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The Guardian - AU

Stuart Robert says ‘too late’ to debate Tanya Plibersek on education – as it happened

Stuart Robert and Scott Morrison
Minister for employment Stuart Robert and prime minister Scott Morrison at Olympic Park in Sydney on day 30 of the 2022 federal election campaign. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

What we learned today, Tuesday 10 May

And that was Tuesday, which was (for some reason) the reason acting education minister Stuart Robert absolutely could not debate Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek. It’s too late, he said. It’s Tuesday. Tomorrow’s Wednesday. It’s too late. In less befuddling news:

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese says a Labor government would support a 5.1% wage increase.
  • Prime minister Scott Morrison has made false claims about gender confirmation surgery while supporting Warringah candidate Katherine Deves, who backtracked on an initial apology.
  • Labor’s Michael Gunner, the Northern Territory’s chief minister, has quit.
  • Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce will send his preferences One Nation’s way. They’ve changed, he says.
  • The elusive Alan Tudge, the non-active education minister, says he’s willing to return to the front bench.
  • Defence minister Peter Dutton has been given six reports from the oversight panel on the Brereton reforms, but hasn’t discussed them in parliament.

It’ll be another big day tomorrow. Amy Remeikis will see you safely through it, then I’ll be back in the afternoon and into the evening for the third (and final!) leaders’ debate.

Updated

Retired Sydney nanny Adriana Rivas faces extradition to Chile on charges of kidnapping

From AAP:

Retired Sydney nanny, Adriana Rivas, faces extradition to Chile where she is wanted on kidnapping charges dating back to Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1970s, after a court closed her final appeal option.

Rivas had appealed to the High Court after three Federal Court judges in November unanimously rejected her appeal against extradition to her homeland.

But the High Court issued a certificate on Monday saying her appeal application was deemed to have been abandoned because of unspecified procedural failings by her lawyer.

Rivas has waged a three-year battle against extradition on charges that she kidnapped seven people in 1976 and 1977, including Communist Party leader, Victor Diaz, and party member Reinalda Pereira, who was five months’ pregnant.

Rivas was an assistant to Manuel Contreras, the head of the Dina secret police during Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Rivas denies ever meeting the alleged victims, who have never been found. Rivas’ lawyers have argued she was not a Dina agent and her work was mundane.

The extradition must be approved by Australia’s attorney general with a decision likely to be made after the 21 May election.

Updated

Q: Does the reckless spending have to stop?

Albanese says Labor’s measures will grow the economy – Tingle points out that’s what the government says, that it’ll grow the pie without imposing restraints on spending. He says:

We will inherit $1tn of debt, that is why we are being very careful about our spending commitment and making sure they’re prioritised to things like making more things here, powering Australia, childcare, better infrastructure and the NBN.

Tingle asks about his scope for negotiating with a potential crossbench on climate change and an integrity bill. He says a government he leads will propose an integrity bill – “one that has serious powers”, that he is confident independents will support.

He won’t commit to a more ambitious emissions reduction target. “This is a chance to end the climate wars,” he says.

We have seen with the floods and the bushfires, the challenge is here right now. The issues are there right now, which is why we will act.

Anthony Albanese at the Surrey Hills Level Crossing removal project on Day 30 of the 2022 federal election campaign, in Melbourne.
Anthony Albanese at the Surrey Hills Level Crossing removal project on Day 30 of the 2022 federal election campaign, in Melbourne. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated

Childcare “is not welfare”, Albanese says. “It is about growing the economy.”

He says the “distortion” in the system that stops women working more days needs to go to get a growth in productivity:

It is good for equality, but it is also good for the entire economy, women and men, if we get the economy growing more strongly, if we get more productivity bonuses and it also is good for those businesses to have those permanent workers as well as being good for closing the gap that is there in the retirement incomes of women.

Updated

Albanese: we need to prevent a 'race to the bottom' on wages

People on the minimum wage shouldn’t fall further behind, Albanese says, and the government should make a submission to the Fair Work Commission saying it supports a wage increase for people in the aged care sector. And:

We need to have enterprise bargaining work effectively so productivity drives those wages and profit increases at the same time. We have a win/win. But we also need structural changes. We will make secure work an objective of the act. We will also make achieving pay equity for women an objective of the act as well.

We need to prevent a “race to the bottom”, Albanese says, where there’s a race for subcontractors to undercut each other (and presumably recoup money by paying people less).

Updated

Albanese says the government “deliberately” wanted to keep wages low, while he “deliberately” wants them to increase. There are a “range of measures” to do that, he says:

What you need to do to increase wages, at the same time as you increase profits, is to increase productivity. I spoke to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry just last week about this.

I will convene a full employment summit that brings unions and business together to talk about how we get wages moving, how we get business going, grow the economy in a way that the economy works for people just not the other way around. There are a number of other specific measures that can happen as well.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is about to talk to the ABC’s Laura Tingle. There’s likely to be a focus on wages, so here’s a reminder of Albanese’s words backing a 5.1% pay rise today, from Paul Karp:

Former prime minister John Howard says if treasurer Josh Frydenberg loses his seat it would be “an enormous loss”. He has told Sky News that the Morrison government has “made mistakes”, but has been a good government. And he reckons they’re in with a chance.

First prime minister Scott Morrison concedes he shouldn’t have said the vaccine rollout was “not a race”, now NSW has apologised for its tardiness with flood help. Tamsin Rose reports:

We reported earlier that deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says One Nation has changed... here’s the full story on the latest in preference shenanigans from Michael McGowan:

Prime minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese will face the “pub test” tomorrow night, TV Tonight reports.

Channel 7 has pulled together 150 undecided voters in seven marginal seats, and put them in pubs to watch the leaders’ debate.

It will be the third and last debate of the campaign, and it will – hopefully – be more enjoyable than the last two.

Updated

Nuclear safety “must be part of our DNA” as Australia acquires nuclear-powered submarines, according to the head of the submarine taskforce, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead.

Addressing the Royal Australian Navy’s sea power conference in Sydney today, Mead said the plan to acquire at least eight nuclear-propelled submarines “does represent a substantial capability leap for Royal Australian Navy and will allow Australia to become a far more capable partner in the Indo-Pacific region”.

But Mead - who is working with the US and the UK on an 18-month study into how it can be done - also said the task ahead was “very significant”. Mead was at pains to reassure all partners about Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation (a point that has been a concern to countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia):

To be clear, I am talking about nuclear propulsion technology: Australia is not [seeking] and will not seek nuclear weapons.

Mead said Australia must demonstrate “an unwavering commitment to safe and secure stewardship of nuclear propulsion technology”:

This commitment, this nuclear mindset, must be part of our DNA …

Our mindset must reflect an unwavering commitment to safely and securely stewarding nuclear propulsion technology from cradle to grave. This nuclear mindset must permeate the culture of the entire Australian nuclear-powered submarine enterprise. It must manifest in every day to day activity now and into the future, whether an individual is working in our supply chain, a welder in the shipyard or personnel working in the operational headquarters. This is the work we are progressing - it is not just about the platform we will acquire.

Mead went on to say the Australian public must demand such standards:

I expect, I demand that the Australian public will hold the defence force [and] the task force to the absolute high standards of safety and security when it comes to nuclear-propulsion technology, as they must, and that we must achieve the gold standard on safety and security all the way through. And we must do that before we go forward in the very final phases of the programme. I see safety and security underpinning everything we do.

Mead also mentioned the “deteriorating strategic circumstances” which led to Australia’s decision to pursue a nuclear-powered submarine capability. He said 2020 Australian defence strategic update highlighted how military modernisation in the Indo-Pacific was occurring at an unprecedented rate.

Updated

Today’s election briefing from Josh Butler has dropped, and it’s a real croc:

Elias Visontay gave us a bit of a teaser on this earlier, now he’s intercepted more information on Australia’s spy agency’s plans:

Further to the fascinating to and fro, below, between the ABC’s Fran Kelly and acting education minister, Stuart Robert, in which he claimed it’s “too late” to debate his shadow, Tanya Plibersek:

Updated

Xenophon nominates water and the Murray-Darling Basin plan, gambling and the gambling lobby, and the structure of the NDIS as policy issues he’s keen to tackle if he gets a South Australian senate spot. He also says he supports defence spending, as long as it’s done properly:

We [need to make sure we] spend money wisely, and we also need to grow the pie. That involves productivity, that involves looking at Australia’s place in the world, in terms of economic complexity, which is hovering around Kazakhstan in terms of what we manufacture and how sophisticated our economy is.

Updated

Nick Xenophon, who is both a former and an aspiring senator, is on the ABC. On running as an independent at the upcoming election, he says:

I am doing this not so much on a shoestring but a dental floss budget.

He once was lost, but now he’s found. Alan Tudge turns up, transport is on the cards, and Daniel Hurst and Jane Lee look at defence secrecy. Yes, it’s your Campaign catchup:

Updated

Has today’s suburban rail announcement put you in a deja vu loop? Benita Kolovos looks at the history of the project:

'Too late in the game' to debate Tanya Plibersek: Stuart Robert

Robert also says it’s “too late in the game” to accept an invitation to debate his shadow, Tanya Plibersek. It’s also Tuesday, he says. Voting has started. The last debate is on Wednesday.

(I’m just reporting what he said, I’m not going to try to explain it.)

Updated

Kelly asks Robert:

The prime minister said that gender reassignment surgery is a significant issue that parents are concerned about. In this country, gender reassignment surgery is not available to adolescents and is only available to people over the age of 18. Is the prime minister misleading people? Is this an issue?”

Robert says it’s a “sensitive topic” and he thinks there may have been court decisions that allowed people under 18 to access surgery.

“A conversation is trying to be had,” he says:

Seek first to understand before being understood. Seek to understand the position that Australians find themselves in and let your words be seasoned with a bit of grace.

Updated

The Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally MacManus, has been talking about the wage rises mentioned earlier, and says “any minimum wage increase below the inflation rate is a wage cut”.

The employment minister, Stuart Robert, has followed her on the ABC. He’s saying the Fair Work Commission will just make an independent decision and (I’m paraphrasing) there’s nothing the government can do about it.

Fran Kelly asks him: “But what does the government believe in?”

“An independent Fair Work Commission,” Robert replies.

Updated

7,565 Australians have died from Covid:

Josh Butler on “exiled cabinet minister” Alan Tudge who was spotted in the wild:

Updated

Video: One Nation’s Pauline Hanson said something! Is it true? Please explain, Antoun Issa, Alex Healey and Gabrielle Jackson:

If you’re in parts of Queensland facing record rains for May, you probably don’t need much confirmation that weather has gone a bit haywire just now.

