Home » Australian Politics Live: Scott Morrison Challenges Labor On 2050 Targets, Victoria Opens Border To NSW

Australian Politics Live: Scott Morrison Challenges Labor On 2050 Targets, Victoria Opens Border To NSW


Third vaccine shots have been approved for people with severely compromised immune systems, but there is no answer as yet as to when the rest of the nation will begin receiving their third shots (it’s not really a booster, more of a third dose)

AAP says the AMA wants Atagi to make that decision sooner rather than later:

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Roderick McRae has urged the expert immunisation panel to approve third jabs.

“The vaccine status of those healthcare workers in particular who have had those two booster doses, their protection against COVID-19 is waning,” he said on Wednesday.

“They should be looking after healthcare workers to ensure that they’re as protected as they possibly can be as they have made the decision to open up the community.”

But infectious disease expert Robert Booy said the focus should be on ensuring immunocompromised people were given another dose before Christmas.

“For the rest of the population who might be at higher risk, I can see a booster coming next year at the same time as a flu jab – March, April, May,” he told the Nine Network.

“So no need to panic.”


The government is being forced to split one of its own bills to get at least some of it passed before the end of the year.

From Daniel Hurst:

The Morrison government will push ahead with new laws requiring businesses to report when they are under cyber-attack and, in extreme cases, to allow Australian officials to “step in” to help fend off hackers.

The operators of critical assets will be required to report cyber incidents. The legislation will also allow the government – through the Australian Signals Directorate – to provide direct assistance to industry “as a last resort”.

The rationale for this change is to allow the government to “provide assistance immediately prior, during or after a significant cybersecurity incident to ensure the continued provision of essential services”.

On Wednesday, the federal government will split its own critical infrastructure bill, delaying some elements that businesses have complained would impose “red tape”.



Victoria records 1,841 local Covid cases overnight; NSW 283

Both NSW and Victoria have released their latest Covid data. Victoria has recorded 1,841 local cases overnight; NSW 283.


VicGovDH (@VicGovDH)

Reported yesterday: 1,841 new local cases and 1 case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).
– 38,881 vaccines administered
– 78,928 test results received
– Sadly, 12 people with COVID-19 have died

More later: https://t.co/OCCFTAchah#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/fHFgWqkYZc

October 19, 2021


NSW Health (@NSWHealth)

NSW COVID-19 update – Wednesday 20 October 2021

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 92.3% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 81.6% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
– 88,664 tests pic.twitter.com/qGXQBxYuWJ

October 19, 2021

All of the love and condolences to those who have lost loved ones.



Labor SA senator Karen Grogan will deliver her first speech this afternoon.



In case you missed it yesterday, Dorinda Cox made her first speech in the Senate:

My pledge is to assure the people of Australia that my values are anchored in the betterment of our communities’ quality of life, and for further generations of our children to have a healthy and thriving planet to live on. Fighting for that future belongs to all of us – one that benefits many, not just a few. If you feel unheard and unseen then, in my time working here, I want to work to make sure that we change and transform this place so that we can be better allies for you. Climate and social justice is the unfinished business that we must prioritise as elected leaders of this nation, which is here, in the place of the people – the Senate.

I wish to finish in my great-grandmother’s Wajarri Badimaya language. Nganhu garrimanah malga brily marlbayiminah. Together, we stand strong and we rise up.

Newly sworn-in WA Greens senator Dorinda Cox is congratulated by fellow Greens senator Lidia Thorpe. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian



AAP has an update on the resumption of the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial:

The resumption of Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial has been put off until at least the middle of January but no date has been set due to COVID-19 disruption.

The Victoria Cross recipient’s lawsuit against The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times was halted in August and slated to resume on November 1 after Sydney went into lockdown.

After hearing different proposals from the parties in the Federal Court on Friday, Justice Anthony Besanko vacated the November slot.

He also rejected a suggestion the trial be relocated to South Australia or resume for a short time from November 8 in Sydney to hear from NSW witnesses.

“I do not propose to fix the date for resumption,” he said. “It seems to me circumstances are too uncertain for me to do that.

