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Australia politics live: Morrison addresses Higgins discrepancy; PM says bus crash a ‘tragedy beyond comprehension’ | Australian politics

Australia politics live: Morrison addresses Higgins discrepancy; PM says bus crash a ‘tragedy beyond comprehension’ | Australian politics

‘I did not mislead the Senate’: Gallagher

Katy Gallagher continued:

Over the past week, coalition members, including those at the centre of the rape allegations, have been alleging that I have misled the Senate over comments I made almost two years ago. I reject those allegations.
I take my responsibilities to this place as a Senator very seriously, and I have always conducted myself with the highest levels of integrity.
And I always will.
I did not mislead the Senate.
At Senate estimates on June 4 2021, the then minister for defence, Senator Reynolds, said, “I know where this started” she went on to say, “I was told by one of your senators two weeks before about what you were intending to do with the story in my office.”
Two weeks before.
I was shocked at the assertion made by Senator Reynolds, with the clear implication that I was responsible or had some involvement with making that story public. That was not true. It was never true. And I responded to that allegation by saying no one had any knowledge.


Key events

To catch up on today’s biggest headlines so far, my colleague Antoun Issa has the latest:

In a statement, Independent MP Zali Steggall has spoken out against the alleged leaking of confidential information provided as part of a police investigation.

She said:


The media should not have a leave pass on people’s right to privacy… Media publication of leaked private material produced for a police investigation undermines trust and confidence in the criminal justice system for victims.
This is not in the public interest.

Joe Hinchliffe

Queensland Council of Social Service (Qcoss) chief executive, Aimee McVeigh, says the short-term cost of living relief in the Queensland budget would make a “significant difference” to the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

McVeigh welcomed rebates on power that all Queensland households will enjoy and that will likely see some not pay electricity bills at all next financial year.

McVeigh said:

With increasing energy costs, increasing rents and even increasing costs of groceries, people on low incomes are really finding it tough right now.
People have been not turning on heaters, not turning on lights and not using power because of the pressure that the cost of energy is putting on household budgets.

McVeigh said Qcoss was also “very supportive” of the government’s universal kindy funding, school breakfast program, swimming lessons and funding for solar panels on social housing.

McVeigh’s comments came a day after she described the 500 extra social homes the budget would fund as welcome but “inadequate given the state’s current housing crisis”.

Joe Hinchliffe

Joe Hinchliffe

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane says the state’s budget has “revealed the true extent in which Queenlsand relies on the resources sector” but has taken an “enormous hit on the future viability” of the coal industry.

Macfarlane told reporters at state parliament:

An extraordinary record $15.3bn has been contributed to the Queenlsand government coffers from the coal industry alone.
The reality is that Queensland now relies on its viability in the economy on the coal sector.

But the former Liberal resources minister said the sector was facing “a grim challenge” with investor confidence “shattered” by the coal royalty increase.

Treasurer Cameron Dick today unveiled a raft of short-term cost of living relief measures on the back of budget flush with an unexpected $10bn revenue windfall due to his decision to increase royalties on record-high coal prices.

Sarah Hanson-Young continues speaking on the ABC and argues that the leaking of Higgins’ text messages should be investigated.


Greg Jennett (host):

Should the AFP have a role in investigating this [portions of subpoenaed documents made public] or do you think they, as a party to the sovereign of inquiry and events generally around Brittany Higgins, are they conflicted?


Frankly I’m surprised they haven’t called for an investigation already. The AFP have been pretty silent so far.


Why do you think that is?


I don’t know but that is a question that they need to ask.
This is a very serious leak of private information and it will create a chilling impact on other victim-survivors. No doubt about it.
What this says – and if the parliament doesn’t respond, if the government doesn’t respond, if political leaders and the police don’t respond properly – what it says is watch out.
There is no point telling your story, there is no point putting your head up, because you cannot trust the information will be treated properly. That is a shocking indictment on all of this.
I think there are some very very serious questions. I’m glad that the attorney general has referenced it today, but it needs to be investigated.


‘Revolting’: Hanson-Young decries politicking over Higgins allegations

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said that the “politicking” over the Higgins’ allegations over the past few days has been “revolting”.