Towns like Innisfail have reported more than 120mm of rain since 9am. There are also warnings of dangerous and life-threatening flooding in some areas with 200mm deluges within six hours possible, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Meteorologists have been waiting for the La Niña conditions in the Pacific – which favour above-average rain in eastern Australia (and elsewhere) – to break down for a while. By some measures, we haven’t seen a La Niña linger this long for a couple of decades.

The bureau has also chimed in with its fortnightly update of climate drivers around Australia. They also see the La Niña finally breaking down as winter arrives:

Six of seven climate models surveyed by the bureau indicate a return to neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – neither La Niña nor El Niño – during the late southern hemisphere autumn or in early winter. Only one model continues La Niña conditions through winter.

But it’s not just the Pacific that influences rainfall over Australia, of course. As it happens, conditions off the north-west coast of Western Australia are also tilting towards wetter-than-usual weather which can reach all the way across the continent to the southeast.

It’s the time of year when models typically have the lowest accuracy, but even so, the prospects of a so-called negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole are looking quite strong:

While the formal start to winter may only be about three weeks away, sea-surface temperatures off much of eastern Australia are pretty mild just now.

If you happen to be swimming near Sydney in the next few days, though, the trick may be to bring both a towel and an umbrella.

Updated

All those potential house deposits, just left to rot. Here’s Cait Kelly with the full smashed avo story that Amy Remeikis mentioned earlier:

Updated

The prime minister’s curry cooking turns off 23% of Indian-Australian voters – only 8% have a positive view.

Otherwise, Indian Link reports, it’s a “dead heat” between the two major parties (and no, “dead heat” is not a comment on the cooking time for chicken).

Updated

The chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, has been speaking with reporters on the sidelines of a maritime power conference in Sydney:

The last thing that I seek to do is send men and women of the Royal Australian Navy to conflict. That’s certainly a decision for government, but I have to be ready with a force of well-trained men and women and high-end capabilities. And so I stand ready to respond to any tasking that the government [would assign] for our navy to undertake.

Noonan was asked about the potential use of undersea drones. He said that would be “a great step forward in terms of getting a greater understanding about how we operate in a robotic undersea environment”.

He said he expected to see “crewed and uncrewed systems working together” and “ultimately developing undersea warfare tactics that allow us to have a better understanding of the domain that we’re working in, and how we can exploit that”.

Noonan added:

Certainly, as we look to the future, we would expect to see between 250 and 300 submarines operating in our immediate region. So I want to have the best possible understanding I can of the undersea environment in which we operate.

A quick note: this figure looks alarming on the face of it, but it is not new. For example, the then defence minister, Linda Reynolds, said in a speech in late 2020:

Across the Indo-Pacific, other nations are investing in, and expanding, their submarine fleets. And also their anti-submarine warfare capabilities. By 2030, it is estimated that over half of the world’s submarines will be operating in our region: over 300.

(It certainly puts into sharp relief the regional context for Australia’s planned acquisition of “at least eight” nuclear-powered submarines in coming decades.)

Next stop for Labor leader Anthony Albanese is (drum roll):

Katharine Murphy’s word magic:

There has been well-founded disgust for some weeks about Morrison’s performative punching down on a vulnerable community just to generate a slice of campaign outrage sufficiently potent to cut through the noise of a contested election.

In the administrative appeals tribunal, independent senator Rex Patrick is currently fighting to get his hands on long-secret documents about Australia’s negotiations with Timor-Leste in the years prior to the controversial bugging operation revealed by Witness K and Bernard Collaery.

Patrick is seeking the release of archived cabinet documents setting out Australia’s strategy for bartering with its impoverished ally on the Timor Sea maritime boundary in the early 2000s.

Such documents are generally released after 20 years, but these records have been partially suppressed, because the government ruled their contents could cause “damage to the security, defence or international relations of the commonwealth”.

As part of his case, Patrick has tendered evidence from revered former Timor-Leste president Xanana Gusmão. Gusmão advocated for the release of unredacted documents relating to the affair, saying it would help the bilateral relationship between Australia and Timor-Leste, not harm it.

Gusmão said:

Continued secrecy creates a sense of suspicion and impropriety and cannot remain a feature of our good neighbourly relations.

Dr Greg French, a former Australian ambassador to Italy, gave expert advice to the Australian government about the release of the document, saying it could harm international relations.

At a hearing on Tuesday, he was asked whether the comments of Gusmão changed his opinion. He said:

No, senator. I still stand by the judgment that I made, which is a comprehensive assessment made on the basis of a whole range of factors.

The hearing continues.

Updated

Let’s return briefly to the speech by the chief of the Australian defence force, General Angus Campbell. He offered some further thoughts on the changing character of war – and what a small military force needed to do to “disrupt” the plans of “a sophisticated numerically superior adversary”.

Addressing the Royal Australian Navy’s sea power conference in Sydney, Campbell said:

Operational and tactical military success in the 21st century will require an integrated force, highly skilled in synchronised and concurrent multi-domain war-fighting.

Success is about the mastery of combined effects across all domains, supported by enablers like intelligence, communications and logistics - a mastery, I’d have to say, clearly absent in Russia’s early assault on Ukraine.

Planning and operational execution will need to be truly orchestrated if a smaller skilled force is to inflict significant damage to a sophisticated numerically superior adversary. And we don’t necessarily need to defeat an adversary, but we do need to disrupt their plan.

Campbell said an effective Australian joint force needed to work cohesively both within its own services and alongside allies and partners. He said operating together as a combined force was increasingly important but was also “increasingly challenging to achieve”:

And integration is required at other levels – a greater sharing of ideas, combined strategies, joint logistics, deep industrial base collaboration, cooperation on research and development, increased training and deployment to support preparedness, and synchronised multi-domain exercising ...

To realise that potential, to be ready when it’s needed, we need to translate our relationships into well-practised behaviours and procedures necessary to secure our common interests.

Updated

Those “teal” independents are getting plenty of attention, much to the chagrin of the government. Wondering if you’ll have one on your ballot paper? Calla Wahlquist, Nick Evershed and Andy Ball have the guide for you:

Updated

Insert all the disclaimers about polls here, but this is still interesting. In the battle for Kooyong, treasurer Josh Frydenberg v independent Monique Ryan, with a two party preferred breakdown:

Updated

Well hello, there – and thanks as always to Amy Remeikis, who probably wasn’t expecting to deal with that surprise resignation from NT chief minister, Michael Gunner, today. Meanwhile, I had a little break from Australian politics this morning to go down a rabbithole on Bongbong Marcos. Gosh.

OK, let’s see what’s what.

Updated

Tory Shepherd will take you through the afternoon – it is hard to believe it is only Tuesday.

I’l be back with you early tomorrow morning – as always, thank you for joining me and please – take care of you.

Defence force chief stresses need for diplomacy along with military power

The chief of the Australian defence force has stressed the need for military power to be combined with other elements of national power – including diplomacy – to be more effective “against the continuum of 21st century challenges we now face”.

General Angus Campbell addressed the Royal Australian Navy’s sea power conference in Sydney a short time ago.

Campbell said the war in Ukraine was 14,000km from Australia but “we can still learn from it”, including to support preparedness in the maritime domain.

Referring to Russia’s loss of its flagship Moskva in the Black Sea, Campbell said it was “the largest warship to sink in conflict since the Falklands war”. He went on to speculate about what a war might look like in our own region:

Should the worst be realised – that conflict eventuates in the Indo-Pacific – it will not be confined to a single domain.

Campbell said such a conflict would be fought across multiple domains: at sea and underwater, on land, in the air, in cyber and in space. He said the boundaries between conflict, coercion and competition were increasingly blurred, and “there is a need to today for a greater integration of power”:

The notion of integrated campaigning involves military power being brought together with other elements of national power – economic, diplomatic, trade, financial, industrial, scientific and informational – and combined with the military and national powers of allies and partners. This aggregated and integrated power, appropriately focused and persistent in its application, will lend weight and effectiveness against the continuum of 21st century challenges we now face.

Campbell said it was important to “keep front of mind” the factors that were changing the character of conflict, and their implications. He pointed to a technological revolution. Just as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 3D printing were altering society, he said, these technological developments were “also driving a rapid military transformation”. He cited uncrewed vehicles, longer range weapons, and advanced sensors.

We’ll see investment in crewed, uncrewed and mixed capabilities …

We need both crewed and uncrewed systems working together. It’s why Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are partnering under Aukus to develop, among many things, autonomous underwater vehicles, which will serve as a force multiplier to our submarines and surface fleet.

Updated

The corflute wars have been an ongoing theme this campaign. This is in Scott Morrison’s electorate:

Updated

Queensland is bracing for more floods, as AAP reports:

A man has been plucked from flood waters in north-west Queensland and calls for help are rising as an unseasonal deluge sets in over the state’s north.

A swiftwater rescue team helped the man in his 20s to safety after he became trapped in Soldiers Hill, a suburb of Mount Isa, about 11pm on Monday.

A severe weather warning has been issued from Townsville west to Cloncurry, and from Croydon in the north and south to Blackall.

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned flash flooding is likely with six-hour rainfall totals of 60-100mm forecast from Wednesday.

The highest rainfalls overnight were recorded in Kirby, near Winton, with 97mm till 6am on Tuesday.

Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the SES received 39 calls for assistance overnight, with more significant rain expected throughout week.

“The bureau has advised some locations may receive their highest may rainfall on record this week,” she told parliament.

Heavy rain is unusual outside the wet season, and some areas are set to be hit with 10 times the monthly average for May in just 24 to 48 hours.

The bureau says six-hour falls of up to 150mm are also possible in the Central West and North West districts.

Flood watches are in place for northern, central, western, and south-eastern Queensland, with the remaining central Queensland catchments to be assessed on Tuesday.

Updated

The Coalition will launch its election campaign in Brisbane on Sunday.

Campaign launches are often held later in the campaign to try and capture people’s attention just before they head to the polls. This year, Labor went earlier, launching its campaign at the halfway mark, but the Coalition is hoping to start its final campaigning week off with a bang, in the state it is most successful in.

Updated

The Greens have launched their environmental policies today, with the party’s leader, Adam Bandt, declaring the decline of the country’s wildlife “one of the greatest failings in our nation’s history”.

The party has already said it will push for a target of zero extinctions by 2030 and today announced a plan for a $24.4bn investment in nature restoration over a decade.

