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Angus Taylor says he has not yet been interviewed by strike force detectives – politics live Angus Taylor says he has not yet been interviewed by strike force detectives – politics live
(32 minutes later)
Labor accuses the PM of misleading parliament by claiming the government has not increased debt. Follow all the day’s politics – liveLabor accuses the PM of misleading parliament by claiming the government has not increased debt. Follow all the day’s politics – live
The head of the Returned and Services League, Greg Melick, said he has reservations about calls for a royal commission into veterans suicides. Melick said there have been a large number of inquiries into the issue. The recommendations were all consistent. They should be acted upon, he said. Labor has seized on comments from the RBA governor on subdued wage growth, made during its decision to leave rates on hold.
Down in the Senate, a motion has been passed that calls on the government to include changes in the robodebt processes in the government’s midyear economic update.
You’ll remember the government recently announced changes that would stop over-reliance on income averaging, a fundamentally flawed and frequently erroneous way of calculating welfare debts.
The Greens senator Rachel Siewert said including the changes in Myefo would help Australians understand what was truly changing with the robodebt system.
“There are so many unanswered questions and it’s absolutely outrageous that the government is once again leaving people worried and in the dark about what is happening,” Siewert said.
“After all that people have been through the government owes them an explanation at the very least.”
Melick says there is no evidence that a royal commission would find anything different from inquiries by the productivity commission, joint standing committees or the national mental health commission. All have considered the problems with veterans’ support services.
“It’s an enormous distraction. If there’d been no inquiry and we didn’t know what the problem was, that’d be different,” he tells Sky News.
The head of the Returned and Services League, Greg Melick, said he has reservations about calls for a royal commission into veterans’ suicides. Melick said there have been a large number of inquiries into the issue. The recommendations were all consistent. They should be acted upon, he said.
Just back on water, we’ve just heard the government will review its water policies to understand whether they are unfairly inhibiting access to water.Just back on water, we’ve just heard the government will review its water policies to understand whether they are unfairly inhibiting access to water.
The drought minister, David Littleproud, and Mick Keelty, the inspector-general of the Murray-Darling Basin plan water resources, have just made the announcement.The drought minister, David Littleproud, and Mick Keelty, the inspector-general of the Murray-Darling Basin plan water resources, have just made the announcement.
“Governments can’t make rain, can’t make water, but they can make policy,” Keelty said.“Governments can’t make rain, can’t make water, but they can make policy,” Keelty said.
You can chalk that up as a win, of sorts, for the protesters who have converged on Canberra to protest the basin plan, though many of them have been calling for it to be completely scrapped.You can chalk that up as a win, of sorts, for the protesters who have converged on Canberra to protest the basin plan, though many of them have been calling for it to be completely scrapped.
Labor used question time to pick up on where it left off yesterday: attacking the Coalition’s economic management and Angus Taylor.Labor used question time to pick up on where it left off yesterday: attacking the Coalition’s economic management and Angus Taylor.
Labor began question time by calling on the government to support a royal commission into veteran suicides. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he remains open to the idea, and will consider it further over the Christmas break.Labor began question time by calling on the government to support a royal commission into veteran suicides. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said he remains open to the idea, and will consider it further over the Christmas break.
Labor moved its attack to economic management. It said the government must wake up to the “floundering” economy. Morrison said debt had not grown under the Coalition. Labor later said that was misleading because debt had doubled. Anthony Albanese said Morrison had misled parliament four times in the last four sitting days.Labor moved its attack to economic management. It said the government must wake up to the “floundering” economy. Morrison said debt had not grown under the Coalition. Labor later said that was misleading because debt had doubled. Anthony Albanese said Morrison had misled parliament four times in the last four sitting days.
Things got rather heated when Michael McCormack got up to answer a dixer on the drought. Someone made a quip about fiery criticism of him by farmers outside parliament this morning. McCormack flung himself into a rage when Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon got up on a point of order. “What are you standing up for? You don’t stand up for anything.” The ensuing high drama ended with Fitzgibbon being booted from the chamber.Things got rather heated when Michael McCormack got up to answer a dixer on the drought. Someone made a quip about fiery criticism of him by farmers outside parliament this morning. McCormack flung himself into a rage when Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon got up on a point of order. “What are you standing up for? You don’t stand up for anything.” The ensuing high drama ended with Fitzgibbon being booted from the chamber.
Labor continued the attack over the Angus Taylor controversy. It asked why the government had not complied with Senate orders to produce the transcript of the Morrison-Fuller phone call. Morrison said it was “question time, not smear time”.Labor continued the attack over the Angus Taylor controversy. It asked why the government had not complied with Senate orders to produce the transcript of the Morrison-Fuller phone call. Morrison said it was “question time, not smear time”.
Taylor then confirmed he had not been interviewed by detectives. In the Senate, Simon Birmingham said the government would fully cooperate with police.Taylor then confirmed he had not been interviewed by detectives. In the Senate, Simon Birmingham said the government would fully cooperate with police.
Labor also attacked Taylor on the two fresh controversies. Firstly that he misled parliament in his first speech over an experience with Naomi Wolf, well-known US author. Secondly, that he failed to disclose financial interests in a company.Labor also attacked Taylor on the two fresh controversies. Firstly that he misled parliament in his first speech over an experience with Naomi Wolf, well-known US author. Secondly, that he failed to disclose financial interests in a company.