“I wish to have the opportunity of resuming the trial on, or some time after, January 17 should the circumstances indicate that is the appropriate course having regard to the interest of the parties and the administration of justice.”

The judge, who will give his reasons at a later date, listed the matter for a further case management hearing on December 3.

The difficulties of continuing the trial include the availability of witnesses from Western Australia flowing from COVID-19 border restrictions in that state.



Meanwhile, the tax commissioner is facing a Senate inquiry, as Daniel Hurst reports:

Australia’s tax commissioner, Chris Jordan, faces an inquiry into whether he “disobeyed a lawful order of the Senate” by declining to release information about jobkeeper payments.

The Senate voted on Tuesday to refer the issue to the powerful privileges committee, the latest development in a long-running battle between non-government senators and the Coalition over the key pandemic economic stimulus measure.

It stems from a Senate decision on 4 August to require Jordan to provide a list of all employers with an annual turnover greater than $10m that received jobkeeper, the number of employees paid, the total amount paid and any amount returned.



Our hot vaxxed summer will only be hot for the vaxxed:

RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast)

On tennis:

Immigration Minister @AlexHawkeMP says that Novak Djokovic will not be allowed into Australia if he is not double vaccinated.

“Our health advice is that when we open the borders everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated”

October 19, 2021



And for anyone who still thinks the climate science is disputed (and you don’t have to go far in either parliamentary chamber to find someone who will tell you that) the verdict is in – no it is not. Scientists agree the climate emergency has been caused by humans:



While the Coalition still umms and ahhhs over a bare minimum commitment, one of the industries they say they are considering is pleading with them to get on board.

As Sarah Martin and Katharine Murphy report:

The National Farmers’ Federation has made a final pitch to the National party to support a net zero emissions reduction target before Scott Morrison heads to Glasgow, telling MPs that failure to do so could “punish farmers” as the rest of the world decarbonises.

Morrison is due to depart for the United Nations-led climate conference late next week by the Nationals continue to work a package of measures to accompany any 2050 commitment – including funding for regional jobs and infrastructure projects.

The party’s leader, Barnaby Joyce, has signalled the Nationals’ priorities will be put to Morrison by the end of this week. A Nationals subgroup comprising ministers David Littleproud, Bridget McKenzie, Keith Pitt and Kevin Hogan is coordinating proposals from their colleagues, including ascertaining specific safeguards required for the Nationals to formally agree to adopt the net zero target.



In question time yesterday, Barnaby Joyce said he was anticipating being able to give the prime minister a response from the National party by the end of the week.

Cabinet is meeting today (which Joyce sits in) where the roadmap and plan – which is yet to be made public – will be discussed more. Ultimately, the decision will be one for cabinet. Which means Joyce, Bridget McKenzie and even those outside cabinet, like resources minister Keith Pitt, will have to embrace the decision and sell it, even if they don’t like it (or resign their ministerial positions). You can’t have ministers running around criticising a plan the cabinet has embraced.

Barnaby Joyce at question time yesterday. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The only thing for certain right now is that if Joyce and co hadn’t rolled Michael McCormack when they did, they would be doing it now and blowing up the entire show. There is no way this point in the discussions would even have been reached if McCormack was leader.

Joyce is being forced to engage because he is the leader, and he’s being forced to be productive in the talks and negotiations because of what he stands to lose, politically. If he wasn’t the leader right now and this situation was playing out, you can guarantee there would have been a leadership battle thrown into the mix. Somewhere in an alternate universe, that very scenario is playing out. So at least we have been spared that.



What is the price of the National party support?

David Littleproud tries to pretend he doesn’t know what ABC host Michael Rowland is talking about, but by the third attempt Littleproud says:

Money makes the world go around, mate.

Cool. So we got there. So what is the price?


We are working through that to make sure there is not a huge price to this. Using the smarts of technology and reform in protecting regional Australia, we aren’t thinking about 30 pieces of silver.

We are thinking more about the policy settings to ensure we protect regional Australia and help grow it. That is the simple premise we have been tasked by the party room.

We don’t want to ask for billions of dollars, that is not responsible.

