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Australia news live: Dutton aware of further allegations against David Van; Lidia Thorpe says parliament a ‘toxic’ workplace for women | Australia news

Australia news live: Dutton aware of further allegations against David Van; Lidia Thorpe says parliament a ‘toxic’ workplace for women | Australia news

Peter Dutton says he is aware of further allegations against Liberal senator David Van

Opposition leader Peter Dutton says he is aware of further allegations of sexual assault against senator David Van.

Dutton has told Nine’s Today program:

I have raised another allegation with senator Van but I’m not going to comment in relation to those matters otherwise. I made a decision yesterday based on all of the information that was available to me.

Nine host:

You are suggesting there is more than just the allegation from senator Stoker and from Lidia Thorpe?

Dutton:

Yes, and I’m not going into that detail as I said.

Dutton has expelled senator Van from the Liberal party room and he will now sit on the crossbench. Van has denied all wrongdoing.

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Updated at 21.16 EDT

Key events

Victoria records 113 Covid deaths and 313 people in hospital

There were 3,956 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 17 people are in intensive care.

Case numbers have also dropped from last week’s 6,135 – but deaths (which are always a lagging indicator) are this week nearly double the 64 recorded seven days ago.

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This week we reported 3,956 new cases with a daily average hospital occupancy of 313 and 17 patients in ICU. 113 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. 🧵 1/2 pic.twitter.com/45biNgw2qa

— Victorian Department of Health (@VicGovDH) June 16, 2023

NSW records 53 Covid deaths and 1,412 people in hospital

There were 6,906 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 35 people are in intensive care.

This week’s numbers are a sharp drop from the 11,719 cases and 81 deaths recorded last week.

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 16 June 2023

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 15 June:
– 6,906 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 4,149 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 2,757 PCR tests
– 53 lives lost pic.twitter.com/XqZtwk1Gvo

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— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 15, 2023

Amy Remeikis

Dutton urges Van to resign from parliament

Liberal leader Peter Dutton has told Sydney radio 2GB he believes senator David Van should resign from parliament and seek help.

Dutton said:

I think it is in everyone’s best interest that he resign from the parliament and I hope he’s able to do that sooner [rather] than later. And, and seek the help that he needs.

Dutton said it was up to the Victorian branch of the Liberal party whether he remained in the Liberal party.

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Dutton said he had “no regrets” in expelling Van from the Liberal party room and that he did not act “right off the back” of Lidia Thorpe’s allegations, which she raised in the parliament. Van has vehemently denied Thorpe’s claims.

Dutton said he made his decision after speaking to former senator Amanda Stoker, who alleged Van had inappropriately touched her at a social event in November 2020. Van said he recalled a conversation with Stoker, but not the incident she alleged had occurred.

Van has said he believes it is unfair that he was removed from the Liberal party room. Dutton said he stands by his choice and that he does not tolerate the kind of behaviour Van has been accused of.

I’ve been very clear about that for many, many years, and it’s not a throwaway line for me. I believe that very strongly, and I believe that I had to act and I did that and don’t have any regrets in doing so.

Updated at 21.11 EDT

Peter Dutton accuses Lidia Thorpe of besmirching ‘everybody who works in Parliament House’

The opposition leader Peter Dutton has accused senator Lidia Thorpe of besmirching “everybody who works in Parliament House” with sexual assault allegations he says lack detail.

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While Dutton moved to ban Senator David Van from the Liberal party room following Thorpe’s sexual assault allegations, Dutton has now taken aim at the independent senator. Speaking to 3AW radio station, he said:

Senator Thorpe – and it’s been well documented in the papers, her conduct inside and outside of the chamber – does need to seek support … with all due respect to her.
… I think senator Thorpe has lots of issues and some of those and her own conduct have been well documented.
She made serious allegations in the Senate this week. She hasn’t provided the names or details of individuals involved.
She doesn’t wish to make a complaint to the police. She says she doesn’t want the matters to go further. In the absence of any detail, it’s hard to just besmirch everybody without providing details. It’s hard to investigate that and provide an outcome.
… To besmirch everybody who works in Parliament House. This is not a partisan thing. It’s not a party thing. There are individuals who need to be held to account … And that’s what I’ve done in relation to the responsibilities that I have.

Van has denied wrongdoing.

Updated at 21.04 EDT

AGL to reduce dividend payouts from FY24 to fund transition away from coal

AGL narrowed its underlying earnings ranges for FY23 to $1.33bn and $1.375bn (previous guidance was $1.25b to $1.375b) in a statement released to the ASX.

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The company also expects a higher underlying profit after tax of $255m to $285m (previously $200m to $280m).

The upgrades reflect increased generation due to improved plant availability, a reduction in forced outages and a higher customer margin.

This is partly offset by higher operating costs on increased maintenance costs, bad debt expenses and the impact of inflation.

In FY24, underlying earnings are forecast to surge to $1.875bn and $2.175bn for an underlying profit after tax of $580m to $780m.

AGL also announced a change to dividend policy from FY24, reducing the payout to 50 to 75% of underlying profit after tax from the previous longstanding guidance of 75%.

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Nicks said:

That will allow us to fund the transition and also allows us to provide the appropriate returns to shareholders.

As Australia’s largest emitter, the company is spending up to $10bn over the next eight to 12 years on shutting down ageing coal-fired power stations and replacing them with renewable energy sources and fast-start gas units.

AGL continues to target a complete exit from coal-fired generation by the end of FY35.

