents.
I congratulate the member for Goldstein on her election victory and welcome her to this place. She’s very welcome indeed. And congratulate her on her first speech, which we heard earlier.
I also acknowledge the way that you’ve asked this question that it’s in good faith, and I welcome the opportunity to assuage some of the concerns.
I know that this issue has been ventilated last night in the Senate, and that some of the stakeholder groups within aged care are worried about it. So let’s use this opportunity to be clear.
The immunity will only apply where restrictive practices are used as a last resort, only to the extent that they are necessary for the shortest time possible and in the least restrictive form. And crucially I think, here, to prevent harm to the care recipient. So it is a temporary measure.
We take that onboard. And it is just to clarify a gap in the legislation between the commonwealth legislation and some of the state and territory legislative requirements. With respect of use of restrictive practices, you asked about revisiting it, specifically until we bring in the new Aged Care Act, which the royal commission has asked us to do by 1 July next year.
This is a sunset clause that gives us the opportunity to consult fully with our advocacy groups to make sure the new Aged Care Act can be as good as it possibly can be. This reform will last for decades.
We want to do it once and do it well. Stakeholder groups support this temporary measure – the Council for the Ageing have welcomed the wording we’ve used, and the Older Persons Advocacy Network support the specific amendment because, as without it, harm to older Australians and harm to aged care workers could occur.
So that’s why we’ve done it for the next 12 months. And with my time remaining, Mr Speaker, may I update the member for Goldstein that, of the 20 residential aged care facilities in her electorate, four currently have outbreaks – but above the national average, you have 79.3% with their fourth dose, and more than 99% of aged care workers working in facilities in Goldstein have their fourth dose.
So, congratulations and thanks for your advocacy on that.
Coalition complains about dixers
Paul Fletcher is arguing about Labor’s dixers and whether or not ministers can talk about the previous government’s record (or its interpretation of them, to be fair) in their answers.
The minister was asked about what the Albanese Labor government is doing to address the power prices and instead we have heard this unstructured spray against the record of this side of the house.
Milton Dick rules the question, and answer, is in order.
Now, this is something Labor used to complain about when the Morrison government introduced “alternate approaches” in its dixers, which was just an excuse to slam Labor policies for three minutes. And as we are seeing, the danger of that practice is that it could then be used against you if you find yourself on the other side of the chamber.
Terri Butler named chair of sustainability organisation Circular Australia
The former Labor MP for Griffith, Terri Butler, has announced her new role – Butler has been named the chair of Circular Australia:
The new peak organisation is working with partners and stakeholders across industry, government and research to unlock the $2tn economic opportunity to design out carbon and waste by keeping materials in the economy longer.
As Australia works towards a net zero carbon target, the way we make, take, make and dispose of things is changing – designing things to last, to be repaired and recycled is the future.
The circular economy is a huge opportunity to create new resilient jobs that are fit for the future, make more sustainable products and services in Australia – all while cutting carbon and waste.
Federal court decision on Palmer v McGowan is handed down
The federal court has given judgment in Clive Palmer’s defamation case against Mark McGowan and the WA premier’s cross claim.
The summary is that McGowan came out on top, winning $20,000 damages from Palmer, while Palmer was awarded just $5,000.
The dispute relates to an arbitration award to Palmer’s Mineralogy company that McGowan feared could cost the state up to $30bn, resulting in extraordinary legislation extinguishing the claim.
A summary provided by Justice Michael Lee found that in early August 2020, McGowan made statements about Palmer containing imputations that Palmer:
- Is a threat to people of WA and is dangerous to them
- Is a threat to Australia
- Promotes a drug that all evidence establishes is dangerous
- Selfishly uses money he makes in WA to harm West Australians
- Is prepared to bankrupt the state
- Is so dangerous a person that legislation is required to prevent his damages claim
Justice Lee found that Palmer defamed McGowan with statements containing the imputations including that he:
- Lied to people when he closed WA’s borders
- Lied about the justification for travel bans
- Corruptly sought to confer immunity on himself through the extraordinary legislation
Justice Lee said all these imputations were defamatory. He rejected their defences of qualified privilege and Palmer’s defences of substantial and contextual truth.
Justice Lee said that Palmer’s evidence about his fear for his personal safety was “so unbelievable, it had the effect of undermining” his credibility. McGowan was unresponsive at times, but otherwise candid.
Justice Lee said that both were political figures of who the public would have entrenched opinions already, and had taken advantage of opportunities to respond in public. He said he had not been persuaded that Palmer suffered any “real or genuine hurt to feelings”. Because the harm to Palmer was minor, so should the damages be.
The court will hear further submissions on costs, but the judge noted these are likely to be far, far more than the damages awarded. The hearing concluded with a homily that the litigation had not been worth it.
Opposition continues pushing $275 power cut ‘mistake’
Sussan Ley to Anthony Albanese:
My question is to the prime Minister. Prime minister, in April when you were caught not knowing the cash rate you said “I made a mistake, I am human. When I make a mistake, I will fess up to it and I will set about correcting that mistake. I won’t blame someone else. I will accept responsibility, that is what leaders do”. Prime minister, given you’ve dumped your promise to cut power bills by $275, will you fess up and correct your mistake?
I thank the deputy leader of the opposition for her question. I don’t seek to have a point of order on irony to rule it out, given the record of the deputy leader of the opposition, who made a bit of a mistake that led to her resignation from the frontbench of the Liberal party.
But now she is back. Now she’s back.
Reflection on a member. That was quite inappropriate. The prime minister should answer the specific question, does he stand by his promise on $275 reduction or not?
Albanese is asked to return to the question.
The fact is that those opposite knew the power prices were going up but they kept Australians in the dark. That is what they did. They knew about the price increase in March. They hid the increase in the default retail price for electricity which, for a small business in New South Wales increases by up to 19.7% ... just in New South Wales alone.
What our policy is aimed at, and we stand by completely the modelling that we put out by Reputex which showed that when you invest in renewables ... renewables are cheaper, if you have cheaper energy input ... you get cheaper energy prices. What Reputex modelled was the impact of Labor’s plan, with Rewiring the Nation, our plan on other elements of the grid, including using the safeguards mechanism that was established by the Abbott government ...