The last question is to the veterans affairs minister, Darren Chester, who is asked on the level of support being provided to veterans. This has become an issue of importance amid growing calls for a royal commission into veteran suicides. Chester says $11bn is spent each year supporting veterans, but acknowledges more must be done.The last question is to the veterans affairs minister, Darren Chester, who is asked on the level of support being provided to veterans. This has become an issue of importance amid growing calls for a royal commission into veteran suicides. Chester says $11bn is spent each year supporting veterans, but acknowledges more must be done.
Senate question time ends with a very fiery exchange about whether Simon Birmingham can guarantee that government staff will be available for interview by the police on NSW strike force Garrad investigating the use of a falsified document by Angus Taylor to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore.Senate question time ends with a very fiery exchange about whether Simon Birmingham can guarantee that government staff will be available for interview by the police on NSW strike force Garrad investigating the use of a falsified document by Angus Taylor to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore.
Birmingham said that the government will “cooperate with the police”. Labor’s Murray Watt notes that that is what Michaelia Cash had said about the AWU raid leak matter, but then she provided a written statement and refused to be interviewed.Birmingham said that the government will “cooperate with the police”. Labor’s Murray Watt notes that that is what Michaelia Cash had said about the AWU raid leak matter, but then she provided a written statement and refused to be interviewed.
Penny Wong shouts: “You’re hiding staff! What’s so hard about making staff available?”Penny Wong shouts: “You’re hiding staff! What’s so hard about making staff available?”
Mathias Cormann labelled the referral to the NSW police “politically motivated”.Mathias Cormann labelled the referral to the NSW police “politically motivated”.
Birmingham noted that the record of the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, on police referrals is “eight zero – zero findings” (of criminal guilt).Birmingham noted that the record of the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, on police referrals is “eight zero – zero findings” (of criminal guilt).
The shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, asks Christian Porter: Malcolm Turnbull, former judge David Ipp, and Icac counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson have all labelled Scott Morrison’s phone call to NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller inappropriate. Why was it made?
Christian Porter responds that Dreyfus’s judgment hasn’t been so flash hot. Porter is referring to the eight police referrals Labor have made without any charges.
Labor’s Tony Burke asks a cheeky question about Angus Taylor’s first speech to parliament, in which he recalled living as a student alongside Naomi Wolf, a famed US author. In Taylor’s version, she wanted to remove a Christmas tree in case people were offended, something he described as “political correctness”.
Wolf, you may have heard, was not at Oxford at the time. In fact, she was on the other side of the world touring her new book.
Burke asks:
Needless to say the question is not allowed.
In the Senate, Labor’s Catryna Bilyk is asking about this report by Sarah Martin about a bullying complaint against National Llew O’Brien.
The agriculture minister, Bridget McKenzie, confirms only that the Nationals have a process for investigating bullying complaints, but she first dodges then rejects the part of the question about whether her handling of the dairy code of conduct is the cause of tensions in the Nationals.
McKenzie: “I reject the second part of that long-winded question.”
Labor’s Mark Butler picks up the attack on Angus Taylor. He asks further questions about an alleged failure to declare interests in a company GFA F1 Pty Ltd. The interest is held through another entity, Farm Partnerships Australia. Taylor’s office has issued a statement saying he needs to declare only “direct and controlling interests”. Taylor is asked whether he supports that interpretation of the rules.
The attorney general, Christian Porter, jumps up to answer the question. He says that’s always the way interests have been declared.
Scott Morrison is asked another question on the Angus Taylor scandal. This time it’s about why the government has not released a transcript of the Morrison-Fuller call, despite a Senate order to do so. He responds:
Burn.
He then goes on to explain.
Morrison says he will respond to the police investigation when it concludes. He then challenges Anthony Albanese to hold his side to the same standards it is demanding of the government. That is, that ministers would resign if they come under investigation before an investigation concludes.
Morrison withdraws that last bit.
Angus Taylor is asked whether he has been interviewed by detectives attached to strike force Garrad, which is investigating allegations Taylor relied on a forged document to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore.
Taylor answers simply: “No.”
Over in the upper house, Labor has asked the agriculture minister, Bridget McKenzie, when she became aware Nationals senator Perin Davey had arranged a meeting between irrigators concerned with the Murray-Darling Basin plan and the water resources minister, David Littleproud.
Labor’s Murray Watt heckles “You’ve been bypassed”, and McKenzie replies that she heard earlier in the week.
Glenn Sterle follows up by asking if McKenzie was invited. McKenzie says “I’m not invited to a lot” of stakeholder meetings, in the same way that defence and skills ministers are not invited to every meeting. She says it is entirely appropriate that the meeting was organised with the water resources minister.
The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is attacking Labor for talking down Australia’s economy. Economic management has been the focus of Labor’s early attention in question time this week.
Frydenberg:
Scott Morrison is then again pressed on misleading the parliament. Anthony Albanese accuses him of misleading parliament in each of the last four sitting days. Morrison responds that Albanese is treating parliament like a “second-rate high school debating chamber” with his “stunts and his clever little lines”.
Labor accuses the prime minister of misleading parliament by claiming the government has not increased debt. Labor’s Jim Chalmers says the government has doubled Australia’s debt.
Scott Morrison describes Chalmers as “Obi Swan’s padawan” in his response.
Andrew Wilkie has a question on problems with access to firefighting assets and equipment during the elongated bushfire season. He asks:
David Littleproud responds to the crux of the question. He says he’s been assured by the Australasian fire and emergency service authorities council that the current access to equipment is suitable.