Called the “Green Australia Plan” the fund would be used to restore and regenerate habitat, forest and bushland, coastal areas and rivers and to improve green spaces in urban areas.

There are also policies in response to the 2020 review of national environmental laws, which found governments have failed to protect the country’s unique wildlife.

The party says it will push for the establishment of an independent environmental regulator to enforce the law, strong national environmental standards as recommended by the former competition watchdog head Graeme Samuel in his review, a ban on destroying habitat for koalas and other threatened species and scrapping of regional forestry agreements.

They will also move for a “climate trigger” in national laws that would require the effects of large projects on the climate and carbon pollution to be assessed before they are approved.

Bandt said governments were destroying Australia’s “icons and identity” through neglect of the country’s environment.

Our environment is in crisis. Australia is the world leader in mammal extinction. More species of mammals die here than anywhere else, and they’re going extinct because of global heating and the Liberals’ decades-long refusal to protect our country.

The Greens are the only party in this campaign with costed plans to tackle the extinction crisis and protect our environment.

The package has been welcomed by the Australian Conservation Foundation, which called on the major parties to announce similarly ambitious policies in a campaign from which conservation has been notably absent.

Updated

AAP has taken a look at some of the issues impacting Australian women and their earning capability:

Female-concentrated professions such as childcare, aged care, and disability tend to be lower paid, offer insecure hours, and have a flatter trajectory for pay and career progression, which leads to protracted lower earnings - and savings - compared to men.

The gender pay gap is 13.8%, compared to 17.4% when Labor lost power in 2013.

But add the part-time workforce and the gap widens to 30.6%, according to official data.

RMIT University economist Dr Leonora Risse said investing in the care sector will bring down cost-of-living pressures and repair the federal budget.

“If you invest in the right things, you’re actually growing the economy without those inflationary pressures,” Risse told AAP.

Across advanced economies, Australia has one of the biggest gaps between average male and female workforce participation and hours in paid work.

New research from consultancy firm Impact Economics released on Tuesday shows women are doing more work than men but less of it is paid.

As well as achieving the elusive productivity gains that Australia needs, the report found unlocking workforce participation by women could address critical skills shortages.

While some tout migration as a solution, lead economist Dr Angela Jackson said Australia already has a skilled workforce that is “chronically under-utilised” – our women.

Halving the workforce participation gap between men and women would unlock 500,000 workers, and closing it represents the equivalent of an additional one million workers, Jackson said.

Making childcare more affordable, which both major parties want to achieve, will free up more unpaid carers - mostly women - to go to work, spend more and pay income tax.

As well as cheaper childcare and action on superannuation to bridge career gaps, advocates also want help for carers - mostly women - to get jobs, education and training.

Analysis commissioned by Carers Australia found Australia’s 2.65 million carers face significant financial disadvantage, even if they qualify for a carer’s allowance.

Carers on average forego $392,500 in lost wages to the age of 67 and miss a further $175,000 in superannuation, a report from economic consultancy Evaluate found.

Those who are informal unpaid carers for extended periods will lose even more, with the hardest hit 10 per cent losing at least $940,000 in lifetime income and $444,500 in superannuation.

“Carers are often hidden in our community, with initiatives for their specific support needs, be they financial, health or wellbeing, overlooked,” Carers Australia acting chief executive, Melanie Cantwell, said.

Further, the Covid-19 recession hit women harder than men, in jobs lost and a greater burden of home-schooling, which put them further at risk of poverty in retirement.

Six months out of the workforce can add another $100,000 to the average $2m lifetime earnings gap between men and women with children in Australia, according to the Grattan Institute.

Updated

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 49 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 987
  • In hospital: 73 (with 5 people in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 17
  • Cases: 10,321
  • In hospital: 1,538 (with 55 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 344
  • In hospital: 34 (with no people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 3
  • Cases: 6,566
  • In hospital: 456 (with 14 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 3
  • Cases: 3,683
  • In hospital: 222 (with 6 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 1,021
  • In hospital: 40 (with 1 person in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 18
  • Cases: 12,722
  • In hospital: 519 (with 34 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 6
  • Cases: 12,390
  • In hospital: 286 (with 8 people in ICU)

Updated

A second family have approached Scott Morrison on the campaign trial to ask about Afghanistan visas:

Updated

Given how health-dominated the last two years have been, it is largely missing from the campaign.

But it pays to remember that a lot of things people take for granted are, for others, choices about how often they can eat.

Updated

Traditional owners from the Beetaloo region have called for a new direction from the NT government which embraces clean energy, not fracking, to help create jobs and secure energy security in the wake of Michael Gunner’s resignation as chief minister:

Traditional owner Johnny Wilson, chair of the Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, said:

Premier Gunner put big fracking companies ahead of Aboriginal people’s right to protect water and sacred sites and self-determine what happens on our country.

We need leaders who will stop pouring millions into fracking which is destroying our country, when we still don’t have basic services and clean energy to keep power running.

Mr Gunner lifted the fracking moratorium, against the wishes of Traditional Owners, knowing that we have not consented to what’s being planned on our country.

The new Premier must listen to us when we say, we do not want fracking, full stop.

We invite the new leader to meet with us and discuss our concerns, so we can work together and preserve country for future generations.”

Updated

Don’t keep the pencil.

Updated

Australia’s foreign intelligence service will recruit new spies “with more vigour and urgency” than ever before as it seeks to counter adversaries who “are spying on us” and are “seeking to weaken our institutions and bend our values”.

In a rare public address in Sydney today, hosted by the Lowy Institute to mark the 70th anniversary of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the agency’s director general, Paul Symon, spoke of the need for his organisation to “remain low profile but … not have no profile” as it seeks to adapt to the modern intelligence gathering environment.

Symon said emerging technologies are posing “a near-existential” risk to the work of services such as Asis, because it has meant Australia’s “covert activities” are “increasingly discoverable”.

Symon said:

As we move forward, Asis will need more officers with more diverse skills and backgrounds supported by more integrated capabilities. We are going to need to recruit and work with even more vigour and urgency than at any other point in our 70-year history.

At the same time as our operating environment has become more competitive and volatile, it has also become increasingly difficult to conduct human intelligence work.

While it remains a core component of statecraft, it must adapt to meet the extraordinary challenges arising from the interaction of a complex strategic environment, intensified counter-intelligence efforts, and emergent and emerging technologies. For a service like my own there is a near-existential dimension to technology risk.

The analogue systems and processes which spies of the past took for granted have been relegated to history, and we now live in a fundamentally digital era where our covert activities are increasingly discoverable. In this technological sandbox, authoritarian regimes are having a ‘heyday’.

Symon also revealed that Asis “inserted” a “small team” of officers into Afghanistan as the Taliban seized power last year, including officers in the “chaos” of crowds seeking to leave the country at Kabul’s international airport, as they facilitated evacuations.

Updated

Labor’s shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has also responded to Scott Morrison’s comments on a federal Icac today:

Mr Morrison will never establish an integrity commission because he’s terrified of what it will find.

He’s terrified it will hold him and his government to account for their rorts and corruption.

That’s why Mr Morrison broke his 2019 election promise to the Australian people that that he would establish an anti-corruption commission. Mr Morrison won’t act. Labor will.

In government Labor will establish a powerful, transparent and independent national anti-corruption commission.

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Alan Tudge: 'If I am in a position to step back into cabinet, I will do so'

Alan Tudge has been found by a Sky News reporter on the campaign trail in his electorate.

Q: You know that the Department of Finance is negotiating a $500,000 payout for your former staffer Rachelle Miller, and why would they be doing that?

Tudge:

As the prime minister said, he’s unaware, I’m unaware. It’s a matter for the Department of Finance.

Q: If you’ve been cleared of allegations though, why would they be organising a half a million dollar payout?

Tudge:

I’m not aware of any of those things I have no information. I haven’t been called as a witness. I haven’t been asked to provide evidence and as the prime minister said, if it involved me, he would have been made aware and hasn’t been made aware.

Q: And just finally, on your former staffer, there are reports that you asked her to keep quiet to a formal security review. Why would you have done that?

Tudge:

Well, I didn’t do that. I just asked her to tell the truth.

Q: Why have you not made any appearances? Why have you kept a low profile during these final weeks of campaigning ahead of the election?

Tudge:

Well, I’ve been very busy in my local electorate here. You can see from my social media, and I stood down from being education minister some months ago now, for family, for health reasons, to concentrate on my electorate, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Q: Are you looking to maintain the ministership, however, for the election?

Tudge:

The prime minister has made clear that should we be re-elected, and I am in a position to step back up, I will do so.

Q: Are you looking forward to this election? What do you think the outcome will be?

Tudge:

Well, it’s very tight, but I’m confident that we can win.

Q: Why have you been avoiding media questioning and why have you refused to debate the Labor shadow education minister?

Tudge:

Well, Stuart Robert is the acting education minister at the moment since I’ve been stood down so he would be the appropriate person to do that.

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Australian Bar Association 'deeply concerned' by Scott Morrison's 'attack' on barristers

The Australian Bar Association has issued a strong statement in response to comments Scott Morrison made in his press conference today:

The Australian Bar Association is deeply concerned by the Prime Minister’s attack today on the barristers of Australia, stating that he “didn’t care if [they] disagree with me” and that “I’ve never had much truck with them over the course of my entire political career.”

ABA President Dr Matt Collins AM QC said, “Australia’s more than 6,000 hardworking barristers are committed to promoting the administration of justice. They abide by a cab rank rule, which requires them to accept briefs within their area of expertise and ensures that all Australians have an entitlement to representation. Every year, they provide countless hours of pro bono and poorly remunerated assistance to people from Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. They frequently stand between the individual and the State, and provide a bulwark for the rule of law. Any person who has no truck with barristers cannot have made a conscientious effort to understand their indispensable contribution to civic society.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were made in the context of the ongoing debate about the need for a federal anti-corruption commission. Dr Collins said, “While there is room for debate about the design, powers and mode of operation of anti-corruption bodies, it is neither correct nor constructive to characterise the NSW ICAC as a kangaroo court. A kangaroo court is a body that operates with disregard for or perversion of legal procedure. The ICAC Commissioners are highly experienced and respected jurists who preside over investigations conducted according to law and the powers given to them by the NSW Parliament.

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Reports of rush on early voting

There was legislation put through the parliament this term to limit how long prepolling could run for.

People are still rushing to vote early though.