Ley tries to make a statement as a point of order, but she is sat down.
It is a simple principle here, and everyone understands, and no amount of bluster from those opposite will replace their failure over a decade of inaction. The truth is that if you have a plan for more renewables in the system because they are cheaper, you will have cheaper energy prices.
That’s what Reputex modelled but those opposite couldn’t grasp that. That is why they produced 22 different policies – 22 shots at lowering prices and didn’t nail any of them.
The worst of all the ministers was the member for Hume, who failed completely and then during the election campaign, went to the governor general to change the rules in order to hide the fact the prices would be going up on July 1.
Dutton continues ‘$275 a year power price reduction’ attack strategy
Peter Dutton to Anthony Albanese:
Prime minister, your website currently states “A Labor government will cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year” is this still your policy?
I could just refer to my answer from yesterday, but ... (Interjections) ... but that wouldn’t be as much fun as going through what our policy is.
Our policy is very clear. Our powering Australia plan is indeed up on the website and something that might be unfamiliar to those opposite is the concept of putting out an energy policy that you are going to actually implement.
Those opposite had 22 energy policies and didn’t implement any of them. The other thing that might be confusing for those opposite is the concept of putting out a policy that’s fully costed and that has detailed economic analysis. In this case, by Reputex, Australia’s leading energy economist.
What Australia’s leading energy economist said is that if you embrace the changes that we are advancing, including fixing transmission through our rewiring the nation plan, making sure that we bring the electricity grid into the 21st century. If you have a policy that upgrades ...
Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is on relevance and I refer you to the many statements of former speaker Smith in relation to questions. The construction of questions, the question is very clear. On the prime minister’s web site it states “A Labor government will cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year... “
There is no point of order.
Those opposite are confused by the idea that you could put out a comprehensive policy plan to deal with energy in this country and that you would have proper modelling ... that was put out last December, wasn’t questioned in January, not in February, not in March, not in April, not in May.
But, what was not known at that time ... (Interjections) ... What was not known was that those opposite had actually sat on and changed the rules to hide from the Australian people the increase in energy costs that occurred on 1 July.
That occurred on 1 July. They went ... in a series of moves to deliberately stop the Australian people knowing before 21 May that they had baked in an increase. That is their responsibility.
Question time begins
There is going to be the RBA rates decision in the middle of this. So we will bring you both – although it may mean I have to catch up on some questions.
Our thoughts today are with the loved ones of all of his victims. May they find some small solace in the knowledge that he cannot cause more grief through his acts of terror and let terrorists see that Afghanistan will never, ever be a safe haven for their hatred, their terrorism and their attacks on our humanity.
Peter Dutton also speaks on indulgence:
The pain of Australian families who lost loved ones on 9/11 or in service in Afghanistan will never dull, but his death may provide some solace in the knowledge that the planners and perpetrators of terrorism will always be relentlessly pursued and hunted. For them, neither place nor time will provide a sanctuary from the forces of justice.
Al-Zawahrri’s death says we should always prepare for and confront threats from a position of strength, not weakness, terrorism, radical ideology, crime or authoritarianism.
Webster: small business are bearing the brunt of gas prices
Dr Anne Webster then gives this explanation:
I might take you to a specific email that I just received from a small business down in Stawell a couple of months ago when gas prices started to hike. One of the brickworks down in Stawell had to close. [An] 80-year-old business who could not compete with the gas prices.
The other bricks business across the road has just sent me his two invoices that have changed from $98,000 a month – a pretty hefty gas bill – to now, $500,000 for the month of June. These are the questions that need to be asked.
You cannot take climate change as a blue sky prospect without actually addressing the real changes that are happening, for people who are bearing the brunt of decision that is are being made by this government. And we will continue to hold them to account and we’ll be very interested to see all the legislation that comes through from Labor.
The gas prices are not about climate change policy – Australia’s east coast has plenty of gas – but the gas has been onsold to off-shore companies, which has caused an issue domestically.
Coalition: who is going to pay for climate legislation?
Q: Why is the opposition so against climate legislation?
Dr Anne Webster:
Our responsibility in opposition is to hold the Labor government to account. That’s our first and primary responsibility. And we’re dedicated to that.
And you will see that the opposition, the Liberal and Nationals in government, will continue to hold this Anthony Albanese government to account for every decision they make, every piece of legislation that they put up. We’re not in a position right now where we are in a hurry to develop policy.
There are obviously policies that we put to the people at the previous election which were successful. We had a technology roadmap. We still believe in that technology roadmap.
The big question that as I said a minute ago is: who is going to pay for this? And how is it going to happen? And what kind of costs will every family turning on their lights pay? And will small businesses be able to continue to operate? They’re the questions that are burning on our mind for the people in our electorates.
Nationals: ‘There is no benefit in legislating’ climate targets
The Nationals MP Dr Anne Webster is the Coalition spokesperson on the Capital Hill panel on the ABC this afternoon, and she was asked about the Coalition’s opposition to the climate bill:
Our position is that this is Labor’s bill. Labor have to explain how it’s going to happen. Who’s going to pay for it? And that’s their responsibility.
The prime minister has said that he’s already been over and written his letter to the UN, putting us in the position where we must achieve 43% by 2030.
This is their gig. Under our gig, we were working towards climate targets without putting it into legislation. From our perspective, there is no benefit in legislating, which is up-front and transparent.
Former Liberal chief of staff to be referred to Victorian integrity agencies and police for investigation over possible breach of donation laws
The Andrews government will refer a donation proposal made by Mitch Catlin, the opposition leader Matthew Guy’s chief of staff, to the state’s integrity agencies and state and federal police.
Guy’s chief of staff has resigned following a report in The Age that he asked a Liberal party donor to make more than $100,000 in payments to his marketing business.
The state government will also refer the matter to the Victorian Electoral Commission to investigate whether there was a breach of electoral donation laws, as the proposal was around 30 times the legal donation threshold.
Danny Pearson, the Victorian government services minister:
Victorians are entitled to answers about this secret deal and the Liberal party should be demanding their leader provides them.