Speaking on the ABC she said:

We just step back a moment, a young woman alleged to be sexually assaulted in her workplace, she claims that when she went to her bosses, that she wasn’t supported, that she felt dismissed, that she felt silenced.
Years later, now her private text messages with her partner are being reported across newspapers and are being quoted in the parliament as part of a political game.
The message that this sends to other women right around the country is dangerous. It is going to have a chilling effect and every politician, every policymaker and every leader in this country should be concerned of what is going on here.

Polls are ‘at disconnect to the conversations that I’m seeing on the ground’: yes campaigner

Marcus Stewart, Uluru Dialogue Representative and yes campaigner on the Voice to parliament, just appeared on the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing.


He is asked about “faltering support for yes in the polls”, and responded:

It is a paper scissors rock [depending on what poll] you want to listen to.
Ultimately the polls that we see on the news are at disconnect to the conversations that I’m seeing on the ground [and] in our community with the broader Australian public.
There is enormous goodwill and so we have to stay calm. We understand polls sell papers, they’re clickbait, but it is not a true reflection of the mood of this nation and appetite for change and the opportunity for us to wake up a better country.
There is a lot that worries me but I am absolutely confident that the day post referendum we could see change in this country for the better and we just need to remain calm …
The start gun goes once the bill is passed, hopefully next week, and we take it out of the political domain … and then we have the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with the Australian people, win the hearts and minds of the Australian public and, as I said, wake up a better country that Sunday post-referendum.

Marcus Stewart of the Yes23 campaign.
Marcus Stewart of the Yes23 campaign. Photograph: Dean Sewell/Oculi/The Guardian

Youth advocates call for voting rights to extend to 16

Non-partisan group Make It 16 has called on federal parliament to extend the vote to the country’s 16- and 17-year-olds as part of a campaign to lower the voting age, AAP reports.

The 16-year-old Ravin Desai told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday:

At the end of the day, we’re the people that will inherit the consequences or benefits of what our governments do.

The group was supported by a mix of young and older crossbenchers.


The independent MP Monique Ryan said young people were affected by decisions parliament made on climate, the environment, housing and the economy:

All of these issues matter to them – more than to some people in this place. It’s only fair that we give them this chance to participate in our democracy.

The Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie supported the change and suggested an opt-in model:

No one in this country has a greater stake in our future than younger Australians. They will still be here long after I’ve been buried.

The Greens youth spokesperson, Stephen Bates, said young people are at the forefront of so many crises confronting Australia.

Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Malta, Scotland and Wales already allow 16-year-olds to have their say at the ballot box. The youth suffrage supporters credited higher rates of political engagement and voter turnout compared to older age groups, as results from those nations.

Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Huge thanks to Amy for taking us through the day. I’ll be with you for the remainder of the evening – let’s get into it.

A very big thank you to everyone who followed along today in what was a rougher than expected day.

There are many who forget that what goes on in the chamber has very real impact on those outside of it. And the messages from today – and let’s face it, recent weeks – have been heard loud and clear. It is not just politics. It matters.

If that is you, if you are struggling, please know you are not alone. There are many of us who walk this path with you.

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14.

I will be back early tomorrow to cover off the second day of the sitting. Let’s hope for a gentler one.


Emily Wind will take you through the afternoon. And please – take care of you Ax

For those wondering about the Queensland budget, you can find a handy catch up here:

The ‘r’ word

The Westpac consumer sentiments and the NAB’s business watch reports were released today and you will be SHOCKED, SHOCKED to learn that things are not great.

CreditorWatch’s chief economist, Anneke Thompson, has released a statement mentioning the “r” word and they are not alone – more and more economists are starting to warn we are headed into recessionary conditions.


And you know how the RBA deals with recessions? It cuts interest rates. (Face melting emoji here)

None of this changes the fact though that the third or so of people without housing costs or those with big saving buffers have not changed their spending patterns during this period of ongoing inflation. And the rest of us who do have housing costs and no savings are the ones who are paying the price.

From Thompson’s analysis:

Consumer confidence remains near recessionary levels, with consumers surveyed by Westpac after the rate rise decision on June 6 noticeably more pessimistic than those surveyed the day prior. Consumer sentiment has never been this low for this long, which points to difficult times ahead for the retail sector in Australia. Already, the household goods sector is being severely impacted, with trade in this sector down almost 5% in the year to April 2023, despite record inflation over that time period.
Business sentiment is now starting to fall the way of consumers, although the drop in sentiment, it must be said, is a far slower process. Business confidence now sits at -4 index points, and business conditions fell from +15 to +8 index points between April and May. More concerning is that labour and input costs edged up, a further sign that inflation is too sticky.

