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Australia politics live: Lambie says housing bill delay means ‘more kids sleeping out in cars’; coal ports disrupted by climate protests | Australian politics

Australia politics live: Lambie says housing bill delay means ‘more kids sleeping out in cars’; coal ports disrupted by climate protests | Australian politics

Lambie says housing bill delay means ‘more kids sleeping out in cars’

The interview moves to housing and Jacqui Lambie says she doesn’t think there will be a double dissolution election over it (the government made it clear after the Senate decision to delay the bill to 16 October it considered the bill to have failed for the first time – the first step in a double dissolution trigger) but she is also very uncomfortable with the delay itself.

Every day you delay this is every day that we have more kids sleeping out in the cars with their parents.
And I can tell you I’m sitting in Canberra now. It’s bloody freezing, and Tasmania is just as bad.
This is a starting point. And if there are hiccups along the way, you know, I’m sure the government will work alongside that.
They’ve just put another $2bn into it. They will – I honestly believe the prime minister and I hope this is not breaking confidentiality with my meetings with him – there’s things to be worked out along the way or we need to add more we can see that there’s, you know, see that we can plug gaps along the way

Jacqui Lambie says she is uncomfortable with the delay on housing and doesn’t think there will be a double dissolution election over it. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Updated at 19.45 EDT

Key events

The AEC commissioner Tom Rogers has a general message for anyone campaigning for either side of the referendum – if in doubt, authorise the message.


Politically active entities are familiar with the requirement to authorise their messages but others who will campaign in this referendum may not be,” Mr Rogers said.
If your communication is designed to encourage people to vote a certain way and you are expending money to create or distribute that communication, or if you’re likely to be a referendum entity, then you have to authorise that communication.”
Authorisation laws are all about people knowing who is communicating with them about their vote – my advice to all campaigners is to make that as clear as possible and if in doubt, authorise.”
Public debate is important. The AEC isn’t here to stifle or prevent debate but we do want to make sure referendum communication is transparent and complies with the law.”

Jane Hume makes her speaking slot – just

Liberal senator Jane Hume, the shadow minister for finance, is a little out of breath as she delivers a speech in the Senate – it looks like she has had to run into the chamber to make her speaking slot.

She pulls on her blazer as she speaks and pushes through catching her breath at the same time. Someone hands her a glass of water, which she gratefully accepts.

Updated at 21.03 EDT

Government to fund sustainable aviation fuel development


Chris Bowen has announced funding to sustainable aviation fuel.

Bowen, the climate change and energy minister, and Andrew Leigh went out to the Canberra airport this morning to make the announcement.


Today we’re announcing that Arena, the federal government’s renewable investment agency, will invest $30m to work with companies to make sustainable aviation fuel a reality – not interested at this point in early-stage research; that work has been done. This is about late-stage research taking work that’s already been done and turning it into commercial reality, making it available for Australia’s airlines and, indeed, for international airlines to refuel in Australia.
Qantas calls Australia home; we want to make Australia a home for sustainable aviation fuel. So these grant applications will open in the coming weeks and will be open until November. So I invite people who are interested in developing Australia’s sustainable aviation fuel industry to apply for $30m of funding. It will make a difference to taking good research that’s already occurred and taking it to the next step to make that a reality.

Updated at 20.57 EDT

Tibetan leader to speak at the National Press Club


At the National Press Club today is Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the democratically elected political leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. He is visiting Australia until 25 June.

Penpa Tsering wants the Australian government to take a stronger stance at China’s increasing human rights violations in Tibet and wants help ending what he is calling a “cultural genocide”.

Updated at 20.44 EDT

Perfect exchange, no notes.

Embassy lawn.

— U.S. Embassy Australia (@USEmbAustralia) June 21, 2023

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Daniel Andrews: Victoria won’t freeze MPs’ pay

The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has arrived at parliament and is taking questions from journalists. First up, he’s asked if he deserves to be the highest-paid premier in the country – with his salary set to increase by 3.5% to about $480,000. His reply:

An independent body determines all of our pay, terms and conditions. It’s an independent body. There was a time when politicians set their own pay and we took steps to change that. We stand by those decisions.

Andrews says Victoria won’t follow NSW in freezing MPs pay during the cost-of-living crisis. He says the government is currently negotiating pay deals with the public sector “in good faith”:

We will negotiate in good faith with all of our workforce and we hope that all employers negotiate in good faith with all employees regardless of industry, regardless of circumstance, that’s our approach. It’s an independent model. We do not set our own pay – it’s set by an independent, arm’s length tribunal, and that is far preferable in my mind to MPs setting their own pay rises.

Andrews has rebuffed questions about his “halfwit grub” comment directed at a female Liberal MP:

The comments were withdrawn in accordance with the rules of the house. I’ve got nothing further to say. I’ve addressed these issues in question. I’ve got nothing further to add.