Guy on Tuesday confirmed Catlin had resigned following the report.
Guy denied knowing about the proposal at the time and rebuffed claims it was an attempt to circumvent that state’s strict donation laws, which require donations above $1,050 to be disclosed and limited to $4,210 over four years.
National Covid update
Here are the latest coronavirus case numbers from around Australia on Tuesday, as the country records at least 95 deaths from Covid-19:
- Deaths: 4
- Cases: 754
- In hospital: 158 (with 3 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 47
- Cases: 10,702
- In hospital: 2,289 (with 76 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 0
- Cases: 242
- In hospital: 53 (with 1 person in ICU)
- Deaths: 22
- Cases: 6,249
- In hospital: 815 (with 28 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 3
- Cases: 2,848
- In hospital: 352 (with 9 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 1
- Cases: 944
- In hospital: 129 (with 9 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 13
- Cases: 10,079
- In hospital: 802 (with 44 people in ICU)
- Deaths: 5 (dating back to 23 July)
- Cases: 3,821
- In hospital: 404 (with 14 people in ICU)
What did Peter Dutton say to the party room to gee it up in the first time since it allowed cameras into the room?
The government is enjoying a honeymoon and living high on the hog at the moment. Many Australian families and small businesses are doing it really tough.
And it’s going to get tougher under this government.
And I think that Australians are starting to realise that not all of the problems, of course, particularly of the international making, are the problem of this government.
But we do know from the opening months of this government already that they don’t have a plan. And they don’t have a way forward for the Australian public.
And it’s clear to all of us that Labor doesn’t know which levers to pull on the economy, and they are going to make a bad situation worse.
And our job ... has always been to clean up Labor’s mess. Whether it’s in opposition or in government, because many of us come from small businesses. Many of us have worked hard to employ people, to build wealth.
Many of us have a background in the economy ... that really places us in a position that the Labor party can’t bring to the table. So I want to acknowledge all of you in the room for your support, in the way in which you’ve approached debate.
There is some contentious debates around, and we are not going to be a party that will shrink from those debates. We will stand up for our principles, for what we believe in. We’ll do it in a respectful way. And we will contribute to the national debate in a positive way.
Greens senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi is speaking to the ABC about the Greens’ position on the government’s climate bill.
... We’re still having those discussions and we have a party room meeting planned for tonight where we will make that decision. We had always said that we would negotiate in good faith with the government.
We know that 43%, obviously, is not enough to deal with the crisis that we are facing. And we have been able to get the Labor government to move and to rewrite parts of that bill.
It is almost question time.
Fuel excise should be on the list, but who knows given the opposition’s most recent strategies.
Further to Luke’s post, here is the whole statement:
Anika Wells was asked about the try and she waited until questions on aged care had been exhausted before she answered it.
Josh Butler has been updating us on what has been happening on it:
Sports minister Anika Wells has jokingly called for an NRL inquiry into the parliamentary State of Origin touch football game this morning, after prime minister Anthony Albanese was controversially awarded a try despite claims he was tagged before touching down.
Wells, the captain of the Queensland side, claimed to have gotten a touch on Albanese just as he was diving for the line. The try was awarded, with emergency services minister Murray Watt accusing his boss of claiming a “dodgy” try. Photo evidence from news cameras lent weight to Wells’ claims.
At her press conference this afternoon, Wells was cagey when asked whether she’d tagged Albanese.
“We can all agree the referee awarded the Prime Minister a try, I think we can all agree that referee is going to be the next Governor General based on that decision,” she joked.
National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo was on the field at the time, playing for the QLD side, and appeared to have a good view of the controversial try - as he lay sprawled on the ground behind the play. Guardian Australia asked if Wells had requested an official review from the NRL boss.
“It did come up. I am reflecting on my remit to clean up sport,” she said, calling for “an inquiry through the NRL commission as a top priority.”
We’ve approached the NRL for comment.
Anika Wells on Anthony Albanese’s ‘dodgy’ touch footy try
And on THAT try Anthony Albanese made in the politicians’ “friendly” game this morning, Anika Wells doesn’t repeat her claim. She tagged him, but doesn’t walk it back either.
Keeping in mind my new position as a new minister, on the job for nine weeks, and when I say I will take this opportunity before I walk back into the office of the prime minister, I am the minister for sport and I love it – if it gets taken away from me based on this answer, so be it.
We can all agree the referee awarded the prime minister a try. I think we can all agree that referee is going to be the next governor general based on that decision – and I think we can say ultimately, glory to Queensland.
Number of nurses needed was determined through modelling, says Anika Wells
Where does the 869 number come from? This is the number Anika Wells has been quoting in terms of 24/7 nurses.
It’s the Department of Health and Aged Care’s modelling, everyone knows what modelling is – you will see different numbers out there as everybody would have done their own modelling at different times.
But it’s pretty galling for the opposition to stand up every day and ask about this one figure when the reason we have these enormous workforce shortages with aged care is because they neglected [it] for nine years and they exacerbated it.
One of the first things ... the Abbott government in December 2013 [did] was cut the aged care workforce compact. They suspended standing orders in the house to cut the aged care compact which would have given them a pay rise.
One of the first things was cut the aged care package and set in line nine years of neglect and now with a straight face [they have] walked into the first three question times in the new parliament [asking] about this. I cannot believe they are doing that to be honest.
‘I will always be advocating for more’ aged care funding, says Anika Wells
Can Anika Wells guarantee that the government will fund this new model of aged care?
Wells says it is about transparency:
This speaks to us doing more by way of transparency but what we have committed to do is release advice and table it in parliament and we will do that regularly so everyone can see the advice that we are giving. As to funding, that is a question for the treasurer but I will always be advocating for more in aged care.
Coalition formalises opposition to Labor's climate bill
The Coalition party room has agreed to a recommendation by shadow climate change minister, Ted O’Brien, to oppose the government’s climate bill containing the 43% emissions reduction target.
O’Brien argued that opposing the bill didn’t mean the Coalition was against targets per se, but the bill itself is not necessary because Labor has already increased our obligations under the Paris agreement.
The Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, said the Coalition will develop a “detailed and specific policy” including targets before the next election, noting that Labor had only revealed its targets months before the 2022 poll.
