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Ken Wyatt awarded $2.2m contract to Liberal party donors – politics live Labor calls for royal commission into defence veteran suicide – politics live
(32 minutes later)
Minister for Indigenous Australians under pressure over contract that did not go to tender. Meanwhile the Coalition tries to win over Jacqui Lambie on the medevac repeal bill. Follow all the day’s politics – live The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, says there have been more than 400 ‘senseless loss of life’ since 2001. Follow all the day’s politics – live
One new fact out of Labor caucus this morning: the opposition will introduce a private senators’ bill to make amendments to the encryption legislation to try to force the government to make improvements agreed by a bipartisan committee report last year.
Labor passed the encryption legislation in the final week of parliament in 2018, later accusing the Coalition of reneging on a deal to make amendments including improving protections against the creation of “systemic weaknesses”.
In a joint statement Labor’s Kristina Keneally, Mark Dreyfus, Michelle Rowland, Claire O’Neil and Tim Watts said it was one year since the government broke its promise to Australia’s tech sector “putting a handbrake on the digital economy, and hindering the creation of jobs, productivity and growth of the economy”.
They said:
Another amendment would require judicial authorisation before law enforcement authorities can use their new powers to compel tech companies to provide assistance or create capabilities to enable spying on customers.
This is designed to address concerns that the encryption legislation is not compliant with the US CLOUD Act, which Labor says will imperil cooperation between US and Australian law enforcement.
The bill will be introduced tomorrow and debated in the new year.
The Murray-Darling Basin plan protesters have made their way to the headquarters of the National Farmers’ Federation. The protest places the NFF in a tricky position. The organisation agrees the basin plan needs to be improved but it has split with protesters on their demand that it be scrapped altogether.
Tony Mahar, chief executive of the NFF, spoke to the protesters outside his office.
“We want to see change, I can assure you of that,” he said.
He says the NFF will lobby for Mick Keelty, the inspector general of Murray–Darling Basin water resources, to have the proper powers to take action where needed.
“We want to see change. We want to see the basin plan fixed.”
Labor has issued a full statement on its decision to call for a royal commission into veteran suicide. It reads:Labor has issued a full statement on its decision to call for a royal commission into veteran suicide. It reads:
Just a reminder that parliament will not sit until midday to allow for caucus and party room meetings. Mike Bowers was down in Labor’s caucus where eader Anthony Albanese was given a standing ovation.Just a reminder that parliament will not sit until midday to allow for caucus and party room meetings. Mike Bowers was down in Labor’s caucus where eader Anthony Albanese was given a standing ovation.
Albanese says Labor will continue to pursue Scott Morrison over his “Angus horribilis”, a line that gets a decent guffaw from the Labor faithful.Albanese says Labor will continue to pursue Scott Morrison over his “Angus horribilis”, a line that gets a decent guffaw from the Labor faithful.
If you don’t understand that strike force Garrad gag, look up Garrad on urban dictionary.If you don’t understand that strike force Garrad gag, look up Garrad on urban dictionary.
He looks forward to Labor’s strategy for the end of the year. He says the party will examine media reforms and measures to strengthen democracy. Labor will have the first meeting of its national policy committee on Friday.He looks forward to Labor’s strategy for the end of the year. He says the party will examine media reforms and measures to strengthen democracy. Labor will have the first meeting of its national policy committee on Friday.
It’s all about confidence, he says.It’s all about confidence, he says.
Albanese says when Scott Morrison says “quiet Australians” he really means “shut up and listen to me”. This prompts some applause.Albanese says when Scott Morrison says “quiet Australians” he really means “shut up and listen to me”. This prompts some applause.
Albanese is now paying tribute to Labor’s Senate team for their work opposing the union-busting laws which were defeated on Friday. He tells caucus that the people in this room “made a difference”.Albanese is now paying tribute to Labor’s Senate team for their work opposing the union-busting laws which were defeated on Friday. He tells caucus that the people in this room “made a difference”.
Albanese is now talking about Labor’s calls for a royal commission into veteran suicides. He speaks of meeting Julie-Ann Finney, the mother of a former sailor who killed himself after suffering PTSD.Albanese is now talking about Labor’s calls for a royal commission into veteran suicides. He speaks of meeting Julie-Ann Finney, the mother of a former sailor who killed himself after suffering PTSD.
Albanese pays tribute to Bill Shorten and Linda Burney for the work they did to oppose the robodebt system.Albanese pays tribute to Bill Shorten and Linda Burney for the work they did to oppose the robodebt system.
He then turns to aged care.He then turns to aged care.
Albanese describes Scott Morrison as “an ad man with no plan”.Albanese describes Scott Morrison as “an ad man with no plan”.
Albanese continues:
The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, is addressing caucus. He says Labor is moving forward.
“That’s more than you can say for this economy,” he quips.
Albanese says working people are struggling.