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Michael Gunner:

For me, the challenge I set myself coming in – and this is not to speak ill of any previous chief – but growing up here, I just kept seeing the same thing happen over and over again and I set myself a challenge.

It couldn’t necessarily be achieved in my term as chief, but how do we break the cycles of social dysfunction, trauma, dispossession? There is a lot that goes into that bucket.

The other big challenge we have got as a Territory is the boom-bust cycle.

We have seen it happen continually, and how do we set the Territory up for the long term that cuts through on that social side, that cuts through on the economic side? Sometimes these things are meant to be and come together. I have come to this decision holding Nash and knowing what is best for me and my family and I am finishing my last task delivering a budget.

You can see in this budget the pathway forward, the economic boom-bust cycle ending, and you can see it is going to be hard, grinding, back-breaking effort but you can see the social change happening.

Year after year, we are seeing reduction in overcrowding. There still has to be more done with overcrowding.

We are seeing less Aboriginal children out of home care. We are seeing more [children] in preschool ... 3-year-olds and onwards. We are seeing that change occur. For me, the best thing that could ever happen is if, in a generation or two time, I can see that absolute change. More local jobs.

We are reducing that constant social cycle throughout generations.

That is the big challenge that I set myself. We can see that change. That is what I was after.

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Nicole Manison will continue to act as the chief minister of the NT until the NT Labor caucus makes its decision on who will be leader.

Michael Gunner will continue to serve as the MP for Fannie Bay, on the back bench. At a press conference, he said:

Forty-six is young for a pollie, but it is old for a father of a newborn and a toddler, and that is who I want to spend more of my time with now, for as long as I can.

NT chief minister Michael Gunner has resigned to spend more time with his young children.
NT chief minister Michael Gunner has resigned to spend more time with his young children. Photograph: Facebook | Nine

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Tom Plevey from our Rural Network (headed by Gabrielle Chan) has this story from New England:

Barnaby Joyce says Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has changed, defending his decision to give his preferences to the party’s candidate in New England, Richard Thomas.

‘The party of 10, 15 years ago is not the party of today,’ he said at a New England candidate forum on Monday night.

‘Things change. Mollify.’

Little is known about Thomas, whom the deputy prime minister has put second on his how-to-vote card. Thomas does not appear on One Nation’s candidate page.

Joyce, who holds the seat by a 17% margin, said: ‘We can’t be everything for everybody.’

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Handing down the budget is the last act Michael Gunner will perform in the NT parliament. He is resigning, effective immediately:

The birth of our second child the week before last confirmed something for me – my head and my heart are no longer here.

They are at home. I have grappled with this decision for some weeks, but welcoming little Nash into the world sealed the deal.

There is never a perfect time to step back, to walk away, to give others a go, but for me, for my family, this feels like the right time.

After a lot of hard work, the foundations for the territory’s future are set. They are solid.

An economy that is strong and getting stronger, a budget that is heading back to surplus and a government that is in safe hands.

The territory is now entering a new era, a new era of growth, of opportunity, of possibility.

And a new era should have new leadership. So handing down this budget is my final act as treasurer and my final act as your chief minister.

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Queensland reports three Covid deaths

Three people with Covid have died in Queensland in the last 24 hours.

Updated

NT chief minister Michael Gunner resigns

The NT chief minister, Michael Gunner, has announced he will resign, effective immediately.

He told the NT parliament the birth of his second child had made him rethink his future.

Updated

Shortly after his press conference ended, Scott Morrison went on 2GB radio. It was a far more collegiate and friendly affair with Ray Hadley than when Anthony Albanese joined the program recently, with the shock jock giving Morrison free rein to talk up Australia’s economic recovery and complain about Labor’s advertising campaign.

Hadley sympathised that “it must be frustrating” for Morrison to hear Labor’s negative ads which play Morrison saying “not my job”.

“This is what Labor does, they don’t have a plan for government,” the PM replied, explaining the context in which he uttered the infamous “not my job” claims.

“The three quotes they’re using, I was asked ‘should I be afraid of the pandemic?’ No that isn’t my job, to be afraid of the pandemic. It isn’t my job to shout down the phone at premiers,” Morrison said.

The PM claimed Albanese was “pulling people’s legs” in claiming Labor would increase Australians’ wages, and called the potential of a hung parliament with several independent MPs “a carnival of chaos”.

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There has been a swift reaction from the Australian Bar Association to Scott Morrison’s latest Icac comments:

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Australia now has too many avocados and farmers are having to dump crops in order to stay financially viable. Restaurant and cafe shutdowns over Covid didn’t help, but a decade ago, when millennials like me decided to choose buying smashed avo over buying a house, farmers planted huge amount of crops, and now those trees are fruiting with nowhere to go.

Bob Katter wants to see Australia diversify its trade:

Not enough effort has been made by the Government to open up the VIP markets (Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines) as well Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

There are nearly 300 million people in Indonesia, nearly 150 million people in Japan, 100 million people in Vietnam, 100 million in Philippines, and 50 million in South Korea. Who cares about China when our producers could access that amount of people?

I repeat, not enough effort has been made by the current Government to open new markets. I saw half a kilometre of mangoes going to waste on the Atherton Tablelands and we are also having an oversupply of avocados.

Senior negotiators should be sent by Australia into these countries.

The LNP Government have continuously shot their mouth off at China to the detriment of our farmers but haven’t done a thing to increase market access in Asia in countries such as Japan.

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In Queensland, the Palaszczuk government has announced it will criminalise coercive control and look into police responses to domestic violence:

This is very interesting:

Updated

Many things are more about the anticipation than the result – especially financial markets, it seems.

Consumer sentiment had slumped in the previous week, according to the regular survey by the ANZ and Roy Morgan, and there were some views that the Reserve Bank’s first cash rate rise in 11 years might scare the shoppers.

Well, the dent to consumer sentiment turned out to be a modest 0.2% compared with a week earlier, when confidence sank 6% to the lowest since the January Covid supply chain woes.

Still, David Plank, the ANZ’s top economist for Australia, noted that while the RBA hike was largely anticipated, it was “not entirely without impact”.

“Confidence among people who are ‘paying off their home loan’ dropped by 5%, reinforcing the 9.6% drop in the previous week,” Plank said. “This was partially offset by the increase in confidence for those who already own their home or are renting by 1.3% and 2.6%, respectively.”

Also probably pleasing for the RBA was a modest pullback in households’ inflation expectations - easing both weekly and on a rolling four-week average by 0.2 percentage points.

.What’s interesting is that the ACTU pitch might look a bit ambitious but the first-quarter CPI was 5.1%, and the RBA last week noted in its statement on monetary policy the consumer inflation rate would be running at 5.5% by June.

By December the CPI will be at 6%, and by June 2023 the central bank is predicting it will ease back to 4.25%.

The RBA is forecasting the CPI to peak just under 6% by December, but retreat to a 4.25% by next June. On its recent track record, the RBA and most other central banks have been a little too conservative about how sharp the spike in prices has been.

If 5.5% looks on the high side, it’s worth noting the minimum wage of $20.33 for the current fiscal year was up 2.5% on the previous year. On our current track, that increase is less than half the 5%-plus CPI increase for the year – hence that minimum wage got a bit more mini.

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The press conference ends.

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Q: You’ve spoken a lot about your record as infrastructure minister, creating Infrastructure Australia to take the politics out of it and put money into projects that stack up. Why, then, did you promise $10 billion as the Shadow infrastructure minister for the suburban rail loop at the last election? There was no business case to Infrastructure Australia. That would have been the biggest investment ever by a Federal Government in a transport project and no evidence then that it stacked up?

Anthony Albanese:

This is a game-changing project.

This is a game changing project. When you look at the way that cities operate around the world, you look at any of them, and what you need to avoid, and something that we did ...

This is a natural extension of the work that was done... You couldn’t do this before you did the metro project, because you need to fix the hub and then you need the spokes to be connected. That is what you need to do.

That is what the projects– for example, extending the Queensland line in Springfield – do. That’s what Regional Rail Link did here in Victoria.

What you need to do is to make sure – and I make this point as well and this is the last one I’ll make, because it’s a good one!

... Because if you get advice from any transport economist and you look at the way that cities work, Infrastructure Australia and the major cities unit that I established ... One of the works that they did is that you need to prioritise urban public transport, and you need to fix the way that they operate.

And you need to stop the circumstance whereby whether you’re in Box Hill and want to go to western Melbourne and you’ve got to go right through the city, or whether you’re from Ballarat and Bendigo and you’ve got to go into the city in order to get to the south-east, you fix that problem.

This is the same issue that our major cities are confronting. And a city like Melbourne, a great global city of growing to eight or nine million over coming years.

You see the growth that is there. We did ... I had the great honour of opening projects like Tahnee, a new rail station with the Regional Rail Link.

You know what we did when we were in government – we promised projects, we provided the funding and we opened them during that period in government. During that period in government.

I’ll wait for the nation-building projects that are being covered by this government. Crickets! That is the answer, that these nation-building projects should be where the commonwealth government prioritises.

We did, when I was the Minister for Infrastructure, we funded – more commonwealth fund investment went into urban public transport than all previous governments combined for 107 years. Six years versus 107.

Why did we do that? Because urban public transport has to be an absolute priority. Our cities – we are the most urbanised country on the planet. Our cities need urban public transport. We’ll work with state governments to get that done.

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Q: On integrity, have you got plans for a national anti-corruption commission? What problems do you see with Victoria’s IBAC model? And do you think that all witnesses and hearings should be held in public?

Anthony Albanese:

I think that politicians shouldn’t comment about IBAC and processes which are taking place.

Q: You are proposing a federal Icac?

Albanese:

Yeah, I’m talk to talk about a national anti-corruption commission.

Q: And what you’re promising at a federal level. Would it be acceptable for that federal body to examine politicians in secret behind closed doors?

Albanese:

It would be acceptable for that body to operate according to how it sees it should operate, and not take directives from politicians about how it operates.

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Anthony Albanese:

I want to make two points. One is that I want to work with all Premiers constructively.

That’s what I did when I was in government last time, including the New South Wales Coalition Government, the Coalition Government, that I sat down with and negotiated, for example, $405 million from each level of Government to do what’s now call NorthConnex.

I sat down with the Victorian Liberal Government and we negotiated $3 billion for the metro project. Not with the Labor Government, but with the Liberal Government.

And then, and then, it was delayed, and the reason why it’s not all done a long time ago was because that was cut. I prioritised funding, not based upon an electoral map, based upon need.