Question time ends

Question time is extended to allow Tony Burke to talk about same job, same pay and then we are all freed.


Was it the most unedifying QT we have seen? No. But it is coming close. Thank goodness for the independent MPs for reminding the chamber that all of this is above politics and they are actually dealing with people’s lives.

A gentler parliament, this is not.

Katter blurs question-statement line

Bob Katter has words which seem to be in the form of a question, but if this was old school Q&A, Tony Jones would say “I’ll take that as a statement” and then move on.


However, the government cannot move on, so Mark Butler takes it – it is about pharmacists I think – and gives pretty much the same answer he gave the member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, earlier.

‘Calm down Radioactive Man!’

Bowen is ruled to be in order, so he continues:

I met with those farmers in the impacted area, they made clear that they have support for the project and announced in response to the government’s announcement of going on the nation, with local supply chain investment, estimated to be in excess of $1bn in more than 3,000 jobs in the construction phase, this investment will deliver long-term economic benefits.

There are plenty of more interjections – Paul Karp hears Labor’s Josh Burns call out to the Liberal’s Ted O’Brien “calm down Radioactive Man” (again, who is Fallout Boy –maybe Keith Pitt?)


But all in all, it is the same old argument.

The bringing of people into the gallery though, that is borrowing from old Labor tactics. This is the second time that the opposition have brought people into the gallery to make a point – last time it was pharmacists in their white coats, this time round it is farmers.

It’s going to be a long year.

Question on power lines through Mallee farms


The Nationals MP Dr Anne Webster asks Chris Bowen:

My question is to the minister for climate change and energy. In the gallery today are many farmers from the Mallee. They will be impacted by the government’s fast-tracking of 28,000km of polls and wires across regional Australia. How many more farmers will be impacted from Labor’s arrogant policy to steamroll local communities and pushing forward 28,000km of transmission lines?


I thank the member for her question. Let’s say to her and the house it would have been better if the question was more anchored in the facts. And the facts of the matter, the fact … is the member made a number of positions in a question and it is appropriate to point out that those assertions are incorrect, in relation to that, the number of farms affected will depend in no small part on the final route selected, they made an announcement two weeks ago, two weeks ago that they had changed the proposed route based on community feedback, Mr Speaker, that is no bad thing.
That is no bad thing.
Its original path heading north-west in the Senate through Charlton and the border to go around and hit the Murray River downstream. This is a result of community consultation, community consultation is something we take very seriously in the government, Mr Speaker, in fact, the last sitting week I met with the Murray River group council who came to talk to me about that and I accepted the meeting, the request of course, they are to speak to me about it, they said to me that they appreciated the consultation that they had engaged on, they appreciated the engagement with the government, they made that point to me, they requested a meeting and they got [one].

There is a point of order.

‘There is a lot of work ahead of us to turn this tide’: Labor on homelessness


Julie Collins takes that reader question – the whole answer is a bit of an essay, so here is the main take away:

The Albanese Government believes that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home.
We know the latest data from the ABS shows the number of people experiencing homelessness climbed by 6,000 people between 2016 and 2021.
It is unacceptable that almost 123,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness, as highlighted in the most recent census data.
These are more than numbers. These are people, people facing the extraordinary stress of not having a safe roof over their heads.
There is a lot of work ahead of us to turn this tide, and we need to work together to do it.
… Earlier this year I also announced our government’s continued investment of $91.7m into youth homelessness through the reconnect program over the next three years.
This is in addition to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement that will see the Albanese government provide $1.7bn this year to states and territories for the operation of housing and homelessness services.
We are continuing to work with the states and territories on the future of the Housing and Homelessness Agreement, as well as the development of the National Housing and Homelessness Plan.

Collins then moved on to the fund:

The fund is about creating a secure, ongoing pipeline of funding for social and affordable rental homes over the long term.
What we’ve seen too often in the past is investments in housing being disrupted by changes of government – a boost from a government that prioritises housing followed by cuts when a government with different priorities and policies is elected.
This is exactly why the Fund is structured in the way that it is. Putting it at arm’s length from budget cycles and changes of government will mean it remains in place.

Emily Wind (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

Published: 2023-06-13 07:04:49


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