I’ve lost count of the Angus Taylor controversies, but at least two new ones emerged yesterday. One was sprung by Labor in question time. It says Taylor failed to declare an interest in a company named GFA F1 Pty Ltd. Taylor has a partnership interest in the company through a separate venture, Farm Partnerships Australia, which he has declared appropriately. But he hasn’t named an interest in GFA F1 on his pecuniary interests register. Labor isn’t alleging there is any conflict of interest.
The second issue to pop up was on the stranger side. In Taylor’s first speech to parliament, he spoke of his memories of Christmas while studying at Oxford. He remembered “a young Naomi Wolf”, now a well-known US author and journalist, wanting to remove a Christmas tree from the common room “because some people might be offended”. Taylor described his outrage at this form of “political correctness”.
Wolf subsequently raised the small issue of her not actually being in Oxford at the time of Taylor’s memory, and accused him of an “anti-semitic dogwhistle”.
“I was a Rhodes scholar in Oxford 1985-88,” Wolf said on Twitter. “Angus Taylor recalls me in a fever dream at Oxford in 1991 among those warring on Xmas. I was in NYC. Plus I love Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa. Flattered to be on this mythological hate list.”
Mark Butler has just been on Sky News, talking about these various controversies.
On Taylor’s defence of failing to declare an interest in GFA F1:
On the Oxford student story:
Of course, the issue continuing to pose the most trouble for Taylor is that he relied on a falsified document to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore, for her travel-related emissions.
WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, is also in Canberra this morning. He’s trying to raise Australian support for the imprisoned Julian Assange. He’ll be speaking at the National Press Club a little later.
Assange is on remand in London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison while the US seeks to extradite him for soliciting, obtaining and publishing secret documents. The trial is set down for February.
Hrafnsson says the case should concern all journalists. He told the ABC earlier:
Assange has already won support from unlikely quarters. Barnaby Joyce has voiced his support for Assange, as has the former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Nationals Damian Drum and Michael McCormack have been down to see the Murray-Darling Basin protesters out the front of parliament.
And boy, did they cop it.
The farmers’ frustrations were there for all to see. Mike Bowers was there and reports that the anger was palpable. Sky News had to apologise to viewers for all the swears, so you know it was bad.
Drum was trying to calm everyone down. He says the public is now on the side of the farmers, after apparently abandoning them following reports about the Menindee fish kills earlier in the year.
A protester, John Russell, is berating McCormack for not crossing the floor against the Liberals to stand up for farmers. The Nationals won’t exist after the next election if they don’t show some spine, he says:
Also in that interview, Mark Dreyfus denied any suggestion that Labor’s referral of Angus Taylor to police was a “political stunt”.
The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, has called for a royal commission into the shocking rates of veteran suicides in Australia. Albanese says:
The shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has been on Sky News also discussing the urgent need for a royal commission. He says the situation cannot be allowed to stand.
Just a quick summary of what we’re expecting from today.
Labor will continue its pressure on Angus Taylor over the controversy now engulfing him, the prime minister and the attorney general. Taylor relied on a falsified document to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore. The revelations prompted a police referral from Labor, and NSW police have set up a taskforce to investigate. The scandal was moved along further by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, who called the NSW police chief, Mick Fuller, a personal acquaintance, to check up on the investigation. We now know Christian Porter, the attorney general, was also on that call. The Coalition has accused Labor of “vexatious” and frivolous referrals to police.
The medevac repeal legislation will be debated again by the Senate today. The independent senator Jacqui Lambie still holds the critical vote, and faces lobbying from both sides. Lambie is yet to make her position clear. New figures were conveniently leaked to the Australian this morning suggesting more than one-third of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru have applied for transfer under the laws.
As we mentioned, Ken Wyatt, minister for Indigenous Australians, is under pressure over reports that he handed a contract to the company of a Liberal donor and former candidate without tender. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age suggested the contract was awarded contrary to internal advice.
The Murray-Darling Basin plan protesters are still camped out the front of Parliament House. The protests are placing pressure on the Nationals. Many of their traditional constituents are furious with the government’s treatment of the basin, and want the basin plan scrapped or paused.
Labor is also calling again for a royal commission into veteran suicides, saying it is unacceptable that those who served Australia face a higher suicide rate than the general population.
Stay with us. We’ll keep across all the developments as they happen.
Hello dear readers. Welcome to another day in the mad house.
It’s Christopher Knaus here again, filling in for Amy Remeikis. I’ll be here with you all week.
There’s plenty on. The Murray Darling Basin protestors are still in Canberra in relative force. We’re expecting another day of debate on the medevac repeal bill. And there’s likely to be follow-up to the revelation that Christian Porter was in the room for Scott Morrison’s controversial call to NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller but did not seek advice about what he said was a “simple” and “basic” call. The call related to an active investigation into cabinet minister Angus Taylor following revelations in the Guardian that he relied on falsified documents to attack the Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore.
But the major story of the morning concerns Ken Wyatt, the minister for Indigenous Australians. The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age have reported that he awarded a $2.2m contract to a Liberal donor-linked company. The contract did not go to tender, and had the company conduct Indigenous eye surgeries at double the market rate. It was awarded despite internal objections, the papers reported.