We had $7.6 billion to the Pacific Highway that ran through Coalition seats by and large, compared with the Howard Government’s $1.3 billion. We had a similar figure, over $7 billion, for the Bruce Highway compared with the Howard government’s $1.3 billion.

We funded projects like Gold Coast Light Rail that went nowhere near any Labor electorates, I assure you, but was a priority project approved by Infrastructure Australia. We approved all of the projects that went through the Infrastructure Australia process.

That’s the difference between me and Mr Morrison. Nation-building projects that make a difference on infrastructure compared with the Coalition – a Coalition that just get out the colour-coded maps, that say that this is not a national priority for the national Government, but a commuter car park is, that they announce and then cancel.

And an example as well, I’ll make this second point, is that I also want to work with Dominic Perrottet and the Tasmanian new Liberal Premier in Tasmania, and anyone who is a state leader.

And today, there’s an announcement in Epping – one that I will support as well. I know the New South Wales Liberal Government promised this four years ago and nothing’s happened, but we will match, certainly, that commitment that is forward.

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Q: The Federal Liberal Party says that you’re a drag on Federal Labor?

Daniel Andrews:

This is the thing about the federal Liberal party, they say lots of things and they do very little. They do very little. If only their talk mattered.

If only the pure politics of these people mattered. Let me be really clear with you – when Victorians were at their darkest time, senior Federal Liberals proved to be Liberals first and Victorians second.

They thought that they were bagging our government – they were bagging every Victorian who was following the rules and doing the right thing. And that might be one of the reasons why they’re in a bit of trouble in their seats. At the end of the day, this is Albo’s press conference and back to him!

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Q: This morning, Scott Morrison said Anthony Albanese as Prime Minister would be a pushover to Labor Premiers like yourself. You’ve had a rocky relationship during the pandemic with Mr Morrison. Do you think that you’d get more money out of Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese?

Daniel Andrews:

Well, the record is very clear ... Every federal dollar that Victorians get from the miserable Morrison Government, where we ought to bow our head and treat it like it’s foreign aid.

We have been ripped off by this Liberal-National Government, and instead of Mr Morrison talking about the issue, he ought to have been here delivering for Victorian workers and families.

I’ve had a conversation with the Prime Minister about suburban rail loop, and zero dollars. Zero dollars.

The contrast could not be clearer. Anthony Albanese is about building things. He’s about partnership.

He’s about creating jobs. He’s about making sure that our cities and regions, our nation, actually works.

[Scott Morrison is] a bloke who is so desperate, because he’s been there for a decade and done precisely nothing. Done precisely nothing.

This project stacks up. This project more than stacks up. It’s not a cost, it’s an investment in jobs and a road and rail network that actually takes people where they want to go, and $2.2 billion is a very significant commitment. We would always like more.

But $2.2 billion versus zero from Scott Morrison – you know, this is what desperate people who have built nothing and done nothing, got an excuse for everything and a plan for nothing – this is the sort of stuff that comes out of prime ministers who are just run out of time.

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Q: Mr Albanese, new research shows that in female-dominated industries, people earn up to 36% less than in male-dominated industries. You’re meeting with businesses after the election, if you win, to talk about wages. What will you do specifically for those industries like childcare and aged care to boost those wages?

Anthony Albanese:

Thank you for the question. It’s a good one.

And I note that the women business leaders have made a significant statement today that’s covered in the newspapers. And that is one of the reasons why we have said that gender pay should be – pay equity should be made an objective of the Fair Work Act.

Because there have been 21 separate cases taken to the Fair Work Act over more than, going back more than a decade, of which only one has been successful.

And if you look at the structural difference, the gender pay gap in Australia is 13.8%. Now, that represents a structural weakness in our industrial relations system whereby, because only one of ... I think it’s 21 cases from memory have been taken. The only one that was successful was in 2012 when Julia Gillard was the prime minister in the social and community services award. What that did was grant a significant pay increase for workers in that sector.

The evidence, when you go back and look at the consequences of that decision, are that a largely feminised industry of community workers have stayed in the industry [and] have, therefore, been more productive.

[They] have, therefore, been able to go up the career chain and earn higher wages, and therefore, earn more superannuation and better retirement incomes.

But when you have 21 separate cases being taken, and only one being successful, then there’s a structural problem there.

And specifically, as well, the aged care case that’s before the Fair Work Commission at the moment – aged care workers are paid $22 an hour. This is tough work. It’s demanding physically. But it’s also demanding emotionally, in terms of their mental health.

We have said that we will make a submission saying that the Fair Work Commission should bear in mind the evidence that’s before the Royal Commission into aged care that recognised that there was a crisis, recognised that unless we do something, then people will continue to leave the sector.

Updated

Q: On regional housing – the Regional Australia Institute has brought out a report this morning talking about the pressures on regional housing areas. At the moment, they’re saying that people are not able to fill the job vacancies there because they can’t find housing. Rental vacancies are as low as 1%. What specifically is Labor doing to help regional housing?

Anthony Albanese:

It’s a major issue. Because one of the things that happened during the pandemic was that more people discovered they could work from home and could move to regions. And one of the things that used to be more attractive about regions was that housing costs were lower.

But we’ve seen some of the highest increases in housing being in places like Launceston in Tasmania. It is something that we need to address. We have announced a range of housing policies, including our Housing Australia Future Fund.

... Regions will be a part of that program, as well as the Help to Buy program, which as you’d be aware, I think that you were with us on the Central Coast with the young woman who saw that that program would help her, potentially, and her partner, to have access to housing. A program, I might add, that’s working very effectively here in Victoria.

Updated

On funding Closing the Gap, Anthony Albanese says:

Well, we have already. And Penny Wong, in my one-week absence, went to Alice Springs to make the major announcement that I was going to make, which was for 500 additional First Nations health worker, including for areas like dialysis and life-saving projects. With he made a number of announcements through Linda Burney in places like western New South Wales and Ceduna and South Australia. We do need to close the gap when it comes to Indigenous health. This is a very serious issue.

Q: Just back to wages. You said that you don’t want people to go backwards. Does that mean that you would support a wage hike of 5.1% just to keep up with inflation?

Anthony Albanese:

Absolutely.

Q: On today’s announcement, you said previously that you would fund infrastructure projects that stack up against Infrastructure Australia’s model. This particular project, though, hasn’t been assessed and isn’t on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list. So how does that stack up?

Anthony Albanese:

Well, this project does stack up because it’s got a BCR of 1.7. I’ll tell you what doesn’t stack up - commuter car parks announced at the last election ...

... Yes, it has a BCR - a benefit cost ratio of 1.7. 1 opinion 7. The other thing ... The other thing that we’ve said. You’ve asked your question. You’ve asked your question. You get to ask it, I get to answer it. That’s how these things work.

Infrastructure Australia, that model has been undermined.

When I was the Infrastructure Minister, we had Sir Rod Eddington as the chair of Infrastructure Australia.

He now is the chair of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the major private sector body, all of the big players in infrastructure in this body, regard him as significant enough to be the chair of that body.

Sir Rod Eddington was someone who was knighted for saving British Airways.

He’s been on the News Corp board. Rio Tinto – a senior news person. We had Mark Birrell, the minister under the Kennett government, as the deputy head. We had Heather Ridout.

We had serious work being done.

Now, Infrastructure Australia is now chaired by ... He might be a good bloke, but he was the mayor of one of Barnaby Joyce’s local councils, who has said that he’s going to travel around Australia in a caravan – fair enough, he’s retired – and ring in to the Infrastructure Australia board.

This is a board and a process that we took seriously. This is a process that’s been undermined by a government that hasn’t taken it seriously.

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Q: Are you concerned about taking larger deficits than the government to the election forecast?

Anthony Albanese:

We’ll, of course, put all of our costings out before the election. I assume the government will too. Now, people have started voting in this election.

They started yesterday. And I note that record numbers of people – anecdotal evidence, we don’t have the precise figures – but the reports around the country is record people are voting early and record people are also putting in postal votes, so there’s some 2 million people have applied for postal votes. That will be a record number.

We encourage people to vote in our democracy. The coalition have not yet had their campaign launch, have not yet had their campaign launch.

I assume at a campaign launch you have some policy announcements, so all of the sort of adding-up of where both sides are can’t occur. The idea that you can do that before the coalition had its campaign launch is, in my view, completely untenable.

Updated

Q: On Labor’s teaching bursary, was it misleading to say it was a $50 million investment covering 5,000 spots when that dollar amount will only cover 3,000 spots in your first [term]

Anthony Albanese:

Not at all. Our project – let’s be clear about what the announcement was yesterday. We put out the cost that we gave, the full cost yesterday, was $146.5 million. That’s the cost over the forward estimates of the entire program, right?

That was the cost over the entire program of the announcements that we made yesterday. The forward estimates costs are completely accurate. This is 2-year and 4-year degrees. We’ve said 1,000 places a year. Not all of those are within the forward estimates.

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Q: I do have two questions.

Anthony Albanese:

Well, you get one.

Q: On suburban rail loop, you’ve committed $2.2 billion. This has been slated by the federal government for much more money in the past, even up to $10 billion.

Albanese:

We’re making our commitment today because that is what we are putting forward to Victoria. We, of course, will work – this is a project that will go for a long period of time. We’re hoping to begin very soon in the next 12 months for early works, but this is a nation-building project.

Our commercial commitment is what we’re making today, which is $2.2 billion. What that will do is it should give the Victorian government confidence that they’ll have a partner with the national government.

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Asked about not explicitly backing the ACTU’s submission to the FWC and why wage rises shouldn’t outstrip inflation, Albanese says:

... You should be able to pay your rent, to buy food, to get by. And the Fair Work Commission should bear that in mind in the decision that they make.

The difference at this election campaign is very stark and very clear. We have a government that have low wage growth as a key feature of their economic architecture. They’ve said that. And that is what they have done over 10 years.

Labor has a plan - Labor has a plan to lift wages and that is what we will do. A stark difference between the two.

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'Every human being deserves respect,' Albanese says

Anthony Albanese is with Daniel Andrews making the surburban rail loop announcement in Melbourne.

But the questions are about what we have been talking about today.

Q: Katherine Deves, the Liberal party candidate, has doubled down on her comments that gender reassignment surgery is mutilation. Is that an appropriate comment for a political candidate to be making? And how do you respond?

Albanese:

I don’t believe it is an appropriate comment and I’ll make this point – vulnerable people, in particular, are deserving of respect. Every human being deserves respect. What we need to look for from our national political leaders is ways to unify the country and bring people together, not play politics in order to divide people.