In particular, they will study nuclear energy to develop a “proper base of information”. He wants the public to see that the opposition is listening to the debate in a “respectful and thoughtful way”.
A few MPs expressed concerns about opposing the bill and questioned the recommendation, but none went as far as to say they’d cross the floor. There was wide support for the position to oppose the bill.
On other matters:
- Coalition MPs and senators will have a conscience vote on the territory rights (voluntary assisted dying) bill.
- The Coalition will oppose the bill to scrap the cashless debit card.
- The Coalition won’t seek to amend the paid family and domestic violence leave legislation, but will attempt to refer it to a Senate committee.
- It will attempt to refer the electric vehicles tax changes to a Senate committee.
- It will support the bill to improve the merit-based appointment of commissioners to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Aged care reforms first bill to pass the parliament
Anika Wells is welcoming the passage of her first aged care bill through the house – which is also the first bill to pass the new parliament.
But Wells says there is a lot more work to do – including bringing new staff into the system to ensure the care minutes can be met.
I have got to get aged care through this winter and start the reform process so we don’t have winters like this again.
The RBA will hand down its rates decision in the middle of question time – 2.30pm.
Anthony Albanese given gift in recognition of aged care pay rise promise
Michele O’Neil and Sally McManus were joined by aged care workers while visiting Anthony Albanese as the first bill passed through the parliament, which will improve conditions within aged care.
Albanese was given a gift from Grace Gbala, an aged care worker, in recognition of his election promise of “absolutely” supporting a pay rise in line with inflation (then 5.1%) for those on the minimum wage.
Katy Gallagher to introduce legislation on public servants’ super paid on rent-free housing
Further to Sarah Martin’s report earlier from the Labor government party room on the Peace case about superannuation paid on rent-free housing for public servants - finance minister Katy Gallagher says retrospective legislation will be introduced tomorrow, to prevent “widespread, significant, unintended and inequitable” consequences.
The case is about whether public servants (including many Foreign Affairs department staff posted overseas) should get the value of their rent-free housing included in their super payments. Labor MPs were told the potential claim on the government was worth between $3bn and $8bn for about 10,000 public servants between 1986 and 2022.
In a statement, Gallagher said some commonwealth employees could receive “millions of dollars” of extra compensation, following a recent federal court judgment. Conversely, a small number of employees might “incur large, unexpected debts for unpaid member contributions”.
“The bill protects against these potential unintended outcomes and ensures that the entitlements of commonwealth employees remain fair and reasonable and, importantly, that they continue to represent a responsible use of taxpayers’ money,” the finance minister said.
“The bill is the most effective way of protecting against the unintended, and inequitable consequential impacts of a potential judgment that reverses long standing practice.”
The government is hoping to get bipartisan support for the change.
Tony Burke announces parliamentary committee to examine design of Workforce Australia program
The Albanese government has flagged it may look to reform the $1.5bn-a-year Workforce Australia employment services scheme after announcing a parliamentary committee to probe its design.
The employment minister, Tony Burke, told parliament on Tuesday the government would establish a house select committee to examine the scheme, which was created by the former Coalition government and replaced Jobactive this month.
Burke said the government was “concerned we have ended up with a system that is driven more by the details of contracts with providers than the legislation the previous government brought to parliament”.
The government believes in a robust and flexible mutual obligation system that gets people job ready while they’re claiming jobseeker. There are however some aspects of the new program we believe require fresh parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.
The previous Liberal and National government locked in Workforce Australia by signing more than $7 billion worth of contracts with providers just before the last election. Anecdotally, it appears the user experience of the system varies wildly from person to person and provider to provider.
While in opposition, Labor backed the new model, which passed parliament in the dying days of the Morrison government.
Burke argued on Tuesday the model did not necessarily reflect the legislation brought to parliament.
While they spent nearly two years designing and building the software for the new system, they did not properly explain it to the Australian people, he said.
He said the inquiry would examine the first 12 months of the scheme and will “recommend where we can make long-term reforms, as well as where we can make more immediate improvements”.
It will have a particular focus on whether the scheme “respects individuals’ diverse needs, and supports job seekers into secure work, in particular, its support for long term unemployed and young people”.
Guardian Australia has reported extensively on early issues with the program, including unreasonable mutual obligations placed on jobseekers by the outsourced providers. Last week, the Guardian also revealed the industry successfully lobbied to stop a proposed rule that would prevent job agencies from referring jobseekers to their own employability courses.
On Monday, Guardian Australia revealed how the practice – which is used across the sprawling $3bn welfare-to-work system – allows job agencies to boost profits by referring jobseekers to irrelevant and sometimes absurd courses.
Australia will ‘strengthen the integrity’ of nuclear non-proliferation treaty, senator says as Aukus deal under scrutiny
Australia is “profoundly committed” to a world without nuclear weapons, and its plans to buy nuclear-powered submarines are no threat, government senator Tim Ayres has told a major United Nations meeting.
The Aukus deal, which includes the submarines, is under scrutiny at the nuclear non-proliferation treaty conference in New York. Ayres, who is leading a 16-strong Australian delegation, said the treaty was under pressure and “must be preserved”.
The treaty aims to not just stop global nuclear proliferation, but to move towards disarmament. Ayres pointed to a deteriorating global security situation, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its “nuclear brinkmanship”, as well as North Korea and Iran’s actions.
The challenges to the NPT have never been greater,” he said.
Some have claimed Australia’s planned submarine fleet will create a precedent for other non-nuclear nations to increase their stocks of weapons-grade uranium.
Ayres said all three partners (Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom) were “committed to upholding our legal obligations and strengthening the integrity of the non-proliferation regime”.
“We will not simply uphold, but we will strengthen the integrity of the regime,” he said.
The conference runs for a month.
Anika Wells has called a press conference in response to the passage of the first bill through the parliament and what that will mean for aged care.
The senate is wasting no time – the first bill of the new government has passed the parliament (it just has to be reported back to the house, and then off for royal assent).
The Coalition are also finished with their joint party room meeting.
We will bring you what came from that very soon.
