As the nation starts to reopen, there are going to be people left behind – our colleague Luke Henriques-Gomes would like to speak to those worried about the loss of the covid disaster payments:
Here is next week’s Icac witness list:
Over in the senate, Dorinda Cox moved her first motion to suspend standing orders to debate a motion on climate policy, calling for Australia to “step up” 2030 targets, pointing out that opening the Beetaloo Basin will increase emissions and condemning actions by governments which go against the goals of the Paris agreement, but lost.
One Nation voted against suspending standing orders, so it moved on
The house privileges committee met last night after the government defeated a bid by Labor to refer Christian Porter to it over the declaration of his legal fees being part-paid by a blind trust.
The leader of the house, Peter Dutton, has asked the committee to consider clarifying the rules around disclosure of donations for legal cases:
Guardian Australia understands although the Wednesday night meeting was the committee’s regular meeting, the Dutton correspondence was discussed. Consideration of the issue of disclosure of legal fee donations is on foot, is ongoing, and the committee is meeting again next week.
Members of the government including assistant attorney general, Amanda Stoker, are out spinning that the process Dutton proposed is better than a “witch hunt” from Labor, because it will ensure there is “a clear position that will apply equally to all people whatever their political colours”.
I note the referral does not ask the committee to consider whether any MP’s disclosures are against the rules, it seeks to further clarify the rules.
So it’s more an inquiry into whether the rules are fit for purpose than an inquiry into whether any MP has breached the rule.
In the house, Dutton sought to raise similar concerns about some senators’ disclosures.
The Senate privileges committee is meeting this morning, but has not received similar correspondence asking it to consider the rules.
Further to the anniversary of the national apology for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, the goverment is setting up a new national centre.
From the release:
Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National Apology for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, commemorating the childhoods that were stolen and renewing the government’s commitment and responsibility to protecting Australia’s children.
In honour, the Morrison government announced that the Blue Knot Foundation, along with its key consortium partners the Australian Childhood Foundation and the Healing Foundation, would establish and deliver the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said on this day three years ago we confronted our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice.
“We must continue to make sure that victims and survivors remain at the forefront of our minds and deep in our hearts, while ensuring the words we speak spur action,” the prime minister said.
“The National Centre will be an online central point of information that will help build capability of the sector to better support survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and ensure the wrongs of the past never happen again.
“The National Centre will shine a national lens on preventing child sexual abuse, improve outcomes for survivors, and increase awareness and understanding of the impacts of abuse.”
AAP has more on the NSW government commitment to establish a biotech facility:
NSW is committing $96m to establish a facility to develop and manufacture the emerging medical technology of mRNA and RNA drugs used to develop vaccines like those created for Covid-19 by Pfizer and Moderna.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the facility – at a site yet to be determined – would position the state as a world leader in biotechnology, noting it would be a game changer in the field of medical research.
The investment in RNA and biotechnology reflects the government’s new focus on research and development and a move to attract and train the best and brightest minds in developing emerging technologies.
“The NSW government doesn’t just want to be nation-leading, but world-leading when it comes to industry, ideas and innovation,” he said on Thursday.
“If there is anything that this pandemic has taught us it is that governments need to be ahead of the curve,” he said.
The facility would be “the silver lining of the pandemic”.
The project was part of the government’s plan to create jobs and ensure NSW is set up for a prosperous future, Mr Perrottet said.
Construction on the facility will begin within a year and would be developed in partnership with the state’s universities, with the funding supporting the NSW RNA bio science alliance with the aim of attracting private investment.
The facility will include labs and pre-clinical trial spaces to enable early stage RNA-based drug development.
Scott Morrison will deliver a ministerial statement on the anniversary of the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse at 9.30am in the House.
Victoria records 2,232 new Covid cases
Victoria has now also reported its numbers. There has been an increase in cases in Victoria as well, along with 12 deaths.
Again, with the 70% vaccination target having been reached, there will be a staggered reopening, and these numbers are not expected to impact that.
Condolences to anyone impacted by this though – we know that these are not numbers, they are people and every single one mattered.
The Taxation Commissioner, Chris Jordan, is out this morning talking about topics including the Pandora papers and the ATO’s success in shovelling billions of dollars of government subsidies into the economy during the coronavirus crisis.
In a speech to tax professionals at the Tax Institute summit this morning, Jordan says that “at last count” the ATO has paid $89bn in jobkeeper, $36bn in cash flow boost payments – these are payments of $50,000 to eligible businesses – and released $38bn of super early.