Updated

Victoria reports 18 Covid deaths

It has also been a difficult day in Victoria.

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The press conference ends.

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'What has this got to do with the question?' reporter asks PM

Q: Do you regret the fact that a candidate you picked, Katherine Deves, has become a distraction at the start of the campaign. And can I ask Simon Kennedy a question?

Morrison:

If you’d like? Why don’t you ask Simon first?

Q: Do you believe there’s reason to be concerned about the safety of mRNA vaccines and what are your thoughts on vaccine mandates for some industries?

Simon Kennedy:

I think I’ve been very clear on this. I’m pro-science, pro-vaccines. My wife’s an infectious diseases doctor. We were one of the first few thousand people vaccinated in Australia, because of her job.

Some weeks ago, or months ago, I expressed a comment that I was anti-blanket workforce mandates. Days after, that the New South Wales premier lifted the blanket prohibition orders, which I fully support, absolutely fully support and I think I’ve been very clear on that.

In terms of the comments, yes, I said it had happened quite quickly. I stand by that and I stand by people’s freedom to choice. I just don’t believe when we’re at 95% vaccination levels in punishing people. That was all I said.

Q: And on mRNA vaccines?

Morrison:

On your other question, the gender pay gap today has fallen to 13.8% from 17.4% when we first came to government. Now, just so people understand what that means, that means on average, because of the fall in the gender pay gap under our government, people are $70 better off because of what we’ve been able to achieve this closing the gender pay gap.

Also as Prime Minister, for the first time, more than 50% of all Federal Government appointments to boards have now been female. On top of that, I have the highest number of female members of my Cabinet since federation...

Q: Sorry – what’s this got to do with this question?

Morrison:

Since federation began – and I’m about to tell you what it’s got to do. I have no doubts in selecting a strong woman who wanted to represent the Liberal Party at this election. Not everybody may agree with her point of view. I accept that. I wouldn’t think anybody would agree with what I have to say either.

But I do think and I was very determined to ensure that I would have more female members representing the Liberal Party at this election and where I’ve had the opportunity to have a direct say in that, I have ensured that that has been delivered and that is consistent with my approach.

One of the things we’ve announced today is over $40 million to support women going into non-traditional trades and into digital and manufacturing careers. I started this press conference by talking about the investments that we’re making in skills, and one of the big shifts that can occur is by ensuring more and more women have the opportunity to go into areas of our economy that they haven’t entered into before.

I’m seeing it in the mining industry. I’m seeing it in the manufacturing industry. All critical areas of skill and in our Defence Forces as well. I’m absolutely pleased that I’ve been able to recruit and we’ve been able to appoint strong female Liberal candidates that won’t just run with the pack when it comes to issues but will stand up for what they believe in. That’s what being a Liberal is all about. Thank you very much.

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NSW premier defends Icac in front of Scott Morrison

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet then tries to walk a very tight line.

Perrottet:

I believe the prime minister and I are completely on the same page in relation to driving integrity in public office, whether that’s politicians or the public service.

Q: But he calls it a kangaroo court.

Perrottet:

I accept we may disagree in relation to the operation of the New South Wales model. But at its heart, what we both agree on is that there should be integrity agencies in place that ensure the best standards in public life. And whether that’s in the public service or in politicians, that is the expectation right around the country and in New South Wales.

I agree with the prime minister in relation to – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. With our integrity agency, the Icac in New South Wales, it differs from other integrity agencies in other state jurisdictions.

I think it is welcome that at a commonwealth level they’re working through that. As the prime minister has said, their work is hundreds of pages long and it’s important they get it right and it’s important ...

Q: But are public hearings going too far? Too many public hearings?

Perrottet:

When it comes to any agency in the New South Wales government, we always look at them in terms of ways we can improve and if there’s areas where we can improve here in New South Wales, we will.

But ultimately, here in our state, the Icac has played an important role in maintaining high standards in public office and in the public service. We have people in jail today because of their behaviour and the corruption that occurred in relation to – I’ll take Eddie Obeid for example, in the previous government, which corruptly used taxpayer dollars for personal benefit.

And as premier of this state, whether it’s politicians or whether it’s the public service, I expect the highest standards of integrity and I want to ensure that - not just that that is maintained in our state but ultimately, as well, the public have confidence in government in the standards they have in the delivery of public service in our state.

Updated

'Anthony Albanese is just making it up,' says Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison continues:

Hang on. You’ve asked a long question and I’m giving you a very comprehensive answer. The second phase of our integrity commission, which is set out in our 347 pages of legislation, deals with the broader issues of criminality across the entire public service, the entire public service, the vast majority of which don’t have any coercive powers in relation to the decisions that they take, which is another difference between the federal and the state jurisdictions.

So my point is this – what may or may not work at a state level is not a guide to what should be done at a federal level and I don’t believe the New South Wales ICAC model is the right model for the federal jurisdiction.

I have serious criticisms of the New South Wales ICAC model. I’ve never been a fan of how it’s conducted itself. And I don’t care if barristers and lawyers and others up there in Macquarie Street – not in the Parliament but in the barristers’ chambers – disagree with me.

They disagree with me all the time. I’ve never had much truck with them over the course of my entire political career.

I’ll leave them to what they do and all the rest of it I’ll focus on what I think is the right model for Australia because I don’t intend, when we introduce our model, to get it wrong. I think the design of it has to be right. It’s not just about having any integrity commission, one that is driven by populism, one that has just been driven by the latest thought bubble. Labor’s policy is two pages. Ours is 347 pages of legislation. Anthony Albanese is just making it up!

Updated

Q: One of the commissioners of the New South Wales Icac has said that those who describe the New South Wales Icac as a kangaroo court are buffoons. You’ve described it as a kangaroo court. Are you a buffoon, given his comment?

And a question for Premier Perrottet – you’ve obviously disagreed on that kangaroo court label for the New South Wales Icac. I’d like you to tell us here today what’s wrong with calling it a kangaroo court. Why is it not a kangaroo court?

Scott Morrison:

I didn’t quite understand the last part of your question. It sort of got a bit muddled.

Q: The question is that Stephen Rushton ...

Morrison:

I understood that bit. I didn’t understand the last part.

Q: Premier Perrottet clearly disagrees with the description ...

Morrison:

OK. Sure, OK.

Q: I’d like him to ... say why it’s wrong to call it a kangaroo court.

Morrison:

I stand by everything I said on the matter. I don’t believe the New South Wales Icac is a model we should follow at the federal level.

I’ve seen it come and destroy people’s reputations and careers before it has even made a finding. I don’t think that’s good process.

And I’m not alone in that. Chris Merritt, a distinguished legal affairs writer with the Australian has written sharing my view about this. Stephen Conroy, a former Labor communications minister, has expressed sympathy with my views when it comes to what is the best way to go ahead.

I’ve also made this point – the issues you’re dealing with on integrity are different at a federal level to a state level. At state level, you’re dealing with development consents, gaming, gambling and horse racing and a range of other issues which are very different sets of issues than at a federal level.

At a federal level, it’s issues around taxation, competition policy, law enforcement, integrity, immigration decisions ...

Q: But you’re dealing with grants, property deals and a lot of money where there’s ...

Morrison:

But the difference is ...

Q: It’s a question of integrity.

Morrison:

No. The difference is this. When it comes to issues of decisions made by the Federal Government, all the things I’m referring to, those decisions are made at arm’s length by officials.

And that’s why the first phase of our integrity commission proposal has already been implemented.

We have already done it with the transformation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commission, in expanding its remit to the ACCC, the ATO and a range of financial regulatory authorities and that’s important because they are the things that federal governments deal with and we’ve already put $50m in to support that. Now, the second tranche ...

Updated

Q: But what if the minimum wage didn’t go up?

Scott Morrison:

It is for them to consider those issues and make that decision, in the same way it’s for the Reserve Bank to independently make their decision on what’s happening with cash rates.

They are the important institutional settings of how our economy is managed. Now, I’ve been around these issues for a long time. Treasurer for three years and coming up to almost four years as prime minister.

I’ve been around the economic settings for a very long time and I know how they work. And that’s why you don’t carelessly go around and start prodding and poking and pretending that you have some magic wand that can raise wages and things like this with Mr Albanese has been going on about.

This guy just doesn’t understand the economy and he just doesn’t understand how budgets work, because he’s never done one.

And at a time when we are facing so much uncertainty, at a time where so much is at risk, at a time more broadly, internationally, in the security environment, there are real consequences for the decisions that people are making right now.

This election is not a passive decision. It’s not one where there are no consequences either way. This is not just like voting in an online poll or something like that, which means nothing.

The way you vote on Election Day and who you choose is going to have a very significant impact. I’ll give you an example of how.

When I first ran for parliament in 2007, if I’d gone and knocked on people’s doors down there in the Sutherland Shire and I said, “If you elect Kevin Rudd, 800 boats will turn up with 50,000 people on them and 1,200 people will die, they will put in place policies that will set fire to and put in place overpriced school halls and they’ll completely crash the budget,” if I’d said that to people, they would have locked me up.

That all happened. They changed to a Labor government from a strongly performing Howard-Costello government.

At the last election, could you imagine, had the Australian people chosen differently at the last election and $387 billion of high taxes, abolishing negative gearing, retiree taxes, it goes on and on and on – could you imagine if that had been put on the Australian economy as we went into the pandemic? My point is simple – elections have consequences. The choices you make will have very serious consequences, and Mr Albanese is proving almost every single day the question mark on him about whether he’s up to it

Updated

Q: Prime Minister, on wages, do you support Australians on the minimum wage getting a pay rise so it keeps up with the cost of living?

Scott Morrison:

I support the process we’ve always had for the setting of the minimum wage in this country and that is that it be independently assessed in a proper process based on the best facts and information about the economy. That’s why that process is in place. We have always welcomed and accepted the recommendations that have come from that body.

Q: Are you worried that some people are really struggling?

Morrison:

Of course I do. That’s why we’ve halved the petrol tax. This is why we have given tax cuts. This is why those tax cuts today mean that an Australian earning $90,000 today, if they were on Labor’s tax rates that we inherited, they would be paying $50 a week more in tax every single week. Now, that goes on and on and in the next term, the tax plan that we have legislated ensures that those earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will pay no more than 30 cents marginal rate of tax. That is transformational. That is real tax reform that ensures that Australians keep more of what they earn. That is how we can address – see, there are only two ways ...