There is a bit for the parliament to get through today, but a lot of the action will be happening in the hallways. We will bring you everything as it happens.
The house and senate will both begin proceedings at midday.
Government party room briefing update
The government will introduce retrospective legislation to stop a claim from retired public servants for up to $8bn in superannuation entitlements.
Finance minister, Katy Gallagher, briefed MPs on the proposed legislation in a meeting of caucus on Tuesday, which relates to the Peace case – a claim lodged in the federal court relating to the value of accommodation entitlements claimed during overseas postings.
MPs were told the potential claim on the government was worth between $3bn and $8bn for about 10,000 public servants who were posted overseas between 1986 and 2022.
One recipient would be entitled to a windfall claim of $11m up from $1m. The legislation will be introduced to parliament on Wednesday and the government is hoping to secure bipartisan support for the bill.
Anthony Albanese also spoke to MPs about the first week of sittings, reflecting on the “extraordinary” speeches of new MPs and talking up the government’s focus on confidence and stability, and solutions rather than arguments.
He also spoke about his attendance at the Garma festival, saying his speech would be “as important a speech as I will give in my life”.
He also said that achieving a successful referendum was still a very big task and he wanted to “bring people in, not push them away” from the process. Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy also spoke on the importance of the Voice, with Dodson calling it the “most worthy thing our nation will do”.
The foreign minister, Penny Wong, responded to a question about Nancy Pelosi’s impending visit to Taiwan. Wong emphasised Australia’s longstanding bipartisan position as support for one China, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and no unilateral change to the status quo. She said that in regards to the visit of the US delegation, the government’s policy was not to comment on actions or delegations from the US or other countries.
The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, was also asked about the government’s position on ending the fuel excise cut in September, with Chalmers reiterating the intention to go ahead with the end date for the measure that was put in place by the former government.
There is a community rally to save the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern.
Sarah Collard has reported on just how much the centre means to the local Indigenous community:
Greens to sit late to decide on climate
The Greens met this morning in Canberra to try and resolve their stance on Labor’s climate bill.
There are divisions in the party room about whether or not to back the bill.
The climate minister, Chris Bowen, has made it clear Labor’s 43% emissions reduction target for 2030 is a floor and not a ceiling, but the Greens remain concerned that 43% isn’t ambitious enough.
They also want a moratorium on new oil and gas developments, which has morphed into a discussion about whether a climate trigger (or a process to consider one) might be the first step along that path. (A climate trigger would require the climate impacts of new projects to be assessed before the development is given approval.)
In any case, they are not of one mind yet. They will meet again tonight to try and reach consensus.
In the event that consensus is not reached, there will be a vote in the party room and the majority view is what ultimately determines the position. I think the Greens are going to attempt to determine a substantive position on the legislation tonight, but it’s not yet clear whether that will be possible.
The party room has given the leader, Adam Bandt, additional points to be raised with Bowen over the course of today. Bandt is due to address the National Press Club tomorrow.
A quick recap
To recap the morning, there is a bit going on.
The major issues are:
- The looming rate rise, which will be confirmed at 2.30pm after the RBA monthly meeting.
- The government’s climate bill and who is for and against it.
- The pending expiry of the fuel excise pause, which will add another 22c to the fuel price, but is unlikely to be extended by the government.
- And the Indigenous voice to parliament.
The first sitting week is showing no signs of slowing down.
Looks like it is going to be a long night.
From my understanding, the government wants to deal with the climate bill in the house on Wednesday – but without the Greens’ support, it will languish in the senate.
Labor has finished its meeting – we will bring you that update very soon as well.
Mike Bowers was at the opening of the Coalition party room (the parties choose when to invite the media in).
It was a (largely) maskless affair, as has become the Coalition’s habit.
Listening face, engaged:
Victoria reports 13 more Covid deaths
In Victoria, 13 lives have been lost to Covid in the last day. There are 802 people in hospital and 44 in ICU.
Victorian Liberal leader’s chief of staff resigns
The chief of staff to Victoria’s opposition leader, Matthew Guy, has resigned following a reports he asked a Liberal party donor to make more than $100,000 in payments to his marketing business.
Speaking to reporters outside parliament on Tuesday morning, Guy confirmed his chief of staff, Mitch Catlin, had offered his resignation after the Age revealed he drafted a contract that required a donor to pay $8,333 a month to his company, Catchy Media Marketing and Manager for services described as “supporting business interests”.
Guy said he accepted his resignation but that contract was “never signed”.
“I make it very, very clear that I value integrity in government and also in opposition,” he said.
According to the Age, Guy had been forwarded the contact by Catlin for approval.
NSW reports 47 more Covid deaths
NSW has recorded 47 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24-hour period. There are 2,289 people in hospital being treated for the virus, with 76 of those in ICU.
The Greens have finished meeting. We’ll bring you what came out of those discussions just before 11am.
Coalition discusses climate
The Coalition is holding its joint party room meeting, where it is discussing the government’s climate policy.
Which seems a little backwards, given that Peter Dutton has already made a captain’s call to oppose it.
Scott Morrison will also be attending for the first time since he lost the election and became a backbencher. No doubt he will just love all the cameras being pointed his way in a room he once commanded.
Some interesting economic data out this morning from the ANZ and Roy Morgan, with their weekly gauge of consumer sentiment.
For three weeks in a row confidence has perked up, although from low levels:
That upturn might have something to do with the falling petrol prices (now in the $1.70-a-litre range for many places around the country) and the lack of devastating rains in farm regions for a few months.
But it’s showing up too in a drop in inflation expectations that, while modest on a monthly basis, will be encouraging for the RBA board since governor Phil Lowe has talked about the concern of assumptions about rising prices becoming self-fulfilling prophecies (to paraphrase him).
Of course, the board will be busy with their briefings right now and weighing up how much the cash rate should be lifted and probably won’t see this post unless they’re taking a morning break (but we live in hope).
Anyway, it’s a reminder that a lot about the economy hinges on confidence and expectations, and often the massaging of them – including by our political leaders.
The future, though, can be unpredictable, including when the next extreme weather will arrive and where.
We know from the Bureau of Meteorology that conditions have been tilted towards a “three-peat La Niña”. (We flagged this as a possibility of three years in a row of La Niña back in March.)