AAP

Updated at 20.40 EDT
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AGL ups profit outlook amid ‘tough period for everyone’

AGL Energy has upgraded its profit forecasts as it prepares to slug customers with bill increases of up to 30%, AAP reports.

Announcing a brighter outlook for shareholders this year and next, AGL’s chief executive, Damien Nicks, said the business is highly leveraged to wholesale prices, which have increased significantly in recent years.

We are acutely aware of the impact to our customers in this inflationary period. It’s a tough period for everyone.

Nicks encouraged customers to switch to monthly from quarterly bills to help manage cost of living pressures.

Price changes take effect from 1 July and the company is expecting an increase in customer debt despite taxpayer-funded bill relief hitting accounts.

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Updated at 20.25 EDT

Helplines, information and support for those affected by sexual harassment and assault issues

With so much news of sexual assault in the blog this morning, please make sure you are reaching out to the appropriate organisations if this has been re-traumatising for you.

Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations:

In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 500 2222. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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Updated at 21.22 EDT

Lidia Thorpe: ‘not at all’ safe for black women to go to the police in Australia

Thorpe said referring her allegations against Van to police was not an option for her or for marginalised people who had experienced sexual violence.

The police need to change their behaviours and look at themselves as to why people like me and so many other women do not go to the police. Do you think it’s safe for black women to go to the police in this country?
Not at all.
So that’s not an option. And they’re the processes, they’re the structures that we need to change to make [for] women and people of colour and [who are] transgender. It needs to be a safe space for us.
We are questioned. We are pulled through the coals to justify what happened to us and it should be the other way around and it’s not a safe space. So that was not an option for me.

Lidia Thorpe says media did not take her allegations seriously until backed up by Amanda Stoker

Circling back to Senator Lidia Thorpe’s interview: she has accused the media of not taking her allegations made against David Van in parliament seriously until a white woman – Amanda Stokeralso came forward.

Speaking about the last week, Thorpe says:

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It’s been horrible. I … became the perpetrator. I became the person that was demonised … And I had a media pile-on, that day. And it wasn’t until a white woman stood up and said, ‘yeah, this happened to me, too’, that the media took notice.
And I think that is a great example of the media landscape in this country. And that is systemic racism.
I was not believed. I was questioned. I was absolutely demonised that day, by everybody. And you wonder why women don’t speak out. You wonder why we are silenced. It’s because of that kind of behaviour.

Senator Van has denied allegations made against him.

Updated at 19.56 EDT

Bridget Archer ‘heartened’ by Peter Dutton’s swift action after David Van allegations

Asked about whether she’s having conversations within her own party about how responsible it is to be pursuing the issues around sexual assault in the way the Coalition have, Archer says she has “certainly” made her views known over a long period of time.

She says she has not directly spoken to the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, “recently.” However, Archer says she was “heartened” by his response taking seriously the issues raised by Senator Thorpe.

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And he has been clear, I think … publicly that they’re seeking to pursue a line of questioning around whether or not Senator Gallagher misled the parliament and that is a reasonable question to ask.
And in doing that, is trying to kind of be mindful of all of those other issues that sit around it, but that’s a very difficult, very delicate line to walk – I think is just my my point.
And we’ve seen many, many days of that and it’s it really is re-traumatising for a lot of people and very difficult to sit with and … there has got to be a point where there is some type of resolution to that.

Updated at 19.49 EDT

Bridget Archer: issue of sexual harassment in Parliament House ‘triggering’

Archer says she’s received correspondence from community members who are survivors of sexual assault saying they struggle listening to the discourse coming out of the nation’s capital.

Archer says for her too and other parliamentary colleagues, it’s challenging:

For me, personally, I found … the challenge of all of these issues in the last parliament, incredibly difficult. I do find it somewhat triggering, some of these conversations, as many other people in our community do, and I know that many other people here in Parliament House do.

Updated at 19.48 EDT
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Bridget Archer agrees with Lidia Thorpe’s assessment of ‘really toxic’ culture towards women

Liberal MP Bridget Archer says she agrees with the independent senator Lidia Thorpe that the culture towards women in Parliament House and the media is “really toxic.”

Archer told ABC Radio that some of her colleagues have turned the issue of sexual assault into a political football:

If you’re observing the behaviour and commentary that’s been going on in parliament in the last couple of weeks, and the commentary in the media, etc, about it … you would be disinclined to come forward and say that you had experienced sexual assault because it’s really as Senator Thorpe said, it’s really toxic.
Everybody’s running a commentary about whether you’re telling the truth or not. Your private correspondence is on the front page of the newspaper for people to commentate about. The parliament [is] still discussing what people knew about this, that and the other thing – in the meantime forgetting that there are victims survivors or alleged, victims at their centre of all of these things.
… They’re sort of turning these issues into political footballs.

Updated at 19.33 EDT

Helen Haines commends Peter Dutton for fast action over David Van allegations

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The independent member for Indi, Helen Haines, has commended Peter Dutton for the “fast action” he has taken in banning Senator David Van from the Liberal party room.

Haines has told ABC Radio Melbourne “if one woman doesn’t feel safe in our parliament, then no woman [does]”.

The distress we witnessed in the Senate this week is truly awful.

Van has denied all wrongdoing.

Haines says significant progress has been made since the Jenkins Report but we have “quite a way to go”.

Updated at 19.18 EDT

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Natasha May

Published: 2023-06-16 02:11:22

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