Updated

On Labor’s housing equity scheme, Dominic Perrottet does not repeat Morrison’s “forced to sell” line:

When it comes to housing affordability there is no doubt that this is a real challenge, not just here in our state, but around the country.

I’m open to all ideas in relation to how we can drive home ownership. We cannot have an Australia that can’t house its children. And we have an obligation, I believe, to look at innovative thinking about helping particularly young people get their keys to their very first home. Now, reform is hard, and here in our state, we’ve done ... You know, we’ve been looking at a fair bit of work in relation to stamp duties.

... What we need to have is a constructive discussion. We should be open to all new ideas to help drive it. In our upcoming budget here in our state next month, there’ll be a real focus on housing affordability.

Q: Do you agree that it’s a forced-to-buy scheme in the PM’s language?

Perrottet:

There will always be different views in relation to housing affordability. I think it’s important that we’re open-minded. From my perspective, that is certainly the approach that we will take in our state ... One thing, when it comes to housing affordability that states can do, is drive supply and open up opportunities and build infrastructure to support it.

I was out with Minister Roberts recently in south-west Sydney where we’re looking at new developments, but importantly building the infrastructure. Now, politicians don’t like sometimes investing in those smaller infrastructure projects like water and sewerage because there’s no real ribbons to open on those, but ultimately, they are the investments that drive supply and provide opportunity.

Outside of that, I’m very open to looking at new ways of thinking in relation to housing affordability. We’ve been doing that in our state and we’ll do that going forward.

Updated

Q: There’s been coal-fired power outages. Has that driven up electricity price as soon as – and when will they start coming down? And if I may, Mr Perrottet, do you support an equity scheme? Is it a forced-to-buy scheme? Can you weigh in on that?

Scott Morrison:

On electricity prices, since I’ve become prime minister, electricity prices have come down by over 10%. There are many reasons for us being able to achieve that. The work we’ve done in the retail area and making sure the default offers don’t just put people’s prices up.

We’ve been focused on ensuring the reliability guarantee so we can continue to have reliable, affordable power in the system.

We’re working on a gas-fired power plant in the Hunter, in northern New South Wales, ensuring generation capacity which supports the large influx of renewable energy into the grid.

That’s a good thing but at the same time, it does increase variability in the grid and it does involve intermittent power-generation sources which need to be If you’re bringing intermittent renewable sources into the grid, you need the base load reliable power to support the use of that renewable energy in the system.

So one does work with the other. And we’re already seeing movements in prices now in terms of how they’re feeding into the coal that goes into energy production in this state and around the country.

And we will see those prices move around a bit but what we have seen under us is electricity prices come down 10%. I made it clear yesterday that Labor’s policy that will put $20 billion of investment ahead of when it and where it needs to be in place, that takes on another $50 billion and more of investment which will only put electricity prices up and the estimates of electricity prices going up $560 year - and that’s not just assessments that we’ve made.

Of course, the whole issue of transmission investments that are ill advised and ill timed, whether it’s the Grattan Institute or the Victorian Energy Policy Council or Frontier Economics, they’ve all said very clearly if you over invest, if you gold-plate the grid within transmission, it pushes energy prices up. It can be as much as 46% of your energy bill comes from those who invested in the transmission network getting their money back from you.

And that’s why electricity prices go up if Anthony Albanese’s plan – which is to overinvest, gold-plate, ill-timed investments - that will just put your prices up, because he hasn’t thought it through. (Labor’s plan is for an independent body to make decisions about where the upgrades are needed)

He hasn’t thought it through, like he has not thought through many policies, and nor has he costed them. He hasn’t submitted one policy for costing during this entire election.

You cannot risk Labor with an Anthony Albanese-led government, with Anthony Albanese, who’s never put a Budget together in his entire life in government. And this is no time to be taking that risk with the serious up certainties that the Australian economy is facing closely.

Updated

Q: You have a candidate talking about this in an inner-city seat. There’s a huge LGBT community in seats like Wentworth and Kooyong. What message is your candidate sending to them? And what pressure is it putting on people in those seats to retain their seats? And secondly, if Josh Frydenberg is put out because of these comments, who’s your pick for treasurer?

Scott Morrison:

You’ve made a bunch of comments I don’t accept. It’s about the individual Australian, adolescent or otherwise, that is confronted with these issues about surgery regarding their gender reassignment. [Note: it is called gender confirmation.]

That’s the only thing that matters here. The only thing ...

Q: But she said they’re being mutilated –

Morrison:

The only thing that matters here is their welfare and the choices that they’re seeking to make and understanding the serious consequences of those changes, and ensuring that they have the right support and that their families have the right support, so they can work through these difficult issues. That’s my only concern here. That’s my only concern.

Q: Prime Minister, will you speak to her? Or will you get the chief medical officer to speak to her down the track? Are you tempted to go campaign with her? She’s just up the road?

Morrison:

I don’t sort of set out my campaign schedule, as you know - and we’ve gone over those issues before. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to speak to Katherine.

Q: What will you say to her?

Morrison:

That will be between Katherine and I.

Updated

Q: Prime Minister, Katherine Deves has said that it is the correct terminology to refer to that procedure as “surgically mutilated and sterilised”. If you stand by her, you must stand by her definition of that procedure. Will you engage with the fact as well –

Morrison:

No, I don’t accept ... [he also says “I am not a surgeon”]

Q: There are no adolescents who can have this surgery. Prime Minister, you have implied that young people 18 and over can enter into a fundamentally life-changing surgery lightly. You said it’s not something to be taken into lightly. That implies –

Morrison:

Well, it isn’t something to be taken into lightly.

Q: But you’re implying ...

Morrison:

No. You’re implying that. I’m not implying that. I’m simply saying that ...

Q: Do you stand by her language –

Morrison:

No. I wouldn’t use that language. I wouldn’t use that language.

Q: Have you spoken to her about the language?

Morrison:

I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to her.

Q: Will you speak to her about what she’s been saying?

Morrison:

I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to talk. I’m not a surgeon or the chief medical officer.

Q: But –

Morrison:

I’m not the chief medical officer.

Q: Children in Australia under 18 can’t undergo gender reassignment surgery in Australia, so how are your comments relevant?

Morrison:

You would also understand that this process can begin in adolescence. Would you know that. You would know that the process of discussions about gender and gender reassignment – the surgical procedure can’t, but the process, the process by which these discussions commence and when issues of gender are being discussed with adolescents, that’s when the process can commence.

And these are issues that I have no doubt Australians are very concerned about. Parents are very concerned about it. They should be dealt with sensitively. I deal with them sensitively and my government will deal with them sensitively.

Updated

Q: Minors can’t undergo that surgery in Australia. Only people aged 18 and over according to your own health website. It can’t happen to minors in Australia.

Scott Morrison:

Even at any other stage, this is serious change. It is irreversible change.

Q: Prime Minister, do you agree with her comments?

That’s not a phrase I would use ... and isn’t a phrase any prime minister would use. I’m just simply saying that this is a significant surgical procedure that completely changes someone’s life, and it should never be entered into lightly, and it should never be entered into without a full appreciation of the irreversible changes.

This is what the the health department recommends:

Gender confirmation surgery is not for everyone. Many people are comfortable to live with gender dysphoria or to have hormone therapy only. Choosing gender confirmation surgery is a big decision. It’s almost impossible to reverse.

There are international guidelines covering gender confirmation surgery. Before you have surgery, the guidelines say you must have:

– gender dysphoria that has gone on for some time
– be able to make a fully informed decision and give consent
– be over 18
– have any physical or mental health problems well controlled
– have been taking hormones for 12 months continuously, if they are recommended for you
– have lived for 12 months continuously as the gender that is the same as your gender identity

Counselling is usually recommended for anyone consider gender confirmation surgery.

As with any surgery, there are risks involved including bleeding, infections, blood clots, damaged tissue and changes in feeling in the skin. Afterwards, some patients have problems going to the toilet or achieving sexual pleasure and/or orgasm.

For people with gender dysphoria, gender confirmation surgery is medically necessary and almost always results in them feeling satisfied and happy after their surgery.

However, gender confirmation surgery can only do so much. You might not be pleased with how you look after surgery. The procedure does not resolve gender dysphoria in everyone.

Updated

Scott Morrison stands by Katherine Deves and wrongly claims young adolescents can have gender confirmation surgery

Scott Morrison has moved on from saying the issue Katherine Deves was talking about was women in sport, to “gender reversal surgery”.

Q: You previously defended Katherine Deve’s controversial comments on transgender teenagers saying she’d apologised and withdrawn them. Now she’s walked that back, do you stand by her?

Morrison:

Yes I do ... we’re talking about gender reversal surgery for young adolescents [note: in Australia, minors cannot have the surgery] and we can’t pretend this is not a serious, significant issue.

It is. It’s complicated and the issues that have to be considered, first and foremost in the welfare of the adolescent child and their parents, and their parents – we can’t pretend that this type of surgery is some minor procedure.

This is a very significant change to a young person’s life and it is often irreversible. And I think ensuring that we understand what we’re dealing with here is incredibly important. And that’s why our government and also state governments are so focused on ensuring that we get the right supports, counselling, psychiatric supports, but ultimately the supports for the parents and the family to make the best possible decision.

Now I, and I’m sure many other Australians, are concerned.

This is a concerning issue. It’s a troubling issue and for us to pretend it’s a minor procedure – it’s not. It is extremely significant and it changes that young adolescent’s life forever. And so I think it’s really important that we are very sensitive about those issues. I think it’s very important we’re sensitive about these issues.

Again – you cannot get the surgery Scott Morrison is talking about if you are under 18 in Australia.

Updated

Scott Morrison may want to talk infrastructure today, but it will be his candidates that will most likely take up his time – on top of Katherine Deves backtracking on the apology Morrison had been referring to for the last three weeks, the Bennelong candidate, Simon Kennedy, has made questionable social media posts about vaccines.

Updated

NSW reports 17 Covid deaths

It has been a tough 24 hours in NSW.

Updated

Paul Fletcher, the infrastructure minister, is also at this press conference.

Scott Morrison pushes economic managers message

Scott Morrison is campaigning in Bennelong, but is once again using his pre-press conference spiel to lay out what he actually wants to say – this time, its about economic management.

He starts on the Bennelong bridge, goes to GST and then heads into apprenticeships.

He is reading from notes as he lays out what the Coalition has done on training.