Updated at 20.26 EDT

This sort of debate is going to continue today:


Greens’ Barbara Pocock wants to see PwC held accountable

The Greens senator Barbara Pocock is using the Australia Institute polling that found 80% of respondents wanted to see PwC banned from holding new government contracts to continue her push to see the consulting and accounting firm held accountable:

I share the shock and disgust that Australians feel when they hear about the rich and powerful ripping off Australian taxpayers in the most cynical and self-interested way.
This survey result certainly ramps up the pressure on the government to take more decisive action against PwC, who have clearly lost the trust of the Australian people.
There has been a moral and ethical failure within this firm, which has its tentacles in just about every facet of public life in Australia.

Updated at 20.20 EDT
Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Pesutto says Victorian MPs’ 3.5% pay rise ‘overshoots the runway’

Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto has called for a review into the state’s remuneration tribunal, which awarded MPs a 3.5% pay rise yesterday, saying the decision doesn’t meet community expectations.

He told reporters:


This was a system that the Andrews government established some years ago. It’s designed to be an independent tribunal. But clearly, it’s landing decisions that don’t sit well with the expectations of the Victorian community. The government having set up this system really needs to look at ways to make sure that the criteria that the remuneration tribunal takes into account as an independent wage setting body will lead to decisions that better reflect the expectations of the Victorian people.
I don’t think Victorians believe that politicians should never get pay increases. I think Victorians, like everyone else around the country, believe in fair and reasonable increases, but not ones that overshoot the runway like this.

Pesutto also reiterated his call for Daniel Andrews to apologise to Cindy McLeish:

This parliament must lead in terms of lifting standards of political discourse and debate in this state. And if the premier can’t do it, if the minister for women won’t defend women, and if Danny Pearson is prepared to come out and say that he too supports the premier’s comments, it shows that we have a government that is not committed to those high standards.

Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto.
Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto. Photograph: Morgan Hancock/AAP
Updated at 20.47 EDT
Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Telstra-TPG bid to expand regional networks knocked back

Telstra and TPG have suffered another blow in their bid to expand their networks in regional parts of Australia, with the Australian Competition Tribunal backing a previous Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruling against the two companies sharing network infrastructure.

The deal would have resulted in TPG decommissioning about 700 Vodafone mobile sites in order to use 3,700 Telstra mobile sites in a network sharing agreement across 4G and 5G. It would have increased the reach of Vodafone’s mobile network in regional and remote parts of Australia – increasing coverage from 96% to 98.8% of the Australian population.

Telstra would have also gained access to 169 TPG sites.

It was struck down by the ACCC in December, and in an appeal judgment on Thursday, competition tribunal president Justice Michael O’Bryan said while the agreement would not materially affect TPG’s position in the market, it would further increase Telstra’s competitive position in the market.


He said it would also undermine Optus’s willingness to invest in expanding its network coverage.

O’Bryan said the tribunal was concerned with maintaining competition in the mobile retail and wholesale markets as a whole, and not Optus specifically, but said that the market is highly concentrated and unlikely to expand to more operators.

He indicated the ruling was limited to this agreement and other network sharing arrangements might not be knocked back in a similar fashion.

Updated at 20.58 EDT

Newcastle and Melbourne ports again targeted by climate protests

AAP has reported on the latest climate protests at the country’s coal ports:


Newcastle and Melbourne ports have again been targeted by climate protesters, just hours after a teenager scaled a coal loader and glued herself to a railing.

It’s the third day of action by climate activists targeting major east coast coal ports.

A young woman abseiled off Shepherd Bridge on Footscray Road on Wednesday morning, blocking six lanes of traffic with a safety line stretched across the road.

Earlier, a 22-year-old man perched himself on top of a nine-metre pole on a rail bridge at Branxton, forcing the closure of the NSW Hunter railway line, with no trains running between Scone and Maitland. The man anchored the pole to rail infrastructure to cause maximum disruption to operations.

By mid Monday morning both protesters had yet to be removed by police.


The action comes after an 18-year-old Canberra woman was charged on Tuesday night after scaling a coal loader at Newcastle and gluing herself to a railing.

On Monday another woman was charged after suspending herself above the railway leading to Newcastle’s coal loader.

NSW police minister Yasmin Catley labelled the protesters “crazy” and “blockheads”, describing the action as “absolute nonsense”.

“Their actions do absolutely nothing for the environment or climate change,” she told Sydney radio 2GB.

Updated at 20.52 EDT


Midwinter Ball – the Aldi version of the White House press corps dinner

I’ve had a few people ask about the Midwinter Ball – what is it, what goes on and why it happens.

Hosted by the press gallery, it’s like the Aldi version of the White House press corps dinner. Unlike the White House gala, it is off the record – which is why you don’t see the speeches like you do when DC hosts its annual affair.

People have to register their interest in buying tickets – attendance is not guaranteed. Politicians have to be invited to attend on one of the tables – again, attendance is not guaranteed. It’s all run by the press gallery committee and a special Midwinter Ball committee. Everyone has to pay for their ticket.

