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Josh Frydenberg ‘chief enabler’: Jim Chalmers says

Paul Karp

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has accused his Liberal predecessor, Josh Frydenberg, of complaining in the media about Morrison’s multiple ministries while failing to take responsibility.

Chalmers told reporters:

Josh Frydenberg was the chief sycophant and chief enabler of this dictatorial behaviour. One of the reasons Morrison was convinced he could get away with this kind of behaviour is because Josh Frydenberg spent all his time sucking up to him instead of standing up to him. So he should take some of the responsibility for what’s happened here.

With the change of government, the adults are in charge now. [It’s] the end of that period of dictatorial authoritarian behaviour under the Liberals. If Peter Dutton were elected, you would see all of it would come back. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to get to the bottom of what happened here.

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Bell report into Morrison secret ministries released

Former high court justice Virginia Bell has released her findings from the inquiry into Scott Morrison’s secret appointment to five additional ministries.

She’s made a number of recommendations, the first of which is:

Legislation should be enacted to require publication in the Commonwealth Gazette or in a notifiable instrument registered on the Federal Register of Legislation as soon as reasonably practicable following the fact of:

i. the swearing of an Executive Councillor under section 62 of the Constitution;

ii. the appointment of an officer to administer a department of State under section 64 of the Constitution;

iii. the direction to a Minister of State to hold an office under section 65 of the Constitution; and

iv. the revocation of membership of the Federal Executive Council, an appointment to administer a department, and a direction to hold an office, when effected by an instrument executed by the Governor-General.

In August, the prime minister Anthony Albanese launched the inquiry after receiving solicitor general’s advice that the additional ministry appointments were legal but “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

Bell was tasked to report on the “facts and circumstances” of Morrison having himself appointed to administer the health, finance, industry science energy and resources, home affairs departments and treasury during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Albanese is going to be stepping up to speak at 12.30pm today to respond to the report’s findings.

Complacency over Covid-19 despite new wave

Almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind them despite a new wave of infections and different variants of the virus emerging, research by Pfizer suggests.

One in three people is less likely to get tested for Covid when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.

The findings have prompted stark warnings from health professionals.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Prof Robert Booy said the apparent decline in testing was a major concern and urged Australians to keep up to date with their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Prof Booy said:

Recent federal government data has shown Covid still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness.

Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible.

Almost two-thirds of Australians are also less concerned about how Covid-19 is affecting their community, while about half aren’t as worried about their own risk of serious illness.

One in five people who are at higher risk from Covid-19, such as those aged over 70 or those with health conditions including heart disease, are less likely to get tested or see a doctor if they experience symptoms.

The research findings are based on a November survey of 1,000 Australian adults by Pfizer Australia.

Australian authorities are closely monitoring a second Omicron variant’s transmission overseas, and all indications are that a new Covid wave has started in the country, chief medical officer Paul Kelly has said.

from AAP

Perrottet calls for insurance industry to put ‘people before profits’

Perrottet says he will be meeting with the Insurance Council next week.

We have had discussions already but insurance companies need to put people before profits and make sure every single person from the central west is given the financial support they need. This is the opportunity for those companies to step up, like everyone in this community has stepped up and looked after each other. My expectation is the insurance council and the insurance industry will do the same.

Perrottet says the rebuilding effort needs to be more climate resilient

There is no doubt there is a significant challenge ahead in relation to road and road infrastructure. I know councils have some capacity but not complete capacity to get this job done. I have been speaking with Sam Farraway, with the treasurer in New South Wales to make sure once we can actually come in here to fix roads, we will.

Flood event after flood event has made this an incredibly challenging task. We will be allocating the funding required to make sure we get our communities back on their feet as quickly as possible. We are not just talking about potholes, we need to make sure that we rebuild in a more resilient way than before and that is most important. We can’t just keep doing things the same old way.

We know whether each of these events will occur again. This has been the biggest flood here in Condobolin, bigger than 1952. Let’s hope we don’t have another flood like this in the short term but in a country like Australia, these events will happen again. We need to make sure we build back stronger everywhere in the state of NSW.

Perrottet commits to more mental health support for central west NSW

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is speaking about the state’s flood disaster from Condobolin in the central west.

There is no doubt there are significant challenges, particularly those at Condobolin, for our primary producers … We have gone through drought and now into the significant flooding event which is putting significant pressure on farmers. That is not just in Condobolin, it is right around the central west and other areas of New South Wales. This event is not over. As we can see here, it will take time for water to recede and there will be other challenges in other areas of the state.

Today we are announcing actual support for Lifeline. Six new counsellors coming out to the central west to provide that care and mental health support. It has been a difficult time for everybody. It has been gruelling, there are many people who are tired, exhausted, emotional. It is a long journey ahead. We want to make sure that care and support is there whether it is through Lifeline or our own mental health support staff coming out into those communities that have been affected, substantially affected by floods.

Victorian government promises grants for every kindergarten in the state

Joe Hinchliffe

Joe Hinchliffe

Verdict expected in First Nations case against Clive Palmer coalmine in Queensland

A landmark climate and human rights decision could be made today with a Queensland court expected to hand down its verdict on a case brought by a coalition of young First Nations people against the proposal of a company owned by Clive Palmer to dig Australia’s largest thermal coalmine.

Youth Verdict has argued the Galilee Coal Project in central Queensland proposed by Palmer’s company, Waratah Coal, would come at “an obscenely high cost” for future generations and limit the cultural rights of First Nations Queenslanders to maintain their distinctive relationships with the land.

Waratah Coal has argued that, although “climate change is real”, the coal at the site was “high-energy producing” and that if it not mined, “other sources will supply the market”.