As we come out of this pandemic, and as Australia economy is performing more strongly, the advanced economies in the world, our unemployment falling, our triple A credit rating intact, that means Australia can secure the opportunities ahead of us, because we made the wise decisions during the pandemic to back in those apprenticeships with strong trade policies to ensure that Australian companies had the people they need to now go and seize the opportunities that are ahead of them. Now, I know that’s quite a few things to raise with you this morning.

Prime minister Scott Morrison.
Prime minister Scott Morrison. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Dominic Perrottet is now speaking:

I want to thank the federal government, the Morrison government, for the partnership as he said, we don’t always agree. But we have robust discussions that get things done for our people.

Updated

You can read more about Katherine Deves backtracking on her apology with Paul Karp here:

Bennelong is being wooed with a bridge upgrade:

The Coalition is announcing a $700m investment in the ADF operational headquarters in the seat of Eden-Monaro (Labor held) which it says will create 300 jobs.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast this morning, Catherine King was also asked about Labor’s timetable (if it won the election) for the religious discrimination bill:

We need to consult again with both religious organisations, with LGBTIQ+ groups, we don’t want – we want to make sure we’re able to protect religious freedoms and people’s religious expression, but we don’t want to introduce new discrimination.

That’s what the government’s bill did. It had their own members, particularly in some of the inner-city seats saying they couldn’t support it. I didn’t get into parliament to put more discrimination on people. I want to remove discrimination from people, including people who have religious faith, but I don’t want to make it worse for other people.

Labor MP Catherine King.
Labor MP Catherine King. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated

Labor’s big announcement today is a train loop around Melbourne, a $2.2bn investment over five years Labor says will help address Melbourne’s growing infrastructure crowding.

Daniel Hurst, who pressed Peter Dutton on the Brereton reforms at last week’s national press club debate, much to Dutton’s displeasure, has an update on just how many reports Dutton has received so far:

Peter Dutton’s department says the defence minister is in possession of six reports from the oversight panel regarding the Brereton reforms – but he is yet to disclose any details about what they found.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Special Investigator is considering further allegations of war crimes against Australian defence force personnel allegedly committed in Afghanistan, in addition to the matters specifically referred to it for investigation by the Brereton inquiry, a letter tabled in parliament shows.

The former defence minister, Linda Reynolds, established an oversight panel in late 2020 to give the Australian community confidence the ADF was putting in place lasting cultural reforms. She promised to report “regularly to the parliament on their reports to me”.

But Dutton, who took over as minister in late March 2021, has never spoken about the Brereton reforms in parliament, even though the number of reports from the panel is growing.

Updated

Albanese: 'I don't know you would go into politics if you don't want to leave a legacy'

Anthony Albanese says, in response to Scott Morrison’s criticism of him that the prime minister has no legacy:

This guy had no plan for this term says that he wants to be prime minister but doesn’t want to leave a legacy.

I don’t know why you would go into politics if you don’t want to leave a legacy.

I spoke about my legacy in my first term. First speech to parliament.

That’s what people do and then they then they work on it.

My first speech was about nation building and infrastructure. It’s about greater equality.

... This this prime minister has no plans for the future. He struggles with the present. I want to change people’s lives for the better. I want to talk about cheaper childcare. I want to talk about women’s equality. I want to talk about First Nations recognition in our constitution with an enshrined voice to parliament.

I want to build new industries through the national reconstruction fund. I want to make more things here, I want to act on climate change.

I want a national anti-corruption commission is setting up politics. My opponent, my opponent has nothing except fear campaigns and personal abuse.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Updated

Asked about Indigenous recognition in the constitution, Anthony Albanese says:

I will sit down with First Nations people after the election, about a timetable, sit down with the Coalition of peaks and others who’ve been involved in the Uluru statement from the heart.

This is a very generous offer of First Nations people they had their hand out in friendship.

It’s a generous statement. It’s a wonderful statement. And the idea that we don’t recognise that Australian history didn’t begin when the first fleet arrived, that we should be proud of our 65,000 years at least, of having the oldest continuous civilisation the plant on the planet that should be recognised in our constitution.

Now we do want obviously for it to be successful. And just as I offered, I offered the prime minister in the first meeting that we had after I became Labor leader.

I said this should be a priority. We should get this done. I would expect that if we’re successful, I’ll reach out across the parliament to ensure that there’s as much support as it needs to be of course on a bipartisan basis for this change.

Updated

Anthony Albanese is asked whether or not he supports the ACTU’s submission to the Fair Work Commission for a 5.5% increase to the minimum wage, but won’t give a yes or no answer.

The 5.5% is higher, of course than the inflation rate. What I say is that people can’t afford to go backwards. The current minimum wage is just $20.33.

Asked again, he says:

I’ve said the people the Fair Work Commission, in my view, should not allow people to go backwards. People are really struggling out there. And the idea that people’s minimum wage can’t keep up with the cost of living in terms of inflation, is in my view, something that the Fair Work Commission should bear in mind.

Updated

Anthony Albanese is speaking to ABC radio RN for the first time this campaign. He is asked about Clive Palmer’s suggested preference flows against Labor in key seats the opposition needs to win if it is to win the election.

We are we’re not completely shocked by that. But what we will do is continue to seek out people’s first preference at this election, including in those key seats, but there are seats right around the country, people’s vote [is very powerful] every individual’s vote is powerful.

Sarah Martin has covered off that preference suggested story there:

(cont from previous post)

Over 450 people filled Avalon theatre to hear from five of the Mackellar candidates in a forum that was chaired by ABC presenter Geraldine Doogue, who promised (and delivered) a far more orderly debate than the Nine Network leaders’ debate on Sunday night.

The event, organised by Avalon bookshop Bookoccino, was the first time Scamps and Falinski had faced off in person.

Scamps specifically ruled out supporting a wealth tax in response to an audience interjection and accused Falinski of putting “words in her mouth” and “feeding on fear” when he asked whether she would back the taxes proposed by economist Richard Denniss, if Labor won.

In a sometimes testy exchange, she said “small business” was the backbone of the electorate, and that her policy choices would support small business and wage increases.

But Scamps seemed to not understand Falinski’s question about whether she would guarantee confidence and supply for the party who formed government in the event of a minority government. She eventually said she would guarantee both.

Falinski, who chaired a recent parliamentary inquiry into housing costs in Australia and named it as a priority, came under pressure from Doogue who asked him what he would actually do about the problem.

He ruled out changes to capital gains tax and scrapping negative gearing, saying favourable tax treatment for housing accounted for 4% of the rise in housing cost.

He warned ending negative gearing for mum and dad investors would result in Australia ending up with thousands of houses being owned by corporations as had occurred n Berlin.

He said the biggest shifts could come from increasing supply of housing through densification, more efficient planning system and land releases. He proposed negotiations with the states similar to the national competition framework where federal funding would be withheld unless progress was made.

But all five participants seemed reluctant to support, or clearly opposed greater densities and fewer environmental controls in Mackellar, one of the least densely populated areas of Sydney.

The surprise star performer of the evening was the Greens’ candidate, 18-year old Ethan Hrnjak, who said the Greens were the only party advocating a 75% cut in emissions by 2030 – the number the IPCC said in its last report was needed to ensure global heating was kept to 1.5C.

He received rousing applause for his case for action as well as his advocacy for more spending on mental health.

Updated

Independent candidate Sophie Scamps and Liberal MP Jason Falinski face off in Mackellar

Independent candidate for Mackellar, Sophie Scamps, has faced a barrage of questions about who she would support and how she would vote on key issues such as tax if she wins the seat of Mackellar on Sydney northern beaches in 10 days time.

Scamps, who insists she will will make up her own mind after consultation with people in Mackellar, came under fire from her main rival, Liberal MP Jason Falinski, who warned that community independents were “an artifice” and were being funded by “ dark money” from a group of millionaires out of Sydney and Melbourne.

Scamps replied that taking the funding from Climate 200 was necessary to match the power of the parties, and that 10,000 people had donated to the group set up by Simon Holmes à Court because they were deeply concerned about the Liberals’ failure on climate change.

The two bickered over how much was being spent – she said $1.2m and he said $2m – a figure he labelled as “an unprecedented spend in a single seat.”

Scamps said that she would wait to see what the major parties offered but the independents did not intend to act as a bloc, setting the stage for protracted negotiations if neither party has a majority.

Mackellar independent candidate Sophie Scamps.
Mackellar independent candidate Sophie Scamps. Photograph: supplied by Sophie Scamps.

Updated

Good morning

It’s legs 11 with just 11 days left in the campaign.

Thank Dolly. I’m not sure any of us could handle much more.

Scott Morrison’s handpicked candidate for Warringah, Katherine Deves, has backtracked on her apology for her previous social media comments (some as recent as earlier this year) in an interview with Sky News.

Chris Kenny: So when you said that the gender reassignment surgery for teenagers was mutilation, that was inappropriate?’

Katherine Deves:

Look, that is actually the correct medico legal term. Look, it’s very emotive and it’s very confronting, and it’s very ugly. So of course, people are going to be offended.

But when you look at medical negligence cases, that is the terminology that they use. It is also contained in the Crimes Act of New South Wales.

So was she apologising?

Well, I’m apologising for how people might have perceived it, and the fact that it is confronting and it is ugly, and I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But that is the correct terminology.

Deves says she is speaking for the “quiet Australians”.

Labor’s Catherine King was asked on ABC this morning if she was surprised Deves had walked back her apology.

No, I think this is an incredibly divisive debate and I think the prime minister has chosen a very divisive candidate to run in that seat and I think it’s really awful to see that happening in the context of a federal election campaign.

Meanwhile, aged care staff are planning to go on strike today, protesting low pay and conditions.

Thousands of staff are planning to walk off the job across the nation, in action which was flagged last month. The union is calling for at least a 25% pay rise.

King says Labor backs the pay rise:

A couple of things we have said, this is a damning indictment on the government. How can you have a royal commission where its interim report titled Neglect tells you there’s a problem with residential aged care and basically do nothing about it? We said 24-7 nursing staff, minimum times for people to – for workers to be with residents, again, that basically brings in more staff into residential aged care and we have said we’ll make a submission to the Fair Work Commission in relation to the waged case.

Scott Morrison is in Sydney, while Anthony Albanese is in Melbourne, where he is expected to campaign with Daniel Andrews.

Given there is less than two weeks in the campaign now, where the campaigns go tells you where the seats are to be won. It’s only going to rev up.

As usual, you will have Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp, Daniel Hurst, Sarah Martin and Josh Butler to help you make sense of it, and a very caffeinated Amy Remeikis on the blog.

Ready? Me either.

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