There is usually a comedian as host and live entertainment. The press gallery journalist of the year is announced at the ball.


And the leaders of the political parties give speeches, usually self-deprecating.

There has been an ongoing battle over whether they should be off the record. You may remember that Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t happy when his Donald Trump impression was reported quite a few years ago.

There is a good cause underpinning it all – it has raised millions for charity over the years.

Which means there are raffles and auctions – this year you can go to the cricket with Peter Dutton, or play a game of tennis or pool with Anthony Albanese at the Lodge.

I am not attending (it is not my scene) so I will let you know if I hear of anything happening on the night.


In the meantime, a few happy snaps from last year’s do:

Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher with Laura and Jim Chalmers.
Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher with Laura and Jim Chalmers. Photograph: Jane Dempster/AAP
Anthony Albanese with partner Jodie Haydon.
Anthony Albanese with partner Jodie Haydon. Photograph: Jane Dempster/AAP
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young (left) and Greens leader Adam Bandt and partner Claudia Perkins (right).
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young (left) and Greens leader Adam Bandt with partner Claudia Perkins (right). Composite: AAP

Updated at 20.15 EDT

Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Daniel Andrews was defending female MP, says former minister for women

Victoria’s former minister for women Gabrielle Williams is also out this morning defending the premier’s “halfwit grub” comment directed at a female Liberal MP yesterday.

Williams – who served as minister for women between 2018 and 2022 – also said he was defending Northcote Labor MP Kat Theophanous:

I know that the premier like a great many others on our side of the chamber took umbrage at what was without doubt a very low blow directed at the member for Northcote. He was obviously defending the member for Northcote. These are attacks from the opposition that are not unusual in that place. And you know, we have much to point to in their treatment of women and in their approach on these issues.

She accused Liberal MPs of shouting over female ministers during recent budget estimates hearings:

We disproportionately saw women members screamed at, talked over and generally treated very poorly in in contrast to our male counterparts.

After about five minutes of questioning, Williams eventually conceded the premier’s comments were inappropriate and noted he withdrew them:


The premier himself acknowledged they were not appropriate hence his withdrawal.

Updated at 19.36 EDT

It is no surprise that it gets icier the closer you get to Parliament House.

Frost is seen on the grass and plants outside Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
Frost on the lawn outside Parliament House on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Updated at 19.33 EDT

Zoe Daniel not impressed with Coalition gambling bill

Independent Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel introduced her private member’s bill to ban gambling ads earlier in the sitting – she has just seen the opposition’s bill, which was introduced in the Senate and she is not impressed:

The opposition has introduced its meagre attempt to limit gambling ads in the Senate. I am really hoping this squib of a bill does not pass. Gambling ads must be banned, full stop. #auspol

— Zoe Daniel (@zdaniel) June 20, 2023


Updated at 19.32 EDT

Income management to be expanded with Coalition support

The Labor legislation to expand income management is in the Senate today for its second reading debate – and will be passed, given the Coalition is also in support of it.

Labor said it had abolished mandatory cashless debit cards – but it always remained, it just became voluntary and the BasicsCard (which is mandatory in some areas, including the NT) remained.

So income management never went away. And now, it is about to be expanded.

As the bill’s explanatory notes say:


Firstly, the bill extends the enhanced IM regime to include all of the measures that are in place for the IM regime in part 3B of the Administration Act. This will allow eligible welfare recipients to enter an enhanced IM regime that offers improved technology and access to over one million outlets across Australia as well as ‘Tap and Go’ transactions, online shopping and Bpay
Secondly, the Bill gives people subject to the IM regime under part 3B the choice to move to enhanced IM from the commencement date, thereby allowing them to access the BasicsCard bank account and superior SmartCard.
Thirdly, the bill directs all new entrants to the enhanced IM regime while further consultation is undertaken on the long-term future of IM.

The Greens and the crossbench cannot stop this as the Coalition is in support of the bill, which means the government does not have to negotiate.

Updated at 20.51 EDT
Benita Kolovos

Benita Kolovos

Greens leader: Victorian MPs’ pay rises should match public sector workers’

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam says MPs’ pay rises shouldn’t be higher than that of public servants.

MPs were awarded a 3.5% pay rise – 0.5% more than what has been offered to public sector workers.

Ratnam told reporters outside parliament:


The Greens have consistently argued that politicians’ pay rises shouldn’t exceed the public sector wage cap. We’ve also consistently argued that politicians’ pay should be set by an independent body like the remuneration tribunal.
We acknowledge that people are doing it really tough at the moment and our public sector wages especially have been suppressed for years. We’ve been pushing for that public sector wage cap to be increased. Our nurses and teachers should be paid fairly and we will continue to advocate for the fair pay for all workers.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam says ‘politicians’ pay rises shouldn’t exceed the public sector wage cap’. Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

Updated at 19.38 EDT


Amy Remeikis

Published: 2023-06-21 01:59:04


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