We think we can achieve it by being smarter than that and using the mechanisms that are already there rather than going for a cash grab. The National party is more mature and pragmatic than that.

We are working through that now and trying to make sure we get this right. That is the process we have set ourselves and to do it as quick as we can.



Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud has been trotted out again to try to make sense of what is happening in the Coalition at the moment, given there has been eight years for the governing parties to come to this moment, where they have to consider a net zero target (not a zero target) three decades into the future.

He’s on the ABC this morning:

You have to put it into perspective. Our party room only saw this plan less than 36 hours ago. We are trying to move as quickly as we can and be respectful and pragmatic of the process. The vast majority of the party room want to move forward but they want to secure regional Australia’s future but also growing it. Making sure any impacts we can mitigate. We are running the lens over that now and doing that as quickly as we can, understanding there are time pressures on this. We appreciate we only saw this less than 36 hours ago.



Government to ‘refine’ federal Icac legislation

The federal attorney general, Michaelia Cash, has said the government will refine its proposed federal integrity commission in response to feedback on the draft bill.

The indication from the government comes as the independent senator Rex Patrick prepares to introduce into the Senate legislation to establish a federal integrity commission that is based on the same legislation introduced in the lower house by the independent MP Helen Haines.

Haines and Patrick have been working on securing crossbench support for the bill, and if it secures the numbers, the legislation is expected to be debated and voted on this week. If successful, it will then go to the lower house.

To pass the legislation, 38 Senate votes are needed, meaning support from Labor, the Greens and just three of the the five crossbench senators is needed to pass the bill.

The pressure on the government over the Commonwealth Integrity Commission comes as some Liberal MPs speak out in favour of a tougher CIC, criticising the model for a number of shortcomings.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cash said the government was still intending to introduce its bill into parliament this year:

The Government has conducted a nation-wide consultation process on draft legislation for the CIC which included civil society, academics and key experts across the government and non government sectors.

The Government is currently considering the extensive feedback received through the consultation process in order to inform further refinement of the draft legislation.



Good morning

We have all made it to hump day! An achievement no matter how you look at it, given how frustrating the weeks can be.

It’s still all climate, climate, climate in the parliament, as the Coalition tussles over a net zero target set 29 years into the future (think about how old you will be then, if you want to put it into perspective) while maintaining that there will be no changes to the fossil fuel industry.

It being Auspol, Scott Morrison is doing his absolute damndest to switch the debate back to Labor. So the government has a plan, but Labor, which has not yet released its policy, is going to cost you jobs, or so goes Morrison’s rhetoric, which really picked up steam during question time yesterday.

So that gives you a little taste of what the coming election campaign is going to be like. Also worth noting, Morrison is still trying to shrug off his own past words – presented with his own quotes, the PM just rejected the premise.

That’s another favoured tactic – you never have to apologise or reflectt.

Meanwhile, in place of saying anything of real value, the current deputy prime minister continues to rattle off every regional and rural town in Australia.

And while it is true that emissions reductions are going to lead to change in rural and regional industries (with many making changes already), the cost of inaction impacts EVERYONE.

Barnaby Joyce is setting it up as a binary choice between the regions and the cities, all but saying that there is no impact to people who live outside a regional or rural postcode.

So obviously he has no memory of just a couple of years ago when Sydney and Canberra were choking on bushfire smoke. Or when major floods swept through cities. Or the increase in storm activity. It’s not binary, is what I’m saying. It impacts us all.

We’ll keep you up to date on all of today’s doings, as well as what is happening elsewhere.

West Australian premier Mark McGowan has all but ruled out any border reopening to NSW and Victoria before the end of the year, saying he doesn’t want to impact the freedoms of people living Covid-free in his state.

Queensland is on a mass vaccination push, with 11 days for people to get vaccinated before the state begins its reopening (that is taking into account the lag between vaccinations and how long until you get antibodies).

And Victoria is about to hit is 80% target, which means more freedoms for people in Melbourne, who deserve all of the goodness given what they have been through.

You have Mike Bowers walking the halls, Amy Remeikis on the blog and Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst in Canberra ready to explain it all.

It’s going to be a five-coffee day. I feel it in my cold black heart. Ready?