Indications continue to mount that we’re in for such an event ... so don’t store away the umbrellas if you’re in eastern Australia just yet:
Did Albanese score a ‘dodgy’ try?
Evidence from the parliamentary touch footy game this morning is building a case for Queensland being dudded by a bad refereeing call, after emergency services minister Murray Watt accused prime minister Anthony Albanese of scoring a “dodgy” try.
Queensland captain (and sports minister) Anika Wells swore she got a touch on the PM before he dived in to plant the ball with a spectacular diving one-handed effort on the stroke of halftime in the annual state of origin match.
Photos showed Wells claiming a tag but the on-field referee gave the try to Albanese, taking NSW to a 3-1 lead.
National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo was on the sidelines of the match, having earlier briefly played for Queensland, to witness first-hand another refereeing controversy. Sadly the Parliament House playing fields do not have video replay or bunker facilities but photos from the game are filtering in to show Wells had a case.
News Corp has published photos showing Wells appearing to get a touch on the PM’s side as he dived for the try. Albanese’s own social media team posted a pic from a slightly different angle, also showing Wells reaching out to claim a touch.
Albanese joked in a sideline TV interview:
I scored the try to put it 3-1 ahead and at that point I think the game should have been stopped at halftime. Apparently these other referees, this fellow called Andrew Abdo from the NRL, he is sort of trying to run the show.
We’ve reached out to the NRL for comment on yet another refereeing controversy.
Jacinda Ardern pledges millions to fund Samoan climate projects
AAP has an update on New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to Samoa:
New Zealand has made a multimillion-dollar pledge to fund Samoan climate projects and to rebuild an Apia waterfront market.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced NZ$27m (A$24.3m) for the Pacific nation, with climate investments to be decided in tandem between the two governments:
This funding will help build Samoa’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and its transition to a low emissions economy.
Ardern is in Samoa on a two-day visit on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of both Samoan independence and the signing of a treaty of friendship between the two countries.
The New Zealand delegation – including the opposition leader, other MPs, business and religious leaders – were the first arrivals after Samoa relaxed its border regime yesterday to allow international tourists to visit again.
Back to Australian politics: Paul Karp has had a look at what an Indigenous voice to parliament will mean:
Prime minister Anthony Albanese has released the proposed draft change to the constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians with a voice to parliament.
But what will Australians be asked at a referendum, and what do we still need to know about a voice?
You can read more on the US mission here:
Joe Biden is still testing positive for Covid, so he is giving this statement from isolation.
Joe Biden gives statement on Ayman al-Zawahiri strike
US president Joe Biden is giving a statement from the White House on the US strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had taken over the helm of al-Qaida:
People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm. We make it clear again tonight that, no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.
Tuesday mornings are always a little slower because the parties hold their meetings, meaning the proceedings don’t get under way until a little later.
Given all the focus on interest rates and the RBA’s move on the cash rate, you might need a little refresher on what it all means. Here’s a little something we prepared earlier:
‘The RBA do have our support’
Anthony Albanese was also asked if he had faith in the RBA governor Phil Lowe after the football game this morning, in an interview with the Nine Network:
He does, and the RBA do have our support. They are an independent authority. Look, we recognise that people are doing it really tough and people are worried about increases in their mortgage.
That was foreshadowed well before the federal election that that would occur. The RBA are in charge of monetary policy, of course, and the independent Reserve Bank will make their decision this morning.
But we are very conscious of the feelings that are out there that people are doing it tough and every half a per cent or quarter of a per cent in interest rates means higher payments for people and that means they are having to make choices about how they get by.
On the fuel excise, Albanese echoed Jim Chalmers and said:
We acknowledge that people are getting it tough, we get that completely, but we also know that we inherited a trillion dollars of debt from the former government and unless that has got under control, then people will do it tough down the track because it will have an impact on the economy.
So we are very conscious about that. Jim Chalmers gave an economic statement last week to the parliament. We will be bring bringing down our product in October.
Blues triumph in parliamentary state of origin touch footy
Prime minister Anthony Albanese was accused of a “dodgy” try by his Queensland opponents as NSW won the annual parliamentary state of origin touch footy match this morning.
There will be a few sore hamstrings in Parliament House this morning after politicians and staffers squared off on a chilly morning for the interstate bragging rights in the charity match. NSW captain Pat Conroy assembled a formidable squad including Albanese, Michael McCormack, Alex Hawke, “Big Dan” Repacholi and Channel Nine commentator/NRLW star Ruan Sims; Queensland captain, sports minister Anika Wells, led a team including Murray Watt, Nationals leader David Littleproud, Graham Perrett, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, and, controversially, ACT senator David Pocock.
The greatest scandal since [Greg Inglis] playing for Queensland,” Albanese joked in a Channel Nine interview from the sidelines.
(To be fair, Pocock lived in Queensland first, after moving from South Africa as a child, before moving to the ACT. Barnaby Joyce, now representing the NSW seat of New England, also ran out for Queensland.)
With 6 foot 8 Repacholi, Wallabies international Pocock, and a handful of Canberra Raiders stars on the field, the game was arguably the most fearsome sight seen on the Senate fields since Senator Glenn “Brick with Eyes” Lazarus terrorised the press v pollies games during the 44th parliament.
Queensland scored the first try, and looked dangerous, with Perrett a livewire from the back of the ruck, Pocock giving good service from dummy half and Joyce trying to throw a few dummy passes. But NSW steamed back to score three in a row, with Albanese scoring the third on the stroke of halftime.
Queensland players including Nationals MP Keith Pitt jeered from the sidelines, accusing Wells of letting Albanese slip through to plant the ball down. Wells swore she got a touch on the PM before he scored, with Watt – a close Albanese ally – accusing his boss of claiming a “dodgy try”.
Watt joked about he handing in his resignation. Albanese shot back that he might name the Queensland senator to a junior committee role instead.
As the former Nationals leadership team of McCormack and Littleproud good-naturedly wrestled on the sidelines, Queensland MP Garth Hamilton arguably committed a professional foul as he bodychecked a Pocock staffer who tried a chip-and-chase kick over the defensive line.