He doesn’t touch on the controversies with jobkeeper (widespread rorting) or early release super (draining the balances of young people).
On the Pandora papers, Jordan says:
We will analyse information that becomes available, compare it with data we already have and, where necessary, will investigate and take action against those who are involved in offshore tax evasion.
If you have any doubts over the legality of an arrangement, come to us for advice. We will always be keen to help you stay on the right path.
NSW records 372 new Covid cases
NSW has reported its covid numbers – there has been an increase in case numbers for the first time in a while – but this was expected, given the re-opening. CHO Dr Kerry Chant said she expected to start seeing an uptick in case numbers as the two-week infection lag began to tick over. If you still get worried about case numbers, pay attention to what is happening in hospitalisations and ICU admissions. Vaccinations work.
Liberal senator Andrew Bragg gets visibly uncomfortable during his interview with ABC News Breakfast when he is asked about the government’s refusal to refer Christian Porter’s members declaration to the privileges committee (going against every precedent set by the parliament previously)
Q: Can I ask you if you’re uncomfortable with the unprecedented move to block the privileges committee’s inquiry into Christian Porter’s legal donations
I’m not a member of the house of representatives, I’m a member of the senate.
Q: You are a member of the government.
I think there is a pecuniary interest with the standards. I don’t think they are working in the way that they should. I think that there is frankly too much scope for concealing information, and I think that we should have a review of the pecuniary interest standards.
Q: Why not allow this review of the Christian Porter situation?
Well, I’m not a member of the House, so I’m not across what happened in the House yesterday. What I can say is I don’t think the pecuniary interest standards are working as they should. I think frankly in some cases you could drive a truck through them.
Q: Jacqui Lambie has described it like getting a brown paper bag?
I just said to you, I think there should be a review of the pecuniary interest standards.
Victoria hits 70% vaccination target
And it is official:
I’m sorry that it is predicted to rain this weekend Melbourne. I hope you get to enjoy your weekend anyway. Go dance in it. You’ve earned it.
To the hosts credit, there was a follow up there:
Q: This is the former Australia’s top legal officer. Forget the pub test – this doesn’t pass any kind of test.
The member has resigned from cabinet and that matter was dealt with decisively. What I’m saying here though is there are many other members of parliament who’ve been in this situation about how they fund legal costs to pursue defamation actions*. That’s not just one member.
There are other members, and we’ve got to get the rules clear. That’s why we’ve referred that matter to the Privileges Committee.
If others want to play politics with it, that’s their prerogative. I want to make sure the rules are right so the integrity is protected so the government has referred those issues to the Privileges Committee, to ensure the rules are clear, and that everybody can be judged on the same basis.
*Right. Let’s deal with this. There are other members who have received crowd funded donations. The example used by the government yesterday was Sarah Hanson-Young. The difference? Hanson-Young declared everyone who donated to her GoFundMe crowdfunding. They are listed, individually, on her register. The ‘anonymous’ donations Peter Dutton highlighted as part of those donations yesterday in the parliament did not meet the donation threshold ($300). Everyone else who was over the threshold limit, had their name recorded.
The only member who did not declare the source of their crowdfunded legal donations seems to be Porter.
Over on the Nine network, Scott Morrison is trying to paint Labor’s attempts to refer Christian Porter’s register of interests for further inquiry as Labor attempting ‘a political trial’.
Here is how that played out:
Q: We had Jacqui Lambie on the show earlier, she was talking about former Christian Porter and you blocking an investigation into who paid his legal fees. This was her.
It was a political donation, let’s call it out for what it is. In a brown paper bag and it is absolutely disgusting.
Q: She has a point, doesn’t she?
Well, what we’ve referred to the Privileges Committee is this broader issue of these crowd-sourcing, funding arrangements.
There are a number of members of parliament who have had these arrangements and they’re in these arrangements and they’re in the parliament now. There isn’t just one.
So what we’ve referred to the Privileges Committee is to ensure that they can get some clear rules when politicians are defamed and how they can actually defend themselves.
So let’s get those rules very clear for everybody.
Some will try and pursue this as a political trial and I get that, that’s what political parties, the Labor Party will have their go…
Scott Morrison is told on the Nine network that for someone who said the vaccination program was ‘not a race’ he is certainly celebrating the victory and says:
It’s always how you bring it home. That’s the challenge.
Victoria and Tasmania have both passed 70% vaccinations (as an average) which means Melbourne will see more freedoms. No one deserves it better.
NSW is spending $95m on a mRNA and biotech facility, because gaps in Australia’s supply chains were made very, very clear during the pandemic.