Queensland land court president Fleur Kingham is expected to hand down her verdict at 11.30am local time [12.30pm AEDT].

Graham Readfearn

Graham Readfearn

ACCC approves taskforce to tackle soft plastic recycling crisis

Australia’s consumer watchdog has given permission for supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi to form a taskforce to try and solve the crisis in soft plastic recycling.

The three supermarkets applied to the ACCC to be allowed to form a taskforce after the suspension earlier this month of the country’s main soft plastic recycling service, administered by REDcycle.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said an interim authorisation had been granted to the supermarkets to allow to have meeting to “consider, and seek to develop and implement, a short-term solution for the storage, transportation, processing, recycling and/or management of soft plastics.” Keogh said:

We have moved quickly to approve the interim application as the suspension of the REDcycle program stopped in-store collections of soft plastic, raising community concerns and an urgent need to address the environmental risk of the existing stockpile and future waste.

REDcycle had been stockpiling soft plastics that had been dropped by the public at supermarkets after the two main companies that took the materials had to stop accepting them because of a fire in a production facility and problems with market demand.

Environment minister Tanya Plibersek said she was pleased the taskforce was allowed to form.

The government will coordinate these taskforce discussions to make sure that Australians can continue recycling their soft plastics.

Plibersek launched a new ministerial advisory group on the circular economy this morning to look at how products are designed, made and used across the economy.

Better waste management and more effective recycling are important – but they aren’t enough on their own. As a country we must do more to design-out waste in the first place, and make better use of recovered resources.

The group will be chaired by Prof John Thwaites AM and will include the Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley and outgoing CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

Josh Frydenberg ‘chief enabler’: Jim Chalmers says

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has accused his Liberal predecessor, Josh Frydenberg, of complaining in the media about Morrison’s multiple ministries while failing to take responsibility.

Chalmers told reporters:

Josh Frydenberg was the chief sycophant and chief enabler of this dictatorial behaviour. One of the reasons Morrison was convinced he could get away with this kind of behaviour is because Josh Frydenberg spent all his time sucking up to him instead of standing up to him. So he should take some of the responsibility for what’s happened here.

With the change of government, the adults are in charge now. [It’s] the end of that period of dictatorial authoritarian behaviour under the Liberals. If Peter Dutton were elected, you would see all of it would come back. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to get to the bottom of what happened here.

Labor slams Coalition’s ‘veil of secrecy’ around repatriated Australians from Syria in 2019

O’Neil and Bowen are saying they are being more transparent and doing more consultation than when the Coalition repatriated Australians from Syria in 2019.

Bowen says of previous repatriation efforts:

It is not accurate to say only the children were taken back and not accurate to say only the women were brought back in the past either. As opposed to that veil of secrecy that Peter Dutton presided over, this minister within the constraints, obviously, and for protection of privacy and protection of security, the minister’s operating in, has been more transparent than any home affairs minister in the last decade.

O’Neil goes on to say a bit more about the former government too:

I have heard in my discussions – again returning to this issue of 2019 when the former government didn’t tell anyone in western Sydney that these people were coming back – we had Peter Dutton visiting Fairfield and one of the community leaders said to me it was probably the first time Peter Dutton had ever been to Fairfield.

Bowen:

I can reaffirm that is the case. First time I had ever seen him.

O’Neil:

We have done a lot of consultation and doing a lot of consultation. Happy to do it because I firmly believe it is part of my job.

‘The people are coming back to where they left from’: O’Neil

O’Neil is asked by a reporter “why Fairfield?”

The decision has been made in this regard because the people are coming back to where they left from. There is quite a lot of misinformation about where these people are being resettled. All I would say to you is that we have four women and thirteen Australian children who left Australia and they are returning to where they came from.

Bowen:

Can I say, with respect, that question underlines some of the misunderstandings in the community. I am not having a go at you personally, people say: why Fairfield? I think the answer underlines that. As the local member, I can say the mayors can speak for themselves, it is a lot more complicated than that. The assumption that people are being settled in a particular place like Fairfield is not necessarily correct. It is not correct.

Ministers hit back at criticism that meeting with western Sydney mayors didn’t occur before repatriation

The ministers turn to questions. The first reporter asks how come the meeting didn’t happen before the decision of repatriation was made.

O’Neil says:

We have made a decision on national security grounds. I think it should be fairly obvious why we are not able to talk about that publicly before the decision was made. The important thing today is we have met today and are talking with the community. If I could draw a contrast to in 2019 where the former government did exactly the same thing that the Australian government has done today. There was not a phone call given to community leaders across western Sydney and I did not see, frankly, a lot of media attention about that. We have taken a different approach. Chris and I firmly believe that part of our jobs as politicians is being accountable about our decisions and talking to communities affected and that is why I am here today.

Bowen pipes up, backing what O’Neil says as accurate:

As local member, I have no idea what happened in 2019. I wasn’t given the courtesy of a phone call by the then minister. I wasn’t given the courtesy of a briefing. I did not know how many people were settled in our community. I do not know who were, what protections were put in place. I was utterly kept in the dark. The mayors were utterly kept in the dark. The community did not know. I dare say the reason you did not ask questions, to be fair to you is you weren’t told either. This government has taken a very different approach. The minister for home affairs and me, in my capacity … answering questions and providing information to the mayors. If a member of the Liberal party says one word of criticism of this government for this process, they are hypocrites. They did not bother to pick up the phone to me as a local member, provide me with one iota of information about what was happening, about who was being resettled or why. I will not take one second of criticism by any member of the opposition.