Albanese told Channel Nine:
Barnaby has very short stints on the field. Even though he represents the NSW seat, he has a Maroons jersey on as well. There should be an inquiry into some of these players and where they are playing for.
The game ended 3-1 to the Blues, with Conroy lifting the trophy for yet another year.
‘My responsibility is to make the Reserve Bank’s job as easy as possible’
There are just two things Jim Chalmers is being asked about lately.
Whether or not he will continue the fuel excise pause (it’s a no at this stage) …
We’ve made it clear for some time now that it would be too expensive to continue that fuel excise relief indefinitely. Even to extend it by six months would cost something like $3bn … It would be too expensive to continue it forever.
… and whether RBA governor Phil Lowe has his support:
My focus isn’t on the Reserve Bank governor. I don’t think this is a time to take pot shots at Phil Lowe. My responsibility is to make the Reserve Bank’s job as easy as possible. That means not splashing cash around unnecessarily. It means dealing with the supply side issues in the economy where we can so that we make the job of the Reserve Bank easier, not harder.
Now, I’ve got a Reserve Bank review for a reason. I want our central bank to be the best in the world to have the best set of institutional arrangements. That’s not about taking pot shots at anyone. It’s about making sure going forward that we’ve got the best monetary policy setting in the world.
The Reserve Bank governor himself multiple times now has been quite upfront about the language that he’s used in the past to describe the future movement of interest rates. He has said publicly that the circumstances changed faster than the Reserve Bank anticipated. These are not decisions taken by the government. They are decisions taken by an independent Reserve Bank and they can explain and defend their own decisions.
Queensland Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather congratulated after first speech
The first speeches continued last night. Mike Bowers was in the chamber when the new member for Griffith, Max Chandler-Mather, gave his speech.
Some special visitors from the Senate came to watch as well.
Labor unlikely to extend the fuel excise cut
Asked about the fuel excise in that same interview, Jim Chalmers said:
I’ve been really upfront with people, Charles, for some time now – before the election, during the election and after the election – and pointed out that extending that would cost some billions of dollars and the budget can’t afford that. We’ve inherited a budget which is absolutely heaving with a trillion dollars in Liberal party debt. And when interest rates are rising, it actually costs more and more to service that debt.
The fastest-growing area of government spending in the budget is actually servicing the debt that we’ve inherited because, as interest rates rise, it becomes more expensive to pay that back. So every dollar borrowed, whether it’s by our predecessors or by the new government costs more to pay back and we need to be conscious about that. We need to be responsible about that and upfront about that. And that’s what we’re being.
So it does not look promising.
Today ‘a difficult day for Australians with a mortgage’, Jim Chalmers says
Now that rates are going up the governor of the RBA, Philip Lowe, is coming under pressure, with a lot of media focusing on the governor as though he is solely responsible for the decision. Jim Chalmers was asked if he still had faith in the governor in an interview with the Nine network this morning:
This isn’t about any one individual. This is about a difficult day for Australians with a mortgage, another difficult day I think everybody is bracing for the interest rate rise that the governor and the Reserve Bank board has flagged.
These decisions are taken independently by the Reserve Bank, by its board and by its governor. People are expecting this outcome today. But it won’t make it any easier.
My job is not to take pot shots at the governor, my job is to do what we can in the government to alleviate some of these inflationary pressures that we’re seeing in the economy. And that’s what our focus is.
East coast gas shortages in the spotlight
Gas shortages – or the risk of them – in the east coast remains in the news this morning, with many media reports picking over the ACCC’s “scathing”/ “damning”/ “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” gas industry report released yesterday.
The resources minister, Madeleine King, has taken the first step in reining in the big three LNG exporters by “triggering the trigger”, as she told RN Breakfast this morning.
She’s signalled she may make use of the Australian domestic gas security mechanism to ensure those big (mostly foreign-owned) gas producers don’t ship all of the expected 167 petajoules of gas that is not yet contracted. The ACCC says about a third of that is needed to keep the home fires burning.
We looked a bit of how we got into this mess in this piece today:
The most telling chart comes via the Australia Institute, which marks the original sign when the industry and governments (both Labor and Liberal) designed a market without reserving supply for domestic use (unlike WA):
Anyway, King for now is hoping that by asking the gas producers to play nicely and not ship all of that gas offshore will be enough.
Dark comments about the loss of “social licence” seems to be as far as the government is prepared to go for now ... rather than, say, imposing a windfall tax that might actually rake back some of the surplus profit gas producers are earning for not doing anything at all (thank Russia’s Vladimir Putin for pushing up global prices).
It will be interesting to see if any of the new MPs (Labor or others) start calling for such a tax, particularly if jobs start to be lost in firms unable to pay the energy bills.
Another interest point is the lack of interest from King or others to go after NSW or Victoria for not producing more gas. That’s despite prodding by journalists and some fairly hysterical language in some papers.
In fact, as we noted yesterday, the ACCC left out all references to the states being to blame for the problem, compared with previous gas reviews. As Tennant Reed, AiGroup’s energy guru, notes, NSW’s Narrabri gas project is years from starting and the onus now very much sits with Santos, its developer.
For Victoria, the onshore conventional gas (ie, not fracked coal seams) bans have also gone. At its most productive, though, Victoria’s extra output would only be in the order of 15PJ a year, Reed says.
That’s a modest addition at the most in an annual production nudging 2000PJ, so perhaps the blame game should look elsewhere.
Sarah Hanson-Young says Lidia Thorpe has every right to express herself
Sarah Hanson-Young was also asked about senator Lidia Thorpe calling the Queen a coloniser during her swearing-in in the Senate yesterday:
She said Thorpe had every right to express herself:
Look, I think this is an issue for not just First Nations people.
This is an issue for lots of Australians, myself included. I want us to be a republic. I’m a strong believer and supporter of a republic. There is a big push and concern that unless you have strong voices advocating for change, that these things just get put in the too-hard basket. I’m proud of our team. I’m proud of the diversity of our team. And of course, First Nations people, whether they are across the rest of the country or here in this parliament have a diversity of their own voices as well. Lidia is forthright, she’s strong.
