The shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, asks whether the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, views low wage growth as “mission accomplished”.
Frydenberg shoots back:
I thank the member for Rankin and I thank the leader of the opposition for letting him out of witness protection. He’s been averaging one question a sitting week since the election.”
Frydenberg says real wage growth is at the long-term average of 0.6%.
I know that the member for Rankin rarely gets a question, but when he does, I appreciate it.”
Morrison gets a dixer. He’s asked to update the house on what the government is doing to ensure Australia’s “national economic and environmental security”.
You already know the rest, so I won’t bother transcribing the response.
Question time kicks off with Labor attack on economy
Labor kicks off question time with an attack on the Coalition’s economic management, saying growth has slowed, and labour productivity has declined for the first time since records began. Morrison responds:
Thank you. I can confirm that after the election, people’s taxes didn’t go up, Mr Speaker.”
The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, has just spoken on the 10-year anniversary of the defeat of the carbon pollution reduction scheme by the Liberals and the Greens. He said it was a “great opportunity lost” and all it required was the five Greens senators to vote in favour.
What we needed was economy-wide action on climate change. As a result there has been 218m additional tonnes of carbon put into the atmosphere.
It has been a decade in which we have today no energy policy, no emissions policy. We have an emissions reduction minister where emissions are rising.”
Back to the Senate, where Nick McKim continues to speak against the medevac repeal bill. He is discussing the case of Hamid Kehazaei, whose death from infection on Manus Island was caused by a cascading series of errors and systemic failures in the Australian-run offshore detention centre.
Queensland coroner Terry Ryan, who investigated the death of Kehazaei, deemed it to be entirely preventable, and said the healthcare on Manus was not the same as he would have received in Cape York, Australia.
McKim said he wa not evacuated to Australia because of the “mendacious bureaucrats and politicians and the system they created”.
There’s blood on people’s hands here, and the blood is on the hands of the LNP. And the blood will be on the hands of One Nation if they vote to support the legislation.”
You can read more about the case here:
Second letter to police watchdog over Fuller-Morrison call
An update today on the status of the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, and his referral to the state’s police integrity watchdog.
Last week NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge formally referred Fuller to the law enforcement conduct commission, over his phone call with Scott Morrison about the police investigation into Angus Taylor.
Morrison had spoken to Fuller to discuss the active investigation into Taylor, something Shoebridge claims was “highly inappropriate”, and a potential breach of section 10 of the LECC Act (serious misconduct).
Today Shoebridge has sent a second letter, updating his referral with a specific regulation that Fuller may have breached.
It is clause 76 of the NSW police regulation 2005:
“A member of the NSW police force must treat all information which comes to his or her knowledge in his or her official capacity as strictly confidential, and on no account without proper authority divulge it to anyone.
“A police officer must observe the strictest secrecy … and is forbidden to communicate without proper authority in any way to any person outside the NSW police force any information in regard to police or other official business.”
Fuller has told the Australian newspaper that his conversation with Morrison was “extremely short” and gave “no more or less information than what was in the media release”. “He just wanted confirmation we were conducting an investigation,” Fuller said.
Shoebridge said this was “an unambiguous law” that “binds the commissioner as much as any constable”.
“All information that commissioner Fuller had about the investigation had to be treated as confidential unless he had a valid basis to disclosure it,” he said. “To date neither the PM nor the commissioner have been able to establish any legitimate basis for this briefing.”
Meanwhile, in Liberal MP Tim Wilson’s office:
Greens senator Nick McKim is on his feet to speak on the medevac bill. He says the debate boils down to a simple question:
Do you think sick people should get the treatment that medical professionals say they need? If you answer yes to that question, you will join the Greens in opposing this legislation.”
McKim said the old regime had led to deaths, because it denied asylum seekers the care they needed.
The medevac legislation has saved lives. It has delivered people the healthcare that they so desperately needed and that they had previously been deliberately deprived of by mendacious ministers and bureaucrats.”
The government has turned offshore processing into indefinite detention, Keneally said. This, she said, was what made medevac such a critical piece of legislation.
It is why medevac was needed and required: to ensure people who are sick should receive the medical attention they require.
Denying people medical care is un-Australian.
If you or I are sick, we see a doctor.
And vulnerable people in Australia’s care who have already suffered significant trauma in their lives should not be forced to the brink of death to receive the medical treatment they require.”
Keneally says there is widespread public support for the medevac bill. But the government has made “brazen, desperate, and dishonest” attempts to discredit the law. That includes leaking national security advice to the Australian newspaper, and the dissemination of private and personal details of asylum seekers.
Let’s not forget, these are people who, in the majority of cases, have fled persecution and have been found to be owed protection.
We have seen their medical conditions misconstrued and exploited for political gain.
These people have had their photos published, the treatment they have undergone shared and their information exploited – without their permission.
How would minister Dutton feel if he woke up one morning to see his personal medical details on the front page of a national newspaper?
An investigation would be launched within minutes.”
Just a reminder: we still don’t know which way the votes will fall on this repeal bill. It all hinges on Jacqui Lambie, and we are yet to discover if she has won the concessions she sought from the Coalition.
Debate has begun on the medeval repeal bill
Debate has begun on the medevac repeal bill – formally known as the migration amendment (repairing medical transfers) bill 2019 – in the Senate. Labor’s Kristina Keneally is on her feet.
I say from the outset that the name of this bill is a fallacy.
There is nothing to ‘repair’ when it comes to the medical transfers of sick people from regional processing countries to Australia.
The name of this bill – like so many pieces of legislation from this visionless government in the post-truth era – is untruthful, misleading and misdirected.”
Keneally speaks of a letter she received from a doctor formerly on Nauru, named Chris Jones. She quotes Jones’s letter:
It is like being witness to people dying on a palliative care ward, slowly fading away, physically and emotionally. The only difference here is that they do not have the dignity of palliative care.”
Keneally says the current system allowed bureaucrats with no medical qualifications to overrule doctors on the ground. She said successive ministerial directions greatly discouraged the transference of asylum seekers to Australia for treatment.
Over time, the problem grew, and medical transfers were denied time and time again.
People’s physical injuries were left to worsen – often to the stage where people were facing lifelong disabilities.
Children were denied transfers because they didn’t want to be separated from their parents.
Women were denied the opportunity to have their reproductive health seen to.
Mental health across the cohort of Manus – and later broader PNG – and Nauru diminished terribly.
It is because of all of these circumstances that Labor and the crossbench moved to put provisions in place – medevac – to fix the issues of this third term Liberal National government’s own creation.”
Consumer advocates have welcomed the introduction of a bill to crack down on exploitative payday loans, a form of short-term, high-interest lending that can trap vulnerable consumers in debt. The bill was introduced to the Senate with the support of Labor and Centre Alliance. It would, among other things, ban payday lenders from making unsolicited offers encouraging individuals to repeatedly take out payday loans.
The Consumer Action Law Centre’s chief executive, Gerard Brody, said the bill would protect hundreds of thousands of Australians exploited by payday lenders.
“There is a broad consensus across the community that stronger consumer protections for payday loans are needed. Why then are prime minister Scott Morrison and treasurer Josh Frydenberg letting payday lenders and consumer lease providers escape legislative reform?” he said.
The government has previously promised action to regulate the payday loan industry. A draft of small amount credit contract legislation to increase protections for vulnerable consumers was released by the government in 2017, but despite promising it would introduce the bill by the end of that year, it failed to do so.
“In the three years that these reforms have stalled, payday lenders have profited to the tune of some $550m,” Brody said. Recent data from the Stop the Debt Trap Alliance’s report on payday lending uncovered a booming market, projecting that it would reach a staggering $1.7bn in gross payday lending stock by the end of this year.
Mike Bowers has been roaming the corridors of parliament this morning and has all the colour from the prime minister’s press conference and, earlier, an event launching the Friends of our Pacific Family.
A little earlier this morning, Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced a bill that would compel the Climate Change Authority to report on the impact of three degrees or more of global warming on the Australian environment, economy and society.
“The Australian people need to know that the Morrison government’s current climate targets will take us into a three-degree world, with catastrophic consequences for Australia,” he said. “We’re already seeing the severe impacts of a one-degree world with the climate crisis driving the fire emergency and the record drought. The Australian people need to know what the prime minister’s targets will do to the country when they take us to three degrees.”
There’s not a lot of bipartisanship on display in Canberra this morning. But there’s one thing Labor and Liberal MPs are both happy to put their names to: an invitation to the industry-sponsored “parliamentary friends of resources” Christmas drinks.
The invitation has just been jointly sent out by Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon and the Liberal party’s Craig Kelly. The event is to be held in parliament house on 4 December. It is sponsored by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
It is described thusly:
Sponsored by the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), the event will showcase Bright Sparks, an initiative that tells the stories of hard-working people employed directly and indirectly by Australia’s natural gas industry.”
Sounds like fun.
Jacqui Lambie coy over discussions on medevac
We know Jacqui Lambie is critical to the government’s plans to repeal medevac. For “national security” reasons, Lambie has been coy about what she wants in exchange, though one report has suggested she wants Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees from offshore detention.
Morrison appeared to shut down that option in his press conference. Asked whether he would be prepared to take New Zealand’s offer, Morrison said simply: “Those policies on those matters haven’t changed.”
The organisers of the Murray-Darling basin protest are expecting about 200 trucks to descend on Canberra today. They plan to encircle Federation Mall, the strip between the new and old parliament houses.
Organiser Carly Marriott, who lives on property just north of the Murray river, says the plan has grossly restricted her access to water, something she likens to having “your hands tied behind your back”. She spoke to the ABC a little earlier:
It’s a very peaceful rally, but it’s based out of frustration and anger at the politicians’ lack of action and inability to listen to us. We’re trying to grow food for Australians and we’re not being listened to and it’s hurting people out in the country. So the fact that we have to pack up and come into Canberra to get this message across, we’re giving it our all.”
Peter Dutton has said he believed it was entirely appropriate for the prime minister to call the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, about the active investigation into Angus Taylor’s office.
Dutton, a former police officer, was asked whether he would have appreciated such a call.
“I said at the time last week I thought the prime minister’s call was entirely appropriate,” he said. “The prime minister has obligations under the ministerial code of conduct and the alternative view would have been that he didn’t avail himself of the information and, therefore, he couldn’t fulfil his obligation under the ministerial code of conduct.”
He said nobody had “sought to impede” NSW police’s investigation.
The phone call has been criticised by Labor and integrity experts, including a former anti-corruption commissioner and judge, David Ipp, who said it appeared to be an attempt to use the office to further party political interests.