But she is determined to give First Nations people a voice in this parliament ... Lidia took the action she felt comfortable with, that she, you know, made a stand.
I support her. She’s been re-elected. Victorians have backed her. She has every right to sit in the chamber as any of the rest of us. She wasn’t here last week because she was ill. I’m glad to have her back. I’m glad to see her standing strong.
Greens say government has made ‘welcome’ changes to climate change bill
Sarah Hanson-Young was also asked how the discussions between the Greens and the government over the climate change bill were going. The government cannot pass the bill through the parliament without the Greens’ support.
We are in good conversations with the government. Those discussions are continuing.
The Greens will be discussing this issue again at our party room meeting today to discuss and go over what changes the government has committed to.
It’s a welcome move that the government has made some changes that the Greens have pushed for, that is important. But what is even more important than that, is this 43% is not enough to reduce the pollution at the rates and in the timeframe needed. We all know that.
The science says that. We need real action on the table. So regardless of whether this 43% target bill passes the parliament, what comes next is what is most important.
Because we need to cut pollution, and we need to be doing it faster, and harder and deeper.
We need to get out of any suggestion that we need new fossil fuel projects here in Australia.
Australia has a big role to play internationally. We have this government saying they want to bring the UN climate conference to Australia, well, they’re going to have to do much more than 43% otherwise, we continue to be a laughing stock on the world stage.
Sadly, and most importantly, we will be left behind when the transition is on everywhere else. Australian businesses will lose out and our climate will continue to get worse.
Gas companies ‘taking us all for a ride’, Sarah Hanson-Young says
The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young had a bit to say about Australia’s gas situation on the ABC this morning – particularly given that this isn’t about supply, it’s about the amount which has been quarantined for domestic supply:
It’s quite obvious that the system, as it is, is broken. These big gas companies have been ripping off customers, consumers, households and small businesses for far too long.
They’re making windfall profits. They’re not paying enough tax. And they’re taking Australians for a ride. There is no shortage of gas here in Australia. We’ve got plenty of it.
It’s just that these big corporations are wanting to make more profits, don’t pay any tax.
Most of it goes overseas and Australians are left high and dry. We need to change the system.
One of the things we’ve got to really do is fast track the transition ... of our energy grid making sure we have it powered by renewables and storage. That would make cheaper, more reliable power and push down prices very, very quickly.
Department of Parliamentary Services defends air quality in Parliament House amid Covid surge
The Department of Parliamentary Services wasn’t happy with my comment yesterday about the airflow in the building (in relation to people not wearing masks despite the advice and Covid infections) and has sent through this statement:
DPS regularly engages independent experts to monitor air quality in Parliament House. This monitoring reinforces the effectiveness of the Parliament House ventilation system, with all air quality measures, including in the Press Gallery, well within required thresholds.
Moderates in Coalition may be open to Labor’s climate policy
Labor’s climate policy is yet to go through the Coalition party room but Peter Dutton made a decision the party would not support it.
That has left some moderates unsettled – Bridget Archer and Andrew Bragg have not ruled out crossing the floor.
Warren Entsch has told Murph and Sarah Martin he has an “open mind” on the legislation. From their report:
The veteran Liberal MP Warren Entsch says he is open-minded about Labor’s bill to enshrine a 43% emissions reduction target if he can be convinced the Albanese government has a concrete plan to achieve the cut without driving up power prices.
Ahead of the first substantive Coalition party room meeting of the 47th parliament on Tuesday, Entsch told Guardian Australia he was seeking advice on the bill and might lend support if there was evidence to suggest the number wasn’t a “brain fart”.
RBA expected to lift interest rates today
Unless you’re living under a rock you’ll have probably heard that the Reserve Bank board will very likely raise its main interest rate later today at 2.30pm AEST.
We previewed the meeting here, noting among other things that energy prices might be ebbing (deflating some of the need for an extension of the 22.1c/litre petrol excise cut beyond its 28 September expiry).
We haven’t had a rate rise of larger than 50 basis points (or half a percentage point) since 1994 when there were a couple of 1 percentage point rate hikes.
They came within a five-month period when there were three RBA rate rises totalling 2.75 percentage points – that’s the last time the central bank was this active.
Back then, though, the following move didn’t come until July 1996 when the RBA began the first of six rate cuts that stretched out over about 2.5 years.
Nobody, though, is expecting Tuesday’s move – the fourth rate rise in four months – to be the last increase.
Investors have a market they can bet on what the RBA will do, and as of yesterday evening they were wagering on a 65 basis point rise today to 2% as a 67% chance.
And expect more rate rises to come – just how many and how large will play out for the rest of the year and into the next one.
The political parties will hold their party room meetings and work out positions on issues and legislation, but today is all about the Reserve Bank of Australia and the slated rate rise.
With inflation having risen since the last quarter, all economists seem to agree there is another rise coming from the RBA, which is hoping that sharp rises now will head off problems down the track.
But that just means people are being hit twice – in their daily spend and their mortgages. It seems incredible that after all these years there doesn’t seem to be any other ideas of how to handle rising inflation other than to raise interest rates, but here we are.
There are a lot of eyes on the RBA governor, Philip Lowe, and the board as to how high the rate rise will be this month, given the already sharp increases. We know that the RBA believes it needs to take the cash rate to 3% before the end of the year, so mortgage holders are being told to brace for more pain.
Meanwhile, the government is under pressure to extend the fuel excise pause the previous government had in place. It’s due to expire in September (the date the Morrison government set) but, with petrol prices still high despite the 22c cut, the Albanese government is being asked to keep the pause going. Treasurer Jim Chalmers says that will cost the budget too much given all the other pressures it is under, but given household budgetary pressures, it may be a fight Labor isn’t willing to have this early in the term.
And of course there is still climate and the issue of gas supply.
We’ll cover all of that and more as the day unfolds. You have Mike Bowers with you, with Katharine Murphy leading the way. Sarah Martin, Paul Karp, Josh Butler and Tory Shepherd will help guide you through exactly what is happening while I – Amy Remeikis – drink too much coffee and try to keep up.
I’m on cup No 3 already, if anyone was wondering.